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Pakistan Press (10 Oct 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Will Pakistan See A Military Coup Before The Next Elections? By Talha Afzal: New Age Islam's Selection, 10 October 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

10 October 2017

Will Pakistan See A Military Coup Before The Next Elections?

By Talha Afzal

Afghanistan: The Longest War

By Sonali Kolhatkar

An Open Debate

By Amir Hussain

The Penalty Of Death

By Zainab Malik

Emerging World Order With Chinese

By Ghazanfar Ali Garewal

Who Is Listening?

By Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

Preparing for Ghani’s Visit

Mosharraf Zaidi

Trump’s Generals Want Escalation Not Solution!

By Mohammad Ali Baig

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Will Pakistan See A Military Coup Before The Next Elections?

By Talha Afzal


While many Pakistani citizens tout democracy as the solution to many of the country’s problems, the resolve to uphold democracy wanes at the first sign of trouble. Underpinned by feelings of panic and impatience, even the slightest hint of dismal service is enough to drive democracy out.

But the loss of trust in Pakistan’s executive machinery is not the citizens fault. An abysmal state of governance and the lack of any unifying vision has plagued Pakistani politics since the nation was founded and still dominates public discourse. When the utopian picture of democracy painted by political leaders fails to align with realities, a faction of the champions of democracy turns to their ever present saviour — The saviour that comes dressed in khakis and an imaginary red cape.

But how exactly does the saviour enter the picture and where does it derive its power from?

Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution of Pakistan allows the president to dismiss the constituent assembly when a government cannot continue in adherence to the provisions of constitution. Following a period of sustained instability, it was in 1958 that this power was first used by the president of Pakistan to declare martial law and appoint the army chief as martial law administrator.

The provision of constitution that builds on the concept of constitutional monarchy, fully captures the spirit of democracy while embracing the need for checks by an independent monarch (modern day president). The constitutional monarch who can only act within the parameters of a codified constitution has minimal powers to meddle with the affairs of executive branch but enough powers to dismiss elected parliament under certain circumstances.

Traditionally, constitutional monarchs have played a defining role in derailing coups that have threatened to overthrow democratic institutions. The Spanish coup of 1981 is one such example. In Pakistan however, these constitutional monarchs have sometimes had to conjure military might to do the exact opposite: temporarily subvert democracy to prevent abuses of power.

While rumour mills are going strong, how likely is an actual military coup in the current milieu?

The absence of the more assertive generals who have already retired means the likelihood of a direct coup is remote. If you add to this the fact that Pakistan cannot afford to lose foreign aid or upset China, the likelihood virtually plummets

Historically, the nation has seen several such abuses by elected representatives. Among the more recent ones, the constitutional amendments of 1997 that stripped the President of his reserve powers and parliamentarians of their power to cast a dissenting vote resulted in visible rifts in public trust. The amendments that systematically did away with institutional checks on executive branch made way for a coup that was widely welcomed by some factions.

Today we are at the same cross roads again. The heavy majority that allowed Nawaz Sharif to alter the constitution in 1997 has allowed him to make some unpopular tweaks again. The recent electoral reform bill paves way for the sacked Prime Minister to assume leadership of the ruling party again. So long as the person in question does not serve as office bearer, the bill allows the disqualified party member to get elected and remain the party president. The law has been dubbed as ludicrous by opposition members who have vowed to challenge it in court. Worse still, the absence of various members of opposing parties during the session of assembly has fuelled grim speculations about underhanded deals between the ruling party and other parties.

Manipulation of law by political parties to serve their own interests has strengthened the public perception that the country is becoming a civilian dictatorship.  If you add to this the allegations of rampant corruption, the unacceptable performance of opposition leaders in their respective provinces, the proliferation of loyal but inept government advisors, the violation of election code in the NA-120by-polls, the woeful power shortage, and Nawaz Sharif’s endeavour to strengthen ties with neighbouring India, speculations about military intervention become a tad more conceivable.

But while rumour mills are going strong, how likely is an actual military coup in the current milieu?

Although attempts to override the will of Pakistanis is paving way for seditious sentiments, the absence of the more assertive Generals who have already retired means the likelihood of a direct coup is remote. If you add to this the fact that Pakistan cannot afford to lose foreign aid or upset China’s interest in the country, the likelihood virtually plummets.

But even with a low probability of a direct coup, nothing is keeping military narratives from co-existing with representative democracy. According to one school of thought, national security and foreign policy have always been the military’s domain anyway and attempts to engineer policy shifts by civilian governments have almost always failed.

Even with a low probability of a direct coup, nothing is keeping military narratives from co-existing with representative democracy. According to one school of thought, national security and foreign policy have always been the military’s domain anyway and attempts to engineer policy shifts by civilian governments have almost always failed

Co-existence of military narratives with representative democracy can take a number of forms one of which is ceding control over some of the key ministries to military in return for a new lease on political life. Another is allowing the military to retain a greater say in the country’s policy over relations with arch-rival India and the ongoing war against Taliban.

But whatever form it takes, we need to get one thing straight: although interventionist strategies can sometimes serve the greater good of restoring democracy, peaceful transfer of power between civilian governments is the flat-out answer to our woes. Democracy is a wonderful thing to defend. If we can somehow learn to tame it, lofty military ambitions will stop making their way into mainstream politics.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/10-Oct-17/will-pakistan-see-a-military-coup-before-the-next-elections


Afghanistan: The Longest War

By Sonali Kolhatkar

October 10, 2017

The longest war in modern US history approaches its 16th anniversary Saturday, and so far there is no end in sight. The war in Afghanistan began in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, with the promise of vengeance aimed at the Taliban, hosts of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. But that original justification–still as morally questionable now as it was then–has gotten lost amid the open-ended rhetoric of ‘fighting terrorism.’

The Pentagon recently disclosed that the actual number of US troops currently in Afghanistan is 11,000 – significantly higher than previously acknowledged. The announcement came just days after President Donald Trump announced an open-ended escalation of the war. With 4,000 more troops now heading to Afghanistan, Sen Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed in an interview that US troops will remain in Afghanistan for at least another decade.

It is a pity that neither Trump nor Corker has been asked to justify the presence of troops in the country for another decade when the first 16 years of the war appear to have yielded little of value. Indeed, few American politicians who have supported and extended the war year after year are able to articulate past failures or envision any future strategy that holds promise. And so the war continues, seemingly because we have no idea how or why to end it.

When questioned about the war strategy by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Trump administration officials were hard-pressed to respond, saying only that the Afghan military was more likely to win against the Taliban with US troops advising and supporting it. But the past 16 years of US military involvement have been variations on the same theme: training, supporting and advising Afghan forces while dropping bombs and conducting raids in parallel. If that strategy hasn’t worked for 16 years, why would it work now?

Afghan civilians are caught between corrupt, US-backed warlords in government, US troops on the ground and airstrikes from above, Taliban forces, and now an emerging Islamic State presence. The war has hardly improved their lives and will likely mean many more years of violence.

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, the oldest women’s political organization in the country, warned 16 years ago against US intervention. A member of RAWA (who uses the pseudonym Heela to protect her identity) told me in a recent interview that Trump’s plan is “not really a new strategy for Afghanistan or for the Afghan people. Nor was it a surprise.” She explains that his plan “is actually a very small tactical change in the wider strategy that the US has in the entire region and especially in Afghanistan.”

That broader plan, which Heela sees as unchanged despite the addition or withdrawal of a few thousands troops by various presidents every few years, is continuing the US use of Afghanistan’s “geographic location to keep its rivals like Russia, India, China, Iran, under its thumb.” She adds, “That strategy is not going to change under Trump or any other president for many years to come.”

If reducing terrorism was its goal, the US has spectacularly failed in Afghanistan and appears to not care one way or another. Aside from the terror it has rained down on Afghans year after year, US presence there has only resulted in the Taliban gaining strength, the US-backed government becoming more corrupt and the emergence of new formations based on fundamentalist ideologies.

But if, as Heela suggests, the goal is to maintain a strategic presence in Central Asia, near the territories of political rivals, the war is ostensibly achieving that goal – albeit at a heavy human and financial cost.

Already this year, well before Trump announced his position on the war in Afghanistan, US violence in the country was on the rise. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has tracked American airstrikes there since 2015 and has found a near-exponential rise in bombings.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/235861-The-longest-war


An Open Debate

By Amir Hussain

October 10, 2017

“In an era of plummeting optimism for peace and prosperity, the prospects of a better life begin to vanish from the popular memory. This is bound to happen when hopes for betterment are dashed, voices of dissent are muffled, the choices of a decent life are marred and freedom of expression is barred.

“All this happens under the pretext of securing an obscure future and we tend to kill our present to create a secure Pakistan in the future. The people of this country have experienced the state of permanent national security without being able to see peace and prosperity. There is an emerging political narrative in Pakistan that gives primacy to national security at the cost of freedom and democracy. The proverbial and oft-repeated statement that Pakistan is undergoing a critical period never comes to an end.

“We are made to believe that democracy does not work in this country. This proclamation becomes even more farcical when undemocratic rule is provided justification by the educated class of this country. For the most part, our tumultuous political history has been a saga of undemocratic political control and subjugation as a mode of governance.

“This strange logic has been hammered through our education system as well. Our ideologically-induced textbooks of history and literature provide all that material of ignorance and animosity. Our children are being taught to hate other civilisations rather than being provided help to explore the sociological and historical contexts of these civilisations. It doesn’t stop here. History books provide fanciful stories of the bravery, valour and faith of invaders who are presented as our heroes.

“What we have been reading as history is ideological, anecdotal and subjective and propagates hatred, war and conflict. It is anathematic to the peaceful coexistence of pluralistic communities in Pakistan. This is not only the case in Pakistan. The same is taking place in India as well. With the rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism, a new narrative of history is being invented to provide ideological legitimacy to Modi’s fascism. The history of hatred serves the political and economic interests of the ruling elite across the divide. We read these concocted stories as history and expect our educated youth to become enlightened and support democracy and peace.

“Our civilian rule has not been an ideal mode of democratic governance for the educated youth to aspire for. The disillusionment with democratic regimes has invigorated this jingoistic mindset of absolute control as a means of development and progress. Even today, the people refer to the era of Ayub Khan as an ideal period of development and progress. Our national psyche has historically and politically been framed to distrust democratic governance. Democracy is bound to fail in this country unless we allow drastic reforms in our education system and our political leadership shows statesmanship to demonstrate that democracy is the best form of governance.

“We are not aliens or Martians who live separately on a planet of increasing political consensus about the nexus of democracy, peace and prosperity. Democracy was never put to work in this country right from the day of its independence. Those who propagate this anti-democracy and anti-parliamentary logic of governance present themselves as saviours.

“This genesis of political nihilism calls for the advent of a messianic character to rectify our socio-political ills. Those who have guts, prescience, vision and wisdom to articulate the roadmap of a better society are pushed to the margins.”

This is the summary of an hour-long reflection of a semi-literate, aggrieved man in a remote village situated 180 kilometres in the northeast of Gilgit town. These words of wisdom could easily be used as quotable references had they been uttered by a well-reputed intellectual. We could deduce from such utterances that wisdom is not the preserve of the chosen ones. Instead, it is out there for everyone.

The young man was referring to the moral, political and institutional decay of our society, which breeds pessimism and dejection. The height of moral turpitude lies in our mundane practices and the choice to remain a recipient and to eulogise those we think will change the world for us. The capricious quest for short-term material gains is what we have inculcated in the minds of the youth in this country.

In this remote village of Gilgit-Baltistan, there has been a growth of ill-conceived enterprises across the Karakoram Highway (KKH) with the hope to get rich overnight. The youth are being told that CPEC will bring them the fortunes of the future. This may be true for large contractors of security and construction and other well-placed businesses. But for a small entrepreneur, there is nothing much to cheer about. The Chinese are coming with a complete package of their own – including domestic labour, hospitality services and a whole paraphernalia of goods and services – and will not rely on our underdeveloped institutional structure.

The story of the transformative potential of CPEC has not gone down well with some people. The observations of this young man who lives in a remote village that is situated at the gateway of CPEC represent the dilemma of our society. This man has articulated what I heard repeatedly during my recent visit to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Many people have apprehensions about being excluded from the mainstream political decision-making on CPEC. The more there is talk about CPEC, the less they are convinced about its trickledown benefits for the poor people of this country. The citizens of Pakistan and those who have yet to be entitled as citizens under the constitution – the people of Gilgit-Baltistan – find it difficult to believe in the rhetoric of prosperity.

The families that have been affected by the KKH’s upgradation in Upper Hunza say they have yet to be paid their land compensation. According to a local development worker, the National Highway Authority (NHA) in Gilgit-Baltistan has violated the Land Acquisition Act by reducing the compensation amount without consulting the Land Revenue Department. The NHA has been revising the compensation papers and reducing the compensation amount for the last 10 years without paying even a single penny to the affected families who live along the KKH in Upper Hunza.

There have also been allegations that the NHA has been using delaying tactics. People are reportedly also being threatened with arrest on grounds of being anti-state elements if they do not abstain from demanding compensation. These acts of depriving poor farmers of their land compensation do not go well with the claims of the game-changing prospects of CPEC. The story does not end there in Gilgit-Baltistan. There are similar stories emerging areas along the CPEC route that passes through Balochistan, Sindh, KP and Punjab.

CPEC should be about the citizens of Pakistan. If it does not change the fate of our poor, all those tall claims of prosperity are meaningless. The demands for legitimate economic rights made by poor farmers should not be considered ‘anti-state’ and it is the state that seems to adopting an anti-people stance. The apprehensions regarding CPEC cannot be equated with anti-state activities either. It is the constitutional right of the people of Pakistan to know their economic and political future.

It is the responsibility of the political government and security planners to allow an open debate on CPEC’s pros and cons for the people of Pakistan. No state can afford to adopt and sustain an anti-people approach for a long period. Let’s make a pledge to chart out a new social contract so that Pakistan, like other civilised nations, can see democracy, peace and prosperity.

Source: .thenews.com.pk/print/235858-An-open-debate


The Penalty of Death

By Zainab Malik

October 10, 2017

Muhammad Azam has spent more years in a death row cell in Karachi than he has outside prison. Jail records trace his journey into a broken criminal justice system to 1998 when he was arrested at the age of 17 and detained at the Youthful Offenders Industrial School in Karachi.

Relying on a confession extracted through brutal torture, Azam was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in 1999. In 2000, the Juvenile Justice Systems Ordinance 2000 granted protection to all juvenile offenders from the death penalty and a presidential notification issued in 2001 extended the protection to all those who, like Azam, had been sentenced before the law came into force.

In compliance with the new directives, the prison authorities in 2004 forwarded a request to the ATC for the commutation of Azam’s sentence. Despite the unequivocal language of the law, the court refused to honour the jail’s request and condemned Azam to a lifetime on what has been described as the world’s largest death row.

The arbitrariness and injustice in Azam’s case permeates every corner of the criminal justice system that upholds the application of the death penalty in Pakistan. In October 2016, the Supreme Court acquitted two brothers from Bahawalpur only to find that they had already been executed the year before. The oversight hardly amounted to an abnormality in dealing with a death row population in which, according to the Ansar Burney Trust, over 60 percent are innocent.

As the global community marks the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10, Pakistan has taken its place amongst the world’s fifth largest executioners, with over 480 total executions since a six-year moratorium was lifted in December 2014.

With only 16 percent of all executions being for terrorism crimes, the burden of Pakistan’s death penalty falls on the most vulnerable of its populations. The estimated death row population of at least 6,000 constitutes the poor, the destitute, juvenile offenders and mentally ill and physically disabled prisoners. The rich, able and politically connected are nowhere to be found within the walls of the country’s eight-by-ten feet death row cells.

Political marginalisation of the condemned groups not only leads to discrimination at the time of sentencing but also impacts their march to the gallows. In a recent study by Justice Project Pakistan, it was discovered that executions were increasingly utilised by prison authorities to “make room” in overcrowded prisons.

It is apparent that the marginalised death row population has become the ideal pawn in the struggle to convince the populace that it is winning the war on terror. The political currency of the death penalty clearly overpowers the need to take into account humanitarian concerns.

Despite the human rights violations that characterise Pakistan’s death row, the government of Pakistan has failed to exercise the constitutional power of mercy in even a single case. This includes the case of Abdul Basit, a death-row prisoner who became paralysed after contracting tubercular meningitis that was left untreated by prison authorities. Since his execution was stayed in 2015 on humanitarian grounds, the government has failed to take any decision on whether to execute him or pardon him. For the past two years, Basit and his family fear that they will wake up to an execution warrant.

On the World Day Against the Death Penalty, Pakistan faces the daunting task of defending its decision to enforce the death penalty from scathing criticism through three consecutive UN Human Rights Treaty Body reviews. First, Pakistan must reduce the number of laws that merit the death penalty from an astounding 27 crimes to only the most serious of offences. Second, Pakistan must ensure that vulnerable groups – such as juvenile offenders and mentally disabled prisoners – are protected from being sentenced to death and from execution. Third, Pakistan must introduce transparent and effective processes to consider clemency petitions rather than continuing its protection of rejecting them en masse.

It cannot be denied that the Ministry of Human Rights has demonstrated its commitment to close the gaps of our criminal justice system. Acknowledging of the urgency of the problem can only spring forward what we need most: reform.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/235860-The-penalty-of-death


Emerging World Order with Chinese

By Ghazanfar Ali Garewal


Not so long ago, America considered China a challenge to the liberal world order so it began to integrate Beijing in international institutions and system. Now after this task has been accomplished, the global influence of the US is waning.

For decades, the crisis of capitalism, the populist reaction to economic inequality and the dual approach towards globalising the liberal world order brewed a storm which has culminated in Trump being elected as President of the US. His policies on trade and climate change are helping Beijing grow powerful in the international arena. The more powerful a state is in world politics, the more influence it wields to shape the world order. So what impact China could have on the liberal world order?

The world order is the distribution of power and authority among the states in global politics. Before WW-I, power rested in Europe so a multipolar order emerged where the states kept vying for influence and dominance. Gradually, the global power accumulated in the US and the Soviet Union at the end of the WW-II, which fashioned a bipolar order.

The Atlantic Charter, establishment of the United Nations and, after General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the World Bank shaped the contours of the international system which had indomitable American characteristics. The spirit of the Bretton woods institutions and system, along with other international organisations and entities, was imbued with liberalism, which afterwards got a dominant shade of neo-liberalism and globalisation.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the US became the sole superpower and the moment of unipolar word order prevailed. In this era states’ demand for their “fair and just share” in the international system was always choked by pulling the strings of institutions that have remained at the service of their architects. The demand never died out and with the rise of other players, especially China, many a state began to occupy the locus of power where America failed. South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, for instance.

China with its economic might has been increasing its political and diplomatic clout in the world. Its dealing with the rest of the world and its approach towards international institutions is marked with three distinguished characteristics.

Firstly, despite its strategy of ‘march west’, Beijing has continued its engagement with the ASEAN countries while switching between assertiveness and diplomatic cordiality here and then. Here is the takeaway, Beijing will not give up its claims in its immediate territory and continue to end the disagreement by bringing the contending states in its closer embrace, applying a mix of geopolitics and geo-economics tactics.

China’s handy and most instrumental policy tool in diluting the disagreements has been bilateralism. Here China calls the shots. It applies this policy option particularly in the projects and initiatives which may decrease the influence of other major players of Asia — Japan and India

Secondly, it is creating a network of multilateral institutions at the regional level especially where it has resources to contribute and to flex its management muscle in the complete consonance of the local leadership. In Central Asia, it established the Shanghai Corporation Organisation which has become a powerful force in managing the regional affairs. For Asian development, it founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), dubbed as a parallel institution to the World Bank.

Though it is debatable, yet it offers an insight into the Chinese characteristics in a multilateral institution. Compared with the other Bretton Woods institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for example, AIIB is not micromanaged by Beijing.

The World Bank and IMF conditions the aid and development projects with the spread of liberal and democratic values where AIIB doesn’t put such a constraint on the states seeking its help. China, being the main architect of the bank, prefers to stay out of the internal affairs of a state. Moreover, AIIB’s article of Agreement bars the member states from influencing political affairs.

Thirdly, other than multilateralism, China’s handy and most instrumental policy tool in diluting the disagreements has been bilateralism. Here China calls the shots.

It applies this policy option particularly in the projects and initiatives which may decrease the influence of other major players of Asia, Japan and India. Belt and Road Initiative is the case in point. The most striking pattern of bilateral engagement appeared in China’s signing of Hambantota Port Deal with Sri Lanka.

The remarkable feature of the deal is that it was approved by the parliament of Sri Lanka which endowed the sole responsibility of the security and commercial operations to the Sri Lankan government. Beijing’s approach in signing agreements is in sharp contrast with the American approach of bullying states while ordering “either you are with us or against us.”

Consensus and no-conditionality are the hallmark of the institutions designed by China. Negotiation and the will-of-people is the significant matter for Beijing in striking a deal with any other country. However, sticking to its guns in the case of an unfair dispute is also a salient feature of the Chinese culture, which most dislike. The new world order is not likely to be dominated by one player only; it would be a mosaic of asymmetric powers with China as one of its most influential player. History provides insight into the present while the present sets the base for insight into the future. China’s present is hardly at odds with its past practices. Its current engagements and actions bode well for a harmonious order.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/10-Oct-17/emerging-world-order-with-chinese


Who Is Listening?

By Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

October 09, 2017

THE degenerate politics of Pakistan on public display every day is sucking the life-blood of the country. The legislative and political stratagems in support of massive and organised corruption and in defiance of the Supreme Court are holding the whole country to ransom.

The relentless plunder of the people is destroying the lives of millions upon millions of living and unborn Pakistanis. No enemy could be so hostile! Is it too late to save Pakistan? It is never too late for decent Pakistanis to change from being passive spectators and actively organise to save their country from hovering vultures. Now is a defining moment.

Fifty years ago, Pakistan was on course to be a prosperous, educated, middle-class, secure and stable country with a per capita income at least 10 times that of today. But institutionalised corruption, cynical leadership, predatory governance, subversion of national priorities, and the hijacking of the national interest have brought the country to its present pass.

No ‘saviour’ will come. Pakistan’s ‘leaders’ must be servants of people’s movements.

We are told ‘speak truth to power’. Noam Chomsky says the powerful know the truth and are very happy with it. The people need to speak truth to each other in order to realise their own power to change their circumstances and confront predators. No ‘saviour’ will come. Pakistan’s ‘leaders’ must be servants of people’s movements. CPEC and China’s invaluable friendship cannot compensate for criminal misrule.

Movements require a mobilising vision, commitment, organisation, struggle, feedback, and participatory decision-making. Otherwise, any progress will be sporadic, temporary and insufficient to overcome the political inertia. The hopeless response to constructive proposals will remain: who is listening?

The challenge is not to make sensible recommendations which are promptly ignored; it is to develop movements which ensure they cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, many think the moral strength, mental horizons, political confidence and organising capacities of the people are too limited to challenge the powers that be.

If true, Pakistan will have no future. But if slavish pessimism is rejected we can meaningfully discuss some realities and requirements a leadership committed to serving a people’s movement for national transformation should consider. The following are a few:

(i) The population of Pakistan will reach an utterly unmanageable 400 million by 2050;

(ii) Along with climate change and the risks of nuclear conflict these are existential challenges. Addressing them are overriding priorities;

(iii) There has been enormous underinvestment in the whole range of human resource development which would raise capacities to address these challenges;

(iv) Massive investments are needed for poverty reduction and transforming the health, education, sanitary, housing, mother-and-child care, basic services provision, human and gender rights protections, administrative and governance systems;

(v) The money for these investments must be largely generated from the revenues of a developing economy to preserve Pakistan’s political and economic sovereignty;

(vi) Long-term economic growth rates should be transformational (eight per cent for 30 years?) for defence expenditures, debt repayments and administration costs to be met without incurring unserviceable and ruinous debt;

(vii) Budgetary allocations and tax burdens must be transparent, rational, redistributive and pro-growth;

(viii) Social and economic inequalities should be significantly reduced while living-wage job opportunities are maximised through human resource development;

(ix) Credit Suisse recently estimated Pakistan’s middle class at over 6m. This is around 3pc of the population. A middle-class country should have a middle class approximately half the population. The structure of power and class-based governance stand in the way of addressing this situation;

(x) Defence spending that takes away from other essential spending undermines economic and national security;

(xi) Transition from a security to a development and democratic state is the condition for national security in today’s world;

(xii) Major corruption should be a capital crime. The Soft State Syndrome is fatal;

(xiii) The promotion of a ‘culture’ of rationality, innovation, and science and technology is indispensable to implement transformation policies;

(xiv) Civil-military relations mean nothing outside civilian supremacy;

(xv) Capable, responsible and accountable policymaking institutions must replace personal, uninformed, uneducated and unaccountable decision-making;

(xvi) Governance must be brought closer to the people through devolution of power;

(xvii) The formation of additional provinces should be encouraged in accordance with the wishes of the concerned people;

(xviii) Terrorism is a major challenge. Though deep-rooted it must be uprooted. It is largely the result of national and international injustice, violence and elite complicity;

(xix) Counterterrorism without addressing the root causes of terrorism is disguised state terror. Politically mainstreaming banned but renamed extremist organisations associated with terrorism is an irresponsible dereliction of duty;

(xx) Nuclear weapons are a deterrent to prevent war. They should never be considered a first-strike option;

(xxi) The protection of nuclear assets and materials is less about systems reliability; it is more about external perceptions of Pakistan’s sustained political will to deny unauthorised access;

(xxii) Without transformational change at home, foreign policy cannot develop international credibility and effectiveness;

(xxiii) The Foreign Service as the nation’s ‘first line of defence’ must be upgraded and empowered as a major priority;

(xxiv) A foreign minister must elicit respect and loyalty from the foreign service through his understanding of foreign policy issues and his commitment to service morale and welfare;

(xxv) The foreign minister must also carry weight in the cabinet and the corridors of power for his ministry to provide indispensable professional input for a credible foreign policy. Recent criticisms of his remarks about putting our house in order are disingenuous and infantile; and

(xxvi) Policies towards India, Kashmir, the US, Afghanistan, Iran, etc should be integrated and consistent with national transformation, 21st-century imperatives, international law, strategic partnership with China, and UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir. Short-term policies must be embedded in longer-term policy perspectives to maximise possibilities for principled and acceptable outcomes.

All of the above is doable. But who is listening? The political system is rotten beyond polite description. A corrupt elite cannot communicate with the people. It can only deceive and ferociously defend its loot. However, a people made aware of their faith and power to be free, will listen, challenge and prevail.

Source: dawn.com/news/1362528/who-is-listening


Preparing for Ghani’s Visit

Mosharraf Zaidi

October 10, 2017

The recent visit of COAS Qamar Bajwa to Kabul seems to have produced newfound energy and enthusiasm between Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was inevitable. Afghanistan has no choice but to engage with Pakistan. But how this engagement is managed will determine how successful this new impetus will be. The recurring theme in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations has been not learning from prior mistakes. Détente between the two countries is not unprecedented. It was President Ashraf Ghani’s first priority when he took office in 2014. Before we come back, we must learn from prior mistakes.

Ghani is among the most brilliant, thoughtful leaders in the world. When he first became president, he employed that brilliance to engage Pakistan in a discussion predicated on three things.

First, since 2001 Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai had tried to force Pakistan into certain behaviour by using the West. By 2014, those efforts had yielded nothing for Afghanistan. Ghani concluded that Pakistan needed to engage with a sovereign Afghan government, rather than a proxy for the Americans.

Second, given that Afghanistan offers more than simply the toxicity of insecurity (namely a pathway to energy-rich Central Asia), Ghani sought to establish a channel of economic and trade route engagement with Pakistan.

Third, there is no pathway to progress in Afghanistan, without addressing the threat posed by the Taliban. Ghani sought to fast-track efforts to engage with and talk to them, whilst holding onto his own mandate.

After a tense summer of elections in 2014, Ghani became president. By November 2014, the gains from Operation Zarb-e-Azb, and new unprecedented clarity from Kabul had set the stage for Ghani’s first visit to Pakistan as president. His visit helped establish a two-track conversation. In one, Pakistan would press the Taliban (including the Haqqani Network), to less violence and more negotiation. In the other, Pakistan would strengthen Afghanistan by facilitating trade and economic growth.

Most of the conversation about Ghani’s time as president has been taken up by the first track. We all know what happened there. In December 2014, Afghanistan-based TTP terrorists attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar. Somehow, Pakistan’s resolve to trust President Ghani and forge ahead with Afghanistan survived that attack. That resolve helped initiate the Murree Process, as the first formal meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban took place in the summer of 2015.

The momentum of the Murree talks was too much to bear for the enemies of peace in the region, and the leak of Mullah Omar’s expiration essentially paralysed the process. Ghani valiantly sought to live another day, and came to Pakistan in December of 2015, a year after APS, to attend the Heart of Asia conference. Pakistani leaders, including both then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and then-COAS Raheel Sharif, received Ghani at the airport, but the damage to the security track of the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship was already done.

Then the wheels really fell off. In May 2016 the Americans zapped Mullah Mansoor Akhtar in a drone strike, essentially ending the second iteration of the Murree process, a la the Quadrilateral Coordination Group. President Ghani, having lost the trust of both PM Sharif and COAS Sharif, essentially gave up on Pakistan, and adopted the tone of a frustrated and defeated man. By December 2016, at the Heart of Asia summit in Amritsar, he had joined Indian leaders in openly attacking Pakistan.

Three things have rendered the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship as dysfunctional under Ghani as it was under Karzai. The first is Pakistani distrust of a community of Afghan mercenaries that serve only as spoilers to regional peace. These mercenaries occupy official space in the new Afghan state’s intelligence apparatus, but operate largely to undermine it at every stage. The leak of the Mullah Omar news is seen as exhibit one in that regard.

The second is a fog of miscommunication and distrust between Pakistan and the US, and a near collapse in this important relationship. The deep frustration of the Obama Administration with Pakistan’s failure to follow up on conversations between senior US officials and Pakistani leaders in late 2014 through mid-2015 may have precipitated the US assassination of Mullah Mansoor. The decapitation of the Taliban, however, shifted the centre of gravity of Afghan insurgents squarely in favour of the Haqqani Network. Perhaps nothing fuelled Pakistani distrust of American intentions in the region as much as that drone strike did.

Both of these two factors are outside Pakistan’s control. The third and final poison in Afghanistan’s relationship with Pakistan however is very much Pakistani domain. What is it? Pakistani incompetence.

On his first trip to Pakistan as president in November 2014, President Ghani agreed to a range of economy and trade-related measures with Pakistan. The purpose was to enhance Afghan economic activity, pilot some of the regional connectivity agenda within the wider CPEC and CAREC frameworks, and provide Ghani and pro-Pakistan voices within Afghanistan with the proof that a friendly posture toward Pakistan yields tangible benefits to the Afghan people. To really give teeth to the economy and trade track with Pakistan, Ghani even posted the man who was negotiating this agenda with Pakistan, his finance minister Omer Zakhilwal, as his ambassador to Pakistan.

A to-do list of 42 items was prepared by Finance Minister Zakhilwal and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in early 2015. The list included a range of easy wins, ranging from speedier clearances for Afghanistan-bound trucks to faster execution of trade facilitation projects. To date, there has been virtually no progress on any of the 42 items.

To boot, Pakistan has leaned into an anti-Pakistan narrative in Kabul at every opportunity, essentially lubricating the pathway of anti-Pakistan mercenaries in Afghanistan. Decisions like sealing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border after terrorist attacks, or repatriating a small percentage of the Afghan refugees that live in Pakistan as retribution for anti-Pakistan speeches by Afghan leaders, or prosecuting telegenic Afghans that violate Pakistani laws like Sharbat Gula have all served to strengthen the false narrative of Pakistan enjoying the continued humiliation or insecurity in Afghanistan.

As Ashraf Ghani’s fourth winter as president of Afghanistan approaches, Pakistanis need to heed five lessons from previous winters.

First, enabling Afghan trade and economic growth is easier than shutting down the Haqqani Network. Pakistan must immediately take measures to process as much of the Zakhilwal-Dar agreement on economy and trade as it can.

Second, Ghani’s outreach to Pakistan has cost Ghani more than it has cost Pakistan – he must be treated with great empathy and respect. Pakistan’s enemies will spare no effort in running down Ghani when he returns to Kabul. They should not be aided by Pakistanis, wittingly or unwittingly.

Third, the enemies of peace in the region use many actors to further their agendas, including remnants of the TTP based in Afghanistan. But not every critic of Pakistan is a RAW agent, and not every mistake the Americans make is borne of ill will. Whilst not letting our guard down, Pakistan needs to engage the US government in a robust conversation about the region’s future, concurrent to its détente with President Ghani. Pakistan has done more to fight terror than any country. Those unconvinced of this need convincing. Name-calling will not achieve this.

Fourth, there is no escape from the Haqqani Network. It adorns Pakistan’s throat like a noose made of barbed wire. Any plans for Afghanistan’s future that do not include a plan to neutralise the threat of this group will fail the smell test that the international community, including China and Russia, apply to this region. Pakistani strategists need to come correct.

Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, the enemies of peace in the region have exploited Pakistani incompetence before. They will not stop. It is incompetence that fails to address disagreements between military and civilian authorities robustly (and privately). It is incompetence that fails to make progress on the trade and growth agenda with Afghanistan.

Ashraf Ghani’s next trip to Pakistan can be worthy of the hype being generated – but only if it differs from past trips. Pakistani competence is a much more potent determinant of the future of our region than the poisonous agendas of the enemies of peace in the region. We are better than the enemies of peace. Ghani’s trip to Pakistan is our chance to prove it.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/235856-Preparing-for-Ghanis-visit


Trump’s Generals Want Escalation Not Solution!

By Mohammad Ali Baig

October 10, 2017

WHY and how US President Trump was left with no choice but to put all the blame on others especially Pakistan? What people are responsible or perhaps the driving force behind Trump’s U-turn in Afghanistan – since he said that “my first instinct was to pull out”? Why neither Afghanistan nor America allows Pakistan to fence and manage the Pak-Afghan border? Why whenever Pakistan launches a military operation in the border region – the American and Afghan forces pull back – providing militants with strategic depth? And last but not the least – why there still exists Taliban’s office in Qatar? There has been a lot of commentary in Pakistan flanked by emotions of being deceived and betrayed over Trump’s new strategy. Besides the resentful feelings and sentiments of the people of Pakistan there is a serious need to review the approach towards Afghanistan.

The men who are dominating Trump Administration and have encircled President Trump are either warriors or such men who have been seriously critical of U.S. Policy for Afghanistan. For instance Trump’s White House Chief of Staff retired Gen. John Kelly is among those who wants a renewed approach towards Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Gen. Kelly lost his son Lt. Robert Kelly while serving in Afghanistan in 2010 as a result of a landmine. Similarly, Secretary of Defence retired Gen. James Mattis a.k.a. ‘mad dog’ has had been vocal in criticizing the Afghan Policy and also saw action in Afghanistan. While Trump’s serving military advisor Gen. Joseph Dunford was also stationed at Afghanistan. Again, Trump’s National Security Advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster is a war veteran having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Quite interestingly McMaster has been able to overshadow the rest of the administration and was able to remove people like Steve Bannon from the White House. Previously, Bannon served as the White House Chief Strategist. CNN’s article by Peter Bergen “For Trump’s Generals, this is personal” is a remarkable critique behind the new policy.

Trump’s New South Asia Policy is a clear result of him being under the serious control of his Generals. The ramifications of this new strategy would be severely negative – since it is like giving a free hand to the military to handle the Afghan War. To achieve military cum political objectives – the number of drone strikes would increase inside Pakistan – primarily targeting civilian and unarmed populations. These drone strikes have had little value in counter-terrorism in the past but now these strikes would not only be aimed to eliminate high value targets but to stir things up in the Pak-Afghan border areas. As a consequence of those strikes there will be a new wave of terrorist incidents across Pakistan and those groups who somehow ceased their terrorist activities will begin to re-evaluate their strategy.

Also, unfortunate but ‘deliberate accidents’ like Salala Incident – are likely to happen again – ostensibly depicting the frustration of the US Military Forces. The chain of actions would also trigger an increased pressure on Pakistan by heating up the Eastern and Western borders and would see considerable increase in cross-border skirmishes. As a result, those Taliban which are inclined towards Pakistan would conduct counter-strikes in Afghanistan by targeting ISAF, NATO and Afghan National Army and other Afghan law enforcement agencies – resulting in more problems for the US and its Allies in relation to Pakistan. This ‘rat race’ is likely to happen and would gain momentum if Trump executes this new strategy.

It is very much easy to conclude that Trump’s speech was a charge sheet against his predecessors. Apart from the concerns of Trump – it has been an established opinion of commentators and analysts that there exists only one solution for Afghanistan and that is to bring Taliban on the negotiations table by allowing Pakistan to use its influence. Great powers like China and Russia have also admitted the fact that without Pakistan being onboard – sustainable and long lasting peace can never be achieved in Afghanistan.

The acquisition of power and prestige has always been instrumental in the international system and particularly the great powers seem to be obsessed with it. Overtly, America being a great power – aspires to achieve only one specific objective – to find an honourable exit from Afghanistan. Without a slightest doubt – the Trump Administration is applying the same principle that President Nixon and his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger applied in Vietnam – to expand the conflict. Nixon and Kissinger took Vietnam War to neighbouring Cambodia and Laos to suppress the Communist Forces operating through the alleged ‘Ho Chi Minh Strait’. Kissinger’s orders to General Alexander Haig to ‘destroy everything that moves’ is a testament to American strategic culture – that is perhaps coming into play again.

Source: pakobserver.net/trumps-generals-want-escalation-not-solution/


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/will-pakistan-see-a-military-coup-before-the-next-elections?-by-talha-afzal--new-age-islam-s-selection,-10-october-2017/d/112823


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