‘The Indus Commission hasn’t played an effective role’

Coverage from Dawn on our event on Friday, 20 March 2015.

The Indus Waters Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 did not envisage disputes and concerns arising in subsequent years. These include climate changes and groundwater management that were not mentioned when the treaty was being formulated. These thoughts were articulated by former deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Shafqat Kakakhel and former managing director of Wapda Khalid Mohtadullah. They were delivering a talk on ‘The Indus Waters Treaty 1960: Issues and Concerns’ at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Friday. Before delving into the effectiveness of the treaty and challenges in its implementation, Mr Kakakhel, gave a comprehensive background of the treaty to which Mr Mohtadullah added his valuable input.

The treaty, consisting of around eight pages, had four main features, said Mr Kakakhel. “The first pertains to the division of the Indus and its five major tributaries. All the waters of the three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — shall be available to India and Pakistan shall receive for unrestricted use all those waters of the western rivers (the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) which India is under obligation to let flow.” He emphasised that this was not a water-sharing agreement but a water-division agreement. Continue reading

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Dr Masuma Hasan: The Modi-Obama Romance: Chalein Saath Saath

Obama-ModiThere should be no distinction between terrorist groups …

After being snubbed and refused a visa to the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has now become a dear friend of the United States. India and the United States are now “natural partners.” President Obama’s visit to Delhi on the occasion of India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2015 was the scene not only of charting mutual strategic interests, but also of pure physical warmth. Narendra Modi is the son of a tea stall owner and as a child he sold tea to his father’s customers on the railway platform at Vadnagar. As these pictures show, he is still pouring out tea as the prime minister of India. People mock him for having begun life in humble circumstances as the son of a very poor man. But it goes to the credit of India’s political system, ridden as it is by constraints of caste, sect, prejudice and religion that a poor child belonging to the backward Ghanchi community grew up to become the prime minister of a country of over one billion people.

We look at Obama’s visit to India not only in the global perspective but also from Pakistan’s perspective. It has been repeated in all the despatches that India is the greatest democracy in the world and Obama’s visit is the meeting point of two of the world’s largest democracies. In Obama’s own words, they are “two great democracies, two innovative economies, two diverse societies dedicated to empowering individuals.” Continue reading

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Dr Masuma Hasan: In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: I.A. Rehman’s Address on ‘The Politics of Dissent’

Fatehyab did not give up. Perhaps he did not know how to do that …

The beautiful and historic library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs was packed to capacity when Ibn Abdur Rehman, better known as I.A. Rehman, spoke on The Politics of Dissent in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan. The younger members of the audience had to stand throughout the session. I.A. Rehman is the Secretary General of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and is one of the leading human rights defenders in Pakistan. He is the founding chair of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy and received the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 2004. Fatehyab’s was a most powerful voice of dissent in politics in Pakistan and, therefore, it was appropriate that Rehman Sahib should have spoken on this subject in his memory: see earlier posts here, here and here.

Throughout his life, Fatehyab fought for fundamental freedoms, democratic values, political morality and decency in public life. He was only 25 years old when he led the movement against Ayub Khan in 1961, which spread throughout West Pakistan, while the political parties sat on the fence. He was interned, externed and imprisoned throughout his political career but he never lost his sense of humour. During the agitation against Ziaul Haq’s tyrannical regime, he was one of the nine signatories of the declaration of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD, 1981). Continue reading

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State’s Anti-India Posture Caused Gradual Transfer of Power to Military

nprCoverage of The Politi­cs of Dissent in Pakistan in Dawn by Peerzada Salman

Yesterday’s lecture was organised in memory of the distinguished political leader Fatehyab Ali Khan at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs’ library. The Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mr I.A. Rehman explained that dissent implied presenting alternatives to state narratives. Alternatives to what, he asked, and answered that it was to do with the dominant narratives that developed because of a lack of clarity and interpretation of ideas before independence. When Mohammad Ali Jinnah was asked about the nature of Pakistani nationhood, the markers that he chose to define it came from religious traditions, which created a problem. He chose to define the history of Muslims of India different from their Hindu compatriots.

Regional communities (Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis, etc) were ignored as well as what was common and uncommon between them, he said. Still, Mr Jinnah maintained that Islamic principles would be followed in Pakistan but it would not be a theocracy. At the time of independence, he said, there were three groups who had their opinion on the matter and a large group of which supported sharia state. Realizing the danger of the issue, Mr Jinnah called for a new nationhood on the basis of citizenship but perhaps did not take his colleagues into confidence which was why his 11 August 1947 speech was not allowed to get published. Continue reading

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Objectives Resolution Bade Farewell To Quaid’s Ideals: I.A. Rehman

Fatehyab Ali Khan was the brightest star in the galaxy of progressive politicians …

The Objectives Resolution of 1949 bade farewell to the Quaid-e-Azam’s ideals of equality for all citizens and his principles of fair governance. This was stated by I.A. Rehman while addressing The members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and the media in his talk, “Politics of dissent in Pakistan” as part of the series of the Fatehyab Ali Khan Memorial Lectures on Saturday evening. He said all governments had slowly capitulated to the dictates of the religious parties. “Today, even the Shariat Court has pronounced a verdict against land reforms terming them against the spirit of religion,” he said.

As for dissent, he defined it as presentation of an alternative to the ruling government. However, in our case it was construed as rebellion or treason. According to Mr Rehman, there has been a lack of clarity about Pakistan’s ideals. For instance, in the beginning, there was a view in Pakistan according to which, Islamic principles would govern the country it would not be a theocratic state. It was stipulated that Islamic principles were compatible with democracy. He said Mr Jinnah’s position that Pakistan would follow a neutral foreign policy with friendship for all and malice towards none was violated by successive rulers. Continue reading

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Prestigious American League Table Ranks PIIA Pakistan’s Top Think Tank

As published in Dawn today, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) has been ranked the premier think tank in Pakistan. The PIIA’s work relates to the fields of international relations, politics, economics and law. According to the ‘Top Think Tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific’, (table 10, page 80) of the 2014 Global Go-to Think-Tank Index, PIIA is the top-ranked think tank in Pakistan. The index included 211 South Asian think tanks. Moreover, only two Pakistani institutions – PIIA and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) – were mentioned in the top 20 of the Southeast Asia and the Pacific list. The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the University of Pennsylvania has developed the index to identify “centers of excellence in all the major areas of public policy research and in every region of the world.”

The index, which is essentially a suite of league tables, delivered today included 6681 think tanks from all over the world. Moreover, 192 think tanks from India and 19 from Pakistan played a part in the composition of the index. However, among these 211 only two Pakistani think tanks had the distinction of being included in the top 20 and as mentioned above, PIIA  which owes all its success to its Chairman, Dr Masuma Hasan  was ranked sixteenth while SDPI was ranked nineteenth which means that they were effectively the first and second ranked think tanks in our country. Continue reading

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In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: ‘The Politics of Dissent in Pakistan’

Fatehyab Ali Khan, who served as Chairman of the Council of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs from 1995 to 2009, passed away in September 2010. He was a legendary figure in the public and national life of Pakistan. A visionary in politics, his struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms, justice in society and the rule of law forms a glowing chapter in the history of our country. His support for the cause of the oppressed and underprivileged will long be remembered. I. A. Rehman, Secretary-General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, will address the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on ‘The Politics of Dissent in Pakistan’ on Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 4:15 p.m. sharp in the Library of the Institute. The Chairman and members of the Council cordially invite you to attend this session which is being held to honour Fatehyab’s memory and political struggle for democracy.

Fatehyab’s family migrated from Hyderabad Deccan to Pakistan after the Partition and settled in Shikarpur and Karachi. His bold stand against injustices in the local education system made him prominent at a very early age. Gifted with unusual organizing skills, persuasiveness and charm, he joined the National Students Federation and soon assumed leadership roles in the student community. He was elected as Vice President of Islamia College Students’ Union (at that time the president used to be an official), President of Karachi University Students’ Union and Chairman of the Inter-Collegiate Body. He was a brilliant debater. Continue reading

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