Tag Archives: Democracy

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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Filed under Al Qaeda, Discussion, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Islam, Islamophobia, Israel, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, The Middle East, United States

Kashmir: India never seriously engaged with Pakistan on conflict resolution

There has been no fundamental change in India’s attitude towards Pakistan. It has never seriously engaged with Pakistan on conflict resolution.

This was one of the points made by Riaz Khokhar, former Ambassador and Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, on 29 January 2020 in his keynote address in the inaugural session of a two-day conference on ‘Kashmir, the Way Forward’, organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA). Mr Khokhar started his speech by saying that the subject could not be looked at in isolation because it involved a number of factors: the situation in South Asia in the geopolitical and economic context, the world order was in flux, the rise of China, Russia reasserting itself, the US still believing in its superiority as an exceptional power, the US-India strategic partnership and flashpoints such as Afghanistan and the Middle East. He rejected the notion that the Pakistan government was caught napping when Modi made his move [in Kashmir]. “We were following his election very carefully, and there was a genuine understanding that if he was to return with a massive majority then we should expect him to do things. The Pakistani government did handle the first phase of the problem coolly.” Watch Video

Mr Khokhar said in order to analyse the situation we needed to see what Modi did: he basically abolished articles 370 and 35(A). And why at this time? There were several reasons, he argued. First, as the leader of the BJP and a deeply committed RSS man, he was committed to the concept of Hindutva. Secondly, he was convinced that if he did that, it would be a popular move [among Hindus]. Thirdly, he was convinced that the international community was not with Pakistan. Fourth, after the February 2019 skirmish he was convinced that Pakistan was not entirely strong –– he saw it politically fractured, economically weak, but militarily strong. He also realised that Pakistan was financially in a difficult situation; if there was a war we would have difficulty in financing it. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Discussion, Europe, Events, Human Rights, ICJ, India, Islam, Karachi, Kashmir, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, UK, United States

Iran crisis: ‘General Soleimani was on a peace mission’

After 1979, Iran created its own democratic brand of Islam … The major conflict is between Iran and Israel.

We at The Pakistan Inst­itute of International Affairs (PIIA) held a session on Saturday evening on the current developments in West Asia participated by three prominent individuals. Former foreign secretary of Pakistan Najmuddin Shaikh was the first speaker. Mr Shaikh began his presentation by mentioning the Ukrainian passenger plane that was mistakenly shot down by an Iranian-launched missile. Iran has acknowledged that this happened because of a mistake on the part of those who are involved in safeguarding Iran, and those who have fired the missile will be held accountable. There will be a demand for compensation. Perhaps a precedent will be followed when in 1988 an Iranian passenger plane was shot down by the US. President Reagan had expressed his regret and eventually the Americans decided that compensation would be given. Mr Shaikh said three countries are associated with the current developments: the US, Iran and Iraq. There is much confusion in the United States.

There is polarisation in the country, and within its administration. The Congress says that the authority of waging war lies with it and Trump will ignore it. Trump is unpredictable but one thing is not: anything that Obama did is [deemed] bad and has to be reversed. However, there is a deeper concern. The American secret state is still traumatised by the hostage crisis. It is driving the attitude towards Iran. Many think-tanks have written about how counterproductive it is. This is not the prevailing sentiment, though. The prevailing sentiment is that what happened to Qassem Soleimani is right but now we need to de-escalate. With reference to Iran, he said it did a wise thing of announcing that we have carried out our attack and that’s all we’re going to do. But they sent a message to the US that it should examine the precision of their missiles. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Human Rights, Iran, ISIS, Islam, Islamophobia, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Sanctions, The Middle East, United States

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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Filed under Bangladesh, Discussion, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics

India’s Citizenship Amendment Act: An Insidious Case of Bigotry by Modi

The racist new Indian citizenship law hides behind the skirts of refugee issues but in reality it intends to disempower Muslims in India. We in Pakistan are very fortunate to enjoy our own country’s citizenship. 

The right to citizenship is the right to have other rights, such as the right to vote. However, laced with discrimination, grounded in antipathy, on 11 December 2019, in order to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955, the Parliament of India passed a very controversial new law in the form of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 which will grant Indian citizenship to religious minorities such as Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis, Jains and persecuted Hindus; but which pointedly excludes Muslims. This new citizenship law was championed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and effectively formalized on 12 December by President Ram Nath Kovind. It has been met with large scale protests across India with critics citing it as grossly divisive, exclusivist, discriminatory and likely to further polarise Indian society. Much is being discussed about the increasing possibility of India abandoning its foundational ‘secular structure’ and heading towards a regressive route marked by overt Hindu supremacy following the passing of this the new law.

President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Asaduddin Owaisi lambasted the Islamophobic new law, denouncing that ‘We are heading toward totalitarianism, a fascist state…We are making India a theocratic country.’ Acclaimed Indian author Arundhati Roy likened the new law to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws of the Third Reich: ‘Are we going to stand in line once again, obediently, and comply with this policy that eerily resembles the 1935 Nuremberg Laws of the Third Reich? If we do, India will cease to exist. We are faced with the biggest challenge since Independence.’ To provide a bit of historical context to this chilling comparison, it must be noted that the 1935 Nuremberg Laws were predicated on the ‘Protection of German Blood and German Honour.’ Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Discussion, Human Rights, Immigration, India, Islamophobia, Legislation, Pakistan, Politics, Refugees

Paradoxes in Pakistan’s Human Rights Case for Kashmir

After the demise of the Cold War, regional and internal conflicts had the chance to come on the international theatre. Their nature was not merely confined to the ideological context but had strong affiliations to their political, economic, geographical, cultural and historical outlooks. Following the abrupt emergence of internal issues, security problems exacerbated the international concerns that persuaded states to ascribe new threats to their integrity and led to overwhelming execution of authoritative actions. The world sadly witnessed the Bosnian genocide, Rwandan genocide, discriminatory atrocities in Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir and in various parts of the world in all magnitudes. The United Nations and various international and regional organisations raised their voices to oppose these events, but later the terror attack of 9/11 provided legitimacy to state sponsored outrages against human rights. These developments together resulted in the eventual breakdown of the whole international legal regime.

Presently, reports on the Syrian civil war and Xinjiang triggered substantial reaction of world community on human rights violations that indicates positive reaffirmation of its significance in international arena. Despite all poorer developments regarding declining of legal regimes, it is fortunate that the world community firmly believes in denial of human rights abuses. Following the repercussions of the Syrian civil war, the Kurds emerged as a well organized western ally in convoluted scenario of Middle East who not only defeated Islamic State of Iraq and Levant but also seized complete control over the North East part of Syria, a de facto autonomous region known as Rojava. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Politics, Turkey

Dr Bengali: Pakistan needs to take back its economic sovereignty

“Pakistan is facing a major economic crisis for which we need to take urgent steps. But first we need to take our economic sovereignty back,” said economist Dr Kaiser Bengali, while proposing to ban all non-essential consumer imports in order to promote local industry. He was speaking at an interactive session on ‘Contemporary Economic and Security Issues in Pakistan’ at the library of The Pakistan Institute of Inter­national Affairs on 5 December 2019. “Pakistan has a lot of internal pressures that are resisting adopting the demands that FATF [Financial Action Task Force] is making. Over the past 40 years, we have created vested interests in this country that think that they are above the law. This is across the board. Today’s news is very interesting. Malik Riaz’s assets of 190 million pounds have been seized. Before that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had said that he would be paying Rs460 billion to the state (watch video and view photographs). 

Whether he would have paid this or not is another matter. What’s significant is that his assets were seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency. “And here we have to ask, why is it that Pakistani criminals are always convicted abroad? Why aren’t they ever convicted here? Many decades ago, there was this Pakistani actor who spent five years in a London jail for drugs smuggling. We never caught him here. Similarly, there were some two or three Pakistani cricketers who also did time in UK jails for spot fixing. We didn’t catch them. In 2005’s earthquake there was this building which collapsed in Islamabad, and its owner is comfortably sitting abroad, not convicted. The owners of the Baldia factory, in which 289 workers burnt to death, are also sitting in Dubai. We have created a criminalised state. We don’t catch our criminals,” said Dr Bengali. Continue reading

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