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
Filed under Afghanistan, Balochistan, China, Corruption, CPEC, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics, Trade, United States
“The current policies of the United States of America for South Asia can disrupt peace in the region” – President Mamnoon Hussain at the 70th Anniversary Conference of the PIIA.
Donald J Trump’s election to the White House demonstrates the extremely vulgar nature of American society. And it is difficult to disagree with the assessment that the American president really is a “deranged dotard”. Heaven knows, despite the tyrannical nature of his own country, North Korea’s insane “little rocket man” might even be making a valid point when he calls Trump’s sanity into question. Trump’s totally crazy brinkmanship with Pyongyang shows that he is willing to put the safety of billions of people at risk by his recklessness. But perhaps it is all just a charade to deliberately divert attention far away from emerging domestic problems connected to Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Sword of Damocles hanging over Trump and his cronies’ heads, about the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Kremlin to rig the election. Overall Trump is a sexist and a racist. He never tells the truth and serially dismisses all accusations of sexual misconduct/offending against him. Against American and British interests, he retweets from Britain First – a racist and neo-Nazi organisation.
His hatred of Muslims is so severe that he has even declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. Clearly, he is deliberately destabilising the Middle East. Trump is a danger to the world and it is hard to disagree with the soft speaking figure of president Mamnoon Hussain that the present American administration is a threat to peace in South Asia (and indeed the rest of the world). The reckless and inflammatory rhetoric manifested by Trump can only bolster Hindus’ hatred for Muslims in India where killing Muslims for “love jihad” (or having a Hindu girlfriend or boyfriend) is seen as a force for good. In such testing times, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) organised a regional conference which was held last month in Karachi. Esteemed speakers from all walks of life addressed the lively audience. Continue reading
Filed under Accountability, Climate Change, Cyber Warfare, Disarmament, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Islamophobia, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, PIIA, Politics, Racism, UK, United States, Women
‘If we don’t talk to Pakistan we will never be able to find a solution…It would be foolish to have cordial relations with Paraguay and just ignore Pakistan’ said the Rajya Sabha member and former diplomat – watch video.
“There is going to be no peace in India or elsewhere except on the basis of freedom,” remained Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s final denouement in The Discovery of India – his third book; written in captivity in Ahmadnagar Fort prison in 1944. Indira Gandhi explained that along with Discovery, Joe’s other books Glimpses of World History and An Autobiography were her close “companions in life”. Indeed, Nehru’s works and political strategy not only influenced his daughter but also inspired political activists in neighbouring Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. Just the other day, India’s government began to declassify secret files to finally settle questions over Subhas Chandra Bose’s death. Bose, a widely admired Congress party frontrunner, aligned his tactics with the Japanese in the 1940s to create a “national army” to fight colonial rule and expel the British from India.
In Discovery, Panditji noted the “astonishing enthusiasm” evoked by the court martial of members of the Indian National Army (INA). In admiration, he remarked that the trial “aroused the country as nothing else had done, and they became the symbols of India fighting for her freedom.” In Nehru’s eyes, INA activists and members, who were in fact his rivals, had “solved the communal problem amongst themselves” because “Hindu, Moslem, Sikh and Christian were all represented”. They had achieved utopia. Or perhaps even Nirvana. Continue reading
Filed under BJP, Congress, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Partition, Peace building, Politics
If it is ok for Cameron to repeat Modi’s electoral slogan of ‘Achche din zaroor ayenge’ from the Wembley stage, then it is equally legitimate to challenge that narrative on the streets of London …
Shashi Tharoor’s recent op-ed for The Guardian, where he charged PM Modi with damaging India’s reputation worldwide by waging a ‘war on Muslims’ and on tolerance, was slammed by Modi’s fans, accusing him of tarnishing India’s image, and of a PM who works tirelessly to lift India to a position of prosperity and world leadership. To them it amounted to washing the national dirty laundry in the land of the ex-colonizers, raising the question of appropriateness of criticising and protesting against Modi in the UK. Modi’s London trip indicated how the India media, and Modi’s fans, frame that question. Indian journalists, interested primarily in the pageantry arranged for his official and community functions, and the ‘excitement level’ generated by the visit, not in any critique.
One reporter, to whom I suggested that he should also cover the planned anti-Modi protests, said, “sir, I have come to see my PM speak in Parliament, and to attend the rock star event at Wembley, not to waste my time with critics and protests.” However, Modi travels both as the democratically elected PM of India, and as a hero of the Hindu right. These two personae compete with each other, mobilizing bitterly-opposed coalitions. Modi’s admirers want no light shone on the dark patches of his past, invoking ‘clean chits’. They project him as a wise, unifying figure, representing India as a whole Continue reading
Following the attack on the APS, Pakistan removed the moratorium on the death penalty. The hangman Albert Pierrepont said capital punishment is “a primitive desire for revenge”. This post looks at the case of Sri Lanka.
There has been an organised move to bring back the hangman and implement the death penalty in Sri Lanka. Several weeks ago, Colombo District MP Hirunika Premachandra presented in Parliament an adjournment motion for the revival of capital punishment in Sri Lanka. She said that once the motion went through Parliament she would request President Maithripala Sirisena and the government to consider bringing back capital punishment. The motion seems to have been grounded in the member’s belief that capital punishment is the solution to the increasing anti-social and violent activities within the country. An adjournment motion does not end in a vote but some members of the government supported the motion while others spoke against it. In the course of the debate, the Minister of Justice made a statement in the House, confirming the government’s intention to sign the UN moratorium in November 2016. Subsequent to his statement in Parliament, the Minister was reported to have said that the moratorium on the penalty will continue but it will not be abolished.
The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman or degrading form of punishment and it should be eliminated from the statute books. It is pre-meditated killing by the state. Curiously, even before the fair member had tabled her motion in Parliament, the Prison Commissioner had advertised the vacancies for the post of hangman and refurbished the gallows at the Welikade Prison. In the vernacular, a hangman is referred to as vadhaka, commonly known as ‘alugosuwa’, a word which is of Portuguese origin (algoz). Continue reading
As an emerging power with global aspirations, India must first befit a regional power
Within just six months in power, Narendra Modi has managed to induce a dramatic overhaul of India’s hitherto muffled and ill-defined foreign policy, and has dramatically increased his country’s global profile. Successful summits with the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Japan, China, Nepal and Bhutan were topped off with a high-profile visit to the United States (US) from 27-30 September. Modi’s US visit was his most interesting foreign trip: barred from entry to the US for nine years because of accusations over his role in the Gujarat massacre of 2002, the red carpet to the White House was rolled out. Modi received a ‘rockstar’ reception in the US, especially from Americans of Indian origin, for example addressing 18,000 people at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
Unlike his predecessors, Modi has underscored foreign policy as a priority from the beginning alongside a strong mandate to put India’s economy in order. Modi aspires to re-invigorate India’s emerging power status, which suffered in recent years due to poor economic growth. He has not only injected focus and ambition into India’s foreign policy, but also linked it directly to his plan to transform India’s economy. Launched in September 2014, ‘Make in India’ has become Narendra Modi’s signature programme Continue reading
An 18-member delegation of Indian journalists from the Mumbai Press Club visited PIIA on 17 November 2011. They were introduced by B.M. Kutty, a pioneer of peace between Pakistan and India and a member of the Council of PIIA. The women journalists in the delegation did not join us because they were visiting Aurat Foundation, the leading women’s empowerment organisation in Pakistan. I am a member of the Board of Governors and Treasurer of Aurat Foundation but was amazed that not only men but also women could subscribe to gender exclusivity! We would have liked to meet the women journalists and hear their impressions about Pakistan.
The Indian delegation was led by Jatinbabu Desai of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. In his introductory remarks, he spoke about the need to break down barriers and bring the people of Pakistan and India together through more interaction between ordinary citizens. There was the usual Indian view about how we share the same historical and cultural experience. In the Indian delegation and among our own members there were many, including myself, whose ancestral roots were in the other country. Everybody spoke about the need for mutual understanding, increasing trade and communication and people-to-people contacts. Continue reading