Expert says political elite of Sri Lanka failed to reach consensus on how to run their country. Pakistan is not going to default on international loans, moot told
The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) organised a seminar on ‘Crisis in Sri Lanka: Lessons for Pakistan’ on Saturday. Introducing the subject, the PIIA chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan explained Sri Lanka is going through an economic crisis, which is said to be the worst crisis in the history of the country.
“There are food shortages, people are protesting. So there is both a humanitarian and political crisis. A couple of days ago, the Sri Lankan prime minister said that their economy has totally collapsed. They defaulted on their international loans,” she said, and added: “We decided to call this seminar because many here in Pakistan think that this country will follow the same pattern as Sri Lanka.” Dr S. Akbar Zaidi, the executive director of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, said he does not think that Pakistan was going to default on its loans. He said:
It’s highly improbable that we will … Right now the countries that have defaulted post-pandemic are Lebanon, Zambia and Sri Lanka. But here Pakistan is in an International Monetary Fund [IMF] programme, which Sri Lanka was not.
He further elaborated that Sri Lanka was a richer country than Pakistan, stating:
Poorer countries are given loans at a lower rate, but Sri Lanka was given loans on a higher rate … Still, default is not the end of the world, but it makes life very difficult as it gives way to unemployment and inflation and we are already there.
Dr Farhan Hanif Siddiqi, director and associate professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, said that the political system in Sri Lanka combined with ethnic and cultural issues caused a vicious cycle there.
He also said that the political elite of Sri Lanka failed to reach consensus on how to do politics or how to run the country, which is also a big contributory factor in what is happening in Sri Lanka today.
“In 2015, their presidential system was changed into a parliamentary system. Then in 2020, they were back to the presidential system. Now, again they are calling for a parliamentary system. It does not go well with that nation,” he said.
“Even though the Tamil Tigers were defeated, the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka is an underlying problem. A younger generation might even mobilise themselves in the future. And when politics does not address the underlying conflicts, then they grow. We are facing a similar issue in our Balochistan,” he said.
Dr Jehan Perera, executive director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, joined in through a video link to provide a better picture of what is going on in his country at the moment.
He said that just four years ago, Sri Lanka was called a middle-income country by the World Bank. Sri Lanka was also a great tourism destination. “But in the last three months, the value of Sri Lankan currency has fallen by 100 per cent. Now 70 per cent of our population eats less. Now, Sri Lanka is known as the seventh-most malnourished country in the world. It is being compared to Somalia.”
“In Colombo, we see enormous lines or queues for petrol and diesel at the pumps. People park their cars there for two days and more, and go home because there will be no fuel until there is supply. There is no gas to cook food. We do it on electric hot plates. The universities have been closed. Education has been shifted to online. There is a shortage of medicine even and we are thankful to Pakistan for sending us medicines. And the immediate blame for all that is happening in Sri Lanka has fallen on the current government. The people are angry. They feel terribly betrayed. They think that the country cannot import petrol, diesel, gas and medicine because it has run out of dollars. On May 9, there were riots where the people attacked the homes of ministers. It led to the resignation of the president, who was portraying himself as the king,” he said.
“The majority principal is entrenched in Sri Lanka, but we also have other groups such as the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Tamils who came here from India many years ago. They all speak Tamil, but the country’s language is Sinhala. When decisions are taken, the Sinhalese do not take the minorities into consideration. The Tamil language is spoken by three of the four communities in Sri Lanka, but the parliament made Sinhala our national language, which has also led to a sense of insecurity among the minorities. So many minorities in Sri Lanka also feel powerless as our army, too, is 95 per cent Sinhalese,” he explained.
‘Hidutva is xenophobic’: Javed Jabbar argues Hindutva was fascism before Hitler and Mussolini
The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) recently held a seminar on ‘The Status of Minorities in India’ . Former Senator Javed Jabbar and academic Prof Dr Mohammad Waseem were two speakers who shed light on the subject. Speaking on the occasion, Javed Jabbar articulated his thoughts brilliantly by stating at the beginning that in India there’s ‘unclear majority that imperils clear minority’. He said the three concepts of Hindu, Hinduism and Hindutva are three distinctive, separate concepts. The word Hindu does not occur in any of the three sacred texts of Hinduism. For hundreds of years there was no concept of who is a Hindu because the people living in South Asia were driven by caste.
At the same time, another odyssey began, which was the quest for Hindu identity because Hindus now had to decide ‘we have always been a majority, how do we now acquire power and become the ruling majority over the minority that has ruled us for 800 years.’ So out of the two odysseys, the Hindu one took a regressive turn.
He argued 1857 is normally considered the tragic end of Muslim rule. “Tragic yes, but it was the end of monarchical Muslim Mughal rule due to the callous murder of the two sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar by a British officer. When that happened, 800 to 900 years of certain conditioning of the Muslim psyche had to begin a new odyssey. ‘How do we now become a minority?’ He said:
Mr Jabbar said Hindutva is not a belief in Hinduism. It is very specific. You can only be a Hindu if your parents are Hindu or if you’re born in what they consider is Hindustan. “This was fascism before Hitler and Mussolini… Hindutva is not a product of the BJP-RSS extremism alone, it incorporates the latent covert trends running through a certain segment of India’s polity for several decades.
‘Hidutva is xenophobic’
Dr Mohammad Waseem, Professor of Political Science, Department of Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences, said elections mean that you count every citizen belonging to multiple cultures. Earlier majoritarianism in India was secular, but now it’s faith-based. The ghettoisation of Muslims has taken place in India because of the BJP. Muslims now tend to live and stick together.
He pointed out that in India, Muslims are now considered internal enemy. As a result the minority is otherised.
Dr Waseem said that all of this has given birth to vigilante culture which is part of the neo-normal politics in India. Gao raksha incidents are an example. All nationalisms invent their sacred points. In India, the force of law has been converted into the law of force. A law enforcement agency like the police takes Hindus’ side, using the law of force against Muslims. “Muslims are labelled Pakistanis and Pakistan is enemy country.”
He said Hindutva is xenophobic in nature. Patterns of resistance have emerged, though, such as new generations of Muslims are now documenting what’s happening. He added Muslim future in India is far from right.
Earlier, Dr Masuma Hasan welcomed the guests to the seminar and introduced the speakers to them.
Prime minister Benazir Bhutto visited Bangladesh in 1989. She had asked for that visit, which the then Bangladesh President Irshad accepted …
“The independence day of Bangladesh March 26, 1971 and Dec 16 is seen by that country as the day of liberation. In Pakistan around this time the mood is generally sombre with reflection of the past,” said former foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar on Thursday.
“We have to acknowledge that the Bengali leaders made enormous contributions to the making of Pakistan, which was also acknowledged by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The resolution of Pakistan was also moved by A.K. Fazlul Haq. If Jinnah were alive and if he had been asked the worst decisions of Pakistan, he would have said that it was to refuse and deny the results of the 1970 elections along with deploring the action that was taken on March 24, 1971 by West Pakistan,” he said.
The former diplomat said he is often asked about his best assignments during his career to which he has to say from 1986 to 1989 when he served as ambassador of Pakistan to Bangladesh. “It was the best time. I got to meet all leaders, intellectuals, people in the media and civil society. We did discuss serious matters, but objectively and without anger though the differences of 1971 are still there,” he said.
“As a former diplomat, I’m not blaming any political party but every time the Awami League is in power, we have issues. The government under the Awami League has raised serious allegations and questions. They also demand an apology from Pakistan for the atrocities of 1971. But an apology is not that simple. The 1974 documents clearly address deep regret of events and atrocities. Bangladesh demands war reparation, distribution of assets, etc.
Experts discuss future of Islamabad-Dhaka relations at PIIA conference
“While I was the ambassador in Bangladesh, former late prime minister Benazir Bhutto visited Bangladesh in 1989. She had asked for that visit, which the then Bangladesh president Irshad accepted. The issues did come up but such things cannot be decided just like that. Such issues are an impediment to the progress and relations of both countries.
“It is sad that despite sharing the history of 1947, there’s so little interaction with Bangladesh here. The culture of Bangladesh is extremely rich in art, music, dance, etc. Why not have cultural exchanges? Pakistan would be happy to have an exchange programme for students. We can also offer hundreds of scholarships in various fields and Bangladesh, too, can reciprocate,” he said.
‘Let’s resume communication’
“Yes, the impediments are serious but there is no reason why we can’t be talking. There is an absence of debate not at the public and private level or the diplomatic level. But Pakistan and Bangladesh relations do have a future. I appeal, let’s resume communications. We have much to share and much to learn from each other,” he concluded.
Earlier, while reminding the significance of Dec 16, 1971, PIIA’s chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan said that it was when Pakistan was dismembered and Bangladesh formally became an independent and sovereign state. “The date is etched in the minds of millions of people in Pakistan and Bangladesh. History has few parallels to the events of 1971, which led to the second partition of the subcontinent and changed the political landscape of South Asia,” she said.
“In the last 50 years, much water has flown under the bridges of the Indus and Brahmaputra. The global and regional landscape has changed, with a multi-polar world, the phenomenal rise and outreach of China, an assertive India, and the continuing role of the United States. In the regional context, rising from the ashes, Bangladesh has made remarkable economic progress. Whatever the irritants of the past, the people of the two countries share a common historical identity, strive for the same values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and freedom of expression. Both countries are members of Saarc and other international organisations and they vote on the same side on many international issues. For the future of Pakistan-Bangladesh relations, there are many positive trends,” she said.
‘We didn’t leave like thieves’
Syed Sikander Mehdi, former Karachi University professor and chairperson of the Department of International Relations, said that the personal memories of West Pakistanis who went to East Pakistan for business and educational purposes are soft. These people still miss Bangladesh. But their memories are not recorded here. “The people from East Pakistan who settled down here before the break-up or after 1971 also have oral memories that have not been published. I did my schooling, college and university education in Dhaka. I was an activist in my student life. I remember us students protesting the Vietnam war, the dictatorship of Ayub Khan. Our family lived in the Bengali area till our migration from Dhaka in late 1972. I had very close relations with my Bengali teachers before and after the military operation. I had a job, my father had a job, too and we had no economic compulsion. When I told my teachers that we were leaving, they hosted a dinner for my family. So we didn’t leave like thieves. But after coming here we saw a headline in the newspaper, which read Bihari na khappay. We cannot wish away the past but we need to write more and talk more about all this,” he said.
Former Professor at the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, M Shahiduzzaman said that he was a former student of Sikander Mehdi. “We were sad when he left. Many years later when my students and myself visited the University of Karachi we found him like he has always been, a human being whose soul lies with us,” he said.
Meritorious Professor of International Relations and former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Karachi, Dr Moonis Ahmar, observed that Pakistan and Bangladesh relations were seeing a paradigm shift in 1974 with the signing of the agreement in Delhi but then this paradigm shift stopped.
“We have been moving two steps forward and four steps backward,” he said, while adding that Sheikh Hasina Wajid, the daughter of the man denied premiership here, should be invited over and asked to address a joint session of the Pakistan parliaments. And Pakistani PM Imran Khan can do the same when he visits Bangladesh.
Ambassador Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui and Dr Raunaq Jahan also spoke.
Published in Dawn, 17 December 2021, written by Shazia Hasan
16 December 1971 is a historic date for Pakistan and Bangladesh, when Pakistan was dismembered and Bangladesh formally became an independent and sovereign state. The date is etched in the minds of millions of people in Pakistan and Bangladesh. History has few parallels to the events of 1971, which led to the second partition of the subcontinent and changed the political landscape of South Asia. Regarded as a civil war, there were calls for accountability in Pakistan, however it is celebrated as the war of liberation in Bangladesh. Unlike most other people who have separated, it was the majority population which chose to part ways with the minority.Looking back, 50 years later, the unusual structural configuration of the Pakistani state may have contributed to its break-up, with two wings separated by over 1000 miles of unfriendly territory.
The majority homogeneous population of the eastern wing, far distanced from the seat of government, felt marginalized and was denied power, in spite of victory in the general elections of 1970. The tragedy of 1971, steeped in violence and bloodshed, was avoidable and all informed opinion had pleaded for dialogue and a political solution. However, politicians, historians and analysts from the two sides have given opposing narratives of the tragedy, and to this day, both Pakistan and Bangladesh are dealing with the collateral damage of the trauma, both physical and emotional.
In the last 50 years, much water has flown under the bridges of the Indus and Brahmaputra. The global and regional landscape has changed, with a multi-polar world, the phenomenal rise and outreach of China, an assertive India, and the continuing role of the United States. In the regional context, rising from the ashes, Bangladesh has made remarkable economic progress.
Whatever the irritants of the past, the people of the two countries share a common historical identity, strive for the same values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and freedom of expression. Both countries are members of SAARC and other international organizations and they vote on the same side on many international issues. For the future of Pakistan- Bangladesh relations, there are many positive trends. It is a time to reflect and move forward.
Ambassador Riaz Khokhar
Ambassador Riaz Khokhar is a former career diplomat who served as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan from June 2002 to February 2005. Few Pakistani diplomats have worked on as many important assignments as Ambassador Khokhar. He was Pakistan’s envoy to Dhaka, New Delhi, Washington DC and Beijing before leading the top post of the Foreign Service of Pakistan. He also served as adviser to prime ministers Benazir Bhutto, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and Nawaz Sharif and was appointed as Special Envoy on Inter-Faith Dialogue by prime minister Shaukat Aziz.
Dr Moonis Ahmar
Dr Moonis Ahmar is former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, and Meritorious Professor at the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi. He was also Chairman, Department of International Relations, University of Karachi and is Director, Program on Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. His field of specialization is conflict and security studies, focussing on the South and Central Asian regions. He is the author of several books on different themes of International Relations.
Syed Sikander Mehdi
Syed Sikander Mehdi is former Chairperson of the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi. He has taught International Relations and Peace Studies at Dhaka University, Karachi University, and universities in Austria and Spain. He was visiting research fellow at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, Norway; Henry Stimson Centre, Washington DC; and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. He has published on peace education and culture, nuclear proliferation, refugees and migration, and war and conflict.
Mr M. Shahiduzzaman
Mr M. Shahiduzzaman is a former Professor of the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka. He completed his post-graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Center for International Affairs, in 1978 with late Prof Norman Palmer. He completed his Master’s degree in International Studies from The Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in 1976-77 and was awarded Outstanding Foreign Student of the Year-1977. He also lectured at the Naval Post- Graduate School, Monterey, California, USA in 1976.
Dr Kaiser Bengali
Dr Kaiser Bengali is an economist with over 45 years’ experience in teaching, research and policy advice in Pakistan. He was Consultant for Economic Affairs and Head of the Chief Minister’s Policy Reform Unit, Government of Balochistan, Adviser to the Chief Minister of Sindh for Planning & Development, Managing Director of the Social Policy & Development Centre, Karachi, and the first head of the Benazir Income Support Programme. He has taught at the Applied Economics Research Centre, University of Karachi, and the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology.
Dr Rounaq Jahan
Professor Rounaq Jahan is a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dhaka, former Senior Research Scholar and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University (1990-2010), and Professor of Political Science at Dhaka University (1970- 1982). She headed the Women’s programs at UN Asia-Pacific Development Center, Kuala Lumpur (1982-84) and the International Labour Organisation (1985-89). She was Research Fellow at Harvard, Chicago and Boston universities and Rajni Kothari Professor at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, in 2010. She is the author of Pakistan: Failure in National Integration and several books on the politics of Bangladesh.
Ambassador Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui
Ambassador Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui was a career diplomat who served as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh from 2016 to 2018. He also served as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Kenya and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to UNEP & UN-Habitat. He was Director General (Afghanistan and ECO) and Additional Foreign Secretary (Europe) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad. He is currently working as Adviser – Corporate Affairs at United Marine Agencies (UMA).
Dr Masuma Hasan
Dr Masuma Hasan is Chairperson of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, President of the Board of Governors of Aurat Foundation, and Syndicate member and Selection Board member of the University of Karachi. She was Cabinet Secretary to the Government of Pakistan; Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Vienna, IAEA, UNIDO, and all other international agencies in Vienna where she chaired the Group of 77; ambassador to Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia; Director of the National Institute of Public Administration Karachi.
The concept note, programme, and speakers’ profiles are attached.
Dr Tanweer Khalid Honorary Secretary (She/Her)
The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs Aiwan–e–Sadar Road Karachi, Pakistan
50 Years Later: The Future of Pakistan-Bangladesh Relations
Thursday, 16 December 2021 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Registration 11:00 am – 11:45 am
11:45 am – 12:00 pm Purpose of the Conference Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairperson, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm Keynote Address Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
Session I A Time to Reflect
12:30 pm – 12:35 pm Chair: Dr Moonis Ahmer, Meritorious Professor of International Relations and former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Karachi.
12:35 pm – 12:55 pm Remembering Bangladesh in Pakistan Syed Sikander Mehdi, former Professor and Chairperson of the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi.
12:55 pm – 01:15 pm Removing Stereotypes for Future of Pakistan-Bangladesh Relations Mr M. Shahiduzzaman, former Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka.
01:15 pm – 01:45 pm
Question and Answer Session
1:45 pm – 1:55 pm
Concluding remarks by the Chair
Lunch 01:55 pm – 03:00 pm
Session II Positive Trends for the Future
03:00 pm – 03:05 pm Chair: Dr Kaiser Bengali, Economist, former Consultant for Economic Affairs and Head of the Chief Minister’s Policy Reform Unit, Government of Balochistan, and Adviser to the Chief Minister of Sindh for Planning & Development.
03:05 pm – 03:25 pm 50 Years of Bangladesh: Achievements and Challenges Dr Rounaq Jahan, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh, former Adjunct Professor, Columbia University, USA, and author of Pakistan: Failure in National Integration.
03:25 pm – 03:45 pm Memories of Bangladesh and its Transformation Ambassador Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Bangladesh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, and Adviser, Corporate Affairs, United Marine Agencies (UMA).
03:45 pm – 04:15 pm
Question and Answer Session
04:15 pm – 04:25 pm
Concluding remarks by the Chair
04:25 pm – 04:35 pm
Farewell Remarks Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairperson, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.
‘The Future of Pakistan-US Relations’ was the topic of a discussion organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday. Delving into the subject, former Pakistan ambassador to the US and UK, and Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Dr Maleeha Lodhi said that after the Cold War, after Russia’s leaving Afghanistan and now after the US pullout from Afghanistan, it is the third time for Pakistan and USA to be redefining of relations.
“Throughout these years there have been many highs and lows with benign disengagements in between. Our relations have been driven by world events and geopolitical storms. And even at times of close alliances, there has always been an elephant in the room such as India or Pakistan’s nuclear programme,” she said.
“Whenever Pakistan has sought US support during regional conflicts, it has been disappointed by Washington’s stance,” she added.
“The US has always seen Pakistan as a tactical player. The ties we had or have were principally a function of America’s war in Afghanistan. The US had an Afghanistan policy but not a Pakistan policy,” she pointed out. “Sometimes this convergence worked in mutual benefit testified by the joint struggle of both countries during the Russian war in Afghanistan,” she pointed out.
She said that now that the global environment is in a state of flux there is a predominant trend of competition rather than cooperation.
“The reality today is the standoff between USA and China. America has a policy of restraining China. And Pakistan wants to avoid this crossfire or confrontation. Its a tough act. Pakistan will not be a part of it as it wants future ties with both countries.
“Meanwhile, US interest is in insuring Afghanistan doesn’t again become a base for terrorist groups. It wants Pakistan’s help in this regard, to counter terrorism and this is what future relations between Pakistan and USA will be based on. So there will be cooperation in only some areas,” Ms Lodhi pointed out.
“Already the mood on Capitol Hill is very negative about Pakistan on account of the perception that Islamabad’s support for the Taliban over the years was a contributing factor to the US debacle there. The Biden administration has not said this but the view is prevalent in US policy circles. It has built up a toxic environment in Pakistan-US relationship,” she added.
“Afghanistan’s future will influence, even shape Pakistan-US relations in the near term. Another factor that will affect the relationship concerns the dynamics of the triangular US-Pakistan-India relationship. Islamabad recognises that India has a pivotal role in Washington’s Asia policy and is in fact America’s strategic priority. It is not the growing relationship between Washington and Delhi that concerns Islamabad but the security impact that their strategic cooperation may have on Pakistan, the augmentation of India’s defence and strategic capabilities obviously has implications for Pakistan’s security,” she pointed out.
“If a key element of US’s strategy to counter China is India, this also impacts its relations with Pakistan. The US has always supported India and hardened its posture towards Pakistan, almost encouraging India to be more aggressive towards our country,” she said.
Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Geneva, Zamir Akram, Dr Adil Najam and PIIA chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan also spoke.
‘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.
At a webinar on ‘Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: Past, Present and Future’, organised by the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Tuesday, experts said Pakistan will not be receiving as many Afghan refugees as it did in the past and so we should be patient and accommodating in the interest of maintaining good relations with the Afghan people in current times. 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 three million Afghan refugees still reside in Pakistan but according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, only 1.4m are registered.
Former ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan and former chief commissioner for Afghan refugees in Islamabad Rustam Shah Mohmand provided an analytical overview of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
“The upheaval in Afghanistan resulted in the pouring in of thousands of refugees in Pakistan and Iran in the 1980s. At the time, there was much support for them. And the military regime in Pakistan also used it as an opportunity to legalise its rule,” Ambassador Mohmand said.
‘We shouldn’t expect more than a few thousand refugees from Afghanistan unless there is civil war there’
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.
News article: webinar on the topic ‘Afghanistan at the Crossroads’
Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Washington, was the first of the three main speakers. He said he was a journalist with the Mujahideen in the late 1980s and then briefly on the government side. He has visited Afghanistan intermittently since then, so his association with the country goes back 34 years. In his view what is happening seems to be in accordance with certain basic patterns of modern Afghan history; above all, the failure to establish a modern state, whether by Afghans themselves or outside forces. Mr Lieven said: “It is my sense that the current Afghan state is finished. It may last for longer than some people expect, but according to independent analysts 197 district centres have fallen to the Taliban since May.
Much will depend upon whether the US will continue airstrikes to defend the main cities, but I don’t think that will be enough. If patterns of Afghan history are anything to go by, the collapse of the state, when it comes, may come very quickly and unexpectedly. The reason is, as we saw in 1992, Afghan society is [in] a kind of process of constant conversation and negotiation. In the late 1980s it was common knowledge that there were endless negotiations between themselves and local state garrisons.”He said, on the other hand, we will see in certain areas that certain ethno-religious minority groups, notably the Hazaras and the Panjshiris, will not surrender to the Taliban. Therefore, the subsequent history of Afghanistan will be determined by the following questions:
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