Foreign forces are to blame for Afghan conflict: Rustam Shah Mohmand

Former Ambassador to Afghanistan urges Pakistan to shift focus away from India.“The India-centric approach will have to be reviewed because it doesn’t deliver much” he said. Watch Video

PIIA recently held a talk on the Afghan conflict and this is Peerzada Salman’s news report of our event from Dawn. He said there is only one reason for the Afghan conflict: foreign forces. And if Pakistan and Afghanistan are to have good relations for a lasting peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan has to review its India-centric policy. This was the point that Rustam Shah Mohmand, former ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan, gave significant emphasis to during his talk titled The Afghanistan conflict: emerging dynamics and impact on Pakistan at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Wednesday evening. Mr Mohmand said what he was about to say might not be liked by some people. He then gave a robust historic perspective on the Afghan issue by asserting that most conflicts in the world were unnecessary, underlining that the country faced British imperialism in the 19th century, Russian invasion in the 20th century and US invasion in the 21st century.

Mr Mohmand said there were many theories about the 9/11 incident (who carried out the attacks and whether any Afghan was involved) that made the US invade Afghanistan. In 2001, the attack was launched and seven or eight months later President Bush announced that Afghanistan had been liberated, and “the liberation continues”. During the invasion unspeakable crimes against humanity were perpetrated. Taliban supporters were arrested, and 3,000 people (mostly innocent) were choked to death in containers. More than 200,000 civilians had been killed, villages decimated and markets blown up chasing invisible and visible enemy. Mr Mohmand asked: “What has the war delivered?” Ninety per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP comes from either foreign funding or spending by coalition forces inside the country. Domestic revenue is five to seven per cent of the GDP. Malnutrition in children is 39pc and unemployment is 45pc. Continue reading

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FATF: Where does Pakistan stand?

The Pakistani delegation in Paris received messages that India had asked other member states to put Pakistan on the blacklist.

Pakistan made a high-level political promise earlier in 2018 to work closely with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and APG to improve its Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) policies and to cater to its strategic counter terrorist financing-related weaknesses. Steps were taken in order to operationalize the combined database for its currencies enunciation regime, as acknowledged by the FATF at a meeting earlier this February. The statement however concluded that Pakistan needed to meet the expectations of the action plan by May 2019 in order to be de-listed from the FATF’s ‘grey list’. Pakistani officials were surprised as they had been under the impression that the FATF had been appreciative of the steps that had been taken place in January as per requirement by the FATF and AML/CFT. Pakistan needs to address its geopolitical ‘deficiencies’ to be able to qualify for a de-listing.

Some of these ‘deficiencies’ include the understanding of the threat posed by terrorist groups like the Jaish-e-Muhammad and Falah-i-Insaniyat and that ‘authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency.’ Further demotion from the ‘grey-list’ could hinder Pakistan’s foreign investment and deter the access to international markets as Pakistan is already deeply infested in a financial crisis. India pressed Pakistan to make public the measures taken against terrorist organizations to which Pakistan replied saying that it was up to them whether or not to publicize actions taken against these groups and that it would not kneel down to pressure from India. A country being labeled a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ should not be an instrument used in order to halt terrorist activity; it is a very burdensome label to put upon a state struggling to save its own citizens from the threat terrorist organizations have posed for decades. Continue reading

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‘China sees CPEC as a way of creating free market’ says leading specialist

South Asia expert from Oxford University thinks that CPEC will have a positive effect on Pakistan but certainly not a transformative one. 

As reported recently in the New York Times, Trump’s isolation of Pakistan means that China will play an even greater role in our country’s future. In addition to economic development, it is now the case that the previously peaceful objectives of CPEC are duly shifting towards military cooperation involving “defense-related projects, including a secret plan to build new fighter jets.” It is possible to attack the Chinese-Pakistani partnership and label Pakistan a “guinea pig” for Chinese experiments, but the expansion of ties will also empower Pakistan against the increasing menace posed by mad Modi and his acolytes. The showcasing of Chinese military technology will be accompanied by Pakistan playing a key civilian and military role in China’s Beidou satellite navigation system, a prime part of the Belt and Road Plan considered to be the “information Silk Road”, which Beijing hopes to sell to all Belt and Road countries. In these rather interesting times, Professor Matthew McCartney, and specialist in development in South Asia, addressed the members of the PIIA on 31 March 2019. News reports are available below. Watch video

From Dawn: “Eight years ago when I had entered the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies at the University of Oxford, the focus there was on India but today our focus is truly on South Asia where the study on India is not possible without knowing about Pakistan,” said Professor Dr Matthew McCartney at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Saturday. Dr McCartney, who teaches political economy and human development of South Asia at Oxford University, was speaking on the subject of ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Sustainable Economic Growth and Industrial Policy in Contemporary Pakistan’ Continue reading

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The Fall of Boeing 737

Airplanes are considered to be the safest mode of transportation yet they cause more casualties than all other conveying means. Recently, Ethiopian Airlines met a fatal crash on 10th March 2019, minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. About 5 months back, a similar incident happened with Lion Air which crashed near Jakarta, Indonesia claiming 189 lives. Strangely, or perhaps rather interestingly, both the aircrafts happened to be Boeing 737 Max 8 jet. Boeing made its name by manufacturing twin engine 737 nicknamed Baby Boeing having the capacity to accommodate 190 people. It is considered to be the backbone of short haul fleets worldwide. It is being continuously updated since and the latest is 737 Max, with new engines and aerodynamic changes, better fuel efficiency and lower operating costs. Yet it ended up crashing and taking lives of all the passengers. Boeing is one of the largest global manufacturers of aircraft and has a huge market all over the world.

The recent crash caused the aircraft to lose more than 10 per cent within a week, shaving $24.6 billion off its market capitalization. Moreover as soon as the news of the crash broke, countries from all over the world grounded the plane and refused to fly aircraft 737 Max until details behind the Ethiopian airlines tragedy revealed. China and Europe were the first to pull the jets from the skies followed by many others. However, United States resisted. Investigations are under process but what is known so far is that both the crashes shared stark similarities which cannot be disregarded. For instance both were Boeing 737 Max 8; both planes used the same software called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which automatically lowers down the nose if the aircraft is flying too slowly or steeply and at risk of stalling. Both planes went down shortly after takeoff. Both planes had well experienced crews. Continue reading

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Muslims face a harsh new reality after the Christchurch shootings

Now that the first of the victims have been buried Khadija Laghari explores what the Christchurch mosque shootings mean for Muslims … 

Friday, the 15th of March has been described as “One of New Zealand’s darkest days.” Indeed, Friday is also the holiest of the days during the week as Muslims offer Jumma prayers. The Mosques of Christchurch were full as the residents were looking forward to offer their afternoon prayers until they experienced what they had never imagined in the wildest of their thoughts; it was within a span of seconds that the men’s prayer room was attacked following the women’s prayer room, with a heavily armed shooter, shooting all over the Mosque. The first shooting took place at the Al Noor Mosque following a second shooting at the Linwood Mosque. There were several explosive devices attached to the vehicle of the shooter, who is under custody and has been charged. The city has been placed on a lockdown with all schools and offices shut. A climate change protest, which included young children, was taking place nearby. The Bangladesh Cricket team were extremely lucky to escape with their lives. The chilling attack was live-streamed. 

The shooter identified himself as a white man in his late 20s, born in Australia who was motivated to defend ‘our lands’ from ‘invaders’ and wanted to ‘directly reduce immigration rates’. Quebec, Canada also experienced a mass shooting two years ago killing six people at a Mosque. The end of 2017 experienced a rise in hate crimes targeting the Muslims in Quebec City. This could be described as a fear, hatred and hostility toward Islam, perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political and civic life. However, this type of discrimination has been long rooted in the New Zealand immigration policy from the late 1980s. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Human Rights, Immigration, Islamophobia, New Zealand, Politics, Racism, Women

Ilhan Omar and Anti-Semitism

Ilhan Omar is the epitome of everything Trump hates, she is a Somali, a woman and she is also a Muslim …

Democracy – as we have been taught during our academic years – is a political order whereby one is allowed to voice their opinions about the matters they believe in or not believe in. But the United States perhaps has a very different meaning of democracy, or so it seems. One is only supposed to state what is in their country’s interest. The upshot of this ideology was recently unleashed when Ilhan Omar, a Somali Muslim refugee, who recently took her oath of office as a Democratic Representative in the US Congress, expressed through twitter how the pro-Israel lobby puts pressure on members of Congress to show “allegiance to a foreign country” for which she later apologized. To quote her exact words, “Anti Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity; this is why I unequivocally apologize.”

“At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The National Rifle Association (NRA) or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone too long and we must be willing to address it.” Now anybody with a sane mind and rational perspective would vouch for the fact that what Ilhan Omar said was just a “fair criticism” of the harmful role lobbyists play in policy making and not bigotry. Not only this, the newly elected congresswoman is also being compared to the 9/11 terrorists by the republicans and called as ‘filth’ by an advisor to the President only for wanting to talk about how inequitable it is to have political influence of a foreign country which in turn convinces one to become biased and intolerant towards a certain race. Continue reading

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Our recent event on the current standoff between India and Pakistan

Kashmir is not going to die now. It is going to be the centrepiece … watch video of our event here

This is coverage from The News about our recent event about the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. The probability of a major armed conflict between Pakistan and India seems to be receding and all chances seem to suggest that due to the intervention of certain foreign quarters, the standoff between the two countries has begun to subside. These views were expressed by former foreign secretary and diplomat Najmuddin Shaikh while addressing a gathering of the city’s intellectual elite and media at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday evening. The theme of the evening was, “The future of the current standoff between India and Pakistan”, the two speakers being Najmuddin Shaikh and Lt-Gen (retd) Tariq Waseem Ghazi, former defence secretary, Pakistan. Shaikh said that Kartarpur was an important element in the equation. He said that no substantial damage had been done and termed the repatriation of an Indian fighter pilot as a highly statesman-like gesture on the part of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said that one Adil Ahmed Dar was arrested on September 10, 2017. Was he the same Adil Ahmed Dar that had been pinpointed by the US State Department dispatch? There has been no proof forthcoming from the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM). Who is this Dar? He has been reported to be on the move constantly. Is he related to the Dar the US has pointed out? All the people pointed out are from India-held Kashmir and not from Pakistan as the Indian media would have the world believe, but they had no links with the (JeM). Thus, he said, the JeM had offered India and the world a propaganda victory. “Objective reality is much more important than perception,” Sheikh said. Continue reading

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