Nawaz Sharif’s first contact with Donald Trump was a very pleasant one. India is trying to isolate Pakistan. Islamabad will give a befitting reply to New Delhi on every front. Ties with Afghanistan remain complicated.
Sartaj Aziz is a renowned figure in politics. He used to be a senator and also served as the finance minister and foreign minister under past administrations. He spoke to the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 11 February 2017. These days he is the foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister, who is also the present foreign minister. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the architect of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution, was prime minister and foreign minister simultaneously from December 1971-March 1977. Mimicking the slain premier, who was judicially murdered during the Zia years, the present prime minister, Nawaz Sharif has held the office prime minister and foreign minister since 2013; a trait he is at times vehemently criticised for. We have a tormented constitutional history indeed. The fall of Ayub Khan and the martial law of Yahya Khan meant that the judiciary’s role was tried and tested beyond what one may consider “normal”.
Pakistan’s 1962 Constitution provided that the speaker of the National Assembly should become the acting president until a new president was elected but Abdul Jabbar Khan did not become acting president because the dictator Yahya Khan disgracefully usurped power. In A History of the Judiciary in Pakistan, Hamid Khan describes the period from 1968 to 1975 as “turbulent times”. According to him, Hamoodur Rahman CJ tried to steer the ship as best he could but he was unable save the judiciary from adversity. “During those seven years, the judiciary lived through the political movement against Ayub Khan, the martial law of Yahya Khan, the civilian martial law of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Continue reading
Filed under Afghanistan, Bhutto, Brexit, China, Constitution 1973, Disarmament, Europe, Human Rights, India, Islamophobia, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, Russia, Trump, United States
As exemplified in the Great Famine, Ireland historically suffered at the hands of the British but now British forces are being investigated over the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972. If anything, the spectre of the past still haunts ex-servicemen. ***PIIA condemns the attacks in Paris today.
We in the east look to Britain as a champion of human rights yet the Cameron government considers the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) as a “farce” and wants to “scrap” this fine legal instrument which empowers British courts to give effect to the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) but does not bind the domestic courts to the Strasbourg jurisprudence.
However, a “blueprint” of the British Bill of Rights, which seeks to replace the HRA, leaked to the press articulates plans to override “slavishly” following the Strasbourg Court and instead champions the common law and Commonwealth jurisprudence. In relation to Northern Ireland and the UK’s long war against republican terrorism, the Good Friday Agreement marked “a truly historic opportunity for a new beginning”. It heralded “a fresh start” and the ECHR is woven into its fabric; the historic accord that brought peace to Northern Ireland ultimately rests on the wider idea of human rights, which is under serious threat from the present Conservative government. Continue reading
India urged to begin dialogue, adopt comprehensive approach
KARACHI, coverage by Peerzada Salman, Dawn 10 October: There’s a need for India to resume the dialogue process with Pakistan adopting a comprehensive approach. Militancy in Indian held Kashmir cannot be resolved if the Kashmir issue is not resolved. It won’t be surprising if organisations such as self-styled IS find their way into certain sections of Kashmir. These were some of the points made by Aziz Ahmad Khan, former high commissioner of Pakistan to India, while speaking at the acclaimed Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on the current state of relations between India and Pakistan at the PIIA office on Saturday. Mr Khan conceded at the beginning of his talk that he was attempting it with a bit of trepidation because it was a subject that everybody knew quite extensively about. So, he said, he would begin by speaking on what India was today compared to a few years back. He said the current prime minister of the country, Narendra Modi, won a clear majority in the general elections, before which there was a hung parliament and people were fed up with it.
Moreover, he said Modi had the image of a go-getter and his economic development agenda caught the electorate’s imagination. When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, there was economic growth in the province.The corporate sector was with him as was the media, which was controlled by the corporations. All these factors helped him win the elections beyond expectation, he said. Since governing a state was different from governing a country, now the sheen was coming off as his economic agenda had not delivered. Continue reading
President Putin has sent military assistance to Assad and is being dubbed “kingmaker” in any future transition to a new administration in Syria.
Speaking on a European tour mostly overshadowed by the refugee crisis and military escalation in the Syrian conflict, the US secretary of state John Kerry said that Russia’s newfound resolve to fight Islamists may present an opportunity to find a desperately needed political settlement for the war-torn country. After meeting Philip Hammond in London yesterday, Kerry said that they “agreed completely on the urgency of nations coming together in order to resolve this war that has gone on for much too long”. He explained that the Syrian war is the “root cause” of the refugee crisis. In Berlin he announced that the US would take 85,000 refugees in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017. On 14 September, American officials said that Russia had sent a dozen of its most modern T90 tanks, 200 marines and other military hardware to reinforce an airbase near the Assad regime’s coastal stronghold of Latakia. It is now said that 28 aircraft and 28 helicopters have been dispatched and 2,000 personnel will be deployed. Russia has been flexing its vast military muscles in the Middle East again. All eyes are on Putin, an unlikely messiah. For him, in comparison to the jihadis of ISIS, the murderous Assad regime “is the lesser of the two evils.” (See update here.)
The Russian President, who is internationally alienated because of his despotic interference in Ukraine, quickly riposted allegations of wrongdoing by arguing that his administration aims to support the government of Syria in the fight against a terrorist aggression and is merely offering it necessary military-technical assistance. He is said to be the “kingmaker” in any future transition to another administration taking power in Syria. “Without Russia’s support for Syria, the situation in the country would have been worse than in Libya, and the flow of refugees Continue reading
Filed under Disarmament, Discussion, Europe, ISIS, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine, Politics, Russia, Syria, Taliban, The Middle East, United States
“The image conjured up by the name Persia is one of romance – roses and nightingales in elegant gardens, fast horses, flirtatious women, sharp sabres, jewel-coloured carpets, melodious music,” explains Michael Axworthy in his book Empire of the Mind. “But in the cliché of Western media presentation, the name Iran conjures a rather different image – frowning mullahs, black oil, women’s blanched faces peering from under dark chadors, grim crowds burning flags, chanting ‘death to …’,” he argues further. Considered to be public enemy number one and part of the “axis of evil” just a few years ago, a resurgent Iran is fast becoming the envy of historically pampered American allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Much to their dismay, Iran, the classic rogue state looks set to become America’s ally in the “war on terror”. Barack Hussein Obama’s Iran deal, symbolising the great thaw in relations with the Ayatollahs, is arguably as historic as Nixon’s deal with the Chinese.
As expected, Republican efforts to kill the deal were blocked by Democrats in the US Senate, securing a major foreign policy victory for President Obama; he will not have to veto any moves against the deal that reforms Iran’s nuclear programme. Republicans remained two votes short of the 60 needed to take the resolution to a final vote. “This vote is a victory for diplomacy for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world,” Obama said. In the run up to Obama’s triumph, likening the Vienna Agreement (or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)) to a football match, a jocund President Hassan Rouhani posited that Iran had won the game by three goals to two. 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
In the run up to making peace with Iran, the UK Supreme Court has opted to appease the Iranians by upholding an entry ban against dissident Iranian politician Mrs Maryam Rajavi.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 60 (12 November 2014)
The vibrant young Iranian men and women of North London who can be seen driving around waiving posters shouting “Maryam Maryam!” must have been disappointed by this judgment. Like Lord Carlile QC and the Parliamentary claimants, they expected much more from British justice but alas it was not to be. Paradoxically, Lord Sumption JSC’s judgment is more of a victory for the Theocracy in Tehran than it is for the UK: the Mullahs will no doubt be amused that Mrs Maryam Rajavi will remain excluded from addressing meetings in the Palace of Westminster on democracy, human rights and other policy issues relating to Iran. Britain’s interference in Iranian affairs and the murky legacy of Empire remained Lord Sumption’s point of departure – “the passage of time” he said “heals many things” but that in Iran’s case “injured pride can subsist for generations”.
Rajavi has a strange problem. She is someone – a woman with democratic credentials opposing the Ayatollahs, a “dissident Iranian politician, resident in Paris” – who the British establishment ought to greet with open arms. She did visit the UK in 1985, 1990, 1991 and 1996 but since 1997 she has not been permitted to set foot on British soil. It is the position of the British government that Rajavi’s exclusion, pursuant to paragraph 320(6) of the Immigration Rules, would be conducive to the public good for reasons of foreign policy and in light of the need to take a firm stance against terrorism. Continue reading