New Age Islam Edit Bureau
29 August 2017
By Zaigham Khan
The Real Game Begins
By Syed Talat Hussain
Pakistan’s Strategic Mess
By Obed Pasha
Stereotypical Portrayal Of Women In
By Shagufta Gul
Modern Day Colonialism
By Abrahim Shah
A Human Rights Evaluation
By Hammad Asif
Key Takeaways from Census Results
By Hasaan Khawar
Why US Sanctions Will Not Work This
By Qamar Cheema
Donald Trump’s Flawed Foreign Policy
By Munir Ahmed
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
August 28, 2017
Pakistan knows well how to deal with the
US. What it does not know is how to deal with itself, particularly while
dealing with the US. It has been a complex relationship all along. Pakistan
benefitted immensely from the US friendship; it fought its proxy wars and, when
needed, defied the superpower to guard its interests, as happened in the case
of the nuclear programme and relations with China. The worst legacy of
Pakistan’s relationship with the US is the self-inflicted wounds. Ironically,
even as the nature of these relations is changing, the self-harm may continue.
Perceiving an existential threat from
India, Pakistan became a close US ally soon after its creation. The embrace
became tight during the height of the cold war in the 1960s. Under Ayub’s
dictatorship Pakistan went through the green revolution and an unprecedented
economic growth, thanks to American technical and financial support. American
military hardware also enabled Pakistan to fight two wars.
However, during this period, Pakistan
turned into an authoritarian state and lost its dream of turning into a modern
democracy. While iron chains were the reward for politics, as Shorish Kashmiri
put it, left-leaning scholars, intellectual and political activists had the
worst deal. Their activities were restricted, their publications banned and
many found their way to the notorious prison at Lahore’s historic fort. Hassan
Nasir, the charismatic young secretary general of the banned Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP), was one such leader who was put
in a cell in the Lahore Fort and brutally tortured till he died in 1960.
The American-sponsored dictatorship in Pakistan also alienated its own people
in East Pakistan, resulting in a military defeat and dismemberment of the
The best and worst period of Pakistan’s
relations with the US started after the Soviet Union rolled its tanks into
Afghanistan in 1979. The US found an eager partner in another military
dictator, Ziaul Haq, aching to fight the CIA’s war in Afghanistan. The Afghan
war gave Zia strength, legitimacy and much-needed military and economic
assistance. It also enabled Pakistan to deal with a country that had promoted
secessionism for three decades.
The Afghan jihad did not go wrong in
Afghanistan; it went wrong in Pakistan. Remember, Afghans consider ‘their
victory’ in this war a great national achievement and have even set up museums
to celebrate their accomplishment. (Unfortunately, there are no statues of
General Zia, Hamid Gul or Qazi Hussain Ahmad at these museums because Afghans
fought and won on their own.)
While Zia promoted extremist ideologies
through madrasas, textbooks and the official media, the Afghan war added small
arms, narcotics and militancy to his witches’ brew. The lunatic fringe is not
hard to find in any country; and, if we go by election results, Pakistan’s
lunatic fringe is by no means larger than many stable and democratic countries.
However, our extremists are well fed, well trained, well-armed and violent and
that’s what makes them invincible. The Afghan war also marginalised Pakistan’s
minorities and smaller Muslim denominations. It struck a huge blow to the
diversity of the valley of Indus.
American policy towards Pakistan changed
after the withdrawal of the Red Army from Afghanistan. Now that Pakistan’s
services were not required, the US began to force it to abandon its nuclear
programme and to sign NPT unilaterally. The Pressler Amendment, passed in 1985,
was activated, disqualifying Pakistan from receiving American economic and
military assistance. America banned the delivery of military equipment worth
$368 million and 28 F-16 aircraft for which Pakistan had already paid. Even
civil society assistance was discontinued as USAID left the country.
These sanctions were placed though Pakistan
had contributed troops to the first Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – February 28,
1991). We can partly ascribe this foreign policy achievement to the genius of
Gen Aslam Baig who served as Pakistan’s army chief after Zia’s death in a plane
crash. While Pakistani forces were in the Gulf, he came up with a strategy of
defiance to the US because, in his opinion, the world was taking a huge shift.
Last month, Gen Baig issued a press release
quoting a speech he had delivered at the GHQ as the chief of army staff in
1988. The visionary warrior had stated: “The days of hegemony of superpowers
are over and now we will witness the dawn of the supremacy of Islam. The
triumph of democracy is in sight...The three countries – Pakistan, Iran and
Afghanistan – are emerging free, strong and resilient, and are moving towards a
common destiny, to unite together to form the bastion of power – the strategic
depth of the Muslim World. It’s a vision which must be converted into a
During the post Afghan jihad period, our
warriors returned from Afghanistan and embarked upon the mission to cleanse
Pakistani society of all evils and turned their attention to Kashmir. The
Jamaat-e-Islami, which had been at the forefront of the Afghan jihad, also
played a major role in the Kashmir jihad. It coined a wonderful slogan to
motivate its young followers: Ham Jashn-E-Kabul Mana Chukay, Ab Aao Chalo
Kashmir Chalain (We have celebrated our victory in Kabul, let’s go to
When Nawaz Sharif was ousted by Musharraf
in 1999, Pakistan’s sectarian terrorists were guests of the Taliban government
in Kabul. Many Jihadi organisations had become three-headed hydras operating
simultaneously in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir. Nawaz Sharif had put the
Taliban on notice for providing sanctuary to sectarian terrorists.
The period of US neglect and sanctions
ended with the American invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. Gen
Musharraf is blamed for being too keen on supporting the US, jumping the gun
and selling Pakistan too cheaply. According to Shuja Nawaz, Gen Musharraf made
some assumption about US involvement in Afghanistan. He believed that it would
be over soon and made an informal agreement without involving the Foreign
Many of the accusations may be true, but
Pakistan did not get a bad deal in exchange for extending support to the US in
Afghanistan. The country came out of the crippling sanctions and its status as
a nuclear power was recognised, it received generous support and it got
integrated into the world community. It was also able to minimise Indian
involvement in Afghanistan, at least for some time.
It was again the home front that was
botched by Musharraf with terrible consequences for Pakistani society. MMA and
the Difa-e-Pakistan Council were unleashed on Pakistan and the TTP was born out
of the womb of the Afghan Taliban that had found a sanctuary in Fata.
Musharraf, the so-called liberal, succeeded in harming Pakistani society far
more than the saintly Ziaul Haq.
Now that our relationship with the US has
entered the Trumpian era, I am not worried about performance of our diplomats.
It is the consequences of anti-Americanism on Pakistani society that are giving
me nightmares. Difa-e-Pakistan has already started stuttering as the defender
of our children and is issuing ‘policy statements’ on behalf of the Ministry of
Iran may have failed where we succeeded –
that is, turning into a nuclear despite the US pressure. However, our westerly
neighbour has proved better in insulating its society from the impact of its
foreign policy choices. Despite its anti-Americanism, American citizens find
warm hospitality in Iran and can travel throughout the country without any
fear. Though Iran has also been involved in Afghanistan since 1979 and provided
sanctuary to Afghan refugees, it has been able to guard against terrorism and
empowerment of non-state actors. Many people don’t know that Jews are a
thriving community in the Islamic republic, with 20 working synagogues in
As the way forward, let me quote again from
the press release of Gen Baig: “The 45 million Pakhtuns living on both sides of
the Durand Line are divided between Pakistan (60 percent) and Afghanistan (40
percent). During the last three decades, they have humbled and defeated the
mightiest of the mighty of the world. Our Pakhtuns have supported Afghan
Pakhtuns in their struggle for freedom, and will continue to do so till the
Afghans win their freedom. What means do we have to divide and separate the
Pakhtun nation?” Isn’t it time for Achakzai and Asfandyar to resign and let Gen
Baig take charge of Pakhtun nationalism?
We are doing what we do best: cry over
spilt milk. The spurt of anxiety and outrage that the country has seen in the
wake of Donald Trump’s South Asia review is understandable. It is fully
justified. The Trump administration, by singling out Pakistan as the
mother-lode of all trouble in Afghanistan and in the region, has done a wrong
thing. This can only take its policy in the wrong directions and, possibly,
entail disastrous consequences. Also it is India that provided the ink to the
pen that signed on this egregiously off-the-mark review of the region.
Donald Trump is an ignoramus, who, like all
ignoramuses, is addicted to creating sensation. His generals and lobbyists have
used his ignorance to set him on a course that has already sunk better
presidents before him, but he doesn’t know that.
We do know, though – or, at least, we
should have known. The shock and regret permeating our response – summed up in
the press release of the National Security meeting last week – is hollow. There
is little element of surprise in what has come out of the White House. Signals
from the US were clear that they would lock onto Pakistan and blame it for all
that ails the region: terrorism, freely operating terrorist groups and a long
list of scuttled peace efforts. Not one, but dozens of US representatives
struck the same chord since Trump came to power.
Not one but several messages that came from
seasoned Pakistani diplomats in the US conveyed to Pakistan’s military and
civilian representatives that things did not look good in the US as far this
review was concerned. More recent engagement between the two countries made it
clear to everyone that Trump had decided to go in the crazy direction of
practically designating Pakistan as an unfriendly/enemy state.
So there was no dearth of real information
as far as this policy drift of the US was concerned. But, of course,
information is only as good as the capacity to process it. All the while this
policy review was underway the entire focus inside Pakistan was on managing the
JIT to put the government in power in a hurt-locker situation. For its part,
the government – unfocussed and distracted in the best of times – became
totally clueless about and uninterested in pushing Pakistan’s own narrative on
the perennial problems of Afghanistan’s peace. Indian lobbyists had a field day
just when we were busy lobbing bombs of shame on each other at home.
Even earlier the drag of an engineered
domestic fracas in the name of ‘national interest’ inside Pakistan had caused
national debate to be totally off kilter and cut off from the dangers to
Pakistan’s core security that Trump had brought with him upon arriving at the
Oval Office. When Trump won the election and had caused elation in some circles
in Pakistan, we had argued the following in this column space:
“He may turn towards foreign policy to find
short-term relief. Fighting terrorism with new vigour can become his rallying
cry. Military expeditions can become his refuge from domestic disorder…There is
little that can be offered to the divided Americans at this point as a middle
ground. Little except the old idea that America can be made secure by creating
foreign policy success. A spectacular spectacle outside the US can generate the
much-needed bond to connect the two poles…Inevitably, the topmost issue in such
a situation will be terrorism, which Trump and the Republicans’ warped
worldview associates with all Muslim countries. Here their gaze will turn
towards Afghanistan and Pakistan…In this respect he (Trump) can be like
Narendra Modi who came to power by splitting his nation at the seams and is now
trying to win national legitimacy by waving the threat of terrorism. A Trump in
the Modi mode can be a truly dangerous thing. We better watch out.” This was
Some months later, the following
reflections on the India-US nexus under Trump and Modi were penned:
“Delhi, backed and encouraged fully by
Washington, wants Pakistan to be defined as a state nurturing terrorism. It
wants to dilute its credentials as a reliable international actor. And it wants
to set the stage for a case for delegitimising its defence capability, which
includes the nuclear arsenal, by framing it as an international threat. These
are three dangerous Ds. This is the actual aim.” This was early 2017.
Almost three months ago, this was written: “Washington
in its recent communications with Islamabad has been delivering blunt,
Trump-like messages to Pakistan. What it is saying is this: give up support to
the Haqqanis; kill them all; and those in your custody, hand them over.
Pakistan’s repeated assurances that we do not protect the Haqqanis nor do we
have the influence to change their behaviour cut no ice with Washington.
“American National Security Advisor H R
McMaster in this recent engagement with Pakistani representatives has done
extremely tough talking. He has warned of punitive measures in case the US
hostages are killed or any US interest is threatened by the Haqqanis in a
“We can guess what these threatened
‘punitive measures’ can be. They can range from Salala-like incidents of heavy
attack on Pakistani posts to aerial raids on designated ‘camps’ a la the OBL
raid. Worse still, they can use the dirty bomb whose rehearsal has already
taken place inside Afghanistan with devastating effects on ground.” This was
A few others had also pointed out in vain
that we needed to pay attention to a fast-changing regional scenario and stop
waging domestic wars amplified through a hijacked media and its fakesters. Yet
the power of folly was too strong to be defeated by the value of logic and
evidence. And now when Washington has laid bare its intentions with a
made-in-India logo all over them, we are being treated to an unimpressive show
of hurt pride and national honour.
Even this outcry about ‘Washington’s
stupidity’ misses the crux of the matter. It is not a contest of logic,
morality or who has more wounds and betrayals to show to shame the other party.
It is madness on our doorstep that has already arrived. And since it is already
declared and announced, there is very little scope of its declared aims to
change. Trump’s generals have completely numbed his non-existent foreign policy
sense. Therefore, his ownership of the policy is total, dangerously bombastic,
and can be truly challenging to our core security interests. A strike inside
Pakistan’s territory can practically get us embroiled in war with the US. This
is not a joke. This is deadly serious business.
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of the
current state of regional emergency our country is faced with is the lingering idea
that somehow the US can be engaged to achieve national goals if the militaries
are talking to each other. Even after being defeated repeatedly by history, the
idea refuses to die. Ayub Khan was chums with Washington but in the end had to
get Friends not Masters ghost-written to express his feeling of being scorned
and jilted. Ziaul Haq turned Pakistan upside down for American pleasure and his
own politics but weeks before his death was heard saying: deal in coals and you
get a black face.
Gen Pervez Musharraf repeated Zia’s feat.
In fact, he went a step ahead. He signed on US demands without even reading
them properly. He too was abandoned when the hour of strategic need had passed.
General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani had the deepest of engagements with the US but in
the end saw the Salala and OBL operations take place behind his back. Gen
Raheel Sharif restored institutional links in the US only to find out that he
could not stop enhanced drone strikes inland. And, yet, we believe that somehow
if the military-to-military equation is stable Washington can be influenced.
It is unfortunate that nothing teaches us
anything. Neither history, nor events, nor declared policies and known
intentions. Dealing with Washington (or, for that matter, India or any other
country) is a holistic job. It is a full-time job. It cannot become an interval
in pursuit of crazy domestic agendas that are injurious to internal stability.
Nor can it be reduced to moral outrage and perfunctory post-event meetings.
Trump’s threats are real. We can either play domestic games or deal with the
real game that has begun to unfold fast around our borders. Dealing with
Washington would be a lot easier if we had our priorities straight and
US President Trump laid out his plans for
Afghanistan last Monday, and they don’t look good for Pakistan. The President
stuck to his strong-man persona and threatened to cease all monetary assistance
to Pakistan if it continues to provide shelter to ‘agents of chaos, violence
and terror.’ Going a step further, he praised India’s role in the region and
invited it to join his new Afghan strategy. This poses a dire quagmire for
Pakistan’s security establishment which considers building influence in
Afghanistan as its primary objective to counter India’s clout in the region.
Some observers in Pakistan see Trump’s
speech as yet another hollow threat by an American President that will never
materialise. However, things seem to be different this time for several
reasons. President Trump uncharacteristically read this speech form a
teleprompter to give a coherent message to Pakistan, which suggests that this
policy comes from a stable source like the State Department rather than the
White House. These views were later echoed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
and General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, which gives
the impression that this strategy is supported by the Department of State as
well as the Pentagon.
Anyone following the US media during the
few days leading up to Trump’s Monday speech could not miss the deliberate
narrative construction to support his new strategy. The National Public Radio
(NPR), for example, ran multiple stories with pro and anti-Trump commentaries
encouraging the President to do something concrete about Pakistan’s duplicitous
role in Afghanistan. Such stories are still dominating the news cycle, even a
week after his speech.
Trump’s speech also made it clear that the
Americans have no intention to leave Afghanistan anytime soon. Whether it is
because of the estimated $3 trillion mineral deposits or the lure to counter
China and Russia, Afghanistan is likely to remain under direct American control
for decades to come. A long-term stay in the region would require peace and
stability, which is not possible if the Afghan insurgents have safe havens in
While Trump’s threats appear to be
concrete, it is highly unlikely that our security establishment will heed to
these warnings anytime soon as it has strategic priorities of its own
Holding Pakistan responsible for all
problems in Afghanistan would not be fair since the country has suffered over
60,000 casualties in the war on terror over the last two decades. However, the
Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to sympathise with Pakistan
when they suspect the Haqqani Network to be headquartered in the town of
Miramshah in FATA. An important commander of the Network was allegedly killed
by a US drone in Hangu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in June this year. A few days
back, the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) chief Maulana Sami-ul-Haq lambasted
Trump’s speech by asserting that Pakistan army will never act against the
Haqqanis, further strengthening suspicions of Haqqani Network’s connections
with Pakistan since the DPC is widely considered to be aligned with the
Pakistani deep-state. The American frustration is not only limited to the
The Pakistani establishment is said to have
strong ties with Shafique Mengal, an Islamic militia commander in Balochistan
with connections with ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Syed Salahudeen, the head of
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, was recently declared as Specially Designated Global Terrorist
by the US, but continues to reside and operate from Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed is another designated a terrorist by
the United Nations with a $10 million bounty owing to his role in the 2008
Mumbai attacks. While he remains in and out of house arrests, his organisation
launched a political party called Milli Muslim League earlier this month.
Fazal-ur-Rahman Kahlil of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen is also set to launch his
political party soon. Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi and Ahmad Ludhianvi of the
proscribed terrorist organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) also continue
to operate with impunity and continue to hold public rallies even in Islamabad.
International observers are forced to question the deep-state’s seriousness in
dealing with these organisations, especially when it showed surprising
effectiveness in banning the Altaf faction of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)
from all activities in Pakistan. This sends the message that the establishment
can act where it wants to.
The Pakistani establishment must have its
reasons for appearing soft on extremist organisations. It might fear a violent
backlash from these groups, forcing the deep-state to take a long-term approach
by slowly integrating them into the mainstream society. The establishment might
also be concerned about dealing with Afghanistan after the US leaves the
region, trying to ensure a friendly government in Kabul which prevents its
arch-nemesis India from establishing a strong foot-hold in the country. This would
be a strategic nightmare for the Pakistan’s security apparatus and the US is
playing on this fear to force Pakistan to either fall in line with its policies
or expect a larger Indian role in Afghanistan. We should admit that our policy
of harbouring religious extremists has now backfired. This policy has in fact
become the cause of the crisis that it was supposed to prevent.
While Trump’s threats appear to be
concrete, it is highly unlikely that our security establishment will heed to
these warning anytime soon due to its own strategic priorities. More political,
economic, and military pressure on a nuclear armed Pakistan will destabilise
the region for everyone, but the outcome would be worst felt by the people of
Pakistan who are finally seeing some economic progress. It is in our own
long-term socio-economic interest that we seek solutions to prevent the
conflict from escalating. It is time to alter our security ethos like a
responsible modern nation and regain our respect within the international community.
Stereotypical Portrayal of Women in
In the last few decades, women have
contributed a great deal in the fields of education, sports, politics etc, but
gender stereotypes are just as strong as they were decades ago even in the most
A variety of stereotypes keep circulating
and echoing around us when it comes to women in our society. Sometimes women
who drive are seen as a sole reason for traffic jams. Then there are people who
think career-oriented women can never be ‘good’ wives. Another stereotype
considers unmarried women above the age of 30 as ‘un-marriageable’. A good girl
is the one who always covers her head and serves the in-laws at all costs,
while a divorced woman is seen as the one at fault. Not to mention the culture
of victim-shaming that rape and sexual harassment victims have to go through.
Why is it that despite continuous efforts by state and civil society, we are
still in a state of confusion regarding gender roles and a cynical depiction of
The most important and key factor is the
role of (electronic, social and print) media. A woman is usually present in all
sorts of advertisements, regardless of the type of the product. Featuring a
female model or actor in a glamorous style in advertisement of a product not
related to women is equivalent to objectifying them.
There was a time when we only had PTV and
STN and they were the only sources of entertainment. TV serials and plays back
then were focused on family life, and dramas based on stories of joint family
systems were shown in which there was respect for all sorts of relationships.
We never observed very hyper or negative portrayal of women with a few exceptions.
Then the cultural invasion took place and Indian plays took over Pakistan’s TV.
Indian dramas mostly show both men and women of all ages involved in all sorts
of malicious activities leading to break ups and business losses etc. With the
arrival of Turkish TV serials, a new wave of glamour entered the local TV
The themes and characters were new to the
audience and had a new life style not known in Pakistan. Again, women being the
key characters and both positive and negative female characters were shown. Now
keeping in view the popularity of Turkish serials and themes, our own drama
channels jumped into the race and started picking up the style and stories
which depict the issues a very little percentage of population can relate to.
If a story of one drama becomes a hit, similar stories are shown in dramas of
Religion is blended with social and
cultural norms and directives in a way at times that distinctive line between
the two usually vanishes and certain stereotypes are presented. Family is the
very basic unit of our society and family members are the first people children
come across. This is when the stereotyping begins. A girl child is always
taught to think she is a weaker gender that needs protection and a male child
is taught that he ought to be authoritative and strong. Girls are conditioned
to think they belong in the kitchen, they need to talk softly, so and so forth.
By unintentionally determining these gender roles, the parents not only make
their daughter lose her inhibitions, but the boys also start thinking of women
as a weaker gender. I still remember that even little boys at school would feel
ashamed to sit next to a girl. Let me share that it is very common phenomenon
in co-education schools and clearly reflect what the child has been absorbing
from the environment, the decorum set for girls.
Why is it that despite continuous efforts
by state and civil society, we are still in a state of confusion regarding
gender roles and our outlook towards women remains cynical?
Media and TV channels really need to have
something of their own in terms of policies and that must be in harmony with
our societal needs and issue rather than blindly getting into the trail of
something that doesn’t belong here. Women are contributing very positively in
different walks of lives. Why can’t we have stories of real life of these women
on TV screens?
Religious leaders from all faiths must
start talking about the real woman and her contributions. Prayers worships
services are mandatory, but they ensure an individual access to heaven or hell.
Religious leaders should talk about the strong role of a woman and the rights
she possess as a human being without being stereotyped. Last but not the least,
early years education plus the education at secondary level needs to be looked
Donald Trump’s invective against Pakistan
not only depicts the utter lack of direction in America’s new ‘strategy’, but
also highlights how colonialism continues to exist in various forms today.
America’s changed policy towards Pakistan — which was in reality taking shape
since Barack Obama’s tenure — delineates how powerful countries or
‘superpowers’ strong-arm nations that deviate from the paths set out for them
by these powerful nations.
America’s rise as a superpower in fact
shows that colonialism is very much extant today. Since the dissemination of
the Monroe Doctrine on the 2nd of December 1823, America has viewed the world
through a prism of ‘spheres of influence’.
The Monroe Doctrine initially marked South
America as America’s sphere of influence, thus keeping European powers at bay
from interfering in the newly independent nations of South America.
Although the Monroe Doctrine was initially
touted as preserving the independence of Latin American countries which had
achieved their freedom from empires such as Spain, it soon became evident that
the Monroe Doctrine was in fact meant to impose American hegemony over these
This was evident in America’s dealing with
Panama, and in recent times, the CIA’s not so covert missions in countries such
as Cuba, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
America’s neo-colonialism has become
increasingly evident since the end of the Second World War and the advent of
the Cold War. From the Truman Doctrine to Eisenhower’s vision of containing
communism, America has shown little regard for national sovereignty or
international law as it perpetuates its control over the world.
Thus, at a time when nations like Pakistan
and India were becoming independent in 1947, America was laying the foundations
of an empire the likes of which have never been seen before.
America’s appeal to ‘civilisation’ and to
‘peace’ highlights how Trump’s remarks towards Pakistan are emblematic of
America’s imperialistic designs during the
twentieth century were couched in false notions of championing liberty, freedom
and democracy, while in fact, the CIA’s involvement usually replaced
democratically elected leftist movements by oppressive tyrants — as was evidenced
in Chile with the fall of Salvador Allende.
Trump while castigating Pakistan on its
putative support for militants, claimed Pakistan must now ‘demonstrate its
commitment to civilisation, order and to peace.” This appeal to ‘civilisation’
and to ‘peace’, in fact, highlights how Trump’s remarks towards Pakistan are
emblematic of America’s neo-colonialism.
Trump’s remarks highlight how America sells
a false narrative that it fights wars for peace and for promoting freedom.
America touted this as a reason while invading Afghanistan in 2001 and again
while invading Iraq in 2003. The reality, however, is that these wars only
perpetuate America’s control and feed its insatiable military-industrial
Colonial nations have throughout the
centuries employed a narrative of ‘civilising’ to justify their imperialistic
policies. This narrative is perhaps best captured by famous lines such as
Rudyard Kipling’s ‘white man’s burden’ which was used to justify America’s
occupation of the Philippines at the start of the twentieth century.
William McKinley, the American President at
the time of the Philippines-American war, in fact, claimed that American
presence in the Philippines was necessary because the locals were not
‘civilised enough’ for ‘self-rule’.
Trump’s appeal to civilisation and to order
is, therefore, clearly emblematic of colonial rhetoric the West has used to
impose itself on the rest of the world. Moreover, America’s presence in
Afghanistan is colonialism in two different forms — one direct by having a
military presence in Afghanistan, and second by imposing its policies on
Pakistan and this appeal to civilisation.
Instead of excoriating Pakistan, the world
community must instead take America to task over its imperialistic ideals and
failed policies all over the world, but especially in Afghanistan. America has
simply failed to build a sound political dynamic in Afghanistan, which
continues to haunt the war-torn nation.
In fact, America resorted to the same
divide and rule policies of European colonial nations when it chose to align
with the Northern Alliance and isolate the majority Pashtun community in
Afghanistan. This only further reified ethnic fault lines in Afghanistan and
exacerbated the conflict.
America adopted a similar approach in Iraq
in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s overthrow when America allied with the majority
yet marginalised Shiite community in Iraq. This led to the rise of the Islamic
State in Iraq and subsequently Afghanistan — which has given America another
reason to extend its presence in these nations.
The simple truth is that no military
solution exists in Afghanistan. The Taliban control around forty percent of
Afghani territory, and a few thousand more troops will not displace the
Taliban. Instead, America must swallow its pride and look towards a peace deal
with the warring factions.
The return of Gulbuddin Hekmatayar in
Afghanistan’s political fold is a good start in this regard, and the efforts to
bring the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Colombia’s political
landscape are an international example America and Afghanistan could follow.
While Pakistan must also shoulder the blame
for instability across the Durand line, it is imperative that we stand against
American colonialism and imperialism in all its forms. Our allegiance should
transcend national and economic interests and should instead be to oppressed
peoples who suffer from the policies of superpowers who claim to be fighting
for freedom. There is no other solution to the violence that grips the world today.
August 29, 2017
We try to find meaning in our actions. In
the decisions we take we always have an obvious ending in mind. We observe outcomes
and outputs to correct our actions and change directions, as though we are
trying to follow a scientific process in our lives. Our desire to achieve an
intended goal puts us closer to understanding the causal relationships that
help organise our efforts in controlling change. Our need for evidence-based
practice helps us address the problems we face.
Thus, it i valid to say that evaluation is
central to human development. It assesses the effects of programmes, policies
and initiatives undertaken to find their worth, provide useful feedback and
guide further action. With this generic goal of evaluation in mind, each
landmark in time is just another reminder of reviewing past decisions.
This August marks the 70 years of
independence of both India and Pakistan. In order to evaluate where both these
countries stand, we need to look back and see where we started and why we
started. Back then, the people of the sub-continent were witnessing a cosmic
change. The direct rule of British crown in India was ending and anticipation
to this change fuelled an uprising. Deliberations on what post-colonial India
will look like spanned decades and gave birth to a movement that was centred on
the protection of human rights.
When Jinnah said we fought for Pakistan
because there was a danger of the denial of human rights in this sub-continent,
he was iterating the vision that was the soul of the partition decision. If we
are interested in how far we have come since then, the only true criterion for
evaluation is the status of human rights for the people of this land.
Sadly, the state of affairs today on either
side of the border draws a very bleak picture.
In Pakistan, militant violence lasting over
a decade has favoured the inexplicable rise in the political influence of the
military. Without oversight, there is bound to be rights violations when a plan
to eradicate terrorism is implemented. Addressing militancy provides a
justification for authorities to muzzle dissenting voices in support of human
rights. Freedoms are lost, and birthrights are denied when even parliament
gives in and passes vague and overbroad legislation.
Be a part of any social minority in
Pakistan and only then, you will be able to see how far we stand from the
vision that created this divide in the subcontinent. Women, children,
transgender and religious minorities all face violent attacks, insecurity and
persecution. An overly charged bias has taken over us all that the state finds
itself helpless to provide adequate protection to the vulnerable and hold
At times even the state joins hands with
the culprits and fails to ratify legislation on forced conversions, turns a
blind eye to misuse of blasphemy laws and keeps up the pressure on journalists
and rights activits to keep any criticism in check.
The situation in India is not much
different. Their military is notorious for acting with impunity when deployed
in areas of internal conflict. They also resort to communal violence to protect
religious sentiments of a Hindu majority. Just like ours, authorities there are
famed to use criminal defamation laws to prosecute citizens with dissenting
opinions. Women there are too victims of rape, acid attacks and honour killings
while the government seems powerless to ensure their safety.
Seventy years down the road an overview of
the rights situation in either country reveals a serious parting from the
original plan. We never arrived to the Pakistan, which Jinnah had envisioned.
We became the very people who in his mind would have threatened to deny rights
had there been no Pakistan. It is ironic to say that our blasphemy law is no
different from their beef ban.
So we are 207+ million in number, up from
132+ million back in 1998. If we keep on growing like this, we’ll be the
third-largest country in the world by 2050 with 450+ million humans, behind
India and China. This growth rate is outrageous. For the last 19 years, we have
been adding one person to our population every eight seconds. Add in the number
of deaths and we realise that we have been reproducing at a much faster pace.
Population control programmes, which have consumed billions, need serious soul-searching.
Even more interestingly, these results have taken many by surprise. The World
Bank and UNFPA thought we should be somewhere close to 197 million, but we are
off by about 10 million people. Surprisingly, the CCI projected us at somewhere
near 205 million, an estimate far better than that of the development experts.
Secondly and more importantly, where have
these people come from? Excluding Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), the
population growth has been highest in Balochistan, followed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
(K-P). This is no surprise, as Balochistan and K-P have a much higher poverty
incidence than Punjab and Sindh. Poverty and population growth have long been
known to coexist and often nurture each other. On the other hand, the lowest
population growth (1.81%) was witnessed in rural Punjab, but urbanisation might
have had a greater role to play here.
Thirdly, the change in provincial
population shares is perhaps the most consequential issue. If there were 100
people in Pakistan, 15 of them would be living in K-P, two in Fata, 53 in
Punjab, 23 in Sindh, six in Balochistan and one in ICT. In 1998, K-P had 13,
Punjab 56 while Balochistan had five (out of 100). The rest had the same
proportion. This change will have important repercussions about distribution of
resources and allocation of national assembly seats. The next NFC award will
have to be announced, with Punjab compromising in favour of K-P and
Balochistan. Similarly, Article 51(3) of the Constitution will have to be
amended, in the light of Article 51(5), which mandates the allocation of seats
based on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census
officially published. This would mean at least eight fewer seats for Punjab in
332-strong National Assembly, with 5-6 more seats for K-P and almost three more
Next comes the male-to-female ratio. Using
the 100 people analogy, we would have 51 males and 49 females, which is very
close to world’s average. This has, however, come down since 1998, when we had
52 men out of every 100 people. This change could be a result of widening gap
between female and male life expectancy at birth, which currently stands at
almost two years.
Another upsetting aspect of these results
relates to productivity. According to the World Bank data, Pakistan ranked
126th out of 175 countries in 2016 based on GDP per capita, a measure of the
country’s workforce productivity. Even if our GDP grows by 5% this year, our
GDP per capita in 2017 would only be as high as we claimed to have in 2015. We
knew we were unproductive, but it’s worse than we thought.
The most striking number from census
results is the transgender population. While the government must be given
credit to acknowledge the so far ignored transgender population, the number
looks far too small. The population of 10,418 translates into one transgender
person for every 20,000 people. In India, there is one for every 2,600
individuals, with a clear realisation that the actual number may be six to
seven times higher. This means that there could actually be one transgender
person for every 400 citizens. Our demographics can’t be that different. Even
if we assume 1/2,600 ratio, it means that we have identified only one out of
every eight transgender persons in Pakistan. Considering this huge anomaly, it
is critical that any policy measure to support transgender needs should not be
based on these modest estimates.
Lastly, comes the urban-rural split. About
64 people out of every 100 live in rural areas, while 36 reside in urban
settlements. The latter, however, may grow to 40 by 2050 with existing growth
rates. We have added 30 million people to our urban population in the last 19
years and we are all set to add another 112 million by 2050, if we continue
unabated. This unfortunately is not a result of any coherent strategy, which
means that we are not well prepared to face this challenge neither do we have
any mechanisms to reap its dividends.
Urbanisation and its associated issues are
likely to force their way onto policy makers’ radar in the near future or else
the population pressure is going to wipe out whatever semblance of service
delivery and public order remains. Merely feeding these 450 million souls would
be a nightmare, let alone educating them, providing them health services or catering
to their electricity, transport and water requirements. These preliminary
census results should be an eye-opener for policymakers to have a paradigm
shift. We are facing an emergency and we need to attend to it now or else we
are going to witness a crisis of unprecedented proportions in not very distant
Why US Sanctions Will Not Work This Time
Pakistan and US have always enjoyed a
transactional relationship but what remains missing in these seventy years is a
strategic partnership. The US has always viewed Pakistan from a security lens
whereas governments in Pakistan have looked towards the US for internal and
external legitimacy. Throughout their relationship, Pakistan and the US have
actively cooperated three times in bilateral relations and all three times
there they have been major issues which brought both states into an
uncomfortable position. The first incident was during the Cold War from 1950 to
1960, when the US needed Pakistan as an ally against the Soviet Union and
Pakistan needed an ally against India. However, an issue cropped up as the US
did not want to convey any sense of animosity towards India, whilst needing
Pakistan as an ally. The second time was during the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan, the US needed Pakistan’s cooperation on Afghanistan to fight the
Soviet Union. Pakistan cooperated, but soon the US was aggrieved at Pakistan’s
covert nuclear bomb plans. More recently, the US need’s Pakistan’s cooperation
in the war against terror and Pakistan has been cooperating since 9/11 but this
time the irritant is the Taliban.
Since Trump announced his long expected
policy on South Asia, there has been much debate on both sides. As Generals
have the authority to advise the President, the State Department feels annoyed
and ignored from the South Asia policy. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave
the impression that Pakistan will lose its status of privileged military ally.
It is likely that Pakistan and the US will both lose influence over each other
if the US considers this option. Trump called Pakistan an ‘agent of chaos’
which the administration in Islamabad and Generals in Rawalpindi took very seriously.
In reply, they conveyed a strong signal of defiance in the National Security
Committee’s meeting on the 24th of August to President Trump’s allegations.
The $64,000 Question is will the US
sanction Pakistan this time on the Haqqani Network issue even though Pakistan
has taken actions against it. Options with Washington this time are not as open
as they had been back in 1990s or before. Pakistanis as whole weren’t as aware
of Pakistan-US relations, but now, the public has expressed consternation regarding
Donald Trump’s policy on South Asia.
The US has too much to lose if it chooses
to put sanctions against Pakistan. There is likely to be huge pressure from
within the US as they have doled out billions of dollars in Afghanistan and
lost many of their armed forces too.
Pakistan can approach more reliable forms
of support such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in case sanctions
are slammed on it
Meanwhile after 9/11, the US administration
realized that sanctioning Pakistan after the end of the Cold War was not a wise
step. The US may try to use sanctions against Pakistan however there is no
guarantee of their success. China and Russia have already slammed Trump’s South
Asia policy and declared that the world needs to recognize Pakistan’s efforts and
sacrifices in the war against terror. Secondly, the US may use institutional
power against Pakistan like IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and WTO so
that Pakistan may lose financial incentives and could be sanctioned. However,
Pakistan can approach more reliable forms of support such as the Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank which has a huge potential to accommodate
Pakistan if this callous attitude lingers in the US. The third way to deal with
Pakistan which seems more likely, is the sanctioning of individuals and
companies which are allegedly dealing with General Pasha.
Two third of US sanctions have not worked
historically even with its big military machinations and huge control on global
institutions. Sanctions on Pakistan are not likely not work this time. Society,
opposition parties, and the media are there to support the government in case
Sanctions are not an option and could be
counterproductive for both Pakistan and the US. Pakistan and US need to sit
together and diplomats should be given a role to sort out this crisis. Generals
have had enough time to bring peace in Afghanistan, its time all diplomatic
tools are put on the table for peace in Afghanistan. Rather than bringing
crises in Islamabad, the US should decide to sort them out in Kabul.
‘No more’ is the voice of Pakistan. It is
hoped that President Donald Trump has heard loud and clear the slogans
enchanted by the participants of various rallies in Pakistan against his new
foreign policy for the region. This is not the first extreme tilt in the US
foreign policy on Pakistan and out of proportion trust on India. Undoubtedly,
Pakistan had been a best market for the cultivation of US interests over the
last 70 years. It is indeed unbelievable truth that Pakistan preferred US
friendship over the neighbouring countries — the arch opponents and rivals of
the US in the global game of economic and political vested interests.
Before saying anything against Pakistan,
the US should realistically count the sacrifices of Pakistan and the dead
bodies we have buried, the loss of infrastructure and the economic recession we
suffered from. Let’s not discuss the US betrayal to Pakistan in 1965 and 1971
wars against India. Shall we not speak about the US turning blind on the
atrocities and human rights violations in the Indian Held Kashmir?
Pakistan is still fighting the monster of
Taliban and jihadis that the US created against the USSR. The wounds of US
attacks on Iraq and other countries, and the US’s active engagement in the Arab
Spring for their strategic vested interest are still fresh.
Despite the fact that Pakistan is clearly
aware of the hegemonic behaviour of the US and out of proportion support to
India, the apologetic and soft response to the new US foreign policy in the
region is not understandable. Perhaps, we lack the courage to respond in the
same tone despite clear messages from China, Russia and Iran in favour of
It is about time Pakistan took a bold step
to be trustworthy partner of the newly emerging bloc comprising the regional
partners including China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran. This bloc certainly would
help reduc the undue American and hegemonic influence in the region, and
unbelievably boost the economic growth.
Pakistan has taken a good breathing space
by ‘requesting’ the US to postpone the scheduled visit of Alice Wells, acting
assistant Secretary of State for South and Asian Affairs.
Alice Wells had to reach Islamabad on
Monday. This would have been the first high-profile visit by a US official
since Trump’s Afghan policy speech on August 21.
The new date of the visit has not been
decided, while US Embassy spokesman said that Wells’ visit to Pakistan will be
rescheduled after mutual understanding of both countries.
Though the decision may be an alert to the
US to check and review their new policy framework for the region, it could also
be an indication that Pakistan is going to review the master-slave relations.
The fact that President Trump has been
threatening every other country of significant importance for one reason or the
other says a lot about his state of mind. Perhaps he deliberately wants to prove
himself as a war-monger in any case
The fact that President Trump has been
threatening every other country of significant importance for one reason or the
other says a lot about his state of mind. Perhaps he deliberately wants to
prove himself as a war-monger in any case. His aggressive plans such as
clearing the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan
would further escalate security concerns in the region. His act of backtracking
from the promise to rapidly end America’s longest war, while pillorying ally
Pakistan, would open a new plethora of doubts on the sacrifices that Pakistan
has made over the years to protect and safeguard the American interest in the
The world never expected that the sane and
wise people of the USA would select a President who would keep engaging America
into conflicts with other countries. And this is not the first time, nor the
last time. The realistic people worldwide think who actually selects or elects
the US president, the American people or someone else? Why does the US always
opt for the war-economy, why not peaceful economic coexistence? It should be
the general concern of the Americans that despite all grants and aid to
developing countries, America and Americans continue to be hated.
The American people cannot stay indifferent
to the imposed political and strategic decisions. They need to spare some time
to realise the reasons behind the hatred and accept the harsh conspicuous