Category Archives: India

Reportage on PIIA’s Peace in South Asia Conference 2017

“The current policies of the United States of America for South Asia can disrupt peace in the region” – President Mamnoon Hussain at the 70th Anniversary Conference of the PIIA.

Donald J Trump’s election to the White House demonstrates the extremely vulgar nature of American society. And it is difficult to disagree with the assessment that the American president really is a “deranged dotard”. Heaven knows, despite the tyrannical nature of his own country, North Korea’s insane “little rocket man” might even be making a valid point when he calls Trump’s sanity into question. Trump’s totally crazy brinkmanship with Pyongyang shows that he is willing to put the safety of billions of people at risk by his recklessness. But perhaps it is all just a charade to deliberately divert attention far away from emerging domestic problems connected to Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Sword of Damocles hanging over Trump and his cronies’ heads, about the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Kremlin to rig the election. Overall Trump is a sexist and a racist. He never tells the truth and serially dismisses all accusations of sexual misconduct/offending against him. Against American and British interests, he retweets from Britain First – a racist and neo-Nazi organisation.

His hatred of Muslims is so severe that he has even declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. Clearly, he is deliberately destabilising the Middle East. Trump is a danger to the world and it is hard to disagree with the soft speaking figure of president Mamnoon Hussain that the present American administration is a threat to peace in South Asia (and indeed the rest of the world). The reckless and inflammatory rhetoric manifested by Trump can only bolster Hindus’ hatred for Muslims in India where killing Muslims for “love jihad” (or having a Hindu girlfriend or boyfriend) is seen as a force for good. In such testing times, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) organised a regional conference which was held last month in Karachi. Esteemed speakers from all walks of life addressed the lively audience. Continue reading

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Filed under Accountability, Climate Change, Cyber Warfare, Disarmament, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Islamophobia, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, PIIA, Politics, Racism, UK, United States, Women

Ayesha Ahmed: All Weather Friendship: A Closer Examination

Though the interests of the two countries are increasingly intertwined due to CPEC, the question still remains as to what Pakistan should be able to expect from its “iron brother” on an international diplomatic stage.

The relationship between China and Pakistan is almost as old as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) itself and significantly Pakistan was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with PRC in 1950. Whilst relations between the neighbouring countries have remained largely positive over the years, the creation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2013 means the alliance between the two countries has entered a golden age. Indeed, China’s current investments in CPEC stand at around $62 billion and the project is expected to reinvigorate Pakistan’s economy. No wonder then that just two months after the establishment of CPEC former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif famously described the alliance in glowing terms as “sweeter than honey” and “higher than the Himalayas”. However, just last month a statement from the BRICS summit that China hosted in Xiamen threatened to undermine this warm rhetoric and the “all weather friendship” between the two countries.

On September 4th, a BRICS declaration against terror groups included, among others, Lashkar e Taiba, Jaish e Mohammed and the Haqqani Network. All three groups are based in Pakistan. This declaration came just three days after Chinese Foreign Minister spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press briefing that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism effort was not an “appropriate topic” for the BRICS summit. Granted, the Xiamen declaration neither explicitly named Pakistan nor made any overt comments about Pakistan’s ability to deal with terrorism, yet the very mention of these three groups opened Pakistan to speculation about its effectiveness in dealing with terrorism in its own backyard. Such a declaration, ostensibly endorsed by one of Pakistan’s closest allies at a high profile international summit, undoubtedly dealt a heavy blow to Islamabad. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, CPEC, Discussion, India, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Russia, United States

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

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 to 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 Indus Waters Treaty and the Need to Broaden its Scope to Mitigate Climate Change and Global Warming

The implementation review of the Dhaka Declaration and the SAARC action plan on climate change and ensuring its timely execution under Article IX is a panacea to environmental degradation.

The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) ratified in 1960 with the arbitration of the World Bank is under a lot of stress due to growing water scarcity in Pakistan and India. This treaty may be considered a successful treaty as it withstood three wars. Yet, with the passage of time, one of the most stressed basins in the world is facing new challenges videlicet climate change, environmental degradation and global warming. There is no mechanism present in treaty to address these challenges due to their negligible significance at that time. The water crisis is a big question mark in Indo-Pak relations. The growing water stress between the two countries is likely to deepen further with current global climate changes. As a result, IWT has come under a lot of pressure due to changes in hydrological, demographic, political and economic environment. This is raising testing and novel questions on the normative, functional and administrative viability of IWT. Pakistan as a lower riparian country is at the receiving end and is suffering from water stress as a water scarce country.

Indeed, the per capital water availability has decreased from about 5,600 cubic meters available in 1947 to 1,032 cubic meters in 2016. Pakistan may become water poor if current situation persists. Pakistan is considered to be one of the world’s driest countries with a single basin. Pakistan’s dependence on external water resources is 76% while that of India is 34%. Annual influx into Indus through Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) regulates Pakistani economy. The basin accounts for 25% of Gross Domestic Product, 47% of employment and more than 60% of annual national foreign exchange earnings. So, Indus basin has critical importance for domestic water needs. IWT allows Pakistan restrictive uses of water. Furthermore, its lower riparian status aggravates the situation. Pakistan strongly feels that India does not follow the technical parameters laid down in the treaty. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Climate Change, Courts, Discussion, Energy, India, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Water