Tag Archives: Middle East

Pakistan’s Place in Iran’s Strategic Thinking: A Talk by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister

‘The concept of the nation state is in turmoil’ … ‘Iran and Pakistan can reshape the region’ – Watch Video

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the events that unfolded in its aftermath transformed Iran from a “rogue” state once part of the so-called “Axis of Evil” to one which is now vastly influential in the volatile affairs of the region. The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq and last summer’s JCPOA have meant that the once menacing image of frowning mullahs burning American, British and Israeli flags has now been replaced by Mohammad Javad Zarif’s famous “smile diplomacy”. The upshot is that the Iranians are no longer considered to be the pariahs of the international community that they once used to be. These days everyone is looking for economic opportunities in Iran and western businesses and banks are keen to interact with its vast markets which were disconnected from the mainstream world economy because of sanctions subsequent to the 1979 Revolution.

During his talk entitled Pakistan’s Place in Iran’s Strategic Thinking at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 12 August 2016, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Dr Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour said that Iran has more than a dozen neighbours but he remained unequivocal in his stance that Pakistan was a special country in the eyes of the Iranians. Dr Sajjadpour argued that Pakistan and Iran’s destinies are inextricably linked and that the two large neighbouring countries need to work together to combat security problems in order to neutralise the threat posed by terrorism. Detailed media coverage of our event with the Iranian dignitary can found below (see our earlier posts on Iran here and here and see further coverage here. Continue reading

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Filed under CPEC, Cyber Security, Discussion, Europe, Iran, ISIS, Islam, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, PIIA, Politics, Sanctions, Syria, The Middle East

‘The Future of Syria’: A Talk by H.E. Ambassador Radwan Loutfi

Everyone has strategic interests in Syria … Syria was enjoying a lifestyle like nowhere else in the Arab world. We were almost free

Syria was once the underlying bedrock of Arab nationalism; it used to be a source of pride for Arab secularists. At least in Arab eyes, it was a bastion of resistance against Israeli tyranny and American imperialism. But these days the country that exerted such significant political and military clout in the bloody Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) is mortally wounded by its own apocalyptic war, nothing short of a Jihād. On 27 November 2015, the Syrian ambassador in Pakistan, HE Radwan Loutfi gave a talk entitled The Future of Syria in the historic library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA). The astute diplomat was unforgiving in his denouncement of foreign interests plaguing the survival of his country. But eager to build unity among his fellow Syrians, he explained: “I am Sunni, but I will be the first to protect the shrine of Sayeda Zainab.” Urging world leaders against further warmongering, he called for an immediate ceasefire followed by a strong willed political process “that would leave only Syrians to discuss” and decide the future of their annihilated homeland.

Yet the diplomat explained that a ceasefire in Syria remained “impossible” until the terrorists were rooted out. He also accused Turkey of having trade links with ISIS. His talk comes against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks in Paris, killing 130 and wounding hundreds of others, and the downing of the Russian Metrojet airliner in Egypt causing 224 fatalities. Insofar as military action is concerned, these days an “ISIS first” mentality prevails because its extremists in Raqqa are the “head of the snake” and must, of course, be “crushed”. Despite the rhetoric constantly pouring out of London, Paris and Washington Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Drones, Iran, ISIS, Karachi, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Russia, Sanctions, Syria, The Arab Spring, The Middle East, United States

Discussing Europe’s Refugee Crisis: Diplomats Address PIIA Members

‘Turkey would require help on refugee crisis,’ said Turkish consul general Murat Mustafa Onart at our roundtable on 3 November 2015. ‘Refugees have to adapt to their new surroundings,’ added Carsten Müller, deputy head of the German consulate in Karachi.

56390a767ad3cWith 300,000 killed and more than 12 million others displaced because of unrelenting war and slaughter, Syria is an open graveyard and the predicament of refugees is deteriorating by the minute. Because of Russia’s recent entry into the arena, the problems surrounding the conflict are now so profound that the British government is being cautious about its campaign to obtain parliamentary approval to conduct airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile, winter is setting in and tens of thousands of refugees are arriving every day on the Greek Island of Lesbos from Turkey where regaining substantial political leverage president Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently triumphed (49.4 per cent and 316 seats in the 550 seat parliament, albeit short of a supermajority of 330) in an early election which boasted an 86 per cent turn out and reversed the weak results of this June’s election. Erdogan is firmly back in the saddle, the bet to have early elections has paid off handsomely and an elated prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed his delight by telling a crowd in Konya: “This victory is not ours, it is our nation’s.”

In reality, the brunt of Syria’s four million refugees is borne by developing countries with limited resources. Turkey is hosting 2.1 million refugees. Jordan hosts 1.4 million and Lebanon 1.1 million. Shamefully, the plan devised by the European Union (EU) to relocate the 160,000 refugees already in Italy and Greece is a complete shambles and has apparently only benefitted 116 people thus far and the EU, which trumpets itself as a champion of democracy and savior of human rights and the rule of law, Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Discussion, Europe, Immigration, Migration, PIIA, Politics

Sarwar Hasan: The Library and the Research Worker

PIIA’s founder Barrister Sarwar Hasan thought that the test of a real scholar is whether he has been published by a publisher of world repute.

khwaja-sarwar-hasanIt has been said of the great Arab historian, Tabari, that he wrote forty pages a day for forty years. Edward Gibbon took fifteen years to write the eight volumes of his famous book, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. We have taken these two examples of writers of multi-volume works for the reason that, while they belong to two different cultures and periods, the nature of their effort was the same. Undoubtedly it was in both cases a purely personal effort. The material which they drew upon for their books was also self-collected. And, of course, their purpose was not monetary gain. They were motivated by a passion for enquiry and zeal for making available to others the knowledge which they themselves were deeply interested in acquiring. The times in which Tabari or Gibbon wrote were more spacious than present. There was then more leisure than there is today and practically no competition.

The problem of earning a livelihood to maintain oneself and one’s family was also not so acute. Thus it was that men of learning read books which they themselves collected or books to which they had access in private collections or such public libraries as then existed. They were research workers who fended for themselves. Circumstances have now changed. The research worker of today is not a man of leisure. He has generally to earn his living by his writing. He has to work under severe pressure of time. He knows that he has competitors in the field and must finish his work before his rival does. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Sarwar Hasan

Editor: Terrorism, Deprivation of Citizenship and Statelessness Case in United Kingdom Supreme Court

images-1-1This post relates to an ongoing national security case in the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court and involves jihad and terrorism and the executive’s powers of deprivation of citizenship.

This is yet another case related to terrorism. It readily demonstrates that people from diverse backgrounds are attracted to Islamic extremism and that the UK is fertile ground for breeding fanatics. The dilemma for the UK, of course, is that an increasing number of young men and women holding British citizenship are so utterly disillusioned with life that they are willing to embrace martyrdom in the name of “radical” Islam. Consequently, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced further powers to prevent jihadis from entering and exiting the UK (see more in “comment” below). Born in Mongai, Vietnam in 1983, the appellant, known only as “B2”, lived in Hong Kong with his parents prior to the family’s arrival in the UK in 1989. After claiming asylum they were granted indefinite leave to remain and later in 1995, when B2 was 12, they also acquired British citizenship. B2 and his parents never held Vietnamese passports and they never took any steps to renounce their Vietnamese nationality. In fact, the only document linking B2 to Vietnam is his birth certificate.

B2 is British educated. He attended a college of design and communications in Kent. He converted to Islam when he was 21 and it is contended that following his conversion he allegedly descended into Islamist extremism Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Courts, Criminal Justice, Criminal law, Discussion, Europe, Immigration, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, The Middle East, UK, United States

Our journal’s last two issues

The Pakistan Horizon is the flagship Journal of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs which we have published continuously since 1948. The July and October 2011 issues have been dedicated to the Arab Awakening and Pakistan’s relationship with China over the past six decades. The contents of the two latest issues of our journal are set out below. Please contact us on piia@cyber.net.pk should you want more details. 

THE ARAB UPRISING, Volume 64, Number 3, July 2011

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Survey, Staff Study     1
  • The Arab Awakening, Ana Marija Bešker   7
  • The Arab Spring:  How Will It Blossom? Karamatullah K. Ghori    13
  • US Democracy Promotion and Popular Revolutions in the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities, Muhammad Ijaz Latif and Hussain Abbas    25 Continue reading

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Filed under China, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, The Arab Spring, The Middle East

Interview with Cherie Blair (Cherie Booth Q.C.) about Women’s Rights

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women was set up in September 2008 in response to Cherie’s experiences meeting women around the world and her realisation that, with the right support, women could overcome the challenges they face, and play an important part in the economies and societies in which they work and live. Today the charity invests in women entrepreneurs, so they can build and expand their businesses – and in doing so benefit not only themselves but also their families and communities.

Her Foundation focuses its efforts on Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, in countries where women have made strides in education and have the potential to succeed in business, but lack the necessary support. We caught up with Cherie and found out why investing in women isn’t just good ethics, it’s sound economics…

What inspired you to get involved in supporting women’s rights?

I was inspired because of my background, both personally and professionally in my legal work, and my experiences when my husband was at Number 10. I have learnt that you never know what is around the corner and if, as a woman you don’t have financial independence and the ability to support yourself, life can become very difficult. Continue reading

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Filed under Cherie Blair, Kenya, Palestine, Women