Dawn – Fresh polio case in Punjab after two years

Asif Chaudhry

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 15 February 2019. A new polio case has surfaced after a gap of two years in Punjab and seven years in Lahore.

The case was reported from Shalamar Town where the crippling disease has affected eight-month-old Yashif who was said to be vaccinated soon after his birth.

The health authorities confirmed the boy had been diagnosed with paralysis in right leg.

A health official told Dawn the last case was reported in Jan 2017 in Lodhran district where a baby was declared positive for the polio virus.

The surfacing of the new case in Punjab’s capital has put a big question mark on the performance of provincial health authorities who are already facing allegations of taking inadequate precautionary measures.

The official said 29 environmental samples of polio virus were reported positive in Punjab last year.

He said seven environmental samples drawn from various cities of the province in Jan 2017 alone were declared positive.

Of them, four were reported positive in Lahore, two in Rawalpindi and one in Faisalabad. He said the virus returned to Faisalabad after a gap of two years or so.



Dawn – Domestic violence

Editorial, 13 February 2019. Once again, religious parties are creating hurdles in the passing of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and Protection) Bill.

The bill was introduced in the provincial assembly early this week after being approved by the provincial cabinet in 2018.

The stated purpose of the bill is to prevent domestic violence against women and to protect them from sexual, psychological and economic abuse. If passed, women from KP or their guardians can file complaints to 10-member committees headed by district deputy commissioners, which will provide assistance to them.

Any person found guilty of abuse would be imprisoned for up to three months or fined up to Rs30,000 (or both) under the Pakistan Penal Code.

Undoubtedly, this will be a welcome move for the women of KP who deserve just as much security as their counterparts in other areas of the country. But whenever such laws are discussed, opposition voices are raised using the rhetoric of ‘culture’ and ‘family’.

It was only last month that KP appointed its first provincial ombudsperson for sexual harassment, after much resistance from certain quarters.

In 2016, Punjab passed the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill, 2015. Over the years, Punjab has had the most instances of violence against women, or at least the most reported.

The law offers protection to women against a range of abhorrent crimes: domestic violence, emotional, economic and psychological abuse and cyber crime. Additionally, it provides protection, residence and/or monetary order in light of such offences.

Prior to this, Sindh had passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2013, and Balochistan passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2014. While these laws may have their deficiencies and loopholes, and are open to criticism and thus improvement, they are absolutely vital in recognising that violence against women is a crime in the eyes of the state.

Violence is another form of control, and there is no end to the many ways society attempts to ‘control’ women through judgement or coercion.

Inherent to these notions of control are knee-jerk reactions and deep-seated fears of women gaining independence, and men subsequently losing their power over them, which somehow translates into the breaking up of families for some. This is simply untrue.

And if families are indeed being kept together through fear and violence, that is not a healthy environment for any member of the unit to be in, in the first place, least of all the most vulnerable member, who has to suffer just to fulfil someone else’s abstract ideals.

Such regressive attitudes infantalise adult women by casting doubt on their decision-making faculties, and are used as a tool to justify oppression.

All women citizens deserve a life free of intimidation, harassment and abuse both within and outside their homes. Domestic violence is not to be taken lightly.


Dawn – Refusing to learn

Umair Javed

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 11 February 2019. The brazen police-led harassment of academic and activist, Dr Ammar Jan, for his participation in a PTM-affiliated protest revealed once more the Pakistani state’s attitude and approach towards progressive politics.

While others have written and will continue to write about recent events, it is also worth zooming out and seeing these as part of the general approach towards political conflict in the country.

All disagreement on the distribution of resources (such as revenue, subsidies, and natural resources like water and gas), the distribution of rights (such as citizenship, law, personal and organisational freedoms, and other associated liberties), and the distribution of authority (who gets to decide the first two) can be categorised as political conflict.

Pakistan’s history shows one primary axis of political conflict, the state (or the centre) versus peripheral regions. These regions represent politicised ethnic collectivities, and thus the central question in political contestation has been over the distribution of resources, rights, and authority for these regions/ethnic groups.

Ethnic conflict was around when Pakistan became an independent state.

However, at varying points in the past, class conflict (especially during the 1960s and 1970s) and religious conflict (during the last two decades) has also coloured the political field.

Ethnic, class and religious conflict are substantively different. The former lends itself to geographical secessionism, as it has at various points in the past. Class and religious conflict is more about the nature of the state.

Despite these differences, the approach of the dominant order of power, whether one calls it the ruling elite, or by its precise institutional edifice, the military and its junior partners, to ethnic and class conflict in particular has followed the same pattern: coercion, blowback, escalation, and suppression.

In one domain it has been successful, class conflict was coercively dealt with both by Bhutto and, more forcefully, by Zia through their assault on the labour and peasant movements. It is thus a figment of the past for old people, and fails to register in the contemporary imagination of young people.

It is a rare instance of the state succeeding with its bludgeoning approach to the point that the challenger no longer poses an institutionalised threat to the dominant order of power. Poor people are so burdened by the anxieties of basic subsistence that claim-making for a new social contract with the state does not figure into their lived reality.

Religious conflict has seen the most interesting history. It is where the state has remained the most accommodative, and used coercion only when the institutional interests of the military have been challenged.

Our constitutional and legislative history, and law books more generally, are a testament to the generosity of the state as far as religious claim-making is concerned.

But it is ethnic claim-making where the dominant order of power has persisted with a largely coercive approach and refused to exhibit any amount of learning. This is ironic (and frankly astounding) given the sheer number of occasions offered for a rethink.

Ethnic conflict was around when Pakistan became an independent state. It appeared forcefully when disputes emerged over the nature of constitutional design in the early years of independence; it displayed its strength in the first provincial assembly polls in erstwhile East Pakistan in the early 1950s.

It escalated during much of the 1960s, when legislative debates showed representatives of the (numerically dominant but politically peripheral) ethnic group, the Bengalis, warning the military-bureaucratic oligarchy of resource distribution imbalances.

And it reached its ultimate crescendo in the civil war that followed a failure of the dominant order to respect a democratic mandate.

But inexplicably, the stark nature of the outcome (an independent state) was insufficient to persuade the state that ethnic grievances could be handled in some other form.

So brute strength was used again in the aftermath of Bhutto’s NAP government dismissal in Balochistan, against Sindhi nationalists in the 1980s, against Urdu-speakers’ mobilisation in the 1990s, against the Baloch (again) from the mid-2000s onwards, and now against the mobilised Pakhtun youth of Fata.

The instruments of coercion have evolved to include smear campaigns, enforced disappearances, and heavy censorship, alongside the use of brute force.

There is no attempt to understand the underlying nature of the problem, ie the distribution of resources or rights, nor is there any other lens available to see the problem except that of national (in)security and nefarious foreign designs.

This is a logical outcome of decision-making remaining in the hands of an institution trained only to see all political conflict as a security and sovereignty-related issue. If the strategists running affairs of the state were to truly reflect on the country’s history, they would see external drivers of conflict as, at best, marginally influential.

The tragedy is that since 2008, the country has seen some marginal progress in the development of an institutional framework that provides for non-violent resolution of political conflicts.

Its most obvious forms are the limited workings of a civilian government, a functioning legislature, and the 18th Amendment that resolved some basic resource and authority-related conflicts.

But now we hear planted voices all day that this solution has weakened the centre, and thus weakened the country, a spurious correlation that has persisted for seven decades.

As a country that is constitutionally mandated to operate as a democracy, and with a history of failed attempts at coercion, accommodation, autonomy, and transparency are primordial tasks that should not require such vocal enunciation.

It is unfortunate that they do and that enunciation is done with little effect. And it will be an even more unfortunate riposte to history when in an attempt to centralise power further and bludgeon a ‘post-ethnic’ state into being, the dominant order removes even those moderately functioning platforms of conflict resolution that have emerged in the last decade.


Dawn – PM Khan kicks off tree plantation drive at Nankana Sahib, vows to protect Pakistan’s forests

Nankana Sahib – Panjab – Pakistan, 09 February 2019. Prime Minister Imran Khan, while launching a spring tree plantation campaign at Balloki, Nankana Sahib on Saturday, said that Pakistan’s forests would be protected at all costs.

The prime minister planted a sapling at Balloki, where he was also briefed about the tree plantation drive.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Khan said that forest land leased out in Punjab should be retrieved, noting that forest cover in Pakistan is already very low as compared to the rest of the countries in the region.

He pointed out that there used to be large forests in Chichawatni, Mianwali and Changa Manga, which have all but disappeared now.

Speaking about the alarming rate at which Pakistan’s forests have been depleted, he said that Pakistan’s forests should be protected at any cost.

“70 % of Pakistan’s forests have been cut down in the past few years, which has created an imbalance in our environment,” Prime Minister Khan said.

“We are now going to allow builders to build higher buildings just so our cities can stop expanding [horizontally] and encroaching on our forests,” he said, adding that the health of Pakistan’s elderly population, as well as of children, is continuously declining “since the air we breath is getting more and more contaminated.”

“Our children do not have parks to play in anymore; all of those places have been taken over by concrete and cement, this needs to stop,” the prime minister said while stressing the need for rehabilitation of forests.

While addressing the crowd, Prime Minister Khan announced that his government will also create a wildlife reserve under Baba Guru Nanak’s name and that Nankana Sahib will also become home to the Baba Guru Nanak university.

Doing NRO is tantamount to treason, says PM Khan

“These days, there has been a lot of discussion about NRO. What is NRO? It is about forgiving convicts, not just small convicts but the big ones,” the premier said, adding that the NRO has twice caused historical damage to the country.

Because of the two NROs, one favouring Nawaz Sharif and the other benefitting Zardari, “those in power felt that it was okay to steal and do as much corruption as you want”, Khan said.

Whoever thinks that the PTI government will give anyone an NRO, they should realise that doing any such deal will be tantamount to high treason, Imran Khan said.

“We will not leave and forget anyone who has looted the country,” he said. It is happening for the first time in a democratic setup that a “man comes from jail and becomes the chairman of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman and then summons the accountability watchdog [which has arrested him]”.

“We have tried our best to let the parliament function in a peaceful manner, but no more compromises will be made with any other ‘corrupt’ person,” the prime minister said.

Imran clarified that the sitting government did not differentiate between its own minister and leaders of the other parties when it comes to accountability against corruption.


Dawn – ‘I’m ready for talks ─ are they?’: Foreign Minister Qureshi throws down gauntlet on dialogue with Delhi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that the Pakistani government is ready for talks with India

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 07 February 2019. In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Qureshi was asked by Dominic Waghorn on World View whether Pakistan had plans to liberate Kashmir.

“The prime minister is saying ‘wake up’.

The situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir is deteriorating by the day. And it isn’t just the prime minister, the United Nations and the All-Parties Parliamentary Group constituted by the House of Commons are all saying that; voices in India are talking about how they’re losing, how they’re alienating Kashmiris and that it’s a lost cause.

So this voice is growing all over,” the foreign minister responded.

Waghorn noted that “there are many in Kashmir who don’t want freedom on Pakistani terms”, to which Qureshi said: “Fine, let’s have a plebiscite. Let the people decide. That’s a commitment, that’s a commitment by India as part of the UN agenda. Give the people the right to self-determination, and whatever they decide, Pakistan will accept.”

The host observed that the back and forth between Pakistan and India had continued “for decades”, and asked why both sides “won’t sit down in the spirit of friendliness”.

“Through your programme, I’m telling the Indians ‘Let’s sit and talk’. I’m ready. Are they?” Qureshi challenged.

‘Everyone needs to realise Afghanistan has changed’

Waghorn, referring to the ongoing Afghan peace talks, asked Qureshi what he expected to happen in the current situation, “When the Taliban get into power, will they allow the Al Qaeda back in under their coattails?”

Qureshi said he didn’t think so. “It’s not in their interest to do that. They are smart people, they want to get on, they want to rebuild their country,” he explained.

“It’s been ravaged, for decades they’ve been in a war situation. Any nation, any people would want reconstruction, education, health, happiness, prosperity, livelihoods. They’re not any different from us,” he told Waghorn.

The interviewer was curious as to whether re-integrating the Taliban back into the Afghan political system meant “women back under the burqa”.

The foreign minster was quick to dispel this notion. “Not at all. Afghanistan has changed over the years. The sooner everyone realises this, the better.”

“You cannot lock women up anymore, you cannot bar them from education. Those days are gone,” he asserted.

Waghorn wondered whether it was a “naive expectation” to assume the Taliban were “new and improved”.

“I think they’re realistic, pragmatic, and that they’ll move on,” Qureshi stated.


Dawn – JKLF chief Yasin Malik slams global ‘criminal silence’ over Indian oppression in Kashmir

Srinagar – Jammu and Kashmir – India, 05 February 2019. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik on Tuesday slammed the international community’s criminal silence over the continued oppression of Kashmiris under Indian occupation forces on Kashmir Solidarity Day.

On the occasion, Malik, in a video message shared with DawnNewsTV, thanked the Pakistani nation for standing in solidarity with the people of Kashmir on 05 February.

“On this day, I would like to ask the international community, was it you who said that there could only be a military solution in Afghanistan?” he asked. “Today the same international community is talking to the Taliban for peace in Afghanistan, because it has understood that no nation can be defeated using military might, and that the solution to all problems lies in talks”.

The JKLF chairman observed that the international community “has adopted a stance of criminal silence on Kashmir”, even as infants, elders, and youths lose their lives and property to the cause each day.

“The citizens of Kashmir are people too,” Malik asserted, adding that is why the international community, which seeks global peace and is making efforts for peace in Afghanistan, should make similar efforts for resolving the Kashmir issue “so that there is true peace in South Asia”.

Kahsmiri youth forced towards extremism’: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

In a message shared on Twitter, chairman of a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq thanked the government and people of Pakistan for their “vigorous and unwavering support” for the people of IOK.

Farooq in his video message said that Kashmir Solidarity Day was being marked wherever Pakistanis and Kashmiris are in the world. He said voices were being raised to resolve the dispute as per the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

However, on the other hand in IOK, Indian occupation forces are inflicting tyranny, torture and bloodshed on the people of the region, and human rights abuses are at their peak.

“The youth are being forced to to take up arms without any concern for their futures, they are being pushed towards extremism. And as a result, every day these oppressed people take out funeral processions for their loved ones,” he said.

Pakistani support raises our morale: Mashal Malik

Mashal Malik, wife of Yasin Malik, in a video message thanked the people of Pakistan for the “unconditional and selfless support” for the oppressed people of Kashmir.

“This raises our morale and gives us more courage to fight against oppression, tyranny and against the occupation of Kashmir and Indian brutalities,” she said.

“A day will hopefully arrive when liberty and freedom will be an air to breathe in Indian-occupied Kashmir and our promised right, our legitimate right, according to United Nations resolutions will be granted to us, like every human being on this earth has the right to honour, dignity and freedom,” Malik said.

“Through the democratic voice of the Pakistani nation, the entire world is getting the message that this is a grassroots movement,” she said.

“Every segment of society in Pakistan is united in feeling the pain of the Kashmiri people. The entire business community sustains a loss for a day, students don’t go to school, they protest on the streets,” Malik said.

“Whether doctors, engineers or media people, they are expressing their grief and sadness over the Indian genocide of innocent Kashmiris.”


Dawn – Women from AJK seek Pakistani, Indian goverments’ help to return home

Tariq Naqash

Muzaffarabad – Azad Jammu & Kashmir, 03 February 2019. The mother of a Muzaffarabad-born woman, stranded in India-held Kashmir after dissolution of her marriage, has called upon the governments of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Pakistan to expedite efforts for her early repatriation.

“The so-called government in India-occupied Kashmir had been telling my daughter and other women like her that they will not only be given citizenship there but will also be at liberty to visit their birthplace [AJK] as and when they desired.

But nothing of the sort happened over these years. In fact, all of them were cheated to the core,” said Parveen Gillani, mother of 27-year-old Kubra Gillani, while talking to Dawn here on Saturday.

“I call upon the governments in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad to do the needful without more ado so that I can have my daughter back with me,” she said.

Kubra Gillani had tied the knot with Mohammad Altaf Rather, a resident of the Kokernag area of India-held Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad in March 2010 at the age of 19. Mr Rather was among tens of hundreds of young Kashmiris who had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and taken refuge in AJK after 1990.

In 2014, the couple moved to India-held Kashmir via Nepal under the so-called ‘rehabilitation policy’ announced by the then Omar Abdullah’s government in India-held Kashmir for “former fighters and their families”.

However, Mr Rather divorced Kubra on 30 November last year, allegedly for her inability to bear children during eight years of their marriage.

Ever since, she has reportedly been working as a housemaid in Srinagar to make her ends meet.

Her plight came to the fore late last month after she uploaded a video message on social media wherein she alleged that neither did the authorities in India-held Kashmir issue her a permanent residence certificate nor did they allow her to return to Pakistan to reunite with her family.

According to reports reaching here from across the LoC, Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi had issued her a fresh passport, as her previous passport had expired in August 2018, but when she reached the Wagah international border for the crossing, she was sent back by the Indian authorities allegedly for “insufficient documentation”.

In the same video message, Kubra Gillani revealed that there were more than 200 other women from AJK facing a similar situation like that of hers and that the government of Pakistan should initiate urgent measures for their repatriation.

On Saturday, a group of such women, Kubra Gillani among them, staged a demonstration at Residency Road Srinagar to make an appeal to Indian and Pakistani prime ministers to facilitate their return to Pakistan on “humanitarian grounds”.


Dawn – UK goverment tells India it won’t interfere in Kashmir Day event: report

London – UK, 01 February 2019. After the Indian government lodged a protest with the United Kingdom over a Kashmir solidarity event to be held in the British parliament on February 4, the UK government said it would not interfere in the matter, India Today reported on Friday.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said during a media briefing on Thursday that Delhi had taken the matter of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistan’s event, scheduled to be held in the House of Commons, highlighting human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir “very strongly” with the UK.

“We hope that they will understand our objections to the proposed conference and take appropriate action,” Kumar said. Describing the UK as “a friendly country and strategic partner”, Kumar said India was hopeful and “expected” that the British government would address Delhi’s concerns.

The UK, however, said it would not interfere in the matter, with the British High Commission (BHC) spokesperson in New Delhi asserting that “UK’s Members of Parliament are independent of the government; it is for individual members to decide who they meet and for what purpose”.

According to a press release issued by Foreign Office, the 04 February meeting will be followed by an exhibition in London to “highlight the centrality of [India-occupied] Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the grave human rights violations against the Kashmiri people by India which are being widely condemned and need to be immediately stopped”.

The meeting will be attended by MPs of both Labour and Conservative parties. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is also expected to attend the event.

The British High Commission spokesperson in New Delhi told India Today that the UK government is aware that “Mr Qureshi is travelling to London to attend a number of private events. There are no plans for meetings with the UK Government during this visit.”

“The UK’s longstanding position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the Kashmiri people’s wishes,” the spokesperson added.


Dawn – ‘Courtesy phone call’ adds to confusion in Sahiwal killings case

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 January 2019. The Counter Terrorism Department has approached the Lahore police for the arrest of its “so-called official” shortly after the lawyer for the family of the Sahiwal firing victims claimed that he had received a threatening call from a senior officer of the CTD.

Lawyer Syed Shahbaz Bukhari, while talking to the media at his office here on Monday, claimed that the “caller” introduced himself as the CTD official and asked him to stand down from the matter. He also played the audio recording of the conversation before the media persons, declaring it a concrete evidence of the CTD’s involvement in hurling serious threats at him.

Mr Bukhari said he had also provided the audio recording of the “CTD officer” to the Joint Investigation Team headed by additional IG Police Ijaz Hussain Shah. He requested the JIT to make it part of the investigation as evidence to proceed against the officers according to the law.

However, the matter took a surprise turn later in the day when the CTD investigated the issue and got data of the “caller” and traced him as a practicing medic Dr Hamayun Taimoor. The CTD also obtained his Computerised National Identity Card and the record of SIM he had used to make the audio call which was recorded by the lawyer.

“Dr Taimoor is resident of Askari Complex of Cantonment Board Lahore and he has nothing to do with the CTD,” says a senior CTD official.

Lawyer for victims’ family claims he received threatening call from a senior officer of CTD which traces ‘caller’ as practising doctor.

Requesting anonymity, he said that apparently it seemed that the lawyer for the victims’ family wanted to get some benefits like security by accusing the CTD of resorting to such tactics. He said the CTD had investigated the matter and found out that the caller was a close friend of Advocate Bukhari.

Dr Taimoor also later confirmed to Dawn that he knew the lawyer and his brother very well. “I am practicing doctor and running a clinic in Gulberg,” he said, adding that he had just made a ‘courtesy call’ to Mr Bukhari being his friend.

He made it clear that he was not the officer of the CTD. However, he said he had done some “assignments” with the CTD in the past, but refused to unveil the nature of the assignments.

“I have neither hurled threats at the lawyer for the Sahiwal victims’ family nor have I ever thought of this,” he said, showing his utter displeasure over the act of Mr Bukhari of recording his conversation and making it public.

“It was absolutely a private conversation of two friends and Shahbaz Bukhari breached my trust by using it for his motives,” said Dr Taimoor.

Earlier, during the media briefing, Mr Bukhari levelled serious charges of life threats to him and his clients by playing the audio recording of the call he received on his mobile phone.

“The CTD officer made a call on my cell phone, hurled threats at me and suggested that the agencies wanted me to stand down from the matter (case he was pursuing) in the wake of the Sahiwal incident,” he said.

The ‘officer’ (on other side of the call) was heard suggesting him (lawyer) to stay away from the matter, according to the audio recording. The ‘officer’ further informed the lawyer that intelligence agencies were not happy with the way the Sahiwal incident was being highlighted.

According to the audio recording, the caller said he belonged to the CTD and was giving him (the lawyer) suggestions as a brother. The ‘officer’ further conveyed to the lawyer on phone that the agencies wanted to settle the matter as enough had been highlighted pertaining to the Sahiwal incident.

“I would appeal to the higher authorities for immediate provision of security to me and the family of Khalil killed in the incident to avoid any untoward happening,” said Mr Bukhari.

In another development, Dunya News quoted Khalil’s brother Jaleel as saying that Mr Bukhari was no more their lawyer.

When contacted, the lawyer said Mr Jaleel had not contacted him personally in this regard.

Meanwhile, only two eyewitnesses turned up at the Yousafwala police station on Monday to record their statements with the JIT in the case.


Dawn – Pakistan foreign policy 101

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

Op/Ed, 26 January 2019. Foreign policy is the external aspect of national policy. It covers the whole gamut of global, regional and neighbourhood developments, movements and strategies.

When national policy is substandard it puts a ceiling on the success of foreign policy no matter how good it is.

Similarly, given the external dependency of Pakistan’s national policy, it cannot achieve its goals without a prioritised and resourced foreign policy.

Some aspects of external policy are primarily dealt with by specialised ministries, departments and services.

But the Foreign Office should not be held responsible for the negative consequences of bad decisions it had no part in taking. This often happens and is always at the cost of the national interest.

This is obvious. Yet in practice it is usually ignored. Why? The main reason is the unwillingness of corrupt or weak governments to take any risks for good governance, including good foreign policy.

This is the soft state syndrome. It is often a prelude to a failing state. It precludes serving the national interest. Powerful vested interests define the national interest and make foreign policy. What is to be done?

If the political system is made participatory and inclusive it will eventually find the right answers. If it remains elitist, exclusive and exploitative it will not. Changing the system, however, involves risk-taking.

Pakistan has 10 major external relationships. Primarily: India, China, the US, and Afghanistan; and significantly: Iran, the GCC countries, Russia, the European Union (which still includes the UK,) the Central Asian states, and the UN.

India is Pakistan’s major adversary. China is Pakistan’s only strategic partner. The US is still the world’s mightiest and only comprehensive global power. Afghanistan is a force multiplier for Pakistan’s security or insecurity. Iran confronts Pakistan with critical choices.

The GCC countries are a major source of remittances and ‘brotherly’ assistance which almost always entails an embarrassing price.

Russia in partnership with China is a significant counter-force to the US and its alliance with India. Moreover, it has the potential to bring about a less imbalanced Russian policy towards India and Pakistan.

The EU is a major market and the Pakistani community in the UK (and the US) can be a foreign policy asset.

Central Asia can provide ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan’s connectivity-based diplomacy. Improving cooperation with Russia can help here also.

The UN may seem irrelevant. It is not. It is where a country’s image, profile and voice are confirmed and contested. It is the forum in which the credibility of a foreign policy is measured. Its agencies, funds and organisations can be important knowledge-intensive and problem-solving assets.

Due to space limitations only Pakistan’s four ‘primary’ relationships will be very briefly commented on.

India: The core issues for Pakistan are progress towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable to opinion in the Valley and radically improving the horrendous human rights situation there. For India it is Pakistan’s use of “terrorist proxies”.

These core issues need to be addressed to the satisfaction of each other if dialogue is to be meaningful. Finding common ground for a negotiating process to be sustainable is a challenge.

Indian interference in Balochistan is a fact. However, the Balochistan ‘problem’ is not of India’s making. It is due to institutionalised bad governance and exploitation over decades.

Pakistan should continue to extend its hand of cooperation irrespective of a lack of response from India. It should keep the LoC quiet as best it can. It should build on the Kartarpur initiative. It should extend normal trading or MFN rights as promised. This is arguably a WTO obligation also.

Pakistan should offer travel, communications, confidence and security-building (including regular nuclear and water-management) discussions and proposals. Let India take its time to respond. Pakistan cannot lose by being consistent and reasonable.

Realistic rather than provocative narratives need to be developed. The people of both countries need to get to know each other more directly instead of through warped images.

Differences need to be contained, addressed and reduced through a realistic working relationship. This will enable South Asia to meet the survival challenges of the 21st century.

The leaders of both countries should make appropriate statements, stay in touch, and unfold a range of innovative initiatives. If India demurs, even after its elections, that is its problem.

China: The BRI and CPEC are golden opportunities for Pakistan. But they are not magic wands. Moreover, no other country is willing to invest on such a scale in Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to look after its own interests without making disconcerting public statements. It needs to assure the Chinese that it is a reliable economic and strategic partner.

The China agenda

Chinese concerns are growing. They need to be addressed. Chinese and Pakistani ‘dreams’ need to be integrated into a shared vision through mutually reinforcing policies. The BRI is the context for CPEC. Similarly, CPEC is the context for the transformation of Pakistan.

Sensitive issues can be dealt with confidentially, judiciously and on the basis of complete mutual trust.

The US: It is a strategic ally of India. India is focused on Pakistan. The US is focused on China. America cannot be a strategic partner for Pakistan. But its friendship is beneficial while its hostility is harmful. Pakistan must work with the US for an Afghan settlement, in consultation with China.

Afghanistan: Pakistan cannot eliminate India from an Afghan settlement process. Nor should it try to. If Pakistan plays its cards right it will always have a stronger hand than India in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban despite their current military successes are not the future of Afghanistan. Unless they cooperate for a settlement they cannot become a 21st-century asset for Pakistan.

India is justly regarded as a large neighbour with a small heart. Many Afghans see Pakistan similarly despite the massive Afghan goodwill accumulated during the Soviet occupation. Why?

Pakistan need not create a two-front situation for itself. Being large-hearted towards a smaller neighbour is actually good strategy. Specific issues are more easily resolved when the fundamentals are okay.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.




Published in: on January 27, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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