New Age Islam Edit Bureau
21 March 2017
On The Religious Sentiment
By Babar Mirza
The Controversial Five Marks For
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
By Babar Mirza
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Controversial Five Marks for Hijab
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
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
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
The Circle of Violence
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Were There EVMs In The 1930s?
By Jawed Naqvi
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
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
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
“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.
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
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
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