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Pakistan Press ( 10 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Violence against Women, Israeli-Saudi-Indian Engagement and American Carnage: New Age Islam's Selection, 10 December 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

10 December 2020

• Violence against Women: Orange the World

By Rizwana Naqvi

• Pakistan and Bangladesh

By Ikram Sehgal

• Pakistan-China-Iran Trilateral Cooperation

By Nawazish Ali

• Israeli-Saudi-Indian Engagement: Impact on Pak- Saudi Ties?-1

Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

• Recapturing Pakistan from Its Elites

By Daud Khan

• The Strategic Imperative Of Sustainable Peace In Afghanistan

By Ambassador G Rasool Baluch

• Pak-US Relations And The Nuclear Factor

By Durdana Najam

• The Real American Carnage

By S Qaisar Shareef


Violence against Women: Orange the world

By Rizwana Naqvi

December 10, 2020

Violence against women is rampant not only in Pakistan but around the world in various forms, be it domestic violence and abuse, sexual abuse and harassment, forced marriage, child marriage, human trafficking, cyber-bullying, acid attacks, female genital mutilation, etc. In fact, women face physical, psychological, and sexual violence in every sphere of life, whether they are at the workplace or on the street or in the market.

The ‘In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women: Report of the Secretary-General, 2006’, mandated by General Assembly resolution 58/185, states that “Violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations. It devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime – with the abuser usually someone known to her.”

It is a sad fact that gender-based violence whether in the home or the community is rooted in the global culture of gender inequality and discrimination, which not only violates the fundamental human rights of women and girls but also allows violence to occur with impunity. It is used as a tool to keep them under control.

Acceptance of violence as a social norm is also responsible for increasing incidents of violence against women. It is said that men who grow up seeing violence being perpetrated accept it as the norm and often resort to violence. But women now are not ready to accept it and are beginning to speak up. A scene in a Pakistani drama Kankar, aired some years back attempted to explain this possible root cause of marital abuse, where the young wife who is physically abused by her husband openly tells her mother-in-law that it is her fault as she silently accepted violence at the hands of her husband.

However, we need to understand that violence against women is not inevitable, but preventable. To end this cycle of violence, it is essential to change the attitudes that perpetuate, rationalise, and normalise violence, and deny women their right to safe living. Since men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of gender-based violence, their attitude needs to be changed.

It is heartening to know that the world has not accepted the situation and a lot is being done to raise awareness about violence against women and to mobilise efforts to end such practices. Women’s rights organisations have been, for long, raising their voices against women’s rights abuses. Though countries are taking measures to prevent such crimes, it is a global problem and requires global action.

And action is indeed being taken. On the one hand, there are legislations and UN conventions that call for action to curb violence against women, and on the other, there are awareness campaigns such as 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence that seeks to inspire action to end all forms of violence against women. The Campaign was launched in 1991 by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at its first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and is used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence (GBV).

The campaign runs between Nov 25 and Dec 10 every year; the dates chosen are significant as the starting day is the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the concluding day is the International Human Rights Day. The dates symbolically link violence against women and human rights and emphasises that such violence is a violation of human rights.

Campaigns such as this one highlight the issue, and create public awareness about the need to bring about changes to prevent it from happening at the local, national, regional, and global levels.

While Pakistan has made some progress in the right direction as several women-friendly laws have been passed by parliament that deal with various forms of gender-based violence including honour killing, rape, sexual harassment, acid attacks, forced marriage, etc a lot more needs to be done as the laws are not properly implemented and women are still subjected to discrimination and violence. The lower status of women in our society is also contributing to gender-based violence.

In light of the increasing cases of sexual abuse in the country, and public demand for legislation, the Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases has approved two anti-rape ordinances aimed at setting up special courts for sexual offences against women and children and introducing harsher punishments for convicts. According to reports, the two ordinances – the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 – provide mechanisms in the investigation and punishment of rape and sexual abuse against women and children. After final approval from the cabinet, they will be sent to the president to be promulgated and must be submitted to parliament for ratification within 90 days after being promulgated.

We have hope that something is being done to curb crimes of the worst nature against women and children. At the same time, care should be taken that the legislation does not remain on paper but is implemented in letter and spirit. At the same time, tighter implementation of other pro-women bills is the need of the hour to enable women the space they deserve in society. However, for results to show, awareness and a change in attitude is essential.


Pakistan and Bangladesh

By Ikram Sehgal

December 10, 2020

Fifty years should be a sufficiently long time to go beyond the recriminations, hurt and feeling of revenge that has been part of our history. Fuelled by discrimination of the worst kind grievous mistakes were made, culminating in the violence of 1971. While both countries have their problems with history writing, it is time to acknowledge that and to move on. At one time for a 25 year period during the 80’s and into the early 21 st century, the relations were well on the mend. The publication of the Hamoodur Rahman report, would be by itself a major step in the rapprochement process.

The resumption of the 1971 ‘war crimes’ trials, sent a number of people siding with Pakistan during the crisis to the gallows, this has poisoned the relations between our countries. The Awami League must critically examine not only their own conduct as a majority political party but all those of Bengali origin in then East Pakistan. My book 'Blood over different shades of green" co-authored by Dr Bettina Robotka did not please some in either Pakistan or Bangladesh. So be it. However, many more congratulated us for being brutally frank in stating many facts hitherto conveniently overlooked. With a Punjabi father and a Bengali mother who could be more objective than me?

Resolution of the pending problems include the repatriation of stranded Pakistanis or the full citizenship of them in BD, helping not only in the political rapprochement but an unfinished business giving relief to the unfortunate residuals of the events of 50 years ago through no fault of their own. In sharp contrast to her earlier tenure our relations with BD have turned rather hostile since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's election in 2009. India’s instigation to conduct the war crime trials brought anger and bitterness into the relations.

Take the example of the German-French rapprochement. France and Germany are the two leading European economies today, why? For over a century both countries and nations regarded each other as archenemies. Part of the rivalry was political, part was territorial and each war was fought for the land or the ‘honour’, this badly damaged the economies and cost thousands of people’s lives. Above all the animosity renewed a yoke to economic programme. The latest quarrel went from the 19 th century till 1945 when Germany was finally defeated. France became one of the occupying forces to make sure German militarism would not reappear. But for a change they avoided a narrative embedded in the Versailles Treaty after World War 1 and which directly led to World War. This changed dramatically by the Elysée Treaty signed on 22 January 1963 by France and the Federal Republic of Germany. Following several decades of rivalries and conflicts, Germany and France sent a message of reconciliation and laid the groundwork for close bilateral cooperation to support European integration. The signatories considered it important that the Treaty not simply be a document between Heads of State but that it involve citizens so they could learn to get to know one another, speak to one another and appreciate one another. This Treaty brought the two peoples much closer together, why should something on these lines be impossible in our region?

BD has started to develop strained relation with India over the new citizenship laws, Indian PM Modi has declared almost 2 million Muslim Bengalis living in Assam, as "aliens" and threatened their deportation into Bangladesh

During his visit to Bangladesh in 2002 Gen Musharraf, the first Pakistani army ruler to visit Bangladesh since the independence of this country in 1971, paid homage at the National Martyrs' Memorial, near Dhaka, describing the events of 1971 'unfortunate' and the excesses 'regrettable'. Bangladesh welcomed visiting Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's statement of regret over 'excesses' during its liberation war. A few years before that I accompanied the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to Dhaka and to the same memorial at Savar.

As we stood silently commemorating the dead, the GOC of the Infantry Division at Savar came and saluted me, saying “I am from your unit, Sir!" That gesture was very telling and very symbolic. During 1971 there were three and a half underequipped Pakistan Infantry Divisions in then East Pakistan, with only one depleted armour regiment (detachments detached all over) at Rangpur. Today there are nine Bangladesh infantry divisions (and a tenth coming up in Barisal), most with integral medium tank regiments, and an armoured brigade at Bogra, my mother’s hometown. If Pakistan had this ORBAT in 1971, with Indian lines of communications and major cities with few miles of the border, can you imagine what the result would have been? One can fantasize about it but the Bangladesh ORBAT today 2020 is a reality. Pakistanis should be proud as to what Bangladesh has achieved economically. Freeing the economy military rulers Gens Ziaur Rahman and Ershad in their turn “let a hundred flowers bloom”, Shaikh Hasina has now taken the economy to extraordinary heights in the last decade, a remarkable achievement. As far back as March 1988, to quote "The Economies of Togetherness" I had written "Disparate economies have a natural propensity to blend, particularly in this world of hard economic choices. Bilateral relationships between nations are apt to be increasingly bound by commerce, ties which are far more pragmatic and lasting rather than those based on ideological symmetry. What brings nations together are common interests, starting with religion, culture language etc but the glue that binds them together must be economic. Every nation ultimately falls back on its own national interests but it is trade that gives an opportunity to “give and take”. To build our relations realistically we must readjust our “demands” to fit the other’s “supply” potential." Unquote To quote from my 2002 article "Two Countries One Nation", Pakistan and Bangladesh must have free trade without any tariffs. Pakistan can export to Bangladesh raw cotton, cotton textiles, fertilizers, Basmati rice, irrigation pumps, railway wagons, ocean-going vessels, sugar mills, cement plants, fruits etc and a whole range of consumer items. Bangladesh can export to Pakistan, raw jute, jute goods, tea, jute machinery spares, jute batching oil, fruit, etc. Exporting to each other will take the pressure of exporting to other countries, as demand will exceed supplies, moreover the masses will benefit from having competitive prices. Direct free trade is the future of these two countries" Unquote. One of my closest friends, Maj Abdul Mannan, is a tremendous entrepreneur. His ventures in garments include factories not only in Bangladesh but far away locations like Cambodia, Madagascar, etc (I was privileged visiting his factory in Phnom Penh). He has always given preference to buying textiles from Pakistan. For many years in the past Bangladeshi military officials were trained in Pakistan. While one believes this was revived by Shaikh Hasina despite strong Indian objections for the last few years there was a near complete absence of people-to-people contact. For progress in relations between the two countries, drastic measures include the Visa system being abolished and all mutual tariff barriers removed, allowing free movement as was done pre-1971.

To quote my article of March 26, 1990, "The AESSA Concept, "The term Bangladesh literally means land of the Bengalis, Muslims and Hindus included.

Given the major ports of Calcutta, Chalna and Chittagong, this area by itself can exist as an effervescent economic region without facing chronic shortages of food and other necessities. India is aware of an important geo-political home truth, BD’s pivotal economic location is extraordinary. However, looking at historical and ethnic realities existing in the area, one finds that there exist many nation-states, West Bengal, Bangladesh, Gorkhaland, Sikkim, Bhutan, Meghalaya, Bodoland, Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura, etc, all fiercely independent in their outlook. Even the Hindu Kingdom of Nepal would cease to be endlessly land-locked by India (geographically and economically). More than anything else, India’s undue interference has contributed to increasing the poverty and sufferings of the Bangladeshi people. A possible “Association of Eastern States of South Asia”, (the AESSA concept) is comprising economic (if not political) confederation of almost 500 (???) million people.

Instead of being ruled by remote control from New Delhi, these are effective geographical and economic units that can have a form of a Common Market without anybody’s hegemony, Bangladesh will be the dominant economic and sovereign entity in this region." Unquote.

In July Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call to his counterpart in Dhaka Shaikh Hasina made a welcome new beginning. In the follow-up by Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Dhaka, who by all reports is held in great esteem (coincidentally so is the present High Commissioner for Bangladesh in Pakistan), called on the Bangladesh Prime Minister. The "meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, with both sides agreeing to further strengthen the existing fraternal relations". Incidentally extraordinary diplomats give arise to extraordinary opportunity to solidify mutual relations. BD has started to develop strained relation with India over the new citizenship laws, Indian PM Modi has declared almost 2 million Muslim Bengalis living in Assam, etc as "aliens" and threatened their deportation into Bangladesh. The sharpening Indo-Chinese problems could be another reason with BD preferring to be part of Chinese BRI investments rather than standing alone in the fight with India for water. While BD’s relation with India is BD’s prerogative, and Pakistan should not get involved in any manner whatsoever, similarly Pakistan-BD relationship cannot remain hostage to India’s whims and caprices to foster their ambitions of regional Hindu hegemony.

The post-Covid world has devastated our economies, we need to find out-of- the box solutions for recovery. With the global and the regional power balances changing, new options for openings are available for both Pakistan and BD to use all the opportunities arising. Re-forging a diplomatic and economic alliance between our two countries could be a priority


Pakistan-China-Iran Trilateral Cooperation

By Nawazish Ali

December 10, 2020

“Economy and environment are the same thing. That is the rule of nature”. (Mollie Beattie) The significance of financial resources is central to the possibility of economic collaboration among various countries all around the globe. However, the commercial linkages in state-to-state relations cannot be entirely independent of political and strategic environment of the region in particular and the world in broad-spectrum. Respective national interests may not always align when more

than one country are involved and economic cooperation that has the potential to create a win-win situation for all the parties involved should not be neglected.

China’s rise, Iran’s attempted economic isolation by the USA and Pakistan’s crucial geostrategic location are all factors that have the capacity to bring these three countries in sync. China and Pakistan have a long history of deep friendship. The evolving China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has further created prospects for adjacent regional countries to benefit from this connectivity.

The challenges to these initiatives are many as the security situation in the region has always remained worrying. Terrorism, religious extremism, sectarian clashes and interference of extra-regional actors are only a few challenges that stand in the way of this nexus. The internal challenges of political instability and socio-economic factors can also affect this relationship adversely. However, if the leadership, governments’ policies and public opinion in these three countries remain steadfast in support of this trilateral cooperation, there is no doubt, the success of this interconnection would change the economic and regional balance of Asia forever.

Iran is pivotal to the realization of China’s trans- continental, infrastructure-focused One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in ways that Saudi Arabia is not

China’s economic rise, its status as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), its widespread global influence and connectivity initiatives make it the next world power in making as a rival to the USA. South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East are regions that occupy Centre stage in world businesses. Their cultural diversity, natural resources, maritime routes, geography and conflicts have wide ranging implications even for the day-to-day affairs of almost all countries worldwide. With such adjacent allies, Pakistan can surely achieve prominent stature in the regional and global arena.

Pakistan has been facing challenges to its national security due to the turbulent situation in Afghanistan since 1979. Iran and China also have serious security and economic concerns tied up at fag-end of global war on terror. Iran and Pakistan have not seen eye to eye on the solution to Afghan war in the past as Iran backed the Northern Alliance after the Taliban seized power in 1996 whereas Pakistan, on the other hand, recognised the Taliban government in Afghanistan. China has high stakes in Afghanistan as it seeks to link it to its grand initiative of the Belt and Road (BRI). The Chinese access to Central Asian states and their oil resources is thwarted by the constant state of turmoil in Afghanistan not to mention the fear of spillover from northern Afghanistan into Xinjiang.

The peaceful Afghanistan is vital and stays a point of unification for these three countries, if they wish to effectively counter the Indo-US dominance in South Asia.

They need to make sure that US withdrawal from Afghanistan should not plunge the AfPak region into another civil war that would certainly upset the regional peace and any chances of further trilateral cooperation among these three countries. The significant role recently played by Pakistan in the Afghan peace process provides an opening for cooperation by Iran and China as their regional interests of keeping peace in Afghanistan align perfectly with those of Pakistan.

Iran and India enjoy a friendly relationship as the two have shared a cultural and linguistic affinity for a long time and further warmed up to each other when they signed a significant defence agreement in the year 2002. Following that, the two have engaged in several trade contracts, the most prominent of which has been the Chahbahar Free Trade Agreement. In response to the launch of Gwadar port, as the sign of friendship between China and Pakistan, India pledged to assist Iran in expediting construction of Chahbahar port.

Iran is pivotal to the realization of China’s trans-continental, infrastructure- focused One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in ways that Saudi Arabia is not.

Iran’s oil and gas reserves, fourth and second largest in the world, spell out a boon for China’s exponentially rising energy needs. Out of the three markets that Iran’s massive piped gas reserves can be sold to, the closest and most accessible is China.

Gwadar is a deep-sea port with harbouring potential manifold that of the size of Chahbahar, which is only feasible for a transit trade arrangement via Afghanistan.

Iran has quite tactfully declared Chahbahar a ‘sister port’ to Gwadar and managed to keep the option for cooperation with China open for all future ventures. Hence, it is evident from the Iranian stance that it wishes to bring its maximum resources to the CPEC for all practical purposes. Having stable economic cooperation with Pakistan, Iran can quite easily extend it further to China.

China and Iran also reiterated their deep strategic cooperation ahead of the expected Saudi investment in Pakistan, which means that China does not stand opposed to either Saudi or the Iranian participation in the upcoming CPEC projects. Rather it provides China more avenues of participation and cooperation in the Middle East and Gulf region. China as a persuasive force in the SCO will make it easier for Pakistan to link energy corridors and, if Iran’s bid to join the SCO is also accepted, it will be another economic opportunity for the nexus among these three countries.

China as a rising economic power is making linkages worldwide and is offering monetary and commercial opportunities for developing countries with resources to join the wave of economic harmony. A potent economic force is expected to emerge in the foreseeable future having an anti-American agenda at heart.

However, it will take serious concerted efforts from the regional players to resolve mutual differences and be determined to cooperate on economic fronts with one another to ensure regional harmony and prosperity. There are many avenues for cooperation and a huge amount of untapped potential lies in this trilateral collaboration that needs to be utilized to the maximum. Pakistan’s significant geographical location stays central to this new emerging bloc.


Israeli-Saudi-Indian Engagement: Impact On Pak- Saudi Ties?-1

Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

December 9, 2020

Much has been reported in both the local and international Media about the covert and overt diplomatic interaction between the Israeli-Saudi officials to normalize the realtions—paving the way for a genuine concern for Pakistan. Needless to say, despite having had a history of their proverbial relations, the two brotherly Islamic countries- Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have recently undergone to experience some asymmetric dynamics/ cross-currents in their relationship. Though a policy statement given by the Saudi FM Faisal Bin Farhan (on August 20) emphasizing that ‘’no deal with Israel without peace for Palestinians’’ has somehow dispelled the confusion arising in the mind of Muslim Ummah about Israel-Saudi rapprochement, a feeling of discomfiture still prevails in Pakistan regarding Saudi Arabia’s growing ties with both Israel and India-the two known foes of Islam and Muslims. To win the hearts and minds of the Pakistanis, Riyadh needs to revive the core of its traditional ties with Pakistan.

As manifested by the current deal concluded between the United Arab Emirates and Israel that today Muslim word faces a challenge of unity among its ranks and files

History is witness to the fact that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have had long maintained a strong, strategic relationship. The two brotherly states have worked within the framework of several bilateral, regional and global forums, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The crux of Saudi Arabia's cooperation remained financial while the nuclear- armed Pakistan role has been to support on the security front. The former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal once described relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as “probably one of the closest relationships in the world between

any two countries” As the custodian of the Two Holy sites in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia maintained a legacy of its

sustainable relations with Pakistan's political and military. In return, Pakistan has been helping the Saudi government in maintaining iron-clad security of the two Holy sites for decades. Islamabad has also cooperated closely with Saudi Arabia to uplift its global image. The Saudis have also been allowed to spread their extremist Wahhabi version of Islam in Pakistan through a vast network of mosques and seminaries. During the Cold war period, the relations between the two states reached its zenith, particularly, the collaboration the two sides cemented during the Afghan Jihad-1979-89. Though the Iranian revolution inspired the Shia groups, the Saudi-Pakistani alliance in Afghanistan and General Zia’s Islamisation policies did play the same role for Sunni groups.

In the post 9/11 phase, the Taliban factor gained pivotal consideration for Riyadh because of two obvious reasons. Firstly, Iran might have developed its own ties with the Afghan Taliban; secondly, high-level talks were held with the Taliban in Qatar, with which Riyadh remains at a standoff. Furthermore, in the post –Musharraf era, the Iranian and the Chinese factors also remain instrumental in visualizing the relations between Riyadh and Islamabad as similarly for us the Pakistanis Saudi ties with Israel and India remain the source of genuine concerns.

During MBS’ visit to Pakistan in February 2019, the crown prince told Prime Minister Imran Khan: “Consider me an ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia. “The fact remains that Prime Minister Imran Khan hasn’t visited any other country more than Saudi Arabia, and similarly the crown prince himself visited Pakistan with a large delegation.” Needless to say, Islamabad-Riyadh always enjoyed historic and diverse relations despite recurring changes in Pakistan’s political landscape. And of course, the relationship grew closer amid the crown prince visit to Pakistan, during which he signed $20 billion in memorandums of understanding, and was given a no-expense- spared, red-carpet welcome by both Imran Khan and the chief of army staff.

And yet undeniably, the relations between Islamabad and Riyadh have largely endured despite recent hiccups such as when Prime Minister Khan had to cancel his participation in the Kuala Lumpur summit late last year under Saudi pressure. That meeting, attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, was seen by Riyadh as a challenge to the OIC, which is headquartered in Jeddah.

Recently, Pakistan FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi took a principal stand while reminding our Saudi brothers that if the KSA will not call the OIC meeting on India’s illegal revocation of the Kashmir status, Islamabad would fulfil this moral responsibility. By any diplomatic yardstick, the comments of Pakistan Foreign Minister should have not been taken out of context. It needs no mentioning that for decades, the Saudi-Pakistani relations have been strong in multiple dimensions. Riyadh has been among Pakistan’s strongest supporters on the Kashmir issue and the two have been allies for decades in the Afghan conflict Saudi Arabia is also the source of 50 percent of Pakistan’s oil imports and the two countries have strong defence ties too. Saudi Arabia is also a major source of financial support for Pakistan. Indeed, rarely has Pakistan paid back these loans.

Needless to say, the Saudi -backed UAE -Israel deal– both in form and substance– does not fulfil the credo of the OIC Charter: ‘’…to adhere our commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter, the present Charter and International Law; o endeavour to work for revitalizing Islam’s pioneering role in the world while ensuring sustainable development, progress and prosperity for the peoples of Member States; to enhance and strengthen the bond of unity and solidarity among the Muslim peoples and Member States; to respect, safeguard and defend the national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all Member States…’’ Obviously, the Arabs’ espoused rapprochement with Israel without settling the question of the simmering Palestinian issue (the right to self-determination) has not only caused perturbation in Pakistan but also in the Muslim Ummah. By no means, Pakistan can leave the Palestinian question of freedom at the helm of the Israeli government.

On the premise of Pakistan foreign relations with the Muslim states, Pakistan knits its cordial relations with Turkey, Iran and Malaysia-a factor that might have been irritating the Saudis. While for we the Pakistanis, Riyadh’s unflinching tilt –towards both Israel and India –irritates us. But in diplomacy, these asymmetric challenges are amicably settled. But Saudis must realise that the Kashmir and the Palestinian issues are the bloodlines of Pakistan’s foreign policy. By no means, Islamabad can downplay its role in galvanizing these issues on the global level. Pakistan-China common stand on Kashmir endorses this objective. The Palestinians rightly argue that normalization with Israel means– opening the door wide to tamper with the security and capabilities of our countries and peoples to serve its settlement colonial project, "the Greater Israel," especially since it has the ability to do so with its own capabilities or open American support.

As manifested by the current deal concluded between the United Arab Emirates and Israel that today Muslim word faces a challenge of unity among its ranks and files. A general perception anchored in the Muslim world holds that the said deal could have not been possible without a Saudi-backing. In this regard, both Riyadh and Islamabad have to save the legacy of their historic relationship.

To be continued


Recapturing Pakistan From Its Elites

By Daud Khan

December 07, 2020

It is a matter of continuing debate about why Pakistan has been underperforming in relation to other Asian countries. In our opinion, the key reason is our inability to implement the reforms and changes needed in the face of a dynamic and fast evolving national, regional and international context. Reforms and changes that would take us towards a more market-oriented and internationally competitive economy; where public resources are spent on ensuring essential infrastructure and public goods, services such as health and education for all, and on safety nets to the poor and vulnerable; and where laws and regulations safeguard basic human and social rights, equitable access to national resources, and protection for property and investments — both national and international.

This inaction is not due to any lack of knowledge about what needs to be done. There is plenty of regional and international experience stretching back several decades about what works and what does not. Clearly, not all successful experiences from other countries are applicable to Pakistan. Experience also shows that a good reform is not a blueprint set in stone that can be inexorably rolled out over a number of years. Rather, it is a process requiring constant oversight, evaluation, updating and frequent mid-course corrections. These experiences have been studied by Pakistani and international thinkers, and based on this shelves full of strategies and policies prepared by the best available experts. These spell out very well the major reforms and investments needed, along with processes and procedures that would ensure the necessary oversight and flexibility. Many of these policies, strategies and programmes have gone through a rigorous consultation process with stakeholders and several have been “approved” by the different levels of government. Sadly, despite the fact that we know what to do, very little actually gets done. Our problem is not of knowledge but of implementation.

So what is the problem? In our view the inability to move forward has much to do with “elite capture” — a political economy term used to describe a situation where rich and powerful elites hold the reins of power and do not allow any change that would threaten their wealth and control. We have a sugar mafia that keeps out cheap imports and effectively forces us to produce our own sugar, an expensive and environmentally harmful crop for Pakistan; a water-tanker mafia which does not allow improvements in the piped water supply in cities such as Karachi; and a land mafia that grabs plots set aside for parks, public amenities or environmental purposes. The list goes on and on. Each situation creates its own mafia and the result is total inaction on many fronts.

The situation is currently so bad that we cannot even deal with the most urgent and glaring of problems. These include closing down or selling off loss-making state-owned enterprises which are a massive and continuous drain on scarce public money; getting rid of inefficient subsidies such as the wheat procurement programme; or improving the quality of projects in our annual development plans where most investments of public money cater to the needs of bigwigs or to prop up inefficient government bureaucracies.

This situation is not unique to Pakistan. Time and time again, countries have ended up in a situation of economic stagnation and glaring inequality where social tensions rise rapidly. In many cases these have exploded into protests, revolutionary movements and civil war. These turbulent movements have often been marked turning points in history, leading to new developmental pathways. But such wrenching changes come at a high cost. While movements such as the French, the Russian and Chinese revolutions did lead to epochal changes, but only after years of social and political turmoil. More recently the experience of the Arab Spring shows how the outcome of such movements is not pre-determined and can lead to disillusionment and anger.

In Pakistan, we have already seen the consequences of unequal access to resources and distorted growth. During the 1950s and 1960s we followed a highly skewed trajectory of growth with certain regions and social classes left behind. All this was justified with phrases such as “we cannot redistribute poverty”, “first growth then equity” and “functional inequality”. The consequence was the growth of Bhutto-ism (I hesitate to call it socialism), the nationalisation and subsequent mismanagement of banks, industries and schools, and the breakup of the country. These events set us back a decade if not more.

In electing PTI, the people of Pakistan voted for change. PTI’s appeal to voters, especially young ones, was that it would reform a system that was inefficient and unjust. To a large extent it has lost its way. The realities of managing power, the difficult compromises made with electables who demanded their pound of flesh, and the ongoing problems of putting together a competent team continue to plague the government.

Unfortunately the alternative is hardly attractive. The new leaders of the PML-N and the PPP are working very hard to distance themselves from their predecessors and pose as champions of reform and change. However, during their tenure they did little to address underlying issues. On the contrary, they and their cronies were probably major beneficiaries of all that was going on. It is unlikely that the new generation has changed their colours. For example, recently the government took some steps to reduce the cost on the exchequer of the Pakistan Steel Mill which has produced nothing in years yet costs the taxpayer billions. The government finally decided to lay off about half the workers giving them generous severance packages. However, instead of endorsing the move, or at least keeping silent, Bilawal Bhutto termed it economic murder and promised to return each and every one back to work!!

Is there hope then? The government is facing multiple crises including galloping food inflation, rising poverty and a second round of the Covid-19 crisis. Although sad and unfortunate, these crises have also created political space for some bold actions. This is similar in some sense to the balance of payments crisis of a couple of years back when the government was forced to take on the IMF package, and with it a series of much-needed reforms. Will the PTI government also take this opportunity? Can it move on at least some of the changes and reforms that have been banished to the back burner for decades?


The Strategic imperative of Sustainable Peace in Afghanistan

By Ambassador G Rasool Baluch

December 8, 2020

The long awaited maiden visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Afghanistan is significant in terms of timing and outcome. In the past two years Pakistan played the role of an "Strategic Facilitator" in bringing rapprochement between Taliban and The U.S .The Taliban ; Once termed as terrorists and a threat to international peace in general and to the peace and stability of Afghanistan have emerged as legitimate interlocutors and major stakeholders in the future dispensation in Afghanistan . While Taliban’s Diplomatic trench was located in Qatar; from where they launched their diplomatic campaign; nonetheless it is recognized by all stakeholders that without the strategic diplomatic support of Pakistan the US – Taliban dialogue was almost impossible The cardinal positive role played by Pakistan in the current Afghan peace process has been acknowledged not only by the US ,but the world at large .

The premier 's visit was also significant in terms of optics as well as content. The Prime Minister was accompanied by his civilian setup which included his Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Mr Mohammad Sadiq the former Ambassador to Afghanistan and now special envoy of the PM on Afghanistan . PM Imran Khan was not overshadowed by some big Military Brass as was the practice in the past . In terms of the content the two countries jointly issued a document titled 'Shared vision between Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan to support peace and stability in both countries and the wider region.' As per the document the two sides affirmed that both countries "should look towards a future relationship built on trust, aiming to achieve tangible outcomes from that relationship".

Afghanistan and Pakistan are two intertwined brothers and the two will have to survive the vicissitudes of the current history as they have done it in the past

Some of the core elements of the shared vision that officials agreed for Afghanistan and Pakistan include:

● That Afghanistan and Pakistan should enjoy a "special relationship" founded on predictability, transparency, mutual and full respect for one another's sovereignty, and on expanding and furthering their mutual interests through state-to-state mechanisms.

● That Afghanistan's posture of "multi-alignment" with other countries, pursuing a number of friendly relationships, "presents a real opportunity for the two countries to exploit and conversely presents no threat".

● That neither country's territory should be used for "malicious purposes" against the other's territory, and that both countries should work together to "identify and tackle enemies of peace".

● That regional connectivity should be broadened and deepened, with an emphasis on trade, free movement of people, goods and services, opening of trade and customs posts, and transport and energy infrastructure development, aiming for regional development dividends greater than what each country might expect to achieve alone

● That a safe, time-bound and dignified return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan would help the two countries address the humanitarian and socio-economic challenges associated with population displacement.

The document issued by the Foreign Office also stated that Afghan and Pakistani representatives agreed that timely progress to meet the 'shared vision' would require "close coordination, a structured dialogue, and willingness to take difficult and courageous decisions".

They agreed to take rapid action on three main strands of activity:

● By December 15, 2020: Re-energising joint intelligence services-led work on analysing, mapping and cooperating against "enemies of peace and those undermining the peace process".

● By January 1, 2021: A joint proposal for refugees' return; elevating and intensifying treatment of this issue, to the point where credible and progressive action can start to be taken.

● By January 1, 2021: A joint proposal to further regional connectivity, in a way that strengthens both Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the wider region.

● The joint vision is a very creative document that will require politicalcommitment of all stakeholders in Pakistan . However , there some pitfalls that need to be avoided by the two countries which include. In order to achieve the lofty objectives of the” shared vision” some visible and invisible pitfalls have to be avoided . The two countries should undertake concert steps so that their respective territories do not become safe haven for hostile non-state actors and terrorist outfits. Pakistan will have to engage all Afghan factions and avoid giving an impression of any preferred group/faction. Pakistan will have to make sure that the hostile regional countries especially India,who potentially could play the role of an spoiler are kept under check in Afghanistan . A well calibrated public diplomacy has to be undertaken to neutralize anti Pakistan propaganda by hostile elements within Afghanistan.

The future Sustainable Peace Architecture in Afghanistan has to be development driven and should contain a major international political and economic stake.

Afghanistan should be integrated into China’s OBOR Initiative. Pakistan in collaboration with China should initiate Joint Connectivity projects under OBOR.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are two intertwined brothers and the two will have to survive the vicissitudes of the current history as they have done it in the past. Pakistan in collaboration with Afghanistan and other international stakeholders should embark on a grand global effort of rebuilding the war ravaged country . Investing in Peace in Afghanistan today is indeed an investment in sustainable peace for tomorrow in Afghan , the Region and the world at large.


Pak-US Relations And The Nuclear Factor

By Durdana Najam

December 10, 2020

The foundation for America’s “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific was laid when Richard Nixon became the president of the United States. It demanded a new beginning in the US-China relationship for which the US reached out to Pakistan. For the following two years, Pakistan played the role of a messenger between Nixon and Chairman Mao. Pakistan facilitated a secret visit of secretary of state Henry Kissinger to China on July 9, 1971, and was rewarded for this diplomatic service with a temporary relaxation on arms sales ban, which was imposed in 1965. As a result, Iran and Jordan were given a green signal to assist Pakistan militarily. It was not until the House Foreign Affairs Committee took notice of this violation that Nixon announced suspension of all aids and conditioned its restoration to the resolution of the political issues in East Pakistan. This did not however stop the Nixon administration from releasing $24 million worth of military equipment that had been blocked since 1971. The 1967 arms supply policy was also reinstated.

In the meantime, prime minister Bhutto, wary of the duplicitous and inconsistent US role in the 1971 war and India’s direct intervention in the creation of Bangladesh, had propelled Pakistan on the path of developing nuclear weapons for national security. Though after Nixon’s resignation in August 1974, his successor president Ford had lifted the arm sales ban on Pakistan, it did little to normalise the relations that had become exceedingly sour because of Bhutto’s refusal to discontinue or suspend Pakistan’s journey to nuclearisation. The situation aggravated when Kissinger, during his visit to India in October 1974, described it as the ‘pre-eminent power’ in the region.

President Jimmy Carter kept the pressure high on Pakistan and to dwarf its image he marked India as the potential regional power in the revised US-South Asia foreign policy. To reinforce this policy, Carter made a visit to India on January 1, 1978, and, unlike his predecessors, did not stop in Pakistan. General Ziaul Haq, who was also the president of the country, following in the footsteps of Bhutto, refused to bend to the US threat and accepted sanctions on economic aid.

While the US-Pakistan relationship floundered because of nuclear-related issues, the India-US relationship strengthened for the same reason. Instead of punishing New Delhi for exploding the nuclear device, the US was providing enriched-uranium fuel to India for nuclear power reactors at Tarapur, near Bombay. Matters became worse when an interagency group in the US led by arms-control expert Gerard Smith told The New York Times that the US had an option to attack Pakistan’s nuclear facility in Kahuta.

In October 1979, Agha Shahi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, went to the US to try and break the deadlock. His counterpart, secretary of state Cyrus Roberts Vance laid down three conditions for the continuation of any talk: First, that Pakistan would not transfer nuclear technology to other countries. Second, that it will open its nuclear facilities to international inspection. Third, that it would not test a nuclear device. Pakistan agreed to comply with only the first condition. Shahi made it clear that unless India opened its nuclear facilities to inspection, Pakistan would not comply with the request.

With the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the US-Pakistan relations bounced back to normalisation. Carter called Zia and revisited the 1959 bilateral security agreement to thwart Communist aggression and offered to bolster Pakistan’s security. Zbigniew Brzezinski, president Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, is reported to have said: “Circumstance required the United States to set aside concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear programme, at least temporarily.”

The war began and the US was okay with Pakistan’s assurance that its nuclear programmes would not embarrass the former. To the experts the assurance was a tacit agreement that even if Pakistan made the bomb, it would not explode it. Nevertheless, to assuage congressional pressure to keep a check on Pakistan’s nuclear-related activities, president Reagan agreed to the Pressler Amendment. The bill suggested that Pakistan would not be provided any military or technological equipment unless the American president certified that Pakistan did not “possess” a nuclear explosive device and that the assistance provided by the US would “reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess a nuclear explosive device”. The catch was in the term “possession” that was left open to wild interpretation and was dependent on the intelligence report, which at that point of time did not ‘reveal’ that Pakistan’s nuclear-related activities were progressing because of US assistance. The bill hence favoured the continuation of military and economic assistance and Pakistan received $4 billion in aid in 1986.

The assessment began to change as the war drew closer to an end. Pakistan was told that: “With the departure of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the winding down of the Cold War the policy dynamic on the nuclear issue had changed.” The apparently toothless bill would soon become Pakistan’s nemesis with sanctions imposed on it for clandestinely running the nuclear explosive programme.

Since the amendment came on the heels of the Afghan war’s end, it brought into spotlight the ‘disposability’ factor that relates to the US behaviour of abandoning Pakistan after ‘using’ it for achieving its foreign policy objectives. The duplicity had once again corroborated a general belief that the US uses a fickle-minded approach in its relations with Pakistan.

For all its efforts, however, the US could not bring either India or Pakistan to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and could do little to prevent both countries from testing nuclear devices in May 1998. In a typical reaction, the US condemned Pakistan but accepted India’s stance as a natural deterrent against China. It would not be wrong to say that America’s duplicitous and India-centric nuclear policy in South Asia has plunged the region into an arms race.


The Real American Carnage

By S Qaisar Shareef

December 10, 2020

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” With these words on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Trump had come from a business background and had been a reality TV star. His populist campaign – anti-immigrant, hateful of Muslims and other minorities – attracted a devoted following among whites. His base soon consisted of people from rural states, white Christian evangelicals and others who felt left behind in the new globalized world.

Expectations were that this ultra-wealthy person, not known for his largesse towards the less fortunate, will somehow fend for the masses. Four years later, as voters have pushed him out of office, the country lies in shambles. A global pandemic has ravaged the country, made worse by Trump’s inept handling. The economy is hurting badly with over 10 million unemployed. Even as other countries have started to come out of the health crisis, the US is sinking deeper into it.

About 15 million Americans have been infected, with almost 200,000 getting infected every day. The number of deaths from Covid-19 is approaching 300,000, the highest in the world.

To make matters worse, Trump continues to contest the results of the recently concluded elections in the face of all facts. More than 50 lawsuits launched by him, contesting election results, have been dismissed by courts. Yet he continues to insist the election was rigged.

Using these claims, he has continued to ask his supporters for donations, raising over $200 million since the election. There is little doubt Trump will be out of office on January 20 when Joe Biden is sworn in. What remains to be seen is exactly where Trump will take his supporters on the back of blatant lies about the authenticity of the election results. Grave harm is being done to the country and to the norms of democracy. Such blatant lying and indecency has not been seen from a president in recent times.

Beyond domestic affairs, Trump's foreign policy ventures are also a disaster. His policy of maximum pressure on Iran has pushed that country to speed up production of fissile material, making it much harder for the incoming Biden administration to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. The Trump administration has capitulated to every whim of the right-wing Israeli administration of Benjamin Netanyahu, making resolution of the Palestinian conflict even harder. Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea has yielded no results except elevating the stature of dictator Kim Jong Un.

One of the major initiatives by the Obama administration to curtail China's economic influence was to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This tediously negotiated alliance, comprising 40 percent of global GDP, had strategically excluded China. Trump promptly exited this treaty. Rejoining the TPP now will be near impossible for the US. In addition, China has concluded a multilateral treaty of its own with Asian nations called the RCEP, excluding the US of course.

Donald Trump will be the first president in a century or more who will leave office with three million fewer Americans employed than at the beginning of his term. He added over $7 trillion to the government deficit, with not much to show for it. Except, the wealthy got much wealthier – by the generous tax cuts given to the highest earners in 2017, and by the support provided by the Federal Reserve Bank to the stock market.

Sadly, “the forgotten men and women” of whom Trump spoke on his first day in office, are now seeing carnage like never before.



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