09
March
January 2015(EDITION 7, Volume 51)
Asif Jehangir Raja
As the sun was dropping down to set at Peshawar on December 16, 2014, the coffins piled up in different parts of the Provincial Capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, some small and few smaller than the others, narrated a different tale altogether. The children wept, parents screamed and the whole country wept a river of tears during the past few weeks....Read full article
 
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Ghazi Salahuddin
We have buried our schoolchildren and they have become seeds. Now the challenge for us is to nurture these seeds into a garden of peace. And this task is as sacred as the barbarism of the terrorists was satanic....Read full article
 
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Feryal Ali Gauhar
Many years ago, when I had gotten used to absences, I realized that the numbness of the heart was only the mist passing over the lightless homes of this silent city at night. While I slept, the state of absence had quietly carved a cavernous hole in my heart....Read full article
 
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Saima Baig
I don’t understand these deeds I am in doubt, confusion and all is a blur Where are you? How can this occur? I am trying to seek you out I scream and shout I am blinded by my tears ....Read full article
 
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Amir Zia
These terror attacks should end the confusion in the minds of those mainstream political and religious forces, which still act as the apologists of the Taliban and other similar terrorist groups. Despite the fact that nearly 60,000 ....Read full article
 
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Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi
Afghanistan faces a difficult and uncertain internal situation in 2015 and beyond. The international community must help the Afghan leaders for enabling ....Read full article
 
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Dr. Samar Mubarakmand
As the value of minerals in western porphyries alone is $500 billion, therefore, the total value of the Reko Diq asset is close to $1 trillion. With such a valuable mineral deposit discovered by GSP in Balochistan, Pakistan....Read full article
 
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Farrukh Saleem
Pakistan's median age of 21.2 years – with a global range of 48.9 for Monaco and 15 for Uganda – makes Pakistan one of the youngest of countries in the world. By 2050, with an....Read full article
 
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Jennifer McKay
Pakistan is already achieving success and making change in a lot of areas but we lose sight of these amidst the seemingly endless bad news. Peace will be important in achieving ....Read full article
 
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Major General Agha Masood Akram
Some of the major indigenously developed products showcased during IDEAS-2014 included Main Battle Tank Al-Khalid, Fighter Aircraft JF-17 Thunder, Jet Trainer Aircraft K-8 and a variety of ....Read full article
 
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V. Adm Khan Hasham Bin Saddique
Oceans which constitute the most distinctive geographic feature of planet earth have always been a major focus of mankind. The attraction for sea is founded in its riches as a repository of unending resource, a means of transportation, a dominion ....Read full article

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Dr. Rizwana Abbasi
Then comes, the Modi Doctrine! This doctrine is focused on forceful maximization of political influence through greater maritime power thereby reinvigorating partnerships from Indo-Pacific to Asia-Pacific....Read full article
 
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Farhat Javed Rabbani
Unprecedented successes in NWA are reflective of the professional acumen of Pakistan Military. Whole nation stands with our valiant armed forces and are proud of the lionhearted officers and men....Read full article
 
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Maj Saud Al Aziz
October 9, 2014 wasn’t a calm day in the capital Bangui of Central African Republic (CAR). The security situation was tensed and a mob of fuming persons was protesting for resignation of the president and the prime....Read full article
 
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Salman Rashid
On a clear evening the setting sun, as seen from the Jhelum Bridge or Rohtas Fort, appears to be going behind the purple loom of a solitary hill. On the fringe of the Salt Range highlands and detached from it by several kilometres,....Read full article
 
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Dr. Mauna Gauhar
According to Humanistic School of Psychology, humans have an innate capacity to grow. When the environment is conducive, people feel safe and their sense of security is enhanced. Secure people are able ....Read full article
 
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Capt Fatima Mubarak
On the battlefield, excess weight can be a life-threatening burden for a soldier. As the technology has advanced, scientists have been prompted to work in this area and to come up with new inventions that can help ....Read full article
 
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Kokab Khawaja
Grind coriander, chilies, ginger and garlic into a paste and keep it aside.Heat oil in a wide sauce pan. Add whole cardamoms, cloves and a piece of cinnamon.Then add onions until it turns golden brown, add chicken and fry. ....Read full article
22
January

As the sun was dropping down to set at Peshawar on December 16, 2014, the coffins piled up in different parts of the Provincial Capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, some small and few smaller than the others, narrated a different tale altogether. The children wept, parents screamed and the whole country wept a river of tears during the past few weeks – the somberness persists even now and so does the gloomy atmosphere. It wasn’t our country alone; the whole world seemed shocked – the echoes of condemnation could be felt around the globe and international leaders were quick to respond and share their grief. The barbarity unleashed by the terrorists at Army Public School has once again illustrated the need for a decisive and cohesive action against the monster of terrorism at all levels. The civil and military leadership, supported by the society can generate ‘Whole-of-Nation-Approach’, which is the best recipe for ultimately rooting out terrorism and extremism from Pakistan. In the words of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, “With their blood, our children have drawn a line between us and the terrorists.” Many steps are being taken in the aftermath of Peshawar incident and it is only by understanding and recognizing the enemy within, who looks like us in most of the cases, we shall be able to alienate and eliminate terrorists, and ultimately uproot terrorism from Pakistan. General Raheel Sharif, COAS, while expressing his feeling about Peshawar carnage said, “They have hit at the heart of the nation, but let me reiterate that they can't in any way, diminish the will of this great nation.” COAS, reiterating his unambiguous resolve to root out extremism and terrorism, has also paid rich tribute to national political leadership for their spirited and unwavering resolve to rid Pakistan of this menace through reforms and administrative measures. He, at another occasion, has also emphasized that this momentum of national unity and anti-terror drive must be maintained till the final defeat of the enemy. Of course, the state and society has no space to lose this war, and victory shall be the only option. The nation is united to face this crises and Peshawar incident has brought further clarity in the perception of society to handle scourge of terrorism. The civil society, academia, intellectuals, women, young and old alike have come united in their resolve to bring an end to the menace of extremism from Pakistan. Zarb-e-Azb is a national effort to reinstate peace and order across the entire country. It is to note that Operation Zarb-e-Azb is not an end in itself; it is a step towards restoring writ of the state, destroying the sanctuaries of terrorists of all hue and colours. The grief and pain of families of 149 victims of Peshawar incident can neither be explained in words, nor can be felt in their way. These martyrs and their blood is precious, yet their sacrifice has been able to further the resolve at national level against terrorism in Pakistan. It is now that we must carry out much needed cleansing – and forever.

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16
January

Written By: Capt Fatima Mubarak

On the battlefield, excess weight can be a life-threatening burden for a soldier. As the technology has advanced, scientists have been prompted to work in this area and to come up with new inventions that can help the soldiers. A typical combat soldier equipped for battle can lug around 70 pounds of equipment, much of this comprises heavy battery packs to charge the radio, night vision goggles and so on. So much of weight reduces his efficiency through increased fatigue, and simply creates a bigger target for the enemy.

Nanotechnology can potentially reduce the weight of soldier and can address the issue. It refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products. Larger to smaller: a materials perspective phenomena became pronounced with time as it ensured the decreased size of the products. These include statistical mechanical effects, as well as quantum mechanical effects, for example, the “quantum size effect” where the electronic properties of solids are altered with great reductions in particle size. This effect does not come into play by going from macro to micro dimensions.

Generation of electricity at the nanoscale is one such example; converting energy from the body (kinetic), the sun (solar) and transferring heat from a fire when cooking (thermal). Luckily for the soldier, all three can potentially be applied to military equipment, says Professor Rob Dorey of Cranfield University, UK, who holds the Chair in Nanomaterials. “A thermoelectric device is able to convert heat to electricity, so you can generate power from an engine or body heat, solar heating, or even from a fire,” says Prof. Dorey. “The nice thing about this technology is that a temperature difference is required, so it will work in both hot and cold environments.”

The Army would like to create wearable power systems and higher-voltage batteries that would require less recharging. Scientists also are investigating the concept of clothing materials that can act as an electrical bus shifting power around the uniform as needed. These innovations could free troops from carrying so many batteries. Special fibers also could be made to change with the weather, eliminating the need to pack extra layers in cold temperatures.

Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), USA, launched the Warrior Web Programme in September 2011, seeking to create a soft, lightweight under-suit to help reduce injuries and fatigue while improving mission performance. According to an official of the agency as reported in the media, “Warrior Web is specifically being designed to address the key injuries at the ankle, knee, hip, lower back and shoulders.” Warrior Web would protect injury-prone areas by stabilizing and reducing stresses on joints and promoting efficient and safe movement over a wide range of activities, he said. But all soldiers must wear body armour, which continues to cause issues for designers who are looking to balance protection, comfort and weight. The standard vest worn by soldiers around the world now weighs about 35 pounds. The Army should measure the sizes and shapes of soldiers to find ways to contour the armour so that it feels lighter, even if it weighs the same amount, says Jack Obusek, Director at the Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre in Massachusetts, USA.

The Lightweight Advanced Combat Helmets (LWACH) manufactured by Armour Source Company represents a significant step forward in the army's efforts to lighten the soldier's logistics burden. It provides improved ballistic head protection while reducing the overall soldier load. LWACH is designed to lessen the extreme weight burden carried by soldiers on their head and neck, while simultaneously enhancing their protection in the battlefield. Exoskeletons also may help troops to march to the fight without running out of steam. The Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), being developed jointly by Lockheed Martin and the Army, is a wearable robot with leg braces that transfer weight from a soldier’s back down to the ground. Sensors throughout the system allow the exoskeleton to mimic a soldier’s motions. Though tests are ongoing, officials have estimated that it could carry up to 200 pounds. The soldier’s load has not reduced noticeably in the last two millennia. Where the soldier’s protective and lethality equipment and sustainment stores have changed through necessity and technology, the soldier’s load has not reduced. Where logistical and technological transport aides have changed over the last two millennia, the soldier’s load has not reduced. Even where the nature of warfare has changed, from converging phalanxes and trench warfare to today’s complex battlefield, the soldier’s load has not reduced. History, therefore, suggests that relying on improved load carriage logistical aides and changes to equipment may not be the answer to this age-old problem, and that perhaps the military answer to the problem of the soldier’s load may lie elsewhere; the technology.

16
January

Written By: Dr. Mauna Gauhar

According to Humanistic School of Psychology, humans have an innate capacity to grow. When the environment is conducive, people feel safe and their sense of security is enhanced. Secure people are able to incorporate ideas, find novel, creative practical solutions, have a purpose in life, contribute socially, look after themselves, can regulate emotions and work towards personal autonomy. The sooner we invest in the psychological world of human resource the quicker we would observe change.

The quotient of mental / psychological health of a society can be measured from the increase of unrest, agitation and crime rate amongst the masses. Societies become self-destructive when a segment of population creates disruption and no counter measures seem to be taken towards correction. As a humanistic professional, I am ever concerned about client population and their issues, especially those relating to safety and security. Psychological issues have grown manifold in the face of ever growing environmental and circumstantial challenges that we as a nation are facing since decades. A child born in today’s Pakistan is already faced with the energy crises, terrorism, dwindling economy, socio-political instability, proxy wars, ethnic, religious and sectarian divide; a few to name. The parents and the child is born to, are already affected by the fore – mentioned difficulties. In many cases, both the parents have to earn either to maintain or to improve the quality of life. However, the stress and pressures of work, personal psychological baggage, existential issues and the endless presentation of negative state of political affairs on the media impact the minds generally, and get translated into interpersonal familial relationships. The stress an average Pakistani carries today and continues to face is huge and is often on the increase; and their coping mechanisms in the face of it often inadequate. As a result, restlessness, intolerance, relationship issues, drugs intake, physical and mental health problems are on the rise. Pakistani nation is exposed to traditional and non-traditional security threats, the collective impact of which has affected the mental and physical health of people generally. Masses have experienced neglect for so long that resorting to extreme behaviours appears to be the only way to be noticed.

The term ‘security’ refers to protection against threat to human life or well being. However in broader terms, any challenge that is perceived as an existential problem, and the intensity of which calls to action the coping mechanisms of individuals or state. For instance environmental, security, communicable disease, economic challenges, financial security, terrorism, natural calamities, drug trafficking, piracy, illegal immigration, famine, sanitation, lack of education / skill, large opponents, propaganda, violence, inter-sect disharmony, psychological warfare, subliminal messaging, mental and physical health problems – all these factors fall in the category of security threats and therefore require corrective measures as these affect the mental health and human growth index adversely.

The importance of safety and security for the human survival and development can be ascertained from the fact that most of the psychological / psychiatric issues manifested in the adult personality can be traced back to lack of safety which one received as a child in the form of neglect, abuse and maltreatment etc. Such earlier negative experiences lay foundation for future emotionally insecure personality. Emotional insecurity or simply insecurity refers to a feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving oneself inferior or vulnerable in some way which threatens one’s self image. When people have to live with such feelings day in and day out, it is drainage of energy. These feelings are further enhanced when threats in the environment persist unabatedly.

An insecure individual perceives him/herself as frail, sees the world as a threatening wilderness, and most people as perilous and selfish; feels rejected, isolated, hostile and anxious, is by and large skeptical and miserable; is often conflicted and shows signs of tension; has a tendency to turn inwards and isolate himself; is vexed by guilt feelings, has an alternate unsettling influence of disturbed self-esteem; has a tendency to be neurotic; and can be for the most part, self-centred and egocentric. However in every insecure individual there is a ceaseless, endless aching for security. Two people with the same capabilities may have entirely different levels of insecurity. People often have some of these feelings from time to time, however, in a rather emotionally secure person these feelings are temporary. This is not to be mistaken for modesty, which includes perceiving one's inadequacies yet at the same time keeping up a sound dosage of self-assurance. Insecurity may lead to the development of paranoia, shyness, and social withdrawal or it may alternately encourage compensatory behaviours such as arrogance, animosity, aggression or tormenting. Exposure to insecure environment erodes people’s self confidence, trust and belief in their capabilities. Even if situation changes for them, they fear that the current positive state is temporary and something bad might occur which will let them down and cause disappointment and distress.

Governments have fundamental obligation to secure their populace from security threats. These administrative commitments are, obviously, not absolute. However, when threats to social security assume a substantial scale among the general public, lives are taken or destroyed. "Security concerns" as an idea legitimately enters talk when safety threat predominance achieve levels that debilitate and upset economic activity, erode administrative power of the state, weaken governance and institutional functions and negatively affect a state's energy to influence externally. The failure of the related departments to address the national security concern has to do with the lack of capacity to address such issues, failure to admit this shortcoming and apathy towards this existential need of the nation. One such example is the non-functionality of the National Security Council and the minimal implementation of national security policy. The price for this neglect is paid by the general public and the sense of individual and collective anxiety is on the rise. As per psychological theoretical understanding, insecure individuals find it difficult to actualize growth tendencies, are overly defensive and most of their capabilities such as intelligence, creativity, tolerance, autonomy, self regulation are in disharmony and their full functioning is hampered. If this insecurity is part of personality of a leader, then the leader is self-serving than the nation.

Having highlighted the issues of national security and its impact on individual psyche, some suggestions are now presented which may contribute to ameliorate the situation. First and foremost, it is important to realize and hence admit that the issues regarding security and safety have been dealt with inadequately. A concentrated effort towards planning and implementation of national security policy should be geared as a priority. Safety and security has many facets as mentioned above. Each requires separate specialized attention, policy making, planning, legislation, execution and post execution assessment/evaluation.

Second, our leadership capacity requires serious enhancement. Laws should be enacted to make it mandatory for the political leadership to continuously undergo personal development trainings and programmes. Elements of spiritual concepts such empathy, selfless service, social responsibility, altruism etc. should be adopted and manifested through behaviour. It has been observed that leaders who have the capability to transform humans, are high in social, emotional, spiritual and academic intelligence. However, if a leader who performed average academically, but had been high on other forms of intelligence have also been much effective in motivating humans.

Third, terrorism is a vast subject and a global concern. It is the biggest menace each one of us has to live with on daily bases. Neither have we been proactive in dealing with the ideology of terrorism, and as a result, depolarization of the radicals and prevention from future contamination of the suggestive minds have not been achieved. Although the military operation may bring temporary relief, it is the mindset and intra psychic dynamics of the terrorist personality that needs understanding. Depolarization should be viewed in the light of personal change which is an emotional, cognitive, behavioural and social process. It can be activated through psychotherapy and rehabilitation. The root causes such as poverty, lack of education as well as traumatic experiences should be remedied to prevent relapse. Expertise should be developed though higher education and training for the professions involved; any non expert intervention tantamount to further abuse and exacerbation of the problem.

Fourth, lack of social justice insemination and the lack of protection as well as maltreatment by custodians of the civil administration such as police has further added to the common man’s insecurities. The mentioning of police reforms have surfaced several times in the media, however no considerable progress became visible over the period of time. Army, being the most organized institute in the country, could be involved and joint training of police and army recruits could be instituted with providence of same facilities for the police force. Strict code of ethics as well as accountability procedures followed by remedial training may address the issues.

The purpose of this article is to bring to light the emotional suffering of the people of this country due to non-secure environment. In the absence of any relevant measures and guideline, people feel confused and clueless as to what to do about the deteriorating state of affairs. Anger amongst the masses is high and instead of finding creative solutions, the general trend is to take confrontational dogmatic stance against each other which results in further conflict. When people are defensive, they take rigid views of situations to the exclusion of other’s ideas. As a result, divide widens and people are further pushed down the quagmire. If challenges are not taken on and solutions are procrastinated, they gain mass (examples of these dynamics can be witnessed when there is a political, religious, ethnic or ideological clash and people resort to annihilate each other). When humans are stuck, frustrated, confused, low, broken, lacking trust and confidence etc., they are far from constructive ideas and exercising creative potential. In such states, they need support and direction for removing internal blocks and resistances hence enabling themselves to move on and actualize endless possibilities. Clarity comes through managing grievances in a manner which results in resolution of the conflict. When more people feel resolved they gear up towards creating the opportunities which bring prosperity.

We need to invest in our nation’s health holistically. Where there is respect and acceptance for physical health problems, mental / psychological health requires same treatment and attention. It is the deficit of psychological health in individuals which has contributed to the constantly deteriorating state of security and safety. Our health ministry and private sector should invest and encourage facilities where tolerance and self-containment is taught. Personality growth programmes and trainings can also be offered besides other forms of therapeutic support. On a larger scale, our objective should to be to address the issues of national security and safety at the primary, secondary and tertiary level employing both proactive and reactive interventions.

According to Humanistic School of Psychology, humans have an innate capacity to grow. When the environment is conducive, people feel safe and their sense of security is enhanced. Secure people are able to incorporate ideas, find novel, creative practical solutions, have a purpose in life, contribute socially, look after themselves, can regulate emotions and work towards personal autonomy. The sooner we invest in the psychological world of human resource the quicker we would observe change.

The writer is a consultant psychologist, counsellor and psychotherapist who also worked as a stress therapist, relaxation advisor and meditation consultant in clinical setting, Chicago Illinois, U.S.A. www.growingedge.com.pk
16
January

Written By: Salman Rashid

On a clear evening the setting sun, as seen from the Jhelum Bridge or Rohtas Fort, appears to be going behind the purple loom of a solitary hill. On the fringe of the Salt Range highlands and detached from it by several kilometres, this is Tilla Jogian – Hill of the Jogis. Rising one thousand metres above the sea, richly wooded with wild olive, phulai (Acacia modesta), a species of wild pistachio, some sumbal (Bombax malabaricum) and, on the very peak, a few chir (Pinus longifolia), Tilla Jogian has long been hallowed ground.

According to Alexander Cunningham, the 19th century British archaeologist, the hill was dedicated to the sun god ‘Balnath’ and therefore known as Tilla Balnath. Over time, it came to be known as Tilla Goraknath so named, according to Cunningham, after another form of Shiva. He also noted that the latter name was of a fairly recent origin. It was perhaps following Cunningham that the Glossary of Tribes, Castes and Clans of Ibbetson, Maclagan and Rose tells us that Goraknath lived in the 15th century in this area. Inferential evidence shows otherwise, however.

The ballad of Puran Bhagat, the prince of Sialkot, however places Goraknath squarely in the 1st century BCE. Puran, first-born to King Salvahan and his queen Ichhran, was a prince with a philosophical bent of the mind. When barely twelve years of age, he was wrongfully accused of lustful advances by his calumnious stepmother Luna. Without so much as an investigation into the matter, Salvahan ordered his son’s limbs to be amputated and his body to be dumped in a well outside town. There the hapless prince struggled between life and death for a period that the storytellers’ license turns into twelve years. Twelve long years Puran, the prince of Sialkot, lay in his watery dungeon not yet dead and scarcely alive.

One day, so the ballad goes, fate brought the great Guru Goraknath, founder of the sect of Kunphatta jogis, to the well where Puran lay dying. When he was discovered in the watery depth, the guru had his limp and all but lifeless body pulled out to hear his sorry tale. Upon discovering that misfortune had befallen him for repelling the amorous overtures of his libidinous stepmother, the guru was overcome with compassion. He ran his hands over the mangled body of Puran and miraculously restoring him to fullness, ordered the prince to return to his father and tell him the truth of the matter. But the prince refused. He joined, instead, the guru’s train and went to attend his college at Tilla. There Puran himself attained greatness as an accomplished jogi.

The annals of Ujjain (Rajasthan) record the repudiation of the crown by Raja Bhartari in favour of his younger brother Vikramaditya. Bhartari, it is related, took up the itinerant life of a jogi and eventually fetched up at the monastery of Guru Goraknath. In order to place these individuals and the events concerning them in a proper frame of time, it must be known that Salvahan is accredited with having rebuilt the ruinous fort and city of Sialkot and ruled over it in the 1st century BCE. Vikramaditya, on the other hand, is the great hero of Indian history who made a gallant and victorious stand against the Scythians in the year 57 BCE – the year that marks the beginning of the Vikrami era.

Now, Guru Goraknath was the founder of the Kunphatta sect of jogis – jogis who pierced their earlobes to adorn them with rings. He was of no mean fame in the past, nor indeed is he wanting in celebrity today for he is still renowned across the subcontinent. For the princes Puran and Bhartari to have partaken directly of the wisdom of this great teacher, would mean that he established his monastery sometime in the 1st century BCE. At some point in the early Middle Ages, the name of Goraknath was supplanted by that of Balnath. Though there is no direct evidence, written or oral, it appears from Emperor Akbar’s chronicles that Balnath was another guru of a later period. For his name to have replaced that of the founding father Goraknath, would mean that even Balnath was of no mean learning and stature. And so from a remote time the hill was known by either of three names: Tilla Goraknath, Tilla Balnath or Tilla Jogian.

Such was the celebrity of this place in the Middle Ages that it was commonly used as a reference point. Having chased Humayun out of the country, Sher Shah Suri sent surveyors out to select a suitable site for his garrison on the frontier of the turbulent Gakkhars. The place chosen by the surveyors for the Pakhtun king’s fort later to be known as Rohtas was, so history records, ‘in the vicinity of Tilla Balnath.’ Thirty-two years later, Akbar the Great visited the ‘shrine of Balnath’ as recorded by Abul Fazal, one of his ‘nine jewels’ and author of the voluminous Akbarnama. An interesting observation by Abul Fazal concerns the age of the monastery. He writes that even at the time of the emperor’s visit, it was ‘so old that its beginning is not known.’

Although the chronicler does not say who Balnath was, he does tell us that this man having turned to the ascetic way of life chose this hill as his place of penance in order to overcome his worldly passions. He also records that even during that time in the late 16th century, Tilla Balnath was held in high esteem by the people of India who visited it from distant corners of the land. It is clear that even then the great age of the monastery of jogis with pierced ears was marked with wonder. Strange then that, the trio of compilers of the Glossary of Tribes were misled in the early 20th century to believe that Tilla Jogian was a fairly recent phenomenon.

In April 1607, Jehangir stopped at Tilla Jogian on his way from Lahore to the highlands Kashmir. For some odd reason, this wonderfully observant writer of diaries makes no interesting observations concerning the hilltop monastery. All he tells us is, its distance from Rohtas of ‘four kos and three-quarters.’ (The actual distance from Rohtas is twenty-two kilometres, somewhat more than Jehangir’s estimation.) Even though he camped here a couple of nights and would surely have witnessed the jogis’ worship and austerities, for once there is no sense of wonder about this tree-shaded collection of temples and hermitages.

Tilla Jogian features in the ballad of the lovers Heer and Ranjha. Once again this infers that the monastery is of ancient date for the ballad itself dates back to the 15th century (perhaps even earlier). In the face of stiff family resistance, Dhidho of the clan Ranjha could not marry his beloved Heer of the Sials. As Ranjha wrung his impotent hands, Heer was forcibly wedded off amongst the Khehras. And so, the heart-broken Ranjha left home and travelled up the Jhelum River to eventually fetch up at the jogi monastery. Surely this was no accidental arrival. Surely he must have known of Tilla Jogian being the place for those who spurned the world. Here Ranjha did his penance, subjugated his passions and became a jogi of the Kunphatta sect. But that story does not belong in this narrative.

The dawning of the 18th century was the start yet again of misfortune in this part of the subcontinent. The Mughals succumbed to indolence and the vacuum was filled by the influx of plunderers from the west once again. From the 1730s onwards, Nadir Shah and his follower Ahmed Shah repeatedly plundered Punjab. In 1748 Abdali attacked Tilla Jogian and the monastery was looted and sacked. Many jogis were killed, others fled to hide away in the forested slopes of the hill. Savagery was perhaps all the Afghan robbers had in mind for had they been guided by good sense, they would have known that a jogi monastery could not yield any wealth at all.

Slowly the monks began to rebuild the monastery until it was fully functional once again. After the British took over, the early administrators of Jhelum District were much enamoured of the cool, tree-covered height of Tilla. Every year in April, just after the Baisakhi Festival, the office and court of the Deputy Commissioner of Jhelum moved to the mild climes of the hill where it functioned until the end of August. A colonial-style rest house with a high roof and veranda running around three sides once stood on the summit a little way from the monastery to remind of the Deputy Commissioner’s annual stint at Tilla Jogian. This building dating back to about 1880 was pulled down in 1986 to be replaced by the present rest house. Whereas the older building required only extensive repair even after a century of use and disuse, the present building has once already been rebuilt from complete ruin in less than twenty years.

The undoing of the ancient monastery of Tilla Jogian came after the creation of Pakistan. Persecution forced the jogis to flee the new country leaving Tilla Jogian deserted. No longer did the tree-shaded peak resound with the drone of mantras, no longer did those who repudiated the world resort here. Tilla Jogian was no more the haunt of the great gurus of the Kunphatta sect of jogis. The only visitors now are shepherds and woodcutters from the villages around its base. There are as well the occasional tourists from the cities. There is yet another kind of visitor, the one whose heart is filled only with malice and greed. He comes here to seek not nirvana of the spirit, but worldly treasures. Armed with crude digging tools he uproots temple floors, lays low entire buildings, and smashes ancient smadhis in his search for non-existent buried treasure. The avarice of this kind of visitor to Tilla Jogian is only matched by his foolishness: how could the last resting place of one who gave up the world to lead the jogi’s life contain treasure?

The writer is an avid traveller, has authored several books and contributes regularly for national and international media. Twitter: @odysseuslahori
16
January

Written By: Farhat Javed Rabbani

Unprecedented successes in NWA are reflective of the professional acumen of Pakistan Military. Whole nation stands with our valiant armed forces and are proud of the lionhearted officers and men in uniform who are fighting audaciously and courageously to eliminate the terrorists. Effects of the successfully on-going operation are quite visible as terrorists are on the run. Many of them have surrendered, some are ready to discontinue activities against the state, and some are trying to take refuge in cowardly acts like attacking women and children. The carnage of innocent children in Army Public School, Peshawar is case in point.

Clad in white shalwar qameez and a grey dastaar, Ayub Dawar, with shuffling gait and gnarled hands, was walking with the help of a stick outside Sports Complex in Bannu. The weather was humid with abnormally high temperature and scorching heat this July. It had been more than a week that I was in Bannu to cover military operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) as well as to meet Temporary Displaced Persons (TDP) who had reached Bannu, the city adjacent to NWA. Ayub, 70, his beard reddened with hina, shared his story in half Urdu-half Pashto about how he managed to build his house in Shawal years back. “I worked as a labourer for twenty years in Saudi Arabia, saved every penny and built a big house in my village. It was peace all around. Then the militants came...” It seemed as if his memories both warmed as well as haunted him, sometimes drawing a smile and other times a tear.

When I asked him how long had he been standing in this long queue to get rations, he preferred to answer me with a reason, “I came here last night at 9 p.m. and it has been twenty hours now. But we understand the compulsions of the government and are happy with this arrangement as long as we know that a massive operation is going on in NWA, and soon our area would be cleansed of terrorists and we shall be heading back to our lush green fields.” Visibly disturbed and tired of camp life, Ayub was one among approximately a million TDPs who had left their homes in the wake of the military operation against terrorists. Dawar was hopeful about a safe, secure and prosperous future as a result of these operations. To my surprise, despite being resident of a far off village, Ayub knew much about the ‘dialogue’ between the government and banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) under the slogan, “Give Peace a Chance”. He was critical of this dialogue and to him, it was a futile effort that gave TTP more time to continue with their atrocities in the area.

Pakistan is fighting war against the menace of terrorism for over a decade now. Our society has suffered hugely due to worst security situation in addition to the loss of image at international arena. The war against terrorism, being led by Pakistan Army and other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), has seen many ups and downs during all this time. As per editorial of Hilal Magazine (English), July 2014 issue, from 2004 to 2014, some 475 major and 133 minor operations have been launched to clear Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency, Malakand Division including Swat, and South Waziristan, Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai Agencies.

NWA is among the seven Agencies of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), established in 1892 with its headquarters in Miranshah. Its population is divided into three tribes: Wazirs forming the biggest part, Dawars are 35% and Mehsuds form 5% of the total population. But unfortunately, over the time, NWA had become the hub of terrorism as many terrorist attacks executed within soil of Pakistan were believed to be initiated from there. As a result, need was felt to carry out a military operation in this Agency. Despite efforts by the government to give peace and reconciliation a last chance, 20 major acts of terror were conducted between January 29 and June 8, 2014, in which 195 Pakistanis lost their lives. This bears testimony to the fact that terrorist organizations were never sincere to achieve peace through dialogue process.

Despite guarantees, the barbarians beheaded 23 Frontier Corps (FC) personnel mercilessly on February 16, 2014. Video of this incident released by TTP went viral on electronic and social media. Prior to this, 13 police commandoes were killed on February 13, 2014 when a bomb planted in a vehicle exploded outside Police Training Centre, Razzaqabad, Karachi. Suicide bombing of the FC personnel near the Iranian Consulate in Peshawar and decapitation of FC personnel wove a narrative of unprecedented use of violence. Immediately afterwards, TTP announced a month long ceasefire but continued their activities on one pretext or the other, finally attacking Karachi Airport on June 8, 2014, that proved to be the decisive moment to initiate operation in NWA.

Eventually, as a last resort and on the directions of government, Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Shareef set off a full-fledged operation against the militants. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched to target all the terrorists’ outlets without any discrimination, local and foreign, hiding in the sanctuaries in NWA.

On June 15, 2014, Operation Zarb-e-Azb commenced from the headquarters of NWA, Miranshah, once considered as the hub of militants. The operation continued and was extended to the important town of Mir Ali; on the other end, forces moved towards Digan, Boya and Datta Khel, being the central areas where terrorists’ command and control centres were located. Militants in these areas were first targeted by air strikes and afterwards, ground operations were carried out. As per statistics released from time to time by Armed Forces’ media wing, ISPR, around 2000 terrorists have been killed during these operations.

Second-to-none, our brave soldiers are adding to the pride of this nation by sacrificing more and more. Since the launch of this operation, 197 soldiers have embraced shahadat in fighting this battle for Pakistan. Such a huge difference in the causalities between our forces and the enemy, has only been possible due to excellent military planning and perfect execution on ground, which our armed forces are known for. People of Pakistan must be satisfied as 90% of the areas have been cleared of militants in the second phase of operation. Miranshah, Mir Ali, Datta Khel, Boya, Degan and 80 km Khajori-Mir Ali-Miranshah road are among the areas cleared so far. Operation is still underway around Razmak, Shawal, Giryom, Shiwa and Spinwam.

Meanwhile, to support the main operation in NWA, Operation Khyber-1 commended on Oct 16, 2014 to strangulate terrorists and prevent them from fleeing away from west (Shahkot-Tirah Valley) to the east of Khyber (Bara and Jamrod). It also catered to sanitize Bara, Dogra and Spin Qamar, Jamrud Fort and Fort Sallop. These operations still continue with precise aerial strikes.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was planned to be concluded in four stages: strangulation, clearance, rebuilding, and handing over control to civil administration. First phase was completed successfully whereas second phase is in progress and the agency is being cleared of the militants and their hideouts and command and control centres are being attacked. Third stage will be to rebuild the areas affected, and in the last phase of the operation, control will be transferred to the civil administration.

Major recoveries were also made during first six months of this operation. 5898 rifles along with 1288422 rounds of ammunition were recovered from different areas of NWA. In addition to this, 2193 Sub Machine Guns and 577756 rounds of similar caliber, 274 Machine/Light Machine Guns, 314 Rocket Launchers and 4901 Rocket Grenades were recovered. More so, security forces also recovered huge cache of 104 Anti Aircraft Guns of 12.7mm and 14.5 mm caliber along with 218050 rounds ammunition. This does not end here as in successful search operations, 4391 Mortars, 9135 Mortar bombs, 3321 Hand Grenades, 4808 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and 1225000 kilogram of explosives were recovered by security forces.

Pakistan Army also seized 33 IED manufacturing factories, five rocket manufacturing factories, and seven ammunition factories. 186 tunnels/ hideouts/ caves used by terrorists for their underground movement and nine detention centres were also seized by Pak Army.

Unprecedented successes in NWA are reflective of the professional acumen of Pakistan Military. Whole nation stands with our valiant armed forces and are proud of the lionhearted officers and men in uniform who are fighting audaciously and courageously to eliminate the terrorists. Effects of the successfully on-going operation are quite visible as terrorists are on the run. Many of them have surrendered, some are ready to discontinue activities against the state, and some are trying to take refuge in cowardly acts like attacking women and children. The carnage of innocent children in Army Public School, Peshawar is case in point. Pak Army backed by the nation, is all set to eliminate every terrorist on this soil. Commenting on Peshawar incident, COAS said, “They have hit at the heart of the nation, but let me reiterate they can't in any way diminish the will of this great nation.” Complete political leadership, civil society, and even international leaders have expressed their grief over the incident. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while talking about this sad incident said, “Terrorism has become cancer which should be rooted out by all means… We must demonstrate total unity to eliminate terrorism.”

While the Operation Zarb-e-Azb continues on ground, we all should realize that it is not merely an operation; it’s rather a commitment to cleanse Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism once and for all. As the armed forces are engaged in defeating terrorists, we, the citizens of Pakistan, share a responsibility to transform the mindset that stems terrorism.

Despite hailing from a far-flung village of Shawal, Ayub Dawar also understands well about importance of elimination of terrorists and terrorism; through operation and through transformation. An operation can be conducted in NWA but how can some force conduct operation against mindset that supports ideology of TTP and which continues to exist in the masses in urban areas – some of them even clean-shaved and in Western attire.

In his twinkling eyes, framed by thick eyebrows, there was a ray of hope, but fears, too. “It [terrorism] has already carried off thousands; [we] can’t afford more!”

The writer is a journalist and works for a private TV channel.

Twitter: @Farhat_Javed

16
January

Written By: Dr. Rizwana Abbasi

Then comes, the Modi Doctrine! This doctrine is focused on forceful maximization of political influence through greater maritime power thereby reinvigorating partnerships from Indo-Pacific to Asia-Pacific. The Modi Doctrine has transformed the Indian “Look East” policy to the “Act East” policy. India has forcefully redefined bilateral security partnerships with Japan, Australia, and the US-centric alliances, which are the salient features of this doctrine. Modi has been professing phrases like vikas vaad (peaceful development) and vistar vaad (expansionism) in the contemporary environment. Based on its expansionism notion, this doctrine seems more domineering, dangerous and aggressive in the regional context, which is likely to exert enormous pressure on Pakistan.

We know that India and Pakistan are the most uneasy neighbours being entangled in troubled history, the genesis of which lies in disputed territorial issues. We are also familiar that the conflict between the two states is enduring one and has been pulling the region back from making strides in the field of peace, development and progress. Here I refer to T. V. Paul’s categorization of enduring rivalry, where he opines that “enduring rivalry is characterized by a persistent, fundamental and long term incompatibility of goals between the two states.” Holding the common colonial legacy, the two states have set their distinct strategic directions, which are fundamentally conflicting, or should I say ‘Strategically Orthogonal,’ since their partition in 1947. Even the similarities, though a few, in the most indices have been mired with hostility, antagonism and mistrust. Today these attributes are embedded in the societies of these two countries as a never ending vicious cycle. Broadly, the endemic rivalry can be explained based on these factors: Security-Insecurity paradox; Competition to reduce power differential; Legacy of Radcliffe Award, i.e., demarcation of boundaries resulting into territorial disputes; Convoluted history, i.e., facts and realities clouded by sentiments and politico-religious and ideological narratives; Inclination for alignments with extra-regional power and their ‘nefarious designs’. This is why the region has been described by Bill Clinton in 2004 as ‘the most dangerous place on earth’.

Thus, this short study ponders on few striking questions: What are the causes which increase differences, mistrust and security dilemma between the two states? Can we answer the two states’ divergences? What are the imperatives and mechanisms for the resolution of their enduring conflicts?

The realists’ theoretical assumptions on ‘balance of power,’ ‘material power and states’ intensions towards ‘security maximization’ provide the most powerful and valuable explanation in understanding the Indo-Pak enduring rivalry.

In the Indian context, two strands (power and identity) help understand Indian strategic orientation and thinking. The perception of many Indian elites regarding Pakistan after independence in 1947 was that it was ‘vivisection of the motherland’ (the phrase of Mahatma Gandhi). Various Hindu leaders believed that the birth of Pakistan was a kind of division as a temporary phase in the history of the subcontinent. At that time, the Congress Party passed a resolution that in the future, Pakistan would fall back under the fold of ‘mother India’. These kind of historic narratives built reckonable perception inside Pakistan that India will always be a factor of ceaseless threat in the calculus of security.

Cumulative Gandhian and Nehruvi philosophy, ‘Greater India’ – [rise of India as a great power – maximization of power and expansionism] is a concept that derives its power from Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Mahabharata philosophy rooted in power based Machiavellian realist school. The manifestation and latent presence of Kautilyan thought in contemporary India cannot be discounted. Since 1947, empirical evidences show that India has experienced a ‘Kautilyan-realist learning curve.’ Other historically driven radical concepts, like Akhund Bharat, and Hindutva, populated with anti-Pakistan sentiments have been extensively used by political parties and religious extremists in India – apparently to remain relevant in their respective spheres of domestic influence and power. Though, I consider that larger Indian society is not truly radicalized by these postulates of conflict, yet Pakistan has always figured these as principles that have motivated Indian foreign and military policies.

In response to the above Indian consistent power based approach with anti-Pakistan sentiment, behaviour of a smaller Pakistan with weak infrastructure and poor economy can be better evaluated. The Indian power maximization approach and threat of the Indian Army posed to Pakistan’s borders became the immediate concern after independence in 1947. Pakistan professed India as an arch rival and a hegemonic player focused upon breaking and dismantling Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan’s strategic directions have been guided by these factors, largely: Survival as an independent state; Kashmir to be ‘an integral part of Pakistan’ – i.e., Jinnah calling it a jugular vein of Pakistan; Looking outward for bridging the power disparity – focusing on external balancing; India – a clear, direct and existential threat to its security.

It is important to review here just a little, of what happened after the Indian Independence Act of 1947 which intensified Pakistan’s fear. We know 562 princely states had the option to join either India or Pakistan. Out of these, the three princely states decided to stay independent from both India and Pakistan: Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Hyderabad in the south, and Junagadh in the west. While the rulers of the latter two were Muslim, the majority of their population was Hindu and their accession to India occurred through, extensively, Indian military actions. New Delhi, later, legitimized these accessions through subsequent ‘polluted’ referenda. Only Jammu & Kashmir emerged as the most contentious, given its geographical proximity to Pakistan and a majority Muslim population. The Hindu ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, first chose to remain independent from both India and Pakistan. But in October 1947, disturbances occurred inside Kashmir. India claimed that it was the tribal forces from Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, which attacked Kashmir, whereas Pakistan contended that it was the local revolt against Raja’s intentions of acceding to India. Nevertheless, Maharaja sought India’s help and signed an agreement to accede to India, and the Indian forces intervened. This conflict was turned into a short war between the two states, which lasted until the end of 1948. Thereafter, Kashmir became a major territorial dispute between India and Pakistan.

Additionally, in 1948, India took the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations Security Council and agreed to conduct a plebiscite on Kashmir in order to accomplish the wishes of the people of Kashmir. Nevertheless, this plebiscite was never allowed to be held by India, as India alleged that there were substantial interferences by Pakistani Military inside Kashmir to incite insurgency. This became the deep rooted cause of tension between the two.

Question here arises why is Kashmir so important to Pakistan? Broadly because of: cultural and religious coherence; sources of water and a valued ecosystem; strategic location – a bridge between Pakistan and China; question of human rights and international law. Therefore, Pakistan cannot simply let go of Kashmir even though it faces an ominous threat of Indian military.

Being a smaller state, based on lesser capability, the primary objective of Pakistan was security and survival. Pakistan adopted a more defensive, liberal and cooperation based policy and relied on the international alliances such as US led CENTO and SEATO as an umbrella against stronger India and Communist USSR. However, these alliances failed to render Pakistan with any support when another war broke out with India in 1965 on Kashmir. Once again Pakistan received no support from its Western alliances when the third war broke out in 1971.

The evolution of this enduring hostility here onward, with respect to India can be summarized in these doctrinal developments: Indira Doctrine – or The Greater India (Strong Internal Balancing); Vajpayee Doctrine – or The Refocus on Hindutva (The Hard Power); Manmohan Doctrine – or The Shining India (The Soft Power); Modi Doctrine – or The Strong India (Realignment, External Balancing – thereby promoting soft power approach globally and hard power approach regionally).

Speaking of Indira Doctrine (the second longest serving Indian PM, 1966-1977 and 1980-1984) was a manifestation of Indian expansionism, power maximization and material based interests. Later, based on its power maximization notion – The Greater India – India rejected the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), calling it a ‘discriminatory treaty and went for so called Peaceful Nuclear Explosions with military element attached to it. The consequence of Indira Doctrine was the disintegration of Pakistan, which Indira Gandhi achieved in 1971. Successors of Indira Gandhi followed her thesis until Vajpayee. Pakistan in response modified its cooperation based policy into ‘open option policy’ for nuclear weapons. Pakistan, after the Indian nuclear tests in 1974, officially announced to acquire the similar capability. Based on its security-centric orientation, Pakistan acquired nuclear capability and went for Cold Tests in 1982-83. Between 1987 and 2002 India and Pakistan experienced additional four crises nonetheless, not any of these slide into a major war – including Kargil War (1999).

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, initially influenced by hawks and hardliners, went nuclear in 1998 but later realized that the notion of ‘Refocusing on Hindutva’ was unrealizable. He visited Lahore and prospects for peace looked hopeful. The Kargil Conflict ushered a new dimension in the paradigm of nuclear deterrence – the notion of stability-instability paradox and emergence of Indian Cold Start Doctrine, the strategy of Pro-Active Operations, and the construct of Two Front War. Many analysts and professional soldiers began to believe that nuclear deterrence too permitted two nuclear armed states to engage in an inter-state conflict. This was something which had not happened before! Pakistan maintained its claim that its nuclear deterrence is defensive to address the perceived threat from India, and to nullify Indian perception of undoing the creation of Pakistan. Moreover, analysis of Pakistan’s pursuit of maximization of security would suggest that it is based on realists’ notion of balance of power to guarantee peace with adversary. Besides Kargil, the second important dimension was terrorism and extremism which redefined the threat spectrum thereby complicating the regional security situation and deepening mistrust after the terrorists’ attacks on the Indian Parliament (2001) and later in Mumbai (2008).

After the 9/11, while Pakistan was busy fighting war on terrorism with the international forces on its Western front, India kept projecting its soft power approach globally thereby achieving no enduring peace regionally through conflict management or settling the pending disputes. Manmohan Singh’s political vision and doctrine was a manifestation of India’s economic renaissance in an era of globalization and greater economic openness. The accomplishment of Indian remarkable external liberalization and the re-integration of the Indian economy into the growth processes of East and Southeast Asian economies have played a pivotal role in the credibility and maximum acceptance of this doctrine.

Then comes, the Modi Doctrine! This doctrine is focused on forceful maximization of political influence through greater maritime power thereby reinvigorating partnerships from Indo-Pacific to Asia-Pacific. The Modi Doctrine has transformed the Indian “Look East” policy to the “Act East” policy. India has forcefully redefined bilateral security partnerships with Japan, Australia, and the US-centric alliances, which are the salient features of this doctrine. Modi has been professing phrases like vikas vaad (peaceful development) and vistar vaad (expansionism) in the contemporary environment. Based on its expansionism notion, this doctrine seems more domineering, dangerous and aggressive in the regional context, which is likely to exert enormous pressure on Pakistan.

These are some of the brief reflections that how Pakistan-India hostility is enduring and it is not going to fade in the next few decades. Though India has shifted its focus from Pakistan to a more globalized form, but Pakistan’s security calculus cannot ignore the Indian threat. I shall now move further to see what needs to be done to bring the two nuclear armed rivals in an architecture of cooperation and understanding that could help maintain a lasting regional stability.

Areas of Convergence: I believe there are certain areas which indicate implicit ways of convergence for both India and Pakistan. I use a phrase “for the good people of sub-continent” – these two countries need to move on and focus these areas of common concern such as: poverty alleviation, education, health, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, freedom of the seas – suppression of crimes like piracy in a joint manner.

In my view, the enablers for conflict resolution that could bring strength to coming close on areas of shared concern could be:

•     Social factors contributing to the genesis of both states rival identities – which led to such intractable security disputes in the first place – can play vital role in conflict resolution; like people-to-people contacts.

•     Cultural perspective may provide ways to conflict resolution.

•     Peaceful normative framework would help us lessen tension and can help eliminate the transnational terrorists who threaten the region.

•     Trust – the trust deficit in addition to the incongruity of material power has an equal important socio-cultural aspect that is often neglected and seldom gets enough recognition.

•     Geographical contiguity, interdependence on natural resources such as water and food resources would help lessen the tensions.

Mechanism for Conflict Resolution: Here, I’d discuss some previous models/constructs that could help us solve our current problems. We have these agreements to look into:

•           Indus Basin Treaty, 1960.

•           Tashkent Peace Agreement, 1965.

•           Rann of Kutch Agreement, 1968.

•           Simla Agreement, 1972.

•           Lahore Declaration, 1998.

Arguably, the Indus Water treaty was the only useful agreement which was concluded with the help of the World Bank. The Tashkent Peace Agreement was initiated with the Soviet support following the 1965 War. It stipulated that relations between India and Pakistan shall be based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the other. The Simla Agreement was initiated in 1972, which renounced the use of force as a means of settling outstanding disputes. Nevertheless, implementation of these agreements has been poor. India is not willing to negotiate on the final status of Kashmir and India also does not allow third party mediation. This is a major barrier and only India can remove it.

There are further important agreements which exist between India and Pakistan such as military hotlines, political hotlines, an agreement on reducing the risks from accidents relating to nuclear weapons, ballistic missile flight-test pre-notification, agreement on prior notificatio        n of military exercises, agreement on the prevention of violation of airspace, agreement on non-attack of nuclear facilities, bilateral accord on chemical weapons and agreement on non-harassment of diplomats. All these agreements are significant and implementation in future is important.

On territorial issues such as Sir Creek and Siachin, which are not as complicated if compared with Kashmir, the Indus Water Treaty and Rann of Kutch models provide guiding posts to settle these issues but India is not ready to accept third party involvement, which is the major stumbling block.

The issue of Kashmir is the most complex one. The most plausible and relevant approachable solution on Kashmir was General Pervez Musharraf’s four points agenda. But Indian cold response and its elites abandoned the whole idea. India’s such behaviour shows that it is not ready to accept any solution on Kashmir. Kashmir is a difficult case because of which both the states are not ready to compromise. The greedy and revisionist states generally do not wish to cooperate, or negotiate on resolution of the territorial issues or on peace mechanism and aim at creating more space for limited war.

At present, it is important that both countries resume talks and initiate dialogue. Track II will help to reinitiate official talks. Nevertheless, Track II holds no significance in the absence of governmental dialogue. Democracy is considered a variable for maintaining peace. Under the nuclearized environment, democratic rule in both the countries should help reinitiate Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and trade links. In my view, attitude of the states is a fundamental problem, which further intensifies their differences. India should learn and accommodate its neighbours. It is urgent that we make efforts to institute peace without getting into violence and war in the contemporary globalized environment. Explore areas of commonalities and learn from each other’s good experiences. Understand and learn about each other’s capabilities.

Realistically speaking, conflicting interests and the distinct aspirations of the two states are likely to incentivize further arms development and prompt aggression, thereby increasing the prospects of escalation to an undesirable level. Ensuring that advancements in nuclear delivery mechanisms do not stabilize secure peace, thereby contributes to the possibility of escalation of these states’ insecurities. There is no doubt that nuclear weapons will continue to play a role in the national security policy of these two states as these weapons did maintain fragile peace and prevented outbreak of a conventional or total war. Indians, by now, must have been able to shun off their notions of Hindutva and Akhund Bharat, and ready to accept the new realities. If prevailed in the past, India now must not let its flawed Kashmir policy to dictate the future. Only through adoption of a more accommodative and flexible course, and taking practical steps towards speedy and peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue, India would be able to substantially contribute towards peaceful South Asia. Now, the ball is in India’s court and they need to respond positively.

The writer is a PhD in International Security and Nuclear Non-Proliferation from University of Leicester, UK and is on the faculty of NDU, Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
16
January

Written By: V. Adm Khan Hasham Bin Saddique

(Vice Chief of Naval Staff)

Oceans which constitute the most distinctive geographic feature of planet earth have always been a major focus of mankind. The attraction for sea is founded in its riches as a repository of unending resource, a means of transportation, a dominion of power and an arena for diplomacy and influence. It is often propounded and not without reason that the economic well being and prosperity of the entire world is inherently linked to sea which explains its significance and relevance. A renowned American strategist of contemporary times, Robert Kaplan argues that the most contested area of the globe in the last century lay on dry land in Europe. However, starting in the last phase of the cold war, the demographic, economic, and military axis of the earth has measurably shifted to the opposite end of Eurasia where the space is, overwhelmingly maritime. The oceans are likely to be contesting grounds for global power centres as evinced from US Asia-Pacific pivot and polar routes.

Over the course of history no ocean has elicited greater interest worldwide than the Indian Ocean, may it be Chinese Admiral Zheng, his infamous voyage to Africa in early 15th century, colonial expansions of 19th century, or super powers rivalry during the Cold War or the ongoing operations in this region. The key enabler in all these forays has been the maritime power or more precisely the naval capability at the disposal of the victors. This trend continues unabated, albeit in different forms and manifestations primarily due to radical transformation in nature of maritime warfare and changing roles of Navies in 21st century.

Pakistan, being a bonafide maritime nation and one of the most important littorals, is directly impacted by events in Indian Ocean and what lies in store for future, shapes our maritime policy. Needless to mention here that transportation of over 95% of national trade including critical POL (Petoleum, Oil and Lubricants) supplies and industrial goods is reason enough for sea to assume even greater importance for Pakistan. A strategic appraisal to identify potential sources of instability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) presents serious challenges in terms of its sheer scope and facets. Let us though view the region from the prism of four principal areas. Firstly, from geographic standpoint, it covers nearly 20% of earth’s water expanse and borders three continents. It is the smallest but the most strategic waterway encompassing 30 littorals and 11 land-locked states with 1,284 islands. A key characteristic of Indian Ocean is that contrary to the Atlantic and the Pacific as "Open Oceans”, the ocean can primarily be accessed through several choke points. Therefore, the security of these choke points or lack of it could have global ramifications.

Political Dimension

It is evident from political map of the Indian Ocean Region that there are five distinct regions rolled into one with each generating its own peculiar dynamics:-

•           Middle East and Gulf

•           Red Sea and Horn

•           East Africa

•           South Asia

•           Southeast Asia/Oceania

The littoral countries are widely dissimilar in size, population, per capita incomes and alarmingly include half the number of states that fall into first global quartile of the failed state index. According to Heidelberg Institute of International Conflict Research, nearly 42% of world’s conflicts are associated with Indian Ocean countries. Turbulence and uncertainty that exists on land permeates to sea as well.

Economic Dimension

From the economic aspect, Indian Ocean is one of the world’s key lines of communication. It accounts for one half of all the world’s container traffic, the Indian Ocean rim land from the Middle East to the Pacific accounts for 70% of the traffic of petroleum products and 35% of bulk cargo of the entire world. The combined appetites of China, Japan, Korea and India for oil from the Gulf will be key factor in Indian Ocean’s economic significance. What is also unique about Indian Ocean is that only one-fifth of the total trade is conducted among the littorals of the Indian Ocean themselves as 80% of the trade is extra-regional that explains the global interest in this part of the world.

Military Dimension

Most countries of Indian Ocean are heavily armed as half of them have forces in excess of 100,000 and military spending of at least 3% of GDP. India, with over $40 billion defence spending per year, is a major source of imbalance in our immediate neighbourhood. Of the three temperate oceans of the world, the Indian Ocean presents the most awkward problems for security management. “No ocean is in need of strategic stability more than the Indian Ocean, which is arguably the most nuclearized of the seven seas,” says Thomas Barnett.

Strategic Impact of the IOR

Indian Ocean has come back to the central strategic role it used to play in international politics. The rise in its significance is due to emergence on the world stage of countries like China and India coupled with the rise of regional players like Pakistan, Indonesia and a more outward looking Australia. In my view, key strategic conclusions and causes of instability in Indian Ocean are:-

•           Geostrategic Rivalries: Indian Ocean is an arena for geostrategic rivalry amongst the great powers. It is in the Indian Ocean where US-China rivalry inter-locks with Indo-China competition for influence. Extra Regional Forces (ERF) have been in a fixture in IOR for a very long time; even as of today there are 74 ERF units at sea while in addition to their basing facilities as duly exemplified by the 12 US diamonds and 5 Indian nuggets. Perceptions vary as to whether presence of ERF promotes their own as well as regional security or impinges upon national security interests of littorals.

•           Possibility of Inter State Conflicts: Indian Ocean is one area where there is a spectre of inter-state conflict as there exist boundary, territorial, political disputes which can lead to armed altercations. There is no doubt though that resort to use of force is far more likely to produce regional disorder than resolve simmering disputes.

•           Security of Sea Lanes: The security of sea lanes carrying oil, raw materials and other cargo which cross the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca and Aden is a vital strategic interest for economic security of the world.

•           Impact of Globalization: Globalization of world economies resulting in interdependence of nation states has greatly impacted the new security agenda. In particular, globalised networks are vulnerable to non state actors and transnational threats.

•           Non Traditional Threats: Another dimension which impinges upon the stability of the IOR is the menace of non-traditional threats including terrorism and piracy. Risk of terrorism is an unfortunate reality of our times and sea provides a conducive medium for the same. Piracy off the coast of Somalia had been bane of seafarers for the last few years. However, of late the level of piracy has been cut sharply owing to concerted international efforts. The other associated challenges include drugs, arms and human trafficking which many view as an adjunct to terrorism, and maritime pollution and environmental disasters such as oil spills or wrecks of oil tankers at choke points which can seriously affect the flow of merchant shipping traffic.

Characteristics of Indian Ocean Security Environment

The current security environment in IOR is characterized by some unique features. First, there is no region-wide security regime for the Indian Ocean. Second, sub-regional security regimes are relatively weak. Third, security arrangements are essentially Western-oriented and are principally orchestrated by the United States. Fourth, there is an emphasis on stronger bilateral, rather than multilateral, security relationships in the IOR. So while there are huge compulsions to address the security in a holistic manner but none is forthcoming in near future at least. It is against this volatile geostrategic backdrop juxtaposed with challenging internal security and economic situation that the Navy has to formulate its strategy.

Strategy Framework

Pakistan Navy is a potent multidimensional force, vastly experienced in undertaking whole range of combat, constabulary and benign operations. The force structure makes it a reckonable power in overall security calculus and military assessments of the area. Pakistan occupies a vital strategic location which abets our rightful role as an active player in the maritime arena of the Indian Ocean. We have legitimate strategic interest in a stable and good order at sea, not limited to Indian Ocean but extending to Western Pacific and indeed global maritime commons. The maritime security strategy framework of Pakistan Navy in addition to the usual defence component includes wide ranging diplomatic, economic, environmental and socio-political considerations. Therefore, our quest for security and stability in Indian Ocean should be viewed in a broader concept of comprehensive security and Geoffrey Till’s idea of Home and Away dimensions of security. A distinct feature of our strategy in the recent past has been the renewed emphasis on greater inter organizational collaboration within country and cooperation with other states on bilateral and multilateral bases. It duly recognizes the opportunities oceans afford to maximize application of soft power, imaginative diplomacy and national economic development. To maintain stability and balance of power in our region, full spectrum deterrence remains the scarlet thread of Pakistan’s national security strategy of which Navy is an essential component. The thrust of PN’s development has been to have well rounded capabilities by a balanced force mix that can effectively deal with external and internal challenges.

Cooperative Maritime Strategy

The challenges faced by the world, especially from the non state actors of transnational type, necessitate cooperation amongst the nation states. No nation alone has the capacity to deal with modern threats, therefore, as a deliberate strategy Pakistan Navy has been keen to contribute towards our international obligations. PN was the first Navy of the region to join Task Force 150 under Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan in 2004 to deter and prevent the use of seas as medium for terrorism and other illegal activities. Later, PN also joined Task Force 151 in 2009 to play its part in the global battle against the menace of piracy. We have so far contributed warships with embarked helicopters, 72 times to the ongoing Maritime Security Operations off Horn of Africa (HOA) and Gulf of Aden (GOA). PN officers have been entrusted with the Command of Task Forces 150 and 151 many times in the past. A Pakistan Navy Commander is nearing completion of Command of Task Force 150. In addition, PN conducts counter piracy sweeps on its own. As a result there has been no incident of piracy within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Interestingly the international shipping has readjusted their pattern so as to ply within the safe area close to our coast. PN’s efforts in consort with the international efforts have been successful in preventing any act of terror at sea in our region. Realizing the need to enhance multilateral cooperation, Pakistan Navy pioneered AMAN series of multinational exercises 2007. The exercise aims to promote regional cooperation and stability, greater inter-operability and to display a unified resolve against terrorism and crimes in maritime domain including piracy. The next AMAN exercise will be held in February 2015. Each time the scope and objectives of this exercise are expanding and thus it seeks to fill part of the vacuum of a reliable multinational security forum in the IOR.

PN Participation in Regional Forums

Pakistan Navy believes a cooperative regional approach can be gainful that promotes consultation not confrontation, prevention not correction and inter dependence not unilateralism. PN has, therefore, joined Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) as a full member and also attained observer status in WPNS (West Pacific Naval Symposium).

Defence Diplomacy and Cooperation

Navies are an essential appendage of any nation’s foreign policy with their unique ability to connect worldwide. Pakistan Navy is indeed the flag bearer of defence diplomacy with multi pronged approaches which have accrued political, diplomatic, economic, and security benefits for the nation. The leverage PN enjoys with the regional countries promotes understanding and helps maintain tranquil environment in the region. Prime initiative in this regard is institutionalization of regular bilateral exercises as a regular feature of operational calendar. Some of the bilateral partners are Royal Saudi Naval Forces, PLA (N), Royal Navy of Oman, UAE Navy, US Navy, Turkish Navy etc. Furthermore, overseas deployments are being undertaken to extend influence on one hand and constructive engagement on the other. Pakistan Navy ships regularly call on most of the ports in the Indian Ocean and extending beyond in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Far East and even Australia. The diversity of these deployments is a true reflection of Pakistan’s multi faceted foreign policy.

Defence Cooperation

Pakistan Navy continues to engage partners for wide ranging collaborative activities other than naval exercises and visits as well. The manifestation of our international cooperation is in the host of MOUs which provide an instrument for collaboration. Some of the facets include exchange of personnel, provision of trained manpower on deputation, use of logistics facilities, etc. Our notable partners in this respect are China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Iran etc.

Development of Maritime Sector and Pakistan Navy

The corner stone of Pakistan Navy’s development strategy is to achieve self reliance through indigenization. Today we can proudly showcase missile craft, frigates, fleet tanker and even submarines constructed in Pakistan with collaboration of our friends. It is an avowed priority of the incumbent CNS to promote local maritime industry and spearhead campaign to seek an all round development of maritime sector. In this regard, promotion of marine related education and research, formulation of national maritime policy framework, seeking early operationalization of Gwadar Port, coastal development, etc. are but some of the initiatives Pakistan Navy is pursuing actively. We have no doubt that economic security is predicated on a vibrant maritime sector prospering under the umbrella of a secure maritime environment. The sea blindness that afflicts nations with continental mindsets is the leading impediment in reaping the boon that the seas offer to the mankind.

15
January

Written By: Major General Agha Masood Akram

Some of the major indigenously developed products showcased during IDEAS-2014 included Main Battle Tank Al-Khalid, Fighter Aircraft JF-17 Thunder, Jet Trainer Aircraft K-8 and a variety of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) etc. The event offered a unique opportunity to the international delegates and visitors in acquiring an insight into the entire defence manufacturing and training capabilities of Pakistan exhibited under single umbrella. It may be pertinent to highlight that Pakistan has a large defence manufacturing, training and support infrastructure in place, which not only meets the needs of Pakistani Armed Forces, but also has the capacity to fulfil demands of other countries with exceptionally high quality products at mutually acceptable terms.

The fluid geopolitical climate, resulting from the rapid changes in the global security situation in recent years, has forced many governments to take a fresh look at their national security mechanisms. At present, structural and technological improvements dominate the planning of most militaries and law enforcement agencies throughout the world. The most volatile geopolitical region in the Asia has now become one of the biggest markets for defence products.

Pakistan’s defence industry is in quest for seeking international alliances to meet the requirements of its armed forces and the growing needs of the regional defence forces. Pakistan’s own defence products present a perfect mix of indigenous and foreign technologies thus offering an opportunity for defence collaboration.

arms for1Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO) was established under Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) in year 2000. One of the major roles of DEPO is to conduct International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS). It provides a platform for facilitation, promotion and coordination of the defence exports in public and private sectors. IDEAS is conducted biennially at Expo Centre Karachi since 2000. It presents an ideal platform to local defence industry to showcase their products ranging from the equipment used in the third world countries to the most sophisticated weapon systems. At one hand IDEAS provides a perfect interactive forum for the defence forces to assess the products and technologies suited / fulfilling their requirements and on the other hand, it also offers an ideal opportunity to the defence manufacturers for entering into collaboration and joint ventures with Pakistan and other prospective international partners. It is the biggest defence exhibition of international stature in Pakistan.

The objectives of IDEAS can be summarized as under:-

•     Providing opportunities to our defence industry, both in public and private sectors to display its products at one forum and interact directly with international community.

•     Inviting international defence manufacturers for establishing joint ventures, transfer of technology and research to further improve Pakistan’s defence industry.

•     Provision of an international platform to convey our view point on security issues concerning Pakistan.

•     Creation of an opportunity to reinforce our diplomatic efforts in the realm of defence diplomacy.

•     Image building of Pakistan as a modern, progressive and tolerant state that is willing to co-exist peacefully with the international community.

•     Demonstrate our organizational skills to plan and conduct a mega event of international stature.

Success of any international defence exhibition is directly linked to the number, variety and quality of the exhibitors, besides the number and level of delegations and trade visitors. Another yardstick of successful exhibition is the aspect of networking amongst delegations and trade visitors. It may be highlighted that international defence exhibitions play a critical and pivotal role in positioning the defence products of any country. These exhibitions are the only trade fairs or the market places that generate business activities on one hand and the marketing of defence products on the other. Undeniably, sales promotions of the defence products through such business hubs is crucial for the growth and sustenance of the defence industries.

arms for2With the passage of time, IDEAS has significantly contributed towards promoting strategic partnership with our friends and has served to achieve the shared objectives of peace and stability in the region. It is also the IDEAS slogan “Arms for Peace” which reflects Pakistan’s principle stand that a more balanced arms equation amongst neighbouring countries acts as an effective deterrent. It provides a platform to showcase technology of tomorrow and innovations in defence with variety of weapon systems and items of equipment on display. It is a market place of innovative ideas and also brings together international manufacturers and suppliers of products and services to explore the opportunities for cooperation in the field of defence.

IDEAS-2014

8th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) was successfully conducted from December 1 – 4, 2014 at Expo Centre Karachi. The event received an overwhelming response from across the globe. A total of 56 nations were represented in IDEAS-2014 in the form of foreign delegations and international exhibitors. 88 delegations representing 50 nations attended the event including 47 high level delegations headed either by their defence ministers, secretaries or services chiefs of the respective countries. A total of 333 companies (256 foreign and 77 local) exhibited their products during the exhibition.

The inauguration ceremony of the event was conducted on December 1, 2014. Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif graced the occasion as the chief guest. The ceremony was attended by official delegates, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), services chiefs, senior government officials, foreign diplomats and a large number of exhibitors.

The seminar was conducted on the similar evening at Movenpick Hotel. The main theme of the seminar was “Matching research and production to the challenges of a dynamic security environment”. General Rashad Mahmood, CJCSC, was the chief guest. The panel of speakers included prominent international defence analysts and expert William Stevenson (Executive Director of Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security, Malaysia), Dr. Maleeha Lodhi (Ex Ambassador, Pakistan), Dr. Vladimir P. Kozin (Head, Group of Advisers to the Director of Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia), and Air Marshal Javaid Ahmed, (Chairman PAC Board, Pakistan). The Presiding Officer of the seminar, Mr. Munir Akram, (Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations), in his concluding remarks stated that “given the fast pace of technological change, it would be perfectly natural to expect development of significantly new technologies, including those, which will alleviate our security and threat concerns.”

arms for3IDEAS-2014 also featured sideline conferences. The conferences were attended by learned international and local defence analysts, including Pakistan’s Services Chiefs, who candidly shared their views in these sideline conferences.

Some of the major indigenously developed products showcased during IDEAS-2014 included Main Battle Tank Al-Khalid, Fighter Aircraft JF-17 Thunder, Jet Trainer Aircraft K-8 and a variety of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) etc. The event offered a unique opportunity to the international delegates and visitors in acquiring an insight into the entire defence manufacturing and training capabilities of Pakistan exhibited under single umbrella. It may be pertinent to highlight that Pakistan has a large defence manufacturing, training and support infrastructure in place, which not only meets the needs of Pakistani Armed Forces, but also has the capacity to fulfil demands of other countries with exceptionally high quality products at mutually acceptable terms.

 Amongst the international exhibitors, exclusive country pavilions were set up by Turkey and China. Defence products and equipments from companies representing North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Far East were also impressively displayed through various stalls. Russian Helicopter Company also exhibited her stall. There were nine countries including Australia, Canada, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Thailand and UAE, that participated in IDEAS for the first time.

On diplomatic front, foreign delegates / trade visitors and media endorsed the efficacy of IDEAS-2014 as an extremely valuable and interactive forum for the defence trade. Signing of several MoUs between the governments and private companies has further enhanced the utility and success of this event.

Some of the commercial benefits accrued during the event are:-

•     Defence industry of Pakistan, both from the public and private sectors, got ample opportunity to reach out to the international market.

•     Most of the African and Asian countries have shown great interest in the Pakistani products related to Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF), National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) etc.

•     Approximately 5000 people were directly employed with IDEAS.

•     Stall building for over 10,000 Sq. m area at the average rate of US $300 per Sq. m.

•     A great boost to the hotel and car rental business.

•     A great business opportunity to a large number of vendors, contractors and service providers.

•     A rare opportunity of immense educational and training value for university students attached with IDEAS, to learn how a mega event is organized and managed.

The delegations from different countries included Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, Ukraine and USA

A comprehensive programme was laid out to effectively coordinate meeting and networking sessions between foreign delegations, government officials, senior armed forces officers and exhibitors, whereby ensuring effective connections between all participants of the exhibition.

The chronicles of IDEAS series is one of the continuous success, with IDEAS-2014 as the most consequential in the history of the exhibition industry of Pakistan. It is a market place of innovative ideas and also brings together international manufacturers and suppliers of products and services to explore different opportunities for forging cooperation and alliances in the field of defence production with friendly countries.

IDEAS exemplifies a successful public and private sector partnership. It has grown in its reach, size, stature, participation and international attendance to a level that is “second to none” in the region. In addition, the profile of the high level delegations, ever increase in number of exhibitors and trade visitors visiting Pakistan to attend this exhibition adds to the prestige and stature of this event. IDEAS, in-fact, is a great meeting point to promote friendship and cooperation with the international community in the defence field.

 

The writer is the Director General, Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO)
15
January

Written By: Jennifer McKay

Pakistan is already achieving success and making change in a lot of areas but we lose sight of these amidst the seemingly endless bad news. Peace will be important in achieving prosperity. Operations by the military are underway to cleanse the country of terrorist groups and this will ultimately bring peace and greater stability. With stability, investment will increase bringing more jobs and improved economy. Although the greatest responsibility for progress lies with the governments of the day, everyone has to make an effort to do a little more in whatever way they can. As we head into the New Year, it is timely to think about ‘New Year Resolutions’. The national resolution – the narrative – should be to do all we can to make this a more resilient, prosperous and stable country.

It’s almost twelve years since I first arrived in Pakistan for what I thought would be a ‘once only’ visit. I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived. The travel warnings were alarming and friends questioned the wisdom of making a trip at that time. I needn’t have worried. In the two weeks I was here, I soon realized that the country, I was seeing and the warm and welcoming people, I was meeting, didn’t match the perceptions in the West. I had such an enjoyable time that I was eager to return when the opportunity arose mere three months later. It was the start of a deep and abiding fondness for the country and the people and I kept returning regularly until eventually making Pakistan my home. Without doubt, the question I am still asked most often these days is “why on earth would you want to live in Pakistan?” Surprisingly, it is Pakistanis who are curious about this rather than foreign friends. This is usually followed up with all the reasons that make them want to leave. I hope they change their minds but it makes me wonder if many Pakistanis have developed a complex about the country and lost sight of the good and positive things. I find it sad but also understandable. Pakistan’s international image continues to take a severe mauling at the hands of the international media, which seem to be pushing a particular agenda. Rarely, do we read positive stories about the country, yet there are many. I find it depressing and often offensive too.

We can’t deny that Pakistan has more than its share of problems. In my time here I’ve witnessed some of the worst disasters in history, political upheaval, terrorism, the impact of conflict, sectarian violence, polio on the rise, the energy crisis, crushing poverty, food insecurity, and a litany of other problems. Despite the challenges I prefer to focus on the positives and there are a lot of those. I’ve met wonderful people in cities, towns and villages and been deeply touched by their generous hospitality and inclusiveness. My work and love for travel has taken me to so many parts of this spectacular country including the breathtakingly beautiful Northern Areas, FATA, all the provinces and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. I’ve worked on some of the most challenging disasters in the country’s history alongside capable and committed Pakistanis, and been humbled by the courage and resilience of people facing the most challenging of circumstances. I’ve been inspired by the talent and potential of young Pakistanis who are a joy to work with. And I’ve also had so many funny and memorable times and made a large circle of friends who so frequently overwhelm me with their kindness and generosity of spirit. Living here does not seem at all an odd choice and I intend to stay.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that no matter what country we live in there are still challenges in everyday life, and not everyone lives a comfortable life in the West. Poverty exists in developed countries too. Falling incomes, fewer jobs and unemployment, high costs of housing and food, ill health and other problems impact on people’s lives just as they do here. In 2012, statistics in Australia indicated that 12.8% of the population lived below the poverty line. Admittedly the poverty line is set higher than in developing countries but the end result is similar. In the same year in the UK the number was around 14% and in the US, even higher at 14.5%. In the US there are over 600,000 homeless people sleeping rough every night regardless of the weather, and many of them are war veterans. Life can be tough wherever we are when the system fails us.

Pakistan is still a young country. It had a rough start but it will eventually get through these tough times. Like many post-colonialist countries, it has had to reposition itself following independence and partition, to establish its own identity and rules, and where possible take the best advantage out of what the former colonial masters left behind. Some post-colonial countries have achieved a faster rate of development than others but there are many factors that affect progress which make it difficult to compare any two countries. There are, however, lessons for countries to learn from each other in what has been successful in making progress.

The hallmarks of the more successful post-colonial countries in the Asia-Pacific region, like Australia and Singapore are good governance, accountability, robust legal, financial and regulatory systems, strict urban planning laws, environmental safeguards, and health services and education available to all. They are also peaceful – this makes quite a difference. Since gaining independence in 1965, under the strong leadership of the first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who governed for three decades, the tiny island state of Singapore has transformed itself from just a shipping port into the financial centre of South East Asia, the location of the regional headquarters for many large multinational companies and financial institutions. With no natural resources, it focused on services, developing global hubs of excellence in a number of sectors including information technology, biotechnology, tourism, aviation, shipping, arbitration, commodities trading, healthcare, and education. The government offered a range of attractive incentives to encourage businesses to set up their headquarters there and ensured the infrastructure and technology as well as an educated workforce was in place that could support these corporations. It has been a hugely successful strategy and today Singapore is a vibrant and booming city state. It is also worth noting that in addition to ensuring a well educated population (literacy rate 95.9%), Singapore has attracted some of the top universities and business schools in the world to set up campuses there, joining three impressive Singaporean universities. Singapore has been so successful that Dubai looked to it as a model when developing their vision for the future.

Malaysia, though still a developing country, also has had strong leadership at a critical time, particularly under the Prime Ministership of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (from 1981-2003), who was unafraid to take the hard steps needed to transform the country. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1957, and then separating from Singapore in 1965, Malaysia has been steadily moving forward. Under Dr. Mahathir’s leadership, the country experienced a rapid phase of modernization, large infrastructure projects and economic growth. A strong advocate for third world development he was often critical of the policies of western countries like Australia, the UK and US in Asia. Malaysia also followed Singapore’s lead in encouraging businesses to set up headquarters in the country. While it has not attracted businesses at the same rate, it has had a reasonable amount of success with this model. Malaysia has also focused on the education sector, not only to ensure an educated population (literacy rate 93.1%), but also as one of its key business themes to attract foreign students and investors in the private education sector.

Education is clearly one of the critical components of transforming a country. An educated population makes better decisions, develops sustainable livelihoods and business, saves money and enjoys better health and quality of life. With many bright young people having great potential, Pakistan is not short of human resources but the literacy rate lags at 55%, the third lowest in Asia, beating only Bhutan on 52.8% and Afghanistan which sits at the bottom of the table at 28.1%. This is dismal and governments – both national and provincial – must take action. Other Asian developing countries like Indonesia, China, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand have all given high priority to education as part of their development and are ahead of Pakistan in development indicator indexes.

But contrary to popular opinion, particularly in the West, the education sector in Pakistan is not all bad news and is actually quite vibrant. Parents do want their children to go to school. It is no secret though that the state struggles to improve the standard and availability of education and 6.5 million children remain out of school while others attend substandard facilities with poor teacher quality. However, private schools, and not-for-profit schools run by NGOs are filling the void. In Punjab alone, 60 percent of students are now attending privately run schools. But there is only little the private and not-for-profit sectors can do. The state eventually has to step up to its responsibilities as set down in Article 25A of the Constitution to “provide free and compulsory education for all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.”

To learn more about the private sector’s approach I talked to Kasim Kasuri, CEO of Beaconhouse Schools System, the largest private school network in Pakistan. He told me, “Private sector organisations, including Beaconhouse and others with similar models such as The City School and Lahore Grammar School, have managed to develop systems for managing multiple schools across the country. This has been a big success. Scaling doesn’t mean one company has to own all the schools. For Beaconhouse, which in 2015 will mark its 40th anniversary, the network of franchise schools, The Educators, established 12 years ago, has become even larger and provides the ability to reach out to an even larger group of students in a shorter period of time. In total, the network of Beaconhouse and The Educators currently has approximately 260,000 students. The franchise model has proved to be tremendously successful in reaching out to students all over the country.” Mr. Kasuri went on to explain, “Through The Educators, we’ve been able to offer a standarised quality product at an affordable price. We’ve developed the curriculum, lesson plans and teacher training for our network associates as well as standard operating procedures, branding and marketing, with quality backed by Beaconhouse.” Beaconhouse has also moved into the competitive

international education market, exporting its expertise in education and its emphasis on professional development and teacher training. The group now owns just under 40 schools in eight countries outside Pakistan including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, UK, Oman and the UAE. Mr. Kasuri also pointed to some of the successes of not-for-profit schools run by charitable foundations. He highlighted the excellent work of The Citizens Foundation (TCF) which has 1,000 School Units with over 145,000 students, and Care Pakistan which adopts a Public Private Partnership model to provide free education to over 175,000 students in 257 schools across Pakistan. While TCF builds their own schools, the Care model is based on adopting government schools, refurbishing them and adding science laboratories, computer rooms, libraries and clean drinking water, and adding Care teachers to supplement those employed by the government. Students from Care and TCF schools achieve good academic results with many going on to university and then professional careers. These organisations also have valuable lessons for other countries in developing sound education systems in the not-for-profit sector through scaling up and being able to provide quality facilities and proper teacher training.

I also asked Mr Kasuri what Pakistan can learn from the West in the education sector. He said, “We can learn a lot from countries like Australia about the need for an emphasis on physical education and sports. In Asia, there is too much emphasis only on academic results, which don’t necessarily show anything other than being able to pass exams, rather than a focus on learning. This is to the detriment of physical education and sports which teach real skills like problem solving, teamwork and critical thinking which is tremendously valuable in real life, university or in the workplace. However, there is still some resistance from parents who worry that this loses focus on studies. What we can also learn from the West is how to get both young people as well as their parents to understand the importance of physical education and sports, not just for the critical role it plays in character building, fitness and personal development, but also that there is a whole range of professional careers in and around the business of sports such as coaching, management, nutrition, sports science and sports medicine.” Beaconhouse has recently employed an Australian as Assistance Director of Sports to work on an entire programme which encompasses not only sports but also changing mindsets of students and parents, and how to integrate the programme into the curriculum to ensure enough time is available.

Introducing sport into public schools, many of which have more space for this than private schools, would also be enormously beneficial. Pakistan has so much natural talent for sports and it would be so helpful to channel all that youthful energy into something positive for their future while at the same time getting an education. However, with the public education sector already underfunded, it is hard to see any real progress for some time. Disasters are another issue, which has a profound impact on development, and this is another important area for two-way knowledge sharing. Pakistan has acquired a great deal of knowledge, and learned many lessons from the many disasters that have struck the country in recent years. Disaster Management experts from Pakistan are now regularly invited to present at international conferences and seminars overseas to share the experiences. But perhaps more important, is what Pakistan can learn from other countries, particularly in the areas that are not currently being addressed here. While natural disasters receive a lot of attention, little has been paid to urban man-made disasters to develop effective response systems and improve community safety in our cities. Fires, building collapses, and industrial and other accidents are frequent in Pakistan causing substantial loss of life, but the systems, training and facilities, and building regulations are inadequate. Fire services and emergency responders like 1122 though hard working, are not well funded, and many emergency services are not available at all in some cities. Given the density and vulnerability of urban areas in Pakistan with millions living in crowded cities with poor infrastructure and substandard buildings, improving standards is critical. In this area, Pakistan can learn from developed countries.

I asked Shane Wright, Executive Director of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) in Bangkok for some thoughts. Mr. Wright was formerly the Chief Officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) in Melbourne, Australia, an organization with over 2,000 full time career fire fighters, supported by 270 corporate staff. The MFB, which services an urban area of up to 3 million people, has a total annual budget of $345 million, many times that of any national or provincial budget for emergency services in Pakistan. It responds to a wide range of emergencies including fires, hazardous material spills, rescues from car accidents, train crashes, machinery, from heights and aircraft, trench collapse, building collapse through urban search and rescue, swift water rescue, marine environment pollution control, and emergency medical support. The organization is equipped with a vast array of very expensive equipment and has highly trained leadership and technical expertise. To ensure a high state of readiness and coordinated response capability, MFB recently opened its new $120 million training centre for all emergency services personnel including fire brigade, police, medical services and civil defence.

The MFB also plays a significant role in community safety and is legislatively involved in the building and construction approvals process on fire safety matters. They’ve also had success in changing the qualifications for people who work in hospitals and other care homes to improve the safety of vulnerable community members. These are important areas where Pakistan can learn much on how to better address these problems. However, allocating budgets for proper facilities and developing and enforcing building regulations is likely to remain a challenge. Another interesting area where there are opportunities for both sharing and learning is in countering violent extremism. The rise of violent groups like Islamic State (IS) have increased the level of concern for many countries including developed ones like Australia, Singapore, UK, Europe, US and Canada, as well as the Middle East. Countries are looking for answers and lessons from successful programmes on how to deradicalize violent extremists. Pakistan has already been quietly addressing the problem for several years. ‘Sabaoon’ located in a valley in Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was the first of the centres established by Pak Army to address the problem of boys who had been involved in violence while being with the Taliban. The centre has been achieving a high rate of success in turning these boys away from a life of violence and reintegrating them into the community, and to continue their education, or establish their livelihoods through vocational training. The programme, administered by a highly qualified team of civilian psychologists, social workers, teachers, and religious teachers, with the support of the Army, has recently been evaluated by a top international expert in deradicalization and received a very positive ‘report card’. Several other centres, have since been established. The lessons from these centres – most of which I have visited and seen the work for myself – should be shared internationally to help other countries address these challenging issues. In reverse, Pakistan can gain from experiences of other countries, particularly in relation to prevention. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Algeria, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, US, UK and many European states currently have deradicalization programmes, each a little different but, like Pakistan, all have valuable knowledge to share to address to challenging problem.

This has been a snapshot of just a few of the issues that need to be considered but there are so many more. Countries can transform themselves and in time, Pakistan will too but it will take great determination. Pakistan is already achieving success and making change in a lot of areas but we lose sight of these amidst the seemingly endless bad news. Peace will be important in achieving prosperity. Operations by the military are underway to cleanse the country of terrorist groups and this will ultimately bring peace and greater stability. With stability, investment will increase bringing more jobs and improved economy. Although the greatest responsibility for progress lies with the governments of the day, everyone has to make an effort to do a little more in whatever way they can. As we head into the New Year, it is timely to think about ‘New Year Resolutions’. The national resolution – the narrative – should be to do all we can to make this a more resilient, prosperous and stable country.

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.
15
January

Written By: Farrukh Saleem

Pakistan's median age of 21.2 years – with a global range of 48.9 for Monaco and 15 for Uganda – makes Pakistan one of the youngest of countries in the world. By 2050, with an annual growth rate estimated at 2.07 percent, Pakistan is expected to become the fourth most populous state. Pakistan's population growth rate, its age structure, income distribution and the development of its human capital shall be the principal determinants of Pakistan's productive capacity.

In the 1960s, population growth rates in the East Asian region began decelerating, the working age population began expanding and the age dependency ratio went down sharply. For the following thirty years, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong managed to attain exceptionally high rates of economic growth and came to be known as the Four Asian Tigers.

Ireland was once one of the poorest of European economies. Over the 1995-2007 period, the Irish economy went through a phase of rapid economic growth that transformed Ireland from one of the poorest European economies to among the richest. Celtic Tiger, a term coined by Morgan Stanley, the global financial services entity, had demographic transition, is one of the most powerful of drivers behind that rapid economic growth. In the 19th century, population growth rates in Europe began decelerating, the working age population began expanding and the age dependency ratio went down sharply. For the following several decades, Europe managed high rates of economic growth.

Pakistan's population growth rate is decelerating, the working age population is expanding and the age dependency ratio is on its way down. All of these factors point towards a demographic transition with the potential of a huge demographic dividend resulting in a “rise in the rate of economic growth due to a rising share of working age people in the population.” Pakistan, at 186 million, is the planet's sixth most populous country behind China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil. Over the past six decades, Pakistan's urban population has increased by more than sevenfold whereby close to 40 percent of the population is now urban making Pakistan the second most urbanized country in South Asia.

Pakistan's median age of 21.2 years – with a global range of 48.9 for Monaco and 15 for Uganda – makes Pakistan one of the youngest of countries in the world. By 2050, with an annual growth rate estimated at 2.07 percent, Pakistan is expected to become the fourth most populous state. Pakistan's population growth rate, its age structure, income distribution and the development of its human capital shall be the principal determinants of Pakistan's productive capacity. According to the Economic Survey 2010-11, “Pakistan's population has been growing at a decelerating pace but still Pakistan has one of the highest population growth rates in the world. Population growth has decelerated from 3.06 percent in 1981 to 2.07 percent in 2011.” Between 2014 and 2040, Pakistan's working age population is expected to expand.

According to the Economic Survey 2010-11, “Empirical evidence suggests that a large part of East Asia's spectacular economic growth derives from demographic transition, i.e. from working age population bulge because those countries have invested in their population and demographic1converted them in highly skilled human capital. This transition from a young to prime age population presented a demographic gift because East Asia has had relatively fewer young population compared with earlier periods which resulted in small group of dependents/non productive population. In countries where an increasing share of the population is of working age, economic growth per person tends to be highest and national saving tends to rise.”

Jack Goldstone, a professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and a consultant to the U.S. Government, has argued that a fast growing young adult population unable to find productive employment is a recipe for “social unrest, war and terrorism.” A study by Population Action International suggests a “strong correlation between countries prone to civil conflicts and those with burgeoning youth populations. Social scientists label this demographic profile 'youth bulge,' and its potential to destabilize countries in the developing world is gaining wider acceptance among the American foreign policy community. The theory contends that societies with rapidly growing young populations often end up with rampant unemployment and large pools of disaffected youths who are more susceptible to recruitment into rebel or terrorist groups. Countries with weak political institutions are most vulnerable to youth-bulge-related violence and social unrest.” Demographic dividend has to be reaped within a demographic window of opportunity. The Commission on Population and Development defines that window as the period “when the proportion of children and youth under 15 years falls below 30 percent and the proportion of people 65 years and older is still below 15 per cent.”

As per Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, “Pakistan's population promises to remain youthful over the next few decades. In the 2020s, the 15-24 age bracket is expected to swell by 20 percent. Pakistan's under-24 population will still be in the majority come 2030. And as late as 2050, the median age is expected to be only 33.” Europe's demographic transition opened up the demographic window that remained open for some five decades. The Chinese window opened up in 1990 and is expected to remain open till 2015. Pakistan's window of opportunity won't remain open forever and Pakistan would have to build schools, hospitals, housing and roads – and build them fast. Pakistan would have to keep its youth educated, healthy and employed.

For Pakistan, would there be a demographic dividend or would it be a youth bulge? According to the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics: “For economic benefits to materialize, there is a need for policies dealing with education, public health, and those that promote labour market flexibility and provide incentives for investment and savings. On the contrary, if appropriate policies are not formulated, the demographic dividend might in fact be a cost, leading to unemployment and an unbearable strain on education, health, and old age security.”

The writer is an analyst who regularly contributes for national and international print and electronic media. Twitter: @SaleemFarrukh
15
January

Written By: Amir Zia

These terror attacks should end the confusion in the minds of those mainstream political and religious forces, which still act as the apologists of the Taliban and other similar terrorist groups. Despite the fact that nearly 60,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives due to terrorism since 2002, these forces still have the audacity to argue that the war against terrorism is not our war. This self-defeating debate should end now. The country is at war and the choice is whether we are on the side of Pakistan or the terrorists. We have to make our pick. There is no room for ambiguity and confusion.

Pakistan is passing through yet another turbulent phase of its history because of the three key existentialist internal challenges: the protracted ghost of extremism and terrorism, the lingering political instability and the fragile state of economy. An increasingly hostile neighbourhood is the fourth dimension of the challenge, but it can only prove lethal if the state fails to resolve these three principal internal contradictions on a war footing.
While many prophets of doom and gloom – both here and abroad – hold the view that Pakistan is stuck in a blind-alley, the state has the ability and capacity to overcome its internal challenges, provided the military and civil institutions work in tandem and manage to galvanize the nation in their bid to pull the country out of the crisis. The task is indeed Herculean in all its proverbial sense and requires vision, sagacity and above all determination by those at the helm of affairs, but nevertheless it is doable. It is only the question of putting Pakistan first and rising above the narrow, short-term political and vested self-interest.
The military leadership will have to play a leading and decisive role – as it has already been doing on all the fronts related to the national security – to root-out the internal threats faced by the country.
2015 confrenting1The effective ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb, launched by the armed forces indiscriminately against the local and foreign militants on June 15, 2014, is one prime example where the military leadership took the initiative and successfully took the government on board.
Although there was a lot of skepticism, fear and doubt among the civilian leaders whether to go for the crackdown against the violent non-state actors, the determined push from the military’s top brass made the unthinkable happen. The much-needed and the much-delayed operation finally got underway not just in North Waziristan, but also targeted terrorist cells and sanctuaries in various other parts of the country, which remain the target of organized terrorism, violence and targeted killings since 2002 by the al-Qaeda allied and inspired local and foreign militants.
So far the security forces have killed more than 1,200 militants in surgical airstrikes and ground operations in the North Waziristan alone and cleared roughly 90 percent of its contested territory at great peril and sacrifices in one of the most difficult battle terrains. The operation not only destroyed the terrorists’ safe havens and their bomb-making factories, but also disrupted the command-and-control system of the militants.
The much-feared blowback from the terrorists has effectively been curtailed in the initial months of the operation. The number of suicide attacks dropped as well as the bombings, barring sporadic incidents. Yes, there were attempted attacks on the high-value military installations and targets such as the Samungli and Khalid Airbases in Quetta on August 14 – the country’s Independence Day – and the Karachi Dockyard on September 6 – the Defence Day – but they were successfully foiled by the security forces.
The frustration of the militants in hitting the high-value targets resulted in the atrocious and cowardly attacks on the soft targets, including the November 2 suicide bombing at Wagah Border that killed more than 60 people, who were leaving the venue after witnessing the flag lowering ceremony at the Pakistan-India border.
But the most heinous, barbaric and shocking attack was carried out at the Army-run Public School, Peshawar on December 16 in which more than 132 students – mostly in their early and mid teens – and 10 others were martyred. Words fall short to describe this tragedy that has resulted in an unprecedented national grief and outrage.
Such appalling acts of terrorism – quickly owned by the local Taliban – again underline their crooked and distorted doctrine and the way they exploit the sacred name of Islam in an attempt to confuse and misguide people.
These terror attacks should end the confusion in the minds of those mainstream political and religious forces, which still act as the apologists of the Taliban and other similar terrorist groups. Despite the fact that nearly 60,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives due to terrorism since 2002, these forces still have the audacity to argue that the war against terrorism is not our war. This self-defeating debate should end now. The country is at war and the choice is whether we are on the side of Pakistan or the terrorists. We have to make our pick. There is no room for ambiguity and confusion.
After the Peshawar school attack, both the military and civil leaders have sent the strong message to the world that the Operation Zarb-e-Azb will continue till the elimination of the last terrorist. The government also made the right move by partially lifting the moratorium on the death penalty so that the terror convicts can be brought to justice.
But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his close aides must indulge in some serious self-criticism and soul-searching that how the delay in lifting the moratorium on death penalty benefited the terrorists and the killers. The security forces, senior police officials and the top legal minds, including senior judges, have long been demanding of the two successive governments not to lift the ban on hanging. The public opinion has also remained overwhelmingly in favour of administrating death penalty for all the heinous crimes in line with the country’s constitution. The only exception remains the foreign-funded human rights groups and handful of politicians who stand against the tide of the current and the public sentiment. The ban on hanging – enforced since 2008 – introduced a dichotomy in our legal system as the executive not just failed to meet its constitutional obligation, but advertently or inadvertently, benefitted the terrorists.
The nation witnessed a similar tragedy of delay in the decision-making when the civilian leadership wasted precious time in trying to hold the futile peace talks with terrorist kingpins, allowing them to regroup and reorganize to carry-out more terror attacks, including the June 8 assault at the old Karachi Airport.
In both external and internal conflicts, swift and bold decisions and actions remain a key to the success. The civilian leaders need to put their act together and go beyond the mere lip-service they have so far been offering to the cause of war against terrorism. This entails not just taking the ownership of the war against terrorism, but also setting the ideological narrative to defeat the extremist mindset and carrying out sweeping socio-economic reforms to squeeze the space for the militants in our society.
The army operation has indeed provided an opportunity to the government to aggressively push the reform agenda, especially in the conflict-hit areas, in which education should be the top priority along with bringing the traditional religious seminary students into the mainstream. Socio-economic uplift and development remain part and parcel of any such package.
Fixing the broken judicial system is yet another front where the government has to provide resources, setup special courts and frame effective anti-terror laws to dispense quick justice to the people accused of terrorism. The Protection of Pakistan Act 2014 needs to be revisited to ensure that the security forces have more powers and legal cover to combat the scourge of terrorism.
Currently, our justice system is skewed in favour of the terrorists and all sorts of criminals. They take advantage of the slow court proceedings during which witnesses, prosecutors and even judges are threatened, pressurised and in some cases killed to blunt the law from taking its course. Many militants manage to easily get bail and handful of those convicted after long delays, manage to run terror networks from the prison.
The political forces, the media, opinion-makers and religious leaders need to form a broad consensus against the extremist mindset and support the armed forces by defeating militants in the battle of ideas, and countering their propaganda, blatant lies and distorted half-truths.
The one message that needs to be conveyed loud and clear is that the al-Qaeda-inspired-and-linked terrorists are not fighting any holy war or serving Islam. In fact, they are tarnishing the name of our religion and trying to weaken the world’s only nuclear-armed Muslim nation by committing terrorism against its civilians and security forces.
The second most important issue is ensuring political stability, which is a prerequisite if Pakistan has to win the war against terrorism and fix its economy.
It is ironic that all the great expectations that the first peaceful transition from one elected government to another following the 2013 elections will result into a strong, stable and efficient order, have been blown away in the ongoing wave of politics of confrontation, sit-ins and protests.
The massive crowds at the opposition rallies, all the spontaneous issue-related protests and incidents of lawlessness in which individuals attempt to administer justice themselves, manifest the growing public discontent and frustration towards the system perceived as corrupt, uncaring and even anti-people in its essence. There is a simmering anger among the masses in general towards this ‘unjust system.’
Unfortunately, the elected leadership has abjectly failed to ward-off this perception since the country’s return to democracy in 2008. In fact, on one level the political elite have reinforced this negative image by their preference to cronyism and dynastic politics and on the other by their inability to carry-out meaningful political and economic reforms aimed at resolving the festering internal contradictions of our society.
The dysfunctional democratic order has proved too slow and inapt even to meet its constitutional obligations such as ensuring distribution of power to the grassroots by holding the local bodies’ elections or even the national census (the last one took place in 1998).
The tussle over electoral reforms and even the delayed appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner show the inability of civilian stakeholders in settling issues in an efficient and transparent manner.
Following the Peshawar school tragedy, the opposition PTI has folded its sit-in and anti-government campaign to put a united front against terrorism. This is a good omen and provides a golden opportunity to the government to act swiftly to carryout electoral reforms and address the genuine issues raised by the disgruntled elements in the opposition which were out on the roads.
This opportunity of national reconciliation and consensus building should not be wasted.
The military establishment has demonstrated its commitment with democracy and neutrality in all this politics of confrontation during which certain elements tried not just to drag the army into the fray, but launched organized efforts to defame it. But the high command of the armed forces matched their words with action.
Now the ball is again in the government’s court. It is up to the government to grab the initiative and ensure harmonious working relations among various state institutions, and address issues highlighted by various opposition parties. Sincerity, transparency, inclusive decision-making on the national security issues and good governance remain vital for the consolidation of democracy and meeting the internal challenges.
Who should know it better than the Prime Minister, generally perceived as a pro-business leader, that political stability and peace are the two main pre-conditions if he wants to realize his dream of turning around the country’s ailing economy. Sound and consistent economic policies, providing an investment friendly environment, transparency and efficient government are impossible to achieve until the government manages to bring peace, security and the rule of law in the country.
When even local investors feel jittery and are afraid to make long-term bets on the Pakistan economy due to the precarious law and order situation and political uncertainty, it is difficult to realize the country’s potential in attracting foreign investors. One indication of the prevailing negative sentiment about Pakistan is its falling foreign direct investment which after peaking to $5.4 billion in 2007-08, plunged to a low of around $825 million in fiscal 2011-12. It recovered a little after that, but remains among the lowest in the region.
Therefore, the government needs to take on the challenges of terrorism and political instability if it stands committed to boosting economic growth.
2015 offers a window to start taking corrective measures to address all the three internal challenges. It surely will be a long haul and need a lot of determination and courage, but Pakistan has little choices other than to take hard-decisions for the sake of its future generation. This is the chance for our leadership to prove its mettle.

The writer is an eminent journalist who regularly contributes for media and is Editor of a national daily. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @AmirZia1
15
January

Written By: Maj Saud Al Aziz

Story of a Pakistani soldier who is the first UN peacekeeper to sacrifice his life for peace in Central African Republic (CAR)

October 9, 2014 wasn’t a calm day in the capital Bangui of Central African Republic (CAR). The security situation was tensed and a mob of fuming persons was protesting for resignation of the president and the prime minister. At about 1200 hours, a composite force of United Nations Peacekeeping Force comprising troops from Pakistan Battalion (32 Punjab Regiment) and Bangladesh Battalion left for Force Headquarters (FHQ) for patrolling, and on its way back, had to escort Deputy Force Commander, Major General Shafi Ud Din Ahmed (Bangladesh) to Transit Camp. It was a usual day for Sepoy Fahd Iftikhar from 32 Punjab Regiment. Hailing from Karachi and a driver by trade, Fahd had recently been married before being seconded to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in CAR. He was carrying out routine maintenance of his jeep when he was assigned to move with the convoy that had to go for patrolling duties.

The convoy moved after undergoing all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). However, the Composite Escort on its way back was ambushed by Anti-Balaka elements at a culvert, 1100 metres short of the transit camp. The belligerents sprayed bullets indiscriminately. The forces took positions and reacted back strongly. Sepoy Fahd was part of the force under attack; his mission was to work for peace in trouble-ridden Central African Republic; and he was willing to pay any price for that!

Central African Republic (CAR) is a land locked country bounded by Chad in the North, Sudan in the North East, South Sudan in the East, DRC in the South, Congo, Brazzaville in South West and Cameroon in the West. Land Mass spans over 622,984 sq kms and is administratively divided into 18 provinces with its capital at Bangui. Population of CAR is approximately 5,000,000 and is further divided into 30 ethnic groups. Situation worsened to a state of potential genocide in CAR which forced the UN Security Council to approve deployment of African Union led International Support Mission in CAR (MISCA) for a period of one year. MISCA was mandated to protect the civilians, stabilize the country and restore state authority. However, wave of violence over religion resulted into killing of more than one thousand people, one million IDPs and over 100,000 refugees. In response, UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing deployment of a UN Peacekeeping Mission in CAR. On 15 Sep 14, MISCA was re-hatted to MINUSCA.

the 1st peace1Pakistan Army being a proud member of peacekeeping fraternity, took up this challenge and its forces arrived in CAR in September 2014. Being the pioneer contingent, Pak Army was doing all it can to establish a firm base for the UN forces to carryout peacekeeping missions in CAR. Pakistan has been a forerunner in UN Peacekeeping endeavours across the globe and in pursuance of this noble cause; has laid numerous lives. On October 9, 2014, on their way back to the Transit Camp, the convoy of which Sepoy Fahd Iftikhar was a part, was ambushed. Sepoy Fahd was driving his vehicle that carried many soldiers. He knew that jeep was not bullet proof and lives of soldiers were in danger. In order to avoid causalities, he took the risk and rushed through the ambush site. The attackers spotted the jeep and targeted the driver. He almost took the vehicle away from the ambush site. The soldiers were now out of point blank firing range at the ambush site. They dismounted quickly and started firing back. In this action, Sepoy Fahd Iftikhar was hit by a bullet in his head and embraced Shahadat at the spot. The force kept engaging the attackers and inflicted heavy casualties onto them and also managed to gain valuable time which was necessary to bring in reinforcements/ Quick Reaction Force (QRF) from the camp location. The QRF reached the site within a few minutes and fought back the attackers; consequently, they retreated and ran away. The injured were immediately evacuated to Level - II Hospital in the Transit Camp. Rescue and recovery operation was completed and QRF reached back safely. This daring action of Pakistani Peacekeeper was appreciated at all levels. The locals and UN staff was full of praises for the bravery displayed by Fahd Iftikhar. The attendance of funeral by Prime Minister of CAR Mr Mahmat Kamounas and other high level officials from UN and government reflects acknowledgement of this sacrifice. Had Fahd not acted bravely, and had Pakistani QRF not responded timely, the death toll might have increased manifold.

The world shall remain indebted to the sacrifice of Sepoy Fahd that he made for the world peace.
15
January

Written By: Dr. Samar Mubarakmand

As the value of minerals in western porphyries alone is $500 billion, therefore, the total value of the Reko Diq asset is close to $1 trillion. With such a valuable mineral deposit discovered by GSP in Balochistan, Pakistan should consider itself extremely fortunate. However, feeling content on our good fortune will not suffice. A huge effort is required to bring this immense wealth to the surface. All the different metals have to be refined in appropriate plants and made available to down-line industry to enable Pakistan to bring on track, a vibrant and prosperous economy.

Pakistan is endowed with immense natural wealth which includes our hydroelectric resources, extremely valuable mineral deposits, vast areas of fertile land, ten months of clear sun shine and above all a very intelligent human resource. In this article the discussion will focus mainly on the biggest deposit of copper, gold, silver and several other metals of strategic importance. A world famous copper belt known as the Tethyan Metallogenic Belt starting in South Eastern China near the Tibet Province runs parallel to the Himalayas and turns down into Pakistan through the Gilgit Baltistan region (Fig.1.). Copper, gold and silver are being mined at Saindak in Balochistan and Shinkai in North Waziristan since the last several years. Both these mineral deposits are on this belt.

The Saindak project was established with Chinese assistance in the late nineties. It went into serious production from the year 2001 and is running to date. At Saindak there is a deposit of about six hundred million tons of ore averaging 0.6 % of copper. This project has been yielding twelve to fifteen thousand tons of copper along with approximately twentyfive tons of gold every year. A sizeable amount of silver is also being produced from this mine. Iron ore as a biproduct also occurs at the mine and it is separated from the ore with a magnetic separator before being dispatched to the Pakistan Steel Mill at Karachi.

The ore at Shinkai is of good quality with an average grade of 1.2% copper along with cobalt metal and silver (Fig.2). The price of cobalt is about forty times the price of copper. This ore at Shinkai is at a shallow depth and can be manually mined with convenience. The locals of North Waziristan sell the mined ore to two different plants in the private sector operating in Punjab where copper and other metals are separated from the raw ore. This fact illustrates the simplicity of the process for separation of copper from mined ore. Reko Diq is a small locality in the extreme west of Balochistan, close to the Afghanistan border. It is about 100 km from Iran. The distance between Reko Diq and Saindak is about 35 km (Fig.3).

The Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) discovered the mineral deposits at Reko Diq in 1969. After a detailed survey a map of thirteen mineral deposits was published by GSP in 1978-79 (Fig.4). All the copper and gold deposits occur in an area of one hundred sq. kms with a mineral worth of nearly $ 500 billion. Eighty percent of this copper, gold etc. exists at H13, H14 and H15 called the Western Porphyries. The western porphyries have substantial deposits of copper, gold, silver, molybdenum etc. H8 deposit is almost exclusively gold and the H4 deposit is almost all copper. Copper occurs in the entire Reko Diq area in different concentrations. A surface analysis of copper occurrence is shown in (Fig.5). The red dots represent the highest concentration of copper, the pink dots comparatively lower concentrations and so on. It was observed that wherever there is copper, gold occurs alongside it. Gold occurs uniformly over the entire Reko Diq complex and its concentrations are illustrated in (Fig.6).

destined towards1There have been several estimations of the wealth of the minerals at Reko Diq. The total value curve has been plotted for the general Reko Diq area by Sancor of Australia and is shown in (Fig.7). It is quite apparent from the above curve that as the value of minerals in Western Porphyries alone is $500 billion, Therefore, the total value of the Reko Diq asset is close to $1 trillion. With such a valuable mineral deposit discovered by GSP in Balochistan, Pakistan should consider itself extremely fortunate. However, feeling content on our good fortune will not suffice. A huge effort is required to bring this immense wealth to the surface. All the different metals have to be refined in appropriate plants and made available to down-line industry to enable Pakistan to bring on track, a vibrant and prosperous economy.

With such a valuable mineral resource occurring in Balochistan and discovered and published by GSP in a series of international publications in 1978-79, it was but natural for the developed world to take note and come into Pakistan seeking mining leases in the areas of interest. Several such leases for exploration of minerals were granted to several mining companies at Reko Diq and surrounding areas (Fig.8). This process started in 1993 with a company called BHP Billiton securing exploration license over an area exceeding 400 Sq. kms at Reko Diq. A contract called the CHEJVA (Chagai Hills Joint Venture Agreement) was signed between the company and Balochistan. The agreement envisaged a partnership of 75% for the company and 25% for the Government of Balochistan (GoB). In addition, 2% in royalties would occur to GoB on the total value of metal extracted and sold. This company later sold its interest to an Australian company called Sancor. After another period of three years Sancor sold its entire interest in Reko Diq to a company called Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) which is an equal partnership between Barrak Gold of Canada and Antafagosta of Chilli. The share of GoB stayed at 25%.

destined towards2TCC held an exploration lease on the nearly 400 Sq. km of area at EL5, EL6 and EL8 for nine years. The initial exploration license of three years duration was extended twice (three years each time). This activity commenced in 2002. After the expiry of the second extension, a feasibility report was submitted by TCC to GoB in October 2010. As per mining plan, the total ore to be excavated is 2.219 billion tons at the rate of 110,000 tons per day in a total life span of fifty six years for the plant. The profit (internal rate of return) indicated by TCC is 12.3%. If GoB could invest $ 600 m upfront in the joint venture, then it would be entitled to 25% share in profit i.e. 3% approximately with an additional royalty of 2%. The total receipts to GoB would be about $75 million per year from a gross value of copper and gold leaving the country per year valued at nearly $ 1.2 billion. The return for GoB after investing $ 600 million in the joint venture is so paltry that it is barely comparable with the interest on a $ 600 million fixed deposit. This is what should happen to a nation which doesn't do anything itself and entrusts all it has to foreign companies.

TCC had planned to convert the ore into concentrate containing 30% copper and 3 grams per ton of gold. This concentrate would be mixed with water, converted into slurry and transported across Balochistan to Gwadar Port through a pipeline which would be 685 kms in length. The slurry would be filled into tanker ships and transported to a third country for extraction of pure metals. GoB would be told about the content of copper, gold, silver and other metals removed from Reko Diq in the above fashion by TCC. There would be no possibility of knowing how much mineral wealth has actually left Balochistan via the pipeline. In this scenario it became quite apparent that 95% of Reko Diq assets would leave the country with a meagre 5% of their value available to GoB. No industry based on indigenously produced cheap copper would be established in Balochistan eliminating the possibility of providing hundreds of thousands of jobs to the local people. The province would remain poor and prone to extremist activities.

In the year 2009, the GoB submitted a PC-1 project proposal to the Planning Commission for recommendation and subsequent approval by ECNEC. The project was purely an indigenous project aimed at the refinement of ore into metals of high purity. The Planning Commission examined the financial, social, economic and technical aspects of the project and recommended it to ECNEC where it was approved at a cost of Rs. 8.8 billion in December 2010. Due to legal proceedings between the GoB and TCC, both in the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as in the International Tribunals of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the implementation of the project was kept in abeyance by the GoB. The first case filed by TCC in two International Tribunals sought to restrain the GoB from the implementation of its indigenous project namely Balochistan Copper Gold Project (BCGP) at Reko Diq. Late in 2012, GoB contested the above case in London in the two Tribunals. By February 2013, both ICSID and ICC rejected TCC's request for stay order and consequently gave a go ahead to the GoB to launch BCGP at Reko Diq. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, later in 2013, consequent upon detailed hearings, gave a decision on the CHEJVA agreement of 1993, declaring it non-estab initio.

In light of decisions cited above, TCC made a submission to both the International Tribunals that it was withdrawing the request for grant of a mining lease at Reko Diq. TCC now is seeking financial compensation for its limited exploration effort at Reko Diq as declared by it formally in its feasibility report submitted to the GoB.

destined towards3The GoB decided to commence its indigenous project in early 2013. With the approval of the cabinet, the entire funds for four years needed for the implementation of the BCGP were put in fixed deposit account. Money was to be released to BCGP on the approval of each year's budget. An interim amount of Rs. 900 million was made available to the project in March 2013 to begin the work. An area of eight sq. km was allocated for mining operations at the H4 mineral deposit (refer fig.4). Several operations in parallel were started at the H4 site at Reko Diq. Construction works for housing colony, technical buildings, power stations, analytical laboratories were all started. Exploratory drilling commenced to determine accurately the depth and extent of the ore deposits. Ore samples extracted as a result of exploration activity which covered more than 3500 km of drilling were sent to an International analytical facility and results thus obtained gave a detailed and accurate assessment of ore deposits and their copper content. Fairly good ore began to appear at a shallow depth of 15 to 20 metres. The average grade of copper in the ore is higher than 0.8 %. The maximum concentration goes above 2.2 %. This ore, therefore, is superior in quality to the ore at Saindak. Because of its shallow depth, there will be not too much over burden to remove and consequently the mining operations shall be economical and quick. Thus an exploration study over an area of eight sq. km stands completed in six months at a cost of about $4 million. It is pertinent to mention that TCC sat in occupation of more than 400 sq. km of Reko Diq and submitted an exploration feasibility on three sq. km at the end of eleven years. They are now seeking a financial compensation from the International Tribunals for this work. In these eleven years the GoB could have started mining and refining at several locations in Reko Diq and benefitted economically.

Contingent upon the smooth flow of funds for the project, copper production is expected to begin at BCGP in less than three years. The plant will reach its full first phase production capacity of 20,000 tons of pure copper metal in six years. As is typical with all mining operations, the production of ore from any open pit mine increases as the diametre and depth of the mine grows with time. H4 would be yielding about 15,000 tons of ore per day in the beginning. This is expected to reach about 40,000 tons per day by tenth year of operation. The copper production would increase proportionately with time. Therefore the revenue and profits from the project would also increase as the activity increases. In the first few years of production, BCGP would be producing copper at 60 % of the price of copper at London Metal Exchange (LME). The profits per year in the beginning are estimated at $ 220 million per year. Beyond tenth year of production, these profits would reach $400 million approximately.

The possibility of the availability of indigenous copper at 60 % of the price of imported copper will be a great incentive for copper based industry to find its way into Balochistan. Presently 100,000 tons of copper is imported into Pakistan every year. It feeds our electric cable industry, copper tube, copper plates and brass production. Several thousand items of domestic use are produced from this brass by industrial complexes manufacturing bathroom fittings, items of kitchen ware and also in the defence industry. During full scale production, BCGP alone would be meeting half the copper needs of the country. All the products made from this copper would obviously be competitive for exports. The boost to the national economy would be very significant. The provision of jobs to the people of Balochistan in the mining sector as well as in the manufacturing sector would change the economy and social outlook in the province.

Saindak operations are expected to last till 2016. A considerable amount of trained manpower would become available from Saindak by the time BCGP would be taking off. More than 1600 Pakistanis out of a total strength of 1850 technical people have been working in Saindak for last 14 years. The establishment of BCGP would not only provide this manpower with an alternate project to work in but would be a technical base for the GoB where from it could assess the launching of other mining and refining operations by indigenous or international companies. BCGP could act in an advisory role to the GoB for prequalification of mining contractors, preparation of international tender bids for exploration, mining and refining at different mineral deposits in Balochistan. In short, the beginning of mining and refining activity with Pakistan's own human resources would break the inertia that the country has been suffering from mining any of its valuable resources whether they are of coal in Thar or of other valuable minerals in Balochistan. With this we may expect the dawn of affluence to break in Pakistan.

The writer is an eminent scientist who led the team of scientists and engineers to conduct Pakistan's Nuclear Tests at Chagai in May 1998. He did his masters in Physics with academic “roll of honour” from Government College Lahore in 1962 and later did his D. Phil in Experimental Nuclear Physics from the University of Oxford in 1966. He was later appointed Chairman of NESCOM in 2000. On joining the Planning Commission of Pakistan he was responsible for conceiving and implementation of the Reko Diq Copper Gold Project and the Underground Coal Gasification Project at Thar Coal Fields.
15
January

Written By: Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi

Afghanistan faces a difficult and uncertain internal situation in 2015 and beyond. The international community must help the Afghan leaders for enabling them to cope with the internal economic challenges and the possibility of increased internal strife. This calls for adopting a realistic approach on the part of the Afghan leaders towards their internal problems and building cooperative relationship with the neighbouring states, especially Pakistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan will not only benefit the Afghan people but it will also save the neighbouring states from the negative fall-out of internal strife in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan enters a new phase of its troubled political history in 2015. Most American and NATO troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan after 13 years. The U.S. will keep 9800 troops in Afghanistan that will not engage in combat duties. It will keep the control of at least two bases with some air support. In December 2014, the U.S. is also retaining 1000 additional troops in Afghanistan for a couple of months. Further, the U.S. is expected to keep some security contractors for the security of the U.S. Embassy and military bases. The NATO countries will also retain about 3000 troops for training purposes. The U.S. and NATO have agreed to provide training and related support to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and, as in the past, equipment will also be made available. It needs to be recognized that Afghanistan does not have an air force in the real sense. Therefore, the U.S. is expected to provide such a support, if needed. It is also expected that the U.S. will continue to use drone aircraft in Afghanistan for reconnaissance and for targeting the Afghan Taliban. However, the overall security of Afghanistan will be looked after by the ANA, supported by the Police and the Afghan Intelligence Agencies.

Major Challenges for Afghanistan

The Kabul government led by President Ashraf Ghani will have the exclusive responsibility of governance, economic rehabilitation, reconstruction, and security management in 2015 and beyond. This poses five major challenges to the Kabul government: 1) professionalism and quality of the ANA; 2) internal security and coping with security challenges posed by the Afghan Taliban groups; 3) political harmony and economic development; 4) spillover of the civil strife on the neighbouring states, especially Pakistan; and 5) role of other states if internal strife escalates in Afghanistan. The ANA has been trained and equipped by the U.S. and NATO but the professional quality graph of this army is uneven. It is difficult to predict how it will perform when it is in persistent confrontation with the Taliban. There have been a large number of complaints about indiscipline of its personnel, not returning for duty after the expiry of leave, and disappearance of soldiers with weapons. There have been many instances of Afghan uniformed personnel attacking American security personnel.

afgan in 2015 oneThe ANA was assigned independent security responsibilities gradually by U.S. troops since the beginning of 2014, and, by the beginning of 2015, the ANA would become fully responsible for security. The first year of independent assignment will show its real performance. The Afghan Taliban increased their violent activities in November-December 2014 by launching suicide and other attacks in Kabul and elsewhere. They are resorting to these terror tactics to force the ordinary people to accept their authority and, at the same time, overawe the government. Their activity is expected to increase as the winter season subsides in March-April. Most analysts are of the view that the Afghan Taliban are not expected to overwhelm the Kabul government but these can make it difficult for the Kabul government to govern effectively. The crucial question for the future is how far the Afghan Taliban are able to challenge the government. What will be the state of internal peace and stability? Will they create safe havens and strongholds in parts of Afghanistan, especially in the south?

If Afghanistan experiences widespread internal strife and disorder, the Kabul government would not be able to pursue economic reconstruction and rehabilitation of the people. If its economy cannot be salvaged and the ordinary people cannot be assured of a better future, they will be vulnerable to extremist appeals by the Taliban. The exit of American/NATO troops will bring an end to the economy that was linked with the presence of foreign troops. A large number of Afghans were doing assignments for, or providing services to, the foreign troops. This will build additional pressures on the government for providing them alternate livelihood. If it cannot ensure internal stability and law and order, the probability of coping with socio-economic pressures will decrease, causing frustration and alienation among the people from the government. Further, one cannot be oblivious to the possibility of the two key players in the present national unity government – Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah – failing to work together in a harmonious manner. If they and their loyalists get entangled in power struggle, Afghanistan’s internal crisis will accentuate.

A strife ridden Afghanistan will have a negative fallout on the neighbouring states, especially on Pakistan. Unless the economic and security conditions improve in Afghanistan, the Afghan refugees based in Pakistan are very unlikely to return home. It is very likely that any escalation of internal violence in Afghanistan would cause the flight of more people from Afghanistan. Pakistan may get new refugees in a large number. Further, if the Taliban become strong in Afghanistan, the militant elements in Pakistan, especially the Pakistani Taliban, will become more active against the government and people of Pakistan. A large area in Southern parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal area may become the Taliban enclave. Afghanistan’s internal strife and its spillover to the neighbouring state can draw in other states into Afghanistan’s troubled internal situation. Different states may seek to advance their interests in Afghanistan by supporting one party or another in the civil strife or exploit Afghanistan’s internal weaknesses to manipulate the Afghan government to their advantage. Afghanistan can experience proxy war by other states on its territory. Other states may compete with each other by supporting different competing groups in Afghanistan.

How to Help Afghanistan to Overcome its Challenges Afghanistan is likely to face difficult times in 2015 and beyond. It cannot be left alone. Other nations, especially the neighbouring states, must help Afghanistan because its internal turmoil will have negative implications not only for the neighbouring states but also for the rest of the world. The U.S., the European states and other developed countries like Japan should continue to provide economic assistance and technological support to Afghanistan for building its economy so that the opportunities for decent livelihood increase for the Afghans. Agriculture needs to be given attention so as to engage rural population in gainful economic activity.

Presently, the educational and health facilities are in an extremely poor condition in smaller towns and far away areas. This would be a major challenge for the Kabul government to deliver these basic services to the people if it wants them to stay loyal to the Kabul based political order. As Afghanistan lacks sufficient resources to cope with these challenges, the friendly countries need to help Afghanistan. Such a financial support will increase the credibility of the Kabul government within the domestic context and limit the opportunity for the Taliban to cultivate the people. Afghanistan should foster an active interaction with the Central Asian States, especially Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well as the western neighbour Iran. These countries are favourably disposed towards internal harmony and stability in Afghanistan and these would be willing to help if the Afghan government steps up its current interaction with them. There is a need to improve economic interaction and trade ties with these states which will help Afghanistan to overcome its economic challenges.

The cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan holds the key to countering terrorism in both countries and helping Afghanistan to promote internal economic development and stability. There is a two-way unauthorized border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan including militant elements. A number of activists and leaders of Pakistani Taliban are based in Afghanistan and they use Afghan territory for attacking Pakistan border posts or villages closer to the border. Some Pakistani Taliban have taken refuge in Afghanistan after Pakistan Army started the security operation in North Waziristan in 2014. Afghanistan has complained from time to time that some Afghan Taliban groups operate from Pakistan; a charge always strongly rejected by Pakistan. In any case, Pakistan and Afghanistan need to work together by increased interaction between the security forces and intelligence agencies of the two countries. They need to exchange information on terrorist activity and work together for control over the movement of people and goods across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The security operation in North Waziristan by Pakistan’s security forces, initiated in June 2014, has demonstrated effectively that Pakistan’s security forces have the capacity to assert their primacy and dislodge the terrorists. This security operation targeted all Pakistani Taliban and their allies as well as the fighters from other countries. It has negated the perception outside of Pakistan that its security forces take action against the militant Islamic groups in a selective manner. The current security operation in North Waziristan and some other agencies is hitting all extremists and violent groups on a nondiscriminatory basis.

The professional management of the North Waziristan operation has won international appreciation for Pakistan’s security forces. It is mainly because of the success of this operation that the U.S. has started viewing Pakistan’s support as critical to controlling terrorism and stabilizing Afghanistan. One positive development is that the new Afghan government, led by Ashraf Ghani, has discarded the negative disposition of the predecessor government of Hamid Karzai towards Pakistan. President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Islamabad on November 14-15, 2014 engendered the hope that both countries would work together for fighting terrorist groups and that the security related cooperation between the two countries will increase in 2015 and beyond. There is a need for cooperation among Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. for fighting terrorism in the region, promoting internal harmony and stabilization in Afghanistan and helping its socio-economic development. Pakistan has multifaceted economic and trade relations with Afghanistan. The strengthening of this relationship will benefit Afghanistan to cope with its internal socio-economic challenges.

Afghanistan is seeking Pakistan’s cooperation for facilitating its dialogue with the Afghan Taliban leadership for political accommodation. Pakistan, on the other hand, expects that the Afghan government will not let Pakistani Taliban to use its territory for engaging in terrorist activity in Pakistan. It also expects from Afghanistan that India does not use its close ties with the Kabul government and its presence in Afghanistan to engage in a clandestine financial support to Pakistani Taliban or the Baloch dissident groups. A noteworthy development in Afghanistan for 2015 and beyond is that China has increased its diplomatic interaction with the Kabul government. Its roots go back to 2007 when a Chinese metallurgical company secured copper mining rights worth U.S. dollars three billion. However, not much work has been done on this project. Now, China is looking forward to more active economic and diplomatic interaction with the Afghan government. China’s support will contribute positively in helping the Kabul government to cope with terrorism.

Pakistan is positive towards China’s increased role in Afghanistan. Pakistan, China and Afghanistan should coordinate their policies for countering terrorism in the region, helping the Kabul government to fight the Afghan Taliban and building Afghanistan’s economy. This can also promote trade and transfer of energy among the Central Asian States, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and China. All these states will benefit from such interaction. To sum up, Afghanistan faces a difficult and uncertain internal situation in 2015 and beyond. The international community must help the Afghan leaders for enabling them to cope with the internal economic challenges and the possibility of increased internal strife. This calls for adopting a realistic approach on the part of the Afghan leaders towards their internal problems and building cooperative relationship with the neighbouring states, especially Pakistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan will not only benefit the Afghan people but it will also save the neighbouring states from the negative fall-out of internal strife in Afghanistan.

The writer is an eminent defence analyst who regularly contributes for national/international media This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
15
January

Written By: Feryal Ali Gauhar

(An open letter to the Martyrs of Peshawar)

The sun is soon to rise as bright

As if the night had brought no sorrow,

That grief belonged to me alone,

The sun shines on a common morrow.

You must not shut the night inside you,

But endlessly in light the dark immerse,

A tiny lamp has gone out in my tent –

I bless the flame that warms the universe.

Frederick Rückbert,

Songs on the Death of Children

(1833-34)

Dear One,

Many years ago, when I had gotten used to absences, I realized that the numbness of the heart was only the mist passing over the lightless homes of this silent city at night. While I slept, the state of absence had quietly carved a cavernous hole in my heart, a raw wound, much like those that marked your beautiful body when life was taken from you, brutally, mindlessly, without purpose.

Since you left, that wound has grown so much larger that there is no heart any more – in its place there is nothing but your absence, dear one, an absence so powerful that it keeps me up at night, etched into my eyelids, carved into my memory, bleeding into my resolve to carry on without you. You, my dear one, have taken me with you, and all that remains now is an empty shell, a hollow vessel where only your voice resounds, shaking the fibre of my being when I remember each inflection of your language, each vowel and consonant that formed words of love from your mouth.

What did you do, dear one, to be taken away like this, mercilessly, so much before your time? It was time for us to go, those who failed you, those who failed to see that the enemy was amongst us, those who saw the enemy and did not recognize its insidious intent. It was your time to blossom, to flower, to dream your dreams in your waking hours, becoming the capable person who would make us proud. What did you do, dear one, to suffer this terrible travesty? What were your last thoughts, dear one, when you confronted the enemy? What went through that beautiful mind of yours when the enemy showered you with a hail of deadly bullets? Did you even have time to understand what was happening? Did you think of calling out, to call us to come, quickly, before it was too late? Was there time for that? Or did it all happen in a flash, a moment which defined the all too indelible difference between life and death? Dear One, speak to me, tell me your last thoughts, tell me that you did not feel the bullet piercing your flesh, that the pain did not invade the unbruised parts of your young body.

It is your eyes that I shall never forget, the bright light of your soul spreading itself like sunshine through the golden orb of your eyes. Tell me, dear one, what did you see, before that moment when that light faded from your golden eyes, that moment when life passed out of your fragile body, your soul wafting upwards to a safe place from where you would watch us mourn for you, grieving inconsolably, angry that this should have happened, that life should have abandoned you just when you were at its threshold.

What did your golden eyes see, dear one? Did you see in their eyes the hatred that is but a manifestation of fear, burning like live coals in hollow sockets where the life had already been snuffed out by ideologues of odium? Did you see the madness that comes from dangerous manipulation, predicated on perceptions of deprivation? Did you see the glory that your enemy coveted, that perverse dream that has been offered as incentive for the heinous crime that was to be committed, transporting not the victim but the perpetrator to some notion of a heavenly after-life? Did you see death in the deep recess of his chest, a mere hole where a heart should have been? What did you see, dear one?

Tell us of the horror you faced when you peered into the abyss of the enemy’s eyes, dear one. Tell us of the distortions which marked his mind like a cancerous skin enveloping all in its diseased folds. Tell us of the curl of his lips, the snarl of his mouth as he spat the order to destroy all that was beautiful, all that was precious, you, dear one, and all the others who shared your ordeal, huddled together for safety, grasping a hand which may pull one towards the light, towards life, hunched over in death, together for one last time.

I search the silence for your voice, your words, and I hear nothing but my own, a dirge, a lament for your young life cut short so brutally. I hear my own thoughts flooding my mind relentlessly, my own fears, my own fragility poised to take away what I have wanted to believe in: the goodness of humans, the triumph of good over evil. I want to scream out at this void created by your absence – I want to tear up the façade of civility, I want to go on a rampage, hurting, harming all that comes in my way. For where is the justice, where is the purpose of so much senseless killing, dear one? Who shall avenge your murder, who shall fight back, who shall banish this monster to that land of frozen hearts where it was given birth, more than three decades ago?

Dear One, here is something I have not shared with many. I tell you this because I know you shall want to know why it is that you and your colleagues in their green woolen blazers were covered in each other’s blood on that cold floor of your school auditorium. Many, many years ago, when I was a little older than the age at which you passed from this life into another world, I saw the bodies alongside the road of a city many miles away from the borders of our homeland. I saw the tanks rolling down those rutted roads and I shuddered at the thought of what was to come: the unfolding of an agenda which would envelop us in its dangerous design, building on notions of power which were disguised in the garb of religiosity. Today, that agenda has become a part of the fabric of the shroud which covers us all, burying us in its evil intent. Today, that horribly disfigured notion of religiosity has become a part of our landscape where people kill each other with impunity, where brother is pitted against brother, where those who subscribe to another set of beliefs are burnt to death or executed or blown up with bombs.

Dear One, you were the latest in the long list of martyrs who have been felled in the path of this dragon which destroys everything we have known: this is a creature which does not know music, it does not hear the rhythm of the seasons nor listen to bird song, to the laughter of children playing on a dirt floor. This is a creature constructed out of greed and fed on fear, nurtured on a repast of promised riches in an afterlife where all that was not theirs in this world would be theirs to claim in the next. This is a beast which does not even know its master for there are many who feed it, with the intent to destroy all that is good and worthy. This is a creation of minds who hide behind secret veils, clothing themselves in the garb of civilization. This is an enemy who was created to vanquish one and conquer another. And you, dear one, are but one of the thousands who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is a creature which has burned to death, summarily executed, blown up into lifeless pieces of dismembered flesh, thousands of others, young and old, women and men, children and the aged. This is an enemy which knows no mercy, no reason, nor no humanity. It is a beast bereft of sanity, of sensitivity, of the sensibility of all that is sacred: life itself. This monster has been armed with weapons that it brandishes in our faces, threatening all that we hold dear to us. It has been clothed in the garments of perverse perception dictating its understanding of the faith, denouncing all those who do not follow its path, killing them as one would destroy a plague.

But, Dear One, it is this creature which has brought the plague, it is this monster which needs to be destroyed, and those who try to tell us otherwise need to be shown the face of hate in a mirror. Dear One, let me tell you that those who you have left behind are poised at the edge of a precipice where one false move can throw us over the edge. We, the living, must understand that there is a fine line between life and death – it is the line that you stood at on December 16th. It is the line at which we, the living, stand, choosing between a life lived with passion and conviction, or a life that is akin to death, devoid of purpose and intent.

Dear One, I was not there to ensure that you crossed that line towards life, but I am here to ensure I remain firmly rooted in my conviction that in order to defeat this enemy we must replace the idea of destruction with the idea of creation. We must choose life over death, and unless we destroy the idea and the hatred it has engendered, we shall have to get used to many more absences, much as this one, dear one, which gnaws away at my insides, hurting me each time I remember your smile, your gentle touch, each time I see another young child preparing for another day, another chance at life. I ask you, dear one, to judge me by the enemies I have made. For in this shall I find the courage to carry on with your absence firmly etched into my soul. In this resolve can we find the solace we long for. In this action can we heal the terrible suffering inflicted upon us. But it is a long journey ahead of us, dear one, one that is beyond the aerial strikes and the warfare. This is going to be a battle of minds more than a war of weapons, for it is the idea which feeds both life and death, and we must ensure that it is life we feed, not hatred nor death. For there are too many shrouds encasing the bodies of young citizens of my bleeding homeland; there are too many graves which mark the landscape of my anguished homeland. It is enough now, dear one: this is a promise I make to you.

The writer studied Political Economy at McGill University, Montreal, Media Education at the University of London, Development Communication at the University of Southern California, and Cultural Heritage Management at the National College of Arts, Lahore. She teaches at apex institutions, writes columns for a leading daily, makes documentaries, and has published two best-selling novels.
15
January

Written By: Ghazi Salahuddin

Fortunately, we have evidence that the entire nation has come together and the national leadership has braced itself to resolutely confront not only the terrorists but also their sympathizers and apologists. In fact, the stage for this undertaking had already been set by the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb. It has been noted by observers that the Peshawar massacre is a kind of confirmation of the gains that the army operation in North Waziristan has made. It shows that the terrorists are under great pressure. It was visibly an act of utter desperation.

We have buried our schoolchildren and they have become seeds. Now the challenge for us is to nurture these seeds into a garden of peace. And this task is as sacred as the barbarism of the terrorists was satanic. Meanwhile, though, we have to come to terms with a trauma that will stand out in the annals of crimes against humanity in world history. Time, they say, heals the wounds. But in this initial period, every passing day after that ignominious sixteenth of December has deepened our pain and our sorrow. The more you learn about the details of times that mens1the beastly massacre, the more incomprehensible it becomes. We are numbed with shock. It is hard to imagine the loss that the parents, families and friends of more than one hundred and thirty four students and sixteen members of the staff of the Army Public School and others in Peshawar have suffered. Hundreds of students who were trapped in the premises and who watched the killings have been wounded psychologically and need professional care.

At the same time, this heartrending tragedy has touched us all across the entire country. We have all, in a sense, died a little. We have also seen how the rest of the world has grieved with us. “It’s a dark day for humanity,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron. That something like this has happened in Pakistan has its own significance. Since it has come in the wake of other gory exploits of terrorists in recent years, questions would naturally arise as to why this drift had not been effectively checked a long time ago. After all, Pakistan has almost been pushed to the edge of the precipice in a dire security environment that embraces global and regional exigencies. There have been additional, specific, reasons for the growth of militancy and religious extremism in the country.

Against this backdrop, the Peshawar massacre has the potential of becoming the catalyst for a paradigm shift in our national security and social development policies. It is a moment that has to be seized by our civilian and military leadership. We may be reminded of what Shakespeare said about a tide in the affairs of men that “when taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”.

Fortunately, we have evidence that the entire nation has come together and the national leadership has braced itself to resolutely confront not only the terrorists but also their sympathizers and apologists. In fact, the stage for this undertaking had already been set by the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb. It has been noted by observers that the Peshawar massacre is a kind of confirmation of the gains that the army operation in North Waziristan has made. It shows that the terrorists are under great pressure. It was visibly an act of utter desperation.

But this also means that the battle against the terrorists has arrived at a point where a decisive and conclusive strategy is required to finally mop up the debris of the past and build a new structure that had been visualized by our founding fathers. In the light of the Quaid’s vision, we have to reinvent Pakistan. The sixteenth of December is a date that has a flaming reference to a catastrophic turn of events in our history largely because of disconnect between our people and the leadership.

times that mens2On this date in 2014, the dynamics have been different. In a metaphorical sense, this was an attack on the very existence of Pakistan and, for once, the people have no confusion about who the enemy is. This does not, however, mean that it would be easy to defeat this enemy and to eliminate it completely from within our ranks. We must also understand that it is a war that will also be fought in the minds of men. So, while we feel assured by the united resolve of the nation to finally eliminate all terrorists and traces of terrorism from Pakistan, an evidence of which was readily available on the part of both the civilian and the military leadership, a lot of soul-searching is essential. We did have an important clarification when the leadership vowed to go after all terrorists without any distinction between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ Taliban. But the big question remains: how did we arrive at this diabolical turn of events? This, to be sure, is a very problematic issue. This is not the occasion to go over the history of how we were pushed into this blind alley. What is urgent, however, is to find the strength and an intellectual tenacity to make a new beginning in the light of what we can learn from our experience.

Personally, I feel comforted by some recent indications that the national sense of direction in this regard is being carefully modified, with particular reference to the moves made by the army. In the first place, the launching of Zarb-e-Azb in itself indicated a clear and more stringent policy. Its success became a vindication of the initiative that must have been taken after careful deliberation. However, I would specifically like to refer to a statement Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif made in Karachi only twelve days before the terrorist attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School. He said that Pakistan’s current “enemy lives within us and looks like us” and elaborated that security does not refer only to external threats but is a concern in terms of politics, human rights, economy, water security, terrorism and insurgency. We need to ponder about this formulation in the light of the latest developments. An obvious inference is that military action is no substitute for political process. This also means that the civil and the military institutions must work together and in harmony to pursue national security that is defined in a wider context. Essentially, the goal is to create a social order that fosters development in all its dimensions and ensure national security in its true spirit.

We are in a state of war but we may still have some moments to reflect on the root causes of terrorism and where it was that we, in a collective sense, made decisions that did not eventually serve our national interest. It should be possible to identify some lapses that have led to disasters. However, now that we are making a new beginning, we need to set our goals that conform to the original promise of Pakistan. The enemy that lives within us and looks like us cannot be easily defeated. Let me conclude with this Thomas Paine quotation: “These are times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shirk from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of men and women.”

The writer is a renowned literary figure and senior journalist who regularly contributes for print and electronic media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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