In theoretical international relations, the state is regarded as the central figure; an entity around which everything revolves, whether it is international politics or diplomacy. According to the neorealist school of thought, survival and security are the primary concerns for the state because the anarchic nature of geopolitics compels the state to survive by seeking security. Consequently, in order to minimize the possibility of any arising threat, states employ various techniques and tactics to ensure their security.
Surveillance and espionage remain the traditional modes of obtaining classified information, deceiving the enemy and subverting its advances. Classical strategists such as Sun-Tzu and Chanakya have hinted at such methods in their ancient writings. However, with the passage of time, these activities have systemically changed. In the world’s current factual matrix, deployment of human spies is not the only the means to carry out espionage because unprecedented technological advancement has facilitated more advanced means of spying. Continue reading
Pakistan is a country where – no matter how corrupt they are – sportsmen are mostly considered to be stars and heroes. But, as in the case of Mumtaz Qadri, there are some instances where murderers have also become heroes. On the other hand, our nation’s dilemma is that it disregards and rebukes those who really deserve appreciation. For example, such tendencies are evidenced in the fact that the majority of Pakistanis do not really remember our only Nobel laureate: the late Abdus Salam. Similarly, the same proclivities can be observed in the case of Malala Yousafzai who has become a worldwide symbol of freedom, democracy, education and women’s rights: she is being praised everywhere for her courage and determination.
Equally, in rival India, Malala is an icon and will be awarded the prestigious Basavashree Award. She has also won the Sakharov Prize and the list of accolades bestowed upon her is too elaborate to comprehensively expand upon in this post. But it is rather lamentable that large swathes of her own country’s population are criticizing, opposing and even abusing her. Continue reading
Historically, the aftermath of the Cold War presented a number of challenges to existing international hegemony. A subsequent variant of such challenges is the rise of international terrorism. Traditionally, wars were mostly considered to be “inter-state” conflicts. But in our unipolar world, wars have been transformed into an “intra-state” phenomenon. Moreover, traditional theories on war fail to address this non-traditional phenomenon which is also increasingly being described as “asymmetric” warfare. Although some theoretical approaches seem valid in light of the above, they need to be modified to properly construe the nature of current wars and conflicts.
Celebrated military strategist Carl von Clausewitz’s work is influential in the field of warfare. In his work On War, von Clausewitz maintained that the best way to weaken your enemy is to attack or capture his “centre of gravity”. From Clausewitz’s perspective it may be argued that, if any state gets the control of the enemy’s centre of gravity then, ultimately, its peripheries will also capitulate. Hence, defeat is inevitable. Continue reading
Although based on English law, our own legal system discriminates so much against minorities that it is shameful. Since a lot of the discrimination (or persecution) is on the basis of religion to balance the scales we hope to post on the sad predicament of our own country soon. But it is interesting to observe that Islamic dress like the niqab is the subject of a great deal of attention abroad. Muslims make up 4.8 per cent of the UK’s population and only a small number of women wear the niqab or burka.
As Pakistanis (and as “Muslims”) we are intrigued by our former coloniser’s obsession with us and so this post analyses the niqab debate which has been raging in the UK. Many people think that the UK should ban the niqab and the burka. On the other hand, some high calibre analysts think that legally singling Muslim women out on the basis of their niqabs may create a new class of victim: one unknown to the UK in the past. Continue reading
One year after he took a stand on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Obama finds himself trapped in his own rhetoric:
The world set a red line when governments representing 98 per cent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons was abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war. That was not something I just kind of made up, I did not pluck it out of thin air.
When United States President Barak Obama said this at a news conference in Stockholm last week, it sounded like he was trying desperately to justify the off-the-cuff comment he made a year ago. In August 2012, he had given a clear message to the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad: that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would change the ‘calculus’ and the ‘equation’.
It may seem a bit strange that the President is clarifying what he meant by something he said a year ago while the whole world is on edge waiting to find out how the US House of Representatives will vote on a proposal by the White House to take ‘limited military action’ to ‘punish’ President Assad for ‘using’ chemical weapons on his own people. That is because Obama is finding it increasingly difficult to sell another war to the majority of the American people and their elected representatives, who will decide on his proposal. Continue reading
In March 2011 the despot Bashar al-Assad probably never imagined that a small demonstration would eventually turn into an insurrection. The Arab Spring has paved the way for political transition in Tunisia, Libya and perhaps more questionably in Egypt. Concurrently, it also provoked the Syrian people against the authoritarian regime of Assad. The ongoing civil war has intensified a lot: the whole world has seen the abhorrent images of chemical weapons attacks. This galvanized major powers (the US, France and Great Britain) to take military action against the Assad regime but on 29 August 2013, the British House of Commons voted against possible military intervention which only left France and the US as the main backers of the military option.
Syria’s regime is one of a handful of UN members – including Angola, North Korea, Egypt and South Sudan – who are not a party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling on the Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction drawn up in 1992 (administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons or OPCW). Israel (which is thought to possess chemical weapons) and Myanmar are signatories to the Convention but since they have not ratified it the OPCW considers them to be “non-member states”.
Bahrain is one of the earliest lands to have converted to Islam. It has a rich history and has been ruled by the Persian Empire, the Portugese, the Safavid Empire. Subsequently, the Bani Utbah tribe captured Bahrain from the Persians: the island has been ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family since. With a population of 1.4 million people of which the majority are Shia Muslims, Bahrain has been experiencing a political crisis for a few decades.The Arab Spring has heightened political activism in the Middle East. Consequently, the political crisis has turned into a popular political uprising in Bahrain.
Like the world’s historic revolutions and uprisings (e.g. the Iranian Revolution), Bahrain’s fragile political structure and suppression by its monarchy were two considerably important reasons for unrest. Shia Muslims always demanded a share in power as they constitute the country’s majority population. In 1973, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the ruler of Bahrain promulgated a constitution that allowed an elected parliament and created an opportunity for maximum participation in politics by Bahrainis, but it only lasted for two years. Salman Al Khalifa dissolved the Assembly and imposed State Security Law. Continue reading