A Talk by Raza Rabbani in Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan

Fatehyab is an icon for the young generation

The legendary Pakistani politician Fatehyab Ali Khan (1936-2010) was born in Hyderabad, India. He was of Rajput descent and led movements for democracy during successive martial law eras that have stained the history of Pakistan. After Bhutto’s judicial murder he advised and represented Nusrat Bhutto. He was a friend of their murdered daughter former two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Handwritten notes sent by her about secret meetings during the agitation they mounted against Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s are nestled somewhere in a treasure trove of resistance related documents that Fatehyab has left behind. His odium for successive despotic governments and the corrupt judiciary – which repeatedly destroyed Pakistan’s democracy – meant that he chose a life of asceticism and renounced material wealth. Coupled with his gravitation towards simplicity, his passion for advocating the human rights causes of the common people of Pakistan meant that in his politics he ironically resembled more closely the great pre-partition leaders whose connections to the poor were rather profound.

Fatehyab was a grassroots politician. His politics represented an ideology linked to empowering the voiceless masses. Even so, his weighty writings and reflections on the Constitution are largely unpublished but we hope to publish them in due course. Speaking to the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) in a session chaired by Dr Masuma Hasan on 1 October 2016, Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said: “Today we find that we are where Fatehyab left us and have not progressed after that. Article 6 of the Constitution failed to bring a culprit, a former head of state, to book, and allowed him to leave the country.” Last year while addressing the members of PIIA, Mr IA Rehman, Secretary-General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, remarked: “Fatehyab Ali Khan was the brightest star in the galaxy of progressive politicians.”

Coverage and reportage from our event can be found below. Continue reading

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Filed under Bhutto, Constitution 1973, Courts, Discussion, Fatehyab, India, PIIA, Politics

When Time Stood Still

You will never understand … we were simply pushed out

My visit to Panipat in September 1987 was one of the more distressing events of my journey to India in connection with an international training programme which took me to many cities – Delhi, Agra, Banglore, Mysore, Hyderabad. I was deeply moved by my stay in Delhi, the city of my birth. I stayed at India International Centre and walked every morning around the nearby Lodhi tombs, trying to etch their austere beauty in my mind forever. Alone, I went to Humayun’s tomb, pausing at the neglected Arab Serai, overgrown with weeds, where poor Bahadur Shah Zafar had sought refuge. At Jama Masjid, also in a state of neglect, I thought of my grand-uncle, Latif Hasan, who had looked after its repairs. Night fell as I extricated myself from my fascination with the mosque. In the back streets there were long queues of cycle rickshaws but nobody – no rickshaw or taxi driver – was willing to take me back to New Delhi. I walked in fear in the dark streets around the mosque, seeking help, until one man took pity on me and dropped me in a well-lit street in New Delhi.

At India Gate, I remembered running around the monument as a small child, at Connaught Circus, I seemed to discern vaguely the direction in which my father Sarwar Hasan had his office. I made a trip to see that jewel on 10 Aurangzeb Road, which had been Jinnah’s residence. In Daryaganj, I went to Lahore Music House to purchase a scale changer. The Sikh owners of the shop could not do enough to welcome me. Their music shop was located in Anarkali in Lahore before Partition and they told me the story of their flight from Lahore to Delhi. Wherever I went, I told myself that my forefathers and parents had trodden upon these paths: see Khwaja Sarwar Hasan Panipat and Delhi Houses. My father and mother – Sughra Hasan – had never called at Sufi shrines but I felt I must pay homage to Nizamuddin Auliya, the patron saint Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, India, Mughal Empire, Partition, Sarwar Hasan

Pakistan’s Place in Iran’s Strategic Thinking: A Talk by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister

‘The concept of the nation state is in turmoil’ … ‘Iran and Pakistan can reshape the region’ – Watch Video

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the events that unfolded in its aftermath transformed Iran from a “rogue” state once part of the so-called “Axis of Evil” to one which is now vastly influential in the volatile affairs of the region. The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq and last summer’s JCPOA have meant that the once menacing image of frowning mullahs burning American, British and Israeli flags has now been replaced by Mohammad Javad Zarif’s famous “smile diplomacy”. The upshot is that the Iranians are no longer considered to be the pariahs of the international community that they once used to be. These days everyone is looking for economic opportunities in Iran and western businesses and banks are keen to interact with its vast markets which were disconnected from the mainstream world economy because of sanctions subsequent to the 1979 Revolution.

During his talk entitled Pakistan’s Place in Iran’s Strategic Thinking at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 12 August 2016, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Dr Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour said that Iran has more than a dozen neighbours but he remained unequivocal in his stance that Pakistan was a special country in the eyes of the Iranians. Dr Sajjadpour argued that Pakistan and Iran’s destinies are inextricably linked and that the two large neighbouring countries need to work together to combat security problems in order to neutralise the threat posed by terrorism. Detailed media coverage of our event with the Iranian dignitary can found below (see our earlier posts on Iran here and here and see further coverage here. Continue reading

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Filed under CPEC, Cyber Security, Discussion, Europe, Iran, ISIS, Islam, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, PIIA, Politics, Sanctions, Syria, The Middle East

Pakistan and the Panama Papers

The Panama Papers are “a blessing in disguise” … Watch Video

The paper trail from Panama to Pakistan is a long and mysterious one and it reveals much about Pakistan’s first family’s vast wealth and international property empire. The leaked documents, which are linked to dozens of venal “super rich” politicians, had even forced Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson to resign. Yet Ramón Fonseca argues his firm is the subject of a “witch hunt” and it has done nothing wrong; there is “more dirty money in New York and London,” he says. His claim is backed up by Bill Browder, who made his fortune in Russia but has since converted into an ardent Putin critic; owing to the former KGB head turning Russia into a kleptocracy, he says. Browder argues London is a “brothel” for dirty Russian money. He is equally adamant that Cameron’s anti-corruption drive is just “hot air”. This post captures and recalls our recent Panama Papers discussion.

Financial regulators and tax authorities worldwide have expressed huge interest in the disclosures in the papers because the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) has created “a searchable database that strips away the secrecy of nearly 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.” Indeed, the gigantic leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records is clearly groundbreaking. The documents show the details of the manner in which the world’s political and economic elites have used “crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies” to hoodwink tax authorities. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution 1973, Courts, Criminal Justice, Criminal law, Discussion, Events, Mossack Fonseca, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics

Dr Bärbel Kofler: Transferring the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights into Practice in Germany

Human rights must not be ignored when doing business overseas …

Speaking at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA, Watch Video), Dr Bärbel Kofler – member of the German Bundestag – said that because of high levels of exploitation of labour in the developing world, consumers in the west are willing to pay more for products which are produced using labour inputs under a system where people are fairly treated and paid for work. In interesting times when both internally and externally Angela Merkel is on the back foot for letting in a flood of refugees – who are usually dubbed “economic migrants” by right-wingers – Dr Kofler argued human rights in business are heavily debated in Europe and Germany, especially after unfortunate incidents in recent past, which include the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh and in Karachi’s Baldia Town fire factory incident. Germany’s National Action Plan (NAP) for economic cooperation is based on UN guidelines on Business in Human Rights.

In an era of globalization, the UN guidelines oblige states to protect the human rights of every citizen and they equally oblige business entities to respect those human rights. This post gathers the details of the event from the Internet and Farhan Khan’s excellent coverage is reproduced from the LiveRostrum news agency. Dr Kofler said that the UN guidelines have three pillars. First, states are obliged to protect citizens from human rights violations. Second, it is also the obligation of the business Continue reading


Filed under Discussion, Europe, Human Rights, Immigration, PIIA, Politics, Women

Dr Gunter Mulack: Crisis in the Middle East: A German Perspective

‘The Arab elite responsible is for Middle East crises’ – Watch Video.

As seen on this blog, the German chancellor Angela Merkel has become rather controversial because of her “open door” or Willkommenskultur policy in relation to refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. Last year, Merkel was involved in a tug of war involved in a tug of war with her uneasy ally Horst Seehofer (premier of Bavaria) and even members of her trusted cabinet openly challenged her over her refugee policy. The chancellery ultimately bowed down to pressure from finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and interior minister Thomas de Maizière – Schäuble accused her of being a “careless” skier who has caused an “avalanche” which needs to be contained. Equally, Mrs Merkel has been under pressure from the extremist right-wing populist eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party and its charismatic co-leader Frauke Petry; a 40-year old chemist/businesswoman with four children turned politician who very radically argues that the German authorities must “use firearms if necessary” to “prevent illegal border crossings”.

Given that a million people have penetrated Europe’s border in just a year, Petry argues that the “police must stop refugees entering German soil.” Against that background, German diplomat and scholar Dr Gunter Mulack spoke at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and shared his views on the crisis in the Middle East from a German Perspective. Continue reading


Filed under Al Qaeda, China, CPEC, Discussion, Europe, Germany, Human Rights, Immigration, ISIS, Islam, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Russia, Syria, The Arab Spring, The Middle East

Ahmed Rashid: Continuing Search for Stability: Pakistan and Afghanistan

The West has endorsed two rigged elections in Afghanistan and the military situation has never been worse than it is now. Using proxies encourages neighbours to follow suit. Watch Introduction, Main Lecture and Q&A.

Acclaimed author and journalist Mr Ahmed Rashid spoke at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Friday, 11 March 2016. His lecture aimed to make sense of the spiralling trend towards violence and militancy in the region. He argued that Pakistan’s interference in Afghan matters using proxies has created widespread problems and cataclysmic failure. For him, claims that the Taliban are being beaten are wholly incorrect and amount to a “fallacy”. Rashid is the author of numerous books including the widely read publication Taliban. His other books include Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia and Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Disaster in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia and Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

His talk looked at the emerging trends in jihad and insurrection in the region and interlinked the Afghan situation to the wider issues of jihad as seen by the governments of countries such as Iran, Russia and the Central Asian Republics all of which were involved in backing different Taliban factions in Afghanistan. He also questioned the efficacy of Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azb operation. Continue reading


Filed under Afghanistan, Discussion, Events, Iran, Islam, Pakistan, PIIA, Politics, Russia, United States