Tag Archives: Democracy

Women and US-Taliban Peace Talks

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

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Filed under Afghanistan, Discussion, Peace building, Politics, Trump, United States, Women

Reko Diq: Pakistan versus Gold Diggers

These narratives show how foreign investors are a double-edged sword for Pakistan. TCC was suspected of lending support to Baloch separatists. 

Pakistan has recently been garnering a lot of attention in international tribunals. A recent case is the Reko Diq case, which led to arbitration in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). In Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v. Islamic Republic of Pakistan (ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1), ICSID has ruled that Pakistan has to pay a $5.8 billion penalty to a mining company, the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC). It is an oddity that the Pakistani public has been disabled from knowing the full details of the ICSID arbitration judgment. The condition for the publication of the award is that both parties must consent to its publication and apparently there is no consensus that it should be published, or alternatively there is consensus that it should not be published. Either way that is rather opaque and lacks transparency. Yet we do know the identities of the arbitrators and the costly law firms employed by the parties and all the procedural steps in the arbitration (which is rather pointless indeed without knowing the full and exact details of the final arbitration award). 

It is rather appalling that the award is not in the public domain and the people of Pakistan are being denied access to the full details of the decision. Reko Diq is a region in Balochistan that has large gold and copper reserves. TCC acquired an exploration license in 2006, buying it from the company BHP Minerals. Though this seems a very recent mining project, TCC itself is a joint venture by other foreign companies, and BHP had been granted licenses since 1993 by the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) under the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (Chevja). Now that TCC was exploring Reko Diq’s reserves, it completed its feasibility study in 2010, and applied for a mining lease, but it was denied. Chevja had been challenged by petitioners before. In 2013, the Supreme Court decided that the agreement (Chevja) was void ab initio. In 2009, the provincial government had already terminated Chevja. Continue reading

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Filed under Accountability, Balochistan, Corruption, Courts, Discussion, Economy, Legislation, Mining, Pakistan, World Bank

Mr Tariq Khosa discusses security and governance challenges facing Pakistan

Pakistan’s national objective is based upon pursuing social justice through peace and security …

On Saturday, July 20, 2019, former Federal Secretary, Inspector General of Police and Director General FIA, Mr. Tariq Khosa, visited The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, where he addressed the members of the Institute on Internal Security and Governance Challenges confronting Pakistan. He started his speech by explaining that he does not have any political affiliations or any personal agenda. He expressly stated that his lecture did not intend to offend any segment of society. While discussing terrorism and internal security challenges he focused on three ‘Ms’, (i) Mullah; by which he meant religious extremists, who by design deliberately promote a mindset that proliferates violence, (ii) Military; who he said are the big part of the problem, yet they are a bigger solution to those issues, and (iii) Militants, in shape of non-state actors who have eroded the authority of the state. He spoke about the Karachi Operation which started under the command of the Karachi police force, with the support of Intelligence Bureau, in September 2013. 

He explained that since 2013, terrorist incidents in Karachi have declined by 70%. Subsequently, 373 terrorists were killed and 521 were arrested from 2015 till 2018. Unfortunately, the police faced the major brunt of this operation, with a total of 450 police officers who were martyred, 163 in 2013 which reduced to 6 in 2018. Mr. Khosa recounted that it was not the Pulwama Incident which made us change our strategy on the use of non-state actors, but that the decision was taken along with the present government in January 2019, emphasizing that there would not be any non-state actor in the future. However, the efficiency of this policy is yet to be seen. He further explained how the Police Reforms were constituted by the Supreme Court, in a committee of serving IGs as well as nine retired IGs who had served in all the provinces and have come up with a seven-point agenda to reform governance issues. Continue reading

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Filed under Accountability, Criminal law, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Police, Politics

Power Politics in the Middle East: Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf

A number of speakers drew emphasis on the United States’ unilateral, militaristic adventurism in the Middle East …

Trump has been threatening Iran and has imposed further major sanctions. He says that he abandoned military strikes so as to save the lives of 150 people who would have died had he not retracted his orders to attack Iran, which he claimed will be obliterated if it did not behave itself. On 22 June 2019, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs hosted a roundtable talk (11:00 am – 1:00 pm)  to discuss the causes, implications and factors pertaining to the heightened volatility in the Middle East, with respect to the string of recent events at the Library of the Institute. This roundtable talk was attended by academics, retired generals and brigadiers, defence analysts and diplomats. One of the main speakers was Iranian Third Consul Mr Mehdi Amir Jafari, who underlined Iran’s respect for peaceful, political initiatives with regard to conflict-resolution but simultaneously stressed that the need for peaceful and diplomatic resolutions must be shared mutually by all actors involved. 

Some of the most important themes that were brought up with regard to the incumbent power politics of the Middle East included thought-provoking questions concerning the place for morality and ethical considerations in realpolitik, the inherent ties of the United States’ military-industrial-complex in shaping American foreign and defence policy and the emergence of a new world-order. General (Retd.) Sikander Hayat specifically highlighted what this new world-order entails, stating that it concerns the rise of China as a giant in international political economy. This point was analysed from an array of perspectives with regard to the Middle East, most notably from an economic, political and defence perspective. Dr. Moeini Feizabadi went into the history of the military-industrial complex and its significance in shaping the United States’ Middle East policy as well. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Discussion, Events, Iran, Pakistan, Politics, Sanctions, United States

The Ongoing Iran-America Standoff: A Dangerous Gamble?

Donald Trump tweeted that Iran made a very big mistake! but has now backed off regarding the shooting down of the US drone. In this post Urooj Hanafi examines the earlier attacks on the Japanese Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian Front Altair. 

Tensions have escalated as regional and global rivalries have come into play due to the recent attacks on the Japanese Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian Front Altair on 13 June near the Persian Gulf. The incident demands that two vital questions be addressed: who committed the deed? Who benefitted the most from the attacks? Iran has been adamant in its denial of the attacks, but the US, citing rather blurry photographic and video-based evidence unequivocally blames the former believing that the infamous Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) use of limpet mines caused the explosions on the two tankers. The Trump administration appears to be taking a gamble: use a “maximum pressure” strategy to force Iran in line with its wishes or risk a conflict in an already volatile region. In December 2018, the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) while additionally bringing an end to any sanction waivers that allowed certain countries to import oil from Iran.

The economic effects have been dire forcing the Iranian economy into a slump as the finance sector and oil revenues have taken a serious hit. However, the US policy of “maximum pressure” is highly questionable because inciting forced radical change is likely to lead to an eventual backlash. Even if Iran were to capitulate to US demands, most likely through the imposition of US-leaning leaders implementing western ideals, the people would retaliate possibly leading to a second Iran revolution setting rapprochement with Iran decades behind. It comes as no surprise that Saudi Arabia, a current US favorite due to its purchase of US weapons and a buffer against Iranian influence in the Middle East, loyally stands by US claims and has generously promised to increase oil production along with the UAE in order to help re-stabilize global oil prices. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Disarmament, Discussion, Iran, Pakistan Horizon, United States

Sudan Crisis: A Struggle for Democracy

Media coverage as well as the response to the Sudan crisis has been abysmal

Since the talks between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Alliance for Freedom and Change have broken down, Khartoum has been plagued by violence. When the military capitulated to popular demand and brought an end to the 30-year long oppressive rule of Omar al-Bashir, the people rejoiced. Sudanese spirits were at a high much like the same demonstrators who managed to overthrow despots during the Arab Spring Uprising. Unfortunately, after that uprising it soon became clear that the military is often as authoritarian as its governmental counterpart. It cleverly employs a tactic of appearing to appease the people, allowing the dust settle which is then followed by strict military rule. Fortunately, the Sudanese appeared to have learnt from history as the Alliance for Freedom and Change called for a total civil disobedience campaign after the military’s very brutal crackdown on a protestors’ camp on 3 June when it refused to hand over authority to a civilian administration preferring to concentrate power in its own hands.

There have been serious human rights violations as the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors (CSSD) has put the death toll at 118 victims while hundreds have been injured. About 40 “bloated” bodies have been recovered from the Nile- an attempt by the military to lower the official death toll. Additionally many women have suffered from rape with numbers likely understated due to the societal stigma attached to such an offense. Much of the atrocities have been committed by the paramilitary force known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by General Hamdan. It is this same force that was responsible for the genocide in Darfur for which Mr. Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and gives rise to the question: why are similar crimes currently committed by the same force not being taken seriously by the international community? Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Corruption, Discussion, Human Rights, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Sudan

Pakistan Horizon: Latest Abstracts

The Pakistan Horizon is the flagship journal of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) which we have published continuously since 1948. Research at the PIIA is published either in monographs or in Pakistan Horizon, the quarterly journal of the Institute. The first issue was published in March 1948. Since then, it has been published without a break; it contains articles, speeches, surveys of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations, book reviews, chronologies of important events and documents. Notably, our respected journal is the oldest journal on International Relations in South Asia. Apart from adding to the learning on politics, Pakistan Horizon aims to combine rigorous analysis with a helpful approach to international issues. It thus features articles related to Pakistan’s foreign policy, regional and global issues, women’s concerns in international relations, IR theory, terrorism and security studies and emerging environmental concerns. The abstracts for all our latest articles from PAKISTAN HORIZON, Volume 72, Number 2, April 2019 are available below.

As part of its public diplomacy programme, PIIA arranges roundtable sessions, lectures and seminars on a regular basis. These sessions have been addressed by world leaders, scholars and academics including: Presidents Ayub Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf; Prime Ministers Liaquat Ali Khan and Benazir Bhutto: Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, President Habib Bouraqiba, Prince Karim Aga Khan, Madame Sun Yat SenSir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, Henry Kissinger, Rauf Denktash, Justice Philip C. Jessup, Lord Clement Attlee, Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir, Prime Minister SWRD Bandranaike, Professor Arnold Toynbee, Professor Andre Siegfried, Professor Y. V. Gangovsky, Michael Krepon, Walter Russell Mead, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Professor Francis Robinson CBE (see here) and the unsurpassable Rajmohan Gandhi (see here). Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, CPEC, Discussion, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics