The Kurdish Question warrants a more comprehensive examination
Seemingly intractable, positively complex – the question of the Kurds has been an area of contention in Middle-East politics, dating back to the Kurds’ frequent rebellions against the Ottoman Empire. Turkey’s decision to launch ‘Operation Peace-Spring’ (the third major Turkish military operation in to Syria since 2016) in Syria on October 9, 2019 has been subject to polarising reception. Amid the volatility and added layers of developments, it is imperative to be familiarized with the roots of the conflict in a bid to get to the heart of the dilemma. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, new states such as Turkey and Iraq, as well as Iran and Syria inherited the unresolved issues of Kurdish quests for autonomy. Notably, according to a TRT report, “almost 10 per cent of the Syrian population, 15-20 per cent of the Turkish, 20 per cent of the Iraqi, and 10 per cent of the Iranian populations are Kurdish.” With respect to Turkey, the modern roots of the conflict resurfaced after the 1919–1923 Turkish War of Independence but took a more violent turn after the establishment of the Kurdish militant and political organization, the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê).
Clashes between state forces and the PKK piqued in 1984 and the 1990s amid the organizations’ declared goals of establishing an independent state in south-eastern Turkey through armed-struggle. The Turkish state’s enactment of more unitary and assimilationist policies – with the endeavour to promote and cultivate a unifying, national identity – have often been at the centre of the debate pertaining to ‘reactionary’ and ‘radicalized’ Kurdish nationalism and militancy. What often goes amiss in discussions focusing on a clash of competing nationalisms in Turkey is the considerable integration of Kurdish communities in Turkish society. Those communities adamant on their rejection of social-integration and assimilation gave way to militancy, with the rise of the PKK. Continue reading
Gen Ehsan Ul Haq calls for vigilance against the ‘rise of genocidal fascism of Hindutva’. He said ‘the good news is that ours has been a success story’.
“We must be vigilant to the existential challenges of the rise of genocidal fascism of Hindutva in India.” This was stated by retired General Ehsan Ul Haq, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, while concluding his lecture on Pakistan: National Security Challenges, the Way Forward at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Tuesday evening. Gen Haq said Pakistan has been striving to create conducive environment for its citizens to live with dignity in accordance with the wishes of its founding fathers. “Unfortunately, ever since our creation, we have been confronted with challenges in the realisation of our objectives. These challenges have external and domestic dimensions.” He said Pakistan’s strategic environment has been moulded by its location. Mentioning some of the [external] problems, he said that there is the extended strife and consequent destabilisation in Afghanistan, the stunning developments to ‘‘our immediate west, unrelenting hegemonic aspirations of India aggravated by the rise of Hindutva and the unresolved status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir’’.
He said emergence of China as a global power has unfolded a new paradigm, shifting the geopolitical centre of gravity to the Asia Pacific or Indo-Pacific, triggering strategic realignments. The most important of these strategic understandings is between a rising China and a rejuvenating Russia which has projected a new vision of cooperation for development and stability in Eurasia and beyond. Gen Haq said Pakistan shares religious, cultural and social bonds with Afghanistan. No country has suffered more on account of the continuing strife in Afghanistan than Pakistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan are vital for Pakistan’s long-term prosperity and progress. Continue reading
In order to resolve the current crisis in Kashmir, Pakistan should engage in active diplomacy. This was one of the points raised by university students who took part in a youth conclave to discuss the recent developments in India-held Kashmir at a great event organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), Karachi, on Thursday evening. The programme began with PIIA’s chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan giving the background of the situation who showed maps of the region and then informed the audience about articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution. She said Article 370 gives autonomous status to Kashmir under which Kashmir had its own flag, assembly, local laws, and complete control over its area except in three fields: defence, foreign affairs and communications. That has now been scrapped. Article 35-A, she said, protected land rights of the Kashmiri people. It has also been scrapped. She then showed video clips of two Indian women who recently spoke against the Indian government’s decision.
After that, students were invited to the podium to speak on the topic. The first was Turfa Irfan of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST). She said, “We cannot trust India. If we withdraw our army, will India hold a referendum there?” No one should think about occupying that piece of land [Kashmir]. We should be thinking about providing their people with basic facilities and amenities. Momina Jamil of FUUAST said what India is doing in Kashmir shouldn’t surprise anyone. We knew that the Modi government with its second term would make life difficult for Muslims of India by making anti-Muslim laws. But there is a bright side to it: India is being divided by Modi, and there’s a civil war-like scenario there. Our government, on the other hand, was caught napping. Political governments in Pakistan have seldom tried to resolve the Kashmir issue. Continue reading
The historic Kashmir dispute is an extremely complex problem; policy recommendations and their subsequent implementation might take a considerable period of time to reap constructive results and there is no end in sight to the ongoing human rights violations of the Kashmiri people.
UN Security Council Resolution 47 (1948) recommended three steps to resolve the Kashmir problem, i.e. (i) Pakistan had to withdraw its nationals that entered Kashmir to fight, (ii) India had to progressively reduce its military forces to the minimum level required for law and order, and (iii) India had to appoint a plebiscite administrator nominated by the United Nations who would conduct a free and impartial plebiscite. Pakistan adhered to its part of the bargain but India has consistently refused to live up to the obligations it agreed to and it has instead created a grave human rights tragedy by its violent and merciless actions against Kashmiri civilians. Article 1(1) of the UN Charter is very clear that the purpose of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.” Significantly, by virtue of resolution 47 (1948), as the mightiest nation in the world, the USA was given a key role to play by the president of the Security Council, Mahmoud Fawzi Bey of Egypt.
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the White House for his long-awaited meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday, 22 July 2019. The meeting was of immense importance, precisely because it was Imran Khan’s “first one-on-one meeting with US President Donald Trump.” Hence, it was an incredible opportunity to renew diplomatic ties. Even though, the meeting was quite an important development in international politics, nevertheless, it might be worthwhile to look into the contemporary relevance of the meeting, especially with regard to the recent events in Kashmir. Perhaps one of the integral issues discussed during the meeting was that of Kashmir. During the meeting, President Trump offered “to mediate the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.” He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him if he (President Trump) could be an arbitrator in the Kashmir issue. Continue reading
We may look back at Deng Xiaoping’s words and ponder over how these protests will play out and what they herald for the future of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy …
‘One country, two systems’ – this core principle has been the cornerstone of state policy on the reunification of China. And generating fascination, scepticism, consternation and more, this constitutional policy sought to answer lingering questions pertaining to sovereignty, administration and autonomy with regard to the mainland region of China and the Taiwan region. This principle was coined by People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) paramount leader [from 1978 until 1992] Deng Xiaoping – popularly referred to as the General Architect of Reforms – who went on to highlight its most conspicuous implication: ‘within the People’s Republic of China, the mainland with its one billion people will maintain the socialist system, while Hong Kong and Taiwan continue under the capitalist system.’ He further added that ‘When we adopt the policy of “one country, two systems” to resolve the Hong Kong question, we are not acting on impulse or playing tricks but are proceeding from reality and taking into full account the past and present circumstances of Hong Kong.’
The latter point is particularly interesting – its context leaves one contemplating what this political and administrative ideology entails for future circumstances in Hong Kong; circumstances quite like the 2019 protests that have been ongoing since the end of March and have seen especially violent escalations this week. Following the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, in February 2019 the government of Hong Kong proposed the controversial Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill which would permit extradition of fugitives to China and facilitate mutual legal assistance. Fears pertaining to arbitrary legal processes and detainment were among the most concerning, as stated by organisers of the protests and pro-independence political figures. Continue reading
Jadhav’s case is based on numerous controversial and contentious premises, especially because it is yet another instance of extreme rivalry between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, an Indian national and a secret military agent was arrested in Balochistan on 3 March 2016 on allegations of espionage and terrorism against Pakistan. Owing to Jadhav’s two confessional statements, one in March 2016 and the other in June 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death in April 2017 for espionage. Meanwhile, India insisted that Jadhav was not guilty, classified this decision as a “pre-meditated murder”, and turned to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for support and help to invalidate Jadhav’s pronouncement of guilt. As a consequence, the implementation of Jadhav’s death sentence was postponed. Approximately one year later, on Wednesday 17 July 2019, the ICJ pronounced its judgment on Jadhav’s case based on the public hearings that began on 18 February 2019. In its judgment, the ICJ had ruled that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately, and asked Pakistan to ensure effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences. This was in accordance with Article 36 of the the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 (VCCR).
Article 36 states that “when a national of a foreign country is arrested, they must be informed of the right to have their country’s consulate notified and should also have the right to regular consultation with their consulate’s officials during their detention and trial.” Perhaps, through this verdict, the ICJ sought to fill all the possible gaps; it wanted to allow a fairer and a more acceptable trial to take place; it wanted to make up for matters that previously went unnoticed when dealing with Jadhav. The fact that Jadhav’s case has so many areas of analyses, each depicting a unique picture of the case, is noteworthy. Initially, Pakistan argued that Jadhav shouldn’t be allowed consular access. Continue reading
Women of Afghanistan are still hopeful about a better future …
On the surface, our world leaders protrude an aura of optimism when asked about the US-Taliban peace Talks. They talk about a world where the viral spread of terrorism by the hands of such militant groups is nothing more than a distant nightmare. An example of such portrayal is present in an interview given by the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, who said, that ‘For the first time, the possibility for peace is really at hand. The aim of the South Asia strategy is not to perpetuate war; it is simply put as a staple of understanding within a secure South Asia’. Recently, the President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump said that he ‘believes that great nations do not fight endless wars. He wants to end 18 years of war and bring back the US military group from Afghanistan.’ The outlook of the peace talks is believed to be positive, it creates an illusion that our world is moulding into a suburban utopia where everything is perfectly conjoined with one another to make a seemingly flawless wonderland.
However, we forget that even the said utopian wonderland tends to break under the visual perfection of its existence. Upon closer inspection into the US-Taliban peace talks we observe how society causally undermines the suffering of the silent half of the Afghan population, the Afghani women. Prior to the Taliban take over and the Soviet occupation, Afghanistan was a relatively progressive country when addressing the rights of women. Afghan women made up 50% of government workers, 70% of schoolteachers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul. After the fall of the Taliban regime, things started to look a bit better for the Afghan women, at least on paper. In the year 2004, a new constitution was approved, and the country held its first presidential elections, proclaiming that Afghanistan is henceforth a democratic state that provides equal rights to men and women. Continue reading