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Pakistan Press (21 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



On The Religious Sentiment: New Age Islam's Selection, 21 March 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

21 March 2017

On The Religious Sentiment

By Babar Mirza

The Controversial Five Marks For Hijab Policy

By Hafsah Sarfraz

The Circle Of Violence

By Faisal Kapadia

A Herculean Task

By Tasneem Noorani

Were There Evms In The 1930s?

By Jawed Naqvi

Fighting On Three Fronts

By Touqir Hussain

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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On The Religious Sentiment

By Babar Mirza

 21-Mar-17

Regardless of the merits of the ongoing national and international “debate” on blasphemy, recent history makes it clear that the “people” of Pakistan do not forgive even the clinically insane if they are perceived to be publicly defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), much less the smart alecks fooling around with social media on their laptops and smartphones.

This situation takes away the room even for mounting a legal defence in a court of law; let alone reforming the 1986 law that made the offence punishable with death. Nevertheless, with Nietzsche’s warning in mind, let us look closely at the abyss for a moment.

Nothing can contradict the claim that Prophet (PBUH) was one of the most gifted and accomplished human beings ever to have walked the face of Earth.

But that is not that. While no hanging of a blasphemer accused through judicial process has yet been reported, a 2012 study by the Centre for Research and Security Studies estimated that 52 people were murdered extra judicially since 1990 for being implicated in blasphemy charges, including 25 Muslims, 15 Christians, five Ahmadis (a religious group whose very existence is considered blasphemous by mainstream Islamic sects), one Buddhist, and a Hindu.

From the viewpoint of secular human rights discourse, blasphemy in general and against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in particular is a freedom of speech issue. However, this viewpoint is too limited to deal with the theocracy in the garb of democracy that has ruled Pakistan since 1973.

Firstly, let us consider the fact that violence inspired by religious beliefs is not restricted to extrajudicial murder of the blasphemy accused. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, from 1989 till March 12, 2017, Pakistan has witnessed a total of 3,055 incidents of sectarian violence (where mostly Shias and Ahmadis were targeted) in which 5,457 people were killed and more than 10,433 were injured. This is an average of around 550 victims a year. According to the same portal, 30 suicide attacks on average have taken place every year in Pakistan since 2002, resulting in almost 7,000 deaths and more than 14,000 injured.

Despite allegations of foreign funding by the likes of Saudi Arabia, Iran and India, one has to concede the fact that the perpetrators and victims of this faith-based violence were all Pakistani citizens.

Secondly, let us juxtapose this violence with the legislative framework of Pakistan under the 1973 Constitution that, among other things, declares the name of the country to be “the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” and the state religion to be Islam; binds the parliament to pass only Islamic laws, and establishes a constitutional court authorized to strike down any existing law as un-Islamic. Further, as a result of this constitutional dispensation, we have completely Islamised our day to day legal system to the best of our understanding, including our civil, criminal, political, social, economic, and personal laws. Indeed, the only outstanding legal issue of Islamisation of any significance is the prohibition on usury or interest.

Keeping in view the above context, one were to concede that perhaps actual execution of blasphemers through judicial process might convince people to at least leave it to the courts. However, even then, one would still be left with all the other manifestations of religious intolerance, which cannot be appropriated by the state under its completely Islamized ethos. For example, it is logically and theologically impossible for the state to declare merely professing to be a Shia or Ahmadi as an offence liable to death, which the rabidly extremist social elements might openly demand if given a choice.

Needless to say, we have thoughtlessly overdone religion in all aspects of our public and private lives.

To make matters completely hopeless at this stage, one only needs to point out that it is the nature of populist religious laws that they can be enacted without much opposition and even to much fanfare but extremely difficult to repeal or reform without inviting substantial backlash.

From a certain vantage point, it can be argued that the Pakistani state has been at least formally committed to rectifying the error at least since 2004. Former president Pervaiz Musharraf had then explained his vision of “enlightened moderation” in an article for the Washington Post. It can be more convincingly shown that, as of March 2017, the worst backlash against the campaign is over, and violence will subside from hereon.

But how soon will it return to pre-9/11 standards? Or even pre-1977 standards? One cannot say at the moment.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked the religious leaders to produce an alternative narrative to counter extremism and violence in society. However, why would the religious leaders change their narrative when it is already in consonance with the law of the land?

It is a catch-22 created by the collective misfortune of an entire nation: you cannot reverse Islamisation of laws because it’ll invite unmanageable extremist violence, and you cannot dissuade people from extremist violence because it is morally sanctioned by the laws of the land.

In these circumstances, the Pakistani state has no choice but to do the least desirable for it: look for a better moral high ground than empty religiosity that has sustained it at least since March 12, 1949. Until such moral high ground is prepared and claimed, the wise ones in this Holy Land should remain alert to the religious sentiments of the Muslim majority.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/21-Mar-17/on-the-religious-sentiment

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The Controversial Five Marks for Hijab Policy

By Hafsah Sarfraz

March 21, 2017

I remember I was in 5th grade when, while narrating one of her stories, an Urdu teacher mentioned how girls are supposed to stay at home and take care of the house and children while men are responsible to go out, earn money and run the financial matters of the house. This happened at a so-called progressive O’level curriculum school in Lahore. Since I came from a home where both my parents worked, I assumed what she said was fiction just like her stories but as I grew up I realised the consequences of her statement. At an impressionable age of 10, she was forcing her opinions and ideas on both young girls and boys who would grow up thinking like her too. She was denying children the right to become unique individuals and was forcing traditional gender roles on them, which are often oppressive.

Fast forward a decade and a half and it is unfortunate to know that not much has changed. Our schools, curriculums, teachers and policymakers are often still found forcing their opinions on children and the youth, denying them the right to individuality. This Tuesday evening, I got to hear something that reminded me of the 5th grade incident. Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani announced that government institutions would allot five marks to each of the Hijab-wearing female students in a bid to promote the practice. Without any surprise, there was immediate backlash on the news until the Punjab government denied the reports of the news. The denial came right after the mainstream media highlighted the news that female students would receive five marks for wearing Hijab.

The absurdity of the situation increased when the minister went on to say that it is a proposal and no incentive has been given yet. The backlash received on the news included Pakistan People’s Party leader Aseefa Bhutto Zardari’s comment who disapproved Punjab Higher Education Minister Raza Ali Gillani’s announcement of awarding five extra marks to women wearing Hijab in college. She questioned the decision by asking, what boys will do in such a scenario. In her tweet, she also questioned what students from minorities would do about it. “Why does wearing a Hijab impact grades/marks?” she tweeted.

In two lines, she has summarised everything that is wrong with the policy and many other decisions that force religion on our people. Her backlash and that of the others was completely valid because there is more than one thing that is wrong with this proposal. Not only does this policy show that there is no place for minorities and religious differences in the eyes of the policymakers but it also demonstrates that there is no area for individuality and individual growth either.

This unfair policy creates inequality too. It is unfair for girls who don’t feel comfortable in covering their head. It is unfair for girls who come from religious minorities that don’t require girls to cover their heads. It is unfair for boys also who would have to study harder to get those extra five marks. The policy creates an unequal merit system, which is a challenge that our educational system has been trying to overcome for years.

Educational institutions are safe havens where students go to learn and build their own individual image of the world at large. And that is what they should be. They should not be treated like a stage to indoctrinate young minds about a certain perception. Instead, they should be open spaces for learning and development where young children come and build their own idea of the world around them. Early educational life should be a phase where children develop into unique individuals and decide the kind of lives they want to lead.

The fact that the minister announced this hijab policy on Tuesday evening shows Pakistan as a confused nation. In the morning our Prime Minister announced the celebration of Holi and our acceptance towards minorities, other cultures and religions and in the evening a minister forced his religious opinions on young students. In the morning, our Prime Minister said that religion does not force any individual to do anything while giving a message of tolerance and inclusiveness and in the evening the minister did the precise opposite. This incident should be a learning opportunity for our government to align with each other on their narrative and policies in the future.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1360731/controversial-five-marks-hijab-policy/

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The Circle of Violence

By Faisal Kapadia

 21-Mar-17

As the census does its job in the megacity that Karachi has become people have pretty mixed reactions to it. For some reason many of my colleagues and coworkers seem to think I have an insight into activities like this and are asking questions like ‘what do I do if my id card is expired’ or ‘why are they asking so many questions’ etc etc. The best way as per me to deal with the government is to comply which is what I have been suggesting rather than the shifty eyed alternative! Only because this is certainly an activity that is going to help us as a city in its planning for the future lying ahead as well as the elections and the distribution of voter lists etc. However there is one segment of our existence in this city which has completely been left out of the census and those are the one million or about stray animals which roam the city’s streets.

Let’s face it stray animals are a burgeoning problem in Karachi and can prove to be dangerous to its inhabitants because they can be carriers of disease as well as territorial of the areas they patrol. Stray animals in gangs can even represent a serious threat to motorcyclists or passersby and the howling and snarling can go a step further if the transaction of ‘shall I pass’ not negotiated properly. However the way they were being dealt with in the past, when they were picked up and dropped off to ‘kutta island’ like pirates being marooned to fend for themselves, or the now employed tactics of shooting them on the road or poisoning them with cheap poison are completely disastrous.

I say this because we must understand that as a society our actions convey how we feel about living things. If from a young age my children for example become used to stray animals being shot and left to writhe on the road and die bleeding out this will become the norm for them. A norm no child in the word should have to absorb into their sentient and innocent brains. Not to add to the fact that rat poison being used to cull animals leaves them in a terrible state for 50 mins or so, before each one of their organs fail one by one and they die a very torturous death. Once this becomes the norm violence is inculcated as ok, which is then translated very efficiently into people being indifferent when more violence against minorities or any other species takes place. Ring a bell yet dear reader? On the why are we quiet when x or y happens to z but not us?

There are people who are working on this cause though; they range from Doctor Muzna Ebrahim whose pets were also culled when they ventured out at the wrong time on the road to Nida Butt the co-owner of the mad school here in Karachi to several other animal rights activists who mounted a big protest on Saturday for this cause. Their suggested methodology is to use the ‘SPAY & Neuter’ Method which is essentially the removal of reproductive organs to make sure this populace does not increase and become an out of control problem. It is also a much more humane method of treating this issue.

Keeping pets as a society is a preservation and understanding of the need to support living things around us in this world, and an effort to make them part of our lives as well. It’s not a one way process either as animals provide comfort understanding and a great listening ear when nobody else is present for many individuals in our city. However just blaming the government will not solve this problem either because neutering can cost as much as Rs 2500 and the spotting of the said subjects their pickup and rehabilitation is also considerable expense which the CBC or KMC here may not have a budget for. Therefore civil society organizations and animal lovers need to build a fund or volunteer services of vets to this job and help the local government in fixing this issue in the most humanist way possible.

Let’s not forget Karachi has seen more than its share of bloodied bodies on its streets in the last decade and adding poor defenceless voiceless animals to it will only go one step further in the ladder of violence which we seem to be climbing at hares pace already.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/21-Mar-17/the-circle-of-violence

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A Herculean Task

By Tasneem Noorani

21 March 2017

IN our fight against terrorism, the Pakistan Army has been the most proactive institution. But now, to compensate for a dithering civil government and match expectations built by the last army chief, it may be biting off more than it can chew.

Since 2002, when Musharraf first ventured into Fata, the army has launched at least 11 operations in Fata and Swat. While earlier operations were for a specific area — Al-Mizan in Waziristan in 2002, Rah-i-Haq for Swat and Shangla in 2007, Sherdil for Bajaur in 2008, etc — Raddul Fasaad, the 12th operation, is different in that its scope extends across the whole country.

Raddul Fasaad is an effort to address the rise of terrorism across the country — a situation that has, rather than being contained, escalated. But the army’s effort seems like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it, the hole being the civil governments that have shied away from confrontations with the extremists.

Raddul Fasaad is the army’s polite way of saying ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to the reluctance of the Punjab government to act firmly in southern Punjab, and the PPP government to do so in interior Sindh. In both provinces, the Rangers (the implementation arm of the military) have been denied a free hand.

Is Another Army Operation A Sustainable Solution?

But is an army operation a sustainable solution to the problem? It’s more like a surgeon removing a cancerous tumour, and being satisfied with his work, without having fixed the patient’s collapsing immune system. The operation buys the patient a little time but, ultimately, he is doomed.

The civilian government’s considered strategy seems to be that fighting extremism is the task of the uniformed forces. Their task is only to address those needs of the people that will win them the next election. It is a win-win strategy for the politicians, since it protects them from the extremists’ enmity and wins them the votes of beneficiaries of their latest infrastructure project. What will happen 10 or 20 years down the road does not seem to concern them.

The stated objectives of Raddul Fasaad are to ‘eliminate residual threat of terrorism, consolidate gains of earlier operations and ensure security of borders’. It entails a broad-spectrum counterterrorism operation, including de-weaponisation, pursuance of the National Action Plan (NAP) and more effective border control, in that order.

As army chief, the now retired Gen Kayani was reluctant to go into North Waziristan, but his successor Raheel Sharif dared to do so and gained popularity as a result. With the bar having been raised by his hawkish predecessor, COAS Gen Bajwa cannot afford to be a dove. So, while the earlier 11 operations were geographically limited, the new operation spans the entire country.

While the civilian government again seems to be taking a back seat on terrorism, the army may have committed to too much by taking on the challenge of ‘eliminating residual threats and consolidating gains of previous operations’ throughout the country. Considering that the civilian government is not interested in making hard decisions to implement NAP, if complete success is not achieved (a likely scenario), the blame for non-achievement will fall on the army, giving civilian rulers a convenient scapegoat.

Twenty points are underscored by NAP that require immediate attention; adding de-weaponisation, included in Raddul Fasaad, ups the list to 21 points.

The need to include point 13 (zero tolerance for militancy in Punjab) in NAP arose because the committee formulating NAP perceived that some militant groups were being overlooked in Punjab. Similarly, point 16 (dealing firmly with sectarian terrorists) was included because it was felt that some provinces were not taking sectarian terrorism seriously on the premise that it is neither a new problem, nor is the state the target (another sect is). But have we seen real action on these points?

Similarly, for point five (checking financing for terrorists and terrorist organisations), point six (ensuring against re-emergence of banned groups) and point eight (registration and regulation of seminaries), no meaningful action has been taken for fear of backlash. Banned groups continue to operate with different names, and madressahs refuse to allow in government inspectors unlike normal schools. An FIA official, during a briefing in a think tank I am member of, openly admitted that, with the present laws, not even a single financial transaction of a terrorist can be prevented or punished.

So unless the army makes certain grades of action under Raddul Fasaad contingent upon the civil government making quantifiable achievements in NAP’s implementation, it will cut a sorry figure and offer itself up as a scapegoat — to the delight of the civilian rulers, who have already declared the army command transient while they remain permanent.

Source: dawn.com/news/1321848/a-herculean-task

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Were There EVMs In The 1930s?

By Jawed Naqvi

21 March 2017

HOW can the opposition wrest power from Prime Minister Modi in 2019? If everybody is united and their votes are not split, the 41 per cent the prime minister’s party got with his allies in Uttar Pradesh, for example, would see him struggling against a united 59pc. Such wishful arguments have been heard in unyielding and combative liberal spaces over the last few days. Serious analysts, however, seem cautious about such a turn of events.

Some critics of the government have raised the issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs) as the more insurmountable of the challenges they could face in 2019, as if getting the incorrigibly fractious opposition together was the easier part.

In 2009, the anti-EVM boot was on the other foot. The Manmohan Singh government was returned for a second term in spite of (some say because of) its apparent soft handling of the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008. The BJP was not expecting Congress to win and one of its younger leaders shot off a complaint against the EVMs used in Dr Singh’s second election in the form of a book.

G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, currently the BJP’s spokesperson, titled his plaint Democracy at Risk! Can we trust our Electronic Voting Machines? Senior BJP leader Lal Kishan Advani wrote the foreword to the book, which was published in 2010.

Electronic voting machines, like all other machines, are prone to errors and malfunctioning.

Around this time, Subramanian Swamy, another BJP stalwart, took the issue to the court. He argued forcefully that EVMs were a terrible idea and listed the number of countries that had rejected it. His comments against EVMs are available on YouTube but surprisingly no TV channel or newspaper wants to know how he feels about the system of paper-free voting today.

When the BJP scored a resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh recently, former chief minister Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) turned out to be a big loser. She immediately cast aspersions on EVMs and claimed the electronic system was rigged. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was also perplexed by the less than handsome showing of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab even though the new entrant emerged as the main opposition to the Congress there, which, according to him, unexpectedly won in Punjab.

Mr Kejriwal and Ms Mayawati are on the opposite ends of the probity scale. She is accused of corruption and he has been leading a campaign against corruption. But the two may have an amazing factor in common. Neither of them is known to have generous friends in the corporate world, certainly not of the scale that approaches their major rivals.

The AAP uses crowd sourcing to raise funds while Ms Mayawati reportedly counts on her candidates to fend for themselves. The effect of this could be similar to what renowned filmmaker Saeed Mirza told me years ago. He said if you don’t borrow money from the market, and get funded by the government, for example, your movie would struggle to find a theatre for a halfway decent release.

We have not heard of any serious complaints from any other party about the EVMs, except the BSP and AAP. It is believed powerful business captains regard the two as a threat to their hold on Indian politics. However, when BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said there was nothing wrong with EVMs, but there was something wrong with Ms Mayawati, he may not have been aware of what his own party leaders had said about electronic voting.

“In many democracies of the world, the issue of electronic voting machines has become a matter of widespread public discussion,” Mr Advani wrote in his foreword to Mr Rao’s book. “In India, we have been conducting our elections through this device for the last two Lok Sabha elections and also in various assembly elections held recently. But as yet there has been little debate on how useful these machines have proved.”

He was happy that the author had managed to compile “all the facts he could on the subject and initiate a debate”. There has been no debate really, only accusations. The election commission insists the EVMs it uses are tamper-proof, which means that India has found a way to assemble a foolproof system that Germany and other Western democracies couldn’t.

“I personally regard it significant that Germany, technologically, one of the most advanced countries of the world, has become so wary of EVMs as to ban their use altogether,” Mr Advani wrote, echoing more or less the sentiments Mr Swamy had expressed. “Many states in the USA have mandated that EVMs can be used only if they have a paper back-up. So manufacturers of electronic voting machines in the USA have developed a technology referred to as Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).” India’s election commission has been reportedly asking the Modi government for the last two years to fund this paper-linked improvement but the response is tardy.

Every voter using the EVM in many US states gets a printout in a ballot box so that if there is any discrepancy in the machine the paper ballots can be counted. Electronic voting machines, like all other machines, are prone to errors and malfunctioning. No machine is infallible. They can never be. This was the sentiment of the book Mr Rao wrote.

For instance, he pointed out, the electronic voting system installed in India’s parliament, had failed on a number of occasions and MPs had difficulty in registering their votes.

In the confidence vote on the Manmohan Singh government in September 2008, 54 Lok Sabha MPs failed to register their votes electronically. They were finally allowed to vote manually.

Remember though that in the 1930s Europe, there were no EVMs. It was Hermann Goering strategically installed as president of the Reichstag who helped Hitler fudge a make-or-break parliamentary vote and lured a gullible people with fascism’s mysterious appeal.

Source: dawn.com/news/1321858/were-there-evms-in-the-1930s

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Fighting On Three Fronts

By Touqir Hussain

March 21, 2017

Pakistan has very able diplomats but an underperforming diplomacy. Quality of diplomacy largely depends on policies. But diplomats do not make policies, the leadership does. And our leadership is still trapped in old assumptions about the world, about ourselves and other countries. In some ways, we are still trying to preserve the fiction of the old world.

Foreign policy involves making difficult choices, often between imperfect options. The worst choice you can make is not to make any choice. That is what we have done most of the times. We have let others make choices for us. Yes, the relations with China enjoy a national consensus and remain a success story but largely because the Chinese laid down the terms of engagement and drew up its broad parameters. And they did it so shrewdly it gave Pakistan an illusion of being an equal partner.

As for our other two “friends”, Saudi Arabia and the US, they have tried to buy our friendship. And this does not work, especially when you are dealing with a superpower, as it demands too much and does not take no for an answer. The fact is that US-Pakistan relations have been sporadic, focused on limited interests, and have operated in the context of the two countries’ differing interests, priorities and policies. And that is a recipe for recurring tensions.

The Saudis however have no such compunctions. They operate insidiously, and buy the friendship not only of the country but of its rulers as well. That is why the Saudi-Pakistan relationship has survived and prospered.

These two and a half relationships have enabled Pakistan to maintain a complaisant foreign policy and given enough margin of error to continue to live dangerously. You take away these status quo relationships and what are you left with? A whole lot of countries, especially in the region, with whom we have varying degrees of tension and conflict. Of course you cannot blame it all on Pakistan. It does after all live in a tough neighbourhood and has legitimate security concerns.

But Pakistan’s fixed and unchanging position on India and Afghanistan, and its inability or reluctance to deal with what threatens these countries, like non state actors and the Afghan Taliban, has come to calcify Pakistan’s foreign policy. And both India and Afghanistan have taken advantage of this apparent inertia and wrested the initiative from Pakistan. They have now ganged up and taken the fight to Pakistan. Pakistan is thus ending up having to fight on three fronts — grappling with serious internal security challenges and meeting the historical two front external threat.

You cannot handle serious domestic and external problems simultaneously. In this situation countries usually end up prioritising domestic challenges and focus on such foreign policy issues that are aggravating the internal threats.

Instead of fighting both India and Afghanistan we ought to put the relations with India on the back burner. Pakistan can hold itself up against India. With a good professional army and the nuclear capability Pakistan need not worry about military threat from India. Pakistan’s problems with India are mainly political and diplomatic.

It is dangerous for Pakistan to compete with India by supporting the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network because it will keep Afghanistan destabilised. And an unstable Afghanistan means unstable Pakistan. Has Pakistan thought of its implications for CPEC?

The solution is to focus on Afghanistan not on India. India is there in Afghanistan because it serves Kabul’s purposes. There is a long bitter history of Pak-Afghan relations whose roots go back to centuries. Afghanistan has an identity problem with Pakistan. The two countries have a whole border that Kabul does not recognise and has irredentist claims. They may be providing sanctuaries to terrorists and insurgents operating against the other now but have harbored each other’s dissidents for decades.

For the past four decades, Afghanistan has seen nothing but conflict and strife in which Pakistan has been both a part of the problem as well as solution. It is a badly messed up country. A report by the International Crisis Group some time ago had this to say: “Afghanistan operates as a complex system of multi-layered fiefdoms in which insurgents control parallel justice and security organs in many if not most rural areas, while Kabul’s kleptocratic elites control the engines of graft and international contracts countrywide. The inflow of billions in international funds has cemented the linkages between corrupt members of the Afghan government and violent local commanders — insurgent and criminal, alike”.

For Kabul to say that Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan alone have caused Afghanistan’s failure is thus not true. Afghanistan needs to understand that. Yet the sanctuaries have been a big part of the problem. And Pakistan needs to acknowledge that.

Afghanistan has its problems and Pakistan its own and they have brought them on themselves. But problems of each are now tied to policies and conditions in the other country. And these can only be addressed by fundamentally changing the Pak-Afghan relations which, as someone said, is the mother of all the problems.

Not since the opening to China in 1963 has Pakistan shown any creativity in foreign policy. Now is the moment. Show some creativity in dealing with this headache called the Afghan Taliban. Ask yourself if you would like to have the Taliban rule in Pakistan. Why do you wish for Afghans what you don’t wish for yourself?

Pakistan should not expect the Taliban to look after its interests in Afghanistan. They might do so but at a prohibitive cost to us. They will not only like to rule part of Afghanistan but also part of Pakistan as well. Or at least help the radical fraternity in Pakistan that will give them “strategic depth”.

Pakistan needs to get Afghanistan on its side. It will improve Pakistan’s relations with the US making it less receptive to the Indian propaganda. Pakistan of course cannot throw the Taliban under the bus just to please Kabul. But the two countries need to have a heart to heart talk, put their cards on the table and start thinking about each other in fundamentally different ways. This dialogue obviously will have to be brokered by someone both can trust. And who else but the two most concerned powers — China and the US — one putting pressure on Pakistan, and the other on Afghanistan. Don’t rely on Russia; it is just fishing in troubled waters, using it as a card against Washington.

Meanwhile neither the border closure is a solution nor is any pious and perfunctory talk that has gone on for too long and does no good in a relationship as troubled and complicated as this one.

Pakistan has great strengths and enormous potential. Why is it jeopardising it by following obsolescent and self-limiting policies?

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1360865/fighting-three-fronts/

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