January 2014(EDITION 7, Volume 50)
Asif Jehangir Raja
Eyes straight, minds focused, spirits high, feet firm, and dreaming to rise – these are Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) on the day of passing out parade. As the cadets of PMA Long Course ....Read full article
Arif Nizami
Media in Pakistan is a success story. It is free, independent and increasingly assertive. It is playing a pivotal role in formulating public opinion and keeping the executive in check. In tandem with a fearlessly independent higher judiciary it has helped in introducing....Read full article
Ahmed Quraishi
By taking itself too seriously on the question of its claim to a permanent Security Council seat, it appears that India has set itself up for disappointment (amounting embarrass-ment) at the international level. The United Nations (UN) reform process should....Read full article
Didier Chaudet
Recent events could give the feelings that some of the Pakistan's neighbours are getting closer to each other, maybe in a way that could be detrimental for Islamabad's interests. Everybody has in mind, of course, the recent President Karzai's visits....Read full article
Maj Asif Jehangir Raja
Question: You started your education from Karachi, had a vision to study science and obtained PhD from Cambridge University during 1960s. How has this journey been all along? Answer: It has been an exciting journey all along....Read full article
Shahid Ali Khan Baloch
Balochistan is always projected as an area having many problems. For the last decade or so it has turned into a playing field of different regional and global powers. Intelligence agencies of different countries have been using politically and ideologically....Read full article
Col Ehsan Mehmood Khan
“A federation is a union comprised of a number of partially self-governing states (or provinces) united by a central (“federal”) government,” notes Zhenis Kembayev in Legal Aspects of the Regional Integration Processes in the Post-Soviet Area....Read full article
Dr Zafar Mehmood
What are the structural problems of an economy? These are essentially the structural imbalances that act as binding constraints to sustained economic growth and development. In case of Pakistan the structural problems include: disproportionately higher involvement....Read full article
Maj Asif Jehangir Raja
Question. According to the State of Environment Report of 2005, Pakistan had per capita availability of 5300 Cubic Meter (m3) water in 1951 which has fallen to 850 m3 in 2013. It is even projected to come down to 659 m3 in 2025. How can situation of water be improved in Pakistan....Read full article
Salman Rashid
Balochistan was the greatest railway adventure there was in Pakistan. It drubbed the much-flaunted Khyber Pass train by miles. I wish I could talk of it in the present tense, but sadly that is not the case. It was once a great railway adventure....Read full article
Tughral Yamin
As we spill into the year 2014, the US departure from Afghanistan draws inexorably towards an end, the fate of our Western neighbour looks increasingly uncertain. There is a dreadful feeling that any chaos that may take place in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the....Read full article
Lt Col Ali Raza
In democratic political settings, public opinion is essence of governance which not only facilitates rulers in implementation of their policies smoothly but can also remove irritants in political spheres. In the words of William Shakespeare....Read full article
Naila Inayat
He had said “We will fight them until the last drop of blood”, and he indeed fought them till the very last drop of his blood. How often had we seen an animated Chaudhry Aslam, a top counter-terrorism police officer, on our TV screens, belligerently talking ....Read full article
Brig Dr Muhammad Khan
Extremism and terrorism are the biggest threats to the state of Pakistan. These internal threats have grown over the years and now a stage has reached where this menace is challenging the national integrity and social harmony of Pakistan....Read full article

Dr M. F. Khokhar and Lokhaiz Ali
Many glaciers and snowpacks around the world are receding. The rates and timing of glacial wasting, the volume of ice melt that causes a net loss of glacier volume, vary and the causes are complex. In most instances there are multiple influences....Read full article
Brig Muhammad Khalil Dar
Rawalpindi is usually associated with Taxila when it comes to historical sites. But if one draws a circle of 100 kms (01:30 hour drive) around Rawalpindi, it is startling to find that there are many sites with echoes of history spread over thousands of years....Read full article
Lt Col Shah Jahan
Air pollution is continuously affecting the human health adversely. The degenerating conditions of the atmosphere due to reduction of Ozone gas layer are accelerating the level of carbon dioxide beyond acceptable limits which is highly injurious to human life and the plants....Read full article
Maj Fahad Hafeez
Liberia is a country in West Africa; bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north, Côte d'Ivoire to its east and Atlantic Ocean in its south. It is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans....Read full article
Brig (Retd) Simeenber Rehman
Dr sahib I just want to be fair, want a glowing skin, want to look fresh... These are the words I hear day in and day out from each of my younger patients whether they are boys or girls. The question is why this sudden fad has engulfed our....Read full article
Sana Nasri
The gadgets that we dreamed of in sci-fi films are becoming a reality. I would like to go take you all back in your memory lane to the famous movies like Star Trek, Star Wars, War of the Worlds, UFO, Planet of the Apes or any movie related to space and aliens....Read full article
Maria Mir Kashif
Weekend is a time when one may tends to relax in his/her own way and may browse through websites and TV channels to look for something interesting. During the last weekend, while I was switching channels on the TV....Read full article
Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) links its well being with the prosperity of Pakistan. FFC is an associated concern of Fauji Foundation. It contributes 43% of its profits towards welfare projects of Fauji Foundation which....Read full article
Shamaim Bajwa
International Mountain Day was observed on 11th December, 2013. Mountains are a source of freshwater, energy and food – resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming de-cades. However, mountains are also extremely vulnerable to climate change....Read full article
Eyes straight, minds focused, spirits high, feet firm, and dreaming to rise – these are Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) on the day of passing out parade. As the cadets of PMA Long Course complete their tenure of hard training, the only thing they look at is – to serve Pakistan. Coming from different religious, ethnic, social, sectarian and political background, these GCs train, smile and brave all challenges together. Without any interest in the backgrounds of each other, the GCs are groomed to stay united and remain friends – friends of each other, friends of the state and friends of the people of Pakistan. In the similar fashion, recruitment of soldiers is also carried out from all parts of the country. Pak Army is a unique institution that has representation from every corner of the country including FATA and Gilgit Baltistan, and has in its ranks, people from different religions. Even interesting fact is their employment across the country, anywhere, anytime, as ordered by superior authorities. The names of the regiments represent the colours of federation and all ranks take much pride as they wear badges of the Punjab, Frontier Force, Baloch, Azad Kashmir, Sind and Northern Light Infantry Regiments. Armed Forces of Pakistan have a history of serving people of Pakistan under all circumstances. Besides discharging their primary role of defending the country against all external and internal threats, Armed Forces have been at the forefront to assist nation during crises situations. Moreover, Pak Army has also played a significant role in the nation building projects; from the construction of roads to the provision of health facilities in the remote areas, and to the construction of schools and cadet colleges, it is contributing all that it can for the progress of the country. Balochistan, being the largest province, has been focus of Pakistan Army during the recent years. The Army has worked at a fast pace on different educational and welfare projects for the people of Balochistan. General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff, while speaking at the Passing Out Parade of recruitments held at Quetta on 12 December 2013 said, “Around 20,000 Baloch youth have joined Pak Army since 2010 and representation of officers and soldiers from Balochistan has considerably increased, which is very encouraging.” In addition to this, a sizeable number of institutions like Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences, Technical Training Institutions at Quetta and Gwadar, Sui Educational City, Military College Sui, Kassa Marble Project, Musa Khel Mineral Development Project and Chamalang Mines Project have been initiated for the development of Balochistan. Army is providing free education to more than 4,500 students, and approximately 25,000 students are studying in Army managed institutions. Pakistan Army has been and shall remain at the service of this great nation under all circumstances and against all odds. In unity lies strength, survival, peace, prosperity and the future! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) links its well being with the prosperity of Pakistan. FFC is an associated concern of Fauji Foundation. It contributes 43% of its profits towards welfare projects of Fauji Foundation which is a trust setup for the welfare of ex-servicemen and their dependents. It is incorporated under The Charitable Endowments Act, 1890 and its aim and structure of governance is managed as notified by the Government of Pakistan. FFC works as an independent private organization run on modern corporate lines having no connection with Pakistan Army in terms of authority or finances. FFC's visionary management in 1978 decided to enter into Fertilizer sector to help Pakistan ensure food security and now it has diversified itself to cater for national demands. In view of shortage of electricity and energy crisis in Pakistan, FFC developed Pakistan's first Wind Power Project and created a new way for others to follow. The 50MW Wind Power Project at Jhampir started feeding electricity to National Grid on 16 May 2013. This has provided new avenues for attracting foreign investment in Pakistan for alternate energy projects.

Al-Hamd Foods was acquired by FFC to safeguard the fruit / vegetable wastage and encourage the farmers. Al-Hamd foods will provide fresh and quality healthy food preservation mechanism to the people. FFC now has major shareholding in Askari Bank in its endeavors to provide financial solutions to the Pakistani entrepreneurs.

FFC professional management has always shown key priority in long term sustainable resource management through a mix of civilian professionals (Engineers, Marketing, IT and Financial Experts) and ex-servicemen in administrative positions. FFC has consistently remained in the list of top 25 best performing companies of Pakistan consecutively for 16 years since 1994 and is one of the highest tax payers of the country.

FFC spends substantially in helping out the deprived people of this country in education, health and related fields. The organization has adopted many government schools located close to the plants. FFC provide free books, stationary to its students, teacher's pay and even undertake construction of the classrooms. It also offers free education to selected students at top institutions like LUMS and FC College. Moreover, the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs at FFC arrange free medical camps.

FFC is an organization which looks much beyond the scope of its profitability while entering into any business deal and also expect other organizations to come forward and contribute to help Pakistan grow.


Written By: Maria Mir Kashif

Weekend is a time when one may tends to relax in his/her own way and may browse through websites and TV channels to look for something interesting. During the last weekend, while I was switching channels on the TV, something forced me to stop – it was airing of news about a female rock climber from Pakistan, Ms. Nazia Parveen by a private TV channel. The list of achievements of this girl took me by surprise and I was curious to know about her. It was heartening to know about the accomplishments she has undertaken at such a young age; and I was convinced yet again that, in a man's world; a woman can attain whatever she desires with constant hard work and dedication.

Nazia Parveen, a young and energetic girl, belongs to Bajaur Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Her father, Subedar Gul Zaman is proudly serving in Pak Army. She didn't realize her potential in rock climbing until she went on a field trip organised by her college and tried to climb a rock as an adventure. She enjoyed the activity and decided to take it up more often. Hailing from the Tribal Areas, it was a difficult decision for her to participate in these sports activities frequently. But her father backed her and with support of her family, this courageous lady decided to excel in the field of rock climbing.

Till that time, she had never taken any formal training or classes for the rock climbing activity; however, after participating in a rock climbing competition on International Women's Day in 2010; she joined “The Adventure Club Pakistan” for regular training in this field. Nazia won her first of this kind of competition in October 2010, and only two months later, she won her second rock climbing competition on International Mountain Day. She became the national champion for Sport Climbing during 2011, 2012 and 2013 and, has never looked back since then. She has so far won 28 national level rock climbing competitions in a row; and is still working her way up to the glory.

Nazia won the 'Chenab Rock Climbing Competition' with distinction and completed the climb in very less timings as compared to her competitors. She also holds the record for climbing with the best time in both male and female categories; a proud female to have this honour. The list of her achievements doesn't end here as she was selected as instructor of rock climbing at 'The Adventure Club Pakistan'. She is also being supported by the Club to take advanced rock climbing training to polish her skills and bring more successes to the country. Nazia is all set for her international exposure and will participate in Bouldering competition in Singapore. She will also be the first female from Pakistan to represent the country in rock climbing at international level.

Nazia is also interested in archery, trekking and camping. She has also got an elementary paragliding license and is a good player of badminton, basketball and handball. Apart from this, a Polish channel is also working on a documentary with her which has been named “Women in the End of the World”.

Nazia represents a Pakistan that is often ignored particularly by the Western media. Her family, particularly her father, also deserves appreciation that despite hailing from conservative society of FATA, he encourages his daughter to participate in various levels of competitions. A woman can surpass all the hurdles once she makes it her goal; and this is exactly what Nazia Parveen has proved to all of us!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Sana Nasri

The gadgets that we dreamed of in sci-fi films are becoming a reality. I would like to go take you all back in your memory lane to the famous movies like Star Trek, Star Wars, War of the Worlds, UFO, Planet of the Apes or any movie related to space and aliens. Our first thought would definitely go towards the technology used by the Aliens and Space people. Those were variety of imaginary laser weapons, laser pistols, laser rifles used for destroying the cities and people.

This idea made military minds to turn lasers guns from science fiction into reality for everything. Many big defence companies are taking a fresh look at laser technology. As lasers provides a number of benefits like keeping costs down and ensuring accuracy they need minimal support and maintenance. A LASER is defined as a generator for light waves based on atoms and quantum physical effects. They are often used for sighting, ranging and targeting for guns; in these cases the laser beam is not the source of the weapon's firepower.

The lasing process is all about storing and releasing energy. An energy source injects energy into the lasing medium. The energy excites electrons, which move up to higher energy levels. When the electrons relax, they emit photons. The photons move back and forth between the mirrors, exciting other electrons as they go. This produces powerful, focused light. Laser weapons usually generate brief high-energy pulses. A one megajoule laser pulse delivers roughly the same energy as 200 grams of high explosive, and has the same lethal effect on a target. The primary damage mechanism is mechanical

shear, caused by reaction when the surface of the target is explosively evaporated. There are many different types of lasers used in military weapons. Few are:-

• Solid state Lasers have a lasing medium that is solid crystal, like the ruby laser or the neodymium YAG laser, which emits 1.06 micrometer wavelength.

• Gas Lasers have a lasing medium that is a gas or combination of gases, such as helium-neon laser or carbon dioxide laser, which emits 10.6 micrometer wavelengths (infrared).

• Excimer Lasers or ultraviolet laser have a lasing medium that is a combination of reactive gases, like chlorine or fluorine, and inert gases, like argon or krypton. The argon fluoride laser emits ultraviolet light of 193 nanometer wavelengths.

• Dye Lasers have a lasing medium that is a fluorescent dye. They can be tuned to a variety of wavelengths within a certain range. The Rhoda mine 6G dye laser can be tuned from 570- to 650-nanometer wavelengths.

• Carbon Dioxide Lasers are being explored by the militaries because they're powerful infrared lasers that can be used for cutting metal.

• Chemical Oxygen-Iodine Laser. The energy source for the COIL is a chemical reaction, and the lasing medium is molecular iodine. It is used aboard the Air Force's Airborne Laser.

• Thin Disk Laser. Boeing Company is working on Thin Disk Laser System. It takes a series of commercial solid-state lasers and integrates them to produce one concentrated high-energy beam. It surpassed 30 kilowatts in power and enough to do some serious damage to a battlefield threat.

• Fiber Laser System. Aculight Company worked on Spectral Beam Combining technique to produce a high power laser beam. It works sort of like an inverse prism, with lasers of slightly different wavelengths entering it and coming out as a single beam. It resulted in a compact fiber laser system capable of producing 100 kilowatts of power. Fiber lasers tend to need less power to operate and optical fibers provide nearly perfect quality beams. Rather than using mirrors that can become misaligned, this approach confines the light within the fiber's glass structure. Types of Laser Guns

• Rayguns are a type of fictional directed-energy weapon. They have various alternate names ray gun, death ray, beam gun, blaster, laser gun, phaser, zap gun etc. They are a well-known feature of science fiction.

• Laser Tag is a team or individual sport or recreational activity where players attempt to score points by tagging targets, typically with a hand-held infrared-emitting targeting device. At their core, laser tag systems typically use infrared signaling to track firing of the laser.

• Electro Lasers are electroshock weapons which send current along an electrically conductive laser-induced plasma channel. Electro lasers are recoilless, first firing a low-power diode laser beam to ionize the air, then following it almost instantly with a high-voltage electrical charge that follows the path of the laser to the target.

• Pulse Laser Gun was a DIY project that has a small pulse laser head and generates a kW-pulse of infrared light. It is full metal body and can blast through plastic, razorblade, and even 5mm of Styrofoam. It has a range a 3 meters, and the gun itself is 320mm long and weighs at 2 pounds. It is battery powered, and it is good for about 50 shots.

• Dazzlers. Some lasers are used as non-lethal weapons, such as dazzlers which are designed to temporarily blind or distract people or sensors. We have to brace ourselves for a hi-tech new world with the Laser Close-In Weapon Systems. As lasers will be used as weapons; bringing nearly instant and extremely precise strikes to the battlefield. With deep magazines of laser-ness, they remove the worry of running out of ammunition. Plus lasers can be calibrated to the scale of the threat, ranging from a non-lethal blow through to taking out a missile. Developments are also being made in US Air force like Airborne Laser (Advanced Tactical Laser), the PHaSR and the Active Denial System and Navy equipment as well like Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL), and Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) etc. On same lines Boeing has also been making progress in other sorts of military laser weapons.


Written By: Brig (Retd) Simeenber Rehman

Dr sahib I just want to be fair, want a glowing skin, want to look fresh...

These are the words I hear day in and day out from each of my younger patients whether they are boys or girls. The question is why this sudden fad has engulfed our youth for the past few years. We seem to have forgotten that we Pakistanis or Asian are born a brown race by the will and great thoughtfulness of Allah the Almighty. We must also remember the old saying all that glitters is not gold. Our beautiful brown colour protects us from the harsh sun rays, saves us from deadly skin cancers and other diseases.

White skin races are suffering from recurrent skin cancers, early ageing of skin in the form of wrinkles, black spots on the face in the form of freckles and seborreoric keratosis. They may also develop much darker spots known as sun spots or actinic keratosis, these are pre malignant and eventually develop into skin cancers if not treated in time.

This craze to become fair comes from two apparent factors; 1) Social pressures 2) Media. All women looking for brides for their sons, desire for girls who are fair and pretty, and reject nice decent girls, because of the complexion and some minute marks or scars. This racism should be finished. This is against our religion as well as ethically wrong. Criticizing physical attributes of any one means displeasing Allah, because all people are created equal by God. Media adds fuel to this smouldering fire by advertising so called fairness creams that claims to change the complexion within seconds. The so called miracle creams are actually steroid containing products that lightens the colour slightly but have adverse effects in the form of excessive hair growth, pimples and thinning of the skin leading to red faces, brown pigmentation and early wrinkling. In other words early ageing! So how to deal with this situation? The thing to remember is that there are actual substances that can dilute skin colour without causing bad effects, and there are ways and means to cure scars and marks.

Pigmentation can be diluted with applications of different substances made up of fruit acids, plant extracts, vitamin A derivatives, components of vitamin B and amino acids. Fruit acids are probably the oldest forms of skin scrubs and lightening agents. Egyptian women were the pioneers in this field. Juices of sugar cane, grapes, lemon and peach were frequently used, which contain alpha hydroxy acids. The extracts of Pine Bark are also included in the list of lightening agents. These are rediscovered now and mixed into different creams – when applied in proper proportions for some weeks can lead to lightening of the skin tone.

Sun protection is a compulsory feature as sun rays have skin damaging affect and frequent exposure leads to patchy pigmentation. Black hijabs also absorb sun light and may increase pigmentation of the skin. Therefore, by changing the colour of the hijab into a lighter shade will help in protection from the sun along with a sun block application.

The simple way to look after the skin and to look fresh is actually a regime which has to be followed always. Wash regularly with a mild soap – soaps that are frequently advertised on the media usually contain harmful acids that will dry out the skin and abrade it, making it vulnerable to environmental changes. This cause pigmentation, early wrinkling or eczematous changes.

Moisture is important for the body to maintain suppleness of the skin. Therefore, to moisturize the skin after washing is important. There is no need to buy expensive moisturizers as simple creams available in the market are nice and do not harm the skin. Drinking plenty of water, approximately 6-12 glasses a day, will hydrate the skin and reduce early formation of wrinkles. Fruit and vegetables are easy sources of vitamins and antioxidants. The darker the colour of the fruit or vegetables the better it is. Fruits like plums, pomegranate, oranges and black grapes are really good antioxidants. Similarly vegetables like tomatoes, beet root, carrots, spinach, broccoli, green pepper and green chiles are great source of antioxidants. Therefore, should be taken frequently.

Experimentation with different chemicals or plants may lead to excessive pigmentation of the skin. Makeover is not bad for the skin; the rule is to wash off the makeover as soon as possible. The newer foundations contain sun blocks and actually are protective.

The real key to the beauty is a beautiful personality that comes with a clean & honest heart and a smile. It changes everything and makes you beautiful. Stay pretty by not having bad feelings about anybody; forgiveness is the key for a clean heart. Anger, malice and making a sour face spoils the beauty of fairies, too.

The writer is a practicing Dermatologist. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Maj Fahad Hafeez

Liberia is a country in West Africa; bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north, Côte d'Ivoire to its east and Atlantic Ocean in its south. It is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans. Though it is rich in iron ore, rubber and timber, but approximately 85% of the population lives below the international poverty line. The country's education sector is hampered by inadequate schools and supplies, as well as a lack of qualified teachers.

Liberia is in the process of re-establishing herself to get her out of the post civil war effects. The UN is also supplementing Liberia through a Peace Keeping Mission. Pakistan is front line contributor in peace establishment missions all over the world. In Liberia, almost 2,000 military and police personnel from Pakistan are undertaking the assignment with full motivation, zeal and enthusiasm. To be specific, Pakistani troops have been at the forefront to bring improvements in civil infrastructure and provision of basic facilities to the locals in Liberia.

Recently, Pakistani Contingent's 'Force Quick Reaction Force' (FQRF) renovated GoYe Apostolic Pentecostal Community School which shall accommodate more than 150 students with better schooling facilities. The school is located at Camp Clara in Monrovia. Before this renovation project, the school was lacking basic facilities. School staff comprised of only seven teachers who were previously running the school in a single room. There were no separate classrooms for different classes and students had to sit in a single room. Dearth of furniture, books and stationery was a major worry for the school administration. Moreover, there was no facility of a playground. It was kind of a hodgepodge learning environment.

The renovation task was completed in a short span of time. Now the school has separate classrooms, new furniture, an outdoor playground, and a new nursery classroom. The School has also been facilitated by provision of free medical check-ups to students, organization of sports events and cartoon movie nights.

Reconstruction of Principal's office and seasonal renovations are in process. That efforts by Pakistani Contingent have been well appreciated by the locals as well as UN Mission Staff in Liberia. Ms. Massa Gibson, one of the school's seven teachers, shared her feeling by saying, “I just want to say thank you. This is so important because it will not only help our country but the people of Liberia also. Children now have a decent school and playground; and we hope they will grow up fine.” A 13 years old girl Sangay, who studies in 8th grade and wants to become a doctor, said, “I love the new school, it is so beautiful. I appreciate the Pakistanis for what they have done. The walls are so pretty and we have a place to sit and learn.”

Force Commander of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Major General Leonard M. Ngondi, who is originally from Kenya, inaugurated the new school and acknowledged the efforts of Pakistani Contingent. He emphasized the role of UNMIL in supporting the government of Liberia to fulfill its responsibilities. He said, “Our main purpose here is to enable government and Liberian people to do their work in a better environment. They may be having some problems, but those problems can be addressed.”

Besides renovation and construction of education facilities, Pakistani Contingent is also providing technical, vocational, and educational training as well as essential medical aid and sensitization to locals in Liberia – truly serving the humanity for a noble cause. Pakistan Army has a history of being a peace friendly force and has done much to prove it. The services of Pak Army have been acknowledged by world leaders many times, and the army and people of Pakistan have a proud contribution in promotion of world peace.

The writer is part of Pakistan’s Peacekeeping contingent in Liberia.

Written By: Brig Muhammad Khalil Dar

Rawalpindi is usually associated with Taxila when it comes to historical sites. But if one draws a circle of 100 kms (01:30 hour drive) around Rawalpindi, it is startling to find that there are many sites with echoes of history spread over thousands of years. Choha Saidan Shah, Sat Garha Mandar, Mirpur Fort and Rohtas Fort are few of the most famous. Yet another is the tomb of famous Sultan Shahab-ud-Din Ghori, whose name is as associated with Raja Pirthviraj and conquest of India as Alexander the Great's name is with Raja Porus for near similar reasons. The tomb itself is located at an hour and thirty minutes drive from Rawalpindi near the town of Sohawa, District Jhelum. A narrow but metalled road meanders off east to the village Dhamik at 12 kms from the GT Road.

On 15 Dec 2013, I along with my wife decided to visit the tomb and spend some time there, a kind of picnic cum history refresher. On reaching there, we found a four sided tomb majestically perched in a tranquil beauty of broken country side, next to the village Dhamik. Thanks to personal efforts of Dr Qadeer Khan, the architecture of tomb is fairly successful in reflecting the stature attributed to Sultan Shahab-ud-Din Ghori. The combined effect of architecture, isolation of the tomb from its surroundings and a feeling of proximity to such an imposing personality tends to captivate one’s thoughts, especially the one who draws pleasure through indulgence in history. The whirlwind of unstoppable thoughts seems agitating and exciting, throwing images and intriguing questions. One starts to ask oneself, what happened to the Ghori rule in India after his death? Where did he come from and what enabled him to accomplish which could not be achieved by Alexander, 1400 years ago and arguably by Sultan Mehmud Ghaznavi, 150 years before him, etc? And above all, what was the Muslim World elsewhere when he was conquering India?

A little research back home together with chronological arrangement of events lifted the cloak of mystery revealing some interesting history. Which, I thought, I am obligated to share, besides urging the reader to visit the tomb with children.

Shahab-ud-Din Ghori was born as Mu`izz-ud-Din in 1162 AD into a Persian-Turk family in Ghor – an isolated and desolate region located east of Herat. This remote and seemingly landlocked area is known to have been Islamized by Sultan Mehmud Ghaznavi in 1010 AD. At the time of Sultan Shahab-ud-Din's birth, his father, Sultan Baha-ud-Din Suri, was the local ruler of Ghors who were now challenging the then Ghaznavi Kingdom. Muhammad Ghori began his career as a General who assisted his brother in his conquests in the west against the expanding Khwarezimid Empire. It was also the prince, Mu`izz-ud-Din, who was destined to finally take the city of Ghazni in 1173, while his brother, Sultan Ghyias-ud-Din Ghori, succeeded his father as king of Ghors. It was after the successful takeover of Ghazni when he was bestowed upon the title of Shahab-ud-Din. Soon after the consolidation of his rule in Ghazni, his lashkars rode towards the Muslim states of Multan and the fortress of Uch; 1175-76. In 1179, similar attempts towards Gujrat proved unsuccessful but three years later, Sultan Shahab-ud-Din was back to take Peshawar and Sialkot, where he built a fort. In 1187, in alliance with the

Hindu Raja of Jammu, Vijaya Dev, he attacked Lahore and brought an eventual end to Ghaznavids' rule in India. He returned after 10 years to extend his rule beyond Bias River and faced the powerful Raja Prithviraj Chauhan, the ruler of Delhi, Ajmer and its allies. Ghori was injured and defeated in this battle i.e first battle of Tarain, 1191. The resilient and undaunted Sultan Ghori returned the very next year with vengeance and thoroughly defeated isolated Prithviraj Chauhan in 2nd battle of Tarain, 1192. This decisive victory came as a result of his unparallel speed in preparation and then returning to India i.e in merely one year, delay of other Hindu Rajas in joining Pirthviraj before the battle and an unconventional pre-dawn attack by Ghorid Army on orthodox Hindu Rajputs on the day of battle. He took the captured Prithviraj back with him to Ghazni, where he was executed the same year.

By 1194 his forces had captured areas beyond Delhi. Shahab-ud-Din Ghori became Sultan of the Ghorid Empire upon the death of his brother, Ghiyas-ud-Din, in 1202. This was the zenith of Ghorid Empire which now included areas from Herat to Ajmer. Their initial capital was in Firuzkuh in Ghor which was later replaced with Herat while Ghazni and Lahore served as regional / seasonal capitals. Besides being a strategic warrior, Shahab-ud-Din also had a lot of interest in art and culture, where he patronised scholars like Fakhr-ud-Din Razi and Nizami Uruzi. In 1204, Shahab-ud-Din Ghori had to repulse the advance of Muhammad II of Khwarzim close to Amu Darya; an evidence of his reach and resilience. However, his greatest success was the establishment of the Turkish Empire in India which added a fresh chapter in the Indian history. He himself chose to stay away from India and distributed conquered lands among his able Turkik Slaves; a common practice in that era among Turks.

Just four years after his takingover Ghorid Empire, on 25 March 1206, he was mysteriously killed at Dhamik while returning to Ghazni after crushing a revolt in Punjab. At the time of his regretful and untimely assassination, the Sultan was only 44 years old. Allegedly, his killers were Hindu Ghakhar or Hindu Khokher tribesmen of Pothohar or even radical Muslim Ismailies of Multan (to avenge the loss of their stronghold). Since he didn't have any offspring, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, his loyal Mamluk Slave, became his successor and ruled over Delhi, who later not only broke away from main Empire in Ghaznavi, establishing independent Sultanate in Dehli, but also extended the rule east upto Bihar. By 1212 Ghorids' empire was reduced and marginalised, though, short-lived and petty, its remnant states remained in power until the arrival of Timurids in late 14th Century. In regional perspective, Ghorids mainly succeeded Ghaznavids, a hard fact that in the wars of conquest, both interfaith and intra-faith clashes are inevitable. Unfortunately, it was Ghazni which bore the brunt of Ghorid expansion when it was burnt by Ghorids for seven days. Ghaznavi - Ghori rivalry mainly meant that no restive regions of Khorasan and Ghazni.

But in all of this, what were the happenings in the contemporary Muslim World elsewhere? In 1192, when Sultan Ghori finally defeated Raja Pirthviraj, the seat of Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad had become insignificant. Broke-away Kingdom of Khwarzim was expanding like many other petty states at the expense of the Caliph's authority. Sultan Salah-ud-Din had defeated the Crusaders and liberated Jerusalem ending the Christian occupation of 100 years, but his successors were unable to keep order. Fatimids, who challenged Abbasids, ruled Eygpt and the remnants of Umayyads who survived Abbasid persecution in Iraq were established far away in Spain. Internally, the Shia-Sunni divide was at its maximum, while externally, the entire northern portions of Islamic regions were under constant attacks of various tribes of Turks.

As a strange coincidence of history it was the year 1206, i.e Shahab-ud-Din's assassination near Jhelum, far away in Eastern Steppes of Mongolia, an unknown warrior adopted the title "Genghis Khan" by solidifying his authority over other tribes when he finally tamed the Kara Khatians, his last opponents in west. Mongols were now not only neighbours of Muslim lands but the Mongol horde was boiling to explode with all its ferocity and lightening speed. When it finally came in 1219, Indian Sultanate under Iltumash, a legacy of Ghorids chose to lay back in safety of Central India while a reduced Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad adopted the strategy of self denial and watched the decimation of Khwarzim cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. In the next 50 years, Mongols would devour all Muslim lands one by one from Lahore to Aleppo via Baghdad. The last Abbasid Caliph was killed by Halagu Khan in 1258.

One cannot help but ponder: had history taken the same path if the brave and untiring Sultan Shahab-ud-Din was not stabbed at the age of 44 while offering prayers at the village of Dhamik? Genghis Khan died at the approximate age of 70 i.e 22 years after Sultan Shahab-ud-Din. The Mongol hordes later rode through the lands of opposing Ghorid and Khwarzim Empires towards heartlands of Muslim World. Alas! the Muslims were united


Written By: Shamaim Bajwa

International Mountain Day was observed on 11th December, 2013. Mountains are a source of freshwater, energy and food – resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming de-cades. However, mountains are also extremely vulnerable to climate change, deforestation, land deg-radation and natural disasters.

NUST Environment Club (NEC), one of the central societies of National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), organized a 'Hiking Trip & Walk' at Trail-3 of Margalla Hills, Islamabad. The sole purpose of this hiking trip was to spread awareness about the importance of mountains, their preservation and conservation. This event took place on 8th December, 2013 with approximately 100 people in attendance which included students and faculty members from NUST.

Upon arriving at the venue, a briefing about the International Mountain Day and it's importance was given by Mr. Munir Ahmed, Director DEVCOM. Later all participants were divided into five groups and a group leader was appointed for each.

Trail-3 is a famous and old hiking track of Margalla Hills. The initial phase of the climb was a little tough and strenuous but after a while, the difficulty of the track was soon forgotten. As we moved further up, we were struck by the grandeur and loveliness of the mountains. The higher we went, the more beautiful our surroundings became. The view of Islamabad from the mountain track was simply breathtaking. The three-hour tiring hike was worth every drop of sweat and every bit of trouble that we had on our way.

It was not only hiking but a cleanup drive as well. Each individual was handed over a garbage bag to collect the trash on the track. The groups reached the top point of the track, Monal, in different time brackets. But all of us had one observation is common; the hills were littered with different type of waste papers, cigarette butts, wrappers and what all and what not. We all need to understand the importance of keeping our surroundings clean, especially these mountains. It was painful to note that people had thrown waste in the open despite availability of waste bins. We need to improve our civic sense.

The lunch arrangements for the hikers were made by the management. Nothing beats pizza after a tiring calorie burning hike that was served to us for lunch.

After lunch we descended to the starting point by using similar track. This trip was both enlightening and exciting. It gave everyone a chance to seriously consider the importance of preserving mountains in their original shape.

The writer is a student at NUST and pursuing degree in Environmental Engineering. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Lt Col Shah Jahan

Air pollution is continuously affecting the human health adversely. The degenerating conditions of the atmosphere due to reduction of Ozone gas layer are accelerating the level of carbon dioxide beyond acceptable limits which is highly injurious to human life and the plants. It is well established fact that air pollution can be controlled effectively by intensive afforestation. The earth conferences held in Brazil and USA during 1992 and 1997 respectively have also affirmed the need for a large scale afforestation programme throughout the World.

In 1994, Government of Pakistan (Ministry of Environment) planned excessive afforestation in order to increase forest cover in the country which was less than 6% of total area at that time. Afforestation greatly contributes towards national economy both directly and indirectly. It facilitates overall pollution control, environment protection and natural camouflage & concealment during war. In order to achieve these objectives, Pakistan Army, to assist civil government, has always been at the forefront to take active part in trees' – plantation campaigns both inside the cantonments' limits and outside.

Pakistan Army was assigned to plan and implement this project in different areas. Rachna Doab Afforestation Project commonly known as RDAP, was undertaken by Pak Army initially in Punjab. The afforestation on 34,407 Acres / Avenue Miles (AVM) is continuing since July 1995 onward. The Project was suspended in June 2011 due to devolution of sponsoring ministry to the provinces under the 18th Amendment in the Constitution. However, units / formations are determined to achieve the designated goal gradually even without the provision of Government funds. Above 80 % survival rate of planted trees has been achieved as assessed by 'Monitoring and Evaluation' (M&E) team of Federal Government comprising members from the Planning Commission,

Ministry of Environment, Punjab Forest Department and Pakistan Forest Institute Peshawar. Extracts from the M&E report prepared by Dr Raza Ul Haq (Central Silviculturist), Pakistan Forest Institute, Peshawar during April – May 2003 are:- “Some of the acquired land was under the control of illegal occupants. The recovery of these lands and its afforestation was a creditable job done by the Army.” (Page 1 of Report.)

“It is a matter of great satisfaction that the physical targets in the field are going according to schedule and in some cases advance progress of work has been observed during the visit. This is due to the sincere and devoted efforts of the team responsible for the afforestation programme deputed on the job by Mangla Corps. Acquisition of land and timely completion of physical targets is commendable job. (Page 7-8 of Report) Afforestation on 250 sites in ten civil districts of Punjab province has definitely improved the ecology of these areas to a great extent.

The eco-system has been restored on barren, arid, water-logged and saline-sodic soils handed over by government departments to the Army. The planted lands are showing topographically, edaphically, climatically and ecologically changes which are quite visible now when juvenile plants and saplings have turned into thick forests. The lands prior to plantation under RDAP had been encroached. After retrieval of illegally occupied lands, plantation with numerous species has been carried out in the most planned manner. The main planted species are Shisham, Eucalyptus, Kikar, Siris, Bakain, Jaman, Willow, Sukh Chain, Ipple Ipple etc. Bed / potted nurseries containing thousands of plants were raised by the respective formations in afforestation areas as well as in respective cantonments for meeting the requirements of fresh plantation / re-stocking.

The officers and men affiliated with the project have worked day and night to make it a success story. Till now, 17 soldiers have laid their lives during the execution of this gigantic project. RDAP besides, increasing the percentage of jungles in the country, will go a long way in improving the environment of the areas.


Written By: Dr M. F. Khokhar and Lokhaiz Ali

Many glaciers and snowpacks around the world are receding. The rates and timing of glacial wasting, the volume of ice melt that causes a net loss of glacier volume, vary and the causes are complex. In most instances there are multiple influences that interact in complicated ways. Glaciers are retreating at different pace in different parts of the world and there are concerns about the consequences for available water supplies. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region are among the largest and most spectacular in the world. Although there is little scientific knowledge and information about the state of the glaciers of the HKH region, with repercussion for future water supplies, there is also significant uncertainty. Concern has been heightened by several highly visible decrees which upon examination proved to be highly qualitative, local in scale and/or to lack any credible scientific basis.

The Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region extends over 2,000 km from east to west across the Asian continent spanning several countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. This region is the source of numerous large Asian river systems, including the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra, which provide water for over a billion people. The surface water of these rivers and associated groundwater constitute a significant strategic resource for all of Asia. Many of the countries in this region are already experiencing physical water scarcity. Existing water stress and projections of population growth have led to concern over possibilities of negative impacts from changes in the availability of water supplies in the coming decades. Water managers across the Himalayan region will confront a host of overlapping socioeconomic, environmental, and policy challenges as they strive to fulfil their societies' future water needs. In many of the great rivers that rise in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan mountains – the Amu Darya, Ganges, Indus, Yellow – total withdrawals nearly equal or even exceed long-term flow balances. Hundreds of millions of people today reside in basins that are essentially “closed.” All of their waters are already being used to meet various human demands and maintain vital ecosystems with little to no spare capacity left over.

The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, including the Tibetan plateau, also functions as a complex interaction of “atmospheric, cryospheric, hydrological, geological and environmental processes that bear special significance for the Earth's biodiversity, climate and water cycles.” For example, the region plays a prominent role in generating the Asian monsoon system that sustains one of the largest populations on earth. These ecosystem services from the

Himalayan river basins also form the basis for a substantial portion of the region's total GDP (UNEP, 2012). Many studies state that the melting of glaciers is a clear indicator of climate change and note that glacier change is the most visible and obvious indicator of changing temperatures. Temperatures at some locations in the Himalayan region have risen faster than the global average. From 1982 to 2006, the average annual mean temperature in the region increased by 1.5 °C with an average increase of 0.06 °C per year, although the rate of warming varies across seasons and ecoregions. It stands to reason that the rising temperature in the Himalayas would affect glacier melt. However, uncertainty about the current state of Himalayan glaciers and the future state of the climate, as well as an incomplete understanding of the processes affecting Himalayan glaciers under the current climate, make any projections of climate change's impact on glaciers uncertain.

Despite inconsistencies in the published research, there is overall agreement that scenarios indicate a general decrease in ice volumes with retreats occurred mostly in the east, while in the west, the glaciers’ responses are complex, especially around the Karakoram region. Since the 1990s, expansion of some larger glaciers has been observed in the central Karakoram; and some have advanced and thickened indicating an apparently atypical climatic response. The current behaviour of Karakoram glaciers prevents drawing conclusions about how the glaciers will continue to respond in the Karakoram region in the future.

While data are lacking for a good understanding of the patterns of change in the glaciers of the Himalayas, there are some generalizations that can be made about the different regions of this vast area. Zone 1: Mainly in Afghanistan, this area has relatively stable or very slowly retreating glaciers. Zone 2: The Northwestern Himalayas including the Karakoram have highly varied glacier behaviour, with many surge glaciers, many advancing, stable, and retreating snouts and comparatively few large lakes. Glaciers in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan are generally retreating while further south, behaviour of the Karakoram glaciers is mixed, but lacking wholesale, rapid disintegration of glacier tongues and rampant lake growth. Zone 3: Mainly in India, southwestern Tibet and western Nepal, this area has mainly stagnating, retreating snouts and time variability with periods of slower retreat for some glaciers during parts of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are fewer lakes than in the eastern Himalayas, but large lakes may be a growing phenomenon as glaciers thin down and tend to stagnate.

Zone 4: Mainly Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and southeastern Tibet, this area has many large glacier lakes, especially since the 1960s. Many glaciers are rapidly disintegrating as they stagnate and thin down. Glaciers on the south side generally have more debris cover than they do on the north side. A widely cited estimate shows considerable variation in the contribution of melt water across the river basins fed by Himalayan glaciers, although this varies seasonally and spatially. The importance of melted water contribution also varies by basin: it is extremely important to the Indus Basin, important for the Brahmaputra Basin, but plays modest roles for the Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow Rivers. By region, meltwater contributes 30 % to the total water flow in the eastern Himalayas, 50 % in the central and western Himalayas and 80 % in Karakoram.

There is another unique feature of Himalayan glaciers; Siachen Glacier, the highest battleground on earth, where India and Pakistan have fought intermittently since April 13, 1984. Both countries maintain permanent military presence in the region at a height of over 6,000 metres (20,000 ft). More than 2000 people have died in this inhospitable terrain, mostly due to weather extremes and the natural hazards of mountain warfare. India is controlling most part of the glacier, to include: 70 km long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the Glacier – Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La. Pakistan controls the glacial valleys immediately west of the Saltoro Ridge.

Indian military operations are not only causing the physical damage (digging trenches, clearing glaciers for settlements and roads for logistic purposes), but their activities have resulted into spewing substantial amount of green house gases and soot particles in such high altitude region of Siachen. This may consequent in further warmer temperature, glacial lake formation and finally accelerating the glacier mass depletion rate. A recent study by Rasull et al., (2008) observed rise in temperature of 4°C over the time period of 1991-2004 and attributed this increase to the presence of army, large vehicular movement and allied activities to setup infrastructure for settlement and logistic purposes (e.g. Rohtang Tunnel etc.) in the area of Siachen Glacier. They further elaborated that human presence in the region has resulted in the thinning of ice and retreat of glacial extent at an alarming rate.

The decay estimates calculated by remote sensing techniques suggests that Siachen Glacier has reduced by 1.9 km in longitudinal extent from 1989 to 2006 along with 17 % thinning of the glacier mass. Additionally, it has resulted in increased number of avalanches in the region. For instance, on 7 April 2012, an avalanche hit a Pakistani military headquarters in the area, burying over 140 Pakistani soldiers and civilian contractors. Beside the frequent natural hazards, the military intervention at Siachen Glacier has also been affecting the neighbouring glaciers such as Gangotri, Miyar, Milan and Janapa which feed huge mass of population downstream on both Indian and Pakistan sides.

In the current scenario of climate change impacts on glaciers; the military withdrawal from Siachen region is mandatory to avoid the foreseen threats of human causalities and Himalayan glaciers retreat. After Gayari incident (avalanche) of April 2012, the then COAS, Gen Kayani offered India to demilitarize Siachen on bilateral basis. Apart from that, Indian military preparedness regarding Siachen Glacier clearly indicates that there is absolutely no sign from the Indian side to withdraw from world's highest battlefield and relocate them according to the 1989 agreement. India needs to think on these lines and plan to vacate the glaciated area as offered by Pakistan. Indians should stop causing environmental havoc to the region. The earlier, the better!

Dr Faheem is a PhD and on the faculty of Institute of Environmental Sciences and Engineering (IESE) at NUST. Mr Lokhaiz is a PhD Scholar at NUST. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Naila Inayat

He had said “We will fight them until the last drop of blood”, and he indeed fought them till the very last drop of his blood. How often had we seen an animated Chaudhry Aslam, a top counter-terrorism police officer, on our TV screens, belligerently talking about hunting down the militants.

But it is difficult to imagine there will be no Chaudhry Aslam who put up a brave face even after his own house was attacked by the terrorists in 2011. “I will bury the attackers right here,” he told the media, pointing to the two-metre-deep bomb crater, and vowing to launch his own 'jihad' against the assailants. “I didn't know the terrorists were such cowards. Why don't they attack me in the open?”

Better known for leading daring police raids Aslam had survived several attempts on his life but he was assassinated along with two other policemen in a targeted attack on his convoy on the Lyari Expressway in Karachi. Hailing from village Dhodial in Mansehra, it was 29 years ago that Aslam had joined the police force as an Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) in 1984 and soon he went onto take the higher ranks of police because of his dedication, bravery and conviction to the cause.

Having been posted in Karachi, Aslam was part of both the operations to restore law & order in the 1990s. And in the post-9/11 scenario he captured many Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants so much so that earlier that day when he was assassinated, he had killed three TTP terrorists in a raid. Many fondly called him 'Super Cop' as he headed the counter-terrorism section of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) and was known for encounters with the leaders of different banned militant groups. The man who lived on the edge died for a cause that was greater than his own self. “Just cried my heart out after hearing about the cowardly fatal attack on a police officer who stood up when the nation was hunkered down, unable to handle the threat from the cancer that continues to bleed our country,” wrote the son of a police officer, who saw his father combating terrorists and criminals.

Just how a routine it has become, as soon as the news of his death broke, the news tickers start scrolling with tributes, condemnations and condolence messages from high-profile politicians and officials on the assassination. The social media frenzy had also begun soon our Facebook and Twitter timelines were trending with Chaudhry Aslam trivia. They all were suddenly united in this tragedy. They termed it a “hero's death” that “his courage and conviction is the stuff that heroes are made of” that “he stood up for what most people don't even dream of”.

As a silent onlooker one just couldn't really gauge the in-the-moment feelings, but what kept coming back was our society's behaviour: Will all these people even remember Chaudhry Aslam in a week's time? What impact will his death have on us as a society that usually likes to look down upon the police wallas?

Or does it even matter in times when so much is happening around us and we have somewhat become indifferent to death as long as it is not of anyone close to us. Will this only be a moment of cyber space sloganeering, to see and be seen civil society vigils or do we plan to take a moment to understand as a society what Chaudhry Aslam really meant for us? “For me Chaudhry Aslam was an individual who was not only just doing his work but protecting and standing up for my fundamental right to life and freedom,” says 21-year-old Iftikhar, a student from Karachi. “I do understand that he represented our law enforcing agencies and how hard it is for them to fight against such cowards, yet he stood firm.”

“It is sad how we thrive on demeaning our police, we will talk endlessly about how corrupt and inefficient they are but we never realize the hardships and challenges they face,” says 27-year-old Saira, a social worker from Lahore. “This is true that police (officers) low-rank or higher officials are in the eye of the storm and the government has really nothing on plan for the onslaught.”

With the killings as high-profile as that of Chaudhry Aslam, in the mass media there is always an outside chance of trivializing the matter by calling it a 'conspiracy'. This has become a fashion to term everything a trend. Whenever we as a society want to shy away from our responsibilities we tend to paint it under fancy words such as 'conspiracy'. His heroic death should infuse a new resolve in all stakeholders rather than just shamefully terming it conspiracy and running away.

We must not hide behind pretences, explanations and condemnations alone. We must stand up against all threats to our society and country. Chaudhry Aslam was the face of Pakistani police in the international media – The Guardian called him “Pakistan's toughest cop”. His achievements included a Pakistan Police Medal, Quaid-i-Azam Police Medal and the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz awarded by the President in 2013. He is among the nearly 150 policemen to have died since September 2013 ever since the ongoing operation in Karachi against criminals began. The operation has so far resulted in the arrest of thousands of suspects, of which some 350 are alleged to have been involved in targeted killings, kidnapping for ransom, terrorism, extortion, etc. More than 700 have been arrested for murder, robberies and other street crimes, while 366 proclaimed offenders and 3,500 court absconders have been apprehended.

Unfortunately, in a society like ours one has to die to be proclaimed a hero and with the tragic assassination of Chaudhary Aslam may we as a society realize that these sentiments should not only be restricted to such happenings alone. Instead, there has to be a greater sense of ownership towards our policemen and the discourse to a war that we are in. Most of the people choose to live, and they live. Few choose not to live and die for a greater cause, they live forever!

The writer is a journalist based in Lahore. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Lt Col Ali Raza

In democratic political settings, public opinion is essence of governance which not only facilitates rulers in implementation of their policies smoothly but can also remove irritants in political spheres. In the words of William Shakespeare, “public opinion is the mistress of success” and according to Blaise Pascal, “it is queen of the world.” Though its formalized tabulation can be traced back in the history of city-states of ancient Greece but term 'public opinion' was firstly coined in the Seventeenth century, when coffee-houses and subsequently in 18th and 19th centuries gentleman clubs played pivotal role in making and shaping the public opinion in the politics of England. Now with the invention of mass and social media, the concept of public opinion has completely revolutionized – without favourable public opinion every action of the state bound to have negative repercussions.

A critical relationship has developed between state policies and public opinion – public opinion is the true reflection of political dispensation. Abraham Lincoln has also emphasized that public opinion is everything, with it nothing can fail, without it nothing can succeed. Terrorism is ideologically driven conflict with political objectives and being fought between State Actors (SAs) and Non-State Actors (NSAs) right in the public-yard. Public has become critical stakeholder in fight against terrorism and with increasing casualties and losses of people vis-à-vis SAs and NSAs, their opinion have acquired key role in the counter-terrorism meta-narrative, because an army may win thousands battles in counter-terrorism regime but cannot win the war without winning the public support.

Positive and negative perception both have significance in combating terror. Both adversaries can develop epistemic justification for launching their vilification campaign to tarnish the image of their opponents. Counter-terrorism meta-narrative has to address negative aspects which are having potentials of spoiling the image of SAs and picking up exploitable themes generated by NSAs to expose their face in the public. Ingredients of Public Perception

Centre of gravity of counterterrorism campaign rests in public opinion and NSAs' leadership, but the public opinion has relatively more significance. In counterterrorism meta-narrative, non-kinetic efforts should aim at building a favourable public opinion whereas kinetic efforts should focus on NSAs' leadership. Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Ex Ambassador and, Dr Shabnam Fayyaz, professor at Quaid-i-Azam University and expert on counterterrorism policy, have also endorsed the significance of public opinion with the unique words that the positive public opinion helped Pakistan Army to launch successful operations in Swat and South Waziristan Agency, and it is going to be precondition for extending operation to North Waziristan Agency.

Speech of Sufi Muhammad, Supreme Leader of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) about disregarding the Constitution of Pakistan, flogging incident of a girl in Swat and Malala's episode proved to be catalyst incidents in the war on terror. These incidents discredited the NSAs and the public opinion swung in favour of SAs. Public opinion has catalyzing role in War on Terror (WOT). This war cannot be won unless the public divorce the NSAs and distance itself from their narrative. This can help to dry up the bases of NSAs including sympathizers and support groups who are living in the masses and playing significant facilitating role in conduct of terrorist activities.

Cultivation of perception including making, shaping and maintaining favourable public opinion has become herculean task in obtaining antagonistic milieu. Military planners and strategists often overlook this aspect during the planning phase of operations and are unable to measure up the effect of public perception on kinetic efforts truly. Realistically, public opinion rests in justness of the cause, either of opposing forces can turn the public opinion on their side provided they can convince the masses about justness of their cause.

Sequentially, justness of the cause is linked to legitimacy of acts of state/ NSAs and legitimacy is connected to transparency in actions. These relations are fundamental in developing the public perception because it bolsters moral ascendency for winning the hearts and minds of masses. Securitization process can play a pivotal role in developing, shaping and maintaining positive public opinion before initiating kinetic prong against the NSAs. Securitization process can keep the counterterrorism effort and masses on same wavelength which should become punch line of counterterrorism meta-narrative.

Practically speaking, kinetic prongs are initiated against the NSAs and subsequently a psychological campaign is launched to win the hearts and minds of the people for building favourable public opinion.

This is a gross blunder in counterterrorism planning regime. Psychological campaign including securitization process for winning the hearts and minds of people must precede the kinetic prongs. Perception of masses ought to be managed before it is mystified by NSAs propaganda. NSAs can only win, if they are backed by public opinion because militarily they are far inferior to their adversaries. Idealistically speaking, time and space of kinetic prong against the NSAs should be determined by the public – only on their demand. However, it can also be manipulated through securitization efforts. Collateral Damage and Public Perception

Another sour point in counterterrorism regime is 'Collateral Damage' which is embedded in any type of kinetic efforts against NSAs, particularly in built up areas and directly influences the public mood. A kinetic prong without precise intelligence will be counterproductive because any military / police operation without tangible results like arrests, killings of terrorists or recoveries etc will alienate the public owing to collateral damages. It is extremely impossible to avoid collateral damages in such police/ military operations in buildup areas against NSAs. Collateral damage is catalyst in swinging the public opinion on either side.

Victims of collateral damage need prompt response which can be in shape of sympathies and compensation. A quick compensation of collateral damages should be part of military strategy and it must be made before NSAs sympathize / compensate the victims of operations. Delays and shallow promises for compensation of collateral damages will help to broaden the base of NSAs networks and it acts as catalyst in their recruiting phenomenon.

Hearts & Minds

Battle for hearts & minds can only be won, if law enforcing agencies respect civil liberties and principles of good governance. The Constitution of Pakistan has guaranteed the fundamental rights of people, which include freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and the right to bear arms etc, which must be upheld in the fight against terror, because real security can only be achieved through respect for human rights.

SAs are far superior militarily, and during conduct of operations, may violate the fundamental rights of citizen unintentionally which provides justification and opportunities to NSAs for exploitation and helps in gaining sympathies. Violation of fundamental rights of people causes narcissistic injuries and such humiliation instigate the victims to take revenge. Vengeance promotes violence hence SAs should be careful during all operations. Respect for fundamental rights help in crafting conditions for perpetual peace in the society.

Mass Media

Mass media plays a significant role in cultivation of public perception; shaping public opinion on a variety of important issues, both through the information that is dispensed by them, and through the interpretations they make out of this information. They also play a large role in shaping modern culture, by selecting and portraying a particular set of beliefs, values, and traditions, as reality. That is, by portraying a certain interpretation of reality, they shape reality to be more in line with that interpretation. This overwhelming penetration of mass media in human lives has bolstered the role in cultivation of public opinion and reinforcing their religious and social believes. Even media can dictate the people, what to buy, wear, think, read and eat etc.

This role of media in daily lives of people can be used to mitigate the violence from the societies and promote culture of peace. Obtaining support of media should become fundamental ingredient of counterterrorism strategy for cultivation of perception to support the kinetic efforts of SAs.

Way Forward

WOT is unconventional war which has to be fought unconventionally – relatively more reliance on unconventional means than conventional tools. The public has become a major stakeholder because this war is fought right in the public-yard. Both SAs and NSAs need favourable public opinion to turn the table on their opponents, but public opinion would swing in the favour of those who convince for justness of the cause, legitimacy of acts and transparency in actions.

NSAs cannot win this war because militarily they are far inferior and only public support can strengthen their position. In democratic settings this war should be fought legitimately and despite of NSAs coercive and brutal activities, SAs should exercise strict restraint in violating the law of the land. Public support will extend morale ascendency and helps to curtail the period of violence.

Counterterrorism meta-narrative should focus on the aspects for cultivation of public perception favourable for keeping the public and SAs at same frequency. The SAs should hold regular briefings on conduct of WOT and share all the atrocities of NSAs with the public upfront. A regular press briefings on conduct of counterterrorism campaign and sharing all the details of operations conducted, arrests made and activities of the NSAs will greatly help to cultivate the positive public perception to win the hearts and minds of the general people.

The writer is a PhD scholar (Peace and Conflict Studies) at NDU, Islamabad.

Written By: Salman Rashid

Balochistan was the greatest railway adventure there was in Pakistan. It drubbed the much-flaunted Khyber Pass train by miles. I wish I could talk of it in the present tense, but sadly that is not the case. It was once a great railway adventure.

There was, for example, the magnificent line that ran north of Sibi through Harnai, into the Chappar Rift and on to Quetta. The marvel of engineering on this line was the Louise Margaret Bridge that stitched the gaping crack of the Rift. The line died back in July 1942 after it was washed out by a massive torrent during a rainstorm. This wasn't the first time such a thing had happened. The Chappar Rift was famous for recurrent maintenance problems and the question of dismantling it had been considered before. The war was on, steel was needed for munitions and in any case the Bolan route was in service. And so the line in the Rift was uprooted. Today all that remains of this glorious piece of railway engineering are bridge piers, line bed and abandoned railway stations.

The other great one was the Zhob Valley Railway (ZVR), so named for following the course of the Zhob River. While the Chappar Rift line was Broad Gauge (5'-6”), this one was the tiny Narrow Gauge (2'-6”). It ran northeast from Bostan on the Quetta-Chaman route to Zhob – or Fort Sandeman as it had been renamed by the British. Its length of three hundred kilometres made it the longest Narrow Gauge line in the Subcontinent. I had once thought that at 2224 metres above the sea, Kan Mehtarzai station was the highest Narrow Gauge railway station in the world. But I now know that it is Ghum on the line to Darjeeling in India. The latter being thirty-five metres higher than our Kan Mehtarzai.

The ZVR was laid during the First World War. But then it ran up only as far as the chrome mines of Hindubagh (renamed Muslimbagh in the 1960s) that was used in the manufacture of munitions. In the 1920s the line was extended to Zhob with dreams of it going across to connect with Bannu in the North West Frontier Province, KPK now. But that dream became a victim of the uncertainty of the 1930s and the Second World War. What Pakistan inherited at independence, few thought it was the sacred duty of her sons to undo. And so barely forty years down the line, ZVR has been successfully closed. The first time I travelled the length of the line in 1992, it was not by train but by car: the line had been dead for some six years or so. Whereas India draws train buffs from all over the world to its various railway lines, we have been great ones for shutting down our best showpieces. And so this line became a victim of part apathy and mostly inefficiency and corruption. Half-hearted attempts to revamp the line were made and the locomotives that rest and rust in the sheds at Bostan were overhauled some years ago. But no work was done on the civil works of the disintegrating line. For some time the refurbished locomotives were periodically fired to keep them work. Bye and bye all was forgotten and the last time I saw them in 1999, they were beginning to lose their shine once again.

As I stood on the platform at Kan Mehtarzai on that blustery November morning in 1992, I imagined myself in the First Class Sleeper on the NG-10 pulling in, enroute from Zhob to Bostan. And I had imagined myself making ready for the bearer to pop into the carriage with his stack of breakfast trays. The idea of toast and eggs at the highest Narrow Gauge station in the country (the world, as I then believed) had tickled me. I found myself wondering if, when the line worked, travellers had paused to consider the uniqueness of their situation.

In Bostan in 1992, Mirza Tahir, the Station Master remembered the glorious days of the ZVR. Winters were pretty hard on the tiny Narrow Gauge locomotives, he had told me, and it was not uncommon for trains to be caught in snowdrifts. Tahir remembered the great snowstorms of the winter of 1970. So deep was the snow that the snowplough in front of the locomotive just could not make way. The train foundered. The fireman built up steam while the driver tried again and again to nose through. But the snow was too deep – nearly two metres – it was said, and they had to give up. They dropped fire and waited.

While the passengers walked to the highroad that runs parallel to the line and got away as best as they could, the telegraph wires buzzed. Bostan was informed of the snow-bound train and requested for a rescue locomotive. Out came one steaming and puffing through the wintry landscape only to be caught in the snow a few hundred metres short of the stranded train. Bostan sent out yet another one and even that could not make it. Tahir said it took them a few days to clear the line and get it going again.

Since that journey along the ZVR thirteen years ago, I have passed through Kan Mehtarzai half a dozen times. Once or twice I detoured to the station just to check things out. But none of my trips had been in midwinter after a good fall of snow. Kan Mehtarzai station, as I knew it, was always dusty and wind-blown sitting in a treeless openness with a touch of a spaghetti western. I knew I was lucky when I got a chance recently to be there in the area in the grip of what many people would call bad weather: for several days there had been incessant rains and snow on higher altitudes. After years of drought, this was the best thing to happen to the Balochistan plateau and local farmers were joyous at the prospect of the harvest that the summer would eventually bring.

For me this was the chance to get to Kan Mehtarzai and imagine what it must have been like during the blizzards of 1970. The distant peaks and the rolling hills around the village were all nicely couched in deep snow and looked a darn sight better than their normal summer khaki. Snowmen being a Western partiality, there were none to be seen. Strange that when it snows, building a snowman does not come spontaneously to these people. Perhaps unprompted artistic expression is not part of our make-up. Or perhaps it is because we have not yet invented waterproof mittens that will keep the fingers from freezing while we attempt to flaunt our creativity. In town, business was shut and the few open doors showed shawl-wrapped men huddled around fires. Kan Mehtarzai seemed a bit of a ghost town.

Bordered by orchards where the apricot and almond trees were all undressed for the winter, the unpaved lane taking off to the south from the main highway was still unmistakable seven years after my last visit. The only difference was that it was under snow that a tractor gone before us had churned up into slush. We left the jeep short of the station and with snow crunching underfoot walked around a fencing, under the tall water tank and on to the platform.

I did not remember the set of three freight wagons, in their prescription reddish-brown, from my last visit. Surely they must have been abandoned there when the line worked. Only I had failed to register them. They were as bound in the snow as the trains in the winter of 1970. This time round, however, the snow was about a metre deep. On the ZVR, the cutest things on the entire pre-partition North Western Railway are the darling station buildings. I have not seen them duplicated anywhere else in Pakistan. They are, with only a couple of exceptions, all mud-plastered; they come with a pitched roof and, to one side, a neat octagonal tower-like structure with a conical roof. This was the ticket window. But only for those who cared to pay fare, for most travellers on this line considered it their birthright to go free. Indeed, that was one of the reasons for the line's untimely demise.

Icicles were draped along eaves that were shaded from the sun for most part of the day. Glass-less lamps that once lit up the platform at night emphasised the dereliction of the station. The mud plaster on the façade was beginning to crack and peel and the roof on the north side of the building had caved in. This portion, if I remember correctly, bore a sign in 1992 marking it as the Station Master's Office. The rest of the station had been taken over by a family for we could hear women and children behind the matting that shielded them from prying eyes. A young lad from this family came around to check out my friend Naeem and me. I wondered if others came around to photograph Kan Mehtarzai railway station or he thought we were a pair of loonies with nothing better to do than to have our ears fall off with cold.

Snow completely covered all signs of the platforms and the track. Years ago this is how it must have appeared to travellers on this line. And when in the winter of 1970 the train failed to show up, the Station Master must have sent out a patrol to see what had become of it. Now nothing happens at Kan Mehtarzai. They don't even build snowmen on the platform. Only the squatters bicker behind the matting.

I lament again the waste of a perfect showpiece of a railway line that could have helped Pakistan earn a few good tourist dollars. But that would have happened if the writ of the state held and if there were dedicated men in the railways. All those I had spoken to concerning the reopening of the ZVR as a tourist line had said it could not be done. There were too many problems and not enough finances. That I know to be untrue: we first permitted a working line to go to seed and now we complain of not enough funds to revitalise it.

India did much better with her Narrow Gauge show pieces in Simla and Darjeeling! If not emulation, then we should have preceded.
The writer is an avid tourist, has authored several books and contributes regularly for national and international media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Dr Zafar Mehmood

What are the structural problems of an economy? These are essentially the structural imbalances that act as binding constraints to sustained economic growth and development. In case of Pakistan the structural problems include: disproportionately higher involvement of government in economic activities, large informal economy, agriculture remains a major employer of workforce, concentration on cotton-related production activities, policies biased toward import-substituting activities, neglect of services economy in public policies, low rate of savings and consequently inadequate investment to develop human resources and infrastructure, inability of the government to collect enough tax revenues, neglect of small and medium enterprises, ineffective governance and institutional structures, lack of accountability, etc.

Deep rooted economic reforms are thus needed to remove these structural imbalances to increase efficiency, improve competitiveness, stimulate entrepreneurship, and technological progress. It may be noted that when cyclical macroeconomic measures stop producing results then the only way left with economic managers is introduction of fundamental structural reforms. Pakistan is currently at this crossroad.

Pakistani economy is currently trapped in low growth, high inflation and unemployment, falling investment, excessive fiscal deficits, and a deteriorating external balance position. Foreign exchange reserves are steadily dwindling owing to low foreign capital inflows, heavy debt repayments and slow growth in foreign earnings. Currently, Pakistan has foreign reserves to pay only about a month's import bill. These are the outcomes of failure to timely address the structural problems faced by the economy. Failure to deliver 'inclusive' growth in turn is threatening the social stability of the society.

Savings rate in Pakistan is persistently low as compared with the investment requirements. This is one of the main reasons as to why we have to rely on foreign capital. When foreign capital is not available then the investment rate further goes down, which has adverse implications for growth and employment. Main reasons for low private savings in Pakistan are: low or negative real interest rate, unstable income, large family size, low education level, high inflation, lack of culture to save, etc.

Energy crisis being faced by the country is believed to be mainly due to circular debt, untargeted subsidy, distribution problem, and theft. Government provides large subsidy owing to high generation cost compared to the price charged by distribution companies. Why the cost of electricity is high in Pakistan? We often find arguments explaining that it is high because oil price is high and line losses including the theft, are high. But I think there is more than this, and that can be attributed to inefficiency in power generation due to the use of obsolete technology by power generation companies, their wastage and frequent breakdown of plants, and the outdated transmission system. On the demand side, government does not take measures to curtail demand for electricity. Demand side measures must be introduced in Pakistan. In contrast, what we see in Pakistan, as per report of a major international electric appliance company, that its sales increased by 60% in just one year during 2012. What is the policy response to such an uncontrolled demand? Probably none.

Large informal segment of the economy escapes from national laws and regulations. Due to unrecorded nature of the informal economy, it is not covered in official statistics. As a result, most of the official economic indicators present a dismal position. There is a need to document the informal economy.

Besides huge debt servicing, loss-making State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are consuming large sums of budgetary resources, which constitute a drag on the public finances as well as on economic growth. Losses of SOEs are mainly due to corruption, inefficiencies, over staffing, and incompetent staff. Government has been providing resources to SOEs to ensure that these enterprises keep running. However, no effective effort is made by SOEs to improve their productivities, efficiencies, etc., to make themselves viable on sustainable basis. Consequently, each year a huge sum is used by the government for the survival of SOEs.

The ill planned tax reforms have failed to deliver the desired results. Tax reforms are introduced in an ad hoc manner, which lack commitment to take hard decision. Frequent introduction of withholding tax itself speaks of lack of government's competence or will to directly collect the taxes. It is hard to imagine why exemptions to certain activities are given in the tax system without any public debate. Why most of the services sector and businesses remain outside the tax net? Why the agricultural income tax is not collected by the Centre like income tax on other sectors? Why the formal sector industries do not fully pay the sales taxes they collect on behalf of the government from consumers? Why amnesty schemes are introduced by every other government with a clear understanding that tax avoiders and evaders will again indulge into such practices? Is this the acceptance of our failure? Answers and solutions to these questions can substantially increase the tax base.

Many of the problems being faced by the economy are due to weak regulatory system. In turn, the lax enforcement of laws and regulations is due to weak institutional capacity. This can be seen especially when it comes to the application of tax laws and competition law. In case of taxes, people evade and avoid taxes with connivance of tax officials and loopholes in the system. Inapplicability of competition law facilitates sellers in general, to not only cheat on price, but on quality as well.

Given its deep rooted structural problems, Pakistan needs to introduce economic reforms. It should introduce strategically planned reforms without haste. While introducing reforms, the government must keep in front social implications of reforms such as unemployment, environmental degradation, and economic dislocation. Reforms should also be designed in such a manner that they do not create any disparity between the provinces. All of this requires a strong political will and consensus between federal and provincial governments.

Introduce structural reforms in the areas of trade, SOEs, and business climate, which in turn will encourage higher investment. Restructuring and privatization of SOEs should aim to ultimately help restore fiscal stability as well as boosting investor confidence in Pakistan's future economic prospects and opportunities, leading to higher growth and job creation. In the area of trade, remove bias in policies against exports, remove commodity concentration, diversify export markets and improve international competitiveness of exports. This will enlarge our export share in global and regional markets.

Business environment should be made friendlier by simplifying start-up procedures, internationalization of companies, education of entrepreneurs, reducing administrative burden, and introducing reward of excellence for promoting entrepreneurship.

Urgent policy actions are needed to place Pakistan on a higher and inclusive growth path including: (i) strengthen public finances through revenue mobilization, cuts in wasteful and low-priority expenditure, and a strengthened fiscal decentralization framework; (ii) reform the energy sector to remove power deficit and untargeted subsidies, (iii) reduce government's involvement in the economy; (iv) implement financial policies to reduce inflation, protect the external position, and safeguard the stability of the financial sector; (v) remove imperfections in the market by strengthening competition law and its enforcement; (vi) remove unnecessary controls so as resources are reallocated in desired direction; and (vii) remove policy bias against the private sector, non-agriculture sectors, and non-textile sectors. An important structural change would be to make the economy less dependent on foreign assistance for sustaining growth. This may take time, but the process must begin now. In this regard, measures should be introduced to induce more savings by all agents of the economy.

Private sector is the engine of economic growth in any economy. Unfortunately, most of the economic policies, especially financial, are biased against the private sector. Consequently, this sector has failed to make desired contributions in the economy. The private sector should be allowed to play the leading role in all economic activities; of course, within a well-functioning regulatory environment. The govern-ment's primary role should be limited to provide social and physical infrastructures, and social protection to poor.

The writer is an HEC Foreign Professor and presently on the faculty of NUST Business School, Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Col Ehsan Mehmood Khan

“A federation is a union comprised of a number of partially self-governing states (or provinces) united by a central (“federal”) government,” notes Zhenis Kembayev in Legal Aspects of the Regional Integration Processes in the Post-Soviet Area (Springer 2009, 17). Pakistan is a federation from conceptual and constitutional points of view. The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan is built around a federal system, which is in vogue in better parts of the world. Part III of the constitution gives out complete structure of the federation. The federation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan comprises The Punjab, The Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) has a special azad status awaiting solution in accordance with the UN resolutions calling for plebiscite, which has not yet been held due to the hard Indian stance. India has illegally occupied a sizeable part of Kashmir, the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), for last over six and a half decade.

There are numerous colours of the federation of Pakistan such as the provinces, regions, civil society and political parties. Media is yet another beautiful colour. However, the core colour of Pakistan, like any other country, is the populace, around which everything is knited ranging from security to economy and politics to governance. Besides, there are government institutions among the bright colours of the country. Pakistan Army is one of them. It is a prime security institution of the country, with special mention in the constitution as regards its role and functions. Chapter II of the Constitution entitled 'Armed Forces' delineates command, oath and functions of the armed forces.

Conceptually speaking, national security comprises two important segments: state security and human security. Pakistan Army, with other armed services of the country, is the prime institution for defence against external aggression, certainly with full backing of the nation. This is the role played by the army to take care of the state security segment of the national defence. It is defending thousands of kilometres of borders in pursuance of its role. Pakistan Army is also part of the UN Peacekeeping forces since 1960s. In this role, it has been deployed (and a better part of it is still deployed) across the globe in various conflict-ridden countries.

Due to its state security function, it remains to be one of the vital organs of Pakistan, and is nothing less than a string of the federation. Inter alia, Article 39 of the constitution entitled 'Participation of people in Armed Forces' notes: “The State shall enable people from all parts of Pakistan to participate in the Armed Forces of Pakistan.” This article is being practically applied as Pakistan Army represents the Federation in true sense of the word. In first place, it is a national army comprising people from all provinces and regions of Pakistan. Pakistan Army's officers corps and soldiers’ cadre is made up of the Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi, Balochi, Brahvi, Seraiki, Qabaili, Kashmiri, Gilgiti, Balti, Chitrali and all other ethno-linguistic communities, even if missed out a mention herein. All of them have their own soldierly characteristics and a unique kind of love for the country.

Among others, massive recruitment of the Baloch youth in Pakistan Army is a very healthy trend. On 12 December 2013, during a soldiers' passing out ceremony in the Training Centre of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) Corps located at Quetta along with Dr Abdul Malik, the Chief of Minister Balochistan, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif said that 20,000 Baloch have joined the ranks of Pakistan Army as soldiers since 2010. He went on to say: “This overwhelming willingness of the Baloch youth to join Pak Army exhibits their unflinching love for Pakistan and genuine concern with its defence.” This is in indeed awe-inspiring. In addition to these soldiers, hundreds of Baloch are serving Pakistan Army as officers. Many people know that Pakistan Army's structure symbolizes Pakistan's federational structure. It is exhibited well from its regiments named after the regions and provinces of Pakistan to include the Punjab Regiment, the Baloch Regiment, the Frontier Force Regiment, the Sindh Regiment, the Azad Kashmir (AK) Regiment and the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) Regiment. It may be interesting for some to know that the Baloch Regiment is the second oldest regiment after the Punjab Regiment. Not that the soldiers hailing from only these provinces or regions join these regiments, but it is always a rainbow combination in all regiments. However, the names of these regiments show the primary colours of federation i.e. the federating units. It is indeed true to say that Army is not a profession but a way of life. The officers and soldiers of Pakistan Army think as the member of the institution and the defenders of the motherland, and not through the prism of provincialism, ethnicity, religion or sect. It is another case that all tribes, ethnicities, languages, provinces, religions and sects are respected and regarded on equal. This too deserves a mention that Pakistan Army has representation from all religious and sectarian communities. Certainly, being a country with 97 % Muslim population, the bulk of officers and soldiers of Pakistan Army are Muslim. However, other religious communities are also represented and respected. There have been Christian and Pasri officers who rose quite high in the ladder of career advancement. Some of them are still serving. There is representation from Hindu and Sikh community, too, in the officers' corps and a number of Christian soldiers are also serving in the army. The even more satisfying feature is that all religio-sectarian communities have liberty to pursue the rituals and morals of their faith and beliefs without any coercion or compulsion in line with the true Islamic teachings and the ideals of the Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Apart from its security functions, Pakistan Army is also committed to playing a role in the realm of human security in all regions and provinces. Commitment in combating militancy and terrorism is but one such example, a role in which it has gone beyond the limits of national expectations and sacrificed thousands of lives. Besides, it is playing a formative part in the sphere of education across the country. Some 133,416 students are studying in the Army Public Schools and Colleges, who are the children of army personnel as well as civilians. Besides, 7,831 teachers are employed in these schools and colleges, which is another unique contribution in the realm of human security. A number of national highways connecting all parts and provinces of the federation have also been constructed by Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO). Pakistan Army has remarkably contributed to disaster management. In this role, it remains busy round the clock from rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities at Attabad Lake in Gilgit-Baltistan to earthquake relief in Awaran district of Balochistan. The role of Pakistan Army towards human security in Pakistan will be covered in more details in some article subsequently.

In sum, Pakistan Army is playing a constructive and transformative role across both domains of national security i.e. the state security and human security, across the country, and is representative of all federating units of Pakistan in keeping with Article 39 of the Constitution. Thus, Pakistan Army can be regarded as a true string of the federation, which links people from all areas both physically and conceptually.

The writer is a PhD (Peace and Conflict Studies) scholar, author of Human Security of Pakistan (published 2013) and co-author of Kashmir: Looking Beyond the Peril, being published shortly.

Written By: Shahid Ali Khan Baloch

Balochistan is always projected as an area having many problems. For the last decade or so it has turned into a playing field of different regional and global powers. Intelligence agencies of different countries have been using politically and ideologically half-baked, directionless and unemployed Baloch youth for their vested geo-political interests. The Baloch youth, acting under catchy slogans, are used as a fuel in a battle to control major geographical choke points, resource-rich areas and their major possible routes. In addition to logistic and financial help of the foreign actors, the moral and political assistance from few media elements, civil society activists and certain political parties, have placed these foreign funded separatists at a much advantageous position as they have managed to divert public opinion in their favour despite their crimes against national security and common people in Balochistan. These armed groups have mainly focused on soft targets in Baloch-dominated areas to remain alive in news headlines and create problems in Balochistan. Firstly, they started targeting non-Baloch teachers, doctors, engineers and labourers. But when it became harder for them to find anymore such soft target, they switched to Baloch political workers, teachers, doctors and tribal elders. They acted on a simple formula; whoever is not following your political line, or has some personal or tribal clash with you, just go and target him. Once he is targeted, declare him an ISI Agent and claim responsibility of his killing by using a foreign-gifted satellite phone and harass his family and friends. Till 2008, these separatists received a considerable attention from a segment of Baloch political workers, civil society and common masses. But once they started targeting innocent Baloch people because they had faith in Federation of Pakistan or they had tribal or individual differences with these terrorists, the people of Balochistan started to shed away shadows of fear and dared to speak against them in public. With the passage of time the victims of these foreign–funded terrorism started to get united and mobilised. Now, by this time, the people are strong enough to force these elements to vacate certain areas including Quetta, Mastung, Kalat, Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Khuzdar.

At present, one can safely claim that only pro-federation majority is the only stakeholders in Balochistan issue. Anti-state camp is represented by Hairbiyaar Marri, Brahamdagh Bugti, Dr. Allah Nazar and Javed Mengal. While pro-state camp is led by Sarfraz Bugti, Shafique Mengal and Siraj Raisani. The cause of concern here is to unfold the fact that our so-called independent media, civil society and political parties, following the traditional rhetoric are denying to accept existence of the important pro-Pakistan stakeholders in Balochistan. It is about time that they should also change their prejudiced lenses and should acknowledge the role, contribution and importance of these pro-federation Baloch figures fighting disgruntled elements in Balochistan. Irony of fact is that they are targeted by anti-state elements and our so-called independent media and vibrant civil society, because they are pro-Pakistan. In today's media activism, one hardly finds representation of the community which is torch-bearer of resistance against those who are resisting writ of the state in Balochistan. In the most cases, we see either nationalists or least bothered federalists speaking their brand of Balochistan conflict.

Amid this whole scenario, if one wants to move towards a serious and genuine conflict analysis in Balochistan, he needs to be mindful of the fact that it is not Balochistan of 1960s and 1970s when just few tribal nawabs (chieftains) were the only stakeholders. A major difference between present situation and past movements is the active role of youth. In majority of cases, small groups of youth operate independently under a loose command. In such a situation, they get influenced by petty local considerations and end up in using this foreign-funded political infrastructure to settle their non-political individual issues. Due to leadership role of youngsters at this level, a clear manifestation of reactionary and immature decision-making has been noticed in militant groups. Killing of innocent people including teachers and doctors, destroying electricity polls and targeting relief activities during recent Awaran earthquake are examples of the immature decision-making. Such policies on one hand have resulted in complete isolation of militants and on other hand have paved the way for emergence of a strong reaction against these terrorists from within the Baloch society. If we analyse the main targets of these armed groups during past three four years, it will become evident that in more than 70% cases, they have targeted people associated with Sarfaraz Bugti, Shafique Mengal or Siraj Raisani. So, this situation boils down to a point that if we speak of major stakeholders of present conflict within boundries of Pakistan, these are three, namely: Pakistani Government, Baloch militants and their pro-state Baloch opponents in Balochistan. So, if there is any attempt of reconciliation excluding these pro-state activists, it will prove ephemeral and will burst into pieces like a bubble and may lead to law and order situation in the province. Once weaken, these pro-federation elements will be easily targeted by the militants.

So, the need of the hour and writing on the wall requires us to open our minds and eyes to see the changing political circumstances in Balochistan and acknowledge and appreciate role of the new major stakeholders in the issue. Our national security and ground realities demand to re-think, re-visit, and re-formulate our understanding of Balochistan conflict by keeping in mind these new dynamics for a sustainable conflict-resolution. It is need of the hour to give due respect and consideration to all forces in Balochistan to strike a pragmatic balance among different stakeholders. Just holding talks with foreign-funded elements and pushing in isolation to patriot factions in Balochistan will not serve the purpose and will turn the things from bad to worse. It will simply mean that we have given our national fate, destiny and pride in hands of those who, in collusion with their foreign masters, want to destabilise Pakistan. If such mindset persists and continues to flourish, God forbid there may be times when no one from Balochistan dares to take name of Pakistan, let alone standing against its enemies. Today, the people of Balochistan denounce these militant groups and stand united to fight them. The people of Balochistan only deserve due share in the power structure of the federation. They must be fully supported to live in peace and harmony, and continue participating in prosperity and well-being of Pakistan.


Written By: Tughral Yamin

As we spill into the year 2014, the US departure from Afghanistan draws inexorably towards an end, the fate of our Western neighbour looks increasingly uncertain. There is a dreadful feeling that any chaos that may take place in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the foreign forces would have a direct impact on Pakistan in the shape of a fresh influx of refugees that would severely burden an already weak economy. One can understand the uneasiness about the political and military vacuum created once the NATO and ISAF are de-inducted and the forces that may fill this void. There is another sinister corollary to the emerging Afghan conundrum i.e. things are not quiet on the Eastern Front. Fire is being exchanged along the Line of Control (LOC) and there has been artillery shelling along the Working Boundary. There seems to be a method to the madness. If analysed critically three military strands seem to be emerging from the Indian policy to keep Pakistan under pressure as it struggles to politically and militarily engage with the Pakistani Taliban and prepares to meet the challenge that would be created with the emergence of fragile or fragmented Afghanistan.

The first element of this policy is an extremely aggressive stance towards Pakistan. Beginning this year there have been a spate of ceasefire violations along the LOC. The informal ceasefire that has held since 2003 hasn't actually collapsed but has been severely shaken. Things have not only begin to heat up on the LOC, the Indian occupation forces have increased their activity to eliminate alleged infiltrators in Keran Sector and have blatantly lobbed artillery shells into the villages next to the Working Boundary. To ratchet up the tactics of coercion, a flurry of hostile statements have emanated from the political and military leaderships of India blaming Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency for provocations leading to exchange of fire and deaths of soldiers and civilians. Although the prime ministers of the two countries having met on the sidelines of the annual September meeting of the UN General Assembly had agreed to resolve the issue of cease fire violations through a meeting of the DGsMO (the meeting that took place on December 24, 2013), Mr Manmohan Singh didn't let go of any opportunity to rail against Pakistan. From the podium of the UN General Assembly he labelled Pakistan as the 'epicentre of terrorism' and on his plane journey back from Beijing he blamed Pakistan Army for the LOC violations. All this is in stark contrast to Mr Nawaz Sharif genuine efforts to build up the process of peace. Unfortunately for all their war mongering the Indians got a sympathetic ear from the international audiences, while Pakistan received no bouquets for its peace initiatives.

The second element of this policy is to mend fences with China. On October 23, India and China signed a border defence co-operation agreement. This was a remarkable come down from the nasty border spat that had taken place earlier this year, when the Indians had blamed the Chinese border guards for penetrating 20 kilometres into the Doulat Beg Oldi Sector and establishing a border post there. Instead of bullying the Chinese, the Indians had sent their bellicose foreign minister Salman Khursheed to patch things up. This time it was their gentle and soft spoken Prime Minister himself talking of peace with the Chinese leadership. In a sentiment reminiscent of the heady early days of the Non Aligned Movement, when Nehru raised the slogan of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai, the Indian prime minister talked of the two ancient civilisations of China and India resolving their differences through dialogue. It was in the same vein that the agreement to maintain border “peace, tranquillity and stability” was signed and sealed. The deal also sought to improve communication between the two armies. Although the disagreement over the border demarcation of several Himalayan border areas would remain an unresolved issue, this visit of the Indian prime minister to meet the new Chinese leadership is seen as a sign of the warming of the relationship between the two countries and of course, reason for more trade. China is already one of India's top trading partners.

The third part of this strategy is to expand defence relations with Russia. This was most visible during the 14th Indo-Russian summit held in Moscow, where the prime ministers of Russia and India met on October 21, 2013. In a joint statement after the meeting the Indo-Russian defence ties were described as “unmatched by any other relationship.” It was stressed that it formed the “crucial element of the strategic partnership.” While Russia is the key defence partner involved in joint design, development and production of key defence platforms, both countries want enhanced cooperation in the key areas of rocket, missile and naval technologies. Ahead of the summit, India and Russia had agreed to extend indefinitely their 15-year-old partnership for producing the Brahmos supersonic anti-ship missile and to develop a still more potent hypersonic version of the missile. The joint statement welcomed the completion of trials of the Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov) aircraft carrier, the delivery this year of the Trikant frigate, the sixth stealth frigate that Russia has built for the Indian Navy, as well as licensed production of the Su-30MKI fighter plane and T-90S tanks. The two sides also noted progress in the construction of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft. Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defence industry, said that there were plans for further cooperation in aviation technologies and shipbuilding with Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony during his visit to Russia for the commissioning of the refurbished aircraft carrier and an annual meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation. The Russians have also drawn up comprehensive proposals offering the Indians helicopters and aircraft, and construction of new surface warships and submarines. India and Russia have already agreed to enhance cooperation in space technologies. A new working group for Glonass (Russia's equivalent of the US Global Positioning System) had been set up and India has been offered to partner Russia in this programme and to set up two Glonass ground control stations in India. India is the only country to which Russia has agreed to give access to Glonass military-grade signals, which will enable the Indian military to greatly improve the accuracy of its land-, sea-, air and space-launched weapon systems.

Meanwhile in Rajasthan's Mahajan Field Firing Ranges (MFFR) Russian and Indian mechanised and Special Forces (SF) carried out joint drills from October 18 to 26. The purpose of the military exercise was to deal with evolving scenario in the immediate neighbourhood i.e. Afghanistan. After the manoeuvres, the Commander of the Indian 6th Independent Armoured Brigade and the Chief of Staff of the 36th Army addressed a joint conference at Gajner, Bikaner and gave out salient details. Titled Indira-3, the exercise involved the use of tanks, Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs), helicopters and SF. The SF practiced raids similar to the one that got Osama bin Laden. According to reports, the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan has reignited concerns of the two allies, who had joined forces against the Taliban in the past. In the decisive phase of the exercise, the two armies concentrated on liquidating an imaginary rebel leader, securing their own lines of communication and destroying the whole stronghold for which a whole mock town had been created inside the MFFR. Observers noted that the Indians were using Russian tanks and guns. Pakistan does not want war with any country in the region, much less with India, but the developments that are taking place in the region must not be ignored and necessary safeguards taken.

The writer is a retired Brigadier and PhD. Presently he is Associate Dean Centre of International Peace & Stability (CIPS) at the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Iran-Afghanistan-India TRIANGLE Is an ‘Entente Cordiale’ Possible?

Published in Hilal English Jan 2014

Written By: Didier Chaudet

Recent events could give the feelings that some of the Pakistan's neighbours are getting closer to each other, maybe in a way that could be detrimental for Islamabad's interests. Everybody has in mind, of course, the recent President Karzai's visits to Tehran and Dehli. In Iran he has claimed that a “long-term partnership” would be signed between the two countries. As for India, it hosted Mr Karzai for the fifth time in the last three years; proof enough of a strong relationship. During President Karzai's trip, New Delhi officially stated that the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the US and Afghanistan should “reflect the concerns of India as well as Iran.” Such visits and diplomatic exchanges explain the reaction of the adviser to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, reminding that Pakistan does not oppose any assistance given to Afghanistan, and that “Iran and India should refrain from supporting a particular group in the war-torn country.” But are these trips by President Karzai enough to talk about a true diplomatic triangle between those three states? A true 'Entente Cordiale', the way it existed between the French, the British and the Russians before 1914 with Germany as its target. Likewise, a diplomatic triangle between New Delhi, Tehran and Kabul could only emerge as a force accusing Pakistan of all regional problems related to their own security issues.

It is clear that there are rather good bilateral relations between Tehran and Kabul, Kabul and New Delhi, and Tehran and New Delhi. It cannot be denied that Iran has been positive for Afghanistan's development since the fall of the Taliban. Like Pakistan, it had to deal with the bulk of the Afghan refugees since 1980s; drug trafficking and security-related issues coming from Afghanistan have also been a long-term concern for Tehran during this period. It explains why Iran invested so much in Afghanistan after 2001. Between 2001 and 2009, no less than US $600 million have been given by Iran as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan; a pretty generous support for a state with its own economic difficulties. Iranians have invested in Afghanistan, particularly in Herat, Nimruz and Farah. Until 2008, in Western Afghanistan alone, it had invested no less than US $500 million. It is the second largest trade partner for Kabul, after Pakistan. Clearly, without Iran, Afghanistan would have much more difficulties to rebuild itself. India and Afghanistan have a history of good relations, which unfortunately were not always linked to a desire for stability and peace in South Asia. It was partly based on a common hostility towards Pakistan. Indeed, Kabul was the only capital contesting the right for Pakistan to be part of the UN after its creation, and it fomented revolts and Pashtun separatism before the Soviet invasion, claiming the right to create 'Pashtunistan' that would make the Durand Line nullified.

After 2001, India has been particularly helpful to help Afghanistan rebuild itself. Overall, the Indians have provided more than US $2 billion in aid to Kabul. The last example of Indian investments is the construction of the new Parliament building, the Indian government is financing for the 2015 Afghan legislative elections (US $178 million, on an 84-acre plot). Of course, such generosity is not without motives linked to Indian interests. Indian activities in Afghanistan show clearly, to any independent analyst, that New Delhi is acting with her competition with Pakistan in mind. As for Iran, it is a very important partner for India. Through the Islamic Republic, New Delhi can have access to Afghan and Central Asian markets. Indeed in 2008 the Indians gave to Afghanistan an access to the sea through the Chabahar port after constructing a 218-kilometre road from Delaram (western Afghanistan) to Zaranj (Iranian border). And it seems eager to develop a deep-sea gas pipeline with Iran rather than supporting a pipeline on the land passing through Pakistan, that could be a factor of peace, and much less expensive, but that could make it dependent on its South Asian western neighbour.

But these good bilateral relations do not make an 'Entente Cordiale'. As the time of a war between rigid alliances, the said war being warm or cold, is ancient history. Of course, we do not live in a time when a true international community works for the common good of all. We are far away from such a world. But the 'Cold War mentality' is for sure not a good way to understand the world anymore. Each state is pursuing its own interests and is reacting differently towards threats, as these can be of varying importance from one country to the other.

Indeed, India, Iran, and Afghanistan are getting along to some extent. But there is no coordination between them to create any kind of triangular alliance. Already in the 1990s, when India, Russia, Iran, and the Northern Alliance had a common enemy i.e. the Taliban, they could not create a true alliance against the Afghan Emirate. They had, like the Kabul-Tehran-New Delhi 'triangle' today, rather good bilateral relations. But there has never been, at any point, a systematic cooperation against the Taliban. Even during the time when peace in Central Asia was disturbed by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which was very close to Mullah Omar and Al Qaeda (1999-2001), even after Indian Airlines Flight 814 was hijacked (24 December 1999 – 1 January 2000) by militants who found refuge in Afghanistan, there has been no attempt to create a true alliance against the Taliban.

Only Iran has been truly active, much more efficient than Russia or India to help the Northern Alliance. This Iranian efficiency and the inability of the three states to create a true alliance against the Taliban at the time came from the same cause: the fact that they did not see the Afghan Emirate as a threat. India and Russia have considered themselves as great powers for some time. But still, they are not immediate neighbours to Afghanistan, and they have other, more immediate interests and issues to take care of. The situation was, and still is, different for Iran: Part of the Taliban have shown a great hatred against Shi'a Islam and Tehran. The followers of Mullah Omar gave shelter to Iranian Sunni Baloch and Turkmens in open revolt against their state. The killings perpetrated against the Hazara community, who are Shi’a Muslims, and even more against Iranian diplomats during the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif by the Taliban in August 1998, had made of the Afghan Emirate, an important threat for Iran.

In comparison, Central Asians have sometimes accused the Russians to use the fear of the Taliban as a way to coerce the 'near abroad' into submission, and India has been much too obsessed by China and Pakistan to see Afghanistan as an important issue. Still today, the positions of the three states towards the Taliban are not the same: Iran stays very cautious, but has created diplomatic links with the Taliban, which have made Karzai's government uncomfortable, to say the least. As for India, it focuses on the Taliban and on the Afghan issue mostly, again with Pakistan in mind, rather than to focus on Afghanistan alone.

Indeed, Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul would have difficulties to create any kind of alliance because of other diplomatic relationships contradicting a strict convergence of views at diplomatic level. It is particularly linked to the relationship each of these capitals have with the US. India has tried to manage keeping a rather good relationship with Iran, but had sometimes to submit to American pressure, proving to the Islamic Republic that New Delhi will definitely not be a 'all-weather' friend. India has also developed very strong links with Israel after the Cold War, and even more so during last decade. Since 2007, Israel has surpassed France as the second military supplier to the South Asian giant, only behind Russia. Hence, India has developed a close diplomatic relationship with Iran's two worst enemies. It will not stop Iran and New Delhi to do business together, and to converge on some subjects. But such a situation makes any real strategic alliance unrealistic.

Moreover, Afghanistan has a complex relationship with the US. There can be tensions at times, but one should not mistake those temporary tensions with constant issues. Kabul has shown in the discussions related to the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that it could see the American/NATO presence as a way to “protect” itself against its neighbours, i.e. Pakistan and Iran. Such attitude is dangerous for regional stability; it proves that the diplomatic gap between Iranian and Afghan interests is too deep when it comes to Western presence in the region.

As the US has seen the Iranian regime as an enemy since 1979, and as tensions will probably be there even if we are living now a beginning and very limited “détente” moment between Tehran and the Americans, the Iranians could only feel comfortable with neighbours on its east free of Western military presence, and hence opposed the BSA. But this agreement is directly linked to the Western help, the Afghan state should get after 2014. So whatever happens, 2015 will be a time when foreign troops, even in a limited number, will still be in Afghanistan, making complete friendship between Iran and Afghanistan difficult. Last but not the least, even Afghanistan and India cannot totally move along on all important issues. The scars left by NATO presence in Afghanistan has made anti-Americanism a reality in part of the Afghan population, especially because of the night raids on Afghan villages, and the collateral damages linked to some American actions. If India will continue to have stronger relations with the West for its own benefit, the Afghan position towards the India will stay ambiguous. And if India's foreign policy is any indication now, even if officially India will defend the right for Kabul to have some level of independence from the West, it may not be able to go beyond those supportive words because of her interests. Indeed, despite their discourses, Indian diplomats can only wish for an American presence as long as possible in Afghanistan because they do not have the means to fill America's shoes to help stabilize the country. Hence, Afghanistan and India will not be able to see eye to eye on this important subject.

In fact, India, Iran, and Afghanistan do not have even the same vision about influence of Pakistan in Afghanistan. Indian analysts and diplomats are eager to present Islamabad as the source of all evils in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But actually, there are some who are skeptical about Indian diplomacy towards Afghanistan in India itself. It has been expressed very clearly by Shekar Gupta from the Indian Express, to “leave Af to Pak” as the alternative would be to continue a “Cold War” against Pakistan in Afghanistan that could be costly for India. This explains why India has recently been averse to the idea to give to Karzai, the lethal weapons he has been asking for, during his last visit. Still Indian voices continue to use their help to Afghanistan as a way to pressurize Pakistan, something Iran cannot condone. Indeed, Iranian diplomats have been very critical of Islamabad at times. But there is no faction in the Iranian political/diplomatic spectrum with a true and strong hostility against Pakistan, the way there can be in India. There is not a “pro-Pakistan” faction in Tehran, but there is no “anti-Pakistan” lobby either. At the end of the 1990s, Iran had made it clear to Pakistan that if there were a war between Iran and the Taliban, Tehran would consider Islamabad to be the force responsible behind the Afghan Emirate. But after this period, Iran has always seen Islamabad as a neighbour it could talk to. It unofficially recognized in the 1990s that Pakistan could have some level of influence on Afghanistan, as long as it would not cause trouble for the interests of Iran.

Traditionally, for the last 30 years, Iran has been influential mostly in Western Afghanistan, as a way to protect Iranian territory, nothing more. The Islamic Republic wants peace in her East as its main concern comes from tensions at its West (Saudi Arabia, the US and its allies). It also needs Pakistani cooperation to protect its territory against Sunni jihadists active mostly in Sistan-Balochistan. Iranians occasionally criticize Pakistan for not doing “enough” in that regard from their point of view. But they do remember that this is with Pakistan's help that they have been able to neutralize the extremist “Jundallah” movement, and that to secure Iranian Balochistan, it will need some level of cooperation with its neighbour. Last, but not the least, even if numerous political actors in Afghanistan can be easily seduced by the anti-Pakistani rhetoric they can hear from some Indians, the true men of state will be unable to have an ideological position against Pakistan. Pakistani influence on Afghan economics and security, the very fact that president Zardari and PM Sharif's governments are eager to be part of Afghan stability and, the human link that exists between the Pashtun population of the two countries, makes hostility against Islamabad a suicidal choice for Kabul.

Hence there is no true triangle against Islamabad. In fact, a careful foreign policy towards Iran would make sure that no true opposition to Pakistani interests appear in the near future. Islamabad will have to follow, with continued interests, the political views in Iran and New Delhi's diplomatic choices towards Kabul. But it seems that Indians and Afghans have understood that peace in Afghanistan will be impossible without Pakistan. Hence a classical, realist and reactive foreign policy from Pakistan will be enough to make sure that, after 2014, Afghanistan, and then India, accept a solution respecting complete South Asia's interests for stability and economic development.

The writer is a Visiting Research Fellow at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). He is in charge of the Program on Iran and South Asia at IPSE (Institute for Prospective and Security in Europe). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Ahmed Quraishi

By taking itself too seriously on the question of its claim to a permanent Security Council seat, it appears that India has set itself up for disappointment (amounting embarrass-ment) at the international level. The United Nations (UN) reform process should have been about equality, consensus and peace. Instead, it is becoming a narrow matter of national pride, at least in India's case since the other three nations claiming permanent membership status – Japan, Brazil and Germany – have not yet turned this issue into a test for national pride the way India is apparently doing. It is clear by now that New Delhi's claim to a berth with the veto-wielding world powers at the UN does not enjoy majority support within the international community. There are serious reservations on India's past record in maintaining peace in the region, and on its economic and military ability to ensure peace beyond the region.

In New Delhi, Indian diplomats, politicians and the media are convinced that their country has the strongest case for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). On social media, Indian citizens can be seen grouching in unison, 'Why is India not sitting with the P5, or the 'Permanent Five' – the United States, Russia, Britain, China, and France – on the UNSC?' India makes its case aggressively and does not miss any opportunity. Professional and trade delegations going abroad are briefed in advance; even student groups are coached to say the right things in front of a foreign audience. Indian commentators and social media activists appear as if reading from the same talking-points memo, probably written inside one of the dusty rooms of the archaic building of the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

But here is an irony: If India is qualified, well-backed by world powers, and has the strongest case, how come it failed to get elected to a non-permanent seat for nineteen consecutive years, from 1991 to 2010? For these years, most member states of the UN did not deem India fit for a rotational, two-year term on the Security Council. The irony does not end here. Despite years in pushing its case for recognition as a world power, India's record as a rotational non-permanent member barely beats that of Pakistan, a country five times smaller than India. Islamabad is not even offering itself as a contender for a permanent seat. Pakistan has been elected five times to the Security Council and the 2011-2013 term was the sixth. India pulled its seventh term a year earlier, in 2010-2012.

Compared to India's seven stints as a non-permanent member, Japan and Brazil were elected for nine terms each (three for Germany). What this shows is that a relatively smaller country like Pakistan can garner enough support within the United Nations member countries to sit on the Security Council and that this should not automatically translate into a claim to the permanent seat. The fact is that India's case for a permanent seat at the UNSC is not as strong as it seems. In fact, it could be the weakest case within the G4, the grouping created by Japan, Germany, India and Brazil to support each other's bid for a permanent seat. There is no denying that the Security Council needs reform to reflect the balance of power in today's world. The P5 need help in maintaining and enforcing peace worldwide. But the sales pitch of the G4, India included, is one that seeks to perpetuate the elitism that surrounds the P5 status and prolong the denial of equitable representation to important parts of the world, especially to Africa.

In fact, nothing illustrates how India and the G4 are on the wrong side of history than the success that Pakistan and Italy have met with their counter lobbying group, known as Uniting for Consensus, or UfC. The group includes Italy, Pakistan, Argentina, Indonesia, Canada, Iran, South Korea, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Spain, and Mexico. When Italy called for a meeting of UfC in Rome in May 2011, a staggering 120 member states of the UN, out of 193, attended.

So, India's bid for veto power on important global decisions at the UN is a long way coming. But even if it comes up for a vote, is India qualified to discharge the responsibilities of maintaining international peace and security? India had no case to permanent Security Council membership in 1945 when the Charter of United Nations was drafted by winning powers in World War II. India was a British colony then. After independence in 1947, India had little in terms of economic and military power to play any role in maintaining world peace. So, it is understandable why none of the WWII victorious powers invited India to the Security Council simply based on India's large geographic size and population.

Even today, if India were to become a part of an expanded UNSC along with Brazil, Germany and Japan, New Delhi would still be among the poorest permanent members of the Council with the lowest human development indicators, and the lowest ability to project economic or military power and influence on the world stage as P5 countries often have to do in pursuit of enforcing the decisions of the world body. If India gets past these questions, it has to answer tough questions about how it has conducted its foreign policy and whether that helped maintain peace and security in its region.

India fails this test. India introduced proxy warfare to South Asia in 1950, merely three years after its decolonization from Britain. It used the wild regions of Afghanistan to mount separatist insurgencies inside Pakistan's western provinces throughout the Cold War. Pakistan, however, never posed any level of threat to India.

In 1974, India introduced nuclear weapons to South Asia, again without provocation from anyone and without any demonstrable fatal threat from any country that could not have been neutralized through conventional means. India continues to have serious border disputes with almost every neighbour. It has gone to war or engaged in some form of armed conflict with most of its neighbours. Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh have all accused India at various times of meddling in those countries' internal affairs through proxy and covert action.

Probably nothing illustrates more the worrying aspects of Indian foreign policy than the 1971 Indian invasion of Pakistan and the subsequent war that ended with India helping break up Pakistan and create Bangladesh. In this international incident, New Delhi created and trained a proxy terror militia on its soil for at least two years with the mission to operate in Pakistan. It unleashed this terror militia when a strategic opportunity presented itself after a chaotic Pakistani election that led to violence and offered India a window to invade. So, basically, Pakistan was invaded by India in the middle of a democratic exercise in Pakistan that went violent, as elections often do in developing countries.

Far from solving world problems at the UNSC, India itself could come up as an agenda item in the Council. The country's entire northeast is wracked by dozens of violent insurgencies that seek independence for those regions from the Indian state. In August 2012, the situation got out of control when ethnic tensions erupted across several Indian cities resulting in a mass exodus. The Time magazine reported the incident with a well justified title, 'India's Northeast: How a Troubled Region May Be a Global Flashpoint.'

The case of Indian Deputy Consul General in New York city, Devyani Khobragade, and the Indian over-reaction to what is a clear case of visa fraud and maid abuse, has forced even the most India-friendly elements in the American establishment to pause and re-think. The episode has given many observers worldwide a chance to watch the Indian policy volatility up close. One of those watchers is Jeremy Carl, a research fellow at Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In an opinion piece for CNN, Carl writes that the case of the diplomat “shines an unflattering light on several elements of India's diplomacy and its politics of privilege.” He concludes: “The intemperate reaction of the Indian government in response shows that, despite its status as an aspiring great power, India still frequently lacks the maturity on the world stage to behave like one.”

We in Pakistan have experienced this aspect of Indian diplomacy many times but were often unfairly accused of inflexibility in resolving disputes with India. For example, consider how India occupied an inhospitable mountain peak in our Northern Areas, called Siachen Glacier, in 1984, violating an implicit understanding between the two countries that such areas will be left untouched. Today India loses dozens of soldiers to the cruel weather in what is known as the world's highest battlefield and has forced Pakistan to take countermeasures. The worst part is that a solution to this limited conflict has been negotiated to the last detail by both sides and is ready to be signed since 2006, but there is no logical explanation from India as to why it is delaying a resolution.

Last, there are the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir that India is in violation since 1948 despite solemn commitments to the Council by no less than India's Prime Ministers over a half-century. This is just the tip of the iceberg of issues that render India's race for a permanent seat on the Security Council a matter of concern for some of India's neighbours like Pakistan.

India has a long way to go to demonstrate that it can meet the responsibilities that a permanent seat at the table in the Security Council entails. India can start making amends by changing the way it deals with neighbours, by tempering its sometimes wild foreign policy impulses, and by resolving festering disputes. It is now for India to respond to peace initiatives positively and move away from the path of haughtiness and belligerency.

The writer is a journalist who contributes regularly for print and electronic media and is a senior research fellow at Pakistan Federal Reorganisation Programme. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Brig Dr Muhammad Khan

Extremism and terrorism are the biggest threats to the state of Pakistan. These internal threats have grown over the years and now a stage has reached where this menace is challenging the national integrity and social harmony of Pakistan. Apart from the terrorist activities of the TTP, the growing trends of sectarian divide have emerged as the most pronounced and real challenge for the state and society of Pakistan. Unfortunately, every new day brings yet another and a unique security challenge to the state as well as the people of Pakistan.

In the Holy Qur’aan, (3:103), Allah Almighty clearly ordained the Muslims to, “Hold tight to the Rope of Allah (His covenant that is our allegiance to "La ilaha ill Allah Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah", all together and be not disunited among yourselves.” Elaboration of this directive is found in the Hadith of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who said, “Shall not I inform you of a better act than fasting, alms and prayers? Making peace between one another: Enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.”After having received clear directive from Allah Almighty and his last Prophet (PBUH), there should not be any ambiguity, as to how Muslims should spend their lives. There is no basis of division or any difference in the basic teaching and belief in Islam.

According to a survey of sectarian violence in Pakistan, from 1989 to 2013, in total 2847 incidents, 4652 people have been killed and 9030 people got injured. In 2013 alone, 106 incidents of sectarian violence took place in various parts of Pakistan, which resulted into killing of 467 people and injuring of 753 people. During first quarter of year-2013, Hazara community of Quetta remained on the hit list of opponent extremist groups, certainly based on sectarianism. Besides, there have been sporadic incidents of sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan and other parts of Pakistan. In the past, there have been bomb blasts and suicide attacks on mosques, imam barghas and processions / religious gatherings.

The recent incident of sectarian violence that took place in Raja Bazar, Rawalpindi was unique in a manner that it provoked people not only to harm each other but also to damage public property resulting in millions of rupees losses. Since judicial investigation of the incident is underway, therefore it is premature to say whether it was a planned violent activity or otherwise. However, this was addition in the already list of incidents of sectarian violence happening for many years. This incident was coupled with violence which is a new trend and certainly a very dangerous activity in the twin cities.

The unfortunate incident that took place in Rawalpindi on 10th of Muharram was a signal that there is a potential for such happenings within the society of Pakistan. The real issue, however, is the menace of sectarian violence and its rapid growth rate is fast swallowing the traditional peace and harmony that once existed in the Pakistani society with Shia and Sunny schools of thought living with great concord and respect for each other, and in many cases, even conducting intermarriages. Why that social connection was allowed to erode and subsequently degraded to the current level? Whereas, a class of so-called Muslim clerics (having made various schools of thoughts on the wishes of few to serve their personal motives) is busy in propagating and projecting their own form of Islam. Why the successive governments have allowed these elements to grow to this intolerable level? At the level of Government we can learn from our brother Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, who do not allow any such type of activities on their soil. Even people committing a minor anti-state crime, involved in sectarian divide or drug smuggling, are given exemplary punishments, death penalties in most of the cases. While taking a lead from these countries, should Pakistan tolerate these activities on its soil?

There is a need to carryout re-evaluation of ourselves before blaming external forces for causing the sectarian divide. This is a reality that many political parties have linkages with these religious organizations which in turn act as the vote bank for them. In Pakistan, these sectarian outfits belonging from any school of thoughts are involved in undesired activities. If someone is not directly sponsoring extremism, it indirectly supports militant groups of their own school of thought. At least every sectarian outfit is busy in creating a divide among the people for their own interests. These outfits are rapidly widening the cracks in Pakistani society through motivation or by use of force.

For Muslims, since Allah is one, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is one, Holy Quran is one, then should we stand divided in various religious groupings? These sectarian outfits do not serve any good for Pakistan and Muslims? It is about time that government should put a ban on such activities, causing religious divide and hate speeches against each other. Rather marching through streets and roads, creating security hazards for ourselves, why cannot we perform our religious rituals in mosques centrally?

Even at this belated stage of our history, where we have already lost too much, let us take correct decisions for: a secure, peaceful, socially knitted, economically prosperous and politically stable Pakistan where there is no internal rivalry and no external conspiracy permitted. This can be done through sincere, selfless, devoted and dedicated leadership, which can stand-up at its own feet; without the help of mislead extremist religious forces and without foreign sponsorship. Anything short of this will allow the current state of affairs to continue unabated, risking the very survival of the state.

In one of his Hadith, Prophet (PBUH) said, "Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices; do not hate one another; do not turn away from one another; and do not undercut one another, but be you, O servants of Allah, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he neither oppresses him nor does he fail him, he neither lies to him nor does he hold him in contempt. Piety is right here-and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. The whole of a Muslim for another Muslim is inviolable: his blood, his property, and his honour." (Sahih Muslim)

The Father of Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah has given us a clear motto of: 'Unity, Faith and Discipline'. As a nation, we have to understand that, “United we stand, divided we fall.” It will be easy for our rivals to destroy us if we are split. Since sectarian divide is the worst and most dangerous of all other forms of extremism, therefore, let us discord this menace at all cost for a united and strong Pakistan.

The writer is the Head of International Relations Department at National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Arif Nizami

Media in Pakistan is a success story. It is free, independent and increasingly assertive. It is playing a pivotal role in formulating public opinion and keeping the executive in check. In tandem with a fearlessly independent higher judiciary it has helped in introducing a modicum of accountability in the body politic.

This was not always the case. The present freedom of the proverbial 'Fourth Estate' emanates from two momentous decisions. Before 1988 prior permission was needed from the government to start publishing and printing a newspaper, which was practically next to impossible to come by. Credit goes to the caretaker government formed after the death of General Zia ul Haq in August 1988 for abolishing the draconian 'Press and Publications Ordinance'. Under the new law prior approval from the government was no longer necessary to start a newspaper. This brought about a revolution in the print media. Since then there has been a mushrooming of newspapers and periodicals. Some of them have emerged as quality publications.

However, it must be admitted that a vast majority are fake publications popularly known as dummies. Since no educational qualifications are required for the publisher and editor to start a newspaper, all kinds of elements have entered the fray to further their personal agendas. Perhaps an even more momentous decision with far reaching consequences for freedom of press in the country was the advent of electronic media in the private sector. It all started in 2002 when General Musharraf as President, despite stiff opposition from his media advisors, decided to liberalize the regime for opening private television channels and FM radios.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was established in 2002 to regulate private television channels. The monopoly of state television PTV was broken overnight. Today there are about eighty television channels operating in the country – most of them current affairs’ channels.

In the present environment media is coming under a lot of scrutiny. All kinds of opinions are expressed and debated freely. The downsides of this however are complaints that the media, accountable to no one, has become too powerful. When policy to grant permission for satellite channels in the private sector was being formulated, after initial hesitation, the Musharraf government decided not to put any restriction on cross media ownership. Resultantly most big print media houses own current affairs television channels as well. Some media groups even have entertainment and sports channels. Big business houses have also entered the media market in recent years not only to make money but also to increase their clout with powers that be.

Initially a number of journalists working for newspapers moved to the electronic media. Some of the have become big names as current affairs’ anchors. They draw huge salaries that were unimaginable in newspapers. Musharraf to his peril, soon realized that he was on the receiving end of the power of the genie he had unleashed. Live coverage by the electronic media of the long marches led by the deposed Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry in the 2007 movement for restoration of a free judiciary inexorably mobilized public opinion against the government.

When Musharraf by suspending the Constitution and declaring an emergency on November 3 the same year, tried to put the genie of a free media back in the bottle, he miserably failed. The media and the black coats in their struggle to restore an independent judiciary practically paved the way for return of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif from exile and holding of fair and free elections in February 2008. Today in a relative sense the media is now completely unshackled. However like in the rest of the world, in Pakistan electronic media is on the ascendency while the print media is struggling for survival.

Theoretically PEMRA was set up as an autonomous body to regulate the electronic media. Practically speaking, however, it is the hand maiden of the government. Media owners with their immense clout hardly follow its regulations. For example the law on foreign content is flouted with impunity. There is a proliferation of Indian content on most channels to the extent that Indian films and songs have become household names. Similarly Turkish dramas have become a source of addiction for the general public. Cable operators contrary to PEMRA rules operate as broadcasters by transmitting substandard software.

The electronic media is heavily critiqued for its rampant commercialism. Unfortunately virtually all its programmes are ratings driven. Higher ratings bring more advertisement revenue and vice versa. Hence business interests of the owners usually transcend social responsibilities. Truth and sobriety is the first casualty in this mad race for ratings. The fact that broadcasting license mandates a certain portion of airtime for social issues is often overlooked or, for that matter, never enforced by PEMRA. So far, as the print media is concerned, it is free albeit relatively less sensational. In the past considerable leverage of government sourced advertisements were used as a tool to coerce dissenting newspapers.

Theoretically governments can punish overly critical media through various means at its command. But in an atmosphere pervaded with fiercely independent courts and penchant of the populace for a free media it is no longer feasible to use third degree methods against the media. Self-regulation for the print media was introduced in 2002 through formation of the 'Press Council of Pakistan' headed by a retired High Court judge. But it practically set shop in 2011 when Justice (Retd) Raja Shafqat Abbasi was appointed as its current chairman and media practitioners including the owners and working journalists as its members.

The Council since its inception has hardly made any impact on improving the print media environment. Its mandate is to address public complaints against the media and to “revise, update, enforce and implement Ethical Code for newspapers and news agencies”. It has miserably failed on both counts. Admittedly a vibrant and free media is Pakistan's strength. But there is big room for improvement to facilitate the media to successfully shoulder its huge social responsibility of moulding the ethical standards of society. Of course, this will happen through an evolutionary process. Any attempt to rollback freedom of the media in the name of making it more responsible will produce disastrous results for the future of democracy.

Nonetheless a better regulatory framework for the electronic media and a workable self-regulation for the print media is the need of the hour. PEMRA rather remaining an appendage of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should be truly independent of the government and headed by a person of repute. Similarly the Press Council is a good idea. But in order for it to have an impact it needs to be strengthened. It should be headed by, and composed of, members who can make a difference. All of the above, however, can be done solely through dialogue with all the stakeholders.

The writer is a former Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting. He is an eminent personality of electronic and print media. He is also the Editor of an English Daily. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Maj Asif Jehangir Raja

Question. According to the State of Environment Report of 2005, Pakistan had per capita availability of 5300 Cubic Meter (m3) water in 1951 which has fallen to 850 m3 in 2013. It is even projected to come down to 659 m3 in 2025. How can situation of water be improved in Pakistan?

Answer: An important fact about Pakistan is its very fast growing population and this is one of the basic issues that we confront today. The rise in population is directly related to all our resources.

Water is one of the vital requirements for human survival. Situation of water in Pakistan is not as bleak as we think. But we have to find ways and means to make effective use of whatever per capita water is available to us and we have to make more productive use of water that we have. There are countries that have less per capita water availability but do survive through a well thought out plan. There is one interesting example related to this fact. During the period of drought in Australia which had almost 30-40% less per capita water availability, their production unit of water went upward and they could face the consequences of drought very effectively. It was made possible due to their better water management.

We also need to work on improving water management techniques in Pakistan to overcome the shortages. For example: store it, save it, use it when required, reduce the amount of water that goes in Arabian Sea, and reduce the impact of flood by utilizing the flood water.

Question. Pakistan is facing acute energy shortages. What are the cheapest options available to our country to overcome this crisis in minimum possible time?

Answer: I will not give answer in my words but will quote you the words of an important international institution, the World Bank, that was asked a question by WAPDA during 1960s about development plans and strategy of Pakistan after benefits of Tarbela and Mangla Dams are committed. Their reply was simple, “if Pakistan wanted to continue with the growth rate that it possessed at that time (Pakistan was being labeled as an Asian Tiger during 1960s), Kalabagh Dam must be built by 1992, and thereafter, Bhasha Dam. The construction of Kalabagh and Bhasha Dam in the specified timelines would give enough time to Pakistan to carryout detailed investigations of the Indus River system and prepare a plan that Pakistan could use at belated stage.”

In case of Pakistan, it is a settled and established argument that if we want to improve our economic well being, raise per capita income, provide cheap energy, improve our agriculture productivity and protect our people from the flood damages, it is essential to build as many dams as we can. In the context of existing energy crises, I shall strongly suggest to start building Kalabagh Dam to save ourselves. Kalabagh Dam can be built in 6-7 years time and we shall be able to add about 4000 MW electricity on extremely cheap rates to our main grid. It shall also have a positive effect on Pakistan's agriculture system as well as enable Pakistan to have an effective flood control system. The construction of this dam will facilitate availability of more water in the months of scarcity. It will also address the existing water issues between provinces wherein they allege and accuse each other for stealing water. While addressing the Sindh Cabinet during 1992/93, I foretold them that if they did not agree to build Kalabagh Dam, then by the beginning of 21st century (the time that we are in now), any year if flow of any river goes below the average, provinces will be faced with the shortages of water. And each province will then allege others of stealing water but actually no one would be stealing because the system would not have enough water.

It was stated by me around two decades back. As of today, the situation is exactly the same what I predicted; the provinces are complaining each other for share of water, despite knowing that system doesn't have enough water. This trend will have negative political consequences for federation of Pakistan in the times to come.

Question. Few people suggest that Pakistan should be conserving water through construction of small dams instead of large ones. What is technical difference between big and small dams and what option should Pakistan adopt?

Answer: Let me answer you by analyzing the existing utilization of small and large dams in Pakistan. First talking of large dams, we have two large dams at present; Tarbela and Mangla, which feed 29 Bn units of electricity in system along with Ghazi Brotha at the cheap rate of Rs 1.54 per unit. These large dams have provided us more water during the month of scarcity. Moreover, very few people know the fact that during the floods of 2010, Tarbela Dam saved Nowshera as well as Sukkar Barrage, which otherwise could have been a catastrophie. It was an enormous flood but around 2, 40, 000 Cusecs of water was stored in Tarbela that reduced its impact and ultimately, less stress was exerted on Sukkar barrage.

Coming to small dams, we have 68 of them in Pakistan. What have these small dams done for Pakistan in comparison with large ones? Is there any electricity generation from these small dams? No, zero. Do these ensure any availability of water during the months of water scarcity? No, zero. Do these provide any protection against flood? No, zero. In terms of storage, these small dams have an average storage capacity of 8000 Acre Feet, which is very less as compared to any large dam. To equal storage capacity of one Kalabagh Dam, we need 750 small dams. If 68 small dams have been built in 66 years in Pakistan, imagine how many more years will be required to build 700 more small dams to equal one Kalabagh Dam.

Suggestions to build small dams instead of large ones are all hypothesized by the people who do not have sound knowledge of dams and the related technicalities. There is no option for Pakistan than to go for large dams and reservoirs, especially after surfacing of weather change phenomenon. This weather change phenomenon may take us to the situation, when there may be an extreme drought and a heavy flood occurring within same year. The only solution is that we have large reservoirs, not one or two but more. We should be able to control and conserve water of these huge floods and use it during the months of drought or water scarcity, and it is only possible through construction of large dams.

Question. Shall construction of more dams on River Indus affect the share of water for the provinces? Please explain the effect that construction of Mangla and Tarbela dams had, on water share of provinces during 1960s.

Answer: It is alleged that construction of Kalabagh Dam shall convert province of Sindh into a desert. But fact remains that before construction of existing two large dams, Tarbela and Mangla Dams, average flow of water to the province of Sindh was 36 Million Acre Feet (MAF) per year. Interestingly, after construction of these two dams, now Sindh gets 43 MAF water per year which is 7 MAF more than previous. So how can someone claim like this when construction of Tarbela on Indus River didn't affect the share of water for Sindh. Ever since the formation of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) about two decades back, 70% of the water stored in Tarbela Dam is allocated to Sindh Province whereas Punjab only gets 20% and KPK only 4%. The opponents of Kalabagh Dam are doing it at the behest of powers that are enemies of people of Pakistan.

Question. There is an argument that Nowshera can be flooded after construction of Kalabagh Dam. Please explain whether this argument is correct or otherwise.

Answer: Have you ever heard that construction of Tarbela Dam resulted in flooding of Kohistan or adjoining areas? Have we heard the fear of submersion of Gilgit under the water after construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam? No. If it is not so, then why should it be in case of Kalabagh Dam? On 29 August 1929, there was heavy flood in river Kabul as well as Indus. The town of Nowshera was submerged under the water along with many parts of GT Road at many places, and there was no Kalabagh Dam then. It happened again in 2010 floods and might still happen if same climatic conditions are repeated in future. The sufferers are poor people of Pakistan. The decision makers in Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore and other big towns are normally not affected by these floods, but poor people are. Flooding of Nowshera is not related to Kalabagh Dam by any means.

It has some other reasons and some other remedies. The problem of Nowshera is the floods coming from Swat River and Kabul River. As Chairman WAPDA, I had proposed to build Munda Dam on Swat River as a flood storage project. But after my retirement, this project wasn't followed at any level, not even by the people who are against Kalabagh Dam and are fearful of flood in Nowshera. Because these people are not interested in benefit of the people of their province but are only concerned about non-constructing the Kalabagh Dam.

Now I have been told that Munda Dam is being built. I hope that it is used as flood water storage project. Coming to the Kabul river; during the time of General Musharraf, I was invited by the then Engineers-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, Lt Gen Zubair, whose team wanted my opinion about a study conducted by them on River Kabul. I was pleased to notice the high standards of the study conducted by engineers of Pak Army. I suggested them to work this project out with the Afghan Government.

In my opinion, Pakistan and Afghanistan should jointly build projects on Kabul River. It shall have few benefits: first, very less flood water will flow in Pakistan from Afghanistan. This flood water can be utilized for the water requirements of Afghanistan; and secondly, projects like this shall strengthen people to people bond between these two countries and can help to take forward, the strategic relationship between two neighbours. If Pakistan can assist them in building small irrigation projects on River Kabul, their children will also remember that Pakistan gifted them with these useful projects on the river. Otherwise, some other country, which is not very friendly with Pakistan, will built it for them. Those projects by our enemies will not be constructed to benefit people of Afghanistan, but to hurt Pakistan.

There is another theory that is propagated by enemies of Kalabagh Dam; that water may spill back from the dam site to the city of Nowshera. This is absolutely unrealistic and untrue.

The spill back effect of Kabul River on Nowshera cannot be due to Kalabagh Dam. Nowshera and Kalabagh Dam site are more than 170 KM apart. However, distance between Attock Bridge (the place where River Kabul falls in River Indus) and Nowshera is approximately 50 KM. Attock Gorge can be one of the reasons for any spill back of water in Nowshera, if at all it takes place, because the gorge is approximately 10 miles in length, 800 meters in width, and is located before Attock Bridge, short of Indus River. The gorge issue is related to Kabul River, not Indus River or for that matter Kalabagh Dam. I, for now, suggest carrying out of flood management study of Peshawar Valley and focus should be on construction of Munda Dam on Swat River and, construction of irrigation projects and small reservoirs on Kabul River as a joint venture with Afghan Government. Moreover, few flood saving projects can also be constructed on Chitral River.

Question. A team of experts from the World Bank, during 1960s, termed construction of Tarbela, Mangla , Kalabagh and Bhasha Dams necessary for survival of Pakistan. Why have we not been able to follow their recommendations?

Answer: We did follow their recommendations. Mangla and Tarbela were being built as part of the project that Pakistan signed with the World Bank after Indus Water Treaty was finalized. Tarbela was not initially included, but was made part of it as a development project. As per recommendations, WAPDA had to start feasibility study of Kalabagh Dam by 1977; that it did. The feasibility study was completed in 1988. WAPDA was then ready to start construction of Kalabagh Dam. I was the General Manager and Director of the project, and I know that Pakistan was prepared for the project. The World Bank team had asked WAPDA about the feasibility study of Kalabagh Dam. After going through the report, they asked us about our plans. They were expecting a reply regarding our commitment to commence building the dam as the bank was ready to support us. And, then, the problems after problems started to emerge. And, these continue till to-date.

During 1960s, WAPDA was worried about water management of Pakistan. Questions were being raised within WAPDA that what would happen and how should we proceed when benefit stream of Tarbela and Mangla Dams are committed through factors like rise in population etc. President Ayub Khan, during his visit to Washington in 1964, called on President of the World Bank and raised the similar question. The World Bank took these questions seriously and prepared a study called 'Indus Special Study'.

I am not sure about the present staff of the World Bank, but during my interactions with them few decades back, they told me about the pride that they took in having carried out Indus Water Basin study. They claimed to have had carried out Water Basin Studies of many rivers of the world, but never had they gone in so many details, that they did in our case.

The team of World Bank associated with this study was unequalled; they had experts from almost every related sector agriculture, economic, hydrology, experts of dams, power engineering etc. They assessed during 1960s that after construction of Tarbela and Mangla Dams, Pakistan would need a new large water reservoir by 1992, and they suggested construction of Kalabagh Dam followed by Bhasha Dam. They had given a projection of 30-40 years to Pakistan to even plan ahead of post-Kalabagh and post-Bhasha Dam scenarios. The report was submitted to Government of Pakistan in 1967 by the World Bank with the caption of 'Sectorial Study - The Development of Water and Power Resources of West Pakistan.'

But this is year 2013, and we haven't moved an inch ahead after 1960s. The political angle to the problem came up and continues till to-date; consensus, flooding of Nowshera, water share of provinces, raising of low water table etc, are few of the issues that people link with construction of Kalabagh Dam. Fortunately though, these all reservations have also been addressed in technical language, but no one musters up the courage to do the right thing to construct Kalabagh Dam. After all these problems, the successive governments then decided to dump this project and started looking for the alternative of Kalabagh Dam.

Question. Could we find the alternative then?

Answer: Yes, after 20 years, we did find the alternatives to kalabagh Dam and alternatives are: load shedding, electricity at Rs. 18 per unit, closure of factories, and people on the roads.

Question. Do we need big Dams for energy production only or shall these also be helpful for agriculture sector? And how? Answer: The requirement of having dams is not only for generation of energy. We need water for our agriculture sector as well. Unfortunately, Pakistan being an agriculture country has low figure of agriculture yields; and the reason is less availability of water during winters. 84% of total water in our rivers flows during 6 months of summers whereas, during 6 months of winters, we receive 16% of the total available water. Resultantly, our winter crops are mostly short of water. We need to work to overcome this shortage.

We have the lands, we have the water as well; what we lack is the management and planning to utilize these resources. Question. How hydro electricity is cheap than other sources like coal, fuel etc? Answer: Water is the only source of electricity generation that has no fuel cost, rest all need some fuel to produce electricity; for gas turbines we need natural gas, for oil generation plants we need furnace oil, for coal we obviously need coal. All these fuels are expensive and cost of electricity fluctuates with fluctuation of their rates. However, in case of water, when the dam recovers its cost of construction, generation of electricity becomes almost free.

The requirement of electricity in Pakistan is around 40 Billion units per year. The approximate cost of generation of electricity from various sources is: Hydro - Rs 1.54 per unit, Furnace Oil Rs 16.50 per unit, Natural Gas Rs 6.50 per unit. Going by simple calculations, we can well understand the benefits of hydro electricity. While applied on 42 Billion units, the rates show the clear difference in cost of generation. Unfortunately, this whole amount has to be shared by the people of Pakistan.

Question: What are experiences of other countries in construction of dams? Can we learn from them?

Answer: There are three countries in the world that are economically very sound: USA, China and India. The USA has built about 6500 dams (medium and large), China has constructed around 22,000 medium and large dams in past 50 years, whereas India has constructed around 4500 dams so far and 650 dams are under construction by India at present.

If one Kalabagh Dam can damage Pakistan then 22,000 dams in China should literally have obliterated China from the globe. But fact remains that China is thriving economically, so are USA and India. And we also know the economic position of Pakistan.

Question. India is undertaking construction of 67 major water projects on the rivers of Pakistan. Where do you see this situation going?

Answer: The situation is alarming. Indians are doing a wrong thing. But we have our problems, too. If we are not utilizing our share of water, then they are doing it. We must start to use our share of water and our position on the cases against India against construction of reservoirs at international forums shall automatically improve.

Question. An argument is also given that construction of Kalabagh Dam shall weaken the federation. How do you see it?

Answer: This is absolutely untrue. I will reply this question through the expected financial benefits of Kalabagh Dam. This dam shall add 12 Billion units to the national feeder of electricity per year. If these 12 Billion units are generated through furnace oil (@ Rs. 16.50 per unit), then it will cost approximately Rs. 198 Billion whereas, if generated through Kalabagh Dam, it shall cost Rs. 18 Billion only. Hence, the construction of Kalabagh Dam will enable people of Pakistan to save Rs.180 Billion per year in terms of money only, which is a huge amount. The province of Punjab is annually losing approximately Rs. 100 billion for not constructing Kalabagh Dam, Sindh, Rs. 35 Billion and KPK, Rs 25 Billion. Can someone come forward and tell me a single rupee benefit for not constructing Kalabagh Dam?

The provinces are losing, not gaining anything by not constructing this dam. So how, then can it affect the federation. Few leaders, on the instructions from somewhere else, are pursuing their personal agendas and are damaging the interests of the people of Pakistan. Using the name of the federation for gaining political mileage is very unfortunate. Federation will not be disturbed by construction of Kalabagh Dam, but will certainly be affected, if Kalabagh Dam is not constructed.

Question. What difference shall it make if Kalabagh Dam is not constructed?

Answer: I can't think of any future for Pakistan without Kalabagh Dam. We will continue getting expensive electricity, we shall not have much water for crops during months of scarcity and most importantly, province of the KPK will be without any water share. Let me explain it this way. Each province gets it share of water through the Indus and other rivers and, through reservoirs. The only hope for the people of KPK to get water through a reservoir is, Kalabagh Dam. KPK is the only province which is above the level of Indus River. So distribution of water through barrage and canals on natural gravity flow will not be possible. The only way is to raise the water level through construction of Kalabagh Dam that shall facilitate irrigation of lands of DI Khan and Bannu through natural flow of gravity. People of KPK need this dam more than ever. With each passing day, the common man will suffer. If we hold a referendum for construction of Kalabagh Dam in KPK province, people will definitely support it.

Otherwise a time would come when people of this province would have to pump water through pipe lines from Indus which shall be an expensive proposition. The pumping of water will cost people of KPK Rs. 8000 per acre per year. The other three provinces, which get water through the gravity, will pay Rs. 700-800 per acre per year which is very cheap as compared to KPK. Kalabagh Dam is centrally located. It will facilitate people of all provinces. It will also help in distribution and supply of electricity using minimum distance to reach out maximum people.

Question. You are also President of Board of Governors of GIK institute. How can Pakistan improve quality of technical human resource in Pakistan?

Answer: Knowledge is only valued by knowledgeable people. People, who are not educated and are not scholars, cannot have the vision to develop quality human resource in any country. And same is, unfortunately, the situation in Pakistan. Mostly, our leadership lacked vision. People should be educated to learn English, as all technical skills are taught in this language. If they lack in understanding of the language, they might not comprehend the concept and will certainly miss out things.

To me, only three subjects should be taught to the students till primary levels: English, Mathematics and Science. But Science and Maths should be taught in mother tongue till primary level for better understanding and should subsequently be switched to English later on. There is no need to put extra burden on the students at very young age. The focus at childhood should be to ensure teaching of concepts to the children in the language that they comprehend and understand.

Question. What is your message for the people of Pakistan?

Answer: If we have to move smoothly in 21st century, we will have to register two things: personal preferences are gone, prejudices are gone. We will have to live up to two major requirements: follow what truth allows us to follow, and follow what reason allows us to follow.


Maj Asif Jehangir Raja

Question: You started your education from Karachi, had a vision to study science and obtained PhD from Cambridge University during 1960s. How has this journey been all along?

Answer: It has been an exciting journey all along. I started my school very late. I was ten years old when I first went to the school, the reason being our migration from Delhi after the partition. My family first migrated to Okara (a city in Punjab) and my father started the business of Cotton ginning. There wasn't any proper school in Okara at that time so I studied at home by taking tuitions. My father then shifted to Karachi and I started my formal schooling at Karachi Grammar School in 1951/52. I got two double promotions in my early schooling, from grade 3rd to 5th and from grade 6th to 8th. I did my 'O' Levels in 1958 and was lucky to top the exam in entire Pakistan with highest marks. It was followed by my 'A' levels that I successfully underwent in 1960 before joining Karachi University for BSc (Honours) and Masters in the subject of Chemistry with First-class-First grade.

I started teaching in Karachi University after obtaining Masters Degree for a year time before I was offered scholarship for further studies at Cambridge University in 1965. I availed this opportunity and moved to London for my Doctorate and completed my PhD in 1968. Basing on my performance, I was offered teaching assignment at Kings College (Cambridge University) that I accepted and continued my relationship with education in England for few years before my return to Karachi in 1973 with the ambition of setting a world class research centre in Chemistry. I managed to develop this institution in Karachi and am associated with it since then. This centre is now known as 'International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences'. It comprises number of institutes, one of them is “Hussain Ebrahim Jamal Research Institute of Chemistry”, and there are several others as well.

We have more than 500 students doing PhD in Organic Chemistry, Bio Chemistry, Pharmacology, Genomics, Molecular Medicine and other fields. It is the largest Doctorate programme in Pakistan.

I also have had 120 students from Germany who studied Chemistry from my institute in last 6 years. It is one of its own kinds of centres among developing countries where students from developed countries are carrying out research.

I have now over 900 research publications that include 124 books which have been published in Europe and USA, and have also been translated in many languages including Japanese and Chinese. These books are now being taught in many universities of the world.

I have continued this exciting journey for the learning, for teaching and for doing research in last forty years or so.

Question. You have always talked of building knowledge economy of Pakistan. Can you briefly explain this concept?

Answer: We live in a world where single most important ingredient for progress is the quality of human resource. The natural resources to include gas, coal, gold and all others have had diminishing importance. The countries which realized that real wealth lies in their children and have invested heavily in the fields of education, science, technology, innovations and entrepreneurship, and have forged ahead, have actually succeeded. Even small countries with very less population like Singapore and Finland have much larger economies than Pakistan that has 180 million population. The Nokia Company of Finland has greater exports than that of complete Pakistan, which should be matter of concern for all of us. This is a changed trend that the world has witnessed during the last few decades. So unless we invest in education and unleash the creative potential of our youth, we cannot move forward and get rid of the problems that we suffer from. Unfortunately our leaders did not possess requisite vision to take this country in the correct direction while even much smaller countries kept progressing.

Question. You are known to be the person who turned around the concept of Higher Education in Pakistan. How far has Pakistan come in this field?

Answer: We have made quite startling progress in the field of Higher Education. When I assumed appointment of Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), we had very less number of publications in international journals per year. I started to work on it and, from the figure of about 800 research publications during 2002, we have now gone above 9000 research publications per year which is very encouraging. I am pleased to inform you that we have even taken over India in the count of research publications calculated on the basis of per million population.

India was worried and upset to watch the rapid progress of Pakistan in this field. A presentation on this subject was made to the Indian Prime Minister by Professor CNR Rao, who is India's Advisor on Science & Technology. This presentation was made on 22 July 2006 and an article was published in one of the India's leading newspapers, “Hindustan Times” on 23 July 2006 with the caption of “Pak Threat to Indian Science.” This article talked about tremendous transformation of landscape of our universities during first decade of twenty first century.

India thereafter decided to follow the footsteps of Pakistan, closed down its University Grants Commission (UGC) and formed a body on the lines of HEC in Pakistan, called “National Commission for Higher Education and Research.” The proposal has been approved by their Cabinet and being sent to Lok Sabha for approval. This is an area where we have been able to even make Indians follow us (or to say even envy us). In India, an amount of Rs. 0.12 billion (120,000 Crore Rupees) has been deputed for Higher Education for the coming five years, which is huge. They have now decided to increase the number of “Indian Institute of Technology” (IIT) from seven to sixteen. They are also planning to set 200 new universities and large number of research centres.

Indians have really awoken up after watching the progress of Pakistan, whereas, on the other hand, in recent years (after 2008) we tried everything to destroy the HEC. It was ironic that even a group of worthy parliamentarians (in the shadows of forged degrees allegations and counter allegations) tried to devolve the HEC and break it up into fragments which was prevented by my intervention, wherein I moved a petition in the Court which was won subsequently. Then the effort to appoint an individual from the Ministry of Education as Executive Director of the HEC and to place it under the control of ministry was again challenged by me in the Supreme Court, and I won this case, too. Unless a system to appoint people on merit at all levels is not implemented, progress is not possible.

Question: How in your opinion should Pakistan handle and accommodate the inflow of thousands of PhDs who shall be qualified in the coming few years?

Answer: We have a need of at least 30,000 PhDs in our universities at present. The total requirement of the faculty in the universities is around 45,000 and 70% of our faculty is still not properly qualified. We have the capacity to overcome this shortage by absorbing these numbers of PhD in our universities right away. We also need highly qualified people in our industries and strategic organizations like KRL, PAEC, SUPARCO etc. So Pakistan has the space to accommodate all these highly qualified people within the country.

Question: To support Science or Arts? At which ratio should government grant scholarships to its students? And why?

Answer: To me, both are important. You need to have focus on Social Sciences along with Natural Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Agriculture etc. You need to have a balanced educational system. Both are important and you can't decide in favour of either Arts or Science. Mixed blend of educated people who are qualified in all fields can take us forward as a nation. We need historians, we need people in humanities, we need economists, and we need social scientist along with doctors, engineers and scientists, to work for this country.

Question: With the government and private schools teaching different curriculums to similar grade students, education in Pakistan appears to be running on two different streams. How can we narrow down this gap?

Answer: This is a national tragedy. We have ourselves created a fragmented society with the separate schools for the rich and the poor. Another segment of society is being educated in Madrassa system and who face difficulties at a later stage to get absorbed into main flow of education. We need to have one single system of education in Pakistan and it is practicable.

With a single curriculum for all, it will help promote homogeneity and unity at national level. You don't need to look far to watch the practical examples. This is what Sri Lanka, India and other developing countries have done. You cannot have a fragmented system of education. We can only achieve uniformity in education system if we improve quality of curriculum to make it viable for all. We have more than twenty Boards across the country that conduct examinations which is highly confusing. We need to have single examination system with uniformity of standards for all.

Question: What changes in curriculum can help our students to grow as a balanced person?

Answer: We have taken certain steps in this regard. I introduced four year Under Graduate programme in Pakistan which previously used to be of two years. Most of us have earned Graduation Degree under a two year Bachelors' Programme which was too less a period. Purpose of enhancing time period is to give rise to the broader base education system so that a student who is studying science should also get an opportunity to study Social Science, Literature, and Humanities and vice versa at under-graduate level. It will also help students to improve their communication skills and broaden their horizon.

These steps have been introduced at college and university levels which fall under the purview of the HEC. But the problem lies at our school levels. Our education system at Primary and Secondary level is the responsibility of Provincial and Federal Governments. The Provincial Governments are maintaining a pitiable education system in their areas and, sole reason being, our ruling elite, which is mostly feudal. An educated population doesn't suit the feudal system of governance, and also threaten the power base of the feudal elite. This is the main reason that this segment of the ruling elite has not worked on improving the education system at basic level. The previous governments have been spending around 1.9% of the GDP on education which takes us to the bottom seven ranked countries of the world in terms of education budget at par with small African nations, which is a shame. We will have to get rid of the feudal system to bring improvements in education system. It was done in India soon after partition, in Bangladesh through a decision of the Supreme Court after separation from Pakistan. For me, 'Feudocracy' (a word invented all by myself) should be replaced by true 'democracy' that actually represent the people of this country .

We need to make basic changes in the system of governance that can prove to be fruitful for Pakistan within norms of democracy. We must have a strong screening system to keep a check at people who reach to the levels of decision-making. In Iran, no one can become member of the parliament without a Masters Degree so majority of their Cabinet members have either a Masters or a PhD degree. Similarly large number of cabinet members in China and Korea are also PhDs.

Question: During the last decade or so, quality of teachers at college and university level has improved whereas at school levels, the teachers are neither much qualified nor display passion to teach. How can we bring improvements in this field?

Answer: It is all interconnected with the Higher Education System. If you produce good teachers at university and college level, the students who graduate through these good teachers shall themselves be the faculty at school levels tomorrow and would be able to deliver well. The nature of problem is similar to the one explained previously. The selection of teachers at school level is a Provincial subject and that must be accorded priority and due purely merit based. The negligence results in shape of ghost schools, and has also raised number of other issues at lower level education system.

We need to have raised salary structures for the teachers at the school levels and their selection should be done after conduct of central tests at national level. The selection process if conducted independently, shall bring deserving people for the slots and we shall see an automatic rise in the quality of teaching staff at lower level.

Question: We have Urdu as our national language and, English is an international language being taught all over the world. How should we systematically manage our teaching methods by incorporating local and international languages?

Answers: English is now an international language. It is no longer a language for the people of a certain region. Different countries of the world are transforming their education system in accordance with English. China that previously had its entire education system in local language is also now using English at Post Graduate level studies.

To me a student, at very initial stage of his life (2-3 years of education) should be taught in regional / local area language. Because a child understands things best in his own mother tongue. As he grows up, after 5th grade, he should be taught in Urdu as main, and English as a strong second language. At later stages, Urdu should progressively be replaced with English as main language of teaching at college level education and above. It should be a phased transition because 99% of world literature and knowledge being produced now is in English. English can't be scored out whereas learning of local language is equally important.

Question: How do you view life and what, in your vision, is driving force to succeed in life?

Answer: You have to be passionate about learning. It is something that has to be inside you. You have to have burning desire to learn, to teach and to carry out research. It can be termed as a 'love affair' with education. It can't be a 9 to 5 job and there has to be a passion within oneself to learn and then to spread the knowledge. There can't be a better thing than this. Our students are very bright and are amongst the best in the world. We need to provide them the opportunity to learn, to grow intellectually and unleash their productive talent, and then allow them to work for national development and progress.

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