Tag Archives: Events

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

Dr Mohammad Moini: Iran-US tension has reached a turning point

If there is an attack on Iran, it won’t be an attack on just Iran but the entire region will be destroyed as a result. Thankfully, Iran has a good defence strategy.

This is the report, by Shazia Hasan, in Dawn on our recent event. Power politics in the Middle East with a focus on Iran, Saudi Arabia and the superpowers was the main cause for concern among the participants in a round-table discussion held in the library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday. Dr Mohammad Moini, an academic from Iran, said that there have been tensions between Iran and the United States for many years but it has reached a turning point now. But he also said that the US no longer had it in them to go to war against any country. “The US economy has become addicted to war, fighter crafts, drones and other weapons created by them for killing but raging war is not so easy for them anymore. When the US used to spend money on their military and development of weapons, their economy moved but another war means recession for them. Their economy would simply burst,” he said.

Speaking about the other side — his side — Dr Moini said that Iran, meanwhile, did not underestimate the firepower of the US. Former ambassador Syed Hasan Habib said that the region can become very hot. “One wrong move by anyone can become fatal. But it is a complex situation. It remains to be seen if the US and Russia will commit all their resources in the conflict. I believe they are looking for some kind of symbolic but substantial action,” he said. “But there is Iran, which is not making errors while Saudi Arabia is gung ho and ready for action. It has already punished Qatar. The underlying reason for it is also that Qatar has fossil fuels and gas and Saudi Arabia has oil, a resource that will decrease gradually. So there is also an inter-country rivalry in the region,” he pointed out. Continue reading

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Filed under Cyber Warfare, Disarmament, Discussion, Iran, Pakistan Horizon, United States

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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