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Pakistan Press (08 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Real Threat To Pakistan: New Age Islam’s Selection 08 September 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

September 8, 2017

Mending fences with Kabul

By Moonis Ahmar

Where are our modern day visionaries?

By Shaheen Sehbai

Come September

By Dr Saulat Nagi

Deciphering the BRICS declaration

By Syed Mohammad Ali

Dealing with our intellectual crisis

By Nadeem Ul Haque

N-Korea: Missile-ready hydrogen bomb

By Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

The new horizons of development

By Amir Hussain

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/the-real-threat-to-pakistan--new-age-islam’s-selection-08-september-2017/d/112463


The Real Threat To Pakistan

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

September 8, 2017

At the height of terror attacks in Pakistan the need was felt for a national consensus against the scourge. It was in those days that one opinion writer observed that there was consensus in Pakistan on terrorism – but that it was not against it. This statement was immediately rejected as another proof of the intellectual class’s cynicism. But, despite sustaining such a heavy loss at the hands of terrorists, you will notice that the Pakistani society does not respond as vociferously against terror as any other existential challenge – say, for instance, against Indian hostility.

I am sure you can name many national heroes who died fighting India and were awarded the Nishan-e-Haider. But how many names can you recount of the soldiers who fell fighting terrorism. Do you know there are thousands of them? Terrorism doesn’t just kill; it leaves behind countless mutilated, crippled bodies behind. How many have you inquired about or tried to help? How many charities do you know of that are dedicated to the welfare of civilian victims of terror? Where do you go when you need to know who and how many have been victims of terrorism? How many national monuments are built to honour the sacrifice of these victims of terror and the soldiers who died combating it?

It is clear then that even if there is a consensus in society, it is not against terrorism. But is it not perplexing to note that no such consensus exists against this pestilence when it has damaged this society so deeply? Terrorists have killed our children in APS Peshawar, attacked women in bazaars, assailed the GHQ and other defence facilities, courts, mosques. Why this indifference then?

The answer lies in the perceived identity of the state itself and the wrong assumptions about the faith. To understand the identity problem of the state just take a look at the country’s history. To establish an identity independent of India, it was concluded that Pakistan had to be an Islamic state. It was primarily because of this choice that the founder of the nation’s August 11, 1947 speech stipulating a secular vision for country’s future was so blatantly censored by the state machinery. In adopting political Islam, nobody cared to notice that, since the ideology banks heavily on pan-nationalistic worldview, it works to undermine the very existence of a nation-state.

But no heed was paid to the matter. In the constant confrontation with India, this ideology came handy. And in the charged environment of the cold war, it proved doubly useful and rarely threatening. The ensuing state indoctrination was not just tolerated but actively helped by the West. But this ideology truly got weaponised after the collapse of the Soviet Union when the West and religious militants started considering each other as enemies. The Pakistani state, which did not consider the West as an enemy, did precious little partly because of its fear of encirclement and partly because of its interest in the then religiously driven Kashmir insurgency.

When after 9/11 an effort was made to reverse this tide of indoctrination it was too late and the militants had grown strong enough to wage a war on Pakistan. Since then, the state has primarily been occupied with putting out day to day fires and has done little to change the predominant narrative in society supporting political Islam. Meanwhile, left to its own devices, the predominantly right-leaning intelligentsia has been coming up with one conspiracy theory after another. The resulting paranoia has further diminished the capacity of state functionaries to bring about a paradigm shift.

Now a look at the weaponisation of faith. After the fall of the Soviet Union, religious militants felt abandoned and often targeted by the West. So, they had to declare the US and its allies as the enemy. But how do you declare someone an enemy when he has been your closest ally until yesterday? The solution was found in Islamic eschatology. Suddenly, literature started appearing about the end of times in which the West was projected as the enemy of Islam and a deliberately distorted image of the Western lifestyle was projected. It was a clever idea because if it was painted as a religiously ordained last battle between the good and the evil, there was little chance anybody would dare to contradict it.

This narrative has since permeated into various walks of life in Pakistan. The introduction of almost fatalist views like Huntington’s clash of civilisations, and the Gulf war that resulted in the presence of sizeable contingent of US forces on Saudi soil did not help. This was all seen as definitive proof that the forces of evil war moving closer to the Islam’s holiest spaces for the final kill. When such reactionary interpretations are combined with various conspiracy theories, you get a lethal mix.

Since the decision to join the fight against terrorism was made during the rule of a dictator and there were no democratic forums to build a broader consensus, the relatively moderate clergy went into a reactionary mode. It was already a product of decades-long official regimentation where political Islam was considered central to national identity and to their own purpose of existence. Sadly, wrong assumptions have constantly limited society’s ability to rally against the challenges posed by terrorism. And the religious elite has been lacking in conviction to declare terrorism unIslamic. Consider only this. Despite knowing it well that suicide is definitely and absolutely forbidden in Islam, it took our religious scholars 15 years to come up with a unanimous edict to declare suicide bombings un-Islamic.

These are the fault lines created by a politically motivated interpretation of Islam within our country and state. This is where single-minded focus was needed to dismantle reductive and reactionary worldview popularised by militants and their sympathisers. And gradual work had started owing to the resumption of the democratic process in the country. The largest party in the 2013 elections, the PMLN, was not very vocal against terrorism at that time. However, as it shouldered the burden of governing the country, and terrorist attacks continued unabated, it started owning the fight against terrorism. But with the dismissal of its elected leader the fear is that the focus has shifted away from the existential struggle.

It is at times like these that one is compelled to remind the country’s elite that the biggest threat to the country is posed by terrorists and not politicians. In this age there is no room left for non-state actors that sully the name of faith and are hell-bent on destroying Pakistan and its relationship with the rest of the world. Unimpeded democratic cycles, by empowering the citizens, could have convinced them that the use of a politicised interpretation of faith for national identity would only harm us in the long run. That opportunity now seems to have been further delayed.



Mending fences with Kabul

By Moonis Ahmar

Pakistan must take steps to diminish negative perceptions prevailing in Afghanistan


In a meeting of National Security Committee (NSC) held in Islamabad on August 16 it was decided to mend fences with Kabul by unfreezing diplomatic, political and security ties with Afghanistan and to address issues which are a cause of fomenting irritants between the two neighbours. In a major development, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaking in a presidential palace in Kabul on September 1 expressed his country’s readiness to hold talks in order to normalize relations with Pakistan because according to him, “Afghanistan was ready for comprehensive political talks. Peace with Pakistan is in our national agenda.” Is breakthrough in Pak-Afghan ties in offing?

Can the two countries learn lessons from the unpleasant episodes of the past and move beyond so as to better their present and future?

Mending fences with Afghanistan cannot be a one-way traffic because since the inception of Pakistan as a new state in August 1947 till today, Kabul sustained its indifferent and hostile policy vis-à-vis its eastern neighbour by first casting a negative vote in the UN on Pakistan’s membership; challenging the Durand line; blaming Pakistan of cross border interference and sponsoring groups involved in terrorist acts. Yet, despite Trump’s tirade against Pakistan in his major policy speech of August 21 on South Asia in which he termed the existence of ‘safe heaven’ responsible for supporting Taliban groups attacking U.S and Afghan forces, recent ostensible breakthrough in Pak-Afghan relations is a major positive development.

Kabul must understand Pakistan’s concerns which emanate from its failure to prevent use of its soil to launch terrorist attacks on Pakistan

A joint working group formed by the militaries of Afghanistan and Pakistan which was agreed upon during talks held between Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his Afghan counterpart General Sharif Yaftali in the sidelines of Quadrilateral Counter-Terrorism Coordination Mechanism meeting held in Dushanbe in August is meant to jointly work for formulation of security recommendation for governmental level in order to address mutual security concerns. No doubt, it is another headway in mending fences between Kabul and Islamabad at the military level. Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff had an important meeting with Afghan Ambassador Dr Omar Zakhulwal in GHQ on August 2 in which efforts to mend fences were discussed.

Furthermore, a visit by an Afghan military delegation to Islamabad and convening of a meeting of the Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Commission in August also reflected transformation in the approach and policy of Pakistan and Afghanistan to unleash the process of normalization in their age old hostile relations. The recent visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua to Kabul and her talks with Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai is perceived as a qualitative change in Pak-Afghan relations.

Mending fences with Afghanistan is an uphill task and needs to be examined by taking into account four major requirements from both sides. First, prudence and sanity demands that Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of engaging in blame game, allegations and counter allegations see the reality on the ground and establish a sound mechanism to prevent any future crisis and conflict. Holding of ill-will, suspicion, mistrust and paranoia which tends to jeopardise relations between Kabul and Islamabad must be replaced with constructive engagement for augmenting trade, commercial and meaningful cooperation in security, political, cultural and educational fields.

After all, people of Afghanistan and Pakistan possess centuries old historical, cultural and religious ties which needs to be strengthened. Second, mending fences requires a positive transformation of conflict in Pak-Afghan relations along with cessation of hostile propaganda against each other. Unfortunately, the holding of enemy images in some segments of Afghan society against Pakistan is a reality as anti-Pak sentiments seems to have gained ground in Afghanistan after 9/11. What Pakistan can do to transform ‘enemy images’ in Afghanistan in a positive direction and what sort of space Islamabad can have in that conflict ridden country? Can Pakistan address Kabul’s demand not to erect fence along the Pak-Afghan border and follow a policy of strict neutrality in its internal affairs?

Realistically speaking, Kabul must understand Pakistan’s concerns which emanate from Afghanistan’s failure to prevent those groups who launch terrorist attacks on Pakistan from its soil. Furthermore, Pakistan also laments that Kabul has failed to restrain India use its territory for launching subversive activities in Pakistan particularly in the turbulent province of Balochistan. That the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is involved in conducting terrorist activities inside Pakistan through its network in Afghanistan. It is the responsibility of the Kabul regime and the United States to take appropriate steps against all such groups who are involved against Pakistan from the Afghan soil.

Third, mending fences in Pak-Afghan relations also requires political will and determination on the part of both sides to sustain the process of dialogue. It is a positive sign that both the Afghan and Pakistani leadership in the recent past agreed to take practical measures for avoiding further schism in their ties and adopt confidence-building measures particularly at the military level to mitigate tension along Pak-Afghan borders. As far as Afghan reservation on fencing the long Pak-Afghan border is concerned, the two sides can certainly discuss that matter so that it is resolved amicably. In fact, if the Afghan side takes appropriate measures to prevent TTP and other hostile groups having foreign support operating in Pakistan, in that case, there will be no need to erect a fence along the Pak-Afghan border.

Finally, Pakistan must take steps to diminish ‘enemy images’ and negative perceptions prevailing in Afghanistan. For decades, the security establishment of Pakistan pursued a flawed policy on Afghanistan by patronizing some Afghan groups to seize and sustain power. Had Pakistan remained neutral when the Soviets had militarily intervened in Afghanistan and in the post-9/11 period after the overthrow of Taliban regime, anti-Pakistan feelings in Afghanistan would not have deepened. Patronizing Pashtun Mujahideen groups in the course of Afghan civil war (1992-1996) and Taliban regime (1996-2001) was another strategic blunder committed by Islamabad with lethal repercussions. There is still time for Pakistan to take “damage control measures” so as to create positive image among the Afghans who still consider Islamabad responsible for the destruction of their country.



Where are our modern day visionaries?

By Shaheen Sehbai

A candid, realistic, and fearless narrative had to be given and the Army chief did just that on Defence Day. But is it enough and where do we go from here?


Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa as performed his national duty by speaking out and talking straight on Defence Day. In the absence of an active, visionary and credible political leadership, somebody has to pick up the banner and lead.

A candid, realistic, and fearless narrative had to be given and the Army chief did just that. But is it enough and where do we go from here? General Bajwa mentioned threats facing the country, internally and externally. He cited the example of bigger states with greater resources which had crumbled and imploded under pressure from such threats. He talked of institutions, saying if they are strong, Pakistan will be strong. Strength of democratic, constitutional and legal traditions will be the strength for all of us.

A critical point he made was about the country we will handover to our future generations. It is their right that we give them a state and society free from terrorism, corruption and lawlessness – ‘a normal Pakistan’, as he called it. And in an indirect missive to our current leadership, he almost wished that young people took control of the country. Whatever he said to the foreign states was clear and emphatic but what is more important is our domestic situation.

On terrorism and security fronts, General Bajwa is meeting the challenges effectively, despite occasional roadblocks. In his no-nonsense message, he also spoke about corruption, rule of law, constitution and strength of institutions. These subjects don’t directly fall in his domain but, he said, he was giving his input as part of his efforts to do whatever he can to put things back on track. Why he has such a lack of confidence in the political leadership who is supposed to be the guardian on these fronts and what is the urgency about handling these issues?

Gen Bajwa would not say so but he knows that on the economic front we stand very close to the precipice and are almost ready to fall in the ditch. Economic security is also a top national security concern.

Latest media reports show that the fiscal deficit has crossed 5.8 percent of the GDP, reaching Rs 1.864 trillion – the highest ever in the country’s history.

The gross mismanagement of the economy by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his repeated reliance on fudged and fraudulent stats has brought us here, and we still have him as the country's chief economic manager. If we do not knock on IMF doors soon and keep depending on China for a bailout, there will be a heavy price to pay. The Chinese are shrewd businessmen and the world knows that. I fear it will come down to handing over the multi-billion dollar Reko Diq gold and copper mines to Beijing – as the latter had shown keen interest in them after milking the Saindak cooper treasures for years. Once the CPEC corridor is fully functional, who will stop our gold and copper swished away overseas through Gwadar in the raw form, something we did not allow the Canadian company in Reko Diq to do.

For this to stop, corruption has to be tackled. But what we see is a concerted and collective effort by crony heads of regulatory and law enforcement institutions to protect the corrupt, despite judicial intervention.

General Bajwa can do nothing about these problems, as he cannot bring about educational, police or legal reforms that he desperately wants to make anti-terrorism plans effective. He mentioned all of this in his address.

What is needed is some serious deliberation between those who matter — generals, judges, some politicians, and thinkers — to make a national plan for survival

Meanwhile, politicians have gone into the election mode after Panama Papers verdict or they are fighting their survival battles – leaving governance to run on autopilot. No one is minding the store while time is flying and the world is converging on us, one and all, with bigger demands, tighter sanctions and an un-payable price if we default on the economic front.

While the judiciary is on the right track, the process and progress is so slow, it ultimately enables the corrupt to beat the system and win. Examples of this are available by the dozen as we routinely see cases delayed because evidence gets lost or stolen, witnesses are killed or sent into exile, and judges recuse themselves from hearing cases.

And the mainstream political leaders and their cronies are always less than 30 minutes away from taking their private jets to off shore safe havens.

Who is going to monitor the ticking clock? Every important national issue gets politicised. Census was done under Army supervision but no one is ready to accept it. Army secures the elections generally but instances of rigging are never forgotten.

In this time constrained milieu when nothing is working and no one is serious about making things work, is it not a nightmarish scenario?

The army chief may keep making inspirational statements and raising the morale of the nation every other day but reality never disappears with sweet pep talk alone. What is needed is some serious deliberation between those who matter – generals, judges, some politicians, and thinkers – to make a national plan for survival.

When business-as-usual starts to threaten the state and its legitimacy, out of box solutions become imperative. We must not forget that there are precedents when the military was granted exceptional powers to deal with the situation at hand, like the early years of General Musharraf’s rule. Sorry to say the general could not grasp the enormity and scope of that monumental chance he was given.

We need visionaries for larger than life decisions.



Come September

By Dr Saulat Nagi

Fascism had started becoming a reality in the US much before Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House


Certain movies leave an indelible mark on one’s memory. ‘Come September’ was one of those classics. Even today transcending the temporal barriers,its soft music continues to vibrate and cherish the viewer’s memory. What a soothing impact it has. Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida have eclipsed in the mist of time yet a reflection on their prodigious acting quickens our mind and the love story they have left behind refuses to slumber or die.It was 1962.

Fast forward to 2002, human history was introduced to another epic yet gory repertoire, notorious to the world as 9/11. Unlike the above-mentioned innocuous artists who through the subtle touch of Eros, were playing to bring a smile on viewers’ faces, this time the characters were not altogether benign. The Bush and “Condi” Rice had some lethal plans. The objective was to translate a tragedy into an opportunity and henceforth into a commodity.

The death and destruction, which followed, 9/11 was unprecedented. The manufactured enemy was invisible hence could be hunted all around the world. In this process millions of innocent people became victim of newly devised strategy of “collateral damage” which meant losing life to operational necessities. A death without having any condolence or an associated guilt, as if those massacred were not human beings but unintended inanimate targets.

Whereas lot of blood has been drawn and shed, a plenty of ink is consumed to describe or mystify the mayhem that followed. Many phrases of “neutrality” are implied to justify this act of violence, yet nothing has helped to alter its gravity. The vengeance continues to play havoc on the people – lately a theoretic concept than a concrete reality — of Middle East, Afghanistan and Ukraine.

The arrival of Bush at the world stage and the tempest of 2008, which rocked the boat of capitalism, were no coincidences. By that, time the capitalistic contradiction of overproduction and loss of profit had actually stormed the shores of the US. The process of mechanization had enlarged the base of hapless army of unemployed workers. The housing bubble had reached to its unsustainable limits. The spectre of recession was staring in the face. The objective conditions for an apocalypse were ripe. For the first time after the cold war, America had ceased to be great.

The death and destruction which has followed 9/11 attacks is unprecedented. The manufactured enemy remains invisible hence can be hunted all around the world

Much before Trump’s arrival the gap between the US and fascism was fast abridging. The elevation of Bush, a man handpicked by the court to be the president was a leap in this direction. Despite losing the majority vote, apparently his both terms were guaranteed in advance. Was he chosen for a mission is anyone’s guess but he went on to accomplish one.

Historically, the party, the army, and the big capital were the three pillars, which provided the Nazis’ with their superstructure. The Bolsheviks and freedom, the two lethal enemies of big business were annihilated much before the Jews and gypsies. A devastated middle class provided its shoulder to carry forth the hegemonic design of National Socialism. For a rigorous and uninterrupted production, democracy was an obstacle hence cast aside. Behind the slogan of blood and soil, the big business reigned supreme. Fuhrer’s face was a mere mask meant to terrorize the people into submission.

In the US, the fulcrum of power has long shifted in favour of military - industrial - complex. The democracy devoid of its social content has lost its utility. The ever-increasing gulf between individual’s interest and that of society is vivid. A big chunk of middle class is wallowing in the quagmire of poverty. In a society like this invention becomes the mother of necessity hence one’s imagination is stretched to the delusional limits. Small wonder if people are attracted to the fantasy of making America great again.

It would be unfair to compare the US of today with the Nazi Germany of 1930s. Yet in either case, capitalism failing to realise, found itself in a blind alley. It was in those moments of collusive madness it declared the gypsies, the Jews and the Red, ‘them’. “The fact is that monopolistic imperialism validates the racist thesis: it subjects ever more non -white populations to the brutal power of its bombs, poisons, and moneys; thus making even the exploited white population in the metropolis partners and beneficiaries of the global crime” (Marcuse).

The economic uncertainty has cultivated the pathology of white supremacy in its womb. For unleashing this outrage, the responsibility rests with the structure of society and not with the human nature. However, as Horkheimer states, once “the repressed primitive urges of superficially civilised people” are exhumed the rational persuasion ceases to be effective.

The incidence of Charlottesville provides one example of “racial distribution of guilt” while Trump’s partiality is the other. He stood for ‘white’ biases and colourless prejudices, a calculated move, which paid dividends. A mini 9/11 was erupted, which divided the people on colour lines turning the latter into a crude expression of political and economic realities. This brings a new seething question into fore; totalitarianism may control the external terror but what if the simmering cauldron of internal threat reaches to a point of explosion? The contradictions of the system are reaching to a toxic level. The Nietzschean abyss is staring at American state.

For many the authenticity of 9/11 remains a debatable topic. Did this madness have a method about it? Was it a state inflicted trauma or a real act of terror? These queries are as unanswerable as they are irrelevant. As long as the system based on social inequalities exists these mayhems can scarcely be avoided. Every incidence akin to this continues to remind the infernal society in which humanity under capitalism is forced to dwell. It is time to decide if the radicals want to obey or are willing to command. The latter requires a conscious class struggle, the former, status quo and unconditional subjugation. The ball remains in people’s court.



Deciphering the BRICS declaration

By Syed Mohammad Ali

Published: September 8, 2017

India and China pulled back from a tense standoff in Doklam before they met for the five-nation BRICS summit this past week. The fact that China also agreed to a joint declaration at the end of the summit, which has named militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan as a regional security concern, is being viewed as a significant diplomatic victory in India.

While Pakistan may have been caught off-guard by the above declaration, our Foreign Office was quick to point out that Afghanistan also faces the problem of banned militant groups operating from within its borders. While its own record on protecting minorities is hardly impressive, Pakistan has also expressed concern about the growing intolerance in the region. It is however hard to deny that the BRICS declaration does illustrate the increasing international consensus that Pakistan must clamp down harder on externally-oriented militant groups.

On the other hand, considering China’s endorsement of the BRICS declaration as a sign of its shifting attitude towards Pakistan would be an overstretch. It is important not to overestimate the significance of the BRICS declaration, and what it means for relations between Pakistan, India and China. The existing relationship between these three countries needs to be viewed from both a historical, and a broader geostrategic perspective.

Home to two-fifth of the world’s population, both India and China are indisputably world powers. However, there is lingering friction between these neighbouring giants, of which the tensions along the Sino-Bhutan border (Doklam) is but the latest reminder. Himalayan border disputes have earlier erupted in outright war in 1962, and border skirmishes in 1967 and 1987. Besides their own border disputes, China fears Indian preference and support for an independent Tibet, although India denies this claim. Similarly, India suspects Chinese support to insurgents, in the restive state of Assam.

This longstanding Sino-Indian hostility has served as an underlying motivation for China to develop close ties with Pakistan. Although ideologically they are poles apart, Pakistan and China’s have managed to persevere their ties through the years. Pakistan was careful not to strain ties with China during the time that it worked closely with the US under Cold War pacts, and during the proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. China supported Pakistan during its major wars with India and has kept providing it military support, which continues till today.

Euphemisms of Pakistan and Chinese friendship aside, Pakistan has needed and actively courted China to guarantee its security vis-à-vis India, and, a strong Pakistan has helped prevent India from becoming assertive with China.

In recent years, China has also made significant inroads via ‘special friendships’ with other South Asian countries, in an attempt to contain Indian hegemonic aspirations. In countries like Sri Lanka, Chinese support was instrumental in eliminating the Tamil insurgency. India, on the other hand, has been moving towards closer ties with the US, Japan and other ‘China-wary’ Southeast Asian countries.

China-India spat signals last hurrah for BRICS

China’s decision to blame militant groups which may be present in Pakistan does not mean that this will necessarily improve its ties with India, nor that this concession will result in strained relations with Pakistan. Chinese investment in CPEC, and its discomfort with the increasing US-Indian defence cooperation, remain pressing concerns, the scale of which is much more ambitious than the current level of cooperation between BRICS nations. China does not want India to assert its presence in the South China Sea. India has also raised concern over CPEC, fearing greater Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.

While the current power play in our part of the world is becoming increasingly complex, history still has a funny way of repeating itself, even if the permutations vary. The US’s strategic shift towards India reminds one of Nixon’s rapprochment with China to contain the USSR decades earlier.

Whether India and China will be able to forge an independent path of bilateral and regional cooperation, or else, continue to exploit regional insecurities to undermine each other, while themselves being subjected to US-led geostrategic powerplays, remains to be seen.



Dealing with our intellectual crisis

By Nadeem Ul Haque

 Published: September 8, 2017

Naveed Iftikhar, a young Pakistani scholar who is emerging as a thought leader, has forcefully lamented our intellectual crisis, ie, the lack of a serious, informed debate on key challenges in Pakistan.

This is a persistent problem and earlier generations of intellectuals lamented it as well. Ejaz Haider convened a debate on something similar when he was among the leadership at the Daily Times. (I have written similar laments for decades).

Naveed’s thoughtful piece rightly pointed to the media, government and society’s lacking and demand for thought, research and ideas. Let me add the key reasons why the space for intellectual growth is so limited in Pakistan that even the ground rules for a discourse are not yet determined.

n my recent book Looking Back: How Pakistan became an Asian Tiger in 2050, I note that a debate occurs when several leaders of intellectual thought participate fully on issues of their choice in a concentrated manner. They actively confront one another’s ideas, acknowledging contributions with the sole purpose of advancing knowledge. The audience of the debate gets increasingly involved and eventually owns the emerging knowledge.

Normally such a debate emanates from universities and think tanks where well-known public intellectuals are housed. Scholarship leads debate. Through publishing, holding conferences and seminars they create a vibrant evidence, analyses and forward looking thought for change.

Unfortunately, universities here have been colonised by the bureaucracy which controls rules, funding and even recruitment. In turn, through years of seeking funding, training and research from aid agencies, the bureaucracy allows no local funding for local research. Instead, policy and research has been now fully outsourced to donors. This leaves our researchers/thinkers in the cold with only two choices: play research assistant to donor consultants or migrate.

The few conferences that are held through donor funding are ceremonial events to host and honour VIPs. At these no research is presented, no discourse happens. Speakers — many of whom have no research — make their favourite speech while donors push agendas to please headquarters.

Why is it that in a country of 207 million people, which in its early days produced Mahboobul Haq and Abdus Salam produces no fresh thinking and citations? Yet when you look through donor reports they see no need to attribute ideas to Pakistani thinkers or even cite their work. All thought has to come from outside the country.

This is because most researchers in Pakistan survive on donor contracts. Following funding sources they have to agree there is little original thought in-country. Besides they have to protect their maket, they must show an intellectually-barren country.

Sadly without citation there is no knowledge. Intellectual thought is one long conversation within humanity. Citations are the best way to acknowledge receipt of messages and replies. Growing number of citations show growing consensus of thought on hypotheses, theories and empirical regularities. Eventually citations even lead to public awareness of key policy ideas and lay the basis for change.

Donors regularly talk of ownership of policy. Yet they undercut ownership when they refuse to give equality on policy development to local thinkers. When they refuse citations and attribution of originality to local thinkers they stunt the development of public thought leaders so essential to local debate and ownership.

Citation communities as they appear show a body of evolving knowledge that has broad participation. Audiences learn how the subject has evolved and how various minds have contributed to it. The knowledge of such a development process and the teamwork involved develops confidence in the proposed idea. How can you trust ideas that appear to be coming from only one individual who claims to have thought it all up in his bathroom?

In official meetings of donors and policymakers frequently claim “no need for research; all we have to do is copy best practice.” In my book, I have followed many important thinkers such as Easterly, Farmer, Page to suggest that human systems and networks don’t really replicate without cultural adaptation and idiosyncratic innovation. Policy then becomes “learning globally, solving problems locally.” This requires local research, thought and debate. Mere copying fails. Perhaps that is why donor policies have wasted decades.

Even in the environment of intellectual disdain that we live in, researchers can do small things to lay the foundations of an intellectual tradition. They could start listening to one another, citing and reviewing one another’s work, developing a system of no frills/no VIPs seminars and conferences. They could associate thinkers with policy ideas, hypotheses and theses and begin to talk about them instead of accepting the notion that all ideas come from donors.

Can such boldness and community be found among our intellectuals?



The new horizons of development

By Amir Hussain

September 8, 2017

My previous article on these pages (‘The paradox of participation’, Sept 1) generated a polemical debate on social media about the validity, relevance and effectiveness of participatory approaches of social development.

There was a series of emails from development practitioners, academics and researchers that appreciated and criticised my views. They appreciated my efforts to present a critique and revive the critical debate of participatory development and criticised me for being a bit anachronistic. Some critics even termed it my eurocentrism. I think both camps of readers made some valid observations to take forward a critical debate of social development.

As far as being ‘eurocentric’ is concerned, we must concede to the fact that all mainstream development discourses, as we know them today, were primarily evolved from the notion of the civil society in the West. The received or borrowed notion of participatory development today reminds us of the intellectual assertion of Edward W Said on how Western scholarship looks at the non-Western world. In his magnum opus, ‘Orientalism’, Said has provided a new lens to consider the production of knowledge, culture and anthropology. To him, all hitherto scholarship of the modern West has been embedded with the colonial experience and a collective sense of cultural superiority over the non-West.

This scholarship in part – though inadvertently – provided the intellectual rationale for colonialism. Postcolonial societies, with an unreconstructed relationship of dependence with the West, could not evolve an independent worldview of development. The non-Western discourses of culture, development and anthropology remained at the margin of mainstream discourses. Post-colonial theorists, like the Subaltern Studies Group in India, could not make major intellectual breakthroughs to counter the so-called ‘hegemonic’ development discourses of the West.

The postcolonial critical theory propounded by the Subaltern Studies Group needs to be mainstreamed in our development policy discourse. This is not happening in Pakistan at least and most of the development practitioners don’t have a clue about this postcolonial critical theory of development.

Colonialism resulted in an historical rupture in the evolution of the indigenous civil society in countries like Pakistan. The late professor Hamza Alavi provided a strong thesis of how the indigenous development process in the then Indian Subcontinent was impeded due to the imperialistic exploitation of the resources by the British Empire. These intellectual expositions are important contributions towards evolving an indigenous theory of social development in postcolonial developing countries like Pakistan.

Nonetheless, we can find a vast amount of critical research on the essence of participatory development, its effectiveness, strengths and limitations. This critical research puts forth a range of new perspectives on development that are more econometric and technical than the conventional approaches of participatory development. According to the critics, these approaches are primarily influenced by the neoliberal doctrine of transforming civil society spaces of collective expression into individualistic ventures. Arguably, the new perspectives put forth by the critics of eurocentrism rely on the taxonomy of development knowledge that is produced in the West rather than formulating a non-Western counter-narrative.

For instance, one of the leading perspectives is that of social entrepreneurship, which purports to look at development as a process that facilitates, incubates and inculcates business attitudes through the social lens. It claims to promote a triple bottom-line of economically sustainable, socially accountable and environmentally-responsible development. This perspective also focuses on innovations and the optimal use of technology to improve access to essential goods and services. It also gives primacy to technology and cutting-edge entrepreneurial approaches in that a participant is an actor of value addition rather than a co-planner of local development.

From this perspective, the process of identifying participatory needs without their articulation into a pragmatic and sustainable development programme will be a time-consuming and inefficient exercise. When viewed from this perspective, participatory development is all about demand articulation and a way of bridging the gap between the supply and demand of public goods and services.

Like participatory development, this approach does not seem to address the asymmetry of the worldview, power and knowledge between the agency and the recipient, which is the most critical aspects of transformative development. Instead, it tends to formalise the asymmetry and gives birth to new asymmetries between the self-selected local entrepreneurs and the community as a whole.

In one of my articles that was published in these pages (‘Moving beyond the jargon’, May 18), I provided a critical analysis of social entrepreneurship. In this context, it would suffice to say that social entrepreneurship requires business acumen, an enabling policy environment, well-established value chains, mature markets and protected investment venues for a start-up to flourish into a social enterprise. Social entrepreurship can be one of the tools of economic empowerment in the absence of monopolistic capitalism, extractive economic production and a protectionist state.

There is another perspective that is more inclusive than the social entrepreurship approach, which advocates local engagement as a process of empowerment rather a nominal participation in a predefined project. This perspective claims to draw upon past learning and aims to create a critical mass that think holistically and creatively on how to enhance access to improved services – both in the immediate and long term. It begins by encouraging participants to redefine the development needs where men, women and marginalised groups have the knowledge, skills and capabilities to live a healthy, balanced and connected life that leads to positive socio-economic development.

This perspective encourages communities to realistically map their social development needs with the support of locally-developed technical experts. This approach strives to ensure that the demand for services is articulated for all – including women, children, people with disabilities, people who are transgender and the aged. This approach can provide a vital breakthrough in development policy and practice if translated into a framework of social development that goes beyond Euroscepticism.

By being non-prescriptive, this framework tends to allow the communities to think flexibly about how they can increase and improve access (supply) in both the short and long terms. This can be done through a realistic assessment of the larger ecosystem and, more specifically, through the government, the private sector and self-help initiatives. The framework encourages communities to crowdsource relevant resources (and technical organisations) and initiate public-private partnerships. Central to this framework is the idea of partnership in knowledge, technique, planning and the execution of transformational development.

Pakistan is at the cusp of rapid changes accentuated by CPEC and its corollary: extractive economic activity, environmental degradation and the political repercussions of an emerging new great game. The participation of citizens in the development process is of utmost importance to reap the real benefits of CPEC. The government must encourage the engagement of citizens through an open dialogue on the pros and cons of CPEC, with an inclusive development policy to accommodate alternative voices.

The civil society must also come forward with cutting-edge development perspectives to broaden the horizons of public policy for people-centric development. Within the civil society, we must also promote a culture of critical self-assessment to learn from failures, improve and build on the successes. The civil society must learn quickly to adapt to new political realities and adopt creative strategies to have a larger impact on transformational development.

Development practitioners must come forward as knowledge leaders with compassion and empathy to assert that a better world is possible for the poorer sections of our country. This must ensure the meaningful and real participation of the poor in identifying, designing and executing the development. This involves going beyond project-oriented development approaches, rural development dogmatism and shunning the notions of technical superiority. If this happens, Pakistan will witness a new era of transformative social development.

Email: ahnihal@yahoo.com




N-Korea: Missile-ready hydrogen bomb

By Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

THE Korean peninsula’s strategic environment has become complex, ambiguous and unpredictable. The recent developments in the North East Asia alarmed about the probability of the escalation of the conflict. The brinksmanship between Pyongyang and Washington is inching the region towards nuclear Armageddon. The latter announced that United States military was ‘locked and loaded’. The former expressed its confidence in its defensive fence and also demonstrated a capability to inflict unacceptable damage on both the US and its regional allies. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not take President Trump blunt warning—fire and fury—seriously. He responded in kind. He demonstrated his deterring capability by continuing nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missiles tests. On September 3, 2017, Pyongyang conducted sixth nuclear test on its Punggye-ri testing site. North Korean claimed it had successfully tested a missile-ready hydrogen bomb.

Importantly, a few American scientists questioned the competence of North Koreans missile-ready hydrogen bomb skill and arrogantly declared it a mere propaganda. They are questioning the North Korean miniaturizing capability i.e. to shrink down nuclear warheads to fit on long-range ballistic missiles. The claims of the American scientific community, however, failed to diminish the worries of United States regional allies. The Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono stated: “The government confirms that North Korea conducted a nuclear test after examining information from the weather agency and other information.” According to the South Korean officials and independent nuclear scientists the yield—the amount of energy released by the weapon—to be 100 kilotons. The two intercontinental ballistic missiles tests in July 2017 and recent hydrogen bomb test provided North Korea capability to hit confidently targets at the mainland of the United States.

Admittedly, the engineering of hydrogen bomb is a cumbersome task. The sucessful testing of Hydrogen bomb by North Korea underscores the technological advancement of North Korea. Many analysts opined that ‘even if Pyongyang is exaggerating its atomic achievements, scientific evidence showed that it had crossed an important technological threshold. It conducted a test of a device, which is almost seven times the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Undoubtedly, it is a city-buster. The hydrogen bomb provided Pyongyang a capability to destroy the major part of a city with even inaccurate intercontinental ballistic missile.

Washington, certainly, is immensely disturbed. A small regional actor is questioning the might of United States and also intimidating its regional allies. President Trump stated North Korea is “very hostile and dangerous to the United States.” He added, “North Korea is a rogue nation.” The statements of President Trump indicate about the probability of military action against North Korea. Is military adventurism against a nuclear weapon state a wise decision? The military operation against North Korea would be devastating. The American strategic community needs to act cautiously and rationally. Its open secret that Surgical strikes against North Korea will unleash nuclear duel in the region. Russian Federation and China had expressed their reservations over the hydrogen bomb test by North Korea. Paradoxically, both states condemned the testing of North Korea, and also stressed on the dialogue process to resolve the current tension between North Korea and United States. Conversely, Trump administration considers dialogue process an act of appeasement. President Trump opined, “appeasement with N-Korea will not work”. His judgment carries weight. In 1994 Washington had tried to engage Pyongyang. Both signed Agreed Framework. Intimidating attitude of American ruling elite frustrated the Authoritarian North Korean regime. Pyongyang quashed the agreement. And also withdrew from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003. Since than, N-Korea’s nuclear weapon programme is on positive trajectory.

The Japanese and South Korean ruling elites seem confident about their defensive arrangement with the United States. South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated: “never allow North Korea to continue advancing its nuclear and missile technology.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he “would not tolerate.” In reality, Washington, Tokyo and Seoul had failed to cap and roll back the nuclear weapon program of Pyongyang. Consequently, the people of Japan and South Korea are feeling vulnerable. Hence, nationalist political parties have been pressurizing both the governments to develop their indigenous nuclear capability to check the blackmailing of North Korea. To conclude, the vulnerable Americans to the North Korean city busters may not allow their Congress and Administration to strike North Korea for the security of South Koreans and Japanese. Indeed, alliance is constituted for maximizing ones advantageous rather than enticing ones decay.

— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

Email: jaspal_99@hotmail.com





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