Category Archives: Events

Converting CPEC into Pakistan-Central Asia Economic Corridor

We have to give up our India-centric policies and our slave mentality.

Pakistan is on a knife-edge with the upcoming general election on 25 July 2018. With Nawaz Sharif firmly behind bars, civil society organisations are predicting rigging in the election by the armed forces and there is a consensus in the country that the army is mass manipulating electoral politics in favour of its cronies. The economic problem arising out of the present political situation is that Pakistan is seriously in the doldrums owing to its debt to its international creditors. The country is facing a sovereign debt crisis and reliance on Chinese money is very high indeed. As reported recently in the Financial Times, Islamabad is headed for a foreign currency crisis but is keen to avoid yet another IMF bailout. So it is appealing to Beijing for more lending. In the year ending June 2018 Pakistan borrowed $4 billion from China and is facing problems with the devaluation of the rupee, the strategy used by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to keep the economy afloat. At the start of June 2018, the SBP only had $10 billion in foreign currency reserves in comparison to $16.1 billion just a year earlier.

The problem does not stop there because $12.7 billion in external payments are due in comparison to £7.7 billion last year. The country will need to raise $28 billion this financial year to repay its debt obligations. Therefore, in such an environment, it is hardly surprising that Kaiser Bengali thinks that “we have to play our cards right in case of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The opening up of China has enhanced travel but not trade.” He recently made these remarks while addressing members of the prestigious Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and the media. Speaking on the subject, ‘Changing geo-politics and challenges for Pakistan’, he said: “My fear is that we will not be playing our cards right because of the slave mentality that our bureaucrats and planners have.” Elucidating further he said: “We are always looking to a bigger power to protect us against military adventurism.” In this context, he recalled that back in the 1950, we joined the US-sponsored defence pacts, the Cento and Seato, as a guarantee to be protected during times of aggression. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Balochistan, China, Corruption, CPEC, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics, Trade, United States

The Impact of the Singapore Summit on World Politics: A Talk by Javed Jabbar

‘Trump-Kim summit unlikely to have great impact on world’

Donald Trump is a huge showman and his despotic tendencies became all the more apparent when he extended his hand in friendship to Kim Jong-un, the autocratic and reclusive leader of North Korea. Trump had mocked Kim as “little rocket man”. In return, the US president was given the moniker “deranged dotard”. Yet despite such insults from Pyongyang, Trump still went out of his way to please Kim and both the ego-manics got on like a house on fire. The Singapore Summit on 13 June 2018 was little more than an exercise in gimmickry and it has achieved nothing in concrete terms. If anything, it has strengthened Kim’s hand and he is more powerful than ever at home and abroad. China has played a vital role in these developments. Military exercises between the US and South Korea have been suspended to please the petty dictator and of course the summit is already a forgotten affair because of huge immigration problems for Trump at home in America. Now Trump is on an offensive with his own allies and he even resorted to calling Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau “dishonest”.

He has also imposed tariffs on his country’s European allies who have countered his move in a tit-for-tat offensive. Despite all the brinkmanship, lies and false promises, it is clear that the world is a much more dangerous place that it used to be prior to Trump beginning his presidency. Trump, a racist and sexist American loudmouth, is simply incapable of performing anything positive for world peace and this is especially clear from his retrogressive policies on Palestine and human rights. Pyongyang’s war of words with Washington may have ended but Kim is still purging his opponents with extreme ruthlessness. The caging of children taken away from their parents for illegally crossing the US-Mexican border caused such outrage that even the first lady Melania Trump decided to oppose her own husband. Of course, as a past illegal immigrant herself, Melania probably thought of how horrible it would be if she were separated from her son Barron Trump? Continue reading

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Filed under China, Corruption, Disarmament, Discussion, Europe, Events, Human Rights, Immigration, North Korea, Pakistan, PIIA, Politics, Singapore Summit, Trump

Former Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi Addresses PIIA Members

Kharazi says Tehran is ready to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi on Kashmir dispute. Clearly, Iran is competing with its western adversaries for a peacemaking role in the Indo-Pak region. 

Chabahar project not in competition with CPEC: Iran’s ex-foreign minister. Kamal Kharazi, Iran’s former foreign minister (1997-2005), has said the perception in Pakistan that Iran’s Chabahar port, including subsequent development of roads and railways networks for enhancing the country’s trade, is a ‘rival project’ of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is not correct. He was addressing a roundtable discussion with members, journalists, former and current diplomats and research students at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Friday. Numerous foreign policy issues relating to Iran and Pakistan relations and their impact on the wider region were discussed. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kharazi was of the opinion that though it was true that India had massively invested in the Chabahar project, it was an open platform for all regional countries to participate in.

“The Chabahar project is aimed at connecting Iran with Central Asia, and the ultimate goal is to uplift the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that the project was under deliberations for a long time, hence, it was not correct to link its launch with that of the CPEC. “While we are engaging with India on the economic front and India is investing in Chabahar, we have not given exclusive rights on the project to them,” he said, adding that Iran “was considerate of the situation of Muslims in India and in the region” while making economic partnerships. “We have urged India a number of times to resolve the Kashmir dispute in a peaceful and justly manner,” he said. “We are even ready to mediate between Pakistan and India on the 70-year-old dispute, but we haven’t got a positive response from India on it ever,” he said. “But if we talk about economic partnerships, then Pakistan also has relations with the United States which has put a number of sanctions on us, but [Iran] doesn’t mind it,” he said. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, CPEC, Discussion, Events, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics, United States

The Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and Pakistan: A Talk by Yukiya Amano

The IAEA greatly values cooperation with Pakistan in peaceful uses of nuclear technology

Mr Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently made a three-day official visit to Pakistan. He visited various centres and facilities of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in Islamabad, Faisalabad and Karachi. He also visited Pakistani premier Mr Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. “Pakistan is completely implementing IAEA guidelines,” is the way he chose to describe the status quo while delivering his keynote address to a seminar on The Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and Pakistan jointly organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) on 14 March 2018. During his visit to Karachi, Mr Amano praised Pakistan and stated that that the new Kanupp II and III “plants are very heavily protected. Your country needs more electricity and you are committed to nuclear safety; you are working with the IAEA”. He expressed the view that nuclear power should not be limited to developed nations and developing nations should also have the right to use atomic power.

Notably, on the military side of things, China has just sold Pakistan a powerful missile tracking system. The PIIA’s chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan introduced Mr Amano in her welcome address during which she highlighted Pakistan’s track record on nuclear safety and gave the welcome remarks. The important seminar was attended by participants from different walks of life including serving and retired diplomats, senior military officers, scientists, academics, scholars, media persons and university students. During the seminar Mr Amano said that: “You have the knowledge; you have the pool of well-trained people to do their job. We [IAEA and Pakistan] have a fruitful two-way relationship.” As reported in Dawn, the IAEA chief explained that while his organisation is known as a global nuclear watchdog, he is motivated by the body’s new motto: atoms for peace and development. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Discussion, Energy, Events, IAEA, Nuclear Energy, Pakistan, PIIA

Programme for Conference on Peace in South Asia: 15-16 November 2017

This year, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, which is the oldest think tank in Pakistan, is celebrating 70 years of its founding. It was established as an independent, non-political, not for profit association in 1947, devoted to study and research in international relations, economics and jurisprudence. To mark its seventieth anniversary, PIIA is holding a regional conference on Peace in South Asia: Opportunities and Challenges on 15 and 16 November 2017. Scholars from leading think tanks, academia and diplomats in the region are being invited to participate in this conference. South Asia, comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan is the most densely populated region of the world. Its population of 1.8 billion comprises one-fourth of the global population and almost 40 per cent of the population of Asia. The President of Pakistan, Mr Mamnoon Hussain will inaugurate the Conference. The programme is available here. The proceedings can be live streamed here.

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Filed under Discussion, Events, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon

Peace in South Asia: Opportunities and Challenges: Regional Conference

This year, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, which is the oldest think tank in Pakistan, is celebrating 70 years of its founding. It was established as an independent, non-political, not for profit association in 1947, devoted to study and research in international relations, economics and jurisprudence. To mark its 70th anniversary, the Institute is holding a regional conference on Peace in South Asia: Opportunities and Challenges on 15 and 16 November 2017. Scholars from leading think tanks, academia and diplomats in the region are being invited to participate in this conference. South Asia, comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan is the most densely populated region of the world. Its population of 1.8 billion comprises one-fourth of the global population and almost 40 per cent of the population of Asia.

Two of the world’s nuclear powers, Pakistan and India, are located in South Asia and military expenditure in the region has been rising. It is threatened with insecurity because of long-standing inter-state disputes, terrorism, the presence of non-state actors, problems of water sharing, climate change, environmental degradation, the movement of refugees and illegal arms, people and drug trafficking. It has low social indicators and a large percentage of its population lives below the poverty line. On the other hand, South Asia is rich in explored and unexplored natural resources. Also rich in diversity, it is home to numerous religions and a multitude of languages and cultures. It hosts four of the world’s megacities: Delhi, Dhaka, Karachi and Mumbai. The youth bulge in its population can prove to be one of its largest assets for development. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution 1973, Disarmament, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Pakistan, Peace building, Sri Lanka

Professor Gury Schneider-Ludorff on Five Centuries of Reformation

According to the professor, the Reformation formed the basis of education today; caused the unification of the German language; and cultivated a conception of tolerance which was incorporated into the law.

The dividing lines in German politics have become very clearly exposed by the recent election where Angela Merkel struggled to live up to her historic triumphs in the past. Her policy of absorbing one million refugees into Germany has come at the cost of the rise of neo Nazism in Germany and her opponents detest her for her open Willkommenskultur approach and her positive attitude towards foreigners and migrants. Notably, Merkel, who is a scientist and the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman, is now having to cope with the rising popularity of the racist Alternative für Deutschland party which is anti-Europe, anti-immigration and vehemently anti-Islam. Although Merkel’s CDU won 32.9 per cent of the vote and 34.7 per cent of seats, the AfD made significant gains in the polls and won 2.6 per cent of the vote and 13.3 per cent of seats making it the third largest party in the Bundestag (with 94 seats) with swelling support in eastern and southern Germany.

Like Theresa May, who just urged the German chancellor to press Brussels to accelerate the problem ridden and lethargic Brexit negotiations, Merkel is a much diminished political figure in both German and European politics which have both been leaning towards a more insulated and increasingly racist political ideology. Indeed, both women, who looked quite powerful just a year ago, are looking more and more like dead ducks. Politics is a funny thing at times and of course Theresa May is much more enfeebled than her German counterpart. In such an interesting political climate, on 11 October 2017, Professor Gury Schneider-Ludorff spoke at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and presented her deeply interesting thoughts on the instrumental changes that occurred in Europe as a consequence of the Reformation. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Europe, Events, Germany, Pakistan Horizon