Held six decades ago in Bandung, Indonesia, the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference (also known as the Bandung Conference) was a landmark event in the history of decolonized countries and those aspiring for independence from colonial rule. The Conference was organized by Indonesia, Pakistan, Burma, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and was unique in that there was no official western presence. It was attended by the great leaders of that time: Zhou Enlai and Ho Chi Minh, Nehru, U Nu, Tito, Nasser, Ben Bella among others and seasoned diplomats like Prince Waithayakow of Thailand, Fatin Zorlu of Turkey and Carlos Romulo of the Philippines. For The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, the Bandung Conference has a very special significance because our founding Secretary, K. Sarwar Hasan, went to Bandung to organize the Conference on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. He recorded his impressions of the Conference in this unpublished paper, Bandung Memories.
The Asian-African Conference, held in Bandung from 18 to 24 April 1955, was undoubtedly the largest gathering of the kind held on the soil of Asia or Africa. Twenty-nine governments participated, many of them represented by their prime ministers or other leading statesmen. Arrangements for the Conference were made by a Joint Secretariat of the five sponsoring powers, the so-called Colombo Powers, namely, Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Continue reading
It is not like the Treaty of Versailles 1919 which favoured the victors and victimized the defeated powers. As rightly highlighted by the Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif, it is the treaty which provides a win-win solution to end the perennial conflict between the west and Iran. Amid the bloodshed and scourge of war in the Middle East, the major powers and Iran have given a reason to the world to be hopeful for the prospects of peace, progress and prosperity. There is no escaping the fact that the Iran Nuclear Deal is very significant indeed: as the aptly named Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) suggests, the constructive engagement really aims to resolve issues peacefully irrespective of the complexities presented by the circumstances. After the heady days of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which toppled the pro-American government in Tehran and disarticulated American hegemony in the region, the United States of America and Islamic Republic of Iran came to be at loggerheads.
Equally, the hostage crisis of 1979, the American sponsored invasion of Iran by former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, the deplorable Vincennes incident (which caused the death of 290 Iranians) and sweeping sanctions aggravated the situation by adding fuel to the fire. In such volatile circumstances, it was difficult to foresee that the Islamic Republic would extend a hand of co-operation to a country which it calls Great Satan. Nevertheless, the change in the reins of power in Iran’s June 2013 elections, which catapulted the moderate and pragmatic Hassan Rouhani into office, transformed the discourse. Continue reading
The question whether ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa is eligible to be appointed to the Prime Minister’s post if he has the support of a majority of members in Parliament following the August 17 poll is the subject of current debate. President Sirisena has made public his intention not to appoint Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister and has hinted that ‘there are enough seniors in the party to be the Prime Minister’. There are some within the UPFA who want Rajapaksa as their Prime Minister in the event of a UPFA majority in Parliament. A.H.M. Fowzie, for instance, has acknowledged that the appointment of the Prime Minister is the prerogative right of the President but that, after the elections are over, the UPFA ‘will prevail upon President Sirisena to accommodate Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister’.
Another UPFA candidate has threatened to do a Dahanayake and run around with the mace if Mahinda Rajapaksa is ignored for the post. G.L. Peiris has weighed in to say that nowhere in the constitution is it stated that a former President cannot become Prime Minister. The President, he said, must appoint as Prime Minister the member who commands the support of a majority of parliamentarians, and he must appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa if he happened to be that person. Former Chief Justice Sarath Silva has declared as untenable the argument that Rajapaksa is disqualified from acting as President simply because he has already been elected twice as President. Continue reading