30
April

Written By: Col Khalid Baig

Pakistan Army has a history of looking after its personnel in every possible manner. Not only serving soldiers are taken care of, but the Army has a very well evolved system of looking after the welfare and rehabilitation aspects of their families. The families of the troops are handed different opportunities to learn and improve their skills in multiple fields under supervision of qualified teachers. Our field formations have an elaborate spread of Troops Families Welfare Centres (TFWCs) where they are given quality vocational skills training. These centres are operative in all cantonments of the country.

In order to improve and refine the product of TFWCs, a need was felt to establish a single platform which could serve as a central facility to create a healthy competition amongst respective TFWCs. Resultantly, Army Welfare Display Centre, 'SAUGHAT' was established in June 2000 at Garrison Officers Mess, Rawalpindi, which is an icon of Pakistan Army's welfare activities for families of troops. A new life was infused in this project in December 2010 and much improvements were made in the working of Saughat and TFWCs. The Project has achieved many successes since then under effective and efficient management.

Saughat's diversity makes it unique as it also bears the cultural imprint of all provinces of Pakistan. In the recent past, many foreign dignitaries have visited this display centre. The foreigners who recently visited Saughat include Mrs Manjulika Jayasuriya, wife of Commander Sri Lanka Army, Mrs Gift Nnenna Ihejirika, wife of Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army and the British Army Cricket Team.

30
April

Written By: Irfan Jamil

 

The Birth of Jesus Christ is very significant for the Christians. It was not an ordinary Birth of a child but was the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation of Human kind from sin and restoring him to the original place. Luke in His gospel gives us the beautiful description of the Birth of Christ. The Angels spoke to Shepard, fear not because they have good news for them.

We are living in an age where people are in the grip of fear. When we hear news, read news, watch news, most of the time we become fearful because of it. But there is a good news that Jesus is born to take away our fear. Let me share some of the fears, human being face today:-

•           Fear of the Future: Man is so fearful that what is going to be in the future. He lives in fear in this present because of the same reason.

•           Fear of Death: On the one hand fear of future and on the other hand man is afraid of death, In fact it is not the fear of death but about the life after death.

•           Fear of Survival: In this fast moving world, man’s greatest fear is of survival socially, economically, spiritually, educationally in the world.

•           Fear of the Unexpected: The Shepherd saw great light which they were not expecting and they got frightened. We are, all the time, under constant fear of unexpected. There are many more fears apart from these.

Now let us look at some of the reasons of fear:-

•             Sin. Sin brings fears in the lives of human beings.

•             Trust in self rather than God.

•           Failure to be successful. When we assume that we will not be successful, we become fearful.

This Christmas brings the message of hope that we need not to be afraid of these fears. The prophet Isaiah, before the Birth of Christ, prophesied “Say to those with fearful hearts, be strong, do not fear, your God will come, He will come with vengeance, with divine retribution, He will come to serve. (Isaiah 35 : 4) ”

Christmas brings the message of strength and hope to the fearful world. It gives life to the barren land with streams of water.

Christmas reminds that God uses ordinary people for extraordinary work. He spoke to the shepherds about the great shepherd Jesus. He is the glory of God. The message of Christmas is to share His glory on earth and have peace among people. Today we need this peace. It comes when we have peace with God by repenting of our sins and accepting Him in our heart as our personal saviour.

Christmas comes in such a time when we need peace and harmony among us, the incarnating sharing that God, in His love for humanity, became man so that He can communicate with us.

Let us, at this time of Christmas, remember those who are afraid of facing the future, death and poverty that Christ the prince of peace dwells in their hearts and gives them eternal peace. Let us pass this good news of peace and harmony to others and work for a peaceful world.

I wish a happy Christmas and Blessed new year to all.

30
April

Written By: Dr M. A. Wajid

If you'd like to be happier – who wouldn't – the first step may be to challenge your own views about happiness.

May be you think that to be happier, you need more than you have now – more freedom, more money, more love – and so on. Or maybe you've convinced yourself that this is as good as it gets. Such beliefs may be more myths than a fact. Although a myth usually contains a kernel of truth, it can also sprout and grow, spreading seeds of doubt that can ultimately crowd out your own growth.

Here are six common myths about happiness that may actually be downsizing your happiness. The truth may set you free for a happier life, starting right now.

Myth No. 1: Either you have it or you don't.

Two siblings raised under same environment, at times, have opposite personalities – one may be sour, and the other sunny. This makes it hard to dispute the fact that genes play a powerful role in each person's happiness. There's evidence that genetics contributes to about 50% of your happiness set point.

On the other hand, if you do any work, you can become happier, no matter what your set point is. You probably won't go from a one to a ten, but you can become happier. It just takes commitment and effort, as with any meaningful goal in life.

Myth No. 2: Happiness is a Destination.

Many people think of happiness as a destination or acquisition – whether it's marriage, money, or a move to a new location. Sure, things like these can contribute to happiness, but not as much as you might think.

Happiness isn't the emotional finish line in the race of life. It's a process and a resource. A data shows that when people are happier, they become healthier and more curious, sociable, helpful, creative, and willing to try new things.

Myth No. 3: You always Adapt to your Happiness Set Point.

It's true that people tend to adapt fairly quickly to positive changes in their lives. In fact, adaptation is one of the big obstacles to becoming happier. The long-awaited house, the new car, the prestigious job – all can bring a temporary boost, but then recede into the background with time.

Why does this happen? One reason is that we evolve to pay more attention to novelty. For our ancestors, novelty signalled either danger or opportunity.

To help thwart adaptation, you can also use novelty to your advantage. For instance, if your home has become a little old, you might try rearranging furniture or try to bring few changes without spending much of money. It shell start to look good – all new again.

Myth No. 4: Negative emotions always outweigh the Positive ones.

For quite some time, research has indicated that negative emotions are more powerful than positive ones. For example, studies show that people don't have equal reactions to gaining 100 and losing 300. The loss tends to have a stronger effect than the gain.

Negative emotions might edge out positive emotions in the moment, because they're telling you to find a problem and fix it. By contrast, positive emotions appear to win out over time because they let you build on what you have.

We found that as positive emotions go up, there comes a point where negative emotions no longer have a significant negative impact on building resources and changing life satisfaction. Positive emotions won't protect you from feeling bad about things, nor should they. But over time, they can protect you from the consequences of negative emotions.

This may not be true for people with depression or other serious disorders, although they do show benefits when positive emotions are added to conventional psychotherapy.

Myth No. 5: Happiness is all about Hedonism.

There's more to happiness than racking up pleasurable experiences. In fact, helping others – the opposite of hedonism – may be the most direct route to happiness.

"When people help others through formal volunteering or generous actions, about half report feeling a 'helper's high' and 13% even experience alleviation of aches and pains," says a professor of preventive medicine and director of the Centre for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care.

For most people, a pretty low threshold of activity, practiced well, makes a difference. This might involve volunteering just one or two hours each week or doing five generous things weekly – practices that are above and beyond what you normally do.

Mood elevation from helping is associated with a release of serotonin, endorphins – the body's natural opiates – and oxytocin, a "compassion hormone" that reinforces even more helping behaviour.

Could compassion be rooted in our neurobiology? A National Academy of Sciences study showed that simply thinking about contributing to a charity of choice activates a part of the brain called the mesolimbic pathway, the brain's reward centre, which is associated with feelings of joy.

Although just thinking about giving or writing a cheque can increase our levels of happiness, face-to-face interactions seem to have a higher impact. That's because they engage the [brain's] agents of giving more fully through tone of voice, facial expression, and the whole body.

Myth No. 6: One size Fits all

If you're seeking a magic bullet or mystical elixir to enhance your happiness, you're bound to be sorely disappointed. There is no "one size fits all" for happiness.

Instead, there are many ways to boost your happiness. Here are options to try:

• Pick an activity that is meaningful to you. Whether you choose an activity that promotes a sense of gratitude, connectedness, forgiveness, or optimism, you'll be most successful if your choices are personally relevant to you. And, this may also keep you from adapting to them too quickly.

• Assess your strengths and develop practices that best use these gifts. Are you a good cook? Deliver a meal to a handicapped. A retired teacher? Consider tutoring a child. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

• Vary your activities, because promoting happiness is largely a question of finding a good fit. To that end, identify the happiness strategies that you're suited to, such as journalling or calling someone to express gratitude. You can lose your will [to do those activities] if it's not a good fit. And when it comes to happiness, maintaining your will – and acting on it – might just put a pleasurable, meaningful life well within reach.

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30
April

Written By: Capt Ali Tajdar

In a relatively calm evening of 28 June 2012, my younger brother called me to share about news of blast at Khyber Agency resulting in Shahadat of a Captain of Pakistan Army. He was fearful that the officer might be our common friend, Capt Mannan-Ul-Hassan. Since I had seen status update of Capt Mannan on a social media network site in the same morning, so I couldn't imagine him to be the one among the casualties. But by the next morning, news of his Shahadat was everywhere. The confirmation of this news brought a unique type of feelings in me – Feeling the pride to be amongst the close associates of a Shaheed and the feeling to loose a close friend at the same time – Indeed Pakistan lost a great son and Pakistan Army rendered, yet another sacrifice for this motherland.

I wanted to write about Capt Mannan for some time now but could not muster up enough courage. Now, as I sit trying to write and pay tribute to an awesome friend, a beautiful human being and a great soldier, I can only recall his happy and always bursting with life, smiling face. And even now as I sit holding my pen, it is very difficult for me to write about him, as I still feel him to be looking at me.

Captain Mannan-Ul-Hassan (Shaheed) was born on 16th September 1985 at Lahore. He was a born soldier with an unquestioned love for the motherland. After having graduated from Government College (GC), Lahore in 2006, he applied for 118th PMA Long Course and joined Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) on 18th Nov 2006. He later passed out with 30th Graduate Course in October 2007 with flying colours as a Course Under Officer. From PMA, he was posted to 14 Lancers, an Armour Regiment, also known as “Zarb-e-Ghazi” at Bahawalpur. During December 2011, he was inducted to participate in operations at Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and was posted to Mehsud Scouts (Frontier Corps (FC), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).

My proud association with Captain Mannan-Ul-Hassan goes back to the time when we were not in uniform and he was studying at GC Lahore with my brother. He was a brilliant student, a joyous associate, a responsible son, a caring brother, a loving husband, a helping course mate, a fearless comrade, a gallant soldier, a true patriot and an excellent human being. He was known for his courageous initiatives and was reputed as a daring officer who would never hesitate even to face bullets in his chest. His brave and bold actions left no stone unturned to overawe the miscreants. He always volunteered himself to participate in different actions in the inhospitable terrain of FATA. During his operational tenure, he participated in many operations against terrorists. He was assigned with numerous tasks besides the routine duties of leading Quick Reaction Force (QRF), evacuation of casualties, replenishments and escorts.

During 'Operation Mairasar', he along with his men captured “Height 4 (a dominating and tactically important peak)” after a number of attempts. During conduct of this operation, he remained under heavy fire and rocket attack by enemy. However, this brave officer was steadfast and led his men from the front. Later, during March 2012, he was assigned with special task of carrying out “sting operations and raids/ambushes” in the hard core militant areas of Shalobar, Ilam Gudar and Spin Qabar Chowk/Sepah with the best selected team from his Wing (Mehsud Scouts). The officer proved his mettle and caused severe blows to the miscreants in shape of successful raids, ambushes and domination of areas, while chocking free movements of terrorists. As bravery was his hallmark, we now feel that he was destined to be a Shaheed. With the same spirits, on 28 June 2012 at about 1130 hours, during an operation, he was targeted by enemy through Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which was presumably planted for him. Resultantly, Captain Mannan-Ul-Hassan along with seven individuals of his special squad embrassed Shahadat. His undying wish of Shahadat (which he expressed number of times during his stay in Khyber Agency), has laurelled him with immortal success and has made him a role model for the youth of Pakistan. The reality that he was loved by his under command can be proved from the fact that when an injured soldier, who was accompanying Captain Mannan-Ul-Hassan in his vehicle at the time of incident, after regaining his consciousness, asked first question about well being and safety of Captain Mannan and not about his own health. The people around Mannan in FC dearly miss the nichee' created by Mannan.

Whenever I recall him, the reminiscence of his smile, his sense of humour and something special in his eyes which we could not understand at that time, gives me a peculiar feeling. Wherever he would go, he could make friends and always guided them to laugh away the worries of life. He was kind of an individual who could make anyone laugh in the oddest of situations. He was a true manifestation of Hazrat Ali (A.S) statement that “live amongst the people in a way that if you are with them, they enjoy your company and if you are away, they long to be with you”. Captain Mannan-Ul-Hassan got married in February 2011 and has an 8 months old son “Azlaan Hassan”. In-Shah-Allah, when he grows up, people shall tell him about greatness of his father. Capt Mannan embraced Shahadat for a noble cause and paid the price of peace. He used to say that this is my war, this is my country's war and we will win this war for Pakistan. A soldier does not fight for what is against him but for the thing that is behind him. A soldier does not fight for medals or ribbons or a pat on shoulder. A soldier fights for honour and ideology. So many soldiers of Pakistan Army have embraced Martyrdom, so many families have been affected, so many parents have become child less, so many wives have sacrificed their husbands, so many children have lost their fathers and, still the nation continues to be at the back of Pakistan Army. In-Shah-Allah, we will win this war for Pakistan and eliminate these terrorists and enemies of Pakistan and Islam, from our motherland. Long Live Pakistan.

30
April

Written By: Col Dr Muhammad Khan

Among the unresolved issues, currently India and Pakistan are facing four major challenges: the most intractable and complicated Kashmir dispute; water issues; the Siachen issue and Sir Creek dispute. During last one decade, there have been occasions, where both neighbours reached very close to the solutions of some of these issues, but missed the opportunities somehow. Besides, there have been many Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) in last few years to bridge the trust deficit. In order to reinforce the ongoing CBMs, it is essential that these issues should be re-negotiated and settled for bringing permanent peace in this conflict-ridden region of South Asia.

As revealed in a recent report, India is planning to erect a “floating fence” anchored by submerged metallic meshes along the disputed Sir Creek area. India may be considering this step to stop the illegal crossings and arms smuggling, but since the area is disputed, thus any unilateral step would irritate the real claimant of the Creek; Pakistan. Indeed, this Indian step would be a serious setback to the developments reached so far towards the settlement of the issue. In the past too, while taking advantage of the ceasefire, India fenced the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir all along, an effort of permanently dividing the Kashmiris, thus betraying the mutual trust.

Historical Background of Sir Creek

Sir Creek is a strip of area between Pakistan and India in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. It is situated in south east of Karachi, and divides the Kutch region of the Indian state of Gujarat with Sindh province of Pakistan. Both countries have many creeks in the delta region such as Kajhar, Kori, Sir and Pir Sanni creek. The significance of Sir Creek is that it lies between the boundary of India and Pakistan. The far ends starts from Border Pillar (BP) 1175 and other end opens up into the Arabian Sea. A dispute arose on the issue of drawing a dividing line between the two countries. The demarcation becomes significant when the line extends seawards to divide the sea boundary between India and Pakistan. The line then directly affects the division of sea resources including minerals, fish and other marine life between the two countries.

Going over to the history of this dispute, it is worth mentioning that the Bombay Presidency, a British Indian Province established in the 17th century, was divided into four commissionerates and twenty-six districts with Bombay city as its capital. The four divisions were Sindh, Gujarat, Deccan and Karnataka. In 1908, the commissioner of Sindh brought to the notice of government, an act of encroachment on the part of Kutch State and Kutch Darbar was asked for an explanation by Government of Bombay. During several sessions and series of meetings, both representatives of Sindh and Kutch states were provided ample opportunity to explain their positions before final decision. In 1914, with Kutch Darbar awarding a triangular area to Sindh state in the north and some area to Kutch state in south, resolved the issue.

The boundary demarcation as per 1914 resolution was marked on the map B-44. To demark the boundary on land, 66 pillars were erected vertically and 67 pillars were erected horizontally. Last Border Pillar (BP) 1175 was at the far end of the Sir Creek and a green line was marked on the eastern bank of the Sir Creek. Since then, entire Creek is part of the Sindh state (later Pakistan). During recent past history, the question of boundary in the Sir Creek region came up first time for discussion during 1969, when a delegation from the Government of India visited Islamabad for the purpose of actually settling the question of boundary alignment from BP 1175 to Mouth of Sir Creek opening up into the Arabian Sea. Since then twelve rounds of talks and three technical level meetings have been held in this regard but any success could not be met due to Indian evasive attitude.

Sir Creek and 1982 Convention of the Laws of the Sea

A country's rights on the resources of sea have been guaranteed by 1982 Convention of the Laws of the Sea. The said Convention gives additional rights to both India and Pakistan over sea resources up to 200 nautical miles in the water column and up to 350 nautical miles in the land beneath the water column. It also provides principles on the basis of which sea boundaries have to be drawn between the states adjacent to each other with a concave coastline. In short, the land boundary's general course of direction on the land leading up to the coast can make a difference of hundreds of square nautical miles of sea when stretched into the sea as a divider between the said two states. With the adaptation of 1982 Law of the Sea Convention by both countries, the governments have suddenly realised the enormous sea resources that can be lost or won on the basis of the land terminal point where the border between India and Pakistan ends. That is why Sir Creek has now become more contentious than ever before. Besides, both countries are bound to protect their sea-lanes of communications and make efforts for increasing the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area through claiming Continental Shelf by submitting claim to UN Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS). More so, Pakistan has submitted its claim to UNO for increasing the EEZ area through claiming Continental Shelf on 30 April 2009 as the last date for submitting the claims to UN CLCS was 15 May 2009. However, subject claim will not be approved unless Pakistan resolves sea boundaries issues with neighbouring countries; Sir Creek is one such issue that needs to be resolved on priority.

Legal Obligations

The fundamental technical confusion is about the dialogue process which has failed to realise that Sir Creek negotiations is not part of political process alone, but it is actually a clear obligation on the two states under the 1982 Law of Sea Convention. Whether the dialogue process is on or not, both the states have obligations under Article 76 (in respect of Continental Shelf), Article 74 (in respect of the Exclusive Economic Zone) and Article 15 (in respect of the territorial sea) of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention to arrive at a negotiated settlement based on principles of International Law. India could argue that there is no dispute on delimitation of sea boundary and that the present dispute is regarding the international border, which was simmering much before the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention came on line. However, even if this argument is accepted, the obligations under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention remain unfulfilled because the sea boundaries remain undivided. In case both the parties fail to reach an agreement then Part XV of the 1982 Law, which provides for the formal mechanism in respect of settlement of disputes, can be invoked. In the above context, the process of dialogue can authorise resorting to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. Nonetheless, both countries will not be awarded additional area of Continental Shelf for which, claims have already been submitted to UNO.

Indo-Pak Stance on Sir Creek

Pakistan's stance remained consistent that the East Bank of the Sir Creek is the divided line between two states. Whereas India has shifted her stance time and again. More so, joint survey was also carried out from 15 Jan to 18 Feb 2007 to establish the changes in the Geomorphology of the area. Then onwards all meetings/negotiations are being held on the basis of joint survey. Nonetheless, Pakistans stance on the issue is appended below.

• Blue dotted line from pillar 1175 to top of Sir Creek be demarcated with new pillars.

• Demarcate the land boundary along Green line as per resolution map (B-44).

• Maritime boundary be delimited after land boundary dispute is amicably settled.

The Indian stance on the issue is that; the East-West horizontal line (marked by the erected pillars) as the land boundary, the centre of the Navigable Channel up to Sir mouth marked by the dotted lines in 1914/1924 agreements as the MB within Sir Creek and the common BLP at the centre of the Sir Mouth based on already published Navigational Charts. India has also suggested a seaward approach from EEZ. Nonetheless, India has also submitted its claim to UNO for increasing the EEZ area through claiming Continental Shelf on 11 May 2009. But this claim will not be approved unless India resolves sea boundaries issues with neighbouring countries; Sir Creek is one such issue which needs to be resolved on priority. Nonetheless, Indian stance on the issue is appended below.

• Re-erect boundary pillars on the ruins of old pillars that were laid along blue dotted line during 1922-24.

• Demarcate the land boundary along centre of Sir Creek.

• Notwithstanding any settlement of land boundary, maritime boundary be delimited from seaward side, leaving some portion close to the coast undivided.

Horizontal Segment of Sir Creek Horizontal segment is along blue dotted line that was surveyed and 67 pillars were erected along this segment during 1922-24. According to the claims of both the states of Sindh and Kutch as per chart let of 1843 and 1911. However, Bombay Govt. gave final decision on this boundary as per following Para of Resolution.

“Boundary between Kutch & Sindh should be green line in accompanying map from mouth of Sir Creek to top of Sir Creek at point where it joins blue dotted line, from there it should follow blue dotted line due East until it joins Sindh boundary as marked in purple on map, and His Highness Rao has now expressed his willingness to agree to this compromise.” In order to make headway on the issue, it was decided to undertake joint land survey of this segment in 2005. During the survey, only 38 pillars were recovered and the physical position of pillars was almost north side of blue dotted line inside Pakistan territory. Thereby, Pakistan objected that as per 1914 Resolution, the boundary on this segment should be blue dotted line from top of Sir Creek to Boundary Pillar 1175 that is tri junction point between horizontal and purple line. In this regard, stance of both countries on horizontal segment is as follow:

• Pakistan Boundary on horizontal segment must be delineated on straight blue dotted line from top of Sir Creek.

• Indian Boundary on horizontal segment should be on old pillars recovered during joint survey of 2005.

Vertical Segment of Sir Creek

This segment comprises from mouth of Sir Creek till top of this Creek. It was decided that joint hydrographical survey be conducted in order to delineate the present state of this area of deltaic in nature which is prone to changes due to siltation, deposition or any erosion of sediment. Therefore, joint hydrographical survey was conducted during 2007. The joint survey had transpired that significant changes have occurred in the orientation and now creeks have also emerged out of main Sir Creek over a period. In this regard, Pakistan has maintained its historical stance that boundary on this segment is the east bank of Sir Creek. Whereas, Indian stance kept shifting its stances from time to time:

• West bank of Sir Creek in 1969.

• Mid of navigable channel in 1980-90.

• Mid stream since 2008.

Conclusion

Since 1969, there have been twelve rounds of talks besides three technical level meetings between India and Pakistan to resolve the Sir Creek issue. Unfortunately, despite extensive negotiations involving exchange of information on the issue and joint hydro-graphical survey, the issue remains unresolved till date. The fact however remains that it is not a complicated issue provided there is a will among the opposing parties. Indian rigid policies are indeed the biggest hurdles in the solution of the issue. Sir Creek needs to be resolved mutually as both countries have submitted claims to UNO for increasing the EEZ area through claiming Continental Shelf in 2009. These claims however, will not be approved unless both countries are able to resolve sea boundaries issues with each other. Otherwise also, it is for the stability, peace and economic prosperity of South Asia that India and Pakistan must resolve their all-outstanding disputes/issues.

The writer is the Head of International Relations Department at National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
30
April

Written By: Syed Moazzam Hashmi

In a voice doused with highly charged mixture of emotions, sentiments, patriotism and zeal, my Afghan colleague in a political workshop, was advocating the desire that all external elements should immediately leave Afghanistan after fixing all the nagging issues in the war torn country. I couldn't resist, and without touching the emotional fragility of his sentiments, I spontaneously placed the phrase “There's no such thing as a free lunch”. The group participants could feel the screeching full breaks applied by my Afghan friend to his free flowing desires. With the jaw drop down, in a brief moment of pin drop silence, his mind started exposing to the illumination of the other side of the coin.

The ossifying perception in the West, particularly in Washington that Pakistan's role should be restricted to a tightly squeezed parameter in the 2014 Afghanistan, also needs to be enlightened with certain ground realities. However, what makes the overcautious West review that Pakistan should not be allowed to play its desired role in the political and security sectors in the developing scenario of Afghanistan, especially in the 2014 and beyond? Is it the controversial recent history that is not restricted to one country alone, but covers the entire canvas of the bigger picture exhibiting all bands of spectrums painted in the name of various national interests – the interests that antagonise quite often, though. If it had come to that extent than stakeholders with larger involvement must be having a larger collection of skeletons in their own closets!

Neither the foreseen post 2014 scenario in the region suggests a wide open pasture for everyone to graze on nor is it possible that Afghanistan would turn into a “pest” free zone! Whereas the possibilities are also almost nonexistent that the landlocked nation with intensive multi-ethnic, linguistic, socio-cultural and economic compulsions, it share around its borders, would draw an iron curtain! Pakistan's persistent demand of having a significant role in the political and security sectors in Afghanistan might not be rhetoric, as certain quarters in the West believe. But, a legitimate demand based on concrete strategic ground realities. It also envelop guarantees to the peace and stability in the region after the planned massive drawdown of foreign troops from the Afghan soil from 2014 onward. After an apparent shrinking size of the pie left for Pakistan in the development sectors of Afghanistan, strategic value and legitimacy of Pakistan's essential role in the political and security sectors across the border grows many folds. Particularly, when there would be no or little room left for Pakistan to revert back and grab any opportunities in the development sectors – Pakistan's importance as a pivot takes the central role in harmonising the bilateral and multilateral ties to ensure regional peace and stability.

The misadventures of non-state actors might be one of the stumbling blocks against forging the national strategic interest next door, particularly in the presence of deepening strategic economic assets of India in Afghanistan. In a both-ends-burning kind of a situation, if Pakistan's role in the development of political and security sectors of Afghanistan insecures India, any Indian advancement in this regard would not be acceptable to Pakistan.

However, the topography of the borderland area between Afghanistan and Pakistan makes it practically impossible to fence an ever permeable international divide, which had never been a barrier to the cross border relations bonded by the ethnic Pashtun linguistic cohesion. Whereas Pakistani Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's milestone address on the country's Independence Day on August 14 categorically set the parameters of the adopted realistic policy in addressing the issue of non-state actors and other disturbing elements. The Taliban factor – why Pakistan is essential in any negotiation process with the Taliban? This entity might not be a significant decisive factor in making the future government in Afghanistan, but it would hold seats in the Parliament and muster influence on the Pashtun-factor, in any type of government that would form in Afghanistan. The ethnic-linguistic factor acquires more importance, especially when the Afghan president has to be a Pashtun in an ethnic Pashtun majority country, who practically cannot escape the shadow of his other Pashtun brothers supporting the Taliban turban! In any case, the Taliban factor would have spill-over influence on the Pakistani Pashtun speaking belt, the impact of which has now flowed down to even Karachi. Hence, why Pakistan essentially be part of any decision making regarding any negotiations with the Taliban, should not be difficult to understand.

Pakistan was involved in the negotiation process with the Taliban whenever the United States felt Pakistan's discomfort in the continuation of its support in the war against terrorism – a bumpy graph defines various episodes of Pakistan's involvement in the negotiation process with the Taliban during the past few years, whether it had been the Abu Dhabi and the Qatar Process, and/or Istanbul or the Bonn Conference. The Haqqani Network or HQN might not be a household name in Afghanistan, but it certainly holds significance when it comes to the futuristic angle in the developments across the western borders. Probably it's the 'independent mind Pakistan' that would be causing hiccups in regarding acceptance of the reality of Pakistan’s role in the NATO alliance policies toward this region.

The issue is not whether the inflexible Hakimullah Mehsud is leading the Pakistani side of the Taliban or the pragmatic Wali-ur-Rehman as his possible consensus replacement. But, the Taliban issue is not just the Pashtun issue but the flashpoint triggering instability, insecurity and continuing terrorism in the region. It can dampen the hopes for a thriving trade and energy corridor that runs from Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan into the warm waters of Arabian Sea. And, it is where the regional and international strategic interests converge! Another factor that deserves remedial attention is meeting the challenge of recruiting, and training the projected 350,000 security forces in Afghanistan by end 2013 to significant confidence level of operating on its own – an arduous – task at the moment. Pakistan would directly be in the line-of-fire viz the efficiency of the security apparatus and the law and order situation in Afghanistan, particularly after the massive withdrawal of the multinational troops in Afghanistan.

What Peshawar had been experiencing for the past many years as a consequence of its participation in the war-against-terror, the similar heat is now being felt in other urban centres across Pakistan. Hence, the argument regarding Pakistan's role in the political and security sectors in Afghanistan certainly makes sense.

A peaceful, prosperous and stable Pakistan would not only guarantee the similar conditions in Afghanistan and/or the vise versa in general and for the entire region in particular where the regional and international players hold stakes. Pakistan has accommodated India to take lead in the development sector while easing its nervousness on the eastern border while Pakistan expects the similar kind of reciprocity in addressing issues on its western border with Pakistan.

If the world expects Pakistan to be more pragmatic in its approach, it needs to appreciate and respect the gravity of Pakistan's need to play the possible future role in Afghanistan. As it often echoes around in the international quarters – Pakistan has suffered most in the war-against-terror with sacrifices of over 3,500 soldiers and officers, in addition to devastating socio-economic blows to the inner fabric of its polity. Hence, just like “There is no such thing as a free lunch”, all stakeholders, particularly the presence of foreign elements would remain in Afghanistan, be it in the name of investment, development, political, strategic or security spheres, and so does Pakistan's interest and its pivotal importance. If Washington expects Pakistan to play a more positive role in the post 2014 Afghanistan, with added responsibility of an enhanced role in guaranteeing the regional peace and stability, it must also appreciate the legitimacy and essentiality of the genuine interest, Pakistan holds in Afghanistan for its own stability, survival and prestige, and that of others in the contemporary regional and international affairs.

The writer is a senior journalist and an independent political & security analyst. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
30
April

Written By: Usman Saeed

Pakistan and India friendly relations have always been less than cordial and marred by bitter events since partition of the subcontinent. Creation of Pakistan was an outcome of immense politico-economic, cultural and social frustration suffered by Muslims at the hands of Hindus who enjoyed close links with the British rulers in India. They could keep the Muslims off the main stream by closing doors of higher education, key civil services and social eminence through active collusion with the British Indian Empire. The credit goes to the Muslims of those times that despite so many odds, a very high class political leadership still emerged who could then steer the Muslims to win freedom.

Fortunately, the Muslims joined British Indian Armed Forces in large numbers, rendered outstanding military services, sacrifices and won laurels for the British Indian Empire in World Wars and other military campaigns. The war service won Muslims respect from the British Empire. Movement of independence leading to creation of Pakistan was a shock for Hindus and retaliation in worst form was inevitable. Influx of two million more refugees than those who migrated out of Pakistan, highly disproportionate release of share of finance and assets, discriminatory Indian Congress sponsored boundary award resulting in indefensible boundaries, closure of water canals, merciless genocide of migrating Muslims, forced accession of princely states of Junagadh, Manavadhar, Jodhpur, Hyderabad, Mangrol, and Kashmir created a big thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations at the outset. Thereafter, three Indo-Pakistan wars of 1948,1965 & 1971, Indian occupation of Siachen Glacier in 1984, world's third largest Indian Armed Forces with strategic orientation against Pakistan and above all, inflexible stance on Kashmir and Siachen issues have been major impediments in normalisation of diplomatic relations. Both the Indian and Pakistani Armies came nearer to war in 1986-87 during Indian Exercise Brass Tacks and later during the year 2001-02 after 9/11 episode in the U.S. The borders were occupied by both the armies but war was averted after foreign diplomatic initiatives. Provision of covert military support to terrorist factions operating in Pakistan and upcoming chain of new dams in IHK are other serious issues for Pakistan. Notwithstanding above issues straining our relations, Pakistani nation has been magnanimous to forget the bitter events less Kashmir, Siachen and Water dams in IHK and is also keen on developing intimate ties in the fields of economy, culture, tourism and trade. Visit of three Prime Ministers of India i.e. Nehru in 1960, Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 and Vajpayee in 1998, were warmly welcomed in Pakistan. There were exchange of dialogues on many issues, and agreements were signed on culture and trade but there was no headway on key disputes of Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, water dams in IHK and covert support to dissident elements working in Pakistan.

Indian rigid stance on Kashmir and other core disputes possibly stems from a fake hope that Pakistan will relinquish her justified claims and settle as per Indian terms under tremendous politico-economic and military pressures exerted by her in concert with other global powers. Towards this end, the India has successfully propped her superior politico-economic, social, cultural and military image to the world by distorting realities, masking wide spread poverty, illetracy, socio-economic deprivations, discriminatory policies against the minorities including Dalits (the untouchables) in the country.

The internal destabilising environments in India are far more than what we find in Pakistan. Thirty armed insurgency movements are sweeping across the country. These can be divided into movements for political rights (e.g. Assam, Kashmir and Khalistan [Punjab]), movements for social and economic justice (e.g. Maoist [Naxalite] and north-eastern states), and religious grounds (e.g. Laddakh). Thus India faces more grave challenges to her internal stability than Pakistan.

Pakistan is situated at the strategic cross roads of Asia controlling vital segment of land routes from China to Mediterranean coast via Iran-Turkey and from India to Russia via Afghanistan and Central Asian States. India on the contrary holds no such space and offers no strategic advantages to Pakistan. A politico-economic and militarily strong Pakistan having friendly relations with India offers more economic and foreign trade opportunities to India as she can develop rail/road trade and tourism travels via Pakistan to Europe, Middle East and Central Asia. Similarly, energy lines from CARs via Pakistan to India can meet substantial domestic/commercial energy needs of India. Contrary to this, Pakistan can at best, promote land route trade and tourism up to Bangladesh.

The first move on settlement of key disputes must come from India. Kashmir should be on top of the agenda. Old proposals from General McNaughton of UNCIP for demilitarisation followed by Plebiscite, and Sir Owen Dixon plan are workable solutions and require extensive bilateral dialogues to arrive at permanent settlement. The UNSC passed the McNaughton Proposals as basic principle leading to plebiscite. USA, UK, Cuba and Norway, sponsored a resolution recommending demilitarisation on the basis of McNaughton proposals.

Pakistan accepted the proposal but India declined. Justice Oven Dixon–an Australian Judge appointed by the UNSC as Chief Administrator of UNCIP came up with a plan for division of Kashmir. He assigned Ladakh to India, the Northern Areas and AJK to Pakistan, split Jammu between the two, and envisaged a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan declined at first, but agreed. India however refused to accept the plan. Chenab Formula emerged in late nineties, when India and Pakistan were engaged on track-2 diplomacy and considered plebiscite in Kashmir on regional/district basis, division of Jammu province along Chenab River on communal lines, maximum autonomy to Kashmir valley/adjoining areas and annexation of the remaining areas of Jammu province and Ladakh region by India.

Water is another major dispute straining relations. Baglihar, Kishanganga, Sawalkot, Pakuldul, Bursar, Gyspa, Dal Huste dams will give India significant capacity to store water and cause an extensive damage to Pakistan. India will do well if Pakistan's worst fears are addressed now. Next on agenda should be the Sir Creek issue which is easiest of all to settle. Pakistan lays claim to the entire Creek in accordance with Bombay Government Resolution of 1914 which states that Boundary between Kutch and Sindh lies “to the east of the Creek”. India, on the other hand, claims that the boundary lies mid-channel as per international law applied on navigable water. Pakistan's view is that the entire 96 km disputed waterstrip is a marshland and non-navigable. Both the countries cannot seek assistance of Geodetic Information Fusion Technologies (GIFT) or any other latest technologies to determine whether the water strip was navigable or otherwise? Siachen Glacier is another dispute that can be resolved by unconditional pull back of troops to 1984 lines. A sincere commitment and political-will mainly from Indian side to resolve the disputes will usher in bright future for people of both the countries who will then work together for prosperity, peace, security and shining future of their next generations.

The writer is a retired Brigadier and Ex. Director 'Awareness and Prevention Division' NAB. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
30
April

Written By: Maj Gen Muhammad Khalid HI (M)

“Many great actions are committed in small struggles” (Victor Hugo)

The dynamics of the universe revolves around a simple molecular force that holds the fragile balance in check with great dexterity: The actions of man and the resulting consequences. Thus, no being is free from the shackles of the long standing effects of one's actions. This is the principal basis, rather the philosophy of mortal life. After a certain period of time, every individual looks back at his actions, their immediate results, consequences and more importantly, their long term effects in shaping his life and of those around him. Prince or pauper, rich or poor, statesman or dictator; no one is an exception to this fact. The United Nations (UN) is one such global organisation which has reached out to the far corners of the globe and has done extensive work resulting in long term sustenance of peace in the world.

I have extensive experience of UN Peacekeeping Missions, having served two tenures in different parts of the globe. But there is one remarkable unit, whose sincere efforts and personalised interest in nation building will always be remembered by all citizens of Kailahun District, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone. For an Infantry soldier, life revolves around one's unit, commonly known as 'paltan'. The unit is none other than my very own 'BA KAMAAL' 31st Battalion, The Baloch Regiment.

This is my parental battalion and I still repent on missing out on the opportunity of serving under the UN flag as part of the unit. I had been told that the unit had done more than their fair share in the uplift of the Sierra Leonese Nation. Little did I know that fate would take a strange turn and I would visit Sierra Leone as a member of UN's senior leadership; Force Commander United Nations Mission in Liberia. The unit first set feet on the soil of this war torn nation on 26th Jul 2001. The country was shaken to its bones by three successive military coups. War Lords had divided the country into small zones of influence and along with it, the people. The militias were the judge, jury and executioners, all rolled into one. Their greed led to the formation of an innovative but blood curdling term, 'Blood Diamonds'. The diamonds mined in conflict areas were sold to the international black market to purchase arms leading to the shedding of blood of the innocent. The unit was assigned the toughest zone, Kailahun District.

Many years had passed since the unit's deployment but when I visited this district in May 2011, it was quite astonishing that a few locals identified the Pakistani flag on my uniform and before long I was thronged by a crowd clapping and cheering. Then a group of the tribal elders came forward and told me that the joy of the people is related to the mammoth humanitarian work undertaken by a Pakistani Battalion years ago in the same area. It brought a smile to my face as I tallied the year of deployment with that of my Paltan. I was told that the first task undertaken by the unit was to consolidate their hold and to win the trust of locals.

This was tactfully and professionally achieved by a three pronged approach:-

• Meetings with the heads of various ethnic and religious groups.

• Active patrolling and flag marches.

• Active participation in the infrastructural rebuilding by utilising the unit resources along with UN allocated resources. Thus, the troops had left the area after completion of tenure but the deeds still brought laurels to our National Flag.

On my cramped up schedule, was a visit to a small police station manned by local police personnel. When I entered, the officer in-charge told me that due to the war, the long standing conflicts had sowed the seeds of hatred which were very deeply rooted. Men had been divided on the basis of ethnicity, religion, language, political allegiance and tribes etcetera. Each party had its own militia of mercenaries, child soldiers and criminals for so called protection. Anarchy was prevalent. A Pakistani Unit embarked on the Herculean task of disarmament, aided by the remnants of the local police. They organised, trained and restored the confidence of the local police and also that of the locals on their police force. I was flabbergasted and lost in thought for a moment on the realisation of the simple fact that no man is above the consequences of his deeds. My next stop was the District Council offices. I was received by the head of the Council. The gentleman showed me the plaque on the building. It stated that is was built by my unit – the BA KAMAAL. He also narrated that the Pakistani troops rebuilt the district administrative infrastructure which had been razed to the ground then. That is how the district level and town level councils became functional, record offices reopened and the civil administrative engine was slowly and steadily pushed on the right track. The district head also showed me around the vocational training institutes, from where a sizeable number of youth graduate as skilled workers to take up their place, as respectable citizens of the society and bread earners of their families. This project was started in a shack by the unit craftsmen of my Paltan, as I learned. Thus, the wheels of progress had been set into motion.

I visited the local health clinic. It was modest but well equipped. I was enlightened to watch it because due to the war, health sector had suffered the most. Qualified doctors were either murdered or had fled the country due to safety reasons. There was no health infra structure and locals relied on quacks or witch doctors. Infant mortality rate was at an all time high while life expectancy was the other way around. The Regimental Medical Officers (RMOs) of my unit had set up a small health clinic in the heart of the Kailahun town and held free medical camps. Free medicines were also distributed by the unit; thus, evolving the first basic health and life support infra structure.

Next on the list were local places of worship. I met the local Imam and the local Priest. I was informed that being a Muslim Army, our troops proved that we are the flag bearers of inter faith harmony. The unit rebuilt the local Masaajid and at the same time, renovated and restored the places of worship of other faiths; for which they are greatly revered. The local Masjid still had the sign board with the letters inscribed in stone; another gift from my unit. In short, the tenacious efforts of the great soldiers turned around the war ravaged area and thus they again proved to be the best of men that this soil has produced. After almost a decade, the locals fondly remember the selfless men who came to the other corner of the globe, with a green flag and a star, and won the hearts of the people through persistent hard work, determination and vision par excellence. My rich tributes to the men who enter a battle ground with the motto 'Ghazi ya Shaheed'.

The Pharaohs of Egypt are nothing but dust in their mummified tombs, the Caesars of Rome are gone along with their Colosseum, the Nazis are but a distant memory and so are the Csars of Russia have been done away with. All that is left behind is the legacy; the deeds which shaped the course of a nation's history and led them to the pinnacle of power and then the eternal doom. Thus, the structures erected and uplift done by the unit have mellowed down but the memories still are fresh in the minds of those locals and that is all that matters. Hats off to 31 Baloch Regiment the BA – KAMAAL.

The writer has served as Force Commander of United Nation Mission at Liberia from 2010-2012.
30
April

Written By: Dr Zafar Mahmood

With the recent U.S. economic data showing a sharp rise in food prices and the evidence that importers world-wide are busy in stockpiling grains, sugar and other food items, has created fear that perhaps the 2008 global food crisis may be repeated. The increase in food prices has created alarming situation especially in net food importing countries. In Indonesia, for instance, the Tofu Industry has threatened to go on for a strike over rising soybean prices and in Mexico, the cost of Corn Tortillas is on the rise because of a sharp rise in corn prices in global markets. How about Pakistan? Here everyone is complaining for sometimes about rise in food prices; of course partly for different reasons. Given the global demand and supply situation, available forecasts suggest that food prices are likely to rise in the near future. This, in turn, will definitely threaten the food prices and security situation in Pakistan as well. Therefore, precautionary and remedial measures would be timely required from the government. Distressed by the worst drought in USA over five decades, a jump of 30-50% in benchmark corn, wheat and soybean prices is reviving the memories of the world's last food crisis stricken in 2007-08, and as a result large food consumer countries are bracing for a renewed round of food inflation. With growing concern, such countries have started securing food that is putting a lot of pressure on their national budgets. If these countries started stockpiling or stepped into panic-buying, that could trigger a price rally. At this juncture, export bans or quotas and export taxes by food exporting countries can worsen the on-going price surge.

So far, however, there are few signs of panic but concern is definitely on rise. Indeed, some net food importing countries which have pending stocks of agricultural commodities, have been putting off purchases in the hope that prices may fall, traders say. "They are just hoping they can temper their purchases until expectations of another harvest”, they argue. Perhaps they are following Japan's official weather bureau which maintains that, its climate monitoring data and models that predict the El Nino phenomenon, has already emerged and is likely to last until the coming winter, so a good crop in the next season may bring back happiness for net food importing countries.

The impact of food inflation will of course vary from country to country. Those that need to import less, either because of domestic bumper crops or sagacious stockpiling when prices were lower, will be less affected. Egypt, a net wheat importer, for example says that its wheat imports would be about 20% lower than last year, due to a record domestic wheat production.

Other countries, however, have not been so fortunate. Morocco, for example, is likely to have its smallest wheat crop in five years due to dry weather. Indian farmers have suffered from a weak monsoon this year (20% less rain this season than the average). In Pakistan, next crop of wheat may suffer too as the water stock forecast shows that the availability of water may be 50% lower than the normal availability level.

Besides, the strengthening of dollar is another cause of worry for net food importing countries. Unlike in 2007-08, when the rise in grain prices coincided with a weaker dollar, this time the reverse is happening. The dollar linked food cost is likely to increase misery for net food importers. For example, while benchmark Chicago Corn Futures are currently trading 6% above their 2008 peak in dollar terms, but when the price is converted in the Egyptian Pound, corn is 21% above its 2008 high, and in the Mexican Peso, it is 37% higher. Thus, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations concludes: "it may be that we see some economic problems happening again in net food importing countries." Despite its own bumper wheat crop, the issue is especially severe for Egypt, which has suffered a sharp drop in its foreign exchange reserves in the wake of last year's political turmoil. Egypt is already facing the balance of payments problems, irrespective of the food price shock. But the rise in food price is likely to aggravate its external payments situation. Ultimately, however, the most severe impact will be on the poor and vulnerable groups in developing countries, including in Pakistan, which spend almost all of their income on buying food from the market. Not only do higher prices reduce their ability to buy food in sufficient quantities, but it also means that aid/donor agencies can buy less food to assist them, given their budgetary resources.

High food prices provide an opportunity for farmers. But the problem is that many of the farmers are small holders of land and don't produce enough food even for themselves, let alone to sell in the market. So these small farmers in fact buy food from the market. On the other hand, many small farmers do not have access to the markets where prices are higher nor the financial resources they need for inputs like fertiliser to increase their yields. Thus, high food prices make small farmers more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity instead of benefitting them. There are several things that government can do to cope with the situation. A key one is to scale up 'social safety nets' such as Beit-ul-Mal schemes, Child and Mother nutrition programmes and School Meals Programmes for poor families. It's also crucial to support small farmers who are likely to suffer from rising food prices by giving them appropriate technology to raise their productivity and ensuring easy and timely access to agricultural inputs. Pakistan fortunately has sufficient stocks of wheat and the wheat prices are controlled by the government. So our poor consumers, with government support may not be hurt. But our exporters will be inclined to benefit from the situation and they would like to export more at rising international prices of food. Unchecked export of wheat from the country will definitely raise its prices in the domestic market and may thus severely affect those who buy food from the market. Therefore, government will have to move cautiously while allowing export of wheat and rice to earn more foreign exchange, and must take necessary measures and actions to stop smuggling of food items.

Government of Pakistan is planning to take two major steps to solve the food security issues on permanent basis. The first step is to establish the National Food Security Council representing federal, provincial and local level governments. Secondly, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research in collaboration with the World Food Programme, is launching the Zero Hunger Program worth U.S. $ 1.6 billion to address the food security issue. Such measures need to be encouraged for their effective implementation in an orderly manner.

The writer is an HEC Foreign Professor and presently on the faculty of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
30
April

Written By: Dr Tughral Yamin

We in Pakistan tend to go overboard about our 'all weather' friendship with China. But upon asking anybody in the streets of Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi about leadership of this friendly country and a blank look is expressed. On 15 November 2012, Vice President Xi Jinping was elected to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Communist Party China (CPC) Central Military Commission by the party central committee. He had been the heir apparent for the last five years. Xi will become the President of the People's Republic of China next March. He and fellow Politburo standing committee member, Li Keqiang, who is also the Prime Minister designate, are in their late fifties and are young by Chinese leadership standards.

Xi has an impressive CV. He comes from an established background. He is referred to by the western press as a 'princeling' i.e. his father was a pioneering member of the Chinese Communist Party, fought alongside Mao and subsequently occupied senior party positions. He was not only an aide of Mao but also that of Deng. He is also credited with the Shenzhen miracle (1978-80) – the Special Economic Zone that contributed significantly to China's opening up and reform.

However, what is little known is that Xi's father was sent to jail for showing dissent. He remained behind bars for fifteen year, while Xi Jinping was sent to the countryside for re-education. Geng Biao (1909-2000) a senior Communist Party official, who became the Defence Minister of China and also served as the Ambassador to Pakistan, had arranged for Xi's relocation. Xi would later become Geng's secretary and learn about military matters. In the village he was exposed to suffering of the poor people. Through sheer hard work, Xi became party secretary of the village. It was through his innovation that the village was kept warm during the winter through the use of biogas. Xi attended Tsinghua University and as he rose through the ranks, he was sent to Zhengding and then to Fujian in the south of China by Hu Yaobang, the Party's leader at the time. The province was rampantly corrupt and one of China's most notorious criminals, Lai Changxing had bought off most of the local Communist party cadres and police. But Xi was left untouched by the scandal and subsequent investigation. He distinguished himself as a cautious official, averse to the grand projects that his contemporaries favoured. For his life partner, Xi chose a glamorous opera singer and his only daughter now studies in Harvard. According to Professor Zhou Rong, the resident editor of the Chinese Guangming daily in Islamabad, Xi Jinping is “not aggressive and he avoids the use of communist clichés.” He is certainly not one to go back to the traditional thinking of Mao and firmly believes in the open door policy of Deng. He is a product of the grassroots and is very much concerned about the welfare of the common man. The new leadership would stick to its traditional preference for policy continuity and would refrain from making major changes. It is unlikely that there would be a revision in the relationship with India and Pakistan. The trade relations between India and China are likely to improve and while the Chinese would not push the border disputes with India. However, they are not likely to forget these completely either and would continue to monitor India's growing military might including the development of new Agni missiles that can reach deep targets in its mainland. During Xi's leadership, the Chinese economy is likely to overtake that of the United States.

The speech of the new Secretary General at the conclusion of the 18th session of the Central Party Session at the Great People's Hall focussed on domestic issues like fighting corruption and improving the life of the common people. There was no mention about Taiwan, the dispute with Japan or the U.S. Pacific Policy to contain China. The only part remotely concerning foreign relations was neutral and friendly. Xi concluded the speech by saying “Friends from the press, China needs to learn more about the world, and the world also needs to learn more about China. I hope you will continue to make more efforts and contributions to deepening the mutual understanding between China and the countries of the world.” One notable feature of the new change is that President Hu has handedover the reins of the Chinese Military Command (CMC) to his successor. This is a rarity in Chinese politics. Previous leaders had hung on to the Military Command to maintain their influence even after they had relinquished the top post of the Chinese Communist Party. The transition in Chinese leadership has been smooth and the long term Chinese policies are likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

The writer is a retired Brigadier and PhD. Presently he is Part of Faculty of Contemporary Studies (NDU), Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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