Written By: Dr M. A. Wajid

Dear Readers! Tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable deaths globally. Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer. It also causes peripheral vascular disease and hypertension. The effects depend on the number of years that a person smokes and on how much the person smokes. Starting smoking earlier in life and smoking cigarettes higher in tar increases the risk of these diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths in 2004 and 100 million deaths over the course of the 20th century.

Health Effects: A person's increased risk of contracting disease is directly proportional to the length of time that a person continues to smoke as well as the amount smoked. However, if someone stops smoking then these chances gradually decrease as the damage to the body is repaired. A year after quitting, the risk of contracting heart disease is half than someone who continues to smoke. The health risks of smoking are not uniform across all smokers. Risks vary according to amount of tobacco smoked, with those who smoke more at greater risk. Light cigarette smoking still poses a significant (though reduced) health risk, as does pipe and cigar smoking. Smoking so-called "light" cigarettes, does not reduce the risk.

Overall life expectancy is also reduced in regular smokers, with estimates ranging from 10 to 17.9 years fewer than non-smokers. The association of smoking with lung cancer is strongest. People who have smoked tobacco at some point have about a one in ten chance of developing lung cancer during their lifetime whereas people who continue to smoke tobacco, the risk increases to one in six.

Few of the glaring after effects are as under:

Mortality: Male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 to 14.5 years of life, respectively. Smokers are three times as likely to die before the age of 60 or 70 as non-smokers. On a worldwide basis, this equates to a single jumbo jet every hour.

Cancer: Besides very common lungs cancer, the kidney neck, breast, bladder pancreas and stomach, and liver may be attached by cancer due to smoking.

Pulmonary: Long term exposure to smoking causes pulmonary damage leading to emphysema and COPD, respiratory infections and asthma.

Cardiovascular: The moment an individual inhales tobacco smoke, it causes several immediate responses including increased heart rate by as much as 30% during the first 10 minutes of smoking and it also increases chance of heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease and Buerger's disease. People under 40 years of age are 5 times more likely to have a heart attack, if they smoke. Smoking also tends to increase blood cholesterol levels, lowers ratio of HDL ("good" cholesterol) to LDL ("bad" cholesterol). LDL tends to be lower in smokers as compared to non-smokers. Smoking also raises the levels of fibrinogen and increases platelet production.

All these factors make smokers more at risk of developing various forms of arteriosclerosis.

Renal: Increases the risk of kidney cancer, and renal damage. A history of smoking encourages the progression of diabetic nephropathy.

Oral: The most serious oral condition is oral cancer, affecting lip, tongue, mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, and lung, including periodontitis or inflammation around the teeth, gingival recession, mucosal lesions, halitosis or bad breath, tooth loss, leukoplakia, including loss of taste sensation or salivary changes.

Impotence: Incidence of impotence is approximately 85 % higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers.

Female Infertility: Smoking is harmful to the ovaries, potentially causing female infertility and the degree of damage is dependent upon the amount and length of time a woman smokes. Smokers are 60% more likely to be infertile than non-smokers.

Psychological: Although Smokers often report that cigarettes help relieve feelings of stress which is wrong. However the stress levels of adult smokers are slightly higher than those of nonsmokers. Nicotine dependency seems to exacerbate stress.

Social and Behavioural: Medical researchers have found that smoking is a predictor of divorce. Smokers have a 53% greater chance of divorce than nonsmokers.

In Pregnancy: Tobacco smoking is a significant factor in miscarriages among pregnant smokers, and that it contributes to a number of other threats to the health of the fetus including lower infant birth weights. Women who smoke have about a 50% higher chance of giving birth to a child with behavioural disorders, such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

Passive Smoking: Passive smoking is the inhalation, usually involuntary, of second-hand smoke from tobacco products by non-smokers or persons other than the intended 'active' smoker. Any person exposed to passive smoking may experience short-term symptoms such as a headache, a cough, wheezing, an eye irritation, a sore throat, nausea or dizziness. Adults with asthma may also experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed to secondhand smoke. Under these conditions it can take as little as half an hour for an individual's coronary blood flow to become reduced.

Most children & ladies at home / public places suffer from this forced inhalation and is more or less, harmful of them. It was estimated that prolonged exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, such as in the home, increases the risk of lung cancer by approximately 20 to 25%.

The Benefits to quit Smoking:

Immediate: The immediate benefits of quitting smoking are substantial:

•           Heart rate and blood pressure begin to return to normal.

•           Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline.

•           Within a few weeks, there is improvement of circulation, decreased phlegm, cough/wheeze.

•           Within several months substantial improvements in lung function.

Long-Term: In the longer run, quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease and COPD. People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness:

•           Quitting at age 30 reduces their chance of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases by more than 90 %.

•           Quitting at age 50 reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 50 % compared with those who continue to smoke.

•           Quitting at age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.

Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer. However, it takes a number of years after quitting for the risk of cancer to start to decline.

Research proves that there are many reasons that people diagnosed with cancer should also quit smoking. For those having surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatments, quitting smoking helps improve the body's ability to heal and respond to therapy, it also lowers the risk of pneumonia and respiratory failure. Moreover, quitting smoking may lower the risk of the cancer returning or a second cancer developing.

Few boys and girls begin to smoke to ease their tensions and few take it as a style to impress opposite genders. Both theories are wrong and misleading. There should be a proactive approach by parents, siblings, spouses, children and friends to stop each other to smoke. By and large, smoking is an established killer and should be discouraged at all level. Get help to quit smoking. Contact your physician or health councilor for advice on alternative to smoking including Tobacco patches, chewing gums, sweet's cigarettes, and other smoke addiction therapies.

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Written By: Maj Gen (Retd) Salim Ullah

April is a pleasant month in Pakistan. In the plains especially, it is a month when the spring is in its prime with fragrant flowers of all hues in full blossom. The country-side wears a lush green look. In 1959, April had added charm: it brought along Eid-ul-Fitr, the Islamic occasion of festivities marking the culmination of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. Men and women, young and old, look forward to it alike. Youngsters receive their 'Eidi' and gifts are lavishly exchanged among relatives and friends. Workers away from homes have holiday plans drawn up way in advance to rejoin their families in festival. Eid-ul-Fitr on 10th April 1959, however, remains historic for another reason. The break of dawn promised a clear, pleasant day. At 08.00 in the morning, the vast majority were preparing for the Eid congregation while at places the prayer was already in progress. Across the eastern border some mischievous minds were looking forward to the opportunity with sinister designs. The Indian Air Force (IAF) had inducted state-of-the-art photo-reconnaissance aircraft in its inventory and had trained extensively for some time now. It was about time it was tasked an operational mission. And what better occasion! There was complete peace in the Sub-continent; even the normally turbulent Kashmir was relatively quiet. Pandit Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, had invited President Ayub Khan for a refuelling stop meeting at Delhi airport enroute to East Pakistan later during the year which the President of Pakistan had thankfully accepted. Quiet diplomacy had prepared ground to chart out a way forward for resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Thus a perfect smoke screen existed to cover a sneaky espionage mission. The unsuspecting Pakistanis would be celebrating Eid with their guard lowered, the cunning Indian planners thought. Before the PAF detected the spy aircraft and scrambled a response the Indian intruders would be safely back. Besides, the PAF had no interceptors on its inventory with a high ceiling operational capability. The odds were heavily favourable.

The top secret operation was discussed and approved at the highest level in Delhi. A sense of anxious euphoria pervaded the bomber-photo reconnaissance fleet for the closely guarded mission. Days of planning off the map and rehearsals in near-identical air environment to respond to multiple operational possibilities were supervised by senior commanders. Eventually, at 07.30 in the morning of 10th April, 1959 a Canberra B(I)58 took off from Ambala and headed towards the western border. The English Electric Canberra is a first generation jet-powered light bomber manufactured in large numbers through the 1950s. It proved to be highly adaptable, serving in varied roles of tactical bombing and reconnaissance photographic, electronic and meteorological. In Indian Air Force (IAF) the Canberra had been inducted two years earlier commencing in 1957. Three basic variants were customised and purpose-built for the IAF as B(I).Mk.58, TT.Mk.418 and PR.Mks.57 and 67. Additional aircraft were acquired from the Royal Air Force and a smaller number from the Royal New Zealand Air Force making a total of 91 in the inventory. India eventually emerged as the world's largest importer of the Canberra, equipping seven IAF squadrons. The intruding aircraft was operated by No.106 Lynxes Strategic Photo Reconnaissance (SPR) Squadron. It was flown by Sqn Ldr J.C. Sen Gupta (pilot) and Flt Lt S.N. Rampal (navigator).

This bird prided itself with a large payload mixing and matching a compatible configuration. A 20 mm gun pack with 500 rounds was fitted in the belly alongside rails under the wings. An extremely high endurance and range with a two to three crew capacity afforded it enormous flexibility. This was the first combat aircraft in the IAF equipped with an autopilot and modern avionics. A tail-facing radar warning receiver called “Orange Putter” provided early warning from chasing interceptors and helped the pilot in taking evasive manoeuvres. To crown it all, it could fly at an altitude higher than any other bomber of the time having already set a world record of 70,310 feet in 1957. For it the Canberra was a very agile aircraft. Its features lent it a distinct edge over its peers in diverse roles such as long-range reconnaissance, counter-interdiction, electronic warfare, and suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD). Small wonder that the Canberra continued to remain on active duty in the IAF outlasting its competitor, MiG-25. The tri-sonic MiG-25 which was inducted in the IAF twenty years later was retired much earlier while the Canberra served on till 2007.

As he entered Pakistan's airspace, Gupta looked up at the clear blue sky and smiled to Rampal who returned a thumbs up. The deeper he penetrated the more confident he grew in his mission: the technical superiority of his machine and the timing of the mission both promised a complete surprise. No bogeys were to be seen anywhere; the PAF were, expectedly, busy enjoying their Eid festivities. But not quite! The PAF Air Defence had picked up the aircraft as it neared the Pakistan air space and its radars had been closely monitoring it ever since. No. 15 Squadron on Air Defence Alert (ADA) had rolled out their SOPs, just in case. The aircraft designated on ADA for the day were double-checked with their payloads by the crew who were eagerly awaiting the command "go for the bogeys". Soon a pair of F-86 Sabres was scrambled from Peshawar Air Base to intercept the IAF aircraft. Flt Lt M. Nasir Butt was the mission leader with Flt Lt M. Yunis as his wingman. Pilot Officer Rab Nawaz was the on-duty Air Defence Controller for this mission. Developed in the late 1940s, the ageing Sabre was outdated by the late 1950s and was no longer a world-class fighter. Fighters with Mach 2 performance were already in service. Out-classed by the Canberra in every department, F-86 Sabre was no match to its formidable foe especially in the differential of over 20,000 feet in their altitude ceiling. But this was the best that the PAF could field in 1959, the F-104 Starfighter still not being on its inventory.

Rab Nawaz successfully vectored both Sabres to the location of the high-flying Canberra. Mission leader Butt, a competent fighter-pilot, picked up the Canberra's trails in the morning blue sky and soon positioned him behind it. Wingman Yunis was to his right and rear so as to cover his leader and counter an exit manoeuvre by the Canberra. Butt kept on closing in and just as he neared his operational ceiling he fired his machine guns but missed the target. He attempted again but failed to hit, the Canberra was flying at an altitude of more than 50,000 feet – well beyond the operational ceiling of the F-86. Yunis, flying to the right rear, was now itching to take over. Earlier, during his training in the UK, he had critically studied the Canberra's characteristics. The aircraft, being in service with the IAF, had been of special interest to him; he flew it extensively in his training exercises. He had observed, over and over again, that while executing a turn, the Canberra losts altitude substantially and took time in levelling up owing to its huge size and heavy payload capacity. As Butt asked his wingman to take over, Yunis drew himself further right hoping the Canberra to turn east. While it was over the outskirts of Rawalpindi, the Canberra duly obliged turning south-east to speed towards the Indo-Pak border. To Yunis' delight, the Canberra dropped height as it executed the turn. Instantly, Yunis who had closed in, saw the Achilles heel, grabbed the opportunity and fired a burst from his 12.7 mm guns. He scored a bull's eye at an altitude of 47,500 feet hitting the Canberra's broadside and bringing it down over Rawat, near Rawalpindi. Six years later in September 1965, exploiting similar vulnerability of the IAF's Hawker Hunter, Sqn Ldr M. M. Alam would shoot down five Indian fighters in less than a minute thus scoring an "ace-in-a-mission" and becoming the top scoring pilot of the sub-continent. The PAF had drawn the first blood, blowing up the IAF's myth of technological superiority. Flt Lt Muhammad Yunis was the debutant hero.

Sqr Ldr J.C. Sen Gupta and Flt Lt S.N. Rampal from the IAF's No. 106 Sqn, had ejected and were captured. They were later released and repatriated to India. As the special news bulletin was broadcast by Radio Pakistan in the roaring voice of its popular Urdu newsreader Shakil Ahmed, the people thronged the streets all over. From Dhaka to Peshawar, there was wild jubilation adding colour to the Eid festivities. People exchanged twin greetings. In a novel expression of appreciation, some enthusiasts even mailed 'Eidi' money orders to "Hero Pilot Muhammad Yunis, Care of Post Master Rawat". F-86 Sabre, too, became a household name like Yunis'. In subsequent National Day fly pasts, the aircraft would receive standing ovation from the grandstands.

Flt Lt Nasir Butt rose to the rank of Air Cdre and retired from service in 1980. Flt Lt Yunis had a bright professional career serving in key command and staff appointments in the PAF. He rose to the rank of Air Vice Marshal in 1985 and commanded the Northern Air Command in Peshawar during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Later posted as Chief Instructor at the National Defence College, he was appointed as Director General Civil Aviation Authority in 1989. He was decorated with "Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military)", the country's second highest military award in 1988, retiring in 1992. A doting grandfather of five proud grandchildren, he now leads a quiet life with his family in Cavalry Ground, Lahore Cantonment.

The author is former DG ISPR and former ambassador. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Dr Zafar Mahmood

Around the world, the concept of cluster-based industrial development is being considered as a reliable way to build a competitive economy carrying the ability to penetrate in sophisticated international markets. In today's global economic environment, isolated firms are increasingly unable to achieve the necessary competitive advantages to penetrate in developed markets and sustain their market share in existing markets. Instead, the way to competitiveness is found in linkages between buyers and suppliers, in shared resources between complementary firms that co-operate even while competing with each other, and in specialised inputs from responsive public and private organisations that supply required skills, technology, and physical infrastructure.

A cluster-based economic development is an appropriate response to build the Pakistan economy. By moving toward an economy characterised by an array of industrial clusters, Pakistan will have to build a new set of competitive advantages to sustain strong economic performances well into the future.  The basic concept used in cluster-based economic development is that of an 'industrial cluster'. A cluster is an agglomeration of key industries, supporting firms, soft and hard infrastructures, and institutions that are inter-linked and interdependent, generally because of some shared technological or skill base. The defining characteristic of a cluster is high connectivity between firms. Within the cluster, firms form strategic alliances with suppliers and even competitors. They also draw on a common labour pool, which serves to diffuse new knowledge and skills rapidly throughout the cluster. Firms in turn, form strong links with local institutions. In Pakistan, for instance, a 'near' cluster is surgical and sports goods industries in the city of Sialkot.

The Pakistan economy is at a cross-road, the government needs to guide the transition of industries to face the challenges of freer trade and resulting competition in international markets. Pakistan needs to re-define its role in creating the enabling environment for firms to be internationally competitive. To do that, the industrial process should be guided by the marketplace and rules of the business.

Clustering can be especially advantageous to groups of small and medium sized firms, but is seen as more and more important even for fairly large-sized firms which aspire to compete in today's world markets. More importantly, clusters create external economies of scale for firms that reduce per unit cost of each product produced by firms. One way to look at clusters is to conceive of them as having a life cycle along which they are continuously emerging, expanding and transforming. At the emerging stage, the seeds of a cluster begin to form economic linkages to one another. For example, agricultural producers may form or attract a food processor or agricultural chemicals and equipment industry.

At the expanding stage clusters have many vertical connections that comprise producers of basic and intermediate inputs, as well as final goods that are eventually exported. The vertical links in an expanding textile cluster, for example, might include a wide variety of producers of competitive textile fibres, materials, machinery, design, sewing, packaging and labelling, marketing and distribution services. The horizontal linkages, on the other hand, may include different types of textiles, machinery and clothing makers that enable transfer of innovations back and forth, from industrial clothing to sports to consumer clothing, for example. By this time many specialised textile and apparel research, training, as well as financing and related business service organisations emerge that do not exist otherwise, if industries are not part of a cluster or located in isolation.

At the transforming stage, clusters however, face two main challenges. The cluster may continue to expand, but may be driven out of a region by the rising cost structure. Thus, the cluster may be seeding other regional markets. The cluster may also be facing significant evolutionary pressures due to technology and production change or product substitution in other emerging clusters. In this case, a cluster may begin to downsize radically, and if management is effective, new investments are made to adopt new practices as well as new products. A cluster may collapse in a region where it was once concentrated and emerge in another region where the inputs are supportive of the cluster's next stage of development. A transformed cluster may resemble to an emerging cluster in some cases. Example of a transformed cluster is a biotechnology based pharmaceuticals cluster replacing traditional biochemical pharmaceuticals.

In view of the above, Pakistan needs to drive its industrial development on a cluster-based strategy in order to deepen its industrial structure around key strategic industries. In Pakistan, the key intermediate sectors that should be encouraged for the promotion of industrial clusters include the following:

•   Conventional Business Services. This category includes finance and accounting, construction, advertising and marketing. Sometimes local firm can provide the services but are not able to provide the world-class support needed by exporting firms.

•  Entrepot Service. This category includes brokerage, distribution and transport services required by many “just-in-time” production networks.

•  Technical Business Services. This group includes architecture, testing, environmental services, management consulting and production consulting. These services are generally under-provided, thus creating gaps that are sometimes filled by foreign providers. Small and medium industries particularly need support in factory layout, business planning, and quality control.

•   Information Technology. Systems and services such as data processing, management information systems, electronic data interchange and local area networks have become indispensable for modern factories.

•    Research and Development. Although software development, industrial design and product development are frequently undertaken in-house by large producers, smaller firms need such expertise on more occasional basis, creating a need for technology service sector to help firms innovate.

•  Manufacturing Materials. This category includes non-metallic minerals, basic metals, speciality alloys and composites. Basic materials needed by producer industries can often be produced locally, but most speciality materials need to be imported. Import reliance will continue unless local production in the consuming sectors increases sufficiently or overseas markets are identified to justify local production of specialised inputs.

•  Machinery. The machinery sector, including tool and die, machine tools, material handling systems and materials-processing machinery is vital to all industries. Of particular importance are the capacities required to design, fabricate and maintain the current generation of industrial machinery that uses micro-electronic control circuitry.

•  Packaging. The plastic, glass and paper sectors, alongwith printing and publishing services, are increasingly important parts of many clusters.

Strengthening the above intermediate sectors is vital to improve the performance of Pakistan's industrial economy. Currently, Pakistan's suppliers of intermediate products and services are limited mostly to producing simpler components using mature technologies and provide basic services. The competitiveness of leading edge firms would be enhanced by access to local sources of high-quality inputs and services meeting international standards. This is particularly important for supporting indigenous producers of final goods who lack offshore procurement networks.

Furthermore, supply sectors in the future can themselves become exporting industries, as has been the case of machine tools in countries like Taiwan. The availability of advanced services such as international marketing can improve competitiveness of Pakistani firms. Local availability of sophisticated inputs like precision methods and die can enhance the ability of core firms to develop new products to meet world demand.

The writer is HEC Foreign Professor and presently on the faculty of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad.

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Written By: Saima Zaman

I always have praised and in fact shown extol for the great “Khalil Gibran” not only because I do read him as a poet and philosopher but because of his passion, enthusiasm, positive approach and concern for life. He believed “despair is an ebb for every flow in the heart: it's a mute affection. It weakens our sight and closes our ears.” Mentioning Khalil Gibran here and starting is not only to pay regards to the great philosopher and his precious words but also to regard those all who believe in the same positive aspects of life.

Everyone has his or her own philosophy and approach towards life with immense justifications to prove what all they believe in is perfectly right, but one thing is universally proven that, no matter one is follower of any peculiar religion or on account of any other differential aspect or element that, life comes to you with the same intentions as you intent to take it. Its up to you that how you welcome it. Adversities, pain, agony, miseries, and many other unfortunate impulsive and compulsive emotions are part of life like fortunate emotions of happiness, smile, success and achievements. We all should have a believe in destiny, but destiny does not snub anyone to face it courageously with a thoughtful and positive state of mind. Life is an enigma. We may have different view points for this statement. We also, or we may, don't have much to say regarding what we believe in, but we just become stringent. I believe that no one is born with a negative thinking or belief, but its our own approach that make us a fragile character, sticking all the time to a negative element or thought.

No one wants to go through a failure in life. Everyone prefer gains instead of loss. Everyone want to lead a life full of joys, happiness, and comfort. Every single person wants to enjoy pleasures of life and no one is happy to be in sickness. There are many other painful and un-endurable things and situations that a person wants to avoid in the life, being inevitable. It may be hard to accept such realities, or one feels him or herself absolutely helpless but it doesn't mean that one should give up, leaving everything to destiny, where it takes and one just silently obeys it. Destiny is also a reality whether it indulges you in a phase resulting peace of mind and inner satisfaction or push you towards a path, full of sorrows resulting despair and urges to remain in solitude. This is the time when one needs to be much composed and optimistic, eager to get rid of agonies, anxious to lessen the effect caused by suffering. I did communicate with several people who were not having much to say. They lost everything except hope, whether they were flood affecties or were suffering as a victims of any other catastrophe or were in pain after un-natural demise of their beloved ones. Their hope became their weapon. They were never ready for any unpleasant encounter but did assent whatever happened and dissuaded themselves because they knew of the reward for their behaviour by the Almighty. The real essence of such thinking is the acme of one's behaviour. Always do welcome the unwelcoming encounters to dispel the negativity.

Reprimandation is also much important in this regard. I always feel a strange satisfaction after reading Khalil Gibran's seven reprimands which are also shared:

I reprimanded my soul seven times!

The first time, when I attempted to exalt, my self by exploiting the weak

The second time, when I feigned a limp before those were crippled

The third time, when, given a choice, I elected the easy rather than the difficult.

The fourth time, when I made a mistake I consoled myself with the mistakes of others.

The fifth time, when I was docile because of fear and then claimed to be strong in patience,

The sixth time, when I held my garments upraised to avoid the mud of life.

The seventh time, when I stood in hymnal to God and considred signing a virtue.

The writer remained associated with two national dailies as sub-editor and worked with NDMA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Maj Shahid Afridi

Governments go to great length to protect their conjoined interests. In Pakistan, creating new trade corridors is the cornerstone of economic independence and development. The realisation of the need to pursue correlative objectives is the sine quo non for achieving national strength and prestige. However, at times trans-frontier strategic antagonism makes it difficult to lay extended corporate roads. The route links through FATA would not only connect the Central Asian Republics (CARs) with Pakistan, but also have the potential to include Eastern Europe and Russian Federation in the plan. FATA's rich strategic location and historical heritage should be utilised to develop major trade routes. In this context, Pakistan Army is constructing and extending a wide network of roads and tracks in FATA, thus giving an overriding priority to communication infra-structure in line with the precept that where the road goes, every thing follows in heaps. These initiatives may revivify the downtrodden community, 60 % of whom live below the poverty line.

Having great strategic significance, two major roads of North and South Waziristan are under construction by FWO. These are the future connecting platforms: First from D I Khan, the road leading to Tank, Jandola, Wana and eventually the famous Angoor Adda; the other road originates from Bannu runs through Miran Shah and eventually down the road is Ghulam Khan. There are some other well orchestrated lateral road communication under construction like road from Miran Shah to Razmak-Makeen and Ladha. Ghulam Khan-Khost route being an ancient trade and caravan route has passed downward through the ages. It is also referred as Tochi Pass. Sultans of Ghazni, generally followed this route for their campaigns in India. Road Bannu-Ghulam Khan has grand prospects. Containers setting out from Karachi, reaching Bannu can turn west and, within 4 hours can enter Afghanistan. Traders of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, who want to avoid the bustling Torhkham route or the ones targetting market in Khost and around 300 Kms area, would prefer this route. According to the local political administration, average trade traffic on this route in winter varies from 250 to 350 vehicles. Across Ghulam Khan, lays Afghanisan's expressway, which is linking Kabul to Qandahar, would be hardly 100 Kms. Upon reaching this expressway, any load carrier can take any direction towards Kabul or Qandahar. From Kabul, the road leads to numerous states: Firstly from Kabul, Baghlan, Salaang, Kunduz, Sher Khan Bander and Tajikistan; The second route is from Kabul, Baghlan, Samarjan, finally runs through Sharak-e-Hayaratan into Uzbekistan; The third road originates from Kabul and Baghlan, Balkh, Khan-e-Chaharbagh into Turkmenistan. The southern artery of Afghanistan communication infrastructure originates from Qandahar and runs through Herat towards Balkh or reaching Torghandai at Turkmenistan border.

Lately Uzbekistan and Afghanistan agreed to lay 75 km rail line from Hairatan (border town of Uzbekistan) to Mazar Sharif. It will allow Hairatan to handle up to 10 times more cargo, from 4,000 tons per month now to 25,000-40,000 tons per month, once the service is fully operative. Pakistan also needs to get into discourse about rail line, at least between Peshawar and Jalalabad. Tank, Wana, Angoor Adda has enormous potential too and it is also the relic of historical trade and commerce route to Ghazni and Qandhar. The road is under construction through the hilly areas from Wana to Angoor Adda. The Kurram pass, through Teri Mangal region into Afghanistan is an ancient route. Even Genghez Khan, while chasing Shah of Khawarzam came through this route. At a distance of approx 20 Kms from Parachinar after crossing Teri Mangal, there is Jaji Aryab pass; a direct route to Kabul and Gardez. However, this route is disrupted due to sectarian disquiet. Across Kurram into Afghanistan, lays a fair weather road into Paktiya province. In Mohmand Agency, Nawa pass is of great historical eminence. Alexander the Great came through this pass, whereas the rest of his Army under his General intruded through Khyber Pass. Infiltration of the militants from Kunar province into Mohmand and Bajaur has deeply undermined the possibility of making some trade links on this route. Pakistan has repeatedly voiced concerns over the use of Kunar and Nuristan as the staging grounds for Fazalullah and other terrorist stringer groups.

In order to link all the agencies by road, there is another project in the planning phase; building an expressway from Khar (Bajaur) to Wana (SWA). It is a futuristic vision, which would connect all agencies through one road. The northern route through Wakhan strip is a good option to reach Tajikistan. Nonetheless, there are hold ups from Afghanistan side and our own inability to build an all weather road links. Let's facilitate the trade. The air of militancy would subside, if the people have the jobs. There is a need to ensure wide range of participation from tribal traders and Afghan authorities should make a way forward. The idiosyncrasies that are embedded in the minds of tribal people are also the major stumbling blocks, which need to be removed through massive awareness campaign. Impeding the traffic would persuade the traders to go for unfrequented routes, thereby enhancing the chances of smuggling. Though, there is no quick fix for our economic woes. Nonetheless, let's not cease to envision a prosperous FATA and thriving Pakistan.


Written By: Sadia Naumaan Qazi

There was a time when children were instructed by the parents to be home by Maghreb prayer from their evening games. That was the parents' stance for harbouring safety to their children. Now the time appears to have changed. Parents are not seen worried about the whereabouts of their children as kids are often found screening the LCDs of their computer desktops or fiddling with their mobiles. This fills the parents with a dire sense of sanctuary as their children are in front of their eyes instead of wandering around in the areas after dark. With the information explosion, it has made inevitable to keep pace with the ever changing technology and technological advancements. This generation gap has created a void and parents today are unable to keep their children out of harm's way. Apart from the predators lurking in the nukes of chat rooms, there are other threats which not only tend to create disturbing behaviour responses but are also diminishing the thin line between believing what is right and otherwise. The children with a global access are as prone to being unsafe as letting them play in the street alone after dark.

As teens children love internet, the web brings the world closer for kids; making school research assignments easier and providing homework help; enabling them to play online; and facilitating friendships and relationships through email, instant messaging, chat rooms, and social networking sites. This exposes the children to many hazards of cyber in the form of social chat rooms, un-necessary socialisation and in few cases, to pornography. So if a household has a computer or a mobile enabled with internet, there is a need to keep an eye on the children to ensure they are well under protection. There's a fine line between giving kids independence and being ignorant to what they're up to. Some of the technology hazards and remedies are explained below:

Inappropriate and Immoral Content

Kids may get exposed to immoral and inappropriate content. That content is widely spread on the entire internet whether you are looking for it or not. These contain explicit dissolute and immoral graphics, pictures, movies and literature. There are several softwares available that can be installed to restrict the sites containing certain key words. Moreover, there are programmes which enable parenting control and fix the safety limits to access any site. The simplest is to create a separate user account for children with online safety level turned on to the maximum. In this way much of the sites will be blocked. It is alarming to note that in Pakistan, children from as less as 5 years of age, are also included in the viewership of this type of content. And we can very well assume the character deformation, this kind of behaviour can create in the society.

Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is defined as the use of the internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. It has become more common in society, particularly among young people. Internationally, awareness campaigns have arisen to combat it. Results of a research show that almost 67% of children are bullied and harassed through instant messaging, 25% by chat rooms, 23% by websites, 25% by emails and 16 % by text messages. As it is visible that kids are cyber-bullied by more than one way, so every kid is more or less exposed to face all kind of cyber harassments simultaneously, while he is online.

Online Predators

Using Internet communication tools such as social networking, chat rooms, email, and instant messaging can put children at potential risk of encountering online predators. The anonymity of the internet means that trust and intimacy can develop quickly online. Predators take advantage of this anonymity to build online relationships with inexperienced young people. Kids, at times, feel that they are aware of the dangers of predators, but in reality, they are quite naive about online relationships. Parents can help protect their kids by knowing the risks related to online communication and being involved in their kids' internet activities. These predators tend to destroy the innocent barricade of these children by exposing them to inappropriate behaviour and also by encouraging them to meet them in real life which may result in adverse situation.

Mobile Internet/Wi-Fi Enabled Smart Phones

If children have access to any mobile phone with facility of internet, they are also to be supervised and monitored. It is advised to keep a check on the gallery of the mobile phones in order to check for the inappropriate material shared via MMS (multimedia messaging service) or Bluetooth.

Internet Slangs

Number of slangs are being used now-a-days in internet communication/interactions. As the teen agers and kids quickly want to express, they tend to create a variety of acronyms to be used. Majority of these internet slangs, are also creeping in the routine spoken language of the youth. For example, LOL stands for 'laugh out loud' and ROFL stands for 'rolling on the floor laughing'. Similarly BRB is used for 'be right back' and TC is used for 'take care'. The slangs, parents must know are 'POS' and 'PAW'.  PAW, short for “parents are watching” or POS for "parents over shoulder". These terms are used during chatting to alarm to the other side that they are being watched. This means that there was something the kid was hiding from his parents so he alarmed the other side to be cautious.

Online- Relationships

Many teenagers fall for the online relationships. The idea of nascent romances is fancied by the teenagers. But that is the most dangerous way for the teen agers to fall victim of physical assault. As naïve kids, they assume to be spoken to with truth and clarity. However, they are in fact being deceived by their own innocent ideas and may easily fall prey to some trap. Many such incidents have been reported in Pakistan and many still have not been exposed due to social fears. But such accidents have resulted in teen age traumas that they face in rest of their lives without bringing in the knowledge of their parents and shatter their whole personality.

Photo Hacking

Sharing photos online is a very common phenomenon today. Teenagers are spending more time in creating display pictures for their facebook/other social website accounts and posing for photographs, than in their studies. Often children add unknown or not-well-known people to their accounts. These photos are hi-jacked by these assailants and used in for immoral sites without the knowledge of children. The children must be told not to add un-known persons to their accounts. Moreover, they should be educated to share the pictures with a privacy setting to control their photos being viewed by everyone.

Keeping Safe

The first, and foremost thing the parents should do, is to educate themselves with the knowledge of computers. They should know how to check for the history and security of the computer systems. Naïve parents are easily deceived.

Parents should communicate and talk frequently to kids. They should educate them regarding the threats they may face online and how to keep themselves safe. The best way for the parents is to make their own accounts at Facebook, MSN IM, Yahoo etc and add their children in their accounts. Parents can also monitor the activities of their children through installed softwares that keep tabs of the internet surfing.

Parents must know who the friends of their children are. They have every right to eavesdrop on their conversation on phones. Parents can get post paid mobile packages/connections for their children in order to monitor the contact numbers they communicate with. The kids should be told not to interact or share personal information with persons or sites that are not trusted.

Protecting children in a closed shell is no longer an option. Every child getting online is exposed to all the threats. But by educating themselves, parents can provide their children with a safe haven and protect them from being violated and victimised online.

The writer contributes for print media.

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Written By: Beenish Sultan

In words of Steve Coll, the author of 'Ghost Wars' and President of the New American Foundation, currently, Pakistan and the U.S. for the first time share a coincidence of interests regarding Afghanistan but ironically their cooperation is at the minimum. Both the states seek a strategy of moving away from heavy military dependence to economic and political notions, but decline in cooperation. This downfall might be understood with a four-fold focus: firstly, there is a difference of visions on both sides regarding Taliban and groups next to Al-Qaeda. The U.S. waged war in Afghanistan after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in favour of the U.S. right of 'self-defence'. This right was to be exercised against the declared perpetrator of 9/11, the Al-Qaeda. However, ever since the war was waged, the U.S. has failed to decide and mark a difference between them and other groups like Taliban. On the other hand, Pakistan believes that the U.S. has been targeting the innocent people alongwith Taliban, which in turn has been counter productive and militancy has increased on both sides of the border.

Secondly, the perception of both the states in terms of the entire outlook of a stable political balance in Afghanistan is quite opposite. The U.S. fails to realise or, probably, denies to admit the strong cultural and ethnic ties across the Durand line. In order to reach a balanced political solution to Afghanistan, a neutral ground with the entire stake holders on board i.e. Pakistan, Taliban, U.S. and the Afghan people, is vital. However, despite the vulnerability of the situation with increasing security threats in the region, U.S. intends to bypass Pakistan in this regard. In addition, leaving back a surge of 25,000 soldiers on the Afghan soil would not only increase doubts for the stake holders but also negate the purpose of political process altogether.

Thirdly, there is a gap in perceptions regarding the role of Indians in Afghanistan. It is quite obvious that Pakistan and India both have reservations regarding each other. India being Pakistan's traditional rival, is not only increasing its influence in Afghanistan but is believed to be supported by the U.S. in its motive. On the other hand, U.S. has been enhancing its relations with India and using it as its 'face' in South Asia, primarily to counter the peaceful rise of China. Pakistan enjoys cordial relations with the Chinese and is likely to facilitate this rise. However, when on the east, there is India itself and on its west is a rising Indian influence paved by the U.S. with no matter what purpose, it becomes a national security threat altogether for Pakistan. The U.S. perceives it differently.

Lastly, both the states seem to differ in the future of Pakistani Civil-Military relations. In the wake of scandals like the memo-gate and shameful incidents like the unilateral Osama bin Laden raid on 2 May 2011 and the more recent Silala Check Post attack, the relations of both the states have suffered altogether. There seems to be a miss match between what is made to believe by the U.S. and what it actually does. On one hand, U.S. top officials admit the importance of Pakistan in the entire reconciliation process and, on the other hand it hurts the Pakistani sovereignty. The military to military relations between both the states have been through every thick and thin and have survived various blows. However, now the U.S. seems to be confused in sustaining balanced relations with the civil government and the military. The Pakistani military and intelligence has a right to consider being back stabbed and with the U.S., not doing much in consoling the wrongs it has committed, difference in opinion is bound to rise. The Pak-U.S. duo has lived through a bumpy road of instable cooperation with a 'security orientated' partnership which indeed is a short term objective with long term consequences. Pakistan has proved to be a tested ally in times of need for the U.S., however despite being the stronger party, it failed to show generosity. The U.S. has rarely talked about the raised differences and concerns within two countries, despite of their realisation in house. It needs to address the concerns of Pakistan up front for a better good or else the status quo would bring grave security related consequences for the region in the near future.

The writer is pursuing M-Phil Degree from National Defence University and contributes for print media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, covering over an area of 44 % of country's total land with only 5 per cent population. The province is an integral part of the Federation of Pakistan. The province has a strategic location neighbouring Afghanistan, Iran, and Oman. The deep sea port of Gwadar is an asset linking it to landlocked countries logging for access to warm waters. The province is rich in natural resources such as oil and gas deposits, gold, and copper. Geographic landscape keeps Balochistan as a crucial province of Pakistan. Complex ethnic composition is the beauty of the federating unit that keeps it further united with Pakistan.

A gas supplying Iran to Pakistan would be interested in the stability and loyalty of Balochistan to Pakistan. Otherwise, the province has no utility for Iran. A war-ravaged and weak Afghanistan has no ability to manage Balochistan but uses subversive tactics to create disturbances. As per reports, Indian involvement is there for quite sometime and so are other elements. Therefore, from geo-strategic point of view, Pakistan has to find a political settlement of outstanding grievances of Balochistan rather than the exploitation of other powers in the province.

External powers have been meddling in the internal affairs of Balochistan and exploiting issues for their vested interests. U.S-Pakistan relations have entered into a new phase and U.S. meddling in Balochistan is an indicative of this realisation. Strangely, on 8 February (2012), U.S. Congress Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations stressed the Baloch right to self-determination by orchestrating a hearing, on what it alleged Balochistan's human rights' violations, by using 'selective facts' essential for the purpose of engineering propaganda against the state and sovereignty of Pakistan. No external power has any might and right to redraw the geographical borders of the Federation of Pakistan. From all accounts, Balochistan is an internal problem of Pakistan and it should be tackled as such.

C. Christine Fair, an assistant Professor at Georgetown University, in her written statement, disagreed with the suggestion at the Senate hearing saying that given the ethnic diversity of the province, its complicated history, and the existing geographic constraints, an independent Balochistan was untenable. Therefore, there has not emerged, a consensus among U.S. policy-makers and experts suggesting an independent Balochistan. Pakistani policy-makers and authorities have to correct the situation by themselves than debating an internal issue of Pakistan at the U.S. Congress. The hearing, nevertheless, tended to support people attempting to hold Balochistan hostage to their unwanted desires and jeopardize Government effort in this regard. In fact, it should not be in American interest to create turbulence in Balochistan and at the same time to win the War on Terror. Stability of Pakistan is essential to win the War on Terror. Therefore, it is because of such strong feelings that except a couple of U.S. Congressmen, no one paid any attention to the so-called American resolution on Balochistan.

Interestingly, there appeared a friction within U.S. official apparatus on Balochistan. The U.S. State Department disassociated itself from the Congressional hearing on Balochistan and opposed the idea of an independent Balochistan, adding that the problems of the province should be resolved through peaceful and political way. The State Department made it clear that the United States is not supportive of independence of Balochistan and swiftly countered the Congressional move. Often such hearings do not represent government viewpoint. There is also need for Pakistan to understand the level of polarity within U.S. political wisdom, especially congress and government. There is always multiplicity of views on different matters. Nevertheless, national leadership cannot be exempted from what is happening in Balochistan for decades. Balochistan's internal problems have been exposed and exploited abroad. Sectarianism and provincialism have existed in Balochistan for quite sometime and the matter has not been much debated in the Parliament in Pakistan that gave rise to terrorism and other security disturbances. Displacement of people in Balochistan is another pressing issue that was caused by internal feud within various tribes. Armed Baloch groups involved in target killings and property damages such as gas, power transmission installations, and infrastructure are another problem. There are evidences that they were either supported by India or Afghanistan. Parliament and political parties and decision-makers need to seriously tackle the issue to the satisfaction of the people of Balochistan. Similarly, Pakistan's Ambassador to Washington D.C., Sherry Rehman, condemned the hearing, calling it an 'ill-advised move' which could be 'detrimental to the trust between Pakistan and the United States of America. 'Pakistan views this hearing with serious concern and considers it unacceptable in no uncertain terms'; she stated adding that this kind of an exercise constituted interference in Pakistan's internal affairs. The hearing, she observed, would be detrimental to building mutual trust and confidence and 'will add to suspicions in Pakistan about the American motives in the region and concerning Pakistan'.

'Balochistan is an integral part of the Pakistani Federation and Pakistan is a democracy conducting itself in accordance with international law. The popularly elected Pakistani Parliament and the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, the independent judiciary, a vigorous media and a thriving civil society, are all avenues for expression and seeking redress of grievances, political and economic', the Embassy spokesman quoted Sherry Rehman as saying.

Furthermore, in this regard, the National Assembly rightly adopted a resolution on 13 February 2012, concerning the U.S. Congress initiative of debate on Balochistan. The resolution out rightly condemned the congressional hearing and called it blatant interference in Pakistan's internal affairs. In another move, government decided to hold an all parties conference on law and order situation in Balochistan. The government initiative of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan launched in 2009 addresses the province sense of deprivation and grievances. Nevertheless, U.S. hearing triggered a new tension between Pakistan and the United States as their bilateral relations have already been upset by 2 May last year and latter events. Political circles in the country need to tackle the issue and should take responsibility.

Law and order should be improved and provincial Assembly, that comprises of almost all members as ministers, should come forward to resolve the problems of people and should clear the misconceived confusions about the province at domestic and international levels. Situation in Balochistan is not as bad as is projected on media and an effort with political resolve shall do the magic.

The writer is an Islamabad-based expert on Japan and the international political economy. Presently he is on the Faculty of Preston University, Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written By: Col Dr Muhammad Khan

Whereas, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), has decided not to fund for the Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline, Russia and Iran have jointly offered Pakistan to lay this pipeline. Previously, Russian Federation had all alone made an offer to construct this pipeline for Pakistan. Pakistan however, remained indecisive mainly owing to its alliance with U.S., which altogether opposes this giant energy project for Pakistan. United States' opposition to this project goes back to years. As part of its continuous pressure, in early March, 2012, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, once again warned Pakistan, for the consequences if it goes ahead with Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline. In the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, she said that, U.S. would impose “additional pressures” if Pakistan opts to move “beyond talk”, under the Iran Sanctions Act. She advised Pakistan to fulfil its energy needs through TAPI, another gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan to India, via Afghanistan and Pakistan. Apart from U.S-Iran row over the nuclear programme of the latter, this Super Power would desire that its own oil and gas companies should get the contract of this pipeline. Since Iran would oppose any such move, therefore, U.S. is all out to oppose the project altogether. In her statement, Ms. Clinton warned that Pakistan already has a “quite shaky” economy, thus additional sanctions would severely deteriorate its economic crises. On its part, over last few years, Pakistan is facing worst energy crises of its history. These shortages have virtually destroyed its economy and industrial base. Resultantly, rather inviting the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Pakistani investors are investing elsewhere in the world, including countries like; Bangladesh and South Korea. These energy crises are not restricted to industry, but more pronounced for the domestic and commercial consumers.

In a way, it is affecting Pakistan on five accounts. Firstly, with the devastation in the industry, the national economic engine is eroding. Secondly, no FDI is expected in the foreseeable future, thus wearing-away the future hopes for economic revival of the country. Thirdly, a devastating economic and industrial base is eliminating the job opportunities, leaving millions of working class jobless, thus, further burdening the society and indeed, leading to enhance the social problems. Fourthly, frequent load shedding of gas and electricity has wretched the lives of domestic and commercial consumers. The unrest give way to violence and law & order situation, further destabilising the social setup of Pakistan. Fifthly, owing to shortages of gas, and high prices of diesel and petrol, the cost of every item of daily use, especially, the food items has increased so much that, it is not in the reach of a common man. Thus, the energy shortages have affected all spheres of human life in Pakistan.

Keeping Pakistani needs in view, if a brotherly country (Iran) has agreed to export gas to make up its shortfalls, then why U.S. or any other Power should derail or object this deal, most needed for the economic development of Pakistan. Tracing the history, in 1990s, Iran agreed to export 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (mmcfd) with a provision to increase the volume to 1 billion cubic feet per day to Pakistan. Owing to a number of factors, and Indian backtracking, the deal could only be finalised between Iran and Pakistan in 2010. It is not for the first time that U.S. authorities are opposing this project. In the first instance, U.S. forced India to delink itself from the project and offered her nuclear energy cooperation, through Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal. It has been continuously pressurizing Pakistan to end the project. In June 2010, the late U.S. special envoy, Richard Holbrook, delivered a message of Obama Administration to Pakistan that, the Pak-Iran gas pipeline “could run afoul of new sanctions”, which were then under consideration in the U.S. Congress. Mr Holbrook then warned Pakistan in the words that, “We cautioned the Pakistanis to try to see what the (congressional) legislation is before deciding how to proceed because it would be a disaster if ... we had a situation developed where an agreement was reached which then triggered something under the law”. Since Pakistan feels that the deal would be able to reduce the energy crisis of Pakistan substantially, therefore, it must go ahead with the project at all costs. U.S. opposition also surprises Pakistanis, who question, whether U.S. is a friend or a foe of Pakistan? This U.S. act proves that, U.S. friendship is worst than its enmity. Iran-Pakistan pipeline was aimed to “alleviate, albeit only partially, the energy concerns” of Pakistan, then its friends should have been supportive to it, rather opposing that. Despite its cold war enmity, Russia, has offered to help Pakistan in the construction of this pipeline. Whereas, Pakistan's cold war partner, U.S. is constantly opposing it.

On its part, Pakistan rejected all the objections in this regard and decided to go ahead with the project. Let us hope that we remain unwavering to our decisions. Prime Minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani has responded this U.S. intimidation by saying that, “Pakistan is a sovereign country and we will do whatever is in the interest of Pakistan”. Indeed, Pakistan feels that energy and trade cooperation with Iran is in its best national interests. Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar said that, “Pakistan is pursuing important projects with Iran such as gas pipeline, electricity transmission and also building a more robust trade partnership. All of these projects are in Pakistan`s national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous consideration.” The Foreign Minister further said that, “I think all our friends are encouraged to understand the real energy crisis that is in Pakistan. We can`t afford to be selective of where we receive our energy supply from.”

It is worth mentioning that apart from the pipeline, during the past few months, Pakistan has decided to purchase 1,000 MW electricity transmission line and 100MW Gwadar power supply. Owing to its heavy energy needs, Pakistan cannot afford to delink from these agreed energy projects irrespective of the U.S. or any other pressure. More recently, Iran has shown its willingness to supply 80,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Pakistan on a 3-month deferred payment, which is another very welcoming gesture by Iranian brothers. Pakistan also feels that UN sanctions do not cover this pipeline project, thus it remains committed to the project. Otherwise, in case, if Pakistan backtracked from this deal under U.S. pressure, it will have to face many repercussions, first being the violation of international law. Thus, it will have to incur huge financial losses in the form of damages and restitution to Iran, besides facing the energy crisis.

As far UN sanctions, on June 9, 2010, United Nations Security Council passed its resolution number 1929. The resolution clearly prohibits the states to undertake financial dealings with Iran, which could help in the proliferation of the Iranian nuclear programme. As per proviso number 9 of this resolution, “New tools to block proliferation finance. States are called upon to prevent any financial service -- including insurance or reinsurance -- and freeze any asset that could contribute to Iran's proliferation. This broad language will help states take action when there are suspected financial links to Iran's banned nuclear activities.” United States Congress passed National Defence Authorisation Act-2012. President Obama signed the act with lot of reservations. Besides many other clauses, the act, aims to curtail the financial dealings of various countries with Iran. Thus, Pakistan would be under extreme pressure to give up the pipeline.

Naomi Wolf, a graduate of Yale University and an author of many books, writes in Guardian that, the act is “a clear and present danger to American liberty. The U.S. is sleepwalking into becoming a police state, where, like a pre-Magna Carta monarch, the president can lock up anyone.” If this is the opinion of U.S. own citizens and a vast majority of Americans, what would be the expectations of the rest of the world. Pakistan feels that, besides being a neighbour, Iran is the only country with which Pakistan has “had age-old relations, based on cultural, ethnic, and spiritual links”. Both countries are bound by a strapping relationship and Iran was the first country that recognised Pakistan upon its emergence as an independent country in August 1947. Pakistan and Iran have been strategic partners and Iranian soil has been its strategic depth. Iran, indeed demonstrated this by providing all out assistance to Pakistan during 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.

Within the limits of NPT, which Iran guarantees, there should be no worries to the world from Iran's nuclear programme. Just on the provocation of Israel, U.S. should not take any aggressive act against Iranian nuclear programme. Such an act would have drastic effects on the region. U.S, while sitting thousands of miles away, must visualise the regional sensitivities and impact of such an act. Regional countries must resist any aggression from either U.S. or Israel against Iran. Muslim countries of Middle East and Arab League must also realise that, by making them scared from Iran's nuclear programme, West and U.S are provoking them to purchase maximum and sophisticated weapons and equipments with the sole objective of reviving their war industry, otherwise dying, owing to financial crisis.

In the highly globalised and anarchic world, U.S. or any other global actor should not force the nation states to follow their directive. U.S. should not compel Pakistan to withdraw from Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. On their part, Pakistan and Iran must boost their ties by maintaining the current warmth in the relationship without taking into account the pressures from international actors. The leadership on either side must remain unswerving to withstand U.S. pressure. At the level of Muslim world, there should be no split to accommodate the foreign power's interests. After all, for how long should the Arabs, play in the hands of Lawrence of Arabia? In case of Pakistan, the Nation is not ready to accept the undue pressure of United States on any issue of national interest and particularly on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

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

Written By: Brig (Retd) Tughral Yamin

Sri Lanka feels threatened by the U.S. led diplomatic initiative to punish their tiny nation of alleged human rights violations during the military operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). There are banners in Colombo, condemning the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for unfair criticism and demanding the U.S. to stop terrorism. National newspapers talk of “double standards” and dark designs of “regime change” hinting at the recent coup in neighbouring Maldives. Official indignation began when Major General Shavendra Silva, the country's deputy permanent representative at the UN Headquarters in New York, was debarred from attending the deliberations of the Special Advisory Group on 22 February. The Group was convened to consider rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and other related issues such as maintaining peace keeping missions.

The chairperson of the Group, Louise Frechette, a top Canadian diplomat informed Silva that his participation in the meeting was “inappropriate” and advised him to keep away from all “deliberations” of the panel. The action was based on allegations that 58 Division, the formation he had led, was involved in indiscriminate killing of civilians during the mopping up operations against the LTTE. Tamil expatriates followed up by demanding that Silva be tried in the States for war crimes. The U.S. courts expressed inability to proceed against Silva citing “diplomatic immunity”. The High Commissioner for UNHRC, Navaneetham (Navi) Pillay, a South African of Indian origin was more successful in pillorying the Sri Lankan General. She wrote to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to express concerns about Silva's appointment as he was on a UN black list of suspected violators of human rights. The Sri Lankan Mission at New York issued a rebuttal accusing Pillay of being “unethical”.

Ratcheting up the pressure, U.S. moved a resolution backed by a number of Western Nations at the UNHRC meeting at Geneva calling on the Sri Lankan government to explain how it plans to act on the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). They blamed Sri Lanka for delaying the process of accountability of alleged human rights violations committed during the last stages of the military conflict with the LTTE in 2009. The LLRC was set up in May 2010 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to inquire into the civil war and related events between 2002 and 2009. It presented its final report in November 2011.

The Sri Lankan government has steadfastly rejected international intervention into the conduct of the final phase of the war. It views the resolution as interference in its internal matters and wants more time to implement the reconciliation. Sri Lanka blames the pro-LTTE diaspora of influencing the Western governments to act against the country as revenge over the crushing military defeat. Sri Lankan diplomats in Geneva are confident to ride out the current storm. Mahinda Samarasinghe, minister and leader of the Sri Lankan delegation at Geneva, stated before the sessions began, that the resolution “could be perceived as undue interference with internal processes of recovery and reconciliation containing strong elements of prejudgement and the application of double standards”. He added that the government had in fact begun to implement some of the LLRC recommendations. He was referring to the setting up internal inquiries by the army and the navy to ascertain whether there were any rights abuses. Separately, the attorney-general's department too has begun interviewing some of those who gave evidence at the LLRC.

In August 2011, the Sri Lankan government had acknowledged that there had been some civilian casualties in the final phase of the war, but did not give any numbers. Samarasinghe was however confident to deflect Western pressure, since “The Non-Aligned countries and the 53 members Islamic Nations Group has already spoken in our favour”, The newspapers also reported support from among others, China and Pakistan for allowing more time and space to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN mission in Geneva, Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam put up a spirited defence. She was of the opinion that the U.S. was being “impatient”. The LLRC report had only been released three months ago after the 30-year long war and operations. The Ambassador, noted that significant progress had been made in implementing the LLRC recommendations, nearly 95% of 290,000 displaced have been resettled, and all but one detention centre were closed and over 10,000 ex-combatants have been re-integrated into the society. With regard to accountability, Ms. Kunanayakam said the Sri Lankan Army and the Navy had appointed two Courts of Inquiry and a Board of Inquiry respectively. Replying to comments made by Navi Pillay, High Commissioner of Human Rights, that the LLRC probe fell short of the comprehensive accountability process recommended by the UN Secretary General's panel of experts, she said the LLRC report reflects the emblematic parameters of rule of law strategies, which the government has noted for speedy implementation. Denouncing the debate of the LLRC report in the council, the Ambassador pointed out that the UN Expert Panel report was the conclusion of a private consultation, the UN Secretary General used to advice himself on Sri Lanka's situation and not the product of the HRC, the General Assembly or any other UN body. “A dangerous precedent is again sought to be established by way of a debate on the recommendations of a domestic process which Sri Lanka condemns as a retrogressive step that undermines the constitutional parameters of this Council”, the Ambassador said in her written statement. She informed the Council that Sri Lanka will be presenting its report on progress the country made on human rights issues for the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in October this year. Ms. Kunanayakam reiterated that the majority of the international community supports Sri Lankas' efforts and its stand that a functioning domestic mechanism should not be circumvented by interference until its conclusion. “The hypocrisy and the double standard thus displayed (by the U.S. and the EU), if should they be encouraged, would affect the credibility and undermine gravely the legitimacy of the Council”, the Sri Lankan Ambassador warned.

There is an important lesson in this entire episode for Pakistan. First of all, as the troops move into the final stage of the counter insurgency campaign, they should not throw caution to the wind. Human rights' violations can be used as a potent weapon to pressurise a nation. China had been a favourite punching bag for human rights' violations for years. Its economic might allowed it the necessary leverage to come out of the vice unscathed. Meanwhile, the Israeli and Indian atrocities in Palestine and Kashmir have been conveniently ignored. Pakistan can be quickly placed in the dock and it will only add to its existing woes.

The writer is a PhD and is currently teaching in the Department of Strategic & Nuclear Studies, NDU, Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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