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

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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

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

Regional Challenges and Opportunities for South Asia in the Decades Ahead

‘I look at the region not as Pakistan alone. I look at wider connectivity over the next two decades’ … ‘There’s no military solution to security issues’ …

Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the Wars Within is thought to be an important book. William Dalrymple called it the most “authoritative analysis” of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services. General Jehangir Karamat, the former Chief of Army Staff (1996-98), called it an “insightful study” and “the centre of gravity in Pakistan”. It has been called the “key” to understanding the complex framework underpinning power structures in Pakistan. “The most well researched and lucidly written book of its kind,” is how Ahmed Rashid described it. In a talk entitled Regional Challenges and Opportunities for South Asia in the Decades Ahead at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), its author Shuja Nawaz stressed that terrorism would only be reduced if education levels remain high. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Centre.

The Atlantic Council promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the Atlantic Community’s central role in meeting global challenges. The Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders. Because of historic rivalry, the degree of misunderstanding and mistrust between Pakistan and India is constantly skyrocketing. Continue reading

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Holy Cow! Is It Cricket?

I have never attended cricket matches and only once took a bat and a cricket ball in my hands and that was under compulsion from the head master

Markandey Katju, quondam Justice of the Supreme Court of India, is a man who does not mince his words. A maverick, he has a penchant for courting controversies. Not long ago, he dubbed Mahatma Gandhi “a British agent” (he also called Subhash Chandra Bose “a Japanese agent”). Katju accused Gandhi of serving the imperial agenda and declared as a myth the widely held claim that Gandhi won India her freedom. For about twenty years Gandhi practised law in South Africa and in 1915 went back to India, where he became involved in the country’s independence movement. In India, he set out to build a mass political movement by injecting religion into politics, thereby exploiting the deeply held religious sentiments of the people. In almost every meeting he participated, he propagated Hindu religious ideas.

The Congress was converted to a party of the Hindu masses, leading to the Muslims and the Congress becoming polarised. Citing the eminent jurist Seervai in support, Katju has argued that Gandhi’s method of appealing to Hindu ideas inevitably led to partition. Had Katju been in Solon’s Athens, where speaking ill of the dead was prohibited by Solon’s law, his remarks would have got him into hot waters. In twenty first century India, Katju’s remarks touched a raw nerve of the law makers because he had spoken ill of the Father Continue reading

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Filed under BJP, Congress, Discussion, Dr Reeza Hameed, India, Islam, Pakistan, Politics

A Talk by Ambassador Brigitta Blaha on Austria’s Foreign Policy

‘We have no problem with Islam but we don’t want any disruption or anything that goes against our cultural values’ – Watch Video

A longstanding diplomat who joined the Austrian Foreign Service in 1978, Dr Brigitta Blaha gave a talk on Austria’s Foreign Policy at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 9 February 2016. Prior to her present posting in Pakistan as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria, Dr Blaha had served her country in Washington, Bangkok, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong and New York. An astute diplomat, she speaks German, English, French, Italian and Spanish and has extensive experience in dealing with integration and foreign affairs, Austrians abroad, citizenship matters, elections, social and health and Labour issues. The event was chaired by Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairman, PIIA, former Cabinet Secretary to the Government of Pakistan and former Ambassador of Pakistan to Austria, the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Certainly, in the existing political milieu, the interest in EU matters is amplified because of the continuing exchange between David Cameron and EU leaders. As we know so well, these days nothing in European politics is as important as the UK’s exit, or “Brexit”, from the EU. With a record one million people arriving irregularly in the EU last year, swelling numbers of refugees are giving rise to extreme Xenophobia in Europe and Austria is no exception. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Europe, Events, Human Rights, Immigration, Islam, Pakistan Horizon, Politics

Why Think Tanks Matter to Policy Makers and the Public

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), a learned society and the oldest think tank in Pakistan, with 68 years’ experience in research, publication and public diplomacy, hosted a session on Why Think Tanks Matter to Policy Makers and the Public, on Thursday, 28 January 2016 as a launch partner in Pakistan of The Lauder Institute’s (The University of Pennsylvania) 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index in January 2016. This event aimed at bringing together policy makers, think tank leaders, academics, public interest activists and concerned citizens. The session provided an opportunity to all stakeholders in public policy to discuss in depth the importance and contribution of think tanks in policy making and the challenges faced by them, to examine the outreach and culture of think tanks in Pakistan and search for a way forward for a more effective collaboration between think tanks, policy makers and members of the public.

The session began with a video message from Dr James G McGann, Director, Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania USA. The discussion was led by Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairperson, PIIA; Mr Javed Jabbar, former Senator and Federal Minister, Chairman and Chief Executive, JJ Media (Pvt) Limited; Ambassador Sohail Amin, President, Islamabad Policy Research Institute; Mr Tasneem Siddiqui, former Chief Secretary, Government of Sindh and Chairman, Saiban; Mr Arif Hasan, architect Continue reading

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Mani Shankar Aiyar: Continuity and Change in India’s Foreign Policy

‘If we don’t talk to Pakistan we will never be able to find a solution…It would be foolish to have cordial relations with Paraguay and just ignore Pakistan’ said the Rajya Sabha member and former diplomat – watch video.

“There is going to be no peace in India or elsewhere except on the basis of freedom,” remained Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s final denouement in The Discovery of India – his third book; written in captivity in Ahmadnagar Fort prison in 1944. Indira Gandhi explained that along with Discovery, Joe’s other books Glimpses of World History and An Autobiography were her close “companions in life”. Indeed, Nehru’s works and political strategy not only influenced his daughter but also inspired political activists in neighbouring Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. Just the other day, India’s government began to declassify secret files to finally settle questions over Subhas Chandra Bose’s death. Bose, a widely admired Congress party frontrunner, aligned his tactics with the Japanese in the 1940s to create a “national army” to fight colonial rule and expel the British from India.

In Discovery, Panditji noted the “astonishing enthusiasm” evoked by the court martial of members of the Indian National Army (INA). In admiration, he remarked that the trial “aroused the country as nothing else had done, and they became the symbols of India fighting for her freedom.” In Nehru’s eyes, INA activists and members, who were in fact his rivals, had “solved the communal problem amongst themselves” because “Hindu, Moslem, Sikh and Christian were all represented”. They had achieved utopia. Or perhaps even Nirvana. Continue reading

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