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Pakistan Press ( 18 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Sponsoring Terrorism, Gilgit-Baltistan And Tolerance: New Age Islam's Selection, 18 November 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

18 November 2020

• Sponsoring Terrorism

By Sikander Ahmed Shah And Uzair J. Kayani

• Gilgit-Baltistan: A Land Of Unknowns

By Amir Hussain

• A World Of Tolerance

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

• A Case For Cultural Reconstruction

By Rafia Zakaria


Sponsoring Terrorism

By Sikander Ahmed Shah And Uzair J. Kayani

18 Nov 2020

A DOSSIER released by Pakistan underscores how the Balochistan Liberation Army has been paid by the Indian government for each suicide attack, IED attack and targeted killing it has perpetrated in Pakistan. Banned in Pakistan in 2006, when it was listed as a proscribed organisation under Section 11(b)(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997, the BLA has also been designated as a terrorist group by the EU and US.

According to international law expert Syed Abid Rizvi, there’s a long history of India financing militancy in Pakistan. It is against this backdrop that India’s support of BLA and similar militants must be examined. Domestically, the term ‘terrorism’ has been defined in Section 6 (ATA) as the use or threat of action “designed to coerce and intimidate or overawe the government or the public or a section of the public or community … or create a sense of fear or insecurity in society”. Internationally, the term eludes definition, in part due to the difficulty of differentiating between extremist violence and legitimate freedom struggles. So the bulk of international law on the subject deals more specifically with ‘terrorist activities’ including hijackings, terrorist financing and bomb blasts.

For example, UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1373 criminalised terrorist financing; prohibited states from providing support (financial or otherwise) to those involved in terrorist activities; called upon states to hold such entities accountable under their domestic laws and to assist other states to do the same; and set up a Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) to coordinate international efforts in stamping out this global menace.

Similarly, UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 60/288 lays out the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy; calling upon states to condemn terrorism; to implement all existing UN resolutions on terrorism; to cooperate with other states; and to “refrain from organising, instigating, facilitating, participating in, financing, encouraging or tolerating terrorist activities”. Also, UNSC Resolution 1566 established a working group dealing with terrorism issues. An earlier working group under UNSC Resolution 1267 was tasked with dealing with terrorist activities carried out specifically by Al Qaeda or Taliban. The 1566 group, however, is responsible for “practical measures to be imposed upon individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities, other than those designated by the Al Qaeda/ Taliban Sanctions Committee” which includes terrorist activities carried out by groups such as BLA.

The dossier’s contents are a damning indictment of India’s role.

Terrorist activities are also prohibited under International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Additional Protocol (AP) I to the Geneva Conventions, 1949, calls for the protection of civilian objects and prohibits civilian objects from being made the object of an attack or reprisal, and bans ‘perfidy’ where an armed combatant feigns civilian or non-combatant status in order to conceal their combatant status. Moreover, AP II to the Geneva Conventions explicitly prohibits acts of terrorism against civilians and those no longer participating in armed hostilities and limits the use of armed force to ‘military objectives’, explicitly prohibiting the targeting of ‘civilian objects’.

The BLA attack on PSX was an act of terror under both international and domestic law. Under the IHL framework of a Non-International Armed Conflict it also constitutes war crimes: the PSX holds no military/ strategic value; it is an entirely civilian institution, and by impersonating civilian law-enforcement personnel for their attack, BLA is guilty of perfidy.

First, Pakistan must approach the CTC, formed under UNSC Resolution 1373, and highlight India’s involvement in the activities of extre­mist and secessionist groups, eg BLA. Second, it must consider approaching the UN secretary general under Article 99 of the UN Charter, which empowers the secretary general to bring to the attention of the UNSC “any matter which … may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”. India’s support of extremist outfits compromises regional peace and security.

Third, the 1566 group is another forum Pakistan should approach, given its focus on extremist activities carried out by entities other than Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Fourth, while Pakistan continues to make concerted efforts to extricate itself from the FATF grey list, it is equally important to highlight incidents of India’s terrorist financing — such as support for BLA — at the same forum.

The BLA is financed by India to destabilise Pakistan. Its attacks speak to the fact of India’s growing unease at Pakistan’s projected economic uplift through the deepening of economic ties with China. Pakistan must counter India’s self-avowed interest in nurturing secessionist and extremist elements. It must employ all tools available to it under domestic and international law.


Sikander Ahmed Shah and Uzair J. Kayaniare faculty at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan Law School, Lums.


Gilgit-Baltistan: A Land Of Unknowns

By Amir Hussain

November 18, 2020

It would have been a chilly Saturday with clouds of victory hovering over the defence lines of the Gilgit Scouts on November 1, 1947. It was a historic day when a legion of local military men of Gilgit Scouts revolted against the Dogra ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

At the time of revolt, British military officer William Alexander Brown was the commander of the Gilgit Scouts who fully supported the local revolt against the Dogra rule.

If one reads the historical accounts including Major Brown’s memoir, ‘The Gilgit Rebellion’, it becomes clear that Operation Datta Khel was secretly planned by Col Roger Bacon, Major William Brown and Captain Mathieson to oust Ghansara Singh. Unlike other parts of J&K like Poonch and Srinagar there were no communal riots in Gilgit Agency and one can hardly find any evidence of popular uprisings against the regime of Maharaja Hari Singh. There was of course resentment against the repressive Dogra rule among the local rajas but before it could transform into a popular movement the Dogra regime in Gilgit was toppled through military revolt. It took hardly two days for Major William Brown to hoist the Pakistani flag in Gilgit and on November 16, 1947 Pakistan sent Sardar Muhammad Alam Khan as its political agent of Gilgit Agency.

Gilgit passed into the hands of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the first ruler of the state of J&K after the Treaty of Amritsar in 1846. Col Nathe Shah, who was deployed in Gilgit on behalf of the Sikh Court in Lahore, retained his position under Gulab Singh as his subordinate after the defeat of Sikh Empire in the Anglo-Sikh war of March 1846. The Treaty of Amritsar signed between Maharaja Gulab Singh and the British Empire gave the maharaja a free hand to annex the northern parts of his kingdom. This northward expansion of the kingdom was strategically planned by the British rulers to create a buffer between Russia and the British Empire as part of the geostrategic politics of the Great Game era.

British Indian rulers also facilitated the maharaja of J&K to bring the small states of Chitral and Yasin under his control in 1877. In 1878, the Mehtar (ruler) of Chitral accepted the suzerainty of the maharaja of J&K and so was the case with the principalities of Hunza, Nagar, Punyal and Gupis. However, the areas of Diamar including the valleys of Darail and Tangir continued to function as acephalous societies without any external control.

From this historical standpoint, Gilgit Wazarat remained an integral part of the state of J&K till November 1, 1947 while the local small states continued to function as vassal states under the suzerainty of the Dogras of J&K.

The word liberation is loosely used by many people to describe the Gilgit revolt of November 1, 1947 but it was a local revolt in the barracks of the Gilgit Scouts sans a popular political movement. This is not to suggest that the rule of the maharaja was benevolent. It was rather a carefully executed plan to manage a seamless transition of rulers within the larger schema of the emerging hostilities of the cold war safeguarding the Western interests in the region.

The first priority of outgoing British colonizers was to block Indian physical access to the USSR and Afghanistan because of India’s inclination towards the Soviet bloc. This becomes evident from the haste with which Major W A Brown hoisted the Pakistani flag in Gilgit and persuaded local mutineers to accede to Pakistan on the very next day of the successful revolt. Lord Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel seemed to be on the same page in decoupling Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) from the J&K dispute.

There was an understanding between the Congress leadership and the British rulers about the decoupling of GB from the state of J&K but this understanding was governed by many ifs and buts. It was, therefore, important for the British rulers to ensure that this decoupling took place during the time of Lord Mountbatten as the first governor general of India.

From the beginning there were apprehensions in the minds of political strategists in the British Empire about the capability of the state of J&K to act as a colonial outpost on the eastern borders of the Empire. These apprehensions became more pronounced when the British took over the control of Gilgit Agency through a 60 years’ lease from the maharaja of J&K in 1935. The British government and the princely state of J&K continued to work in unison on the eastern borders where the latter was only a vassal state to protect the political and economic interests of British Empire.

The state of J&K was an arbitrary political amalgamation of different cultures and people, as a geostrategic area to serve the colonial interests of Russian containment. Despite a hundred years of their political association, the people of J&K and GB could not develop a common political aspiration. The people of GB believe that the Dogra raj was a forced occupation over their territory. Therefore, the ongoing national debate about the change in the political status of GB must be seen in this larger historical perspective of colonialism and international politics.

The people of GB still believe that if Pakistan cannot bring this region under its constitutional ambit, it should at least grant a special package to ensure the protection of the political, legal and economic rights of the people. This should entail representation in the National Assembly and Senate by amending articles 51, 59, 257 and 258 of the constitution. It should involve dissolving the GB Council and transferring the functions of the Ministry of GB and Kashmir Affairs to the local legislative assembly. Thus the proposed framework of the provisional constitutional province must entail a fully empowered local legislative assembly with a lean bureaucratic structure, an independent judiciary, representation in all constitutional bodies and eco-friendly investment under CPEC projects.

It is time to have a more inclusive policy towards the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who have always remained loyal to the country.


Amir Hussain is a social development and policy adviser, and a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.


A World Of Tolerance

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

NOVEMBER 18, 2020

A world divided by language, culture, and religion must become one when it comes to protecting life, preserving nature, and promoting mankind. Gone are the days when the world was not a global village backed by corporate missions and marketing, but a one where people from various cultures worked peacefully in countries other than their native land. While the same trend is being pursued by Asians and Far East Asian communities as they settled abroad for greener pastures of employment, the welcome they received has faded away to some extent.

Societies and communities of one country are a micro-level representation of what is transpiring at the macro-level, across the world. During the 1990s, following the Gulf War in the Middle East, many Pakistanis had to return home after serving in Middle Eastern countries. This conflict bred insecurities in the minds of the Pakistanis and people from other nationalities living in the Middle East. Similarly, following the 9/11 attacks in the USA, the authorities looked upon the US residents of non-American descent as a threat to their national security. Much of this fear was induced into the Americans by the media. Otherwise, it was the same Mujahideen that had fought Washington’s war in Afghanistan against the Russians during the Cold War.

Even if expats earn a livelihood in countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, Europe, and the Far East, they will always remain second-grade citizens. A tolerant society breeds such values in the citizens to accept second-grade citizens as their own

A tolerant society is one that does not harbor insecurities or does not breed self-doubt. Mutual understanding, sharing and caring, and accepting other’s points of view are imperative to nurture a mindset of tolerance. The lifetime of our Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is evidence of numerous incidents where he could have exercised retaliation upon those who brought injustice to his family, but he remained tolerant. He and his companions did stand up and fight against the forces of injustice, unprovoked aggression, and oppression, but they were tolerant to others when it came to forgiveness and accepting them as they are.

The first term of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America was a period when tolerance coming out of Washington was at its lowest. In 2017, while addressing a public gathering, Donald Trump vowed to build a wall at the Mexico border. Such a moment of intolerance must never dawn upon any nation for freedom to live and to live peacefully is the right of all nationalities.A wave of mistrust has evidently enveloped the world under its dark spell during the last couple of decades. Each country is fighting for the rights of its citizen. Even if expats earn a livelihood in countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, Europe, and the Far East, they will always remain second-grade citizens. A tolerant society breeds such values in the citizens to accept second-grade citizens as their own. Similarly, in Karachi, communities such as Bohri, Parsi, Khoja have been living peacefully.The International Day for Tolerance by the UN celebrated on November 16 is a reminder in this regard for humankind to accept each other and look above and beyond differences.

The world needs a lesson in spreading tolerance. It must pursue and accept the power of acceptance when meeting and greeting people from another land. Take for instance the example of Karachi. After the independence of Pakistan, Karachi was a tourist destination that welcomed Americans, Canadians, and Europeans. They visited Karachi and other parts of Pakistan. Even the American space crew of Apollo 17 including astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt paid a state visit to Karachi. Their motorcade traveled on the streets of Karachi with people lining up across the street to greet them. Che Ernesto Guevara, Argentine Marxist revolutionary, visited Karachi in 1959 and met with Pakistan’s first military dictator, Ayub Khan. Such examples from history are a humble reminder of how open-minded we were as a society. There was tolerance and acceptance of the other people no matter what culture or religion they represented. The seeds that produce tolerance, acceptance, and broad-mindedness must be sown with humility, trust, and conviction to make tolerance embedded in our society and lifestyle.


Muhammad Omar Iftikhar is an independent researcher, author and columnist


A Case For Cultural Reconstruction

By Rafia Zakaria

18 Nov 2020

ON Nov 2, 2020, a small ceremony was held at the consulate general of Pakistan in New York City. The occasion was an unusual one: a ceremonial handing over of 45 antiquities recovered by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The artefacts, most of which date from the Gandharan era, were smuggled out of Pakistan. The Department of Homeland Security — which, in past decades, has only concerned itself with catching terror suspects it alleged were Pakistani — had found them. The ceremony marked the official handover of the objects (valued at approximately $250,000) to Pakistan’s consul general in New York Ayesha Ali.

In her remarks, she noted that the repatriation was particularly important because Pakistan has recently been promoting cultural tourism and that the return of the objects would assist in attracting more cultural tourists to the country. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr, who happens to be a former diplomat and current prosecutor, responded by saying he would love to visit Pakistan once the pandemic is finally over.

To actually attract cultural tourists, Pakistan needs to develop the historical and archaeological facets of its history. This sort of development has not yet taken place. The repatriation of these recently looted antiquities would be a cause for celebration if it were known what would happen to these objects once they are returned to Pakistan.

Indeed, wondering what is going to happen to these artefacts from Gandhara raises the question of what Pakistan is doing with the antiquities that are already present in the country. After all, Pakistan has hardly any museum dedicated to its own history, let alone the history of the Buddhist era and the Gandhara civilisation that predated the advent of Islam.

This truth has a direct impact on the ability of Pakistanis to truly understand the role of the land they walk and breathe and live on.

One of the reasons for this paucity of museum heritage dedicated to national history is because no government has been able to solve the conflict between religious obscurantism and historical reconstruction. The narrow-minded antipathy towards everything and anything that existed in the region prior to the coming of Islam has meant the active destruction of objects that are thousands of years old and represent important bits of the past not just of Pakistani but also of human history.

This truth has a direct impact on both the possibility of cultural tourism in the country and the ability of Pakistanis to truly understand the role of the land they walk and breathe and live on in the larger panorama of human civilisation. In a tragic self-perpetuating cycle, the lack of historical consciousness means that there is no national plan to construct museums that provide venues for this history to be understood, and the inability to understand this history in turn means no one cares if such a venue is created. Instead, ancient objects are left to be bought and displayed in the homes of the ultra wealthy and well connected, or smuggled outside the country, or blown up by dynamite.

As vaccines for the novel coronavirus are developed, the world will inevitably experience a resurgence of cultural tourism. All those who have been cooped up at home will turn back to the world with even more zeal and enthusiasm.

If Pakistan is pursuing the goal of attracting cultural tourists with any seriousness, it must be able to offer a historical and cultural story that is cohesive and not stymied by extremism. The development of a museum, and of ground-breaking exhibits that are properly curated can become the basis of such a story. The world is not interested in the hang-ups of a country that is uncomfortable with its own history; it is even less interested in one that is afraid of or instrumental in erasing portions of that history.

Situated as it is on the Indus River, a fertile area rich with ancient heritage, Pakistan has all the potential to model itself as the cradle of the world’s oldest civilisations. It is tragic that the insecurities of obscurantists have made this story alien to its own citizens. The repatriation of antiquities, a movement that is gaining traction in recent years, is crucial if the deleterious effects of Western conquest are to be corrected. Pakistan’s distorted history is in no small way an effect of the divisions sown by the British that led to a fanaticism which threatens to erase everything that does not connect to its Islamic heritage. Erasing the destruction wrought by colonialism involves making the population secure enough in its identity that it does not feel threatened by the existence of a story that began and ended before the story of Pakistan’s creation and even before the arrival of Muslims on South Asian shores.

In the particular case of these antiquities that have been returned to Pakistan by the Americans, several questions remain. The government could announce where these antiquities will be kept, if Pakistani citizens will be able to see them and also whether they will be part of some larger project of cultural and historical reconstruction. As a matter of fact, it would be useful to know where the thousands of other objects from the Gandhara region are being stored and kept.

The consulate general in New York has done a commendable job in pursuing and then receiving the antiquities that have been returned. It is now the government at home that must reveal its plans, including those for attracting to Pakistan interested persons who want to learn more about the Gandhara civilisation. The rich history and archaeological wealth of Pakistan is an asset, but it is one that loses its value if it is not contextualised and presented as a narrative driven by historical truths.


Rafia Zakaria is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.



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