Tag Archives: South Asia

Strategic stability in South Asia tenuous because of Indo-Pak differences 

Gen Ehsan Ul Haq calls for vigilance against the ‘rise of genocidal fascism of Hindutva’. He said ‘the good news is that ours has been a success story’.

“We must be vigilant to the existential challenges of the rise of genocidal fascism of Hindutva in India.” This was stated by retired General Ehsan Ul Haq, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, while concluding his lecture on Pakistan: National Security Challenges, the Way Forward at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Tuesday evening. Gen Haq said Pakistan has been striving to create conducive environment for its citizens to live with dignity in accordance with the wishes of its founding fathers. “Unfortunately, ever since our creation, we have been confronted with challenges in the realisation of our objectives. These challenges have external and domestic dimensions.” He said Pakistan’s strategic environment has been moulded by its location. Mentioning some of the [external] problems, he said that there is the extended strife and consequent destabilisation in Afghanistan, the stunning developments to ‘‘our immediate west, unrelenting hegemonic aspirations of India aggravated by the rise of Hindutva and the unresolved status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir’’.

He said emergence of China as a global power has unfolded a new paradigm, shifting the geopolitical centre of gravity to the Asia Pacific or Indo-Pacific, triggering strategic realignments. The most important of these strategic understandings is between a rising China and a rejuvenating Russia which has projected a new vision of cooperation for development and stability in Eurasia and beyond. Gen Haq said Pakistan shares religious, cultural and social bonds with Afghanistan. No country has suffered more on account of the continuing strife in Afghanistan than Pakistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan are vital for Pakistan’s long-term prosperity and progress. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Peace building, PIIA, Politics

The weaponization of water by India

On August 19, 2019, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa issued flood alerts following the alarming increase of water levels in River Sutlej as India released over 150,000 to 200,000 cusecs of water into the river. In addition to this move, the PDMA warned that India had opened three out of five spillways of the Ladekh Dam. Amid increasingly strained relations between the neighbouring countries following the 14 February Pulwama Incident, the 26 February Balakot Airstrike by the Indian armed forces and, more recently, India’s Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status (article 370) on 5 August, this aggressive move which knowingly compromises on the rights and obligations of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 points toward a familiar, albeit perilous approach that is quickly becoming a favourite of the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government: the weaponization of water.  A profound political, ecological and geopolitical dilemma, the weaponization of natural resources has been at the crux of world history and global politics – its impacts vast and far-reaching.

With regard to water as the emerging commodity to weaponize, one of the most frequently cited statements concerning this burgeoning political phenomenon came from a former vice president of the World Bank, Dr. Ismail Serageldin: ‘Many of the wars of the 20th century were about oil but wars of the 21st century will be about water unless we change the way in which we manage it.’ The treaties and peace agreements that have maintained a degree of cooperation and offered a mechanism for information exchange (with a prominent example being the Indus Waters Treaty) have been a resounding point to ward off the threat of an all-out ‘water war.’ However, India’s consistent provocations categorically go against the very framework and mechanism for cooperation that defined the Indus Waters Treaty. Brokered by the World Bank, the Indus Waters Treaty was signed in Karachi by then president of Pakistan Ayub Khan and prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru on September 19, 1960. Continue reading

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Filed under BJP, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Kashmir, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Water, World Bank

Kashmir Conflict: No End In Sight

The historic Kashmir dispute is an extremely complex problem; policy recommendations and their subsequent implementation might take a considerable period of time to reap constructive results and there is no end in sight to the ongoing human rights violations of the Kashmiri people. 

UN Security Council Resolution 47 (1948) recommended three steps to resolve the Kashmir problem, i.e. (i) Pakistan had to withdraw its nationals that entered Kashmir to fight, (ii) India had to progressively reduce its military forces to the minimum level required for law and order, and (iii) India had to appoint a plebiscite administrator nominated by the United Nations who would conduct a free and impartial plebiscite. Pakistan adhered to its part of the bargain but India has consistently refused to live up to the obligations it agreed to and it has instead created a grave human rights tragedy by its violent and merciless actions against Kashmiri civilians. Article 1(1) of the UN Charter is very clear that the purpose of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.” Significantly, by virtue of resolution 47 (1948), as the mightiest nation in the world, the USA was given a key role to play by the president of the Security Council, Mahmoud Fawzi Bey of Egypt.

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the White House for his long-awaited meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday, 22 July 2019. The meeting was of immense importance, precisely because it was Imran Khan’s “first one-on-one meeting with US President Donald Trump.” Hence, it was an incredible opportunity to renew diplomatic ties. Even though, the meeting was quite an important development in international politics, nevertheless, it might be worthwhile to look into the contemporary relevance of the meeting, especially with regard to the recent events in Kashmir. Perhaps one of the integral issues discussed during the meeting was that of Kashmir. During the meeting, President Trump offered “to mediate the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.” He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him if he (President Trump) could be an arbitrator in the Kashmir issue. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Kashmir, Pakistan, PIIA, Politics, Trump, United States

Analysis of the Jadhav case in the ICJ

Jadhav’s case is based on numerous controversial and contentious premises, especially because it is yet another instance of extreme rivalry between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, an Indian national and a secret military agent was arrested in Balochistan on 3 March 2016 on allegations of espionage and terrorism against Pakistan. Owing to Jadhav’s two confessional statements, one in March 2016 and the other in June 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death in April 2017 for espionage. Meanwhile, India insisted that Jadhav was not guilty, classified this decision as a “pre-meditated murder”, and turned to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for support and help to invalidate Jadhav’s pronouncement of guilt. As a consequence, the implementation of Jadhav’s death sentence was postponed. Approximately one year later, on Wednesday 17 July 2019, the ICJ pronounced its judgment on Jadhav’s case based on the public hearings that began on 18 February 2019. In its judgment, the ICJ had ruled that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately, and asked Pakistan to ensure effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences. This was in accordance with Article 36 of the the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 (VCCR). 

Article 36 states that “when a national of a foreign country is arrested, they must be informed of the right to have their country’s consulate notified and should also have the right to regular consultation with their consulate’s officials during their detention and trial.” Perhaps, through this verdict, the ICJ sought to fill all the possible gaps; it wanted to allow a fairer and a more acceptable trial to take place; it wanted to make up for matters that previously went unnoticed when dealing with Jadhav. The fact that Jadhav’s case has so many areas of analyses, each depicting a unique picture of the case, is noteworthy. Initially, Pakistan argued that Jadhav shouldn’t be allowed consular access. Continue reading

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Filed under Courts, Criminal Justice, Criminal law, Discussion, ICJ, India, Pakistan, Politics

Reko Diq: Pakistan versus Gold Diggers

These narratives show how foreign investors are a double-edged sword for Pakistan. TCC was suspected of lending support to Baloch separatists. 

Pakistan has recently been garnering a lot of attention in international tribunals. A recent case is the Reko Diq case, which led to arbitration in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). In Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v. Islamic Republic of Pakistan (ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1), ICSID has ruled that Pakistan has to pay a $5.8 billion penalty to a mining company, the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC). It is an oddity that the Pakistani public has been disabled from knowing the full details of the ICSID arbitration judgment. The condition for the publication of the award is that both parties must consent to its publication and apparently there is no consensus that it should be published, or alternatively there is consensus that it should not be published. Either way that is rather opaque and lacks transparency. Yet we do know the identities of the arbitrators and the costly law firms employed by the parties and all the procedural steps in the arbitration (which is rather pointless indeed without knowing the full and exact details of the final arbitration award). 

It is rather appalling that the award is not in the public domain and the people of Pakistan are being denied access to the full details of the decision. Reko Diq is a region in Balochistan that has large gold and copper reserves. TCC acquired an exploration license in 2006, buying it from the company BHP Minerals. Though this seems a very recent mining project, TCC itself is a joint venture by other foreign companies, and BHP had been granted licenses since 1993 by the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) under the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (Chevja). Now that TCC was exploring Reko Diq’s reserves, it completed its feasibility study in 2010, and applied for a mining lease, but it was denied. Chevja had been challenged by petitioners before. In 2013, the Supreme Court decided that the agreement (Chevja) was void ab initio. In 2009, the provincial government had already terminated Chevja. Continue reading

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Filed under Accountability, Balochistan, Corruption, Courts, Discussion, Economy, Legislation, Mining, Pakistan, World Bank

India’s tit-for-tat policy in its trade war with the United States: A master stroke or miscalculation?

India has long had a field day putting tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!

Because the G-20 failed to restore the international trade order, on 9 July 2019 American President Donald Trump fired off yet another Twitter attack. This tweet from the US President was posted after a few days of the G-20 Summit, when he met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the sidelines of the G-20 Summit late last month, where the two leaders agreed upon further meetings to resolve the escalating matter of trade disputes which included import quotas on agricultural goods and to put price caps on medical devices. The other hindering topics included:  outsourcing of intellectual property protections on generic drugs. Moreover, ever since taking office, President Trump has focused on reducing bilateral trade deficits to reduce national security impact of steel and aluminum imports, however, a deadlock was avoided up until the recent but significant change in Prime Minister Modi’s approach after getting elected for a second term.

The decision to revoke India’s status for special trade treatment and the slap back tariffs by India on US goods and services has quickly led Washington and New Delhi towards an impasse. The desire 0f the Modi  government to please domestic constituencies has further aggravated the situation to a tit-for-tat stand-off and India has escalated a trade battle by slapping new tariffs on American goods, a battle that was never worth fighting and may now indeed backfire. Furthermore, India had announced retaliatory tariffs back in June last year, but they were recently implemented. The 120% tariffs on US goods and services are limited in nature and largely symbolic but show a shift from restrain to a tit-for-tat policy by India. Modi government’s shift backward on market openness, with increasing tariffs on a few dozen goods, new regulations on e-commerce and a push for data localization in its growing digital economy is what has upset the Trump administration. Continue reading

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

Qatar and the Global Energy Market: The Politics of Natural Gas

Pakistan’s position in this dilemma is unique; it enjoys ties with Qatar, as well as with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

On 22 June 2019, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani arrived in Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan for a two-day state visit. The state visit was specifically aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and improving cooperation in diverse fields between Qatar and Pakistan. In addition to the one-on-one talks between the Emir, Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi respectively, delegation-level meetings were also conducted between representatives of both countries. Notably, one of the most important results of this visit was the subsequent pledge for mutual cooperation with regard to gas exploration and the energy sector. The sheer competitiveness of the energy market is a stark reality. In a bid to secure a pivotal multi-billion-dollar supply contract, the Qataris reduced prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for Pakistan in May 2019.

With Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both offering enticing offers concerning deferred oil and LNG payments for Pakistan, Qatar sought to modify LNG prices in order to successfully secure the deal. It is reported that presently, Qatar exports ‘500 mmcfd [million cubic feet per day] to Pakistan under a 15-year agreement struck at 13.37% of Brent crude price.’[i] Pakistan has been negotiating with a number of countries including Russia, Turkey, Malaysia, Azerbaijan and Italy with regard to attaining long-term gas deals. Saudi Arabia (and state-owned petroleum and natural gas company Aramco) has also shown interest in securing a gas deal with Pakistan. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Economy, Energy, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Russia, The Middle East