Tag Archives: Events

Conference on Climate Change: Speech by Dr Masuma Hasan

Dr. Tariq Banuri, distinguished members of the audience. It is my great pleasure to welcome you, especially Dr. Tariq Banuri, to this opening session of the conference on the existential challenge faced by Pakistan from climate change. I am thankful to Dr. Tariq Banuri for taking the trouble to travel to Karachi to join us this afternoon. As some of you would know, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs is the oldest think tank in our country. It was established in 1947 and was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. In his augural speech, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan recognised the need for an institution which should act as a bridge between policy makers and public opinion. For 72 years, our institution has fulfilled this purpose. We have given space to statesmen, scholars, diplomats, jurists and specialists in their fields from all over the world and have, on the other hand, provided a platform for informed debate on international politics and foreign policy challenges.

Our research output is disseminated through our publications and our quarterly journal, Pakistan Horizon, which has appeared without a break since 1948. It is the oldest scholarly journal in Pakistan. It is significant, perhaps, that we are holding this Conference in the sizzling heat outside ― and the electricity can go off at any minute. We have convened this Conference because climate change is considered to be the greatest threat to our planet in the 21st century. While some governments may have dragged their feet, the people have mobilised against it in many countries. Young people have gone on school strikes and taken to the streets to draw attention to the disastrous affects of climate change on the environment. We have all heard about the Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, whose activism has led her to address the highest forums on this issue ― the World Economic Forum, the European Parliament and the United Nations. Continue reading

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There is no proper climate change policy in Pakistan, experts conclude

There is no proper climate change policy in Pakistan, say experts. Policies are made here to get funding from international donors. 

“Climate change is a threat multiplier. There are other more critical threats but climate will multiply their impact,” said HEC chairman Dr Tariq Banuri on Friday. He was speaking at the inauguration session of a two-day conference on climate change — An Existential Challenge for Pakistan — organised by PIIA. “It is real, it is here and we caused it though we are quite sure that we also know how to fix it, but only if we cooperate,” said Dr Banuri, adding that the window for acting was short and closing fast. “There will be pain, nevertheless, we have to adapt. We also have to learn to prosper in a world defined by climate change,” he said. Bringing up the four horsemen and their horses of the Book of Revelation who symbolise the evils to come at the end of the world such as conquest, war, famine and death, he said that over the years things such as the industrial revolution, the manufacturing of pesticides, introduction of vaccines, etc, have pretty much warded off threats of famine, death, etc as more people today die of obesity than hunger and the incidence of premature deaths was also on the way out.

“But if we think that we have pushed back the four [horsemen] of the apocalypse, just know that climate change is bringing them back in,” he said. He also said that the government here was not serious about doing anything for climate change. “So there is really no such thing as climate policy here. No one knows what is happening as the policies here are not made to solve issues, they are made to see how to get funding from international donors,” he said. Prof Dr Noman Ahmed, the dean of the faculty of architecture at the NED University, started his presentation on ‘Citizens’ Concerns about Climate Change’ with a little story about him going to Lea Market for his research and casually asking a labourer there about the heatwave and its repercussions on people like him. Continue reading

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Foreign forces are to blame for Afghan conflict: Rustam Shah Mohmand

Former Ambassador to Afghanistan urges Pakistan to shift focus away from India.“The India-centric approach will have to be reviewed because it doesn’t deliver much” he said. Watch Video

PIIA recently held a talk on the Afghan conflict and this is Peerzada Salman’s news report of our event from Dawn. He said there is only one reason for the Afghan conflict: foreign forces. And if Pakistan and Afghanistan are to have good relations for a lasting peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan has to review its India-centric policy. This was the point that Rustam Shah Mohmand, former ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan, gave significant emphasis to during his talk titled The Afghanistan conflict: emerging dynamics and impact on Pakistan at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Wednesday evening. Mr Mohmand said what he was about to say might not be liked by some people. He then gave a robust historic perspective on the Afghan issue by asserting that most conflicts in the world were unnecessary, underlining that the country faced British imperialism in the 19th century, Russian invasion in the 20th century and US invasion in the 21st century.

Mr Mohmand said there were many theories about the 9/11 incident (who carried out the attacks and whether any Afghan was involved) that made the US invade Afghanistan. In 2001, the attack was launched and seven or eight months later President Bush announced that Afghanistan had been liberated, and “the liberation continues”. During the invasion unspeakable crimes against humanity were perpetrated. Taliban supporters were arrested, and 3,000 people (mostly innocent) were choked to death in containers. More than 200,000 civilians had been killed, villages decimated and markets blown up chasing invisible and visible enemy. Mr Mohmand asked: “What has the war delivered?” Ninety per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP comes from either foreign funding or spending by coalition forces inside the country. Domestic revenue is five to seven per cent of the GDP. Malnutrition in children is 39pc and unemployment is 45pc. Continue reading

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‘China sees CPEC as a way of creating free market’ says leading specialist

South Asia expert from Oxford University thinks that CPEC will have a positive effect on Pakistan but certainly not a transformative one. 

As reported recently in the New York Times, Trump’s isolation of Pakistan means that China will play an even greater role in our country’s future. In addition to economic development, it is now the case that the previously peaceful objectives of CPEC are duly shifting towards military cooperation involving “defense-related projects, including a secret plan to build new fighter jets.” It is possible to attack the Chinese-Pakistani partnership and label Pakistan a “guinea pig” for Chinese experiments, but the expansion of ties will also empower Pakistan against the increasing menace posed by mad Modi and his acolytes. The showcasing of Chinese military technology will be accompanied by Pakistan playing a key civilian and military role in China’s Beidou satellite navigation system, a prime part of the Belt and Road Plan considered to be the “information Silk Road”, which Beijing hopes to sell to all Belt and Road countries. In these rather interesting times, Professor Matthew McCartney, and specialist in development in South Asia, addressed the members of the PIIA on 31 March 2019. News reports are available below. Watch video

From Dawn: “Eight years ago when I had entered the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies at the University of Oxford, the focus there was on India but today our focus is truly on South Asia where the study on India is not possible without knowing about Pakistan,” said Professor Dr Matthew McCartney at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Saturday. Dr McCartney, who teaches political economy and human development of South Asia at Oxford University, was speaking on the subject of ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Sustainable Economic Growth and Industrial Policy in Contemporary Pakistan’ Continue reading

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Converting CPEC into Pakistan-Central Asia Economic Corridor

We have to give up our India-centric policies and our slave mentality.

Pakistan is on a knife-edge with the upcoming general election on 25 July 2018. With Nawaz Sharif firmly behind bars, civil society organisations are predicting rigging in the election by the armed forces and there is a consensus in the country that the army is mass manipulating electoral politics in favour of its cronies. The economic problem arising out of the present political situation is that Pakistan is seriously in the doldrums owing to its debt to its international creditors. The country is facing a sovereign debt crisis and reliance on Chinese money is very high indeed. As reported recently in the Financial Times, Islamabad is headed for a foreign currency crisis but is keen to avoid yet another IMF bailout. So it is appealing to Beijing for more lending. In the year ending June 2018 Pakistan borrowed $4 billion from China and is facing problems with the devaluation of the rupee, the strategy used by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to keep the economy afloat. At the start of June 2018, the SBP only had $10 billion in foreign currency reserves in comparison to $16.1 billion just a year earlier.

The problem does not stop there because $12.7 billion in external payments are due in comparison to £7.7 billion last year. The country will need to raise $28 billion this financial year to repay its debt obligations. Therefore, in such an environment, it is hardly surprising that Kaiser Bengali thinks that “we have to play our cards right in case of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The opening up of China has enhanced travel but not trade.” He recently made these remarks while addressing members of the prestigious Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and the media. Speaking on the subject, ‘Changing geo-politics and challenges for Pakistan’, he said: “My fear is that we will not be playing our cards right because of the slave mentality that our bureaucrats and planners have.” Elucidating further he said: “We are always looking to a bigger power to protect us against military adventurism.” In this context, he recalled that back in the 1950, we joined the US-sponsored defence pacts, the Cento and Seato, as a guarantee to be protected during times of aggression. Continue reading

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The Impact of the Singapore Summit on World Politics: A Talk by Javed Jabbar

‘Trump-Kim summit unlikely to have great impact on world’

Donald Trump is a huge showman and his despotic tendencies became all the more apparent when he extended his hand in friendship to Kim Jong-un, the autocratic and reclusive leader of North Korea. Trump had mocked Kim as “little rocket man”. In return, the US president was given the moniker “deranged dotard”. Yet despite such insults from Pyongyang, Trump still went out of his way to please Kim and both the ego-manics got on like a house on fire. The Singapore Summit on 13 June 2018 was little more than an exercise in gimmickry and it has achieved nothing in concrete terms. If anything, it has strengthened Kim’s hand and he is more powerful than ever at home and abroad. China has played a vital role in these developments. Military exercises between the US and South Korea have been suspended to please the petty dictator and of course the summit is already a forgotten affair because of huge immigration problems for Trump at home in America. Now Trump is on an offensive with his own allies and he even resorted to calling Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau “dishonest”.

He has also imposed tariffs on his country’s European allies who have countered his move in a tit-for-tat offensive. Despite all the brinkmanship, lies and false promises, it is clear that the world is a much more dangerous place that it used to be prior to Trump beginning his presidency. Trump, a racist and sexist American loudmouth, is simply incapable of performing anything positive for world peace and this is especially clear from his retrogressive policies on Palestine and human rights. Pyongyang’s war of words with Washington may have ended but Kim is still purging his opponents with extreme ruthlessness. The caging of children taken away from their parents for illegally crossing the US-Mexican border caused such outrage that even the first lady Melania Trump decided to oppose her own husband. Of course, as a past illegal immigrant herself, Melania probably thought of how horrible it would be if she were separated from her son Barron Trump? Continue reading

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‘The Arab World in Turmoil’: A Talk by Ambassador Karamatullah Ghori

We have no problem with Iran. Besides, we share a long border and are culturally more akin to Iran than to Saudi Arabia.

The standoff in Yemen between the Saudis and Iranians shows that a high death toll and human suffering alone will stop neither side from trying to build up its influence in the region. In Syria, after a relentless war which has left countless innocent people dead, Iran’s influence is in the ascendency along with its old ally Russia. The fall of Ghouta confirms this point. It demonstrates the impotence of the West as a player in the Middle East. After Saddam’s fall in 2003, Iran quickly developed its importance in Iraq. Iran was also quick to protect its neighbour when ISIS took over large parts of Iraq in 2014. Interestingly, John Bolton, who has been made Trump’s national security advisor after general McMaster was cashiered, wants to destroy the Iranian regime and advocates its replacement by Maryam Rajavi’s Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation, whose members had been proscribed as terrorists in many western countries. Mohammed bin Salman, who has recently been on a charm offensive and has been rubbing shoulders with Theresa May and schmoozing with president Trump making billion dollar deals, is now on a mission to win over support in Iraq.

The Saudi crown prince, who is on a quest to remake the Middle East, also says that Riyadh also has strategic interests with Tel Aviv despite the ongoing slaughter of the Palestinians by the Israeli military machine. Anyhow, the Wahabi Saudi regime is extending a hand of friendship to disillusioned Shias in Iraq who do not wish to align their interests with Tehran. For example, Muqtada al-Sadr, the stern leader of the Saraya al-Salam met Mohammed bin Salman in Najaf last year. Najaf is a natural place for the Saudi-Iranian rivalry to pan out further, of course Tehran has much more experience than Riyadh on the ground in Najaf and Southern Iraq. In these interesting times Pakistan’s former ambassador Karamatullah Ghori delivered lecture on The Arab World on Turmoil on 31 March, 2018 at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA). Continue reading

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