February 2014(EDITION 8, Volume 50)
Asif Jehangir Raja
Training of the army is undertaken with the perceived enemy threat in view. Conduct modalities of training are also driven by the similar factor wherein, troops are trained to fight in the nearly real time environments. Pakistan Army accords top priority ....Read full article
Javed Jabbar
As conventional mainstream media continue to pervade the globe, as new media through the internet and cell phones aim to place humanity virtually inside an envelope, our Armed Forces in general and the Pakistan Army in particular face ....Read full article
Zafar Hilaly
Whether or not a global clash of civilizations, a la Huntington, is likely, we in Pakistan, seem to be in the throes of something similar. Currently, the cause for which so many gave their lives... a democratic Pakistan comprising free elections, an independent judiciary....Read full article
Asif Jehangir Raja
Dr Maleeha Lodhi is a political scientist, diplomat, journalist and academician. She had been the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and prior to that, twice as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States. She was Resident Fellow....Read full article
Jennifer McKay
The landmark meeting between the Director Generals Military Operations of Pakistan and India on 24 December 2013 to strengthen mechanisms to ensure the sanctity of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LOC), signalled a new turn in the....Read full article
Col Ehsan Mehmood Khan
A person or a group is known by some linkages, associations, relationships, expressions and attributes. All these combine to create a view what is called identity in the simplest known terms. Usually considered as part of the social sciences, such as sociology ....Read full article
In 1957, Pakistan Narcotics Board (PNB) was established in the Revenue Division to fulfil Pakistan's obligations under the International Opium Convention of 1925. The PNB consisted of representatives from the provincial governments and some federal ministries....Read full article
Didier Chaudet
For the last few years, more or less regularly, there had been terrorist attacks in Russia. The terrorist attacks in Volvograd were only the last example of a security-related problem that has been around for a while. The international media talks about it....Read full article
Dr Zafar Mehmood
After many ups and downs during the intensive consultations between developed and developing countries, the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded successfully in Bali, Indonesia on December 7, 2013....Read full article
Maj Gen (Retd) Salim Ullah
When Neville Maxwell published his historic treatise in 1970, the title (India's China War) intrigued the reader and critic alike. The book soon became a best seller on the news stand and was adopted as a text book by staff colleges around the world....Read full article
Mariam Malik
Keeping tabs on Pakistan's polio 'End Game' is not for the faint-hearted. Each month is a news of a fresh batch of innocent lives being affected either by the disease itself, or by the militants, who, blinded by false premise of faith, are bent on destroying all efforts....Read full article
Asif Jehangir Raja
Q. Hailing from Waziristan belt of tribal areas, how did you emerge as a squash player of international repute?
Answer: My childhood had been very exciting. I grew up as a tomboy and was called as Changez Khan by my friends and family (Genghis Khan, one of history's great warriors)....Read full article
Tahir Mehmood
“Why don't you read?” “Well, I am a busy man. My family, relatives and their day-to-day issues – these all keep me occupied.” “But life needs wisdom, and that is never found in mundane. Can you devote sometime from the ....Read full article
Maj Gen Muhammad Khalid
Indeed, man was created in the best of form. The journey from birth till adult life is an arduous one where various factors mould, break or build the persona and leave an ever impressionable legacy. Fortunate are those who come across sincere and....Read full article

Brig Muhammad Khalil Dar
While flying over Shahur Tangi in South Waziristan Agency (SWA), one is irresistibly lured into imagining the ordeal of British Indian officers and soldiers who were ambushed by Mehsud fighters in April 1936. A total of seven officers and ....Read full article
Lt Col Mehar Omar Khan
In normal times, ordinary people lead ordinary lives and small places have small stories. But we, a large nation of 19.7 million people, have been lumbering through a period of extraordinary importance – “interesting times” as a Chinese curse....Read full article
Maj Tassawar Farooq (Liberia)
In January 2014, Pakistani Medical Hospital along with William Tubman University and National Association of Women University, Liberia conducted a 'Health Fair' at Harper City in Liberia. The activity was indented to....Read full article
Col Sohail Akbar Khan
The history of religious extremism in Pakistan does not go back very far but rather is a recent phenomenon. It can be traced back to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when under the patronage of USA and its lead intelligence agency; the CIA, Jihad was waged against....Read full article
Every year, women and men alike, look forward to the new trends to follow in a hope to improve their looks. 2014 is no different but before jumping on to the bandwagon of following any particular hair and beauty trend, one must not fall slave to the trends....Read full article
Dr Nauman Niaz
International cricket has been sabotaged; the BIG 3 is a recipe for disaster. It is going to be story of devastation and to us as orthodox and conventional, it seems to be reinventing colonialism. Philosophically, ethically and morally it seems to be another....Read full article
Capt Sana Nasri
The 'Future Integrated Soldier Technology' (FIST) is a project initiated by the UK Ministry of Defence. It will provide an integrated fighting system for dismounted and close combat troops. The FIST programme is in advanced stage of development and is expected to be completed ....Read full article
Training of the army is undertaken with the perceived enemy threat in view. Conduct modalities of training are also driven by the similar factor wherein, troops are trained to fight in the nearly real time environments. Pakistan Army accords top priority to training of its soldiers and the training system has been evolved in accordance with the existing internal and external threats. After provision of basic training at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) to the officers and at respective training centers to the soldiers, all military personnel are made to undergo different courses at military school of instructions during different stages of service. Moreover, all formations, units and subunits follow a comprehensive training schedule in the cantonments and adjacent field areas round the year to practice different battle drills and procedures. The war games are held at formations and army level on regular intervals to evolve military plans in accordance with threat perceptions. Recently concluded series of Exercises Azam-e-Nau also certified Pak Army's preparation to check India's Cold Start Doctrine and bears testimony to the fact that army is aware of enemy designs and has the ability to modify its training parameters in response to enemy strategy. Pak Army is also fully aware of the challenges of fighting extremists in the tribal areas of Pakistan in hard conditions. To prepare the units and formations moving into these areas, Pre Induction Training (PIT) and evaluation at unit, subunit and individual levels is being carried out through a well evolved mechanism. Recently many formations carried out field exercise at Tilla Firing Ranges. To give exposure of nearly real time battlefield environment, firing of live ammunition was undertaken. Exercises were conducted amid roaring sound of tanks and thunderous blasts of artillery guns, and foot columns of infantry soldiers supported by all other arms, services and PAF. Gen Raheel Sharif, COAS, while witnessing the conduct of one of the exercises appreciated the high standards of training and said, “All available means must be utilized to improve the operational capability of the army to effectively respond to full spectrum of threat. Strenuous training and highest standard of preparedness in peacetime are the only guarantors of peace.” The soldiers of Pak Army are well trained to meet all challenges, are fully aware of internal and external threats, and are ever-ready to protect the people of Pakistan.

Written By: Nabila

Every year, women and men alike, look forward to the new trends to follow in a hope to improve their looks. 2014 is no different but before jumping on to the bandwagon of following any particular hair and beauty trend, one must not fall slave to the trends. There are things one needs to consider and carefully think before taking the final plunge.

Your hair should ideally exude confidence and add to your personality in an effortless way. Start with a good cut – this is the cornerstone of great styling and will make life much easier for you. Book a consultation with your hairdresser to discuss your lifestyle and hair needs. With a good cut, hair should be able to fall into place, quite effortlessly.

Although majority of women in Pakistan prefer having long hair but his trend is likely to change. With many international celebrities – including Beyonce, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Lawrence chopping their hair short, many local women may be tempted to follow suit. But long hair will never go completely out of style. In the last 10 years, long hair has been flat and straight, but in 2014, the wavy, curly Hollywood style will reign supreme. Sarah Jessica Parker is the icon for this hairstyle. A good way to lighten your hair load a bit without losing length is to add in some layers. Long or short layers can take a ton of weight out of your hair, and therefore making it much easier to style.

Hair are to be styled natural for an effortless glamorous look as embodied by 'Twilight Girls'. Keep them away from hot ironing tools to let your hair transform into natural waves. Ponies and severe side parts with relaxed off duty look. Accessorize them with metallic accessories e.g. metallic Cuffs on ponytails and 'Dries Van Noten' look fantastic on low, loose ponytails. Metallic barrettes on buns as seen in Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) show also a great option. If metal is not your choice then you may also opt for bejeweled hair accessories with pearls, Swarovski crystals and rhine-stones that are more kitsch like 'Dolce & Gabbana' and 'Moschino'.

When talking about colour, ombre is one the hottest hair colour trends for last year mostly because it has so many different options. Ombre hair colour is generally darker at the roots through the mid-shaft and then gradually gets lighter from the mid-shaft to the ends. The variety of this trend can be seen in every magazine and on the runways from Kim Kardashian, Ciara and many others. Go bold, soft, colourful or natural with endless colour choices. It's a great way to have low maintenance hair that doesn't sacrifice style!

If ombre is too radical a trend for you, then you can opt for the tried and tested technique of adding coloured pieces to the hair. As you can see in the photo, we gave Fouzia, icy blonde colour pieces with a current shaded / ombre technique. Her hair was cut in classic layers to show off the colour and give it movement, all without compromising the length. For makeup we gave her creamy flawless skin that can go well with both neutral and an option for bright or pale lips.

Nabila is an eponymous name in the world of fashion and styling. She has been working in the industry for well over 27 years. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Capt Sana Nasri

The 'Future Integrated Soldier Technology' (FIST) is a project initiated by the UK Ministry of Defence. It will provide an integrated fighting system for dismounted and close combat troops. The FIST programme is in advanced stage of development and is expected to be completed between 2015 and 2020.

It is a unique, modular based, integrated, and fully up-gradable fighting system which will further integrate with the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) concept of the British Army. The system will mesh each soldier into the digitized battlefield as a weapons system of its own kind, each man-platform contributing to the larger network enabled environment where he becomes a key component within the network centric battlefield system. The system will provide the soldier with improved situational awareness, lethality and survivability.

The five main areas of capability are identified as C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence), lethality (weapons and sights), mobility (navigation, size and weight of equipment), survivability (clothing, stealth, body armour) and sustainability (logistical considerations).


The enhanced FIST lethality capability is mainly through improved sighting and weapons. The use of non-cooled observation and sighting systems saves weight and logistic requirements. The UK infantry is currently equipped with the 5.56mm SA80 assault rifle. The SA80 will be fitted with an enhanced sighting system on the weapon or linked to the soldier's helmet mounted sight. A linked sighting system allows the soldier to fire 'round corners' at the target while remaining in a protected position.

To engage targets hidden in trenches or behind shelters, the soldier can measure the range of the target with a laser rangefinder. The range data is downloaded to the weapon's round and the overflying weapon round detonates at the designated range to strike the hidden target.

Electronic Equipment

Helmet mounts a computerized display which will enable the user to view the weapon's mounted sight as well as computer generated images. Together with alternative displays such as weapon mounted sights and hand held computers, these elements will provide remote viewing of mission critical data including maps, images and video from stored or real-time sources. Night vision technology is used as part of the FIST system, and will also include advanced versions of Image Intensifier (I-2) sights offering greater sensitivity and clarity combined with reduced size and weight. GPS systems will be combined with a navigation sub-system, including a Digital Compass to provide fully integrated navigation, orientation and target acquisition capability. The soldier will be able to plan a route in advance, incorporating waypoints and avoiding dangers, and follow this even at night, using helmet mounted display with visual or audible cues.

Clothing and Protection

The clothing will reduce the soldier's visual, radar and infrared signatures as well as providing personal temperature control and environmental protection. The clothing might have built-in wires or a type of wireless technology such as Bluetooth to interconnect the FIST components. The grades of body armour protection will be selected for different operational requirements.

NBC Protection

The infantry soldier will receive warning of a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare hazard via the Battlefield Information System Applications (BISA). BISA, under development by Sci Sys, operates on the Bowman Communications System and is linked to the Royal Air Force Command Control and Information System (CCIS), the Royal Navy Command Support System (CSS) and the Joint Operational Command Structure (JOCS). New lightweight and breathable materials are developed for NBC protection.

Power Supplies This Future Infantryman power requirements are estimated at an order of higher magnitude, i.e. ten times higher than currently used. Designs will continue to be based on advanced Lithium Ion Battery Technology until emerging technologies such as Fuel Cells and Fuel Cell Chargers become more mature.

The writer is from Aviation EME.

Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) Meets the Challenges

In 1957, Pakistan Narcotics Board (PNB) was established in the Revenue Division to fulfil Pakistan's obligations under the International Opium Convention of 1925. The PNB consisted of representatives from the provincial governments and some federal ministries and divisions. Pakistan ratified the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 on 15 August 1965. To meet its obligations under the said Convention, the government, through a declaration on March 8, 1973 renamed PNB as the Pakistan Narcotics Control Board (PNCB). In December 1991, Anti Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) was established. In February 1995, PNCB and ANTF were merged to constitute the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), which is now the premier law enforcement agency in the field of narcotics control in Pakistan.

Pakistan's proximity to world's largest opium producing country, Afghanistan, makes it vulnerable to threat posed by the fallouts of illicit drug trade in the region. Afghanistan retained its position as the lead producer and cultivator of opium with more than 90% of global illicit opium production last year. In Afghanistan cultivation of opium poppy rose by 36% from 154,000 hectors to 209,000 hectors in 2013, whereas production of opium is expected to increase by 49% from 3700 Metric Tons to 5500 Metric Ton. If the total opium production in the world is converted into heroin, total global heroin production would be 576 tons, with 529 tons share of Afghanistan alone. Not only heroin, Afghanistan also stands at lead globally in cannabis production, with 1300 tons yield. This is a global threat and Pakistan along with few other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan are most affected. It would not be wrong to say that these countries are first respondents to save the world. The drug trade across Afghanistan border is too sophisticated for any one country or agency to address single handedly. However, in a short span of 19 years, ANF despite challenges has turned into a force to recon with both domestically and internationally. This article focuses on highlighting achievements of the ANF in year 2013. By far the year 2013 has been a watershed in performance of ANF. It has crossed all success marks of the past. While this gives satisfaction, it certainly raises the motivation of the Force to even perform better in years ahead.

ANF is running 25 Police Stations all-over the country. Presence of this force can be felt at all thirteen International Airports including Air Cargo Terminals, seventeen Dry Ports, three Sea Ports and seven border entry / exit points. This huge challenge is met by a meagre strength of 2500 personnel only.

Effective enforcement efforts by the Force in reducing drug flow to other countries during year 2013 also saw an all-time increased seizure of drugs which were destined abroad. The ANF is not only playing its role in curtailing inward and outward drug flows and preventing drug trafficking within its territorial jurisdiction by seizing the narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals, but is also coordinating eradication of illicit crops and stopping the production of narcotic drugs. Pakistan maintained its “Poppy Free Status” in 2013. The area under poppy cultivation after eradication was reported at 493 hectors; far less than 1000 hectors - the United Nations' criteria of declaring a country “Poppy-Free State”. On International Drug Day (26 June 2013), 126 tons of drugs were destroyed in “Drug Burning Ceremony”; the value of which comes to approximately Rs 9.3 billions.

Besides seizing drugs destined abroad, ANF is cooperating with international drug law enforcement agencies on all operational matters. Realizing the importance of sharing timely information, ANF had signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with 30 different countries of the world. In year 2013, International Controlled Delivery (ICD) operations initiated by ANF resulted into seizure of 50 kg heroin, 3000 kg hashish and 1000 kg cocaine in different parts of the world. ANF in 2013 also conducted joint operations with six countries of the world and was successful in seizing 362 kg of heroin, 15 kg of cocaine, 15 kg crystal and 5100 Diazepam tablets in destination countries. In 2013, ANF also assisted 26 other international drug law enforcement agencies of the world in 2,040 various international enquiries. ANF arrested 47 foreign drug smugglers in Pakistan in 2013. Seven Special Courts for trial of Anti Narcotics Force cases alone, are established in the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Rawalpindi. Bringing criminals to the task through effective prosecution in the courts remained priority. In 2013, the conviction rate rose to applauding 92%. Fear of having 92 % chances of being convicted would surely forbid any sane person from falling prey into the hands of drug traffickers. In 2013, the value of frozen assets is Rs 126 million, whereas the value of forfeited assets is Rs 37.6 million. “The hardest blow to a drug trafficker is to transfer his proceeds to the National Account”, that's what is believed in ANF.

ANF, in addition to conducting operations, also focused on public awareness against the menace of drugs. In total 407 Drug Demand Reduction events in year 2013 were organized. Mainly categorized in “Mass Awareness Programmes” and “Community Participation Programmes”, 321 events were organized under the former category and 86 events in the latter. Lectures, seminars, walks, debates, sports’ events, quiz, painting, speech and poster competitions, tableaus and drama festivals, magic and puppet shows and musical programmes throughout the country were arranged to create awareness among the masses against the harms of drug addiction.

ANF is also running Model Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres in Quetta, Islamabad, Karachi and Adyalla Jail, Rawalpindi. These centres are contributing significantly towards drug treatment and rehabilitation of the addicts and 1,975 patients are treated during the 2013. Project 'Drug Free City Lahore' is a unique in itself which has contributed tremendously to the cause. ANF pays special attention towards professional, mental and physical brought up of its employees. Fresh batch of 54 officers joined the force in 2013 through Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). First ever Officer Induction Training of these officers were undertaken by ANF in its own academy in 2013. This was a milestone activity which gave recognition to ANF Academy, both domestically and internationally. The new members now have to undergo an exhaustive training schedule of approximately six months before they are assigned their professional duties. 34 training courses were run in the Academy for 602 ANF officials including 312 personnel of other law enforcement agencies.

In spite of the progress achieved at home and abroad in terms of elimination of opium, poppy, and combating of illegal drugs by means of law enforcement, the picture in the neighbourhood of Pakistan remains distorted. Pakistan faces a serious threat on account of continuous and large-scale illicit cultivation, production and trafficking of opium, poppy, heroin and cannabis from Afghanistan. Ours is a victim country suffering both on account of drug trafficking as well as the pervasiveness of drug abuse due to inflow of Afghan opiates. ANF is committed to make Pakistan and the world a drug free society. It is a multi-faceted force, recognized internationally and domestically for being professional and stands prominent amongst world's leading Drug Law Enforcement Agencies.

It would be remiss to pay homage to our Shuhada, who laid their lives for better future of our society and new generations. The martyrs of ANF include Lt Col Ahmed Ali Shah, N Sub Muhammad Saleem, Hav Jahanzeb, Hav Farooq Ahmed, Sep Muhammad Sarfraz, N Sub Lal Zaman, Lnk Gul Fraz, Lnk Azad Khan, Sep Shoukat Ali Durrani and Sepoy Muhammad Niaz. We salute our brave comrades and honour their valour.


‘We created man in the best of form’

(Al Qur'aan)


Written By: Maj Gen Muhammad Khalid

Indeed, man was created in the best of form. The journey from birth till adult life is an arduous one where various factors mould, break or build the persona and leave an ever impressionable legacy. Fortunate are those who come across sincere and worthy mentors or teachers. Thus the epic journey from a clot to a tall and successful man is possible. This journey also unfolds tale of a momentous and deep rooted affiliation that lasts for a life time. Cadets upon their entry in Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), a training institution of commendable repute, are honoured with the sobriquet of Gentleman Cadet (GC). The word 'gentleman' is the ultimate honour for hard training, which embeds a certain kind of character in the soul that perseveres through thick and thin. This character eventually produces the finished state-of-the-art product called the 'Commissioned Officer'. During the entire process, a deep rooted affiliation is developed between the GC and his training staff (Drill staff, Physical Training staff and Weapon Training staff). The journey of association starts with the reception at Abbottabad Bus Stand/Havelian Railway Station or the PMA Gate. This whirlwind tenure takes the GCs through various stages from initial briefing, kit issuance, holocaust of trendy hairstyles to the hardcore and strenuous military training and culminates with passing out parade at PMA Rafi Ullah Drill Square.

A GC is an asset for the Army who leads a spartan life during his entire stay at PMA, marked by spotless personal appearance, proud participation in parades/ceremonies, high standard of military discipline and exposure to host of challenges. A purposeful, comprehensive and colossal effort is made from different quarters comprising a rare amalgam of diverse specialists to shape him into an officer. The process of transforming civilians into military personnel is a form of conditioning that encourages the GCs to partially submerge their individuality for the good of their unit. This conditioning is essential for military function because combat requires people to endure stress and perform actions that are simply absent in normal life. May that be an academic discipline, a tactical lesson, an athletic skill, some leadership training or a feature of character development, it must be taught, conducted or supervised by highly competent, devoted and inspiring staff. In this transformation, one critical role is that of Drill Instructors. Their task is very tricky and challenging as they are required to inculcate military discipline in the GCs who are physically feeble but mentally and academically surpassing the drill staff. Thus, the drill instructors work tenaciously from dawn till dusk with the highest level of motivation, exemplary standards of turnout/discipline and hearty investment of time and expertise. They are picked up from the entire Army by a very methodical and meticulous selection procedure for being not only the best in their respective fields but also a smart lot, endowed with impeccable discipline, fair and firm dealing with the GCs.

Allah Almighty has made man in natural harmony. Our regular gait comprises right hand's pendulous movement with left foot and vice versa. This natural instinct is polished into a proud and graceful drill motion by the drill staff. They look towards cadets as newborns into army life, thus, initial few weeks at PMA are dominated by heavy doses of drill to instill a respectable degree of smartness in the movements of GCs. They undoubtedly work very hard to harness the cadets with the new necessities of martial life like salute, drill and discipline. Like a determined mother, they repeatedly teach each GC these norms till there is need for no more hammering. They achieve optimized results through display of professional excellence, personal involvement and above all by own exemplified conduct. It is always a treat to watch the Drill Staff marching up and down smartly, erect and correct with measured steps, correcting the basics of the drill movements of the cadets on parade.

As the saying goes, 'There are three ways of doing a thing: the wrong way; the right way and the army way'. Therefore, at times Drill Staff have to adopt the army's doctrine of 'corrective punishment' to break in the GCs. These custodians of the GCs' Office (place of assembly for punishment) are always waiting for the college boys and like a razor's edge they refine them into glittering gems. Thus towering drill staff in their immaculate and starched uniform are always found sporting their burly moustache outside GCs' Office. These punishments are proportional to the gravity of the offense and range from extra drill periods, reports in Field Service Marching Order (FSMO) kit to restrictions.

Then dawns the first hurdle that a GC must pass to prove his mettle and that rite of passage into the army life is known as the 'Saluting Test'. It is a test of the GC's marching and saluting capabilities as it has a lot of strings attached. Passing it opens the gates of PMA for the cadets to avail out pass and leave whenever granted. After grueling military training, such a respite is like an oasis in a desert for GCs. Thus, this test is usually held before midterm break and is of pivotal importance for both the cadets and the drill instructors. The last stage is the passing out parade. It is the culmination of two years of strenuous training and GCs dream come true as they march in Slow Time off the drill square, up the stairs into the Mess Hall and instantly converted from GCs to Second Lieutenants in the Pakistan Army. Even long after passing out, when an officer of Pakistan Army hears military band playing, the eyes swell up with emotional tears, the heart begins to beat faster and one is back in thoughts slow marching up the lovely steps of the drill square.

At this stage the cadets are seniors and try to take the liberty of relaxing but drill instructors like Honorary Captain (Retired) Muhammad Ashraf Warsi (commonly known as Shurli Sahab), drill personified and an institution by himself, never allowed such laxity. He made sure that every cadet's toe was in line, arms aligned and foot stomping up to the standard while marching. The same standards are evident at momentous occasions like Quaid's Day parade, Azadi parade, Yaum-e-Shuhada and other such events.

There may be paradigm shift in the military training philosophy from time to time due to technological revolution but the role of drill staff had remained same throughout. History is full of names of such silent but tall and graceful heroes who are vibrant, dedicated and selfless in performing their duties. Their efforts, guidance, personal examples and dedication deserve rich tributes. I salute them; Yes, I do as they taught me how to salute.

'Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well' (Aristotle)

Written By: Maj Tassawar Farooq (Liberia)

In January 2014, Pakistani Medical Hospital along with William Tubman University and National Association of Women University, Liberia conducted a 'Health Fair' at Harper City in Liberia. The activity was indented to inculcate health awareness among the locals and screen them for preventable yet potentially decimating maladies.

The event included training about vital signs' recording, screening of malaria, blood sugar testing, blood grouping and eye screening for cataract. Hundreds of individuals from all walks of life, from all age groups came for free screening and medical checkup. President of National Association of Women University in Liberia, Dr. Elizabeth Russell, graced the occasion as Chief Guest. She appreciated the efforts of Pakistani doctors and said, “The Pakistan Medical Hospital not only caters for the medical needs of UN staff but also the communities living nearby. People including mothers, children, elderly, as well as youngsters, coming for the treatment here, always get treated. I am, and will always be grateful to Pakistan for its unconditional help to not only Tubman University but general public of the area also.”


Written By: Tahir Mehmood

“Why don't you read?”

“Well, I am a busy man. My family, relatives and their day-to-day issues – these all keep me occupied.”

“But life needs wisdom, and that is never found in mundane. Can you devote sometime from the present to explore the past – and that too, in absence of fear, and censure of others?”

“Oh! It is a great idea. But, I find no way out. I love the gossip-culture. That is easy, tasteful, and carries no burdens of truth-seeking.”

“Why don't you travel to the places? Or, build personal libraries. These two are great source of knowledge and wisdom.”

“Look! I get sufficient information, and that helps me to simulate wisdom. For books, someday I will spare the money. For years, I am spending on satisfying greed, hunger, triviality, and fickleness; of mine and others – It is my burden to decorate the house, and to cloth myself and my family beautifully. The majestic shroud covers the depravity of thought and action. Remember, I am not alone in this great struggle.”

“Nice. But, who is there for you to construct the better future?”

“No worry. Half of the work has been done by the forefathers, and rest I would borrow.”

“But, borrowing from others is bad!”

“Yes, I don't do it. My brothers do it for me. I just use it. However, I spare no time to censure my brothers for this bad deed. They are monkeys… After all, sermonizing is my creed. ”

“Don't you think it a shameful act?”

“No. I am friendly to the virtuous. Rather, I am the virtue. See the cloak, and stop questioning.”

“Your friends preach, too. But, most of them are found using borrowed things.”

“They are also adept in using the borrowed things from 'others' – TV, mobiles, computers, internet, cars, jets... But, together we then condemn the monkeys. After all, a thundering voice makes the job easy.”

“Look, the present is turning messy, and the future chaotic. They say, this World is no more for seclusion. Globalization, the genie, is intensifying the troublesome infectious disease called 'comparison'. Innovation and invention are the Time. Can’t you see it coming from all around , and to all around?”

“No! To transform is not for me; not for us...”

“You need to move in a straight direction – East, West, North, or, the South.”

“Oh! But this habit of spinning is a great pleasure. In a circle, nothing is new to fear.”

“This is no good for your health. A new light, fresh air, un-treaded paths …”

“Ah! I can't hear you in this clatter. These voices are leaving no choice but to continue the spinning motion. It looks the years will remain slave to the circular motion, too.”

“But spinning, and moving in a circle, is no motion. This is nothing more than a double jeopardy, a dilemma, a predicament – all signs of decadence. You preach virtues of naive simplicity, frugality; and, living again the age of the lost centuries… Alas! We live in the Age of Consumption. You know that! We can’t reverse the Time?”

“Yes, this motion is taking us nowhere. Life is at stand-still. Revolution has died for long, and evolution blocked.”

“Ok. Let's keep ourselves busy in the spinning motion. I, too, feel losing my comforts by disagreeing.”

“That is success of my …. Listen, I feel hungry, cold and uncomfortable….”

“Cant you bear it the Talk Warrior?”

“Ah! mere talk never bakes the bread; not even mine! An empty talk is nothing more than an illusion, a self-intoxication, an imaginary battle…”

“Then, what can I do for you – I, a condemned brother?”

“What more good can you do than borrow me some bread, some comforts…”

They could go nowhere from the crossroads. The debate continued. The spinning in a circular motion continued. The hunger grew each passing day…



Written By: Dr Nauman Niaz

International cricket has been sabotaged; the BIG 3 is a recipe for disaster. It is going to be story of devastation and to us as orthodox and conventional, it seems to be reinventing colonialism. Philosophically, ethically and morally it seems to be another type of apartheid. Discriminatory, contradictory and irrelevant, it shows myopia of those managing to draw attraction in terms of having strong financial base. Financial side of cricket, mostly vulgar has always been pertinent and equally attracting the main focus. Cricket's integrity and its charm, the peculiarity was lost somewhere in time.

Cricket has always seen upheavals and its beginnings were never accorded the gentlemanly acceptance. When Thomas Lord leased the area it had a play ground alongside a casino. And ironically, there were episodes of match fixing in matches between the Nottinghamshire and the England XI. William Lambert was the first victim, a batsman of the highest pedigree having scored century in each innings was alleged and humiliated in 1817. Consequently Alfred Mynn of Kent and Edward Pooley, England's wicket-keeper, were also castigated for their alleged involvement in fixing matches. Therefore cricket's curse, the match-fixing had started as early as in 1817 and the skeletons were never hidden.

Cricket faced another dilemma when the racism crept in, like aborigines weren't given opportunities on Australia's team, the Mauri's were deprived in New Zealand and equally shameful was the treatment meted out to the greatest players from the West Indies including Sir George Hadley, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Garfield Sobers all playing under a white captain not as apt and as skillful as them. This was the apartheid at its best. And eventually the outbreak which saw South Africa being isolated due to racism in 1969, an outcome of the Basil D' Olivera controversy. And even there were double standards, the ICC despite South Africa being struck out of the Commonwealth in 1963 didn't cancel their full membership, allowing them to play in Test matches until the axe fell on D' Olivera.

ICC had double standards and often they were meek, timid and thoroughly confused about their role. First unearthed in 1912 and led by the former England Captain Sir Pelham Warner, the Imperial Cricket Conference had a clear mandate as sport's legislative and not the governing body. In 1963 owing to the changing paradigms, the ICC having seven full members including England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, India and Pakistan was again renamed, now it was termed as Imperial Cricket Council to accommodate the facility of forming executive committees and to make it potent by strengthening its legislative role. Nonetheless, unlike FIFA, it was totally dependent on the casted votes by the full members to incorporate resolutions and to pass the bills, validating cricket's laws and bylaws as suggested by the Marylebone Cricket Club.

It was left to Pakistan to actually stand up and coerce the legislators to abolish England and Australia's rights of veto in the early 1970s. AH Kardar, farsighted and a visionary brought the teams from Asia on the table, and formed the Asian Cricket Council as deterrence to the dogmas and dictates of the ICC with more powerful Western representations. Nonetheless discrimination was always evident though people like Arif Ali Khan Abbasi, following the legacy of AH Kardar with his personal brilliance and attitude forced through vote siding with the BCCI to take the Reliance World Cup out of England in 1987 making it a genuine global event.

Regrettably, the people in Pakistan those running cricket didn't really remain well equipped to sustain their integral role in Asia, and the BCCI despite having limited brands (saleable players) in contrast to what Pakistan had started contemplating means and methods to turn their desire of dominating first the region and then the entire world consolidating their franchise system. Whilst rest of the world not enshrouded in mystery but completely oblivious kept on playing in their hands, the ICC was first approached through the electorate and selection systems India got the resolution passed pertinently with reference to the rotational appointment of the chairman of the premier body. Furthermore, India started the Indian Premier League and the moment BCCI disrupted the Indian Cricket League it was evident they had some clear cut designs. ICC's double standards and hypocrisy was evidence when they didn't intervene during the match fixing scandals citing it as India's domestic tournament and issues, whilst they created windows for both the IPL and the Champions League on the Future Test Programme. It was a case of evident hypocrisy

First the BCCI, despite being the major supplier of revenue to the ICC and a real big financial engine, kept on dragging the train comprising of the meekly and impoverished full members like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh even New Zealand and also the 99 Associate Members. ICC equally dispersed the revenue generated through global events. The BCCI, ECB and Cricket Australia explored the possibilities, and with IPL having a brand value of almost US$ 4.2 billion they had the resource and the power to subjugate rest of the world. Having done the Cumulative Market Analysis they reverted back to the ICC with a white paper. There evolved the concept of the BIG THREE. It was simple coercion since the ICC was already held hostage, BCCI's influence and most of the world players attracted to the IPL.

Such has been India's open hegemonic presence that they had virtually ridiculed the private league in Sri Lanka (six out of the seven franchises were owned by the Indian businessmen), the Indian players weren't allowed to participate, the Bangladesh Premier League also fell victim to organizational collapse as well as the fixing controversies. Pakistan's league never took off, mostly due to self inflictive half-cooked plans. They had a plan and they were provided the major chunk of the market share.

ICC frail and weak contradictory to their manifesto of globalizing cricket and supporting relatively impecunious associate member teams, proclaiming to start the World Test championship submitted to the BIG THREE. South Africa's stance initially was manful, little the critiques realized that they were business partners of the BCCI hosting the Champions League. They had to join the party they did, only Pakistan and Sri Lanka were left in the wilderness. The financial sabotage could be justified but not the administrative control. Picking and choosing tours to facilitate maximum revenue that India or England teams bring when they play, also demanding a major chunk from the ICC tournaments was an act of brazen contempt. And minimizing the stipends of the relatively lesser teams and boards leaves them in turmoil. Zimbabwe Cricket Union down with US$ 18 million and the BCCSL down by US 8 million would be left shivering in cold. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh would suffer as the Big 3 wouldn't like to play a bilateral series with them, Bangladesh mustn't have forgotten that they have toured India once in the last thirteen years.

Enticing another team to be incorporated at the Test level, the two tier team ratings concept, the winner of the Intercontinental Cup playing against the lowest rated full member also seems to be a ploy, that would save India, England or Australia being asked to play against them and picking and choosing would facilitate the BCCI to have windows of choice to host the IPL to maximize sponsorships. It is a devastation of international cricket, Zaka Ashraf's stance was appropriate anyways against what people like Ramiz Raja had suggested. Intelligently, PCB promising a vote to the BCCI and possibilities of bargaining to increase their yearly share plus being accommodated to play against each other or putting up a condition to ensure India came to Pakistan looked subjectively lucrative however prospectively there had always been a breach of trust between the two boards. BCCI would have promised without fulfilling their commitments, as it has happened in the past or still would have dictated the PCB.

Picking and choosing the series, interfering in changing rules, the mandatory over bridges would perpetuate chances of fancy fixing. The black market in any case is quite active and notorious in India. International cricket would suffer, the richer would get rich, the poor asphyxiated?

The writer is working as Head of Content (PTV Sports) and is a practicing Endocrinologist. He is a specialized cricket analyst, an anchorperson 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: Lt Col Mehar Omar Khan

In normal times, ordinary people lead ordinary lives and small places have small stories. But we, a large nation of 19.7 million people, have been lumbering through a period of extraordinary importance – “interesting times” as a Chinese curse calls such times of crisis. In such times, lesser mortals rise to become heroes and big stories issue forth from the wombs of small places. This is the story of one such small place. In the northwestern corner of Upper Dir District, only a few miles short of the snow-clad Lowari Pass, lies a little known village called Shahi Kot. Its bazaar is a growing cluster of retail shops sitting right at the bottom of a geographic pit; looking up at the surrounding hills like a toddler taking a worm's eye view of what for him is the hopelessly high shoulder of his father. Standing in the middle of the bazaar feels like being at the centre of a huge Roman stadium with countless pairs of hungry eyes staring from the pavilion-like tops that mark Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Visible from Shahi Kot are the snow covered mountain tops hiding on their back another country where a storm has been raging for over three decades now. That side of the hills has been suffering another story of another war feeding on the raw flesh of tribesmen's gullibility and ignorance. Just a few miles from this village, a mountain defile snakes into the nominal jurisdiction of that war ravaged “graveyard of empires”; nominal jurisdiction because the tribesmen on both sides of the border have seldom submitted to it.

Not far from Shahi Kot, as the mountain trail winds down into Afghanistan, a somber sense of history sets in; a sense billowing from countless tales of chivalry taken down by treachery and of little triumphs coming on the back of heartbreaking tragedies. As mighty invading empires come and go, the only sign of growth that side of the border seems to be in the sector of graveyards and in the population of mullahs with an irrevocable heavenly mandate to lead the faithful's manoeuvre to the nearness of Allah. On these mountain trails, in the recent past, some of our own misguided citizens have joined the ranks of blood-spitting fiends and have since been creeping back like serpents crawling through the dark recesses of earth. Shahi Kot is a business hub of sorts for dozens of small mountain hamlets burrowed into the deep, dark niches of the ravines that locals call Darras (passes). Dozens of flock to the bazaar to buy their daily needs. Some come only to loiter about, get a haircut at the newly set-up barber's place, while others sit idly basking in the sun, sipping away at Qahwa. Dozens of smuggled cars – Toyotas, Hondas, Chevrolets, you name it – stand lined up for travellers going up and down the passes. The town's only floor mill churns out sacks after sacks of grinded maize as the miller looks greedily over his shoulders at the constant flow of fresh arrivals.

Not far from the marketplace, flocks of children set up a stony shoulder of the stream for a rather bumpy game of cricket as their elders feel the painful joy of their recent peace. It was not like this just a few years back. It may not be like this again if the forces of fear and fanaticism manage to creep back again -- after all, the scorpions are frantically poking for a way in, all the time, just across the hills. Living in Shahi Kot is like living in a quiet Mexican village located on the edge of a sprawling, seething hideout of a nasty drug cartel. Only a few years ago, Pakistan's Army chased bands after bands of religious thugs out of Malakand Region – the larger geographic division that includes Swat in addition to the upper and lower districts of Dir. A large number of terror-mongering ogres passed through Shahi Kot, on their way to their holes in the “graveyard of empires”. On their way out, these monsters, wielding rocket launchers in one hand and Qur’aan in the other, burnt down mosques, torched schools, looted households and murdered lightly armed police and levies. Local populace rose up like a storm and fought hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder with their nation's army.

Years later, as the vegetable vendor hawks through the increasingly busy street of Shahi Kot bazaar, the only concern that lurks in the minds of shoppers and sellers is about the criminal merchants of terror rearing their head again. Some of them do occasionally slip back through the treacherous mountain trails mostly to run into fire from Pakistan Army's posts dotting the border; but occasionally managing to plant a roadside bomb against a military convoy or murder a patriotic local tribal elder. Our gallant Major General Sanaullah Niazi – charged with the mission of pressing the peace dividend home in this part of the country – was martyred in one such roadside bomb only a few kilometres from Shahi Kot, deep inside a pass. Since and before that incident, several others, both soldiers as well as civilians, have laid their lives in this historic effort at staying the hand of the killer.

Despite the occasional concern about infiltrating suicide bombers and sniping assassins, Shahi Kot has moved on. The number of cars parked near the bazaar and the ones carting passengers through the snaky defiles and over the beds of sparkling rivulets has grown manifold. The number of shops has nearly doubled over the last few months. Three or four new multi-storied shopping centres of sorts are also coming up. Unaware of the pedantic academic details about the so-called commanding heights of a war economy, the investors of Shahi Kot are bullish about their market's future. And as our nation's soldier charged with the responsibility of securing this area, I know their confidence is well-placed. Across the street from my headquarters, a beautiful, boastfully coloured housing compound has been nearly completed despite my occasional uncomfort over their digging and drilling, disturbing my afternoon nap. Across the stream that runs through the town, a hydropower project is about to be inaugurated and when started, will be enough to meet the residual shortage of power in the town. Work on the last stretch of black-top road will begin after the snow season and will connect Shahi Kot with the paradise that is the plain of Summer Bagh. After it's done, the land where Winston Churchill could only travel on the back of a mule (read The Story of the Malakand Field Force), will have a metaled circular highway from Taimergrah to Baraul and back through Mayyar – not an inch of unpaved road.

Metres from an army check post, a vegetable vendor has been working for weeks, setting up the wooden frame for his shop. Not far from the row of tailors, a barber busies himself without the fear of someone interfering to announce how much God-hated clean-shaven faces. When asked about why they are building expensive properties and setting up new businesses, our local investors struggle to explain the confidence that comes in the train of security. All they manage to say is that they feel it's the right time to stand up, get cracking, rebuild and relive. All of the local schools are up again as children make a beeline to what they hope will be a better, brighter future. Shahi Kot is a microcosm representing a wider trend across Malakand Region. From Mingora to Matta and from Chakdara to Lowari Pass, the forces of obscurantism and deceit have been routed. What remains are isolated vestiges of their criminality running through the dark alleys of the society like the vermin creeping in the sewage of a beautiful home. Their presence was a traumatic experience for the people of this paradise that caused a psychological hurt still not completely healed. What is nevertheless clearly unmistakable is the rejuvenated resolve of the populace; young and old alike.

The spirit of Shahi Kot is an emblem for the entire region. This small place, hanging by the bosom of big hills, holds a story of how a determined nation, standing up with its army, can defeat and destroy any threat to its wellbeing. It is our version – despite the differences in the nature, scale and severity – of American civil war where a decision was finally achieved on what kind of future the people of this country really want, richly deserve and will desperately fight for. Flocks of tourists have returned to the streets and salons of Malakand. Unbelievably peaceful life of Swat gives one both joy and pride: the boundless joy of so many lives saved and the ultimate pride of being part of an army that fought and won a seminal struggle for its nation. As the first pour of shimmering snowflakes settles on that new house across the street from my headquarters, the tribesmen deep in the valley have finished collecting firewood, moved their cattle indoors, cleaned up the fireplace and have started to hope that melting of snow will usher in an unending period of peace and prosperity… wo fasl-e-gul jisay undesha-e-zawaal na ho.


Written By: Mariam Malik

Keeping tabs on Pakistan's polio 'End Game' is not for the faint-hearted. Each month is a news of a fresh batch of innocent lives being affected either by the disease itself, or by the militants, who, blinded by false premise of faith, are bent on destroying all efforts made against this highly infectious virus. The challenges associated with targeting of polio workers, shortcomings of polio campaigns and the persistence of the disease are now larger than ever.

The severity of this challenge is such that the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 17 this year declared Pakistan's troubled northwestern city of Peshawar as the world's “largest reservoir” of endemic polio and called for urgent action to boost vaccination. There are currently 2,60,000 children in Pakistan that cannot access polio vaccination. Even Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the most optimistic independent donor rendered the 'polio-free' world by 2018, 'an unattainable goal'. Polio is an extremely infectious viral disease that usually affects children (age <5). It can lead to irreversible paralysis (one in two hundred times) within an hour of it invading into the nervous system. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented and these vaccinations can protect a child from a lifetime of paralysis.

Last month, in January, 2014, India, with its population of 1.2 billion people celebrated its third year of being a polio-free country, while Pakistan, with a population of 179 million individuals became home to the largest global reservoir of polio. The surge in polio cases within Pakistan is both, shocking and alarming for the national and the international community. This is the same country which was once so close to becoming a success story where in 2012, polio cases dropped from 197 to 58. Among the three countries, including Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, where polio endemic prevails, Pakistan is the only country where the number of reported polio cases has in fact increased. Polio cases in Pakistan went from 58 in 2012 to 83 in 2013.

These setbacks are largely due to polio worker killings and skepticisms against the vaccines. In addition to the false suspicion that the vaccines are in fact causing infertility in children, matters have unfortunately taken the wrong turn in the country following the capture of Shakil Afridi's involvement in Bin Laden episode through polio vaccination campaigns when the polio situation became intrinsically associated with terrorism. Affected by lack of governance at the local level, militant groups plaguing parents' minds with suspicions about vaccines and presence of extremists in the FATA (Tribal) Area has resulted in approximately 60,000 Pakistani parents' refusal to immunize their children against the crippling virus. This has posed a serious challenge to the collective global health efforts against the crippling virus, not only in the countries that manifest the disease, but also in the rest of the 'polio-free' world. This fear of exhibiting polio outbreaks has been fuelled by recent polio cases reported in Egypt and more recently in Syria. This year, India has become the first country to impose travel restrictions for Pakistani travellers that fail to produce evidence of their polio immunization. Other countries may follow after the Independent Monitoring Board convention of 23 countries where they will take a collective decision on the subject.

Should this situation persist, Pakistan may be isolated from the world. Our children are getting crippled. Our health workers are being killed. There is a health and an economic emergency in the country. Yet, I have failed to notice any active enthusiasm to finish this disease. I have failed to see any massive polio vaccination campaigns, and I have failed to see any political assurance of disease eradication. When the election time approaches, the city streets are paved with posters of the electoral candidates. Why are there no such campaigns against polio? The news channels on televisions broadcast talk shows that feature intense banter among politicians about sensational issues, why are they not discussing the most eminent problem the country is facing today? Media can play a huge role making this a success story if it wishes so! It is responsible for creating opinions among many and can play a pivotal role in turning this around. Building awareness and reaching out to this community is precisely need of the hour. Luckily, the Ulema in the country have been supportive of the campaigns. This has worked well but the solutions need to be optimized, and strategies need to be assessed. Additionally, there is a need to empower individuals in these areas where the disease exists. There is a need to give the polio workers incentives. There is a need to protect the health workers.

Unfortunately, the security arrangements for the health workers are almost non-existant. These are usually limited to routine condemnation by the government officials. Despite repeated attacks on the polio workers, they are not provided with security. After an attack, when it makes into the news headlines and after the militants 'claim responsibility for the attack', everything is back to normal – until next time. In my opinion, it is also time to take tough and bold decisions about improving security situation for the polio workers all over the country and particularly in KPK and Karachi. What needed now is precisely a robust system of administration. While the re-institutionalizing of the Ministry of Health was an important accomplishment, it is important to involve and make local administrations responsible that have sound knowledge of the area, people and challenges. There is a need for elected local bodies’ involvement that are familiar with the culture of the area and can play an important role in removing the mis-perception and coordinating security through local administration. Currently we have mostly NGOs telling the local people what to do. There lies a clear gap of misunderstanding and mis-perception. It is important to remove the mis-perceptions and obstacles. This is a time for a reality check. There isn't a greater enemy of our future generations than polio. It isn't just a health issue; it is now a human security issue. It is a matter of Pakistan's future and it's a matter of Pakistan's prestige. What use is the whole system when the enemy within is not recognized and we are confused to accept and treat them as foe?


Written By: Maj Gen (Retd) Salim Ullah

When Neville Maxwell published his historic treatise in 1970, the title (India's China War) intrigued the reader and critic alike. The book soon became a best seller on the news stand and was adopted as a text book by staff colleges around the world including India. Much to her chagrin, India's accusations of the book being controversial and biased failed to dent the credibility of Neville's account. Indeed, the book was widely praised across a diverse range of opinions, including British historian A. J. P. Taylor, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as well as the Chinese premier Chou Enlai. However, in India, Maxwell continued to be demonized as hostile to the Indian narrative and received fierce personal attacks. Over time much light has been shed on the border war of 1962 by Indian and other writers. Much research work is now available including first person accounts and memoirs of distinguished Indian writers, both civilian and military, to substantiate Neville's authenticity. On the eve of the 'golden jubilee of India's Himalayan Blunder', as an Indian writer termed it, Neville Maxwell visited India in late 2012. Armed with recent research and fresh evidence, he spoke to the Indian media and think tanks extensively.

But first to the genesis.

China and India share a long border comprising three stretches across the Himalayas, separated by Nepal, Sikkim (an independent kingdom, later annexed by India), and Bhutan. As a colonial legacy, a number of border disputes remain unresolved, from Kashmir in the west to Tibet and Assam in the north east, between India on the one end and China, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh on the other. The India - China disputed border, the so-called Line of Actual Control, spans nearly across 3000 miles from Ladakh in the North West to Arunachal Pradesh in the North East. At its western end is the Aksai Chin region, an area the size of Switzerland situated between the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang and Tibet, which China declared as an autonomous region in 1965. The eastern border, between Burma (Myanmar) and Bhutan, comprises the present Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, formerly the North East Frontier Agency.

The Sino-Indian War, October 20 - November 21, 1962, is notable for the harsh conditions under which much of the fighting took place, with large-scale combat at altitudes of over 4,250 metres (14,000 feet). It was a limited war in the classic strategic tradition; limited in scope and scale, as also in the politico-military aim, space, time and force levels employed by the two adversaries. It was confined to a remote region with strategic depth remaining unaffected on either side. It was marked for non-deployment of the navy or air force by the rival sides. But what it is most striking for is the sharp decline in relations between two brotherly countries, so declared by their leaders, descending into a full-scale border war in so short a time. Was it a clash of huge egos involved or a case of faulty perceptions that snow-balled into a border war? To fathom the real motives behind the sharp decline in relations, it may be instructive to analyze the events leading to the genesis of the dispute.

In his inaugural address to an independent India's parliament at midnight on August 14, 1947, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had laid out a road-map of India's foreign policy parameters. Calling it India's 'tryst with destiny', the Indian leader had stressed India's commitment to peace as the underlying theme in her relations with the world in general and with her neighbours in particular. He warned, “… freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people.”

In April 1954, India set forth the famous 'Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence', or Panch Shila, with China. Under the historic Sino-Indian Treaty on relations between India and the Tibet Region of China, India gave up her rights in Tibet, pledging non-interference without seeking a quid pro quo. To avoid antagonizing China, Nehru went as far as to assure the Chinese leaders that India had neither political nor territorial ambitions, nor did it seek special privileges in Tibet. Greeting his honoured guest Prime Minister Chou Enlai of China to Delhi, Nehru declared”Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai” (Indian - Chinese Brothers). Earlier in May 1951, Tibetan delegates had signed an agreement recognizing Chinese sovereignty and guaranteeing that the existing political and social system of Tibet would continue.

Later, in April 1955, India played the lead role in calling the Bandung Conference in Indonesia and laying the foundation of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Addressing representatives from twenty nine Afro-Asian countries, Nehru pledged India's commitment to world peace and non-participation in the Cold War. Decrying both power blocs, he declared: “So far as I am concerned, it does not matter what war takes place; we will not take part in it unless we have to defend ourselves. If I join any of these big groups I lose my identity… It is with military force that we are dealing now, but I submit that moral force counts and the moral force of Asia and Africa (emphasis added) must, in spite of the atomic and hydrogen bombs of Russia, the U.S.A. or another country, count.”

The core principles of the Bandung Conference were political self-determination, mutual respect for sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, and equality. For several years, Indian leaders – mainly defence minister V.K. Krishna Menon – sang the swan song of morality in world politics in all international and regional forums - ad nauseam. India's sermonizing was not taken well in the West: the US leadership, especially, was unamused. At Bandung too, the US diplomats had taken up cudgels openly with Indian delegates. The US delegate representative, Adam Clayton Powell, elaborated at length the American foreign policy which assisted the United States' standing with the Non-Aligned bloc. John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State (1953-1959), was in perpetual conflict with those non-aligned statesmen he found excessively favourable towards Communism, including India's Nehru and Krishna Menon. In one of his hard-hitting speeches on June 9, 1956, Dulles likened neutrality to the “worst form of prostitution”. He argued, "Neutrality has increasingly become obsolete and, except under very exceptional circumstances, it is an immoral and shortsighted conception."

Within months of the Bandung Conference – and as if to rebuke Dulles and the US – India invited top Soviet leaders, Prime Minister Bulganin and General Secretary Khrushchev, in late 1955, to a spectacular 14-day red-carpet visit to India and the disputed Kashmir. To the US media, the high-profile visit more than confirmed US apprehensions of India's hubris. Displaying rank opportunism, however, Nehru soon afterwards rushed to the US in1956 to offset the impression of a tilt towards the Soviet bloc. Lavishing praise for the US leadership of the 'free world', Nehru said, “To the people of India, I should like to say that the friendship of America is a treasure which we value and I am sure if these two countries cooperate, it would add to the peace of the world and will lead to our mutual advantage.”

In reality, India's preaching of world peace and non-violence was only a rhetoric to smoke-screen her increasing hegemonic designs in her neighbourhood. Earlier, she had air-lifted her military forces to forcibly occupy the disputed Kashmir while simultaneously pledging the right of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In a broadcast to the nation on November 3, 1947, Nehru had brazen-facedly stated, “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.” Later, India forcibly annexed the states of Hyderabad, Junagarh, Manavadar and Sikkim under the guise of police action or merger in naked violation of international law and complete disregard of the Will of the people of these states.

With China too, India did not take long to bare her claws. In characteristic Machiavellianism, she launched a clandestine 'soft' operation to instigate the Tibetans to revolt. Within two years of signing the Sino-Indian Treaty on Tibet, she surreptitiously 'invited' the young Dalai Lama to visit India in 1956 under the guise of participating in the 2500th anniversary celebrations commemorating the Enlightenment of the Buddha. To utter surprise of China, he subsequently 'sought' asylum in India. Chou Enlai visited India later that year and sought Nehru's personal intervention to persuade the Dalai Lama to return to Lhasa on the assurance of implementation of the 17-Point Agreement by China in good faith. Nehru promised to intercede; but did precisely the opposite. The failed uprising in Tibet was employed by Nehru as the game-changer. Worse was to follow…

(To be Continued…)
The writer is a visiting faculty at the NDU, Islamabad, a former DG ISPR and a former diplomat. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Dr Zafar Mehmood

After many ups and downs during the intensive consultations between developed and developing countries, the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded successfully in Bali, Indonesia on December 7, 2013. WTO Members have adopted a number of ministerial decisions on several important issues of the Doha Round, including agriculture allowing developing countries more options for food security, development/ Less Developed Country (LDC) issues to boost trade and Trade Facilitation designed to streamline the activity.

This is the first major agreement that has been reached by the WTO Members ever since it was established in 1995. Other agreements struck since then are on financial services and telecommunications, and among a subset of WTO members, and an agreement on free trade in information technology products.The Bali Package comes on the back of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), which was launched in 2001. The Bali Package is a small but a significant component of the DDA setting out a path for a successful conclusion of the DDA at some future date.

The most significant for international trade is the Trade Facilitation part of the Bali Package, which is about speeding up customs procedures; making trade easier, faster and cheaper; providing clarity, efficiency and transparency; reducing bureaucracy and corruption, and using technological advances. It also has provisions on goods in transit, an issue particularly of interest to landlocked countries seeking to trade through ports in neighbouring countries. Part of the deal involves assistance for developing countries and the least developed countries to update their trade infrastructure, train customs officials, or for any other cost associated with implementing the agreement.

The benefits to the world economy from the Bali Package are calculated to be between $ 400 billion and $1 trillion by reducing costs of trade by 10 to 15 %, increasing trade flows, creating a stable business environment and attracting foreign investment. Pakistan will also benefit from this pie if it takes timely actions. The agreement's positive spin-off will be in terms of growth, creation of more jobs and enhancement of revenue for governments. Much of the rest of the Bali Package focuses on various issues related to development, including food security in developing countries and cotton and a number of other provisions for the least developed countries. Agreement on the agriculture, a part of the Bali Package, required sorting out two issues. Much of the focus of negotiations was on shielding public stockholding programmes for food security in developing countries, so that they would not be challenged legally through the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism even if a country's agreed limits for trade-distorting domestic support were breached.

Pakistan fully supported agricultural development schemes to enhance food security and develop food stocks but the ones that are based on transparent, predictable and market based policies that do not distort production and international trade. In this context, it may be noted that the proposed solution will be interim, and much of the discussion was about what would happen at the end of the interim period. The outcome of consultations was for the interim solution to exist until a permanent one is agreed, with a work programme set up aiming to produce a permanent solution in four years. The Bali Package asks member countries to open up their agricultural subsidy regime for scrutiny and not use its subsidy regime to distort agricultural trade through exports. The Bali Package allows improving market access for cotton products from the least developed countries, and with development assistance for production enhancement in those countries.

The package also includes a political commitment to reduce export subsidies in agriculture and keep them at low levels, and to reduce obstacles to trade when agricultural products are imported through quotas. Agriculture subsidies and import quotas are widespread in the European Union that hurts exports of agricultural products from countries like Pakistan. Therefore, any development in this context will be in our benefit. The other issue was about “tariff quota administration”; that is, how a specific type of import quota (a “tariff quota” where volumes inside the quota have a lower duty) is to be handled when the quota is persistently under-filled. Members have agreed on a combination of consultation and providing information when quotas are under-filled. This will increase transparency in the use of import quotas.

Under development issues, four documents remained unchanged from their Geneva versions. These include:

• Duty-free, quota-free access for the least developed countries to export to richer countries' markets. Many countries have already implemented this, and the decision says countries that have not done so, for at least 97% of products, “shall seek to” improve the number of products covered.

• Simplified preferential rules of origin for the least developed countries, making it easier for these countries to identify products as their own goods, and qualify for preferential treatment in importing countries.

• A “services waiver”, allowing the least developed countries' preferential access to richer countries' services markets.

• A “monitoring mechanism”, consisting of meetings and other methods for monitoring special treatment given to developing countries.

Finally, the Ministerial Conference adopted five decisions on the WTO's regular work. They are the following:

• In intellectual property, members agreed not to bring “non-violation” cases to the WTO dispute settlement process – “non-violation“ is shorthand for the technical question of whether there can be legal grounds for complaint about loss of an expected right under the WTO's trade related intellectual property agreement, even when the agreement has not been violated.

• A similar extension was agreed in electronic commerce, members agreed not to charge import duties on electronic transmissions. The Work Programme at the WTO also encourages continued discussions on electronic commerce in relation to commercial issues, development and new technology.

• Ministers decided to give special consideration to issues of small economies. Ministers instructed the Committee on Trade and Development to consider proposals on small economies and make recommendations to the General Council of the WTO.

• Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to Aid for Trade, an initiative that assists developing countries, and in particular the least developed countries' trade. They welcomed progress on Aid for Trade since its launch in 2005 and mandated the Director-General of the WTO to continue support of the programme.

• Ministers directed their Geneva delegations to continue examining the link between trade and transfer of technology and make possible recommendations on steps that might be taken to increase flows of technology to developing countries. The mandate was given at the 2001 Doha declaration.

The text adopted in Bali is not final, although the substance will not change. It will be checked and corrected to ensure the language is legally correct, aiming for the General Council to adopt it by 31stJuly 2014. In conclusion, the Bali Package is a successful development for global trade. Had it failed, it would have dire consequences for the multilateral trading system. Had it failed, Pakistan would have been in difficult position as it is not part of any major regional trading bloc.

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: Zafar Hilaly

Whether or not a global clash of civilizations, a la Huntington, is likely, we in Pakistan, seem to be in the throes of something similar. Currently, the cause for which so many gave their lives... a democratic Pakistan comprising free elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, guarantee of individual rights and equal status of minorities... is pitted against the Taliban's version of the Sharia imposed by force. In other words, Taliban, who believe the prevalent (Western) system of government is a sort of an infection and the cause of the nation's ills are battling against those, who believe in the constitution, democracy and freedom. Few leaders in the past had also attempted a similar 'top-down state sponsored Islamization' that surely caused negative consequences for the state and society. This fight has divided the country and fuelled the visceral loathing the protagonists have for each other and, what is worse, has also dangerously exacerbated shia- sunni differences.

The reader may say we know all this, so why repeat it? The answer is because few believe we will be able to find a compromise... the usual fudge... between two very contrasting beliefs and somehow muddle through. Well, we won't. There is no possibility of communication and accommodation between them because the values, concepts and principles they embrace are profoundly different. Their respective national visions which were always irreconcilable have become unbridgeable with the addition of violence to the lethal brew which already divides them. Anyway, to try and persuade the opposing sides to agree to democratic rules of political participation, or to get the Taliban to commit to pluralism and respect for equal rights for all, must fail as they are contrary to the Taliban's version of the Sharia. In any case, the Taliban (and their sympathizers, too) often get divided by personal rivalries, ideological differences and disputes over turf and money. At the last count, there were over fifty different militant groups in the country and not all know what they want.

There is little point in trying to retrace our steps and ask why or what went wrong; and certainly none in assigning blame. Such a debate will only intensify feelings of frustration, resentment and victimization. But, alas, to some extent that's unavoidable or else confusion, already rife, will become rampant and deplete our fighting morale.

If the Taliban were an organization bent only on robbing and killing for money by now they would have provoked a wave of resentment in the populace and been destroyed. But that's not the case. In some parts of the country, the Taliban are viewed by the poor and disaffected populace as the panacea for decades of misrule. Many are happy to accept the Taliban's offer of prompt, albeit, rough justice in return for obedience. Hence, the challenge that the Taliban pose to the state is more compelling, and the danger they pose greater than that offered by a mafia-like organization or local warlords. The Taliban is a formidable foe with an extensive local and regional intelligence network. Its followers have penetrated just about every segment of the society and even in few cases, the state. That was evident in the attacks on Pakistan Army, Pak Navy and Pakistan Air Force installations and Headquarters. The assassination attempts on former President Musharraf; Mehran Base; GHQ, Kamra Base, Benazir Bhutto's murder and most recently that of SP Chaudhry Aslam are but few examples. In each case intelligence was crucial to the success or near success of the attacks by the terrorists and their abettors.

It's no secret that few men of the Taliban's ilk, and of the same political and religious persuasions as them, are to be found in every nook and corner. Therefore, the battle against them would not be won unless they are ferreted out, with the verve, gusto, determination and spirit the venture requires; a premonition bolstered by the faltering Karachi operation. If that was not bad enough, what's infinitely worse is that in the victims' eyes, the state is viewed by few as not a credible deterrent. An anemic, ineffective response; far too few enemy corpses have all demonstrated that though the rhetoric may be loud, the bite is somewhat toothless. So much so that in the minds of the Taliban, the state hardly possesses a deterrent. As a society, we have overdone the appeasement. We have bent over backwards to accommodate the extremists; we have allowed them to flourish and expand, and given it virtually free access to the media. Those militants sentenced to death are not being executed although the TTP continues their killings of our armed forces personnel without any similar self imposed restraint. Worse, the apathy in effective response led to an easy and merry-making escape of Taliban terrorists from Bannu and DIK jails. Earlier we appeased the Taliban by not only adopting their version of the sharia in Swat, but allowed them to take control of daily administrative functions.

There was, in truth, only one option for the country and that was for the political leadership, the Army and various Governments in the provinces to stick together and resist this extremist religious zealotry by extending as much modern-ization, democratic rights and fruits of economic development as they could to the people of the FATA. That was always a far preferable option to an annihilating military response. In case of dialogues or operation, we will have to achieve a definitive edge; and one that is clear to the world and is irrefutably so in the minds of the enemy. The fact is that we must leave the enemy in no doubt about the heavy cost it would pay for hosting our enemies, let alone killing our soldiers. Once this lesson has been learnt, talks are likely to produce the results each sides can live with. In the inheritance in our possession... Pakistan... we have a great treasure to guard and which represents nearly a hundred years of sacrifice both on and off the battlefields. We not only have a great treasure, we have a great cause. And now, surely, the time has come to ask ourselves: Are we taking every measure within our power to defend that cause?

Are we? I am sure a true answer would not appear far fetched! We must protect our country, our people, our values and our future.
The writer is a former member of Pakistan Foreign Services and contributes regularly for print & electronic media. Besides his stint as an Ambassador, he remained Special Secretary to Prime Minister for foreign affairs and national defence. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(A perspective on Conventional Military Mobility in a Sub-conventional Theatre of Operations)

Written By: Brig Muhammad Khalil Dar

While flying over Shahur Tangi in South Waziristan Agency (SWA), one is irresistibly lured into imagining the ordeal of British Indian officers and soldiers who were ambushed by Mehsud fighters in April 1936. A total of seven officers and 45 soldiers were killed in a traditional merciless manner by tribesmen, besides setting ablaze the vehicles. One keeps wondering even having well passed over the gorge like defiles then why could not these series of daunting brick watch towers / posts prevent this massacre in a broad day light? History reveals that their current visible structure came after the ambush, not before it.

Soon after the World War-1 (WW-I), at the time when modern form of conventional forces was taking shape, a new set of exploitable weaknesses was also emerging in parallel. One such basic vulnerability was the growing dependency on road and rail move which was exploitable by the enemy operating on non-linear lines or under un-conventional setting. Skipping history, of course with a regret, but to save on time, we may restrict to post WW-I time frame and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) when the issue actually began to signify. Since, there is a common agreement on the socio-economic benefits of roads and rails, we may confine to military dimension only.

In pure military sense roads mean high mobility, hence, advantages in time and space, both tactical and strategic. For the post-WW-I military planners, motorised transport plying on roads provided the ability to employ 4.5" and 6" artillery guns firing a heavier shell than anything Waziristan had ever seen, hence, an overwhelming ascendency of firepower. A milestone was achieved in July 1930 when two and a half infantry battalions and a company of sappers were moved from Bannu to Razmak in 24 hours using lorries; a tactical mobility unthinkable hitherto. Addition of aerial power and wireless communication might have contributed to the confidence.

The bloody ambush at Shahur Tangi came as a jolt to face the stark reality. The event had exposed the exploitable vulnerabilities of the emerging modern structure of forces. British were quick to realize and it became abundantly clear that time advantage gained through mobility over roads was at the cost of surprise and flexibility. In other words, introduction of modern technology in Waziristan translated as a sharp decline in off-road mobility. There were no choices of routes, hence, less options to encircle and force a battle. On the other hand, the overwhelming advantages of fire power had conversely convinced the tribesmen to give up the tradition of chivalry, avoiding the pitched battles, and adapt to small and swift actions for which they were more accustomed to. British response by introduction of light tanks and aerial support, though, did improve the off road mobility of fighting columns but could not ensure decisive encounter.

To a veteran soldier who still remembered the good old days of 1860s and 1870s, it would have been a drastic decline in the fighting ability of military. By comparison the machine-assisted military was ending up in prolonged and indecisive campaigns. The campaign against Faqir of Ipi fought from 1936 onwards inconclusively lasted for 12 years involving mobilization of 40,000 troops. Whereas 1897 uprising only took two years to subdue despite being larger in scope and fought on horseback. The whole concept of increased tactical mobility would have looked questionable to him. Was it because that possibly motorized army snatched opportunity for personal initiative or any variation in minor tactics being hostage to stereotyped tactics of 'Road Open Days' (ROD). Or, was this relative ineffectiveness owing to the fact that regular units had grown ponderous and over-cautious with interdependent fixed support structures / mechanisms. The realization of the issue can be gauged by the question set for the 1933 prize-essay competition “the growing complexity of modern weapons, mechanisation and the increasing dependence of Indian columns on maintenance services in the field was explicitly linked to the declining effectiveness and relative mobility of the Indian Army”.

Soviet's frustration in Afghanistan is another example to touch upon. With the invasion force of 4 x Motorized Rifle and one and a half 'Air Assault Divisions' backed up by large fleet of aircrafts and helicopters, the objective looked doable if not difficult, especially given the inherent tactical mobility of the invading force. But they were soon to realize a bitter reality. Their under estimation of the criticality of protected roads to keep up the combat potential of their highly mobile force structure, resulted in a fatal loss of prestige. Sustaining mobile forces and maintenance of mobility emerged as a major challenge; hence, protection of roads became the highest priority. On the one hand, it dictated establishment of a series of fixed fortifications, strong points and firebases along the routes and, on the other hand, convoys became larger (100 - 300 vehicles) with 30% of vehicles devoted to security. Soon the Soviets were to rename the whole invasion as the "Highway War" (dorozhaia voina). Attempts to rely on rotary wing support to offset road-side vulnerabilities led to realization that extensive use of helicopters was not only difficult to maintain but was also wasteful, primarily due to penalties of payload at higher temperature / altitudes and high demands of fuel. One is compelled to wonder that restoration of mobility in mountainous country-side of Waziristan may be brought to own favour by going back in time and getting independence from fixed roads. But that may not be the logical conclusion as the adversary mainly or partly enhances its mobility through four wheel drive vehicles. He does so because of very loose and non-rigid small organizational structure; besides using numerous jeep-able tracks with honed driving skills.

By analysing the British, Russian and contemporary wars going on either side of Pak-Afghan Border, one reaches a single conclusion that there is no substitute to roads and road transport. Logical option left with us is to build more roads with numerous laterals to regain the flexibility of choice of routes, hence, gain surprise resulting in snatching the enemy initiative, thus reducing the vulnerabilities. Therefore, the current thrust of building roads holds the key to future, of not only the prosperity of the people but enhanced military applications, hence, may be kept at same pace for decades to come. So it is the 'war of roads'; the more roads will eventually bring the change to a level where fighting becomes meaningless. On the military side, another option is to re-organise in small, flexible, agile and task specific fighting parties. Across the border, large scale enhancement of various forms of Special Forces operating in small groups appears to be the natural response to the similar threat matrix. When the British raised Punjab Irregular Force (PIF) in 1850s, its main strength stemmed from its localized nature and job specificity i.e. not being burdened by the requirement to fight a conventional war, hence, on equal terms with the adversary.


Written By: Javed Jabbar

As conventional mainstream media continue to pervade the globe, as new media through the internet and cell phones aim to place humanity virtually inside an envelope, our Armed Forces in general and the Pakistan Army in particular face challenges, both traditional, and entirely new. Are the speed and quality of response adequate to meet the urgency of the challenges? In times when the civil, political, and elected structures of Pakistan are asserting a new principle that the military should operate within a civil-led democratic discipline, any possible response to the new challenges should be built on a close, creative and constructive partnership between the civil and military structures. This cohesion should cover both the policy and operational aspects of defence strategy as well as specifically focus on how the civil and military segments of the state can most effectively co-operate to address the unprecedented advance of media into virtually all realms of state and society.

Even during phases when there is neither internal violent conflict nor violent conflict with external elements, the relationship of the military with media remains important. To reinforce stability and to ensure that the state remains secure and that the absence of violence, internal or external, is not a deceptive and misleading calm, optimal co-ordination between the civil and military spheres regarding a unified, singular state relationship with the media becomes a vital pre-requisite. Indeed, only if there is such a well-planned co-ordination in times of peace and normalcy, can there be order and clarity in times of internal and external conflicts and when, as in open war, reality is clouded by fog, and truth is often the first casualty. It is another matter that truth is always a complex and elusive condition to define, truth is not necessarily the first objective of any strategic communication objectives. The requirements of propaganda, psychological warfare and disinformation as part of the methods and tactics to confuse and defeat internal and external threats can make the articulation and the projection of the truth a secondary and even forgettable priority! Through the Directorate of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) there is a permanent mechanism already provided for the conduct of communication between the Armed Forces and the media, and with the society. ISPR Directorate holds regular briefings, issues press releases, arranges for off-the-record sessions between top commanders and media persons and, when necessary, ISPR’s spokesman appear personally in the media.

However, while such activities and initiatives are essential and should continue, there is a need to explore options for introducing new ways to give media-based communication, as distinct from direct, word-of-mouth, inter-personal communications, a central and pivotal position in the conventional structure of the formations of the Armed Forces. Equally, while gradually asserting the civil, political framework to be the discipline within which the military should operate, there is a need for the civil policy sphere and within it, the civil information sphere, to significantly improve its own knowledge and understanding of the military's internal domain and civil capacity to handle the specialized task of communication with media and other segments on military issues. The critical starting point of building co-operation in times of peace and normalcy is that both civil and military leadership should develop trust and respect for each other's roles and responsibilities. Such mutuality and reciprocity of trust would transmit the correct signals to all officers and personnel and reduce reservations and hesitations.

Difficulties in trust-building exist between institutions in all states of the world. This particular phenomenon is not peculiar to Pakistan alone. Even within the military spheres, there tends to be a lack of co-ordination and complete trust between relevant wings of all the three services, though there have been improvements over the past 30 years. In countries with advanced state systems, mature democracies and those with far more transparency than in our country, there are recurrent problems caused by deferring perceptions of related institutions in the security and military spheres, leave alone between the civil and military spheres. This absence of cohesion in such countries also extends to another highly sensitive subject such as foreign policy. For instance, there have been notable instances in USA when the White House deliberately kept the State Department and its Ambassadors in other countries ignorant about initiatives being conducted with foreign countries by the advisors or emissaries of the President. In Pakistan, with a comparatively poor record of minimal co-ordination between institutions and office-holders, the luxury of by-passing institutional processes, be it in normal times or in abnormal times, is unaffordable. In recognition of the pervasive impact of media on all kinds of perceptions, is it time for the Ministry of Defence, the Joint Staff Headquarters and the Pakistan Army to consider the creation of a Media Corps? The formation of this new component would provide to all the other corps and formations a co-equivalent forum that integrates the communication imperative into all related units and elements and facilitates internal and external functions relevant to communication and media.

A Media Corps, unlike the conventional Corps that possess and deploy the physical instruments of defence and attack, would specialize in the formulation, application, transmission and monitoring of concepts, themes, expositions and on the production of content for media that would advance the operational objectives of tri-services and promote the over-all strategic role and impact of the Armed Forces in any given situation, be it the rendering of relief during a natural disaster, be it the combating the internal insurgency, or be it the defence of territorial frontiers. At the same time, a Media Corps would stress rather than weaken the importance of communications and media as cross-cutting concerns that are of utmost relevance to all other corps, formations and units of the Army and of the Armed Forces. The concept of a Media Corps with an internal command structure, defined functions and its position in relation to other corps will obviously obligate a detailed study to enable debate, deliberation and refinement.

At this time, suffice is to say that a new approach to communication by the military and about the military to different audiences and target groups is required. This new approach should reflect the new idiom, ethos and realities of a world and a country facing increased volatility and uncertainty. The traditional, formal, rigid, often-predictable formats and terminologies used to project the military in the media and in the public domain have either lost credibility or have become redundant and out-of-sync with times of great flux and change. Discrepancies between, on the one hand, the harsh realities of violent and internal conflicts as being witnessed currently in many parts in Pakistan and in which the military and the paramilitary forces and also the civil police are paying the priceless cost of life itself for the defence of our country, and on the other hand, the conventional manner and tone in which media are used to project these realities best illustrate the need for a new approach to communications.

Unlike the military domain where the scope for nuance and ambiguity is extremely restricted or non-existent, the civil domain and the domain of media as a whole are replete with ambivalence, shades of grey and implicit meanings rather than explicit statements. Without losing the precision and the discipline that are inherent to the military domain, there is considerable scope for progressive change and improvement in the substance and the style of military communication with the media and the public to better harmonize with the ferment and fever of the 21st century. In attempting any new initiative, the leaders and managers of the transition will bear in mind that new information, or the use of new ways to communicate information have the potential to destabilize order and certainty. But given careful preparation, observance of transitions made by other militaries in advanced and in still- advancing countries, the Pakistan Armed Forces have the institutional capacity to address the new challenges.

The writer is a renowned media personality who has served as minister in three Federal Cabinets and has been a Senator. He has to his credit, thirteen books and monographs comprising his writings and material compiled/edited by him on a range of subjects. www.javedjabbar.com

Written By: Col Sohail Akbar Khan

The history of religious extremism in Pakistan does not go back very far but rather is a recent phenomenon. It can be traced back to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when under the patronage of USA and its lead intelligence agency; the CIA, Jihad was waged against occupation forces in Afghanistan through a network of Mujahideen coming from all over the Muslim world.

Massive recruitment drive for Mujahideen was launched through print, electronic media, religious clerics and other related segments of the society. A Large number of individuals from Pakistan and other Muslim countries especially Arabs / Middle Eastern countries, participated in the Jihad with financial and material support mainly from the West with USA having lead role owing to its regional and global interests. Although the Soviets were finally defeated and Jihad in Afghanistan came to a logical conclusion but most of these Mujahideen including foreign individuals never went back. They got settled in bordering areas of Pakistan-Afghanistan, married there and permanently settled down. When these individuals had nothing to do, they started participating in local wars of influence under different war lords and started living in strong groups with affiliated sectarian groups.

War of influence in these bordering areas continued with Taliban emerging as a strong force and finally getting control of majority of Afghanistan with their affiliates also having influence in KPK / FATA. They started practicing their own type of Islamic ideology with extremist thinking / tendencies with no, or very little, room for other sects of Islam. This battle of influence caused the unleashing of sectarianism and religious intolerance in Pakistan.

Sectarianism is a byproduct of religious extremism. This battle of influence continued and got expanded to other areas of Pakistan. In order to get support, most of the sectarian groups started looking towards foreign countries; consequently heavy funding started pouring into Pakistan. A large number of Madaris belonging to different sects were established. Lots of hate material was distributed to malign other sects and preach about own beliefs. This battle resulted into creation of armed wings, resultant killings and sectarian bloodshed, especially 1990s onward. Then came 9/11 and the world witnessed the US forces occupying Afghanistan (along with their regional and global interests) to fight Al Qaeda and Taliban. Pakistan was again used as a front line state in the so called GWOT (Global War on Terrorism). This war has proved devastating for Pakistan politically, economically, militarily and on aspects of sectarian harmony and religious tolerance. This period has seen emergence of different militant sectarian groups which are receiving huge funding from within the country and from foreign countries unchecked. This has made them strong and owing to divergent views / beliefs about certain portion / history of Islam, tolerance for one another has declined sharply. It resulted into religious / sectarian polarization, intolerance and so called “Religious Extremism” for which Pakistan is being propagated as one of the dangerous places by the West. This threat is growing rampantly across the whole country. It has the potential to destroy the very fabric of our society. The solutions to this problem must come with no waste of time. It is time to take various measures which if implemented in true spirit, may control this menace. These include:-

• The federal and provincial governments should make efforts to revisit syllabus of education institutions and Madaris to eradicate hate material and modify subjects with divergent views of sects. The syllabus must promote harmony rather than creating dissensions. Moreover, reforms introduced from time to time for Madaris must be implemented in letter and spirit. The unchecked spread of Madaris must not be allowed. A system may be evolved to monitor all Madaris for above mentioned aspects. For this purpose, Ministry of Religious Affairs can take lead in coordination with the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). Those institutions found involved in spreading extremism must be banned and their organizers punished.

• The government should acquire information on domestic and foreign funding of all religious organizations / institutions. After consensus of all stakeholders, this funding must be channelized / brought under scrutiny. All concerned should declare the source of funding and their expenditures to bring transparency in the system, and also to deny use of this money for anti-social / anti-state activities. It is also important to ban hate speech for which strict laws be introduced and violators be dealt with severely. The government may also enforce ban on use of loudspeakers by all mosques / Madaris except for “Azan”.

• The next step for the government should be to ensure complete crackdown on those individuals and organizations responsible for creating / spreading extremist tendencies and hate towards other sects / school of thoughts. This is seriously affecting our national unity and ultimately national security. In this regard, the government can chalk out strategy for use of media; both print and electronic in order to preach tolerance amongst all segments of society. Articles, programmes and talk shows can be arranged to curb extremist tendencies. All those found involved in propagating extremism must be banned to appear on TV screens, radio talk and newspapers’ headlines.

• Together with these measures, the government must ensure provision of speedy and fair justice as this would address public grievances and would help reduce extremist tendencies in the society. Also, more jobs can be created to ensure keeping majority committed, reducing unemployment and thereby making less number of people available to extremists for motivation / utilization.

• Another important step is that appropriate Cyber laws be made / implemented against propagating religious extremism. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in coordination with other LEAs can track down individuals involved in these crimes. The criminals then should be dealt through speedy justice and punished. This will serve as a deterrence for others to stop using the web for promoting sectarianism.

• Appropriate percentage of budget should be allocated for education sector to increase literacy in our society. Modern and balanced religious education will help in reducing and then eradicating extremism, and also will pave way for our economic development. We have examples of many countries where religious extremism has not been allowed to take roots.

Malaysia, Turkey, UAE etc are better examples. We must learn from their experiences and implement policies in line with their laws.

• In this regard, “Ulema and Citizen Councils” down to sub-tehsil levels may be formulated having full support from LEAs in order to investigate and prosecute violators. Individuals with extremist tendencies must be identified and isolated at all levels. There is an urgent need to be proactive in our approach / fight against religious extremism and sectarianism. We must not wait for “miracles” to happen and should rather curb these tendencies with iron hand. If we are sincere with our country and want to develop, live honourably in the comity of nations, we should not waste more time and start implementing corrective measures. Any lapse would not be forgiven by either history, and our future generations.


Written By: Col Ehsan Mehmood Khan

Contextualizing Identity

A person or a group is known by some linkages, associations, relationships, expressions and attributes. All these combine to create a view what is called identity in the simplest known terms. Usually considered as part of the social sciences, such as sociology and social psychology, it is now classified as a political expression, too. Ken Browne, in Introduction to Sociology (Policy, 2011), notes 16 different factors that play their part in crafting an individual's identity. These include: age, gender, region, religion, ethnic group, mass media, gender preferences, nationality, fashion flavour, family, friends, leisure activities e.g. sports and hobbies, occupation and workplace, income and social class, health, and education. Amidst a set of multiple identities, a person often has an overarching identity. This may be called a mono-identity, which can be referred to as the solitary character for a given purpose or due to certain expression. Several identities linked with a single individual contribute to what can be called multi-identity.

Nationality, or nationalism, is one of the identities a person must have in the contemporary international system, which is made up of sovereign states. According to Chaim Gans (The Limits of Nationalism, Cambridge, 2003), nationalism takes two forms: statist and cultural. In cultural nationalism, the members of a group, community or society adhere to a common culture and have a shared history. Cultural nationalism may be sub-statist in nature, albeit not in all cases. In some cases, such as Pakistan, cultural diversities intermix to craft a dominant cultural construct. In such cases, cultural nationalism and statist nationalism are seen on the same page. The statist nationalism is based on the nation state. The culture, nationality and identity revolve around the state we live in. Whereas the cultural nationalism is often rooted in the shared past, the statist nationalism is anchored in the shared future. Statist nationalism has grown stronger due to its political linkage and international recognition. In point of fact, it has appropriated the notion of nationalism in a matter that the sub-statist cultural nationalism is now being referred to as sub-nationalism by a host of scholars and sociologists. More so, nationalism has emerged as strongest among the identities an individual may have. Thus, it can be said that identity is unbreakably tagged with nationalism.

The Pakistani Identity

The state of Pakistan with this name is virtually seven decades old. However, the Pakistani identity is centuries old. This fact needs to be evaluated deeper and can be studied from various angles. Key ones are being discussed here.

• The Historical Identity. The historical roots of Pakistan go back by nearly 7,000 years in the form of the geological past of the Indus Basin. The areas forming part of Pakistan today, evolved into a compact region around the Indus River, its tributaries and distributaries. This speaks of the historical identity of Pakistan. Pakistan, as we see today, came into being based on the two-nation theory that the Muslims and the Hindus, the two majority communities in the Subcontinent, are two different nations. The Muslims, the second largest majority of the Subcontinent, have ruled the region for over a millennium. This too is an important section in the string of historical identity of Pakistan.

• The Geographical Identity. Located between the Arabian Sea, Balochistan Plateau, Koh-e-Sulaiman, Safed Koh, Koh Hindu Kush, Pamir, Karakoram, Himalayas, and cutting across the plains of Punjab, the Cholistan Desert and the Thar Desert, Pakistan is a case for distinct geographical identity. As a geographical entity, Pakistan has existed for thousands of years. The geography indeed links the past, present and future of Pakistan.

• The Archeological Identity. The excavation of similar prehistoric settlements from all four provinces of Pakistan i.e. the Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and the parts under federal administration, makes a case for an archeological identity of Pakistan. The region existed in the form of Indus Valley Civilization, a Bronze Age Civilization that flourished from 3,300 BC to 1,300 BC in the areas forming part of Pakistan now. This may be called the archeological identity of Pakistan.

• The Religious Identity. Pakistan is home to people from various religious communities such as Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Parsi, etc. However, Islam being the religion of the majority and the country being an Islamic republic makes a sound case for religious identity, too. To this end, it is relevant to quote Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who is cited to have said, “Pakistan came into being the very day when the first Hindu became a Muslim.” (Muhammad Asif Malik, Ideology and dynamics of politics in Pakistan, Emporium, 2001).

• The Political Identity. Pakistan that came into being on 14 August 1947 is a sovereign political entity on the political map of the world, and thus the political identity of its citizens. Pakistan came into being through a politico-constitutional process and evolved into a democracy through a long winding process. The populations of democratic nation states comprise citizens, not subjects. So is the case of Pakistani citizenry. Pakistanis, across the globe, are known by the inscription on their passport: Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Undoubtedly, Pakistan faces a host of socio-economic and politico-security issues. But so do all other countries of the world, whether big or small, and developed or developing. The difficulties and dilemmas that we face bring us further closer to our nucleus: the Pakistani identity. There is always a gargantuan opportunity in every crisis that is seemingly big. So is the case of Pakistan today. The law and order situation is a shared pain of the populace, is cementing the Political Identity indirectly.

• The Cultural Identity. With some local cultural miscellany and diversity, Pakistan has a distinct national culture, which has indeed existed for centuries. The areas constituting Pakistan have had similar dresses, eating habits, customs, social standards, folklores and literature. Albeit countless, a few legendary literary figures of Pakistan who contributed in the literature of Pakistani languages such as Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Baloch, Brahvi, Chitrali / Khowar, Shina, Seraiki, and others are as follows: Khwaja Farid-ud-Din Ganj-Shakar (1173–1266), Khushal Khan Khattak (1613–1689), Sultan Bahu (1628–1691), Rehman Baba (1653–1711), Baba Bulleh Shah (1680–1757), Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689–1752), Waris Shah (1722–1798), Sachal Sarmast (1739–1829), Mian Muhammad Bakhsh (1830–1907), Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), Agha Hashar Kashmiri (1879–1935), Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911–1984), Saadat Hassan Manto (1912–955), Mir Gul Khan Naseer Baloch of Nuskhi (1914–1983), Ashfaq Ahmed (1925–2004), Ahmad Faraz (1931–2008), Atta Shad Baloch (1939–1997), Parveen Shakir (1952–1994), and Rehmat Aziz Chitrali (b.1973).

• Linguistic Identity. Although language is an inescapable part of any culture, it merits distinction with regard to identity of a people. Like other nation states in the world, Pakistan too has linguistic diversities. Urdu is the lingua franca of Pakistan. Some 69 other languages are spoken in the country. All these present various bright colours and dazzling shades of Pakistan's linguistic basket. Pakistan faces no language barrier as against what is encountered by some communities in intercultural relations. Linguistic diversity is a source of strength. It is desired. All rivers flow into the sea and in turn seas are the part of ocean. This diversity is never in conflict with the national identity. It rather fortifies the cultural identity of Pakistan. Likewise, various ethnicities such as the Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Balochi, Brahvi, Seraiki, Qabaili, Kashmiri, Gilgiti, Balti, Chitrali, Swati, Kohistani and all others. (Pardon me for having missed out any of the ethnicities due to space limitations.) All are inalienable part of the Pakistani identity, whether mentioned here or otherwise. A homogeneous Urduized culture does exist within the diversities that have been mentioned.

• The Pakistani Identity. All above facets may be called the sections of the string of Pakistani identity. Pakistan is the identity of its individual citizens, linguistic communities, ethnic groups, regions and provinces. It is sovereign identity linking all federating units. It is a mark of the statist nationalism of the people of Pakistan. It is also the pictogram of cultural nationalism of the entire Pakistani populace. The myth of the Subcontinental culture and the folklores of Mahabharta sink into the sea of fabrication when tested by the scholars like Aitzaz Ahsan (The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan, Oxford, 1996) on the epistemic gauge of justification and scientific yard of rationality. Indus and India remain to be poles apart, as apart as are Peshawar and Pune, Panjgur and Patna, Karachi and Kolkata, Bhawalpur and Bangalore, Muzaffarabad and Mumbai, Chagai and Calicut, Gilgit and Gwalior, Islamabad and Delhi, and Kakul and Dehra Dun. Indus is the identity of Pakistan. It is diabolical to link Indus and India. India or any other country seeking to create some linkage with Indus River, Indus Delta, Indus Basin, Indus Valley Civilization or the heritage of Indus is indeed trying to take light from the glittering galaxy of Pakistani identity.

Why the Pakistani Identity?

Why must the Pakistanis have the Pakistani Identity has been illustrated in Figure-2. With shared history, geography, culture, economy, security and social problems, Pakistani populace is destined to have a shared future. This defines as to what and who the Pakistanis are, why does Pakistan exist, and how does it evolve into an identity. Thus, identity is also a reflection of a shared destiny, shared fortune and shared future. The Upshot The Pakistani identity has all archetypical attributes of a national identity as seen by the nations around the world. Pakistan is a historical, geographical and sovereign reality. Being sixth most populous country in the world with over 180 million people and 36th largest country in territorial area with 796,095 square kilometres of landmass marked by desired diversities, Pakistan is also an economic reality to reckon with. Pakistan is sixth largest in production of wheat in the world, sixth largest in production of mangoes, 12th largest rice producer but third largest rice exporter, fifth largest tobacco producer, and third largest cotton producer in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics, Pakistan's ranking in other food items is as follows: chickpea, second; apricot, fourth; sugarcane, fifth; onion, fifth; and tangerines, mandarin oranges and clementine, eighth. All this makes a case for an economic identity of Pakistan for its own populace and other nation states part of the contemporary international system.

All said, it is responsibility of all Pakistanis – citizenry, civil society, media, public institutions and the representative governments – to play their respective role towards fortification of the national identity. Media has already played a noteworthy role in bringing the people from all communities, parts and provinces of Pakistan closer. The transformative role taken up by media can further reinforce the Pakistani identity in face of challenges, both internal and external. The Pakistanis must have firm belief in each other's strengths and sincerity. All ethnicities and communities of the country have extraordinary potentials, strengths and qualities. Pakistan's diversities are incomparably gorgeous such as Peshawari Kebab, Sindhi Biryani, Balochi Sajji, Lahori Karahi and Kashmiri Tea. The ports are located in Sindh and Balochistan, the industry is in Sindh and Punjab, the source of transport is in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, water comes down from Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and so on. The people of different parts have different virtues and qualities. All these combined can steer the nation on the road to success. Conviction and confidence are the imperatives. To sum up, everyone – an individual and communities – long for identity, for which they do not hesitate to offer supreme sacrifices, even of their lives. The Pakistani identity certainly provides for that.


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 (published 2014). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Why are the Indian BSF targeting us?

Written By: Jennifer McKay

The landmark meeting between the Director Generals Military Operations of Pakistan and India on 24 December 2013 to strengthen mechanisms to ensure the sanctity of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LOC), signalled a new turn in the Pakistan-India relationship. The meeting, hosted by Pakistan, was the first in the 14 years since the Kargil War. A joint statement issued following the meeting said, “Both DGMOs showed their commitment to maintain the sanctity and ceasefire on the Line of Control.” It went on to say, “Both sides reiterated resolve and commitment to continue efforts for ensuring ceasefire, peace and tranquility on the Line of Control”.

Talks were also held in late December between the DG Rangers and his counterpart from the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) – the two forces that patrol the Working Boundary between Pakistan and Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir – to resolve ceasefire violation issues in that region. Sources say that during the meeting, the BSF alleged that firing by Pakistan Rangers resulted in deaths of their troops. The Rangers made it clear that Pakistani troops fire only in response to BSF fire. A climate of positivity emerged from these both sets of talks, which is hoped, will lead not only to ensure peace along the LOC and Working Boundary, but also a more positive bilateral engagement at other levels. Since the election of the PML-N Government in Pakistan in 2013, Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has made fresh overtures to India for peace talks and has committed the government of Pakistan to resolving the Kashmir situation. In this, he has had the support of the Pakistan Military. The PM has also advocated for stronger trade ties. At a meeting of the trade ministers of the two countries in New Delhi on 18 January 2014, Pakistan and India agreed to allow daily round-the-clock movement of trucks and containers through the main Wagah-Attari border crossing. They also approved a liberalized visa policy for businessmen to help expand two-way trade, and Pakistan also agreed to provide non-discriminatory market access to Indian companies. It is hoped that closer integration on an economic level will contribute to lowering of political tensions between the two countries. Trade between Pakistan and India slowed almost to a halt over the past year due to a series of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and Working Boundary. The meeting between two DGMOs was a step forward that eased the situation and cleared the way for these new bilateral trade initiatives to progress. However, many consider that the border issues are likely to remain fragile in the foreseeable future, calling for a clear-headed approach from both sides.

The history of conflict along the LOC dates back to when it first came into being in 1949 as the Ceasefire Line (CFL). It became known as the Line of Control on 3 July 1972 with the signing of the Simla Agreement. Wars have been fought and although it has been more peaceful since the end of the Kargil war, many smaller skirmishes have occurred along the CFL. Incidents escalated significantly in 2013, with both sides accusing the other of responsibility. A series of ceasefire violations targeting villages along the Working Boundary near Sialkot, shifted the focus from the northern areas to the south. During the 2012/2013 period, of the numerous ceasefire violations, 56 occurred in which civilians were directly targeted along the LOC and Working Boundary, resulting in the deaths of 11 civilians with 92 injured, leaving behind widows and children who, with the main earner in the family gone, then struggle would surely to survive. Many Pakistani troops were also martyred and injured during this period. It is hoped that the DGMOs' meeting will result in a reduction of such incidents. However, the positive climate did not take long to be shattered. In early January, a new ceasefire violation in the Tatapani Sector was reported in which a Pakistani civilian was killed by firing from Indian troops. Pakistan held India responsible. However, aggressive comments by the Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, at a pre-Army Day press conference on 13 January 2014, took Pakistan by surprise. Although General Singh noted that “the frequency of ceasefire violations have come down remarkably ever since the meeting of the DGMOs (Director Generals Military Operations) of the two countries last December 2013”, he launched an astonishing tirade against Pakistan saying that “India was not bound to follow the rules if Pakistan was up to breaking them.” He boasted of the killing of Pakistani soldiers to avenge Pakistani violations on the LOC. General Singh also said it is virtually a “mini war at the local level” whenever ceasefire violations take place on the LOC.

Responding to the Indian Army Chief's statement, Pakistan Military's spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, DG ISPR, said, “It is contrary to the facts on ground. Pakistan Army respects the ceasefire agreement in letter and spirit.” The DG's statement added, “After the meeting between the Director Generals Military Operations (DGMOs) on December 24, 2013, the situation along the LOC has improved considerably. Such accusation and provocative statements are regrettable and counterproductive.” General Singh's comments also led the Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson, Tasneem Aslam, to respond when questioned on these comments, “We believe that it is a regrettable statement. It is provocative and unfortunate and as the DG ISPR has already pointed out, statements like these and claims of this sort tend to deteriorate the situation. We have always tried to maintain tranquility on the Line of Control. It was with this in view that our DG Military Operations had invited his Indian counterpart for talks. They had a constructive meeting and they agreed on a number of measures. We expect India to abide by the agreement.” Ms Aslam also commented, “There have been incessant violations of the Line of control (LOC) from the Indian side since January last year. In these firing incidents, some soldiers and some civilians were martyred.” A Brigadier-level flag meeting at the Chakkan-Da-Bagh crossing in the Poonch area on 17 January 2014 was held to defuse the most recent situation, with both sides raising their protests. It is worth looking back at events over the past year to comprehend why all this matters and how the violations of the ceasefire, and outcome of these meetings, affects the lives of the thousands of ordinary Pakistani civilians, who are living along the LOC and Working Boundary. Villages that have been targeted in recent times include Chakhoti, Batal, Cherrikot, Satwal and others on the LOC, and Phuklian, Chaprar, Patwal, Khokar, Jhang, Janglora, Dhamala, Shakargargh, Charwa and Harpal along the Working Boundary. Many of these villages have a population of as many as 5,000 – 10,000 so, combined, it is a significant number.

My primary concern is always to learn more about the humanitarian impact of disasters and conflict on local populations and how their situation can be improved. So, to better understand what life is for civilians who live along the disputed territory border – the people whose lives are most affected when the ceasefire doesn't hold – late last year I visited some of the villages along the Working Boundary. These villages, located near Sialkot, look like any other peaceful rural area of Punjab. But their location in a precarious position right alongside the Working Boundary brings dangers for the local people. Unlike the villages in Jammu & Kashmir, which are mostly 1-5 kilometres from the LOC, the villages towards Pakistan side fall in settled areas and located in very close proximity to the border. Unfortunately, these villages are often in the line of fire and for years the locals have lived in fear of attacks from across the border.

Their fears were again realized in October when the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) launched a series of unprovoked firing attacks on them. In just one eight-day period in October, the BSF fired thousands of rounds of ammunition into these Pakistani villages killing a civilian and injuring twelve. An Individual from Chenab Rangers was also killed when he was struck by sniper fire, and two others injured. To escape the firing, the locals mostly fled to safety in other villages beyond the range of the Indian weapons, and to Sialkot. They returned to find houses, infrastructure and mosques had sustained damage, crops had been destroyed and animals killed.

When I visited the area with Pakistan Rangers, the villagers had repaired much of the damage to their homes but the signs of shelling were still apparent. I had free access to visit any of the villages, stop wherever I wanted, talk to anyone I wished, and also, to go to the Boundary itself, though not for long – snipers sit in the Indian watchtowers and, given their very close proximity, it was not a comfortable place to be. The villagers are hardworking, decent people, struggling to make a living. I found a rural community still in shock and fearful of further attacks. My first call was on a family in Charwa. On 21 October, an Indian shell struck Abida's house in the night. She showed me where it came through the roof and the make shift repairs they had made.

When the shelling started, Abida gathered her family, and after initially taking refuge in a nearby village, moved to Sialkot for a while. The schools closed for 12 days as most of the children had fled with their families and those who stayed were too frightened to go to attend. When Abida returned, she discovered damage to crops and the loss of one of her cows. The loss of one cow may not seem much to a city dweller. But one cow not only provides milk and nutrition for her family, it also contributes to the family's meagre income. Initially she was very afraid when she returned, and she still is! The fields are totally exposed to the watchful eyes of the BSF and villagers out in the open make easy targets for snipers. Abida is a resilient and articulate woman and was determined not to let these events defeat her. She and her husband have worked hard to give their children the best education possible and good opportunities in life. Abida's husband suffers a heart condition and was staying with relatives elsewhere until the family felt confident it would be peaceful enough for him to come home, leaving her to take care of the family and their crops in the meantime.

I asked Abida what could be done to help the villages deal with their situation. She said, “The Rangers are already protecting us and helping us a lot with all our problems. What more can they do? We always pray for their safety and that they are safely reunited with their families.” Other villagers echoed her sentiments, too. She shared details of their losses and worries about the drain on the family finances saying, “The people need compensation from the government for our losses. We need help.” The local MNA, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Zahid Hamid, had visited a couple of weeks previously with a large group of local journalists to meet the villagers, and inspect the damage. While speaking with the communities and the journalists, he strongly condemned the attacks on the civilians by the BSF and their violation of international laws. He also promised compensation for the villagers' losses and directed the local administration to initiate the process. Abida, and the other villagers, I spoke with, were hopeful that this would soon eventuate. The view across the fields from the roof of her house seemed so peaceful and rather idyllic. It was hard to imagine that so close by, on the other side of these fields, lay the source of their terror. Abida's house is only a few hundred metres from the boundary and the land, on which she and the other villagers grow their crops, runs right to the line. I spotted another family repairing the roof of their house so I headed off to visit them, stopping along the way to talk to a group of young boys.

One of the pleasures of visiting villages in Pakistan is the interaction with local children. The boys were eager to find out what the strange foreigner was doing wandering around their village since it is generally off-limits to foreigners due to safety and security concerns. After their questions about where I came from and the usual Pakistan/Australia cricket ones, I asked what life was like for them when the shelling started. My all too obvious question “Were you scared?” seemed a little silly given the circumstances, but their reaction was not the boyish bravado I expected from this lively group. They freely admitted it was terrifying and that they were still afraid. Most had fled the area with their parents after the shelling started and missed a few weeks of school. They were now happy to be back in class and amongst their friends but were scared the shelling would start again.

I left them and found my way to the house I had seen from Abida's roof. I walked into a small courtyard of the house to find the owner, Asghar, and his family hard at work trying to fix a gaping hole in the roof and structural damage left by a mortar shell. On the day of the attack, Asghar had risen from his bed in the front room of his house and was walking to the mosque to attend Fajr prayers when he heard the explosion. He rushed back, to find his home had been hit by an Indian mortar shell. Six family members, including Asghar's two disabled children had been sleeping in the house but, although terrified, were unharmed. Had he not been a man of Faith, he would not have been around for me to interview – the shell had struck the exact spot where he had been sleeping. Still distressed by the experience, he told me, “Indians just kept firing. Why would they do this to us? I am a poor man and I have done nothing to hurt anyone.”

Asghar is a subsistence farmer with few resources who works hard to provide for his family. His only son is severely disabled and he relies on the help of his daughters and other family members to repair the house and work in the fields. The damage to his house and crops totalled almost PKR 90,000. This is a lot of money to Asghar and put pressure on his resources to support his family for the year ahead. He was extremely worried and was hoping that the government would provide some compensation soon to help ease the burden of his losses. I had hoped to call on the grieving family of the civilian killed in the firing but they were away in Sialkot when I reached at their house. So I went in search of others who wanted to share their stories. In Dhamala, I walked through slightly eerie, deserted laneways to meet another family, and Rukhsana, a local teacher who runs a small school for 47 children at her house. The family's house had been hit by shelling, there was still a gaping hole in the roof left by a mortar and the walls were peppered with shrapnel damage from the strike. Rukhsana talked of the trauma created by these events. She told me, “We all have nightmares as the shelling is mostly at night. The children have stopped eating because they are so distressed and scared.” She said, “Many of the children are not coming to school because they're too frightened and have missed their exams and some of the families have moved away and have not yet returned.” I asked Rukhsana if she would leave the village to live in a safer area and she replied, “This is my home, my parents are here and I will stay. This attack on us was not a surprise. It has been happening for many years and the BSF have killed our people in the fields before”.

She also told me that many people in these sectors were often still too afraid to go to their fields, leaving crops to rotten and vulnerable to damage by the wild boar that roam in this area. This has resulted in a drop in yield, and food prices in the local markets have risen as a result of the shortages this incident has created. The villagers can ill-afford these additional increases and their health suffers as a result. I felt saddened at their obvious distress. Understandably, they were afraid of further attacks from across the border and although resilient, were concerned for their future. The question all those I interviewed raised over and over again was, “Why are the BSF targeting us?” It's a question that deserves an answer. These were not the first instances on the Working Boundary or the LOC where the BSF or Indian Army has targeted civilians. It has happened many times over the years but this appeared to be a more prolonged and aggressive attack. Let me be clear here. There are no military checkposts in these villages. Yes, there are posts in areas outside of the villages but the BSF knows exactly where these are and they too were fired upon in yet another violation of the ceasefire. But deliberately firing on civilians is something else entirely. Any claim by the BSF that they were not aiming at the villages would seem rather laughable. It defies belief that there could possibly be such bad shots that they could 'accidentally' keep hitting civilian targets in so many villages, so often, and over so many days. Clearly, the civilians were the actual target. That not only breaches the ceasefire, it also breaches international humanitarian laws. This, then, seems to contradict General Bikram Singh's comment at his January 13 press conference where he stated, “Our forces respect the laws of Geneva Convention. We do act. Our forces retaliate in a professional way.” He also said that there was “zero tolerance towards human rights’ violations.” International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not, or are no longer, participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare. The following paragraphs are taken from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) study on Customary International Humanitarian Law. The full text can be read along with the various laws, treaties, protocols and rules on the ICRC website.

The general principles of IHL are enshrined in the Hague Convention of 1907 and the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977. But there are a series of other treaties covering specific issues, particularly in the field of weapons. In 2005 the ICRC published a major study on the extensive body of customary international humanitarian law, which is binding on all States. The central principle of distinction runs through all the law relating to the conduct of hostilities. Indiscriminate military action is prohibited. All sides in a conflict must distinguish between legitimate military targets on the one hand and civilians and civilian objects on the other. Customary International Humanitarian Law is made up of rules that come from “a general accepted practice of law” and that exist independent of treaty law. Customary International Humanitarian Law is of crucial importance in today's armed conflicts because it fills gaps left by treaty law in both international and non-international conflicts and so strengthens the protection offered to victims. While some States have not ratified important treaty law, they remain nonetheless bound by rules of customary law. There are three rules in Customary International Humanitarian Law that are relevant to the attacks on these villages. Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians. Rule 14. Proportionality in Attack

Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited. Rule 15. Precautions in Attack In the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects. All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. In other words, targeting the civilians of these villages, their property, crops and animals appears to be a breach of these rules of Customary International Law. I approached the United Nations Military Observer Group in Indian and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to seek an impartial view on these incidents but they were unavailable for comment.

UNMOGIP has seven field stations on the Pakistan side of the LOC and Working Boundary, and four along the Indian side. Under UN Security Council Resolution 307 (1971), UNMOGIP's role is to monitor any development in connection with the military situation and, in particular, to investigate alleged ceasefire violations. While Pakistan always provides free access to the UNMOGIP teams to visit all forward locations on the LOC and Working Boundary to conduct investigations, progress is inhibited by India's reluctance to allow any access to UNMOGIP. Without access on the Indian side, the critical impartial incident reports, a key part of UNMOGIP's role, are not possible. So why did this happen? I was unable to interview either the Pakistani or Indian military leadership on this so to seek answers I looked to other sources including the opinions of analysts who follow the Pakistan-India relationship closely, newspaper articles on both sides, and the many opinion pieces by South Asia experts published in international and regional publications. As some sources I spoke to suggested, the villagers make a soft target when firing exchanges take place that don't go well for the BSF. It is easier to target civilians and cause more damage and harassment. Others suggested that the firing on villagers was conducted to provoke the Pakistan military into retaliation, but that did not happen. According to various reliable sources, there are strict orders on the Pakistan side not to escalate a situation. Many opinion pieces point to the elections in India for the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament) due in 2014, as a reason for the increased tensions and ramping up of the political rhetoric against Pakistan. It certainly appears that no opportunity is lost to denigrate and demonize Pakistan in the run-up to the election. Both the major political parties in India use Pakistan and the spectre of terrorism as an election ploy to show they will take the toughest stance. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hopes to regain power in the elections and has frequently accused the ruling Congress Party of being too soft on Pakistan. The former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, a hardline Hindu nationalist, is the Prime Ministerial candidate for the BJP. International geo-political observers have pointed to the possibility of a BJP Government under Modi as having the potential to increase tensions with Pakistan, as he appears to have lost no opportunity to promote anti-Pakistan sentiment. The current government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, under considerable pressure in this election, has also generally taken a tough stance. However, PM Singh's willingness to proceed with the recent meetings between India and Pakistan at both government and military level seems to indicate some thaw in this approach.

But there will be many challenges and there are many who it appears do not want peaceful outcomes. A meeting between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2013, was almost derailed by a curious incident on 26 September 2013 at Hira Nagar and Samba in a Hindu dominated area of Jammu & Kashmir, which was blamed on militants infiltrating from Pakistan but had all the hallmarks of being staged to frame Pakistan just prior to the speeches of both Prime Ministers to the General Assembly. While the Prime Minister of Pakistan was conciliatory, speaking of the need for resolution of issues and peace and prosperity with India, and calling “for the UN to continue to remain attentive to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and the full realization of the right to self-determination of its people,” the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, took a harsh tone towards Pakistan referring indirectly to recent events and naming Pakistan as the 'epicentre of terrorism'. He also said, “there must be a clear understanding of the fact Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and that there can never, ever, be a compromise with the unity and territorial integrity of India.” These harsh words played well politically at home in India but were met with dismay in Pakistan. It is, however, to the credit of both Prime Ministers that, following their speeches they proceeded with the meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the issues and the resolving of political tensions including the border issues.

When researching the claims of infiltration by Pakistani militants, the apparent trigger for some cross-border firing from India, the expression 'framing' came up a number of times. Several well-informed sources pointed to various unsubstantiated infiltration incidents, including the Hira Nagar/Samba incident and the Keran 'operation' which did not stand up to investigation. Following this lead I researched reports of a number of incidents which appeared to substantiate this view. On occasions, even the Indian media has questioned their Army on the veracity of some incident reports. It appears that some incidents in Jammu & Kashmir are easier to blame on Pakistan to avoid pressure on internal dissention. Verification that framing does happen came to light in December with reports that the Indian Army had initiated court martial proceedings against a group of Indian Army personnel including two officers, for a fake encounter in Kashmir's Kupwara district with alleged 'Pakistani militants' who had supposedly infiltrated the area. The men they killed were, in fact, local villagers. The fake incident resulted in rioting which killed 135 people and left hundreds injuried. However, hopes that this prosecution was a positive sign for the future have crumbled. The Times of India has reported on 27 January 2014 that another fake encounter case at Pathribal in March 2000, has been closed and any goodwill the Indian Army had earned in Jammu & Kashmir by launching the prosecution in the Kupwara case, destroyed. The Times report states: “closure of the Pathribal case has dashed these hopes, if only because the army has been inexplicably coy about the reasons that led it to conclude that the evidence it had gathered wasn't robust enough to charge the accused. The conclusion flies in the face of the Central Bureau of Investigation's findings that the Rashtriya Rifles men had engaged in 'cold-blooded murder' of local residents, who they had described as foreign militants responsible for the killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattisingpora just hours before US President Bill Clinton began his visit to India.” The Times piece also indicated that in the past the newspaper had urged the Indian Army to take similar steps regarding prosecution of other cases of fake encounters to win hearts and minds.

Sources also pointed out that not only is the border patrolled by many thousands of Indian troops and the BSF, there is another barrier which makes the claims of infiltration often quite spurious. There is now a heavily patrolled fence just inside the Indian side of the border stretching many hundred kilometres. It consists of a double-row of concertina wire eight to twelve feet in height, concrete walls in places, and watchtowers. The fence is electrified, connected to a network of motion sensors, thermal imaging devices, lighting systems and alarms. It is such a scar across the environment that it can be seen from space. In stunning photographs taken by the NASA International Space Station Expedition-28 crew on 21 August 2011 as it tracked over India and Pakistan at night, the fence can be clearly seen, glowing like a bright orange snake weaving its way between the two countries into the Himalayas. Slipping unnoticed across this formidable barrier would be extremely challenging. However, the unsubstantiated infiltration claims persist and are frequently used as an excuse to launch attacks on Pakistani villages.

There are no easy solutions for either side to these long-running and complex issues and even after the Indian election, these incidents are likely to continue regardless of who is in power. So, for now, the people on the LOC and Working Boundary live in a state of both hope and uncertainty. Nobody should make the mistake of thinking that because the civilian casualties in these cross-border incidents have been small in a country that has suffered so much tragedy and terrible loss through terrorism and conflict, it doesn't matter. It does. But little is known about their situation and few other than the military, who themselves are all too familiar with loss, seem to have taken note of their plight, so their voices are rarely heard. We must not forget that these villagers too are on the frontline and are among the most affected by what happens. There recent increased and positive level of engagement between the two governments and militaries has promised much towards a more stable, prosperous and peaceful future for both countries. Continuing the dialogue and the flag meetings regularly, and with a calm approach particularly when infractions have occurred, will be important to the peace process. For millions of people in both countries, and particularly the thousands of civilians living along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, like Abida, Asghar and Rukhsana and their families, peace is an imperative.

The writer is Australian Disaster Management and Civil-Military Relations Consultant, based in Islamabad where she consults for Government and UN agencies. She has also worked with ERRA and NDMA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Didier Chaudet

For the last few years, more or less regularly, there had been terrorist attacks in Russia. The terrorist attacks in Volvograd were only the last example of a security-related problem that has been around for a while. The international media talks about it, and later forgets about it, until the next attack, making the situation difficult to understand, at best. At worst, Russia is described as “islamophobic” by some Western analysts, as a force eager to destroy its Muslims. Of course, there are tensions between the Russian Center, which is traditionally Orthodox Christian, and a periphery, North Caucasus, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. But somebody reading Western analysts on Pakistan can know all too well how they can over-simplify issues, to say the least. And for the author of this paper, it is clear that Russia is suffering from the same biased Western approach. And analysis on Russian Islam is just a collateral damage of such fact.

What is the situation of the Muslim minority in Russia? First, one should know that the main Muslim minorities in Russia are not Chechen or Dagestani (from North Caucasus) but rather Tatar (the 2nd ethnic group in Russia, and a third of the Russian Muslims) and Bashkir (the 4th ethnic group in Russia, 11% of the Muslims). Indeed, they have been conquered by a Russian state dominated by Christian Slavs. But one should keep in mind that before Russians could dominate them, they were dominated by those Tatars, Bashkirs, and other Muslim populations included in what was called the “Golden Horde”.

Traditional History focuses too often about conquests, victories and defeats, without taking into account the cultural and people’s histories. And when one takes this more modern approach, it is possible to follow the point of view of one of the most important Tatar intellectuals (and an advisor to the first Tatar President, Mintimer Shamaiev), Rafael Khakimov: he analyzes the Russian state not as a Slav project, but rather as a Tatar-Russian one, born already from the time of the Kipchak Khanate (another name of the Golden Horde). At first the Eurasian area was dominated by a political structure that had chosen Islam as its state religion by 1313, under the reign of the Khan Uzbeg. Then the Tsars, their former vassals, imposed their suzerainty. But such historical issues are far away from modern Russian Muslim minds. Nowadays, when one talks to a Muslim Tatar or Bashkir, or to a Christian Slav, what matters is not the rejection of the “Tatar Yoke” by Ivan III, but rather the memories of the “Great Patriotic War” (Second World War), when all of them had a grandfather fighting and often dying in the Russian/Soviet war to the death with the Third Reich. As the Russian saying goes, “Scratch a Russian and you will find a Tatar”… Muslims, at least outside of the North Caucasus, are indeed seen as 100% Russians by the vast majority of the population.

It may be linked to the fact that actually, differences in terms of religiosity and ways of life are not that important. The issue is not any given religion in Russia, but rather the lack of it. Russian Christians and Muslims are both strongly secularized. Indeed, if official numbers talk about 80 million Orthodox Christians, the real numbers, according to specialists, are closer to 40 million Russians being still linked, one way or another, by this religious tradition. As for the Russian Muslims, in 2010, they were 16.4, after being 14.64 million in 2005. This is indeed a substantial minority, but again here, one could talk about Islam as a tradition for most of them, rather than as a strong religious way of life. After all, according to a 2007 study from Gallup, 50% of the Russian Muslims drink alchohol, 27% eat pork, 46% do not know how to pronounce the Shuhada, and 49% never pray (66% for the younger generations). Hence, for better and for worst, Russian Muslims and Orthodox Christians are culturally and religiously very similar.

Hence, if there are tensions, it is less because of a specific “Islamophobia” than related to an all-too-real “Caucasophobia”. Mainly because North Caucasus has a pretty different history from the other Russian Islamic territories. It was conquered in a colonialist fashion at the end of the 19th century. But it was a difficult conquest of proud people with a natural rejection of control of by a far-away centre. Between 1940 and 1944, the Chechens and their North Caucasian cousins, the Ingush (together they known as the “Vainakh” people) rebelled against the Kremlin, hoping the Second World War would destroy the Russian/Soviet state. But it did not work, and North Caucasian people were punished, like others, for “collaboration” with the Third Reich. The Chechens were condemned to an exodus to Central Asia that killed 100,000 of them. It is no surprise that after the fall of the Soviet Union, they were very eager to gain their independence. They won a de facto recognition of their independence after a first war against Russian troops (1994-1996). But for obvious reasons such situation was unbearable for the Russian Federation. The USSR had already fragmented, and for the Russians as well as numerous other post-Soviet people, it has been a trauma, as it has meant the loss of an important international status and well as of a state that was providing schools, hospitals, and other advantages to the average citizen. All of this was replaced by a weaker state, more corrupted in the 1990s than it was before, with oligarches and criminal groups taking over the economy of the country.

With the end of the First Chechen War, the formerly mighty Russian Army felt humiliated, and the Russian political elites began to fear another partition of the country. The former Interior Minister A. Kulikov summarized the feelings of numerous Russians when he said in 1999 “a state inside the Russian Federation's Borders (which) does not recognize Russian federal law… does threaten the integrity and security of Russia”. Vladimir Putin has built his political ascent as an answer to those national fears. When some jihadist groups decided to influence warlords in Chechnya and to use their country as a safe haven to strike elsewhere in North Caucasus, he did not hesitate to start a second Chechen War. Militarily it had been a success: the Chechen independent state had been conquered. But at what cost politically? During Yeltsin's presidency already, the Kremlin had done everything possible to isolate the independent Chechnya diplomatically, making sure it does not get the economic means to work as a normal state. Doing so, it made life difficult for the moderate nationalists who were in power… giving the more extremist ones, influenced by radical foreigners like the jihadist Ibn al-Khattab the means to get more influence politically. The Second Chechen War, from 1999, was the final stroke against the moderates in the Chechen separatist side. Now the ones controlling the rebellion in the North Caucasus are the most extreme kind of nationalist, associated with jihadists having the dream of a Clash of Civilizations.

It is a well-known fact that some have been fighting in Syria on the side of the rebels. Their ideological vision of their political fight makes compromise impossible now. Indeed, they represent only a minority of people in Chechnya and North Caucasus. But it is exactly why they do not limit themselves to Chechnya anymore: they have been using local nationalisms of the different people of the region, as well as the regional exasperation with local corruption and with the violence of the local security forces, to find new recruits. Because of a political approach being only based on repression, the Russian state has been losing the war for the hearts and minds of the people in North Caucasus. It makes the Kremlin even more dependent of the local satraps who are the main source of the discontent of the people. This political vicious circle explains how rebellion against the Russian state can still exist 15 years after the Second Chechen War already began… But besides the need to better understand a situation one can hear about on the news, why is it of interest for Pakistan to follow news related to Russian Muslim populations?

First, it is important for Pakistani policy-makers to get their own understanding of Russia as a whole. If they rely only on analysis from abroad, mainly in English, coming from the United States and the UK, they will only get a dark image of the Kremlin, and the idea that Russia could only be seen as an enemy of Islam. As we have shown here, relations between Russia and Islam are much more complex, and the same way this country considers itself as a bridge between Europe and Asia, it is in more ways than only a cultural and religious bridge, from a historical point of view, between Christianity and Islam. To see Russia this way, and not only as a European country, can help make relationships easier and more natural between Pakistan and Russia; it could be interesting to build a people-to-people relationship, with Pakistani religious scholars invited to Russia to see the Islamic specificities of the local Muslims, understand their history, and their life in a non-Muslim country, while Russians from religious institutions (with a priority for Muslims of course, but also Orthodox Christians) could be invited in Pakistan to discover a world much more diverse religiously and culturally than what they would think. Because the same way some Pakistanis can think that Russians are “islamophobic”, the Russians can have a dark image of Pakistan because of information they are getting… mostly from American and English newspapers. It is time for Pakistan and Russia to discover each other by themselves, and a good way for Pakistan to do that is through an interest in Russian Muslims, and through relationships with Russian Muslim institutions. Over time Islamic institutions and personalities from Russia could be a natural bridge between Moscow and Islamabad.

Second, the issues that Russia has to deal with in North Caucasus and the ones Pakistan has to deal with in FATA, if they are not totally similar, are not without commonalities. In the two cases, it is a security problem based on tensions between a political centre and its peripheries. It is linked to local rebellion, radical “jihadism” as it is called in the West, with possible manipulations coming from overseas. Hence the military personnel from the two countries could learn from each other, from their experiences, and indeed, also from their mistakes. Maybe the mistake the Russians made in North Caucasus was always to use repression first as the main reaction to terrorist attacks. Seeing the work the Pakistani Army is doing in the FATA area, or in Balochistan, not only to oppose rebels, but also as a nation builder, could be an inspiration for them. Over time, military-to-military relations could help bring the two countries closer, diplomatically and in terms of trade related to weaponry and military affairs. Last, but not the least, Russia and Pakistan can be seen as two states having, now more than ever before, common interests in the fight against transnational “jihadists” who should rather called “miscreants”, the terrorists inspired by Al Qaeda. This is the same ideology that is targeting the state in Russia and in Pakistan, the same targeting the Muslims who do not accept their theological/ ideological points of view. This is the same destructive and non-Islamic approach which could find some safe haven in Afghanistan after 2014 and target the FATA through the TTP, post-Soviet Central Asia, hence Russia's “Near Abroad”, through IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), the main Central Asian terrorist group, close to the TTP and other Central Asian jihadists, and may be even Russian territory itself. The last two years, there have been more articles in Pakistani press talking of a diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries. But such vision has been too often based on wishful thinking and does not take into account the old links between India and Russia.

To build better links with Moscow, even making it an ally after some time (to some extent: difficult to imagine a relationship that would be as strong as the one with China), there is a need to find common ground, areas of common interest. Economically speaking, it would be difficult for Pakistan to compete with India. But from a political and security-related angle, it is possible: Islamabad and Moscow have a common interest in the fight against Al Qaeda and with stabilization in Afghanistan. Clearly Pakistanis have a better knowledge of Afghanistan, its regional environment, and of the extremists being a threat for peace there. After 2014, Pakistan can initiate a diplomatic friendship based on common interests and the need of stability in this part of the world, offering to the Russians an understanding that for now limits itself to the good relations they have had with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Indeed on security-related issues, Russia could not find a better ally than Pakistan in the region. More broadly speaking, such a rapprochement could mean seeing Pakistan, over time, being part of the Russian strategy to get more influence in its foreign policy towards the Muslim world. After all, if the Kremlin wants to be heard there (which clearly seems to have been Putin's strategy since he arrived in power), what could be better than to befriend one of the most important Muslim nations on Earth? This is something that Pakistani diplomats could explain to their Russian counterparts if a solid security dialogue exists between those two countries.

The writer is a Visiting Research Fellow at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). He is in charge of the Programme 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.

No challenge is insurmountable if you are determined

Interview: Asif Jehangir Raja

Q. Hailing from Waziristan belt of tribal areas, how did you emerge as a squash player of international repute?

Answer: My childhood had been very exciting. I grew up as a tomboy and was called as Changez Khan by my friends and family (Genghis Khan, one of history's great warriors). I was extremely aggressive and short tempered during my childhood days. My family members mostly found me in the middle of bruising fights outside home, something that had started worrying them. Finally my father decided to introduce me to sports, as to him, the best place to display physical strength is the sports ground.

I was introduced with weightlifting and I started spending time in gym training. I was introduced to other people in the club with a boyish identity of Changez Khan. I found it interesting and after practicing for just two months; I was able to shine at national level in weightlifting. At the age of 12, I was declared as the 2nd Best Junior Weightlifter in Under 16 category (55 Kg category).

As I was excelling in weightlifting, I also developed interest in squash. I knew even as a child that Pakistan had once ruled the world of squash for decades. I would watch kids playing squash during my break time in the squash courts located adjacent to the weightlifting club. Interestingly, because of weightlifting, I became more popular among boys as a strong and fighter person. This, however, did not go well with my family, and they no longer wanted me to continue in weightlifting, though they wanted me to remain involved in the sports activities. It was then that I revealed my interest in squash to my father and requested for his permission to properly learn it. My family happily accepted it and the journey began that is still continued. In order to become member of the well-known squash academy “The Hashim Khan Squash Complex” in Peshawar (being run by Pakistan Air Force (PAF)), I had to present my birth certificate. It was then that my true identity was revealed and people started to know me with true name, Maria Toorpakai Wazir.

I was highly appreciated for taking interest in the sports being a girl, and was supported by the Director of the Academy, Wing Commander Pervaiz Syed Mir. He also gifted me a squash racket (my first squash racket) that bore the signatures of former World Number-1 ranking squash player, Jonathon Power. I could never imagine at that moment that I would one day be coached by him.

I joined squash academy as a quiet player who would choose to practice in a cemented court without much of interactions with others. For at least a month time at the Hashim Khan Squash Academy, no one knew that I was a girl. It was a big surprise for the people in the academy when one day, the Director, while paying visit to the squash courts, took my name and inquired about my performance. The staff couldn't guess as to whom was he referring to, and as he spotted me practicing in one of the courts, he pointed towards me and told them that I was the girl that he was earlier mentioning about. The people at the academy were shocked and didn't believe at first, that a girl in Peshawar, the heart of Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), was so enthusiastic about sports and had chosen the challenging game of squash. The news spread out all over and, for sometime I was taunted by the males for playing squash, as to them, it was a game for men only.

But nothing deterred me and I was not ready to give up my right to play. The trainers at the academy assessed my technique and told me that I could rise to highest level of the game, if I worked hard. It was then that I decided to even train harder and was determined to rise at international level to make Pakistan and Pashtuns feel proud of me, and not ashamed. I am very lucky and fortunate to have the support of my father, brothers, sister and my mother.

Q. Tell us about your achievements in squash so far?

Answer: I recently won four international tournaments including 'Nash Cup Squash Tournament' where I beat top-seeded Milou Van Der Heijden of the Netherlands at London Squash and Fitness Club. I was also runner up in 'Mercedes of Scottsdale Tournament 2013' held in USA in November 2013. I have won every junior and senior national squash title in Pakistan and have also played finals, semifinals and quarterfinal of many junior and senior international squash tournaments.

I won Bronze Medal in 'World Junior Squash Championship' in 2009 in India, won Silver Medal in 'South Asian Games', played semifinals of 'Asian Junior Squash Championship' and quarterfinal of 'Asian Senior Championship'. I was also nominated for the Best Player Award by the 'World Squash Federation' for the year 2007 and 2009. I have the honour to be the first Pakistani female player who qualified for the prestigious 'British Open Squash Championship'.

Q. Was it not challenging for your father, Mr Shamsul Qayyum Wazir, a tribal elder, to groom you as a squash player amid strict local traditions? How do you describe the role of your brave father in making you what you are today?

Answer: It was always very hard for my father who was a tribal elder and belonged to a prominent and religious family of Waziristan. My great grandfather Mani Khan Wazir was given the title of Bravest Khan (Khan Bhadur) during British India and my paternal great grandfather Bani Khan Wazir was advisor to King Aman Ullah in Afghanistan.

My Father understood the importance of education and extracurricular activities including sports for the people of Waziristan and especially the women, who do not enjoy many liberties due to the local culture of FATA. He wanted to bring awareness to our people, so he started with his own family first. He allowed my mother to improve her education after marriage who later established Girls High Schools in different areas of FATA after graduation and also worked as Assistant Director Education in KPK.

My sister Ayesha Gulalai Wazir who is among the initial highly qualified females from Waziristan, is also the Member National Assembly (MNA), and was elected at a very young age. In order to give exposure to his daughters to the fields of education and sports, my father went through many difficulties. He was criticized, threatened and was even attacked by people for violating the traditions. But he never agreed to change his vision about imparting education to the children, especially females.

We were home-schooled for some time. He did what he could to provide us with the best educational environment at home and to raise us with dignity. His decision to allow me carry out sports activities was also objected by the locals but he never gave up. The manner in which he raised us has also made us strong enough to stand not only for ourselves but for the society and the people. He told me to follow my passion and choose my career. And I decided to become a squash player.

Q. How did you manage to confront all challenges in becoming a world class player?

Answer: I used to practice very hard to improve upon my game. During my early days of the game, to avoid any criticism by the people toot2who were against my decision to play squash, I used to visit the court during nights for practice. My brother used to stand as a guard outside the court so that my practice session went smooth. It was extremely challenging to become a world class player in a society where girls are not happily accepted to compete with males.

Although women are slowly coming up in mainstream fields in Pakistan, however, it will take some more time for our society to get mature in this aspect. But I was raised with a confidence that I am equally strong and talented as men are and I have every right to lead a free life. I also continued my studies along with the game though it was difficult. I had to take leave from school and college during my tournaments but I continued my studies.

I was determined to groom myself as a world class squash player and did whatever I could to bring myself at this level. It was hard work coupled with physical fitness, improvement in techniques and stamina that ultimately paid me. My family is a huge support. They have always been very helpful and have protected me at every step of life.

Q. Pakistani players once ruled the world of squash for many years. What, in your opinion, are the reasons for decline of squash in Pakistan? Please comment about the potential of this game in Pakistan at present?

Answer: Pakistan is full of natural talent. Our people can do very well in squash as they are doing in cricket; however they need proper facilities to groom themselves. Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) always encourages people to come forward and is making sincere efforts. But we need to provide more facilities to the people to carry themselves further in the game. There are less number of squash courts as compared to population. More so, people who have access to the courts aren't coached properly.

We should not confuse studies with the sports, as both are vital for the personality build up. The culture of playing sports must be promoted in Pakistan and government should provide adequate facilities to the people. The law and order situation in Pakistan is also a hindrance in promotion of sports. There is hardly any international sports activity in Pakistan, nowadays, which is one of the reasons for deteriorating culture of sports.

Q. Mr Jonathon Power, who has himself been number 1 ranking player of squash, is now coaching you in Canada. How do you describe your coaching assignment by him?

Answer: Jonathon Power is an amazing coach. I feel very lucky for being his number one student and focus of attention, and very fortunate for being coached by the best. My game has improved a lot since I moved to Canada. I have been surrounded by the best trainers, doctors, physiotherapists, players from all over the world to train with. National Squash Academy (NSA) Toronto, Canada has amazing squash facilities, and implements a very practical on court and off court training schedule.

Q. What is your message for females in Pakistan?

Answer: The contribution of females in the progress of any country and society is always vital. The day society recognizes the role of women in the progress and development, the country shall rise. Women will then be seen excelling in each and every field. They are much stronger, smarter and intelligent than they are thought of. For a healthy, peaceful, tolerant and strong Pakistan, women's participation in all segments of society will prove to be a great contributing factor.

Q. How do you describe yourself in few lines and what are your plans for the future?

Answer: A dove from Pakistan and Pashtuns carrying & spreading a message of humanity, peace and hope around the world through squash. I have self belief and I am brave. I want to stay injury free and continue to play the game with the best of my abilities. I am also planning to participate in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Asian Championship, and the Asian Games this year.


“In an era of strategic flux only competent states will thrive”

• Globalization has turned security into a complex affair. Economic power has to back and complement military strength.

• To capitalize on opportunities, Pakistan must empower itself internally.

• Pakistan’s menu on the security agenda is very heavy and will need leadership and vision to execute.

Dr Maleeha Lodhi is a political scientist, diplomat, journalist and academician. She had been the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and prior to that, twice as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States. She was Resident Fellow at John F. Kennedy School, Harvard University and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. She also served as a member of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs. She has also been editor of two newspapers in Pakistan. Her exclusive interview about different security related issues affecting Pakistan at national and international horizon was conducted for Hilal’s readers.

Asif Jehangir Raja

Q. How do you describe international security setting in post-Cold War scenario? Does it necessitate any change particularly in small states' security paradigm that often revolved around alliance and reliance on one of the power blocs?

Answer: We have gone past a post-Cold War world. What is this new era and how do we describe it? It is an era of strategic flux where world is in transition. What is it transitioning to? We don't know yet. But what we do know is that the global power is shifting from the maleeha2West primarily to China, and also, as the expression goes, from West to the Rest. At the same time power is dispersing among states and away from the states. States do not enjoy the authority once they did due to the globalized and borderless world we live in. So if you look at what the international scenario or context is, this is defined by three major features; first, the power shift from the West to China as the economic centre of gravity moves to Asia. The second defining trend is the pace and velocity of technological change, which is transforming everyone's life. This leads me to the third feature. Power is devolving from the state to the individuals who are becoming more empowered thanks to the electronic and social media, the communications revolution and the new networked technology.

So we are looking at a world fundamentally different from what is called the post-Cold War world. That world was fairly predictable and there were many certainties. The world which we live in today has fewer certainties, yet it is a world of great promise and opportunity. It is also a world of great challenges. And when you ask what this world offers to the small or medium sized states and what kind of security arrangements should these states have, we are returning to a bi-polar era where states had to line up with one or the other power, and the world was divided into two camps. Today’s world is moving in a multipolar direction.

This multipolarity is not only among states. The world has many poles of power, where power is not held by states but increasingly shared with large corporations, media or other organisations and non-state actors. So we are witnessing a very different kind of world which actually provides great deal of opportunity for small states if they are competent, efficient and have the capacity to innovate, and if they have what is increasingly the currency of power in the global system economic power. If small and medium states are economically strong, they can aspire to play a more significant role in the international system.

When we look at the world in next 20-25 years, we see two poles on the economic matrix, China and the United States. However, on the other fronts, there will be other poles. Time will tell as to how states will leverage themselves in this new world with two economic poles and other poles based on other indices of power. I think the challenge is great but so is the opportunity. Globalization is offering more and varied possibilities to transform themselves, become internationally relevant and more prosperous.

Q. Today's world is globalized and economically interdependent. What does this mean for international politics? How do you see smaller states exercising political and economic sovereignty in this scenario?

Answer: The assumption that economically interdependence will automatically lead to politically integration is not being borne out. We see two trends existing side by side. The first is economic interdependence that is increasing in a globalized and shrinking world. But alongside that we are also witnessing an assertion of national sovereignty. We are not seeing economic interdependence leading to the nations foregoing national sovereignty. For example, in order to negotiate better trade deals, nations assert themselves and benefit as a result. Also we see the co-existence of strategic competition and economic interdependence. So the assumption that economic interdependence will make strategic competition disappear has not materialized. The best example is the Sino-US relationship, which has elements of economic engagement but also strategic competition, especially after the US announced its policy of rebalancing or pivoting to Asia.

Q. In 1980s in general and particularly at the end of the Cold War in 1991, China appears to be following the policy of engagement and economic cooperation with the US? How does China figure out as a power centre supporting the countries that face estranged relations with the US?

Answer: The fundamental driver of China's international and foreign policy is its unwavering commitment to the goal of economic development and progress, and its objective of becoming a global economic power. That's where the policy of peaceful co-existence and engagement with the West comes from. It stems from the domestic strategic goal of lifting millions of people from poverty, that China has managed to do, and also ensuring that it makes the transition from a developing country, as it still calls itself so, to a developed nation.

And because this strategic goal overrides everything else, China has been following a policy of engagement with the West and it does not want to see any turbulence in global politics as well in its relations with the United States. At the same time China believes the US sees it maleeha3as a future strategic challenger and therefore believes that the US is following a dual track policy, of engaging and containing China.

The Chinese are responding to this dual track policy but at the same time seeking to maintain a stable relationship with the US to achieve their domestic goals. This is a good example that we, in Pakistan, should closely follow, even emulate. I am saddened when people in our country continue to look to the West for models whereas we have China's example before us. Like every other country, Pakistan must follow its own distinct path, but China shows us how to follow a single goal of domestic strengthening and how to align foreign policy goals with domestic goals so as to achieve both. You strengthen yourself domestically and economically so that you can act more effectively on the international scene. You can't do the reverse. I don't think China will encourage countries to have hostile relations with the US when Beijing itself wants a non-hostile relationship with the West. China will protect its interests and it draws a line at where its vital interests lie when dealing with Western countries. I think China also urges other countries to select and follow their own path to development and not look outside, just like it has done. When the Chinese Premier visited Pakistan, he repeated the advice his predecessors had given to Pakistani leaders: identify the path of development that you wish to follow and then stick to it, and don't allow anybody else to impose or dictate to you from outside. But if you don't choose your path, outsiders will have the ability and means to dictate to you.

Q. How much has globalization affected the state and do you foresee any other manifestation replacing or rendering the state irrelevant in the future? What are the challenges in this regard?

Answer: We are witnessing a trend where the state's monopoly of power is being eroded, both vertically and horizontally, in other words erosion from within and outside as we live in an increasingly borderless world. However the state still remains a formidable source of power, both in the international system and geographical boundaries. The state, in the foreseeable future, will remain the main actor in the international system and I don't think that the rise of other diverse actors, whether non-state or other actors, are going to displace the state. The state will continue to be there, but with its authority eroded. So it will have to find new ways to exercise its power and establish control over its territory, and search for the best possible vehicle to preserve and protect its interests in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. A balance will have to be struck between defending and protecting national sovereignty and the imperative of international cooperation, which often requires foregoing a bit of sovereignty. Competent states will strike the right balance. States that are incompetent have a very bleak future; it is not just economic or military power, which determines a country's strength and well being. It is how efficiently a state performs both nationally and in the international system, that determines its fortunes.

If we apply this lesson to Pakistan, we must rebuild state institutions because over a period of time the state's writ has eroded. For example, the core functions of state are the power to tax, the power to maintain law and order and deliver basic services to citizens. All these have been decaying. We must rebuild them if Pakistan is to become a competent state responsive to the needs of its people. And competent so as to deliver to people what they want. People want, as those elsewhere in the world do, security, economic opportunities, provision of basic amenities including education, and a secure, brighter future for their children. To achieve this, Pakistan must strengthen itself internally, raise resources and rebuild state institutions that have lost credibility over a period of time. Our governments must remain responsive to what people want rather than seek narrow political gains.

Q. What is the actual potential of Indo-US Strategic Partnership and how does it affect other states in the region?

Answer: Even before the US announced its policy of pivoting or rebalancing to Asia, it was felt that Washington was moving in a direction where it sought to contain China's rise. This implied that the US would start lining up countries as allies that could be potential counterweights to China. There was a feeling in the region including Pakistan that India might emerge in that US-assigned role of a strategic counterbalance to China. Now much as the US may have wanted to do that, and it struck a civilian nuclear deal with India for that purpose. India's own behaviour in the last several years suggested that while it was happy to leverage America's outreach to Delhi it did not want to play the role of US pawn in any new great game or new cold war.

We, in Pakistan, have to carefully assess the extent of any role that India might play in America's containment of China strategy. India's expansive economic relations with China are important to factor in. The annual trade between India and China is now around one hundred billion dollars. India would not want to jeopardize its economic relationship with China for the sake of acting as a counterweight in the strategy of an extra-regional power. But it might still play off US anxiety about China and seek Western support to build India as a global power. For example it will use US support to try to get a permanent seat in United Nations Security Council (UNSC), if there is ever that body is reformed.

Pakistan is certainly affected by certain aspects of the strategic partnership between India and US. The Civilian Nuclear Deal between the two has had adverse consequences for Pakistan's security and for the strategic equilibrium in the region. We all know that this deal destabilized the nuclear deterrence established between both countries after the nuclear tests of 1998. This disturbed the strategic stability of the region. Later, India emboldened by US support, also began to evolve proactive military doctrines directed against Pakistan, which posed new security challenges for us. Naturally Pakistan had to take steps to respond to that and restore strategic equilibrium.

The Indo-US strategic relationship will have to be watched very carefully and Pakistan will have to respond what it believes will be any adverse consequences for its security. At the same time, Pakistan will have to be careful and not exaggerate the significance of this relationship. Panic is never a good foundation for any policy. And frankly there is nothing to panic about as Pakistan has the strategic means to defend itself against external aggression.

Q. If Central Asia is seen as an 'economic hub' by the West, and India as an 'Investment Destination', then how do you see the West approaching the countries that serve as 'Trade Corridor' from Central Asia to India? How should these states safeguard their legitimate interests?

Answer: We have to recognize that many competing visions have been articulated for future regional economic cooperation. For example, the US has talked about the New Silk Road which they believe should link India with the economies of Central Asia and which also envisages regional economic ties between Afghanistan, Central Asian states and India through transit trade facilities which Pakistan is supposed to provide. But we have to recognize that China opposes this idea, and instead called for promoting the ancient Silk Road as the means for regional cooperation. I agree that you don't have to create a New Silk Road, which is driven by the strategic interests of outsider powers. We have to take into consideration regional aspirations and historic linkages among states of our region and also respect the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) vision for regional cooperation. I don't think we should accept that there is only one vision, which will be implemented and will materialize. We have to see how the regional states themselves respond to these competing visions. I believe that regional initiatives that are indigenous will have a chance of success, not those imposed from outside or that have a strategic purpose to contain China. It is too early to say that how states might line up because we simply don't know which vision will muster more support and become a reality.

Q. How do you see Indian and Chinese investment in Afghanistan? Any possible convergence of economic interests by the two in post-2014 Afghanistan?

Answer: Both India and China have played and are going to play very different roles in Afghanistan. But before I answer your question let me say that among almost all states in the region, including Pakistan, China, Iran and India, no country wants to go back to the bad old days of the 1990s when Afghanistan became an arena of proxy conflict between neighbouring states. I don't think that any country wants the revival of a 1990s-type situation because it had such devastating consequences for the entire region, especially Pakistan. After Afghanistan, it was people of Pakistan that suffered the most. It is in that context that we should look for possibilities for regional cooperation to help stabilise Afghanistan. If we start to look at Afghanistan as an arena for strategic competition, I don't think that any country will be a winner. India has sought to build relations with Afghanistan on the basis of traditional ties as well as their assistance to Afghanistan's economic development. I have no issue with if this is what Afghanistan wants, as this is their sovereign decision. It is any military or security role for India in Afghanistan that is of concern to Pakistan. As for pressure on Pakistan, this the country can handle. For example the issue of opening the transit trade route can be settled through negotiations. Nothing is for free.

There is no need to be apprehensive and we need to view regional economics as an opportunity. We need to see how best we can maximize our advantage. Like any other country, we are not a static entity. When the world around us is dynamic and it is changing, we must adapt and adjust to changing realities while protecting our interests. Fear is the worst foundation to base any kind of policy, whether security or foreign. It must be predicated much more on positivity while of course, keeping our security interests in mind. The largest foreign investment in Afghanistan is still represented by projects in which China has a stake. But their two major projects are currently on the hold due to the security situation. Pakistan should look at long-term goals and see how best can we take advantage of the economic interest that China or others may have in Afghanistan. This will help promote regional stability.

Q. How much independent, influential and credible is Russian support in any international power game affecting a smaller state?

Answer: The Syrian crisis has marked the re-assertion of Russian diplomacy. The US, duly backed by the UK and France, was contemplating military action against Syria on the issue of the alleged use of chemical weapons. It was a Russian initiative to find a diplomatic solution that led to an avoidance of military conflict, which to me was a win-win situation for everyone. Although the Syrian crisis is not yet over, it provided an avenue for the Russians to assert themselves and become a more active diplomatic player on the international scene. But in the next 20-25 years, I do not foresee any tripolar system, if I can call it that. I see two economic poles, China and United States, and then I see other countries playing an influential role depending on the particular issue. So when you say that Russia can somehow be a promoter or protector of small countries, it depends which country are you talking about. Some countries, in Russia's near abroad like Ukraine do look to Russia for support but I don't think many others do beyond that.

Q. What are the security challenges for Pakistan in near and distant future?

Answer: Let me start by saying that Pakistan's security calculus, like that of any other country, is not static. It changes in response to the changing environment. The security calculus of any country is the sum total of its goals, the resources it has, and the environment. The goals may not change, but resources often do. And the environment changes, too.

If you look at Pakistan's security environment from that perspective, the country faces formidable challenges. These challenges are diverse and many; non-traditional challenges, traditional challenges, hard threats, soft threats as well as direct and indirect threats to our security. The most pressing and urgent challenge is internal. The internal threat to our security comes from deteriorating law and order and a stagnant and ailing economy. Unless the economy grows the threat to social stability will heighten. Pakistan needs to seriously address this internal challenge to its security and stability. Law and order, as you know, is threatened by the forces of violent extremism that Pakistan must defeat. Whether it defeats them through persuasion and talks or tougher law enforcement or a combination of the two, this is critical for Pakistan's future. While dealing with the domestic challenge, Pakistan cannot ignore the external threats to its security for the east and the west.

Despite Pakistan's efforts to revive broad based dialogue with India and pursue a policy of peace and normalisation, the response from the Indian side has been less than encouraging. India has refused to revive the composite dialogue and says that she will only talk on the two 'Ts' , trade & terrorism, not other issues. That poses a great diplomatic challenge for Pakistan, as it must ensure that normalization efforts also involve the resolution of disputes. From a security perspective, Pakistan has to assess what India's conventional military and strategic build up means for Pakistan and it has to devise appropriate responses.

Pakistan has already taken important steps to ensure its security in response to this build up. Pakistan doesn't have to match missile with missile and tank for tank. But it does need credible conventional and nuclear deterrence to secure itself against any adventure from the east. On the western front, we are in a year of transitions in Afghanistan. This is an uncertain transition and we don't know how this will play out. Therefore the security challenge on the western front might intensify in the next year or two. Pakistan would want to avert to the degree it can, any throwback to the 1990s, when the civil war in Afghanistan engulfed the region and destabilized Pakistan. Pakistan doesn't want 2014 to become other 1989. But it also doesn't want to see 2014 becoming 1996, when the Taliban seized Kabul by force of arms.

Pakistan is opposed to any armed group seizing power by violent means. That is why it has long advocated a political settlement that accommodates all Afghan groups. It has promoted a peace process vigorously during the last 2-3 years. The rationale is very simple; Pakistan wants to see peace in Afghanistan as early as possible, a peace that endures. It wants the war to end before all foreign combat forces leave Afghanistan in December 2014. If the war doesn't end by then, the possibility of a low intensity conflict or even a civil war looms larger with the danger of spilling over into our side of the border. This could entail a fresh influx of refugees and further destabilization of our border regions. Pakistan's menu of issues it needs to deal with on the security front is very heavy. The sources of threats are multiple; both internal and external. Pakistan needs to navigate and negotiate this security situation very carefully. The civilian government must lead but it must also ensure that our security institutions are on board and that there is a national consensus on how best to address these varied security threats.

Q. In the past it has been observed that the Indian leadership is not ready to show any flexibility on Kashmir, Siachin and Sir Creek issues. Often peace rhetoric for international audience is replaced with a belligerent stance keeping in mind domestic audience and momentary political gains. How should the peace process be conducted to achieve stability in the region?

Answer: Pakistan and India both need a peace process that is comprehensive and which addresses the issues and concerns that both countries have with one another. The composite dialogue process that was evolved in 1997 and has continued off and on since then, still offers the best framework for a comprehensive peace process. It involves eight issues that are of priority for both countries. But in the last year or two, India has refused to revive this comprehensive broad based peace process. It wants to cherry pick and select issues, which suits its interests. That is not realistic or sustainable. Even if India is able to get Pakistan to respond to one or two issues of its priority, the dialogue process will not be sustainable. After a while the process will run out of momentum when outstanding issues are not addressed. Common sense dictates that durable peace can be built only when the disputes that divide the two countries are addressed on a fair and just basis. One side cannot dictate the agenda as well as the pace of the talks. There have to be steps from both countries to address each others' concerns and at the same time to resolve the disputes between them.

We have seen in our past history, for example during the 1980s, when Pakistan was preoccupied by the situation created by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, all disputes were frozen while the normalization continued. But that didn't stop the Kashmiri uprising from taking place. So when you have a festering dispute like that, even if you put disputes into deep freeze, they will re-emerge in one form or another. Consider another example: tensions in the past year on the Line of Control (LOC). These tensions or violations that occur are inherent in the unresolved dispute in Kashmir. As the Kashmiris say, this line has been drawn in the heart of Kashmir. We need realism on Delhi's part and a recognition that might does not make right.

Q. How should Pakistan evolve a strategy to address the problems of terrorism and religious extremism in Pakistan?

Answer: The fundamental premise for any approach to counter the forces of violent extremism has to be the Constitution of Pakistan. It is within this framework that we must seek to contain these forces and make sure that they do not challenge the state's writ. Fundamentally also, unless governance is substantially improved, there will always be forces that will seek to fill the vacuum in ungoverned places or spaces. Where people feel they have grievances these are often used as alibis by violent extremists to impose their view or agenda.

To confront a multidimensional threat requires that policy responses are also multifaceted. The appropriate approach should be holistic and comprehensive. This needs a 'whole-of-government’ approach. All elements of national power have to be deployed political, military, economic and law enforcement has to be combined with efforts to defeat the extremists' ideology by an effective counter-narrative. We also need to anchor our anti-terrorism and counter-extremism policy within a comprehensive national security strategy. The country doesn't have one at present. We have defence, foreign and economic policies and a patchwork of internal law and order responses, but this doesn't add up to a national security strategy. That has to integrate these components of policy in disciplined pursuit of clearly articulated goals and priorities. It has to be more than a sum of these parts and provide an overarching, strategic focus to them.

As for the country's anti-militancy campaign, this has made gains but the overall effort has taken the form, more of fire fighting than a coherent strategy. The political and administrative effort too has been weak in the post-military operation phase. These weaknesses have to be corrected to establish a sustainable environment that prevents the return of militants to areas cleared of them. This is a very challenging area, which requires great deal of thought, and of course action. I think Pakistan has gained lot of experience in this battle and this experience has to be put into effect through a comprehensive national security strategy, which must be based on public consensus and strengthened state capacity to deal with it. Building stronger state capacity refers as much to laws and law enforcement, including judicial enforcement, as the ability to provide effective governance and essential services to citizens.

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