Professor Matthew McCartney , a renowned specialist in development in South Asia, addressed the members of the PIIA on 31 March 2019. “CPEC really does seem like the culmination of a much longer economic cooperation with China for Pakistan. So here is a long-term committed China-Pakistan relationship unlike what the USA is criticised of,” he said. “Still, there may be a lot more going on other than China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative outside Pakistan that is happening inside it, which is crucial to know for a big project of $60bn, that is CPEC.” The video for the event is below.
Conference on Peace in South Asia: Opportunities and Challenges, 15 – 16 November 2017, Address of Welcome, Dr. Masuma Hasan, Chairperson, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. Mr. Mamnoon Hussain, President Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Zubair, Governor of Sindh, Ladies and gentlemen. It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to welcome you to this session which His Excellency Mr. Mamnoon Hussain has graced with his presence. I am extremely grateful to him for being with us today inspite of other pressing engagements. He is the symbol of the federation of Pakistan and those who are aware of the politics of our country are also aware of the positive role he has played to consolidate democracy in our country. With his wisdom he has shown a deep understanding of international politics and has represented Pakistan at many important diplomatic initiatives abroad.
The Institute has organized this Conference on Peace in South Asia to mark 70 years of its founding. We have chosen the theme of peace not only because of its contemporary relevance but also because of its historic link to the sentiments expressed by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan when he inaugurated the Institute. In his speech on that occasion he said “That so soon after the establishment of Pakistan, a Pakistan Institute of International Affairs has come into existence is a matter of gratification.” Calling for world peace, he continued, that international affairs effect not only governments; they also effect the people. What happens in one part of the world has its reactions in other parts. If peace is disturbed in one continent it has its effects in another. Continue reading
If we do not have a reasonably competent, friendly government in Kabul, nothing the west achieves will last. Ignoring the Afghan nation’s needs is not an option
This week’s comment in the Observer calls for a more inclusive role for Pakistan than the one recently articulated by Washington. Comment as follows: Donald Trump’s view on the conflict in Afghanistan was highly critical in 2011 when he tweeted that the US was “wasting lives and money” there. He later termed Barack Obama’s strategy a “complete waste”, saying it was “time to come home”. Trump stood on his head last week, ordering the deployment of additional American troops and committing the US to an open-ended war that he vowed to “fight to win”. So which Trump is right – the pre-election sceptic or today’s ardent warrior? The answer is neither.
When Obama took office in 2009, he raised US troop levels to around 100,000, part of a Nato force of about 150,000. His plan was to turn around a war that had already dragged on too long, then hand over to better-trained and equipped Afghan army and police forces. The handover duly took place in 2014, but the conflict was not over. Since then, security has steadily deteriorated. Obama was right to try, and Trump wrong to prematurely scorn his efforts. But what the 2009 surge ultimately proved was that even the most modern armies, wielding the latest weaponry and backed by unchallenged air power, cannot wholly overcome the sort of unconventional, guerrilla campaign at which the Taliban excel. More than 2,400 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and more than 450 British troops. But according to US estimates, government forces now control less than 60% of the country. Continue reading
This is a fantastic book review in the Guardian (1 July 2017) by Owen Bennett-Jones.
The investigative reporters have produced a revelatory work about al-Qaida members in hiding in Pakistan and Iran between 2001 and 2011. At the time of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, Osama bin Laden was in an Afghan cave, unable to get a decent TV satellite signal and forced to follow developments on the radio. The contrast between his situation and his impact was to be a theme of the next decade until, eventually, the Americans caught up with him in the raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. It’s a decade that The Exile describes with a remarkable amount of impressive new detail.
Investigative reporters Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy start with a detailed account of Bin Laden’s movements. When the US air strikes began, he flitted through various locations in Afghanistan, all the while trying to manage the movements of his wives and children. He was on his way to a meeting with Mullah Omar in Kandahar on 7 October 2001 when a US drone came close to killing them both. From there he moved to an underground complex in the Tora Bora mountains near the Pakistan border. The US assaulted Tora Bora but, again, Bin Laden managed to slip away, and on 14 December 2001 he turned up in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Feeling too exposed there, he moved back to Afghanistan in February 2002 before reaching northern Pakistan in the summer. There he lived with one of his wives, Amal, and their nine-month-old daughter Safiyah in the remote village of Kutkey, home to the in-laws of his courier and guard, Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti. Continue reading
Posted in Afghanistan, Benazir, Guardian, OBL, Pakistan, Politics, South Asia
Tagged Al-Qaida, Islam, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Terrorism
This is fascinating reporting from the Observer (9 July 2017) on the unrest in Kashmir:
It started with a phone call from a dying militant that went viral. Now angry, educated youth, inspired by social media, are demonstrating in their thousands. The young militant would be dead in a few minutes. Indian security forces had the house surrounded. As they closed in, Muzamil Amin Dar made a phone call.
“There is nothing to worry about,” he is heard calmly telling his family on a tape of the call. “Sooner or later we all have to face death, isn’t that right?” He falls silent; the recording ends in a shrill chorus of women’s screams.
The killing of the commander from the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba in October 2012 looked like any other death in the 27-year insurgency that has racked Indian-controlled Kashmir. What made it different was barely appreciated at the time. Days after Dar’s last conversation with his family, the recording of the call began to circulate online, spreading like wildfire across the Kashmir valley. Uploads to YouTube were played tens of thousands of times. Within months, copycat “last calls” from other dying militants began to surface. A trend was born.
It was one of the earliest interventions of social media in a conflict that has been transformed by technology. Unlike the shadowy militants of the 1990s, Kashmir’s new crop of anti-India fighters are WhatsApp warriors, achieving with selfies what they have struggled to do with guns. In the hands of young Kashmiris, the internet has become a weapon: images of dissent met by teargas and bullets in the street are flourishing online. Continue reading
Constitution Petition No. 29 of 2016 or the Panama Papers Scandal judgment was handed down today by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Panama Papers are a giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.
The Supreme Court ruled there is insufficient evidence of corruption to remove Nawaz Sharif from the role of prime minister. But it ordered a further investigation into money transfers. Questions arose over the business dealings of Mr Sharif’s family when three of his children were linked to offshore accounts in the Panama Papers leaks in 2015. News reports are available on the ruling below:
As explained by the British FMU, forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (eg threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (eg if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family). The debate on this touchy subject continues unabated and Pakistan is no different in that regard. According to the FMU, in 2013 it handled cases involving 74 different countries, including Pakistan (42.7%, the highest number), India (10.9%), Bangladesh (9.8%), Afghanistan (2.8%), Somalia (2.5%), Iraq (1.5%), Nigeria (1.1%), Saudi Arabia (1.1%), Yemen (1%), Iran (0.8%), Tunisia (0.8%), The Gambia (0.7%), Egypt (0.6%) and Morocco (0.4%). The origin was unknown in 5.4% of cases. An excellent lawyers’ handbook for Pakistan which provides detailed legal analysis and guidance is available below: