Tag Archives: South Asia

Dr. Muhammad Reza Kazimi: U.S. – Pakistan Relations: The Downside

Schoolgirls and women are coming out to throw stones. The Kashmir situation has never been so bad …

Since Washington has started an inter-agency review of U.S. funding and support to Pakistan, as stated by the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson1, it is about time that a Pakistani re-appraisal takes place. Since Pakistan doesn’t have a Foreign Minister, perforce our appraisal shall also have to be inter-agency. To begin that process, it is necessary to set the record straight. In the latest development, an Indo-U.S. Joint Statement has designated Kashmiri freedom-fighter Syed Salahuddin, a global terrorist.2 So once again there are three main issues between the United States and Pakistan: (1) Kashmir, (2) Terror and (3) Nuclear Proliferation. All three are underpinned by the presence of 2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. First, let’s come to terror. In the House Foreign Affairs Committee addressed by the Secretary of State, Congressman Dona Rohrabacher said: “Pakistan is acknowledged by most of the people I’ve dealt with, as the source of terrorism in that part of the world.”3

We cannot determine the source of terrorism, without fixing the origin of terrorism, Hilary Clinton, while Secretary of State, had admitted to the role her country had played by stating: “The problems we face now, to some extent we have to take responsibility for having contributed to it….the people we are fighting today, we funded them twenty-five years ago.”4 What Hilary Clinton was referring to was the U.S. resistance to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The U.S. needed Pakistan as a front- line state, in order to combat the U.S.S.R. troops using the Afghan refugees in the first instance to commit acts of terror in the invaded country. Pakistan was adjacent to Afghanistan India the apple of the U.S. Congress’ eye was not. This was a strategic consideration. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Discussion, India, Pakistan, Trump, United States

M.A. Shiwani: Democratic Witch Hunts

Pakistan’s political system is finally beginning to show that it has the capacity to uphold democratic ideals.

The robustness of the credentials underpinning democratic political systems has been the subject of great examination for decades. Democracy has, since its introduction, been labelled a mechanism of the bourgeoisie — one that retains all political and economic control in the hands of the owners of capital but creates the perception that power lies with the masses. Indeed, many democratic systems have provided proof of the inherently flawed concept of democracy but in that sense, no political system in the contemporary world has been exemplary of the principles that it champions. It is, however, important to acknowledge that in the last two years, political events across the globe have shown that democracy may not be that bad after all. In August 2016, Dilma Rousseff— the then president of Brazil was impeached because she allegedly manipulated the federal budget, increasing the political backlash the government was receiving because of its various corruption scandals.

Such probes and allegations have now become a regular occurrence in Brazil with Michel Temer — the current president of Brazil, recently becoming the country’s first president to be formally charged with a crime while in office. In similar fashion, South Korea’s apex court recently upheld the impeachment of Park Geun-hye who became the country’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office by its parliament over a wide range of corruption scandals. These events are visibly proving that separation of powers between the government and the judiciary and ensuring that the judiciary is genuinely autonomous will bear fruit in the form of accountability; even in states that have grueling histories of rampant corruption. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Brazil, Discussion, Iran, Pakistan, Politics, South Korea

Adviser Sartaj Aziz: The Role of Russia and China is Vital for Regional Changes

Nawaz Sharif’s first contact with Donald Trump was a very pleasant one. India is trying to isolate Pakistan. Islamabad will give a befitting reply to New Delhi on every front. Ties with Afghanistan remain complicated.

Sartaj Aziz is a renowned figure in politics. He used to be a senator and also served as the finance minister and foreign minister under past administrations. He spoke to the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 11 February 2017. These days he is the foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister, who is also the present foreign minister. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the architect of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution, was prime minister and foreign minister simultaneously from December 1971-March 1977. Mimicking the slain premier, who was judicially murdered during the Zia years, the present prime minister, Nawaz Sharif has held the office prime minister and foreign minister since 2013; a trait he is at times vehemently criticised for. We have a tormented constitutional history indeed. The fall of Ayub Khan and the martial law of Yahya Khan meant that the judiciary’s role was tried and tested beyond what one may consider “normal”.

Pakistan’s 1962 Constitution provided that the speaker of the National Assembly should become the acting president until a new president was elected but Abdul Jabbar Khan did not become acting president because the dictator Yahya Khan disgracefully usurped power. In A History of the Judiciary in Pakistan, Hamid Khan describes the period from 1968 to 1975 as “turbulent times”. According to him, Hamoodur Rahman CJ tried to steer the ship as best he could but he was unable save the judiciary from adversity. “During those seven years, the judiciary lived through the political movement against Ayub Khan, the martial law of Yahya Khan, the civilian martial law of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan, Bhutto, Brexit, China, Constitution 1973, Disarmament, Europe, Human Rights, India, Islamophobia, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, Russia, Trump, United States

‘The Legacy of Barack Obama’: A Talk by Ambassador Karamatullah Ghori

Obama was a man of consensus … Trump is Obama’s antithesis and is like a bull in a China shop – watch video

His blackness and Muhammad Ali antics and punchy talk endeared him to poor non-white folks everywhere. Many whites loved him equally. But the black president who set out to do so much achieved alarmingly little. His administration conducted more drone attacks than his predecessor George Bush and he deported more immigrants than any other president. He was spineless on Syria and failed to close down Guantánamo Bay. A very ugly aspect of Obama’s legacy is that his failing administration ultimately came to be replaced by Trump’s extremists who are determined to erase all signs of his blackness from the White House. But at least he did not make personal attacks on journalists. For historian Simon Schama, Trump’s America points to Kennedy’s nation of migrants being afflicted by a “split personality”. Yet Schama also stresses “the moral stench of xenophobia is nothing new in US history.” Novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Refugees and the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Sympathizer, says “the refugee embodies fear, failure and flight”. Despite opposing Trump, he argues with some vehemence “it is un-American to be a refugee”.

Margaret Thatcher’s biographer Charles Moore, a leading proponent of Brexit and an influential right-wing pundit, called Trump a “cruel jester” not long ago. More recently he wrote: “Trump’s style makes other politicians feel that he is almost as dangerous a friend as an enemy”. Moore said May was “embarrassed in Ankara” while meeting Erdoğan as she knew nothing of the Muslim ban affecting dual British nationals but weirdly claimed a “special relationship” with America. But now John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, has embarrassed her by stating that Trump is “unfit” to address MPs. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Brexit, Discussion, Drones, Europe, Human Rights, Iran, Islamophobia, PIIA, Politics, Russia, Syria, The Middle East, UK, United States

Issues of Concern in Pakistan

The betterment of the youth is completely ignored by all political parties

I still recall what I wrote in an article in 2014: I read a comment in the Thomas Reuters Foundation that everyone knows that Imran Khan may be a great pressure cooker in the kitchen, but you can’t trust him to be the chef. I also wrote that from a czar-like prime minister, Nawaz Sharif has been reduced to a deputy commissioner-type character who will deal with the day-to-day running of the country while the army takes care of important issues related to Afghanistan, the US and India. This was quite true until we saw the Turkish coup attempt and the leaking of the news regarding civil-military disagreement on the handling of non-state actors by Dawn’s reporter, Cyril Almeida. Our state functionaries seem to disregard the fact that the common man is keen to get his daily problems solved. In Pakistan, he has followed almost blindly any ray of hope and, unfortunately, he has been betrayed on most occasions.

Nawaz Sharif’s government has rightly invested in the long neglected increase in power generation, but more in-depth and strong reforms are required for a sustainable economy which takes care of the problems of the common man during the short-term and medium-term. Even the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects need transparency and a corruption-free perception for benefits to flow. Nawaz Sharif has tried to take the sole credit for his development projects, particularly the very important CPEC. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Bhutto, BJP, CPEC, Discussion, Europe, Trade, United States

When Time Stood Still

You will never understand … we were simply pushed out

My visit to Panipat in September 1987 was one of the more distressing events of my journey to India in connection with an international training programme which took me to many cities – Delhi, Agra, Banglore, Mysore, Hyderabad. I was deeply moved by my stay in Delhi, the city of my birth. I stayed at India International Centre and walked every morning around the nearby Lodhi tombs, trying to etch their austere beauty in my mind forever. Alone, I went to Humayun’s tomb, pausing at the neglected Arab Serai, overgrown with weeds, where poor Bahadur Shah Zafar had sought refuge. At Jama Masjid, also in a state of neglect, I thought of my grand-uncle, Latif Hasan, who had looked after its repairs. Night fell as I extricated myself from my fascination with the mosque. In the back streets there were long queues of cycle rickshaws but nobody – no rickshaw or taxi driver – was willing to take me back to New Delhi. I walked in fear in the dark streets around the mosque, seeking help, until one man took pity on me and dropped me in a well-lit street in New Delhi.

At India Gate, I remembered running around the monument as a small child, at Connaught Circus, I seemed to discern vaguely the direction in which my father Sarwar Hasan had his office. I made a trip to see that jewel on 10 Aurangzeb Road, which had been Jinnah’s residence. In Daryaganj, I went to Lahore Music House to purchase a scale changer. The Sikh owners of the shop could not do enough to welcome me. Their music shop was located in Anarkali in Lahore before Partition and they told me the story of their flight from Lahore to Delhi. Wherever I went, I told myself that my forefathers and parents had trodden upon these paths: see Khwaja Sarwar Hasan Panipat and Delhi Houses. My father and mother – Sughra Hasan – had never called at Sufi shrines but I felt I must pay homage to Nizamuddin Auliya, the patron saint Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Discussion, India, Mughal Empire, Partition, Sarwar Hasan

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

Leave a comment

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