Monthly Archives: September 2017

Seven Decades of Publishing

As stated in earlier posts, PIIA is hosting a conference to mark the occasion of our seventieth anniversary as an independent foreign affairs institution.

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. Notably, our respected 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 70 (Number 2 April 2017, see full details below), of our journal are set out below (details of previous issues are available here). Please contact us on pakistanhorizon@hotmail.co.uk 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, Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir, Prime Minister SWRD Bandranaike, Professor Arnold Toynbee, Professor Andre Siegfried Continue reading

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Filed under Sarwar Hasan, PIIA, Pakistan Horizon, Discussion, Pakistan, Events

The Rohingya Tragedy

We fully agree with Amal de Chickera’s analysis that Suu Kyi ‘is a failed leader who has taken a calculated and cynical decision to stand with the oppressors’ in persecuting the Rohingya.

The minority Muslim population of Myanmar, i.e. the Rohingya who were made stateless by the dreaded Burma Citizenship Law 1982, can trace their history to the eighth century but are not recognised as one of the national races of Myanmar unless they can show “conclusive evidence” of their lineage or history of residence. Consequently, shunned by mainstream society, they are ineligible for any class of citizenship. Eric Fripp explains: “To be stateless in general terms is to be without attachment to a State as a national.” Since they are “resident foreigners”, or “illegal Bengali immigrants”, the Rohingya cannot hold public office, study or travel freely. Over the past three weeks, more than 400,000 Rohingya refugees have poured into Bangladesh to escape Rakhine State’s killing fields where the Buddhist majority has been indiscriminately attacking helpless civilians whose terrified faces tell us everything. The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has called these shocking events a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Reports suggest that with Suu Kyi’s help, the Myanmar military uses schools to brainwash Buddhists to “hate Muslims”.

Satellite imagery obtained by Amnesty International shows widespread torching of hundreds of Rohingya villages and the application of scorched-earth tactics by the Myanmar military. The UN secretary general António Guterres has described the situation as a “humanitarian catastrophe” and is demanding “an effective action plan” to ease the suffering of Rohingya refugees. Guterres is calling for an immediate end to the “tragedy”. But the Myanmar authorities are mining the border to prevent the Rohingya from returning home or even escaping to Bangladesh in the first place. Notably, Guterres used his opening speech during the recent UN general assembly session to highlight the plight of the Rohingya. Continue reading

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Filed under Accountability, Brexit, Discussion, Ethnic cleansing, Human Rights, India, Islam, Islamophobia, Karachi, Myanmar, NLD, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics, Refugees, Rohingya, Statelessness, Syria

Who Am I: Understanding Pakistan’s Political Dynamics?

Politics in Pakistan is marked not simply by its religion, but rather its fragmented identity and a strong military, which has grown out of Pakistan’s need to secure itself.

Seventy years later we are still struggling to answer the question, who is Pakistan? In a sense, Pakistan is a paradox, cut between its religious identity and its need to formulate a state. Unlike India, it did not declare itself as a secular democracy but at the same time, it also failed to define its religious identity. Nationalism and Islam have often found themselves in opposition in the Pakistani state, creating a grave identity crisis. Even Jinnah was ambivalent about the role Islam should play in defining Pakistan’s identity; sometimes he claimed Pakistan should be based on the ‘principles of Islam,’ while on another occasion he portrayed Pakistan to be a secular state, ‘you are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan.’ This meant that from its very existence Pakistan faced an ‘ontological insecurity’ being unable to create a stable identity for itself. This conflicted identity and highlighted insecurity then impregnated Pakistani politics to define its domestic and foreign policies.

While Islam has not been the driver of shaping politics in Pakistan, those in power have alluded to religion in order to wield their political interests. In part, it was believed religion would override all cultural differences in Pakistan. However, it became very apparent that the limited notion of Islam would come into conflict with the other forms of identity people attached themselves with. If Pakistan was to distinguish itself as a democratic state, it would diminish the role Islam would play as an organising factor to mobilise political action. While there was no definitive made as to what Islam’s role would be, the political representation of cultural identities was suppressed. Therein lay the roots of Pakistan’s problems; its failure to accommodate ethnic diversity and provisional autonomy, which has led to a mobilisation of ethnic nationalism. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution 1973, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Islam, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon

A Change of Approach is Needed in the Study of Indo-Pak Relations

‘A fresh approach to studying relations between India and Pakistan can help policy makers to reach some point where they can make better decisions for the common people on both sides of the Indo-Pak border’

Numerous obstacles exist in objectively analysing the field of politics and foreign policy. The field is full of conflicting approaches and theoretical perspectives. Another problem arises regarding the nature of analysis to be adopted. Noam Chomsky argues that in international relations ‘historical conditions are too varied and complex for anything that might plausibly be called “a theory” to apply uniformly’. For him ‘international relations’ is a discipline of theoretical disagreements – a ‘divided discipline’. Different approaches or paradigms, such as liberalism or realism are like different games played by different people. As there is more than one game to be played, it is hard to know which game to play. A theory should be clear with clarity of exposition. It should be unbiased and its scope should encompass the specific issue in both breadth and depth. The Indo-Pak rivalry has been one of the most important research topics in international security studies. Yet meaningful literature on the subject is scant.

What little is available is either descriptive or historical in orientation. Traditionally, Indo-Pak relations have been studied through the realist lens in international relations. It is submitted that the time has come for Indo-Pak relations need to be studied in a new way by moving away from the traditional realist/neo-realist, liberal/neo-liberal approaches which are based upon material benefits and the balance of power. The significance of Indo-Pak relations can be gauged from the following advice of President Clinton to his successor President Bush. Clinton said in 2004 that ‘continuing tensions between India and Pakistan’, should be high on the incoming administration’s list of priorities, ‘because both have nuclear weapons.’ Continue reading

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Filed under Congress, Discussion, India, Pakistan, Partition, Peace building, PIIA, United States

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

‘To describe the Rubaiyat’s quatrains as the epigrams of an epicurean is to misunderstand Khayyam’ explains Dr Reeza Hameed.

As rendered by Fitzgerald, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has remained an enduring favourite among poetry lovers all over the world. Khayyam is a poet for all seasons. Khayyam was undoubtedly one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers to come out of the Islamic world of the middle ages. He was a contemporary of Ali ibn Sina, known to the West as Avicenna. Khayyam was a polymath in an era which produced polymaths by the dozens, many of whom are known to the West only by their Latinised names, but Khayyam’s name survives in the Arabic original. Khayyam had mastered many disciplines. In addition to mathematics and astronomy, he was fluent in philosophy, medicine, geography, physics, and music. Ibn Sina taught him philosophy for many years. He also learnt medicine and physics from that great man. Another contemporary was Al-Zamakshari, well-known for his commentary of the Quran. Since Khayyam was one of the greatest astronomers of the Middle Ages, in recognition of his contributions a crater on the Moon was named after him. 

In mathematics, he virtually invented the field of geometric algebra. His treatise on Algebra was used in Europe as a standard text even as late as the nineteenth century. He was not known for his poetry, until he was reborn as a poet in the second half of the nineteenth century in Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of his Rubaiyat, which catapulted him to poetic stardom. Had it not been for Fitzgerald, Khayyam’s fame might have rested on his contributions to astronomy, mathematics or the development of the Jalali calendar to replace the Julian calendar. He alludes to his involvement in the calendar in one of his verses.

 Ah, by my Computations, People say,
Reduce the Year to better reckoning?

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Filed under Discussion, Dr Reeza Hameed, Iran, Islam, The Middle East