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Pakistan Press ( 2 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press on Rape Survivors, North Waziristan and Zakat: New Age Islam's Selection, 2 October 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

2 October 2020

• Rape, Harassment and Culture of Victim-Blaming

By Sheema Mehkar

• Rape Survivors: A Different Approach

By Khawaja Khalid Farooq

• North Waziristan: Hub of Peace

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

• Digitalization of Zakat In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; An Era Of Procedural Transparency

By Shagufta Gul

• Geopolitics and Pakistan

By Aneela Shahzad


Rape, Harassment and Culture of Victim-Blaming

By Sheema Mehkar

October 2, 2020

The tragedy of this nation is that no tragedy ever seems enough to sensitize it to reflect on its problematic behaviours and mind-sets that are a root cause of many tragedies that occur here as a matter of routine. Nothing ever appears to suffice to compel the denizens of this country to look inwardly, shed the blinders and see the devil that resides in them.

One would believe that a woman, a mother, being raped in front of her children would be the worst thing that could happen, but you are proven wrong when you realize that the reality is opposite. The worst follows afterwards. Every time a woman is wronged in this country, everyone gangs up against her, proving her to be at fault for what she has endured and a coherent victim-blaming engulfs her from all sides, but mostly from men representing every platform and position of authority.

The latest demonstration of it was witnessed by all in the recent horrific motorway gang-rape incident. Just when everyone was grief-stricken and feeling tormented by the incident, Lahore’s Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umar Sheikh rubbed salt on our bleeding wounds by passing contemptible remarks directly insinuating the woman to be responsible for the atrocity. While it might have sent shock-waves for few, but for women, it was just another painful episode of the daily treatment meted out to them by the State and society at large.

One such incident and from eminent religious figures to highest public office holders, they all come together in blaming the victim by either declaring the immodesty and waywardness of women or women’s lack of circumspection in protecting themselves from sexual assault as a cause for the cruelty. One such incident and the whole country suddenly runs out of the spine and honour to condemn the rapists, because they belong to the gender that enjoys overwhelming dominanceover everything from roads to courts. So, it is always a woman’s fault. Every single time.

Rape can be expediently attributed to obscenity or coeducation or other countless factors, but the undeniable fact remains that the fundamental evil is the mindset that justifies and perpetuates rape

Half of the country already blames women for their sufferings. Men would conveniently bring up the reasons to justify their wrong conduct by passing the blame on the women; on their clothing, them being out at late hours, their refusal to give consent, their retaliation and so on. In fact, this ugliness is so deeply embedded that if a girl shares her story of harassment, a gang of men will dig up her pictures and start giving the verdict if she does or does not meet a certain beauty standard to qualify for harassment. While women have to fight this mindset every minute of their lives, such sermons preaching that even in the worst possible scenarios, it is still women’s fault further narrows the space around them.

What we tend to forget while discoursing about rape is that it is just not a form of physical abuse. It’s a manifestation of power by men. It is the means by which men assert themselves as superior, powerful and untouchable. It’s men’s way to express that they have absolute power on women’s bodies and have a right to treat them as they please with impunity. There could be many other factors that foster or stimulate rape, but it is fundamentally premised on a mindset that looks women as inferior and subservient individuals who are supposed to live, act, dress and move around in accordance with the rules and desires of men – if not, they ought to face the consequences. All this can be verified in a single chat session regarding rape or harassment with men in our close circles and they will enthusiastically enlighten us how it is always a woman’s fault; they will question her dressing, declare her a liar and even cast doubts on her character.

CCPO Umar Sheikh symbolizes this very mindset that is rife in our society, a mind-set that tragically goes unchallenged. He is a true personification of this scourge that ails our society and makes it a dreadful place for women to exist.

The problem is when people in authority and especially religious authority imply that somehow women are responsible for whatever cruelty is done to them; it emboldens harassers, rapists, potential rapists and rape apologists and jeopardizes the safety of women. It validates the belief system of rape apologists and harassers. It legitimizes rape and harassment.

By no means, this catastrophe could be reckoned as a blessing in disguise but regrettably, it turned out to be one. It unclothed the true face of our police force and ‘thana culture’ for those who were either ignorant or delusional. It bared this justice system naked for everyone to see and understand why women don’t approach police and courts for registration of their grievances and to seek justice.

The real tragedy is not that a public office holder in uniform who is responsible for the protection and safety of the citizens has brazenly and incessantly blamed a mother of three for the rape, but that the State doesn’t find it bothersome and immoral. The fleeting outrage over highly condemnable remarks of the police officer and the subsequent demand of his removal was not only rebuffed by the State as unworthy of eliciting any action against him, it also enjoyed the covert and overt approval of a considerable segment of the society.

The problem with CCPO is that he is the problem. If he stays, it means countless other women will face similar victim-blaming. He is the status-quo and no reform can transpire unless such people and mindset aren’t scrapped. Because his remarks weren’t impulsive, they came from a place of conviction and systems can’t progress with such regressive mindsets at the helm.

There might be no law for victim-blaming, for rape apologists. But the removal of CCPO will mean so much more than just symbolism. It is about shutting down any voice that blames a woman for the wrong done to her. It is about sending a message that no one in the position of power dares to do it again and that the State has no tolerance for rape apologists. His removal will not eliminate rape, but it will be a tiny step towards eliminating the mindset that aids rape. His removal is beyond symbolic. It is the cure, it is the redress.

Rape can be expediently attributed to obscenity or coeducation or other countless factors, but the undeniable fact remains that the fundamental evil is the mind-set that justifies and perpetuates rape. It’s futile to ban obscenity from visual platforms and let the mind-set that abets rape to nurture and flourish. Unless the mind-set that is a primary source of violence against women is not eradicated and publicly denounced e.g. removal of CCPO, unless the voices that cheer on rape aren’t proscribed, unless those who use rape threats with sheer sense of impunity aren’t apprehended, unless cyber laws aren’t enforced, unless police reforms aren’t implemented, no measures otherwise will have any effect in remedying this disease.

So, to make this society even slightly safer for women, ban this evil mindset, ban these vile voices, ban the culture of victim-blaming.


Sheema Mehkaris a freelance writer based in Islamabad.


Rape Survivors: A Different Approach

By Khawaja Khalid Farooq

October 2, 2020

Few issues in policing have received more attention in 2020 years than the recent Gujjarpura gang-rape case. This attention is long overdue, because issues were neglected for decades in the way sexual assault crimes have evolved in Pakistan.

In fact, a key problem is that most sexual assaults never even come to the attention of police. There are many reasons for this. Rape victims/survivors suffer physical as well as emotional harms that can be devastating. As victims try to cope with the trauma of the crime itself, they often suffer additional harm when they are subtly, or not so subtly, blamed for being victimized, in ways that victims of robbery or theft or any other crime are never blamed.

Finally, sexual assault victims who summon the courage to report the crime to the police are often subjected to a criminal justice system that seems insensitive, uncaring, or even hostile to victims. Policing in Pakistan is still very far from a ‘victim-centered’ approach in all interactions with crime victims, particularly victims of sexual assault.

A victim-centered approach involves a focus on the needs of the victim, to ensure that services are delivered to the victim in a compassionate and nonjudgmental manner. A victim-centered approach can help prevent re-traumatization of the victim, and can empower the victim to actively participate in the criminal justice process. Even though there was an outpouring of empathy for this particular incident, can we truly say that there exists any institutional support for all such victims for such offences in Pakistan?

Another key concept that law-enforcement agencies do not consider is incorporating ‘trauma-informed’ practices into their response to sexual assault. This involves recognizing the symptoms of trauma and its prevalence, and understanding how those symptoms can affect an individual who has experienced trauma.

The trauma of sexual assault can affect a victim’s memory and behaviour in unique ways, both during and after the crime occurs. Police officers must understand these dynamics in order to respond appropriately to sexual assault victims. Sexual assault is one of the worst types of crimes, so it requires the best efforts of law-enforcement agencies to investigate it thoroughly, prevent new crimes, and treat victims with respect and compassion.

The Gujjarpura event has brought attention to the importance of the role of law enforcement in the response to sexual assault, the need for high-quality sexual assault investigations, and the impact that the police can have on sexual assault victims’ experience with the criminal justice system.

Victims of sexual assault must cope with the physical, mental and emotional aftermath of an intimate crime, and often are faced with the additional challenge of combating rape myths and gender bias that perpetuate victim-blaming. Additionally, not in this case but often in Pakistan, the justice system itself can deter victims from reporting.

Improper or inadequate police practices and procedures such as exhibiting disbelief, improperly dismissing a victim’s report as ‘unfounded’, incorrectly categorizing the nature of the crime reported, incompletely or inadequately investigating the crime, the anticipation of a long and difficult trial, and the uncertainty of the final outcome, can influence a victim’s decision to even report sexual assault to police.

Also, we should bear in mind that it was not robust police investigation that brought the crime to light. Not in the conventional sense, anyway. It was a hit on the DNA database at the Punjab Forensics Science Agency that initiated the cascade of events leading to identification of the accused.

While it is true that DNA evidence has changed how crimes are investigated and how assailants are brought to justice, this database at the PFSA is not something which is robustly used by our police in all sexual offences. While it is an extremely important initiative, this is something which should be accessible and much more widely used in all serious offences.

This raises issues regarding storage, access and disposal of DNA as evidence, all of which need to be covered by legislation in Pakistan. It is not very far away in the past that even our courts ruled DNA as being inadmissible as sole evidence. However, it has helped in cases such as the Zainab case which was actually a spate of serial murders of innocent young children, and many more, Gujjarpura being just one of the latest. However, talk to any police investigator about how much s/he uses this evidence, and one will discover that the incidence will be zero for most, almost all, police investigators in the Punjab Police.

The absence of a robustly structured and maintained DNA database at the PFSA exacerbates this problem; this is at best ad-hoc and not regulated properly. There are many issues around DNA on which there is growing global consensus on the need for legislative provisions for the destruction of biological samples and deletion of innocent people’s DNA profiles. There are also emerging best practice on scientific standards and standards for the use of DNA in court which are necessary to prevent miscarriages of justice.

Crucially, there is ongoing debate regarding the appropriate safeguards for DNA collection from suspects, restrictions on access, use and data sharing across borders, and data protection standards. Currently in Pakistan, we have none of the above.

Sexual assault cases should be investigated in an unbiased manner, free of assumptions and stereotypes about victims. For example, the police should not base judgments about victim credibility on assumptions about the ‘types’ of people who can be victims of sexual assault or how victims ‘should’ respond or conduct themselves before or after an assault.

It is important that the police department in Pakistan adopts a victim-centered approach in all interactions with crime victims, particularly victims of sexual assault. A victim-centered approach involves a focus on the needs and concerns of the victim, to ensure that investigations are not compromised by judgments an investigator makes about a victim, and that victims are treated in a manner that accounts for the unique traumatic effects of sexual assault.

This will convey to victims that the police take their case seriously and that the department will conduct a thorough, fair and human-rights compliant investigation.


Khawaja Khalid Farooq is a retired inspector general of police and ex head of Nacta.


North Waziristan: Hub Of Peace

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

October 2, 2020

Recently, via the platform of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence, I had availed the opportunity to visit North Waziristan, adjacent to the Afghan border.

This mountainous region, with five rivers, is one of the most beautiful regions of Pakistan. In the past, it also made news headlines in national and international media as the world’s most dangerous region. Geographically, it is located between the Kurram River (Tochi River) to the north and the Gomal River to the south.

British rulers, in order to maintain dominance over the Wazir tribe, had deprived the locals of their civic and human rights. Political agents were appointed in various tribal agencies and they were given unlimited powers. Despite all of this, the people of Waziristan have a glorious history of tireless struggle against British imperialism.

After independence, Quaid-e-Azam visited Waziristan as the first governor general of Pakistan. In his address to the tribal leaders, he declared the patriotic people of Fata as the frontline force for national defence. However, it is quite unfortunate that Waziristan was never given due priority by any government during the 70-year history of our country.

Due to this ignorance by our governments and conspiracies of enemies, this beautiful area of Pakistan was considered as a no-go area. After the 9/11 attacks, this region was most affected by terrorism. To achieve their heinous goals, terrorists tried to exploit the sentiments of innocent civilians. The Taliban also dominated the erstwhile Fata from 2001 to 2007. Most of the suicide attacks and terrorist activities across the country were linked directly and indirectly with these areas.

In order to liberate this area from the control of terrorists, our armed forces carried out around 14 major military operations including Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Raddul-Fasaad, resulting in clearing of around 47,000km area; the writ of the state was also established. More than four thousand lives were sacrificed for achieving this noble goal. Two years ago on May 31, 2018 this area was merged with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Today, tremendous development can be seen in Waziristan. We can see good roads and construction work there. Around Rs24 billion in budget had been allocated for the developmental projects in that area, 66 percent of which has been used to improve infrastructure.

However, there is a need to focus on strengthening other public sectors, including judiciary, law and order, health, and education, etc. With the facilitation of GOC Shakir, I had the opportunity to exchange views with Deputy Commissioner Shahid Ali Khan and DPO Shafiullah Gandapur. I also met two honorable Maliks from the local jirga – Malik Khan Marjan Wazir and Malik Jan Faraz.

I am very pleased to know that the local people there and the government are on the same page on the issue of the Fata merger. To keep an eye on movement oon the Afghan border, a Border Management System has also been introduced. As per my knowledge, 171km out of 231km long Afghan border with North Waziristan has been covered with fences whereas speedy work is going on in the remaining part.

After the merger of (former) Fata, we need to introduce business incentives in order to attract the attention of the business community. In this regard, I suggest that the business community should be given a ten-year exemption to transfer businesses to North Waziristan. It will also create numerous job opportunities for the locals. The legitimate grievances of the people must also be listened to on a priority basis.

Our brave forces have brought peace to the region after countless sacrifices over the years. Now, it is the responsibility of the political leadership to bring former Fata into the national mainstream. A solid strategic work plan must also be devised to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the people and transform this beautiful region into a hub of peace and tourism.


Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.


Digitalization Of Zakat In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; An Era Of Procedural Transparency

By Shagufta Gul

October2, 2020

The concept of charity to society is found in almost all divine religions as well as man-made religions. Christianity has a concept of charity but mostly Church is considered its beneficiary. Judaism talks of charity and calls it Tzedakah and which means more than giving money to the poor but having empathy as well.In Sikhism “One who performs selfless service without thought of reward shall attain his Lord and Master”,(Guru Granth Sahib page 286) Sikhism teaches that everyone is equal and that people living in poverty and suffering malnutrition should be helped. The way of charity to society is unique in Islam where amount, as well as the recipients, are well defines The literal meaning word of Zakat in Arabic is “that which purifies”. It is the religiously mandated charity and the fifth pillar of the faith and the simplest definition refers o the obligation that an individual has to donate a certain proportion of wealth each year to charitable causes. Zakat plays critical role as socio economic activity leading to the formation of a welfare state.

Since the inception of Pakistan a confusion did prevail as far as the system of Government was concerned as the different regimes kept trying to amalgamating the modern democracy into the concept of the Islamic model of state, however it was under the military regime of General Zia ul Haq that various steps were introduced as a process to Islamize Pakistan a trueThe Zakat and Ushr Ordinance was issued on June 24, 1979 for the establishment of Zakat institutions at national provincial, district and sub-district levels.S ubsequently the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance was promulgated on June 20,1989 with immediate effect, Ushr was made operative on March 15th 1983.At Federal level, the Ordinance is administered by Zakat and Ushr Division and ministry of finance. In the wake of 18th constitutional amendment, Zakat System was devolved to the Provinces. Zakat & Ushr control being dealt with the Ministry of Religious Affairs have been transferred to respective Provinces. Zakat & Ushr matters are dealt by Zakat & Ushr Department in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Zakat & Ushr Act, 2011 was promulgated keeping in view the requirements/needs of the Mustahiqeen-e-Zakat. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Zakat & Ushr Council, as per approved act, is the Apex Body to control/supervise all the matters relating to Zakat & Ushr Funds. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Zakat Council (KPZC) exists as an advisory body under the act, The Provincial Zakat Council acts as a supervisory body along with policy development for collection disbursement and utility of the Zakat funds and monitoring purpose.

At Provincial level, the Zakat and Ushr Department functions under the Social Welfare department. Looking at the disbursement mechanism of Zakat the local Zakat Committees form the backbone of the disbursement system. Currently, KP is having 32 District Zakat Committees and 4396 Local Zakat Committees (LZCs) across the Province. Each LZC identify the Mustahiqeen (deserving) and after lengthy procedures of verification the Mustahiq receives a stipend under the predefined categories like Guzara Allowance, Marriage Assistance Grant, Educational Stipend (Academic & Professional), Health Care grant, Deeni Madaris student allowance and Special Health Care grants under the KP Zakat and Ushr Act 2011.

The most crucial and critical concern have been the disbursement of Zakat manually turning this religious obligation into a lengthy and blur procedure and with issues of transparency and impediments making it almost impossible for the real deserving to access the category he/she wants to. The disbursement of Zakat is a step requiring great care and intricacy. Data collection and its accuracy from a mass of population, objective orientation, and rehabilitation of the Mustahiqeen are the trademark priorities in the process. For the process to be smooth, it should be simplified and well organized with rehabilitation programs (short and long term) blueprinted. Looking at the impediments. On May 21, 2003, the City District Council Peshawar adopted a unanimous resolution condemning and negating the political interference in the formation of the district-level Zakat committees in the province and urged the KP government to stop interfering in the distribution of Zakat funds. It was alleged that the ruling party used the Zakat and Ushr fund as “a political bribe,” funds on political grounds.

It seems to be a very a positive initiative as a public office associated with the marginalized segments of society has opted for technology that will ultimately benefit not only the smooth flow of assistance but also ensure transparency and accountability

Keeping in view the aforementioned challenges the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Zakat and Ushr Department took the lead amongst all the Provinces by digitalizing the system and procedures of this religious obligation and devised a comprehensive Management Information System(MIS) as a solution, it makes Zakat handout and distribution organized and transparent. For a welfare process to produce the most fruitful results, it is a prerequisite for it to be conducted on a platform which ensures transparency and efficiency. The KP Zakat and Ushr Department aiming for digital KP has come up with a platform with digitalization of the Zakat and Ushr collection, management and distribution via applications of web and Android versions.

The in-house accomplished plans launched by the department are the Zakat Management Information System (ZMIS) and Zakat Hospital Management Information System (ZHMIS),a web and android base applications for the determination of Mustahiqeen through different scoring parameters and filtration. The ZMIS is meant for transparency, efficiency, i.e. to bring ease in the provision of services and to speed up the government business routine, this system encompasses data collection of more than 35,000 orphans throughout the province, a complete category wise database of poor orphans, disabled population, widows and homeless persons, a record of unmarried adult girls that are eligible for Jahez Fund, guardian details in case parents are deceased, complete profiles of Mustahiqeen residing in newly merged districts (NMDs), the unemployment ratio of each district throughout the province, the negation of human intervention in the process and to find out accurately the financial condition of an applicant/Mustahiq through different parameters. Similarly, the Zakat Hospital Management Information System (ZHMIS)is in a form of comprehensive software which will allocate record compilations of Zakat fund utilization and treatment records of the Mustahiq-e-Zakat patients that are underprivileged at various hospitals, just a click away. The system comprises of various features as quick service delivery, transparent activities monitoring system, Hospital fund Utilization Management, Disbursement Access, Patient Tracking Facilities, Maintenance of electronic health records, Outdoor and Indoor Gender-wise Patient Management, different Statistical Analysis etc. As a way forward an informative, geo-mapping android application for public awareness named as “MUSTAHIQ” along with an Android application for the determination of most vulnerable orphans through scoring parameters (ZOMIS)and Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping for all District Offices, lands and their registered institutes are to be launched soon.

The aforementioned project plan will minimize the human interference and influence.It seems to be a very a positive initiative as a public office associated with the marginalized segments of society has opted for technology that will ultimately benefit not only the smooth flow of assistance but also ensure transparency and accountability. However, for the effective implementation, the department needs to devise a communication and awareness campaign on print, electronic and social media for maximum outreach the masses. For NMDs,radio is the major source of information and a media strategy can be initiated in this regard, so that the deserving segment of our society is aware of the digital initiative and its utility.It is also suggested thatthe success of the project demands collaboration and collective effort of all the departmentsinvolved. The capacity of the existing human resource is built under a rigorous training program by the Zakat and Usher Department however the addition of well-trained human resource at all levels will definitely support the newly introduced system to meet the long term goals, paving the way for a transparent socio economic activity with transparency.


Shagufta Gul has experience in the field of education and is currently working as a resource person in the development sector


Geopolitics and Pakistan

By Aneela Shahzad

October 01, 2020

Every country has a unique geography and geopolitical positioning, but it is not always possible for all states to harness their geopolitical positioning, either because they lack the political will to do so, or because the overall regional or global geopolitics suppresses such a will. Nevertheless, understanding one’s geopolitical/strategic positioning is the first step in strengthening one’s standing in bilateral, regional and global relations.

Pakistan’s unique longitudinal geography allows it to wash its shores with the Arabian Sea at its south, and to shake hands with Central Asia at its north. Pakistan’s historical and geographical contingency with Afghanistan has allowed it to support the brotherly country in its fight for freedom from Russian and American occupations; our neighbouring with Iran in a unique way that is different from its Arab neighbours to its west, allows us to have a relatively unbiased and even normative relation with it.

At the northeastern and eastern proximities, Pakistan touches two giant states: China and India — two states with the world’s biggest populations and both harbouring regional ambitions. China being Pakistan’s all-weather friend since the independence of the two states and India being an opponent to both of us.

Because of Pakistan’s geography, India feels severed from larger Asia, especially from Iran and Russia, whom it considered allies till recently. India’s foreign policy parted from Russia when it withdrew from Afghanistan and the weak alliance between India and Iran cracked when India decided to end oil trade with Iran under US-sanctions. After the Russo-Afghan War, India hooked up with the US in order to gain influence in Afghanistan that could serve it as a jumping board into Central Asia.

Central Asian states gained their independence from Russia in 1990, when the Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan led to its dismantling. Because of the fact that Central Asia consists of all Sunni Muslim states, they have a natural ideological bonding with Pakistan and Afghanistan as compared to Iran or the Arab states that are further away. Vast hydrocarbon reserves were identified in the landlocked states of Central Asia in the 1990s. Being deep inside Asia, they need a route to the sea to export their oil and gas, and the route via Afghanistan and Pakistan becomes the shortest, best choice.

The 20 years of US occupation of Afghanistan has delayed the possibility of such ventures, as the US and its defence partner India have endeavoured to lay siege to Afghanistan, not only to get control on Afghan mineral resources but also to become the sole trading partners with the Central Asian states, an ambition the US and India have failed to accomplish because of Pakistan’s backing of freedom fighters in Afghanistan. The Central Asian states are also Russia’s near abroad and for this reason Russia too does not want the US or India to dominate Afghanistan. But more than anyone else, Pakistan feels strangled by India from three sides if it succeeds to entrench itself in Afghanistan, and considers India’s presence in Afghanistan an existential threat that has to be leveled at any cost.

Pakistan’s geography has also brought it ever closer to China, as it offers China the shortest route to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Because wars in the Middle East impede other Belt and Road routes to the Arabian Sea, China has proclaimed CPEC as the flagship project of its Belt and Road Initiative. But that is not all, for China Pakistan’s friendship is a dear one also because this geographically contingent bulwark alliance is proving to be a partnership that can subdue India’s ambitions to become a regional player. So, China and Pakistan complement each other in demanding territories that India has falsely occupied; and in the same vein while India sits on top of Pakistan’s waters coming from Occupied Kashmir, China sits on top of India’s waters originating from Tibet.

So, as China shows high prospects for being the regional hegemon of the coming decades, Pakistan has chosen wisely to ally with it. As China grew economically, it also garnered another vital ally, Russia, who has opened its arms to several BRI projects on and through its soil. The two, complement each other’s foreign policies and repel a common adversary, the US. Russia’s coupling up with Iran and Turkey to take control of Syria makes for an overall alliance framework that Pakistan would comfortably fit into.

On the other hand, Turkey’s opposite in the Islamic World, Saudi Arabia, is also a long-cherished all-weather ally of Pakistan. The recent rift between the two states over support for the Kashmir Issue has raised some eyebrows, but that does not undermine the long-standing strategic alliance that Pakistan enjoys with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, wherein Pakistani forces have trained their armies and navies. For instance, the first three chiefs of the UAE air force were all officers of the Pakistani air force.

The 41-state, Saudi-led Islamic military alliance created in 2015 is also headed by Pakistan’s former chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif. Though still at an infancy stage, the alliance which is larger than NATO (30 members), can be a potential global force for protecting the interests of Muslim states. Pakistan’s leadership of the Muslim Ummah is well-precedented, as our forces have remained actively present in war-fronts from Bosnia to Sri Lanka and from Afghanistan to Somalia, wherever we found the chance to come to the aid of our brethren.

Pakistan’s refusal to partake in the Saudi-Yemen war may have estranged its relations with the Saudis, but this also makes Pakistan a normative between the Shia and Sunni powers that have been forced to fight the proxy war in the Middle East. This means that Pakistan’s foreign policy has been based on advocacy of peace and safeguard of friends and not on oppression and aggression. That Pakistan’s foundations are ideological, is at least shown in our foreign policy, which has been outward and far-reaching from the beginning, and that its active posture has accrued for it a global role that awaits its ‘will’ and ‘realisation’.




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