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Pakistan Press ( 31 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Anti-Rape Ordinance, Shades Of Fascism And Global Order Under Biden: New Age Islam's Selection, 31 December 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

 31 December 2020

• Anti-Rape Ordinance

By Alefia T. Hussain

• Shades of Fascism

By I.A. Rehman

• Impact of UK Deal with European Union and Pakistan

By Yasmeen Aftab Ali

• Remaking Of Amultilateral Global Order Under Biden?

By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

• Criminal Behaviour Needs More Attention Than The Crime

By Waiza Rafique

• Jinnah’s House Is Burning

By Engineer Khurram Dastgir-Khan

• Is Trump Deluded Or Determined?

By Harlan Ullman


Anti-Rape Ordinance

By Alefia T. Hussain

31 Dec 2020

THE global campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, from Nov 25 to Dec 10, is behind us. So, what did Pakistan gain from it this time? Easily the best bit extracted is the anti-rape ordinance of four months, after which it awaits parliamentary approval.

President Arif Alvi promulgated the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020, on Dec 15, 2020, which creates special courts and a national sex offender registry with the help of Nadra, promises speedy justice, sets up a crisis cell for medico-legal examination within six hours of the incident, and makes disclosing the victim’s identity a punishable offence.

The law introduces chemical castration as punishment for rapists — an immature response to a grave offence such as rape. It misses the point that rape is not merely a physical act and that it is triggered by many serious social and psychological conditions. More stringent measures are required to deter sex crimes; it may indeed be a step in the right direction, but why be inspired by such punishment?

The solution to sex offences lies in strengthening the system — more evidence-based inv­e­­s­­tigations, where the victim has easy access to competent prosecutors to ensure a fair, speedy trial. But, in most rape cases in Pakistan, prosecutors fail to prove the case in court for lack of police evidence. The police fail to gather credible evidence because the medico-legal officers (MLOs) conducting physical examinations do not back them competently. At the end of this vicious circle, credible evidence is lost, which takes the conviction rate down to three per cent across the country.

The MLOs undergo short training during the third year of their degree course and provide the first line of support to survivors. They conduct a physical examination of the complainant, collect chemical and biological evidence, seal the evidence for chemical/DNA testing, provide first aid, issue a medico-legal certificate, and refer the case to the police for registration and testifying in court.

However, studies conducted by legal experts and women’s rights activists have identified many lacunae in the medico-legal practice at public-sector hospitals. Doctors are disinterested in joining this specialised department; they are insufficiently trained in forensics and pathology, and often absent in hospitals at the THQ and RHC levels which limits access to their services in rape cases.

Although there are SOPs for the examination of rape victims, few are followed because MLOs are not trained in collecting and preserving evidence, especially DNA, and using equipment, such as rape kits.

Dr Arif Rasheed Malik, who oversees surgeon medico-legal duties in Punjab, says that although the Primary and Secondary Health Department prohibits ad hoc medical persons from undertaking medico-legal work, there is rapid induction of regular doctors in the teaching cadre as inexperienced post-graduate trainers. Medico-legal work then is conducted by newly recruited medical persons through the Punjab Public Service Commission after training for one to three months only.

The Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020, prohibits the two-finger test for the purposes of the medico-legal examination of a survivor. It’s a positive change. But implementation of the ban will require a corresponding focus on the training and capacity building of MLOs. It will be interesting to see how the new ordinance and its associated rules interact with the revised guidelines for medico-legal examination issued by the Specialised Health Care and Medical Education Department, which reportedly retains other invasive processes.

Fatima Yasmin Bokhari, who authored The Accountability for Rape — A Case Study of Lodhran, points out that a hymen check at the provincial level will inevitably give some probative value to the two-finger test, as the two are interlinked.

A pertinent question is whether it is enough to make new laws. In Pakistan, laws don’t always translate into practice.

In 2012, the Supreme Court observed that “DNA test provides courts a mean of identifying perpetrators with a high degree of confidence”. However, the court also held that “consent of victim is necessary and she cannot be subjected to DNA or other medical test forcibly for prosecution purposes because that would amount to infringement of personal liberty of such persons”.

Bokhari found that MLOs often do not collect and forward samples for DNA testing of victims and DNA tests of the accused are also not consistently done. Greater reliance is placed on the presence of semen on the victim as opposed to other means through which DNA evidence may be collected.

We may have improved our approach to victims of sexual violence but still must rethink our attitudes and approach to a horrific crime, besides ensuring that the laws we have are enforceable.


Alefia T. Hussain is a freelance journalist based in Lahore.


Shades of Fascism

By I.A. Rehman

31 Dec 2020

ONE of the latest charges against Donald Trump is that as president of the United States he has been inclined towards fascism. The evidence presented to justify this qualification includes the outgoing US president’s attempts to undermine the sanctity of the American electoral system, contempt for some movements such as Black Lives Matter, and his decision to pardon some notorious criminals, including the murderer of a nine-year-old child, and rumours about his desire to grant pardon to himself as well. This shows that one doesn’t have to formally proclaim adherence to fascism and unfurl a swastika banner or something like that; the title could be acquired by simply behaving as a fascist.

The essential features of fascism as revealed in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany were revanchism, that is, celebration of a glorious past (Aryan origins in the case of Hitler’s Germany and ancient Roman glory in the case of Mussolini’s Italy) after greatly magnifying it, denunciation of socialism or projection of the self as genuine socialism blended with nationalism, promotion of a cult figure to lead the community and the need for total obedience to him, invention of enemy figures who had to be liquidated, and frenzied playing up of a persecution theory. The most important objective, namely, creation of barriers against a community’s progress towards democracy and an egalitarian order, and preservation of an exploitative system inspired by a supposedly benign capitalism, was rarely allowed to enter the public debate.

In countries gaining nominal freedom from colonialism, techniques resembling fascism have been adopted to suppress popular stirrings for democracy and social justice. In South Africa, the entire edifice of the apartheid system was dressed up as a holy crusade against communism. Similar justifications were employed to bring many countries including Pakistan into military blocs to achieve purposes far removed from their national interest. The techniques adopted to force the pill of subjugation down the throats of unwilling peoples were often copied from fascist textbooks. In quite a few countries, religion and traditional culture have been used to establish and sustain regimes that fit the definition of fascism except for the employment of a different nomenclature.

Twentieth-century authors of fascist theories presented their prescriptions as effective antidotes to spurious democracy just as the high priests of Hindutva claim that they are fighting sham secularism and that the potion they are selling is secularism in its purest form.

The Muslim faith too has not escaped exploitation by more than one militant organisation engaged in war to capture an existing state or to use the debris of a failed state to establish a new state-like entity. Muslim states have made themselves particularly vulnerable to fascistic influences by virtually discarding the fourth source of Islamic law, namely ijma (consensus). The Hasba bill of the theocratic government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (then NWFP) some years ago, which was mercifully struck down by the Supreme Court, was an unfortunate and crude attempt to enforce religious injunctions by state power, which is quite contrary to the spirit of Islam as the latter firmly rejects compulsion in matters of faith.

Indeed, Muslim societies have a particular reason to guard against the use of religion as a cover for making inhuman, cruel and degrading laws and regulations. If a Muslim state commits the blunder of presenting an inhuman or degrading law on the presumption that it is in accordance with religious injunctions, the common citizens will place themselves under double jeopardy if they resist it. One finds it difficult to imagine how Pakistan’s coming generations will be able to defend inhuman and degrading punishments, such as chemical castration, that have recently been introduced into the country’s Penal Code.

The founders of fascist states in the last century did not put on democratic garbs to sell their stock; they explicitly denounced advocates of democracy as purveyors of extra-democratic formulas draped in democratic-sounding words, and claimed to be offering genuine democracy.

Another detestable feature of fascism is that it undermines the principle of equality of human beings. It refuses to give equal citizenship to all classes of the population and adopts all kinds of devices to put a variety of individuals and groups outside the category of full citizens. As pointed out earlier, fascists reserve heaviest penalties for groups and classes they identify as enemies of the establishment and the theories on which it is based.

The European fascists of the 20th century differed from one another in various ways. While the German Nazis practised austerity, the Italian fascists indulged in extravagance. The Nazis did not promote family members in politics but Mussolini’s cabinet was dominated by his kith and kin. While the German Nazis challenged big powers for a share in world leadership, the Italian fascists targeted a poor and ill-equipped African state (Ethiopia) to prove its martial strength. What was common to German Nazis and Italian fascists was their love of spectacular, mass rallies, held at the slightest pretext, at which the Fuhrer or Il Duce was hailed as the nation’s saviour and a symbol of its collective wisdom and physical strength.

Fascists have a tendency to swear by the law but how unjust their laws can be is nobody’s business. In the first phase of their life, fascists depend on their street gangs to hound and beat up their political rivals, but once in power they use their secret service, such as the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, and compliant courts to crush dissent. The fascists justify any excesses against their people in the interest of the state. The advocates of national security states are country cousins of fascist theoreticians.

In the post-colonial world, many newly independent countries have followed the fascist route. Even today, if you find a political leader swearing by an old model of governance and rising as a cult figure you can safely conclude that he is not far from embracing fascism.


Impact of UK Deal with European Union and Pakistan

By Yasmeen Aftab Ali

December 31, 2020

What intrinsically this means for U.K is that their produce, may it be medicines, cars, groceries and so on, will not face tariffs as they export them to European Union. Boris Johnson, in his announcement of the deal says:

“It is the first ever trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that the EU has ever agreed and its fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. Businesses will be able to trade smoothly and people will continue to buy goods from Europe tariff-free.”

So in a nutshell; no quotas, no taxes on goods crossing borders [tariffs].

It may create irritants at borders, for traders who are not used to checks of documents, however, the opportunities this deal provides far supersedes these irritants.

The deal is the beginning. First, U.K will become an ‘outsider country’ to EU. The question whether or not London will continue being the focus of European financial transactions will hang in balance till they gain access to the Single Market.A single market is basically allowing trade [like the European single market] allowing free trade between member states.]

The downside of such a single market as the European Union is that the sovereignty of a nation may take a back seat and power to devise laws may be lost. There is unrestricted labor movement, allowing greater access to cheaper labor leading to loss of jobs. Some industries may suffer due to others and the decision is of the common market-not one nation having the right to decide over its industries, laws [EU Law, European Court of Justice] so on and so forth.

However, U.K has its work cut out for them. They need to set it place bilateral agreements. This will in all likelihood depend upon kind of services, products etc offered. The exit allows U.K space to enter into deals with other countries at their own terms.

Pakistan High Commissioner Moazzam Ahmad Khan had shared with the business community that Pakistan would continue to benefit from the UK’s trade preferences scheme at par with the EU GSP Plus facility after Brexit, while speaking at  a key-note address at a webinar on “Post-Brexit UK’s GSP Scheme and Potential for Pak-UK Trade.”

Pakistan needs to put some smart heads together to come up with a proper plan how to use this wonderful opportunity for benefit of both countries. It must not be allowed to slide by.

Pakistan exports to United Kingdom was US$1.68 Billion during 2019, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.

It states: Pakistan exported Cotton for value of $41. 86M, articles of leather, animal gut, harness, travel good for value of $41.12M, optical, photo, technical, medical apparatus for value of $37. 06M, edible fruits, nuts, peel of citrus fruit, melons for value of $22.75M and other ingredients. Our oranges and mangoes are the best and can rival any other from the globe.

At this point in time, owing to COVID 19, reduced production and related issues, Pakistan should seize this opportunity with both hands. As it is, U.K is the fifth largest market for Pakistan’s exports. Imports from U.K are much higher though.U.K exports among other goods like machinery, chemicals, metals and electronics to Pakistan. Essentially this means the goods imported and exported between both nations are not in competition with each other and the trade is therefore inter-industry. This gives both a better and a broader base to expand upon.

The relationship between U.K and Pakistan can be government to government as well as organization to organization. Looking ahead, MrMobinRafiq, a U.K based businessman created the CEC [Commonwealth Entrepreneurs Club (CEC). The purpose of this platform is to encourage and facilitate trade between organizations of different states. MrRafiq is co-founder and chairman of Global Trade Partnership (GTP).

U.K has entered into deals with India, Australia and New Zealand striking the new path it has decided to follow.  Pakistan must offer benefits to U.K for FDI (foreign direct investment). Pakistan must also increase awareness within its business communities that developed nations are becoming extremely conscious of its labor laws. Therefore under paying labor will not work. Sustaining a clean environment is another major concern. Business ethics needs attention. Big time. They want transparency in the chain from production to delivery.

The test for Pakistan’s government will be to select the best not from the party, but from the country to form a proper strategy that takes onboard interests of both nations which will be a win-win situation for both!

To quote Boris Johnson,” “The deal secures on our pledge to protect and boost our economy and provides for continued market access across a broad scope of key service sectors including professional and business services, supporting new and continued investment between businesses.”


Yasmeen Aftab Ali is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’


Remaking Of Amultilateral Global Order under Biden?

By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

December 31, 2020

The outgoing US president Donald Trump is going to leave a legacy of US’unilateral approaches toward global affairs, thereby denting the rule of global law, justice and human rights.  US President-Elect Joe Biden has vowed to restore America’s leadership role in the world by weaving global partnership— pragmatic revivalism of the longstanding international alliances. True, a proactive US role in the global affairs would be positive in several sectors and certainly would be welcomed by other international actors as multilateral diplomacy is a key to aprosperous and peaceful co-existence.Though Biden’s resolve to revive the JCPOA with Iran and the Paris Climate Accord are worth mentioning in this regard, a justice-based approach toward the Kashmir and the Palestinian crisis should also be adopted in the US foreign policy.

Since January 2017, when Trump officially took office, the dents/ruptures in American diplomatic engagement globally have been mounting. Among the components of the UN system or related institutions stripped of US membership and financial contributions are the Population Fund, the UN Human Rights Council(UNHCR), Unesco, the Universal Postal Union(UPU), an open skies treaty, agreements on climate change and an international deal for forestalling or limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and ability.Biden says his administration will elevate diplomacy and lead by the power of example, rather than the example of power.  The incoming Biden-Harris administration could undertake several, quick U.N. policy and funding steps that will help the U.S. restore “good will with other leaders,” according to Richard Gowan, U.N. director of the International Crisis Group.

The President–elect Biden earlier announced that he plans to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from WHO, which would have taken effect from July 2021, and to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Trump announced his decision to exit WHO following allegations of its allegiance to China, and its poor response to COVID-19. The U.S. also said that the Paris Agreement went against its economic interests. The UNFPA, which the U.S. defunded shortly after Trump took office, has been largely averting the funding losses that could have come with splitting from its third-largest country donor.

Yet, two important developments that are expected to be taken place under the Biden administration are:Washington’s rejoining of the Paris Climate Accord and reviving the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal that was concluded during the tenure of the Obama administration.Trump regularly denounced the JCPOA, more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, as “one of the worst deals in history” and pulled the US out of the accord on May 8, 2018. He penalized Iran via reinstating sanctions against it  Iran’s nuclear deals-signed with China, France, Russia, the UK, Germany and Iran by the Obama administration in 2015—had given a diplomatic passage to monitor Iranian nuclear programmein return for economic relief.

The world according to Joe Biden is a much more traditional take on America’s role and interests, grounded in international institutions established after World War II, and based on shared western democratic values. Joe Biden says he’s prepared to rejoin another international accord abandoned by President Trump – the deal that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for scaling down its nuclear programme.As for the Climate Change Accord, the U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. President-elect Joe Biden will revive the Paris Climate Agreement via Washington’s poise entry into it.  The Paris Climate Pact—was forged five years ago among nearly 200 nations to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Consequent upon rejoining, the US would be expected to provide a climate target that is updated from the Obama administration’s goal and a plan to reduce domestic emissions from the power and energy sector.

Unfortunately,  Trump’s single term cemented someunilateral orientations within US foreign policy: (a) a pronounced preference for alternative normative instruments in lieu of multilateral treaties requiring approval by either or both houses of Congress; (b) a more hostile approach towards China; (c) deep skepticism of the world trading system; (d) reliance on punishing bad actors through trade sanctions; (e) circumspection towards UN system organizations;(f)) avoidance of most international courts and tribunals; (g) aversion to never-ending wars and resistance to humanitarian use of force (RIP for R2P); and (i) ever more prompt and glaring commitments to Israel’s security. And yet objectively and pragmatically, a Biden’s administration could be expected to transform these trends, and adopts a more measured diplomatic tone with respect to all of them,  it is likely that all these perceived factors will get resettled via US actions in international law space since  respect for legitimacy and human rights are the hallmarks of democracy.

Understandably, the global defense of human rights is only possible when the United States joins with others to promote and protect them. Although US policymakers often espouse human rights and humanitarian values, the United States has been inconsistent in defending human rights abroad and has been complicit in or has committed serious abuses in its foreign policies and engagement. Needless to say, as for the Trump administration legacy in terms of international law, the Trump presidency has had a consequential—and generally negative—impact on international law and US compliance with it that will last for years to come.

Nonetheless, Biden’s resolve to make a multilateral world order cannot be completed without addressing the two biggest global conflicts—the issue of the Palestinian and the Kashmir freedomPromotion of peace cannot be done without peaceful settlement of international disputes. While President-elect Joe Biden, looks set to take the official charge at the White House next month, there is a rising optimism that he would pragmatically reverse his predecessor Donald Trump’s approach towards the Mideast region, particularly in Palestine. Pragmatically, Biden’s presidency offers the hope that the US will turn to traditional diplomacy, where the embassies and official emissaries take center stage, unlike the personalized or WhatsApp diplomacy driven by Trump. But this also means the return of rivalries between US agencies over foreign policy issues, particularly related to the Middle East.

In all likelihood, it appears that anera ofpragmatic optimism-a reflection on benign globalism- is returning under the Biden rule. The only way is to adopt a people-centric approach and find ways to settle the Palestinian and the Kashmir issues as these conflicts are at the heart of global and regional instability.Some analysts, quoting both Biden and Harris, have argued that India will come under increased pressure from the Biden administration on issues such as secularism, human rights and Jammu & Kashmir. The fact that Biden had fleetingly referred to each of these in another campaign document titled ‘Joe Biden’s agenda for Muslim – American communities’ has been quoted as proof. Official statements on the Biden–Harris Transition Website refer to both Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act protests.  Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been strongly critical of the Modi government’s human rights record in India and Kashmir.


Criminal Behaviour Needs More Attention than the Crime

By Waiza Rafique

December 31, 2020

Pakistan has deep-rooted systematic issues with respect to implementation of laws. The issues are even crucial in the criminal administration of justice as this is the area of law where justice and human rights are compromised the most. Crime is a complex phenomenon that exists in multiple layers. Mitigating crime does not simply require passing a new legislation or an amendment and distributing it among law enforcement agencies of the country. Especially with the current legislative approach in Pakistan that is reactive rather than proactive or preventive in nature, it has become almost impossible to address criminal behaviours effectively.Crime has social roots that need particular attention and care. We need to undergo necessary intellectual exercise before formulating strategies to nip a criminal behaviour in the bud rather than ‘reacting’ to ‘a particular offence’ by taking punitive measures and passing a new legislation that never serve any practical purposes.

Criminal behaviour is a result of many factors including economic conditions, family environment, educational opportunities, community life and psychological tendencies. People commit crime not simply by choice, but due to several deep-seated social problems that require careful attention. Consequently, in order for governments and enforcement agencies to be able to permanently address the perpetrator’s behaviour, due attention and consideration must be paid to its underlying causes rather than the apparent offence. For instance, to curb child pornography it is important to delve deep into the reasons of why this offence is happening at all, why is this behaviour prevalent and what factors are mainly contributing to children being vulnerable and mafias operating in the manner they are operating.   If the requisite attention and consideration is provided under the system, this might not only control crime as a social and legal problem but would also lead to curing perpetrators as a long-term solution that might not even require persistent ‘enforcement’ in the longer run. Thus, it is high time to shift the focus from enforcement of laws to preventive approach aiming to target the real causes of breach.

The objective of government should be reformative, rather than passing new pieces of legislations after an offence has been committed and then getting into a perpetual and superficial race of trying to implement those laws without any strong footings. It is evident that a purely enforcement-led approach may be a temporary solution to tackle crime but not a long-lasting remedy as the enforcement or policing strategies clash with inherent structural issues within the legal and social framework of Pakistan. Long-lasting solutions to criminal behaviour involve a complex interaction between social, economic and political realities as well as policing priorities.

This could be achieved by increasing opportunities for education, recreation and building community cohesion. Such opportunities can be generated by looking at crime from multiple approaches instead of a punitive approach towards offenders.With a purely punitive and enforcement-based approach we tend to only increase the criminal population and push wrongdoers to social marginalization or, according to O’Malley, ‘social ostracisation’. On the contrary, if the same population, if rehabilitated, can be utilised to productive social activity.

In addition to a multi-disciplinary lens to study the concept of crime, another important move to combat criminal behaviour could be devolving the responsibility of crime control from state alone to various other agencies including private sector organisations. This is also identified as ‘responsibilisation strategy’ by various criminal law experts and scholars. The responsibilisation strategy could be used as a helpful tool to involve various state departments, actors from private sector and private community to for crime management and crime prevention.

The very nature of crime is multi-layered and hence requires multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary approach to tackle it. There is a serious need to sensitise legal as well as policing system of Pakistan in favour of preventive approach rather than a punitive approach. Crime regulation involves a diverse range of work that requires a comprehensive knowledge and skill set. Such comprehensive knowledge and skillset cannot be attained by merely making new laws and seeking their enforcement through punitive measures. Therefore, in addition to enforcement procedures , multi-layered strategies involving responsibilisation and processes of restorative justice can mutually form a better blend to actually attain a declining graph of criminal activity.

The aim of the whole process should not primarily be to just identify and punish the perpetrators because this will keep on bringing more perpetrators to the system as long as the root causes of the criminal offences are not addressed. The process should, therefore, aim to reform and rehabilitate those who behave in criminal manner and take into consideration a holistic picture of crime connecting it with social, political and economic factors rather than mere enforcement of laws that hardly seems to happen in any case.


Jinnah’s House Is Burning

By Engineer Khurram Dastgir-Khan

December 31, 2020

Declan Walsh’s ‘The Nine Lives of Pakistan’ augments a veritable genre – books on our embattled homeland by anglophone Western journalists. A layered title, unique biographical approach, and acute observation make this the most insightful among recent works of reportage on the land of the pure.

Books of reportage on Pakistan were few and far between before the 1990s. Pakistanis had to content themselves either with reading history or huddling with a medium-wave radio to hear the BBC’s legendary Mark Tully.

Emma Duncan commenced a new genre with ‘Breaking the Curfew’ in 1989, followed in 1991 by Christina Lamb’s ‘Waiting for Allah’. The return of the US and Western forces to Afghanistan after 9/11 began another round of publication that has not abated two decades later.

The works of Mary-Ann Weaver, Owen Bennet-Jones, Pamela Constable, Nicholas Schmidle, Kim Barker, Steve Inskeep, Carlotta Gall, Kathy Gannon, and Isambard Wilkinson might not have caused much of a stir in Western capitals beyond Pakistan-watchers, but each created a short-lived sensation among the English-speaking elite in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad.

These books not only explain contemporary Pakistan to the West, they also explain the country to its elite – a cohort as distant from its poor, innumerable, fissiparous, illiterate, and religious compatriots as the foreign correspondent him/herself.

Declan Walsh covered Pakistan for far longer (2004-13) than most foreign correspondents. Reporting first for London’s ‘The Guardian’ and later for ‘The New York Times’, he has distilled his nine Pakistani years into profiles of nine Pakistanis. The profiles are rich in perception, history, and insight. Seven of the nine subjects are dead; four from bullets or bombs.

Some might call the book dated because its last events occurred seven years ago. Quite the contrary. “The past is never dead”, Faulkner wrote, “It’s not even past.” As the seeds of jihadism sowed by Gen Zia’s dictatorship in the 1980s and nurtured by his successors bore gory fruit, Walsh has borne necessary and eloquent witness to the most lethal cloudburst of terrorism in our history.

There are lessons to learn from those blood-drenched years. We have not even begun. Most Pakistanis, including the academia and the media, would rather forget the dark years when each day brought on average a half dozen incidents of terrorism across the land; electricity blackouts of eighteen hours; dozens of target killings in the economic hub of Karachi; and rising double-digit inflation and a stagnant economy.

We would also rather disregard that the 2013-18 government – elected the day before Walsh’s deportation – grappled with these deep crises and triumphed over them all, despite being under siege for four out of its five years.

The author has chosen wisely to illuminate those dark times through biography, though there is much from those years that does not find space in the Walsh menagerie. The nine personalities are mutually reinforcing allegories. Instead of explaining extremism, ‘Pashtunwali’ and jihadis, Walsh profiles Abdul Rashid Ghazi of Lal Masjid, retired ISI officer Sultan Amir Tarar aka Col Imam, and KP MPA Anwar Marwat Khan. Karachi’s murderous troubles find human shape in the (late) police officer Chaudhry Aslam Khan.

Balochistan’s insurgency takes human form in Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti; our ever-fledgling civil society is illustrated through the late Asma Jehangir and tycoon/governor Salmaan Taseer; and the role of intelligence agencies comes to the fore through a pseudonymous former Pakistani spy ‘Ashraf’, Col Imam, and Walsh’s narrative of his own deportation. Pakistan’s larger tragedy – its unmooring from our founding ideal of a constitutional, pluralist democracy – imbues the profile of the nation’s founder, M A Jinnah.

Walsh gets the big picture right, regarding the ‘glue’ that is said to be “holding the place together” and at the same time seems to be “tearing it apart”. He also rightly realizes who it is in the country that always wins in the end.

Despite his long years in Pakistan, the author falls prey to the cliché of Pakistan being “more concept than country…. strained under the centrifugal forces of history, identity, and faith. Could it hold?” Every issue in Pakistan seems an existential issue. It is not. The country has survived a traumatic break-up in 1971, decades of authoritarian rule, and the bloodiest onslaught of violent extremism in world history. But it is here and – as Pakistanis have proven with extraordinary resilience – here to stay.

A haunting incident concludes the book. A month after Walsh’s deportation, militants attacked the Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat, killed a policeman, tore down the national flag, and destroyed the historical building as well as all mementoes inside the house where Jinnah spent his last days.

The residency was rebuilt promptly, but the mementoes are lost forever. So are the ideals that Jinnah enunciated in his August 11, 1947 speech to the Constituent Assembly, address to Gazetted Officers at Chittagong, and to army officers at Staff College Quetta.

Mere six years after its latest retreat, autocracy began a renewed siege of democracy in 2014 and has not subsided since. The republic founded by Jinnah is still burning, this time in the fire of hybrid tyranny. Declan Walsh’s work leads us closer to identifying the arsonist. ‘The Nine Lives of Pakistan’ is the finest general book on Pakistan published in 2020.


Engineer Khurram Dastgir-Khan is a member of the National Assembly.


Is Trump Deluded Or Determined?

By Harlan Ullman

December 31, 2020

Whether one admires or abhors Donald Trump, about one observation all can agree.  Trump is the most transparent president in the nation’s history.  Wielding Twitter as a machine gun, the president unleashes torrents of 140 letter commentary about everything and everyone.  The last outburst was over vetoing the Defence Authorization Bill and after various threats signing the Covid Relief Act.

But despite his displeasure over both in his tweets, is the president deluded as some argue and a modern day mad King Lear?  Or, is he determined in his efforts to maintain power and mad only in the sense he is furious with the results of the election and a party that no longer bows and scrapes to his every whim perhaps looking to 2024 to redeem his failure to win a second term?  Unfortunately, the transparency of his tweets do not provide an answer.

Applying rationality to these questions is undermined by a president whose decision-making process and attention span are measured in micro-seconds.  One of the most frightening and perhaps unintentional revelations of former national security adviser John Bolton’s book ‘In the Room’ Where It Happened was the lack of an apparent presidential decision-making process.  Even the term ad hoc may be too clinical as Bolton describes  few  high-level meetings with the president in which decisions were carefully weighed.

With that caveat, what may be driving the president?   Clearly, he refuses to accept defeat and the loss of a second term, only the third time since the end of World War II that a sitting elected president was not re-elected (Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush being the other two as Gerald Ford succeeded Richard Nixon after his resignation).

More likely, Trump is manoeuvring for a 2024 re-run and putting a final measure of discipline and control on the Republican Party in his remaining three weeks in office.  By vetoing the Defence Bill, Trump forced Republicans to vote against him in the override thereby providing future leverage to attack any dissenting members.  By threatening to veto the Relief Act and calling for a $2000 vice $600 payment, Trump was aided by House Democrats who passed such a bill and put great pressure on Senate Republicans to support him. No matter the outcome, the president will cynically claim achieving a political victory and blaming others if the bill fails.

How this will affect the Senate run-off in Georgia on January 5th, 2021 is unclear.  If Senate Republicans have enough members to override the veto, then perhaps candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler  can vote to sustain the president having already having committed to support the $2000 add on.  For the moment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not allowed this spending bill to reach the floor as stand alone legislation because a substantial number of his caucus are in opposition to increasing the debt.  All this could redound against Republicans in the Georgia senate race as Loeffler and Perdue are caught in this presidential crossfire.

Trump is also playing to his base.  The Defense Bill is loaded with items that can be attacked, rightly or wrongly, as pork and waste representing the worst in the Washington Swamp Trump is still trying to drain.  By so forcefully advocating more relief money for Americans, Trump rallies his populist audience.  And make no mistake.  All this  keeps the president as the center of attention  crowding out the president-elect.

Thus, rather than seen as acts of delusion, a case can be made that President Trump has made a determined effort to keep the public eye, build on his popularity, seize the high ground for 2024 and tighten his grip on the party.  Critics will reject this conclusion as too logical for an often irrational president.  However, what has propelled Trump to presidency, and made him so dangerous, is the ability to exploit the moment whether through a premeditated assessment of conditions or a primal instinct that worked.

As Bolton underscored, this lack of or ad hoc decision-making process made Trump’s foreign policies ultimately self-defeating certainly with North Korea. And even though the former national security adviser still claims that leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and the Paris Climate Change Accord along with demanding NATO members pay more for defense and imposing sanctions on China were the right choices, all have damaged American national security and relations with friends, allies and adversaries.

How does this end? At this stage, no one knows.  The best bet is that even a year or two from now, not even Trump will know.


Dr Harlan Ullman is UPI’s Arnaud deBorchgrave Distinguished Columnist.  His next book due out in 2021 is The Fifth Horseman and the New MAD: The Tragic History of How Massive Attacks of Disruption Are Endangering, Infecting, Engulfing and Disuniting a 51% Nation.



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