Tag Archives: South Asia

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

4 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

1 Comment

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

Ahmed Rashid: Continuing Search for Stability: Pakistan and Afghanistan

The West has endorsed two rigged elections in Afghanistan and the military situation has never been worse than it is now. Using proxies encourages neighbours to follow suit. Watch Introduction, Main Lecture and Q&A.

Acclaimed author and journalist Mr Ahmed Rashid spoke at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Friday, 11 March 2016. His lecture aimed to make sense of the spiralling trend towards violence and militancy in the region. He argued that Pakistan’s interference in Afghan matters using proxies has created widespread problems and cataclysmic failure. For him, claims that the Taliban are being beaten are wholly incorrect and amount to a “fallacy”. Rashid is the author of numerous books including the widely read publication Taliban. His other books include Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia and Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Disaster in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia and Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

His talk looked at the emerging trends in jihad and insurrection in the region and interlinked the Afghan situation to the wider issues of jihad as seen by the governments of countries such as Iran, Russia and the Central Asian Republics all of which were involved in backing different Taliban factions in Afghanistan. He also questioned the efficacy of Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azb operation. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan, Discussion, Events, Iran, Islam, Pakistan, PIIA, Politics, Russia, United States

Regional Challenges and Opportunities for South Asia in the Decades Ahead

‘I look at the region not as Pakistan alone. I look at wider connectivity over the next two decades’ … ‘There’s no military solution to security issues’ …

Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the Wars Within is thought to be an important book. William Dalrymple called it the most “authoritative analysis” of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services. General Jehangir Karamat, the former Chief of Army Staff (1996-98), called it an “insightful study” and “the centre of gravity in Pakistan”. It has been called the “key” to understanding the complex framework underpinning power structures in Pakistan. “The most well researched and lucidly written book of its kind,” is how Ahmed Rashid described it. In a talk entitled Regional Challenges and Opportunities for South Asia in the Decades Ahead at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), its author Shuja Nawaz stressed that terrorism would only be reduced if education levels remain high. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Centre.

The Atlantic Council promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the Atlantic Community’s central role in meeting global challenges. The Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders. Because of historic rivalry, the degree of misunderstanding and mistrust between Pakistan and India is constantly skyrocketing. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Discussion, Events, India, Islam, Pakistan, Peace building, PIIA, United States