Tag Archives: Democracy

Video of our Jinnah of Pakistan discussion

An extremely interesting discussion led by historian Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi on Stanley Wolpert’s book Jinnah of Pakistan was held at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA). The video is below and the press coverage is available here.

Video of Chinese scholars’ visit to PIIA

A delegation of scholars from Sichuan University led by Prof. Yan Shijing, Vice President of Sichuan University addressed in a roundtable session held in the library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 18 December 2019. The video is available below and the full post is available on Pakistan Horizon Blog. It was said that China strongly supports the position of Pakistan in Kashmir.

Video: Kashmir: A Nuclear Flashpoint

Addressing a lecture on “Kashmir: a nuclear flashpoint” organised by The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) in its library, Dr Rabia said the issue of Kashmir later was taken over by what was happening in Syria with the Turks and the Kurds and the Middle-East and then the Trump with his tweets gained all the attention.She said, “We needs to keep the world involved in Kashmir in the same way as the prime minister addressed over the issue in UNGA.” Recalling an interview of General Khalid Kidwai who was the founding Director-General of Strategic Plans Division which was the Secretariat of National Command Authority and served the post for around 16 years, Dr. Rabia Akhtar said General Khalid Kidwai gave four red lines for Pakistan which if crossed can push Pakistan to contemplate the use option of war including special threshold, military threshold, economic threshold and social-political threshold. The full report with photography by Farhan Khan is here.

Video of PIIA Roundtable on Iran with Dr Syed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour

On Friday, July 19 2019, Dr. Syed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour, President of the famous Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), visited us at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) for a roundtable on Iran’s relationship with the United States and how it is influencing the course of events in the region. He said that in order to understand the question of why Iran is the way it is today, it is important to comprehend three integral factors – the United States’ contradictory policies with Iran, the resulting state of bitterness, and an uneven assessment of the available possibilities. By laying emphasis on the contradictory policies of the United States, during very tense times, Dr. Kazem sought to explain how certain inconsistencies in the harsh policies of the United States have been a significant source of tension between the two countries, especially when pursuing negotiations and settling agreements.

Volodymyr Zelensky: From Satire to Sovereignty

Volodymyr Zelensky, 41, a comedian-turned-politician has been showered by votes, getting a landslide against the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko in recent Ukrainian presidential elections. No political mantras used, no aggression shown, no word for policy reforms said, Zelensky managed to win in a sweepingly unconventional way by a margin of nearly 73 per cent. Instead, he sold positive messages like, ‘I want to see joyful faces around’, and used catchphrases like ‘no promises’ ‘no disappointments.’ The victory is the upshot of a very subtle campaign led by Zelensky through the social media and his long-run sitcom, ‘the servant of people’ which attracted a huge influx of people. It was, Moshe Reuven Azman, the chief rabbi of Kiev said, ‘a miracle’ occurred on Sunday night. However, his clinching to power as a comic actor might come as a surprise, but the process behind it was still political in nature.

To put it more bluntly, his appearance in his self-produced sitcom as a teacher-turned president is no wonderful coincidence, but a noteworthy political act. World politics has changed and so have the ways of attaining political aims, but what is clear is that one cannot exclude the features of politics while achieving those gains.

What’s more, he has also studied law, which as a subject is deeply intertwined with politics. It can be argued that he was much more a politician doing comedy than a comedian entered the politics. It was noticeable that along with Zelensky’s comic identity, his Jewish originality was also ignored during the campaign despite the fact that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Ukraine. Zelensky’s triumph is significant because he has utilized his charisma, in a short span of time, to secure the highest position of the country. Volodymyr Fesenko, director of Kiev’s Penta think tank, said the comic’s popularity was underpinned by ‘a political myth created by the TV series.’

While Ukrainians have taken it as a moment of rejoicing, political analysts of the country are suspicious of the development saying whether, a person, having a grip on his comic characterization on television can do equally well in the political arena. Indeed, he shall not be able to use those dramatic techniques in realpolitik, at least, not while having any strategic dialogue with Russia on eastern Ukraine. However, before making a cloud of suspicion over Mr Zelensky’s abilities to run the country effectively, merely on the basis of his background, it is requisite to ensure that world, which is governed by politically savvy, is more adequate and faultless. Isn’t it disastrous in terms of governance where peace does not appear to be an option? Why, in the world, long-fought wars and conflicts have endured, despite the bilateral and multilateral initiatives taken by world leaders with strong political background and knowledge? One who is more politically-correct is more exploiting the system.

Ukrainians have chosen Zelensky as a new face, they had desired. Melinda Haring, a Ukraine expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, said ‘it was clear the people wanted someone without the same baggage and connections to political dinosaurs.’

Furthermore, Zelensky is not the only conflicting figure in politics, but history is replete with such examples where actors have turned to be politicians. Fred Thompson, who was once a polished actor turned to politics, became the senator of the US, and served for nine years. Al Franken, former US senator, is a remarkable figure who despite his capabilities, had to face hardships because of his identity as a TV performer and comic author with zero political experience. Moreover, India is of much significance in this context where politics seems to be the final destination of many senior film and TV actors, governing as ministers or MPs.

Apart from the entire jigsaw, what matters most is commitment and credible approach towards the issues of which people are frustrated and are previously not taken on serious note i.e., corruption, mismanagement, crimes, and other civil society issues. Criticism and controversies would fade away if steps are taken in the right direction. In line with the presidential victory, Zelensky has to maintain a similar pace in the forthcoming parliamentary election as well, which will be a fate decider for him. It remains to be seen in reality, if Zelensky can do justice with the character he played on TV.

The author, Aciph Alee, is a researcher in PIIA. 

References:

Dmytro Gorshkov and Olga Shylenko, ‘Zelensky: Ukrainian clown or political wonder boy?’, The Times of Israel, 20 April 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/zelensky-ukrainian-clown-or-political-wonder-boy/

Tamila Varshalomidze, ‘Five things to know about Ukraine’s presidential vote winner’, Aljazeera, 22 Apr 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/5-ukraine-presidential-vote-winner-190422063051756.html

Andrew Higgins, ‘Ukraine’s Newly Elected President Is Jewish. So Is Its Prime Minister. Not All Jews There Are Pleased’, The New York Times, 24 April 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/world/europe/volodomyr-zelensky-ukraine-jewish-president.html

Ukraine election: Comedian Zelensky wins presidency by landslide, BBC, 22 April 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48007487

Video: PIIA event on Afghanistan

PIIA recently held a talk on the Afghan conflict and foreign forces are to blame for the Afghan conflict according to Rustam Shah Mohmand. Indeed, the former Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan urges Pakistan to shift focus away from India.“The India-centric approach will have to be reviewed because it doesn’t deliver much” he said.

My Dawn Years: Exploring Social Issues

An absolute must read for anyone in media and journalism

It was like coming full circle for veteran journalist and columnist Zubeida Mustafa for the launch of her book My Dawn Years: Exploring Social Issues at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday. “She worked here as a researcher first,” said Dr Masuma Hasan while introducing the journalist, admired and looked up by many present there at the PIIA library lining up for the author to sign their copies of the book. “Later she joined Dawn newspaper and that was really where she built her career,” Dr Masuma continued. Mohammad Ali Siddiqi, Dawn’s Readers’ Editor, joked that recently when in a piece published in the paper he referred to himself as “a Dawn man” he received much flak for it because readers wanted to know if the journalists in Dawn called themselves that then where did the women journalists fit in?

“So we had it corrected in the online version,” he said turning to his former colleague to proudly say that they had worked together for four decades.

“In chapter 12 of her book, Zubeida writes that she has worked with four editors — the legendary Ahmad Ali Khan, who hired her in 1973, Saleem Asmi, Tahir Mirza and Abbas Nasir. But you will come across the mention of Khan Sahab again and again,” said Mr Siddiqi, adding that he was her mentor and mentors became like family members for their mentees. Continue reading