He was a good listener, and never spoke ill of anyone
The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday evening held an online reference to pay homage to journalist and human rights defender I.A. Rehman, who passed away in Lahore on April 12. The first speaker was architect Arif Hasan. He divided his talk into three parts: his relationship with Rehman sahib, his personality and legacy. He said he met the late journalist and activist in Lahore in 1967 for the first time where he (Hasan) had gone to work. Although Rehman sahib was 12 or 13 years older than him, they would meet every evening where they’d be joined by the likes of Dr Mehdi Hasan and Nisar Osmani. Rehman sahib used to call the architect ‘kitab’. Even after he returned to Karachi from Lahore, both kept meeting on a regular basis. Significantly, their relationship deepened when Bangladesh was trying to gain independence. Their ties further strengthened during Z.A. Bhutto and Gen Ziaul Haq’s tenures.
On the second point, Mr Hasan said Rehman sahib was a good listener. He knew how to lend an ear to people. He would never interrupt anyone while they were talking, even when they would be presenting a point of view opposite to his. He never spoke ill of anyone. At meetings and seminars, he would give an opinion that differed from others’ with a sense of humour. He never spoke about himself. Once, he visited his birthplace in Gurgaon, India. When he came back, nobody could detect an air of nostalgia in his narration about his place of birth. He talked about it like a tourist would. He was an extremely well-informed man who turned his wealth of information into knowledge (ilm). Mr Hasan, speaking about his legacy, said Rehman sahib has left behind the institutions that he was associated with and founded; his efforts to bring peace between India and Pakistan; his resolve that we should not be afraid of speaking the truth; and the youngsters who in their small but significant ways have established human rights and social welfare groups.
Claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands and leaving many more stateless, the Rohingya crisis has harrowed the world since 2015.
The Rohingya community has been denied the right to citizenship since 1982 by Myanmar authorities and has been subjected to several government-led oppression schemes (Bhatia, 2018). The end of military rule and the arrival of a softer government in Myanmar was expected to be a turning point for the decades-long structural hostility. However, the latest wave of massive ethnocide against the Muslim minority in the Rakhine state has set a benchmark of unprecedented human rights violations in modern history. The onset of this recent state-perpetrated violence has by far resulted in the mass exodus of over 740,000 Rohingya refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh. Mostly settled in the Cox’s Bazar, 33% of the refugees live below the poverty line, vulnerable to climatic factors such as monsoon downpour and floods. The United Nations has repeatedly condemned the systemic discrimination and violence against the religious and ethnic minority. However, Myanmar has termed the operation as a legitimate counterinsurgency, imperative for the prevalence of peace in the country.
Although the international community concedes the presence of ‘genocidal intent’ in the military crackdown launched by Myanmar’s armed forces, no substantial action has been taken that might prevent the consequences of the ‘clearance operation’. The UN doctrine, Responsibility to Protect, was adopted by all member states in 2005, according to which the primary responsibility for the protection of the masses rests with the state in which they reside. Nevertheless, a ‘residual responsibility’ lies on the community states, in case the primary state cannot safeguard the rights of its people or is itself involved in systemic atrocities. The community states after the authorization of the UN Security Council have the right to intervene to prevent the organized genocide or war crimes . The most recent implementation of the doctrine was seen in 2011 in Libya when the world powers collectively brought down an authoritarian ruler. Continue reading
“Pakistan is facing a major economic crisis for which we need to take urgent steps. But first we need to take our economic sovereignty back,” said economist Dr Kaiser Bengali, while proposing to ban all non-essential consumer imports in order to promote local industry. He was speaking at an interactive session on ‘Contemporary Economic and Security Issues in Pakistan’ at the library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on 5 December 2019. “Pakistan has a lot of internal pressures that are resisting adopting the demands that FATF [Financial Action Task Force] is making. Over the past 40 years, we have created vested interests in this country that think that they are above the law. This is across the board. Today’s news is very interesting. Malik Riaz’s assets of 190 million pounds have been seized. Before that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had said that he would be paying Rs460 billion to the state (watch video and view photographs).
Whether he would have paid this or not is another matter. What’s significant is that his assets were seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency. “And here we have to ask, why is it that Pakistani criminals are always convicted abroad? Why aren’t they ever convicted here? Many decades ago, there was this Pakistani actor who spent five years in a London jail for drugs smuggling. We never caught him here. Similarly, there were some two or three Pakistani cricketers who also did time in UK jails for spot fixing. We didn’t catch them. In 2005’s earthquake there was this building which collapsed in Islamabad, and its owner is comfortably sitting abroad, not convicted. The owners of the Baldia factory, in which 289 workers burnt to death, are also sitting in Dubai. We have created a criminalised state. We don’t catch our criminals,” said Dr Bengali. Continue reading
As the global feminist movement reaches Pakistan, it challenges the status quo and looks to encapsulate more than sexual harassment.
Pakistan is definitely not the most women-friendly country on earth. UN Women ranked it one of the lowest in the world in terms of gender equality. Violence against women has been widespread and an ever-growing issue. Rape, acid attacks, domestic abuse, forced marriages and, honor killings are rampant in the country even today. Disturbing realities are still reported. The 2015 Oslo Summit on Education and Development categorized Pakistan among the worst performing countries in terms of female education. Pakistani NGO, Movement for Solidarity Peace stated that there were thousands of women abductions for forced marriages, especially targeting minority women. Human Rights Watch estimated 1000 honor killings per year as latest as 2019. But one thing for women in Pakistan has certainly changed, the narrative for women’s empowerment has escaped from global conventions and election speeches to streets and internet. In today’s age Pakistan’s commitment to women rights is shown by its evolving narrative around #MeToo, women rights and, a growing anti-patriarchal attitude.
The role of women in Pakistan, since its inception, has been largely limited to households with much of the reason submerged in religion and culture. Pakistan’s main religion, Islam, has largely been interpreted as patriarchal; giving men an overarching edge over women in terms of rights and freedom. The small breathing space left for women liberation is swallowed by cultural values and societal norms that place further restrictions on women. Legislation has been equally, if not more disappointing. While the draconian Hudood Ordinance was repealed after years of blinkered discrimination against women in 2006, it was far from enough to rid the constitution of bias. In fact, only recently a province distributed burqas to female students to observe purdah (religious attire) within school. With such depressing status-quo, the recent advancements are notable and a sonorous display of modernization. Continue reading
In order to resolve the current crisis in Kashmir, Pakistan should engage in active diplomacy. This was one of the points raised by university students who took part in a youth conclave to discuss the recent developments in India-held Kashmir at a great event organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), Karachi, on Thursday evening. The programme began with PIIA’s chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan giving the background of the situation who showed maps of the region and then informed the audience about articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution. She said Article 370 gives autonomous status to Kashmir under which Kashmir had its own flag, assembly, local laws, and complete control over its area except in three fields: defence, foreign affairs and communications. That has now been scrapped. Article 35-A, she said, protected land rights of the Kashmiri people. It has also been scrapped. She then showed video clips of two Indian women who recently spoke against the Indian government’s decision.
After that, students were invited to the podium to speak on the topic. The first was Turfa Irfan of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST). She said, “We cannot trust India. If we withdraw our army, will India hold a referendum there?” No one should think about occupying that piece of land [Kashmir]. We should be thinking about providing their people with basic facilities and amenities. Momina Jamil of FUUAST said what India is doing in Kashmir shouldn’t surprise anyone. We knew that the Modi government with its second term would make life difficult for Muslims of India by making anti-Muslim laws. But there is a bright side to it: India is being divided by Modi, and there’s a civil war-like scenario there. Our government, on the other hand, was caught napping. Political governments in Pakistan have seldom tried to resolve the Kashmir issue. Continue reading
These narratives show how foreign investors are a double-edged sword for Pakistan. TCC was suspected of lending support to Baloch separatists.
Pakistan has recently been garnering a lot of attention in international tribunals. A recent case is the Reko Diq case, which led to arbitration in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). In Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v. Islamic Republic of Pakistan (ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1), ICSID has ruled that Pakistan has to pay a $5.8 billion penalty to a mining company, the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC). It is an oddity that the Pakistani public has been disabled from knowing the full details of the ICSID arbitration judgment. The condition for the publication of the award is that both parties must consent to its publication and apparently there is no consensus that it should be published, or alternatively there is consensus that it should not be published. Either way that is rather opaque and lacks transparency. Yet we do know the identities of the arbitrators and the costly law firms employed by the parties and all the procedural steps in the arbitration (which is rather pointless indeed without knowing the full and exact details of the final arbitration award).
It is rather appalling that the award is not in the public domain and the people of Pakistan are being denied access to the full details of the decision. Reko Diq is a region in Balochistan that has large gold and copper reserves. TCC acquired an exploration license in 2006, buying it from the company BHP Minerals. Though this seems a very recent mining project, TCC itself is a joint venture by other foreign companies, and BHP had been granted licenses since 1993 by the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) under the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (Chevja). Now that TCC was exploring Reko Diq’s reserves, it completed its feasibility study in 2010, and applied for a mining lease, but it was denied. Chevja had been challenged by petitioners before. In 2013, the Supreme Court decided that the agreement (Chevja) was void ab initio. In 2009, the provincial government had already terminated Chevja. Continue reading
Pakistan’s national objective is based upon pursuing social justice through peace and security …
On Saturday, July 20, 2019, former Federal Secretary, Inspector General of Police and Director General FIA, Mr. Tariq Khosa, visited The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, where he addressed the members of the Institute on Internal Security and Governance Challenges confronting Pakistan. He started his speech by explaining that he does not have any political affiliations or any personal agenda. He expressly stated that his lecture did not intend to offend any segment of society. While discussing terrorism and internal security challenges he focused on three ‘Ms’, (i) Mullah; by which he meant religious extremists, who by design deliberately promote a mindset that proliferates violence, (ii) Military; who he said are the big part of the problem, yet they are a bigger solution to those issues, and (iii) Militants, in shape of non-state actors who have eroded the authority of the state. He spoke about the Karachi Operation which started under the command of the Karachi police force, with the support of Intelligence Bureau, in September 2013.
He explained that since 2013, terrorist incidents in Karachi have declined by 70%. Subsequently, 373 terrorists were killed and 521 were arrested from 2015 till 2018. Unfortunately, the police faced the major brunt of this operation, with a total of 450 police officers who were martyred, 163 in 2013 which reduced to 6 in 2018. Mr. Khosa recounted that it was not the Pulwama Incident which made us change our strategy on the use of non-state actors, but that the decision was taken along with the present government in January 2019, emphasizing that there would not be any non-state actor in the future. However, the efficiency of this policy is yet to be seen. He further explained how the Police Reforms were constituted by the Supreme Court, in a committee of serving IGs as well as nine retired IGs who had served in all the provinces and have come up with a seven-point agenda to reform governance issues. Continue reading
Filed under Accountability, Criminal law, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Police, Politics
Dr. Tariq Banuri, distinguished members of the audience. It is my great pleasure to welcome you, especially Dr. Tariq Banuri, to this opening session of the conference on the existential challenge faced by Pakistan from climate change. I am thankful to Dr. Tariq Banuri for taking the trouble to travel to Karachi to join us this afternoon. As some of you would know, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs is the oldest think tank in our country. It was established in 1947 and was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. In his augural speech, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan recognised the need for an institution which should act as a bridge between policy makers and public opinion. For 72 years, our institution has fulfilled this purpose. We have given space to statesmen, scholars, diplomats, jurists and specialists in their fields from all over the world and have, on the other hand, provided a platform for informed debate on international politics and foreign policy challenges.
Our research output is disseminated through our publications and our quarterly journal, Pakistan Horizon, which has appeared without a break since 1948. It is the oldest scholarly journal in Pakistan. It is significant, perhaps, that we are holding this Conference in the sizzling heat outside ― and the electricity can go off at any minute. We have convened this Conference because climate change is considered to be the greatest threat to our planet in the 21st century. While some governments may have dragged their feet, the people have mobilised against it in many countries. Young people have gone on school strikes and taken to the streets to draw attention to the disastrous affects of climate change on the environment. We have all heard about the Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, whose activism has led her to address the highest forums on this issue ― the World Economic Forum, the European Parliament and the United Nations. Continue reading
Airplanes are considered to be the safest mode of transportation yet they cause more casualties than all other conveying means. Recently, Ethiopian Airlines met a fatal crash on 10th March 2019, minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. About 5 months back, a similar incident happened with Lion Air which crashed near Jakarta, Indonesia claiming 189 lives. Strangely, or perhaps rather interestingly, both the aircrafts happened to be Boeing 737 Max 8 jet. Boeing made its name by manufacturing twin engine 737 nicknamed Baby Boeing having the capacity to accommodate 190 people. It is considered to be the backbone of short haul fleets worldwide. It is being continuously updated since and the latest is 737 Max, with new engines and aerodynamic changes, better fuel efficiency and lower operating costs. Yet it ended up crashing and taking lives of all the passengers. Boeing is one of the largest global manufacturers of aircraft and has a huge market all over the world.
The recent crash caused the aircraft to lose more than 10 per cent within a week, shaving $24.6 billion off its market capitalization. Moreover as soon as the news of the crash broke, countries from all over the world grounded the plane and refused to fly aircraft 737 Max until details behind the Ethiopian airlines tragedy revealed. China and Europe were the first to pull the jets from the skies followed by many others. However, United States resisted. Investigations are under process but what is known so far is that both the crashes shared stark similarities which cannot be disregarded. For instance both were Boeing 737 Max 8; both planes used the same software called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which automatically lowers down the nose if the aircraft is flying too slowly or steeply and at risk of stalling. Both planes went down shortly after takeoff. Both planes had well experienced crews. Continue reading
One should not be wonderstruck if many Venezuelans crave to live elsewhere because the economic, political, and overall human rights situation in Venezuela is nothing short of a disaster. What used to be a robust economy not more than a decade ago, has slipped into grave peril inasmuch food has become a source of conflict among the poor families, and women are selling their ‘hairs’ in order to satisfy their families’ appetite. Indeed, the basic provisions, such as toothpaste, milk, or bread, which we all take for granted are what Venezuelans yearn for and beg for. Many people are spending hours just to try to find something to eat from the ‘food waste’. In its heyday, given the colossal oil reserves, Venezuela had reaped a lot of benefits and was able to export 100,000 barrels of oil, per day to Cuba only. Due to relying specifically and excessively on oil, the latter accounted for 95 per cent of the Venezuela’s export.
Hugo Chavez, the former president, with a desire to make the most out of the country’s oil production, sweepingly nationalized the private companies which as an attempt went into a tailspin after the oil prices started to tumble. Hence, the corruption and mismanagement became rampant and the hyperinflation inevitably followed. Worst, all the money was spent, and no money for further production was left. Now the situation at its best is chaotic, and some say, at its worst, worse than the great depression of the United Sates. However, the experience of this economic downfall in practice is more frightening. A cup of tea costs 7000,000 bolivars in Venezuela and people prefer to exchange goods instead of paying or receiving cash. Since this crippling economy and the grave humanitarian crisis are the upshot of political dysfunction and mismanagement of the institutions, many experts believe it is ‘socialism’ at its end in Venezuela. Continue reading