10
July
July 2017(EDITION 07, Volume 54)
 
Written By: Maria Khalid
Primarily every country has the responsibility of maintaining peace within its geographical boundaries and holds itself accountable to keep the internal security mechanism smooth and effective. Pakistan’s decision to fight the menace of terrorism was extraordinary....Read full article
 
Written By: Lt Gen Talat Masood (R)
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established in 2001, with the aim of countering extremism in the region and to strengthen border security. Its undeclared mission was also to act as a check against the growing influence of U.S. and NATO countries in the region.....Read full article
 
Written By: Lt Gen Tariq Waseem (R)
What is it that binds people together, year after year after year? A shared destiny, belief in a common cause, a unifying culture, cherished memories, and the strength that comes from an abiding relationship. This is the sum of a military professional’s espirit de corps, at the.....Read full article
 
Written By: Taj M. Khattak
Pakistan recently became a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) after Foreign Affairs' Advisor, Mr. Sartaj Aziz signed a ‘Memorandum of Obligations’ (MoOs) at Heads of State Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan along with Foreign Ministers of six....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
Since the beginning of twenty-first century the Middle Eastern nations have been encountering various subverting challenges. Militancy, domestic turmoil, struggles for regional hegemony, politics of intervention, sectarian animosity and Great Powers' interference....Read full article
 
Written By: Jennifer McKay
The Tochi Valley has had a long and colourful history. This beautiful valley, running from Bannu through Mir Ali and Miranshah, out to Degan, Boya and beyond, has seen many conflicts over the centuries. Today, it is at peace....Read full article
 
Written By: Rear Admiral Pervaiz Asghar (R)
Sea trade has been universally recognized as the principal driver of the global economy. It was however in the Indian Ocean that coastal trade as well as trans-oceanic passages are believed to have originated. This ocean is also unique in the sense that its wide expanse is enclosed....Read full article
 
Written By: Puruesh Chaudhary
Philosophers, military strategists, mathematicians and scientists have their own unique way of thinking, reasoning and inferring. It’s when that is applied in times of peace and war, it shapes our understanding of events and personalities......Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Shahid Mahmud
To survive and thrive in the coming Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled exponential-disruption, governments must proactively deal with the challenges and opportunities posed by AI. The field of artificial intelligence is making breathtaking advances.....Read full article
 
Written By: Amir Atta
This is an exciting time as we are only on the cusp of what’s to come with artificial intelligence. The next decade is set to show off the biggest change in man’s way of life since the beginning of the industrial era.....Read full article
 
Written By: Abdullah Khan
There are many types of Indian intelligence involvement in Pakistan. It has a history of launching dirty games in Pakistan and it brought the worst kind of results in 1971 when East Pakistan defected to become Bangladesh because of India’s intelligence....Read full article
 
Written By: Maj Wajiha Arshad
Women empowerment is taken in true letter and spirit in Pakistan by enhancing and improving the social, economic, political and legal strengths of the women and to ensure fair opportunities for the women in all walks of life. Ever-increasing responsibilities and lesser....Read full article
 
Written By: Hira Sagheer
It is a day like any other. The bright midday sun filters through the thick white curtains and paints the room a pale yellow hue. I say midday because that is the time I usually wake up at. I sleepily stretch in bed and turn around to look at my side where my angel......Read full article
 
Written By: Maj Azeemullah Baig
The Spanish climber Alberto Zerain, after the summit, descended safely once the rope was intact at the traverse of the Bottleneck. After reaching back at Camp-IV he preferred to go down to Camp-III. The other climbers had reached .....Read full article

 
Besides safeguarding maritime interests of Pakistan, Pakistan Navy (PN) has always been at the forefront to conduct Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations overseas to extend support/help to international community. The resolve and commitment of Pakistan.........Read full article
 
Written By: Omair Alavi
Pakistan Cricket Team is one of its kind when it comes to world events – when the chips are down, they are the favorites but when they are the favorites, they usually exit badly. Who can forget the World Cup in 1992 where Imran Khan’s Tigers made a comeback from......Read full article
 
Hilal Desk
Hundreds of thousands of our soldiers are deployed at borders, LOC, battlefields and hard areas throughout the country. These brave men are carrying out various military operations on top of which lies Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad to permanently wipe terrorism......Read full article
 
Written By: Col Naiknam M.Baig
An emerging soldier artist defies the norms of art through his art of imperfection......Read full article
 
H.E Mr. Sun Weidong, Ambassador of China, called on General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee at Joint Staff Headquarters, Rawalpindi. Matters related to defence and....Read full article
 
Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Turkey on an official visit on June 20, 2017. On arrival, COAS visited Ataturk Mausoleum and laid floral wreath to pay homage to the father of Turkish nation and penned down his respects on the visitor....Read full article
 
Measures to improve security situation along the Pak-Afghan border continue. In line with the directions of COAS, phased fencing of entire Pak-Afghan border has commenced. In phase 1, high infiltration prone border areas in Bajaur....Read full article
 
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah visited Sri Lanka and called on President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Defense, Dinendra Ruwan Wijewardene....Read full article
 
A free medical camp was established in a school building at Gudai and Chillim towns of District Astore in compliance with the directions of Commander FCNA from May 12-14, 2017. Keeping in view the....Read full article
 
Commander 10 Corps, Lieutenant General Nadeem Raza visited troops deployed along LOC in Iftikharabad Sector. He reviewed the operational preparedness and expressed his satisfaction on operational readiness and vigilance exercised by forward troops. Corps Commander.....Read full article
 
10
July

Written By: Omair Alavi

Pakistan Cricket Team is one of its kind when it comes to world events – when the chips are down, they are the favorites but when they are the favorites, they usually exit badly. Who can forget the World Cup in 1992 where Imran Khan’s Tigers made a comeback from the verge of being knocked out and clinched the trophy after defeating one of the best sides in the tournament. Twenty-five years later, the same thing happened as Sarfraz Ahmed and his boys managed to win four consecutive matches to take home their first ever Champions Trophy. Was it luck, was it planning, was it due to the Holy month of Ramadan? What helped Pakistan do the unthinkable? Let’s analyze:

 

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THE GOOD

Sarfraz and His Courageous Captaincy

sarfrazahmed.jpgUsually when a captain leading his side in a world event loses the first match, all his plans go awry. He tries to win by hook or by crook and that doesn’t necessarily end up as a positive step. However, in case of Sarfraz Ahmed, things ended up pretty much the way he envisioned and since he and his boys gave their 100 percent, he ended up with the trophy and becoming the World Champions.

There were occasions when Sarfraz grip on the situation loosened especially in the grand finale, such as making Fakhar Zaman bowl, continuing with Shadab Khan when any pacer would have knocked the Indians out and sending Imad Wasim ahead of himself at the crucial stage. Come to think of it, he was sending messages through these decisions to the selectors – that Imad Wasim can’t bat and bowl when the situation demands, Fakhar might become an all-rounder and that Shadab still has a lot to learn.

 

The Resurgence of Hasan Ali

hassanali.jpgA year back, had someone predicted that Hasan Ali will end up as the leading wicket-taker of Champions Trophy, people would have laughed at that person. In the last 12 months, he has not only made a place for himself in the final XI of all formats but has also defeated the ‘leftist’ mindset that was prevalent in the selection committee. They continued to use one-dimensional pacers irrespective of conditions and that's one of the reasons why Pakistani pacers weren't taken seriously by opponents. Not anymore as the biggest export of Pakistan Super League has now become a threat with his variety of deliveries. With 13 wickets in 5 matches, including the prized scalps of world’s best batsmen, Hasan Ali helped Pakistan become the Champions from rock bottom position, literally. His celebration style has also become popular amongst the fans that include commentators, opposing players and well-wishers at home.

 

The Record-making Fakhar Zaman

fakharzaman.jpgNo Pakistani since the great Majid Khan in World Cup 1975 had hit 3 consecutive scores of 50 or above in an ICC event, till Fakhar Zaman hit 2 half centuries and one match-winning century against India in the Champions Trophy. Unlike his predecessors that go back 15 years, Fakhar has a flair that reminds one of Saeed Anwar and to some extent of Aamer Sohail. He likes to score runs than play a dot ball and that mindset is what Pakistan was missing. Move over Ahmed Shehzad; step aside Awais Zia; Fakhar Zaman is here to stay. His ascent to the top order must be highlighted as the most important step in Pakistan’s success story. Not only did he rattle the opposition fast bowlers in the process of making a name for himself, he was equally efficient against spinners, notably Jadeja-Ashwin duo that remained clueless in the grand finale.

 

THE Bad

Everyone is congratulating Inzamam-ul-Haq led selection committee for sending players who went on to win the trophy for Pakistan. What they don’t realize is that all these players were selected as backups and wouldn’t have played had India not thrashed Pakistan in the first match of the tournament. Umar Akmal repeated history by being sent back from a tour just like father-in-law Abdul Qadir in the 80s – Qadir was sent back on disciplinary grounds from Australia while Umar on lacking the required fitness. How Umar managed to clear the fitness test days after being declared 'super unfit' remains a mystery but when you have Inzamam-ul-Haq judging fitness, the answer is as clear as day. The former captain had never been fit his entire career and once even asked coach Javed Miandad to exclude him from training in exchange for a 100 the other day – he managed 80 odd runs in the next Test against England, twice! With Umar Akmal’s return to Pakistan and Sarfraz XI winning the event, one thing is sure – the door of a comeback for this Akmal is closed, this time for good.
 

THE UNEXPECTED

Dropping Crucial Catches

Catches win matches; but did you know that some catches even win tournaments – Sarfraz Ahmed got reprieved off by Lasith Malinga in the all-crucial league match against Sri Lanka and made the most of it by winning the match for his country. Had that catch been held, the tables may have reversed and Pakistan might have been on its way back home, rather than moving into the semi-final and later the final. Similarly, had Fakhar Zaman’s catch not been held by Jadeja in the grand finale, Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez might not have scored quickly, considering the centurion was getting tired with every passing over. Indeed, catches do win matches!

 

Bumrah – The New Sharma!

Then there are a few catches that are held but not held at the same time – just like the 1992 World Cup in which Ramiz Raja was declared ‘not out’ off a waist-high no-ball, Fakhar Zaman was caught behind off a front-foot no-ball bowled by Jasprit Bumrah 25 years later. The error ranks on top with Chetan Sharma’s failed Yorker in the final of the Austral-Asia Cup in 1986 and cost India the match as Fakhar Zaman went on to score a century that helped Pakistan post 338 for the loss of 4 wickets in 50 overs. Yes, solid batting from Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam helped as well but had that Bumrah-ball been a legal one, India might have had the upper hand. Who knows!

 

Luck Favours the Brave

As far as one can remember, the last time Pakistan played an ODI match in a ‘positive and aggressive’ manner was way back in 2008 when they defeated India in the final of Kitply Cup under Shoaib Malik. Nine years later, Pakistan managed to play positively and saw India lose by the biggest ever margin of 180 runs. The Indian medium pacers and spinners were treated as mediocre bowlers which they proved to be in conditions that resembled any place but India. Ravichandran Ashwin looked like a different bowler with the white ball as he was belted across the park, as was Ravi Jadeja who proved to be unlucky for his own team as he first couldn’t deliver the goods with the ball, and later ran out the Indian nation’s only hope Hardik Pandya. Pakistan managed to play like tigers and we all know that when that happens, we usually end up lifting the Cup!

 
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10
July

Hilal Desk

Hundreds of thousands of our soldiers are deployed at borders, LOC, battlefields and hard areas throughout the country. These brave men are carrying out various military operations on top of which lies Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad to permanently wipe terrorism from the country. While these soldiers have vowed to sacrifice everything they have for this very homeland and its people, the nation stands with them in the fight against terrorism and has full confidence in their capabilities to defend every inch of the country. This Eid-ul-Fitr, we extend our heartiest greetings and strongest prayers to the valiant soldiers.

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Eid Mubarak

jusciretnasira.jpgEid Mubarak to our valiant troops who are courageously defending our frontiers in these challenging times. Our security is being constantly threatened and attacked internally and externally by our enemies. The vigilant efforts of our Armed Forces have reduced terrorism in our country and made it possible for our citizens to breathe freely and lead their lives without fear. The stigma of being labeled as a war torn country has been removed through your unflinching sacrifices. We all pray that Allah Almighty may grant you more strength to protect our motherland. Amen!

Justice (retired) Nasira Javed Iqbal

 

sharifprofesor.jpgMy message is for those fortunate brethren who are out in the extreme cold and hot weathers to defend Pakistan all the way; who are out to stop the onslaught permanently; who have stopped the return of the dark ages at Pakistan’s frontiers; who have shunned comforts of life so that we may live in peace with our folk and families, toddlers and teenagers, women and off springs in our lovely homes and neighborhoods. To those who have made all this possible, your scarifices shall never be forgotten. Eid Mubarak!

Prof Sharif-ul-Mujahid (Eminent author and HEC distinguished national professor)

 

shahzad_nawaz.jpgMy beloved soldiers, it is my privilege to be greeting you this Eid-ul-Fitr. On this joyous day, I also wish to remind you that you are our pride manning our frontiers, celebrating Eid away from homes in remotest parts of this beautiful land with vigil, honor and courage. Do know that Pakistan is indebted to you; your people are grateful to you, and your family is not just your blood ones but also the ones who are related to you because of this common bond of love called Pakistan. God bless you. God bless Pakistan.

Shehzad Nawaz (Filmmaker, actor, singer, graphic designer)

 

asimulhaq.jpgI wish Eid Mubarak to each and everyone of you; may all of you have a very blessed Eid. You are the real heroes who put their lives on frontline each and everyday so we can live ours and breathe in a peaceful country. I would like to thank each one of you from the bottom of my heart for protecting us and providing a safety wall against all domestic and international enemies. The reason we are still on map of the world is because of you and the sacrifices you have made for us and continue to make every day. I salute you!

Aisam-ul-Haq (International Tennis player)

 

shaikjaved.jpgIn the heart of 200 million, one of the very few institutions left to be proud of is the Armed Forces of Pakistan for their credibility, courage, honesty and discipline. I salute them for fighting on so many fronts to make Pakistan safe from the evils.

Ay watan kay sajeelay jawano

Meri duwain tumharay liye hain

God Bless Pakistan Armed Forces!

Javed Sheikh (Actor, Film Director and Producer)

 

moeenali.jpgOur soldiers keep us safe and secure every day and thus we can walk safely, drive safely and live our lives doing extraordinary things. Even in times of extraordinary joy, while we celebrate our festivities on Eid day, our soldiers are sacrificing their Eid and their time with families for us. May Allah bless and protect them. Thank you for keeping us and our children safe.

Ali Moeen Nawazish (Academic, columnist)

 

bilalashraf.jpgI wish our forces a very very Happy Eid. It's because of their sacrifices and commitment to protect Pakistan that we can celebrate Eid with our families. May Allah bless our Army. Pakistan Zindabad!

Bilal Ashraf (Actor)

 

afrazadiah.jpgFor our brave soldiers who put their lives at risk so that we can sleep safe in our homes; for our courageous fighters who are away from their families and loved ones on this Eid; for our valiant heroes who choose our comfort, happiness and safety over their own. On this Eid the Pakistani nation is beholden to your courage and selflessness. With prayers, love and gratitude, a heartfelt Eid Mubarak!

Adiah Afraz (Professor, editor, writer)

 

shafqatamant.jpgAy watan k sajeelay jawano

Mere naghmay tumharay liye hain

This is not a song, these are my true feelings. I salute my brave soldiers who are defending our borders to make sure we can observe Ramadan peacefully and celebrate Eid with our families. You're always in our prayers. Keep defending this country and making us proud. God be with you!

Shafqat Amanat Ali (Singer)

 

omerayesha.jpgFestivities like Eid are one celebration that bring all of Pakistan together yet our soldiers deployed on borders and on various other missions stand alert to protect us round the clock. All throughout my childhood my grandmother would tell me stories of how strong our soldiers are and how they sacrifice important events and celebrations with their families for the safety of our nation. The immense pride I feel when I think about the sacrifices of our soldiers leaves me with a hope of a better and a stronger country for all Pakistanis. So on this Eid, let’s celebrate the dedication and patriotism of our soldiers and their families and let’s pray for their safety and security. I wish the whole nation a blessed Eid-ul-Fitr with the faith of better and peaceful days ahead.

Ayesha Omar (Actress)

 

aizaazam.jpgAs a nation that has been at war for last sixteen years now, our joyous occasions are often bittersweet. Even as we celebrate, we are reminded of our fallen soldiers and of the loved ones they leave behind. This Eid-ul-Fitr let us each take a moment to remember them once again. Pray for our martyrs and their families; pray for those still deployed defending our land with their lives; offer thanks for each day we are able to continue because of them; and never forget the debt of gratitude this nation owes them. May the Almighty accept their sacrifices and keep our motherland safe from all evils.

Aiza Azam (Professor)

 

abdulmuqeet.jpgWhile the soldiers of Pakistan Army are ever ready to respond and thwart aggression by enemy at borders, I am waiting for my turn to be selected to join them and become a member of the prestigious Armed Forces who fear none but Allah. The determination and sacrifice they offer is unmatched. The whole nation stands with them shoulder-to-shoulder and feels proud of them. Eid Mubarak from the nation to its brave sons of soil.

Abdul Muqueet (Student)

 
 
10
July
Commander 10 Corps Visits Troops Deployed Along LOC in Iftkharabad Sector

Commander 10 Corps, Lieutenant General Nadeem Raza visited troops deployed along LOC in Iftikharabad Sector. He reviewed the operational preparedness and expressed his satisfaction on operational readiness and vigilance exercised by forward troops. Corps Commander expressed his concern over continuous ceasefire violations by Indian troops targeting innocent civil population residing close to the LOC. While appreciating the indomitable spirit, he lauded the high morale of deployed troops and unflinching resolve of civil population of the area and urged for a befitting response to Indian ceasefire violations.

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10
July
Free Medical Camp Established in Gudai and Chillim

newsfreemedcamp.jpgA free medical camp was established in a school building at Gudai and Chillim towns of District Astore in compliance with the directions of Commander FCNA from May 12-14, 2017. Keeping in view the customs of this area, separate male, female and children OPDs were established. Separate medical stores were set up for male and female patients. Efforts were made in coordination with locals and civilian administration to make WHAM activity successful by displaying banners and announcements in mosques. Sufficient quantity of medicine was made available by CMH Gilgit through its own resources. Apart from medicines, hygiene kits were also distributed among families and children. Medicines of worth Rs. 0.7 Mn (approx) were provided to the patients free of cost.

FC Balochistan Conducts IBO in Quetta

newsfreemedcamp1.jpgFC Balochistan conducted an IBO in Quetta. Two wanted terrorists of BLA were tracked who got killed in exchange of fire. The killed terrorists were involved in attacking Armed Forces, target killing, kidnapping for ransom and IEDs planting in Quetta, Margate and Sangaan areas of Balochistan.

In FATA, security forces recovered huge quantity of weapons and ammunition during an IBO in village Nizkan Khel, Razin, Nazar Khel of South Waziristan Agency, Village Kaskai of Lower Dir, village Sirigal of Chitral and various areas of Dara Adam Khel. The recoveries include SMGs, Sakila gun, Missiles, 12 bore rifles, grenades, communication equipment, binoculars, ammunition of various calibres including 82 mm mortar and 12.7 mm rounds, rockets of RPG7, rounds of Draganov, switches, detonators and 14.5 mm ammunition.

10
July
Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah Meets Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister and Top Military Leadership

Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah visited Sri Lanka and called on President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Defense, Dinendra Ruwan Wijewardene and top military leadership including Chief of Defense Staff Sri Lankan Armed Forces and three Services’ Chiefs in separate meetings.

 

newscnsmeetsrilankan.jpgDuring the meetings with President and Prime Minister, matters of mutual interests were dilated upon. Admiral Zakaullah highlighted Pakistan Navy’s efforts in pursuance of Government of Pakistan policies to maintain peace and security in the Indian Ocean region in collaboration with international community. The Admiral reiterated Pakistan’s continued support to Sri Lankan Armed Forces in the field of training, provision of technical manpower and expertise.


Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister acknowledged Pakistan Navy’s strenuous efforts for maintaining maritime security in the region and also expressed satisfaction over the historical bonds and defense collaboration between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in various fields including training, reciprocal visits, port calls and exercises, and, hoped for further strengthening of the defense ties and bilateral relations. The dignitaries lauded Pakistan Navy’s all out support and assistance to Sri Lankan people during the recent devastating floods and highly appreciated professional acumen and commitment of Pakistan Navy personnel displayed during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations.


The Naval Chief also met Chief of Defense Staff Sri Lankan Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Kolitha Gunathilake, Commander of Army, Lieutenant General A. W. J. Crishanthe De Silva, Commander Sri Lankan Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne and Commander of Air Force Air Marshal Kapila Veedhiya Bandara Jayampathy.


During the meetings with military leaders, professional matters of mutual interest and bilateral defense ties were pondered upon. Military dignitaries acknowledged warm and brotherly relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka based on strong foundations and historical ties and highly appreciated the role and contributions of Pakistan in spearheading various initiatives for maintaining peace and stability in the region.


Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah also looked forward to further enhancing the interaction between both the countries in the diverse fields of training, mutual visits and defense collaboration.


Earlier, upon the invitation of the Commander of Sri Lankan Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah also attended the passing out parade of midshipmen and cadets, as the chief guest, held at Naval and Maritime Academy in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, and interacted with newly commissioned officers.


It is expected that the recent visit of the Naval Chief will further enhance and expand defense ties between the two countries in general and the Armed Forces in particular.

10
July
Pakistan Begins Phased Fencing of Pak-Afghan Border

newssecpakafghanborder.jpgMeasures to improve security situation along the Pak-Afghan border continue. In line with the directions of COAS, phased fencing of entire Pak-Afghan border has commenced. In phase 1, high infiltration prone border areas in Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber Agencies are being fenced. In phase 2, fencing of remaining border areas including Balochistan will be executed. Besides fencing, Pakistan Army and FC KP are constructing new Forts/Border Posts to improve surveillance and defensibility. A secure Pak-Afghan border is in common interest of both countries and a well coordinated border security mechanism is essential for enduring peace and stability.

Pakistan Army shall continue its efforts to consolidate gains achieved in War on Terror: COAS

Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Peshawar Corps Headquarters. He was given detailed briefing on situation along Pak-Afghan border, ongoing and future operations, progress on development works and return of TDPs. COAS appreciated improved security situation and measures for better border management including fencing.

 newssecpakafghanborder1.jpgCOAS expressed his satisfaction on operational readiness of the formations and asked them to stay vigilant against all types of threat. He said that we consider Afghanistan as a brotherly neighbor and terrorists are our common enemy. The threat thus requires a trust based coordinated response rather than blame game or unwarranted skirmishes.

 

COAS said that unilateral actions like drone strike etc. are counterproductive and against the spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being diligently undertaken by Pakistan. Pakistan Army is capable of taking effective measures if actionable intelligence is shared. He said that our focus now is to transform our operational achievements in FATA into enduring peace and stability for which early mainstreaming of FATA, through reforms is essential and Pakistan Army fully supports all efforts towards that end.

 

COAS said that our brave tribal brothers through their support, cooperation and resolve, have enabled its security forces to succeed during the operations and now it is time for them to live a fearless and quality social life as citizens of Pakistan. COAS said that Pakistan Army shall continue its efforts to consolidate gains achieved thus far and stated that Army stands with all other institutions to get Pakistan rid of menace retarding its progress and prosperity.

 

Earlier, on arrival at Corps Headquarters, COAS was received by Commander Peshawar Corps Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmad Butt.

Our enemies shall never succeed to lower our resolve or to divide us: COAS

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) visited Parachinar, Kurram Agency. COAS was briefed in detail about security situation and recent terrorist incidents. COAS interacted with local tribal elders and representatives of the sit-in. Offering newssecpakafghanborder2.jpgdua for Shuhada, COAS expressed his grief on loss of precious lives. COAS said that he was abroad and on return weather delayed his attempts to visit Parachinar. Meanwhile, Commander Peshawar Corps and IGFC were present at Parachinar and implemented directions of COAS in taking care of the victims and the affected families. He said that we as a nation have given unprecedented sacrifices in war against terrorism and we shall succeed. "Our enemies shall never succeed to lower our resolve or to divide us," COAS remarked. Appreciating FC KP and local administration for their efforts, COAS acknowledged their contributions. To date 126 brave soldiers of FC KP alone have laid their lives and 387 have got injured while performing security duties in Kurram Agency only. "FC KP is a professional force inclusive of all tribes and sects performing their duties selflessly," COAS said.
Speaking at the occasion Tribal elders expressed their full confidence and trust in Army and its leadership. "We stand with our Security Forces and our blood is for our motherland. We all are Pakistanis and Muslims," the elders remarked.
Later, COAS also met representatives of sit-in and listened to their concerns. "While administrative concerns will be pursued with the executive body, suggestions regarding security mechanism are being incorporated forthwith. We can only be effective when locals are part of the security and vigilance," COAS said.
COAS announced the following:-
* While there are clear evidences of hostile foreign hands in recent incidents, local facilitators and abettors have been apprehended who will be tried in military courts.
* Additional Army troops have been moved in Parachinar to enhance its security while FC troops are being beefed up on Pak-Afghan border to seal it effectively. Toori Razakars are also being dovetailed on check posts.
* Safe city project for Parachinar by installing CCTV cameras in line with the ones in Lahore and Islamabad will be undertaken.
* Fencing of border is already in progress. More sensitive areas of FATA are being fenced in Phase 1 while complete Pak-Afghan border including the border in Balochistan will be fenced in Phase 2.
* Firing by FC troops while handling mob situation post blast is being inquired and those responsible shall not be spared. FC commandant has already been changed. Notwithstanding the irreparable loss, four Shaheeds and injured due to firing have been given separate compensation by FC.
* Army Public School Parachinar is named after Maj Gulfam Shaheed and it will be upgraded to Cadet College in due course.
* Trauma Centre will be established at Parachinar by Army while local civil hospital will be upgraded for better medical care by civil administration.
* Government has now announced compensation for Parachinar victims at par with other such victims elsewhere in the country. All Pakistanis are equal.
* Army fully supports mainstreaming of FATA which is being pursued and its early implementation is essential for enduring peace and stability.
COAS said that Pakistan Army shall continue its efforts to bring back normalcy in the country. He said that threat continues to reside across the border in Afghanistan with ISIS gaining strength there. "We need to remain united, steadfast, prepared and vigilant against this threat which has an agenda of exploiting sectarian fault-line. "Our security forces are symbol of national integration so is our security apparatus; we are one nation. Also, a greater Pak-Afghan border coordination and security cooperation is required in this regard," COAS remarked.

Those responsible for Parachinar incidents shall be brought to law: COAS

Army is closely following the sectarian and ethnic colour being deliberately given to recent spate of incidents in the country by hostile intelligence agencies/sponsored anti-state elements. Having failed to divide us through terrorism, our enemy is now trying to target and fragment us along sectarian/ethnic lines which merit a unified national response.

Ongoing malicious campaign of enemies of Pakistan which is also unwittingly being spread on social media is highly regrettable and we all need to be cognizant of it. "For us every Shaheed/injured is equal, regardless of sect/ethnicity and indeed is a great loss.” We all are Pakistanis and Muslims who fully respect the religious rights of our Pakistani non-Muslim minorities," COAS said.

COAS has interacted with religious clergy of all sects over the last few days for their positive involvement in defeating this ongoing sinister campaign. It is assured that those responsible for Parachinar incidents shall be brought to law and victims will be compensated without any discrimination. "Alhamdulillah, we have brought security situation in country including FATA under control and shall not allow its regression at any cost," COAS said.

10
July
COAS Visits Turkey

Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Turkey on an official visit on June 20, 2017. On arrival, COAS visited Ataturk Mausoleum and laid floral wreath to pay homage to the father of Turkish nation and penned down his respects on the visitor’s book.

 

COAS visited Turkish Land Force Headquarters where he was received by General Salih Zeki Çolak, Commander Turkish Land Forces and was presented Guard of Honour. At the Turkish Land Force Headquarters, COAS was briefed on the regional security situation as well as the Turkish Land Forces and their various undertakings in the fields of training, defense production and peacekeeping operations.

 

COAS was awarded the Legion of Merit in a simple and graceful ceremony in recognition of his services for promotion of Pakistan-Turkey defense ties. Speaking on the occasion, COAS underscored the special place that Turkey enjoys in the hearts of all Pakistanis. He dedicated the award to the Shuhada of both Pakistani and Turkish Armed Forces.

 

Later, COAS called on Chief of Turkish General Staff, General Hulusi Akar and discussed matters related to regional security and the role Armed Forces of both countries play towards peace and stability. The two military leaders agreed to further enhance defense cooperation in multiple fields. Turkish military leadership was greatly appreciative of the role Pakistan Army plays against terrorism as well as in peacekeeping operations and as a factor of stability in a very volatile region.

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10
July
Ambassador of China Calls on CJCSC to Discuss Matters Related to Defence and Security

newsambaschinacjsc.jpgH.E Mr. Sun Weidong, Ambassador of China, called on General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee at Joint Staff Headquarters, Rawalpindi. Matters related to defence and security were discussed during the meeting. Both sides reiterated their resolve for further strengthening of this special relationship.

The Ambassador commended the professionalism of Pakistan Armed Forces and acknowledged sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war against terrorism.

 

 

 

CJCSC Attends 12th Round of Defence and Security Talks in China

General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, on a three days official visit from June 14 - 17 to China, attended 12th Round of Defence and Security Talks. CJCSC had meetings with General Fang Fenghui, Chinese Chief of Joint Staff Department and Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr. Wang Yi. Chinese leadership lauded strong iron bond between the two countries and agreed to further strengthen and deepen their strategic relationship. Earlier on arrival at Ba Yi Building, a smartly turned out contingent of Chinese Armed Forces presented Guard of Honour to the CJCSC.

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07
July
An emerging soldier artist defies the norms of art through his art of imperfection

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07
July

Written By: Maj Azeemullah Baig

The Spanish climber Alberto Zerain, after the summit, descended safely once the rope was intact at the traverse of the Bottleneck. After reaching back at Camp-IV he preferred to go down to Camp-III. The other climbers had reached the summit as per their speed and timings. Alberto had reached at summit around 0300 p.m. on August 1, 2008 and the last summiteer reached by 0730 p.m. that evening. The climbers took their victory pictures at the top, completely unaware of the destroyed rope section in the traverse.

An eyewitness account of the shocking events of 2008 K2 Summit in which 11 climbers tragically lost their lives.

 

It was the first week of May 2008, when the team of famous mountaineers and climbers from across the globe started pouring in at K2 Base Camp at 5650 meters (18650 ft), after crossing the Baltoro/Concordia Glacier. The Dutch (Norit Team) were the first to arrive, then a French ski team, followed by the South Koreans, who had the largest member of climbers and Sherpas from Nepal. There was also a Serbian team, a Norwegian team, a French team, an American team, an Italian pair, members of Pakistani High Altitude Porters, a climber from Singapore along with sherpas and High Altitude Porters who joined late at the base camp and a solo Spaniard who joined for summit from Broad Peak Camp on the final push day to K2.

 

thefatalmoves.jpgExpedition teams at base camp devised their own plans and moved accordingly to establish further camps above the Advance Base Camp. After acclimatization, the next task was to store and dump equipment at higher camps for summit. Due to bad weather, the teams barely managed to fix ropes till Camp-III at 7200 meters (23,760 ft). The climbers waited almost two months for a clear weather window for the summit. There were multiple sources for weather forecast at base camp. The French climber, Hugues D’ Aubarede, predicted clear weather window by the end of July and also confirmed his stay at the base camp. Prior to this many team leaders at base camp were thinking of packing up and rolling back.


Now several joint team meetings were being held for collective efforts for the summit. Finally, the teams agreed and sat fingers-crossed to make a joint venture in terms of technical gadgets and equipment. In all these meetings the Serbian Liaison Officer, Major Sabir and I were actively involved. In the final joint team meeting, an experienced team for rope fixing and trial breaking was nominated. I, being the liaison officer with the Korean expedition had to participate actively at times, due to their language barrier. The Koreans were well equipped in terms of climbing gadgetry and had experienced Nepali Sherpas as well. At the end, all teams from Korea, Serbia, Norway, Norit, France, Italy and American International agreed for a joint venture.


Finally, the experienced and strong climbers, Nepali Sherpas and Pakistani High Altitude Porters were earmarked for the leading team under the leadership of high altitude porter Shaheen Baig. I was given the responsibility of radio communication and monitoring of dots in the scope from base camp. All the teams were excited for the summit. On July 27, 2008, the teams started from base camp. Abruzzi route was scaled by the Korean, Serbian, Norwegian and Spanish terms. On July 28, the Cesan route was adopted to ascend by the Norit Team, French Hugues and Mehrban, Italian, Irish and American International team.

 

thefatalmoves1.jpgBoth teams following different routes (Abruzzi/Cesan) had to converge on the shoulder at Camp IV (7800 m) by July 31. On July 27, Abruzzi team reached Camp-I (6000 m). The teams stayed at Camp-II (6800 m) from July 28-29 due to bad weather. On the same day, Shaheen Baig had to go down due to blood vomiting caused by suspected ulcer. The message about Shaheen Baig’s descend was radioed to base camp. At base camp, Major Sabir tasked me to evacuate the sick Pakistani porter. In response, the next morning I along with Mr. Nadir Khan (staff with Serbians) went up towards Advance Base Camp to evacuate Shaheen Baig. He was safely brought to base camp and then immediately evacuated to Skardu for medical checkup. Now, the teams at camp-III were deprived of an experienced climber i.e., Shaheen Baig, who knew exactly where to fix the rope ahead of Camp-IV in the Bottleneck. On July 30, all climbers reached camp-III (7500 m) except Mr. Lee (Korean) who had to descend due to bad health. On July 31, the remaining climbers pushed towards Camp-IV (7800 m) except Mr. Chris from USA and Miss Song Gui Hwa from Korea. They aborted their mission and I received Miss Song during night hours between Advance Base Camp and K2 Base Camp. She was stranded, exhausted and lost. Then came July 31, 2008; the green signal for the final push towards the summit in a state of high morale was passed on radio to base camp at night. In response, I exchanged best wishes for the upcoming task and boosted their morale for a safe summit.


August 1, 2008 – Final Push Towards Summit
The leading team was Sherpas: Pemba, Jumik and Pasang; Koreans: Hwang, Park and Kim; Pakistani High Altitude Porters: Karim, Hussain and Ali and later joined by Spanish solo Alberto Zerain. Once they reached Camp-IV, they started ignoring terms set at the base camp. It was decided in the joint meeting that 600 meters rope will be fixed in Bottleneck; 400 meters was promised by Norit team and 200 meters by the Italians. Once the equipment and rope was counted, 100 meters rope was found short against Italians as promised at base camp. In the joint meeting, Korean leader Kim Soo demanded 700 meters rope for Bottleneck. On Abruzzi route till Camp-IV most of the rope fixing was done by the Korean Team. Shaheen Baig, based on his experience said that 600 meters was enough for Bottleneck and everyone agreed on that. But the climbers needed Shaheen Baig (evacuated from Camp-III) who exactly knew where to fix the line above Camp-IV. The prime mistake committed was planting a line just above Camp-IV. As a result, undue delay was caused while repositioning the rope from the lower portion. In the meanwhile, remaining climbers started to marshall under the dangerous Bottleneck, putting their lives in danger. I was monitoring this cramped situation with a scope from base camp and when inquired for the delay the reply on radio was that situation was crowded under the couloir, upward pace was slow and fixing of the line in the Bottleneck remained a conundrum. The two members of American team, Eric Meyer and Frederik Strang decided to abort mission after calculating the slow pace of climbers and unnecessary exposure under ice-fall from the Bottleneck. Two more climbers from Norit team, Chris Klinke and Jellestaleman abandoned their forward move and returned to Camp-IV. The team nominated to lead started 3 hours late. All this activity of fixing rope and unnecessary delay took almost 12 hours which normally might have taken 5 to 6 hours. The overhanging 300 ft ice wall was a nightmare for climbers, who had to scale 50 degree straight up to couloir and then traverse towards summit.


First Fatality: Dren Mandic (Serbia) and Jehan Baig (Pakistan)
The slow pace and undue exposure in Bottleneck seemed to be a continuous source of frustration among climbers. A staff member named Sakhawat came to the Control Base tent and warned me of deadly consequences after observing poor progress. He further added that he has not ever seen such a jammed line and crowd under the death trap of Bottleneck. All of a sudden there was chaos in Bottleneck and at 0945 a.m. on August 1, 2008, the first tragedy was reported, when Serbian climber Dren, unclipped himself to cross Cecilie Skog, a Norwegian climber in front of him. Once he was unclipped he lost his balance and fell over 150 meters down the Bottleneck. His body was seen moving from Camp-IV. When Serbian climber Predrag Zagorac and Isoplanic along with porter Hussain turned back, they pronounced him dead after checking his pulse.


The next blunder was made when the Serbians contacted their manager at K2 Base Camp for further orders. He instructed them to bring the body down and told them to abort their attempt towards the summit. This sort of adventure should not be made at such an elevation, as it is a risk that endangers others’ lives.


There is a difference of opinion over Jehan Baig’s death. I personally believe that the loss of another life to bring a dead body above 8000 meters is not advised. He seemed to be nervous as he was already exhausted. There were six individuals including Fredrik Strang (specialist in high altitude disease) and two Serb climbers along with their porters Hussain and Mohammad Ali who went to rescue and bring the body down. Jehan Baig was with French Climber Hugues for his support to summit. Once they started to slide the body downwards wrapped in a sleeping bag, it gained speed and momentum. Jehan Baig was holding the rope tied with Dren’s body, as others were also sharing the downwards drag. The warning to be careful and safe made him more confused and after a few sudden jerks from the weight of the dead body, Jehan Baig was imbalanced over a steep gradient towards Eastern face (China face side). At 1230 p.m., the news of the second casuality was radioed. The shaken Serbians now aborted their rescue mission, wrapped the body in their country’s flag, fastened it to the mountain above camp-IV, and the rescue team started their move back to Camp-IV.


Push Towards Summit Under Death Shadows
The climbers were now scaling the Bottleneck under tremendous pressure and the unnecessary delays exhausted them. The sudden fatalities above Camp-IV also had a demoralizing effect on climbers at the outset of their attempt, but they continued their climb towards the summit. The principle rule which the climbers started to compromise on was the turn-around time. They were already late and exposed under couloir and had lost almost six hours in the Bottleneck. When the exhaustion and frustration level crossed the limits, the Spanish climber Alberto led the traverse and the rest followed him. Alberto Zerain’s pace was fast and he was the first climber to reach the K2 summit. After him was Little Pasang (Nepal) then Lars (Norwegian) followed by Kim Jae Soo, Cecilie (Norway), Miss Go Mi Sung, Park, Hwang and Jumick (Korean); the Koreans stayed at the summit till 0710 in the morning because Kim Hyo Gyeang came up late. The other climbers who followed were Chhrring, Hugues, Mehrban and Norit Team; Marco was the last one to reach the summit.


The Spanish climber Alberto Zerain, after the summit, descended safely once the rope was intact at the traverse of the Bottleneck. After reaching back at Camp-IV he preferred to go down to Camp-III. The other climbers had reached the summit as per their speed and timings. Alberto had reached at summit around 0300 p.m. on August 1, 2008 and the last summiteer reached by 0730 p.m. that evening. The climbers took their victory pictures at the top, completely unaware of the destroyed rope section in the traverse.


The biggest challenge for the climbers at the top was to descend and negotiate traverse of Bottleneck without rope. That only meant a technical climb (famous as Alpinist Style). The climbers were already over-exhausted due to unforeseen delays and weak team work. All the activity was communicated to base camp, but my only concern was timely return of the climbers and the crossing of Bottleneck. I radioed Kim Jae Soo (Korean leader) for a safe and timely descend, but then what I had feared happened; disorientation and loss of direction at the top. Down at the base camp, I yelled on radio after observing the torch lights descending in the wrong direction. At night, head lamps were visible like stars in the sky and I would direct them through radio to the actual route. High up at the top, climbers risked their lives in two ways; staying and spending the night at the top in disorientation and descending in darkness without rope in the Bottleneck. But the determined climbers decided to embrace death with honour. Their struggle increased manifolds due to the absence of rope in the traverse. The destruction of technical gadgetry and rope by serac fall trapped the climbers in the Zone of Death (above Bottleneck). The two Korean members, Kim Jae Soo and Miss Go Mi Sun managed to navigate Bottleneck in dark and reached Camp-IV. The third casualty occurred when Norwegians were crossing Bottleneck back towards Camp-IV. Rolf Bae did not go up to the summit and waited in the Bottleneck for his wife Cecilie and Lars, who were returning from summit. The three Norwegians, while descending couloir, were caught in a serac fall which struck Rolf in front of his wife and he died on the spot while Ceiclie Skog and Lars were stranded, without food and oxygen but managed to reach Camp-IV around midnight. Sherpa Pemba Gyalje battled through the traverse towards Camp IV. Sherpa Chhiring Borje clipped little Pasang Lama with his harness and did ‘free solo’ through Bottleneck safely. Nine climbers were still stuck above Bottleneck. The climbers who managed to reach Camp-IV were weak and dehydrated. The climbers trapped above Bottleneck were battling for their lives in the darkness at 8300 meters. The lone survivors were struggling against the dark slippery gradient, –40°C temperature, scarcity of food, exhaustion and disorientation. Three climbers Wilco, Gerald and Marco decided to spend the night in the open above Bottleneck.


The 61 year old French climber Hugues tried to bypass Bottleneck in the darkness and fell to his death. He was seen falling down by Cas van de Gevel who was at bottom of Bottleneck. There are myths about porter Mehrban Karim’s death. Some say he moved in the opposite direction but climbers assumed he met the same fate of falling down while trying to descend and escaping death in Bottleneck. The remaining Korean members and Jumich were missing somewhere in the Bottleneck, untraceable. The three climbers, Wilco Van Rooijen (Dutch), Marco Confortola (Italy) and Gerald McDonnell (Irish) who spent the night above Bottleneck started to descend at 0500 a.m. on August 2, 2008. On their descend they spotted the three missing Korean climbers (Hwang, Park and Kim along with Sherpa Jumich) trapped in a very bad condition and entangled in ropes. They spent 3 hours to free the Koreans but failed. Marco started to descend and Gerald opted to stay with the trapped Koreans. I communicated at Camp-IV for the possibility of rescue and then Big Pasang and Tsering Bhote were tasked to bring back the members from Bottleneck. Big Pasang reached the trapped team. He motivated Jumich and clipped him with himself. He started to move back and informed me about Gerald’s presence with the remaining Koreans. They had descended 50 meters when a serac fell and hit all the trapped climbers along with Big Pasang and Jumich. This ominous tragedy occurred in front of Tsering Bhote (Sherpa) who returned back to Camp-IV. The last two climbers, namely Wilco (Dutch) and Marco (Italy) who were still missing above Camp-IV used their satellite phones which helped in tracing the satellite coordinates. Wilco continued his descent via Cesan route and Marco opted for the Abruzzi route. I contacted the Korean leader Kim Jae Soo to organize their descent to base camp because of bad weather conditions. The teams started moving back to Camp-III and then towards Camp-II. Meanwhile, Pemba found Marco unconscious around Camp-IV. He was oxygenated and evacuated to Camp-IV. Wilco was still battling for his life and spent the night in the open while trying to descend. During the night, some lights were seen between Camp-IV and Camp-III of Cesan route. The guys at base camp managed to trace Wilco as a dot in scope and conveyed to Camp-III. Finally, Wilco reached and saw signs of life at Camp-III. The Korean and other climbers started descending. I arranged a rescue team towards Camp-I to receive the trapped and frost bitten climbers. The Koreans started their move from Camp-III and my team reached at Advance Base Camp, waiting for them. On the morning of August 3, my team with the necessary medical and rescue equipment climbed up towards Camp-I, after some time climbers were spotted approaching. On meeting, their packs were removed and we descended down.


At Advance Base Camp, they were physically checked and some climbers were treated for second-degree frostbite on their fingers and toes. We started our move towards base camp. There the injured climbers were checked and treated by Eric Meyer. Wilco and Cas were also rescued and they were treated in Norit Team mess tent. Wilco was in bad shape, snow blinded, with torn lips, blisters in mouth and frostbitten fingers and toes. That night spent at base camp was terrible. Screams of pain and mourning the death of fellow climbers made everyone full of sorrow. In the morning, chopper engine was heard roaring over Baltoro Glacier. My team prepared the landing strip and I guided the chopper pilot to land on running rotors. It was a relief when the patients were evacuated. On same evening, Italian Climber Marco was also rescued. The climber was acting abnormally and in total disorientation. He had severe sun burn and frost bite on fingers and toes. Due to pain and trauma, he avoided talking.


That evening, I wrote and nailed the names of the dead climbers up on K2 on steel dishes and cooking pot lids. On August 04, 2008, my remaining expedition members who had survived (12 out of 17) planned to move towards Skardu. They were totally exhausted and some were injured as well. The Koreans hired a military MI-17 to reach Skardu from K2 Base Camp. Marco was also heli-lifted and admitted in Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Skardu. Some patients were given treatment at CMH, Rawalpindi. After two days, all the team members were called for debriefing at Alpine Club and Ministry of Tourism in Islamabad. The meeting was presided by Secretary Ministry of Tourism and conducted by President Alpine Club Pakistan. The poor coordination, failing to estimate return time, non-adherence to basic climbing rules, relying more on high altitude porters and sherpas was discussed at length. The debriefing concluded on giving tribute to all those climbers who gave their lives for a noble cause, in the pursuit of rescuing others. On August 10, 2008, the climbers started flying back to their countries, with inspiring tales that would keep the summit spirit alive forever.

 

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07
July

Written By: Hira Sagheer

It is a day like any other. The bright midday sun filters through the thick white curtains and paints the room a pale yellow hue. I say midday because that is the time I usually wake up at. I sleepily stretch in bed and turn around to look at my side where my angel co-sleeps and is curled up like the perfect human child that he is. I smile to myself as I get out of bed already yearning for that steaming hot mug of tea my NCB (non-combatant bearer) prepares every morning for my breakfast.


Who let the dogs out {woof, woof, woof, woof}, Who let the dogs out {woof, woof…} I frantically look for my phone in the sheets and silence it. Who could be calling at this ungodly hour? Feeling a massive grump coming on, I take it outside. I see my husband’s name flash on the screen and swipe to pick.


Me: Hey, you almost woke up Moustafa!
Him: You guys are still sleeping?
Me: *major eye-roll*
Him: Anyway, I called to tell that I gave the NCB a week off. Signed his leave in the morning.
Me: Wait… whaaa… wh… why… wwhatt…
Him: Yeah, some emergency back home. Anyway, I have to run. See you at home.
Me: Wait… Wh… whaaa… wh… why… wwhatt…


A sharp wailing snaps me out of my stupefied sputter. For a moment, I think I am the one wailing, lamenting the loss of what feels like my right hand. But it’s coming from the other room. Perfect, the kid is up. I drag myself against will to the bedroom and hug my kid. The wailing stops. Then it starts again. It’s definitely me this time.


Who, you might ask, is this NCB? Whose imminent absence has reduced me to a wailing, sputtering mess. He is God’s greatest blessing to an Army wife in Pakistan. He is our go-to guy. He’s the guy we rely on to get things done. If one is lucky, they end up with a NCB who is a miracle walking around on two legs. He fixes our plumbing. He repairs the switches. He is there to rescue us when the pressure cooker acts up or the blender just won’t blend. He does the cooking, does the dishes, gets our groceries, goes to the laundry, supervises workers around the house and is essentially the center of our little galaxy. He’s like our very own, personalized fairy godmother and the reason why we feel like such goddamn princesses (excuse the lingo). I cannot stress enough the focal point this guy has in the life and household of an Army wife.


As I digest the news, my inner goddess comes to my aid. She takes me by the shoulders and tries to shake some sense into me. You are a strong, capable young woman, she yells in my face. It’s only house work, she says. It’s only seven days, she starts to make sense. You. can.handle.this, I nod along. WHO ARE YOU? she demands. I AM A STRONG, CAPABLE YOUNG WOMAN! I chant back. WHO CAN DO THIS? she’s fierce. I CAN DO THIS! I show her. I got this!

 

adayinlife.jpgLike a woman on a mission, I spring out of bed and start on ‘things’. First things first, wash the kid. I yank Moustafa off the bed and rush him into the bathroom. He looks too startled to protest and a little scared by my game face. I splash his face and shepherd him back into the room where I randomly pick his clothes out of the closet. Normally, I’d spend at least a good, solid fifteen minutes planning and selecting the perfect outfit but ain’t nobody got time for that today. I throw a shirt over his head, yank his shorts up to his waist and I swear I hear him wince. I whisk him off the bed, grab the comforter in my strong lady hands and haul it over the bed. There, the bed’s made. This will have to do. I gather clothes strewn across the room and dump them into the laundry basket. I do not have the time or the patience today to sort and fold clothes and put them away. Everything outside the closet qualifies as laundry. This house just got a new rule!


We hurry out into the living room and the state it is in leaves me a little dazed. It is as if a hurricane tore through it while we were asleep. Husband’s clothes heaped on a couch, Moustafa’s toys from last night scattered as far as the eye could see and a dozen other random objects I honestly believe didn’t belong to us. I tie my dupatta into a knot at my waist (you know a desi woman means business when she does that) and get to bringing some semblance of sense to this disaster zone. I zig and zag between couches, coffee table and corner tables and, if in that moment, I looked behind me I’d definitely see chemtrails. When the living room looks livable again, I leave my kid in the company of his iPad (yes, I am that mom this morning, don’t you even start with me!) and head to the kitchen.


That strong, capable woman who pulled herself together five minutes earlier after being yelled at by the voices in her head collapses in the kitchen door. Did the MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) drop down here last night while we were tucked away in bed? Because it most definitely looks like it did. There are last night’s dishes still soaking in the sink (I usually leave them for my trusted NCB to wash in the morning), pots and pans still greasy from the last cooked meal, the counter hasn’t been wiped down, the stove hasn’t been sponged off and there is a trayful of used glasses by the sink. How did this even happen, is the last thought I have before my vision turns to a black field of nothingness and I almost collapse. How can a family of three create THIS much mess in the kitchen? I wonder if we have more people living in the house whom I did not know about. I know it looks bad, but it’s just dishes, the goddess is back and she coos. Are you scared of some harmless dishes? she asks sensibly. Yes, I reply meekly before I put on my neon yellow gloves and dive elbow deep into the dirty dish galore. I visibly gag as my gloved and protected hand touches something seemingly icky. My first thought is to tear off these gloves and set the kitchen on fire so I never have to deal with this mess again. Certainly we can live off the Officers' Mess until the NCB comes back and builds me a new kitchen from scratch. The thought makes me smile. This is probably the first time I have smiled all day and it feels utterly weird. Once the dishes are done, gloves still on, I wipe the counters, scrub the stove and mop the kitchen floor. It’s time to take the trash out and as I open the bin to tie the bag, the goddess jumps off her couch and dry heaves. You can do this, she gasps. I respond with another gag attack.


Once order is restored in the kitchen and everything is clean and shiny again, I take a deep breath. Time to get started on breakfast. I whip up some eggs and make the easiest version of omelette possible and wolf it down over the sink straight from the pan. I think about making a mug of tea but then think of all the crusty tea I’d have to clean from the saucepan and decide one day without tea wouldn’t kill me. Probably. There is no way I am starting a new dirty dish pile. Oh crap, I mutter as I remember my kid who probably needs breakfast too. I whip up the same easy-omelette for him with a glass of milk.


Normally, I’d qualify for the highest civil award just for successfully feeding my kid food three times a day. Like any other wonderful toddler, he hates being fed. Our meals start with me doing everything short of a cheerleading routine to get him to eat a few bites. When that fails, and it almost always does, I resort to pleading my case. Besides being picky when it comes to his eating habits, my kid is also an expert at sniffing out my weaknesses. Today is no exception. He can sense desperation oozing out of every pore of his mother’s existence and vehemently shakes his head as soon as I enter the room with his tray. ‘No Mama, no’, he tells me. ‘Sit down here right now!!!’, I hiss through gritted teeth. The goddess and I do not have the patience today to jump through the hoops and instead jump straight to the last resort. It works and he scampers to his high chair. Thank you, God!


After feeding Moustafa his breakfast in what feels like record breaking time, I head back into the kitchen. It’s time to get started on lunch. I am still thinking on lunch options when there is a loud Ding Dong Ding. Since there is no NCB it means I get to be the lucky one to walk out in the scorching heat and open the gate for whoever it is. Yayee me! I head out and open the gate. It is the cleaning guy. Good God, I almost forgot about him since it is the NCB who supervises him. I let him in and tell him to get started on his work. I head back into the kitchen and hear Moustafa crying. Hurrying into the room I realize that I left him strapped in his high chair after breakfast. I unbuckle him and let him out and head back inside the kitchen. So where was I before I went to let the cleaning guy in? Yeah, what to make for lunch, which is quite possibly the hardest question every housewife has to deal with every single day. I settle on making pasta with some white sauce because anything with gravy would mean making roti to go with it. Which would mean kneading the dough, making little dough spheres called pairaas, rolling them flat and then cooking them. And there was no way I was getting into that mess all by myself.


Pasta means loads of cutting so I get right to it. I get all the veggies out and put the meat out to thaw. As I put the water on stove to bring it to a boil for pasta, I hear an ear-piercing shatter from the living room. I dash into the living room and to my horror the cleaning guy is standing by the coffee table, looking extremely guilty. I follow his line of vision and find the reason why. My favorite tall vase is shattered into a hundred little pieces and scattered all over the floor. I look in horror at the shattered vase and then at the cleaning guy and then back at the vase. I open my mouth to express the horror and the accompanying grief raging through my veins but nothing comes out. I close my eyes and the goddess hugs my limp frame. I open my eyes and tell the cleaning guy to gather up all the pieces. I get down on my hands and knees and gather as many pieces as I can. I take the broom myself and sweep the room once, twice and thrice just to be sure that all the pieces are taken care of since my kid spends a major portion of his day running around barefoot in the same room. Once that is taken care of, I watch the cleaning guy like a hawk while he gets the rest of the house cleaned.


Once he’s gone I am back in the kitchen, boiling pasta and cutting vegetables. That half an hour I spend prepping things is continuously interrupted by my boy and his never-ending demands. First he wants a snack. Five minutes later he’s back for some water. Hardly five minutes have passed before he calls out again from the living room which I choose to ignore. After a minute of him relentlessly calling me, I give up and head to the living room. He’s pooped, of course! Why wouldn’t he when I am literally at the end of my wits. After washing him up and putting on a fresh diaper, I head back into the kitchen and drain the over-boiled, mushed pasta. It doesn’t look that bad, the goddess assures me. I toss the vegetables, I have done a sloppy job of cutting, into a very lumpy white sauce and fold in the pasta. There, lunch and dinner and snack sorted. I dare anyone to ask me for anything else today, I dare them!
On my way to the living room from the kitchen I see my reflection in the hallway mirror and realize I have not brushed my teeth, washed my face and combed my hair. What’s worse is that I hadn’t changed before sleeping and I hadn’t changed after waking up. Truly and completely, a mess! Better wash up!
Before I can finish that thought there is a loud beep, beep outside and Moustafa rushes past me all excited and giddy. Baba, Baba he exclaims and I become conscious of the fact that it is almost evening, the husband’s back home. I have barely gotten the food off the stove and I look like trash. I peek into the living room to have proof in hand that I have been busy getting things done and of course it is back to its usual disaster-struck state. The husband strides in with Moustafa in his arms and takes one long look at me, another at the room and then back at me again. He grins, ‘Tough day?’ At least he gets it.


I fix him a plate while he changes and then iron his uniform while he eats. Once he’s done, I take the dishes into the kitchen and pull on those neon gloves again. Hello new best friend, I say to my gloves and the goddess looks sympathetic. It’s laundry next (Bleukh). After putting a load in the laundry, I get back to the ironing and by the time I am done it’s almost dinner time. In the meantime, my kid poops a total of three more times (he has an active digestive system, bless him), is fed forcefully under threats two more times and has thrown five very loud tantrums.


After dinner is eaten and the kitchen is wiped down one final time, I sink into the living room couch. This is the first time I have sat down the entire day. My legs are screaming in pain, I have a family of aches in my back and my shoulders are throbbing. I smell strongly of garlic and faintly of poop. I never got around to washing up and fixing my face and I have lost the energy to even care at this point.


I look at the sea of toys and all things random and extra which have engulfed the living room and think to myself: 1 down, 6 to go. The goddess swoons and falls dramatically off her couch.

 

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07
July

Besides safeguarding maritime interests of Pakistan, Pakistan Navy (PN) has always been at the forefront to conduct Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations overseas to extend support/help to international community. The resolve and commitment of Pakistan Navy was evident at numerous occasions in the past including assistance rendered to Maldives and Indonesia after Tsunami in 2004, rescue of MV Suez Crew from Pirates in 2011 and successful conduct of humanitarian operations to evacuate stranded Pakistanis and foreign nationals at Yemen in 2015. Recent conduct of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in support of flood stricken Sri Lankan populace is also another glorious chapter of the same zeal and commitment of PN.


In the aftermath of severe floods in May 2017 which caused havoc and devastation in Sri Lanka, leaving hundreds dead and millions displaced. Realizing the gravity of the situation and with the objective to help Sri lankan people, Pakistan Navy ship Zulfiquar with embarked helicopter Alouette which was on an overseas deployment to South-East Asia was diverted to Colombo, Sri Lanka, upon the instructions of Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah. While enroute to Sri Lanka, the ship conducted search operations while remaining close to southwestern coast of Sri Lanka in order to ascertain extent of damage and spillover.


The ship carried relief goods, paramedical facilities and medicines. Upon arrival at Colombo Port, Pakistan Navy ship was received by Commander Western Naval Area Sri Lankan Navy Rear Admiral NPS Attygalle, Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan Mr. Janbaz Khan, Defence Advisor of Pakistan Colonel Rajil and other high officials of Sri Lankan Government.

 

frommaritmedom.jpgIn a ceremony, held onboard PNS Zulfiquar the same day, the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan, Dr. Sarfraz Ahmed Khan Sipra and Commanding Officer PNS Zulfiquar Captain Faisal Javed Sheikh handed over the relief goods to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ravi Karunanayake.


On the occasion the Sir Lankan Foreign Minister expressed his gratitude to the people of Pakistan in general and Pakistan Navy in particular for a swift response and providing valued assistance at time of need. The minister acknowledged that Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy long lasting and brotherly relations based on historical ties and Pakistan has always been forthcoming in extending support and assistance in a time of calamity.


Later, on the same day Pakistan Navy teams, in collaboration with Sri Lankan Army, Navy and Local District Administration, started Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Operations and established medical camps at various flood stricken rural areas.


During the 4 days operations, Pakistan Navy Search and Rescue Teams, with required technical equipment reached to the far flung areas of harsh topography, comprising marshes, swamps and unpredictable waterways in severely affected districts of Horna, Malwana, Kalutara and Raxapana to help the flood stricken populace.


Pakistan Navy teams rescued/evacuated a large number of flood stranded population from far flung villages, provided medical treatment and medicines to flood affected families, restored fresh water supply to local population by decontaminating wells, cleared roadways and passages by de-flooding marshy areas and last but not least, also provided edibles, fresh water and dry ration to displaced families, mostly women, kids and the elderly. Pakistan Navy’s ardent and unflinching support immensely helped to restore activities of life amongst the population of far flung villages. Sri Lankan political and military higher echelon acknowledged and highly appreciated Pakistan Navy’s efforts for helping Sri Lankan people in the hour of need at all forums.


Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, expressed that 'prompt and timely help to Sri Lankan people is a display of Pakistan Navy’s unflinching resolve in support of a friendly nation in times of need.'


Naval forces have an inherent capability of flexibility and reach which have been clearly manifested/employed during the HADR operations in Sri Lanka by Pakistan Navy. The current operation signifes the professional acumen and commitment of Pakistan Navy to conduct such a prompt and large scale operation involving diverse technical and professional expertise. Pakistan Navy is resolute in maintaining and delivering on its commitment to the nation and global community for providing any assistance to keep Pakistan’s flag higher. Pakistan Navy ships, flying the green flag around the globe are reflection of national character, resilience and unrelenting commitment to the humanitarian cause.

 

Public Relations Directorate (Pak Navy)
 
07
July

Written By: Maj Wajiha Arshad

Women empowerment is taken in true letter and spirit in Pakistan by enhancing and improving the social, economic, political and legal strengths of the women and to ensure fair opportunities for the women in all walks of life. Ever-increasing responsibilities and lesser opportunities in the past have always been a great challenge for Pakistani women. However, they by now have been successful in reaching almost all professional fields including politics, sports, education sector, police, judiciary, bureaucracy, business, banking, and many others. In addition, women have been actively joining military since the establishment of Pakistan. How can one forget the first lady of Pakistan Begum Ra'ana who took the lead in starting the women’s voluntary service in 1948 to support the medical and logistics for the Pakistan Armed Forces engaged in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1948. Taking the quote of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah sincerely, “No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men,” Pakistan Armed Forces induct women regularly in various branches of the military.

 

thepioners.jpgBeing a proud daughter of this motherland I feel honored to be part of the women who are serving in Pakistan Armed Forces. In 2006, the first women fighter pilots batch joined the combat aerial mission command of PAF. Similarly with the induction of 13 Lady Officers’ courses in Army since 2006, a total of 405 lady officers other than Army Medical Corps are serving in various Arms/Services. In order to train these officers in handling routine office matters and to integrate them in to the overall system of the Field Army, a Junior Staff Course of 6 weeks duration was run from April 17 to May 27, 2017 in Army School of Logistics, Kuldana.


Military training in Pakistan Army inhabits a significant place in the career of an officer. Apart from physical training in order to perform their jobs competently, officers are required to communicate, write, interpret and implement effectively. The personal growth of an officer in the military is second-to-none. This growth is of course magnified depending on the training an officer undergoes before joining and during the service. The institution, Army School of Logistics, holds a rich history of training officers of Pakistan Army. In 1952, Army School of Administration was established at Kuldana. In the seventies, the formation of logistic areas and expansion in the Army underlined the need to impart formalized training to logistics staff in an organized manner. In 1974, Army School of Logistics was established at Abbottabad in addition to the Army School of Administration. In 1976, both the institutions were merged and school was re-designated as Army School of Logistics at Kuldana.


The realization of importance of Junior Staff Course was further enhanced on reaching Kuldana and getting awareness about the course we had to undergo. In 1982, Junior Staff Course was introduced to train Staff Officers. Total 28 courses were organised from 1982-1991 (1675 Officers qualified). And now it has been restarted and is being carried out exclusively for the lady officers. Aspiring to reach the level of the first female Major General, Shahida Malik, the second, Major General Shahida Badshah, and Major General Nigar Johar, the third woman in Pakistan Army to reach the rank of Army two stars, this particular course is taken to be as one of the milestones for the long journey ahead.


The 20 student lady officers who joined this course came from different Arms: the Signals Corps, the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Corps, Psychologists, Army Education Corps, Inter Services Public Relations Directorate, C4I and Judge Advocate General Branch. With this diverse background the officers didn't have much of an idea about the course as it was being commenced for the very first time for lady officers. As per student mindset I took suggestions and guidance from senior officers around, which in addition to help, further supplemented the apprehensions.


Winding roads of Kuldana, warm welcome arranged by the school and seeing old friends after a long time relieved the nerves slightly. I was fascinated after reading that Kuldana means “way or high place” in the vernacular and was also known as “British Infantry Line” in the 19th century. The British carved some essence of England in Murree, making Kuldana their home away from home. There is a long scroll of names of renowned British Regiments that camped here since 1860s. However, once the course kicked off, there was hardly a moment to take our eyes off the books and look around to enjoy the epic beauty of Kuldana as we tried to keep up with the pace of studies.


During the course of six weeks we underwent training related to staff duties, administration in field and military writing. Commandant Army School of Logistics, Brigadier Kashif Zafar and faculty guided the lady officers in a positive way and helped to cultivate a better professional understanding by organizing this course in efficacious manner. The tutorials, individual exercises and exams kept us on toes. On the way back home after long days of studies the scenic beauty of Kuldana had a soothing effect on us. Although on reaching home, we always had a long list of tasks to be done for the next day. The course made me realise how military prepares its officers for multi-tasking, acting under immense pressure and keeping the wits under control with a balanced approach. Besides hectic routine and immense pressure of studies we were able to manage time to keep up with the course.


Faculty of the school extended great support and provided opportunity to the students to visit and interact with staff of field formations and experience the real environment. These visits were even more fruitful for lady officers who seldom get the opportunity to visit formations. Moreover, these visits were educative, productive and informative. The school proudly bearing the hallmark for logisticians has endeavored to impart comprehensive knowledge of tactics and logistics base along with necessary staff work to the student officers. This has helped to improve knowledge of lady officers about the tactical and logistic problems faced in the mountains during both defensive and offensive operations. In pursuance of knowledge, a three day visit to Muzaffarabad was conducted for lady officers.


Once the last week of this course started, the idea of departing from the strong bond developed with coursemates gave jitters. The course ended imparting great knowledge and lovely memories of closing ceremony. All the lady officers successfully qualified the course and proudly received certificates with Major Tahira being awarded the first position. The group studies, late night dinners during exam preparations and joint struggles for staying awake with extra cups of tea and black coffee brought us together as never before. I personally feel honored to be a part of another pioneer course; one was the first ladies batch that passed out from Pakistan Military Academy ten years back in 2007, and, now first Lady Officers Junior Staff Course in 2017.

 

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07
July

Written By: Abdullah Khan

There are many types of Indian intelligence involvement in Pakistan. It has a history of launching dirty games in Pakistan and it brought the worst kind of results in 1971 when East Pakistan defected to become Bangladesh because of India’s intelligence and military involvement. Let’s discuss different types of Indian involvement in Pakistan.


Terror Sponsoring: India has a documented and well-proven history of sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. It supported Mukti Bahini, the rebel militia in East Pakistan and eventually Pakistan was broken into two. Indian government has now officially admitted that it was not only sponsoring Mukti Bahini terrorists but also Indian forces fought alongside Mukti Bahini in the garb of Bengali fighters.1 Pakistan officially accuses India of sponsoring TTP, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and other anti-Pakistan militant groups. Former foreign secretary of Pakistan and Pakistan’s ambassador to U.S. Aizaz Chaudhry2, and many other government officials have publicly accused India of sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan3.

 

theindiandirty.jpgKeeping the deniability factor in play, India has been smartly using Afghan soil against Pakistan.4 Pakistan believes that India spent huge money in Afghanistan’s civil society and academia to tarnish Pakistan’s image despite being host to millions of Afghan refugees. Hostile environment in Afghanistan helps India to use Afghan territory and resources against Pakistan. Nexus between Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Indian intelligence is a well-known fact. Recent surrender of chief spokesman of Jamat-ul-Ahrar and former spokesman of TTP Ahsanullah Ahsan revealed that Afghan NDS at the behest of Indian intelligence provides special cards and permits to anti-Pakistan militants of different groups to move freely in Afghanistan.


Most worrying factor was revealed recently in April 2017 that RAW is also sponsoring Daesh or ISIS. Although Pakistan had strong intelligence inputs that establishment of Daesh sanctuaries along its border in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces were a handiwork of RAW, but an operation by Sindh Rangers in Karachi unearthed dangerous level of involvement by RAW in the country.5 India not only provides funds, logistics and other resources to anti-Pakistan militants but it also provides medical treatment to key militant leaders. Surrendered spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan revealed that Omar Khalid Khorasani was injured in a gun fight and went to India on an Afghan passport for treatment.6 Ajit Doval, the national security advisor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is key man behind the policy of sponsoring terrorist groups. He professes the concept of fighting fire with fire. His infamous lecture of 2014 in which he advocated using militant groups for strategic goals is available on internet (link in the footnote).7 There are worrying signs that Indian intelligence under his supervision is in a process of bringing Daesh in Occupied Kashmir to counter Pakistan’s so-called influence over militant groups and freedom struggle. Recent audio messages by a senior militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Zakir Musa in favor of Daesh can be seen as symptoms of the strategy being pursued. Daesh’s inclusion in Kashmir theater will weaken Pakistan’s influence but it will be catastrophic in future for India itself. Since Ajid Doval became advisor to Prime Minister, this has been seen for the first time that Indian nationals have started taking part in global jihadi movements. Prior to emergence of Daesh there were rare instances where Indian citizens despite being second or third largest population of Muslims in any country were found involved in global Jihad.


Sending Own Agents: India has a history of sending its own agents and officers to carry out subversive activities in Pakistan. Many of them were caught and tried in courts. The latest example is arrest of Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) officer Kulbhushan Jadev who was arrested from Balochistan and was operating from Iran. Few years back an Indian RAW agent Surbajeet Singh died in a Pakistani jail after an attack by other prisoners.8 He was convicted of terrorism charges and was sentenced to death by Pakistani court. Prime Minister Modi’s advisor on National Security, Ajit Kumar Doval spent seven years in Pakistan as undercover agent as a Muslim and he admitted it openly.9 Another Indian agent Kashmir Singh was released by President Pervez Musharraf after 35 years in Pakistan.10 Some Muslim clerics who recently visited Pakistan were also suspected of working for Indian Intelligence.11 Who knows how many are still in the country without any detection.

 

India has a documented and well-proven history of sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. It supported Mukti Bahini, the rebel militia in East Pakistan and eventually Pakistan was broken into two. Indian government has now officially admitted that it was not only sponsoring Mukti Bahini terrorists but also Indian forces fought alongside Mukti Bahini in the garb of Bengali fighters. Pakistan officially accuses India of sponsoring TTP, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and other anti-Pakistan militant groups. Former foreign secretary of Pakistan and currently Pakistan’s ambassador to U.S. Aizaz Chaudhry, and many other government officials have publicly accused India of sponsoring terrorists in Pakistan. Keeping the deniability factor in play, India has been smartly using Afghan soil against Pakistan . Pakistan believes that India spent huge money in Afghanistan’s civil society and academia to tarnish Pakistan’s image despite being host to millions of Afghan refugees.

Political Involvement: India always exploits weak points of Pakistan’s internal politics. It is practically involved in Balochistan to exploit the political rights issue of the Baloch people. As mentioned earlier that it sponsors rebel groups in Balochistan and all their propaganda material is carried without verification in Indian media. One of the major political parties MQM has also been accused of being sponsored by India. RAW allegedly provides training to MQM militants in India. Recently, political leadership of MQM Pakistan distanced itself from its founding leader Altaf Hussain on the charges of his links with Indian intelligence as well as receiving funds from RAW. It also runs training camps for Baloch rebels in Afghanistan. India was also involved in 1960s/1970s in the issue of Pakhtunistan, a proposed separate homeland for Pashtuns. One of the leaders of Pakhtunistan movement, Juma Khan Sufi has recently exposed how India was providing funds and other support for the movement.

India keeps its ties with centrifugal forces in Pakistan especially ethnic political parties. It used its influence to make Kalabagh Dam a controversial issue, which deprived Pakistan of a huge mega energy project. Pakistan is still unable to build Kalabagh Dam because ethnic politicians in KP and Sindh oppose the project publicly while privately they admit that there is no harm to any of the provinces. Pakistan also believes that India is involved in exploiting sectarian fault lines in Pakistani society.


Media Sector Involvement: Indian intelligence is also believed to be involved in exerting its influence in Pakistani media, film industry, showbiz, and other areas. Although Pakistan may not be able to prove Indian involvement in media sector at international level but Indian narrative gets very good coverage in Pakistan.

India has a history of sending its own agents and officers to carry out subversive activities in Pakistan. Many of them were caught and tried in courts. The latest example is arrest of Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) officer Kulbhushan Jadev who was arrested from Balochistan and was operating from Iran. Few years back an Indian RAW agent Surbajeet Singh died in a Pakistani jail after an attack by other prisoners. He was convicted of terrorism charges and was sentenced to death by Pakistani court. Prime Minister Modi’s advisor on National Security, Ajit Kumar Doval spent seven years in Pakistan as undercover agent as a Muslim and he admitted it openly.
Some media networks are accused of having ties with India. Aman Ki Asha project by staunch anti-Pakistan Times of India is also seen as part of Indian efforts to influence Pakistani media for its better public perception. Indian film industry has produced many anti-Pakistan movies in collaboration with their intelligence. Informed circles in Pakistan maintain that Pakistan is under ‘cultural invasion’ from India.12 There is no doubt that Indian film industry has helped India create a soft image of it not just in Pakistan but in other countries as well.

 


Indian intelligence involvement in Pakistan is far cleverer than Pakistan. It seldom leaves footprints and most of the time uses local assets to promote its interests. However, recent arrest of RAW’s officer Kulbhushan and its case now in International Court of Justice may present an opportunity for Pakistan to highlight the issue at international level with facts and proofs.


Matter of fact is that almost every country has some level of intelligence presence in neighboring countries or in countries where there are some national interests involved. However, there is a difference between intelligence presence and meddling in other country’s affairs. Unfortunately, India has used its intelligence to dent Pakistan’s geographical integrity. These are nothing but dirty games which will eventually hurt India itself as ‘what goes around comes around’ and sometimes ‘comes around big time’.

 

The writer is Managing Director Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies. He is an expert on militancy and regional security. twitter

@Abdullahkhan333

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

 

1 "Indian Forces Fought Along Mukti Bahini: Modi". 2017. Thenews.com.pk.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/12923-indian-forces-fought-along-mukti-bahini-modi.
2 Haider, Mateen. 2015. "RAW Involved In Terrorist Activities Across Pakistan: Foreign Secretary". DAWN.COM.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1181908.
3 "India Involved In Terrorist Activities In Pakistan: FO". 2017. Thenews.com.pk.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/186742-India-involved-in-terrorist-activities-in-Pakistan-FO.
4 "Sabena Siddiqui". 2017. Commandeleven. https://www.commandeleven.com/author/sabeenasiddiqui/.
5 "Rangers Unearth Terrorist, RAW, NDS Nexus - The Express Tribune". 2017. The Express Tribune.
https://tribune.com.pk/story/1381325/rangers-arrest-5-raw-affiliated-al-qaeda-terrorists-karachi/.
6 "NDS-RAW Nexus Working To Destabilise Pakistan: Ehsanullah Ehsan". 2017. Pakistantoday.com.pk.
https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/05/13/nds-raw-nexus-working-to-destabilise-pakistan-ehsanullah-ehsan/.
7 Ranjan, Pratyush. 2016. "Who Is India's NSA Ajit Doval And What Is The 'Doval Doctrine'? - News Nation".
http://Www.Newsnation.In. http://www.newsnation.in/article/146274-who-is-indias-nsa-ajit-doval-and-what-is-doval-doctrine.html.
8 Dawn.com, Agencies. 2013. "Sarabjit Dies at Lahore's Jinnah Hospital". DAWN.COM. https://www.dawn.com/news/795055.
9 "Ajit Doval – The Great Indian Spy Who Spent 7 Years in Pakistan as a Muslim". 2015. Zee News.
http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/ajit-doval-the-great-indian-spy-who-spent-7-years-in-pakistan-as-a-muslim_1837959.html.
10 Kashmir Singh released from Lahore jail - Times of India
"Kashmir Singh Released From Lahore Jail - Times Of India". 2017. The Times Of India. Accessed June 6 2017.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kashmir-Singh-released-from-Lahore-jail/articleshow/2834915.cms.
11 "Pakistan Admits Detaining Indian Clerics Over Suspected Movement, India Rubbishes Claims Of 'Unauthorised Visit'". 2017. Firstpost.
http://www.firstpost.com/india/sushma-swaraj-asks-for-update-from-islamabad-on-indian-clerics-missing-in-pakistan-3339390.html.
12 "Invasion Of Pakistani Culture". 2017. Thenews.com.pk.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/48155-invasion-of-pakistani-culture.

 
07
July

Primarily every country has the responsibility of maintaining peace within its geographical boundaries and holds itself accountable to keep the internal security mechanism smooth and effective. Pakistan’s decision to fight the menace of terrorism was extraordinary in nature and vital for regional and world peace. Pakistan has paid a huge price in last sixteen years for peace with an unwavering resolve. Pakistan Armed Forces with full backing of the entire nation offered unparalleled sacrifices and resultantly achieved phenomenal successes against terrorism. This war is yet not over and Pakistan Armed Forces in coordination with other Law Enforcement Agencies are conducting Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad with full gusto. This is our unflinching commitment to rid the country from the barbaric forces of disorder and restore complete normalcy.


Pakistan has also rendered full cooperation to other regional countries in the war against terrorism. Contrary to the spirit, sufficient evidences prove that terrorists use sanctuaries inside Afghanistan to launch/support/coordinate attacks in Pakistan. To address this issue, Pakistan has started to work on comprehensive border security measures along the entire Pak-Afghan international border including fencing; starting from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north and extending the work through Balochistan. It is in the interest of Afghanistan and ‘Resolute Support Mission’ forces operating inside Afghanistan to support such measures. The efficacy of such measures will also end the cross-border infiltration, and hence the ‘blame game’. This proves our sincerity and a pragmatic approach to ensure enduring peace and stability.


Notwithstanding above, the almost routine accusations of Kabul blaming Pakistan for ‘undeclared war of aggression’ do not hold any ground. It has been repeatedly underscored that the situation in Afghanistan results from internal factors and the intertwined security threats have far-reaching implications for regional peace and security. While Pakistan has made unparalleled sacrifices in the war against terrorism, it also has the major stakes in the peace and stability in Afghanistan. COAS in a recent statement said that while counter-terrorism efforts by Pakistan continue, it is time now for the other stakeholders to ‘Do More’. He also said, “We consider Afghanistan as a brotherly neighbor and terrorists are our common enemy. The threat thus requires a trust based coordinated response rather than blame game or unwarranted skirmishes.”


To proceed further on agenda of regional peace and stability, it is essential for Afghanistan and other stakeholders to review the failures and shortcoming in more pragmatic and realistic way. It is rationality and prudence that will serve the peace and not ‘blame game’ or whimsical aggressive posturing. Any action by anyone that undermines our efforts will be highly counter-productive and against the mutual interest of bringing peace and stability in the region. In the global arena, instead of vigorous haughty proclivity, serious efforts for peace and restraint are required to responsibly react to the emerging issues. There is a need to forge a convergence or work plan in coordination with all stakeholders to facilitate the peacemaking efforts instead of further escalating the crisis. In the current scenario, display of prudence, restraint and dialogue has a massive potential to resolve regional and global issues with a collective approach.

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07
July

Written By: Dr. Shahid Mahmud

The amount of data we produce doubles every year. In 2016, we produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind through 2015. Soon, the things around us, possibly even our clothing, also will be connected with the Internet. It is estimated that in 10 years’ time there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on earth. Then, the amount of data will double every 12 hours. Everything will become intelligent; soon we will not only have smart phones, but also smart homes, smart factories and smart cities. We should also expect these developments to result in smart nations and a smarter planet. Digitization of military assets, operations and processes is resulting in huge volumes of data being produced.

Why is This Critical?
To survive and thrive in the coming Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled exponential-disruption, governments must proactively deal with the challenges and opportunities posed by AI. The field of artificial intelligence is making breathtaking advances. In particular, it is contributing to the automation of data analysis. Artificial intelligence is no longer programmed line by line, but is now capable of learning, thereby continuously developing itself. Recently, Google's Deep Mind algorithm taught itself how to win 49 Atari games. Algorithms can now recognize handwritten language and patterns almost as well as humans and even complete some tasks better than them. They are able to describe the contents of photos and videos. Today 70% of all financial transactions are performed by algorithms. News content is, in part, automatically generated. This all has radical economic consequences: in the coming 10 to 20 years around half of today's jobs will be replaced by algorithms. Because of the applications of AI, we are experiencing the greatest transformation since the end of the Second World War; after the automation of production and the creation of self-driving cars, the automation of society is next. With this, society is at the crossroads, which promises tremendous prospects but also considerable risks.

 

aigovernance.jpgModern defence organizations have been striving over the past two decades to achieve Network Centric Warfare (NCW) capabilities to address low intensity conflict, especially in urban environments, so that they can leverage information technology to turn information superiority into a competitive advantage. The information technology required to enable the superiority through NCW cannot be achieved by subsystems or individual systems, but need networked, cooperating and integrated system of systems (SoS). The integrated nature of the SoS, centered on an extensive communications network, facilitates the foundation for complete implementation of NCW.


Often in the past, these organizations pioneered both the development of technology and its application. Such is not the case today. Major advances in Information Technology are being driven primarily by the demands of the commercial sector and such organizations have led the evolution towards adopting a network-centric-approach-agility that has fueled business intelligence efficiently responding to market needs. These disruptive technologies that include big data analytics, artificial intelligence, internet and dedicated cloud infrastructures are defining how governance and operations of SoS is taking place.


Having a closer look at the core disruptors, it is becoming increasing fundamental to highlight the skill set required to adopt these technologies.


Data Deluge
The amount of data we produce doubles every year. In 2016, we produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind through 2015. Soon, the things around us, possibly even our clothing, also will be connected with the Internet. It is estimated that in 10 years’ time there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on earth. Then, the amount of data will double every 12 hours. Everything will become intelligent; soon we will not only have smart phones, but also smart homes, smart factories and smart cities. We should also expect these developments to result in smart nations and a smarter planet. Digitization of military assets, operations and processes is resulting in huge volumes of data being produced. Since 9/11, the amount of data from drones and other surveillance technology has risen 1,600 percent. The U.S. armed forces now have approximately 8 million computing devices – a number that is expected to double by 2020.


IoT Networks
The U.S. military has begun using the latest connected technology to assist soldiers and other military professionals in warfare. In particular, it’s placing a big emphasis on the data. The armed forces are collecting data from a range of different platforms, including aircraft, weapon systems, ground vehicles and troops in the field. Once this information has been created, it’s sent to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. The latter are capable of pinpointing the most critical data for missions. The army is working with a few companies to help it integrate and use IoT solutions in daily operations. Lockheed Martin, for instance, is providing assistance on using machine learning to automate decision-making. This approach is helping the armed forces collect intelligence and identify key threats quicker and with more accuracy.


Advanced armed forces around the world are heading towards more integrated warfare approaches. The U.S. army has already implemented a classified IoT-based communication network line spanning 48,000 miles, which is being used in missile defence and battle coordination scenarios. This war fighting network merges elements of the army’s ballistic missile defence system into one central hub, which can be used to counteract threats all over the world. It takes data from hundreds of sensors, radars and satellites and translates that data into a common language for the missile defence systems to interact and engage the threat.


The AI Challenge
AI presents some alarming governance challenges. The most troubling perhaps has to do with the uncontrolled growth of deep AI or AGI in military robotics – at least 56 countries are currently developing battlefield robots. Gates, Musk, and Hawking are among those who have warned that proper governance must be placed around AI and military robotics integration or face the risk of military AI gone wild with potentially catastrophic consequences for humans. The fact that big data – and AI-centric functions – require exponential growth in data center facilities with significant capital and operational expenses. A significant risk involves computational ethics; an emerging discipline that seeks to provide machines not with “right” or “wrong” choices but with acceptable behavioral parameters within society.


What Should We be Asking Ourselves?
Government executives, military strategists, business community and the civil society have either ignored or taken AI for granted as outlook on these issues has been narrow without much consideration for their competitiveness and the impact on governance. As with other technological developments, the national leadership needs to understand the technical and socio-political landscape, evaluate the vulnerabilities, identify the value-based mechanisms, build national/organizational talent and demonstrate resilience to encourage an appropriate strategy and governance around this new element of national strength.

Capturing data, analyzing, acting and building possible future outcomes is the core function of big data analytics for the military, especially a force involved in counter-terrorism and public safety operations. However, it is of vital importance that the data collection, analytics and future forecasting functions be indigenously developed to safeguard against eavesdropping and intelligence gathering by foreign, non-allied entities. An indigenous data analytics and foresight laboratory is required to ensure independence and safeguarding against meddling from foreign influencers.

Therefore dimensions worth exploring in Pakistan’s context are:
How mature is the country’s use of big data analytics?
How pervasive is the country’s IoT deployment and analytics use?
How developed is the country’s fusion of various, previously disconnected data banks?
How proactive is the intelligence gathering and analysis of the country’s regional competitors, as well as non-traditional influencers using AI?


These three tenets should be closely observed regarding AI for effective governance:
The leadership is proactively engaged in AI strategy formulation, risk identification and oversight.
The leadership is proactively enabling expertise development and engagement of external experts to evaluate the intersection of AI with the defence’s core functions and services.
Functional and operational executives implement AI strategy collaboratively and in an integrated manner, through task forces or committees.


IoT Infrastructure
Designing, procurement and deployment of IoT infrastructure for various military-use-cases including smart metering, immersive virtual simulations for training, battlefield monitoring and awareness, unmanned systems, prevision targeting, flight-control systems, supply chain management, condition based maintenance, energy management, access control, threat detection, tactical communications, surveillance, crowd monitoring, fleet management, telemedicine, etc.


Indigenous Data Analytics and Scenario Building Futures Laboratory
Capturing data, analyzing, acting and building possible future outcomes is the core function of big data analytics for the military, especially a force involved in counter-terrorism and public safety operations. However, it is of vital importance that the data collection, analytics and future forecasting functions be indigenously developed to safeguard against eavesdropping and intelligence gathering by foreign, non-allied entities. An indigenous data analytics and foresight laboratory is required to ensure independence and safeguarding against meddling from foreign influencers.


Combat Cloud
Usually each branch of a defence force has its own infrastructure, both for connectivity and for the back-office systems. Transitioning to a combat cloud infrastructure would offer huge operational advantages, with greater ability to export both data and assets in the field for joint operations. When implemented, a combat cloud would allow information and control to move farther forward when appropriate, providing the operational flexibility to deal with a near peer targeting the national data systems.

 

The latest wave of technology governance focuses on thinking (artificially intelligent) machines that are not subservient to human input only – they can sense and make decisions on their own. AI and machine learning present unique complexities in governance that as a society we largely have not been forced to previously consider.

System Integrator
Defence sector does not inherently have the organic capacity to manage and oversee monumentally complex technology projects without diverting focus from its core functions. This is especially true in case of our regional security situation that is affected by continuous conflict, strategic national projects demanding stability, and a defence sector that is facing both internal and external covert and overt pressures. A responsible agent is needed to drive the technological evolution towards NCW (based on IoT, big data analytics and AI), manage risks across complex projects, ensure common vision, leading to a System of Systems that is greater than constituent parts. Modern defence forces, such as the U.S. military, have employed private contractors as Lead System Integrators (LSIs), to manage the development of selected SoS programs; because they accepted that the military did not have the organic managerial capability to oversee such monumental development tasks.


The New National Security Paradigm
AI is already disrupting traditional industries, e.g., the once ever-expanding Indian IT industry – addressing 15% of India’s annual exports at U.S. Dollars 100 billion – is now undergoing layoffs; cheap outsourced labor that performs routine tasks for North America (63%), the UK (13% ) and for other European countries (11%), is being eclipsed by the demand for artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data analytics, robotic process automation, etc. These technologies require highly advanced skills, and to be competitive the Indian IT firms have to either replace or reskill their workers – both require an AI and big-data ready workforce. This is not only a regional but also a global problem, where there is less need for routine transactional employees.


The defence sector faces a similar challenge, where network centric warfare will depend on Systems of Systems, which will be coordinating and communicating in battlefield scenarios via AI and IoT enabled components. Managing these systems and remaining in control of the battlefield will require field commanders who are well versed with technology and military leaders adept at technology governance. Governments will have to bank on these skills as they too will be drawn to push for higher standards of cost and efficiency management against depleting resources. One innovative approach being utilised by DARPA’s Strategic Capabilities Office looks at how soldiers in battlefield will make strategic and tactical decisions when seemingly infinite informantion will be available to them through connected swarms of sensors; the challenge being to get soldiers as much information as possible, with as much learning applied to it in the simplest and clearest way. Pilot programs in which soldiers are being trained using machine learning based tactical augmented reality computer games are already underway.
Technology governance is not a new notion, we have already gone through various adoption phases of technology governance, starting from the advent of the steam engine, to the availability of wired communication and more recently with computing machines. However, the latest wave of technology governance focuses on thinking (artificially intelligent) machines that are not subservient to human input only – they can sense and make decisions on their own. AI and machine learning present unique complexities in governance that as a society we largely have not been forced to previously consider. Advanced countries are already making significant progress in this regard, with White House Office of Science and Technology Policy having set the foundation for domestic policymaking on issues related to machine intelligence, and the UK Parliament has also released a report on robotics and artificial intelligence policy. This is a new way of informing national security paradigm.

 

Dr. Shahid Mahmud, PhD in Artificial Intelligence is the CEO and Chairman of the Interactive Group of Companies. Has a Masters degree in Defence & Strategic Studies from National Defence University; and did his engineering from NED University. Dr. Mahmud is a Distinguished Eisenhower Fellow 2016

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07
July

Written By: Taj M. Khattak

The influence of SCO in regional and global issues is also increasing slowly but consistently and is expected to grow further as the number of observer countries and dialogue partners increase. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to state that in not too distant a future, SCO has the potential to transition from its current label as a regional ‘hub club’ to a powerful cooperation forum that would deal with security and economic issues on a wider geographical space from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe.

Pakistan recently became a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) after Foreign Affairs' Advisor, Mr. Sartaj Aziz signed a ‘Memorandum of Obligations’ (MoOs) at Heads of State Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan along with Foreign Ministers of six member states: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Except Uzbekistan which was admitted in 2001, the others had been members of SCO since 1996 when it was first formed. Pakistan’s entry into SCO, along with that of India, had been approved in principle by member states last year at Ufa in Russia, subject to procedural formalities but they joined as full members in June 2017.

 

sconewprso.jpgSCO has a robust organizational structure where ‘The Council of Heads of States’ form its top decision making body which meets at SCO’s summit held each year in one of the member states’ capital cities by rotation. The second highest decision making body is ‘The Council of Heads of Governments’ which holds annual summits during which members discuss issues of multilateral cooperation and approve organization’s budget. The global footprint of SCO in terms of human race and economic clout is huge and can be gauged from the fact that between them the eight permanent members of SCO constitute nearly half the world’s population and a quarter of world’s GDP.


Quite appropriately then, SCO has done well to join hands with other international and regional bodies beginning with UNO where it has an observer status in the General Assembly since 2004. Likewise, it has reached out to Commonwealth of Independent States (2005), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (2005), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (2007), the Economic Co-operation Organization (2007), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2011), the Conference of Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (2014) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (2015).


In its observer’s status, Pakistan had been regularly attending SCO’s meeting since 2005 but applied for full membership in 2010, becoming the first country amongst observer members to apply for an elevated status. Both India and Pakistan are expected to speedily complete the remaining process preferably before next year’s planned Summit in Kazakhstan for their integration in the organization’s cooperation mechanism which includes regular meetings between their foreign ministers and heads of the states.


Given the state of Indo-Pak relations, simultaneous membership of SCO by these two countries must have been a difficult proposition but it goes to the credit of member states to pull it off smoothly and successfully. The accession of Pakistan and India to SCO will undoubtedly enhance its relevance both regionally and globally. Iran, which has been attending the SCO’s proceedings as an observer, could be the next country to join SCO as a full member thus adding further to its importance. Iran’s joining of SCO could happen sooner than later in view of its worsening relations with U.S. on the nuclear deal signed during former President Obama’s administration and the political re-alignment in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia.


SCO has an appropriate focus on creating improved security environments for weaker states in the region resulting from potential fallout from further instability in Afghanistan. This has been so right from its inception when in 1996 its members first signed what they called ‘Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions’ followed by another agreement the following year called ‘Reduction of Military Forces in Border Region’. There has, however, been little constructive work on the ground to prepare weaker states of the organization located on southern fringes of two geographically vast and militarily strong countries like Russia and China, to cope with fallout from Afghanistan if it slides into deeper chaos as a result of uncertain and unpredictable actions by U.S. administration – a danger which has increased ever since the incumbent U.S. President assumed power in Washington DC.


Regular summit meetings in the last few years have enhanced SCO’s status as an important and effective multilateral forum where actual issues of international policy, economy, regional security and security come under serious discussion. In contemporary global milieu, these four elements are becoming increasingly crucial to stimulate investment for economic development. Pakistan stands to gain from full membership of SCO as it will provide an opportunity to play its cards better with countries like U.S. and multilateral donors including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank where U.S. wields considerable influence and uses these forums for political gains.


The influence of SCO in regional and global issues is also increasing slowly but consistently and is expected to grow further as the number of observer countries and dialogue partners increase. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to state that in not too distant a future, SCO has the potential to transition from its current label as a regional ‘hub club’ to a powerful co-operation forum that would deal with security and economic issues on a wider geographical space from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe.


The permanent membership status of SCO is also likely to help Pakistan in gaining greater access to resource base and energy projects within the organization’s framework. This could go a long way in shoring up its economic vulnerabilities; strengthen diplomatic standing in its interactions with other countries and overall rendering it less prone to pressure tactics by financially and militarily strong countries.


A pertinent example of such pressure tactics is the Iran-Pak gas pipeline project where Pakistan has been pressurized to shelve the project and opt instead for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from Qatar. The U.S. Agency for International Development USAID had even engaged a consultant to assist Pakistan in reaching an agreement for a commercial deal for LNG supply from Qatar. The double irony is that even such an arrangement could also be severely impacted by ongoing Saudi-Qatar tensions, adding to difficulties in Pakistan’s endeavors to secure dependable energy lifelines so vital for our development.


Pakistan’s membership of SCO will boost several other major projects such as military and technical cooperation with Russia and strategic communication projects with China. Pakistan’s recent offer to SCO members to use Pakistan’s ports once CPEC is completed holds a lot of promise for increased commercial activity in the region and amongst SCO countries through Arabian Sea trade routes. This appears very logical given Pakistan’s focus on a trade strategy of developing linkages with neighbors, leveraging its geographical location and capitalizing on regional connectivity initiatives. Cross-border trade is especially important for land-locked countries to the north of Pakistan. Both SCO countries and Pakistan stand to gain substantially in this matrix through expansion of trade and investment as well as greater integration through road networks, rail, fiber optic cables and energy pipelines which are the hallmark of CPEC project.

 

Pakistan’s membership of SCO will boost several other major projects such as military and technical co-operation with Russia and strategic communication projects with China. Pakistan’s recent offer to SCO members to use Pakistan’s ports once CPEC is completed holds a lot of promise for increased commercial activity in the region and amongst SCO countries through Arabian Sea trade routes. This appears very logical given Pakistan’s focus on a trade strategy of developing linkages with neighbors, leveraging its geographical location and capitalizing on regional connectivity initiatives. Cross-border trade is especially important for land-locked countries to the north of Pakistan. Both SCO countries and Pakistan stand to gain substantially in this matrix through expansion of trade and investment as well as greater integration through road networks, rail, fiber optic cables and energy pipelines which are the hallmark of CPEC project.

As there is more progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Silk Road Economic Belt with Eurasian Economic Union, the role of Pakistan in regional economy and infrastructure projects will increase which in turn will have a positive impact on its standing in the SCO.


In the last two decades, SCO has gradually but steadily consolidated its place as an important international forum which is becoming difficult to ignore in current global politics. This is being acknowledged in Western capital though in the same vein they are also critical of its objectives.


Afghanistan perched on southern flank of two major members of SCO (Russia and China) and from where they perceive a threat of instability, also happens to be Pakistan’s northern flank. There is thus a commonality of interest to join hands in thwarting designs of destabilizing elements and enhancing regional security for benefit of all countries. Pakistan might find that looking at multiple options to deepen economic cooperation through use of SCO forum may well be the best remedy against a continuing threat of terrorism and violence. Pakistan would do well to utilize this platform in areas in which SCO offers the maximum dividend and has the best potential, namely greater connectivity in state-of-the-art communications, international standard rail and road network, and multi-dimensional energy corridors.


While SCO has the potential of mediating and resolving varying problems, we shouldn’t be overzealous in bringing its long outstanding disputes to this forum for resolution as this could retard progress on much needed economic integration and be counter-productive. Besides, ignoring ‘development-centric’ core interests of other member states could adversely affect the growth of SCO and reduce its relevance regionally and internationally, as indeed has happened in the case of SAARC, albeit due to an entirely different set of reasons.

 

The writer is a retired Vice Admiral of Pakistan Navy.

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07
July

Written By: Lt Gen Tariq Waseem (R)

We were staring into the impossibility of delivering to expectations, when the military’s espirit de corps intervened. From the General Headquarters to PMA Kakul to institutions and units in Abbottabad, all embraced our desires as their own, lending enthusiasm and cooperation that was unprecedented and spontaneous. One motivation guided them all – “we do not forget our veterans and we will do all we can to make the bonds that keep us together even stronger”. One event, one celebration, one day that epitomizes the collective responsibility of the military family to its enduring ethos of togetherness!

What is it that binds people together, year after year after year? A shared destiny, belief in a common cause, a unifying culture, cherished memories, and the strength that comes from an abiding relationship. This is the sum of a military professional’s espirit de corps, at the heart of the camaraderie that marks its members as part of a unique enterprise. Military men join up as strangers, arriving from disparate backgrounds and from all corners of the land. They begin to live together through all the vagaries that the demands of their solemn oath places upon them. They share great moments, reveling in each other’s joys and achievements, providing strength in their sorrows, and building around them a vast family that becomes a ‘band of brothers’ knitted together by collective experiences. When the time comes to bid farewell they merely fade away, but they can never leave. We are all soldiers for life!

 

soldierforlife.jpgRecently, I had the tremendous good fortune to witness all of this in person. The occasion was the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of 40th PMA Long Course held at Abbottabad from 5-7 May 2017. I led a three-man organizing committee tasked to arrange a gathering to celebrate the day we joined the Pakistan Army. It started off as an exploratory venture, but as time wore on it took a life of its own, drawing in some three hundred people across four generations and three continents, from age 87 years to six months old! Our ambitions for the event were propelled by the excitement that it generated amongst old friends, who not only wished to reconnect at the place of their first meeting but wanted their memories to be passed on to the following generations. As the magnitude of the task grew, so did the logistics of it. We were staring into the impossibility of delivering to expectations, when the military’s espirit de corps intervened. From the General Headquarters to PMA Kakul to institutions and units in Abbottabad, all embraced our desires as their own, lending enthusiasm and cooperation that was unprecedented and spontaneous. One motivation guided them all – “we do not forget our veterans and we will do all we can to make the bonds that keep us together even stronger”. One event, one celebration, one day that epitomizes the collective responsibility of the military family to its enduring ethos of togetherness!


The veterans of 40th PMA Long Course (May 7, 1967 - April 19, 1969) arrived at PMA, Kakul at 0930 hours on May 6, 2017 to commemorate the completion of exactly 50 years since they first entered these very same gates! A galaxy of 276 guests – the founding Term Commander, Platoon Commanders, Gentlemen Cadets, wives, children and grandchildren – were warmly welcomed behind the Main Mess, on the steps to the Rafiullah Drill Square (RDS). Out of 167 course-mates (including Naval Cadets) that formed the original batch, 126 are alive, of whom 65 attended this memorable occasion along with their families. There was an air of excitement as friends reconnected under a magical, nostalgic spell – embracing and hugging and patting each other amidst shouts of joy! The backdrop of the Main Mess served as the ideal platform to preserve the memory of this ‘Grand Gathering’ in group photographs with and without the families.

Finally, with heavy hearts and tearful eyes and leaden feet, this great family of friends took leave of each other, locking themselves in one last tight embrace, not wanting to let go. Then, they sauntered off into the distance, looking back and exchanging furtive glances, not knowing what lay in the future for them.

As the trumpets rang out, the PMA Drill Staff swung into action. The coursemates were mustered for the traditional ‘Parade’, organized into their original five platoons led by their respective SUOs (in our time 1st Pakistan Battalion comprised of five companies: Khalid, Tariq, Qasim, Salah-Ud-Din and Aurangzeb). They were then put through their paces, under the watchful eyes of the Adjutant as he sat astride his magnificent charger, and paraded around the RDS with long-forgotten skills. The Drill Subedar Major censured Tariq Platoon (the Champion in 1969) for their “poor drill”, to the amusement of the spectators and the other platoons! The families looked on from the enclosures, with rapt attention and curiosity, taking pictures and making videos. These retired and aging officers, once again perked up and became young cadets, as they proudly tried to recapture the glorious moments from the past.

soldierforlife1.jpgThe PMA Band played the same old tunes, as these “officers-turned-cadets” slow-marched up the stairs to the lilting strains of “Al Wida” in a re-enactment of their passing-out, to disappear once again into the Main Mess. Their families followed them and joined them for some well-earned ‘Hi-Tea’ and refreshments. The guests mingled around as they exchanged more memories, accomplishments and pleasantries with each other, introducing families and creating new friendships.


The guests were then divided into two groups and they embarked upon a ‘Tour of PMA’. The voyage through PMA, in fact, proved exciting as well as wistful. It was meant to be a drive-through the now massive PMA complex, but everybody demanded stops along the way to dismount from the buses to experience first-hand their respective Company Lines, the rooms they lived in, the many venues of their ‘ragging’, the Mile Track, Horse and Saddle Club, Visitors’ Centre, Museum etc. They cherished the places of their own time and admired the new structures. The officers and their families were especially mesmerized to find the original data of their time in the PMA Museum in the form of Long Roll, Rising Crescent, individual, group and company photos, the Honour Boards, memorabilia from their past, etc. In fact, the Museum took them back to their own time within a compact capsule.


The guests then arrived for the ‘Formal Commemoration Lunch’ at the imposing 3rd Pakistan Battalion Mess and relished the full-service meal, experiencing once again the formality and dignity of dining at the PMA, with its unique cooking aroma and the enthralling ambiance of their Alma Mater. During the lunch, a pictorial slideshow of their time, with the music of their own Passing Out Parade playing in the background, was projected on screens around the hall. Then, as the Course Senior, I rose up and led a silent prayer to honour the Shuhada and to remember the departed colleagues of the Course. In my address to the assembled guests, Ireminisced with the help of photographs and montages, sharing many interesting incidents from our training. I emphasized the value of this event, as a continuation of military traditions designed to foster ever greater cohesion. On behalf of the Course, I thanked Maj Gen Abdullah Dogar, Commandant PMA, and his team for extending extraordinary support to enable such an unprecedented celebration of our Golden Jubilee. Special thanks were extended to Lt Col Taimur, CO 3rd Pakistan Battalion; Maj Usman Sarwar, the Coordinating Officer; and Maj Sarfraz Ahmed, Exo Museum for their hardwork and cooperation. A standing ovation was given to two coursemates, Brig Ijaz Rasool (Retd) and Col Tahir Mumtaz (Retd), for their tireless efforts in organizing this memorable event on such an unprecedented scale. ‘Souvenirs’ were then presented by an eminent selection of Platoon Commanders, senior members and the Company SUOs to the many local institutions and units – the Baloch, Frontier Force and AMC Regimental Centres, the ASPT & MW, the MES, FWO, Topo Survey Unit, and Station Headquarters – who contributed most enthusiastically in hosting the event.


Finally, the founding Term Commander of 40th PMA Brig Azam Mirza (Retd), was invited to join me in unveiling the ‘Course Gift’ to PMA Kakul: a magnificent trophy representing the“Battle Standards of the Warriors of Islam”, a truly inspirational memento that we hope will serve as a lasting beacon for the gentlemen cadets.


The majestic ceremony came to an end around 1600 hours, with the Band playing familiar tunes as the Course departed the PMA grounds carrying with them unforgettable memories – from the past and the present.


This was not the end of the celebrations, however.
The guests reassembled at the Baloch Regimental Centre for ‘Dinner and Musical Evening’, which turned into a night of songs, dances, gaiety and fun. There was an air of informality and vitality as the families arrived at the beautifully decorated lawns overlooking the lights of Abbottabad. This was a moment for photographs and much laughter, before everyone settled down to hear Brig Ijaz Rasool (Retd) describe the year-long journey towards holding the Golden Jubilee. There were interesting facts and data, from ISSB selections to a full count of what and where each of our colleagues became, to details on attendance and financial stock-taking. The wives of our departed colleagues and of the organisers were then invited to cut the ‘Jubilee Cake’, crafted in the colours of PMA and the five companies of 1st Pak Battalion. A lavish sit-down dinner followed, served to the accompaniment of live music. Well satiated, the families joined together as they were regaled by the melodious voice of ‘Bulbul-e-Hazara’. The course mates became young again as they swayed to the rhythm of the songs, interspersed with the recounting of some light moments from the past by Brig Javed Aziz (Retd). The night wore on and not a single person was spared from taking the floor and moving to the tunes! There was much more fun in stock, but a wild storm and rain put a halt to the festivities around midnight. One surprise awaited the families as they exited the venue, however: individually packed and labelled ‘Gift Bags’ filled with especially prepared mementoes for each and every one – cadets, wives, children and grandchildren – all 276 of them!


The next day, before the Course departed for their homes, there was one last activity still waiting for them – a casual outing to the Piffers’ Golf Club for ‘Brunch and Picnic’, with games played out by all ages! The venue was exquisitely set up by the hosts amidst lush green lawns and towering maple trees in the backdrop of the Abbottabad hills. Stalls were set up with snacks and balloon-shooting and other games of skill for the children. The wives contested keenly at putting a golf ball; the girls ran the spoon and potato race; the boys, the wheelbarrow race. There were other events like thread-and-needle, sack, and three-legged races amidst a constant clamour to claim more than 40 prizes on offer! The men re-paired to one corner where a general body meeting of the ‘Fortieth Forte Association’ finalized course matters and lauded the contributions of past office bearers, Brig Tariq Mohar (Retd) and Mr. Osama Tariq to keep the fraternity together. Regret was expressed at the negative attitude of Bangladesh government in not allowing some of our desirous Bengali course mates from participating. Finally, it was unanimously agreed to begin the process of compiling a Memory Book for publication by April 19, 2019 to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Passing Out. With everyone tired from the activities all around, they now turned their attention to the sumptuous brunch, accompanied by more friendly banter and some much needed relaxing in the sun. As the hour of departure came nearer there was a last round of photographs, and vows all around to carry the flame of this 50 years bond of comradeship forward, into the next generation.


Finally, with heavy hearts and tearful eyes and leaden feet, this great family of friends took leave of each other, locking themselves in one last tight embrace, not wanting to let go. Then, they sauntered off into the distance, looking back and exchanging furtive glances, not knowing what lay in the future for them. Rumi had said: “This moment is all that there is. But, do not grieve. The moments you lose come around as memories that are forever.” The family of 40th PMA Long Course had lived their moments joyously, transforming them into priceless vignettes, reflected in everlasting memories. ‘Fortieth Forte Forever’!


On my return from the event, I wrote a letter of thanks on behalf of the Course to General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff. I said to the Chief: “We were blessed to have had these dedicated and committed institutions, as well as individuals with an abiding sense of personal devotion, working tirelessly to honour us and our memories. It was most humbling for us to receive such respect and attention, many years after we last wore our uniforms. Each and every one of us came away with renewed pride in our glorious heritage of camaraderie and espirit de corps, and in this great brotherhood and profession that will never cease to be a part of us. We wish to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to all under your command for living up to the oldest and grandest of all military traditions: that we are one family – never forgotten, never separated, never retired.”


We are sure that those who follow us will continue to receive the Chief’s encouragement and the military’s institutional patronage. Fostering cohesion and developing a spirit of comradeship lies at the foundation of our profession, sustaining and nurturing its growth. Our prayers for the glory, strength, and well-being of the Pakistan Army!

 

Lt Gen Tariq Waseem Ghazi (Retired) was commissioned in the Baloch Regiment and served the Pakistan Army for 38 years. He has been a UN Chief Military Observer, Commander of a Corps, and Commandant of both Command & Staff College, Quetta and National Defence College, Islamabad (now university, NDU). He has also served as the country’s Secretary of Defence from 2005-2007.

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07
July

Written By: Amir Atta

This is an exciting time as we are only on the cusp of what’s to come with artificial intelligence. The next decade is set to show off the biggest change in man’s way of life since the beginning of the industrial era.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dominating the headlines these days with promises of automation and virtual assistants. However, its applications in real life aren’t limited to these and are almost endless. Advancements in the field are helping solve some of the world’s biggest problems faced today.

 

appofai.jpgStill in its infant stages, AI is making machines smarter and human lives easier. Without a doubt, the future will be powered by AI and self-aware systems. Present technology can’t necessarily be called true AI, but the algorithms behind it certainly are capable of recognizing and responding to pre-defined tasks.


Despite its rapid growth, most of us are unaware of what AI is being used for today. Business, apps, smartphones, hospitals, defense, cars; everything is already moving towards automation through AI. While there’s a whole lot that true AI will be able to achieve in the future, for now let’s talk about the present day AI and some of its applications in different fields of life.

 

Smartphones and Gadgets
Perhaps the most popular implementation of AI can be seen in smartphones and gadgets. Powered by Android, iOS or even Windows, gadgets come with built-in virtual assistants. Even handwriting recognition, voice recognition and facial recognition are examples of artificial intelligence.


appofai1.jpgWhether it’s Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa, all of these virtual assistants power billions of devices allowing users to automate tasks and perform common tasks without having to lift a finger.


These days, voice recognition and smart devices have reached such a level that companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are offering standalone devices which can do anything from turning on the lights to ordering a pizza before you can say “I am hungry”.


However, there’s more to AI in smart devices than just personal assistants. Google’s Deepmind AI is basically used in all of its products ranging from search to the Photos app. Learning from all of its users and using advanced algorithms, it can identify images and make predictions like a human mind. Similarly, Facebook and Microsoft are using their own AI engines to power their products. It is indeed the contextual implementation of AI which makes it more useful and smarter in such devices.


Self-Driving Cars
Advancements in AI have enabled the automotive industry to finally innovate passenger vehicles. Evolution towards self-driving cars is at hand as more than 30 companies are utilizing AI or planning to incorporate it in either their current products or upcoming ones to move towards the creation of driverless cars. Few notable ones include Tesla, Google, BMW, Audi, Apple and Toyota. These cars, when commercially available, will be able to drive from one location to another without a driver.

appofai2.jpg
Modern cars already have AI-based assist features like parking assist, advanced cruise control and lane change assistance. In the future, fully autonomous cars will make journeys safer, reliable and more comfortable for the passengers.


Self driving cars are said to reduce car accidents by a massive 90%. AI powered traffic management systems will also be upgraded to reduce wait times and emissions by up to 26% and 75% respectively.
Such cars are already being tested and could go mainstream within the next few years.


Defence
International armies and military research institutions are also trying to implement AI in weapon systems. Some are already calling AI as the new arms race and a weapon that’s deadlier than nuclear weapons.

 

appofai3.jpgModern defence weapons can take decisions in split seconds when acquiring targets, hundreds of times faster than what a human could achieve.


Similarly, offensive weapons like targeting systems and missiles are also being upgraded to use AI in order to hit targets with a higher accuracy. Russia, China and the U.S. are leading the use of AI in military applications.


Robot weapons (like the popular movie, Terminator) are also being developed to replace the common soldier. On the other hand, soldiers are being upgraded with weapons which can automatically fire when a target is locked.


The aviation sector as well has seen major improvements, thanks to AI. Use of the technology in simulators is useful to train pilots in air warfare. Computers are capable of coming up with success scenarios and strategies in critical situations based on placement, speed, size and strengths at hand and the counter force capabilities. Soon, pilots may be assisted by AI during combat as it could determine the best manoeuvres and support in their actual implementation.

 

International armies and military research institutions are also trying to implement AI in weapon systems. Some are already calling AI as the new arms race and a weapon that’s deadlier than nuclear weapons. Modern defence weapons can take decisions in split seconds when acquiring targets, hundreds of times faster than what a human could achieve.

AI powered drones are already under development which can take out submarines or hit targets from the air.


Even though the use of AI in military matters has remained under the radar so far, governments and the private sector are spending more on military uses of AI than the rest of the fields combined.


Enterprises
Enterprises and non-profits are using the power of artificial intelligence to tackle major social, political, and financial issues.


Machine learning, the statistical arm of AI, is an expert system which makes use of data to predict and streamline outcomes. Tools developed by businesses to make use of AI are meant to empower implementation and decision making.


Where AI really shines is finding and answering the ‘Why’ questions. For example, why a certain component fails one percent of the time and, why a certain number of customers popup at a certain time of the year?


This is all answered with machine learning which is helping enterprises and even the Fortune 500 to grow even further.


AI could soon be used to prevent frauds, corruption and make credit decisions. Organisations can better understand their clients with knowledge based AI systems.


Health and Medicine
Artificial Intelligence is making its way into the healthcare sector by assisting doctors and researchers. AI in healthcare is expected to grow at a rate of 40% until 2021 to reach the $6.6 billion mark.


According to Bloomberg, Microsoft has developed an AI – named Hanover – which helps doctors identify treatments for cancer. There are over 800 medicines and vaccines to treat the deadly disease which makes picking the right ones more difficult.


CNN has reported that a recent study by surgeons at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington successfully demonstrated a surgery with an autonomous robot.


AI is also being utilised for drug creation, elderly assistance, treatment plan designing, heart analysis and computer aided interpretation of medical results. The technology can deduce facts which are often missed by the naked eye.


Several Other Uses
As mentioned before, uses of AI are limitless and it can be utilised in almost every common or uncommon task.


Robots have always fascinated everyone but until now these have been limited to un-intelligent tasks. With AI, that could change, robots could work where humans can’t, help save costs and perform more reliably.


Popular music and video streaming platforms like, Spotify and Netflix, also make use of AI to predict what a user would want to watch or listen based on their previous usage and the type of content.


Privacy, security and wildlife preservation could also see a major boost as AI becomes more self-aware. Education sector is expected to improve as well with robot readers and exam checkers, allowing for more precision and impartiality in results.


News and online publishing could soon be replaced by AI powered writers. It is possible that five years from now, you could be reading an article like this written by an AI bot. For the publishers, AI could help boost readership with intelligent traffic management.


Other fields which are seeing AI implementations are toys, video games, marketing sector, customer support and artificial development of hardware and software.


Conclusion
Even though people have been under the assumption that AI simply means intelligent machines which can act on their own, the reality is quite different. AI’s independence depends on its implementation. Machine learning is a part of AI which can learn from data and make deductions not seen by humans. In simpler words, for the first time AI-powered machines could teach humans and help in making new discoveries.


This is an exciting time as we are only on the cusp of what’s to come with artificial intelligence. The next decade is set to show off the biggest change in man’s way of life since the beginning of the industrial era.

 

The writer is a Data Network expert.

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07
July

Written By: Puruesh Chaudhary

According to recent statistics released for the months of December 2016 to June 2017 on social media usage; 2 billion on Facebook, 1.5 billion on Youtube, 700 million on Instagram, 328 million on Twitter, 1.2 billion on Whatsapp, 255 million on Snapchat, 1.2 billion on Facebook Messenger, 889 million on Wechat – the intensity of data generated just across these platforms should be revealing in itself. The more the data, the more the learning, consequently leading to an enhanced crystallization of a much sophisticated processes of ‘artificial minds’ (coined by Don Franceschetti) cognizant by algorithmic sequencing.

Philosophers, military strategists, mathematicians and scientists have their own unique way of thinking, reasoning and inferring. It’s when that is applied in times of peace and war, it shapes our understanding of events and personalities. From a thinker that delivers a concept to a messenger that delivers information is crucial to the process of developing this understanding – ‘Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding’ according to Albert Einstein. Yet Aristotle says: ‘We make war that we may live in Peace’. And as Napoleon Bonaparte puts it as, ‘Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake’. But should our thinking be guided by what Plato believed in i.e., ‘Only the dead have seen the end of War'. So, technically those left behind, do what? suffer or celebrate – the irony here is that with the proliferation of information communication technologies much of the time even the content creators are confused as to whom the actual quote is attributed to. Nowadays even labelled as fake news appear tantamount to it being a threat to national security. This is happening on digital platforms. Meanwhile, what also is available on these platforms, on trustworthiness that is; indeed, Allah orders you to render the trusts to their owners, and when you judge between people; to judge with justice. Indeed, Allah advises you with it. Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing [An Nisa 4:58]. Further expanding on this according to Saheeh Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) says that, The signs of the hypocrite are three; when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise and when he is entrusted he betrays the trust. There's a greater probability to integrate the known human ethics and morals in to Artificial Intelligence. To shepherd this interaction between man and machine – Transhumanism, an international intellectual and cultural movement is supporting the use of science and technology that enhances human capacities in both physical and mental spheres. A not-for-profit organization based out of Los Angeles United States, Humanity advocates the ethical use of such advanced technology. Transhuman means beyond human. Yuval Harari, an Israeli Historian in his book Homo Deus: A brief History of Tomorrow also investigates what may seem to be far future the transition from humanism. The Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and Editor for the Journal of Evolution and Technology explores the Compatibility of Religious and Transhumanist views of Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendence in an Enhanced Future in which he advocates for ‘trans-spirituality’ what also appears to be significant is the membership survey conducted by the World Transhumanist Association in 2004-05 which found that at least one quarter of its overall 1100 respondents were religious in some sense, whereby 1% described their religious and spiritual views of that of a Muslim.

 

al_war_and_peace.jpg‘Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare’ research paper published earlier this year by the Chatham House charts out the complexities around incorporation of AI both in the commercial sector as well as in the military industry. The framework provided therefore considers the role of human intervention as the level of uncertainty increases at a much advanced stage. The autonomous system doesn’t necessarily rule out the power of human cognition. Information and communication sector remains one of the critical vertical in the development of an autonomous system; a sector which received more research and development funds globally than any other industry. In 2015, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking both signatory to an open letter called for ban on autonomous weapons. But why? Could it be possible that AI is potentially being positioned as an instrument of deterrence just as the nuclear programme was over the last couple decades or is this just absurd. How can or will the augmented and virtual reality build toward a scenario causing serious threat to human security? Will the gaming industry contribute to such a scenario or will it remain purely for entertainment purposes? Is singularity in 2045 just a myth? The cognitive dimensions of warfare in the 21st century have clearly not made the discourse in this part of the world. This new reality also caters to taking down an entire nation’s power grid, to investment in nuclear capabilities in outer space.


The combination of war and technology is both damaging and catastrophic.
Yet historically the world has witnessed how the meanings around the nature of war has evolved. A computer-enabled programme capable of killing humans based on mechanically generated algorithm is quite a dystopian future. In which case very little work has been produced on healing human suffering. But as innovation progresses; it is quite evident that weaponisation of Artificial Intelligence is plausible and therefore is the future of armed forces around the world.


However in this world reality, the experience will be Realtime.
If we let that sink in; we would realize that the change has already happened. The failure to recognize will only leave us in shock and awe – in a constant state of bewilderment. But maybe this is what we want. There’s solace. Ignorance is not only a bliss but partially also an exit strategy, an exit from assumed responsibilities. However, big data challenges the very core of our current state of understanding which structure our thoughts. What will accelerate this challenge is machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. It is when the technology begins to make better sense than an ordinary person; is when that person can theoretically carve out newer opportunities depending on which side of the paradigm they exist – the space for a creationist is already very limited and deeply competitive in this industry. The human mind has the capacity to reflect and unreflect. According to recent statistics released for the months of December 2016 to June 2017 on social media usage; 2 billion on Facebook, 1.5 billion on Youtube, 700 million on Instagram, 328 million on Twitter, 1.2 billion on Whatsapp, 255 million on Snapchat, 1.2 billion on Facebook Messenger, 889 million on Wechat – the intensity of data generated just across these platforms should be revealing in itself. The more the data, the more the learning, consequently leading to an enhanced crystallization of a much sophisticated processes of ‘artificial minds’ (coined by Don Franceschetti) cognizant by algorithmic sequencing.


It's all about who has the algorithm to crack a problem statement and the strength of the method which can truly be used for goodness.


In 1956 Dartmouth Conference, John McCarthy gave AI its name; who also happened to be one of the founding fathers of Artificial Intelligence. The Internet Society classifies AI as an internet enabled technology. Thereby meaning to say that this isn’t something new. What will be new is our comprehension of what this means to the wellbeing of the people of Pakistan. The social implications which would require aggressive legislative actions.


So what do we know so far?
Intelligence is when you can solve a problem; sequence decisions, plans and actions. Governance although vast in its arrangement; yet it is pretty much at the heart of national security; if the institutions assuming peoples’ responsibility and their accountability are devoid of any philosophical considerations of AI, it is a threat to state stability. Started back in the 1950s; AI System can now learn, have vision, recognize speech, can plan and reason too; to some degree. The margin of error reduces everyday. The pace of improvement although not radical but is very real. AI Research continues to address two essential factors; knowledge representation and inference – learning and reasoning at the core integrating the system. The contextual knowledge base in Pakistan is incredibly weak. And it stems from even weaker comprehension of data science. And this should be frightening for the policymakers, strategists, academics, responsibility-based activists. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on.


There is.
In terms of how future-oriented Pakistan has been over the last 15 years in terms of our search patterns in the context of artificial intelligence, Google trends provide a unique insight as they indicate high degree of attention between the years 2004-05 which has reasonably declined over the years and currently is moderately silent compared to otherwise the sort of investment going in to development of AI Systems across the world. However, in the same context Defense of the Ancients also known as DotA is one that trends also; a highly competitive online strategy video game originating from a subgenre of realtime strategy.


The central question therefore is; what is our collective capability?
In Pakistan’s case the first five decades were relatively over ‘territorial wars’ or for a better word ‘conflict’; the next two were about ‘war on terror’ which in some ways was managed by the drone technology – and for a battle hardened army this should instil a thought over what will the next hundred look like. If it's any consolation the one thing we know for a fact that it is being called ‘cyberwarfare’. NATO in 2016 recognized cyberspace as an ‘operational domain’; all possible conflicts in the foreseeable future now have a cyber dimension.


There’s land, sea and air. But now there is space, cyberspace and headspace, too – Mark Sedwill UK National Security Advisor at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference 2017.


If ‘headspace’ is the sixth dimensional operation; how will the security and safety doctrines incorporate this domain? And have the rules of the game established?


What has changed in the last 20 years – there has been a surge of global data footprint in the digital, physical and biological sphere and much of it is already public; for this question to even occur at this point in time – and that too in this particular case is because there are two choices here: a) someone other than Pakistan does this for her; b) Pakistan does this for herself in her own way. In either circumstance it will be national security choice.


Sure; it’s a different choice. But not so unique when it comes to the history of choices Pakistan has made. The country needs to work towards becoming anti-fragile; more self aware as a society so it does not cascade into an imminent failure. More than 95% Muslims, 40% Punjabis, 15% Pashtuns, 14% Sindhi, 8% Saraiki, 7% Muhajir, 3% Baloch with over 60 languages – Linguistic education is an imperative; both from the perspective of its socio-cultural development, function and structure. This is the real AI opportunity. There’s data in everything. It's in abundance. The ability for the state apparatus to equip itself to understand and recognize the immense responsibility it has to be able to become substantively responsive is not utopian – it is something that needed to happen, like yesterday. And this is where it must garner all necessary support, this it can’t do alone effectiveness of which is in public space. Narrow in on the disparities. The automated systems have the potential of harnessing massive amount of data creating valuable insight as a way of overcoming dull challenges of the society which otherwise remains quite low on political agenda. On this account, the learnable evolution model helps.


Experience at the heart of Artificial Intelligence.Identifying anomalous behaviours as an indication of policy reflection. 

“Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle
Khuda bande se khud pooche bata teri raza kya hai ” – Dr. Muhammad Iqbal
Develop the self-ego so that before every decree
God will ascertain from you: "What is your wish?"
Is it thus possible that people of Pakistan struggle less to overcome the most mundane issues? Yes.
So can AI System anticipate and respond to Pakistan’s future challenges? Yes. But internet governance is the need of the day.


If the current state of understanding today is Artificial Intelligence, this is not the way of augmenting the future thinking; then it is not too early to assume that we are simply unprepared and ill-equipped for what lies ahead. An intelligent agent is no longer contained in a human body; rather it could simultaneously exist in a human-like form free from any suffering. And if we think that a basic calculator, Google search engine, Microsoft Office enhances our abilities to do, get more done, be more efficient – imagine what an AI System would mean for creating public goods. Deep sense of psychology and human behaviours that organizes mental structures, information processing, decision-making, experience, cognition are the underpinnings of the building blocks of mind, thought and imaginations – these are key features of strengthening AI systems.

Intelligence is when you can solve a problem; sequence decisions, plans and actions. Governance although vast in its arrangement; yet it is pretty much at the heart of national security; if the institutions assuming peoples’ responsibility and their accountability are devoid of any philosophical considerations of AI is a threat to state stability.

Pursuing work at the Foresight Lab, I was asked this question by an AI Professor ‘Which philosophy determines your way of Futures Research’? – never have I felt so deeply challenged and yet so liberated. AI can solve problems – what is truly spectacular is when we start to comprehend and pivot at the philosophy which will determine how it is enabled to shape a human-centric reality in a country of over 200 million. The phenomenological conversations, the extended meanings, interpretation of metaphors and analogy are therefore fundamental in determining the foresight of AI applications and services in times of peace and war. As the investment in AI is increasing; so is the gathering of big data and growth of internet of things – this is creating an enabling environment for AI-based services to expand in the public space. Traditionally, cataloguing power across master, warriors and workers was the way of thinking, this approach has been archaic for quite sometime; the process of algorithmic decision-making system disrupts the tradition as a whole. And it's happening now. For those who believe, especially the political set-up that the right to information is something significant, little would they have to wait for when this right transitions on to open data. It’s not how, it’s a matter of when it’s right to open data.


When ideas are arranged, thinking becomes an activity driven by interactions – the mind that generates these interactions are often rooted in human connection in the physical domain this being captured by machine learning which provides the logic of sensing and interpretation; for the intelligent agent then classifying it beyond the physical nature aspiring to gravitate towards the cornerstone of metaphysical realities is a real challenge. Hence, philosophy of religion becomes an extremely necessary element in demonstrating AI capabilities. The blend of this and linguistic authority gives the Pakistani society the strength required to navigate in a possible dystopian future. With a critical discernment of identifying forward and reversed metaphors embedded in the socio-cultural dynamics of Pakistan. A construct which is weaved in to a sense of purpose for greater good. However the conceptual formation around Artificial Intelligence needs to be one which is organic. This can happen when knowledge on Pakistan and its people is integrated, machine learning and artificial intelligence can gainfully connect those dots.

What has changed in the last 20 years – there has been a surge of global data footprint in the digital, physical and biological sphere and much of is already public; for this question to even occur at this point in time – and that too in this particular case is because there are two choices here: a) someone other than Pakistan does this for her; b) Pakistan does this for herself in her own way. In either circumstance it will be national security choice.

Coherency in thoughts and matter empowering the people to make wiser choices will transform the existing paradigm which in itself today is primitive and self-defeating. Bridging the perception gap between aspirations and realities of the young Pakistanis will transform this paradigm. Should Pakistan survive on narrow, general or super AI? This should be the starting point for Pakistan in the era of AI (R) evolution. But here’s a caveat, the Chinese philosophy Tianxia accommodates the Belt & Road Initiative; while by 2075 Islam will be the World’s largest religion as projected by the Pew Research Center – how Pakistan positions itself will be critical in defining the future of everything to happen in and to the country. What informs this understanding about these foresight dynamics is the philosophy of big data; just as Ibn Khaldun, the greatest philosopher of his time described the evolution of societies and gave meaning to institutions. AI in whichever shape, size or form needs to lift people up, not create an environment that leads to an onslaught of vulnerabilities. If Pakistan needs to win some serious space, it can’t do so with an approach which is severely entrenched in the acts of imbalance.


The national security as we know today is going to be significantly different in 2100.
“God! Grant me knowledge of the ultimate nature of things” – Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)


Hence the final question; should there be a Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence in Pakistan when all the philosophies and logics in the world fail a grieving mother?
A brief response: Yes.

 

The writer is Futures Researcher and Strategic Narrative Professional, Founder and President of a think tank AGAHI.

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

Twitter: @puruesh

 
07
July

Written By: Rear Admiral Pervaiz Asghar (R)

Sea trade has been universally recognized as the principal driver of the global economy. It was however in the Indian Ocean that coastal trade as well as trans-oceanic passages are believed to have originated. This ocean is also unique in the sense that its wide expanse is enclosed on three sides by land, while the southern perimeter is hemmed in by the forces of nature, and indeed during most of its history, ships rarely ventured beyond the Tropic of Capricorn. On closer inspection, one can discern a number of seas and channels on its periphery, which enabled early traders like the Greeks, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Indians and even the Chinese to move freely around, and even beyond the ocean, spreading and assimilating cultural and religious influences.


The Chinese Admiral Zheng He was arguably the first outside power to venture into the Indian Ocean, with his massive fleet touching all the major ports from Malacca in the east to Zanzibar in the west during the seven different voyages that he undertook between 1405 and 1433. It was however, only when Vasco da Gama made his way round the Cape of Good Hope to reach Calicut in 1498 that the region was destined never to be the same again. The Portuguese were followed in quick succession by the Dutch, the English and the French and although their methods differed, the intent was the same: trade domination through mastery of the sea. What the colonial era managed to achieve, amongst other things, was the gradual replacement of traditional manufacturing hubs, traditional markets and traditional ports with new ones.


But as Britain was entrenching itself ever so firmly in the heart of the Indian Ocean, it could not have failed to appreciate the strategic and economic advantages that a direct trade route through the Red Sea and the Mediterranean would confer to the empire. The two seas had after all been historically linked for millennia till the eighth century Abbasid Caliph had it closed for supposedly tactical reasons.

 

stratgicsignmfacne.jpgA serious breakthrough in the construction of the canal however, occurred at the hands of a Frenchman in 1858 when Ferdinand de Lesseps, a diplomat as well as an engineer, used both his skills to convince the Egyptian Viceroy, Sa'id Pasha, of the necessity of the project. Construction officially began on April 25, 1859 and when the canal finally opened for traffic around ten years later, it had an immediate and significant impact on world trade.


After assuming full control of the canal in 1962 by buying off the Anglo-French owners, Egypt set up the Suez Canal Authority to regulate its working. Apart from income generation through transit fee, the canal also furnishes livelihood to a number of people, employed both within and outside. From a single sleepy settlement of around 4000 inhabitants when the canal’s construction began, a large number of industries have crept up all along the western flank of the canal, as well as the ports of Said and Suez at either end.


Though the canal is a cash cow for a cash-strapped nation, its working is still plagued by delays and systemic inefficiency. All those who have traversed the waterway would know that each vessel has to stop four times during the 18 hour passage, once at the Port Said outer anchorage, then at Port Said mooring, then at the Great Bitter Lakes anchorage and yet again at Port Suez. Apart from the canal transit fee, each ship owner has to embark and pay for four separate pilots, one at each stop, as well as for a couple of electricians who do nothing but sleep (for if you don’t, the ship’s movement is held up on the pretext of not having the specified lighting arrangements on board). In addition, each pilot unfailingly asks for some gift, even if it is only a pack of cigarettes.


As construction work on the Suez Canal was winding down, the same French entrepreneur, Ferdinand de Lesseps got Colombia, then the parent state of Panama, interested in a canal designed to furnish a much shorter trade route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, compared to the 8000 mile longer journey around the southern tip of South America – Cape Horn. But the construction which began in 1881 finally culminated in 1914, with the United States ultimately transferring its management to Panama in 1999. In case you are wondering what the Panama Canal has to do with a discussion on Indian Ocean trade, I’ll revert to that later.


This canal in due course gave rise to a new term, Panamax, which essentially refers to the largest carrying capacity of a ship that can safely transit the canal, 55000 dwt for tankers and upto 3999 TEUs for container ships. Those ships which could carry more than 4000 TEUs came to be referred to as post-Panamax. As ship payloads kept increasing, touching 20,000 TEUs by now, vessels beyond a carrying capacity of 8000 TEUs came to be known as neo-Panamaxes.


The importance of these two canals to the health of the international maritime community and indeed to the global economy did not go unrecognized. The 1888 Constantinople Convention (which Britain was reluctant to sign till 1904) required the Suez Canal to be kept open to ships of all nations in both peace and war, but could not prevent its prolonged closure following the 1967 Arab-Israel war. Similarly, the U.S.-Panama Treaty of 1977 confirmed the status of the Panama Canal as a neutral international waterway where every vessel is guaranteed safe passage at all times.


As ship sizes were seen to be continuously increasing, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) launched an ambitious $5.4 billion expansion plan in 2007 aimed at garnering a greater share of shipping. Though the ACP was expecting a windfall from this endeavour, with ship-handling capacity having been enhanced from 5000 TEUs to 14000, in actuality it has made little difference thus far. Preliminary assessments show that while the average ship size has risen from 4600 to 6400 TEUs, the number of vessels transiting the canal has correspondingly decreased. Overall, since its completion in June 2016, ship transits are running well below the canal’s current capacity, with less than a third of the available slots being taken. The new lock chambers now allow for an estimated 79% of all cargo carrying vessels to transit the canal, up from 45%.


Strange as it may seem, the two canals, Suez and Panama, although half a world apart, figuratively speaking, are also in competition for that significant chunk of shipping traffic that takes place between the South China Sea region and Western Europe or even the U.S. East coast. In addition, with low bunker prices favouring the use of the longer route round the southern tip of Africa by larger ships, the Suez Canal was faced with another unlikely rival. General Sisi, on taking over the reins of a financially distressed nation, made the canal’s upgrade his topmost priority in a bid to enhance revenue generation. After all, he had history on his side: the number of ships using the canal had risen sharply from 486 transits in 1870 (the first full year of operation) to 17,148 in 2014, with the net tonnage also registering an increase from 444,000 MT to 963 million MT during the same period. Net revenue for the year 2014 was touching $5.5 billion. An ambitious $9 billion upgrade was thus launched with the objective of not only permitting larger ships to transit but also to reduce wait times by allowing both Northbound and Southbound ships to pass simultaneously. This project, completed on August 6, 2015, added nearly 30 km of side channels to its original length of 164 km. The high expectations which the Suez Canal Authority had (the traffic doubling and revenue tripling over next 8 years) doesn’t seem likely to materialize, with revenue generation during 2016 not much different from 2014. The Suez Canal has, in one respect at least, been out-manoeuvred by the Panama Canal: the latter has succeeded in garnering a greater share of the container traffic between the United States and East Asia, raising it from 48% to 57% at present.


The third major waterway, much more natural and far more busier than the two afore-mentioned canals is the Malacca Straits straddling the Malaysian peninsula and the largest Indonesian island of Sumatra. Its importance as the major and most convenient gateway linking the Indian Ocean with the outside world has not faded over the ages. This is the strait that has propelled the rise of Singapore as the greatest port city in the Indian Ocean.


The delicate balancing act between the world’s three major waterways, the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal and the Malacca Straits may face some turbulence in the years ahead if Chinese plans to generate alternate and competing routes to the latter two materialize. Flushed with money, technology and wherewithal, China’s ambitions are unfolding. As part of its maritime Silk Road, which criss-crosses the world’s oceans, China is contemplating a canal across the Kra Isthmus in Thailand which would skirt the congested and pirate-infested Malacca Straits. The $50 billion plan envisages a 30 mile long canal linking the Andaman Sea direct to the South China Sea through southern Thailand, with ports and industrial zones at either end. Apart from the two countries involved, the proposed canal would be extremely beneficial to Indo-China especially Vietnam which is constructing a new Deepwater Port, Hon Khoai, with U.S. help, directly opposite the mouth of the Said Canal. China would however be the major beneficiary, as apart from having upto 4 days of transit time to Chinese ports, the Kra Canal would reduce the vulnerability of Chinese ships transiting the Malacca Straits, aptly termed as the ‘Malacca Dilemma’. Though the Thai government is yet to take a decision in the matter with local politics in play, it is surmised that the opportunity of becoming a regional maritime center, with direct benefits to its impoverished southern region, will be too tempting to pass up. Singapore is obviously not thrilled at all as its entire economy revolves around shipping passing through the Malacca Straits.


The other major project being eyed is a 278 km long canal through Nicaragua as a direct rival to the Panama Canal. Envisaged to be over 3 times the length of the 100 year old Panama Canal, it is expected to be much deeper and wider than the latter, enabling the largest ships to pass through. The United States, which is understandably not pleased at the prospect, has tried to cast doubt on its viability, but there are far more serious concerns about its environmental impact, particularly as it transits through Lake Nicaragua, the largest source of freshwater in Central America. Though Nicaragua appears keen on its implementation, the $50 billion Interoceanic Grand Canal project, as it is known, would not automatically translate into economic prosperity for the impoverished region for the next 50 years at least, much like the Panama Canal.


The Government of China, possibly because of U.S. resentment, is maintaining a safe distance from the project, with a Chinese company, Hong Kong Nicaraguan Development Investment (HKND), led by a flamboyant Chinese billionaire, hogging the limelight. The Nicaraguan government approved the route in July 2014, but despite the construction work having officially begun later that year, there is not much to show for it yet on ground. If and when completed, the new canal is envisaged to attract around 5% of global trade, approximately the same as Panama Canal is drawing these days.


With all this talk and action on the canal fronts, Turkey did not want to be left behind. After all, the Bosphorus Strait controls all the traffic, including warships, to and from the Black Sea. Traffic in the Bosphorus has risen sharply in recent years, owing to increased oil production in the Caspian Sea fields, which is mostly being shipped through the Black Sea. The new 45 km long Istanbul Canal running parallel to the Bosphorus, announced in 2011, is controversial owing again to environmental concerns, but the Turkish President has recently vowed to get the job done. Turkey feels that the requirement of an alternate route is inescapable as the Bosphorus is incapable of handling more than 150 million tonnes of oil annually, and that limit has already been reached. A cost estimate of $10 billion is being floated, though outside experts claim that its construction may well be 4 to 5 times this figure. Its financial viability may thus well depend on which figure is closer to reality.


On the home front, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, once complete, has the power to transform the Indian Ocean sea trading regime. For one thing, it will propel the rise of China’s impoverished western region into a Special Economic Zone. Though this vast region shares a border with as many as eight countries, the route passing through the entire length of Pakistani territory to the port of Gwadar would furnish it with the most convenient linkage to international shipping lanes and international markets.


So much for shortened trade routes. The next arena where opportunity presented itself was in the field of shipping which rose steadily in the decades following the Second World War. This was the era when most nations still licking their wounds were embarking on the rocky road to recovery, with ships carrying raw materials and manufactured goods serving as the workhorses. Cheap oil from the Middle East, which acted as the catalyst for growth, was most in demand. Until 1956 when war over the Suez Canal resulted in its closure, all tankers conformed to the size restriction imposed by the canal. This crisis, during which tankers had to perforce use the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, generated a new opportunity, an opportunity that gave birth to the era of the supertankers. So from 47,500 dwt in 1955, the world’s largest individual tankers ballooned in size to 564,763 dwt in 1979. As the new-build order book for huge supertankers kept increasing, fate again intervened in the form of the first oil crisis of 1973, sparked by the Arab-Israeli conflict, which caused oil prices to quadruple overnight. Apart from engineering a drastic slowdown of the booming global economy, it also resulted in a downward spiral of the overall fleet capacity from a peak of 350 million dwt prior to stabilizing in 1987 at 250 million dwt. Much has however admittedly changed in the oil trading patterns over the past four decades, with bulk of the Mid-east oil now making its way eastwards.


The steadily increasing global oil requirements led to the growth of dedicated oil export terminals, the offshore ones becoming capable of handling the biggest supertankers. The Ras Tanurah complex of Saudi Arabia is still counted amongst the largest of such terminals, with the Ras Juaymah facility a distant second. Its closest rival, Iran’s Kharg Island terminal, had made an impressive start in the early fifties by establishing a linkage through a submarine cable with a major mainland oilfield. Located 16 miles off the coast of Iran, the port was incessantly bombed by the Iraqi Air Force during the Iran-Iraq war, which succeeded in reducing it to rubble by the fall of 1986. The Port has again risen from the ashes, though the process has been painfully slow owing to the sanctions the country has been perpetually burdened with.


Worries about a possible closure of the Strait of Hormuz led Saudi Arabia to construct a 745 mile East-West pipeline from Abqaiq, whose huge processing complex handles about two-thirds the country’s oil output, to Yanbu on the Red Sea. Such concerns became more real during the U.S.-Iran nuclear standoff which not only helped propel oil prices to a record $147 per barrel in 2008, but also prompted a tangible response from other regional oil producers. Billions of dollars in investment has converted Fujairah from a sleepy sheikhdom into a global energy transshipment hub, with enough capacity to store up to two-thirds of daily global demand (60 million barrels of crude) and more being planned during next two years to rival Singapore. The largest supertankers or VLCCs as they are called can now be seen making a beeline for this port. This has been achieved by linking the UAEs biggest oil fields with a 240 mile long and 48 inch wide pipeline to its only seaport east of Hormuz.


The next great opportunity arose out of what can be termed as an earth-shattering development in the mechanics of global sea trade. From a humble beginning of just 58 containers being carried in a vessel converted for the purpose way back in 1956, containerization has now become the new all-pervasive norm. It can be said to be the unheralded harbinger of globalization, as without its anti-theft, pro-efficiency and cost-effectiveness features, transoceanic shipping may well have remained a mirage.


As the concept took hold in the Indian Ocean region also, terminals dedicated to handling container trade sprang up, as they were bound to, in all the major regional ports. Globally, the share of countries with container ports rose from about 1% in 1966 to nearly 90% by 1983. Pakistan was a bit slow in appreciating this phenomenon as its first container terminal only commenced operations in 1998.


As ship sizes, measured in Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, kept increasing to achieve economy of scale, the larger ships commenced liner services, touching only a few well-located ports, with feeder services transporting the off-loaded containers to their ultimate destinations. Ports in the Indian Ocean best placed to capitalize on this trend were Aden, Colombo and Singapore. By the 1990s Singapore had gone on to become both the busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage as well as the largest transshipment hub. Colombo, though plagued by an unmanageable insurgency in the 1980s, which lasted for nearly three decades, still managed to hold itself as the largest and busiest port in South Asia. Despite being gifted with an ideal location and a natural harbour, Aden had to struggle to retain its position as terrorism and turmoil both took their toll. Salalah in Oman, which was a sleepy fishing and bunkering port in the 1990s, suddenly surged ahead to fill the void created by Aden’s volatile environment, particularly after the USS Cole bombing of 2002, and become a major regional transshipment hub catering to the East African region as well as the eastern coast of the Arabian peninsula.


Dubai’s Jebel Ali, constructed in 1979, did not take long to establish its credentials as the busiest and best-equipped port in the Middle-East, and was amongst the foremost in the region to attract containerized traffic. The U.S.-Iran nuclear standoff at the beginning of the current century, which stoked fears of a possible blockage of the Straits of Hormuz, led to the emergence of such transshipment hubs as Sohar in Oman and Sharjah’s Khor Fakkan, both located outside the Gulf. Khor Fakkan in particular has established itself in a short period of time as the best transshipment port in the region.


From what has been recounted so far, it can easily be gauged that in every crisis lies an opportunity, particularly for those discerning enough to take the plunge, and that every opportunity needs to be seized at the right moment. Risk taking works both ways and the sensible thing to do is to always have a Plan B ready to forestall possible disaster. Every crisis brings turbulence in its wake and the only maritime entities able to weather such storms are the ones who distinguish themselves by virtue of their efficiency, their recourse to best management practices and above all, by their ability to monitor and predict global trends likely to leave an impact on the maritime industry.

 

The writer is a retired Rear Admiral of Pakistan Navy and a Maritime Researcher. He has served as the Director General of the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research at Bahria University, Karachi.
 
07
July

Written By: Jennifer McKay

With the majority of the community having returned to the Tochi Valley, life is moving to the new normal that is obvious across all of North Waziristan. The transition from a terrorist-infested area, to a peaceful community that has returned from displacement is not without challenges. But so much has been done already to rehabilitate this area and the prospects for the future are looking good. Not so long ago, when the soldiers moved through this area, the children made the ‘hand across the throat’ sign, wishing death to the soldiers. Now they wave happily and often salute the soldiers. Sometimes, they even pause from their game of cricket to run to the roadside to wave. This is reflection of love for Pakistan Army among tribal children and elders.

The Tochi Valley has had a long and colourful history. This beautiful valley, running from Bannu through Mir Ali and Miranshah, out to Degan, Boya and beyond, has seen many conflicts over the centuries. Today, it is at peace.


In the days of the British, it was the scene of many skirmishes between the tribesmen and the British Indian Army. The history books are full of interesting tales of the British attempting to subjugate the tribes, usually unsuccessfully. It is worth reading some of the books and articles on the history of North Waziristan and bordering areas of Afghanistan to get a better understanding of the fierce and independent tribesmen and their battles with the British. Most accounts were written by British officers and are imperialistic in their tone but they do provide a background to the many conflicts in the past century or two.


The British have long gone but since 2001 when the U.S. and foreign forces invaded Afghanistan, trouble in the Tribal Agencies started to escalate. Despite many attempts at building peace between militant factions and the state, trouble intensified to a point where military operations were needed to defeat the growing threat. It is not easy, nor desirable, for any army to have to fight its own people and Pakistan wanted to avoid the scenario of many innocent people in the region being caught up in what would ultimately become a necessary conflict. Terrorists, including Uzbeks, Chechens and others, along with local groups, had infiltrated and taken over communities, basically holding them as a collective human shield. In all instances across the seven Tribal Agencies, the Army moved the population out to protect innocent families. This was a massive effort and a huge cost to the state and more so, to the people many of whom lost everything. However, with talks bringing no resolution, and attacks growing in the area and the cities, the only solution was to launch the operations.

 

wazirstanatpeaceasd.jpgOperation Zarb-e-Azb, launched in June 2014, finally brought to an end the reign of terror of the militant groups that had moved into North Waziristan from Afghanistan and beyond to join forces with local militants. The alliances of these groups including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jundallah and the Haqqani network were a threat to the country and the region. Tribal elders and thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers have died at the hands of these groups. The success of the military operations has led to a significant reduction of terror attacks in the country.

 

Following the operations, the government and Army could then start the process of bringing home the displaced population and rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. These were already underway in the other six Agencies that had previously been cleared. The efforts have been massive and will continue for some time. The terrain and location of villages in North Waziristan makes the task more challenging but the leap forward from what was to what is and what will be, is impressive.


For this series of articles, I travelled to different parts of North Waziristan to get a better understanding of the difference in areas and what is happening. The areas are quite distinctive in nature and the Tochi Valley with its beauty and history is one area that is showing great potential.


New roads are making travel in North Waziristan so much easier. A new road from Miranshah to Boya is under construction and will soon be surfaced making it an even more pleasant journey out through the valley following the Tochi River. When I visited Boya – located a little over 20 kilometres from Miranshah – the valley was looking its most beautiful. Sun shining on the rugged ranges and the mud and brick houses and compounds in villages along the river, trees with bright green foliage, healthy crops in the fields, and children playing cricket, it seemed a vision of serenity. It was hard to imagine that so recently this had been the scene of so much misery.


Fighting in the area to defeat some of the most ruthless terrorists including Uzbeks and others involved in the attack on the Karachi Airport, was intense. Large caches of weapons and explosives were found in the clearing operations, a reminder of the firepower capability that terrorists can muster.


With the majority of the community having returned to the Tochi Valley, life is moving to the new normal that is obvious across all of North Waziristan. The transition from a terrorist-infested area, to a peaceful community that has returned from displacement is not without challenges. But so much has been done already to rehabilitate this area and the prospects for the future are looking good.


Not so long ago, when the soldiers moved through this area, the children made the ‘hand across the throat’ sign, wishing death to the soldiers. Now they wave happily and often salute the soldiers. Sometimes, they even pause from their game of cricket to run to the roadside to wave. This is reflection of love for Pakistan Army among tribal children and elders.


What a spectacular tourist drive this could be one day, now that peace has been restored. When more facilities are built, and the area opens up more to visitors, this will be a ‘must visit’ area. Let us hope that will be soon as tourism brings a lot of money to any area and the local people would prosper.


The people of the Boya and Degan area are already seeing new opportunities for prosperity at their doorstep with the discovery of copper and the opening of a mine and processing facilities. This is significant. Industry is needed across all of FATA and this once ‘no-go’ area of North Waziristan can certainly benefit from such ventures.


The abundance of minerals including copper, chromite, oil, and gas in FATA has been known for some years. However, the instability and threat of terrorism was too high for investors to take a chance on mining. That has changed. In 2016, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FATA Development Authority (FDA) to open a copper mine at Degan. FWO, through its subsidiary MEDO then partnered with Yantai Xinhai Mining Machinery to build a copper benefication plant that will have a capacity of 1,500 tons per day.


What is impressive about the agreement is that it will give 18 percent of the revenue to the local community, 10 percent to the FATA Development Authority, and 22 percent to corporate social responsibility initiatives to be spent on local projects.


In addition, this will bring jobs, not only at the mine and processing plant but also in the provision of support services from businesses in the community. Investment in industry can help communities make the leap from subsistence living to prosperity. The investment in this copper mine is a major step in encouraging other investors to look at opportunities in mining and other industries.


The Tochi Valley is very close to the Afghanistan Border. Although the situation with Afghanistan is often fractious, the benefits for both countries in building trade are obvious. As North Waziristan opens up, and with the excellent roads linking it with the cities in Pakistan and to the border, new opportunities will arise for trade in minerals, fruit and vegetables, and other goods. Enhanced trade and effective joint border management will increase the chances for long-term peace on both sides of the border.


What is concerning though is that the situation in Afghanistan appears to be worsening. With the Afghan Taliban controlling large swathes of the country and a growing presence of Daesh, it is hard to say what will happen. The Trump Administration has recently announced that more U.S. troops will be sent to Afghanistan but the situation remains unclear whether this will make a difference when billions of dollars and fifteen years of a huge presence of U.S. and ISAF forces on the ground with a large Afghan Army could not bring peace. Foreign analysts do not seem positive that this latest increase will help due to the growing power of Afghan Taliban and Daesh across the country. For Pakistan, which has done so much to defeat terrorism, and lost so many lives to bring peace within its own borders, peace in Afghanistan is critical.


In a previous article, “Waziristan at Peace” I wrote about the improvements that have already been made in these villages around Boya and Degan. One of the most important of these is the small hospital, which is currently staffed by Army medical officers, lady health workers, and local medical assistants. The area has significant health problems that have not previously been addressed including general health care, cardiology, and women’s health. Healthcare is a vital component for the wellbeing of this area to progress and prosperity. One of the major health problems highlighted by the Army doctors, and which should be prioritized and addressed in community health is that of malaria and leishmaniasis, both of which are common in this area.


These two maladies, delivered by mosquitos and sandflies respectively, are extremely dangerous and can cause long-term illnesses and even death. While many are more familiar with malaria, less is understood about leishmaniasis which is a dangerous and painful disease. The World Health Organisation suggests that leishmaniasis affects some of the poorest people on earth, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of financial resources. The disease is linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, building of dams, irrigation schemes, and urbanization.

 

Tochi Valley has the potential to become a symbol of what can be achieved in the process of bringing long-term peace and stability and to become a prosperous area of the country. The components are all there and the current situation is looking very promising indeed. With support and encouragement, the education of children and youth, improved health and wellbeing for all, plus economic prosperity through investment, small business and agriculture, the future looks bright in the Tochi Valley.

According to health advisories, “affected regions are often remote and unstable, with limited resources for treating this disease.” Doctors Without Borders calls leishmaniasis “one of the most dangerous neglected tropical diseases.” It can be transmitted from one human to another in certain circumstances. The Organization also states that this disease is second only to malaria in parasitic causes of death. It can cause skin lesions, mainly ulcers, on exposed parts of the body, leaving life-long scars and serious disability.


Treating the illness is one thing though no vaccines are available, but more important is to take preventative measures, and to get to the cause of the problem. The World Health Organisation provides advice on how communities can reduce the risk. Raising awareness of the risks of these two diseases carried by tiny flying monsters is clearly an activity that would be helpful to the communities. Government health officials and possibly the World Health Organisation or other humanitarian agencies could support the work that the Army is already doing enough on this, including research into the local environmental conditions in which these insects thrive to eliminate the breeding grounds. It would be of great benefit to the local people and their future wellbeing.


The growing number of good schools in the area also provide opportunities not only for good education and vocational training for boys and girls, but also to inculcate awareness of hygiene, health, and also about the local environment. Children are wise and like to share what they learn with their parents. This will further raise awareness of important community health issues. The same applies to the Women’s Vocational Centers. Sharing the benefits of health issues and how best to address these, is extremely helpful in spreading the word. This is already happening at the Centers.


The local people are not just leaving it up to the Army to do the work; they too are taking the initiative. Although the Army has built excellent local markets, it is a positive sign to see so many small ‘tuckshops’, scrap metal and building materials depots, tyre repairers, and other small businesses along the roadside. Farming families are adapting new techniques they have learned from the Army to get better crop yields. Another sign of positive change is the visible pride the Khasardars have in their duties. There is no shortage of candidates to join up.


Tochi Valley has the potential to become a symbol of what can be achieved in the process of bringing long-term peace and stability and to become a prosperous area of the country. The components are all there and the current situation is looking very promising indeed. With support and encouragement, the education of children and youth, improved health and wellbeing for all, plus economic prosperity through investment, small business and agriculture, the future looks bright in the Tochi Valley.

(To be Continued...)

 

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.

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07
July

Written By: Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

Since the beginning of twenty-first century the Middle Eastern nations have been encountering various subverting challenges. Militancy, domestic turmoil, struggles for regional hegemony, politics of intervention, sectarian animosity and Great Powers' interference have immensely destabilized the entire region. The oil and gas resources improved the living style of the people and provided the ruling elite to invest in state building instead of nation building. Consequently, almost every Middle Eastern state is victim of political instability. They are suffering from indigenous political movements to insurgencies of varying level. The tribal mindset and subjective-cum-parochial political culture are obstructing the nation building and self-governing processes in these nations. Instead of concentrating on nation building, improving the governance system and regional prosperity, the Gulf Cooperation Council has spent over $1 trillion on mostly high-end Western military equipment since the turn of the millennium. The gigantic investment in the arms procurement not only deepens the security dilemma and increases arms race, but also causes war between/among neighbors.

 

themiddleeastern.jpgThe current Middle Eastern crisis mirrors exactly the regional realpolitik disaster. Hypothetically speaking, the client state struggle to act as a regional power displeased the status quo favored nations. The status quo nations aligned against the revisionist states. The struggle for dominance has literally turned much of the region into the battlefield. Indeed, it’s neither sectarian conflict nor ideological competition. It’s simply realpolitik or quest for supremacy. The following discussion is an attempt to answer three interlinked questions, i.e., What are the causes of current Middle East imbroglio? Is it reshaping the Middle Eastern strategic environment? How should Pakistan respond to the Arab states conflict?


Qatar’s outsized and independent role in the regional politics frustrated its Arab neighbors. On June 5, 2017 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates cut off diplomatic relations and attempted to impose an economic boycott of Qatar – a tiny-yet-wealthy peninsular Middle Eastern state. Three Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE – cut air, sea, and land links and ordered Qatari diplomats and citizens to leave their countries within two weeks. Egypt, however, refrained from calling back its nearly 250,000 nationals working in Qatar. In addition, Yemen, Maldives and the pro-UAE faction that controls the east of Libya quickly followed suit.


The Saudi-led coalition’s collective decision to siege Qatar was officially justified as part of these nations’ 'apparently' fight against terrorism. They accused Qatar for supporting terrorist groups including Daesh (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar formerly declared the allegations baseless. The UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash stated: “This is a foreign policy that has gone wild. We need to put everything in check.” Many analysts opined that Saudi Arabia-led coalition was disturbed due to Doha’s closeness to Tehran, Islamist movements and supporting political Islam. Raymond Barrett, author of Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling, opined: “Qatar has been ostracized by its “brotherly” neighbors, as the language of regional diplomacy has it, for not kowtowing to the collective vision for the Middle East now largely shared by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel.” Nevertheless, the punitive diplomatic measures were attempted to germinate political, societal and economic crisis for Qatar.


The feud between Riyadh and Doha has been simmering for years. The critical review of Qatar’s foreign policy reveals that since mid-1980s, Doha has been endeavoring to break away from Riyadh ascendancy to chalk out an independent foreign policy. It had established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, a Saudi adversary, in 1988. Saudi and Qatari soldiers clashed at the border in 1992. In the 1994 Yemen civil war, Qatar and Saudi Arabia backed opposing sides. From late 1990s, Doha has increased its struggle to get itself on the map as an independent state instead of a vassal state of Saudi Arabia. The 2011 Arab Spring furthered mistrust among Arab nations. Doha’s activist foreign policy irritated its neighboring states. For instance, Riyadh and Doha supported opposing political parties in Tunisia. Consequently, Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini ambassadors were withdrawn from Doha in 2014. Below are a few factors, which collectively culminated in the current Middle East crisis.


First, the Saudis, Emiratis, Bahrainis and Egyptians are immensely against Islamist political parties. The political Islam is neither acceptable to Kings/Sheikhs nor dictators because it questions their legitimacy to rule their people. It’s an open secret that Qatar’s ruling elite supports political Islam or Islamist political parties such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, has been living in Qatar since 1960s. Qatar’s television station Al Jazeera programs during and after the Arab Spring in 2011 (Arab Spring which resulted in the forceful exit of a few dictators and rulers from the Arab states) alarmed these states. Egypt and Saudi Arabia pressurized Doha to freeze all bank accounts and expel Brotherhood and Hamas leaders residing in Qatar. Doha, however, adopted denial approach.


Second, these countries are equally disturbed by Doha’s increasing influence far and wide due to its vast coffers. Its regional as well as international clout has improved in the recent years. It was rightly pointed out: “If foreign governments had to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian group Hamas, Chechen separatists or even the Taliban, they often went through Qatar.” In reality, Qatar ceased to act as a vassal state of Saudi Arabia in the regional politics. It took independent decisions on various occasions, especially cultivating close bilateral relations with Iran and sponsoring grassroot Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood branches across the Arab world. Doha supports these movements for spreading its influence and extending its geopolitical leverage in the Middle East.


Third, Abu Dhabi is very much concerned about the increasing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the region. The Muslim Brotherhood-led grassroot movements have the potential to challenge the status quo in the UAE’s poorer Emirates. Importantly, the local Muslim Brotherhood branches have maintained a support base in these Emirates for decades. Hence, naturally, Qatar’s political and financial support to Muslim Brotherhood is against the national security of United Arab Emirates. Moreover, both Abu Dhabi and Doha are entangled in proxy war in Libya since the demise of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The former opposes latter’s present backing to Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition (“Libya Dawn”) government in Tripoli against internationally recognized Tobruk-based Libyan government. Emirates is determined to counter Qatar’s influence in war-torn state particularly to quash Muslim Brotherhood’s sanctuaries in Libya.


Fourth, the Saudis did not appreciate Qatar’s decision to pay $1bn ransom to al-Qaeda affiliates and Iran-backed militiamen in Iraq for the release of 26 members of a Qatari falcon-hunting party, including nine members of Al Thani ruling family. The falcon-hunting party was captured in southern Iraq in December 2015. The Iranian-backed Shia militia held the party hostage for 16 months. According to Financial Times report: “Qatar paid $700 million to Iran and Shiite militias supported by the regime. An additional sum of between $200 million and $300 million was paid to Syria, most of it to al-Qaeda-affiliated group Tahrir al-Sham.” Thus, Qatari officials paid $1 billion in ransom for the release of falconry party. The bulk of the funds allegedly made their way to the Iranian officials and affiliated Shiite militias. Perhaps, a billion-dollar ransom would be enough to buy a lot of explosives to boost proxy wars in the region. In a joint statement Saudi Arabia and its allies also announced the placing of 59 individuals and 12 organizations on a “terror list”. The terror list includes Qatari and Qatar-based businessmen, government officials, members of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family, exiled Egyptian cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi, etc.


Fifth, Saudis distrust Qatar's support to Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi. The former accused the latter for secretly helping to fight the Iranian-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen. Doha’s support to Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and is a rival of the Palestinian Authority, is also not acceptable to Riyadh and its Arab allies. Moreover, Qatar’s sponsored ‘Four Towns’ agreement in Syria on March 29, 2017, negotiated with Iran and Hezbollah was criticized as forced displacements by Saudi-led coalition.


Sixth, Bahrain's ruling elite is convinced that Qatar finances groups associated with Iran to subvert and spread chaos in Bahrain. On June 16, 2017, Bahraini authorities revealed recordings of phone conversations between Hamad bin Khalifa al-Attiyah, the special adviser to the former Emir Qatar, and Bahraini opposition cleric Hassan Ali Mohammed Jumaa Sultan (key leaders of al-Wefaq Party), where both conspired to provoke chaos in Bahrain in 2011.


Seventh, the increasing cooperation between Iran and Qatar is not acceptable to Saudi Arabia. Whereas, Qatar seems determined in sustaining its economic relations with Iran because both share exploration rights of world’s largest gas field – 9,700 sq-km expanse that holds at least 43 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves deep in the Gulf waters. The tension between Riyadh and Tehran has increased in the recent months. Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview in May 2017, with Middle East Broadcasting Corp, stated that the battle with the Islamic republic would be fought “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia”. Iranian Defence Minister General Hossein Dehghan responded that in “such stupidity” nothing would be “left in Saudi Arabia except Mecca and Medina.” Nevertheless, the Saudi Arab and UAE isolating moves would draw Qatar closer to Iran. Tehran certainly seizes the opportunity and assists Doha.


Eighth, the Saudis and their allies were agitated by the incendiary comments by Qatar’s Emir Tamim at a military graduation ceremony on May 23, 2017. They claimed that Emir Tamim “expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel – while suggesting that U.S. President Donald Trump may not last in power.” He also described Hamas as “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” and called Iran “a big power in the stabilization of the region.” Doha officially denied authenticity of Emir Tamim speech and claimed that the Qatar News Agency website had been hacked and false statements were posted on it.


Ninth, the autocratic Arab ruling elite desires to tame journalistic independence or close down Qatar’s television station Al Jazeera. They accused it of promoting terrorist groups in Yemen and sparking divisions in Saudi Arabia. Egyptian authorities accused it of being the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood.


The general perception was that Saudi Arab might repeat its Yemeni strategy (2015 Operation Decisive Storm; the Saudi and UAE-led intervention in Yemen) after isolating Qatar diplomatically and economically. The trends indicate that the probability of Saudi Arab military adventurism is remote. Turkey’s decision to send 3000 soldiers, Iran’s announcement of support and above all the U.S. military air base in Al Udeid, Qatar (employed for U.S.-led strikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq) would deter Saudi military action against Qatar. Kuwait and Oman would also discourage Saudis from any such military action. In April 2017, Oman and Iran conducted joint naval exercise (search and rescue) in the territorial waters of the Sea of Oman. On June 19, 2017 the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, Anwar Gargash stated: “We bet on time, we do not want to escalate the situation, we want to isolate it.” Hence, military offensive is not on the agenda of the Saudi-led coalition of five Arab countries.


Although the UAE severed its ties with Qatar, yet the emirate of Dubai seems uncomfortable due to tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates investment in Dubai and latter’s port Jebel Ali merchandise with Qatar, which is one of the largest containers shipping line in the Middle East. To check the dissenting voice in the UAE, the government has banned people from publishing expressions of sympathy towards Qatar. The UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi said to the Gulf News: “Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form.” The violator could be imprisoned for 15 years and pay a minimum fine of at least 500,000 dirhams (£105,446 or $136,115).


Turkey and Kuwait had endeavored to lower the temperature. They offered their good offices to facilitate peace talks. Importantly, Ankara’s immediate offer for mediation among the Arab states lacks acceptability because it had already declared Qatar its ally in the region. In 2014, it set up its first Middle Eastern military base in Qatar with some 150 troops. On June 7, 2017 Turkish parliament approved an agreement to increase the contingent of Turkish forces deployed at the Turkish base in Qatar. Secondly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the Saudi-UAE effort to isolate Qatar. Third, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani showed strong support for the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during and after July 2016 failed military coup attempt in Turkey. Fourth, since the overthrow of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013, the relations between Ankara and Cairo have been distressing. It is because Turkey like Qatar had “provided support for the Egyptian revolution and condemned the military coup that brought the country's current leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, into power.”


The preceding discussion reveals that three sub-regional blocs in the Middle East are in the process of formulation. Iran, Yemen, Syria and Iraq constitute one bloc. The non-state organizations associated with this bloc are Shia militias in Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah and the Houthis. Saudi Arabia steward the second bloc, which included Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. The third bloc contains Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and the forces instrumental in the Arab Spring. The first and third bloc policies converge. Tehran was quick, therefore, to let Doha know it was ready to help in any way it could. “Iran kept its airspace and ports open to Qatar, and half a dozen of Iranian cargo planes have delivered supplies to the blockaded Qataris.” Whereas; the second bloc is determined to contain the influence of both Shia Islam as well as political Islam in the Middle East.


In reality, the tussle among the Middle Eastern states is in the advantage of transnational terrorist organizations and the Great Powers. The current crisis further destabilizes a region already grappling with three civil wars and jihadist insurgencies on several fronts. It emboldens Islamic State (Daesh), al-Qaeda etc. to attack on the law enforcement agencies and secure their sanctuaries in the region. On June 7, 2017 Islamic State attacked on the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. It killed 12 and 46 were wounded. The terrorist attacks are likely to further aggravate tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.


The Great Powers’ interference systematically increases in the regional politics. These not only sell their obsolete weapons to the Arab nations but also exploit their differences for curbing their sovereign decision making in the global affairs. Americans and Russians Middle Eastern policies have been contributing in widening the regional fault lines. Moscow maintains strategic relations with Tehran, whereas Washington backs Riyadh against Iran.


Remarkably, Trump Administration failed to articulate a coordinated Washington position on the current Middle Eastern crisis. Is it a deliberate approach? President Donald Trump in his speech in Riyadh on May 20, 2017 explicitly encouraged Saudi Arabia and its likeminded states against Iran. He categorically alleged Iran as the world’s sponsor of terrorism: “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.” On June 6, 2017 he also praised Saudi-led alliance actions against terrorist groups and their sympathizers. He tweeted: “During my recent trip to the Middle East, I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Precisely, President Trump endorsed the siege of Qatar and professed it the beginning of the end of terrorism.


Importantly, the American establishment cannot ignore Qatar entirely because it is home to some 10,000 American troops at the Al Udeid Air Base. At the same time, increasing cooperation between Doha and Tehran is intolerable for Washington. The punitive measures against Qatar are not viewed in the interest of United States. Therefore, senior Trump Administration members acted cautiously. They called for dialogue to end the crisis. Consequently, President Trump caved into the establishment approach and offered to host a meeting in White House to resolve Arab states crisis. U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson called on Qatar “to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors.” He added: “We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar.” In addition, on June 14, 2017 the U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah signed a letter of agreement for a $12-billion sale of U.S.-manufactured F-15 fighters. Pentagon statement pointed out: “The $12-billion sale will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar.” Precisely, Washington is profiting from selling lethal arms to both Riyadh and Doha.


Qatar seems under siege from its neighbors. They cut transport links, making it difficult to import and export goods including water and perishable food items. Turkey and Iran’s political, diplomatic, economic and military assistance prevent Qatar from complete regional isolation. The support of these countries, however, cannot ensure the continuity of economic growth of the tiny Arab state. The neighbors’ siege has serious socio-economic repercussions and thereby the panic is noticeable in several sectors including shipping, food, airlines, banking, stocks, etc. According to CAPA Center for Aviation report: “Losing Saudi, Bahrain, and UAE airspace would effectively ground Qatar Airways.” Similarly, losing Dubai port Jebel Ali not only delays shipments but also increases the cost of container transportation. The Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain banks are delaying letters of credit and other deals with Qatari banks. This could instigate investors to pull out from Qatari banks. Precisely, Qatar’s economy is suffering from tangible detrimental shocks of diplomatic crisis. Notwithstanding, Doha is encountering immense economic difficulties, but seem determined to continue defying neighboring Arab states interference in its foreign policy. On June 13, 2017, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani categorically stated: “Whatever relates to our foreign affairs ... no one has the right to discuss.” Precisely, Doha despite economic and diplomatic pressure seems determined to maintain its independent foreign policy in the Middle East.


Pakistan announced to continue its diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar. Simultaneously, “The Prime Minister reaffirmed the strong commitment of the people and the government of Pakistan to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Kingdom, and the safety of Harmain al Sharifain.” Actually, Islamabad needs to maintain cordial bilateral relations with all the Middle Eastern nations. Indeed, it’s difficult. The problematic probability is that Saudi Arab-led coalition may adopt a ‘you are with us or you are against us’ approach. In 2015, Pakistan’s parliament recommendation to adopt neutrality in Yemen conflict annoyed Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria reiterated the spirit of Parliament’s recommendation again on June 13, 2017: “Pakistan believes in unity among Muslim countries. We have made consistent efforts for its promotion.” Is neutrality in the interest of Pakistan?


The warlike situation in the Middle East obviously undercuts the prospects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project in particular and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative in general. Therefore, Islamabad needs to be proactive in resolving the prevalent Arab crisis. The National Assembly (Pakistan) called upon “all countries to show restraint and resolve all differences through dialogue. This house also calls upon the government to take concrete steps towards forging unity amongst the Muslim Ummah in the region.” On June 12, 2017 while responding to the demand of the House, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accompanied by senior ministers and Chief of Army Staff, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Riyadh for a quick resolution of the crisis. Instead of using multilateral approach i.e., using the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for bringing about peace and stability in the Middle East, Pakistani leadership adopted bilateral approach to mediate between the conflicting parties. Nevertheless, the latter’s approach for finding a diplomatic solution to the Qatar crisis has not achieved any breakthrough so far.


To conclude, from Riyadh to Doha and from Cairo to Tehran, Islamabad has genuinely friendly and stable ties with all sides. Sustaining cordial relations with the Saudi-led coalition of five Arab countries is imperative. Simultaneously, the continuity of friendly relations with Qatar, Iran, Turkey is in the national interest of Pakistan. Therefore, siding with any one party would be counterproductive. Hence, Islamabad can only act as a neutral interlocutor in rescuing the region from current imbroglio, instead of getting embroiled in the Middle Eastern conflict. Hence, it is in Pakistan’s interest to convince the conflicting parties to climb down from their maximalist demands and reach a broadly acceptable compromise for the sake of peace in the Middle East.

 

The writer is Associate Professor at School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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07
July

Written By: Lt Gen Talat Masood (R)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established in 2001, with the aim of countering extremism in the region and to strengthen border security. Its undeclared mission was also to act as a check against the growing influence of U.S. and NATO countries in the region. With the recent addition of India and Pakistan as full members SCO currently has eight members.


In many ways Pakistan’s membership of SCO is a positive development, as it will facilitate the advancement of regional peace and enhance opportunities for economic development. Full membership of the organization will contribute toward deepening and widening the relationship with China. It should also enhance the level of relations with Russia and by enabling greater interaction with Central Asian states open up new avenues of cooperation.

 

pakmembereco.jpgWith Pakistan already engaged in the implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flag bearer project of One Belt, One Road (OBOR), it was only logical that it became a member of SCO. The further strengthening of relationship with China could not have come at a better time. The U.S. Congress has been building pressure to cut off economic and military assistance to Pakistan. In tandem India has tried to isolate Pakistan. But Pakistan’s expanding ties with China could partly neutralize the negative fallout. What is more reassuring that our relations with China are gaining momentum at a time when it is clearly an ascending global power.


These economic and political benefits of SCO will, however, accrue provided Pakistan prepares itself to take full advantage of it. Much would depend on how efficiently it implements the various CPEC related projects and subsequently manages them. The Chinese side is well prepared and thorough in their planning and execution of the entire project. No doubt Pakistan Planning Commission has been meticulously associated with the planning of CPEC and overseeing its progress but a lot would depend on how seriously the provincial and federal governments take their responsibility.


It is fairly evident that the Chinese side is well prepared and motivated to implement the projects of CPEC. The onus lies on Pakistan to step up its preparations and inject greater level of coordination and professionalism in planning and execution.


At a time when Indian hostility is at its peak and relations with U.S. are going through a difficult phase strengthening our economic and strategic partnership with China and bringing us closer to Russia is expected to partly counter its ill affects. Pakistan by becoming a full member of SCO feels far more confident that the attempt by India to isolate Pakistan has been largely reduced. Moreover, as the Foreign Secretary stated that there are strong historical and cultural links as well as several economic and strategic complementarities of Pakistan with members of SCO.


Whereas, China seeing Pakistan’s great potential in its location and its adversarial relationship with India views it as a country with which its strategic interests converge.

 

As astute observers of the region have noted, by developing a close relationship with the rising power China and improving relations with Russia, Pakistan is on the right side of history. Especially at a time when global power equations are in a state of flux.

For Pakistan, attitude of Trump Administration and the Congress bordering open hostility act as an additional incentive to align itself closely with China.


As astute observers of the region have noted, by developing a close relationship with the rising power China and improving relations with Russia, Pakistan is on the right side of history. Especially at a time when global power equations are in a state of flux.


SCO does offer India and Pakistan another platform for improving relations. A major thrust of the Treaty is on “Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation”. In the present circumstances it would, however, depend largely on India to take the initiative. So far it has used SCO as another forum to lambast Pakistan. It is regrettable that this is despite the fact that it is an agreed principle of the organization that the forum will not be exploited for political point scoring. Anti-Pakistan rhetoric was also at its peak during Modi’s visit to the U.S. If this hostile attitude persists also in the context of SCO, no tangible progress on normalization of relations with India can be expected.
Interestingly, despite the pleasant rhetoric and substantial progress on political and strategic issues, differences between Indian and U.S. policies exist. Major issues of contention are work visas, differences on Paris climate pact and exports from India.


If however, India and Pakistan were to cooperate on issues related to terrorism it could bring about a qualitative change in the overall security situation in the region. It could also create an enabling environment whereby the two countries could address issues. Regrettably, there seem scant prospects of that with India presently pursuing just the opposite policy by supporting anti-Pakistan terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Whereas, Pakistan in recent past has taken firm measures to curb the activities of Haqqani Network in FATA. In any case with over fifty percent of Afghan territory not under government control and Taliban operating freely the allegation by U.S. and Afghanistan of Pakistan’s complicity merely reflects scapegoating their failure.


One could also argue that cutting off the U.S. assistance could well be a blessing in disguise. For it will compel Pakistan to mobilize internal resources and reduce foreign reliance to which it has got addicted over the years. Furthermore, SCO opens up new opportunities for trade and economic relations with Central Asian countries and beyond that Pakistan could utilize.

 

It is regrettable that this is despite the fact that it is an agreed principle of the organization that the forum will not be exploited for political point scoring. Anti-Pakistan rhetoric was also at its peak during Modi’s visit to the U.S. If this hostile attitude persists also in the context of SCO, no tangible progress on normalization of relations with India can be expected.

What is, however, most worrisome that there is emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan, especially in areas bordering Pakistan. This has raised serious concern in Russia and China that these groups could expand their activities to their territories. Pakistan’s efforts at taking preventive measures against these groups and improving border management is being duly recognized by Russia and China.


India finds SCO an opportunity to assert itself in central and south Asian region. At the economic level it will be able to further expand its trade links with China. With Russia its ties have been weakening due to its heavy tilt toward U.S. CPEC does provide a platform to revive and strengthen its relations with Moscow. Nonetheless, considering the acute tensions that presently exist between Washington and Moscow, India will have to tread carefully. India perhaps considers itself sufficiently confident that its size, current state of economy and international stature allows that flexibility to balance the relationship.


New Delhi’s heavy tilt toward Washington and the latter’s somewhat hostile attitude toward Pakistan provide ample justification for our policy makers to lean heavily on China and strengthen relations with Russia. China would also be keenly watching how India’s strategic alignment with U.S. would play out in the context of SCO.

 

The writer is a retired Lieutenant General from Pakistan Army and an eminent scholar on national security and political issues. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
08
June
June 2017(EDITION 06, Volume 54)
 
Written By: Maria Khalid
GHQ, in collaboration with HEC, organized a seminar ‘The Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism’ aimed at incorporating insights from intellectuals to prevent youth from violent extremism. Strategies were chalked out with an understanding....Read full article
 
Written By: Zamir Akram
Moreover, and this is the crucial point, if the U.S. and the Afghan government are really serious about their accusations, they need to cooperate with Pakistan to ensure that the Pak-Afghan border is sealed and no movement takes places by anyone in either direction. The fact that Kabul.....Read full article
 
Written By: Jennifer McKay
North Waziristan was the last of the seven tribal agencies, along with Swat, to be cleared. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been successful with the Army, Frontier Corps and Air Force, carrying out....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal
In 2016, the world spent U.S. $1686 billion that was around 2.3 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). India plans to spend $ 55.7 billion in 2017 which is 2.25 percent of its GDP; in comparison Pakistan’s defense budget is $9 billion which is 3.4 percent of its....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Minhas Majeed Khan
Various myths about the defense budget of Pakistan have been created, not only at international forums but national as well, which need to be looked at from the perspective....Read full article
 
Written By: Senator M. Akram Zaki (R)
Iran and Gulf countries of the West Asia or the Middle East are very important for Pakistan as with them we have historical, cultural, religious, economic, political and strategic relations. Unfortunately, this energy rich, strategically important Muslim West Asia is....Read full article
 
Written By:Dr. Huma Baqai & Qudsia Khalique
The April 2017 attack in the northern Balkh province killing at least 140 soldiers of the 209 Shaheen Army Corps, responsible for providing security to most of northern Afghanistan showcases .....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Mirwais Kasi
West Asia continues to occupy an important position in International Relations due to its geo-political location, for the entire region acts as a link between Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Red Sea, Atlantic Sea and Indian Ocean. The vast reserves of oil have perpetually ....Read full article
 
Written By: Prof. Sharif al Mujahid
Demography, along with geography, has always figured in the making of nations and in inter-state relationships. But perhaps never so critically as in the case of Pakistan. Indeed, in all the annals of its proto-history and existential career, demography and Pakistan....Read full article
 
Written By: Maryam Razzaq
Today extremism stands as one of the greatest security challenge to the world community at large and Pakistan in particular today. It occurs to be the bane of humanity and adversely affects every segment of the society. Passing through the stages of infecting thoughts.....Read full article
 
Written By: Lt Col Fawad Qasim
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is called a 'game changer' project, which includes connectivity, generation of energy and development of infrastructure for linking Gwadar Port to China’s Xinjiang province. CPEC has kicked off successfully after security....Read full article
 
Written By: Puruesh Chaudhary
When great many are thinking in; what is there to consider is – who is thinking through. The immaterial need to think through is deeply embedded in our storytelling. If information is the formation of the mind; who’s questioning whether this is the quality....Read full article
 
Written By: Nadeem F. Paracha
This has certainly given the famous 'India Shining' slogan a whole new meaning because according to RSS the only gold worth its shine is white gold. The AB foresees an India which will be 99.9 percent Hindu white by the year 2045......Read full article
 
Written By: Feryal Ali Gauhar
The lane to his house is narrow, bordered on both sides by high walls, a drain running alongside the homes of the several families living in this ancient kasbah (town) of Zaidah, district Swabi. A stone wall looms to the right of the vehicle, constructed in the fashion.....Read full article

 
 
General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, CJCSC met Australian Chief of Defense Forces, Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin in Australia during his official visit. Matters of mutual professional interests with particular reference to global and regional security environments were discussed.............Read full article
 
Pakistan's Soil is Not Being Used for Terrorist Activities Against Any Other Country: COAS Mr David Hale, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan met Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ. Matters of mutual interest including.....Read full article
 
Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force visited PAF Base Qadri, a Forward Operating Base of Pakistan Air Force in Gilgit-Baltistan and flew an exercise mission in Mirage aircraft. On his arrival at the base, he was received by Air Vice Marshal Athar Shams,.....Read full article
 
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah visited Indonesia and China. During the visit, the Naval Chief met a number of dignitaries of both the countries.
During his visit to Indonesia, Chief of the Naval Staff called on Chief of the Indonesian Navy, Admiral Ade....Read full article
 
A Two Star level security meeting among delegates from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission was held at General Headquarters Rawalpindi. The delegations were led by Afghan DGMO, Major General Habib Hesari; and Resolute Support Mission's Deputy Chief....Read full article
 
April 28, 2017 was a momentous day for Pakistan Air Force as dual-seat variant of the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft successfully completed its maiden test flight at Chengdu (China). Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman....Read full article
 
On May 04, 2017 graduation/closing ceremony of National Integrated Counter Terrorism Course-10 (NICTC-10) and Capacity Enhancement Course-3 for Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was held at National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Pabbi.
Commander 1 Corps Lieutenant General Azhar....Read full article
 
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Turkish Air Force (TurAF) inked a contract for the supply of 52 Super Mushshaks which replaced TurAF’s existing primary....Read full article
 
Lieutenant General A.W.J. Crishantha De Silva, Chief of Sri Lankan Army visited Miranshah, NWA where he was briefed about ongoing operations, rehabilitation and development work being undertaken, prevailing....Read full article
 
1st Karachi Shooting Championship was held in Karachi Garrison. Shooting lovers from Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, PAF, ASF, Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and Karachi, including children and female shooters.....Read full article
 
08
June

Written By: Feryal Ali Gauhar

The lane to his house is narrow, bordered on both sides by high walls, a drain running alongside the homes of the several families living in this ancient kasbah (town) of Zaidah, district Swabi. A stone wall looms to the right of the vehicle, constructed in the fashion of the ancient buildings of Gandhara, a land where centuries ago, the landscape was dotted with places of Buddhist worship idles and stupas, monasteries perched on hilltops preaching peace and harmony.


There is a stillness in the air, as if life itself had stopped as walls continued to grow higher, containing fear while keeping out freedom.


Mashal Khan’s father steps towards us. I recognize him from the coverage given by the media to this family’s profound loss, the coverage that held up a mirror to our ravaged and brutalized souls, to the hatred and bestiality that festers within. I recognize him, his daughters, his wife from the countless interviews we watched; helpless, outraged, eyes and mind unbelieving as we viewed soul-numbing footage of an enraged mob lynching a young man, hitting and kicking his inert body as it lay in the middle of a university campus where violence, not reasoning, seemed to have had been bred. That young man, Mashal Khan, the second son of Iqbal Khan, had questioned the very ethos of how his university was being governed. He had dared to point a finger at what he believed was a corrupt administration, a veritable mafia of men of letters who were devouring public funds meant to educate the young men and women of our country. He had spoken out clearly; he had not flinched in the face of the terrible threats that eventually became a reality this nation should never forget. Mashal Khan was, indeed, the light in a state of darkness, and his ruthless, unforgivable murder must not be allowed to pass into obscurity if we are to retrieve all that we have lost with his death, with the deaths of all those who have dared to speak out against obscurantism and obfuscation of all kinds.


I am ushered into a room where two young women clad in black abayas are seated on the sofa alongside the mantelpiece. Upon this mantelpiece are the many awards, trophies, and plaques received by Mashal Khan during his short but incredibly significant life. Mashal was a top student from school onwards, and he placed a high premium on education, encouraging his sisters to study and obtain the highest possible qualifications. Many women from Swabi have received professional degrees and have set the precedent for others to follow. In Mashal’s family, he carried the beacon that led the way for his sisters to maximize their potential as capable human beings, empowered with education and enlightened with progressive views.


I speak with Stooria, the elder of Mashal’s two sisters, seated on my left. She reiterates her resolve to continue with her education at the local university. She wants to become a pharmacist, she wants to help people heal. Her name is the Pushto word for “star”, and she wants to shine in the firmament which shelters their home from the wrath of a mob gone mad with desperation, fed on fear, fed on countless years of injustice, ignorance, and neglect. She wants to heal all these people, she says, for they did not know what they were doing when they destroyed one of their own, a classmate, a friend just yesterday, a despised and reviled enemy today. She talked about Mashal’s love for books, about his curiosity regarding the social and political histories of different nations and about his obsession with justice. Stooria insisted that it was these things which cost her beloved brother his young life, for in environments where questions were not to be asked, where injustices were not to be questioned, where the corrupt were allowed to roam free and the powerless were fettered, it was a crime to speak out, to question, to demand justice. She spoke patiently but within her I could feel the resentment, the outrage of a darkening sky closing in on the narrow shaft of light that had shown through her moist eyes as she mourned for Mashal.


The room where I sat could have been anywhere in our beloved country. There was a courtyard preceding it, with several string cots placed in the shade of the verandah. Older women sat here while men stayed outside in the lane, silently supporting this grieving family. I embraced each one of these women, and felt their hearts beating against mine, throbbing with the anguish of having buried a young man who was never given a chance to speak in his own defense before being hounded, shot in the head and chest, stripped bare, dragged along the corridors of his hostel and into the street, beaten, punched, kicked, pummeled, and battered with rods. Many of these young men who participated in the orgy of violence unleashed on April 13, 2017 were his classmates. The student who shot Mashal Khan was also his classmate. Those who pounded their fists against his chest and head, already bleeding, those who kicked him in his ribs and spine, were his fellow students, gathered at a brutal lynching on an ordinary day at a university named after a man who spoke for tolerance and justice, and for the rights of the Pakhtun nation.


Mashal Khan was wrongfully accused and wrongfully, brutally, murdered by an enraged, misguided, and merciless mob. This has been established by an omnipresent media. The charges leveled against him were declared misleading and untrue. This has been declared by the highest authorities in the land that the alleged corruption of an entire administration running the affairs of the university now in the spotlight is something that should not be allowed to pass into oblivion, like the countless other instances where people have died seeking justice. In an environment where the trust deficit between citizens and the machinery of state is growing every day, it is paramount that the accusations made by Mashal Khan against those who were siphoning off university funds, or those who were holding several posts simultaneously, being paid several salaries in contravention of university rules, or those who were overcharging tuition fees from young men struggling to be educated, be investigated by the most competent authorities. That vigilante justice was allowed to take the life of a young man in a place of higher learning at a time when justice itself was under siege. It is something that should shake up the entire nation and force us to look at ourselves in the mirror this tragedy has held up to us.


It has been established by sociologists, psychologists, and criminologists that the type of crowds that turn violent are fed on the fire of frustration and fueled by a set of grievances resulting from long-standing and unresolved problems and issues. During the 1930’s, Adolf Hitler manipulated and then exploited human passions and resentments to mobilize a society against Jews, Poles, Hungarians, Russians – anyone who was not “German”. Hitler used growing antipathy towards the “other”, the “outsider”, and fomented the insecurity of a large segment of the German population after World War I to whip up hatred against a perceived enemy, anyone who was different, anyone who represented a different set of values, who looked different, who subscribed to a different set of beliefs. Hitler fueled the xenophobia of a nation perceiving itself to be isolated, and led it towards one of the biggest genocides of contemporary history.


Similar was the case when the students of Abdul Wali Khan University at Mardan dragged Mashal’s already lifeless body into the open and brutalized it again and again, endlessly, every punch, each kick, each screaming invective, each accusation lightening the burden of the gathered crowd. For that crowd, those hundreds of students, young men who signify the future of this nation, were burdened with much: they had been gifted the burden of ignorance by an educational system that denies the spirit of enquiry, which crushes the spirit of debate. They had been fed on the obscurantism of a clergy that has glorified murder in the name of religion. They had been deprived of the tools of reason by a faculty that teaches by rote instead of by reading and understanding and discussing texts so that all views are considered, dissected, deconstructed and debated. These are the young men who become the frontline in a war of darkness against light, young men drowning in a deep well of ignorance and frustration, unable to see the light, unwilling to stand behind the one man who held up the torch beneath which all was obscurity and shadow.


What happens when such a mob gathers to bay for blood? Who is to stop the lynching? Where was the security apparatus? What do the university authorities have to say for themselves after such a heinous crime has scarred their institution forever? What do the followers of Bacha Khan have to say about a university named after his son, supposedly created to uphold the values of the tall and imposing figure also known as the Frontier Gandhi, a man who preached harmony and non-violence? How do we understand that those who profess to be enlightened and progressive are the very people who stopped the adoption of a resolution in the KP provincial assembly condemning this brutal act in the name of religion?


If we study the footage of the gathering on that fateful day within the premises of the AWK University, we can see the fury being whipped up by the instigators of this crime. We can feel the quickening pulse of the crowd as it prepares itself for the hunt. We can smell the blood and can see it slipping over their eyes, blinding them to reason. We have seen it before, in the killing of the two young men in Sialkot, many years ago, a case still unresolved. We have seen the bodies of a man and his pregnant wife burnt to death inside a kiln where they fashioned clay into baked bricks, murdered on an allegation of blasphemy. We have seen crowds rip apart and burn the bodies of alleged petty criminals, caught in the act, condemned and sentenced by a mob which is judge, jury, and executioner all at the same time. We have seen a young girl thrown to ferocious dogs as part of punishement pronounced by the long-outlawed panchayat system of rural Pakistan, we have known of peasants being beaten to death by their feudal master over the accusation of a petty theft. We have searched for the graves of women buried alive, and we have heard parliamentarians justifying such murders as being part of sacrosanct tradition. We have searched for the bodies of young women killed over the innocent and joyous act of clapping while a song is sung to celebrate a brother’s wedding. Over the past several years, we have watched with horror as acts of terror have taken over 70,000 lives. And few have become numb; turn their faces away and look at the distance, as if this was not happening, as if nothing was out of place, as if it was just an ordinary day, an ordinary crowd of young men intent on killing their colleague.


It was not an ordinary day when I walked through the narrow lane leaving Mashal Khan’s house, my heart heavy with the burden of impotence. There was nothing ordinary about his father, a poet who struggled hard to educate his children, selling biscuits in places far from Zaidah, small towns in Gilgit Baltistan, many miles from his home in this village in district Swabi. Iqbal Khan told me about the biscuits he would sell in the tiny district headquarters of Gahkuch where I had spent part of a summer living in the village of Hamardas, trying to understand why so many young women were taking their own lives, despite being educated, or perhaps, as I discovered, because they were educated but were forced to marry young men who had tended livestock or irrigated fields and knew nothing of the wealth of knowledge that could be gained through education.


There was nothing ordinary about Mashal Khan’s mother who lamented that she could not kiss her son’s hands before burying him as every bone she held was broken. There was nothing ordinary about the anger in Aimal Khan’s voice as he spoke about the injustice and unjustified frenzy that took his brother’s life, his eyes brimming with tears as he described the insensitive filming of the horrific lynching by fellow students using phone cameras. And there was nothing ordinary about the fact that a string cot lies alongside Mashal Khan’s grave, laid there for the police constable who keeps watch over the grave, protecting it from those who had stopped every car leaving the university campus that day, searching for Mashal Khan’s body, swearing to set to fire the broken remains of this brilliant young man who stood first in every class, who had so much to offer us, who perhaps did not belong to prevailing mediocrity and hypocrisy but stood for excellence and integrity.


The young men accused of Mashal Khan’s murder represent the dehumanization of a society where a war rages within us; planted, nurtured, and harvested by those who wish to see us slide into chaos and anarchy, allowing for the bigoted to lead the ignorant, these men are soldiers in an army of terror. Such armies are bred wherever discontent flourishes. Such armies are strengthened by the failure of governance and the mockery of accountability. Such armies cannot be stopped by a lone policeman guarding a freshly dug grave. Only the light that Mashal held up can show us the path out of this darkness. Only the will to cleanse our souls of bigotry and narrow fundamentalism can heal the wounds inflicted upon the soul of this nation.


As I stood besides Mashal’s grave, the two young women in the black abayas came to join me. We stood silently in that peaceful plot of land planted with poplar trees by Iqbal Khan when he bought this tiny property for his sons to build their homes upon. Now his younger son lies buried beneath the soil of the ground that was to be his future home. It is here, next to the wheat fields and beneath the poplars that Mashal would come to study. And it was here that I stood with the two girls, unknown to Mashal’s family, having traveled all the way from Rawalpindi to offer their prayers at the grave of a young man they had never met, but whose death they lamented as if he was one of their own.


As we raised our hands in supplication, I said a silent prayer for the two young women, brave and courageous, caring and compassionate, everything that we needed to become human again, to be led out of the darkness that has fallen upon us.

 

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.
 
08
June

Written By: Nadeem F. Paracha

A medical group linked with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has devised a way to help dark-skinned parents produce fair babies, The Wire news portal reported recently.


The Wire said Arogya Bharati (AB) an RSS-linked group has promised prospective dark-skinned parents who undergo its workshop and procedures, “babies … with fair complexion”.


This has certainly given the famous 'India Shining' slogan a whole new meaning because according to RSS the only gold worth its shine is white gold. The AB foresees an India which will be 99.9 percent Hindu white by the year 2045.

 

bhartamama.jpgA leading member of the AB, Dr. Ram Lal Yoda, a self-described spiritual botanist by profession, told The Wire that till 2000 years ago, all Hindus were whiter than today's authentic Caucasian Swedes and Ice Landers. He added that sadly, the ancient Hindus began to turn wheatish in colour after the invading Greek army under Alexander The Great introduced the damaging joys of sun-tanning in the region.


Another scientist belonging to the AB and RSS, Dr. Yoginath Gopal Doodh Pati (an astrological physicist, nuclear palmist and joyous lyncher) in his recent book, 'Superior Aryan Flatulent Techniques', suggests that after turning golden-brown, the Hindus began to turn dark from the 14th century AD. This was a period when Muslim invaders from Mars began to conquer and subdue the more advanced Hindus of India with the help of black magic which could not be broken by the white magic of fair-skinned Hindus.


Dr. Doodh Pati also claims that the green-blooded Muslim invaders forced the Hindus to play polo on cows under the hot Indian sun till they all became black. This blackness then seeped into their DNA making their babies black as well; blackening the fortunes of this once mighty white race of authentic Aryans with really long names.


Darkness engulfed the inhabitants of Bharat Mama with every part of its body becoming dark. Nevertheless, its soul remained fair and lovely. The Muslim invaders could not darken it. However, well known Pakistani philosopher, psychologist and pharmacist, Orio McBlue Janam, recently claimed that at one point the dark Hindus actually managed to blacken a Muslim king by stealing his favourite umbrella. The Muslim king refused to use any other umbrella during hunting trips and thus became blackened by the sun and stopped being Martian green. That king was Akbar.


Mr. Orio in his 2015 book, 'Malala is not a true Martian' wrote that had it not been for some wise old Martians such as Nasim Hijazi and some guy called Chang in Akbar's court, the dark Hindus would have been able to make silly old Akbar to reverse the policy of making Hindus play polo under the hot Indian sun.


The once white Hindus remained jet black throughout Martian Muslim rule. What's worse is that they got even darker when the blue-blooded British invaded India from Venus and banned a most peaceful Hindu ritual, Sati.


In his book, Dr. Doodh Pati, wrote that even though the Hindus finally defeated the British and sent them back to Venus, treacherous Hindus such as Mahatma Gandhi agreed to the Muslim demand for their own separate abode. Dr. Pati thinks that unfortunately, instead of the Muslims, some misguided white-souled Hindus sent Gandhi to Mars where he continues to live as a tomato farmer.

 

A leading member of the AB, Dr. Ram Lal Yoda, a self-described spiritual botanist by profession, told The Wire that till 2000 years ago, all Hindus were whiter than today's authentic Caucasian Swedes and Ice Landers. He added that sadly, the ancient Hindus began to turn wheatish in colour after the invading Greek army under Alexander The Great introduced the damaging joys of sun-tanning in the region.

Recently when some reporters asked Dr. Pati exactly how he plans to make dark Hindus bear white babies, he replied: 'By 2045, every Hindu in Bharat Mama will be whiter than Boris Johnson, blonder than Donald Trump, and more handsome than Captain America. Just like PM Modi, whose DNA we will use in our whitening procedure.'


When a reporter said that Mr. Modi is just like any other South Asian, Dr. Pati claimed that Modi was actually Caucasian with deep blue eyes and egg yoke blonde hair. 'He is the real Superman!', he exclaimed. Dr. Pati asked his assistant, Amar, to throw out the two treacherous reporters (Akbar and Anthony).


Then after watching PM Modi approach, Dr. Pati picked up the mic and shouted, 'My soon-to-be-white Hindus and Hindies, Sadus and Veggies, look! Up in the sky. It's a bird, it's a plane ... no, it's Modi maaaan!'

 

The writer is a Pakistani journalist, cultural critic and satirist. He is the author of a detailed book on Pakistan’s ideological, political & social history, called ‘End of the Past.’

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

 
08
June
1st Karachi Shooting Championship Held in Karachi Garrison
newsfirstkarachshoting.jpg1st Karachi Shooting Championship was held in Karachi Garrison. Shooting lovers from Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, PAF, ASF, Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and Karachi, including children and female shooters participated. Pakistan Navy remained the best on scoring table. Chief Guest, Commander Karachi Corps Lieutenant General Shahid Baig Mirza distributed the prizes. While emphasizing on importance of sports, the Chief Guest said that ‘organizing such activities is a healthy sign and should be encouraged for creating good environment in the city.’

 

08
June
Sri Lankan Army Chief Visits Miranshah
newssrilankair.jpgLieutenant General A.W.J. Crishantha De Silva, Chief of Sri Lankan Army visited Miranshah, NWA where he was briefed about ongoing operations, rehabilitation and development work being undertaken, prevailing normalcy in the area, return of TDPs and border management system. The Chief of Sri Lankan Army appreciated Pakistan Army’s achievements and contributions in the fight against terrorism. The visiting General expressed full confidence in Pakistan’s ability to completely overcome the menace of terrorism in the near future. Earlier, on arrival at Miranshah, he was received by Commander Peshawar Corps Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmed Butt.

 

08
June
Turkey Orders 52 Super Mushshaks

newsturkeorder.jpgPakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Turkish Air Force (TurAF) inked a contract for the supply of 52 Super Mushshaks which replaced TurAF’s existing primary training aircraft.


A contract signing ceremony was held at Istanbul during the 13th International Defence Industry Fair 2017. Air Marshal Arshad Malik, Chairman Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) signed the contract with Professor Dr. Ismail Demir, Turkey’s Under Secretary for Defence Industries. All the aircraft will replace the TurAF’s fleet of SF260s and Cessna T-41s based at Izmir-Kaklic and Istanbul-Yesilkoy respectively for student pilot/undergraduate training. They will be fitted with the Garmin 950 avionics in the cockpit. With the first TurAF Super Mushshaks already being produced at PAC Kamra, the first pair will be supplied within nine months, according to the PAC Chairman. The remaining 50 aircraft will follow within three years. Five TurAF pilots are expected to attend the PAF’s Flying Instructor School at PAF Academy Asghar Khan to train as instructor pilots.


The Qatar Air Force examples also fitted with Garmin 950 avionics will be delivered in June. While the new aircraft for the Nigerian Air Force, equipped with a Dynon avionics suite should be delivered in July. There is no doubt the glass cockpit has breathed new life into a trainer that hadn’t been sold to a military export customer since Saudi Arabia bought them in 2004. It marks the biggest Pakistan export order to a NATO customer and comes in the wake of deals with the Air Forces of Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The trainer is also on order with Nigeria.


Around 46 of these Super Mushshak aircraft are currently in service with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), with the first-one being commissioned around the year 2000. Super Mushshak aircraft fitted with an American 260 hp engine, cockpit air conditioning, electrical instruments, and electric/manual elevator and rudder trim, the aircraft has been developed to meet FAR part 23 certification in normal, utility and aerobatics categories. It has a spacious side-by-side cockpit allowing good contact between the pilot and the co-pilot/observer or between the student and the instructor. The Super Mushshak meets the requirements of a modern primary training syllabus and is an ideal basic trainer for basic flight training and instrument flying.


Representatives of the state-owned Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), which announced the deal, and the Turkish government signed the contract on November 23, on the sidelines of the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) that is held every two years in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.


The Super Mushshak is a PAC licence-built version of the Saab MFI-17 Supporter aircraft, which is usually the first platform used for training air force cadets.


(Report: Directorate of Media Affairs, PAF)

08
June
Joint Closing Ceremony of National Integrated Counter Terrorism Course and Capacity Enhancement Course FC KP

On May 04, 2017 graduation/closing ceremony of National Integrated Counter Terrorism Course-10 (NICTC-10) and Capacity Enhancement Course-3 for Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was held at National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Pabbi.
Commander 1 Corps Lieutenant General Azhar Saleh Abbasi was the Chief Guest. The Joint Closing Ceremony was also attended by Major General Syed Aamer Raza General Commanding Office Headquarters 37 Division, Brigadier Yousaf Majoka Deputy Inspector General Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karim Khan Deputy Inspector General Police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other officials from various departments. These courses are in the continuation of series of special training being organized by the Army for the capacity enhancement of our Sister Services and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). The NICTC-10 included 380 individuals from 16 different departments including Sister Services, Police, Rangers, Defence Services Guards, Anti Narcotics Force, Pakistan Coast Guards, Strategic Planning Divison and other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) while Capacity Enhancement Course for Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa included 288 all ranks form Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Earlier during the day, Chief of Sri Lankan Army Lieutenant General A.W.J. Crishantha de Silva along with his team of senior military officials visited NCTC Pabbi and witnessed the performance/training of NICTC-10 and FC KP CEC-3 in which the trainees displayed excellent skills of counter terrorism training. Lieutenant General Hidayat Ur Rehman Inspector General Training and Evaluation and Major General Muhammad Chiragh Haider Director General Military Training were also present during the visit.
Ever since its inception, thousands of trainees from LEAs, Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy along with foreign trainees from numerous friendly countries have been trained at this renowned institution of Pakistan Army. Commander 1 Corps lauded the efforts of National Counter Terrorism Centre in enhancing the capacity of LEAs and contributing to national cause of fight against terrorism. He paid homage to the sacrifices of our Sister Services and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in general and Pakistan Army in particular. He also highlighted the success of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad which is in progress all over the country. Commander 1 Corps later interacted with trainees and invitees from LEAs and reiterated the national resolve to fight the menace of terrorism.

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08
June
Dual Seat JF-17B Thunder Completes Maiden Flight

newsdualsetatjf.jpgApril 28, 2017 was a momentous day for Pakistan Air Force as dual-seat variant of the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft successfully completed its maiden test flight at Chengdu (China). Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force was the Chief Guest at the occasion. This impressive ceremony was hosted by Mr. Li Yuhai, Executive Vice President Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

 

Dual-seat JF-17B is currently entering the testing phase which is jointly developed by China and Pakistan. JF-17B dual seat fighter aircraft is a major milestone towards self reliance and would boost operational and training capabilities of Pakistan Air Force. It will further enhance advanced combat training of PAF fighter pilots on this indigenous war fighting machine.

 

Induction of JF-17 aircraft in PAF started in 2007 and has continued during subsequent years. Today, Pakistan Air Force is operating five JF-17 Squadrons which are actively engaged in all types of operations. JF-17 Thunder is an excellent fighter aircraft which can be easily compared with the 4th generation aircraft of the world.

08
June

Written By: Puruesh Chaudhary

History is now being documented real time and there are millions of contributors expressing their views. It is no longer about the worldview rather a people view creating the context. The strength in an expression is what is cultivating impact.

When great many are thinking in; what is there to consider is – who is thinking through. The immaterial need to think through is deeply embedded in our storytelling. If information is the formation of the mind; who’s questioning whether this is the quality of mind required to think policies. The alternate views are as relevant as the discourse itself. And if the discourse is frightening; the views will only comply. This is the nature of those who are in the business of designing information scenarios.


The way information is shared, ideas exchanged and semantic knowledge established as and when people connect through devices has redefined the pace at which opinions are formed, networks developed and traditional authority undermined. These aren’t interesting times; it is only that we are allowing our anxieties skew the thought process required for long-term strategies inherently people-centric. Thinking through then means that not only we are aligned with global developments but we also have a credible say; not just on the basis of physical strength but also with the quality of mind we offer to solve world challenges. The exaggerated pretence over whether there ever was a truth-based world to begin with; the post-truth construct is highly out of order. As Dr. Ilhan Niaz a historian puts it, “Pakistan is a pre-fact society”. Open and shut case.


Data is the new orange.
There’s beauty in chaos and randomness, it’s the human judgement that forces the contradictions within the thinking patterns. However, since the education system is designed to focus on creating linear patterns therefore this is easily influenced. But the most exciting opportunity in sense making is the creativity and imagination involved to think through in decision-making process. The entire academia in Pakistan should therefore have some basic credentials in cognitive science. This is not traditional, it is a step into the future where quality of thought is needed to overcome very basic issues confronting our society. A deeper understanding of why we are the way we are and where could we be headed as a society.

 

thinkinthink.jpgIt is only when the mentors have clarity that the mentee creates the foundations required for his or her mindset(s). The hyperconnectivity is changing the way we express and to whom. Privacy is no longer the dispute; it is what we keep to ourselves as a matter of choice is the imperative. The understanding therefore needs to inculcate a more sophisticated comprehension as to why so many social media platforms offer free services. Therefore what we share is a choice, who we share with is a choice, trusting a service is therefore also a choice in the information age. And if that service violates the trust – question is whether we have the conscious ability and competence to hold it responsible. So in 2017, when the world population using social media is approximately 2.5 billion with over a billion active on Facebook alone one must recognize that this is unprecedented. Never in the history of information communication was there ever a time where humanity was connected to such an extent. And it is really noisy. A fun forecast, by 2020 almost 5 billion of the world population will have access to the internet compared to just 360 million in 2000. In 2005, the first billion had the access, 2010 second and in 2014 the third. It took five years to reach the first one billion and only four to reach the third. How are we thinking now?


So, are we really listening or are simply busy judging?
As people talk to people, talk to devices, talk to other devices, the nature of information creation and consumption patterns is changing drastically. The internet-based businesses will increasingly become more relevant only because of the mere fact that it’s the most efficient and yet more productive way of collating social intelligence. The growth mentality will flourish as community of interests form alliances to create the ecosystem closer to resolving human suffering. The advancement of technology is therefore seen to be driving this approach as it cuts through unnecessary bureaucratic and the conventional management barriers which only made sense when the transfer of information was at a similar pace which made competitive logic. Today, connected minds have more value than the ego system that created market access and exploitation of natural resources during the second and the third industrial revolution which shaped the history as we know today. However, history is now being documented real time and there are millions of contributors expressing their views. It is no longer about the worldview rather a people view creating the context. The strength in an expression is what is cultivating impact. In such a highly complexed and complicated environment, the means through which the decision-makers reflect in public space is critical. This implies democratization of mindsets and having the ability to capture the human connection. The interaction between and amongst devices provides that unique possibility to place a greater value on the human condition. But for this to happen with a generation so young the blinkered political obsessions need to be temporarily suspended for the next 15 years or the country will inevitably suffer greatly from the ecological collapse of the mind; signs of which are clearly visible in the rhetoric.


Each empire to fit an ego.
1950s we were crossing 40 million and in just 65 years we added over a 120 million to our population and till today we still haven’t managed to balance out our priorities – the equation is very simple, the Government and its institutions are to serve the people and not the other way around. In 2017, more than 40 million people in Pakistan have access to the internet. If we ran some numbers on this it will only bound to increase and compound.
So, is Pakistan thinking-in or thinking-through?

 

The writer is Futures Researcher and Strategic Narrative Professional Founder and President of a think tank AGAHI.

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

Twitter: @puruesh

 
07
June
Delegates from Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission Attend a Security Meeting at GHQ

A Two Star level security meeting among delegates from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission was held at General Headquarters Rawalpindi. The delegations were led by Afghan DGMO, Major General Habib Hesari; and Resolute Support Mission's Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations), Major General Christopher Haas. Pakistan was represented by DGMO, Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza. During the trilateral meeting, the senior delegates stressed upon the need to defeat Daesh through complementary efforts in respective areas of operations.

The trilateral meeting was succeeded by a Two Star Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Meeting, in which both sides discussed measures for improving military-to-military coordination and cooperation. Chaman incident, border control/management and measures to curb cross-border fire violations were also discussed. Both sides agreed to enhance frequency of bilateral interactions at multiple tiers through different command and staff channels to foster an environment of mutual respect, trust, cordiality and cooperation.

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07
June
CNS Visits Indonesia and China

Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah visited Indonesia and China. During the visit, the Naval Chief met a number of dignitaries of both the countries.
During his visit to Indonesia, Chief of the Naval Staff called on Chief of the Indonesian Navy, Admiral Ade Supandi, Commandant Marine Corps, Maj Gen Bambang Suwantono, and Commandant Western Fleet Command, Rear Admiral Aan Kumia of Indonesia.
Upon his arrival at Indonesian Naval Headquarters, the Admiral was received by his counterpart, Chief of the Indonesian Navy, Admiral Ade Supandi. Guard of Honour was also presented to the Naval Chief on the occasion.
During the meeting, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah dilated upon matters of mutual interest and bilateral naval collaboration. Chief of the Indonesian Navy acknowledged the significance of close and strong bilateral naval association in diverse realms between Pakistan Navy and Indonesian Navy. Admiral Zakaullah thanked Admiral Ade Supandi for active participation by Indonesian Navy in Multinational Naval Exercise AMAN 17 to join hands for common resolve of ‘Together for Peace’ and also looked forward to further enhancing the interaction between both navies through port calls and Passage Exercises (PASSEXs).
Chief of the Indonesian Navy, while lauding the professional acumen and commitment of PN personnel, highly appreciated the efforts of Pakistan Navy to maintain collaborative security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.
During the meeting with Commandant Marine Corps, Maj Gen Bambang Suwantono and Commandant Fleet Command, Rear Admiral Aan Kumia, diverse matters of professional interest ranging from Maritime Security and Stability, Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP), Counter Piracy Operations, drug trafficking and various avenues to enhance interoperability between Pakistan and Indonesian Navy were dilated upon. Naval Chief also highlighted Pakistan’s commitment and performance in fight against terrorism in general and Pakistan Navy’s efforts for maintaining regional peace and security in particular. The dignitaries acknowledged strong foundations and historical ties between Pakistan and Indonesia and lauded PN efforts and focused commitments in support of collaborative maritime security in the region and extending cooperation in diverse fields to Indonesian Navy.
During his visit to China, the Naval Chief called on Commander PLA(N) China, Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong.
Upon arrival at PLA(N) Headquarters at Beijing China, the Admiral was received by Commander PLA(N) China, Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong. Ceremonial Guard of Honour was presented to the Naval Chief on the occasion.
Prior to the formal call on, the Naval Chief was given detailed briefings regarding PLA(N) China. During the call on, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah shed light on bilateral naval collaboration between Pakistan Navy and PLA Navy including Maritime Security and Stability, Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP), Counter Piracy Operations, drug trafficking and joint collaboration in various projects. The Naval Chief thanked Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong for active participation of PLA(N) in Multinational Naval Exercise AMAN 17 and also discussed to further enhancing the interaction between both navies through port calls, Bilateral Naval Exercises and exchange of training programmes at various levels.
Commander PLA(N) acknowledged the significance of close and strong bilateral naval association in diverse realms between Pakistan Navy and PLA Navy. While lauding the professional acumen and commitment of PN personnel, Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong highly appreciated the efforts of Pakistan Navy to maintain collaborative security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

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07
June
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Meets COAS at GHQ

Pakistan's Soil is Not Being Used for Terrorist Activities Against Any Other Country: COAS

Mr David Hale, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan met Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ. Matters of mutual interest including regional security issues were discussed during the meeting.

COAS reiterated Pakistan's stance that ‘its soil is not being used for terrorist activities against any other country nor shall we tolerate any such action against Pakistan’. The Ambassador acknowledged Pakistan Army's efforts in securing control of areas on Pakistan side of the border and said that ‘both countries can carry forward the work done towards enduring peace and stability in the region through enhanced coordination and cooperation’.

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07
June
CJCSC Meets Australian Chief of Defense Forces and other Dignitaries

General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, CJCSC met Australian Chief of Defense Forces, Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin in Australia during his official visit. Matters of mutual professional interests with particular reference to global and regional security environments were discussed.

CJCSC also held separate meetings with other Australian Armed Forces' Service Chiefs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and other Australian officials. Australian dignitaries appreciated the high professional standards of Pakistan Armed Forces and their valued contributions to regional peace and stability.

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07
June

Written By: Prof. Sharif al Mujahid

Demography, along with geography, has always figured in the making of nations and in inter-state relationships. But perhaps never so critically as in the case of Pakistan. Indeed, in all the annals of its proto-history and existential career, demography and Pakistan have been interminably entwined. This may sound incredible, even inexplicable.


But for a moment consider the following. Which variable other than demography sparked the demand for Pakistan? Which variable has determined the roller coaster course of Pakistan’s history which, during her first 24 years, became hostage to East-West Pakistan tension, mutual bickering and a litany of grievances, culminating in the country’s traumatic dismemberment? Which other variable has set the nature of the political tone, tenor and discourse and triggered the political crises Pakistan has been almost continuously enmeshed in since its birth on August 14, 1947? Which other variable has fueled the acrimonious debate on resources allocation, the civil and military bureaucracy composition, power-sharing formulae and decision-making weightage between regimes and political units, administrative units, political parties and pressure groups? None else other than demography for the most part and as the core stimulant. Interminably linked with demography has, of course, been geography.

 

demographiyandpak.jpgAn explication of the above framework calls for a historical flashback. Of all the major countries conquered by Islam in the first, second and third waves, extending from the seventh to the 15th centuries, two countries on the periphery stood as exceptions – Spain (or Andalusia) in the west and India in the east. Muslim Spain, ascendant for some seven centuries, finally got wiped out when Boabdil handed over the keys of Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella in January 1492, a tragic event in the annals of Islam, culminating in Christian Spain’s marathon Reconquista drive.


Muslims ruled over large parts of the subcontinent for seven to eight centuries. Yet, as against the Islamic heartland, this Islamic bastion on the scattered fringe remained non-Muslim demographically. Provincial Hinduism withstood Islam, to quote Jadunath Sarkar, the famous Indian historian. Even the heartland of the Muslim Indian empire, the North Western Provinces of the 19th century and the United Provinces of the 20th century, housing the capital of the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526) and the Mughal Empire (1526-1857), was home to barely 14 percent of the population.


In 1842, after the battle of Ghazni, Lord Ellenborough, the governor general, had put down the number of Muslims at 10 percent of the population, perhaps without counting those in northwest India, which was still outside the British realm. Yet it was undoubtedly an understatement in the census since 1990 had revealed the Muslims comprised 22.6 percent of the population of India and Burma (note Burma was included in the census in India till 1931), 22.4 percent in 1891, 23.2 percent in 1901, 23.5 percent in 1911, and 24.1 percent in 1921.


Hence, in the context of the low Muslim demography, Sir Syed’s gravest concern at this juncture, to quote his own words, was how to get “the two nations – the Mohammedans and Hindus – sit on the same throne and remain in equal power.” And he came to the ominous conclusion, “Most certainly not.. to hope that.. is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable.”

 

Which variable has determined the roller coaster course of Pakistan’s history which, during her first 24 years, became hostage to East-West Pakistan tension, mutual bickering and a litany of grievances, culminating in the country’s traumatic dismemberment? Which other variable has set the nature of the political tone, tenor and discourse and triggered the political crises Pakistan has been almost continuously enmeshed in since its birth on August 14, 1947? Which other variable has fueled the acrimonious debate on resources allocation, the civil and military bureaucracy composition, power-sharing formulae and decision-making weightage between regimes and political units, administrative units, political parties and pressure groups? None else other than demography for the most part and as the core stimulant.

It was impossible under the unitary Westminster model, with its credo of majority rule which the Indian National Congress was insisting on since its founding in 1885, and with the British proclivity for the introduction of representative institutions – as indicated by the Gladstonian reforms of the 1880s, the Local Board Bill (1883), and the Bradlaugh Bill (1889), eventuating in the Indian Councils Act (1892). Profoundly realistic that Sir Syed was, his worst fears were summed up in a telling information: “How can the Mohammedan guard their interests? It would be like a game of dice, in which one man had four dice and the other only one… there will be one member for us to every four for the Hindus…,” Sir Syed argued in his Lucknow address on December 28, 1887.


In order to salvage the bleak Muslim situation to the extent it could be done, Sir Syed settled for separate electorates. Thus, from the late 1880s onwards, it became the core Muslim demand. It was put in formally by a representative Muslim deputation at Shimla on October 1, 1906, and was finally conceded by the British in the Act of 1909.


Until 1920, Sir Syed’s claim of Muslim nationhood was in the religio-cultural context but not in terms of demography or dispersal of the Muslim population in the subcontinent. The Muslims, counting about 70 million, constituted the largest single bloc of Muslims in the world, yet they were no better than a “minority” in the subcontinent.


In this context, the 1921 census figures came as a blessing. They showed that as a result of a greater population increase during the previous decades, they had acquired a slight majority in two of the largest provinces – 54 percent in Bengal and 55.4 percent in the Punjab.


Punjab was adjacent to Sindh, the NWFP and Balochistan, and each of them had considerable or a preponderant majority of Muslims. Thus the Muslim “nation” had at last acquired some sort of a territorial base in two important regions.


What made the emergence of some Muslim majority provinces so significant was the Montford Reforms of 1919, which initiated the trend towards the devolution of power to the provinces. The reforms conceded greater powers to the council and for the first time the Indians were entrusted with responsibility in respect of the transferred subjects such as education, local government, agriculture, etc. Thus, the Muslim demographic dominance in Bengal and Punjab ensured them a share in the province power pie.


During the 1920s, this dominance determined the power-sharing mechanisms devised by Muslims as a basis for a Hindu-Muslim settlement, and get such a mechanism incorporated in the next installment of reforms, promised by the British 10 years after the introduction of the Montford Reforms.


Hence, four of the five basic Muslim demands which figured in Delhi Muslim Proposal (1927), the all-Parties Muslim Conference Resolution (1929) and Jinnah’s Fourteen Points (1929) were: (i) reservation of seats for Muslims in the Punjab and Bengal on population basis; (ii) residuary powers for the provinces in a federal set-up; (iii) separation of Sindh from Bombay and setting it up as a separate province; and (iv) reforms in the NWFP and Balochistan, to bring them at par with other provinces in terms of their constitutional status.


The 1935 Act conceded the demands relating to Sindh and the NWFP. This meant four (five if Balochistan was included) stable Muslim provinces to match the six Hindu provinces and a genuine federation at the centre to ensure the substance of power to Muslims in their majority provinces.


But the federal part of the 1935 Act tilted towards a unitary government, a highly centralized structure, and the Congress rule in the Hindu provinces during 1937-39 sought to give a foretaste of what to expect when it assumed power at the centre. Hence the Muslim call for the abandonment of the federal part, which the British finally did in late 1939.


And once the Muslim hopes of ensuring or enjoying the substance of power in their majority province proved to be a chimera, their demographic dominance in the north-west and the north-east was adroitly used as a launching pad for the demand of Pakistan.


In 1941, the Muslims counted 79.4 million out of a total population of 295.8 million in British India – i.e., about 25.8 percent. Had they been evenly dispersed throughout the subcontinent, without being fortuitously concentrated in the north-west and north-east, they could have been bereft of a sizeable territorial base, and the Pakistan demand, even if it had been raised, would have made little territorial justification.


Thus, in the ultimate analysis, a particular mix of Muslim demography with its concomitant Muslim population proportion in certain specific regions led to the emergence of Pakistan.


Ironically though, Pakistan, since its inception, has been hostage to its particular mix of demography. Space considerations preclude an extended discussion, but certain salient points may be noted.


East Bengal counted for one-seventh of Pakistan’s area but four-seventh of her population. It was a “rural slum” with an agriculturist economy, and little industrial infrastructure. Its representation in the services was poor – due, of course, to historical reasons – with West Pakistanis, some of them overbearing, dominating the higher echelons of administration. It had differences of race, language and temperament with West Pakistan. All this sufficed to spawn a list of grievances, tension and bickering. But consider for a moment whether all this could have acquired the proportion and the importance, and spawned the cataclysmic consequences it finally did without East Bengal’s dominance on Pakistan’s demographic landscape and its physical discontinuity with West Pakistan. Assam and Nagaland on the eastern fringes of India, though not discontinuous with the Indian mainland, have had similar problems and grievances against New Delhi, but they could not mount the sort of presence East Bengal/East Pakistan did. In the ultimate analysis then, it was its demographic dominance that provided it with the much wanted clout to set in motion traumatic events and reverse the Westphalian model in the international system, and yet induce goodwill for itself in the comity of nations.


The tragedy with Pakistan is that even in its post-Bangladesh format, it is still hostage to demography. If united Pakistan had 56 percent of Bengalis in faraway East Pakistan, the post 1971 Pakistan has some 58 percent in one province, the Punjab, and an additional four percent of the people of Punjab are scattered in the other three provinces.


Added to this demographic dominance is the fact that they are not only better educated, but are also characterized by the laissez faire attributes – initiative, industry and competition. No wonder, they command a large presence on the Pakistani bureaucratic, military, industrial, entrepreneurial, educational and economic landscape.


Of course, this gives rise to feelings of envy among the other nationalities, and given their inability to compete with accusations of the Punjabi dominance. Clearly, the people of the Punjab by themselves are not at fault. Rather, it is the particular effect of demography on Pakistan’s nationalities’ landscape that is the problem.


In any case, this demographic pattern needs to be reshaped in the interest of Pakistan. We might as well take a cue from India. The six full and two half provinces in India in 1947 have been reconstituted into some 27 full and small states for various reasons and as a result of political contingencies. The same considerations call for the creation of several small and more easily manageable provinces out of the present four provinces. Remember, they are not intrinsically historical entities. They were carved out and set up as provincial units by the British for administrative reasons. The same reasons plus the creation and cultivation of harmonious feelings between the various nationalities call for the creation of new provincial units.

 

The writer is HEC Distinguished National Professor, has recently co-edited Unescos History of Humanity, vol. VI, and edited In Quest of Jinnah (2007), the only oral history on Pakistan’s founding father.
 
07
June
GHQ Registers Protest over Unprovoked Ceasefire Violations with UN Military Observers at UNMOGIP

indiaarmynews.jpgUnited Nations Military Observers at UNMOGIP were invited to GHQ to register a protest over unprovoked Ceasefire Violations (CFV’s) and targeting of civilian population by Indian Army on May 10, 13 and 16, 2017. Indian Army used Small Arms, Heavy Caliber automatic weapons, Heavy Mortar (122 mm Mortars) and Field Artillery in Sabzkot, Baroh, Tandar, Khuiratta, Kot Koterra and Karela Sectors to target Pakistani villages resulting in martyrdom of a civilian and injuring 15 others including women and children.

UN Military Observers were also apprised with latest situation along the Line of Control (LOC).
07
June

Written By: Dr. Mirwais Kasi

West Asia continues to occupy an important position in International Relations due to its geo-political location, for the entire region acts as a link between Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Red Sea, Atlantic Sea and Indian Ocean. The vast reserves of oil have perpetually attracted special interest from all over the world particularly from Western powers. The West Asia Policy of India had primarily been shaped by its friendly relations with the Arab countries and with a view to promote its national interests. India’s relations with Arabs were also influenced by the nature of its relations with Pakistan. India viewed that Pakistan regarded itself as closer to West Asia and projected India as anti-Islamic. It was to counter this pan-Islamic movement that India adopted a pro-Arab stance.


Even before independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of Independent India, began co-operating with the Arab nationalists, and the Indian National Congress lent its support for the Arab’s struggle. The same consideration led India to extend its support to the Palestinian issue also. The Congress leaders, while sympathetic towards the plight of Jews in Europe were unresponsive to the idea of Israel. By the time the partition of Palestine became an issue in the United Nations, India had adopted an anti-Israel attitude and it was with this view that India opposed the partition of Palestine in the UN General Assembly in November 1947. When Israel came into existence in May 1948, India opposed the creation of the Jewish State and even voted against its creation. India regarded it as a theocratic state which was set up with the backing of imperialist powers. India however accorded de jure recognition to Israel in September 1950, stating that it was recognizing an established fact and that non-recognition was not only inconsistent with the overall relationship between the two member states, but would also limit India’s role as a possible peacemaker between the Arabs and the Israelis. The relationship was, however, kept at low key and no full-fledged diplomatic relations were then established because of Arab sentiments other than allowing the opening of Israeli Consulate in Bombay in 1955.

 

indiaisraelstr.jpgIsrael which courted non-aligned foreign policy in its early years was keen on improving relations with New Delhi, one of the NAM’s originators, but with little success. Pressure from the Arab bloc dissuaded India from accepting Israel’s overtures and led to the NAM adopting an anti-Israel policy. Israel’s gradual identification as an American ally over the 1960s further hindered good relations with India, which was highly suspicious of American foreign policy. The limited military assistance Israel rendered to India in its 1962 War with China and the India-Pakistan wars (1965 and 1971), as well as low key co-operation between their intelligence services over the years, elicited no change in New Delhi’s approach to the Jewish State. Even the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel made no dent in the formal hostility displayed by the Indian political elites against Israel from 1982 to 1988, India did not even allow full consular relations. India’s change in attitude toward Israel took place towards the end of Cold War, as it reassessed its foreign policy in view of fall of the Soviet Union. Adjusting itself in new global environments and new realities, India took a U-turn in its relations with Israel. India formally recognized Israel in January 1992 under Narasimha Rao’s premiership. The new BJP government of India was less considerate towards its largest Muslim minority who were more sympathetic towards Palestinian cause rather than Israel, likewise BJP government also neglected the Arab sentiments who were anti-Israeli in their approach. The normalization of relations left both India and Israel to explore as many avenues as possible. Since 1992, the two countries have exchanged several visits at different levels and signed several agreements, including “MoUs” to enhance their ties. Both states have been co-operating in various spheres of public policy including: intelligence, economy, culture, technology, security and military. The main interest of Israel lies in economic areas, while India’s major concern is related to military technology and security issues. The Indo-Israel equation is the emergence of a mutual equilibrium with each party deriving some advantages out of the new relationship. The smooth pace with which normalization has proceeded has rewarded Israeli’s patience and caused India to question why they had delayed completing the process for so long? The normalization has paid the Indian government well and is likely to benefit in future, too.

 

A flourishing Indo-Israel relationship has made a significant impact on the global politics by altering the balance of power not only in the Middle East, but also in South Asia and even in the larger Asian region. This bilateral relationship has worked to great disadvantage for Pakistan.

A flourishing Indo-Israel relationship has made a significant impact on the global politics by altering the balance of power not only in the Middle East, but also in South Asia and even in the larger Asian region. This bilateral relationship has worked to great disadvantage for Pakistan.


Pakistan essentially identifies many dangers to its national interests and security because of Indo-Israel nexus. Pakistan places Islamic ideology as the basic principle of its existence, which has always been taken by both India and Israel as a threat to their own ideologies – so-called Indian secularism and Zionism. Since 1992 both countries initiated propaganda tactics against Islamic Republic of Pakistan in which they tried to portray it as a state embodying extremism and fundamentalism. The level of cooperation and understanding between India and Israel in realm of defense and security is also a growing concern for Pakistan. The country consistently faces problems like ethnic divisions, sectarianism, suicide bombing etc., because of Indo-Israel unleashing of Forth Generation Warfare agenda. Security has become the overriding and foremost concern of Pakistan. The situation also aggravated in the past when country felt the risk of pre-emptive strike by Israel on its nuclear facilities with direct Indian assistance – by using India as a base to destroy Pakistan's nuclear facilities. Even in May 1998 before Pakistan carried out its nuclear tests, it put all its defense measures on red alert after receiving the intelligence that six modern aircraft loaded with sophisticated missiles and flown by Israeli pilots had landed on different air bases in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. The Indians in collaboration with Israel had laid electronic counter measures (ECM) frequency operated equipment network to neutralize Pakistan's electronic network at its nuclear facilities.

 

The country consistently faces problems like ethnic divisions, sectarianism, suicide bombing etc., because of Indo-Israel unleashing of foURth generation warfare agenda.

Besides that, Pakistan also faces a security threat because of Indo-Israel nexus in Kashmir. Both countries draw a parallel thinking on insurgencies in Kashmir and Palestine. This shared goal has led to better understanding of each other’s concerns. Both countries have been working to label the freedom fighters in Kashmir and Palestine as Islamic extremists and terrorists, which is neither in the interest of Pakistan nor in the interests of Kashmiris and Palestinians, keeping in view their fundamental right of self-determination. The Indo-Israel bilateral relations have been disturbing the regional equilibrium on the one hand and are also paving way for strong ties between U.S. and India on the other.


Similarly, India-Israel ties increased the concerns for Pakistan mainly because of the intensity of co-operation between the two states in the fields of defence. Due to this nexus, the strategic balance in the sub-continent is tilting fast against Pakistan. In coming years, it will be difficult to match the combined conventional military capability of Israel and India. Pakistan is especially concerned about the sale of Arrow anti-missile system that has the potential to neutralize part of nuclear ballistic missile capability. The Phalcon Airborne Early Warning, Command and Control (AEW&C) system will give India the capability to look deep into Pakistan’s territory with the result that it would be difficult for Pakistani war planes to move without being detected. The Barak Anti-missile system will gives the Indian Navy huge maneuver advantages.


To counter the threat of Indo-Israel nexus, Pakistan must frame different strategies and follow different tactics as to preserve its national interests and national security. Pakistan's policy must be multi-dimensional. Being a frontline state in war against terrorism, taking advantage from the environment Pakistan must ask U.S. for providing it with hi-tech military hardware, though U.S. may never give Pakistan a status of strategic partner as it was assured to Israel and India, however, Pakistan as a non-NATO ally, frontline state in war against terror and being a supply line state for NATO towards Afghanistan, can convince U.S. and NATO countries to pressurize India and Israel for abandoning their aggressive approach and activities against Pakistan. On the other hand, for long term benefits Pakistan must always keep the Chinese option at hand to neutralize these agendas which are a growing threat to regional peace and security. Pakistan must further cultivate its ties with Russia which can prove to be beneficial for fulfilling the need of hi-tech military hardware.

 

ECO will defiantly merge the interests of Pakistan,, Iran,, Turkey,, Central Asian States,, even Azerbaijan and Afghanistan with new members in shape of China and Russia. The success of ECO will minimize Indo--U.S. role in Central Asian region and Afghanistan which indirectly will block Israel''s involvement in the entire region.

Furthermore, Pakistan may also highlight the issue of Palestine between India and Israel. It will compel India to follow a single clear stance where it must choose one between the two options i.e., either to provide full fledged support to Palestinian cause or to go towards Israel. In both ways India may lose. If it supports Palestine then it will lose Israel and if it supports Israel then it may deprive itself from oil benefits of Arab world and may suffer from economic crisis. Pakistan may also highlight India’s closeness with Iran. As Iran and Israel are very hostile towards each other so India again may lose either Iran or Israel. This approach will be useful in countering India's hegemonic designs in the region. Likewise, as India takes China as a threat to security, there is a need to expose dual Indian policies and sensitise Israelis and Chinese about negative opportunist policies of India. Apart from that, Pakistan through various platforms like OIC, D8 etc., may expose India and Israel from regional and international security perspective. This will force India and Israel to review their policies towards Pakistan. Equally, Pakistan may also expose the aggressive designs and hegemonic agendas of both India and Israel which are becoming a direct threat for regional and international peace and prosperity.


In addition, the CPEC project appears to be a landmark of Pakistan-China friendly relations and CPEC is being viewed as a game changer and a path towards regional connectivity. To make CPEC more significant, Pakistan along with its allies of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) must strive for expanding the membership of ECO and for that China along with Russia must be granted its membership. With China and Russia as its members, ECO will have a new soul and it will rise as a more pragmatic paradigm towards regional connectivity.


ECO will defiantly merge the interests of Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Central Asian States, even Azerbaijan and Afghanistan with new members in shape of China and Russia. The success of ECO will minimize Indo-U.S. role in Central Asian region and Afghanistan which indirectly will block Israeli involvement in the entire region.


It is also pertinent that Israeli factor in Pakistan-India relations exacerbates the most devastating aspect of the rivalry between the two countries; an accelerated arms race. The military sales between India and Israel have proved to be detrimental for the fragile balance of power between India and Pakistan. In response Pakistan has been pursuing a policy aimed at balancing the strategic equation to ensure a credible deterrence against India and its nexus with Israel under immense strategic compulsions. The options left for Pakistan are many, however, these need to be framed and followed in pragmatic way as to achieve a favorable desired outcome. Therefore, Islamabad must employ multi-dimensional diplomacy as well as formulate effective strategies to counter the threat posed by Indo-Israel nexus.

 

The writer is Assistant Professor at Department of International Relations, University of Balochistan, Quetta.

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07
June

Written By:Dr. Huma Baqai & Qudsia Khalique

The long-lasting solution to the Afghan conflict lies in the rebuilding of region-based political consensus that may produce a political settlement among all the elements of Afghan society, including the Taliban. This requires that the Afghan government and the people, the United States and regional stakeholders agree on a negotiated framework for an inclusive peace process.

The international community for good reason is yet once again stepping up efforts to find a peaceful solution to bring Afghanistan out from the 16 years long conflict with the Taliban. This is largely because the fragile security across the country has further deteriorated, and it continues to follow a downward spiral with recurrent armed clashes between the security forces and the Taliban, fluctuating in the degree of their intensity. It reached a record high in 2016, and continued at that stride in 2017. 807 troops from Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) died just between January 1 and February 24, 2017.

 

tacklingtherashmon.jpgThe April 2017 attack in the northern Balkh province killing at least 140 soldiers of the 209 Shaheen Army Corps, responsible for providing security to most of northern Afghanistan showcases the deficient position of the 8,400 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, tens of thousands of defense and agency contractors and Afghan security forces in the face of the Taliban and other armed groups resistance. The Taliban are now gearing towards more bellicosity with their recently announced spring offensive titled, Operation Mansouri. The statement released by the Taliban noted, “Mansouri would be carried out in two parts, military and non-military.”


Moreover, the Afghan security apparatus, besieged by the spiraling battlefield casualties, high number of desertions and non-existent soldiers on the payroll, has hitherto failed to halt the Taliban and other militant groups’ resurrection. Afghan National Security Forces are rapidly losing ground in their own country, and if it continues to accelerate at this pace, it could cause a “domino effect” by the fall of more government controlled areas of the country to the hands of Taliban and other militant groups. During the first eight months of 2016, the Afghan forces suffered death toll of 15000, the highest since 2001.


The recent 2017 report by an official U.S. watchdog, quoting senior U.S. military officials, stated that calling Russia, Pakistan and Iran “malign actors” in Afghanistan that enable insurgents or terrorist groups in Afghanistan does not help the situation. General Nicholson also said that Russia lends public legitimacy to the Taliban, which undermines the Afghan government and NATO efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report is very damaging to the Russia’s initiative of which China and Pakistan are a part. It includes quotes from General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations and Joseph Votel, Commander United States Central Command, suggesting that Russia may be “supplying the Taliban”. The Russian government has publicly rejected such remarks.

 

The latest report of the SIGAR underscores that the Afghan government has actually lost control of further 5% of its territory to the Taliban since the beginning of 2017. It further claims that the area under the control or influence of the Afghan government has decreased to just 52% of the nation’s districts in 2017 with half the country either contested or under the control of the insurgents, compared to 72% in November 2015.

The Moscow-led initiative which was initially not welcomed by Afghanistan because it was not invited to the meeting, is now joined by it. India and Iran are also a part of it. In fact the Afghan spokesperson actually called Russian government “an important ally”. In April, Pakistan had also invited the U.S. to participate in the Russian sponsored initiative, calling U.S. the biggest stakeholder. However, U.S. declined it saying the purpose is unclear. In fact the statements made later are indicative of American mistrust of Russian intent.


According to the recent brief on third round of the negotiations issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that: “The 12 participant countries including Afghanistan, Russia, India, China, Pakistan, Iran, and the Central Asian countries, came up with a joint narrative that there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis and that it can only be settled through the restoration of national accord by political means, in keeping with UN Security Council resolutions.”


The Conflict-matrix if perceived through the prism of the Pentagon, maintains a positive view of Afghanistan; while the ground reality contradicts it diametrically. The latest report of the SIGAR underscores that the Afghan government has actually lost control of further 5% of its territory to the Taliban since the beginning of 2017. It further claims that the area under the control or influence of the Afghan government has decreased to just 52% of the nation’s districts in 2017 with half the country either contested or under the control of the insurgents, compared to 72% in November 2015. In volatile Helmand province, the Taliban are contesting for 10 of the 14 districts. The Afghan government now roughly controls 60% of administrative districts with 29% under dispute and 11% in the hands of Taliban.

Essentially the Indian initiative and the Chinese initiative translate very differently on the ground in present day security situation. India is a cultivated protagonist in the conflict; secondly Indian government is losing ground. China has come up with a more 360 degree approach of cultivating both, the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Its influence on Pakistan and the growing convergence between China and Russia plus China’s neutrality of conduct helps the situation immensely.

The civilian casualties connected to the conflict were around 11,418 in 2016 and also a significant increase in internal displacement where 660,000 fled their homes due to fighting, the highest number recorded since the U.S. invasion. This is notwithstanding the spending of more than $117 billion on different development schemes by the U.S. The country still remains near the bottom of most human development indexes, largely because of the corrupt Afghan government which is incapable of effectively governing and handling the security situation of the country. According to the Transparency International report, Afghanistan stands at 166 of 168 countries in its Corruption Index and an eighth of all the money that goes to Afghanistan is lost to corruption. American spending to reconstruct Afghanistan now exceeds the amount spent to rebuild all of Western Europe under the Marshall Plan. The United States has also invested $70 billion in rebuilding Afghan security force. Afghan security forces continue to be plagued by the problem of inflated rolls and ghost soldiers with local commanders pocketing American-supplied funds to pay for non-existent soldiers. The United States has also spent $8.5 billion to battle narcotics in Afghanistan; opium production in 2016-17 has reached an all-time high. The failures of American war strategy in Afghanistan are both glaring and humiliating.


The new under-consideration strategy of the U.S. administration in Afghanistan of further deployment of between 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops would not reverse the momentum and direction of the Afghan war or American failures. In 2011, U.S. deployed 100,000 soldiers in Afghanistan at the peak of the surge. The massive surge has remained futile to control the unabated Taliban insurgency. In fact, the Taliban and other militant groups have emerged with more robust potent threat to the already beleaguered security apparatus of the country. Hence, the plan to increase the number of troops does not have the potential to end the stalemate in Afghanistan.


Any increase of several thousand American forces in Afghanistan would be well below their 2011 peak. Although U.S. military is all set to pitch a revised Afghan war plan to President Trump in mid-May, on conditions of anonymity officials concede that the situation in Afghanistan is even worse than they had expected, and that any politically palatable numbers would not be enough to turn the tide, much less create stability and security.


This longest war in the U.S. history, dating from October 2001, now appropriates over three-quarter of a billion dollars to it. The U.S. achieved nothing and has failed miserably in Afghanistan on all fronts, with the fatalities of around 2300 U.S. military personnel and over 20,000 wounded.


More recently, the U.S. again show-cased its fierce military might by dropping the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), dubbed as the "Mother Of All Bombs” on a huge tunnel complex used by the IS-Khorasan in the Tora Bora mountains of the Nangarhar Province. Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani supported the bombing but senior state official Omar Zakhilwal, the Afghan envoy to Pakistan, criticized the strike as "reprehensible" and "counterproductive" and maintained that “If big bombs were the solution, we (Afghanistan) would be the most secure place on earth today”. Former president Karzai also tweeted against it saying Afghanistan should not be used as a testing ground for American weapons. The strike that reportedly killed 90 militants show diminutive sign that the bomb dealt a devastating blow to the militants, as the area still remains an active combat zone and the U.S. troops still have restricted access to that locality.


In addition, the strike rather than disposing of the Afghan resistance, may galvanize the dissenting Afghan insurgent groups together against a common enemy with increased support of the people, and is more likely to exacerbate the insurgency. One of the bomb’s predecessor, named the BLU-82B or “Daisy Cutter,” was also many times used against the militants during the early phase of the war but yielded only short term tactical and strategic gains. The Special Forces' dictum, that ‘if an insurgency isn't shrinking, it's succeeding’, precisely fits in the existing lattice of the Afghan imbroglio.


More failure is not an option due to growth of terrorism and expansion of the conflict spectrum, which is stimulating and brewing anxiety in the peripheral countries like Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia.


Even, in spite of budget deficits and cost over runs, members of the U.S. national security apparatus, elected and appointed officials, senior military officers, and other policy insiders, accept war as an ongoing normal way of life. Andrew J. Bacevich in his article “The never-ending war in Afghanistan”, observes war in Washington has just become more tolerable, an enterprise to be managed rather than terminated, as quickly as possible.


The conflict in Afghanistan is attracting new stakeholders to the conflict. It is rapidly becoming a strategic hub of competition and conflict among regional and global players. The U.S. is there, not ready to realize the underlying causes of the conflict in spite of monumental failures and costs. India, China and Russia are the new entrants. Russia is now looking at a regional and global role, as an active player. Its proactive role in Afghanistan is essentially driven by the expanding foothold of IS-chapter in Afghanistan and it is trying to integrate itself with China’s growing economic footprint in the region, One Belt, One Road project by improving its connectivity with the region.


The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s affiliate in the South and Central Asia, Wilayat Khorasan (WK); the latest emerging threat in 2015 in the country’s east, now threatens to expand its sway in the region. It has enticed various splinter factions from the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, as well as Jundallah and other local groups. Moreover, WK also draws the sympathy and recruits from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkestan Islamic Movement and Jamaat Ansarullah of Tajikistan. They attract disaffected Taliban and unemployed Afghan youth with huge economic incentives, normally $700 a month to join them. According to the U.S. military officials, the group holds 600 to 800 fighters hugely concentrated in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces of the country, whereas the Afghan officials estimate around 1,500 fighters, with twice as many ancillary helpers and up to 8,000 less active supporters.


The Russia-China-Pakistan led peace-initiative on Afghanistan is also a response to this new threat. It is to step up efforts to promote the intra-Afghan peace process while maintaining the leading role of Afghan government and integrating the armed opposition into peaceful co-existence. United States’ continued resistance to the initiative post its acceptance by the Afghan government, indicates that the U.S. is still incapable to grab the gravity of the situation and is unilaterally focusing on accentuating the military presence, a strategy that has met with nothing but failure.


The Russian led peace-initiative is now welcomed by Pakistan, Iran, China and Afghanistan itself, the direct affectees of the conflict. Iran favors the initiative as its calculus of keeping the Wilayat Khorasan at bay and competing for influence over the Afghan Taliban fit with this model. China also supports the move as the country is eagerly pursuing for stability in the region to ensure the success of its One Belt, One Road initiative.


Whilst, during the second session of this initiative, India and China did not see eye to eye and deeply came at odds with each other, especially on the latter’s demand to initiate talks with Afghan Taliban. India had confined itself to sticking to developmental support in Afghanistan to increase its influence by working on its linkages with the weak government of Afghanistan.


Essentially the Indian initiative and the Chinese initiative translate very differently on the ground in present day security situation. India is a cultivated protagonist in the conflict; secondly Indian government is losing ground. China has come up with a 360 degree approach of cultivating both, the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Its influence on Pakistan and the growing convergence between China and Russia plus China’s neutrality of conduct helps the situation immensely.


Since 1990s, the strategic significance of Afghanistan for China has escalated astronomically with concerns ranging from Uyghur militants posing threats in Xinjiang province to Afghanistan emerging as a key player in the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. China is now ready to play an overt role for peace in Afghanistan. China recognizes the Afghan format and wants the Taliban to join the peace process. India, on the other hand, describes Taliban as the biggest threat to Afghanistan largely because it views Afghanistan through Pakistan’s prism.


Russia provided both the diplomatic and logistical support to U.S. military in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2015. Although, over the last two years, it has been critical of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and its role to end the war. This led to significant shift, which now has become more obvious from Russia’s prior policy of neutrality to assertion in Afghanistan.


U.S., now perceives the Russian engagement and its peace negotiation moves in Afghanistan as country’s policy to expand its influence by taking advantage of the turbulence in the country to establish itself as a major player in the region and extending its foothold to the other critical parts of the world.


The long-lasting solution to the Afghan conflict lies in the rebuilding of region-based political consensus that may produce a political settlement among all the elements of Afghan society, including the Taliban. This requires that the Afghan government and the people, the United States and regional stakeholders agree on a negotiated framework for an inclusive peace process. It can only be materialized by a positive shift in varying threat perceptions, competing interests, and conflicting assessments by the actors of the conflict; hence moving beyond the “Rashomon effect” to peace cultivation. A stable Afghanistan should be the top priority of the U.S. and regional players with a paradigm shift of winning a war to reaching peace. The Russia-China-Pakistan initiative appears as a silver lining on the conflict-ridden horizon of the region.

 

Dr. Huma Baqai is Associate Professor at Institute of Business Administration, Karachi in the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, and, Qudsia Khaliq is Research Assistant to Dr. Huma Baqai.

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07
June

GHQ, in collaboration with HEC, organized a seminar ‘The Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism’ aimed at incorporating insights from intellectuals to prevent youth from violent extremism. Strategies were chalked out with an understanding of how we all can engage in preventing and countering violent extremism in all its various forms and how we could reach out to the young people and rally them to our cause. Factors that lead to radicalisation among youth were highlighted such as the discrepancy between expectations and reality, experiencing trauma and grievances which create a fertile ground for recruitment by the terrorist organisations. “Pakistan is a young nation, both in historic and demographic terms. Demographically, over 50% of our population is projected to be less than 25 years of age. The future of our country literally lies with the direction that our youth takes over the next few years,” said COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa in his keynote address to the VCs, faculty members, officers, senior journalists, media persons and other dignitaries present at the occasion.


He continued, “We are standing at a crossroads; ten year down the line, we will either be enjoying the fruits of a youth dividend or suffering at the hands of a youth bulge, especially with the youth which remains vulnerable to extremism.”


The role of education in this regard is crucial. It can instill young people with the necessary life skills and human rights values, contribute to a positive identity development, make them resilient against extremist ideologies and ensure their personal well-being, especially those at risk of marginalization and social exclusion, by empowering them to deal with the challenges of growing up in a complex, pluralistic society. There needs to be an understanding that those who misuse the concept of jihad to fulfil their own hidden agendas take Quranic verses out of context or misapply them, are in fact the worst enemies of Islam. Whereas Islam stands for peace, harmony and brotherhood. The message of Quran clearly rejects false assertions of such hooligans, dissidents, transgressors and miscreants and calls them Fasaadis in Surah-e-Baqra, “and when it is said unto them, do not cause fasaad on the earth, they say, we are but reformers.”


“Despite incessant propaganda, the fact is that as a nation, Pakistan has rejected terrorism. That speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values and I have no doubt that we equally reject extremism in all its manifestations”, emphasized General Qamar Javed Bajwa. However, a sense of vigilance is required to deal with the challenge of violent radicalisation as a disruptive force of the social fabric poses to our society. Measures are to be taken towards preventing socio-economic exclusion, establishing inclusive partnerships, amplifying alternative narratives through engagement with media, ensuring access to quality education and supporting initiatives and youth-oriented organisations.

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07
June

Written By: Senator M. Akram Zaki (R)

Iran and Gulf countries of the West Asia or the Middle East are very important for Pakistan as with them we have historical, cultural, religious, economic, political and strategic relations. Unfortunately, this energy rich, strategically important Muslim West Asia is in turmoil and facing multiple conflicts in which major world powers, regional powers and non-state actors of various shades are fighting many battles in different dimensions. It is difficult to identify who are allies and who are adversaries. Since 2011, Syria has been in the eye of storm. Some recent developments in and around Syria and Trump’s more aggressive attitude towards Iran have rung alarm bells for a major global conflict.


Pakistan has high stakes in the area; Iran is our next door neighbor with a long historical background. In the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, millions of our nationals are gainfully employed and are contributing to Pakistan’s limited foreign exchange balances. To really understand the multi-dimensional crisis of this most unstable region, it is necessary to have a look at the background of the involvement of major powers.


After the defeat and breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the European powers established themselves in the Middle East. England and France divided spheres of influence in the region under Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 and later acquired mandate from the League of Nations to run those countries. Palestine was one of the countries that came under British Mandate. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 promised homeland to the Jews in Palestine and a fair deal to the Arab majority of Palestine. Thus they sowed the seeds of conflicts in the region.


Before WW I, United States had limited contacts with the Middle East, confined to education, missionary work and business. American oil companies became active in the Middle East during the interwar period starting in 1920s. Israel was established in 1948 and Israel’s support and protection has remained an important element of American foreign policy since then. The policy of strategic control started after the Second World War, preventing any rival political power from entering or emerging in the strategic region (whether USSR/Russia, Arab nationalism or Islam) has been the top priority. The United States appears to have three important interests in the Middle East: 1) Oil; 2) Israel; and; 3) Control of the strategic region.


Oil had already been discovered in the Middle East. With Anglo-French control of the Middle East, several European and seven American oil and gas companies entered in the region and there was tough competition between them in quest for obtaining petroleum concessions. In 1928 the Red Line Agreement was signed to avoid conflict and petroleum war between major companies, and areas of operation were demarcated.


The United States of America emerged as a major global power as a result of Second World War. In August 1944, Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement was signed, and President Roosevelt told the British Ambassador, 'Persian oil is yours, we share oil of Iraq and Kuwait, and Saudi Arabian oil is ours'. The USA firmly established itself in Saudi Arabia and used it as a base for promotion of its interests.


American policy makers and scholars started saying that Middle East was strategically the most important area of the world and one of greatest natural prizes in world history. The USA began to extend its influence in the region with full determination.


Israel. In 1947, the UN decided to partition Palestine. Israel got established and the USA was the first country to recognize it. The war started and Palestine was not allowed to become a state. Israel gained strength with American economic and military support. It almost became America’s forward military post in Middle East. Rising nationalist sentiments were posing problems for Western powers in Syria, Iran, Kurd areas of Iraq, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere.


Iran. In 1951, Dr. Mossadegh, the Premier of Iran nationalized Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The United States intervened to restore the authority of Raza Shah and the influence of United States was established in Iran also.


Egypt. Naguib-Nasser revolution was friendly to USA from 1952 to 1954, but later Nasser turned to the Soviet Union for obtaining arms.


Bagdad Pact (CENTO). In 1955, Bagdad Pact was formed to check Soviet Union’s expansion in the Middle East. After the revolution of 1958, Iraq left the Pact and it was renamed CENTO. Pakistan also came under U.S. influence along with Iran and Turkey.


In 1956, Syria signed an agreement with former Soviet Union, providing Russia a foothold in the Middle East (from 1958 to 1961 Syria remained united with Nasser’s Egypt). The nationalization of Suez Canal provoked England and France to attack Egypt in 1956, President Eisenhower of USA sided with Egypt. The United States established its foothold in Egypt, too.


During the Six Day War of 1967, Israel defeated the Arabs, occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, Syrian Golan Heights and other Arab territories. In 1973, when Egypt took the initiative and recovered large area of Sinai, United States intervened on the side of Israel, and became more deeply involved to strengthen Israel. Meanwhile, in 1971, with retreat of Britain from the Gulf region, American influence also spread in those Gulf States. In 1978 U.S. arranged Camp David Accord. In 1979 Egypt and Israel established diplomatic relations, undermining Arab unity.


The year 1979 was a very important year, The Islamic Revolution of Iran in February 1979 deposed the Shah of Iran, who was an important ally of USA and Iran was a major center of American Power. The CENTO was dissolved and Sadam Hussain became the President of Iraq, who was used against the Islamic Revolution. In December 1979, the Soviet army intervened in Afghanistan. The United States developed a new concept of “Greater Middle East”, which also included Pakistan and Afghanistan. The next decade was the decade of war, the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). Iraq failed in defeating Iranian revolution and began to be looked upon as a threat to Israel.


In Afghanistan, the resistance was organized and supported by United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and many others under the cover of UN Resolution. It was glorified as Jihad and thousands of fighters from 43 countries were brought into FATA and Afghanistan to support the Afghans against the Soviets.
The Soviet Union was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan and was badly weakened and split into 15 States, leaving America as the sole Super Power, in which hawkish thinkers and politicians began to make plans for global domination and a New World Order.


Post-USSR Period. In 1992 Paul Wolfowitz of the U.S. defense department proposed new concept of Global Domination by USA which is known as Wolfowitz Doctrine. He wrote: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.”


With the rise of nationalist sentiments in Muslim countries, Western writers and thinkers started writing against Islam as a potential threat to Western civilization and values. Even the Secretary General of NATO, after the fall of the Soviet Union, in order to justify to continue NATO far into the future said, the next threat and challenge was going to be posed to the Western civilization by Islam. Although red has been removed, now green has to be removed from the map. So this is the thinking, this is the background. If we ignore this, we can’t understand what is happening in the Middle East.


In 1997, a new think tank was established in Washington D.C. by two neocons, Robert Kagan and William Kristol, under the name of ‘A Project for New American Century’. This was the think tank of the neoconservatives, whose aim was that the advantages USA had gained by becoming the only super power in the world, should be further enhanced, by increasing the military power of USA to establish USA’s hegemony over the global affairs.


They issued in June 1997 a statement of principles, which was signed by 25 neocons, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowiltz, who later became the senior members of President Bush's team.


Rebuilding America's Defenses. In 2000 a project of modernization of defense forces was launched to be able to place powerful armed forces in all theaters of crucial operations e.g., the Far East, the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere. The aim was to prevent the rise of any rival that could challenge the U.S. hegemony and have the capacity to fight wars on various fronts.


The fundamental essence of PNAC's ideology required America to create the global empire. Therefore it suggested the following:


* Reposition permanently based forces to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East;
* Modernize U.S. forces, including enhancing fighter aircraft, submarine and surface fleet capabilities;
* Develop and deploy a global missile defense system, and develop a strategic dominance of space;
* Control the "International Commons" of cyberspace;

* Increase defense spending by additional 15 to 20 billion dollars every year. 

 

This PNAC document described “Core Missions" for the American military. The two central requirements for American forces were to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars," and to "perform the 'constabulary' duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions.” The military must fight these wars one way or the other to establish American dominance for all to see.”


The Bush Administration. With the election of President Bush many important neocons and promoters of the ideas mentioned earlier became his cabinet members and global domination become the official policy. The policies of pre-emptive strike, regime change, preference for military approach over diplomacy became manifest. Pressures for regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Iran began to unfold slowly. Unfortunately in 2001, 9/11 happened (or was made to happen as some people believe). And provided excuse for invasion and removal of Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which had been planned earlier by USA. Under the UN cover, ISAF – a coalition of NATO and non-NATO countries invaded Afghanistan. In 2003 NATO assumed the leadership of ISAF.


Sadam Hussain who was initially used against Iran, was now considered a threat to Israel and his removal from the power was recommended. This recommendation led to the policy of regime change in several countries, including Libya and Syria.


In Iraq, the Saddam regime had been kept under pressure since the first attack in 1991. The imposition of sanctions and no fly zones, as well as bombing from time to time, had weakened Saddam, falsely accusing him of having WMD. Saddam was overthrown in 2003 and Iraq was destroyed. The results were unfortunate for U.S. policy makers, because the Shia majority, whom Saddam had controlled came to power, and developed co-operative policy towards Iran. A new arc or power area developed connecting Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where Hezbollah was defying Israel, and fought a major battle to expel Israel from Lebanon. In Afghanistan also, the objective of destroying Taliban’s strength failed. The Taliban are still a major force, controlling large part of Afghanistan.


In 2006, the Bush Administration started another project for the “New Middle East”. This project was introduced publicly by Washington and Tel Aviv with the expectation that Lebanon would be the pressure point for re-aligning the whole Middle East and thereby unleashing the forces of “constructive chaos”. This “constructive chaos” – which generates conditions of violence and warfare throughout the region – would in turn be used so that the United States, Britain, and Israel could redraw the map of the Middle East in accordance with their geo-strategic needs and objectives.


The “New Middle East,” was announced at a press conference by the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, during the Israeli siege of Lebanon. The Israeli attacks on Lebanon – which had been fully endorsed by Washington and London – exposed the existence of the geo-strategic objectives of the United States, Britain, and Israel.


Anglo-American military buildup wanting entry into Central Asia via Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan later called Af-Pak policy was the stepping stone to extend U.S. influence in the former Soviet Union and the Soviet Republics of the Central Asia. Brzezinski, who was Foreign Policy Advisor, said, "We should balkanize the Middle East and reshape it completely and create a crescent of insecurity and chaos, through which it would be possible to reshape the Middle East". This is Brzezinski and that was Condoleezza Rice. Both wanted to generate creative chaos, which would be helpful for reshaping Middle East as desired.


A new map was issued on June 2006 as to how the new Middle East should be made to look and that was issued by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and it was published in the Defence Journal of the super power. This map has been shown and introduced in several military training institutions in some of the NATO countries.


The Obama Administration. Under Obama Administration the policies of President Bush continued. There was, however, some noticeable change of attitude regarding Iran and Cuba.


The huge expenditure incurred in two useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to global economic and financial crisis, which started in USA in 2007, and spread to Europe and other regions in 2008 and 2009. Meanwhile, China’s economy continued to grow and China also helped to protect countries in East Asia against economic meltdown. The geo-economic center of gravity gradually moved from Euro-Atlantic to Asia-Pacific. The Obama administration started policy of “Pivot to Asia” and re-balancing.


The neoliberals floated the ideas of “Humanitarian Intervention” in the name of supporting democracy and human rights, and that destabilized the Middle East and North Africa. USA has been supporting co-operative dictators and rulers and destabilizing regimes seeking to follow independent polices.

 

The huge expenditure incurred in two useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to global economic and financial crisis, which started in USA in 2007, and spread to Europe and other regions in 2008 and 2009. Meanwhile, China’s economy continued to grow and China also helped to protect countries in East Asia against economic meltdown. The geo-economic centre of gravity gradually moved from Euro-Atlantic to Asia-Pacific. The Obama administration started policy of “Pivot to Asia” and re-balancing.

Any regime whether a democracy, dictatorship or a monarchy, which supports imperial policy is accepted and patronized. But any regime, even if democratically elected, which follows independent policy is subjected to pressure, for policy change or to subversion, even intervention for regime change. The neocons have their doctrine of dominating by military power, neoliberals have developed the theory of “Humanitarian Intervention” on the declared aim to promote human rights and democracy.


Arab Spring. Economic pressures and political discontent pushed the youth in Arab countries towards protest and demonstrations against long established ironfisted regimes. By use of social media, protests developed into mass movements. Starting from Tunisia and Egypt, these movements spread to many Arab countries and were given the name of Arab Spring by the U.S. Magazine Foreign Policy.


The neoliberals evolved the concept of humanitarian intervention claiming to support the human rights and democracy, and tried to turn the movement to serve the imperial interests. We can see what has been happening in Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Syria. The destruction of Libya and coup against the elected leader of Egypt, explain the point how humanitarian intervention destroyed innocent human beings and their homelands.


Non-state actors are an instrument of policy of regime change. By 2012, Arab Spring had been reduced to Autumn or Winter of Arabs, except in Syria, which is now in the eye of storm. Many terrorist groups, regional countries and big powers are all involved in Syrian civil war.


Syria. In order to understand Syria, we re-call the story of Afghan Jihad. We know how Al-Qaeda was created, and who brought and trained fighters from 43 countries to FATA and Afghanistan. We know how they were later given the new title of terrorists, and encouraged to move to different countries, and to set up their cells or centers.


In Iraq developed an Al-Qaeda of Iraq, (AQI). Some ex-soldiers of Saddam joined it against the present regime. It was an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, and it was split into two parts, Al-Qaeda of Iraq and Al-Nusrah. They both were fighting with each other and somebody was supporting both sides. Who was supporting both the sides? I have not found the answer yet. Al-Nusrah later on became the resistance force in Syria and it was banned by the Syrian government. So part of AQI or Al-Nusrah became the favourite “popular resistance” to the Syrian Government of Bashar al-Assad, whose removal is now the declared aim of USA and its allies. AQI was converted into Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), from the year 2008 to 2013. Then after 2013 or in 2014, it became Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh. i.e., from ISIL to ISIS. Most of us know how original Al-Qaeda got created and by whom.


The U.S. claims that it has made a coalition of 65 countries to fight Daesh/IS; Saudi Arabia has a coalition of 39 countries for that purpose, then one wonders, who is supporting Daesh? Iran and Russia, who support Bashar al-Assad, are obviously working against Daesh. When Russia bombs Daesh, why do only a few nations protest, if they really are against Daesh? Turkey was getting involved in Syria and against Russia, but after the failed coup attempt, Turkey has changed its policy.


The Trump Administration. During his election speeches, Donald J. Trump had given some indication that he would improve relations with Russia, act against Daesh and try to settle the Middle East Conflict. However, the Deep State has forced President Trump to be on the defensive by starting investigation about Russia's involvement in U.S. election. The situation has forced for launching missile attack in Syria and to complicate the situation further.


Iran has remained under great pressure and tension for its peaceful nuclear program. Now, there has been a fifteen year agreement between Iran and Western powers, but long term objective of regime change in Iran has not really been abandoned.


Clash of Civilization theory of Huntington has been modified to promote clash within the Islamic civilization on sectarian basis. Recently, an effort has been made to raise this clash to the level of states, i.e., between Saudi Arabia and friends against Iran and friends. What else is needed to destroy political Islam? Now, President Trump is taking a hard line against Iran, even raising doubts about the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement and enhancing the chances of war.


Unfortunately, the strategic partnership between the global hegemon and two regional hegemons Israel and India, will continue to pose serious security problems to the Middle East as well as to Pakistan. Russia, China, Iran and Turkey have a good prospect of working together to settle the crisis in Syria and the Middle East. Pakistan must continue to participate in these efforts for peace and stability in the region.

 

The writer is a former senator, Secretary General and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Pakistan The views expressed here are his own.

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

 
07
June

Air Chief Visits a Forward Operating Base

Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force visited PAF Base Qadri, a Forward Operating Base of Pakistan Air Force in Gilgit-Baltistan and flew an exercise mission in Mirage aircraft. On his arrival at the base, he was received by Air Vice Marshal Athar Shams, Air Officer Commanding Northern Air Command.


The Air Chief stated that the nation should not be worried about threatening statements of enemy as PAF alongside other defence forces is ever ready to take on all kinds of challenges with operational preparedness and immaculate synergy. He further added that we, as a nation, are peace loving people but if subjected to any kind of misadventure, the adversary will have to face a befitting response. While talking about PAF’s role in Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, he highlighted that 'PAF has carried out these operations with exemplary professionalism and did all tasks with zero collateral damage'. Terming the JF-17 fighter jet as the ‘Destiny of Pakistan’, he said 'its most significant aspect is that it has been indigenously manufactured in Pakistan'. He further said that 'the technology of JF-17 Thunder is being consistently improved to bring it at par with its contemporaries'. He added that 'it is a matter of pride for us that we have increased the production of JF-17 Thunder by three fold in past couple of years'. While interacting with the PAF personnel at the base, he lauded their level of motivation and thorough professionalism.

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07
June

Written By: Lt Col Fawad Qasim

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is called a 'game changer' project, which includes connectivity, generation of energy and development of infrastructure for linking Gwadar Port to China’s Xinjiang province. CPEC has kicked off successfully after security of all the projects was ensured by the Special Security Division (SSD), raised by Pak Army for the protection of Chinese working on CPEC projects. Pakistan Army fully cognizant of the challenges has left no stone unturned to provide protection to this project of vital national importance.

 

Due to the diverse nature of threats to CPEC, Pakistan Army has raised SSD, dedicated primarily to the security of Chinese working on CPEC projects. The SSD has been raised and operationalized in a record time of less than two years and has taken over all the running projects of the CPEC. Due to raising and operationalization of SSD, Chinese government as well as CPEC management has gained confidence and assurance about security of Chinese working in Pakistan. Progress on the ongoing projects, already taken over by SSD to provide security is elaborated in ensuing paragraphs.

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CPEC Projects – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). CPEC projects being developed in KP and provided security by SSD are as under:-
Karakoram Highway (Havelian-Thakot Section). Havelian-Thakot section of KKH is being developed under upgradation plan of KKH.
Suki Kinari Hydropower Project (SKHPP). SKHPP will add 870 MW of energy to the national grid.
CPEC Projects – Gilgit Baltistan. Cross Border Optical Fiber, passing through Gilgit Baltistan connects Xinjiang with Islamabad through optical fiber.
CPEC Projects – Sindh Province. CPEC projects initiated in the province of Sindh and provided security by SSD are as under:-
Engro Thar Coal Fired Project. Engro Thar Coal Fired Project is being developed in Thar near Islamkot. The project is a set of four sub-projects aimed at producing a total of 1320 MW of energy.
Port Qasim Electric Company Coal Fired Power Project. The project will be using coal for generation of energy and is being developed at Port Qasim. The project once completed will add 1320 MW of energy to the national grid.
Wind Energy Projects. Four wind energy projects including Hydro China Dawood Wind Energy, UEP, Sachal and Pakistan Wind Farm are near completion and will add approximately 250 MW of energy to the national grid.

CPEC Projects – Balochistan. CPEC projects being developed in the province of Balochistan and provided security by SSD are:
HUBCO Coal Power Project. The project is being developed in Balochistan and will add 1320 MW of energy to the national grid on completion.
Gwadar Port/Economic Zone. Master plan for Gwadar Port and city is already in implementation phase. The plan includes construction of international airport, technical and vocational institute, East Bay Expressway and development of deep-sea port.


pakarmyspessd1.jpgCPEC Projects – Punjab. Projects being developed in Punjab province and provided security by SSD are:
Karot Hydro Power Project (KHPP). KHPP is being developed on river Jehlum. Major portion of the project lies in the Punjab province, however, a part of the project is located in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The project once completed will add 720 MW of energy to the national grid.
Sahiwal Coal Fire Power Project (SCFPP). SCFPP is being developed in Qadirabad near Sahiwal. The project once completed will add 1320 MW of energy to the national grid.
Quaid-i-Azam Solar Power Park (QASPP). QASPP is developed in Lal Suhanra near Bahawalpur. The project once completed will add 1000 MW of energy to the national grid.
Matiari-Lahore and Faisalabad Transmission Lines. In order to transfer the energy from South to North, Transmission Line Projects from Matiari to Lahore and Faisalabad have been started.

Peshawar–Karachi Motorway – PKM (Multan-Sukkur Section). Multan-Sukkur section of PKM is a motorway segment of approximately 400 kms being developed as part of the eastern route of CPEC.
Expansion/Reconstruction of Existing Railway Line (ML-1). ML-1project encompasses expansion and upgradation of existing railway line from Peshawar to Karachi.

CPEC is confronted with multiple challenges particularly security threats from external as well as internal inimical forces. Pakistan, a key stakeholder in CPEC has taken deliberate measures to ensure foolproof security of Chinese nationals working on CPEC. Raising of the Special Security Division (SSD) by Pakistan Army has comprehensively addressed the concerns of Chinese government and ensures security of Chinese nationals across entire Pakistan.

 
 
07
June

Written By: Maryam Razzaq

A seminar on “The Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” was held at GHQ as an initiative by Pakistan Army to devise strategies to bolster the process of youth de-radicalization in the country.

 

Today extremism stands as one of the greatest security challenge to the world community at large and Pakistan in particular today. It occurs to be the bane of humanity and adversely affects every segment of the society. Passing through the stages of infecting thoughts and behaviors, and plaguing speech and writing, to our misfortune, extremism has touched its peak whereby innocent lives are subjected to mass massacre, bloodshed and terrorism. The ongoing efforts by Pakistan Armed Forces to root out the safe havens of terrorists from Pakistan including areas adjoining Afghanistan have been successful to a greater extent as acknowledged by the world. Yet, the complexity of the issue warrants it to be discussed amongst various segments of the society to reverse the process which involves the youth as a major player.

 

shieldingtheyouth.jpgThe youth of a country is an asset if groomed in the right manner through careful parenting and robust educational system based on values and virtues. In the absence of this, it still remains the asset to be exploited by terrorists to realize their nefarious objectives. The control of youth’s mind is a new battle between the civilized society and the forces of evil terrorizing the human beings. ISPR considering the importance of youth in combating terrorism held a seminar on “The Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” at GHQ, Rawalpindi on May 18, 2017 in order to identify the core issue and suggest remedial actions to root out the menace of terrorism.


The seminar was arranged as a part of the counter-terrorism measures and on-going Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. The speakers at the event included Dr. Shoaib Suddle, Ms. Hareem Zafar (student), Dr. Farukh Saleem, Ghazi Salah-ud-Din, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed (Chairman HEC) and Prof. Ahmed Rafique Akhter. Among the guests were the Vice Chancellors of universities from all over Pakistan, faculty members, officers, senior journalists, media persons and other dignitaries.


The seminar opened with the recitation from the Holy Quran. It was followed by a welcome speech by DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor who warmly welcomed the worthy speakers and guests on the occasion.
Dr. Shoaib Suddle, a renowned bureaucrat identified the fault lines related to extremism in Pakistan which include terrorism, sectarianism, regionalism, sub-nationalism, and ethnic militancy. He said that triggers for extremism are provided internally as well as externally. Externally, international power games, geopolitics of the region, proxy wars through non-state actors and clashing economic interests of countries provide fodder to the cause of extremism. No wonder that several hostile and interested foreign agencies have over time become principal sponsors of instability and violent extremism in Pakistan.

shieldingtheyouth1.jpgInternally, religious and sectarian groups who denounce Pakistan’s Constitution, clan-based politics, breakdown of critical state institutions, poor governance, poor quality rule of law, fragmented criminal justice system, predatory behavior of the political elite, weak civil society, inadequate institutional capacity, and ineffective accountability mechanism are some of the major factors promoting the state’s failure to effectively deal with the dinosaur of extremism.


As a way forward, he recommended that institutional structural reform has to be a priority on the internal security agenda that merits allocation of adequate political and financial resources. It is also imperative to enhance civil-military understanding at different levels – strategic, operational, and tactical. He said that there is a dire need to advise an astute CVE strategy that takes into account the reasons why people turn to extremism, and, as far as possible, attempt to address those reasons. Kinetic power can kill terrorists, not terrorism. State’s failure to deliver justice is a major contributing factor in promoting terrorism. The speaker at the end recommended promoting the subject of criminology in respective universities to meet the daunting challenges we are confronted with.


Miss Hareem Zafar was a student speaker at the occasion who presented the student’s perspective on the subject of “Extremism”. The speaker attributed lack of social values, recreational facilities and cohesive bond between students and the faculty at educational institutes as the major cause of extremism in the society. She highlighted the root causes as system of education, parenting, and the role of youth itself. Combined and focused, we can get rid of the evil thoughts and counter terrorism which has built deep roots in our society.


Dr. Farukh Saleem, a senior analyst explained the correlation between extremism and economics and pointed out the actual roots of terrorism. He explained how Pakistan is at war with terrorist forces. The terrorists’ signature weapon is fear and their military strategy is unconventional (guerrilla warfare). The terrorists’ goals are to isolate Pakistan; to mutilate governance and then gain complete control over each and every kilometer of 796,095 square kilometers, we call Pakistan. Pakistan Army is the counter-terrorism force fighting to establish Pakistan’s writ over each and every kilometre of its territory. Pakistan Army’s military objectives are: to disrupt, dismantle and destroy the terrorists. Dr. Farukh related terrorism with the example of a tree whose roots need to be cut-off to get rid of the tree. Cutting off branches alone is no sustainable solution. He said that Pakistan Army is responsible for ‘clearing’ each and every terrorist-held geographical safe haven. The civilian institutions, on the other hand, have the responsibility of shutting down the financial pipeline and cutting off the supply of manpower. Counter-terrorism is, therefore, 33 percent military and 66 percent civil effort.


Ghazi Salahuddin presented his arguments on the role of media in curbing extremism from the society. He stressed upon the fact that media is in crisis as it is in a transformational phase; transforming from electronic media to social media. He also said that Pakistani media lacks intellectual infrastructure. A national debate on media seems impossible due to illiteracy and the deficiency of intellectual resources in the society. The problems of youth are paid very little attention and there is no understanding of the psychological problems that the youth has to deal with. There needs to be more interaction between media and the intelligentsia to empower critical thinking.


Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman Higher Education Commission, gave his input regarding the role and purpose of educational institutions. He said that universities are the crucibles to refine the talents of young scholars where they may encounter diversity of ideas, gleaned from great books, reflective scholars and people who may challenge one’s preconceived ideas and beliefs. Universities also create a safe and secure environment to resolve any tension coming out of diversity of views, opinions and beliefs. Wealth of intellectual diversity on a university campus is a boon and not a bane.


Professor Ahmed Rafique Akhtar outlined the relation between extremism and the religions. The historic references were quoted to support that human beings are intrinsically violent and extremist. The role of religion is to tame human beings and teach them respect for humanity. He clarified that Islam has never promoted extremism, but in fact the divine teachings in Quran forbid Muslims to force their religion on the non-Muslims. Islam preaches tolerance and regard for human life. Allah says in the Quran in Surah Al-Maida, verse no.32 that,

“And whoever saves one – it is as if he has saved mankind entirely.”
The misinterpretation of Islamic teachings to sway youth’s mind can be effectively countered through composite dialogue of Islamic scholars and their learned teaching in educational institutes, be it government educational institutes or Madrasas.


The speakers’ presentations were followed by an interactive session whereby guests and audience presented their queries to the speakers on the occasion. The freedom with which questions were asked inside GHQ was a testimony to the fact that youth has superb knowledge of current affairs and is keen to effectively participate in the fight against terrorism. Given the clear mandate in the social and academics fields, the youth is much eager to learn and disseminate the vital information and literature to other segments of society to root out extremist thoughts from the tender minds and become useful organ of state for prosperity and well-being of our beloved country.


The interactive session was followed by a keynote address from the COAS, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. COAS, in his address thanked the speakers for their excellent presentations and valuable inputs. He pointed out that despite incessant propaganda, Pakistan as a nation has rejected terrorism. He said that this nation has fought the menace of terrorism most valiantly, giving unparalleled sacrifices. He praised the Army for its fight against terrorism and appreciated every segment of the society, especially LEAs and the media, for their consistent support in helping Army cutting these monsters to their size.


COAS said that 'the youth is taking part in political discourse in unprecedented numbers and are active in the social arena as well. They are winning accolades for academic achievements abroad.' He further asserted that 'our youth is our asset and we will make every effort to protect them from falling prey to the extremist ideologies.'


The seminar thus concluded with the COAS address. Speakers were presented souvenirs by the COAS as an appreciation for their worthy inputs on the occasion. Following that, everyone rose to their seats in respect for the National Anthem and the wonderful effort made by Pakistan Army to gain insight into strengthening the ability of youth to reject extremism in all its forms, came to end.

 

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Excerpts from COAS Speech

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• Pakistan is a young Nation, both in historic and demographic terms. Demographically, over 50% of our population is projected to be less than 25 years of age. The future of our country literally lies with the direction that our youth take over the next few years.

• Most important stimulus driving a young adult is to find purpose and meaning in life. It is during this stage that one is ready to commit; to professions, to relationships, to causes and to ideologies. It is a wonderful stage in life; but it is also the most vulnerable.

• The term ‘extremism’ is often unjustly applied to devout sections of Muslim societies, alienating them in the process. Although it is not always out of malice, but misunderstanding; yet it is imperative that we understand extremism in our own context.

• Just next door, India seems to have given in to extremism to such an extent that it has become the new normal. Hate has been mainstreamed in India and it is distorting their national outlook. The Hindutva extremism of the RSS and their Gao Rakshaks, deprivation of Palestinians, the burning and desecration of mosques or gurdwaras in western capitals, the rise of hyper nationalists and the monster of racism, are all manifestations of extremism. We can easily say, it is emerging as a transnational phenomenon hence warranting a transnational, unified response.

• Extremism is also related to the environment and the time we live in. From that perspective, we must admit that Pakistani youth is getting exploited due to poor governance and lack of justice in the society.

• Despite incessant propaganda, the fact is that as a Nation, Pakistan has rejected terrorism. That speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values and I have no doubt that we equally reject extremism in all its manifestations.

• With Pakistan becoming securer and promising by the day, it is perhaps time to reverse brain drain. Your country needs you more than any other country in the world.

• We are being targeted by not only terrorists but also spin masters of multiple hostile agencies, trying to subvert our minds, particularly that of our youth. Being denied opportunities in the mainstream media, they are using faceless platforms on the internet and smart phones.

• We are cognizant of these threats and are actively countering them with the support of the whole Nation. In fact, our homes, educational institutions and media houses are the first line of defence against extremism in the society. When I say educational institutions, they include schools, madrasas and even institutes of higher learning.

• We have defeated terrorism together, now we will go after extremism too and rout it with our values, mental faculties and physical energies.

• Let’s help each other in identifying, curtailing and defeating any attempts to pollute the minds of our youth.

Pakistan Paindabaad!

 
07
June

Written By: Dr. Minhas Majeed Khan

Various myths about the defense budget of Pakistan have been created, not only at international forums but national as well, which need to be looked at from the perspective of its internal as well as external security challenges.

Concepts like state survival, security and national interest are termed to be some of the principal objectives of foreign policy of any country. National interest is the fundamental interest of a state, of which survival is the first and foremost interest. A state's independence and territorial integrity come above all other interests. Therefore, the supreme duty of the state is to preserve itself. If the state disappears, then no other interest remains. For survival, security, and securing its national interests, states increase their military might by spending more on defense. A country’s defense spending depends on different factors that include: war or the perceived risk of war, security environment such as military expenditure acquired by its neighbours keeping in view the relationship between the two neighbours; the impetus of the regional and international arms race; geo-strategic considerations; and the availability of economic resources.

thedefspending.jpgThe violent conflicts in different regions of the world help explain the one-year military spending growth in nearly all of the nations with the largest spending increases. For example, the apparent threats from Russia, which used its colossal military strength to annex Crimea in 2014, likely prompted Poland to increase its military spending. The Philippines is another example that swelled its military budget by over 25 percent due to territorial dispute and heightened tensions with China over the South China Sea. However, Sam Perlo-Freeman, Olawale Ismail and Solmirano, in their findings compiled in June 2010 in Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPIRI) Yearbook, mention the U.S. to have led the rise in military spending along with other regions in these words:


“The USA led the rise [in military spending], but it was not alone. Of those countries for which data was available, 65% increased their military spending in real terms in 2009. The increase was particularly pronounced among larger economies, both developing and developed: 16 of the 19 states in the G20 saw real-terms increases in military spending in 2009.”

 

The general perception about Pakistan is that it has increased its military expenditure than other sectors over the years. However, as opposed to the general perception, the percentage of its GDP 'vis-à-vis' various challenges, Pakistan’s defense spending has remarkably declined. It is particularly so when viewed in the light of Pakistan Army’s additional responsibilities in recent years, like countering extremism and terrorism, and fighting separatists supported by foreign agencies besides many other challenges.

The current article assesses the defense expenditure of major powers including Pakistan. The numerical data for the purpose of this article has been collected from diverse sources with minor differences in numbers of the defense expenditure of the major powers. While scholars and thinkers debate on the lack of success in promoting strategic restraint among nuclear armed states, for example the relations between and among the U.S., China, Pakistan and India, whether on unilateral or bilateral or plurilateral basis.


Taking the case of the four nuclear states mentioned above, the reasons are long-standing conflicts, changing concepts of the national interest and its needs, prevalent mistrust among them, domestic pressures, and resentment toward foreign interference. But one factor that has been ignored is the strategic chain that links Pakistan to India, India to China, and China to the U.S. Pakistan is unlikely to restrict its nuclear programs unilaterally if India continues to build up its arsenal. Without Chinese restraint, India will be reluctant to limit its programs unilaterally or engage in bilateral controls with Pakistan that, according to India, would limit its options vis-à-vis China. And without U.S. constraints on capabilities of concern to China, Beijing may continue to resist curbing its strategic modernization efforts.


In this scenario, according to figures from 2016 in a report by SIPRI, the U.S. has the highest annual military expenditure. In 2016, it grew by 1.7 percent and reached $611 billion. China remains in second place, by increasing its military spending by 5.4 percent, or $215 billion. Russia ranks at number 3 in the world by increasing $ 5.9 percent in military spending, overtaking Saudi Arabia. The U.S. and China maintained their top positions and Europe presented a progression in military spending for the second consecutive year. India's military expenditure reached $55.9 billion in 2016, making it the fifth largest spender. The report showed the military spending to grow continuously in Asia and Oceania, Western, Central and Eastern Europe, in North America and in North Africa. At the same time, North America saw its first annual increase since 2010.


The countries perceived to be most powerful in the world, including Germany and UK also rank in the top 10 for military spending. The defense budget of UK after 9/11 has increased yearly, reaching £ 45 billion in 2011. Since then, the defense budget has remained steady at £ 44 – 45 billion per year. In terms of GDP, its defense spending from 2002 to 2009 was constant at about 2.65 – 2.70 percent of GDP. However, since the Great Recession, defense spending has been in steady decline, breaking below 2.4 percent GDP in 2016. The above figure illustrates the military spending of countries in billions in 2014.

 

Indo-U.S. strategic partnership has changed the balance of power in South Asia and has significant implications for Pakistan. While India and the U.S. are expressing their concerns about the longstanding Pakistan-China cooperation in important areas, such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan is also concerned about Indo-U.S. cooperation in areas like U.S.-India nuclear civil deal, which is also viewed with suspicions by many states in the region.

In case of the U.S., the current President, Donald Trump during his election campaigns asked the NATO members to allocate more budget to defense spending so as to help reduce international commitments of the U.S. However, he expressed that he would be willing to intensify the war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, which could be very expensive. According to the SIPRI report, more than 10 percent of the U.S. defense budget goes toward developing and testing products. Even if U.S. military spending was cut by 10 percent, it would still be more than double to China's military spending which is the second largest. According to the report when it comes to military spending per person and as a percentage of total government budget, the U.S. falls behind Israel that spends nearly $2,000 per person annually on defense, and Saudi Arabia where more than a quarter of government spending goes to defense. While the above figure shows the ranks and the defense budget of major powers in billions in 2016, it also mentions how India has increased its defense expenditure and was ranked at number 5 in the year 2016.
Various myths about the defense budget of Pakistan have been created, not only at international forums but national as well, which need to be looked at from the perspective of its internal as well as external security challenges. Certain quarters have been assessing Pakistan’s foreign and defense policy to be India centric, this scribe argues that it has to be India or any other country centric if there is a serious security threat from that country. The history of international relations unveils many states whose foreign policies revolved around those states that were a threat to their security and survival. For example, U.S. foreign policy may be called as Soviet Union centric during the Cold War and vice versa, and now it is China centric keeping in view the latter’s rapid rise as an economic giant. In a similar fashion, India’s foreign policy can be termed as Pakistan and China centric. One reason for this argument is Indian belligerent policy towards Pakistan since its independence as Pakistan has always been a victim of Indian ambitions for hegemony in the region and hence the threat perception is essentially India centric.


It is important to be aware of the reality that Pakistan is sandwiched between a hostile neighbour on its East (India) and neighbour on the West (Afghanistan) that relies more on India than on a its immediate neighbour. While the Indian threat has been there permanently, the border escalation with Afghanistan is also a concern. Therefore, it is understandable that Pakistan, in the wake of the recent mounting clashes with India and Afghanistan, may push for increase in its defense spending.


Unfortunately, Pakistan is struggling with its economy due to its partnership in the war on terror that brought not only a war that was not its own but also non-state international actors to its territory. The general perception about Pakistan is that it has increased its military expenditure than other sectors over the years. However, as opposed to the general perception, the percentage of its GDP 'vis-à-vis' various challenges, Pakistan’s defense spending has remarkably declined. It is particularly so when viewed in the light of Pakistan Army’s additional responsibilities in recent years, like countering extremism and terrorism, and fighting separatists supported by foreign agencies besides many other challenges.

 

thedefspending1.jpgMoreover, for operations like Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistan needs more funds to tackle the prevailing law and order and security situation within the country. Additionally, for nuclear development program, a continuous resource allocation is needed since Pakistan conducted nuclear test in response to India’s tests, or else India’s conventional superiority facilitated by nuclear weapons would have become an unacceptable threat to Pakistan. It is not Pakistan that will provoke India, keeping in view the asymmetric power situation besides India’s Cold Start Doctrine which means a precipitous strike by India against Pakistan in the event of a terrorist attack in India where it is India that decides whether or not it is sponsored by Pakistan or not. Moreover, Indo-U.S. strategic partnership has changed the balance of power in South Asia and has significant implications for Pakistan. While India and the U.S. are expressing their concerns about the longstanding Pakistan-China cooperation in important areas, such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan is also concerned about Indo-U.S. cooperation in areas like U.S.-India nuclear civil deal, which is also viewed with suspicions by many states in the region.


In view of the threat perception as discussed above, Pakistan’s defense budget is still the lowest in the region. The allocated defense budget for 2016-17 was increased by 11-percent from Rs. 775.8 billions to Rs. 860.1 billions. Out of the total budget, only Rs. 216 billion are earmarked for the operational expense whereas the rest of the amount goes into employee related expenditure and physical assets. Keeping in view the size and range of national security challenges faced by Pakistan over the last two decades, its defense spending as a percentage of its GDP is much less than other countries with lesser threat levels.


On the other hand, India has tremendously beefed up its defense expenditure over the years, which is, an increase from $11.8 billion in 2001 to $ 52 billions in 2016-17 – i.e., 2.25 percent of Indian GDP. That explains that India’s defense budget is much more keeping in view its larger GDP. The Indian defense budget is much more than the one mentioned above, as it does not include pension, border forces, nuclear warheads/missile development. It spends roughly 2.30 percent of GDP keeping in view that its GDP is much smaller than India. India is expected to spend a massive amount of $70 billion in the year 2020 on military power projection, leaving Pakistan more susceptible against the former, which is amassing and developing military prowess. The comparison between India and Pakistan is highlighted in a report by SIPRI that reveals that India outspends Pakistan on defense and China is outspending India. It is in this scenario that Pakistan-China strategic partnership is unnerving India.


India is desperately building and introducing aircraft carriers, Su-30MKI jets, artillery guns, stealth destroyers, stealth frigates, conventional and nuclear submarines, various offensive and defensive missile systems, military satellites, new mountain strike corps, attack helicopters and much more every year. Pakistan’s economy in comparison to India has serious size limitations; nevertheless, in wake of Indian designs and the arms race in the region, it will be imprudent of Pakistan not to develop a credible defense system to maintain its security and above all preserve its sovereignty. It is also pertinent to say that in order to preserve itself, Pakistan needs more funding for its security and to address the internal threats aided by foreign agencies and growing external pressures on its Eastern and Western borders. Another source, while compiling the defense spending of both India and Pakistan, compares the difference in the following figure.


To conclude, as indicated by Kamal Monnoo, “India is about to develop a nuclear missile shield, which will not be a defensive but an offensive deployment of radars and ballistic missiles designed and deployed to take down incoming missiles at a faraway distance; thus neutralizing Pakistan’s strategy of off-setting conventional warfare disadvantage by developing nuclear deterrence. With so much at stake, it is essential that Pakistan does not fall behind in securing its national defense. It is in this context one hopes that even if an increase in 2016-17 is not possible, at least the historic pace of rise in defense spending should continue at any cost.”

 

The writer is Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations at University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

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

 

References

• Kamal Monnoo. (May 25, 2016). Pakistan’s Defence Budget. http://nation.com.pk/columns/25-May-2016/pakistan-s-defense-budget
• Sam Perlo-Freeman, Olawale Ismail and Carina Solmirano, (June 2010). Military Expenditure, Chapter 5, SPIRI Yearbook. p.1
• Robert Einhorn and W.P.S. Sidhu. (March 2017). The Strategic Chain Linking Pakistan, India, China, and the United States. Foreign Policy at Brookings. Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Series Paper No. 14.
• http://nationalinterest.org/feature/does-america-really-need-spend-more-defense-17245
• http://www.idsa.in/issuebrief/india-defence-budget-2017-18_lkbehera_030217
• http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending
• http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/11936179/What-are-the-biggest-defence-budgets-in-the-world.html
• https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-24/border-clashes-seen-forcing-pakistan-to-boost-defense-spending

 
07
June

Written By: Dr. Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal

In 2016, the world spent U.S. $1686 billion that was around 2.3 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). India plans to spend $ 55.7 billion in 2017 which is 2.25 percent of its GDP; in comparison Pakistan’s defense budget is $9 billion which is 3.4 percent of its total economy. Thus, Pakistan trails far behind India in defense spending; its financial provision is almost 7 times short of India’s defense resources. It has to defend its autonomy and meaningfulness in the South Asian state system within these limited resources. This is an attempt to understand the need and importance of defense spending for a nation-state, examine a comparative analysis of India and Pakistan’s patterns of defense spending and its impact on Pakistan.

 

According to Global Index of Defense Budgets, India has surpassed Germany at eighth position in highest military expenditure. It spends more on national defense compared to Brazil, South Korea, Italy and Canada. Pakistan on the other hand is on the 27 number of the same index; accordingly, it is expected that by 2020 India will rank third in world defense expenditure of 70 billion dollars after USA and China.

The debate on the defense spending generally focuses on the notion of guns versus butter model that demonstrates a relationship between a nation's investment in defense and civilian goods. It is argued that the basic responsibility of a state is to protect itself and its citizens from outside aggression. Any failure on this count will stun the growth of all the sectors of a state and its society. It might lead to disorder in the society and result in the ultimate collapse or possible annihilation of the state. Keeping this perspective in view, a number of studies both qualitative and quantitative have been done to demonstrate the linkage between the defense spending and the increase in economic growth of a nation-state. The best example is the European Union that started with the Marshall Plan, taking roots after the establishment of the security structure in the form of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


pakindiadefspend.jpgThe opponents of this perspective argue that defense spending is a process of diversion of resources from productive economic sector to unproductive defense sector. They perceive the defense spending as a burden on the national economy that distorts the growth of all sectors of a nation-state. The studies done in this perspective have focused on the linkage between defense spending and the increase in the ratio of poverty in a country especially in the Least Developed Countries (LDC). Interestingly, most of the developed states spend huge proportion of their resources on the modernization of equipment and training of their forces. These developed states benefit immensely from the returns of their dominant strategic relationship with other states, trading in defense-related equipment and technology and using their defense-related knowledge and technical know-how in the civilian areas. Essentially, it is difficult for any state to differentiate between two fundamental objectives of its existence that is to ensure the national security and welfare of its citizens. No subordinate state can provide its citizens protection and prosperity against direct or indirect intervention or aggression of the other dominant state.

 

Thus, gun and butter are inseparable interests of a meaningfully autonomous nation-state; they pursue at the same time the twin objectives of security and prosperity. For an autonomous state, allocation of an adequate amount of funds for defense is a compulsory and competitive phenomenon that is conducted through the interpretation of the balance of threat and geo-strategic location in which it is placed. It is a perpetual, rational and integrated phenomenon of adjustment-readjustment of resource spending priorities to maintain mutually beneficial balance. That is why; defense spending is an ever-changing and complex behavior of a nation-state. It continuously swings focus between security and economic priorities.


In the South Asian state system, two factors determine defense spending of a state. Firstly, the relatively dominant position of India as compared to the rest of the regional states in terms of almost all the elements of power – geography, population and economy. This position of India gives it an illusion of grandeur and power and encourages it to struggle for the establishment of a hegemonic relationship with the smaller states of the region. Secondly, Pakistan with its middle power stature desires to remain autonomous and seek solution of the Kashmir issue through revision of the South Asian state systems borders. A unique asymmetrical strategic position exists in the region in which Pakistan cannot allow India to treat it like other small states of the region because this will turn it into an insignificant colony of Indian cheap goods. This meaningless position has never been acceptable to its people. Therefore, Pakistan is pushed to resist Indian attempts to establish its hegemony and defend its autonomy to remain meaningful to itself, regional and international powers’ structure.

 

India considered it essential to modernize its armed forces through establishment of defense industry and transfer of technology. Its 362 million people – almost 29.5 percent of its population – live in abject poverty. Ignoring them totally, it has spent huge amount of its finances to accumulate weapons systems and develop defense-related industry.

 On the other hand, India faces no serious threat, both regional and international, to its security and way of life. Its struggle is for a status and role at the international level by its domination of the South Asian region. It wishes to attain power to extend or deny security and prosperity to the regional states. The hegemonic policy is projected as a defense against the threat mainly from China and secondly from Pakistan though relatively not very significant. India considered it essential to modernize its armed forces through establishment of defense industry and transfer of technology. Its 362 million people – almost 29.5 percent of its population – live in abject poverty. Ignoring them totally, it has spent huge amount of its finances to accumulate weapons’ systems and develop defense-related industry.

 

In 2003 and 2004, the Indian defense budget was around 14 billion dollars, 2.3 percent of its GDP; since then it has increased by 7 to 9 percent every year and has reached 55.7 billion. Russia has been the main beneficiary of this defense spending. It has filled almost 70 percent of weapons and technology needs of India to make its aggressive doctrine – Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) – a reality. In return, Russia has received huge amounts of payment; for instance, it received 9.355 billion dollars in the period 2001-05. India accounted for 14 percent of global arms imports from 2011-2015, a 90 percent increase over the previous five years. Due to this Indian arms manufacturers are among the top 100 companies worldwide, with billions of earnings. Now United States has also jumped into the business; in 2014-15, it sold over 1.4 billion dollars worth of weapons to India.


The obsessive power accumulation on the part of India to achieve regional hegemony has very serious consequences for the autonomous existence of Pakistan. It has faced three wars with India; in one conflict in 1971, its eastern part was separated from Pakistan and established as a separate state, Bangladesh. The Indian intervention through the instrument of Mukti Bahini converted a normal protest movement, after a decade long autocratic rule, for political rights into a violent secessionist movement; later India invaded East Pakistan to complete its hegemonic designs. It was part of Indian covert warfare against Pakistan that resurfaced in 1980s in Sindh, and now in Karachi and Balochistan. It also supports sectarian terrorism to weaken Pakistan. Thus Pakistan has been forced to invest relatively more of its national resources into defense.

 

India accounted for 14 percent of global arms imports from 2011-2015, a 90 percent increase over the previous five years. Due to this Indian arms manufacturers are among the top 100 companies worldwide, with billions of earnings. Now United States has also jumped into the business; in 2014-15, it sold over 1.4 billion dollars’ worth of weapons to India.

The Pakistani leadership realized that it had to match its capabilities against the sophisticated weaponry of its adversary; that is why it demonstrated no hesitation in investing in the defense of the country. But two factors weighed in the minds of the decision-makers: firstly, that they cannot match many times bigger economy of India; and secondly, no plan should undermine the economic health of Pakistan. Therefore, at times of high defense spending like the conflict with India and the Afghan crisis, the rate of growth was high, like in the late 50s and 60s, it was more than 8 percent. Additionally, the defense spending, despite extreme situations, remained far less than the 45 percent for loan repayment. The decade of 90s was the most difficult period for Pakistan. Due to unstable domestic political situation, foreign aid had been discontinued and sanctions were imposed on Pakistan because it had conducted nuclear tests. The defense spending till 1999 was around an average of 6.4 percent of the GDP but after that it started to decline further to provide more space to other sectors of the economy. In 2000, it was 5.1 percent of the GDP; it was to the tune of $2,842 million back to the level of 1990. It was a decrease of 22.48 percent. The year 2000 was a period of major transformation of the economy. Pakistan privatized state-subsidized utilities companies such as banks and Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation. Additionally, reforms were also introduced in trade and tariff, higher education, money laundering, intellectual property piracy, and agricultural and industrial sectors.

 

In order to support the economy the defense spending was further brought down to 4.1 percent; in 2007-8, the defense spending was frozen. By the end of the decade, Pakistan’s economy started to show signs of improvement. The defense spending was around 3.1 percent of the GDP; in terms of dollars, it was $ 7,641 million. But these figures are in sharp contrast to Indian GDP of two trillion dollars with the defense spending of 55.7 billion dollars, a fact that can never be lost to Pakistani decision-makers and people.

 

In conclusion, it is argued that the growing sharp imbalance between India and Pakistan could have very serious consequences both for Pakistan’s meaningful autonomous survival and strategic harmony and prosperity of the South Asian region. Pakistan cannot ignore its security and welfare of its people. It will face extreme difficulties if its economy does not grow and increase the amount that is needed to defend itself.

Pakistan has always tried to reduce the burden of defense expenditure on the economy while improving the quality of its men and material for a credible security apparatus. In this regard, Pakistan has followed two policies. One, it has attempted to build alliances with the developed states to have access to sophisticated technology and capital. The pursuit of such a policy brought it closer to the United States and China. Two, Pakistan has developed indigenous defense industry to reduce its dependence on foreign sources and to contribute its share in the domestic economy. Pakistan joined the U.S.-sponsored defense pacts in the 50s. In return, it received help to develop both its armed forces and its domestic economy. The growth of import substitute industries in the 60s was the result of this policy. In 1965, Pakistan was able to effectively defend itself against the aggression of many times more powerful India. Similarly, the U.S. assistance during the Afghan Jihad and war against terror improved the capabilities of Pakistan and helped it to sustain the economic losses.

 

At the same time, the alliance with the U.S. created a dependency on the U.S. and entangled Pakistan first in the international conflicts of the Cold War and later in the war against terror. At the domestic level, it created social divisions that hindered the process of integration of various sections of the society in the post-independence nation-building process. At the time of independence, Pakistan had practically no defense industry that could fulfill its basic defense needs. India refused to give it its due share in defense equipment; after a lot of reluctance it merely gave six crore rupees as compensation. In 1951, Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) was established to initiate the process of indigenous production of equipment. In 1971, the Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) was set up to fulfill the requirements of the Army to rebuild, upgrade, and manufacture tanks, tank guns and armored personnel carriers. In order to fulfill the requirements of the Air Force, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex was built at Kamra in 1972, the Heavy Forge Foundry in 1978, and the Heavy Rebuild Factory in 1979. Pakistan’s defense industry provided equipment worth 6.3 billion dollars in 2009 and 10.4 billion dollars in 2015 to armed forces to fulfill its requirements through domestic infrastructure. In 2016, the local defense industry saved foreign exchange worth 1.5 billion dollars. During four years, 2012 to 2015, the defense industry also exported its products worth over 100 million dollars to more than forty countries; and in just one year, 2016, the exports reached 63 million dollars. Though it is a commendable achievement but still it is far behind the Indian exports of 330 million dollars in 2016 and its defense minister Manohar Parrikar has set the export target of 2 billion dollars by 2019 as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” scheme.


The comparison of India-Pakistan defense spending is a reflection of relative power differentiation between the two countries. The Indian economy is 8 times the size of Pakistani economy and is growing by over 7 percent as compared to 4 percent of Pakistan. In economic terms India virtually adds one whole of Pakistan’s total economic turnover to its economy every year. According to Global Index of Defense Budgets, India has surpassed Germany at eighth position in highest military expenditure. It spends more on national defense compared to Brazil, South Korea, Italy and Canada. Pakistan on the other hand is on the 27th number of the same index; accordingly, it is expected that by 2020 India will rank third in world defense expenditure of 70 billion dollars after USA and China. This rising Indian power is continually increasing Pakistan’s historic sense of vulnerability. Pakistan’s situation becomes more complicated when it is facing a domestic challenge of terrorism that is getting covert support from India through unsettled Afghanistan. Its present allocation that is around 18 percent of its budgetary expenditure is not quite adequate. It badly needs to expand its economy to broaden the national cake so that within the present percentage the required volume of resources are multiplied. Additionally, it is also required to increase its technological level to balance the Indian edge.

 

In this regard, it may not have the support of USA that is developing closer strategic relations with India against China. China has a 53 billion dollars trade surplus with India. Furthermore, India is the largest importer of arms in the world, from 2011 to 2015 its arms import accounted for 14 percent of the global arms imports. Almost every country wants to have a share of this trade. This purchasing power has provided India a new sense of power and influence in the region and beyond. It likes to dictate terms of state-to-state interaction in the South Asian State system whose limited effect Pakistan has faced in the shape of eight F-16 sale deal with USA or in case of JF-17 sale deal to Sri Lanka. In future with increased strategic and economic imbalance it can attempt to block Pakistani access to high-end technologies.


Pakistan for long thought that conventional strategic imbalance can reasonably be corrected with the development of a nuclear deterrence. It has developed a relatively effective nuclear deterrence against India. Nuclear weapons are political instrument and cannot be used rationally in war situation because after a nuclear war there will be no difference between the victor and the vanquished. Thus, nuclear deterrence is used as a psychological phenomenon to achieve strategic-political objective. It is a delicate deterrence which requires constant upkeeping in order to yield positive results; if any action undermines the nature of deterrence, its effectiveness is undermined. The new weapon system that Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is developing can have negative impact on the nuclear deterrence between India and Pakistan. It is developing K-4 (SLBM). K-4 is a nuclear capable intermediate-range 3500 km submarine-launched ballistic missile that will nuclearize the Indian-ocean with Indian Arihant-class submarines and give India second strike capability. Secondly, India is developing indigenous ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. It has tested Ashwin missile that is an advanced air defense (AAD) anti-ballistic missile designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 30 km. Though, anti-nuclear defense systems are very expensive to develop and to give an illusion of defense against a nuclear attack, there is no deference whether a nuclear weapon explodes at ground or in air. These developments have a theoretical possibility to undermine the deterrence value of the nuclear deterrence. These proactive and aggressive Indian strategic plans can in future lower the nuclear threshold level and force Pakistan to enter into regional arms’ race.


In conclusion, it is argued that the growing sharp imbalance between India and Pakistan could have very serious consequences both for Pakistan’s meaningful autonomous survival and strategic harmony and prosperity of the South Asian region. Pakistan cannot ignore its security and welfare of its people. It will face extreme difficulties if its economy does not grow and increase the amount that is needed to defend itself. India as the larger state in the region has the key to restore strategic harmony and utilize the potential of the region in new economic world to end poverty and bring prosperity to the people. It will never be able to subjugate the region because of its people and competing foreign powers; even the USA will not allow it to pursue regional hegemony thoughtlessly which will push India to a disastrous arms race and outside great powers intervention. For a peaceful South Asia, it needs to resolve its long-standing conflicting issues and stop its interference in the domestic affairs of the regional states.

 

The writer is on the faculty of Quaid-i-Azam University (School of Politics and International Relations)

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07
June

Written By: Jennifer McKay

North Waziristan was the last of the seven tribal agencies, along with Swat, to be cleared. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been successful with the Army, Frontier Corps and Air Force, carrying out courageous and intensive operations. Along the way, there have been many sacrifices. Several hundred soldiers were martyred during operations. Their families will always grieve their loss but all should always remember their sacrifice in making the country safer.

A new kind of normalcy is taking root in North Waziristan. After years of being at the mercy of terrorist groups, the local people are finally free to build a new and better life. The rapid change in this once ‘no-go’ area is impressive.


What’s happening in North Waziristan is too extensive to do justice to in one article. This perspective will be the first of three in a series to provide insights into this, until now, rarely visited area. Driving from Bannu through Mir Ali into Miranshah on new roads, through valleys scattered with date palms, and surrounded by the extraordinary rugged beauty of the hills and mountains, is exhilarating. Arrival in Miranshah and touring around brings many surprises about this spectacular and intriguing region.


North Waziristan was the last of the seven tribal agencies, along with Swat, to be cleared. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been successful with the Army, Frontier Corps and Air Force, carrying out courageous and intensive operations. Along the way, there have been many sacrifices. Several hundred soldiers were martyred during operations. Their families will always grieve their loss but all should always remember their sacrifice in making the country safer.

 

Miranshah is just few kilometres away from the Afghanistan border. With what was then a porous border, terrorists who managed to flee the Army would cross into Afghanistan when the chase got too hot. What I have never quite understood, is why with all the criticism of Pakistan "not doing enough", and at a time when there were massive numbers of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan Army, so little was done to stop them when they fled across the border or those from the Afghan side attempted to infiltrate into Pakistan. One can only speculate.

Several thousand terrorists were killed. Others were captured or surrendered. Many were not Pakistanis. Uzbeks, Chechens, and other nationalities joined forces and based themselves with local terrorists amongst the local population in North Waziristan. The level of capability of the terrorist groups is far removed from the common perception. Their operations were quite sophisticated. But that does not flatter their intelligence, merely highlights the level of their capacity and monstrosity. Networks of tunnels under houses and markets, barbaric slaughter rooms, ingenious camouflage of air circulation for the tunnels and underground war rooms were discovered during the operations. A sophisticated media centre with multiple screens, communications’ equipment, and a medical centre were hidden under a mosque.


A walk-through of a reconstruction of a terrorist ‘markaz’ with General Officer Commanding, North Waziristan, Major General Hassan Hayat, showed just what the Army was facing. A relatively innocent-looking building – similar to many – could ingeniously disguise a maze of tunnels and huge caches of weapons. A display of just a fraction of the weapons, communication equipment, explosives, suicide vests, gas cylinders and other deadly equipment for vehicle-borne-explosives and improvised explosive devices, gives rise to the thought of what would have happened if just a fraction of the massive cache had made its way into the cities and villages of Pakistan. Terrorists were buying explosives as they would buy spices from the market.

 

wazirstanpeace.jpgUnder the markaz were rooms where young suicide bombers spent their time preparing for what they were told would be paradise. Viewing a room decorated with photos of pretty girls, beautiful scenery, carpets and cushions, one could only wonder about the state of a child’s mind as he prepared to meet a ghastly end. The boys were kept intoxicated to keep them under the power of their handlers. The barbarism and sheer cowardice of sending children to their death, taking their innocence with them, is beyond the comprehension of any normal human being.


One thing that I found almost comical amongst the paraphernalia captured by the Pakistan Army, were wigs – long, black, curly wigs. This does conjure up some interesting visions of the purpose of such glamour-enhancing objects. Perhaps even terrorists fall victim to the perils of vanity or perhaps they just wanted to look scary in their videos. No other cosmetic enhancements were sighted.

 

The majority of families have returned home and more will follow soon including those who moved across the border to stay with families in Afghanistan. Life is returning to normal. Families and communities are busy rebuilding, restocking their animals, and planting crops. Freedom has come at a price but there is a determination to live in peace and become a prosperous and educated region.

Miranshah is just few kilometres away from the Afghanistan border. With what was then a porous border, terrorists who managed to flee the Army would cross into Afghanistan when the chase got too hot. What I have never quite understood, is why with all the criticism of Pakistan "not doing enough", and at a time when there were massive numbers of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan Army, so little was done to stop them when they fled across the border or those from the Afghan side attempted to infiltrate into Pakistan. One can only speculate.


The border is now secured. New forts have been built on mountains and ridges. The crossing points are closed and a ‘smart’ fence is being constructed on the Pakistan side of the border. The terrain is a challenge for the erection of such a barrier. Mountains, valleys and crevices form a chain that stretches the entire length of the border. The new Border Management arrangements will do much to reduce the movement of terrorists from Afghanistan into Pakistan and for local felons to flee.


Miranshah today would be unrecognizable to those who served there in earlier times. The market is bustling and a new shopping centre is under construction by a private investor. A modern bus terminal that will be a comfortable starting place for journeys to other cities like Lahore is also about to begin construction.


In the cantonment, trees, including many varieties of fruit trees, and flowers have been planted, the streets are immaculate, and in the midst of all this, stands a small Christian Church. It is hard to imagine that only a short time ago, this whole area was under attack from rockets, and that the tanks I saw parked near beautiful flowering trees were in live action.

 

wazirstanpeace1.jpgWhile there is little doubt that some profited from the presence of the terrorist groups, others who had no option but to stay through the dreadful times of terror, abuse and intimidation, were courageous. Through courage and determination, they managed to adapt to their circumstances and survive to see the onset of peace.


Millions of people were displaced from their homes for their own protection as military operations were launched to defeat the terrorists. There was no other option to ensure civilian safety. When the Army moved the population out to launch the military operations, many lost their homes, their livestock, crops, and livelihoods. Some were fortunate that in displacement they could stay with host families or even rent a house elsewhere. But for others, it was the indignity of a camp for displaced persons. Try to imagine a Pakistani summer or winter in a tent with your whole family. It would be very unpleasant indeed.


The process to return home takes time, as families cannot return until a village is de-notified and basic facilities are reconstructed by the Army and government to facilitate resettlement. On arrival at the checkpoint for North Waziristan, all family members undergo biometric checking and clearance to ensure they receive their proper entitlements and can move about. The process is efficient and when I visited, there were only very small queues. No weapons are allowed and vehicles are inspected for compliance with the rules. The biometric checking process is mandatory every time any person enters or leaves the area to ensure that security is maintained.


The majority of families have returned home and more will follow soon including those who moved across the border to stay with families in Afghanistan. Life is returning to normal. Families and communities are busy rebuilding, restocking their animals, and planting crops. Freedom has come at a price but there is a determination to live in peace and become a prosperous and educated region.


Women often suffer most in conflict and complex emergencies. Not being used to living in camps where there is little privacy is particularly difficult. I spoke with many women and girls about the tough times and how they see their future. A number of well-equipped Women’s Vocational Training Centres have been established for women and girls to learn dressmaking, knitting, cookery, and techniques for hair and beauty treatments. Each centre has a bright and cheerful nursery for babies and small children to be cared for and entertained while their mothers are in class. The kitchens in the women’s centres would be the envy of any chef in a major city.


Away from the men, the women are talkative, warm, and engaging. There were emotional moments as they shared their stories. An elderly lady in a village that had been in a terrorist stronghold and the scene of significant operations, told me, “I only have Allah now. My family is all dead.” Hugging me tightly, she went on to whisper, “But I have peace, too”. Surrounded by the women and the children of the village, it was clear that she also would be nurtured and cared for by her community.


Another woman told me of the terrible times she faced when the terrorists kidnapped her husband. In between tears remembering what it was like, she managed to smile when she said, “but look now, we have peace at last and we thank the Army for making us safe. Our girls are going to school and learning so much. They will have a better life than me”.


Fathers waited patiently at the school gate for their daughters. One man told the GOC how happy he was that his daughter was going to school and asked if the Army would build yet another girls’ school in his nearby village. It is not possible to have a school in every village but the villages are close together so it is never too far to travel. It is heartening to see that education is a top priority for parents for both their boys and their girls and the Army has a campaign to get all children to school. There is even a Montessori school opening in the area. A beautiful place surrounded by trees and fields, close to a stream, it will be a wonderful place for children to learn.

 

Away from the men, the women are talkative, warm, and engaging. There were emotional moments as they shared their stories. An elderly lady in a village that had been in a terrorist stronghold and the scene of significant operations, told me, “I only have Allah now. My family is all dead.” Hugging me tightly, she went on to whisper, “But I have peace, too”. Surrounded by the women and the children of the village, it was clear that she also would be nurtured and cared for by her community.

Health and education are paramount. In the Boya and Degan area, malaria and leishmaniasis – a painful and debilitating illness caused by sandflies – are problematic. A new small hospital, staffed by Army medical officers, locals and lady health workers, is addressing these issues. The hospital also has cardiac and other equipment including blood-testing facilities not previously available in the area. The presence of these facilities will make a great difference to the health of the local people.


In Miranshah, an impressive hospital is now operational with numerous facilities never previously available. A women’s wing is also under construction. Mir Ali too has a new hospital. Nutrition is a problem not only in FATA but also across the country. A nutrition clinic, operated by an NGO has opened at the Miranshah Hospital. This is a great step forward to improve the nutritional aspects of child health. This is particularly important when 43 percent of children in Pakistan are feeling the effects of stunting due to poor nutrition. More assistance will be needed in the future for the health of the people of Waziristan. Telemedicine is helping fill some of the gaps but more doctors, including gynaecologists and other specialists, nurses, medicines and facilities will make a significant difference.


The crucial question many ask is: “Is this sustainable peace?” I believe so. Peace does not happen overnight. Suspicions and old family feuds are likely to still be present but are now managed. Peace building is a long process but the enthusiastic work done so far by the Army to rebuild and rehabilitate North Waziristan is some of the best I’ve seen. In a short span of time, great roads, schools for boys and girls, hospitals and clinics, model villages, 149 solar water-pumping stations, a Post Office, and PTCL are now all operational. Four schools have been designated as Golden Arrow Army Public Schools and these will be replicated elsewhere in FATA.


The Younus Khan Sports Complex with its beautiful cricket stadium, jogging track, children’s park, and sports courts is impressive and beautifully laid out. On Pakistan Day 2017, 8,000 people gathered in the stadium for the festivities. Astounding really, when you think that not so long ago, this was a place too dangerous to move. The locals' love of sports is apparent everywhere. Smaller sports stadiums have been built in a number of areas and wherever you drive, children and adults are out in the fields or any available space, playing cricket.


As much as some would find this surprising, the potential for tourism is substantial. The beautiful historic hill station of Razmak, at an altitude similar to Murree, is thriving again and surprisingly, even has a very modern coffee shop that would not look out of place in Islamabad or Lahore. The Cadet College has reopened and the students have returned after being evacuated to other Cadet Colleges several years ago when rocket attacks and kidnapping threats made life too perilous. But now Razmak is at peace and thriving. The beautiful vistas and highland climate, and the good roads, provide the opportunity for a whole new industry; Tourism. There are even plans for a festival there in July.


New crops have been planted across the agency. The first crop of potatoes will be harvested with an expected yield of 1,500 tons, providing both nutrition and income for locals. Tunnel and vertical farms have been established for vegetable crops. Poultry and fish farms are becoming prosperous. A million new trees are taking root and will provide fruit, shade, and stabilization on hillsides. Most importantly, the community is engaged in the process every step of the way. Pine nuts, olives, and other ‘gourmet’ ingredients provide potential high-return markets and exports.


The youth are engaged in learning skills at vocational centres that will provide them with ‘work-ready’ capabilities and certificates in carpentry, electricals, vehicle repairs, and other trades. Construction of roads and infrastructure, and copper mining at Degan, are providing new jobs. Private investors are starting to see the commercial opportunities. Additional infrastructure, particularly electricity, is needed and the government will need to address this costly challenge.


Winning peace in such a historically troubled area has been an enormous challenge but many are now starting to see what extraordinary achievements have been made. Speaking recently at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, at an event to mark the 70th independence anniversary of Pakistan, the Commander British Field Army, Lieutenant General Patrick Nicholas Sanders said, “Pakistan had made breathtaking gains against terrorists and extremists in tribal areas unmatched in over 150 years”. He went on to say that Pakistan Army had done more than anyone to combat extremism and terrorism and the achievements were extraordinary.


The Army is doing an impressive job leading the reconstruction and rehabilitation work alongside the FATA Secretariat, the Political Agent and his team. Bilateral and multilateral donors, humanitarian and development organisations are also working in support of initiatives and are continuing to extend their projects now that the area is opening up. The FATA Reforms are underway although these may take some time to be fully implemented.


To build on these massive achievements, it is also up to the broader community to support peace in North Waziristan and other regions of FATA through ‘adopting’ schools, clinics, and other initiatives that provide long-term benefits for stability. North Waziristan may seem remote from the cities of Pakistan but peace in this once-troubled area, also means peace in the cities.

 

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.

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07
June

Written By: Zamir Akram

Moreover, and this is the crucial point, if the U.S. and the Afghan government are really serious about their accusations, they need to cooperate with Pakistan to ensure that the Pak-Afghan border is sealed and no movement takes places by anyone in either direction. The fact that Kabul continues to refuse such cooperation exposes its malafide intentions. Indeed, its refusal to cooperate indicates that it wants to keep the border porous and unchecked so that TTP and Da’esh terrorists can be infiltrated into Pakistan. In this the Indians also have an obvious vested interest.

The Afghan government’s refusal to cooperate with Pakistan to monitor and control the Pakistan-Afghanistan border coupled with its sponsorship of anti-Pakistan terrorist groups of the TTP which are also colluding with elements of ISIS/Daesh in Afghanistan, pose a severe security threat to not only Pakistan but also to other regional states including China, Iran and Russia, apart from Afghanistan itself. But the multiple powerbrokers in Kabul, with clear instigation and support from New Delhi, instead of recognizing their own long term national interest in cooperating with Pakistan, are more intent upon using the porous border to try and destabilize Pakistan. This leaves Pakistan with the only option to forcibly and unilaterally seal the Pak-Afghan border and tightly regulate any movement across it. This is not only in Pakistan’s interest but also in the interest of regional security.


From Pakistan’s security perspective there are both external and internal compulsions for securing its border with Afghanistan. The worst case security scenario for Pakistan is to face simultaneous confrontation on both its western and eastern borders with Afghanistan and India. On the eastern front, Pakistani troops have been engaged for decades in protecting the country’s border with India while being in direct confrontation with Indian troops on the volatile Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary with Indian Occupied Kashmir. Given the ongoing popular uprising in occupied Kashmir against Indian occupation, this disputed territory continues to pose a security threat for Pakistan. At the same time, the situation on the western border with Afghanistan has been deliberately destabilized with unprovoked attacks on Pakistani border posts by Afghan troops, the most recent being the firing on a Pakistani census team near the Chaman border in Balochistan. Even worse is the sanctuary given by Afghanistan to TTP terrorist groups close to the border who are encouraged and enabled to cross over this border to carryout terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

pakafghanintborder.jpgWhat makes this situation worse is the active collusion between the Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies that finance, arm and support TTP terrorists based in Afghanistan as well as Baloch insurgents and separatists. In fact, such Indo-Afghan collusion is part of the strategic Indian objective to use pliant Afghan factions and their territory to destabilize Pakistan. Indeed, this has been the Indo-Afghan geo-political objective since the independence of Pakistan when immediately thereafter Afghanistan was the only country that objected to Pakistan’s UN membership and started the Pushtunistan bogey in a vain effort to undermine Pakistan’s territorial integrity. Since then Afghan leaders, even those better disposed towards Pakistan like the Taliban, have also refused to accept the internationally recognized sanctity and legality of the border with Pakistan. In the contemporary environment, such Afghan obduracy over the status of the border has become a self-defeating and an untenable proposition for them since they joined the Indians in accusing Pakistan of promoting “cross-border terrorism” but at the same time do not “recognize” the border.


At the internal level, the threat to Pakistan’s security stems from terrorism in Pakistan spawned by terrorists belonging to the TTP and Daesh with sanctuary and support from within Afghanistan. Pakistan government’s initial efforts to find a political solution through dialogue with the TTP groups failed to reduce terrorist incidents and only encouraged them to intensify their attacks against civilian and military targets especially in FATA. It was only after the brutal attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, that the futile dialogue option was abandoned and military operations started against TTP terrorists through Zarb-e-Azb and continues now through Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. However, while TTP sanctuaries in FATA and the border areas have been cleansed by these military operations, the remnants of the TTP have crossed over the border into adjoining areas of Afghanistan such as Nangarhar and Paktia from where they are being openly supported and armed by the Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies, thereby enabling them to continue launching terrorist attacks within Pakistan across the unregulated border. The presence of nearly 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan also provides these terrorists the cover and space to infiltrate and conduct terrorist activities. At the same time, both Kabul and New Delhi are arming and financing separatist groups, especially insurgent Baloch organizations, to carry out acts of sabotage and terrorism within Pakistan. A prime target for them is to derail the infrastructure projects in Pakistan related to the operationalization of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). As a result, Pakistan has been forced to raise a Special Security Division, military force to protect the CPEC projects and the personnel involved, especially Chinese nationals.

 

Moreover, under international law and the Durand Line agreement, Pakistan remains well within its rights to control, restrict and deny the so-called “easement rights” for tribes living on both sides of the border, which are not part of the original agreement but evolved over time as a practice to facilitate interaction and movement of the tribes without travel documents or visas. However, since these easement rights are now being violated and abused by local tribes as well as others to engage in terrorism, smuggling, drug trafficking, weapons' transfers and unchecked movement of refugees, Pakistan is legally justified to control and even curtail such movement.

The border agreement and international law also do not prevent Pakistan from taking any measures, such as fencing, visas' requirements and border checks to regulate movement in either direction across the border.

The roots of these external and internal security challenges for Pakistan that also today affect the entire region are complex and multi-dimensional. At the heart of this conundrum is, of course, the hegemonic Indian obsession to dominate the whole of South Asia. This has consistently propelled New Delhi to instigate tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan as a part of its overall pursuit of regional domination, a strategy in which Kabul, for the most part, has been a willing partner. With the current Indo-Afghan strategic partnership agreement, such collaboration has now been institutionalized.


But this underlying security threat for Pakistan has been complicated over the last three decades due to factors largely beyond Pakistan’s control. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 confronted Pakistan with twin problems – the presence of the Red Army on its borders at a time when the Soviet Union and India were close military allies; and the influx of more than 3 million Afghan refugees, many of whom are still in Pakistan. With help from Pakistan, the U.S. and other countries, the Afghan Mujahideen successfully compelled the Soviets to withdraw after almost 10 years of fighting. Unfortunately, however, the U.S. and its partners abandoned Afghanistan thereafter, which quickly degenerated into a decade long civil war among different Afghan factions and war lords. This period also witnessed the growth of religious extremism and the growth of terrorist groups involving fighters from various parts of the world including Arab countries in particular. To protect its interests against involvement of regional players such as India and Iran, Pakistan gravitated towards the emerging Afghan power bloc, the Taliban, as the best option to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the lawless and unstable Afghan situation with growth of extremism, terrorism, drugs and weapons, permeated into Pakistan via its porous border with Afghanistan and through the vehicle of the unchecked movement of refugees, drug lords, smugglers and criminals. Not just the Pak-Afghan border areas but even Pakistan’s major cities were infected with this malaise.

 

Ensuring effective border controls will be crucial for the successes of Pakistan’s military operations to contain and defeat terrorism by the TTP and its Daesh collaboration based in Afghanistan. It would also be critical for the safe operations of the CPEC by neutralizing the terrorist activities of Baloch terrorists from their Afghan safe havens. Apart from Pakistan, effective border controls will also be essential for the interests of regional countries, especially China, Iran and Russia, which are also threatened by Afghan based TTP and Daesh terrorists.

The failure of the Taliban to restore peace in their country and to gain international acceptability was confounded by their toleration of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda which eventually, after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., brought about their downfall and the American presence in Afghanistan, in pursuit of their “War on Terror”. Despite initial American gains to dislodge the Taliban and “drain the Afghan swamp,” military operations over the next 15 years have been only partially successful. While Al-Qaeda has been mainly disabled, it has not been destroyed. Instead, the U.S. and its NATO partners have become embroiled in an endless stalemate with the Taliban, which has provided space for the Al-Qaeda and now increasingly Da’esh to make inroads into Afghanistan.


While there are multiple reasons for this American failure in Afghanistan, the important outcome for Pakistan has been the lack of effective coordination between the U.S. and Pakistan from the very beginning of U.S. operations, which allowed hundreds of Al-Qaeda terrorists and the Taliban to cross the Afghan border into Pakistan and go underground in the tribal areas and even in the cities, using the lure of money and (misguided) ideology to gain local support as well as recruits. As a partner in this counter-terrorism campaign led by the U.S., Pakistan conducted several military operations and intelligence based raids to ferret out these terrorists but the much vaunted “hammer and anvil” tactics between Pakistan and American forces did not really take effect as there was hardly any U.S., NATO or Afghan presence on the other side of the border to catch or kill terrorists fleeing Pakistani operations. For instance, there were over 1000 Pakistani military posts all along the border but only 118 U.S./Afghan posts on the other side. The oft promised and much needed equipment from the Americans for Pakistani forces, such as helicopters and night vision equipment, was also in very short supply, inhibiting Pakistan’s capabilities.


At the same time, American/NATO tactics within Afghanistan, with indiscriminate use of force, especially air-power and drones, caused huge collateral damage. To make matters worse, there was greater emphasis on use of force rather than efforts to win Afghan hearts and minds. The result has been the ability of the Taliban to not only regroup but also to find willing fighters for their cause. These factors continue to prolong the stalemate in Afghanistan with the Taliban being able to extend their sphere of control, especially since the drawdown of U.S. and NATO troops and the incapacity of the Afghan army to take charge.


In this deteriorating environment, the U.S. and its Afghan allies have made common cause by blaming Pakistan and using it as a scapegoat for their failure. These allegations are contrary to ground realities because the Taliban operations are deep within Afghan territory, as far north of Pakistan as Kunduz and Mazar-e-Sharif, which the Taliban simply cannot launch from Pakistan. In fact they now control more than 45% of Afghan territory and do not need to operate from Pakistan. Moreover, and this is the crucial point, if the U.S. and the Afghan government are really serious about their accusations, they need to cooperate with Pakistan to ensure that Pak-Afghan border is sealed and no movement takes places by anyone in either direction. The fact that Kabul continues to refuse such cooperation exposes its malafide intentions. Indeed, its refusal to cooperate indicates that it wants to keep the border porous and unchecked so that TTP and Daesh terrorists can be infiltrated into Pakistan. In this the Indians also have an obvious vested interest. What the U.S. seeks to gain is, however, most intriguing.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s intentions and actions amply demonstrate that Islamabad is genuine in its efforts to ensure foolproof border management with Afghanistan which also underscores its bonafides regarding cross-border terrorism allegations. The positions of both sides in this regard, therefore, deserve closer scrutiny.


Pakistan inherited the 2611 km border with Afghanistan from the British Indian government at the time of independence in 1947. This border, demarcated by a British official, Sir Mortimer Durand and hence also called the Durand Line, was agreed to by Afghanistan’s Amir Abdul Rehman in 1893. It was subsequently reaffirmed by the British and the Afghans in the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1921. Since then the Durand Line has been accepted internationally as the border, which, under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties has been inherited by the succeeding State of Pakistan from the British. It was only in 1949, that the Afghans unilaterally declared that they considered the Durand Line border as an “imaginary line” and refused to accept it as the international border. However, under international law and under the UN Charter such Afghan claims have no basis in law or fact.


Moreover, under international law and the Durand Line agreement, Pakistan remains well within its rights to control, restrict and deny the so-called “easement rights” for tribes living on both sides of the border, which are not part of the original agreement but evolved over time as a practice to facilitate interaction and movement of the tribes without travel documents or visas. However, since these easement rights are now being violated and abused by local tribes as well as others to engage in terrorism, smuggling, drug trafficking, weapons' transfers and unchecked movement of refugees, Pakistan is legally justified to control and even curtail such movement.


The border agreement and international law also do not prevent Pakistan from taking any measures, such as fencing, visas' requirements and border checks to regulate movement in either direction across the border.


Despite the negative stance taken by successive Afghan governments regarding the border, including promotion of the so-called Pashtunistan issue and sanctuary given to dissident Baloch and Pushtoon groups, as well as the inflow of Afghan refugees into Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the problem of border management did not arise for the most part until Kabul started accusing Pakistan of supporting Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. As a result, in 2006, Pakistan decided to fence parts of the border and installed a biometric system at the Chaman border crossing in 2007 as a pilot project. However, the Afghans reacted violently with mobs attacking Pakistani posts. In 2013, clashes erupted between Pakistan and Afghan troops when Pakistan tried to repair a gate at the Gursal military post. It is also important to note that after the Afghan forces assumed greater control of the border areas following draw-down of U.S./NATO troops from the area, there has been a sharp rise in cross-border shelling and attacks on Pakistani positions. Afghan forces also resorted to firing to prevent installation of a fence by Pakistan despite being 30 metres inside Pakistan territory at Torkham which led to closure of the border for 5 days.


After the APS attack which was clearly planned and executed by TTP groups based in Afghanistan, there was a renewed determination to ensure an end to terrorist infiltration from that country. The National Action Plan adopted in 2015 called for more effective border controls which began to be implemented with the installation of a gate at the Torkham border alongwith requirement for passports and visas for all Afghans entering Pakistan. Again the Afghans resorted to unprovoked firing which led to the death of a Pakistani army officer. Similar incidents of violence by Afghan soldiers and organized mobs also took place on the Chaman border during this period.


This trend has continued despite numerous flag meetings between officials of the two sides and tripartite meetings between Pakistani, U.S. and Afghan military officials as well as efforts made by the Advisor for Foreign Affairs and the Army Chief directly with the Afghan leadership. The U.S. military Commander in Afghanistan has also been involved in this process. But all these efforts by Pakistan have not met with any lasting success.


In its latest attempt in border management, Pakistan has resorted to unilateral steps in view of Afghan refusal to cooperate, with installation of vigilant border controls at the 2 major entry points at Torkham and Chaman as well at Arandu in Chitral, at Ghulam Khan in North Wazirstan, Angoor Adda in South Waziristan, Nawa Pass in Mohmand, Gursal in Bajaur, and Kharlachi in Kurram. Apart from passport and visa controls there is also going to be selective fencing of certain border areas.


Ensuring effective border controls will be crucial for the successes of Pakistan’s military operations to contain and defeat terrorism by the TTP and its Daesh collaboration based in Afghanistan. It would also be critical for the safe operations of the CPEC by neutralizing the terrorist activities of Baloch terrorists from their Afghan safe havens.


Apart from Pakistan, effective border controls will also be essential for the interests of regional countries, especially China, Iran and Russia, which are also threatened by Afghan based TTP and Daesh terrorists. However, a big question remains over the intentions and role of the U.S. If Washington is really interested in defeating terrorism, particularly the emerging threat posed by the TTP-Daesh combined, it should actively cooperate with Pakistan and other regional powers to neutralize these groups. So far it has not done so and does not seem inclined in that direction. Instead the U.S. continues to harp on the allegations of Pakistani support to the Afghan Taliban, a charge with which they are now also accusing Russia and Iran. Meanwhile no real effort is being made by the U.S. to reverse the Indo-Afghan backing for terrorists operating against Pakistan and which also threaten other regional countries. This policy is doomed to fail even if the U.S. increases its troop levels in Afghanistan since the stalemate with the Taliban will continue and a few thousand more American troops will not be able to accomplish what the U.S. and NATO forces have failed to achieve despite fighting at full strength for 16 years. The only solution for the U.S. lies in cooperating with Pakistan to end Afghan-Indian support for TTP-Daesh terrorism against Pakistan and to support an intra Afghan dialogue to end the military stalemate in that country and leading to a political solution.


From Pakistan’s security perspective, there is a need to toughen its policy of dealing with Afghan based terrorists and if the Afghans and the Americans remain obdurate, the fight may have to be taken into Afghan territory to destroy terrorist bases in keeping with the international law principle of hot pursuit. Pakistan would also need to upgrade its border controls with greater resort to fencing vulnerable parts of the border and even using land mines where considered necessary. As long as these steps are taken within Pakistani territory, Pakistan would be acting well within the parameters of international law and the border agreement with Afghanistan. At the same time together measures would need to be taken to ensure the permanent return of Afghan refugees to their country.

 

The writer is a former Ambassador of Pakistan.

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15
May
May 2017(EDITION 05, Volume 54)
 
Written By: Maria Khalid
On account of the great promise of the advanced technology for communication, it has become a norm to communicate effortlessly and efficiently beyond the borders. Technology as the foundation of today’s modern society also governs its dynamics....Read full article
 
Written By: Ahmed Quraishi
This is a watershed moment in Kashmir in the 69th year of Indian invasion and occupation of the disputed region. For regional and world peace, this moment should not pass without action.....Read full article
 
Written By: Farzana Yaqoob
A land once referred to as paradise, has been hell in the last century for the people of Kashmir. So much has been written about Kashmir. Its history, present condition and the aspirations of Kashmiris have been discussed time and again....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
India, presently, is undertaking its Middle East policy very seriously due to its energy needs, internal security challenges, regional/global politic....Read full article
 
Written By: Hasan Khan
The two-day Moscow Conference on Afghanistan held on April 14 and 15, in the Russian capital, asserted to coordinate regional efforts and facilitate the process of ‘national reconciliation’ to stabilize Afghanistan....Read full article
 
Written By: Huma Kirmani
Karachi, a city by the Arabian Sea, which was once known as the "City of Lights", is now bickering in its misery of infinite apprehensions and anticipation; though circumstances are quite blatantly streaming in sea breeze of this terror inflicted city....Read full article
 
Written By: Farrukh Khan Pitafi
Five years old Omran Daqneesh sits clueless in an ambulance. He has just been pulled out of rubble along with his family. Omran looks into camera, self-consciously he tries to fix his hair matted with blood sticking to his forehead. His own blood.....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Minhas Majeed
Violence is mostly understood and associated with religious extremism despite the fact that it has many shapes and forms – and all need to be condemned and countered. This is more so when a Muslim commits an act of violence, which as a result is associated with Islam....Read full article
 
Written By: Abdullah Khan
Reintegration of militants into the national fold is an uphill but essential task that the State of Pakistan has to accomplish. Majority of the militants fighting against us are our own citizens. We need to think seriously about how to bring those who fell in the hands....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Farrukh Saleem
How do we keep a pulse on the economy? How does one evaluate the real health of an economy? Broadly speaking, an economy can be divided up into the internal sector and the external sector. Economic indicators are then used to ascertain or judge the current.....Read full article
 
Written By: Ghazala Yasmin Jalil
The remarks of academics and retired Indian officials confirm the redundancy of the NFU. If indeed the signals coming from India are to be taken seriously then it is a major declared policy shift that has serious implications for Pakistan's nuclear strategy....Read full article
 
Written By: Tahir Mehmood Azad
The estimated mid-2015 population in Pakistan stands at 199.0 million, which ranks 6th amongst the highest populated countries in the world following China, India, United States, Indonesia and Brazil. With the ongoing pace and momentum the population of Pakistan....Read full article
 
Written By: Maryam Razzaq
As we went on the stage and took out the Pakistani flag everyone just stood up from their place and clapped for us. It was a moment that filled our hearts with indescribable love and respect for our country. The world acknowledged our success.....Read full article
 
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A stable, peaceful and normalized Pakistan with terrorists' freedom of action significantly curtailed through a comprehensive approach of consolidating gains in the Western Zone, cleansing.....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Gulfaraz ahmed
Man possesses two distinct traits of individuality and personality. Individuality makes him a unique part of the natural and social whole of the mankind. Personality gives him a unique spiritual self-determination. In the social context, man is highly interdependent.....Read full article
 
Written By: Nadeem F. Paracha
The new CM of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Yogi Satiyanass Adityanath, has termed his appointment as the start of a glorious era in India. A modest, simple yogi, Adityanath, modestly claims to be a beacon of spiritual enlightenment, an ingenious politician, a brilliant.....Read full article
 
Written By: Amir Atta
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Written By: Maj Asim Ishaq
The United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is a joint African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission formally approved by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007 to bring stability to the war-torn Darfur .....Read full article

 
 
Written By: Aqeel Malik
Sports have always been the hallmark of Pakistan Armed Forces besides high standard of professionalism in their respective fields. The apex performance of men/women in uniform in various sports activities, both inland and abroad, have always been applauded and acknowledged.....Read full article
 
General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, addressed combined faculty and students of Command and Staff Colleges, Quetta, Pak Navy War College and Air War College............Read full article
 
Mr. Mehdi Honardoost, Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Evolving regional security matrix and other issues of mutual interest were discussed.....Read full article
 
Command and Staff Conference of Pakistan Navy was held at Naval Headquarters, Islamabad. The Conference was chaired by Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah. Matters related to operational .....Read full article
 
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09
May

Excerpts from DG ISPR’s Briefing on April 17, 2017

Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad Strategy
End State
A stable, peaceful and normalized Pakistan with terrorists' freedom of action significantly curtailed through a comprehensive approach of consolidating gains in the Western Zone, cleansing terrorist support base, illegal weapons and explosives control in the country, thereby restoring public's confidence.

Cardinals
Stable, peaceful and a normalized Pakistan
Only the state has the authority to use force.
Stabilization of Western Zone – Denial of freedom of action to terrorists.
Dismantling terrorist support base in heartland – Dilution of residual potential of terrorists.
Support implementation of National Action Plan as whole-of-nation approach.
Support policy initiatives included national counter narrative.
Army fights the terrorists; terrorism and extremism are fought by the Law Enforcement Agencies (whole-of-nation approach).

Manifestation
Broad spectrum security/Counter Terrorism (CT) operations by Rangers in Punjab, continuation of ongoing operations across the country.
Focus on more effective Pakistan-Afghanistan border security management.
Countrywide de-weaponization and explosive control long term reforms.

 

optbrief1.jpg

Border Management
Fencing
Total border FATA / KP - 1172 Km (Total border with Afghanistan 2611 Km)
Fenceable area - 744 Km
Non Fenceable area (Dir/Chitral) - 428 Km
Pri 1 (Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber) - 100 Km

Border Posts/Forts
Completed - 43
Under construction - 63
Pipeline - 338 (2019)
Census

6th Population and Housing Census commenced on March 15, 2017. Census process is divided into two phases spread over 72 days with a 10 day gap in between the phases. There are total 168,274 blocks, 20645 circles, 3312 charge and 458 census districts in the country. First phase of census which commenced on March 15 successfully completed despite few odd attempts to disrupt the process. 7 soldiers laid their lives including 5 victims of Lahore suicide bomber attack while 15 (9 suicide bomber attack, 6 road accidents) were injured. Phase 2 is commencing from April 25 to May 25. Army considers this a national undertaking and will do everything that is necessary for accomplishment of the process.

Development Work (Countrywide including FATA)
o Infrastructure - 86 Projects
o Roads: Constructed - 14820 Kms; Ongoing - 1363 Kms; Total - 16183 Kms
o Bridges - 833 Nos
o Build operate transfer projects - 9 Nos
o Thermal Projects - 26 Nos
o Air Fds - 62 Nos
o Rly Projects - 376 Kms
o Laying Fiber Optics - 6910 Kms
o Tunnels - 15 Nos
o Canals - 533 Kms
Schools/Colleges FATA Specific
o New - 67 Nos
Cadet Colleges - 4 Nos
Others - 63 Nos
o Reconstructed - 147 Nos
Health Related Projects
o Water Supply System (WSS)
11 Major Projects (Including Projects like Gomal Zam Dam, Khanpur Dam, Kurram Tangi Dam)
343 Water Supply Systems all over FATA/Balochistan
Pers
o Children Studying in APS&C Across Pakistan
FATA - 1195 Nos
Balochistan
Studying in APS - 545 Nos
Chamlang Students - 4375 Nos

 

optbrief2.jpg

COAS
o Pakistan Army is a state institution working for security and stability as force of peace and order, and acknowledges support of the nation which is hallmark of our commitment and motivation.
o Radd-ul-Fasaad is an operation in which every Pakistani is a soldier. We have to clear Pakistan of Fasaad and Fassadies together while staying united.
o Social media has become a menace because of its misuse. We must educate ourselves especially youth for its purposeful use rather than falling prey to hostile agenda/design.

Thanks to all stakeholders for supporting Army and participating in Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.

optbrief3.jpg

 
 
09
May

Written By: Aqeel Malik

Sports have always been the hallmark of Pakistan Armed Forces besides high standard of professionalism in their respective fields. The apex performance of men/women in uniform in various sports activities, both inland and abroad, have always been applauded and acknowledged.

 

theacmeofskils.jpgCISM (Conseil International Du Sport Militaire) is an international sports association, established in February 1948 in France to promote sports activities and physical education between armed forces as a means to foster world peace. Pakistan, Argentina, Egypt, USA, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria were a few of its initial members in early fifties. At the moment CISM comprises 135 member nations. CISM organizes over twenty World Military Championships annually. It also holds Military World Games every four years with approximately 6000 participants including Olympic medalists and World Champions.


Pakistan was the first Asian country which organized the CISM Annual General Assembly Congress at Lahore in 1959. Pakistan has the honor to organize four world military sports events including hockey, sea sports, golf and sailing championships since then. Pakistan Armed Forces have won four gold, one silver and five bronze medals in CISM individual as well as team sports events from 2005 to 2015 including golf, boxing, taekwondo, cricket and wrestling. In 2016 alone Pakistan Armed Forces won two silver medals in CISM Golf and Sailing Championships held at Netherlands and Pakistan respectively.


Besides team sports events individual officers of Pakistan Armed Forces have also been conferred with distinct honors and awards by CISM. Commodore Zafar Mehmood of Pakistan Navy was appointed CISM President for Golf from 2008 to 2012. CISM awards of merit “Grand Knight” have been conferred on Colonel Muhammad Asif Zaman of Pakistan Army and Captain Ansar Mahmood from Pakistan Navy in 2013 and 2016. Pakistan Armed Forces hence remain the flag bearer of the CISM axiom “Friendship through Sports”.


(Aqeel Malik)

 
09
May

Written By: Amir Atta

If there’s anything that the World Wars have shown the nations, it’s that you always have to stay ahead of everyone in terms of military strength. Following the Second World War, countries across the world have become wary of direct conflict and have instead adopted a more subtle approach of stealth, sabotage and infiltration.

 

everythinguneed.jpgAircraft have seen the biggest improvement in this sector as a fighter jet’s success depends on its ability to infiltrate enemy's lines, hit its targets and get out unnoticed. Such airborne jets can easily succumb to enemy's fire after being detected by radar systems. Thus the need to nullify enemy's radars in order to improve the effectiveness of jet aircraft arises.


How Does Stealth Technology Work?
Stealth jet fighters are designed to diffuse signals from all types of radars. While it is not possible to make aircraft completely invisible, conventional radars can be made ineffective against stealth aircrafts.

 

everythinguneed1.jpgStealth is a combination of passive low observable features and active emitters. These, alongside planned mission maneuvers, reduce an aircraft’s radar cross-section (reflection of radar signals). Turning or opening the bomb bay can double a jet fighter’s radar signal return.


However, beating radar signal is only one of the five factors in making a truly stealthy design. The designers also need to make it harder for heat-seeking missiles to detect a plane. Naked eye identification and noise are two factors which can let anyone identify the location of a jet. Radio transmissions to (and from) an aircraft also need to be controlled such that the enemy cannot triangulate the location using the communication signals.


At the very least, a stealthy aircraft needs to comply with the following guidelines:
● Hide thermal emissions
● Alter general configuration, like split rudder, to minimise radar detection
● Reduce radar detection when opening weapons bay
● Avoid detection in adverse weather conditions


Limitations
The goals for designing a stealth based jet fighter are relatively simple when you consider the several limitations of such designs.

 

everythinguneed2.jpgInitial designs had minimal radar interference but they faced control issues. Such planes required constant flight corrections from a fly-by-wire system. The most popular stealth bomber, the B-2 Spirit, was based on an unconventional design from 1940s to increase stability.


The hot exhausts sonic boom when flying faster than the speed of sound and surface heat from flying at such speeds increases infrared footprint. Designers had to sacrifice maneuverability to deal with the issue. More recently though, at least three stealth jet fighters have the latest performance characteristics, thanks to superior flight control systems, engines, airframe designs and materials.


Even with current technology, stealth aircraft are vulnerable to detection during and immediately after using their weapons or releasing payloads. Even older radars can detect stealth jet fighters when hidden weapons surface. Even though aircraft can reacquire their stealth after using the weapons, any fast surface-to-air defence system has the opportunity to engage the aircraft.


Workarounds are employed to avoid temporary detection. Bomber aircraft take flight at very high altitudes which can make it virtually impossible for defence systems to engage the plane. Fighter aircraft (only two until now) can open bays, release payload and return to stealth mode in less than a second, reducing the overall vulnerability time. There still are problems when some weapons require the weapon's guidance system to acquire the target while still attached to the aircraft. Trade-offs have to be made when deciding between the destructive ability of a plane and its stealth capability.

 

everythinguneed3.jpgSince stealth aircraft carry all fuel and armament internally, the payload has to be reduced in weight or size.


Modern stealth jet fighters make use of a sensitive signal absorbent skin called Radar-Absorbent Materials (RAMs). These materials contain carbon black particles and some have tiny iron spheres. Other materials are classified and still not known. This material can be damaged very easily.


Stealth aircraft require large amounts of investment, usually in billions of dollars, before a working unit can be manufactured. The cost of such jets is usually much higher than conventional models. One of the U.S. programs for stealth jet fighters costs nearly $1 trillion.


Passive radars, bistatic radars and multistatic radars can detect some stealth aircraft. Modern radar systems like Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Associative Aperture Synthesis Radar (AASR) can employ inexpensive means to locate low observable targets.


Similarly, Schlieren (atmospheric disturbances) can also be used to identify stealth aircraft. Passive signature intelligence can be used to detect objects between space and earth. Once a plane is detected, its stealth signature can be loaded into a library such that it can enable live satellite search for stealth fighters.


According to some analysts, Infra-red search and track systems (IRSTs) can be used to nullify the stealth system of some aircraft by using their frictional heat to identify them. Long Wavelength Radars are also effective against some stealth technologies. OTH (over-the-horizon) radar is a new technology which can overcome certain stealth characteristics.


China also claims to have developed a radar system capable of detecting all stealth aircraft with impunity.


Modern Stealth Jet Fighters
Until now, only the U.S. has used stealth aircraft in combat. It was used first in Panama in 1990 followed by the Gulf War, Kosovo conflict, Afghanistan, Iraq and recently in Libya. Some of the stealth fighters and bombers are listed below:


● F-35 Lightning II (USA)
● B-2 Spirit (USA)
● F-22 Raptor (USA)
● Chengdu J-20 (China)
● Shenyang J-31 (China)


Unmanned stealth aircraft are owned by several military forces while working manned aircraft are still scarce. Most have faced issues leading to cancellation of such projects. Russia, India, Iran, Sweden and the U.S. are in process of developing new stealth aircraft.


Due to the large investments and huge amounts of research required for such projects, it is hard to say major improvements or newer models from any of the countries could be seen in the near future.

 

The writer is a Data Network expert. He is the founder and CEO of ProPakistani.pk

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09
May

Written By: Nadeem F. Paracha

The new CM of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Yogi Satiyanass Adityanath, has termed his appointment as the start of a glorious era in India. A modest, simple yogi, Adityanath, modestly claims to be a beacon of spiritual enlightenment, an ingenious politician, a brilliant zoologist and better looking than Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan.


In fact he has issued orders banning the entry of both the Khans into UP until they publicly declare their admiration of Adityanath’s spiritual, political, zoological and physical prowess. He also wants them to milk his cows and feed his monkeys.

 

thusspokeadiyanath.jpgAdityanath was made UP’s CM by Indian PM Narendra Modi after his Bharatiya Danga Party (BDP) swept last month’s state elections in UP. Modi, who is a modern-day manifestation of the ancient and hallowed Red Indian Chief, Mogambo, believes that Adityanath is the right man to make UP what it was originally supposed to be: i.e., Uttarbandaana Shamkala Yaguna Yogipura Nagasaki – an ancient Cowtopia where men and cows co-existed in complete harmony because there were no Muslims; and the evil dark-skinned people were never allowed to venture out of their natural abodes in the city’s sewerage system.


As a first step to build a new Uttarbandaana Shamkala Yaguna Yogipura Nagasaki, Adityanath has decreed that for every fair-skinned Aryan-Hindu woman dishonoured by a Muslim man, fair-skinned Aryan-Hindu men are allowed to dishonour 102 Muslim women. He added that if a fair-skinned Aryan-Hindu man dishonours a fair-skinned Aryan-Hindu woman, then he will have to give two cows to the family of the woman.


He said, to a fair-skinned Aryan-Hindu man, giving away his cows was the worst possible punishment. After saying this, Adityanath began to weep and spent the rest of the day hugging his cows.

 

A modest, simple yogi, Adiyanath, modestly claims to be a beacon of spiritual enlightenment, an ingenious politician, a brilliant zoologist and better looking than Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan.

During a speech he was delivering to a group of orangutans at a zoo in UP, Adityanath lamented that decades of the Congress rule has turned Hindu men into becoming Muslim women.


He said: ‘Muslims were allowed to freely slaughter cows and eat them whole. Their cholesterol levels went through the roof and their brains became overwhelmed by fatty tissue, making them stupid and violent. In other words, they became Pakistanis.’
He then added: ‘Meanwhile, the cows which the Muslims did not eat fell into depression after watching their comrades being so mercilessly slaughtered. As a consequence, they stopped giving healthy milk. The unhealthy milk consumed by fair-skinned Aryan-Hindu men made them physically weak. They became women. Or worse, they became liberals. They began to lose their Aryan complexion and started to look like fat Muslim men or worse, dark-skinned residents of the city’s otherwise excellent sewerage system.’ ‘No more!’ Adityanath shouted. ‘I don’t care what the liberals think about my ideas. I am not scared, because mard ko dard nahi hota.


After saying this he spent the rest of the day feeding on medicinal plants to ease the pain he was feeling in one of his toes.


The new UP CM is yet to fully unveil his plan to turn Uttar Pradesh into Uttarbandaana Shamkala Yaguna Yogipura Nagasaki. But he has told the media that the plan is elaborate and involves some bold steps. He said that the plan also includes the setting up of a university which will revive the sciences invented by ancient Indians millions of years ago.

 

He claimed that the barbaric Muslim invasions of India subjugated fair-skinned Hindu Aryans, destroyed their technology and sciences, slaughtered their cows, made them drink date-wine and eat nihari and turned the word Batinda into tind. He said he was now here to set things straight and take revenge for all the atrocities committed by fat Muslims. ‘There is no place for Muslims in the new Uttarbandaana Shamkala Yaguna Yogipura Nagasaki,’ he said. Then showing the reporters what looked like a plastic toy gun, he said he will vaporize all the Muslims with this ancient laser gun.

He told reporters that the ancient people of Uttarbandaana Shamkala Yaguna Yogipura Nagasaki were travelling on flying machines, using nuclear-powered vacuum-cleaners and using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, millions of years before fake white Aryans of Europe and America re-introduced them in the 20th and 21st centuries.


He showed reporters a rusty device which he claimed had been discovered at an archeological site in UP. He said it was an ancient nuclear-powered vacuum-cleaner which could also be used as a shaver.


He added that he has been using the device to clean the carpets of his office, and that he also regularly shaves his head with it. He informed that the Urdu word tind is derived from the old Sanskrit word, Batinda, which means ‘one who has a pure hairless Aryan head.’ He then showed the reporters his own tind and said, ‘like this.’
He claimed that the barbaric Muslim invasions of India subjugated fair-skinned Hindu Aryans, destroyed their technology and sciences, slaughtered their cows, made them drink date-wine and eat nihari and turned the word Batinda into tind. He said he was now here to set things straight and take revenge for all the atrocities committed by fat Muslims.


‘There is no place for Muslims in the new Uttarbandaana Shamkala Yaguna Yogipura Nagasaki,’ he said. Then showing the reporters what looked like a plastic toy gun, he said he will vaporize all the Muslims with this ancient laser gun.


When a reporter pointed out that the laser gun was a plastic toy, most probably made in China, Adityanath got him arrested for eating beef. After the reporter was dragged away by the police, Adityanath said, Mogambo khush hooa.


He then retired for the rest of the day to hold discussion on important spiritual and political matters with the cabbages in his garden.

 

The writer is a Pakistani journalist, cultural critic and satirist. He is the author of two books ‘End of the Past’ and ‘The Pakistan Anti-Hero.’

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09
May

Written By: Dr. Gulfaraz ahmed

Man possesses two distinct traits of individuality and personality. Individuality makes him a unique part of the natural and social whole of the mankind. Personality gives him a unique spiritual self-determination. In the social context, man is highly interdependent on fellow beings and brings its unique personality into interactions with them.


The interaction is historically centered on his creative bargaining for exchange of goods, services and social order. Bargaining for advantage has been an essential aspect of human life. Understanding bargaining outcomes forms an important part of human and social psychology. Everyone intuitively learns the art of negotiation for survival in life. Negotiation is an important aspect of leadership and good leaders are invariably effective negotiators.

 

theartofnego.jpgNegotiation, in the context of this article, is a formal process of bargaining in complex situations. For those who carry public or corporate responsibility and negotiate on behalf of institutions, businesses and states need to learn the art as a part of their responsibility.


Negotiation may be done to create something new that either party cannot do on its own or it may be done to resolve differences and disputes. Parties involved in the negotiation are interdependent with one another for achieving their objectives, which are often interlocked. If you are not interdependent with other parties you may not need to negotiate with them. Managing interdependence with other people is an important part of the psychological processes involved in negotiation.

 

Communication is the essence of psychological processes of negotiation. It may be one of the most important factors of success in negotiation. Communication is the response actualized by the cognitive process of perception. A good communicator can say difficult things in a manner that does not provoke emotional or irrational responses. Cultural considerations are important for understanding the tactics and building the confidence.

In negotiation each party tries to maximize its gain. The art of negotiation leads you to maximizing your gain and equally importantly keeping the other party/parties to remain committed to the outcome. It generally is not a win-lose or a zero-sum game. Successful negotiation generally means a win-win outcome for all parties. This is essential for stability and success of the negotiated outcome.


The art of negotiation may be strengthened by the natural attributes of the negotiator’s personality but to a large extent, it is a matter of conscious learning. Negotiation skills can be improved by active learning and effective preparation. It is a growing discipline in psychology and is a subject of intensive research for a better understanding of the dynamics involved. It builds extensively on decision analysis, behavioral decision theory, and game theory leading to interactive decision making.


The article aims at introducing the vast field of negotiation to generate a quest for further reading for better understanding the dynamics of negotiation to sharpen leadership and management capacities.

Preparation
Preparation is the first step towards a successful negotiation: it starts with the definition of own goal(s) which leads to formulation of strategy that leads to identification of issues and stages leading onward to options and finally the tactics for conducting the negotiation.


It aims at gathering knowledge and developing an understanding of the issues as well as the working of the other parties of the negotiation. It is expected that all negotiating parties would have adequate knowledge of the agenda items but it is important that a successful negotiator has comprehensive knowledge of the broader aspects of the issues beyond the agenda items.


The negotiator needs to go over some case-studies to survey the comparative outcomes by other negotiators for similar issues. The accuracy of information and the knowledge of implications of various options/scenarios prepare, equip and guide the negotiators through the dynamic and fluid process of negotiation.

 

In negotiation each party tries to maximize its gain. The art of negotiation leads you to maximizing your gain and equally importantly keeping the other party/parties to remain committed to the outcome. It generally is not a win-lose or a zero-sum game. Successful negotiation generally means a win-win outcome for all parties. This is essential for stability and success of the negotiated outcome.

It is of vital importance to frame the theme of the dispute carefully as well as intelligently. Inappropriate wording can lead to misconception, bias or defensiveness in the minds of the other party/parties even before the start of the negotiation.


Negotiation objectives need to be defined very unambiguously. The objectives in complex situations are often interlocked and it is important to analyze scenarios with the inter-play of various permutations while defining the objectives during the preparatory work.


Then there is the strategy, tactics and plans/steps to achieve the defined objectives. The drawing of the agenda or the sequence of the deliberations may appear innocuous but this could become a cardinal point affecting the outcome. Thorough preparation leads you away from an emotional approach to negotiation, which results from limited knowledge, inadequate preparation and subjective effort.


Approach to Negotiation
Negotiation may be approached as a competitive or integrative game. The competitive approach seeks win-lose or zero-sum outcome. A win-lose game is like haggling for a bargain. Bargaining may serve some situations but has no relevance with high-stakes complex negotiations. If both parties narrowly stick to winning there is no agreement.


There is an important term that experts often use in negotiation. It is known as the “Best Alternative to No Agreement (BATNA)”. One can improve the outcome by improving the BATNA and worsening that of the other party.

artofnego1.jpgThe timing of negotiation can also be a strategic consideration for improving the BATNA. If there is a weak BATNA, it may result in a weak outcome in case of agreement or may be more damaging in case of no agreement.


The integrative approach by comparison aims at a win-win outcome. The real life situations offer ingenuity, creativity, flexibility and diversity of scenarios for increasing the size of the pie, which may create opportunities for a win-win outcome.


Integrative approach is essentially a problem solving approach and one party alone may not be able to solve problems involved. Negotiating resources of all the parties are needed to resolve complex issues. Problem solving approach requires thorough knowledge not only of one’s own imperatives and drivers but more importantly that of the other party/parties.


Problem solving approach may not be mistaken for compromising. In a compromise both parties gain less due to lack of effort as both parties may operate at the level of their BATNAs. But in problem solving they take the outcome to a higher level of gains. Figure 1 shows a Dual Concern Matrix:
(1) if we show inaction all stand to lose; (2) if we yield, we stand to lose and others gain; (3) if we contend we may stand to gain while others lose; (4) in a compromise all will gain something but all will stay short of achieving best outcomes; and finally, (5) if we adopt problem solving approach all stand to gain best outcomes.


Inter-dependence can lead to synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is not a prescription for all kinds of negotiations. Different situations may suit different approaches of integrating, obliging, dominating, avoiding or compromising.

 

Legitimacy/Power
Legitimacy/power of the negotiator is an important aspect of negotiation that can also lead to increasing the size of the pie. Everything in real-life complex negotiations is not black or white. There are intermingled shades, inter-bedded dimensions and inter-locking objectives. Perspectives and opportunities keep varying in the dynamic flow of a negotiating process. It is a fluid battle of wits, like the game of chess. (There is a big difference though; chess is bound in closed box logic but the real life situations are often unbounded and open-ended.) As every move in chess creates a new situation for a different response negotiation continues to create new situation for a dynamic process.


A competent negotiator with knowledge, exposure and responsibility in real life could add new dimensions and seek different permutations of achieving the defined objectives. The legitimacy or authority or power or responsibility or commitment of a negotiator is a crucial factor for successful negotiation. Power can provide the negotiator leverages to persuade and pressurize the other party to a more favorable outcome.


There are three major sources of power: information and expertise; control over negotiating team/resources; and negotiator’s position in the organization. For an integrative approach to yield an outcome both negotiators need full freedom within their defined objectives. Greater the degrees of freedom more are the chances for increasing the size of pie and achieving optimal and lasting results.

 

What Makes an Outcome Optimal or Successful?
Negotiation is successful when its outcome is better than the BATNA of all the parties involved. Successful negotiations build relationships that could be used to advantage for future opportunities. Developing understanding and building relationship may even be stated as parts of objectives for the negation.

 

Psychological Sub-processes
Negotiation involves the psychological sub-processes of perception, cognition, dynamics of communication, persuasion and leveraging, and ethical judgment.

 

artofnego2.jpgPerception is making sense or picture from the stimuli received through the sensory inputs. Perception leads to the response that a negotiator makes. Intuitively information may be perceived and potentially distorted in the perception process leading to systemic errors in responses. Intuition in negotiation may result from inadequate preparation and lack of effort during negotiation. Intuition does not lead to problem solving and is not an appropriate approach in important negotiations.


One has to guard against the intuitive approach at any stage of the process. During the flow of a negotiating process new information may be exchanged, unforeseen points raised and tactics played to throw the opposing negotiator off balance that leads to its adopting an intuitive approach.

Strategies that could be used against Intuition
1) Identifying situations that call for extra vigilance and slower, more conscious, effortful, logical and deliberate negotiations, and keep updating the list.
2) Avoiding getting into time pressure that usually leads to intuitive responses. Typically real estate agents or the car dealers create time-pressure to extract better deals.
3) Partitioning negotiation into multiple sessions, patience often generates significant dividends. It may be unnecessary or difficult to complete complex negotiations in one session. It is better to structure a process that allows rethinking for re-strategizing.
4) Adopting an outsider lens, when a negotiator uses an insider lens for making judgment while deeply immersed in a particular context or situation, he tends to rely on intuitive judgment. By contrast when a negotiator uses an outsider lens of being removed or detached from a particular situation, he uses a rational approach. The insider focuses only on the current situation, while the outsider is better at integrating information across multiple episodes and dimensions. Sometime it may be helpful to actually engage an outsider as consultant/adviser for keeping an outsider perspective.

 

It would be helpful to illustrate this point by a so-called Prisoner’s Dilemma where-in rational but uncoordinated and self-interested behavior can result in awful outcomes.


• The District Attorney knows that the two prisoners are indeed guilty of a crime (that carries a punishment of 5 years), but he does not have acceptable evidence to convince the jury. The prisoners too know this fact.
• The prisoners are kept separated and cannot communicate with each other at all.
• The District Attorney speaks to each prisoner separately and gives him a choice of Confessing or Not Confessing: (1) if both don’t confess they would one year each. (2) If both confess they get three years each. (3) If one confesses and the other does not, the confessor gets off scot-free and the non-confessor gets the maximum punishment of five years. Figure 2 illustrates the Prisoner’s Dilemma. If each prisoner confesses hoping to get scot free following intuition and self-interest and thus both end up confessing, both get 3 years each. In a win-win case both do not confess and both get away lightly with one year only as a case of problem solving for minimum punishment.

 

Communication
Communication is the essence of psychological processes of negotiation. It may be one of the most important factors of success in negotiation. Communication is the response actualized by the cognitive process of perception. A good communicator can say difficult things in a manner that does not provoke emotional or irrational responses. Cultural considerations are important for understanding the tactics and building the confidence.

Ethical Standards in Negotiations
Negotiators are often faced with the ethical question of what information they aught to share during the course of a negotiation. The ethics may vary from situation to situation; a few standards advocated by philosophers are presented:


End-Result Ethics practice is based on the thinking that ends justify the means. The rightness of an action is determined by considering the consequences. It raises the concern of how does one judge the consequences in their entirety.
Rule Ethics emphasize that decisions be based commonly on moral rules or standards or principles. Accordingly, the rightness of an action is determined by considering the laws and standards. It raises the concern of what rules are to be followed.
Social Contract Ethics are based on community and culture. Societies and organizations determine what is ethically appropriate for them. The rightness of the action is determined by considering social norms and customs of the community. It raises the concern of establishing the general will of the community and is opposed by those who challenge the morality of the existing social order.
Personalistic Ethics suggest that people are guided by their own conscience while making a determination. Thus the rightness of an action is determined by one’s own conscience. This raises the concerns of uniformity and cohesiveness.
Negotiators may use each of these approaches to evaluate various strategies and tactics.

 

Conclusion
For crucially important situations matching a negotiator in asset value, knowledge, communication, wit, energy, exposure and commitment with the objectives is crucially important. The negotiator should have the ability to see the whole but feel the parts. Let the person have the required information, resources, time and opportunity to prepare thoroughly and carry the legitimacy and power to seek the best outcome.

 

The writer holds a PhD degree from Stanford University, California USA. He is a former Federal Secretary and has been CEO/Chairman of OGDCL and Chairman NEPRA.

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09
May

Written By: Tahir Mehmood Azad

Nuclear weapons are considered as the most horrifying and destructive weapons ever built by mankind and they have shed dark shadows over humanity since 1945. After United States' nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Second World War, no [nuclear weapon] state could gather courage to use it again. However, it would be difficult to predict whether nuclear weapons could be used in future or not. Definitely, it is very complicated to state whether over the last 70 years, the threat of the use of nuclear weapons has reduced or amplified because there are both positive and perilous trends ongoing. A nuclear explosion would also create considerable fallout, potentially contaminating large areas. A one ton (a unit of weight equivalent to 1000 kilograms) surface detonation would theoretically result in fallout with gamma radiation levels in excess of 500 radiuses to a distance of 30-100 metres from the point of the explosion, with lesser amounts settling over a wider area.


It has become an Indian strategy to accuse Pakistan for any incident that happens in its territory. In the recent past, India has blamed Pakistan for attack on its Parliament (2002), Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot airbase (2015). Recently, for the attacks on its military base in Uri, Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed, India accused Pakistan. In reaction, India threatened Pakistan for surgical strike on its territory. On September 29, 2016, Indian military officials claimed that India had carried out surgical strike on militant camps in Pakistani territory. Pakistan rejected India's claim of surgical strike and warned India of serious consequences to any such activity.


After every single terrorist incident in India, whether it is carried out by local terrorists or separatist organizations, Indian civil and political elite put blame on Pakistan. These tensions further lead to unhappy and unhealthy environment for both states which ultimately affect the South Asian region. It is a bitter reality that any type of military adventure such as surgical strike or limited war carried out by India would lead to full-scale war and that would ultimately lead to nuclear war.


Pakistan and India, with estimated combined numbers of 250 nuclear weapons (130 and 120 respectively)1 and roughly total amount 6.3 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU-235) and 5.26 tons plutonium (Pu-239) for military uses, remain on the verge of war. Any type of military adventure, either surgical or limited war waged by India, would escalate to full-scale war and ultimately to nuclear war. Both states have advanced nuclear weapons' technology and nuclear war between them could be more catastrophic and will have long lasting health, environmental, psychological, socio-economic and global consequences. More than 21 million people would die in minutes from the direct effects of the weapons.2 Entire population of Pakistan and India which is about 200 million and 1000 million respectively, would suffer from the radiations for many decades. All major cities on both sides would be annihilated completely. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation would increase and that would negatively affect human, animal and plant life. Drinking water and food shortages would cause hundreds of millions of people to starve to death during the years following the nuclear war.


Neither the United States nor any other state in the world is distantly ready to handle the consequence of nuclear war. For example, the need to care for thousands of wounded, burned and irradiated sufferers, the need to vacate hundreds of thousands of natives in the path of the fallout, the enormous challenge of restoring essential services to a partly burned and irradiated city, and more. Further than the instantaneous physical harm done by a nuclear war, the sociological, psychological, and financial impacts of such an aggression would be destructive. Like natural calamity, a nuclear attack may happen without admonition, leaving small probability for preparation. An attack in a metropolitan part would not only execute huge figures of citizens but it could also make the region practically squalid for an extensive period of time. The suffering of such an assault would leave lasting mental and emotional scars on the survivors. The blast wave can destroy buildings, spread debris, and overturn trees. The thermal pulse can ignite exposed combustible materials, causing many sustained fires. These are the main direct effects. The magnitude of the effects is different depending on whether the explosion occurs; on the ground or above the earth.4 If a nuclear weapon was detonated at ground level, the area destroyed and the casualties probably would be smaller, even though ground particles would get picked up and made radioactive and then dumped downwind for hundreds of miles.5 Li Bin has given the consequences of nuclear terrorism attack in four scenarios.6


1. A nuclear device is exploded on the surface of water by seashore and the yield is 20 kilotons or less. The effects of a nuclear explosion include shock waves (or referred as air blasts for an explosion in the air), thermal radiation, initial nuclear radiation, and residual nuclear radiation.


2. A nuclear device is exploded at a population centre. The yield is about 20 kilotons. The damage in this scenario would be much bigger because the population density would be much higher. The casualties would be at the level of those in the Nagasaki and Hiroshima attacks or even larger.


3. An operational reactor releases a significant amount of vapourized nuclear materials, including spent fuels and fission products after suffering an attack. Nuclear materials released from an operational reactor are harmful to human beings. They could cause immediate effects in a few days, mid-term effects in a few years and long-term effects in tens of years. Immediate effects include acute radiation sickness caused by exposure to large-dose radiation, scalding by hot venting, and injuries by solid debris.


4. A "dirty bomb" with radioactive material is exploded at a population centre. The effects of the explosion of a "dirty bomb" are highly dependent on the type of nuclear materials used, the form of dispersal, and the weather condition after the explosion. Main effects would also be psychological and economical ones.7


International health organizations and experts believe that nuclear war consequences of India-Pakistan would be very dangerous to the affected community. A successful attack in major cities of both states would be very likely to cause large numbers of instant fatalities. Victims would be confronted not only with immediate destruction and disability imposed by the initial event but also with the fear of future effects on their own health, and the health of loved ones, or that of future generations.8 Although it would have the potential to affect extensive areas of land and cause large number of cancers, its impact would depend on how effectively appropriate contingency plans were implemented.9 Even an unsuccessful attack could have economic and social repercussions and affect public confidence in nuclear activities such as power generation.10


The entire region would face the consequences of radioactivity. Furthermore, it would have extra-regional impacts such as health, environmental, economic and trade, ecological, and socio-political. Therefore, India must avoid any kind of war option i.e., surgical, limited or all-out war. The bilateral disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner. Kashmir is the core dispute and it should be resolved as per the UNSC resolutions. Major powers should play their effective roles to normalize the situation between the two countries. India must change its aggressive policies towards Pakistan and both states should settle their issues in a friendly environment. India can escalate and initiate a war, but it will have to pay the price that would be very costly and endure over centuries!

 

The writer is pursuing PhD in Strategic & Nuclear Studies at National Defence University (NDU) Islamabad, Pakistan.
 

1 Shannon N. Kile and Hans M. Kristensen, "Trends in World Nuclear Forces, 2016," SIPRI, Fact Sheet, June 2016, p.2.
2 Abheet Singh Sethi, "The Global Cost of a Nuclear War between India and Pakistan," September 29, 2016.
3 Ashton B. Carter, Michael M. May, and William J. Perry, "The Day After: Action in the 24 Hours Following a Nuclear Blast in an American City," A report based on a workshop hosted by the Preventive Defense Project (Cambridge, Mass. and Palo Alto, Cal., Harvard and Stanford Universities, Preventive Defence Project, May 2007).
4 "Understanding the Risks and Realities of Nuclear Terrorism," Center for International Security and Cooperation Institute for International Studies, Stanford University.
5 Ibid.
6 Li Bin, "On Nuclear Terrorism," Working Paper, 2nd Pugwash Workshop on East Asian Security, Beijing, China, March 7-9, 2002.
7 http://nuclear-news.net/information/.
8 T. F. Ditzler, "Malevolent minds: The teleology of terrorism," in F. M. Moghaddam, and A. J. Marsella (Ed.), Understanding Terrorism: Psychosocial Roots, Consequences, and Interventions, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001, pp. 187-188.
9 "Assessing The Risk of Terrorist Attacks on Nuclear Facilities," Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology London, U.K, POST Report 222, July 2004, p.2.
10 Ibid.

 
08
May
First Pakistan Navy and Royal Malaysian Navy Bilateral Exercise MALPAK-17

newsmalpak17.jpgThe first ever Pakistan Navy and Royal Malaysian Navy Bilateral Naval Exercise MALPAK-17 was conducted in the adjoining waters of Malacca Straits. Pakistan Navy Task Group comprising Sword Class Guided Missile Frigate SAIF with embarked Z9EC helicopter and Combat Support Ship NASR with embarked Seaking helicopter participated in the exercise. From Malaysian side, Royal Malaysian Navy Frigate KD LEKIR with embarked FENNEC helicopter and Patrol Ship KD SELANGOR participated.
The premier Naval Exercise MALPAK-17 was aimed at strengthening bilateral relationship, enhancing interoperability between the two navies through development of combined naval tactics, techniques and procedures as well as to provide impetus to growing mutual naval collaboration between Pakistan and Malaysia.


The Exercise was conducted in two phases: harbour phase and the sea phase. The harbour phase comprised table top discussions on professional topics, practical boarding drills and planning conferences. Whereas, the sea phase included entire spectrum of maritime/naval operations including Cross-Deck Helo Operations, Torpedo Counter Measures, Gunnery Firings and Joint Maritime Interdiction Operations. Pakistan Navy and Royal Malaysian Navy have been interacting since long, however, Naval Exercise MALPAK-17 is unique being first ever bilateral Naval Exercise which will be conducted biennially in Malaysian and Pakistani waters on alternate basis. This exercise will further enhance naval collaboration between Pakistan and Malaysia besides capacity building of the forces and contributing in regional maritime security.

08
May
Pakistan Army Team Spirit (PATS)

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2nd Pak Army Team Spirit (PATS) competition concluded at National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) near Jehlum. A total of 10 foreign military teams including China, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Thailand and UK along with 8 Pakistan Army teams enthusiastically participated in the toughest military competition held from April 1 to April 5. The teams of 1 Corps, 30 Corps and China won Gold medal whereas Southern Command, 4 Corps, 10 Corps, Sri Lanka, Turkey and UK clinched silver medal. Bronze medal was won by 5 Corps, 31 Corps, 2 Corps and Malaysia.


The foreign teams entered the competition where they were tested for their physical fitness, endurance and team spirit. Team Spirit is a narrative based competition held under very challenging environment. A patrol from every participating team is tasked to infiltrate in terrorist infested area, carry out a task and exfiltrate.


Earlier on April 1, 2017, on the commencement of the competition, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) visited National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Pabbi and met foreign military teams.

 

newspatas1.jpgCOAS interacted with foreign teams and highlighted importance of physical fitness and spirit of team work. COAS said that 'terrorism is affecting the whole world and requires collective response approach. Pakistan is a peace loving country and has significantly contributed towards peace and stability. World acknowledges our efforts in this regard and your presence here is the evidence. Those who propagate to isolate Pakistan should see how Pakistan is actually valued and honoured by our global friends.'


Lieutenant General Ikram ul Haque, Commander Gujranwala Corps who was chief guest on the last day of the competition awarded prizes to the winning teams. While congratulating the winners Lt Gen Ikram ul Haque applauded the professionalism, dedication and skills of the participating teams. He said that 'participation of teams from friendly countries offored an opportunity to all the participants to learn from each other's professional experience in the domain of counter-terrorism.' He thanked all foreign military teams for participating and showing confidence in Pakistan. Lieutenant General Hidayat ur Rehman, Inspector General Training and Evaluation and Lieutenant General Azhar Saleh Abbasi, Commander Mangla Corps were also present on the occasion.

08
May
PAF’s Elite No 9 Squadron Declared the Twin of Illustrious No 9 Squadron of Royal Air Force

It was yet another historic day in the remarkable history of Pakistan Air Force No 9 Multirole Squadron, when it was declared the twin of the renowned No 9 Squadron of Royal Air Force in a grand ceremony held at PAF Base Mushaf. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen John Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Air Force was the guest of honour at the ceremony. Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force was also present at the occasion.

 

Speaking on the occasion, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman highlighted the contributions of four British Commander-in-Chiefs of Royal Pakistan Air Force, who laid the foundation of a nascent Pakistan Air Force. He added that keeping the traditions of these inspiring leaders in high esteem, the succeeding commanders of Pakistan Air Force made earnest efforts to transform it into a potent air-arm of Pakistan. He further said that No 9 Squadrons of both the Air Forces have a rich legacy and have been frontline squadrons since their raising. He reiterated that the twinning of these squadrons would help us in learning from each other and strengthening our cordial relations.


While addressing on the occasion Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen John Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Air Force said that 'Pakistan Air Force is respected world over due to its sound professionalism and it has brought many laurels to the country'. He further said that ‘the twinning of these renowned squadrons would further develop their capabilities and lay a foundation to build on the legacy of our predecessors.’


Earlier in the day, the Chief of Royal Air Force witnessed the fly past of four-ship formation of F-16 aircraft. It was followed by a thrilling solo aerobatic display of F-16 aircraft. To mark this momentous occasion, both the Air Chiefs also flew a mission in separate aircraft of No 9 Multirole Squadron. It was the first time that a foreign Air Chief participated in a joint mission with the Chief of Pakistan Air Force.


A large number of former squadron commanders, and high-ranking PAF officers also attended the ceremony.


No 9 Bomber Squadron of Royal Air Force was raised in 1914 and it has actively participated in many wars ever since. Presently, stationed at RAF Marham, Pathfinders (call sign) are currently operating Tornado aircraft.


No 9 Multirole Squadron of Pakistan Air Force was raised in 1943 at Risalpur, and it made its operational debut in Burma during World War II under the command of legendary Air Marshal Asghar Khan (then Squadron Leader). The squadron has a glorious history and has been in the frontline of Indo-Pak wars and WoT. Commonly known as Griffins, the squadron is currently flying F-16 Fighting Falcon.

08
May
Lahore Garrison Shooting Gala 2017

Lahore Garrison Shooting Gala 2017 concluded at the newly built Lahore Garrison Shooting Gallery (LGSG) in a graceful ceremony. Commander Lahore Corps Lt General Sadiq Ali was the Chief Guest on the oceassion.

 

newslahoregarrisongala.jpgPakistan Army has established LGSG, which is spread over 20 acres of land, with a unique aim to provide multiple services ranging from patronizing and encouraging shooting sport to grooming young shooters in the country. The Gallery is equipped with modern ranges and gadgets of international standard and it can be used for national and international shooting competitions.
The LGSG will patronize long range shooting in the country and provide a platform for armed forces, civilians, and educational institutions as well. It will help to promote the sport of shooting with the provision of qualified instructors and coaches to train upcoming youngsters inspiring to become future shooters.
As many as 400 shooters participated in various categories of the 3-day Gala. They demonstrated their skill, concentration, patience and excellent control over their weapons in various competitions.

Commander Bahawalpur Corps Views Progress of Census in Bahawalpur

newslahoregarrisongala1.jpgCommander Bahawalpur Corps Lieutenant General Sher Afgun visited different areas of Bahawalpur city in connection with ongoing census. Speaking on the occasion, the Corps Commander said that ‘census is a national responsibility which is progressing smoothly due to good coordination between civil administration and Army authorities’.

Earlier, Corps Commander was given a detailed briefing in a Divisional Headquarters regarding the ongoing census. Corps Commander expressed his satisfaction on overall arrangements and commended the efforts of both civil and military departments to make the census operation a success in Bahawalpur region.

08
May
Keel Laying of Fast Attack Missile Craft

Another Landmark in Indigenisation and Self-Reliance

Keel Laying ceremony of Fast Attack Craft (Missile) No. 4 being built for Pakistan Navy, was held at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW). Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah was the Chief Guest at the occasion.


Fast Attack Craft (Missile) is a state-of-the-art, multi mission vessel with steel hull and aluminum super structure and is equipped with indigenously developed weapons and sensors.

 

newsfastattackmisc.jpgWhile speaking on the occasion, the Naval Chief highly appreciated the achievement of this important milestone ahead of schedule. He said that 'the indigenous construction of this Craft is a giant leap towards self-reliance as the construction of this warship will not only open new avenues of design and ship-building but also accelerate our progress towards achieving the goal of indigenisation. This project once completed, will demonstrate Maritime Technologies Complex and Karachi Shipyard’s design and construction capability in entirety. '


While highlighting geo-strategic and socio-economic significance of CPEC, the Naval Chief said that 'the trade activities are poised to increase manifold with the developments taking place owing to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project which has the potential to transform Pakistan into a regional economic hub. This would place additional premium on the responsibilities of Pakistan Navy to ensure safe and secure maritime environment for uninterrupted maritime activities to take place. FAC (M)-4 will add to Pakistan Navy’s operational capability upon its induction'. He also assured Pakistan Navy’s all possible support to KS&EW to make this strategic setup in transforming as a vibrant, productive and strategic element of the maritime sector. He further said that 'We are pursuing establishment of new shipyards with Government to further boost our ship-building industry.'


Earlier Rear Admiral Syed Hasan Nasir Shah MD KS&EW in his welcome address said that 'the project being the first indigenous design is a result of strenuous hard work by Karachi Shipyard and Maritime Technologies Complex, which has given enough confidence to undertake such a challenging project.' He also highlighted that the ship will serve our country for decades as national symbol of our indigenous efforts. He gave a brief outlook of ongoing projects which included PN Fleet Tanker, FAC(M) No. 3, MPVs for PMSA, Bollard Pull Tugs, Multi Purpose Barge and Bridge Erection Boats for Pakistan Army. He also highlighted KS&EW’s future plans and said, 'we have started preparation for mega project of construction of submarines for Pakistan Navy.'


MD KS&EW thanked Ministry of Defence Production and especially Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Zakaullah for his visionary approach and solid support behind all projects.


The ceremony was attended by high ranking officials from GoP, Pakistan Navy, corporate sector and KS&EW.

08
May
Pakistan Navy Command and Staff Conference

Command and Staff Conference of Pakistan Navy was held at Naval Headquarters, Islamabad. The Conference was chaired by Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah. Matters related to operational preparedness, prevailing security situation and developmental plans of Pakistan Navy were reviewed. Chief of the Naval Staff was given detailed briefings on various ongoing and future projects and plans of Pakisstan Navy.

newspncomandconfr.jpgWhile taking stock of the prevalent security environment, Chief of the Naval Staff resolved that in the midst of complex, challenging and evolving contemporary security environment, Pakistan Navy would continue to play a significant role in sustenance of peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region. The Naval Chief also reiterated Pakistan Navy’s unflinching resolve and determination to safeguard maritime frontiers of Pakistan against all threats. He also urged the commanders to remain at highest state of preparedness and maintain a constant vigil in their Area of Responsibility (AoR).


Chief of the Naval Staff lauded concerted efforts of all field commanders for successful conduct of Multinational Naval Exercise AMAN-17 at Karachi, in which 37 countries participated with assets and observers which was a clear testimony of the poise and confidence by regional and extra regional countries.


Besides assessing the war preparedness of Pakistan Navy, the participants of the conference also reviewed the priorities pertaining to the security of Gwadar Port and maritime components of CPEC.

Pakistan Navy Conducts Test Launch of Anti-Ship Missile

Pakistan Navy conducted successful test launch of land based anti-ship missile. The missile has advanced technology and avionics, which enables engagement of targets at sea with high accuracy.


The trial was conducted from coastal region and missile secured hit on the target placed at sea. The event was witnessed by Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Khan Hasham Bin Saddique. Senior officers of Pakistan Navy were also present on the occasion. Vice Chief of the Naval Staff commended the successful accomplishment of the objectives of this trial and lauded the hard work and efforts of all those who were involved, especially crew of the missile unit.


Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, in his message, felicitated the officers and crew and said that 'this weapon system has added a new dimension in the operational reach of the Pakistan Navy as Pakistan Navy would be able to further bolster seaward defense of the nation by having the capability of launching long range anti-ship missiles from land.'

08
May
United States National Security Adviser Calls on COAS

Gen H. R. McMaster, U.S. NSA called on COAS at GHQ on April 17, 2017. The visiting dignitary was briefed about Pakistan's war on terror and its contributions to regional and global stability. It was highlighted that distinguished feature of Pakistan's counter-terrorism effort is focused against terrorists of all hue and colour. COAS said that while Pakistan itself is victim of state sponsored terrorism it strongly rejects allegations of employing proxies from its soil. U.S. NSA acknowledged Pakistan Army's efforts in eliminating terrorists and their infrastructure, assuring U.S. support to bring peace and stability in the region and the world.

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Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan Calls on COAS
Mr. Mehdi Honardoost, Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Evolving regional security matrix and other issues of mutual interest were discussed, including measures against common threat of terrorism. COAS said that ‘Pakistan greatly values historic Pak-Iran relationship and the same shall continue based on mutual trust and respect for each other’s interests.’

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08
May
CJCSC Addresses the Staff/War College Students

General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, addressed combined faculty and students of Command and Staff Colleges, Quetta, Pak Navy War College and Air War College.

 

Matters related to regional security, emerging threats and response postulates were focused upon in his talk to the forum. The talk was followed by a vibrant and candid question and answer session. Student officers' questions focused on national security issues including Kashmir. Earlier upon arrival at Quetta, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee was received by Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz.

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08
May

Written By: Abdullah Khan

Reintegration of militants into the national fold is an uphill but essential task that the State of Pakistan has to accomplish. Majority of the militants fighting against us are our own citizens. We need to think seriously about how to bring those who fell in the hands of terrorist organizations back and reintegrate them into the society. The first step is to develop realization that these are our own citizens who fell in wrong hands because of various factors. Ownership of the mistakes and our citizen will lead us to the right direction.


There are several aspects of a possible reintegration program. Unless we develop customized policies and subsequent action plans for every aspect mentioned in coming paragraphs, the overall program of reintegration cannot become productive and result oriented in the long run. Following are some of the aspects our State will have to take into account while planning for a policy of reintegration of militants.


• Strategic Aspect: There are two schools of thought who blame state policies for promoting violent extremism. One school of thought believes that more than required role of religion in state as well as national affairs and Pakistan’s participation in Afghan jihad against the USSR are the major reasons for promoting religious extremism and subsequent terrorism in the country. The other school of thought believes that current wave of militancy started after 9/11 because of sudden U-turn by Pakistani state from certain policies and state’s alleged patronage of activities taking people away from religion. Although both point of views are identically opponent to each other but they have a common factor and that is Pakistan’s alliance with the United States. If siding with U.S. becomes root cause of promotion of extremism in our society then we need to do some cost-benefit analysis of our defence ties with the super power. Improvement in defence ties with Russia and investment coming through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) provides us an opportunity to lessen if not completely end our defence reliance and financial dependence on the U.S. Unless we set our strategic direction right and fix the mistakes we have made no plan of national reintegration of militants can yield long term sustainable results.

 

• Ideological Aspect: Militant groups fighting against the state can be classified into four categories:
a. Anti-State based on religion and foreign sponsored (TTP, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Islam etc.)
b. Sectarian groups (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipa-e-Muhammad etc.)
c. Anti-State secular groups (BLA, BLF, BRF etc.)
d. Proxies of political parties (Lyari War Gangs, militant wing of political parties etc.)


Every category has different set of ideological tools to motivate their fighters. Militants have to be detached from their ideology before they can be merged back into the main society. Especially the militants motivated by religion need special attention as religion plays a major role in their recruitment and motivation. Most of the militant attacks and subsequent deaths in Pakistan occurred in attacks perpetrated by militants motivated by religion.


• Financial Aspect: Although militants have people from rich to poorer to the poorest but majority comes from poor class in Pakistan’s context with low education rate, almost no job opportunities, and least exposure to the modern world. When some or more of them will be ready to shun violence, we as a nation need to have sustainable financial plans for them so that they are not hijacked again by their respective militant groups.


• Social and Societal Aspect: Those militants who will be selected for reintegration into national folds, their families and relatives need to be taken on board, too. Generally, more than one person from a family is found infected with extremist ideology, however, one or two become hardcore militants while others provide them moral and financial support. For reintegration of a militant, the strategy needs to incorporate requirements of whole family. Even if none of the family member other than the militant subscribes to the militant ideology, the family can play a crucial role in persuading the militant to denounce violence and come back to normal life. Families can be encouraged to report activities of ex-militants and they need to have a trust in the system that any such thing will not create any trouble for them and it will actually be helpful to keep their loved ones away from extremist groups.


Also, one cannot overlook bitter reality that the militants supposed to be integrated into the national fold remained members of such organizations who are involved in killing thousands of Pakistani citizens. It is a tough question that whether society will accept them or not. Any reintegration plan needs to be backed by the society. Sensitivities of the society need to be taken into consideration and incorporated into national reintegration policy.


• Legal Aspect: Any reintegration policy needs to be within the legal framework of the country. Are we going to reintegrate those who were involved in killing of our citizens and law demands they must be tried in the court of law? However, there is a counter argument that if we do not detach them from militancy they can kill more citizens. Those who are known for killing and are wanted in cases of murder cannot, and should not, get away with their crimes. Such elements may not get absolute amnesty; however, State can lure them with lesser degree of sentences from court in case they surrender.


There are also militants who may have or may in future complete their prison terms. There should be a policy for them as well, as they should not fall back in the hands of militant organizations.


• Constitutional Aspect: Any reintegration program will be within the framework of constitution. Those who want to come back will have to accept Pakistan’s constitution. It is a matter of fact that Pakistan’s constitution is the best reply to militant’s narrative but unfortunately never properly presented and promoted in that context. Our constitution sets absolute sovereignty of Allah, the Almighty and no law can be promulgated against Quran and Sunnah. No logic or argument can stand in front of the fact that picking up arms against Pakistan cannot be justified by any valid teachings of Islam. Thus, Islamic aspects of our constitution need to be highlighted and presented as counter argument to those who commit Takfeer in our State and justify violence in that pretext.


Any reintegration program will also need constitutional cover so that no upcoming government reverses the program for any reasons. Any such move can endanger lives of those officials who will be associated with the program. Any reversal can also make future peace process difficult to the impossible extent.


Any reintegration of militants will definitely be in DDR order (Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration). However, question is that should Pakistan target groups or individuals for reintegration? In case of individuals, it will be simply disarmament and reintegration process. While involving groups will be a complex and least productive approach in Pakistan’s context. For the time being militant groups are less likely to join a peace process for a variety of reasons. One of the sectarian extremist group Sipa-e-Sahaba (Jamat Ahl-e-Sunnat) has recently expressed its willingness to disband itself during a think tank’s activity. However, they are not operating as a militant group, thus reintegration of Sipa-e-Sahaba or Tehreek-e-Jafria does not fall in the domain of reintegration of militants. Their possible reintegration falls under reintegration of nonviolent extremist groups.


Therefore, instead of approaching to militant groups, Pakistan should approach foot soldiers and commanders of lower ranks. This will snatch base support from top leadership, which may eventually think to denounce violence in case State decides to accept them.


Role of the former militants can also play crucial role in motivating militants to denounce violence and get into the reintegration process. They can be presented as role models as well as hired to interact with those who have denounced violence and willing to come back but are skeptical of the prospects.


We have to realize the need to bring back our citizens who fell to deviant violent ideologies and traps. We have to devise a national reintegration program which has customized sub policies and action plans as per different categories of the militants. Any such program needs to take care of legal aspects as well as should have constitutional cover. The program must have backing of the society to be productive and sustainable.

 

The writer is Managing Director Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies. He is an expert on militancy and regional security. He tweets at

@Abdullahkhan333

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

 
08
May

Written By: Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Five years old Omran Daqneesh sits clueless in an ambulance. He has just been pulled out of rubble along with his family. Omran looks into camera, self-consciously he tries to fix his hair matted with blood sticking to his forehead. His own blood. But that’s all he does. No cry. No talk. This little video clip reduced a CNN anchor to tears on live television. But that wasn’t for the first-time that human suffering in Syria had shaken us all.


Almost a year ago the body of three years old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach. The family of the young boy was trying to reach the Greek island of Kos only 4 kilometers away. 16 people in an inflatable boat meant for eight. Within five minutes the boat capsized in the Mediterranean and Aylan’s lifeless body was soon found face down on a shore near Bodrum, Turkey. A Turkish photojournalist took the picture of the boy in that state. This heart-rending photograph also spread around the world in no time. Shock was on display everywhere. But nothing was done. Nothing probably could be done.

 

understanyamancrisis.jpgWhen a civil war destroys a country, it brings civilization crashing down into a heap of rubble, and human loss can seldom be quantified. Since the start of the war five hundred thousand Syrians have been killed and over 7.6 million have been displaced. Many fleeing their homeland have not just brought the heartbreak, the nightmares and the memories of broken dreams to foreign lands but also a destabilizing effect. Since the exodus began and Turkey initially accepted refugees, its economy has slowed down. In Europe their arrival has caused a backlash and given xenophobic far-right an opportunity to whip up support.


Terror groups like the so called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also gained international attention not in Iraq but primarily in Syria. And given that there is no way to know for sure that no ISIS member smuggles himself disguised as a refugee, incidents of violence have been blamed on asylum seekers from Syria. It is a human catastrophe that doesn't seem to stop.


And recently after Donald Trump decided to carry out punitive missile strikes in Syria following the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian government, the world has held its breath fearing the possibility of armed conflict between Russia and the United States. There is nothing ordinary about the Syrian conflict and nothing normal. It has the potential to single handedly transform our world into a dystopia. Let us study its origin, current dynamics and the best possible solution.


How It All Began
“Ejak el door, ya doctor” or “It’s your turn, Doctor”. The Syrian civil war began with this simple sentence spray painted on the external wall of a school by a group of teenage boys. It was meant to be a prank. But it went awry. Within no time, Bashar al-Assad’s secret police was upon them. They were arrested and tortured. The Arab spring in neighboring countries had already started shaking the moorings of authoritarian rule. The panic of Syrian dictator was palpable. But incarceration and torture of its kids, a bunch of 7th graders, for random pranks was too much for the people of Daraa, a city on the border of Jordan. And when the parents contacted the authorities they were told to forget their children. Around a month after the arrests, fearing for the children’s lives thousands poured out on the streets demanding their release. When police failed to quell the protest, special forces were flown in from Damascus. They opened fire on the protestors, killing two and injuring many. Next day the forces opened fire on the funeral procession killing a child. Protests only increased. When the authorities saw the unmanageable size of the pushback they released the arrested boys. But instead of calming the crowds, the battered condition of the released kids only added fuel to fire and the protests continued. When the army employed brute force the protests spread to other cities including Latakia, capital Damascus, Homs, Baniyas, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa. Thus, began the violent uprising.


As the violent protests and the crackdown continued some members of the armed forces defected and joined the protestors. Even before the uprising, every Syrian citizen was bound by law to go through an obligatory military duty. That too came handy during the start of the resistance. And as the clashes continued, the law and order vacuum was exploited by the external forces and many countries got involved.


Historical and Geographical Context
Syria is located in a very tumultuous region. It shares borders with Lebanon, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, and Jordan to the south. According to a rough estimate its population is around 23 million. Around 90 percent of its population is Arab. Kurds, Armenians and others make the rest of the population. Unlike neighboring Iraq, its population is predominantly Sunni. Of its 87 percent Muslim population, 74 percent is Sunni, 13 percent Alawites, Ismailis and Twelver Shias. Rest of the population includes 10 percent Christians and 3 percent Druze, an ethno-religious esoteric group. Administratively Syria is divided into 14 governorates and 60 districts.


After its freedom from France in 1946, Syria remained a hotbed of political intrigue, coups, frail attempts to democratize, unstable governments and bloodshed. It was in 1963 that the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party finally managed to form a relatively stable government. Palace intrigues were to continue until 1970 but the party’s grip on power was not to waver.


Ba’ath Party which emerged as a pan nationalist Arab movement was only successful in Iraq and Syria. In Syria, an Alawite Shia Defence Minister Hafez al Assad finally managed to depose the sitting ruler and formed a government in November 1970 that was to continue until his death. After the 1963 coup the government had imposed a state of emergency in the country that would continue for almost 40 years curbing free speech, the peaceful right of assembly of more than five people and other rights that were taken for granted.


Under Hafez-al-Assad’s leadership Syria formed a military alliance with former Soviet Union. The USSR established the first and the only naval facility in the Mediterranean Sea at Tartus, Syria because of the strengthening relationship. This arrangement continued even after the demise of the communist bloc and modern day Russia inherited the base. In recent years the two states have agreed to convert it in to a permanent Russian base for its nuclear armed warships. Russia has waved off $9.8 billion Soviet era loan to the country. In addition to the above mentioned naval base, Russia now operates an air force base in Palmyra apart from two or more secret spy bases elsewhere.


Another key relationship worth mentioning here is that between Syria and Iraq. While Syria and Iraq shared common political platform, Saddam Hussein after assuming power in 1979 accused Syrian government of plotting against him. This almost immediately ensured continued hostility between the two countries. A noteworthy fact is that while Iraqi population is predominantly Shia, Saddam was a Sunni and it was other way round in Syria where majority is Sunni but its longest serving ruler Assad senior belonged to minority Alawite Shia population.


After the Iranian revolution’s success in 1979 the relations between Iran and Syria grew rapidly. With Assad senior, Iran got a crucial ally in a region dominated by an ocean of Sunni regimes. The relationship was also beneficial to Tehran because it gained a space to arm and train the Shia Hezbollah militia against Israel. In the Iran-Iraq war, Syria supported Iran. Despite such close relations between the two countries Hafez al Assad never visited Iran during Ayatollah Khomeini’s life for the simple reason that the late Ayatollah didn’t consider him a Muslim.


The senior Assad died in 2000 and his reluctant second son Dr. Bashar al-Assad, an ophthalmologist by profession, inherited the throne. After the demise of the Soviet Union his father and later he himself had tried to open and liberalize the economy which led to the rise of a rich urban class like an island in the sea of poverty. Between 2006 and 2011 the country endured a devastating drought in which 75 percent of the country’s farms and 85 percent of its livestock perished forcing around 1.5 million citizens to migrate to urban centers like Damascus and Homs.


The economic disparity increased dramatically under the son and so did the sense of deprivation. It was after the spread of unrest that Dr. Assad decided to lift the state of emergency and tried to replace it with self-serving counter terrorism laws. But it was too late by then and the disaffected masses continued the revolt.


The Current Field of Play
A detailed list of the groups fighting in Syria will most likely crowd out all discussion on these pages. To an estimate by the end of 2013 there were around one thousand-armed opposition groups in Syria and that was before the stunning emergence of the ISIS. But today the warring forces can be divided into four broader groups. 1) ISIS, 2) Syrian government and pro-Assad militias, 3) opposition groups, and 4) soldiers of Rojava, or the Kurdish dominated regions.


By 2014 ISIS controlled one third of the Syrian territory. Its fortunes have dwindled since then but it remains a potent force in the country. This offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq seeks to erase the border between Iraq and Syria and form a new state. It has been mostly successful in undermining the border and creating an environment where its presence in Syria boosts its positions in Iraq. There is a broad consensus among most domestic and foreign forces in the country that it poses the biggest threat to the region and the entire world. However, the hatred towards Assad’s regime among the major opposition forces ensures that the front against ISIS remains divided and fragmented. Russian forces in Syria have claimed to go after ISIS. However, they have often been accused of targeting anti Assad forces in Syria in the garb of fighting ISIS.


Assad’s forces have seen a sharp decline since the start of the civil war. Before the outbreak of war they boasted of having around 220,000 soldiers. However, since then they have declined to around 25 thousand mainly due to deaths and defections. In 2013, the western allies learned that Assad regime had used chemical weapons against his own citizens. That was the time when the United States came the closest to sending its troops to Syria. Yet, primarily because of Russia’s aggressive advocacy and posturing and the diminishing appetite for war among Americans, President Obama stopped short of formally joining the Syrian conflict. Russia also worked out a deal with the Syrian government which resulted in the regime voluntarily surrendering its chemical stockpile to the international agency. At that time, the United States was satisfied with the arrangement and believed that all facilities had been dismantled. However, recent developments have contradicted that assertion and the West now believes that Assad still retains chemical weapons capacity.


Apart from Assad’s own forces, pro-government militias include Hezbollah which initially sent military advisors and later brought in its elite military units. The Lebanese Shia militia initially proved very useful to the Assad regime. However, since then it has endured numerous military reverses and attracted Israeli airstrikes. Other militias include foreign Shia groups.


Among foreign forces supporting Assad, Iran has been of critical importance. It has sustained Syrian government’s economy despite facing sanctions at home and has provided the regime with the needed military hardware. Apart from that it initially sent roughly 2000 members of its elite al Quds force. But till today the true extent of its military involvement is unknown and often underreported.


Russia’s support has been vital to the regime’s survival because it provided the crucial air cover. Even as the U.S. missile attack destroyed a substantial portion of the regime’s airpower, Russia has vowed to rebuild it.


The Syrian opposition groups mainly include secular Sunni forces and nationalist Jihadis. The most significant among them is the Free Syrian Army. It is a willy-nilly coalition of military defectors, small militias and ragtag groups. Despite its ambitious name it doesn’t have a centralized command. It has suffered recently at the hands of Assad’s army.


Another important group is Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra or The Nusra Front). It originated as the local wing of Al Qaeda. The group is known for its brutal tactics mirroring methods used by the ISIS. Qatar and other Arab countries have made hectic efforts to convince its leadership to sever ties with Al Qaeda so that they can aid and arm it. Last year the efforts paid off and the group announced its separation from Al Qaeda and rebranded itself.

 

When a civil war destroys a country, it brings civilization crashing down into a heap of rubble, and human loss can seldom be quantified. Since the start of the war five hundred thousand Syrians have been killed and over 7.6 million have been displaced. Many fleeing their homeland have not just brought the heartbreak, the nightmares and the memories of broken dreams to foreign lands but also a destabilizing effect.

Various other nationalist religious militias have also been chipping in to challenge the country’s leadership. But all above mentioned opposition groups have been on the retreat since the fall of Aleppo late last year. Assad’s forces now have control over five major cities and they have consolidated power there.


The fourth major player in the Syrian mix is Rojava or the Kurdish majority districts bordering Turkey. The YPG or the People’s Protection Units are its militia arm. The Kurdish groups have mainly been fighting ISIS and since the withdrawal of Assad forces from the Kurdish dominated north have been more tolerant of the central government. Occasionally they have come in direct conflict with pro-Assad militias. However, their vociferous pushback against ISIS onslaught has earned them support from the United States as well whose military advisors are embedded with some of the units. But the U.S. support has irked neighboring Turkey and ensured its involvement in the conflict. Since the Kurdish want to use their fellow Kurds in neighboring countries this has not gone down well with the other Arab countries either which have Kurdish populations to worry about.


In short, Syrian stalemate resulting from the foreign and local royal rumble threatens to destabilize the entire region and can even lead to a great power conflict affecting the entire world. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders to find a lasting solution.


The Way Forward
All sides accept that the biggest threat in Syria facing the world is the presence of ISIS. However, don’t confuse it with a consensus that could lead to a joint effort. The foreign forces will not unite until something is done about Assad’s rule. Given that the high ranks of the Syrian army are dominated by the minority Alawites even Assad’s success would mean continued instability in the country. There are reports that though they do not acknowledge it publicly Assad’s two main boosters, Iran and Russia are also growing wary of his shenanigans. Assad himself seems to be cracking under pressure and is said to have developed a tick in the left eye due to anxiety. But his removal from power will not be possible if moderates lose power in Iran or the U.S. does not actively convince Russia that his departure from power will not result in a change in Russia’s sphere of influence. However, all must join hands to end hostilities and massacre of civilian population. It is a great human tragedy and must be stopped without any further power politics.

 

The writer is an Islamabad-based TV journalist.

twitter: @FarrukhKPitafi

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08
May

Written By: Huma Kirmani

Karachi, a city by the Arabian Sea, which was once known as the "City of Lights", is now bickering in its misery of infinite apprehensions and anticipation; though circumstances are quite blatantly streaming in sea breeze of this terror inflicted city. The contemplating feature of Pakistan’s largest city and commercial hub, a place that contributes half of the total revenue collected by the FBR and the deplorable conditions of roads, mounds of uncollected waste, stagnant pools of un-drained rainwater and lack of development make it clear to any observer that Karachi is in steep and perceptible decline. Karachi’s overflowing gutters and garbage dumps can show how grotesque the provincial policy is which is a great disconnect, and has translated into gross mismanagement and general malaise.


Karachi has an estimated population of approximately 20 million; since the last census was done 17 years ago, putting the city’s population at 9.3 million then, one has to go with educated guesses and an area of over 3,500 square kilometres. Karachi is said to be mini Pakistan, reputed to have more Pashto speakers than Peshawar itself, and with over a million Bengalis, Afghans, Iranians, Palestinians and Burmese, Karachi is also home to practically all of Pakistan’s ethnic and language groups. Karachi has a distinct cosmopolitan and urban feel to it, far more as a carrier of the most heterogeneous culture. In lieu of its highly diversified cultural phenomenon, Karachi has its own lacerated ambiance of dread as almost 75 percent militants on terror watchlist for their alleged links with over a dozen proscribed organizations are untraceable in Karachi, some of them might be behind the recent wave of violence in the metropolis.

 

Karachi is said to be mini Pakistan, reputed to have more Pashto speakers than Peshawar itself, and with over a million Bengalis, Afghans, Iranians, Palestinians and Burmese, Karachi is also home to practically all of Pakistan’s ethnic and language groups. Karachi has a distinct cosmopolitan and urban feel to it, far more as a carrier of the most heterogeneous culture.

In the month of February 2017, Pakistan Rangers Sindh have killed notorious Lyari gang war commander Noor Muhammad alias Baba Ladla in a shootout in Lyari Town area of Karachi. Two of Baba Ladla's close associates, Sikandar alias Sikko and Mohammad Yaseen alias Mama, were also killed in the encounter. During the operation, Head Constable Fayyaz and Constable Tufail were also martyred. Karachi operation often moves into a higher gear as terrorists flee to mask their presence, nevertheless the Rangers said 364 terrorists associated with various banned organizations including al-Qaeda, different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were also killed in gunfights with the force. Up to 7,312 weapons and 348,978 cartridges have been seized in the past two years while 27 soldiers from Rangers lost their lives.

karachiyouths.jpgViolence in Karachi emerges from multiple factors, which act together to magnify the impact of sublime criminal gangs and capitalize on perceived disenfranchisement and societal conflicts among different communities. The city has been bedeviled with targeted killings, ethnic and sectarian clashes, turf war by different political and criminal groups, extortion activities, bank looting, robberies and other street crimes. The unabated violence and chronic energy crises have made the city's situation more complex as ethnic groups from other provinces migrated to Karachi and increased number of groups have put the situation at stake as the current conflict dynamics in the city involve dozens of sectarian and militant organizations, thus making the city a battleground for more than 200 gangs.


All this chaos created ripples in overwhelming youth of this city that among youth is widely thought to stem from political, ethnic, religious and sectarian segregation within the city. The major reasons cited for young people’s involvement in violence are poverty, illiteracy and limited access to positive social interactions. These dreadful shadows of vicious tyranny generate violent culture in youth who become more violent, much to the advantage of the high profile facilitators, who sit behind scenes and control youth through various channels to meet their vested interests – as many of the political, ethnic and religious groups in Karachi have a ‘militant wing’. These wings recruit youth from colleges and universities or after their pursuit of higher education and they become an asset of these parties. These groups provide incentives including weapons and money to new recruits of the ‘youth wings’ in order to safeguard their interests. The parties attempt to enhance their economic and political status through these youth groups. There is a new trend emerging in which these parties are also using youth for extortion and blackmailing and have started recruiting violent youth to safeguard their interests and businesses in Karachi. Many youth have joined drug mafia as well. They are trained in order to protect and deliver drugs. These youth groups sell drugs to people all across Karachi including the elite. Only a small number of them are ever arrested by the police. Since the police is invariably unable to produce any evidence against them, they are released without any charges. Drugs are available everywhere, even at the most reputable institutes. There arises a question regarding the socio-political attitudes amongst youth in elite universities, that is, youth becoming radicalized followed by a conservative thought pattern that may be construed by some as bordering on radicalism. Youth from affluent socio-economic background and those, who have better career opportunities can fluctuate between being socio-culturally liberal but have a closed approach in matters pertaining to geo-politics, geo-strategy and identity politics. There is, in fact, evidence of the presence of pop-politics which itself is highly reductive and tends to follow a thought pattern which then feeds into ‘clash of civilizations’. The problem, therefore, is absence of intelligent thinking and an alternative narrative discourse in the society which would allow the youth to think ‘out of the box’.

 

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08
May
CGS Visits Afghanistan

newscgcvisitafg.jpg

On the direction of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, a high-level Pakistan Army delegation, headed by Chief of the General Staff (CGS) Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar, visited Afghanistan. The delegation met Afghanistan's acting Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahramee and General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, Afghanistan's Chief of the Army Staff. The CGS expressed condolences on behalf of COAS on the loss of innocent lives in the Mazar-e-Sharif terrorist attack and expressed solidarity with the Afghan forces and people.

 

Free medical treatment in Pakistan to the injured of the Mazar-e-Sharif attack was also offered by the delegation. The delegation held talks on bilateral border coordination measures. Afghan authorities were conveyed that the Pakistan Army has control in all areas on the Pakistan side of the border and shall not allow its soil to be used against Afghanistan. Terrorists are common threat and shall be defeated.

 

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff strongly condemns terrorist attack on Mazar-e-Sharif. Grieved on loss of innocent lives and expressed solidarity with Afghan security forces and Afghan brotherly resilient nation. "Terrorists are our common enemy and we shall defeat them", he said.

Afghan Media Delegation Visits ISPR

newsafghanmeddel.jpgA thirteen member Afghan media delegation visited Pakistan. The delegation included journalists from renowned Afghan Media. The delegation visited MOFA, Ministry of SAFRON, Ministry of Commerce, HEC, HQ FC KP, NSA and ISPR. The aim of the visit was to let Afghan media know about the efforts made by Pakistan in the war against terrorism which is a common threat to both brotherly countries.


The delegation visited ISPR on April 7, 2017 where representatives of Pakistani media were also present. Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) gave them a detailed briefing about Pak-Afghan border and efforts made by Pakistan thus far. Director General ISPR shared details of meeting of Afghan Defence Attaché with Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to UK. COAS while expressing his views during the meeting had said, “Every Afghan is dear to me as every Pakistani, I am as hurt for every Afghan who is a victim of terrorism as much as I am for every Pakistani.”


The visit is expected to enable better understanding of Pakistan’s perspective and efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region. It was concluded that menace of terrorism has affected both the countries and necessitates greater cooperation based on mutual trust.

08
May

Written By: Hasan Khan

Instead of taking a solo approach, Russia initiated the process of ‘Moscow consultations’ taking all the regional countries along to come up with regional strategy for Afghanistan.

 

The two-day Moscow Conference on Afghanistan held on April 14 and 15, in the Russian capital, asserted to coordinate regional efforts and facilitate the process of ‘national reconciliation’ to stabilize Afghanistan.


A statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry stating the representatives of all participating parties including Russia, China, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan called on the parties to shun violence and seek negotiated settlement for the conflict.


“A call has been sent to the Taliban movement to abandon its line for a military solution of the Afghan conflict in favor of direct talks with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the issue of national reconciliation,” the statement said.


Reports also suggested that Russia and China – the two regional powers – separately committed to convince Taliban militia to ‘focus less on fighting against Kabul’ and ‘more on the more imminent threat’, the growing influence of international terror syndicate, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) – a regional offshoot of ‘Islamic State’. Russia has also offered to host the intra-Afghan talks for peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban.


To be more realistic, it is this growing threat of Daesh, also called ISIS, in the eastern parts of Afghanistan with potentials of destabilizing the entire region that has forced Russia to get engaged in the Afghan conflict 37 years after Soviet invasion in December 1979. However, instead of taking a solo approach, Russia initiated the process of ‘Moscow consultations’ taking all the regional countries along to come up with regional strategy for Afghanistan.


Besides Russia, the growing influence of ISKP is also a matter of concern for China, Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan is sharing 2611 km border with Afghanistan and IS militants operating in the border regions were also behind various deadly terrorists’ attacks in Pakistan. Iran also fears Daesh due to its anti-Shia agenda.


Moscow process of consultation has grown over the time from a trilateral consultation initially involving Russia, China, and Pakistan in to dialogue involving all the neighboring states of Afghanistan and the regional powers.


Russia also invited the U.S. to participate in this third round of regional consultations for initiating political negotiations on Afghan issue, however, it refused [to participate] and instead branded the process as “unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region.”


While initiating the process, its founding members China, Russia and Pakistan were in agreement over the fact that the continued fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban would ultimately strengthen the ISKP and increase its influence in the entire region.


Furthermore, there was an increasing concern among regional stakeholders that after facing defeat in Syria and rest of the Middle East, IS militants are fleeing and searching new abodes – and a destabilized Afghanistan was a prime attraction.


It is already evident that Russia has played a crucial role in defeating ISIS in Syria through counter-terrorism operations and infiltrating ethnic Chechens in the militant ranks, in the face of resistance from the U.S. and allies. Russia also successfully weakened the U.S.-installed regime in Libya and strengthened the opposition there.


Due to these U.S.-Russian proxies in the Middle Eastern countries, experts are of the opinion that the U.S. itself is involved in now shifting Daesh militants to Afghanistan in order to destabilize Russia by infiltrating IS militants into Central Asian States and also keep sorts of checks on growing economic and political influence of China.

 

The U.S. and Russia have a major difference of opinion in resolution of Afghan conflict. The U.S. want to continue its military engagements – though led by the Afghan national security forces – till the total annihilation of armed militia of Taliban. However, Russia, Pakistan and China think otherwise. Their approach towards resolution of Afghan conflict is manifested in this statement where the conference called on “ensuring a national reconciliation using political methods in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions” to resolve this decades old conflict.

ISKP is currently carrying its activities in limited eastern areas of Afghanistan close to Pakistan border. However, once strengthened, it will definitely extend its activities from its current abodes in east to north of Afghanistan. And from there it can easily infiltrate into the bordering Central Asian Republics – known to be the soft belly of Moscow – thus undermining Moscow’s national security interests.


The aggressive posturing adopted by the U.S. and Russia over the perceived threat of IS militants in the region are clear signals that both the super powers are once again flexing muscles for new proxies on the traditional Afghan turf.


Despite the Russian clarification that its involvement in Afghan affairs is exclusively for its own national security interests and for checking growing influence of IS, Washington is deeply annoyed over the development alleging that by establishing links with Taliban insurgents, Russia is jeopardizing her years-long campaign in Afghanistan.


Commenting on the growing Moscow-Taliban links, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told media recently, “I am not willing to say at this point if that has manifested into weapon and that sort of thing, but certainly what they (Russians) are up to there in light of their other activities gives us concern.”


On supplying arms and weapons to Taliban, CENTCOM Commander Gen Joseph L. Votel minced no words when speaking to members of Senate Armed Services Committee, he said, “(Russia) may be providing some kind of support to them (Taliban) in terms of weapons or other things… I believe what Russia is attempting to do is, it is trying to be an influential party.”


However, looking into the format of Moscow process, it appears all these countries are members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). So by its composition, it is the SCO making efforts to formulate a strategy for preventing Afghanistan falling to IS terrorists, which may further infiltrate into SCO members. Stabilizing Afghanistan, the SCO members believe, is necessary to make sure that terrorism does not spread further into the region.


In Moscow process this common concern over growing terrorist activities in Afghanistan was echoed. It stated, “The parties [concerned] had a frank and thorough exchange of views on the current political and military situation in Afghanistan as well as on its prospects and expressed common concern over growing terrorist activities in the country leading to rising tensions and increasing violence which adds to the predicament of the Afghan people.”


The U.S. and Russia have a major difference of opinion in the resolution of Afghan conflict. The U.S. wants to continue its military engagements – though led by the Afghan national security forces – till the total annihilation of armed militia of Taliban. However, Russia, Pakistan and China think otherwise. Their approach towards resolution of Afghan conflict is manifested in this statement where the conference called on “ensuring a national reconciliation using political methods in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions” to resolve this decades old conflict.


However, after all the U.S. is too crucial to the conflict to be ignored. Its refusal to participate in Moscow consultation will definitely thwart the prospects for achieving a stable Afghanistan. Besides, keeping the Afghan current dispensation intact by financing all its expenses including those of national security forces and police, the U.S. also has 8400 troops currently stationed in Afghanistan. And by all definitions, Washington is a major stakeholder to the Afghan conflict, and not being onboard, it will be very much difficult for surrogate – the Kabul regime – to agree to a process not supported by Washington.


Interestingly, Washington has already diverted attention of the world from the Moscow conference by dropping powerful bombs on alleged hideouts of IS in Afghanistan. It will become clear in days to come whether the attacks on IS hideouts is a policy shift to checkmate Russian efforts for elimination of IS threats or just distracting tactics. However, peace in Afghanistan is very crucial for peace in Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan supports all efforts that in some way contribute towards resolution of Afghan conflict by involving all stakeholders.

 

The writer is a senior journalist, analyst and anchor person.

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08
May

Written By: Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

India, presently, is undertaking its Middle East policy very seriously due to its energy needs, internal security challenges, regional/global political and economic objectives. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has revamped India’s Middle Eastern approach to boost economic and military engagement with the regional leading actors and also compete with China and Pakistan for influence in the West Asia. Though the regional strategic environment is complex and volatile, yet New Delhi is shrewdly encountering the regional internal divisions and rivalries, engaging Iran, Saudi Arab and Gulf Cooperation Council, remarkably. Besides improving its bilateral relations with the leading Middle Eastern Muslim countries; India is intelligently maintaining its robust commercial and defence relations with Israel.

 

indiamiddleeast.jpgThe critical examination of India’s Middle East policy underscores that New Delhi has successfully cultivated better diplomatic relations with all the major actors of the Middle East, especially with Israel, Iran and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) since the end of Cold War. In this context, the Indian diaspora (seven million expatriates) is playing a critical role. The Indian diaspora remits $33 to 35 billion back to India every year. It is also facilitating New Delhi in cultivating better relations with the Middle Eastern ruling elite and business community. Indeed, these countries are competing among themselves for their hegemony in the region, but India is intelligently maintaining close relations with all the relevant regional actors for the sake of its “Look Middle East” Policy.


India always considers Middle Eastern states important for its energy needs and for the pursuit of its political, economic, and military objectives in the regional and global politics. Nevertheless, today New Delhi’s main focus is on the Persian/Arabian Gulf states, with only minimal interest in the Maghreb and the Levant. Historically, New Delhi was very close to Cairo. The former used its amity with the latter for boosting its role within the Non-Aligned Movement. The end of Cold War and demise of former Soviet Union immensely altered the global politics. The transformation in the global setting makes India attractive for the United States and its likeminded nations. India intelligently seizes the moment for maximizing its stature in the community of nations and improving its relations with the Indian Ocean rim states. Consequently, during the last two decades, an impressive shift has taken place in India’s bilateral relations with the leading regional Middle Eastern States. Precisely, New Delhi has not only improved its image in the Middle East, but it also structured it relations with each Middle Eastern state in a bilateral and separate fashion.


New Delhi has established very close diplomatic relations and defense cooperation with Israel despite the continuity of Palestinians problem. Rhetorically, New Delhi remains an ardent supporter of Palestinian statehood. Realistically, however, India has been distancing from Palestinian cause. For instance, “India abstained both in July 2015 and in March 2016 from supporting a Palestine-sponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to launch a probe by the International Criminal Court against Israel for war crimes during the 2014 Gaza crisis”.


Ironically, the Middle Eastern states including Saudi Arab and Iran did not object the warming bilateral relations between Israel and India. New Delhi and Tel Aviv maintained informal relations for many decades. Nevertheless, both announced formal diplomatic relations in 1992. Prior to the 1990s, New Delhi was keeping clandestine contacts with Tel Aviv for refining its missile program and hatching conspiracies to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear program. The review of literature proves that the weaknesses in India’s indigenous missile program obliges it to approach Israel with the connivance of the United States to overcome the technological obstacles. For instance, the leading Indian missile scientist, Dr. Abdul Kalam (latter became President of India) visited Israel in June 1996 and in the early months of 1997. He visited Israel to receive its assistance in the development of the Indian missile program, especially Agni project. He had shown interest in Israel’s developments in the surface-to-surface missile and theater missile defence systems (Arrow) technology and components.


The Indo-Israel Defence Partnership has constructive contribution in India’s armed forces modernization. Since 2006, Indian Defence Research and Development Organization and Israel’s Aerospace Industries have been working closely. The latter transferred sophisticated technology and equipments to India. On February 22, 2017, India’s Cabinet Committee of Security, a government body headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and responsible for military procurements, approved 17,000-crore ($ 2.5 billion) a medium range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) system for the Indian Army. The missile has a range of 50-70 km. The missile is designed to defend against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs as well as cruise missiles and combat jets within the range of 50-70 km.


India, recently, finalized $2.5 billion dollars deal for MR-SAM with Israel. Five regiments of the Indian Army would be beneficiary of this new Indo-Israel missile contract. The deal is for 200 missiles for five regiments, each getting 40 units. It was reported that: “The system will be based on the older Barak system of Israel, which is in use in India. It is being changed as per requirements.” In March 2017, New Delhi initiated negotiations with Tel Aviv for purchasing two more long-range Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS). In addition, New Delhi would also purchase high-tech military equipments from Israel. These developments manifest that Indo-Israel defence cooperation is supplementing Indian military buildup and modernization.

 

New Delhi has established very close diplomatic relations and defense cooperation with Israel despite the continuity of Palestinian problem. Rhetorically, New Delhi remains an ardent supporter of Palestinian statehood. Realistically, however, India has been distancing from Palestinian cause. For instance, “India abstained both in July 2015 and in March 2016 from supporting a Palestine-sponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to launch a probe by the International Criminal Court against Israel for war crimes during the 2014 Gaza crisis”.

Since early 1990s, India has fostered strong strategic partnership with Iran. The strategic partnership was further cemented in the beginning of twenty-first century. Though Bush Administration declared Iran as a member of ‘axis of evil’, yet India augmented its defence cooperation with Iran. India and Iran formally entered into a bilateral defence pact in November 2003. Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) assisted practically Iranian nuclear establishment. On September 23, 2004, the Bush Administration under the authority of the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act sanctioned two Indian scientists for their activities in Iran. Dr. R. C. Surendar and Dr. Y. S. R. Prasad, both former directors of the Nuclear Power Corporation India. (The Washington Times, Thursday, October 21, 2004). On December 21, 2005, the administration sanctioned Sabero Organic Chemicals Gujarat Ltd., etc. again under the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act, for transfers of certain chemicals to Iran.


The Indo-Iran defence agreement was revitalized in 2009. It’s an open secret; Iran has been facilitating India in the materialization of its sea, road and railway connection with Central Asian States through Afghanistan. For instance, in 2014 India invested more than 85 million US dollars at Chabahar Port. India managed to engage Afghanistan through Iran. India and Iran’s strategic convergence on Afghanistan received a boost with the establishment of the Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor on 23 May 2016. The trilateral transport and transit corridor, certainly, reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan. Simultaneously, it increases India’s access to Afghanistan. Ironically, Iran severely condemns Israel, but it has been nurturing better relations with New Delhi. Similarly, India has been maintaining close relations with Iran despite the United States serious reservations on the Iranian political system and its nuclear program.


India has gradually been improving its bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In February 2014, the then Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Al Saud visited New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first two Middle East visits were to Abu Dhabi in August 2015 and Riyadh in April 2016. His visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates resulted in stronger diplomatic, economic and defence engagements. According to the India–Saudi Arabia Joint Statement issued on April 3, 2016, both states cooperate to “dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states.” Though, details of New Delhi’s strategic understanding with Riyadh remain largely unknown, yet in the realm of counterterrorism Riyadh has been cooperating with New Delhi. For instance, Saudis deported Indian terrorist Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, also known as Abu Jundal in 2012.


The United Arab Emirates is also strengthening its ties with India. The Indian diaspora was permitted to build a temple in Dubai, during the visit of Premier Modi in 2015. Moreover, immediately after Modi’s visit, the UAE seized the Dawood Ibrahim’s possessions, and deported Afsha Jabeen to India. Sheikh Moahmmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was invited by Premier Modi as the Chief Guest at the 2017 Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. Presence of the Crown Prince at the parade ground substantiates both states deepening bilateral relations. Importantly, India and Qatar bilateral relations impressively improved during the last decade. In 2008, New Delhi committed “to protect Qatar’s assets and interests from external threats”. Similarly, Bahrain and India signed memorandum of understanding for defence cooperation.


The preceding discussion reveals that the ruling elite of the Middle Eastern states seems more interested in economic and military cooperation with India. They are deliberately ignoring the growing dominance of Hindutva forces in the Indian politics under the leadership of Premier Modi. Importantly, the Hindutva ideology portrays Islamic religion and civilization as intolerant, hostile to Hindu values, proselytizing, expansionist, repressive, and violent and therefore condemns it strongly. The right wing Hindu nationalists have not given up their dream of regaining the lost territories (the sacred lands of Hinduism and Buddhism lost to Islam during the second millennium, as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council, puts it) and restoring the Hindu supremacy over the entire Akhand Bharat (undivided India). Moreover, today, the Indian Muslims' condition is miserable. On April 25, 2017, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh’s (UP) Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) led government announced an end to holidays for Eid Milad-un-Nabi, Jumma-tul-Wida. Precisely, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been using the Hindutva slogan to exploit the anti-Muslim feelings for mustering the support of the Hindu vote for winning the elections.


To conclude, the positive trajectory in the Indian economic growth, military advancement and New Delhi’s multidimensional relations with the United States have enhanced India’s significance in the Middle Eastern nations' foreign policy. Rich Middle Eastern nations ruling elite view India a possible venue for their investment. While, India is endeavoring to use its current advantageous position in the region to dilute Pakistan’s influence in the Middle East. Therefore, it’s imperative that Islamabad ought to revamp its policy to enhance its economic and diplomatic connectivity with the Middle Eastern states.

 

The writer is Associate Professor at School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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08
May

On account of the great promise of the advanced technology for communication, it has become a norm to communicate effortlessly and efficiently beyond the borders. Technology as the foundation of today’s modern society also governs its dynamics. It is only normal that terrorists also benefit from it and have reached the global dimension, with only a few tools and a free internet network forming the pillars of this new strategy to disseminate terror. Technology has assumed a crucial role for terrorists who optimize the use of social media and communication platforms to elude monitoring by the intelligence agencies. The violent extremists have also become increasingly adept at creating dense networks to garner support online at a global scale, creating networks that help them run virtual circles without any economic constraints and offer unrivaled outreach opportunities.


Countering violent extremism (CVE) has been a challenge for many states. It reflects the growing focus on preventive approaches to dissuade individuals or groups from mobilizing towards violence, including terrorism, organized crime, and conflict by the non-state actors to further their negative objectives. The threat at home has subsided but it isn’t yet over. We can defeat terrorism, but unless we extinguish the underlying extremist ideology and grievances which help motivate scores of recruits to join these violent extremists, we cannot succeed. However, until recent past, our primary focus has been on kinetic threat which is essential for removing terrorists from the battlefield and disrupting their plots, whereas, awareness about the shifting labyrinth of non-kinetic challenges and the threat they pose to our national security has now been placed under critical scrutiny and is being responded to in a comprehensive manner i.e., launching of Operation Radd-ul-Fassad. The Operation is achieving successes on various fronts, however, the challenge is enormous and demands a determined national response. Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in a recent message to the nation has vociferously enunciated that each member of the nation is a soldier of Operation Radd-ul-Fassad. This personifies will of the nation to fight alongside the armed forces of Pakistan to defeat this menace.


It goes without saying that our defense forces and credible nuclear deterrence promise a formidable response in the kinetic domain. Hence, we need to focus on the non-kinetic approach where ideology beats ideology and for that we need the whole-of-nation approach where civil society, government, media, academia and other segments of society play their part. Our books, television, films and online media should support a strong state and peaceful society that believes in peaceful dialogue thereby eroding the acceptability of militant groups by challenging their narratives within an appropriate nationalistic framework. That should help with the fundamental issues such as where to draw the line between the core doctrines of Islam and the interpretations and distortions of Islamic teachings by militant violent extremists. There is also a need to ensure enforcement of Article 5 ‘loyalty to State and obedience to Constitution and law’ and Article 256 of the Constitution ‘private armies forbidden’, which clearly states that “no private organization capable of functioning as a military organization shall be formed and that any such organization shall be illegal”, to prevent such groups from functioning.


The long term solution to CVE requires more creative ways of assessing attitude and behavioral changes over time. In the meantime we must invest in social cohesion, peace building and conflict mitigation which in turn will play a role in preventing marginalization, social exclusion and radicalization which leads to violent extremism.

 

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08
May
Death Sentence Awarded to Kulbushan Jadhav Under Pakistan Army Act

Indian RAW Agent/Naval officer 41558Z Commander Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel was arrested on March 3, 2016 through a Counter-Intelligence Operation from Mashkel, Balochistan, for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan. The spy has been tried through Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and awarded death sentence. On April 10, 2017 COAS, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed his death sentence awarded by FGCM.

RAW agent Commander Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav was tried by FGCM under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of official Secret Act of 1923. FGCM found Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav guilty of all the charges. He confessed before a Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organize espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of Law Enforcement Agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.

The accused was provided with defending officer as per legal provisions.

(No PR-193/2017-ISPR April 10, 2017)
 
08
May

Written By: Ghazala Yasmin Jalil

The remarks of academics and retired Indian officials confirm the redundancy of the NFU. If indeed the signals coming from India are to be taken seriously then it is a major declared policy shift that has serious implications for Pakistan's nuclear strategy.

 

India has adopted an increasingly belligerent posture towards Pakistan in the last few years – suspension of composite dialogue, strained diplomatic relations and severed cultural ties, and calling Pakistan a terrorist state. At the same time, India has been heavily building up its conventional capabilities, tremendously expanding its naval capabilities and even operationalising its nuclear capable submarine fleet. The latest in India's race towards a more belligerent posture is its move away from a nuclear no-first use (NFU) posture. This is indeed a worrying development in an already volatile nuclear theatre like South Asia.

 

nofirstchange.jpgThe NFU refers to a policy by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons. India adopted the NFU policy in the wake of its 1998 nuclear tests. India's draft nuclear doctrine of August 1999 asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of "retaliation only". It further states, "India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail."1 Later, in a speech at the National Defence College on October 21, 2010, India's then National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, said that Indian nuclear doctrine advocates no first use against non-nuclear-weapon states. This raises the question whether the use of nuclear weapons was an option against non-nuclear weapon states. Again, in November 2016, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, "Why do lots of people say that India is for no fist use? Why should I bind myself?"2


Recent claims by an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy, Vipin Narang, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology are worthy of some attention. At a conference held by Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in 2017, he said, "There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first." He asserted that India may abandon NFU and launch a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan if it believed that Pakistan was going to use nuclear weapons or most likely the tactical nuclear weapons against it. He further claimed that India's pre-emptive strike may not be conventional and would also be aimed at Pakistan's missile launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads. He went as far to say that India's strike may be a full 'comprehensive counterforce strike' that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of all its nuclear weapons eliminating the possibility of a retaliatory strike. However, of greater concern is his claim that this change in thinking does not come from fringe extreme voices but from no less than a former Commander of India's Strategic Forces, Lt Gen B.S. Nagal, and also from the influential former national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, who suggested in his 2016 book 'Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy', that "Serious voices, who cannot be ignored, seem to suggest that this (abandoning NFU policy) is where India may be heading, and certainly wants to head."


Pakistan has always been sceptical of India's claims of NFU. However, the remarks of academics and retired Indian officials confirm the redundancy of the NFU. If indeed the signals coming from India are to be taken seriously then it is a major declared policy shift that has serious implications for Pakistan's nuclear strategy. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Ehsan ul Haq (R), who has remained closely associated with Pakistan’s nuclear thinking while speaking at the launch of a book said, "The development is a cause of concern against the backdrop of extremist Hindutva agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party government." He further said, "Our conventional understanding of South Asia's nuclear dynamics and who, in fact, might use nuclear weapons first and in what mode may need a hard rethink given these emerging authoritative voices in India who are not content to cede the nuclear initiative to Pakistan." This indeed would be a major shift in India's nuclear policy. It would surely have a response by Pakistan making adjustments to its nuclear doctrine. However, if Vipin Narayan's remarks are to be taken seriously then it might not only be abandoning of NFU by India but doing away with the escalation ladder leading to a strategic nuclear strike. Noteworthy in this context are his remarks that India may conduct a comprehensive counterforce designed to destroy Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. While this may not be possible in practice since Pakistan's nuclear assets are well dispersed with high survivability, it does reflect the extremist turn in India's nuclear thinking. This is a worrying development for Pakistan since India has adopted a more aggressive stance against Pakistan under the BJP-led government. It is also worrisome in the light of the ballistic missile defence (BMD) system that India is developing and is already claiming operational with the ability to protect two Indian cities. Although BMD systems are not foolproof and hundred percent effective, they would give Indian decision makers a false sense of security making them act with aggression in a crisis. If indeed Indian nuclear thinking is moving towards a pre-emptive nuclear strike, then the decision makers would feel more secure knowing the BMD system would provide protection against any missile that Pakistan launches in retaliation.

 

Noteworthy are Vipin Narayan’s remarks that India may conduct a comprehensive counterforce designed to destroy Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. While this may not be possible in practice since Pakistan's nuclear assets are well dispersed with high survivability, it does reflect the extremist turn in India's nuclear thinking.

Pakistan has already stated its displeasure on any notions of pre-emptive strike. On April 6, 2017, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson stated that, “It goes without saying that the talk about pre-emption in a nuclearized South Asia is highly irresponsible and dangerous and will not help the cause of promoting strategic restraint and stability in the region.” He further highlighted that, “In taking appropriate security measures, Pakistan has to consider capabilities and not intentions which can change anytime."3


A move towards pre-emptive strike would be a dangerous and destabilising one in South Asia. It will surely accelerate the arms race in South Asia including nuclear. It might necessitate changes in force planning, postures, and deployment protocols. It would likely move the two countries towards nuclear readiness which also increases the chances of accidental and unauthorised use.


Some analysts have described the Indian references to pre-emptive strike "a storm in a teacup," and not to be taken seriously. It may be so. However, if Indian strategic circles are discussing the possibility of a crippling first strike against Pakistan, Islamabad cannot afford to take it lightly. It does not mean that Pakistani decision makers need to go off in a flurry and make adjustments to its force posture immediately. But it would be a good idea to keep a close watch on India's nuclear policy. In the long run, Pakistan would have to adjust its nuclear policy to cater for a first nuclear use Indian policy. Pakistan can use tactics like dispersion, camouflage and mobility to ensure the survivability of its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, Pakistan can develop sea-based nuclear capability which would give it an assured second strike capability. It is already working on a sea based nuclear deterrence. In January 2017 Pakistan announced that it had successfully carried out the first-ever test of its nuclear-capable Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) from a submerged platform. The Babur-3 SLCM is ultimately designed for use with its Agosta 90B diesel-electric submarines. This would give Pakistan a second strike capability. It would also ensure that all of Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not destroyed in a pre-emptive strike. An important lesson to take home is what the foreign office spokesperson said: "Pakistan has to prepare against the adversary's capabilities and not intentions." At the same time one must not miss the point – Indian talk of abandoning NFU is an indication of the extremist turn in the country's security and foreign policy. It is the harbinger of yet more conflict and instability in the region. Perhaps, the most important step Pakistan needs to take is to build international pressure on India to abandon its aggressive posture and move towards dialogue and conflict resolution. For nuclear weapons are not meant to be used to wage war, their primary role is to prevent war.

 

The writer is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and focuses on nuclear and arms control & disarmament issues.

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

 

1 Draft Report of National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine, Äugust 17, 1999, http://mea.gov.in/in-focus-article.htm?18916/Draft+Report+of+National+Security+Advisory+Board+on+Indian+Nuclear+Doctrine
2 "Why bind ourselves to 'no first use' policy, says Manohar Parrikar on India's nuke policy", Economic Times, November 12, 2017
3 "India’s no-first-use of N-doctrine a ploy: FO," The Nation, April 7, 2017, http://nation.com.pk/editors-picks/07-Apr-2017/india-s-no-first-use-of-n-doctrine-a-ploy-fo

08
May

pmapoparade.jpgThe winter session Passing Out Parade of 135th PMA Long Course, 54th Integrated Course and 7th Mujahid Course was held on April 15, 2017. The Reviewing Officer and Chief Guest of the parade was His Excellency Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Defence Minister of Qatar. Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Defence Minister of Pakistan was also one of the distinguished guests. Besides, dignitaries, representatives of foreign embassies in Pakistan, retired and serving senior officers of the armed forces of Pakistan, parents of passing out cadets also witnessed the parade.

135th PMA Long Course,

54th Integrated Course,

7th Mujahid Course

The mega event commenced with the performance of the Pakistan Military Academy brass band in the Rafiullah Drill Square. The ‘markers’ then marched in and took their respective positions followed by the marching cadets raising slogan of “Allah-o-Akbar”, presenting a breath-taking display. On the arrival of the Chief Guest, General Salute was presented in the honour of the Chief Guest. The Reviewing Officer then reviewed the Parade accompanied by the Commandant, Battalion Commander 3rd Pakistan Battalion and the Academy Senior Under Officer. This was followed by spectacular march past by the complete parade. After the immaculate march past, the Academy Adjutant Major Muhammad Nouman handed over the Parade to Academy Senior Under Officer Imran Faiz.

pmapoparade1.jpg

 

PRIDE OF NATION

The coveted Sword of Honour was awarded to Academy Senior Under Officer Imran Faiz of 135 Long Course, while the President’s Gold Medal was awarded to Battalion Senior Under Officer Ahmed Jawad of the same course. The Overseas Gold Medal was awarded to Allied Under Officer Ashraf S.F. Sbaihat from Palestine who also passed out with 135 Long Course. Commandant’s Canes were awarded to Course Under Officer Umar Nawab from 54th Integrated Course and Course Under Officer Farrukh Ali Memon from 7th Mujahid Course. Tipu Company was declared the Champion Company.

 

The Senior Division took oath to reinvigorate their resolve to serve the motherland with the best of their potential. In a dignified manner and synchronized with tune played by the PMA Band, Senior Division left the drill square in slow march. It is the cherished dream of every cadet to step up the stairs leading to the Battalion Mess and become a part of the Pakistan Army Officers’ fraternity.

pmapoparade2.jpg

 
08
May

Written By: Maj Asim Ishaq

The United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is a joint African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission formally approved by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007 to bring stability to the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan while peace talks on a final settlement continue. Its initial 12-month mandate was extended to July 31, 2010. The mandate is for a force of up to 19,555 military personnel and 3,772 police, along with a further "19 Formed Police Units comprising up to 140 personnel each." The peacekeepers are allowed to use force to protect civilians and humanitarian operations. UNAMID is the first joint UN/AU force and the largest peacekeeping mission. Major troop contributing countries are Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Egypt and Tanzania.

 

spiritpakcel.jpg

March 23, 2017, was chosen as the day for medal parade at Al DAEIN super Camp in East Darfur. Clad in uniform and smartly turnedout Pakistan Contingent – PAKBATT 4 (43 Punjab Sadiq Battalion) presented relishing display of military parade.

 

The force commander Lieutenant General Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, Contingent Commander Brigadier Syed Mazhar Hussain attended the Medal wearing ceremony along with 23rd March celebrations. The guests were given a warm welcome by the military band of PAKBATT 4, Parade Commander Major Assad Mehmood Khan with his roaring request asked the chief guest to review the parade. The force commander and contingent commander then decorated medals on all soldiers and officers.

 

Force Commander was then ushered by Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Attiq Ahmed Khan Anjum to the traditional stalls laid out in beautiful colours and aesthetics. A group photo marked the end of the ceremony.

 

To reciprocate our care for people of Darfur Contingent Commander ordered establishing of a free Medical camp in Neem IDP camp in East Darfur, hosted by Pakistan on March 24. It included Specialist Doctors who flew all the way from Nyala South Darfur, free medicines and detailed checkup. A total of 1486 patients were treated who bore a smile on their faces, thanking for a much deserved relief.

 

DISTANT WE ARE; BONDED WE STAND

LIVE LONG PAKISTAN

PAKISTAN ARMY ZINDABAD!

 
08
May

Written By: Maryam Razzaq

An interview with the team "TAME" from NUST which won the first place in Stanford Longevity Design Challenge 2017.

 

As we went on the stage and took out the Pakistani flag everyone just stood up from their place and clapped for us. It was a moment that filled our hearts with indescribable love and respect for our country. The world acknowledged our success as we proved to them that innovation is not limited to a geographic region.

 

Acceptance to divine’s will is a tool of contentment. While contentment brings happiness and acceptance to life, the same also halts the very endeavor and struggle one makes to change and improve the current situation. The case of elderly persons with physical impairment like tremors is an example where society has widely accepted their condition with no recourse to treat and cure.

 

theworldno1.jpgAmazingly, a group of students from NUST has embarked upon a project to develop and introduce a device called TAME-Tremor Acquisition and Minimization which seeks to develop wearable technology for the suppression of real-time pathological tremors without hindering the voluntary movement of the patient.


The students Arsalan Javed, Awais Shafiq and Hooriya Anum not only qualified to present their project at Stanford Longevity Design Challenge 2017, held in Stanford University California but they also won the competition defeating the world’s top universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cornell University, Virginia Tech, University of Sao Paulo, Beijing University and Stanford University itself . Their achievement of raising our national flag at such a prestigious platform filled every Pakistani’s heart with pride.


The initiative and the progress made by this group of young students so far has to be shared with different segments of society to provoke their thoughts and invite the assistance they can offer to the group to materialize their project. Therefore Hilal arranged an interview with the group and salient of discussion are as under.

 

theworldno12.jpgQ. Firstly can you explain to the readers what your project was about?
Hilal’s readers may have an idea about tremors. It’s a human body disorder which involves unintentional, involuntary, rhythmic muscle movement including to-and-fro movements (oscillations) of one or more parts of the body commonly affecting the movement of hands, arms, head, face, voice, trunk, and legs. The tremor of hands is especially the most disabling one. So, what we created as our Final Year Project (FYP) is a device called TAME-Tremor Acquisition and Minimization. It is a wearable device which seeks to diagnose and suppress the involuntary movement of the muscles thus controlling pathological tremors.


Q. When did you start working on this project and what was the motivation behind it?
We started this project back in December 2015 as our FYP and what motivated us was that we could relate to it at a personal level as we actually saw this particular disease of tremors in our families and friends leading them to struggle with the basic daily tasks. And thus we wanted to find an engineering-based solution for the disease.


Q. Tell us something about your journey from NUST to Stanford Longevity Design Challenge?
Awais: It has been a long journey as research and innovation take their time. During our graduation we didn’t expect much from our project since being engineering students we had little knowledge of medicines but what we had in mind was that we wanted to make a difference. We wanted to use our engineering knowledge to help the people who couldn’t do their basic tasks. With that motivation in mind we did what we could. And Alhamdulillah we came up with a minimal viable product which we tested in Fauji Foundation Hospital on a couple of patients. And Stanford Longevity Design Challenge was a perfect fit for us because the whole theme and purpose of it was to optimize the lives of human beings.


Hooriya: The journey from our final year project in graduation till now has literally been a roller coaster ride because we have faced a lot of difficulties to be able to make this bio-medical device; from finding enough research on it to practically making and experimenting it, keeping the limits in mind. The journey was never easy but Alhamdulillah our work and persistence paid off.


Arsalan: More than anything this has truly been a great learning experience. Today, we are entirely different people than what we were one-and-a-half-year ago. This journey has not only made us better engineers but also better people.


Q. What was it like to be winning against the world’s top universities including the very prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cornell University, Virginia Tech, University of Sao Paulo, Beijing University and Stanford University itself?
Arsalan: No doubt the challenge was really daunting because it wasn’t like some of the top, but the top universities of the world were competing against us. We took it as an exciting challenge.


Hooriya: I would say we were quite anxious. It was interesting; the teams were very confident as some of them had their products ready while others had their research to share. The only thing that kept us going was that we had to represent Pakistan and pay back to the country what it has given us.

 

Awais: Just the feeling itself of being at such a prestigious institute and competing against the world’s top universities was something I can’t really put into words. And I think this never could have been possible without my team. Our prime objective at that time was not as much to win but to represent our country in the best possible way. We were nervous standing next to the top ranked universities and when our name was called as the winners, we were definitely overjoyed.

 

Winner of Stanford Longevity Design Challenge –Team "TAME" from NUST meets COAS

theworldno14.jpgNUST students who bagged the first position at Stanford Longevity Design Challenge held in California, USA on March 30, 2017, met Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in GHQ. 20 countries participated in the competition. The theme for participants was to focus on improving the quality of life for individuals ageing in their homes. 3-member NUST team comprising of Awais Shafiq, Hooriya Anam and Arslan Javed was selected to top 9 teams from different universities across the world by a panel of judges of industries from Silicon Valley. NUST team designed Tremor Acquisition and Minimization (TAME) and defeated MIT, Virginia Technology, Stanford, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Waterloo, Canada, Cornell, California, Berkeley and Beijing universities in final stage held at Stanford University. TAME is a wearable device for real time pathological wrist tremor suppression to enable tremor patients perform their routine task without assistance. COAS congratulated the team on this outstanding achievement. "Our youth is our asset and we are proud of their achievement for keeping the green flag high", COAS emphasized.


Q. Watching you on TV surely filled our hearts with pride; how did you feel, holding and waving our national flag at such a prestigious platform?
As we went on the stage and took out the Pakistani flag, everyone stood up from their place and clapped for us. It was a moment that filled our hearts with indescribable love and respect for our country. The world acknowledged our success as we proved to them that innovation is not limited to a geographic region. We knew at that very moment that it wasn’t just us who had won but Pakistan had won. We had won for the country which enabled us to be who we were today, it was for the nation that supported us, it was for the institute that opened avenues for us, it was for the teachers who instilled knowledge in us, and it was for all those people who invested in us.


Q. How has your experience been at NUST?
Arsalan: It might sound cheesy but NUST is the best thing that has ever happened to me. There is so much to learn over here. You get exposed to not only a lot of research but the environment that NUST provides helps you to interact at international level.


Hooriya: I will second Arsalan’s opinion that NUST exposed us to international platforms and different avenues. Not only it has helped us academically but also has groomed us to be the people that we are today.


Awais: Well, apart from the study point of view it is absolutely true that whatever I am today is because of this prestigious institute. The ability to present at a platform like Stanford and the confidence to deliver among the tech leaders has all come from this university.


Q. What would you like to say about the faculty and your supervisor?
We went with the idea of TAME to Dr. Raza Kazmi who was very supportive and we couldn’t have done this without him. He is the one who connected us to the Fauji Foundation Hospital and there in Foundation University Islamabad we met Dr. Khalid, Dr. Tassawur Hussain, Dr. Rabiya and Dr. Saira. Dr Khalid and Dr. Tassawur are like celebrity doctors. And I think it is because of them that we were able to expedite the Ethical Committee review which gave us access to the patients.


Q. Are you satisfied with your final project or would you like to further improve it?
TAME for now is in the prototype phase. Although the minimal viable device that we have made has been widely accepted, the final product still needs to be made and launched in the market. So we are working on it constantly.


Secondly, as we are satisfied with our project, our main focus is to make it affordable for all the tremor patients. So we are already working to further improve it.


Q. You must have received offers from various companies for assisting you in materializing your project and converting the TAME prototype into an actual product. So, how do you plan to do that?
Well we certainly have gotten a lot of offers from big names but one of the problems in Pakistan is that people like to play it safe. They prefer to invest in software because it gives you a lot of return. For hardware you actually need a lot of money to make something. And since this is specifically a bio-medical project, there is limited capital, limited resources and limited mentorship available for taking it to the next level.


After the graduation we received multiple job offers which we rejected as we wanted to further work on our project to convert it from prototype to a real time device available in the market. This device can certainly be made in Pakistan but due to limited resources the time span to actualize it and bring it to the market will be relatively long. We have actually been offered sponsorship from abroad so let’s see.


Q. What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome to get your project completed?
Hooriya: The biggest challenge for me I guess was getting the Ethical approvals. Also, even after having made the device and setting its algorithm and everything, one cannot be sure if it will function unless it is tested upon a human patient.


Arsalan: I think I’d second Hooriya that the biggest challenge in our way was to get the Ethical approval and then test the device on patients.


Awais: The biggest challenge for me I’d say was to actually make the device.


Q. Did you have several ideas for your project or TAME was the one you settled on straight away?
Well we can go on and on about this. This team has been together for more than three years and we have done a lot of projects together. The focus has always been on learning, we have won quite a few competitions before TAME, of which some were in healthcare and other in counter-terrorism department. We were initially confused whether to pursue TAME as our FYP as it was to be a bio-medical product and we had little or no medical knowledge. But like we said we could relate to the tremor disease and thus we finally settled on TAME.


Q. Is TAME, the wearable device for controlling pathological tremors one of its kind and how effective is it to practically control tremors?
There is no product currently in the market for suppressing tremors and as we progressed along, there were certain prototypes that were using different techniques but then again they are still in the prototype phase. However, we must point out that just a small amount of research has been done on this particular technique for this particular disease. But there is no such product in the market.


And well the prototype that we used to experiment on tremor patients in Fauji Foundation Hospital yielded us positive results. And in many cases we could actually see the visual suppression of the tremors while in all of the cases we could actually see the tremor patients successfully performing their everyday tasks. So, if we consider the ability of the patients to overcome tremors the merit of success, then we can say that our project has been successful and effective.


Q. When can the world expect this miraculous prototype to develop into a product and be available in the market?
Actually we are working on a bio-medical product and the problem attached is that before bringing it into the market and getting it approved for different standard testing, we have to generate a specific dataset i.e., we have to test it on say three hundred patients and once the results are found positive only then we can get it approved and certified by the standard testing authorities in Pakistan. Right now we can’t say the exact time it will take to bring this product to market but hopefully soon.


Q. 100,000 U.S. Dollars is a big amount, have you planned on how to spend this huge prize money?
It was our prize money and not a research grant so on a lighter note we could do whatever we want. But as a matter of fact as we have this money, we are going to use it to the advantage of our project just as we have done with prize money before.


Q. What advice would you give to students who aspire to achieve big for the country like you have?
Arsalan: Well, I personally believe that though we belong to a developing country, we have no dearth of talent. Given the right environment and the right opportunities we can and we will take the world by storm. The only message I would give to all the Pakistanis out there is that don’t stop trying. Don’t be daunted by a task which seems impossible and just go for it. Well as Hooriya says, what’s the worst that can happen?

 

theworldno13.jpgHooriya: Yeah well that was my message, thanks for copying it Arsalan (chuckles). My message would especially be to the girls that don’t shy away from opportunities because you can achieve everything as big as your male counterparts could or even better since you can be more persistent than the guys (chuckles). And to the parents I would especially request to let their daughters choose the field they’d like to join. Girls can be engineers, too.


Awais: While these two people sitting beside me are brilliant students, I have always been an average student but with that I have also been sincere to myself. I try to learn what is being taught to me. I try to polish my practical skills although I am not that focused on the theoretical part of the degree but I believe that I am a good engineer because I can practically apply my skills and learning into real world problems. And to the students I’d say that we often complain that there are a lot of problems in Pakistan but what we need to realize is that these problems are opportunities for us that only need to be recognized. So yeah, dream big and do your best to materialize it.

 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
08
May

Written By: Dr. Farrukh Saleem

How do we keep a pulse on the economy? How does one evaluate the real health of an economy? Broadly speaking, an economy can be divided up into the internal sector and the external sector. Economic indicators are then used to ascertain or judge the current or future health of the economy. Here’s a review of our economy’s external sector based on exports, foreign direct investment, foreign exchange remittances and external debt.

 

ourecoextr.jpgExports: Pakistan’s exports as a percent of our GDP are at a 25-year low. In 1992, our exports stood at 17 percent of our GDP while the same now stand at 7 percent; what a steep fall! In dollar terms, our exports have come down from $25 billion just five years ago to a current figure of around $20 billion; a steep fall of around 20 percent in just five years. Amazingly, Bangladesh’s exports over the same five – year period have grown from $24 billion to $35 billion – a 45 percent jump.

ourecoextr1.jpgIn 1991, Pakistan’s share in world exports stood at 0.18 percent which has since come down to 0.14 percent. In 2004, Pakistan’s trade balance as a percent of our GDP stood at [plus] 1 percent of GDP; the current trade balance is [minus] 7 percent of GDP. As far as the trade balance is concerned, the year 1985 was even worse but the deterioration over the past thirteen years is a serious matter.


Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): In 2007, Pakistan attracted $5.59 billion FDI. The current figure on FDI is around a billion dollars – 80 percent drop in ten years. In 1996, our share in world FDI stood at 0.26 percent which has since come down to a paltry 0.12 percent of world FDI – 55 percent drop.

 

ourecoextr4.jpgImagine; in 1960, we were 1.5 percent of world population and now we are 2.56 percent of world population while our share in world exports is shrinking and our share in world FDI is also on its way down. To be certain, we are missing the boat.


Imagine; five years ago our labor force numbered 61 million which now numbers nearly 70 million but our exports have gone down from $25 billion to $20 billion over the same period. Aren’t we missing the boat?


Remittances: Pakistani workers sending back their hard-earned dollars back to Pakistan have been and continue to be the backbone of our external sector. A year ago, Pakistanis sent back a colossal $20 billion back to Pakistan and that covered around 40 percent of our import bill. Of the $20 billion roughly 65 percent comes from five countries: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.


Foreign workers from all over the world working in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman have been remitting back a wholesome $100 billion a year to their home countries. No more (courtesy of the oil price crash).


For Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is the source of 30 percent of our workers’ remittances and Saudi Arabia’s budgetary deficit has now ballooned to $100 billion. Saudi Binladin Group, the construction giant, has already laid-off 50,000 of its 200,000 workforce. For Pakistan, remittances from Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the UK are down 6.2 percent, 6.9 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.

 

ourecoextr2.jpgExternal Debt: This is the portion of our national debt that has been “borrowed from foreign lenders including commercial banks, governments or international financial institutions. These loans, including interest, must be paid in the currency in which the loan was made.”


Over the past three years, additional loans to the amount of $25 billion from foreign lenders have been taken. Of the $25 billion, an amount of roughly $12 billion went back towards the payment of previous loans. Net foreign borrowing thus amounted to $13 billion (in addition to domestic borrowings of over Rs. 3 trillion).


The economy seems headed into a ‘debt trap’ whereby we must borrow more just to pay back what has been borrowed in the past. In 2016, state-backed Chinese banks rescued us by lending $900 million. In the first three months of 2017, we borrowed an additional $300 million from the Chinese (Pakistan’s trade deficit with China has doubled over the past few years).


Pakistan is now seeking an additional $600 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the name of Public Sector Enterprises Reforms Tranche-II and III. Pakistan is now seeking an additional loan of $100 million from the French Development Agency (AFD). Pakistan is also seeking an additional loan of $750 million on commercial terms from China for Pakistan to pay back a $750 million, 10-year Eurobond that was floated back in 2007 (and is maturing this year).


In 1971, our total debt (external plus internal) stood at Rs. 30 billion. In a matter of 46 years our public debt has moved from Rs. 30 billion to Rs. 22,000 billion.


In 2008, the per capita debt – debt owed by each man, woman and child in the country – stood at Rs. 40,000. The same has since gone up to Rs. 115,000.


The truth is that our exports have now become uncompetitive in the world market because input costs in Pakistan – electricity and natural gas – are now the highest in the region. Additionally, the cost of doing business in Pakistan is now the highest in the region and our rupee has become grossly overvalued. Our return back to another IMF rescue is inevitable. Pending things for elections is not leadership but expediency.


Lo and behold, we refuse to accept that our external sector is in deep trouble. As a consequence of the refusal, there’s no policy to turn things around; one must first recognize that there’s a problem for problem solving to begin.

 

The writer is an eminent analyst who regularly contributes for national and international print and electronic media.

Twitter: @SaleemFarrukh

 
08
May

Written By: Dr. Minhas Majeed

Violence is mostly understood and associated with religious extremism despite the fact that it has many shapes and forms – and all need to be condemned and countered. This is more so when a Muslim commits an act of violence, which as a result is associated with Islam. The widespread violent extremism in the Muslim world and the individuals or groups involved in or supporting violence has been a subject of interest for policy makers and practitioners. Unfortunately, there is dearth of comprehensive approach to explore the drivers of violent extremism in the Muslim World.
It is an accepted fact that terrorists in their anxiety for validation and justification cite religion – Islam – for justifying their acts of violence. Frustration with the local and global political milieu, besides ideologically motivated thoughts is behind violent actions. Additionally, in many cases, shared dedication to a particular vision about how a society ought to be organized and moral justification for it, bring violent extremists together.

 

countervoilentext.jpgAt present, besides terrorism, the phenomenon of violent extremism, in the form of religious, sectarian and ethnic strife is a major challenge that Pakistan faces today. In recent years, the incidence of violent extremism by terrorist organizations and their linkages to hostile foreign agencies are not only disrupting the social fabric but also adversely affecting national economy and development. Moreover, Pakistan is also facing the effects of crises in Syria, Yemen and other sectarian conflict-prone sub-regions in the Middle East.


Since independence, Pakistan has seen phases of diverse but inter-related conflicts of all sorts, resulting in violence. Pakistan endures the most of ethnic, sectarian and religious radicalisation that is aided by both internal and external actors who are not only providing a narrative but also funding for both religious and non-religious militancy. However, the intensity of violent extremism has increased manifold since Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S. in the WoT as it has deeply shakened the social fabric of society.


The rise of terrorism after 9/11 has badly affected the security situation in Pakistan. Pakistan has suffered a great deal in terms of lives, economic opportunities and has also borne damages to schools, hospitals and other infrastructural facilities. However, the yearly losses from terrorism declined in 2014-15 by a third to U.S. $4.5 billion, in part due to military operations in tribal areas and the Karachi Operation.

 

However, the global image of Pakistan is largely defined by the misperceptions about its role in international terrorism. Pakistan has been rejecting these allegations, insisting on the role of foreign interferences in its territory resulting in disorder, which unfortunately, has been ignored by international community. These concerns were raised when Pakistan shared three dossiers with the UN, carrying evidences about Indian interference in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi to fuel ethnic and religious violence.

 

Sandwiched between Afghanistan and India, Pakistan is a geo-strategically important country in the South Asia. With its strategic importance for the U.S. and the rest of the world, Pakistan can play a constructive role with regard to CVE (countering violent extremism). Pakistan’s importance and its stance on countering violent extremism was highlighted in an article in Forbes as:


Pakistan has the potential to be a global turnaround story, and that the U.S. will need to view Pakistan not as a problem to be solved but as a potential partner. Because the Western headlines on Pakistan today gloss over the progress on the security front, the increased political stability, and incremental progress on the economic front. In spite of this potential for Pakistan, it continues to suffer from a terrible country brand that has not caught up with realities on the ground. Pakistan’s improving security dynamic is the first change to note. What has not sunk into international perceptions about the country is the tangible consensus among government, military, and Pakistani citizens against violent terrorists including the Pakistani Taliban and the alphabet soup of other terrorist groups in and around the country.


Initiatives
Despite heavy losses, Pakistan has remained committed to eliminating terrorism and violent extremism. Considering the factors contributing to violent extremism, countering it is a huge task that not only depends on the intent of government of Pakistan but also on international support.


Realising that violent extremism in all its manifestations poses a serious threat to national harmony in Pakistan, the Government made an effort to apply a comprehensive CVE strategy. This strategy can be said to have adopted an international model of CVE, i.e., of engagement and de-radicalisation on one hand, and counter-radicalisation in the form of use of force, on the other. Pakistan’s CVE policy is two pronged: de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation. Rehabilitation programmes for indoctrinated youth are introduced under the supervision of Pakistan Army. Similar programmes are introduced in parts of the Punjab, some supervised by Counter Terrorism Department, others are conducted in collaboration with some non-governmental organizations.


Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the National Counter-Terrorism Authority Bill in 2013. Taking another step on February 25, 2014, Pakistan announced its first ever National Internal Security Policy (NISP) based on three elements: 1) dialogue with all stakeholders; 2) isolation of terrorists from their support systems and; 3) enhancing deterrence and capacity of security apparatus to neutralise the threats to internal security of Pakistan.


Of capital importance is the decision to launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb on June 15, 2014, in the tribal areas and recently Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad on February 22, 2017. These operations are proving to be successful in debasing and dismantling the organisational structure of militant outfits active in different parts of the country including FATA. It helped in improving the security situation inside the country and provided space for better regional coordination to counter-terrorism and promote stability in the region.


Another step to counter the violent extremism was initiation of National Action Plan (NAP) after the brutal attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. The 20 point NAP very clearly defines the government’s counter-radicalism and counter-terrorism strategy. Various steps including raising a counter-terrorism force, conviction of the terrorists through military courts and reformation of criminal system were suggested in NAP. To counter violent extremism of all shades, madrasah reforms and scrutinising of religious material were made necessary to prevent the spread of hate speech and material. FATA reforms, issue of Afghan refugees, Balochistan reconciliation and taking the Karachi Operation to its logical conclusion were the other major steps that NAP vows to accomplish. However, the general perception is that the military component of NAP has been implemented efficaciously and there is a strong expectation that civilian aspect of the NAP be flashed out and operationalised. This would help the government to deal with the threat of violent extremism.


The government’s decision of zero tolerance with regard to hate speech and fanning of sectarianism is a step in the right direction but it is to be implemented fully and comprehensively. Moreover, auditing of madaris accounts and transfer of their fund through banks will go a long way in monitoring of madaris. In addition, the efforts of the government to block terrorists' funding through Hawala and Hundi have proved successful. Statistically speaking, the past two years showed positive trends from a security perspective as a downward trend was noted in the number of overall incidents of violence.

 

Realising that violent extremism in all its manifestations poses a serious threat to national harmony in Pakistan, the Government made an effort to apply a comprehensive CVE strategy. This strategy can be said to have adopted an international model of CVE, i.e., of engagement and de-radicalisation on one hand, and counter-radicalisation in the form of use of force, on the other. Pakistan’s CVE policy is two pronged: de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation. Rehabilitation programmes for indoctrinated youth are introduced under the supervision of Pakistan Army. Similar programmes are introduced in parts of the Punjab, some supervised by Counter Terrorism Department, others are conducted in collaboration with some non-governmental organizations.

The growing radicalism leading to violent extremism calls for strengthening of internal security based on mutual consensus of all stakeholders. It is because the major hurdle for Pakistan in tackling this menace is weak governance. Good governance will help in building institutions besides bringing systematic unity among all relevant institutions and society as a whole. It will also help in bringing political and economic stability, a prerequisite to meet external challenges.


All the factors discussed are interdependent, which need to be addressed as it is in the interest of Pakistan to grow economically and politically. To tackle the menace, it is the responsibility of civil, political and religious leadership to refute the notion that terrorist groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Taliban represent Islam, because it is a misrepresentation that holds the terrorist narrative. If such ideas are not contested and condemned, extremist groups will continue to regroup no matter how many terrorists are eliminated.


It is important to introduce political, economic and educational reforms and take bold initiatives to prevent future threats. It is an accepted fact that investing in education and socio-economic development can lead to development and stability and hence a peaceful and harmonious society.


We, as Muslims, have to put our own house in order. Unless we devalue the notion that the West is at war with Islam, we will become fodder for extremists’ propaganda and will never be