Category Archives: PIIA

Sacrifices in Kashmir will not go wasted

‘India was so afraid of Geelani that they buried the 92-year-old man clandestinely’

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) organised a webinar on the passing of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the future of the Kashmiri struggle on Wednesday. Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away on September 1. “A popular leader of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan, he was an icon of the Kashmiri struggle. Syed Ali Shah Geelani wanted Kashmir to become part of Pakistan. He was awarded Nishan-i-Pakistan by the government of Pakistan,” said the acclaimed chairperson of PIIA Dr Masuma Hasan, former Ambassador of Pakistan to IAEA, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia and former Cabinet Secretary of Pakistan.

Sardar Masood Khan, former president, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, spoke about the legacy of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “His funeral was very symbolic because it told you all about the Kashmiri movement and fear of Kashmiri leaders in Indian-occupied Kashmir. You have this 92-year-old leader who dies and the Indian government is so afraid of him that they bury him clandestinely. The Kashmiri people wanted him buried in the martyrs’ graveyard there but it was denied to him as government forces confiscated his body which had been draped with a Pakistan flag by his family,” he said.

“Following what happened, writer Mirza Waheed has provided a sharp comparison of Geelani and Sheikh Abdullah who had gone into agreement with the Indian government. Abdullah’s grave is guarded to keep it from being attacked by the people of Kashmir who were enslaved as a result of his actions. And there is Geelani’s grave, which is guarded for reasons that are the opposite of that. The government doesn’t want them to flock there to pay tribute to their hero,” he said.

“So afraid is the Indian government of the majority of Kashmiris who hate India that they are transplanting people from other parts of India and giving them domiciles and the right to buy land there in order to change the demographics of Kashmir,” he said.

“Geelani devoted his life to the people of Kashmir and the Kashmir cause. He never abandoned his stand like the Maharaja of Kashmir and Sheikh Abdullah who hoodwinked the Kashmiris and compromised. He was instrumental in bringing up the group of people to which Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also belong. He said that the people of Kashmir have the right to self-determination, for Geelani was a consensus builder. His kind of clarity, conviction and sense of direction you won’t see now,” he said.

“He was a pro-Pakistan leader, an ideologue who was never confused. He believed in the ideology of Pakistan and the two-nation theory even though he did not live in Pakistan. I salute him for giving a slogan ‘Hum Pakistani hain, Pakistan hamara hai’ to the Kashmiri youth. He leaves behind a legacy and a vacuum,” he said.

Afzal Khan, a Labour Party member of the House of Commons, UK said that Geelani stood out for his consistency of thought and steadfastness. “He stood out for his struggle, for his love and commitment to Pakistan, which was evident from his wish to be draped in the Pakistani flag after his death,” he said.

“Just hours after his death, police and paramilitary forces set up check-posts and blocked phone service as his body was taken away from his family. This kind of action says a lot about India,” he said.

Speaking about what is going on in the UK as regards Kashmir, he said that Kashmir is on the high priority list of British Muslims. “The roots of conflict lie in Britain’s colonial past. The UK should help facilitate dialogue between India and Pakistan and also urge India to cooperate with the United Nations. The UN resolution is already there and agreed upon. We need to push for its implementation,” he said.

‘Entire villages’ women are raped’

Naseema Wani, former member of the Legislative Assembly, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, spoke about the struggle of Kashmiri women.

“I originally belong to the India-occupied side of Kashmir. I migrated to this side as a child,” she said.

“The suffering on that side never stops. It is continuous. We are seeing the fifth generation suffer now. And in any conflict zone, women are the worst target. Women are also targeted to break the spirit of the freedom fighters. They are physically abused. There are full villages where the women are raped.

“Kashmiri women have also sacrificed their sons and daughters and their husbands. Many don’t even know if their husbands, taken away years ago, are even alive. They are known as half widows. she concluded:

They suffer politically, too, like Asiya Andrabi and Mushaal Malik.

These women lead from the front. Today even schoolgirls in India-occupied Kashmir have picked up stones along with their school bags. They are all fighters. Their sacrifices will not go wasted.

Published in Dawn 17 September 2021, minor editing by editor.

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Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: Webinar on 31 August 2021

The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban after two decades has left the world stunned and the UK rushed to airlift more than 4,000 UK nationals and Afghan citizens, while Joe Biden intends to stick to the 31 August deadline. These events show that the “war on terror” has been a complete failure. Furthermore, pumping a trillion dollars in the Afghan National Army (ANA) was a complete waste of money. It appears to have been wishful thinking that the ANA would fight against Islamic militancy and its soldiers either deserted or joined the Taliban and 20 years of western efforts to build a stable state in Afghanistan quickly faded away as puppet government of Ashraf Ghani disintegrated in a matter of days. 

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) is organising a webinar on Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: Past, Present, and Future on Tuesday, 31 August 2021 at 3:00 p.m. (PST). Joining link and details are below. Pakistan has hosted one of the world’s largest refugee populations for over four decades. In successive waves, refugees from Afghanistan have sought shelter inside Pakistan which, over the years, has hosted millions of Afghan refugees. It is estimated that 3 million Afghan refugees still reside in Pakistan but according to the UNHCR, only 1.4 million are registered and the humanitarian assistance provided by Pakistan for over four decades has made a significant impact on its economy and social life and on its strained resources.

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A Tribute to Mr. I. A. Rehman

By Dr Masuma Hasan. Chairperson of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. I. A. Rehman Sahib was for decades the leading public intellectual of Pakistan. No obituary can do justice to his eminence and greatness, his command of history, his discernment of injustice, his understanding of the immoral aspects of governance, of deprivation and poverty, his style of writing, so very forceful but restrained, and above all, his sublime compassion. He was larger than life, determined and fearless, a campaigner for peace. I first met Rehman Sahib during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy against General Ziaul Haq’s cruel rule, probably in 1983. The police were looking out for journalists who supported the Movement and some of them, including Rehman Sahib, Nisar Usmani and Ahfazur Rehman sought shelter in our house, in the upper storey where Arif Hasan lived.

Some of you might recall that General Ziaul Haq had taken over our Institute in 1980 through a presidential ordinance and turned it into a government department. After Ziaul Haq passed away and there was a let up, I met Rehman Sahib in Lahore and asked for his help. He was then chief editor of Pakistan Times and he wrote an editorial, urging that the Institute should be returned to its original independent status. In 1993, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared Ziaul Haq’s 1980 ordinance as ultra vires of the Constitution of Pakistan and the independent status of the Institute was restored. Subsequently, Rehman Sahib attended many of our events, our seventieth anniversary conference in 2017 – we honoured him then, and other conferences. He gave a talk in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan on the Politics of Dissent – he believed there could be no democracy without dissent.

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Tribute paid to I.A. Rehman at PIIA

He was a good listener, and never spoke ill of anyone

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday evening held an online reference to pay homage to journalist and human rights defender I.A. Rehman, who passed away in Lahore on April 12. The first speaker was architect Arif Hasan. He divided his talk into three parts: his relationship with Rehman sahib, his personality and legacy. He said he met the late journalist and activist in Lahore in 1967 for the first time where he (Hasan) had gone to work. Although Rehman sahib was 12 or 13 years older than him, they would meet every evening where they’d be joined by the likes of Dr Mehdi Hasan and Nisar Osmani. Rehman sahib used to call the architect ‘kitab’. Even after he returned to Karachi from Lahore, both kept meeting on a regular basis. Significantly, their relationship deepened when Bangladesh was trying to gain independence. Their ties further strengthened during Z.A. Bhutto and Gen Ziaul Haq’s tenures.

On the second point, Mr Hasan said Rehman sahib was a good listener. He knew how to lend an ear to people. He would never interrupt anyone while they were talking, even when they would be presenting a point of view opposite to his. He never spoke ill of anyone. At meetings and seminars, he would give an opinion that differed from others’ with a sense of humour. He never spoke about himself. Once, he visited his birthplace in Gurgaon, India. When he came back, nobody could detect an air of nostalgia in his narration about his place of birth. He talked about it like a tourist would. He was an extremely well-informed man who turned his wealth of information into knowledge (ilm). Mr Hasan, speaking about his legacy, said Rehman sahib has left behind the institutions that he was associated with and founded; his efforts to bring peace between India and Pakistan; his resolve that we should not be afraid of speaking the truth; and the youngsters who in their small but significant ways have established human rights and social welfare groups.

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PIIA Seminar on Emerging Geostrategic Contestation in the Asia-Pacific region and Pakistan: Press Coverage

Ambassador Salman Bashir said Modi has tarnished India’s reputation as a secular democracy

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs recently hosted a Seminar and Webinar titled, “Emerging Geostrategic Contestation in Asia-Pacific: Challenges and Opportunities for Pakistan” which was personally attended by former ambassadors, members of the armed forces of Pakistan, members of the judiciary, academicians, eminent scholars, and members of the PIIA. The event was live-streamed on Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook. We provide a roundup of the news reports on the seminar. 

Retired Lt Gen Tariq Waseem Ghazi, who inaugurated the event, said in his address that Pakistan had always punched above its weight. “We have always been involved in somebody else’s game, somebody else’s war, considering ourselves as the key player in those events. In pre-colonial times we were fighting the Russian Empire, fighting for the British or fighting for somebody or the other. After independence there were times when we were looking at CENTO and sometimes at SEATO, and then we saw ourselves in the middle of the Gulf War, in the global war on terrorism, etc … while Kashmir burns. “So what is the way? One way is that we become an island and look after ourselves or [the other way is] become part of the global discourse and be relevant. There are some things that we cannot ignore and Asia-Pacific is one such thing,” he said. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics, United States

Emerging Geostrategic Contestation in Asia-Pacific and Pakistan

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) recently hosted a Seminar and Webinar titled, “Emerging Geostrategic Contestation in Asia-Pacific: Challenges and Opportunities for Pakistan” on 3 February 2021.  The event was inaugurated by Lt. General (R) Tariq Waseem Ghazi. The speakers at the Seminar included Ambassador Salman Bashir, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan and High Commissioner of Pakistan to India; Rear Admiral (R) Pervaiz Asghar, Adviser and Honorary Fellow, National Centre for Maritime Policy Research, Bahria University; Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General, Institute of Strategic Studies and former Foreign Secretary; and Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. 

The two sessions of the Seminar were chaired by Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairman, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs and Ambassador Syed Hasan Habib, Senior Fellow, Centre for Area and Policy Studies, Institute of Business Management, Karachi. In her welcome address, Dr Hasan mentioned that the focus of the Seminar would be upon how Pakistan can promote its interests, the challenges it faces, and the opportunities available for Pakistan in the emerging dynamics of the Asia-Pacific region. Continue reading

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The Killing of Qasem Soleimani and the Insatiable Bloodlust of the US Military

Soleimani was known to have been one of the most powerful people in Iran, second only to the Ayatollah himself.

The airstrike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, leader of the country’s elite al-Quds force, and also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of Iraq’s Hashd-al Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces, seems to have finally given a significant chunk of Trump’s support base a rude awakening: contrary to his claims, the current POTUS is no anti-interventionist. For all his dovish posturing and promises on the 2016 campaign trail to bring American troops home and withdraw from the “endless wars” in the Middle East (a position that arguably played a huge part in winning him the presidency of the United States), he may have just lit a fuse on a situation that even he will find impossible to contain. By killing Soleimani, Trump has chosen to take a drastic course of action that even Barack Obama, who engaged in continuous drone warfare throughout his presidency, and George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq, were loath to undertake out of fear that it would have catastrophic consequences for the United States and American presence in the Middle East.

This development signals a clear failure of the Trump administration’s so-called ‘maximum pressure’ strategy – which aimed to economically besiege Iran through sanctions to the point of bringing the country to its knees. And the irony is that it might actually have worked, too, given the wave of protests that took place across the country – had Donald Trump not jolted the country’s population into uniting in their grief after he decided to ruthlessly assassinate one of their most popular national figures. For the time being, national solidarity over what is being seen as an illegal assassination has quashed the popular protests that were taking place across the country. So Trump’s directive has backfired spectacularly, and if unfolding events are anything to go by, it looks like from here on out, the United States is set to face a tremendous amount of blowback for carrying out such an ill-advised operation so hastily. Continue reading

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‘It is the will of the Kashmiri people that we have to defend’

Let some intellectual contribution on Kashmir be generated from Karachi

The pre-lunch session on the second and final day (Thursday) of the conference on Kashmir organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) proved to be an extremely engaging one. Eminent journalist and human rights activist I.A. Rehman, who presided over the session, said if issues were left [like that], they became permanent. In his view, Kashmir is primarily a humanitarian issue. Kashmir today was one of the most magnificent and marvellous struggles for self-determination. We should salute the spirit of freedom that had inspired people [in Kashmir]. It’s the issue of Kashmiris, not of India or Pakistan. Pakistan at best was their counsel. Mr Rehman said the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution was not a sudden thing. Modi and his party had announced that they’re going to do that much earlier. Did we listen to them? We reacted only when it had been done. “We must remember that it is the will of the Kashmiri people that we have to defend.”

Mr Rehman said we were repeating our arguments to ourselves. “Have we examined India’s arguments? More importantly, have we examined what the other countries are saying?” In order to understand the situation we must realise that today in Kashmir there’s a national struggle for self-determination. It’s a national struggle and we shouldn’t communalise it. “How many delegations have we sent to countries which are opposing us? It’s a long haul. It’s not going to be solved tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. We should be patient.” Mr Rehman asked, with reference to the talk about President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between Indian and Pakistan, whether Trump had commented on Article 370. “Has Mr Trump taken a position on what India has been doing? He would only tell you baba jo ho gaya woh theek ho gaya.” It’s not a matter which would be resolved emotionally. Let’s not give juvenile responses, he argued. Continue reading

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Delegation from Sichuan University China visits PIIA

China strongly supports the position of Pakistan in Kashmir. 

A delegation of scholars from Sichuan University led by Prof. Yan Shijing, Vice President of Sichuan University addressed in a roundtable session held in the library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 18 December 2019. The other Chinese delegates included Prof. Sun Shihai, Director General, China Center for South Asian Studies, Sichuan University; Prof. Du Youkang, Director, Pakistan Study Center, University of Fudan ; Prof. Zhang Li, Member, Academic Committee, China Center for South Asian Studies, Sichuan University; Prof. Yang Guang, Deputy Director, International Office, Sichuan University; Prof. Song Zhihui, Director, Pakistan Study Center, Sichuan University; Prof. Huang Yunsong, Associate Dean, School of International Studies, Sichuan University and Dr. Xiao Jianmei, Research Associate, China Center for South Asian Studies, Sichuan University. Prof. Yan Shijing said that Sichuan University is one of the oldest University of China established in 1896. More than 65,000 students including 4,000 international students, 100 Pakistani students are studying in the University.

It is national university ranks sixth best out of all the universities in China, a total of 3,000 Chinese universities. The University focuses on International Affairs. In response to the question of gender equality in Chinese Universities, the delegate responds that 51 percent male and 49 percent female students ratio is in the Universities of China. The delegate said India is playing a dominant role in the sub-continent region. UN has recognized India’s supremacy in this region. Pakistan-China relationship is conducive with regional peace and stability and it is not beneficial for only these two countries but for the whole region. We strongly support the stability, peace and prosperity of Pakistan and we do everything we can to support Pakistan economically, politically and military. We do not want to see this region to be on the command of New Delhi. On a question of Pakistan labour force in the projects of CPEC, the Chinese delegate said the labour forces in this region are not fully prepared for industrialization. Continue reading

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PIIA Event: The loss of East Pakistan was a catastrophe beyond bearing

Pakistan, East and West, was a dream state which became a nightmare

“The loss of East Pakistan was a catastrophe beyond bearing,” said Dr Masuma Hasan, the Chairperson of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), at her talk titled ‘The loss of East Pakistan: a national tragedy and international milestone’ at the PIIA library on Tuesday. “My ancestors lived in Panipat and Delhi for some 700 years. Even though they travelled far and wide they always maintained their links with the two cities. Then, when Pakistan was born, my parents gave up everything to come here by train on August 12. They sunk their roots in this new land and East Pakistan was part of this land. Losing it was a great tragedy for my parents’ generation,” she said. Continuing with her own experience, Dr Hasan said that despite the break-up they still had many friends in Bangladesh. But she saw the change happening there during her subsequent visits: “I wanted to get some postage stamps from the post office once but no one in the clerical staff there would speak in Urdu or English as a result of which I couldn’t get what I needed”.  

Dr Hasan added that she was able to learn a lot from the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report, being part of the key committee that recommended declassifying it 19 years ago. Dr Hasan also shared some relevant excerpts from the report. Earlier, writer, former senator and federal minister Javed Jabbar, in his talk, wondered that 48 years have passed which is equal to two generations now but should we forget what happened leading to the loss of East Pakistan? “If you start remembering, you will remember everything including the painful parts,” he said. “Still, we shall revisit the past to review or resolve and maybe even learn from history,” he added. “Pakistan, East and West, was a dream state, which became a nightmare,” he said. “Pakistan is a religion-based nation state and yet it is unlike any other religion-based country. There is no country separated by hostile territory so it was also a uniquely created territory,” he pointed out. Continue reading

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