‘Afghanistan’s future will shape Pak-US relations in near term’

‘The Future of Pakistan-US Relations’ was the topic of a discussion organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday. Delving into the subject, former Pakistan ambassador to the US and UK, and Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Dr Maleeha Lodhi said that after the Cold War, after Russia’s leaving Afghanistan and now after the US pullout from Afghanistan, it is the third time for Pakistan and USA to be redefining of relations.

“Throughout these years there have been many highs and lows with benign disengagements in between. Our relations have been driven by world events and geopolitical storms. And even at times of close alliances, there has always been an elephant in the room such as India or Pakistan’s nuclear programme,” she said.

“Whenever Pakistan has sought US support during regional conflicts, it has been disappointed by Washington’s stance,” she added.

“The US has always seen Pakistan as a tactical player. The ties we had or have were principally a function of America’s war in Afghanistan. The US had an Afghanistan policy but not a Pakistan policy,” she pointed out. “Sometimes this convergence worked in mutual benefit testified by the joint struggle of both countries during the Russian war in Afghanistan,” she pointed out.

She said that now that the global environment is in a state of flux there is a predominant trend of competition rather than cooperation.

“The reality today is the standoff between USA and China. America has a policy of restraining China. And Pakistan wants to avoid this crossfire or confrontation. Its a tough act. Pakistan will not be a part of it as it wants future ties with both countries.

“Meanwhile, US interest is in insuring Afghanistan doesn’t again become a base for terrorist groups. It wants Pakistan’s help in this regard, to counter terrorism and this is what future relations between Pakistan and USA will be based on. So there will be cooperation in only some areas,” Ms Lodhi pointed out.

“Already the mood on Capitol Hill is very negative about Pakistan on account of the perception that Islamabad’s support for the Taliban over the years was a contributing factor to the US debacle there. The Biden administration has not said this but the view is prevalent in US policy circles. It has built up a toxic environment in Pakistan-US relationship,” she added.

“Afghanistan’s future will influence, even shape Pakistan-US relations in the near term. Another factor that will affect the relationship concerns the dynamics of the triangular US-Pakistan-India relationship. Islamabad recognises that India has a pivotal role in Washington’s Asia policy and is in fact America’s strategic priority. It is not the growing relationship between Washington and Delhi that concerns Islamabad but the security impact that their strategic cooperation may have on Pakistan, the augmentation of India’s defence and strategic capabilities obviously has implications for Pakistan’s security,” she pointed out.

“If a key element of US’s strategy to counter China is India, this also impacts its relations with Pakistan. The US has always supported India and hardened its posture towards Pakistan, almost encouraging India to be more aggressive towards our country,” she said.

Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Geneva, Zamir Akram, Dr Adil Najam and PIIA chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan also spoke.

Published in Dawn, 24 October 2021

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The Future of Pakistan-US Relations: Webinar on 23 October 2021

Greetings from The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

You are cordially invited to participate in our webinar on The Future of Pakistan-US Relations on Saturday, 23 October 2021 at 4:00 pm (Pakistan Standard Time).

Moderator

Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairperson, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

Speakers

1.    Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi, former Ambassador of Pakistan to the US and UK, and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, New York

2.    Dr Adil Najam, Dean, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, US

3.    Ambassador Zamir Akram, former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Geneva 

Zoom Link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84631667633?pwd=SFlFNXZhekNJOVE2VjRldnB5cFRVZz09

Webinar ID                          :           846 3166 7633

Webinar Passcode               :           066967

Dr Tanweer Khalid (She/Her)
Honorary Secretary

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

Aiwan–e–Sadar Road

Karachi, Pakistan.

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Sacrifices in Kashmir will not go wasted

‘India was so afraid of Geelani that they buried the 92-year-old man clandestinely’

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) organised a webinar on the passing of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the future of the Kashmiri struggle on Wednesday. Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away on September 1. “A popular leader of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan, he was an icon of the Kashmiri struggle. Syed Ali Shah Geelani wanted Kashmir to become part of Pakistan. He was awarded Nishan-i-Pakistan by the government of Pakistan,” said the acclaimed chairperson of PIIA Dr Masuma Hasan, former Ambassador of Pakistan to IAEA, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia and former Cabinet Secretary of Pakistan.

Sardar Masood Khan, former president, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, spoke about the legacy of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “His funeral was very symbolic because it told you all about the Kashmiri movement and fear of Kashmiri leaders in Indian-occupied Kashmir. You have this 92-year-old leader who dies and the Indian government is so afraid of him that they bury him clandestinely. The Kashmiri people wanted him buried in the martyrs’ graveyard there but it was denied to him as government forces confiscated his body which had been draped with a Pakistan flag by his family,” he said.

“Following what happened, writer Mirza Waheed has provided a sharp comparison of Geelani and Sheikh Abdullah who had gone into agreement with the Indian government. Abdullah’s grave is guarded to keep it from being attacked by the people of Kashmir who were enslaved as a result of his actions. And there is Geelani’s grave, which is guarded for reasons that are the opposite of that. The government doesn’t want them to flock there to pay tribute to their hero,” he said.

“So afraid is the Indian government of the majority of Kashmiris who hate India that they are transplanting people from other parts of India and giving them domiciles and the right to buy land there in order to change the demographics of Kashmir,” he said.

“Geelani devoted his life to the people of Kashmir and the Kashmir cause. He never abandoned his stand like the Maharaja of Kashmir and Sheikh Abdullah who hoodwinked the Kashmiris and compromised. He was instrumental in bringing up the group of people to which Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also belong. He said that the people of Kashmir have the right to self-determination, for Geelani was a consensus builder. His kind of clarity, conviction and sense of direction you won’t see now,” he said.

“He was a pro-Pakistan leader, an ideologue who was never confused. He believed in the ideology of Pakistan and the two-nation theory even though he did not live in Pakistan. I salute him for giving a slogan ‘Hum Pakistani hain, Pakistan hamara hai’ to the Kashmiri youth. He leaves behind a legacy and a vacuum,” he said.

Afzal Khan, a Labour Party member of the House of Commons, UK said that Geelani stood out for his consistency of thought and steadfastness. “He stood out for his struggle, for his love and commitment to Pakistan, which was evident from his wish to be draped in the Pakistani flag after his death,” he said.

“Just hours after his death, police and paramilitary forces set up check-posts and blocked phone service as his body was taken away from his family. This kind of action says a lot about India,” he said.

Speaking about what is going on in the UK as regards Kashmir, he said that Kashmir is on the high priority list of British Muslims. “The roots of conflict lie in Britain’s colonial past. The UK should help facilitate dialogue between India and Pakistan and also urge India to cooperate with the United Nations. The UN resolution is already there and agreed upon. We need to push for its implementation,” he said.

‘Entire villages’ women are raped’

Naseema Wani, former member of the Legislative Assembly, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, spoke about the struggle of Kashmiri women.

“I originally belong to the India-occupied side of Kashmir. I migrated to this side as a child,” she said.

“The suffering on that side never stops. It is continuous. We are seeing the fifth generation suffer now. And in any conflict zone, women are the worst target. Women are also targeted to break the spirit of the freedom fighters. They are physically abused. There are full villages where the women are raped.

“Kashmiri women have also sacrificed their sons and daughters and their husbands. Many don’t even know if their husbands, taken away years ago, are even alive. They are known as half widows. she concluded:

They suffer politically, too, like Asiya Andrabi and Mushaal Malik.

These women lead from the front. Today even schoolgirls in India-occupied Kashmir have picked up stones along with their school bags. They are all fighters. Their sacrifices will not go wasted.

Published in Dawn 17 September 2021, minor editing by editor.

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The Future of the Kashmiris’ Struggle: PIIA Webinar on 15 September 2021

Greetings from The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

You are cordially invited to participate in our webinar on The Passing of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Future of the Kashmiris’ Struggle on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 at 3:00 p.m. (Pakistan Standard Time).

Speakers:

  1. Sardar Masood Khan, former President, Azad Jammu and Kashmir
  1. Afzal Khan, member of the House of Commons, UK
  1. Naseema Wani, former Member of Legislative Assembly, Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Zoom Link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87414138860?pwd=YytpdVZqVHE5d29iOWtVbVhPaWliQT09

Webinar ID: 874 1413 8860

Webinar Passcode: 865984

Dr Tanweer Khalid

Honorary Secretary

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs

Aiwan–e–Sadar Road

Karachi, Pakistan.

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Experts think Taliban government will give peace to Afghans despite challenges

At a webinar on ‘Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: Past, Present and Future’, organised by the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Tuesday, experts said Pakistan will not be receiving as many Afghan refugees as it did in the past and so we should be patient and accommodating in the interest of maintaining good relations with the Afghan people in current times. Pakistan has hosted one of the world’s largest refugee populations for over four decades. In successive waves, refugees from Afghanistan have sought shelter inside Pakistan which, over the years, has hosted millions of Afghan refugees. It is estimated that three million Afghan refugees still reside in Pakistan but according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, only 1.4m are registered. 

Former ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan and former chief commissioner for Afghan refugees in Islamabad Rustam Shah Mohmand provided an analytical overview of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

“The upheaval in Afghanistan resulted in the pouring in of thousands of refugees in Pakistan and Iran in the 1980s. At the time, there was much support for them. And the military regime in Pakistan also used it as an opportunity to legalise its rule,” Ambassador Mohmand said. 

‘We shouldn’t expect more than a few thousand refugees from Afghanistan unless there is civil war there’ 

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Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: Webinar on 31 August 2021

The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban after two decades has left the world stunned and the UK rushed to airlift more than 4,000 UK nationals and Afghan citizens, while Joe Biden intends to stick to the 31 August deadline. These events show that the “war on terror” has been a complete failure. Furthermore, pumping a trillion dollars in the Afghan National Army (ANA) was a complete waste of money. It appears to have been wishful thinking that the ANA would fight against Islamic militancy and its soldiers either deserted or joined the Taliban and 20 years of western efforts to build a stable state in Afghanistan quickly faded away as puppet government of Ashraf Ghani disintegrated in a matter of days. 

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) is organising a webinar on Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: Past, Present, and Future on Tuesday, 31 August 2021 at 3:00 p.m. (PST). Joining link and details are below. Pakistan has hosted one of the world’s largest refugee populations for over four decades. In successive waves, refugees from Afghanistan have sought shelter inside Pakistan which, over the years, has hosted millions of Afghan refugees. It is estimated that 3 million Afghan refugees still reside in Pakistan but according to the UNHCR, only 1.4 million are registered and the humanitarian assistance provided by Pakistan for over four decades has made a significant impact on its economy and social life and on its strained resources.

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‘The current Afghan state is finished’

News article: webinar on the topic ‘Afghanistan at the Crossroads’ 

Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Washington, was the first of the three main speakers. He said he was a journalist with the Mujahideen in the late 1980s and then briefly on the government side. He has visited Afghanistan intermittently since then, so his association with the country goes back 34 years. In his view what is happening seems to be in accordance with certain basic patterns of modern Afghan history; above all, the failure to establish a modern state, whether by Afghans themselves or outside forces. Mr Lieven said: “It is my sense that the current Afghan state is finished. It may last for longer than some people expect, but according to independent analysts 197 district centres have fallen to the Taliban since May.

Much will depend upon whether the US will continue airstrikes to defend the main cities, but I don’t think that will be enough. If patterns of Afghan history are anything to go by, the collapse of the state, when it comes, may come very quickly and unexpectedly. The reason is, as we saw in 1992, Afghan society is [in] a kind of process of constant conversation and negotiation. In the late 1980s it was common knowledge that there were endless negotiations between themselves and local state garrisons.”He said, on the other hand, we will see in certain areas that certain ethno-religious minority groups, notably the Hazaras and the Panjshiris, will not surrender to the Taliban. Therefore, the subsequent history of Afghanistan will be determined by the following questions:

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A Tribute to Mr. I. A. Rehman

By Dr Masuma Hasan. Chairperson of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. I. A. Rehman Sahib was for decades the leading public intellectual of Pakistan. No obituary can do justice to his eminence and greatness, his command of history, his discernment of injustice, his understanding of the immoral aspects of governance, of deprivation and poverty, his style of writing, so very forceful but restrained, and above all, his sublime compassion. He was larger than life, determined and fearless, a campaigner for peace. I first met Rehman Sahib during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy against General Ziaul Haq’s cruel rule, probably in 1983. The police were looking out for journalists who supported the Movement and some of them, including Rehman Sahib, Nisar Usmani and Ahfazur Rehman sought shelter in our house, in the upper storey where Arif Hasan lived.

Some of you might recall that General Ziaul Haq had taken over our Institute in 1980 through a presidential ordinance and turned it into a government department. After Ziaul Haq passed away and there was a let up, I met Rehman Sahib in Lahore and asked for his help. He was then chief editor of Pakistan Times and he wrote an editorial, urging that the Institute should be returned to its original independent status. In 1993, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared Ziaul Haq’s 1980 ordinance as ultra vires of the Constitution of Pakistan and the independent status of the Institute was restored. Subsequently, Rehman Sahib attended many of our events, our seventieth anniversary conference in 2017 – we honoured him then, and other conferences. He gave a talk in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan on the Politics of Dissent – he believed there could be no democracy without dissent.

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Tribute paid to I.A. Rehman at PIIA

He was a good listener, and never spoke ill of anyone

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday evening held an online reference to pay homage to journalist and human rights defender I.A. Rehman, who passed away in Lahore on April 12. The first speaker was architect Arif Hasan. He divided his talk into three parts: his relationship with Rehman sahib, his personality and legacy. He said he met the late journalist and activist in Lahore in 1967 for the first time where he (Hasan) had gone to work. Although Rehman sahib was 12 or 13 years older than him, they would meet every evening where they’d be joined by the likes of Dr Mehdi Hasan and Nisar Osmani. Rehman sahib used to call the architect ‘kitab’. Even after he returned to Karachi from Lahore, both kept meeting on a regular basis. Significantly, their relationship deepened when Bangladesh was trying to gain independence. Their ties further strengthened during Z.A. Bhutto and Gen Ziaul Haq’s tenures.

On the second point, Mr Hasan said Rehman sahib was a good listener. He knew how to lend an ear to people. He would never interrupt anyone while they were talking, even when they would be presenting a point of view opposite to his. He never spoke ill of anyone. At meetings and seminars, he would give an opinion that differed from others’ with a sense of humour. He never spoke about himself. Once, he visited his birthplace in Gurgaon, India. When he came back, nobody could detect an air of nostalgia in his narration about his place of birth. He talked about it like a tourist would. He was an extremely well-informed man who turned his wealth of information into knowledge (ilm). Mr Hasan, speaking about his legacy, said Rehman sahib has left behind the institutions that he was associated with and founded; his efforts to bring peace between India and Pakistan; his resolve that we should not be afraid of speaking the truth; and the youngsters who in their small but significant ways have established human rights and social welfare groups.

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Afghanistan will need to ensure Afghan land is not used against Pakistan

Afghan women want guarantees from international community that peace will mean democracy, protection of their rights

Pakistan’s troubled relationship with Afghanistan is a source of great concern the world over. Global and regional dimensions of the Afghan conflict were discussed by the esteemed panel of speakers and experts on regional studies and Afghanistan during a webinar organised by the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs here on Saturday. Giving his perspective about the Doha peace talks, political and security analyst Rahimullah Yousafzai said that the reduction in violence by the Taliban was a good thing. Giving credit to Russia for its efforts in bringing peace to Afghanistan even though it was the country that initially triggered the conflict by invading Afghanistan more than four decades ago, he said that the US role in bringing peace to Afghanistan is also required.

“But US President Joe Biden would like to delay recall of all their forces from Afghanistan. He still intends to keep an antiterrorism force there because the Taliban and USA still don’t see eye to eye,” he said. Al Qaeda, he pointed out, is struggling now. “They have not launched any attack on the US from Afghan soil after 9/11,” he said.

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