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 He recorded his impressions of the Conference in this unpublished paper, Bandung Memories.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
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
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
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
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
Pakistan is currently abuzz with a political scandal that threatens to destabilize the civilian government and cause further tensions between the military and civilian leaderships. Rather than let the controversy play out in the media, the Pakistani government should launch a full-scale inquiry into the matter.
Dubbed ‘memo-gate’, the scandal surrounds a memo that was allegedly drafted by Pakistan’s civilian leadership and delivered by Pakistani-American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, to former Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, following Osama Bin Laden’s assassination in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2.
In the memo, which has now been released by Foreign Policy magazine, the Pakistani civilian leadership, fearful of a military takeover, allegedly requests the assistance of the US government to prevent a coup.
In exchange it offers cooperation on a range of national security issues, including the reshuffling of top national security positions, the extradition of remaining militants in Pakistan (such as Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani) and the elimination of the ‘S’ wing of the ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency), which purportedly deals directly with various militant outfits. Continue reading
The U.S. government and its NATO allies have, in recent months, scrambled to mobilize regional and international support to advance stability in Afghanistan following significant international troop withdrawals in 2014. The most recent of these efforts was the Istanbul Conference held in Turkey last week. The meeting was organized to prepare the groundwork for Afghanistan’s political, security and economic transition.
At the conclusion of the day-long Istanbul meeting, which included a whole host of regional countries as well as representatives from Europe and the United States, analysts dismissed the conference for ‘lacking substance’ and having achieved little in terms of a coherent framework for Afghanistan’s transition. And yet, despite discouraging reviews, it is worth noting that the conference as well as what followed saw progress on at least a couple of fronts.
First, it appears that a regional and international consensus has emerged with respect to Afghanistan’s economic future.
At the conference, the United States introduced its economic vision, the ‘New Silk Road’ project that involves the construction of an extensive network of transportation links across central and south Asia, designed to turn Afghanistan into a regional economic hub. The United States also strongly endorsed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline that is supposed to meet the energy needs of India and Pakistan and “could provide significant transit revenues for both Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Continue reading