Monthly Archives: April 2015

Yemen’s problem is not sectarian

This post relates to coverage in the Dawn regarding our recent event on the crisis in Yemen … “Pakistan has no business in the Arab world”

Ever since King Salman ascended to power, there’s been a gung-ho feeling in Riyadh. Yemen’s is not a sectarian issue rather the Saudis are trying to make the country into Saudi Yemenia, said Raza Naeem, assistant professor at the School of Governance and Society in the University of Management and Technology, Lahore, during his talk at The Pakistan Institute of International Relations (PIIA) on Thursday 23 April 2015. The round-table conference held in PIIA was entitled The Crisis in Yemen and Pakistan’s Response. Before giving an historical account of Yemen, Prof Naeem said it was not a country talked about much in our part of the world and he was disappointed with the mainstream commentary dominated by security analysts and ex-ambassadors. He explained Yemen was a water-scarce country that imported 90 per cent of its foodstuffs. Ever since Saudi Arabia started bombing the country, a humanitarian crisis with electricity and food shortages had enveloped Yemen, he said. In the future, he added, there was a chance of water wars in the Middle East.

He termed ironic the name ‘Restore Hope’ that the Saudis had given to their operation because it was the same name that the American gave to their operation when they attacked Somalia and destroyed it. Shattering the myth that Yemen was the birthplace of Al Qaeda, he said it was an attempt to whitewash the region’s past. Yemen was the only republican country in the peninsula and the Saudis had never liked that, he explained. Prof Naeem said Yemen used to be two countries, divided into north and south parts.

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Filed under Discussion, Karachi, Pakistan, PIIA, Politics, The Middle East

Economic Crises and Reforming Karachi’s Informal Textile Industry

This post extracts the key points of an important impact assessment in relation to reforming Karachi’s informal textile sector.

It has recently been reported that Pakistan is the eighth largest exporter of textile and related products in Asia and that Pakistan’s textile industry accounts for 9.5 percent of the country’s GDP and provides employment to about 15 million people or roughly 30 percent of the country’s 49 million strong workforce. Arguably, Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world. Contributing 5 percent to global spinning capacity, Pakistan possesses the third largest spinning capacity in Asia after China and India. Equally, The textile industry in Pakistan accounts for more than 60 per cent (US$9.6 billion) of total exports. Indeed, the industry forms the spine of Pakistan’s economy. To date, no empirical research has examined the local impacts of economic crises and reform on cities in Pakistan, including Karachi.

This study by Arif Hasan, Mansoor Raza and IIED addresses this gap by examining how the textile industry – as one of Pakistan’s most productive economic sectors – has been impacted, with a focus on the informal power loom sub-sector. The factors that have contributed to the decline of the textile industry and the repercussions for this sub-sector, including one of the settlements in which it operates, are discussed. The conclusions contemplate the challenges of formulating urban policy responses to an economic problem that is shaped simultaneously by local, regional and global pressures. This study examines the local impacts of economic crises and reform on the textile industry in Karachi, with a focus on the informal power loom sub-sector and the low-income settlement (Dibba Colony) where it operates. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Energy, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Trade

The Latest From Our Journal

The Pakistan Horizon is the flagship journal of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) which we have published continuously since 1948. Research at the PIIA is published either in monographs or in Pakistan Horizon, the quarterly journal of the Institute. The first issue was published in March 1948. Since then, it has been published without a break; it contains articles, speeches, surveys of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations, book reviews, chronologies of important events and documents. To be sure, our journal is the oldest journal on International Relations in South Asia. Apart from adding to the learning on politics, Pakistan Horizon aims to combine rigorous analysis with a helpful approach to international issues. It thus features articles related to Pakistan’s foreign policy, regional and global issues, women’s concerns in international relations, IR theory, terrorism and security studies and emerging environmental concerns.

The contents of the latest issue, Volume 67 (Number 1 January 2014, Number 2 April 2014 and Numbers 3-4 July-October 2014),  of our journal are set out below (details of previous issues are available here). Please contact us on for more about subscription. As part of its public diplomacy programme, PIIA arranges roundtable sessions, lectures and seminars on a regular basis. These sessions have been addressed by world leaders, scholars and academics including: Presidents Ayub Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf; Prime Ministers Liaquat Ali Khan and Benazir Bhutto: Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, President Habib Bouraqiba, Prince Karim Aga Khan, Madame Sun Yat Sen, Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, Henry Kissinger, Rauf Denktash, Justice Philip C. Jessup, Lord Clement Attlee Continue reading

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Filed under BJP, Congress, Discussion, Energy, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics, Water

Karachi: The Transport Crisis

This post extracts the germane points of The Urban Resource Centre’s recent report on Karachi’s transport problems by Arif Hasan et al and IIED, UK

If the 2011 pre-census house count for Karachi is to be believed, then Karachi is the fastest growing mega city in the world both in percentage and figure terms. Karachi’s population has increased by more than 100 percent from 11 million (the 1998 census figure) to 22 million when the house count was conducted. As such, Karachi contains 10 percent of the population of Pakistan and 22 percent of its urban population. In addition to population, there are other reasons for Karachi’s importance. It is Pakistan’s only port city. It contains 32 percent of the country’s industrial base, generates 15 percent of GDP, 25 percent of federal revenues and 62 percent of income tax. It contains powerful federal institutions in the form of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Railways, Customs and military cantonments.

All these federal institutions own land, carry out developments on it (including residential and commercial real estate) and employ a large number of persons. In addition to the provincial government (who also owns land), they all have a say in Karachi’s development. The city government controls only 31 percent of Karachi’s land. Coordination between the different land owning agencies is almost non-existent. Karachi is also the capital of Sindh province. It contains 62 percent of Sindh urban population and 30 percent of its total population. This figure is important since the second largest city of Pakistan, Lahore, contains only 7 percent of the population of the Punjab province whose capital it is. Continue reading

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Filed under Courts, Discussion, IIED, Karachi, Pakistan, Partition, SBCA

A Story of Bhuttos, and South Asia

This is a review by Khaled Ahmed of Professor Anna Suvorova’s new book Benazir Bhutto: A Multidimensional Portrait, BB spoke at PIIA on 24 February 1996 and she addressed our members …

Benazir Bhutto final cover-cpAfter reading Tavleen Singh’s book Durbar, I became firm in my belief that ruling dynasties in South Asia routinely experience tremors within the family tree that the charisma-drunk masses don’t always grasp. Now, Anna Suvorova, professor of Indo-Islamic culture and head of the department of Asian Literature at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, has written Benazir Bhutto: A Multidimensional Portrait about the Bhuttos of Pakistan. In South Asia, the masses repose blind trust in dynasties, contrasted strangely with the intense loathing some sections of the population feel for the lineal hero. Needless to say, there is a lot of juice in it for Bhutto-haters, despite a sincere and almost successful effort to appreciate what was good in her. The paterfamilias, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, will always be remembered as the man who gave us the 1973 constitution. He mobilised the common man and took leadership out of feudal hands and made possible the rise of the middle-class politician.

His land reform didn’t work; neither did his belated, nationalisation-based, confiscatory socialism. Combative rather than conciliatory, he was tribal in his nursing of revenge and could be violent in the treatment of the disobedient. His eldest, Benazir, can be called great because she transcended the “exemplary” charisma of her father, cured herself of the economic totalitarianism that was the party shibboleth, worked to fend off the international isolationism practised by her father as “heroic defiance”, married Asif Ali Zardari as a rejection of her father’s “inflexibility”, and wrote the famous Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Bhutto, Constitution 1973, Criminal Justice, Criminal law, Discussion, Russia

Dr Mehr Afshan Farooqi: Ghalib and Rampur: Present and Past Contexts

Rampur, in the eyes of the discerning, is the city Where the eight paradises have come together Rampur is an example of one vast garden, that is Alluring, fresh, verdant, immense and blissful Like clouds sprinkling rain in the month of savan The generous benefactor’s bounty flows like a river Ghalib: Qitah in praise of Nawab Kalbe Ali Khan

My recent sojourn to Rampur this past December to examine some rare manuscripts of Ghalib’s divan at the Raza Library prompted me to scrutinise Ghalib’s association with the Rampur Nawabs, with a view to assess the importance of Rampur in the larger picture of Ghalib’s life and work. Rampur holds a special place in the area of Ghalib studies because of the path-breaking work of Maulana Imtiaz Ali Khan Arshi (1904-81), who joined the Raza library in 1932, and produced a stream of authoritative works on Ghalib from there.

Maulana Arshi painstakingly collated and published what is still considered the most definitive edition of Ghalib’s divan (1958): he strove to put together an impressive archive of published and unpublished materials. During my visit I examined the artistically decorated 1857 manuscript that Ghalib had got specially calligraphed for Nawab Yousuf Ali Khan. I also saw the 1866 intikhab that Ghalib had put together at Nawab Kalbe Ali Khan’s request. The 1866 intikhab has both Persian and Urdu selections. There are visible corrections in Ghalib’s hand throughout the manuscript and notes on the flyleaf in Maulana Arshi’s meticulous handwriting. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, India, Kalam, Pakistan Horizon

Alexey Dedov: ‘Downturn in Russia-Pakistan Trade Only Temporary’

Anil Datta of the News reports on the Russian Ambassador H.E. Alexey Dedov’s talk in PIIA on 10 April 2015

The volume of Russia-Pakistan trade in 2013 was to the tune of US $547 million, which decreased to US $474 million in 2014, but it is earnestly hoped that these figures would pick up once again. This was stated by Alexey Dedov, Russian Ambassador to Pakistan, in an interactive session with members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), the media, and the academia at the institute on Friday evening. While not citing a specific reason for this slight downturn, H.E. Ambassador Dedov nevertheless termed the decline a temporary phenomenon. Replying to a question about the proposed privatisation of the Pakistan Steel Mills, a project established wholly by the former Soviet Union, he said that in his recent meetings with the PSM officials, he had been told that the project was producing at 42 percent of its capacity which, under the present global economic conditions and Pakistan’s economic problems, was not a bad record. Dedov said he saw no prospects of, or need for, privatisation of the mill.

Turning to Yemen, he said the role of external players was not to bomb the country, but to mediate reconciliation between the warring factions and spare the locals of death and massacre. He reiterated that both, the presidents of Yemen and Ukraine, were elected in the most democratic and transparent of manners, and the coups that overthrew them were illegal. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Discussion, Politics, Russia, Trade

The Struggle for Democracy: Resistance and Dissent in Pakistani Politics

Voice of Dissent, Mairaj Muhammad Khan and a lifelong struggle for democracy by Kamal Siddiqi and Azhar Jamil (“the authors”) is a fascinating and detailed article which meticulously teases out the roots of resistance in Pakistan. It chronicles the great movement of resistance that challenged the abuses of power and dictatorships that have plagued Pakistan. As emphasised by the authors, whilst a chief protagonist, Mairaj was not alone in his struggle and the article traces time back to the heyday of dissent and agitation; techniques which he, of course, famously pioneered together with Fatehyab Ali Khan in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The regime considered them and their other companions – such as Anwar Ahsan Siddiqui, Agha Jaffer, Johar Hussain, Iqbal Ahmed Memon, Ali Mukhtar Rizvi, Ameer Haider Kazmi, Sher Afzal Mulk, Mehboob Ali Mehboob – to be mere student leaders. But as demonstrated by the historical process, after their monumental struggle as students these individuals would go on to lay the bedrock of national resistance in our country.

These activists, whose longstanding efforts defined the tactics of agitation for half a century, produced remarkable methods and modes of resistance for future generations to employ in their fight against injustice, venality, abuse of power and oppression. As recalled by the authors, for their opposition to dictatorship, all of them were sentenced to prison for a year to six months by a military court on March 30, 1961, for demonstrating against Ayub Khan’s authoritarian military regime. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution 1973, Discussion, Fatehyab, MRD, Pakistan Horizon, Politics

Designing Constitutions in Muslim Countries: What Role for Islam?

Several new constitutions have been written in Muslim countries in the past decade; Afghanistan and Iraq wrote new constitutions after American-led invasions; Egypt wrote a new constitution after the ouster of Mubarak (and again after the military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Morsi) and Tunisia enacted a new constitution recently; several countries – such as Yemen and Libya have attempted to write permanent constitutions but ensuing chaos did not allow this to happen. Each of these constitution-making situations was very different and each country is a product of very different histories, cultures and socio-economic and societal foundations. Yet, one issue has been consistently highlighted: the status of Islam. To what degree will Islam be privileged in the constitution? Will new popularly elected governments be constrained by Islamic law? Will courts be able to set aside laws if incompatible with Sharia?

Many constitutions in the Muslim world contain clauses that recognize the Islamic character of the state. Yet, to date, there was little data on the landscape of Islam in constitutions. Separate research projects I collaborated on with Tom Ginsburg, Professor and Deputy Dean at the University of Chicago Law School and Moamen Gouda, Assistant Professor of Middle East Economics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies sought to fill this gap. Our analysis showed that roughly half of all Muslim majority countries have some Islamic feature in their constitution. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution 1973, Discussion, Iran, Karachi, Pakistan, Politics