Category Archives: Peace building

The Great Thaw of China: Xi Meets Ma

Today will be remembered in history … Now before our eyes there are fruits of conciliation instead of confrontation,’ says Chinese president Xi Jinping in a historic meeting with Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou.

China’s unprecedented rise to the status of a global powerhouse and its close links to western capitalism mark the centrality of increasing, arguably even irreversible, economic interdependence in an era of rapid globalisation. History is now being rewritten and the misunderstandings between the Communist Party of China (CCP) and its old nemesis the Koumintang (Chinese Nationalist Party or KMT) seem like a thing of the past. It is as if western imperialism had lost and Sun Yat-sen’s historic Three Principles of the People, as propounded by the KMT, had finally come home to become fused with Chairman Mao’s variant of Marxism – quite strongly blended with his powerful and attractive Chinese anti-imperialist narrative of history. Of course, sometimes Sun and Mao agreed. So Beijing and Taipei are finally gravitating towards each other and, as shown by yesterday’s minute-long handshake between Chinese president Xi Jinping and his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou, great gestures of future friendship are being made after almost seven decades of frosty relations. Both sides acknowledge that trade between them as produced “unprecedented prosperity”.

At the historic summit in neutral Singapore yesterday, which symbolises a great thaw in relations, Xi publicly stood together with his Taiwanese counterpart after the landmark minute-long handshake and said: “Nothing can separate us … We are one family … We are brothers who are still connected by our flesh even if our bones are broken.” Continue reading

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Filed under China, CPEC, Discussion, Europe, Pakistan, Peace building, Politics

Viewpoints: UNGA’s Seventieth Session

As noted in earlier posts, big hopes were riding on the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). And as expected, the session was dominated by events in the ruined country known as Syria – once the beating heart of Arab nationalism – which we have discussed in recent posts here, here and here. Despite the veneer of cordiality, world leaders could not conceal the tensions between them. They are divided over the future of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. President Putin had thrown himself in the limelight in advance of the session by flexing Russia’s military might in the historic – without notice – style of the former Soviet Union. Predictably, on 28 September, he opportunistically presented himself as the missing link in the Syrian puzzle. The clever Russian president did not conceal his intentions in an impassioned speech which provided him the ideal opportunity to announce his future plans. Putin’s fans, like his blunt instrument in Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, rejoiced when military action ultimately became a reality and requested to be sent in as a ground force to fight (preferably hand-to-hand) the jihadis of ISIS.

After Putin had set the stage, just a couple of days later, on 30 September 2015, when Russia initiated airstrikes in Syria the west responded negatively and US defence secretary Ashton Carter accused the Kremlin of “pouring gasoline on fire”. However, unlike some others (e.g. Great Britain) Russia took military action with the consent of its parliament and at the invitation of a sovereign government – albeit the collapsing, murderous and much hated regime in Damascus. But Russia is nonetheless being condemned for attacking the Free Syrian Army Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Iran, Israel, NATO, Pakistan, Palestine, Peace building, Politics, Russia, Taliban, The Middle East, UK, United States

Sarwar Hasan: Bandung Memories

Held six decades ago in Bandung, Indonesia, the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference (also known as the Bandung Conference) was a landmark event in the history of decolonized countries and those aspiring for independence from colonial rule. The Conference was organized by Indonesia, Pakistan, Burma, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and was unique in that there was no official western presence. It was attended by the great leaders of that time: Zhou Enlai and Ho Chi Minh, Nehru, U Nu, Tito, Nasser, Ben Bella among others and seasoned diplomats like Prince Waithayakow of Thailand, Fatin Zorlu of Turkey and Carlos Romulo of the Philippines. For The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, the Bandung Conference has a very special significance because our founding Secretary, K. Sarwar Hasan, went to Bandung to organize the Conference on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. He recorded his impressions of the Conference in this unpublished paper, Bandung Memories.

The Asian-African Conference, held in Bandung from 18 to 24 April 1955, was undoubtedly the largest gathering of the kind held on the soil of Asia or Africa. Twenty-nine governments participated, many of them represented by their prime ministers or other leading statesmen. Arrangements for the Conference were made by a Joint Secretariat of the five sponsoring powers, the so-called Colombo Powers, namely, Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Discussion, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Peace building, Sarwar Hasan

War on Terror and Post-Operation Measures in FATA

Rampaging terrorism and bubbling militancy have menacingly plagued Pakistan since 2001. Parliamentary Secretary of Interior, Mariyam Aurangzeb, explained on 5 December 2014 that more than 50,000 people including army, police, and civilians had lost their lives in the war on terror, and the country had also lost 80 billion US dollars in this war. Before the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb, the government was sincerely immersed in perusing peace talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) leadership but then out of the blue seven gunmen affiliated with the TTP conducted a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December 2014 killing 145 people, including 132 school children aged between eight and eighteen years.

At that critical juncture, both the civilian and military leadership agreed to vigorously conduct a counter-terrorism and counter-militancy operation against terrorists aimed at permanently flushing out terrorists of all strides particularly the outlawed TTP. The first year of the operation was completed on June 15, in which Pakistani security forces cleared the North Waziristan tribal areas. According to Inter Services Public Relations Director General, Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, since the launch of the operation 2,763 terrorists had been killed and 837 of their hideouts had been destroyed (with 253 tonnes of explosives recovered). On the other hand, 347 army officers and soldiers were martyred in the operation. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Constitution 1973, Courts, CPEC, Discussion, Legislation, Peace building, Women

In Honour of Fatehyab Ali Khan: Dr Kamal Hossain Speaks at PIIA

One of the all time greats of South Asian history spoke at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on 24 September 2012. Dr Kamal Hossain is a celebrated international lawyer and human rights activist. He served as Bangladesh’s Minister of Law (1972–1973), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1973–1975) and Minister of Petroleum and Minerals (1974–1975). 

Dr Hossain struggled for Bangladesh’s independence from the captivity of the Pakistan Army: he and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were released together. Dr Hossain is one of the authors of Bangladesh’s constitution and is a legendary Bangladeshi lawyer and politician.

He spoke at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) to pay tribute to the memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan. Dr Kamal Hossain remembered Fatehyab Ali Khan, some who he looked up to and drew ideological strength from, as a legendary figure in Pakistani who shot to national fame at the young age of 25 when he, as a student (along with a few friends), singlehandedly defied Ayub Khan’s deplorable martial law regime. Continue reading

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Filed under Fatehyab, MRD, Peace building, PIIA, Women

Dr Masuma Hasan: International Conference on Global Movement of Moderates

In Pursuit of an Enduring and Just Peace

The Global Movement of Moderates was launched in Kuala Lumpur in an international conference on 17-19 January 2012. It was organised by the International Islamic University Alumni Association. A very high profile gathering, it was inaugurated by the Malaysian prime minister, Mohammad Najib Tun Razak who also delivered the opening keynote address. The Global Movement Moderates Foundation was simultaneously launched.

It was said that the Conference was attended by 600 delegates from 36 countries. The delegations were heavily titled towards Southeast Asia. Surprisingly, there were no delegates from the People’s Republic of China, a moderate giant ─ or none that I could spot as the list of delegates was long and had not been circulated. Nor was there representation from the high powered think tanks in India, although some Indian delegates were present. Pakistan was represented by Dr. Fazlur Rahman from the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and by me from The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, Karachi. Our ambassador in Malaysia, Masood Khalid, attended many sessions of the Conference. Continue reading

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Filed under Global Movement of Moderates, Malaysia, Peace building

Dr Masuma Hasan: Indian Journalists in PIIA

An 18-member delegation of Indian journalists from the Mumbai Press Club visited PIIA on 17 November 2011. They were introduced by B.M. Kutty, a pioneer of peace between Pakistan and India and a member of the Council of PIIA. The women journalists in the delegation did not join us because they were visiting Aurat Foundation, the leading women’s empowerment organisation in Pakistan. I am a member of the Board of Governors and Treasurer of Aurat Foundation but was amazed that not only men but also women could subscribe to gender exclusivity! We would have liked to meet the women journalists and hear their impressions about Pakistan.

The Indian delegation was led by Jatinbabu Desai of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. In his introductory remarks, he spoke about the need to break down barriers and bring the people of Pakistan and India together through more interaction between ordinary citizens. There was the usual Indian view about how we share the same historical and cultural experience. In the Indian delegation and among our own members there were many, including myself, whose ancestral roots were in the other country. Everybody spoke about the need for mutual understanding, increasing trade and communication and people-to-people contacts. Continue reading

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