Books and Documents

Pakistan Press (07 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Looking through the Rohingya mirror: New Age Islam’s selection: 07 September 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

September 7, 2017

The Kashmiri woman

By Nyla Ali Khan

Pakistan needs introspection on BRICS

By Zulfiquar Rao

Terrorism is not the threat

By Chris Cork

How to fail at foreign policy

By Obed Pasha

Trump’s exit strategy from Afghanistan

By Hussain Nadim

Russia’s CPEC dream is Pakistan’s dilemma

By Dr Raza Khan

The fourth horror

By F.S. Aijazuddin

Foreign policy review

By I.A. Rehman

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/looking-through-the-rohingya-mirror--new-age-islam’s-selection--07-september-2017/d/112452


Looking through the Rohingya mirror

By Daanish Mustafa

As a young man I was quite enthralled of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Laureate and state counselor of Myanmar/Burma. She seemed very personable and brave to be standing up to the military regime in her country. As a Pakistani, I knew a thing or two about military regimes, of the Zia-ul-Haq variety at the time, and what it takes to stand up to them. But then in the early two thousands, her silence on the Rohingya persecution, irreparably shattered the romanticized myth I had built of her as a courageous crusader for democracy and human rights. I still however, maintained a vague hope that perhaps she was being politic and keeping silent to meet the larger objective of easing out the military in Myanmar. But my optimism was short lived. Her comment, caught on camera during an interview with BBC’s Mishal Hussein, told me that she was not just being a politic, she in fact, was a xenophobic, anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya charlatan. In exasperation at Mishal’s pointed questions about her role in the persecution of the Rohingya she said, “I did not know they were sending a Muslim to interview me”. Any doubts about who she was should have been settled for the world community there and then.

Just as Suu Kyi’s concern with democracy and rights is limited to the Buddhist Burmese citizens — Pakistan, too, makes it clear that it’s concerns for protecting the rights of persecuted minorities is limited exclusively to the ‘Muslim minorities’

Pakistani state too has remarkably reinforced for me, and revealed to the world, what it is through the Rohingya tragedy. It has revealed its Islamist chauvinism through its official statement on the tragedy. The statement rightly expresses the anguish and concern of Pakistan at the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya people, at the beginning of the statement. But then the last paragraph of the statement is as follows:

“In line with its consistent position on protecting the rights of Muslim minorities worldwide, Pakistan will work with the international community, in particular the OIC to express solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims and to work towards safeguarding their rights [sic]”

Just as Suu Kyi’s concern with democracy and rights is limited to the Buddhist Burmese citizens, Pakistan too makes it clear above that it’s concerns for protecting the rights of persecuted minorities is limited to the ‘Muslim minorities’ only. Just as Aung San Suu Kyi evidently couldn’t care less for the rights of the Muslims, Pakistan evidently couldn’t care less if they were non-Muslim. Pakistan’s silence on the ongoing holocaust in Congo — 6 million dead and counting — or Tibetans in China, or Catholics in East Timor back when, has been quite consistent in that register.

Anyone, besides a Pakistani, reading the above statement would not understand why Pakistanis complain about the discrimination and Islamophobia in the West. Or the West’s indifference to the plight of the Palestinians or the Kashmiris. It is evidently reasonable that we limit our sympathies for the Muslims alone. It is not reasonable for the right wing in the West, of the Donald Trump and Fox news variety to not limit itself to solidarity only with its own white Christian kind? Or is it that they claim to be champions of human rights, and hence they should pay attention to all human rights? And we only claim to be champions of Muslims so, we should only be asked to worry about Muslims?

Pakistan’s ‘consistent’ position on the Rohingya’s in Myanmar notwithstanding, how much better is the Pakistan’s treatment of close to one million Rohingya’s living within its own borders? My research team spent three years working with the Rohingya community in the Bin Qasim Town of Karachi. The tales to emerge from there were horrific to say the least. Rohingya’s are denied any rights of citizenship by the state, even though they have been living in the country, for 30-50 years. They cannot get CNICs and hence their children can’t go to government schools, they cannot access health or any government services. They are perpetually harassed by law enforcement — they can’t even travel or get a job — all of them requiring the production of a CNIC under our recent National Action Plan. What is left for the Rohingya, especially young Rohingya to do in Karachi then? Obviously, petty crime, blackmail by the police and political parties, drugs and back breaking soul searing poverty and deprivation. But our hearts bleed all the same for their kinsmen in Myanmar.

Fredrich Neitzsche, the famous German philosopher once said, “Beware, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster . . . ” We rightly fight and resent, at least in word, if not in deed, the monsters of racism, Islamophobia, discrimination, and hypocritical application of human rights in the West. But have we become the monster we fight? If not, then expressing solidarity with all persecuted minorities in the world; and issuing CNIC to the Rohingya Pakistanis might be an excellent start.



The Kashmiri woman

By Nyla Ali Khan

September 7, 2017

Twenty-eight years of armed insurgency and counter-insurgency in Kashmir; the devastation rendered by militaristic discourse; the consequent sequestration in the Kashmir Valley; my physical and geographical remove from Kashmir; my imperative need to emotionally reconnect with a land that has never ceased to be an integral part of my being; the linkages between personal and collective identity and between identity and action; a questionable unwillingness to recognise the separate niche of women’s narratives in the larger political context of Kashmir, which is symptomatic of exclusionary patriarchy in the culture, and which did not establish women’s activism as an actuality and an ideology, drove me to write this article.

My focus in this article is on the gendered activism of the women of the Kashmir province in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The battlefield of armed insurgency and counter-insurgency has been the valley of Kashmir, and the political, economic, and socio-cultural dimensions of the conflict have rendered asunder the fabric of that province of J&K, more than the other two, Jammu and Ladakh. Also, considering my analysis of gendered violence and gendered activism in Kashmir is interwoven with my own personal and intellectual trajectory, I explore the struggles of a particular ethnic group, Kashmiri Muslim and Hindu, in the most conflict-ridden part of the state.

Inadequate attention has been paid to the gender dimension of the armed conflict in the Kashmir province of Indian-administered J&K, which stymies even further the emergence of peace, political liberty, socioeconomic reconstruction, and egalitarian democratisation. As Dyan Mazura, Angela Raven-Roberts, Jane Parpart, and Sue Lautze (2005) observe, “inattention to, and subsequent miscalculations about, women’s and girl’s roles and experiences during particular conflicts and in early postconflict periods systematically undermines the efforts of peacekeeping and peace-building operations, civil society, and women’s organizations to establish conditions necessary for national and regional peace, justice, and security”.

Although the women of Indian-administered Kashmir have been greatly affected by the armed insurgency and counter insurgency in the region, they are largely absent in decision-making bodies at the local, regional, and national levels. I am painfully aware of the fact that, although substantive ethnographic work has been done by local and diasporic scholars on the brunt borne by Kashmiri women during the armed conflict as well as on the atrocities inflicted on women by Indian paramilitary forces, the local police, and some militant organisations, Kashmiri women continue to be near absent at the formal level. Attention has been paid to gender-based violence in Kashmir by scholars, ethnographers, and NGOs, but not enough attention is given to the political, economic, and social fall-out of the armed conflict for women.

Not enough emphasis is laid on how Kashmiri women of different political, religious, ideological, and class orientations can become resource managers and advocates for other women in emergency and crisis situations. Although the international community made a commitment to incorporate gender perspectives in peace efforts and underscored gender mainstreaming as a global strategy for the growth of gender equality in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action in 1995 (Mazurana et al 2005), not enough is being done toward increasing women’s participation in peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building and nation-building in Kashmir.

It is in the arena of domestic politics that “changes in gender composition to favour [sic] women today may have significant effects on policies and practices, and here that such rearrangements of personnel can themselves be seen as responses to the presence of real and growing social processes of a pro-democratic and pro-feminist kind” (Samuel 2001). It remains to be seen if the increase in female participation in the recent legislative assembly elections in J&K will facilitate the creation of forceful positions for Kashmiri women in decision-making bodies in the regional and national scenario, which is not yet a reality.

There is a serious lack of feminist discourse on political/activist roles taken on by women in Kashmir, where the dominant perception still is that, “politics and policy-making are linked to the powerful, strong, male realist rather than with the archetypal gentle, negotiating woman” (Ibid). As in other political scenarios in South Asia, women politicians are relegated to the “soft areas” of social welfare and family affairs. Political parties in Kashmir, mainstream or separatists, have not relinquished paternalistic attitudes toward women, and women’s rights and gender issues are secondary to political power. Women constitute a minority in J&K, increasing the pressures of high visibility, unease, stereotyping, inability to make substantial change, over-accommodation to the dominant male culture in order to avoid condemnation as “overly soft.” Even those with access to the echelons of power are unwilling or unable to forge “broad feminist coalitions and informal networks along party lines” (Dahlerup 2001: 104).

The most effective way to make a gender perspective viable in Kashmiri society would be for women, state as well as non-state actors, to pursue the task of not just incorporating and improving the positions of their organisations within civil society, but also by forging connections between their agendas and strategies for conflict resolution and reconstruction of society with the strategies and agendas of other sections of the populace impacted by the conflict.

Perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new regional order which would be capable of producing cross-economic, political, and cultural interests among the people of the region. Women in civic associations and in government can lead the way toward a peaceful pluralistic democracy and support international negotiations for a sustainable peace in the region.

Plurality, heterogeneity, and dissidence adorn the architecture of Kashmir, with an emphasis, similar to Nelly Richard’s in her essay ‘Postmodernism and Periphery’, on local political projects, regionalism, peripheral social communities, traditions that survive the ravages of time, and marginalised forms of knowledge. I seek in multiplicity a powerful politics that facilitates my ability to engage in different struggles, regional, national, and transnational.

It is incumbent upon responsible feminist scholarship on the Kashmir imbroglio to underscore and analyse not just the gendered violence that has bedaubed the landscape of post-1989 conflict-ridden Kashmir, but also the agentive capacities of Kashmiri women to engage in “a temporally embedded process of social engagement, informed by the past (in its habitual aspect), but also oriented toward the future (as a capacity to imagine alternative possibilities) and toward the present (as a capacity to contextualize past habits and future projects within the contingencies of the moment)” (Emirbayer and Mische 1998).

The writer     is the author of ‘Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Volence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman’.



Pakistan needs introspection on BRICS

By Zulfiquar Rao

Pakistan must learn not to transform what are actually its diplomatic and political disputes with other countries into militaristic ones


Many in Pakistan were surprised when the association of five major emerging national economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) declaration from its meeting in Xiamen, China on September 4, 2017 included Pakistan-based terrorist outfits Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), Haqqani Network, and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) as the entities which have threatened the peace and stability in the region. Pakistan formally rejected the BRICS’ declaration saying there’s no space left for terrorist outfits in the country following its military operations against terrorist organisations; although there aren’t many buyers of this assertion. Pakistan further reiterated that the country itself has been the victim of terrorism as thousands of civilians and military men lost their lives in the fight against terror.

Both political commentators and the government saw the declaration with an element of surprise because in the past, China had been obstructing any move by India to directly or indirectly implicate Pakistan and to designate some of the key leaders of the terrorist outfits based in Pakistan as a global terrorist and a threat to regional peace. However, the fact the declaration mentioning names of these outfits had been signed by China too, speaks volumes about the limits of the sensational perception among Pakistanis of their so called deeper-than-ocean and higher-than-Himalayas friendship with China. Locally, it feels more shocking as government of Pakistan and a number of policy experts had not expected this, especially in the backdrop of recent Sino-Indian border skirmishes and consequent diplomatic tensions between them.

The kind of diplomatic isolation facing Pakistan can only be averted if its national security policy and foreign policy principles start revolving around and aiming at social and economic

well-being of its people

However, what makes the declaration even more significant is that it has echoed some of the points of the new US policy on Afghanistan and South Asia, that President Trump had recently announced, which had already upset Pakistan and led to postponement of scheduled diplomacy visits between the US and Pakistan. From Pakistan’s point of view, certainly, to an extent, one can say that the new US policy has favored India’s stance, offered India a greater role in Afghanistan, and scapegoated Pakistan for US’s own failures in Afghanistan. Yet, the argument is incapable of rubbishing the views shared by the US, EU, and many of neighboring countries that Pakistan’s government’s actions and military offensives against the terrorist outfits are only selective and without much regard to regional peace and stability.

This is precisely what Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary had warned about the participants of a high level meeting on national security that then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had chaired last year in early October. The Foreign Secretary had shared that despite Pakistan’s counter diplomatic efforts to India’s avowed plans to render Pakistan diplomatically isolated, the country found no eager recipients of its counter narrative across the world’s most influential capitals, and that a diplomatic isolation may be imminent if Pakistan didn’t act against Masood Azhar, JeM, Hafiz Saeed, LeT and Haqqani Network.

Unfortunately, the forewarning from the Foreign Secretary got buried under the farcical ‘Dawn-leak’ scandal, which was no more than a news story of that meeting in a newspaper. But the military establishment created so much of ruckus through media men and TV channels aligned to its narrative that civilian led democratic government had to find respite only in constituting a joint investigation committee on that news story and forget insisting on acting against terrorist outfits indiscriminately.

Situation one year after proves that unless Pakistan acts its part well first, none of its friends like China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey can help it in diplomatic success or survival beyond their own interests and limited clout. Pakistan requires a policy shift in national security perception and foreign policy principles. For instance, Pakistan must learn not to transform what are actually its diplomatic and political disputes with other countries into militaristic ones. Letting anti-Afghan and anti-US Taliban operate from Pakistan not only tarnishes Pakistan’s image but also triggers tit-for-tat acts from Afghanistan side, which is witnessed in the form of anti-Pakistan Taliban and other similar forces finding refuge inside Afghanistan. Similar is the story vis-à-vis India in the form of its support for Baloch separatists and anti-Pakistan Taliban inside Afghanistan, which is a response to terrorists using Pakistani soil to infiltrate into India and inflict death and destruction there.

So the kind of diplomatic isolation facing Pakistan can only be averted if its national security policy and foreign policy principles start revolving around and aiming at social and economic well-being of its people. Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan will follow, and it can better pitch its legitimate claim over Kashmir as Pakistan switches to more pro-peace approach. Pakistan must be warned: with empty coffers and empty stomachs fed with jingoistic narrative it will risk inviting more troubles and miseries than success and prosperity for itself as a state and people therein.



Terrorism is not the threat

By Chris Cork

Published: September 7, 2017

Let me just repeat that. Terrorism is not the threat — as in an existential threat that might overthrow the state and established order. Moreover it never has been, and not even close. Not even in 2009 when there were trumpeting headlines that the Taliban were 60 miles from Islamabad and closing in fast. Fooey. They were in Buner and there were fears that they might be able to interdict the Islamabad — Peshawar motorway. Never happened. The closest the Taliban have got to giving the state a nudge was their occupation of the Swat valley. And they lost that once the military rolled up its sleeves. Today there are effective — if selective — ongoing operations against terrorist and extremist groups and there is not the faintest sign that an existential threat to the Land of the Pure is about to become a reality.

All that said it is also a reality that this is a state where extremism and radicalism have become embedded, with no thought-through countervailing moves by any government. They have become what amounts to a status quo and that is likely to be the case for years to come. In that sense some may argue that the terrorists have already won, but that is not the case. The state is stable despite the doomsayers, a ramshackle democracy totters along, not as frail as some might like us to think, and the economy is in as good a shape as it may be given the mediocrity of its management now and in the past.

Terrorist acts have reduced significantly everywhere in the last 18 months. The military are on a roll, and led by a man who clearly relishes leadership — from the front. A new-ish prime minister may actually be coming to work with his head on the right way up and switched on. People…a lot of people…are differently poor. Not quite as poor as they were but not feeling that good about it either.

So terrorism — extremism even and mass public sympathy for a radical mindset that is Medieval — is not the threat. Yet the state of Pakistan is in mortal danger and may have a couple of generations, three at most, before it falls into utter chaos. And it is nothing to do with terrorism.

As a state Pakistan is dying of babies. It is a death both foretold and confirmed by the recent data released after the census. There is a credible projection that by the year 2100 there could be 364 million of us, up from the 207 million of today. The population remains umbilically connected to Malthusian growth and showering it with condoms on a nightly basis is not going to fix that. The nut to crack if population is to be brought under control is achieving a substantial rise in the standard of living for everybody, such that they want to have fewer children and smaller families become normative.

Currently the population is rising faster than the state can raise living standards. Yes the country is becoming more productive but greater productivity links to higher incomes which means that healthier children now survive to go on and have healthier children of their own. I am sure you can see where this is going — there comes a point where the numbers exceed the capacity of the state to sustain. Perversely, guaranteeing the survival of children by raising standards adds to the problem unless the mindset that says ‘all babies good’ can get short-circuited. On current form the chances of that happening can be expressed as a minus number.

Factor in a galloping water crisis that is only going to get worse and not better, a rise in temperatures that will — not may — eventually render swathes of the country uninhabitable and you begin to see the outline of the perfect storm that really is a threat to the very existence of the state. The state is in mortal danger of breeding itself into extinction less than a century hence, and children born on the very day this is published will live to see starvation and social breakdown on an unimaginable scale. Terrorism? No problem. Babies? Run for your lives as they are coming to get you.



How to fail at foreign policy

By Obed Pasha

Pakistan’s need to maintain perpetual proxies to infiltrate India and Afghanistan to counter these neighbouring nations is an example of wartime skills being applied in times of peace


Foreign policy has never been Pakistan’s strong point, but the situation seems to be particularly alarming this time around. Events since Donald Trump’s August 21 speech threatening Pakistan of dire consequences for its ‘continued support for regional terrorism’ have made two things certain: First, that the Americans are serious about using economic and military pressure on Pakistan to punish it for providing safe havens for Islamic militants; and second, that the Pakistani establishment is in no mood to heed to Trump’s warnings anytime soon. Like it or not, Islamic militarism has functioned as the mainstay for our deep state’s security policy for over five decades, and breaking such ties is never easy.

Unwilling to let go of this policy, the Pakistani deep-state is projecting defiance by sending off Foreign Minister KhawajaAsif on a four-nation tour to China, Russia, Turkey and Iran. This move is to warn the Americans that Pakistan is not afraid to break its ties with the west and join the opposing camp of Asian powers. Whatever this policy might seem on surface, it lacks substance since switching sides at this stage is next to impossible for Pakistan. Although our policymakers have proved themselves to be incompetent many times in the past, I still doubt if they want Pakistan to become another North Korea, Myanmar or Iran without the oil. The BRICS declaration condemning Pakistan-based militant organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) indicates that Russia and China are more interested in expanding their own economic interests, rather than defending Pakistan’s ‘strategic assets’.

In another inconsequential hogwash, both houses of the Pakistani parliament condemned Donald Trump’s speech in harshest of terms, and urged the government to take a host of measures like blocking NATO supplies to Afghanistan and sending refugees back to Afghanistan. These resolutions included every irrelevant thing you could think of, except demanding the government to act against terrorist sanctuaries within our territories. Given how little influence the politicians have in national security matters, this resolution is nothing more than noise meant to appease some segments of our own society or to strengthen the establishment’s position as it renegotiates terms with the Americans.

What the Americans are asking is probably too much for us to deliver. The Pakistani establishment does not want to lose its chance to install a friendly government in post-American Kabul by disowning the Haqqani Network. Handing over Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commanders to India would leave the establishment with no other levers to pull India into dialogue over Kashmir. Who will fight against Baloch separatists on the deep-state’s behalf if the ISIS leader ShafiqueMengal is put behind bars? The establishment needs militants to threaten politicians when they challenge it, or to intimidate bloggers who dare to mock the military. Our current and past foreign policy failures come from such myopic views held by our military.

The fact remains that military-led national security policy is bound to end up in disaster. Militaries are trained for combat and view all situations in win-lose, live-die, fight-flight, friend-foe dichotomies. They are also trained to expect the worst of their opponent so they may plan for grave eventualities. Every move of the opponent is viewed with suspicion and mistrust, and contingencies are stacked to counter the enemy’s potential hostilities. Our need to maintain perpetual proxies to infiltrate India and Afghanistan to counter these neighboring nations is an example of wartime skills being applied in times of peace.

Military-men find it difficult to sympathise with other non-security dimensions of inter-nation relationships such as economy, trade, culture, education, health etc. A multi-dimensional treatment of foreign policy by politicians is viewed with suspicion and they are often accused of compromising on security matters. A politician trying to normalise relationships with regional powers is seen either as dishonest or naïve.

What the Americans are asking is probably too much for us to deliver. The Pakistani establishment does not want to lose its chance to install a friendly government in post-American Kabul by disowning the Haqqani Network

Finally, militaries require unquestioned support from their citizens to win wars because soldiers would only lay their lives fighting an enemy if they know that the entire nation stands by them. This essential condition for wartime morale becomes problematic when the military takes on roles it is not meant to, like formulating national security or foreign policies. Any criticism is viewed as a direct attack on the military and all efforts are made to curb dissent, even if they require using religious extremists to threaten dissidents. In addition to creating an oppressive atmosphere in the society, this obsession with homogeneity of opinion reduces the accountability of policymakers. Lack of accountability then leads to further problems like misusing national security to protect vested interests, fostering more distrust of institutions in the society. Such blanket powers have allowed the establishment to label activists like Mehar Abdul Sattar of Okara, Baba Jan of Gilgit-Baltistan, or Akbar Bugti of Balochistan as terrorists for speaking out against the excesses of the deep-state. Every dissenter becomes a traitor and worthy of the severest reprimand without access to legal forums.

Pakistan’s foreign policy problems are a direct consequence of army’s control over our internal and external security domains. The military’s current domination of the national discourse would not allow any input from the politicians, as we have witnessed with the hostile treatment of the infamous Dawn Leaks where politicians were found to be pleading to the military leadership to stop backing Islamic militants. As things stand, we are likely to be stuck in our self-destructing ways leading Pakistan to become a pariah state in the comity of nations.



Trump’s exit strategy from Afghanistan

By Hussain Nadim

September 7, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s new approach to Afghanistan appears more of an exit strategy than ‘winning the war’ strategy. Perhaps, at this stage in the Afghanistan war, a graceful US exit from the region with some credibility intact might be the only definition of success. The strategy on its end may prove to be effective on three counts.

First, it depoliticises the military campaign in Afghanistan, which was much needed. For long, the US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have been dictated and influenced by the politics and political timelines in Washington. Under the Obama administration, the US military campaign in Afghanistan faced a major blow due to the ‘time line’ attached by the White House. Similarly, the pre-mature withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 compelled by the ‘political promises’ led to a disaster that the US and the Middle East is going to take decades to recover from.

Hence, by not announcing any timeline or specific number of troops and giving the operational power back to the commanders on ground, President Trump has taken a step in the right direction. This will also help the US regain its credibility in the region and with its partners, which is my second point.

In the past couple of years, Washington has drastically lost its credibility in the region. Its two major allies in the Afghan war, the National Army of Afghanistan and the Pakistan military, both began to perceive the US as having neither the political will, nor the capacity to provide a solution in Afghanistan. The basis of this sentiment was the US military campaign becoming hostage to politics in Washington. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan looked elsewhere to China and even Russia to play an active role in Afghan peace.

With President Trump depoliticising the military campaign and showing seriousness to the cause, both the Pakistan Army and the Afghanistan National Army may have an interest to engage in a meaningful way with the US forces on ground in the region.

Third, and very important, is the shift away from the state-building agenda. While, this has invited criticism for the liberal political sections of the US, the shift was desperately needed. Since 9/11 and the rise of terrorism, the US foreign and security policies have integrated security and development to achieve stability in conflict zones. Such a policy not only ‘securitised’ the development process but also ‘developmentalised’ the security. Today, we have US military forces building schools and delivering development aid projects in Afghanistan — a job that is not what they are sent for.

The problem with this approach has been that the focus shifts away from neutralising the threat to getting into a larger project of state-building, which may take an eternity.

Beyond the unlimited time it requires, state building and forcing democracies in overseas countries have had a disastrous effect. Not only it gives the US an imperial overtone, but also creates more enemies and promotes insecurity. Essentially, President Trump taking a step back from the state-building agenda to focus narrowly on neutralising the security threat may serve to be an exit point for the US from the Afghan theatre.

Trump’s new approach is, however, problematic on some accounts. For one it will antagonise both India and Pakistan — key regional players in the region. Trump singling out Pakistan to ‘do more’ and giving a large role to India in Afghanistan has naturally ticked off Islamabad that will move closer to China.

The bigger problem is that the ‘blame Pakistan’ approach has been central to almost all the previous US presidents. It hasn’t worked to change Pakistan’s behaviour before, and it is unlikely to change it now. Perhaps it is time to accept that Pakistan cannot help ‘win’ or ‘lose’ the war in Afghanistan and move on to the factors that actually can change the ground calculus.

At the same time, pushing India to ‘do more’ will also not go down well with the Indian establishment that likes its independence more than anything. By involving India in Afghanistan, the US risks securitising its own relations with India that may in the long run prove to be counterproductive. It won’t help the US to have relations with India pivoted around Afghanistan.

Whether Trump’s new approach will work or not depends mostly on how it is played at the operational and tactical level to achieve stability for the US and the region at large, but one thing is for certain: trying the same thing over and again expecting a different result is unlikely to get the US anywhere.



Russia’s CPEC dream is Pakistan’s dilemma

By Dr Raza Khan

September 6, 2017

Pakistan should feel greatly heartened by the Kremlin statement in its favour after US President Donald Trump announced his new policy on Afghanistan. This is a testament to the growing bilateral relations between Moscow and Islamabad. Recently, there have also been reports of growing ties between Russian and the Afghan Taliban and supply of arms to the latter from the former. This noticeable policy shift in Moscow regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan may have many reasons but the most important factor behind this is the Russian desire to somehow take advantage of CPEC by linking itself to the project

Russia would not take much time to join the project provided Pakistan and more importantly China let it join it. The fundamental reason for which Moscow would love to become, even an auxiliary, part of CPEC is that it is the long-cherished desire of Russian rulers to have access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. Since the times of the Russian czar Peter the Great to the present-day Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, all have wanted to somehow provide Russia access to warm waters of Asia. Because most of the other seas surrounding Russia are not navigable. During the Cold War Soviet Russia could not match the military prowess of the US because, inter alia, the strategic advantage which the latter has had because of its geography. The US is surrounded by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans most of which are open for all navigational purposes. Therefore, access to warm waters of Persia and South Asia has always been extremely important for the economic and military strength of Russia. But times have changed irrespective of the agenda of Putin. Today Russia may not get any real military advantage after having access to the warm waters but it obviously would have large-scale positive impact on its economy. Beijing and Islamabad may not like Russia to gain any military advantage by joining but they would not mind Moscow getting a proportionate economic advantage.

Arguably Russia could only be part of CPEC if the Central Asian Republics are also linked to the project. Most of these states have shown their desire to join CPEC. Through its One Belt, One Road initiative China has massive plans of reviving the ancient Silk Route. Beijing would be more than willing to economically link Central and South Asia along with Russia because, in the final analysis, it would be China that would gain the most from these links.

Pakistani strategists in order to take military and strategic advantage by having closer ties with Moscow so as to neutralise India’s grown relations with Washington, may want to rope Russia into CPEC. However, Islamabad should leave the decision of Russia’s association with CPEC solely to China. The project was conceived and funded by China; therefore, it is Beijing which should be given the control over its dynamics and stakeholders. Nevertheless, Islamabad may have some worries regarding Russia’s association with CPEC. Of these, the most important is Putin’s agenda of making Russia a superpower again. The way Russia has tried to prevent Ukraine from falling into the lap of the West, its military alliance Nato and its support to Syrian embattled ruler Bashar al Assad in Syria in his fight with the anti-regime forces in recent years point towards revivalist efforts for lost Russian power and status. Against this backdrop Pakistan must be cautious in facilitating Russia’s desire to associate with CPEC as it cannot afford to let go any of the benefits of CPEC. Because for Islamabad the immediate attraction of Moscow’s support to Pakistan may estrange Beijing as well as Turkey, a key ally of Islamabad. Pakistan has to walk a tight rope in this situation.



North Korea’s nuclear test

By Rizwan Asghar

 September 7, 2017

After conducting its sixth and significantly more powerful nuclear test, North Korea’s regime has left little doubt that it is on a collision course with the rest of the world. According to South Korean and Japanese meteorologists, the test, believed to be 10 to 15 times more powerful than previous nuclear detonations, triggered an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude. Even China, North Korea’s most important ally and biggest trading partner, has denounced the nuclear test.

The move represents a serious blow to the ongoing multilateral efforts aimed at de-escalating the nuclear crisis in the region. North Korea’s claim that it has tested a hydrogen weapon meant for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) could further heighten tensions since Pyongyang has recently tested two ICBMs with the ability to fly about 6200 miles, putting parts of mainland US at serious risk of attack. One view is that North Korean is building an effective nuclear deterrent in order to ensure the Kim regime’s survival. There might be some truth to this view, but Pyongyang cannot be allowed to build up its nuclear arsenal at a rapid pace.

North Korea joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1985, under Soviet pressure, but did not allow safeguard inspections until 1992, raising many questions about its commitment to the goals of non-proliferation and disarmament. Even after 1992, North Korea’s leaders were not ready to voluntarily give up their enrichment program because of China’s    tacit support. Although, the crisis was resolved temporarily in October 1994 when the country signed an agreement – the Agreed Framework – with the US, North Korea’s nuclear establishment was not ready to be transparent about its long-term nuclear ambitions.

In 2002, a welter of new evidence emerged that North Korea was still working on a secret uranium enrichment programme. In the beginning, North Korean officials resorted to outright denial in the face of compelling evidence but their confrontational posture ultimately led to the breakdown of the Agreed Framework. Increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula resulted in the launch of the Six Party Talks to end the nuclear crisis through negotiations involving China. This process marked a reversal of the Bush administration’s non-engagement policy. Other members were North Korea, South Korea, the US, Russia, and Japan. However, Kim Jong-il was not ready to accept any step towards the verifiable denuclearization of his country. And the talks reached a stalemate in 2006 when North Korea conducted first underground nuclear test and became the world’s ninth nuclear power.

Despite dishonouring many previous commitments to dismantle its nuclear programme, North Korea made another commitment in February 2007 to shut down the key plutonium production facilities at Yongbyon in exchange for an aid package of $400 million and fuel oil shipment. The talks broke down, once again, in December 2008 following North Korea’s refusal to give IAEA inspectors unlimited access to suspected nuclear sites. Although Six Party Talks have not been held after 2009, different countries have held bilateral talks with the North Korean regime from time to time. Despite multiple good-faith attempts at resolution, North Korea’s defiance continues to this day.

In the aftermath of the recent nuclear test, Dr Lassina Zerbo, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) secretary general, has expressed fears that “this act would indicate that North Korea’s nuclear programme is advancing rapidly.” Military leaders in South Korea have claimed that Pyongyang is preparing for another ballistic missile test in the days to come. We cannot ignore the sad reality that North Korea continues to conduct nuclear test explosions because there is no international law that prevents it from doing so.

Thanks to domestic political constraints in several countries, the CTBT has yet to enter into force. Many arms control advocates within policymaking circles in Washington DC remain strong opponents of the CTBT. President Obama, on many occasions during his first term, expressed a strong commitment to the CTBT but later it slipped down his agenda due to other domestic political concerns. The prospects for the CTBT do not appear to be bright under President Trump, who does not have any sense of key political and international problems. In addition, many Republican senators are opposed to the very idea of any kind of international constraints on America’s nuclear programme.

The sad truth of the conflictual and power-driven nature of global politics is that the US is not ready to let North Korea develop nuclear weapons or conduct nuclear tests, but, at the same time, American senators would resist any restraints on their own nuclear programme. Very few scholars in the US realise these foreign policy contradictions. Dr Zerbo has rightly remarked that this nuclear test should serve as a wake-up call for the global community to ban nuclear testing in all spheres by accelerating the entry into force of the CTBT. However, it will be very difficult to overcome these obstacles unless a concerted campaign is launched to educated people and relevant stakeholders about the full security benefits of the CTBT.

CTBTO’s youth group members can certainly play a significant role in cultivating favourable public opinion but that requires lot of commitment and ability to think creatively. But CTBTO should focus on quality and not the quantity of its youth members. We will not be able to persuade decision-makers through emotional appeals. What we really need is an actual ability to take concrete steps towards influencing public opinion in a sustained manner.

North Korea offers a rare opportunity for many nations including Pakistan to step forward and push for entry into force of the CTBT. Let’s seize the opportunity before it is too late.



The fourth horror

By F.S. Aijazuddin

September 07, 2017

THERE must be moments in Mian Nawaz Sharif’s mind when he questions whether it has all been worth it.

The humiliation at the unfeeling hands of Z.A. Bhutto’s nationalisation, the confiscation of his newly wedded wife’s jewellery stored in the office safe in Ittefaq Foundries, the grovelling before a PPP government to have it restored, the sycophancy before Gen Ziaul Haq, the puppet years as Punjab’s finance minister and then chief minister, the gruelling rigours of electioneering, the bittersweet fruits of three prime ministerships, incarceration in Attock Fort, the 24-karat alms given as political zakat by the Saudis, the luxury flats in London, the obese bank balances held abroad, and the widening rift in his father’s family. Was it worth the price?

Now, he sits by the bedside of his ailing wife in a London hospital, helpless witness to her suffering, unable to compensate her for the years of separation and her self-sacrifice during their 46-year marriage.

Nawaz Sharif’s political oscillations remind one of the person who had a nightmare that he was making a public speech, and awoke to find that he was. In Nawaz Sharif’s case, his recurring nightmare has been of being removed from office by forces inimical to him. Thrice he has woken and found that he was.

In 1993 the Supreme Court granted him a reprieve, but it proved short-lived. In 1999, president Bill Clinton rescued him over the Kargil misadventure, but could not prevent the coup by Musharraf’s cohorts. And now, in 2017, he has again been ousted. None of his friends (CPEC notwithstanding) have volunteered to help him.

The ex-PM is growing in similarity to King Charles I.

As each day passes, Mian Nawaz Sharif grows in similarity to the dethroned King Charles I of England. Vainly did the deposed king assert that “Princes are not bound to give an account of their Actions but to God alone”. Unheeded went his claim that “the King can do no wrong”. And in his final moments, on the scaffold in London’s Whitehall in January 1649, he uttered these words: “I Am the Martyr of the People.”

Many argue that the by-election for NA 120 will be the barometer of Nawaz Sharif’s popularity. Whatever the declared result may be, it will constitute a false reading. No more than one swallow doth a summer make, one by-election does not an electoral landslide create. The test for all the parties determined to have a say in the governance of our country — elected or self-appointed — will be the next general elections. They are currently scheduled within 90 days after June 2018, or whichever earlier date prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi may be told to recommend to the president.

After those elections, whichever party (if any) gains an absolute majority, whichever person (if any) secures the prime ministership in his own right, whatever the authority (if any) of the federal cabinet, none of them will be able to escape the reality that is today’s Pakistan.

It is said that outgoing US president Barack Obama left a letter for his successor Donald Trump, which Trump has chosen not to read. That is understandable. Trump does not want to be prejudiced by realities. Pakistani prime ministers have never left such letters for their successors. Although they failed to do so, here is a bucket list of tasks our future prime minister might like to ignore:

Control the population. The latest provisional census has revealed that there are 207.77 million Pakistanis. Half of them are under the age of 25, and will in time procreate. No man is an island, but every nation is. We have a limited territory within which to live.

Implement a national curriculum. Nations are not built from bricks of different shapes and sizes, fired in unsupervised kilns.

Ration water usage. Water, like a mother’s love, cannot be taken for granted. Water, water no­­where, and not a potable drop to drink.

Encourage vertical urbanisation. The sky is the limit.

Control consumption. No nation can afford $50 billion of unbridled imports, more than twice the value of its exports. Pity the nation whose fish suffocate in polluted rivers, yet hungers for imported smoked salmon.

Justify defence expenditure. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not cothed.” President General Eisenhower’s words, not mine.

The law is not malleable play dough, to be bent and twisted at will in exercised hands.

The list of imperatives is endless. It will grow, not because Pakistan’s problems are insoluble but because every government — whatever its constitutional paternity — has chosen to oscillate between rapacious governance, inept governance and vacuous governance.



Foreign policy review

By I.A. Rehman

September 07, 2017

MERCIFULLY enough, the hysterical dirges in response to President Trump’s blitz against Pakistan that were as unbecoming of an independent state as Ayub Khan’s boast about this country being the most allied of the US allies have given way to sober reflection on foreign policy options.

Hopefully the three-day conference of envoys to some key states, which concludes today, will help clear the air of emotional sloganeering. The participants should not only have received a patient hearing they must also have been given a clear understanding of what Pakistan’s strategic interests are and how to achieve them.

Let us first see what has been happening over the past few weeks. Pakistan somehow was apprehensive of the outcome of Mr Trump’s consultations with his generals. While the Camp David meetings were still in progress, army chief Gen Bajwa told the Centcom chief of Pakistan’s firm policy of backing the US and the Kabul government’s forces in Afghanistan. Our ambassador in Washington wished the new US policy on Afghanistan would reflect due appreciation of Pakistan’s role in restoring peace to Afghanistan.

Not only did this wish remain unfulfilled, Mr Trump heaped scorn on Pakistan and threatened to punish it severely. Worse, he further appeased India. Finally, the general commanding US troops in Afghanistan accused Pakistan of hosting the Afghan Taliban leadership, among other acts of perfidy. All this was provocation pure and simple.

Unnecessary US-bashing will embolden friends of terrorist groups to openly challenge the state.

And Pakistan got provoked beyond reason. Little attention was paid to the fact that Mr Trump had told Pakistan what the latter had been hearing from the Americans for quite some time, albeit not in Mr Trump’s vitriolic idiom. A pungent response was unavoidable because the audience at home had to be reassured that their government could not be called names by anyone. Perhaps there was a feeling of guilt too at having accepted the Republicans as Pakistan’s permanent patrons and having gone with indecent haste to Washington to hail the Trump triumph and forge an understanding with him before our traditional rivals reached him.

Anyway, the Americans were told to keep their aid and that Pakistan wanted their confidence and not their dollars. But friendly support from China, Russia and Turkey, and disapproval of Mr Trump’s abrasive language by quite a few Americans, including the secretary of state, helped the angry spokesmen to cool down. Besides, voices from within the government too called for realism and moderation. For instance, the minister recently promoted from commerce to the defence portfolio advised against aggressive posturing that might make negotiations in future impossible.

Now, nothing will please the common citizens more than an end to dependence on the US that has cost Pakistan over the past 65 years much more than the born-yesterday defenders of national dignity realise. Knowledgeable citizens have serious misgivings about the ruling elite’s will to say ‘no’ to an old though fickle-minded patron. They are alarmed at the absence of any plan for living after being jilted by the US. Going round in search of a new patron to replace America renders mock heroics not only meaningless but also disgusting.

Regardless of the turn that the relationship with Washington takes it is essential to cool-headedly examine the complaints the US has been making. The main grievance apparently is that Pakistan wishes to save the ‘good Taliban’ considered its future allies in Afghanistan. Pakistan must in its own interest find ways of debunking this charge because anyone who subscribes to this view of Taliban’s usefulness is not a friend of Pakistan.

Under the current understanding with the US, Pakistan gets paid for its services to the American war effort in Afghanistan. Any arrangements involving financial dealings of this kind can threaten the closest of friendships. If there are any doubts in American minds about Pakistan’s capacity for accurate bookkeeping the matter must be resolved jointly by the auditors.

There is also no use reminding the US of the sacrifices Pakistan has made in the fight against terrorism because we didn’t get into the Afghanistan mess at anybody else’s bidding. Instead, on our part, we should continue to battle against the monster whose creation will haunt us for long. A word of caution against using harsh words about any fellow member of the comity of nations. Language often becomes a part of its user’s mindset. The aggressive language we use against foreign states can become the standard expression for talking to any people, including our own.

Pakistan cannot force the US to treat it the way it likes to be treated. While hoping that the current phase of American foreign policy will pass like a storm at sea, on its part Pakistan should maintain an attitude of dignified restraint. Unnecessary America-bashing will, among other things, embolden friends of terrorist organisations to openly challenge the state.

After the decks have been cleared of suspicion and accusations from both sides, it should be possible to think of ties with the US without strings on either side, as it would be unwise to ignore America, or any major power for that matter, altogether and to unnecessarily invite its hostility.

Much more important than that is the need to redefine foreign policy priorities. The oft-repeated resolve to strengthen relations with all, repeat all, close neighbours now needs to be actively implemented. It is also necessary to define foreign policy as an extension of the country’s domestic priorities. A dynamic external policy will be impossible to achieve without a clear vision of Pakistan some 20 to 25 years from now. The foreign policy of a theocratic Pakistan cannot be identical to that of a pluralist, democratic polity. The most crucial decisions are thus to be taken in the country’s domestic domain.


URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/looking-through-the-rohingya-mirror--new-age-islam’s-selection--07-september-2017/d/112452


Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Fill the text
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.