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
There is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth but the glaciers are melting and Pakistan is considered to be the seventh most vulnerable country in the world in respect of climate change …
The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs is holding a Conference on Climate Change: An Existential Challenge for Pakistan on 3 and 4 May 2019. The full programme is available below. The agenda of the conference is divided into technical and non-technical sessions. Scholars and specialists from concerned organizations will discuss the life threatening challenges faced by Pakistan in detail. Across the world, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms have put an end to the long running debate on whether or not climate change is real. World leaders, climate experts, industrialists, and concerned citizens have realized that climate change is life threatening. Developing countries which are the least responsible for emitting greenhouse gases are caught in its trap. Overall, climate change is a challenge to Pakistan which is considered the seventh most vulnerable country.
It is faced with water shortages, melting glaciers, droughts, floods, sea-intrusion and heat waves which have substantially altered the pattern of life in both rural and urban areas. With a rapidly growing population, climate change is also threatening food security, along with agriculture ― the backbone of our economy ― in the arid and semi-arid regions. Considered as a non-traditional security threat, climate change poses a risk to peace and security of the country. Experts estimate that since the 1960s, the mean temperature in Pakistan have risen by 0.35°C at a steady average rate of 0.07°C per decade. There is an expected increase in temperature between 1.4°C and 3.7°C by the end of the 2060s. Droughts are estimated to occur every 16 years.
There is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth but the glaciers are melting and over the last more than 30 years the snowline has receded by over 1.1 kilometers. By 2050, sea water intrusion will result in the loss of 0.79% of the Indus Delta population while 2.73% of the Delta area will be potentially lost. The energy sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Pakistan started off as a water rich country but 72 years later it is one of the most water stressed countries of the world.
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
According to Ken Clarke, the Father of the House of Commons, “The ordinary rules of conventional politics cannot be applied to the last two-and-a-half, three years of Brexit politics.”
Winston Churchill, the legendary prime minister of the UK, took the view that every time we have to decide between Europe and open sea, it is always the open sea. The repercussions of such thoughts never dawned upon him but now it seems that the chickens have finally come home to roost with only 20 days remaining until Brexit day. The clock is ticking. The idea of Brexit, which is in fact driven by a hatred of foreigners and a false sense of superiority among the racist natives of England, is a vicious cycle. Be it a deal or no-deal, to compensate for the losses will be Gordian knot for the UK government but Theresa May is adamant that the UK can walk the walk without a deal despite the fact that Parliament is opposed to the UK crashing out of the EU. One should have an idea of the events in the decades which led to Brexit. Prior to its entry to the European Community in 1972, in the 1960s majority of the people in Britain had manual jobs and not more than one-tenth of the voters took university education.
But, in the 21st century a large number of people in the working class plummeted by becoming financially better off and majority of those people became a part of middle class citizens. Notably, overtime more than 30 percent of the electorates possessed university degrees from the middle class. Overall, this changed the demography of the Conservative and Labour party. The Labour Party always won elections in the past due to constant support of working class. Since 1997 Tony Blair had a centre approach (a third way) and he did not take seriously the fact that working class was responsible for always bringing his party into power. Those people had issues which could have been sorted out by either Tony Blair or David Cameron. But the working class was stranded by both and divisive liars like Nigel Farage took the opportunity to divide the UK and stir up mass racism against immigrants from Europe who can enter the UK without limits because of the magical law of free movement in Europe. Continue reading
Russia has cut down its nuclear capacity by 85 per cent over the past 30 years, says Moscow’s envoy
Together with Moscow’s ongoing campaign against Ukraine, murky Russian involvement in the bloody Syrian conflict and the recent Novichock attacks in Salisbury, UK, have badly tarnished Russia’s reputation as a responsible global power. Equally, Trump’s new policy of maligning Pakistan despite its contributions to the causes of the western world have left Islamabad in a similar predicament. Below is the media reporting on the recent talk by the Russian Ambassador in Pakistan. Keeping his promise to return that he made during his first visit to The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs in 2015, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Pakistan Alexey Dedov arrived at the PIIA on Friday evening to a very warm welcome. Since the ambassador’s last visit, the moderator of the event said there had been a great change in the global scene and “we look with interest at Russia’s role in world affairs, especially in Syria, and other global issues”. Discussing Russia’s “stabilising role” in South Asia, Mr Dedov, who has also served in India, Bangladesh and Iran, said that the modern world was undergoing a profound transformation.
He added that they were also witnessing dynamic changes in international relations. “Globalisation and technological progress contribute to the increased independence of nations,” he said. Talking about nuclear weapons, Ambassador Dedov said that the Russia Federation stood at the forefront of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. “Russia has made unprecedented contribution to the progress of this by cutting down its nuclear capacity by 85 per cent over the last 30 years,” he said. Another very important issue, according to Mr Dedov, is the prevention of the arms race in outer space and thus excluding it from becoming a new arena and yet another battleground for military confrontation. “Thus Russia, China and Pakistan along with many others are promoting this and are in negotiation to stop weapons from going into outer space,” he said, adding that Russia was also working with Pakistan to counter terrorism. Continue reading
The Russian Institute of Oriental Studies marks not only 200 years of its founding but makes a statement about a changed world
Some institutions are resilient and survive the ups and downs of fate. Others cannot sustain themselves and fall by the wayside. A great survivor is the Institute of Oriental Studies (IOS) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of its founding this year. The bicentennial was recently celebrated in October in Moscow with a congress. The congress itself, where I was invited to speak, was a gala event — essentially a Russian affair with marginal input from Western scholars, which is what made it remarkable. In Pakistan, we are used to only hearing about and from Western academics about the region. It coincided with Russian’s tilt to the East in world affairs, a celebration of the Asian part of its Eurasian identity. President Vladmir Putin did not attend the congress but a message from him was read out at the inauguration. As much as anything, the gathering signalled the increasingly multi-polar nature of our world.
The IOS was founded in 1818, in Russia during the reign of Emperor Alexander I. It has gone through many vicissitudes through empire, wars, invasions, revolution and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was originally established in St. Petersburg as the Asian Museum under the Imperial Academy of Sciences, as a depository of oriental manuscripts and a library facilitating scientific research. In 1950, the institute was shifted to Moscow, becoming a major centre of oriental studies. Today its depositories house more than one million volumes of ancient books and manuscripts. In 2008, the St. Petersburg (later Leningrad) branch was reorganised into a separate Institute of Oriental Manuscripts. The institute in Moscow is a unique venue for the study of the problems in history and cultures of the Orient, especially the countries of Asia and North Africa. Hundreds of experts work there. Continue reading
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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