New Age Islam Edit Bureau
04 March 2017
Jingoism and Jihad
By Irfan Husain
By Aisha Sarwari
Musharraf’s Four-Point Formula: the
Devil in the Details
By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai
Residual Democracies, Wages of Hate
By Aijaz Zaka Syed
By Adnan Adil
The Anticipated Benefits Of FATA
By Muhammad Anwar
Towards Mutual Connectivity
By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
GEN Bajwa hands over a list of 76
terrorists based across the border to the Afghan embassy in Islamabad. The
Afghan government hands over a list of 85 terrorists it claims are operating
from within Pakistan. Our army chief summons Afghan diplomats to GHQ. The
Afghan army deputy chief summons our ambassador in Kabul to his office. And on
goes the blame game between the two countries, even as thousands are killed by
terrorists on both sides of the border.
Pakistan and India play the same game
across their border and the LoC. India blames Pakistan for a string of attacks
on its soil, while we blame the Indians for financing and arming nationalist
insurgents in Balochistan. While all three countries are suffering from
terrorism, they are unwilling to cooperate in order to crush this menace.
In any objective evaluation of the
situation, it must be admitted that it is Pakistan that has pioneered the use
of non-state actors to further its agenda in the region. And, more often than
not, it has used faith as a rallying cry.
It launched tribal zealots into Kashmir a
few weeks after independence, and the resulting war with India led to an
unending deadlock between the two countries. Before a full-fledged war broke
out over Kashmir in 1965, plain-clothed Pakistani soldiers infiltrated
India-held Kashmir with the intent of fomenting an uprising.
Invoking The ‘Good Vs Bad Terrorists’
Doctrine Has Not Worked
In 1971, the military used the militant
wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in an attempt to
crush the nationalist freedom struggle there. Millions of Bengalis fled across
the border, providing India with a reason to attack and defeat our army. A few
years later, president Daud indicated that the PPP government was attempting to
destabilise his administration in Kabul.
After the Soviet invasion in 1979, Pakistan
joined with the US and Saudi Arabia to arm, finance and train jihadists from
across the Muslim world. Then known as freedom fighters, these ‘holy warriors’
committed many atrocities that were conveniently overlooked at the time. And
when the defeated Red Army pulled out in 1988, thousands of trained jihadists
turned their guns on targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India-held Kashmir. A
few years later, the Afghan Taliban began their reign of terror, lasting until
they were toppled in the aftermath of 9/11 and then allegedly finding refuge in
Balochistan. Since then, they have used the province as a platform for attacks
against Afghan and US-led coalition forces.
Another group that has created mayhem in
Afghanistan is the Haqqani network. Based in Pakistan’s tribal areas, these
terrorists have been largely exempt from attacks by Pakistani security forces.
The unstated excuse is: they do not pose a threat to Pakistan, so why provoke
them? Groups active in IHK are similarly shielded.
But invoking the ‘good versus bad
terrorists’ doctrine has led us to where we are. With this backdrop, should we
be surprised that India and Afghanistan are paying us back in our own coin?
I have little doubt of Indian involvement
in the Balochistan uprising. Why would Indian intelligence not take advantage
of local grievances and nationalist aspirations in our biggest and most
backward province? And there is solid evidence regarding Indian assistance for
the MQM. Again, most governments would fish in the troubled waters of a hostile
neighbour’s biggest city.
Afghanistan, too, has permitted a number of
anti-Pakistan jihadist groups to operate from its soil. But in all fairness, it
doesn’t control large swathes of the territory along our border. This, of
course, was equally true of Pakistan until the security establishment got
serious about clearing Fata of the hydra-headed monsters it had itself created.
Most bordering states that have suffered
from years of terrorist violence would muster up the maturity to put political
differences aside and cooperate in excising this cancer. Sadly, successive
governments in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan have been too weak and
self-serving to take the hard decisions needed to sit down and work together.
The basic problem lies in Pakistan, where
three generations of generals have been trained to see the world through
Kashmir-tinted glasses. The obsession with the perceived threat from India has
blinded them to other security concerns. After having seen the difficulty of
crushing rural-based jihadists in ungoverned areas where they have safe havens,
they have still been unable to draw the obvious conclusion.
For its part, India has been less than
helpful. By fielding around 20 army divisions on our border, it has ensured
that it poses an existentialist threat to us, thereby forcing the Pakistan Army
to respond. Also, the worst nightmare for our military planners is encirclement
by both our neighbours.
But overcoming this threat calls for better
relations with Afghanistan. This cannot be achieved by allowing the Afghan
Taliban and the Haqqani network sanctuary in Pakistan.
March 3, 2017
As if it wasn’t already difficult enough
for a woman in Pakistan, there is this bile-inducing custom to have a woman
weighed in against what material and monies she brings into a marriage. Dowry
determines a woman’s worth in this culture. About 95% marriages are said to
practise the custom that is not built on functional need but a status symbol
and a show of women’s subservience. Seemingly the more dowry a woman has, the
more her takers will be and therefore the less dispensable she is. Less
dispensable women are apparently treated by in-laws with more kindness. Not
Whereas India has the highest number of
dowry-related deaths, it is Pakistan that has the highest number of
dowry-linked deaths per 100,000 women. We murder and hack to death, via stove
burnings and poison ingestion than any other country in the world. No amount of
money gets in-laws to stop torturing new brides to seek more cash from their
families. No wonder there is a funeral-like feel to a household a girl child is
born to. Our customs are meant to stifle the caretakers of girls as if they
bear the burden of a curse and the only way to make it up is cough up dough to
marry off the girl.
This is not just a class issue. The elite
in our country — do check the latest few destination weddings in our social
magazines — are just as marred by it. Show more love and dote with money,
flounder it across the far seas so everyone knows not to mess with your
daughter. Why not equip them with the law instead? Teach them to stand up for
their rights first.
K-P, in a landmark move, has barred a
bride’s family from making dowry payments to the groom and his family. So
basically the groom and his family have to make alternative means of extorting
money, or for a change find a job or start a business. The K-P law restricts
value of gifts given by the bride to Rs10,000. It is enough to buy a good juice
blender, a hair dryer, a low-end vacuum cleaner or a few good books.
It’s time for men to seek out women for who
they are and not what they bring. Dowry is an evil custom. The
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Dowry, Bridal Gift and Marriage Functions Restriction Act of
2017 has thankfully put an end to it as far as the law in K-P is concerned.
It’s one of the few sensible pro-women legislation to come out of the
Last year in December a woman called
Shumaila was forced to consume poison in Multan when her father could not pay her
husband and in-laws the promised Rs50,000 in dowry. Shumaila, like the
estimated 2,000 dowry deaths per year in Pakistan, are an abomination and tell
that we are a nation on the brink. Don’t be fooled by the mere gains in our
standing — women remain a severely neglected in all parts of our society.
Rights experts say that this number is hardly reflective of how many women are
actually tortured because of the heinous custom and many of their deaths remain
unreported and marked falsely natural.
Pervasive in the middle class, we are
extremely proud of the list of things we bring with us into our marriages — our
cars, our washing machines, our furniture and the godforsaken toaster — these
are spoils of the war on women. Reject it. Reject it as the girl bride, reject
it as the father of the bride and certainly reject it as the groom. There is
nothing dignified in it. Women must only be armed with one resource that is the
real true asset for any family — their education, their aptitude, their ability
to brace uncertainties like death and disease and more importantly their sense
of justice. Don’t compromise on this. Everything else can be acquired,
especially the toaster.
Now that we are making strides in banning
dowry, can we look to please increase the Haq Meher that the groom needs to pay
the bride. This amount is to be allocated according to the groom and his
family’s social standing but instead it is set as a pathetic token amount. This
amount is payable to the woman on demand according to Islamic law. Fix the Haq
Meher according to the intended standard and notice how the balance of power
shifts. For a start, fewer women like Shumaila will be dead by poisoning.
Musharraf’s Four-Point Formula: The
Devil In The Details
“Four-point Formula does not want to
resolve the Kashmir dispute but to dissolve it.” Ambassador Yusuf Buch
Abba Eban, an international diplomat, is
reported to have once said, “History teaches us that men and nations behave
wisely once they exhaust all other alternatives.” That wisdom was apparent
when, in 1995, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan reportedly told
India’s then Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral at Male: “We cannot take Kashmir
by force, and you cannot give it peacefully; we have to find a way to span the
Clearly, the frustration created by what
could easily be characterised a standoff is a case that argues quite
convincingly for taking steps toward diplomacy on the issue of Kashmir. The
expression of that frustration through military might, cross-border shootings,
arrests, rapes, disappearances, and shooting the eyes out of teenaged
protesters with pellets from shotguns has long been proven to be a failure. All
the bloodletting this past summer in the valley of Kashmir simply led to
greater polarisation and has only further distanced the dispute from
resolution. Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram is said recently to have felt
that he had “a sinking feeling that Kashmir was nearly lost for India because
the central government used brute force to quell dissent there.”
There have been numerous attempts, indeed,
in the past to present proposals for resolving this dispute, but none has
seemed to take hold. The revival now of Musharraf’s four-point formula which
was widely discussed in 2006 has again been raised as a solution that offers
the most promise of hope to those who have grown weary of the struggle and are
willing to accept serious compromises in the interest of alleviating some
So, let’s look at the proposed compromise.
General Musharraf’s four-point formula involves the following. Firstly,
demilitarisation or phased withdrawal of troops; secondly, there will be no
change of borders of Kashmir. However, people of Jammu and Kashmir will be
allowed to move freely across the Line of Control; thirdly, self-governance
without independence; and lastly, a joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and
Kashmir involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
Let Us Analyse These Four Points.
A demilitarisation is an option that was
suggested by the United Nations and in particular by Sir Owen Dixon of
Australia. This has been the demand of the leadership of the Kashmiri
resistance that demilitarisation from both sides of the Ceasefire Line will
pave the way for a serious and thoughtful solution to the Kashmir dispute.
However, the Line of Control is, in fact, a
line of conflict which needs to be eroded so that the people of Kashmir can
move freely from one area to the other. But the problem arises when the
‘Four-point Formula’ says that borders cannot be withdrawn. That is a very
loaded phrase. That means that the Line of Control should, in fact, be
established permanently as an international border. Such an option is an insult
to the intelligence of the Kashmiri people.
The subject was brought up when I had an
opportunity sometime back to meet with Congressman Gary Ackerman, Democrat from
New York, who was the Chairman House and Foreign Relations Committee on South
Asia. He was considered to be the friend of India. In fact, President Clinton,
after having visited India, told Congressman Ackerman that he was more known in
India than he himself (Clinton).
Congressman Ackerman told me in 2000 that
he had a proposal for the settlement of Kashmir. If we pursue it, he said, each
party, India, Pakistan and Kashmir, will benefit. No one will lose. Each of
them will be a winner. That seemed like a sound idea, and I asked him to
explain his proposal. To my astonishment, he proposed that the Line of Control
be accepted as an international border.
“You just told me, Congressman, that in
your proposal no party would be a loser. But if we accept the Line of Control
as an international border, India is not a loser because it is in fact still in
possession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is not a loser either
because it has held on to Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The only party
which is a loser is the people of Kashmir who get nothing except the imposition
of rule by both India and Pakistan. And your proposal will legitimise Indian
sovereignty over Kashmir.”
Self-governance undoubtedly has abroad
meaning. Self-governance means freedom, independence and autonomy. It means
that the people would be makers of their destiny. It also means that one has to
be the shaper of one’s future. So, the term self-governance by itself is not an
issue. The four-point formula is problematic because, under this plan,
self-governance excludes the option of freedom or independence. In fact, it
clearly says that the people of Kashmir will be given self-governance without
independence. Will India retain the power to tax the Kashmiris? Will they have
a hand in the politics and influence who has the mandate to rule? Will they
pass new laws which infringe on the limited self-rule the Kashmiris possess?
Where does self-rule begin and where does it end, if Kashmir does not possess
sovereignty over its land?
The drafters of the four-point formula have
been quite conscious of the sentiments of the people of Kashmir. They knew that
the resistance to foreign occupation that began in 1931 and continues until now
does not accept de-facto rule by any country over Kashmir. Therefore, they came
up with the idea of self-governance which is a deceptive and misleading term
that gives an appearance of sovereignty without any substance. It is purely a
mask. Without actual sovereignty for Kashmir, under the four-point formula, the
people of Kashmir will have to accept the supremacy and rule of India over
their lives, and the possibility of that being eroded by whatever whim, fancy
or circumstance may intervene in the future. Perhaps self-governance now,
designed and managed by external powers, which is subject to the will of those
foreign powers without due respect for the sovereignty of Kashmir and all the
international protections that accompany it, has the appearance of a step in
the right direction but on an extremely slippery slope. Self-governance is a
mere illusion: what is given can be taken away, when it does not, in fact,
include real sovereignty.
Those who believe that the people of
Kashmir should accept Musharraf’s four-point formula should be bold enough to
say exactly what it is, i.e. that the method gives the people of Kashmir only
choice and that is to be part of India. This is only a slightly broader version
of Article 370 drafted in 1949 which today is meaningless.
Famed jurist and author, A. G. Noorani is
correct when he said on November 2, 2009 (The Hindu), “The solution (to
Kashmir) should be such that a Kashmiri leader could announce it in Lal Chowk.”
I totally agree with Mr Noorani. If the leadership of Kashmiri resistance
genuinely believes that the four-point formula is the only way out, let them
announce it in Lal Chowk that this form of self-governance is not what we were
striving for. Self-governance is neither freedom nor independence.
Self-governance is a declaration that Azad Kashmir is an integral part of
Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir of India. Let there be a referendum and the
people of Kashmir should get a chance to decide. If they vote in favour of the
formula, the verdict must be final and acceptable to all.
I still believe that in order to reach an
imaginative settlement of the Kashmir dispute, all parties concerned will have
to show flexibility. But in the four-point formula, the only party which
becomes a sacrificial lamb and shows flexibility and makes sacrifice are the
people of Kashmir. That should not be an option. The demand for
self-determination is greater now than it has been in many years. It’s time for
all parties to recognise the realities on the ground, see the need to include
the Kashmiri leadership at the table, and begin to negotiate in good faith for
the durable and permanent solution to the Kashmir dispute.
Feed a monster and there is every danger of
you ending up as its fodder. What makes the killing of yet another Indian
techie in the US last week – the second such tragedy in February – even more
tragic and ironic is the fact that Indian Americans have perhaps been the most
passionate of Donald Trump’s supporters. The community played a significant
role in his groundbreaking election.
As the New York Times and Wall Street
Journal reported ahead of the US elections in November, both the Indian
American diaspora and Hindutva groups in India strongly rooted for Trump. The
Hindu Republican Coalition and Indian Americans began pushing for the
billionaire businessman very early in the campaign. Shalabh Kumar, the founder
of the Hindu Republican Coalition, has been one of Trump’s biggest donors and
has been lobbying for the job of the US ambassador to India.
According to The Hindu, while Indian
Americans like most immigrants and ethnic minorities, have always supported the
Democrats, in this election they broke away from that tradition and voted for
Trump in large numbers. While Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close Muslim aide,
was seen as one possible reason for turning away her Indian voters, most Indian
Americans saw in Trump a ‘strong, politically incorrect leader’ a la Narendra
Modi and an ally against ‘Islamic terrorism’ and Pakistan.
The Times noted with particular interest
the elaborate ‘yagnas’ that were performed by the Hindu Sena in India seeking
divine blessings for Trump’s success. The paper also highlighted the striking
similarities of style, rhetoric and approach between the US leader and Prime
Minister Modi. Steve Bannon, the chief strategist of the US president, admires
the Indian leader and calls him ‘Indian Reagan’.
“It may be pure coincidence that some of
Trump’s words channel the nationalistic and, some argue, anti-Muslim sentiments
that Modi stoked as he rose to power. But it is certainly not coincidental that
many of Trump’s biggest Hindu supporters are also some of Modi’s most ardent
backers,” wrote Jeremy W Peters in the Times.
Even when Trump unveiled his now infamous
‘Muslim ban’, many in the Indian media continued to cheer for him. Some even
suggested taking a leaf out of Trump’s book to throw out India’s own ‘illegals’
and ‘Bangladeshis’ from the north-east.
Given this mutual admiration between the
right in the US and India, it’s understandable if many fellow Indians are
bewildered by these rising attacks targeting the Indian Americans. The Indian
media has noted with dismay that Trump has not condemned the attacks on
Indians. (He has condemned the killing in his State of the Union address to
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Information
Minister Venkaiah Naidu urged the US leader to condemn the Kansas City shooting
in the strongest terms saying it was important for the “US government to
restore the faith of ethnic minorities in the country”.
One couldn’t agree more with Singh, the
solitary voice of moderation in his party. But why this selective outrage? Why
did the home minister not proffer the same advice to his own boss when such
killings happened less than 30 kilometres from Delhi? We are yet to hear Singh,
PM Modi or any other minister condemn the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq or many
others like him. Instead of bringing the killers to justice, central ministers
like Mahesh Sharma visited Dadri to express solidarity with his killers and
even tried to justify it in the name of ‘Hindu sentiments’.
Indeed, the BJP staged a ‘Maha Panchayat’
in the village to demand a case against Akhlaq’s family for ‘cow killing’ and
no eyebrows were raised in Delhi or in the media. By the way, even though the
shaken wife of the slain Indian techie, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, stated in the US
that they had moved out of their ancestral village because they thought they
did not belong there, this isn’t true. Ashfaq’s family moved out because it
couldn’t take all the threats and hate anymore.
There cannot be a greater tragedy for a
society when some of its members conclude they do not belong there, especially
for a multicultural society which has diversity as its chief strength. It takes
a lifetime to make a home and ages to build a vibrant, civil society and a
united nation. Hate and bigotry can destroy it all in no time. As Edmund Burke
would famously argue, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do
We have seen this happen again and again in
what my friend Prof Badri Raina calls ‘residual democracies’. Indeed, it has been happening all around the
world. Intolerance is on the march
everywhere. The rabid right is rising
across Europe, the land of Magna Carta.
The European Union, which with its open
borders and celebration of democracy and human rights once inspired nations
around the world, faces an uncertain future as it gets assailed by the same
dark forces. Instead of looking to the future, in the 21st century, we are
walking back in time. Rather than nipping evil in the bud, we are flirting with
it, and allowing it to mutate into a monster.
All those shocked and bewildered at Trump’s
actions like the Muslim ban, mass deportations of immigrants, the wall with
Mexico and the plan to multiply the US’s nuclear arsenal cannot complain now.
The man is doing precisely what he had promised. At least, he cannot be accused
of being a typical politician. As for the liberals, they did not do enough to
stop his march to the White House.
The same is true of our own answer to
Trump. Notwithstanding his eventful past and his worldview, many good,
reasonable Indians, tired of the numerous scams and the lack of direction under
the Congress, voted for the ‘strong leader’ hoping he would carry everyone
And to be fair to PM Modi, he has certainly
given a more effective and responsive administration. Corruption in high places
is down. But all that good work is undermined and undone by his deafening
silence in the face of the antics of his Parivar, many of them honourable
members of his cabinet.
When men in power and authority remain
silent in the face of such actions, they send an unmistakable message of
complicity. This is why even as Modi preaches ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’, his
party leaders and ministers go about their business as usual, spreading
sweetness and light. Look at the Ramjas College episode in Delhi and how a
20-year old student, daughter of a Kargil martyr, is facing abuse and threats –
some from central ministers – for standing up for her beliefs.
And this is why there is a sudden, visible
surge in attacks on immigrants in the US. Because men like the Navy veteran who
killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla believe that they have the highest sanction for
their despicable actions.
Therefore it’s important for leaders to not
only speak out against hate and intolerance in clear, unequivocal terms but to
also show with their actions that they do not sanction or tolerate it. Hate
hurts us all whether we are white, black or brown. For many in the US, all
immigrants and brown-skinned people are ‘Muslims.’
India and the US – the nations of Gandhi
and Martin Luther King Jr – should be leading the world with their celebration
of diversity and tolerance, not by accepting hate and bigotry.
A section of the security establishment has
come out of its denial mode about the presence of Isis/Daesh in Pakistan and
started recognising the challenges posed by it.
A recent report attributed to Sindh’s
counterterrorism department claims that Daesh has avenues to establish itself
in Pakistan and can exploit sectarian hatred and the existence of extremist
religious organisations to recruit members.
Since 2015, Daesh and its affiliated
outfits have perpetrated four major horrifying bombings in the country. This
includes an attack on a Shia mosque in Shikarpur in January 2015 – in which its
affiliate Jundullah was found to be involved. Isis has also been involved in an
attack on the Ismaili community in Safoora Goth, Karachi in May 2015. The
attack on the Shah Noorani shrine in Khuzdar in November 2016 was also
perpetrated by Daesh, and the outfits also claimed responsibility for the
attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan Sharif last month.
Dozens of people were killed in each of these strikes.
Although signs of Daesh’s footprint in the
country began to appear in 2014, top officials of the federal and Punjab
governments dismissed the organisation’s presence in Pakistan until recently.
Daesh had established its bases in eastern Afghanistan’s bordering areas with
Pakistan in 2014 and, soon afterwards, had penetrated into South Waziristan.
Daesh’s sanctuaries, training camps and financial resources in Afghanistan have
infused a new life into Pakistan’s outlawed militant sectarian groups which
were struggling for survival before joining the group.
The Balochistan government was the first to
detect the organisation’s activities. In November 2014, the provincial
government reportedly sent a confidential report to the federal government,
saying Daesh had recruited around 12,000 men from Hangu and Kurram Agency.
However, the warning was not taken seriously.
The same year, Daesh activists made their
presence felt in several cities, including Lahore and Islamabad, through
graffiti and wall-chalking. The organisation’s print literature was also
distributed. The interior ministry still remained unmoved. In November 2014,
the interior minister said that “the militant Islamic State group, which is a
Middle Eastern organisation, has no presence in Pakistan”. In his view, other
terrorist groups were using Daesh’s name and causing death and destruction in
This stance was at variance with obvious
empirical evidence. In January 2015, security agencies reportedly arrested
Yousaf al-Salafi, a local leader of Daesh, along with his two companions in
Lahore. In 2016, the alleged culprits behind the Safoora attack were arrested
and found to be affiliated with Daesh. In December 2015, Punjab’s counterterrorism
department claimed to have busted a Daesh group in Daska area of Sialkot.
In February 2016, Aftab Sultan, the
director general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), in a briefing to the Senate
Standing Committee on Interior, reportedly said that Daesh was emerging as a
threat in the country because “several militant groups had soft corner for it”.
The IB chief named outlawed organisation such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan as examples. In sharp contrast, the interior minister
recently insisted that sectarian outfits and terrorist organisations cannot be
The confusion at the highest level – and
the consequent inaction of the authorities – has allowed Daesh to expand its
network in the country and carry out deadly attacks after short intervals,
particularly in Sindh. The recent lethal strike at the Sehwan Sharif makes it
obvious that the organisation has devout followers with a supply line of arms
and ammunition, a logistical support network and funding to carry out their
activities. Intelligence reports revealed to the media suggest that associates
of Daesh have hideouts in the bordering districts of Sindh and Balochistan.
There is a clear pattern in the areas of
operation for the activities of militant and extremist organisations. Daesh and
its affiliates have conducted various attacks in Sindh and Balochistan. The TTP
has focused on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Jamaatul Ahrar
have chosen Punjab. The well-organised, systematic functioning of terrorist
groups in Pakistan has outsmarted our security setup.
Daesh’s stronghold in Afghanistan is a
source of worry for other neighbouring countries of the region – including
Russia, China, Iran and the Central Asian states. Media reports suggest that
Russia’s Muslim community has become a major recruitment base for the
organisation. It is feared that that these Russian-speaking Daesh members can
set up bases in northern Afghanistan along the border with Tajikistan and
Uzbekistan to penetrate the Central Asian states. Likewise, leaked Daesh
records provide evidence that more than 100 Uighur extremists from China have
joined the organisation.
Given the reach and extent of Daesh’s
threat, the concerned countries in the region have started coordinating with
each other to counter the threat. On December 27, 2016, representatives from
Russia, China and Pakistan met in Moscow to discuss regional security with a
special focus on emerging Daesh threat. The recent meeting of Russian
ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Yurevich Dedov with COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on
February 28 can also be seen in this context.
Pakistan’s fight against Daesh has two
components. One is related to its associates and affiliated outfits and
sectarian militant outfits within Pakistan – which are the target of the
ongoing Operation Raddul Fasaad. The other – which is both significant and
tricky – concerns the organisation’s
main bases in Afghanistan close to Pak-Afghan border, which can only be
eliminated in a full-fledged military operation involving troops on the ground,
heavy fire and the use of the air force.
Obviously, Pakistani forces cannot launch a
war in the bordering areas of Afghanistan without the consent and collaboration
of the Kabul government and, more importantly, the US – which has stationed nearly
9,000 troops on Afghan soil. The policy of US President Donald Trump’s
administration will be crucial for a complete victory over Daesh in our region.
The Anticipated Benefits of FATA Reforms
This piece is in response to Rustam Shah
Mohmand’s Article in this paper titled ‘The Unanticipated Perils of FATA Merger
with K-P”. While targeting the reflexivity of Fata parliamentarians and those
advocating the reforms as ‘alien’ to the region’s culture as they might not be
living in Fata, hence not qualified to debate Fata reforms, I may not be
qualified too according to this definition of ‘competency on Fata’ as I belong
to K-P. However, I take the liberty for the fact that he has served as Chief
Secretary of my province while hailing from Fata. What is more distasteful is
the disgust he has shown for the system which he has served as a top
bureaucrat. Furthermore, if not living in Fata should be the sole reason for
not advocating Fata reforms, this principle should also be applied on those who
are apposing reforms but living in Peshawar and in Islamabad.
Mr Rustam Shah Mohmand in his article
attacked the legitimacy of the Fata parliamentarians by quoting their ‘handful’
votes in the general election 2013. However, if we compare the votes secured by
them, other constituencies in mainstreamed Pakistan, this is still a high
margin. Mr Shahji Gul Afridi from NA-45 secured 29,488 votes and Mr Sajid
Hussain Turi secured 30,524 votes. Both are strong advocates for reforms. There
are 10 MNAs from the rest of Pakistan, including Federal Minister for SAFRON
ministry, who have secured less than 29,000 votes but still represent their
constituencies. In fact, Mr Muhammad Jamaluddin from the JUI-F secured only
3,356 votes; the lowest of all MNAs in Pakistan and the JUI-F is the only
representative party in Fata which is opposing the reforms. Therefore, if any
political party should stop opposing Fata reforms based on the number of votes,
the JUI-F should be the first one. Majority of political parties want merger
and only the JUI-F and PkMAP is standing in the way of political and human
rights of people of Fata.
Mr Rustam Shah Mohmand has shown disgust
for the judiciary and democratic form of government by predicting chaos and
civil war as consequences of the Fata reforms. To make his argument stronger,
he has presented Karachi where the law and order situation is dismal for the
last three decades. But he failed to acknowledge that worsening law and order
situation and taking total control of area are two different things. Most parts
of tribal areas remained under the full control of the Taliban where the state
writ was minimal. It seems he is fully supporting the existing farm of
governance in Fata without superior courts jurisdiction and non-representative
status. How can any sane person defend FCR in 21st century is beyond my
understating. Yes, the majority of people in Fata are against FCR and this is
obvious from the recent study published by Fata Research Centre titled
“Governance Reforms in FATA: People’s Perspective”. The study depicts that 68%
population of Fata is for abolition of FCR, and 74% endorsed the option of
merger with K-P. In this survey, in any case, if FCR is so perfect for tackling
the Taliban, why should it not be extended to Karachi and other parts of
Pakistan as well?
Mr Rustam Shah Mohmand has rightly pointed
out the need for social and economic development of Fata. However, this
development is not possible when Fata is governed administratively through K-P,
economically and politically through the federal government. Those who are
supporting merger are well aware of the fact that Fata Senate seats will have
to be reduced. Yet, due to geographical, cultural and economical proximity of
Fata agencies with K-P districts, increase share in NFC award (which should be
at least 5% given the population and backwardness of Fata), and protection of
fundamental rights owing to extension of superior courts jurisdiction are some
of the key consideration which help understand the thinking of proponents of
merger. The existing governance structure is no more working in Fata and the
federal government has to move for reforms for giving full citizenship status
to the people of Fata. Normalcy will not return even after many successful
military operations until and unless the civilian administration is capable
enough to take over. Let’s not delay the process of reforms. As a first step,
the federal government should immediately extend superior courts jurisdiction
The 13th meeting of the Economic
Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in Islamabad marks a great achievement for
Pakistan. The summit took place at a critical time when the country faced a
fresh wave of terrorism and its neighbours Afghanistan and India are making
attempts to isolate it on the diplomatic front.
In this scenario, the presence of the head
of states of all ECO member countries in Islamabad has been touted as a big
success of the country’s foreign policy – which is largely based on promoting
regional peace, integrity, stability and mutual cooperation.
Through this summit, Pakistan’s leading
role on the regional level has been proved once again. The election of Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif as the chairman of the ECO is likely to yield positive
results while the participation of China’s executive vice foreign minister
along with a UN delegation has shown their commitment to the region.
Unfortunately, the Afghan president was the only head of state who did not
attend the summit.
Pakistan, Iran and Turkey had jointly laid
the foundation of this important organisation in 1985. The ECO aimed to promote
economic ties. Following the defeat of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the
Central Asian States attained freedom and seven more countries became member of
Pakistan and the Central Asian States had
enjoyed historical and cultural ties for centuries since the British Empire
ruled the Subcontinent. The Russian occupation temporarily impacted these
relations. However, after the Central Asian States were liberated from Russian
occupation, they resumed their friendlier ties with Pakistan and considering it
to be their real source of freedom.
In addition, the strong relations between
Pakistan and Turkey can be gauged from the fact that Pakistanis are welcomed in
Turkey and locals refer to them as their brothers. Various speculations about
the future of Pak-Iran relations have also been erased through the active
participation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the ECO summit.
In the opening speech of the summit, Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the ECO region is the hub for 52 percent of
world trade and Pakistan wants to have peaceful relations with all neighbours.
Talking about the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),
Sharif was of the view that it is a comprehensive development project for the entire
region and will play a crucial role in improving the economic and strategic
environment of the region. He maintained that the regional connectivity is
essential in this regard.
Pakistan’s geographical position is unique
and important in the context of Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia. But it
is a matter of concern that the Afghan president could not attend the summit
and instead sent the Afghan ambassador to represent him. Pakistan and
Afghanistan have countless grievances with each other.
But all these mutual issues can be resolved
through communication. The ECO summit was the best platform for this. The theme
of the summit – ‘Connectivity for Regional Prosperity’ – urges all member
states to direct the region toward progress and development.
Despite the anti-Pakistan steps – which
were taken by India to destabilise regional peace – our prime minister always
adopted a positive approach without compromising on his Kashmir stance.
He has invited India to promote bilateral
trade relations as economic ties can provide a peaceful solution for the
On different occasions, many countries have
shown interest to become part of CPEC. If any attempt is made through the ECO
summit to support CPEC as a whole, it will benefit the entire region – especially
the Central Asian States located on the historical silk route. Unfortunately,
Afghanistan is under Indian influence to oppose CPEC.
It is a grave mistake on the part of the
Afghan leadership if they believe that the Central Asian States have no other
option but to reach the warm waters of Gwadar via Afghanistan. Wakhan is the
narrow strip of territory in northeastern Afghanistan that separates Tajikistan
During his last visit to Pakistan in
November 2015, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has discussed various
infrastructure projects to establish road link between both countries with
Sharif. The NHA chairman has delivered a detailed presentation on the possible
options – including the Gwadar-Peshawar-Kabul-Kunduz-Dushanbe route, the Chitral-Ishkashim-Dushanbe
route and the Khunjerab-Kalasu-Murghab route. The last option completely
According to Chinese media reports, a
border trade zone is also being established there in Tashkurgan Town, Xinjiang
– which borders with Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan – and it is expected
to be completed in the current year.
Afghanistan must therefore understand that
due to its non-serious and hostile attitude towards Pakistan, regional
countries, including Russia and the Central Asian States, it might consider
obtaining access to Gwadar without passing through Afghan territory.
We must join hands so that mutual
cooperation among the member states is strengthened in the fields of
infrastructure, connectivity and transportation for the development and the
progress of the entire region.