April 2018(EDITION 04, Volume 55)
Written By: Maria Khalid
Quaid-i-Azam, in February 1948, said, “Our foreign policy is one of friendliness and goodwill towards all nations of the world. We do not cherish aggressive designs against any country or nation. We believe in the principle of honesty and fairplay in national and international dealings....Read full article
Written By: Hasan Khan
At Kabul Process II on February 28, President Dr. Ashraf Ghani unveiled an unprecedented ‘peace plan’ inviting Taliban to direct peace talks with Kabul government to draw a comprehensive peace strategy and end one of theworld’s most ‘intractable’ wars......Read full article
Written By: Dr. Huma Baqai
Pakistan has supported U.S. for seven decades, the relationship has swung between being the most sanctioned ally to a non-NATO ally. Post 9/11, Pakistan helped U.S. more than any of its NATO allies. The reward unfortunately.....Read full article
Written By: Wing Commander Bahroni
In recent history, nature and dynamics of warfare have changed dramatically. Gone are the days of conventional warfare between two organized forces under established Military Rules and Laws of War. Weapons of mass destruction and aversion of masses towards destruction and misery....Read full article
Written By: Omair Alavi
All that has now changed thanks to the effective attempts by the Pakistan Army who in collaboration with the Pakistan Cricket Board brought international cricketers back to not one but two cities–Lahore and Karachi. Lahore had its share....Read full article
Written By: Maj Muzaffar Ahmed
Shakarparian parade ground, lying at the base of Margalla and Shakarparian Hills, saw the dawn of another peaceful morning on Pakistan Day. Under a clear sky, 1.5 kms stretch of parade ground was fluttering with national, armed forces’ and regimental flags.....Read full article
Written By: Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed
1905 was a historical year for Einstein as well as science. A relatively unknown clerk in the Swiss patents office in Bern, Einstein, published four papers; each paper changed the course of science. Prior to Einstein’s work light was regarded as an electromagnetic wave and the.....Read full article
Written By: Sana Ejaz
On a fine Tuesday morning around 9 a.m. I walked into the Army Sports Directorate (AS Dte) to interview the sportswomen who are enrolled there. Walking into the area I came face-to-face with the site of women and men practicing archery in the front lawn. As the interview progressed......Read full article
Written By: Hussain H. Zaidi
From time to time, Pakistan is given the shaft for ‘short-shrifting’ regional trade. In particular, the finger is pointed at the security related policies of Pakistan for having ‘hobbled’ the growth of trade with neighbouring countries. Admittedly, Pakistan.....Read full article
Written By: Hilal Foreign Desk
The Pakistan Day ceremony commenced with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. Ambassador of Pakistan Masood Khalid raised the national flag and hoisted it to the mast’s summit.....Read full article
Pakistan Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) share a long history of naval collaboration where both navies maintain cordial and fraternal ties. In formative years of RSNF, training facilities and technical assistance rendered by Pakistan Navy laid solid foundations for establishment....Read full article
Written By: Schezré Syed
All is not bleak on the digital front, though. The use of social media as a source of information has been on the rise, especially since it acts as a perfect host to third-party content, making these networking forums the brokers between material....Read full article
Written By: Dr. Fawad Kaisar
Facebook, Twitter, blogs and many more variations are the new e-passports. We are now witnessing the first generation to grow up using social media. Just as there are many variations of social media there are various kinds of people using it. According to one analysis, people with low self-esteem.....Read full article
Written By: Maria Khalid
The social media has transformed and reshaped both peace and war. There are transnational networks of information and disinformation of both state and non-state actors. The reasons for operation may involve ideological, financial or simply personal reasons, which depend on mutually reinforcing .....Read full article
Written By: Nadeem F. Paracha
Social media has arrived just at the right time in history. Never have the youth been so hungry for information and knowledge as they have been in the past decade and a half or so. Or maybe more. Or so. And so forth. Well, at least not since thousands of years ago when the ancient Aryan.....Read full article
Written By: Maj Gen Samrez Salik
Stephen Hawking who passed away recently on March 14, 2018 (the day also known as Pi Day in the world of mathematics) was amongst the one percent who lived to contribute towards the well-being of humankind. He was regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.....Read full article
Written By: Shahid M. Haq
Two critical aspects are to be addressed; one, that educational institutions have to become learning institutions and second, that the return on investment is a promise with enduring benefits that the institutions need to fulfill. The issues might seem simple but to address them.....Read full article
Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China, called on General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman JCS Committee at Joint Staff Headquarters, Rawalpindi on March 1, 2018. Matters related to changing geostrategic environment and further strengthening of security and defence cooperation were .....Read full article

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) laid the foundation stone of the UAE and Swiss government supported Gwadar desalination plant at Gwadar on March 4, 2018. The project fulfills long-awaited demand of locals which shall provide them with 4.4 million gallons.........Read full article
His Excellency Dr. Saleh Bin Mohammad Al Talib, Imam-e-Kaaba visited General Headquarters and called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on March 12, 2018.....Read full article
Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan NI (M) took over the command of Pakistan Air Force as the 22nd Chief of the Air Staff, in a graceful Change of Command Ceremony held at Air Headquarters, Islamabad on March 19, 2018. During the ceremony a smartly turned out contingent ....Read full article

Written By: Shahid M. Haq

The World Bank has recently launched the World Development Report 2017. Not surprisingly, this timely report, addresses the issue of “Learning to Realize Education’s Promise”. The report notes:

“Given that today’s students will be tomorrow’s citizens, leaders, workers, and parents, a good education is an investment with enduring benefits. But providing education is not enough. What is important, and what generates a real return on investment, is learning and acquiring skills.”

Two critical aspects are to be addressed; one, that educational institutions have to become learning institutions and second, that the return on investment is a promise with enduring benefits that the institutions need to fulfill. The issues might seem simple but to address them, the traditional model of a university as it is implemented has to be re-evaluated especially in the Pakistani context.

For the last few decades the understanding of good education has been expanded. Development of skills and especially those that are the need of the industry, market and society have gained tremendous importance. Development of specialized skill set tailored to meet the requirement of a certain country, geographical area, industry sector or community has become more specific. The condescending evaluation that was given to skill-based education is diminishing as market dynamics drive the need for such education.

In a 2014 report McKinsey warned that countries will be faced with the dual crises of youth unemployment and shortage of people with critical job skills at the same time, pointing to an education focus versus market needs gap.

Countries such as Germany who understood this in the 80’s, followed by others around the world, upgraded the skill-based education to a university level and now have a large presence of universities of applied sciences. These universities of applied sciences exist alongside the traditional universities.

While many developed countries have started to take the necessary steps to overcome the education focus vs. market needs gaps, countries more hit and more likely to be impacted by the crises–the developing countries–are still slow to respond. Paradoxically these are also the countries that have a very high youth population and thus face an increasing need to make appropriate plans for their future.
In the developing countries like Pakistan, universities are still patterned on the format of a traditional university. In their need to be evaluated on the basis of criteria developed for classic teaching institutions in the developed countries, the developing countries have not sufficiently addressed their specific and individual needs for learning institutions. The developing countries are at a different step on the economic and the educational ladder. To break out of their continued lag to the developed countries they need to find ways and means to develop expertise which others would need. In the last few decades the countries that have adopted these methods have shown growth. While at the outset they did not go for high-end theoretical research, rather shifted their focus to developed expertise.

This brings us to the very critical question. What should HEIs (universities) in Pakistan do?
Universities can no longer afford to simply be islands of higher education. Being an essential part of the country’s critical human resource producing eco-system it has a larger role and much wider footprint. Supported by the country’s scarce financial resources, be they from the government institutions or private individual as fees, they have a responsibility that is beyond the traditional teaching model.

HEIs today have a responsibility to the:
• Customers–The market (Who will ultimately pay for the product/service they will produce or generate).
• Consumers (The students who consume the services the universities offers).
• Collaborators (all the partners, regulators, that help it to fulfill its responsibility).
• Community (which provides the catchment area for its clientele and its services–the society).
• Country (Government, financing bodies, and the nation which is the identity and its ultimate overall responsibility).

This 5C’s model for a country’s HEI can help it to plan its offering of education, skill development, services and other support systems to fulfill its holistic responsibility.

The classical university now has to incorporate additional roles as a means of furthering technical, economic and societal development. It has the additional responsibility of transference of knowledge and skill for generating economic development. It needs to impact the economic development by using applied science, engineering, medicine, technology and management to further the objectives of the state.

This paradigm shift is being understood in Pakistan but it needs to be further defined and clarified. Traditional universities will find it difficult to survive in the coming times as the needs of the world outside the university i.e., in the market, are changing. HEIs therefore need to realign themselves to the new realities.


The writer is a corporate and academic professional associated with a university in Islamabad.

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Written By: Maj Gen Samrez Salik

'99 percent of humans take birth, eat, sleep, produce children and die. Only 1 percent contribute towards humanity'.


Stephen Hawking who passed away recently on March 14, 2018 (the day also known as Pi Day in the world of mathematics) was amongst the one percent who lived to contribute towards the well-being of humankind. He was regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein. He contributed tremendously as a cosmologist, an author and Director of Research at the Centre of Theoretical Cosmology of Cambridge University. In his illustrious career, for 30 years he held the coveted position of Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics in University of Cambridge, a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton and Paul Dirac. He was conferred with eighteen top research awards from 1966 to 2015. Although he regretted not getting the Nobel Prize, as he himself said, ‘I think most theoretical physicists would agree that my prediction of quantum emissions from black holes is correct, though it has so far not earned me a Nobel Prize because it is very difficult to verify it experimentally’. He has been a rare combination of physical disability and mental brilliance as he was called a disabled genius.

He was born in Oxford on January 8, 1942 (exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo) in an erudite family of UK, though not financially well off. His ancestors had couple of bouts of bankruptcy which compelled his father for extra toil to support his parents. His childhood memories included complaining to his parents that the teachers were not teaching him anything, his love for the toys especially infatuation for an electric train and his inquisitiveness about how things worked for which he would take them apart and was not good at putting them back together again. At 10, he qualified eleven-plus intelligence exam meant to sort out children suited for academic education. At 13 his father expected him to enter Westminster School for which he had to win scholarship as his parents could not afford it. In 1959, at young age of 17, he managed to fulfil his father’s desire by entering Oxford University. On vacations following his graduation, he travelled to Turkey and Iran. In Iran he had a narrow escape of life once caught in Buin Zahra earthquake of 7.1 magnitude. In 1962, he entered Cambridge University for his masters and PhD. Besides his amazing contributions in the field of astronomy and mathematics he has left certain lessons for the mortal humans.

While at Oxford, at the age of 20, he started becoming clumsy in his movements i.e., tumbling here and there and unable to perform routine functions of neuromuscular coordination. He was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Motor Neuron Disease (known in U.S. as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,ALS). His muscles were wearing down. Doctors suggested that he may not survive for more than couple of years. He described these agonizing moments in his memoir, ‘My dreams at that time, however, were rather disturbed….shortly after I came out from hospital, I dreamed that I was going to be executed. I suddenly realized that there were a lot of worthwhile things I could do if I was reprieved. Another dream I had several times was that I would sacrifice my life to save others. After all, if I was going to die anyway, I might as well do something good’. He and his family were devastated by this crushing reality. No one knew at that time how this young man would defy death and become one of greatest minds of his time.

An ordinary mortal will give up on everything and start winding up for life hereafter. But this brilliant mind took a different course. Despite the disease, he got back to his research at Cambridge. He married and had three children. He chose to rise as the greatest physicist. His works included research on Gravitational Waves, the Big Bang, History of time, black holes, Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory. I was introduced to him in 1986 through his phenomenal book, “A Brief history of Time: From Big Bang to Black Holes,” to which I was drawn due to my interest in black holes. The book was published in 1982, which became an international bestseller and stayed on Sunday Times bestseller list for 237 weeks. In his life time, he yearned for a unified theory through which he believed we would really know the mind of God regarding creation of the universe. He worked a lot on possibility of travelling back in time. He finally concluded that it may never be possible to go back in time. His other books included, Black Holes and the Baby Universe, The Universe in a Nutshell and the Grand Design.

In his professional career, he was such a spirited and lively man that most of the times he ran into bets with his colleagues on theoretical issues. His professional journey was by no means free of troubles. Two-thirds of his life was spent on a wheel chair. In 1979, once he was 37, his wife felt convinced that he was going to die very soon, so she desired to marry another person who would support her and the children once he was gone. The great man did not object to it. Many a times he had a narrow miss with death. He had choking fits, attacks of pneumonia, low oxygen levels, went on ventilators, and had tracheotomy. One odd time doctors proclaimed him dead and wanted to remove his ventilator, but his wife refused, and he bounced back. His speech had become slurred and tracheotomy had removed his ability to speak altogether. He could only communicate with special computers, equalizers, synthesizers and with his eye lid gestures–the only motor function which stayed on. He was kept on life support medical interventions, but his outstanding mind was never there to give in. On divorcing his first wife, he married a nurse and when that marriage also ended in a divorce in 2007, from thereon he lived alone with a housekeeper.

Super performance of a mind afflicted with debilitating and crippling physical disabilities is indeed outlandish. He led an accomplished life. He married twice, had three well accomplished children and had a successful scientific career. He said that he had a satisfying and fulfilling life. Hawking travelled extensively including seven times to the former Soviet Union, six times to Japan, three times to China, every continent including Antarctica, with the exception of Australia. He met Presidents of South Korea, China, India, Ireland, Chile and the U.S. He had been under the sea in a submarine and up in a hot air balloon and a zero-gravity flight. His early works showed that classical general relativity broke down at singularities in the Big Bang and black holes. Hawking’s later work had shown how quantum theory could predict what happened at the beginning and the end of time. He said in his memoir, ‘It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics. I am happy if I have added something to our understanding of the universe’.

Stephen Hawking exemplified that mind is the real power a human is endowed with by providence. With crippling Motor Neuron disease, he not only defied death for over 55 years but also optimally utilized outstanding power of his mind. The usual dictum, 'healthy body carries healthy mind' may be rephrased as, 'a strong mind can take care of a weak body'. His happiness and satisfaction with life, notwithstanding his crippling disease, is amazing; what an epitome of gratefulness! Towards the end of his memoir he calls his disability as an asset because he could focus on research without wasting time elsewhere. What a positivity! He stated that disabled people should concentrate on things that their disabilities don't prevent them from doing and not to regret those they cannot do. What a powerful message! All these aspects serve as big lessons for us. We are ought to be grateful for whatever we are blessed with, need to be positive and rely on the power of our mind.


The writer is present DG ISSRA, National Defence University (NDU).

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Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan Takes Over the Command of Pakistan Air Force


Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan NI (M) took over the command of Pakistan Air Force as the 22nd Chief of the Air Staff, in a graceful Change of Command Ceremony held at Air Headquarters, Islamabad on March 19, 2018. During the ceremony a smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Air Force presented the guard of honour to the outgoing Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman. Later on, he decorated Air Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan with the ranks of Air Chief Marshal and handed him over the “Command Sword”. To bid farewell to the outgoing Air Chief a four-ship formation of JF-17 Thunder aircraft presented a farewell fly past over the venue.

Speaking at the occasion, the outgoing Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman said, “As I relinquish the responsibility of PAF command on completion of my tenure as Chief of the Air Staff, I bow my head in great humility before Allah almighty, for his boundless blessings, help and guidance throughout my career. No doubt, serving PAF for over four decades has been a privilege, honour and a matter of immense satisfaction for me. Certainly, I cannot think of a greater honour than leading one of the best air forces of the world.”

The outgoing Air Chief further said, “I am glad to leave behind a well-developed mature organization, equipped with sophisticated hardware in the hands of most competent and highly skilled professionals, ever ready to defend the aerial frontiers of Pakistan as per the aspirations of the nation. As I reflect upon my times, both pleasant and testing in Pakistan Air Force, vivid among these are the events of the last three years in which PAF faced unprecedented challenges and brought peace to the country after milestone achievements in the war against violent non-state actors and extremists. Establishment of PAF’s Airpower Centre of Excellence was another major step forward in augmenting PAF’s operational preparedness and promoting coordial relations with friendly countries. PAF has also embarked upon a toilsome but rewarding effort in shape of Aviation City and a well-crafted Aerospace and Aviation Campus of Air University to prove the much needed industry-academia linkage for economic prosperity of the country through indigenization and self-reliance.”

Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman also added, “I urge you to strive for excellence in your assignments, put in your best for the country and PAF, work with sincerity of purpose and complete commitment to assigned tasks. Being combatants of this elite organization, always uphold the pledge to live for, fight for and die for the country. On this occasion, I congratulate Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan on his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, and wish him success in his new assignment. My successor is a sound professional with extraordinary leadership qualities and above all he is an excellent human being. I am confident that during his tenure of command, Pakistan Air Force will scale new heights of excellence, Insha Allah.”


newsairchiefmarshamujahidanwarkhan1.jpgBorn on 23rd December, 1962 Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan was commissioned in GD (P) Branch of Pakistan Air Force in December, 1983, and is the recipient of coveted Sword of Honour, Best Pilot Trophy and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gold Medal from PAF Academy Asghar Khan. During his tenure of service, he has held various Command and Staff appointments including Command of a Fighter Squadron, a Tactical Attack Wing, Base Commander of two elite F-16 Bases and Air Officer Commanding of Regional Air Command. He is a qualified Flying Instructor and graduate of Combat Commanders’ School, Command and Staff College, Jordan, Air War College, Faisal and National Defence University, Islamabad. He has also served as Personal Staff Officer to Chief of the Air Staff, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations), Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Operations), Director General C4I, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Support) and Director General Air Force Strategic Command at Air Headquarters, Islamabad. The Air Chief has flown various training and fighter aircraft including F-16, F-6, FT-5, T-37 and MFI-17. In recognition of his meritorious services, he has been awarded Nishan-i-Imtiaz (Military), Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military), Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Military) and Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (Military).
‘Pakistan a Vital Player for Regional Peace’,Imam-e-Kaaba During Meeting with COAS


His Excellency Dr. Saleh Bin Mohammad Al Talib, Imam-e-Kaaba visited General Headquarters and called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on March 12, 2018.

During the meeting matters of mutual interest were discussed. Dr. Saleh said Pakistan has a significant place in the Muslim world and it is playing a vital role for peace and stability in the region. The COAS said the relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are based on bonds of brotherhood and mutual trust. Both nations will continue to play a part for peace and stability and betterment of the ummah.


Brunei Leadership Acknowledges Pakistan’s Efforts for Regional Peace and Safety


During an officail visit to Brunei Darussalam on March 26, 2018 Cheif of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with the leadership of the Country. COAS met sultan of Brunei, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah. Matters of mutual interest including bilateral defence cooperation and military to military ties between both the countries were discussed. COAS also met Deputy Defence Minister, Maj Gen Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Mohd Yussof (Retd).


Later, COAS met military leadership of the country including Commander of Brunei Land and Brunei Royal Armed Forces. Matters of mutual interest including training and security cooperation came under discussion. The political and military leadership of Brunei acknowledged Pakistan's achievements in the fight against terrorism and efforts for regional peace and stability.


Foundation Stone for a Desalination Plant Laid at Gwadar
newsfoundationstonefor.jpgGeneral Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) laid the foundation stone of the UAE and Swiss government supported Gwadar desalination plant at Gwadar on March 4, 2018. The project fulfills long-awaited demand of locals which shall provide them with 4.4 million gallons of water per day with the capacity to increase to 8.8 million gallons per day. The desalination plant will be completed in 6-8 months’ time and shall resolve the scarcity of drinking water in the area thus reducing the hardships faced by the local population in fetching water from far flung areas. The COAS said that Balochistan's progress is Pakistan's progress. Pakistan Army will extend full support and assist the socio-economic development of Balochistan. While highlighting the importance of ongoing projects as part of Khushal Balochistan programme, COAS said that all measures will be taken in coordination with civil government to bring peace and prosperity in Balochistan. He further stated that these projects will transform the lives of the people of Balochistan. COAS emphasised that the potential of Balochistan as a regional economic hub will only be realized when people of Balochistan are best served by these projects. CM Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, Ambassador of UAE in Pakistan, Commander SC Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa, DG FWO and large number of locals were present on the occasion.


COAS Attends Groundbreaking Ceremony for Cadet College Awaran and Inaugrates Work for Turbat-Buleda Road
newsfoundationstonefor1.jpgOn second day of his visit to Balochistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) visited Awaran. He inaugurated work for Turbat-Buleda Road and groundbreaking ceremony for construction of Cadet College Awaran (CCA) at Jhao on March 5, 2018. On arrival at Jhao, COAS was given a detailed briefing by General Officer Commanding Major General Zaki Manj on recent security measures as well as support to the government on socio-economic projects. Cadet College Awaran initially will be for 800 cadets with plans to enhance its capacity subsequently. CCA will have hostel facilities for 300 cadets and faculty, and it will be constructed by Pakistan Army Engineers. The project will be completed in a quick timeframe of two years for its planned initial capacity at Jhao. He also interacted with local elders and troops in the area. Speaking at the occasion, COAS appreciated progress through joint collaboration by security forces and the civil administration. The COAS said that continuity of effort with national commitment is the way forward to bring about the desired development and stability in the province. Chief Minister Balochistan, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo accompanied COAS throughout the visit and discussed various coordination aspects to successfully carry on the execution of Khushal Balochistan project. Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa and other civil/military officials were present on the occasion.


‘Khushal Balochistan Aimed at Fulfilling Rights’, COAS at Makran Festival
newsfoundationstonefor2.jpg/>On his visit to Balochistan on March 5, 2018 the COAS interacted with local elders of Turbat at Headquarters FC Balochistan (South). CM Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa and IGFC Balochistan (South) Major General Tariq Aman were also present. The COAS also attended the closing ceremony of Makran Festival which was attended by large number of local residents. Speaking on the occasion, he said that provision of civic facilities and peaceful environment in less developed areas of Balochistan is a dream coming true. People of Balochistan have the right for provision of similar facilities as in the rest of Pakistan. He said Khushal Balochistan project is aimed at fulfilment of this right. COAS said presence of such a large gathering at this festival is testimony of the fact that Balochistan is moving towards peace and prosperity which is significant for Pakistan’s progress as well. At the end of the ceremony a fireworks show added colour to the festive mood of the spectators.


CJCSC and Chinese Ambassador Reaffirm Resolve for Deepening Strategic Ties
Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China, called on General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman JCS Committee at Joint Staff Headquarters, Rawalpindi on March 1, 2018. Matters related to changing geostrategic environment and further strengthening of security and defence cooperation were discussed during the meeting. Both sides reaffirmed the resolve for furthering of deeper strategic ties. The Ambassador applauded the professionalism of Pakistan Armed Forces and acknowledged sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war against terrorism.


CJCSC Calls on Chief of Staff UAE Armed Forces and UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs
newscjscwithchinesambasidor1.jpgGeneral Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman JCS Committee called on Chief of Staff UAE Armed Forces and UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs during his official visit to United Arab Emirates on March 6, 2018. Chairman also delivered a talk on “Regional Security Environment” at National Defence College, UAE.



Written By: Nadeem F. Paracha

Social media has arrived just at the right time in history. Never have the youth been so hungry for information and knowledge as they have been in the past decade and a half or so. Or maybe more. Or so. And so forth. Well, at least not since thousands of years ago when the ancient Aryan inhabitants of India surfed the surface of the planet (and the moon) and discovered uranium from which they created the world’s first nuclear-powered washing-machines in which they crisscrossed the entire face of the planet (and the moon), and, on occasion, also did their laundry in.


thesocialmediarev.jpgAlso, not since 501 years ago when brilliant Muslim alchemists surfed the surface of thunderstorm clouds in search of jinns from whose energy they created electricity, hundreds of years before Thomas Edison claimed that it was he who discovered electricity. If only there were Facebook and Twitter 501 years ago, Edison could never have ignored this fact. So today’s inquisitive youth are lucky to have Facebook and Twitter.

For example, they can now easily access the accumulated knowledge of a vital organization which has been behind the rise of the United States of America as a superpower and also behind the scientific prowess of the European powers. This organization now openly invites people to join and ‘like’ its Facebook page. It’s called the ‘Flat Earth Society’. For centuries this Society has proven that the Earth is actually flat as opposed to being round/oval. This has been the West’s best-kept secret. But now it is out in the open, thanks to social media.

America and European powers have for long managed to overwhelm the entire world by convincing people that our dear planet is round/oval. Innocent people were led into thinking that one has to go round and round to achieve progress; until they were left feeling dizzy. This way they were unable to stop Western powers from exploiting them, steal their resources, and make them smoke cigarettes while those making and selling the cigarettes quit smoking when once they reached the edges of Earth and found no ashtray there. Well, something like that.

Basically, one can say that by creating a page on Facebook, the Flat Earth Society has gone rouge. It has come out to help millions of today’s inquisitive youth to fight the tyranny of the false concept of gravity. It’s quite a liberating feeling, defying this concept called gravity. And it is very beneficial too because defying gravity certainly helped a dynamic orange-haired man become the president of the United States. That’s why there is nothing down-to-earth about him. Or his orange hairpiece.

The most amazing thing about the proliferation of social media has been the way it’s been producing new, more exciting kind of scholars and activists. Indeed, now one doesn’t have to spend hours and lots of money doing research and studying books in educational institutions to become a scholar. Instead, spending just a few hours on Facebook and Twitter can make one smarter, sharper and far more informed. All one has to do is to believe that the Earth is flat and voila! You become attuned to deciphering hidden messages in simple sentences, especially those spoken or written by the round/oval-earthers. Here’s an example I just found on Twitter of how a new, more exciting breed of scholar combated the cleverness of a round/oval-earther.

The round/oval-earther tweeted: Hi guys, any idea where I can find Gillete after-shave lotion in Karachi’s Clifton area?

A new, more exciting scholar was quick to intercept this tweet and reply: Why you encouraging dil dil Pakistan men to shave? This what your reel massage reely is!!! Next you will ask for womans hair shampoo in Clifton to massage womans to take off hijab! Shame on you, shaver!!!!

There is more. An ambiguous Facebook post by a Pakistani round/oval-earther was tackled brilliantly by an Indian flat-earther.

The Pakistani posted: Had the best kebabs today at a Pakistani restaurant in Amsterdam. Yum.
The smart Indian was fast to decode what the Pakistani was really suggesting. The Indian replied: Hahaha, you Paki fool it was ancient Indian restaurant established by great-great-great-great-great-great

-great-grandfather of great Modi in 324 BC in Amsterdam which then was under ancient Hindu dynasty of Modi ancestor who never put beef kebabs on menu. Those kebabs you eat were cabbage kebabs otherwise waiter would have lynched you. You see how genius us Indians have become under Modi, jaye metaphysical hind!!!

Social media has also given birth to a different breed of activists. Ones who shares horrific pictures of mutilated people taken from Google Images and claim they were of what they (the activists) say were of, kerlo jo kerna hai. This is rather fantastic, really. It raises awareness about all kinds of crimes and brutality, even if the images are not of the event which the activists are condemning. Why should this be a criterion? Violence is violence. Yes, sometimes such pictures and information do get some other folks into trouble, but, hey, most of them are round/oval-earthers. They actually deserve it. But no harm in posting, ‘Thoughts and prayers for you’ for them. Poor sods. Earth is round, hahahahaha.


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

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Written By: Maria Khalid

The social media has transformed and reshaped both peace and war. There are transnational networks of information and disinformation of both state and non-state actors. The reasons for operation may involve ideological, financial or simply personal reasons, which depend on mutually reinforcing one another to pursue their agendas. The online media is swarming with individual actors, each one of them a propaganda state in their own right. It has equipped the ordinary masses with the power to transform their circumstances, which is especially true of conflict.

As the world is shaped more and more by information, terror groups are using social media platforms and different internet forums to pursue and achieve their objectives such as disinformation campaigns, propagating their narratives, engaging in psychological warfare, recruiting members and gathering intelligence. While the terrorists lack the resources of the state, the internet becomes their refuge given this asymmetric advantage as they use the web to plan attacks with the objective to polarize the society by classifying the targets of their hatred as enemies.

ISIS remains a classic example in this context. With its physical caliphate reduced, the virtual caliphate continues to grow so it can’t be wiped out of the global consciousness. The emphasis is now placed on being a franchise and gathering people to carry out attacks in its name. These social media tools allow them to inflate accomplishments, terrorize people from afar and galvanize global attention, much beyond what could be dreamt by them in olden times.

The power of social media was realized early on by the Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was responsible for numerous acts of violence in Iraq including execution of hostages and suicide bombings, who for his bestial behavior was known as ‘Shaykh of the slaughterers”. He discovered the utility of uploading videos of his atrocious acts on the internet and took responsibility of his doings in several audio and video recordings.

A variety of platforms such as peer-to-peer encrypted messaging apps like Telegram and Surespot, and content sharing sites like JustPaste.it have been exploited by ISIS in order to maximize its reach. However only a fraction of their online output depicts the outrageous sadism, more common is the content of economic developments, public work projects and military triumphs, which is meant to convince their prospective recruits of the organization’s narrative to remain and expand. Their online propaganda has helped convince thousands of people to journey into dangerous lands where they’ve been told a paradise awaits.

ISIS uses networked devices like mobile phones, tablets, laptops and small commercial drones and social tools such as disposable Twitter accounts to timely disseminate operational commands to the terrorists following Twitter hashtags and Facebook or Telegram channels to relay information. The 2015 Paris attacks were propagated through Telegram, an effective social media app that was launched in 2013 and marketed as a secure messaging platform where the communication isn’t traceable. The application was used to recruit perpetrators of Christmas market attack in Berlin. More recent example of the same app’s usage was when a Turkish prosecutor found that the shooter behind the New Year’s Eve attack at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul used Telegram to receive directions from an ISIS leader in Raqqa.

Telegram being a secure messaging platform attracted 100 million users each month during 2016. Its end-to-end encryption made it very useful for secure messaging providing a secure and reliable means of communication to terrorists besides the social and business users. Its secret chat rooms and self-destructing messages kept the users safe from law enforcers and secret services, who knew for years now that Telegram is the app of choice for terrorists who want to keep their activities in stealth mode away from the prying eyes of counter-terrorism and intelligence experts.

According to the research by a security firm Trend Micro in an attempt to analyse terrorist accounts to see how they operate online, “When it comes to instant messaging, however, alleged terrorists tend to go a bit more underground.” As per the accounts analysed by the company, 34% of the accounts were running on Telegram. Similar encrypted apps such as Signal and Wickr are also popular. Facebook and Whatsapp tied for the second place in usage among the terrorists.

The prowess of IS’ digital media can be ascertained from the example of Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov who was charged with the death of eight people after he ploughed a truck into them in downtown Manhattan on October 31, 2017. His phone had 90 ISIS propaganda videos that he freely admitted had inspired him to commit the heinous act. The New York Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism John Miller told journalists that Saipov appeared “to have followed almost exactly to a ‘T’ the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before, with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.”

The ISIS propaganda videos seemed like an egregious issue as the counter-terrorism forces battling the propaganda remained helpless against the volume of propaganda churned out by ISIS. It includes both ISIS’ official media arms and the army of followers who ISIS has ennobled with the title ‘Knights of the Uploading.’

Fundraising Calls
A complex network of fundraising co-facilitators and financiers helps the illicit actors operate on the social media. Analysts are of the view that terrorists seek social media platforms to secure financial support for their operations, mainly due to the extensive outreach and anonymity that they offer. Financiers and fundraisers of these terrorist groups are active users of popular social media platforms. A man named Hajjaj Fahd al-Ajmi’s case is not an outlier, who was designated as a terror financier by the U.S. and the United Nations and placed on the U.S. sanctions’ list had an active presence on Instagram with 1.7 million followers. Instagram confirmed that it has the legal obligation to disable accounts maintained by and on behalf of al-Ajmi. He is known to have offered financial support to Al-Nusrah Front and is also in contact with a main financier linked to Al-Qaeda. The Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence speaking to the designation of these terrorist financiers, said: “Through fundraising appeals on social media and the use of financial networks, Shafi al-Ajmi, Hajjaj al-’Ajmi, and [Abd al-Rahman Khalaf] al-’Anizi have been funding the terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.” And these are merely a few cases in point.

In the first half of 2017, Twitter suspended 300,000 accounts that were promoting terrorism. Facebook also stepped up its efforts to remove accounts that were backing terror groups as did YouTube by taking down content and terminating users who posted terrorism-related material.

Social Media Bots
Social media bots are equipped with the ability to inflate a topic’s importance by flooding the networks with fake news depending on the currency of social media networks. An estimate about the use of these bots by ISIS is in thousands but they haven’t yet proven adept at their use. According to the ISIS Twitter Census report by the Brookings Institution in March 2015 although ISIS has been producing bots in clusters, each one is using a different service to post tweets on the subjects they wish to promote. The analysis suggested that IS/Daesh is in the initial phase of automated social media usage, which forms a limited number of the massive volumes rebroadcasted by the bots within the social media sphere using pre-existing text, sound and imagery. And yet this is a cause of concern considering the enhanced radicalization efforts to replace the deceased IS/Daesh foot soldiers with new recruits. However, the technology that detects bots is in its infancy and work is being done on approaches for their automatic recognition.

Counter-Terrorism Measures in Cyberspace
In 2018, cyberspace remains the dynamic landscape in which the hostile actors possess the freedom of movement–an unforeseen consequence of its creation–against the efforts of network defenders who work towards curbing that freedom.

Cyberspace was officially recognized by NATO as a domain of war by mid-2016. The urgency behind NATO's deepening interest in cyber defence is driven by the increasing sophistication of cyber threats against member states, according to Brig Gen Christos Athanasiadis, Assistant Chief of Staff Cyber at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), NATO, “Cybersecurity is now part of NATO's core task of collective defence. The alliance regards cyberspace as an operational domain in which it needs to defend itself as robustly as it does in the air, on land or at sea."

It is no surprise then that the U.S. has planned to integrate offensive cyber capabilities as a part of its military operations. France, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Greece and Netherlands have built similar capabilities to fight the terrorists in cyberspace.

In recent years the tech giants have been actively implanting the counter-terrorism measures and already have terms of service in place that prohibit any forms of violence and using their online services. The terrorist financiers and fundraisers using social media leave behind a trail of activities that reveal their co-facilitators. Understanding how these networks conduct their operations is the key to come up with counter strategies to stop the proliferation that gives terrorists unfettered and unprecedented access to millions of users. Once identified, these accounts are targeted for termination that helps to disrupt their fundraising networks and support activities. The U.S. and UN sanctions and banned terrorist outfits’ member list can be effectively utilized to block such accounts and of their co-facilitators that are associated with similar fundraising activities. Once these accounts are blocked, they should remain suspended and a mechanism should be there to keep them from establishing new accounts. The social media service providers can exchange intel with other providers on the accounts and activities of such blocked accounts.

Facebook has outlined steps it is using to combat terrorism-related content saying it is using artificial intelligence systems to detect and remove such content. Likewise, Twitter has stepped up efforts to suspend accounts that promoted extremism of which a huge percentage was flagged by its automated system. Despite these moves terrorists find ways to communicate and propagate their messages through social media thus making it essential to step up efforts against them including ensuring greater regulation and collaboration.

However, there are a number of limitations when it comes to removing the terror promoting content and disrupting their data as they rely on commercial softwares that reside on servers in third party countries. The group has also often proven resilient against the tech companies attempting to delete accounts for the breach of terms of services and the traditional cyber warfare techniques of interception and jamming, as the content emerged later on other servers. For instance, Senator John Thune, Chairman of the Commerce Committee, has questioned why a video, that demonstrates how to build a bomb has repeatedly been uploaded again every time YouTube deletes it. The video was used by the bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, who detonated a home-made bomb when he attacked the Manchester Arena in June 2017.

Despite these hurdles, results can be achieved by repeatedly hitting the accounts as it would demand more resources, infrastructure and expertise to bring the content back online and if it becomes inconvenient at some point, the audience will slowly wane and eventually lose interest. As active as ISIS is in the cyber domain, it is also vulnerable and that presents an opportunity for the law enforcement to work on testing their tactics and integration with other domains of warfare. ISIS is merely relying on existing telecommunication infrastructure for social media in which vulnerabilities can be easily exploited. The mobile phones we use are our portal to the world, and a line has to be drawn at some point for its responsible use, but where is that line?


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Written By: Dr. Fawad Kaisar

Facebook, Twitter, blogs and many more variations are the new e-passports. We are now witnessing the first generation to grow up using social media. Just as there are many variations of social media there are various kinds of people using it. According to one analysis, people with low self-esteem tend to be more active on social media. They use social media mostly for self-promotion. The increase in social media use over the last ten years is almost equal among females and males, but the negative affect on mental health seems to afflict females more than males. The impact of social media as a means to communicate does not just influence the younger generation which feels lost without the internet rather all age groups have taken to its use to some extent. Many researchers in the mental health fields have taken an interest in the impact of social media on mental health and the results are interesting, identifying both positive and negative effects. There are many positive aspects to its use mainly through increased social connectedness and empathy. The speed and spread of information can be of great benefit. It has positive effects on emotional well-being leading to increased confidence, improved social interactivity, more sympathy, less shyness and increased popularity.

The book Psychology of Technology has focused on the phenomenon of virtual empathy which defines it as a conscious attempt by an individual who is trying to share or understand another’s emotional state in a increases the virtual empathic ability which is the best predictor of real life empathy. This once again reflects that those who are more social on a day to day basis are probably high frequency users of social media. The downside, however, of use of social media is that such information may lack credence as the veracity of its source may be questionable. The ability and skill to look to the source of information will become essential to protect oneself from bad information.

Considering its negative effects, use of 11 social media sites–Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, Facebook and Reddit–are correlated with perceived social isolation among users and that the more time people spend on these sites, the more socially isolated they perceive themselves to be. Clinically speaking, perceived social isolation has well-known effects both psychologically and physically. There is increased exposure to bullying, harassment and the language of hate to name but a few. Schools in Australia have developed social media policies to give guidance in how to prevent, minimize and tackle online bullying. Such education is essential for the young and may be useful to older individuals as well. How this is tackled at times may need an appreciation of complexities that younger or even older users may not contemplate. Such skills, etiquette and social awareness are required to develop a networking society as a whole.

At the same time there is also compelling evidence that social media can benefit people already dealing with mental health issues by helping them build online communities that provide a source of emotional support. Studies looking at Facebook use and depression also found that people who use the platform primarily to connect with others do not experience the negative effects. In fact, when not triggering feelings of envy, the opinion shows, Facebook could be a good resource and have positive effects on well-being. So while the risks of these platforms is being acknowledged, so should their potential to help people, especially those already struggling with mental health issues.

Despite the preconception that teens are always glued to their mobile phones they do prefer face-to-face contact. Surprisingly they wish to spend more time with their parents but ironically feel that their parents spend too much time using social media. Using social media has its risks and a number of researchers have found an association between prolonged social media use and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating disorders, and increased suicide risk. It can be argued either way that spending more time on social media leads to depression or anxiety, or that it is depressed or anxious young people who spend more time on social media. Similarly, it is also important to consider that social media does not affect all people equally as some individuals may be more susceptible to the negative aspects than others. The pathways to mental illness are many and varied, and to suggest mental health problems can be attributed solely to social media would be an oversimplification.

While social media has given rise to elaborate virtual communities, it has brought awareness to important social movements and has supported fundraising for many worthwhile causes. It has also served as a platform and resource for less beneficial and sometimes troubling occurrences at both individual and societal levels. Without a doubt, there are upsides to social media, such as a feeling of community and being able to reach out to others almost anywhere at any time. Social media has provided access to opinions and information that can expand our minds and expose us to different points of view. However, these positive aspects of social media should not be used to overshadow the darker side of it.

Amid all the conflicting research, it remains important to understand if the emotional risks of digital technologies outweigh the rewards. Of course, all of the above are complex and are often exacerbated by or are intertwined with other indicators. Social media’s negative impact occurs mostly as the result of the upward social comparisons we engage in while using it. We tend to make note of the contrasts between a perfectly presented life and our own. Comparisons tend to lower self-esteem, which in turn increases the risk and severity of depressive symptoms, anxiety and a host of other unhealthy feelings and behaviours. We all need to learn to use such media and many will make mistakes as they gain familiarity with its nuances. Clearly the urge to assess and respond quickly is part of the attraction of social media. In some circumstances such a response needs to be tempered or may be even given in a completely different way altogether.

As humans, we cannot help being somewhat competitive. We tend to judge ourselves by comparing our lives to that of others. Social media may appear as a means to connect with other people, but it is a solitary activity and not social with Facebook, Twitter and the like simulating social interaction. It is important to understand that the manner in which social media is used is key to determining whether it is likely to have a positive or negative impact on well-being. So what is the consensus? Psychiatrists and psychologists appear to largely agree that social media is neither wholly good nor wholly bad for our emotional well-being, and that its impact on our mental health depends on a number of factors, including how it is used. Regardless, the impact social media has on us as individuals, organizations and communities is something that can’t–and shouldn’t–be ignored.


The writer is a psychiatrist practicing in UK.

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Written By: Schezré Syed

All is not bleak on the digital front, though. The use of social media as a source of information has been on the rise, especially since it acts as a perfect host to third-party content, making these networking forums the brokers between material generated by different creators, and their own clientele. With over 70% of all internet users being active on over one social networking site, the convenience in circulation of articles, videos, images and audio pieces has made social media arguably the primary source of consuming and experiencing information for a majority of the worldwide web users.


Instead of building meaningful relationships and working on self, we get busy trying to keep up with the people we don’t meet, watch the fun we are not having, and mourn unachieved milestones that we aren’t even meant for. The more lives we hear of, the more lives we fear we are not living.


Facebook pages and tweets became movements to rise against violations of women’s rights, child abuse, and corruption, globally becoming advocates of human rights. Individuals empowered one another by opening up about the injustices they had previously stayed quiet on, letting each other know that from apparently casual to seriously sinister offences had happened to them too (#metoo) and that now #TimesUp.


According to statistics, the average internet user has 7.6 social network accounts, and with an increased online presence comes the increased risk of a privacy breach. Not too long ago Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook) was photographed with the camera of his laptop taped, reminding users that it is easy for virtually anyone to be hacked in more ways than deemed possible. It is important to remember how easily these forums can invade privacy and become the real-world version of George Orwell’s Big Brother who is always watching.

Since the 20th century, the virtual landscape has altered so dramatically that it has become foreign to most turn-of-the-century adults. Tales from lands far, far away, and gems from the depths of the brightest minds, remain glued in the palms of our hands with the slabs of engineering such as laptops, tablets and cellphones. Along with the advancement in these technologies, there has been a boom in social networking forums such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat (to name a few) in which we have found an immediate global voice. Resultantly, today, billions of people around the world log in to social networking sites to seize the opportunity to create and share information, interests, and ideas for a plethora of purposes, all the while connecting with others on a personal and professional level.

But what impact has this instant virtual networking had on an individual, and on the collective scale? Has it been a portal of meaningful and much-needed connection? Is it actually a boombox of social change or is it a soapbox on which we stand and report on ourselves, and in the process, repeat affirmations to ourselves, solely for ourselves?

Individual or Alone
In the days when the internet was but a rising star, the father of Pop Art Andy Warhol dubbed the not-so-distant future as a realm where ‘everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes’. Perhaps this astute proclamation alone ought to have won him the title of the modern Nostradamus, just for having his finger on the pulse of the 21st century zeitgeist which advocates individuality, and the social media champions it.

The primary pull of this magic media is that we can decide who we are and which part of that identity we want to present. We can indulge in a range of quirks and interests online, and share them on our personal profiles, putting our best face forward. People exhibit the different colours of their persona through various media that the forum allows them to link and share. In fact, this trend is seen as an extension of a person to the point that nowadays, a number of university admission panels and employers are known to search an individual’s social media profiles before finally deciding if the candidate makes the cut.

Unfortunately, in this want to express ourselves we often get entangled in a paradoxical situation. Rather than being ourselves we begin representing ourselves. Every response can be edited, any picture cropped, a messy desk can be turned in to art and every post can be ‘engineered’ till it looks just right. As our own publicists we have an image of ourselves to promote. The cellphone here becomes a magic lamp with which we can summon the genie to do our bidding day-long and deep into the night. Among the most fervent orders: connect me to others; show me what I am missing out on; make me picture-perfect, or in other words: ‘Mirror, mirror, in the hand, who is the fairest in the land?’

The encouragement to be original is an important and an intoxicating one. With the ability to be anyone we want, we often start vying for approval ratings that come in the form of numbers: of friends, likes, retweets, shares, or streaks. Social media becomes a convenient place where social connections can seemingly be maintained by ‘adding’ more and more friends; ‘following’ people online; ‘sharing’ statuses; and by doing so, ‘feeling blessed’, without having added much value in to any of these activities. Instead of building meaningful relationships and working on self, we get busy trying to keep up with the people we don’t meet, watch the fun we are not having, and mourn unachieved milestones that we aren’t even meant for. The more lives we hear of, the more lives we fear we are not living.

It is becoming easier to compose a rant than to talk things out and emojis and memes seem so much better at the game of one-upmanship, as in neither of the options do we ever get cut off by the other person. Conflict resolution seems overrated in front of conflict deflection while a real conversation is easily buried under the illusion of communication. With real-life slip-ups, gestures, and quality of relationship diminished, for wildly popular product (social network) that primarily markets connection, it is ironic that loneliness is the most common condition of the modern world.

Time and Attention
Surely, in a world pressed for time, we can remain connected with our loved ones on a daily basis even if groups of hours cannot be bought to spend with them regularly. But the number of our loved ones can hardly be more than a few tens (at the most). Outside of that circle, we are too busy to invest time into something that demands our complete attention, and even social gatherings turn into chores. In such time-pressed conditions, social media provides an impressive platform where our attention can be rationed out in bite-sized doses.

Tipping over to the dark side of this technology is alarmingly easy, as its allure as a knight-in-shining-armour is a delicious one. The forums become our saviors–safe places where we can put up whatever we want and whenever we want. We can stay for as long or as little time as we want, and yet always find an audience without ever needing to put in any effort to establish a personal connection with them.

This is where a vicious cycle spirals from. In order to feel less alone, or more simulated, these apps are used even more frequently, almost reflexively. It is staggering to note how many terabytes of material is posted or shared on these forums by individuals. However the more content is viewed, the more forgettable it becomes. Hence, boredom in itself becomes a by-product of this supply of information where the consumers find themselves spoiled for choice. The innumerable options makes most of them so unremarkable that within a scroll the content slips through our fingers, and is forgotten before even being adequately registered. Besides, why be available for just one activity when one slot of time can be sliced into multiple pieces open for multi-tasking?

While there is no real harm in occasionally indulging in these apps when in transit from one thing or place to another, the waters begin to get murky when such on-the-go breaks turn into an impulse to always have something else open to attract (read: divert) our attention. There simply cannot be a screen with just one thing on it. It needs to have related suggestion, or update tickers, or at least have an endless scroll to keep up with our swiping speed. Giving a hundred percent to most tasks becomes impossible and some pop-up needs to be competing for our attention simultaneously. Therefore, it seems that for as many doors we want to enter from, we want double the exit strategies.

Bank of Information

All is not bleak on the digital front, though. The use of social media as a source of information has been on the rise, especially since it acts as a perfect host to third-party content, making these networking forums the brokers between material generated by different creators, and their own clientele. With over 70% of all internet users being active on over one social networking site, the convenience in circulation of articles, videos, images and audio pieces has made social media arguably the primary source of consuming and experiencing information for a majority of the worldwide web users.

Along with interests, academic material, and infotainment, news is widely disseminated via this media-centric model. On a regularly basis millions of historical content is archived and accessed digitally; independent news groups and pages broadcast their views, while over a million tweets go out daily. Not only do a considerable number of luminaries take to platforms such as Twitter to communicate their points of view, scores of scholars and researchers deem forums such as Twitter among the most illuminating insight into local, national and global voices. The easy (or even free) access to this wealth of information definitely makes social media a powerhouse.

The standard print journalism created by recognizing the importance of hooking the reader’s attention with attractive and informative headlines, remains strong within social media outlets, too. However the race here is not always to report the news–it is primarily to create a buzz and gather traffic to the pages. This means that vital journalism is often replaced with sensationalism and an act is played where headlines are nothing more than clickbait–a means of generating revenue through the number of clicks per page, at the expense of accurate or quality information.

Since the bulk of content produced comes from anyone and everyone, most published material undergoes no checks by a regulating authority. Though this means that the freedom of speech remains intact and opinions unfiltered, the problem is just that the opinions remain unfiltered through any funnel of authenticity or neutrality. And with a lack of accountability comes the absence of credibility. While community guidelines exist, the collaborative nature of the network applications mostly rely on users reporting malpractice and misinformation, however, a large number of those people accept most of the information as complete and accurate. For multitudes, the undisputed belief seems to be the adage by Abraham Lincoln (according to online sources): If it is on the internet, it must be true.

Hence, to fact-check material, more than what is posted, it is more important to see from whom and where is it coming from.

The sheer number of profiles (and hence market) on social media has attracted both, lucrative and small businesses to use social networks to advertise their brand. Not only is such advertising a billion-dollar industry, but especially with forums such as Instagram (among others), entrepreneurs and startups (secondary and tertiary sector) have received a massive boost. While traditional business models may not be changing, new links have shot out and made room for the sales and marketing trends made possible by the networking sites. Aspiring business owners no longer need to invest capital into renting stores to sustain their ventures.

Though countless companies simply post their products or services online, stocking at geographical outlets after the business is already established, others never meet the need for such a move as their work demands solely a strong online presence. This includes bloggers and influencers who have stepped in as publicists for a range of products and services ranging from tourism, food, fashion, and beauty to lifestyle.

A few years ago the largest scandals would relate to the top 0.1% of the world’s population. As controversies like the Panamagate unfolded, the world watched; less than two years after the online leak, another controversy has struck and this time it is the average consumer who is affected.

Social networks and media sites receive personal information from their users. What may be common knowledge but not that obvious is that third-party sites also harvest personal profiles for information, patterns and interests that can be used for purposes the users do not sign up for. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has highlighted the most recent example of corporations mining information without permission, though it is not the only one.

While corporations and governments may steal information to sell their agendas or influence outcomes in their favour, lone individuals commonly and swiftly take advantage of their social connections, and hack or abuse other people’s private information. For revenge, financial gain or to extort something out of another person, misuse and circulation of private data is an issue.

According to statistics, the average internet user has 7.6 social network accounts, and with an increased online presence comes the increased risk of a privacy breach. Not too long ago Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook) was photographed with the camera of his laptop taped, reminding users that it is easy for virtually anyone to be hacked in more ways than deemed possible. It is important to remember how easily these forums can invade privacy and become the real-world version of George Orwell’s Big Brother who is always watching.

Social Justice
Despite the risks, we are not living in an Orwellian state. In the last ten years social media rose as the rallying point for social change. Hashtags, which are mainly used so individuals can classify similar ideas/activities under easy-to-access keywords, became the fist of awareness, pounding at doors to let people know no longer will an issue be swept under the rug. Facebook pages and tweets became movements to rise against violations of women’s rights, child abuse, and corruption, globally becoming advocates of human rights. Individuals empowered one another by opening up about the injustices they had previously stayed quiet on, letting each other know that from apparently casual to seriously sinister offences had happened to them too (#metoo) and that now #TimesUp.

Blessing or Curse
The social media is undoubtedly one of the mightiest forces of our times. But like most forces, it can be used to benefit and it can cause destruction.
While recording precious memories digitally, or even cataloguing thought in a journal-like quality can be beneficial on these forums, at times it is easy to forget that not all thoughts are pearls, not all memories are to be shared with the world. What sometimes is forgotten is that self-worth must never be conflated with the number of interactions online nor should a sense of superiority be acquired by bashing others’ lifestyle, choices or fundamental differences.

The risks to one’s emotional, physical or spiritual being can be plenty. Though the medium by default can be divisive and aid polarity, the scale at which it has proven to bring people together to influence change is noteworthy; it has helped topple some of the most powerful people in the world, made governments accountable, exposed biases, and moved authorities to take immediate action against heinous crimes.

The range of roles social media serves goes on to prove that it is hardly a product on its own. With its ability to provide a customized experience to each user, we, the users become the actual product itself. It is up to us to decide how to harness the potential, and it is vital to remember that in order to make the best use of this power we do not fundamentally need 280 or even 140 characters... we need just one-human character.


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Written By: PN Public Relations Directorate


Pakistan Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) share a long history of naval collaboration where both navies maintain cordial and fraternal ties. In formative years of RSNF, training facilities and technical assistance rendered by Pakistan Navy laid solid foundations for establishment of a formidable Royal Saudi Naval Force. Officers of both navies avail “on job training” on each other’s ships which is a manifestation of close relations for mutual benefits. Exchange of high level visits and conduct of bilateral exercises such as AMAN and Naseem Al Bahr are hallmark of close naval collaborations between both navies.

In order to consolidate the existing strong bilateral relations between Pakistan and Royal Saudi Naval forces, major joint Naval Exercises Naseem Al Bahr XI, First Joint Mine Counter Measures Exercise (MCMEX) and Marine Forces Exercise “Deraa Al Sahil” between Pakistan Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) were conducted at Saudi Arabian Port Al Jubail from February 9-17, 2018. It is the first time that these exercises were held in Saudi Arabian waters. Whereas, Exercise “Affa Al Sahil-IV” was conducted at Karachi between PN SSG(N)s and RSNF SOFs.

The Joint Naval Exercises were aimed at enhancing interoperability and sharpening the tactical proficiency in counter piracy, anti air & surface warfare and mine countermeasure warfare. The exercises included joint conduct of maritime security operations across the traditional and non-traditional warfare domains thus enhancing interoperability between navies.

Pakistan Navy flotilla comprising PN ships ZULFIQUAR, TARIQ, AZMAT, QUWWAT, MUNSIF, PN helicopters embarked onboard PN ships and P-3C Orion Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft also participated in these exercises. The first joint Mine Counter Measures Exercise (MCMEX) was also scheduled concurrently with Exercise Naseem Al Bahr. Commander Adnan Ahmed was the Mission Commander of Pakistan Navy ships for the exercise.

Upon arrival at Port Al Jubail, Pakistan Navy ships were warmly received by senior RSNF officers and ranks. A brief about the joint naval exercises was conducted wherein details of different evolutions and exercises were discussed by both sides. The Joint Naval Exercise Naseem Al Bahr XI comprised two phases: Harbour Phase and Sea Phase.

During the Harbour Phase, various training exercises were organised onboard PN and RSNF ships and harbour facilities. Planning modules on conduct of amphibious landing operations, escorting operations, sniper/camouflage techniques and mine countermeasures/procedures were rehearsed by both navies. Mission Commander of Pakistan Navy and Exercise Director from RSNF closely monitored and supervised the training activities.

The Sea Phase of the exercise comprised practical demonstrations of Fast Boat Attacks, various formations, maneuvering drills, defence against asymmetric attacks using fast boats, helicopter landings, boarding operations, anti-piracy and joint response to conventional threats at sea. Live weapon firing was also conducted, in which PN and RSNF ships successfully engaged their respective targets. Pakistan Navy P3C and helicopters conducted joint operations with Saudi Air Force & RSNF Air Arm elements. During the sea phase of Mine Counter Measure (MCM), Exercise survey and diving operations and under water demolition of targets were also conducted.

This year, Exercise Deraa Al Sahil was also a part of Naseem Al Bahr XI in which Pakistan Marines and RSNF Marines exercised amphibious landing operations, escorting operations, beach landing, sniper camouflage training and boarding operations. In addition, small arms firing, cover and manoeuvre drills and para drop operations by RSNF Marines were also undertaken.

In tandem, Pakistan Navy’s Special Service Group [SSG(N)] and Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) Special Operation Forces also conducted a two-weeks bilateral exercise Affa Al Sahil-IV at Karachi, Pakistan, with the objective to improve interoperability, enhancement of professional skills, rehearse tactics/techniques and exchange of professional experience on maritime counter-terrorism operations.
The exercise Affa Al Sahil-IV was conducted in two phases. The first phase comprised land/field activities including small arms firing, sniper firing, close quarter combat, simulated raid on enemy target, night special ops combat tactics. Whereas, in the second phase, Special Maritime Operations at High Seas to thwart maritime terrorism, piracy and human trafficking were undertaken. The engagement culminated with Final Test Exercise (FTX) which was attended by RSNF Special Operation Forces Commander Commodore Hamdan Saleh A. Alshehri.

PN-RSNF Joint Naval Exercises Naseem Al Bahr XI, first joint Mine Counter Measures Exercise (MCMEX) and Marine Forces Exercise Deraa Al Sahil were followed by a closing ceremony held at King Abdul Aziz Naval Base Al Jubail. Chief of Staff (Personnel), Vice Admiral Abdul Aleem of Pakistan Navy was the chief guest on this occasion.

While addressing the debrief and closing ceremony, the chief guest stated that ‘the first ever conduct of Naseem Al Bahr XI including Mine Counter Measure (MCM) and Deraa Al Sahil exercises in Saudi Arabian waters at mega scale is a manifestation of high level of mutual faith, trust and confidence. Regular conduct of the exercise Naseem Al Bahr between PN and RSNF since 1993 is a testament to the ever increasing cooperation between two brotherly countries in general and navies of both countries in particular’.

Debrief regarding conduct of various phases of the exercises was conducted by Pakistan Navy Flag Officer Sea Training representative and RSNF Fleet Training Group. It was also attended by Rear Admiral Laafi Bin Hussain Al Harbi, Commander RSNF Eastern Fleet and a large number of officers from both PN and RSNF.

Conduct of Joint Maritime Exercises between Pakistan Navy and RSNF in present geo-political milieu assumes great significance and will go a long way in enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries. Since the inception of biennial exercise Naseem Al Bahr in 1993, it has matured as an advanced level maritime exercise involving almost all facets of naval forces. The level of participation from both sides signifies the trust and mutual confidence which prevails between the two brotherly countries.


Written By: Hilal Foreign Desk


Beijing, China
The National Day of Pakistan was celebrated with great spirit and fervor at the Embassy of Pakistan, Beijing in a ceremony to mark the passing of Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940.


bejingchina.jpgThe Pakistan Day ceremony commenced with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. Ambassador of Pakistan Masood Khalid raised the national flag and hoisted it to the mast’s summit with the accompaniment of invigorating tune of the national anthem.

The Ambassador read out messages from the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. He urged the Pakistani community to unite in order to achieve the national objectives. He also urged the Pakistani community to bring honour to the country and realize the dreams of the founding fathers to attain glory for Pakistan.

He highlighted the importance of Pakistan-China friendship and said that both countries share the same dream of development, peace and security in the region. He further stated that the bond of friendship between Pakistan and China has withstood the test of time through mutual trust and support.

Students from Pakistan Embassy College, Beijing presented national songs. The ceremony was attended by Pakistani community in China. Similar flag hoisting ceremonies were also held at Pakistani Consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai. In order to celebrate the occasion, a Grand National Day Reception was also held by the Embassy in the evening at a local hotel. Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Mr. Han Changfu was the chief guest. A large number of guests including officials from various Ministries of Government of China, representatives of think tanks, educational and cultural institutions, People’s Liberation Army, diplomats, military attachés and the Pakistani community participated. The event highlighted significance of the Pakistan Day and the cultural diversity of Pakistan.



Ankara, Turkey

A large number of distinguished guests participated in the reception hosted by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi in Ankara on 23rd March as part of the National Day celebrations. Senior Turkish civil and military leadership, leading businessmen, media representatives, Pakistani community, and diplomats based in Turkey attended “Pakistan Day” reception.


Guests of honour included Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Dr. Recep Akdağ, Chief of Turkish General Staff General Hulusi Akar, Minister for National Defence Mr. Nurettin Canikli, Commander of Turkish Land Forces General Yaşar Güler, Commander of Turkish Air Force General Hasan Küçükakyüz, Commander of Turkish Naval Forces Vice Admiral Adnan Özbal, Deputy Chief of Turkish General Staff General Umit Dundar, Chairman of Saadat Party Mr. Temel Karamollaoğlu, and Chairman of Grand Union Party Mr. Mustafa Destici.


Ambassador Syrus Qazi, in his welcome address said Pakistan-Turkey brotherhood has no parallel in inter-state relations. He termed it a heart-to-heart relationship that transcends boundaries of time and geography. The Ambassador thanked the Turkish Government for the participation of Turkish Armed Forces’ T-129 ATAK helicopters in Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad and for lighting the Bosphorus bridge in Pakistan’s colours on March 23. Minister for National Defence Mr. Nurettin Canikli referred to Pakistan and Turkey as true old friends and emphasized that the Turkish people believe that Pakistan will be on their side even in the most difficult days. The Minister pointed out that the two countries are facing similar challenges in their own geography and stressed on closer defence collaboration between the two brotherly countries.


The guests enjoyed variety of Pakistani cuisine in the specially prepared food stalls representing diverse cuisine from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.



Moscow, Russia

Pakistan Day was celebrated at Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Moscow on March 23, 2018 with traditional spirit and fervor. The event started with a flag hoisting at the embassy which was attended by all embassy staff and their families. A cake was cut by His Excellency Ambassador Qazi Khalilullah. Later in the evening a reception was organized in the embassy premises at the residence of the Ambassador. A large number of Russian dignitaries including Director of Second Asian Department (MoFA RF), Mr. Kabulov Zamir Nabievich, who was the chief guest, foreign diplomats/military and defence attachés, Russian thinks tanks, representatives of different Russian media houses and members of the Pakistani community in Russia attended the ceremony. National anthems of the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were played during the celebration.

Dr. Jumma Khan Marri, an ex Baloch sub-national leader, attended the event for the first time with full zeal and national spirit along with his followers residing in Russia. Dr. Jumma was very well received by the Ambassador, Pakistani community and the media houses. He appreciated the Ambassador of Pakistan for inviting him on Pakistan Day celebrations and congratulated the audience including the Pakistani community in Russia and Pakistan on celebration of Pakistan Day.

The festive day of 23rd March 2018 ended in Moscow with proud Pakistani pledging for renwed vigor and zeal to serve the motherland and further strengthened the Pak-Russia relations.



Washington, USA
The 78th Pakistan Day was celebrated at the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington, with commendable fanfare and festivity. People from all walks of life including the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, diplomats, foreign military attachés and members of Pakistani diaspora participated in the celebrations. The celebrations commenced with an elegant flag hoisting ceremony at the Embassy of Pakistan, heartwarming singing of the national anthem and reading of the messages by the President and Prime Minister on this historic day.


washusa1.jpgAt the reception held in the evening, Ms. Lisa Curtis, Deputy Assistant to the U.S. President on South and Central Asia, was the guest of honour. She congratulated the people of Pakistan as well as Pakistani-Americans on this historic day, expressing her warm sentiments for the people of Pakistan and spoke about the historic U.S.-Pakistan friendship. She also underlined the need for both countries to work together in order to achieve their common interests. It is important to note that a large number of U.S. senators and congressmen had sent messages of felicitation on this occasion which were received with warmth as they were displayed during the reception ceremony.

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry congratulated Pakistanis all over the world, particularly in the USA. He also paid rich tribute to the founding fathers who had the vision and resolve to create a separate homeland for the Muslims of Sub-Continent. He highlighted the achievements of Pakistani nation over the years and expressed that the principles of the Pakistan Resolution should serve as a guiding light for the nation to overcome our current challenges. On Pakistan-U.S. relations, he too expressed that both countries should work together to achieve their common objectives. The cermony ended with echoes of Pakitsani songs and slogans enchanting the audience.



Amman, Jordan
Pakistan Day has a special place in the hearts of all patriotic Pakistanis living in or outside Pakistan, and is celebrated every year across the globe with national spirit and fervor.

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was no exception where flag hoisting ceremony and reception was organized by Embassy of Pakistan in Amman, Jordan. The event was attended by people from all walks of life including members of Jordanian Parliament, leading political figures, senior leadership of Jordan armed forces/security forces, ambassadors, defence attachés, businessmen, Jordanian and Pakistani community.

Ambassador of Pakistan, Excellency Major General Junaid Rehmet (R) in his speech, apprised audience of historically deep rooted, time tested relations between Pakistan and Jordan. He also highlighted Indian atrocities in Kashmir and great sacrifices of Pakistan Armed Forces in the war on terror. Bilateral defence ties and close coordination between Pakistan and Jordan Armed Forces are the cornerstone of relations between both the states.



Cairo, Egypt
The National Day of Pakistan was celebrated with national spirit and great fervor at the Embassy of Pakistan, Cairo.

The March 23 Pakistan Day ceremony commenced with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. Ambassador of Pakistan, Mushtaq Ali Shah raised the national flag with the invigorating tune of the national anthem.

Messages of the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan were read. H.E the Ambassador highlighted the importance of the day and expressed his gratitude to the Pakistani diaspora in Egypt for their active participation in the event. Children from Pakistan International School in Cairo added colours to the event by performing to the national song.

In the evening a graceful reception was organized in a five star hotel which saw a large number of diplomats, members of Egyptian Armed Forces and Pakistani community who honoured the occasion with their presence. The Ambassador of Pakistan highlighted the importance of the day, contributions of Pakistan towards global peace and the strength of Pakistan-Egypt brotherly relations. The celebration was widely covered by Egyptian print and electronic media.



Baghdad, Iraq
Flag hoisting ceremony marked the beginning of the Pakistan Day celebrations in Baghdad, Iraq. This was the first hoisting in Iraq since 2005. The ceremony was attended by prominent members of the Pakistani community in Iraq. The messages of the President and the Prime Minister were read out and prayers were offered for the security, peace and prosperity of Pakistan.


baghdad1.jpgA reception was also arranged on the evening of 23rd March at a hotel in Baghdad despite fragile security situation. The function was attended by a wide cross section of Iraqi society including the academia, philanthropists, journalists, businessmen and representatives of various Ministries of Iraq as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps including Military and Defence attachés. Mr. Osama al-Nujaifi, the Vice President of the Republic of Iraq graced the occasion as the chief guest. While conveying his felicitations the Vice President emphasized the need for strengthening bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iraq in all fields of mutual interest.

Celebration of Pakistan Day shall go a long way in bolstering better ties with Iraq and other countries of the region.


Quaid-i-Azam, in February 1948, said, “Our foreign policy is one of friendliness and goodwill towards all nations of the world. We do not cherish aggressive designs against any country or nation. We believe in the principle of honesty and fairplay in national and international dealings and are prepared to make our utmost contribution to the promotion of peace and prosperity among the nations of the world. Pakistan will never be found lacking in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed and suppressed peoples of the world and in upholding the principles of the United Nation’s charter.”

Rightly displaying this spirit, and the will and commitment to Quaid’s vision, the entire nation celebrated “Pakistan Day” on March 23, 2018. Our slogan ‘Pakistan, the land of peace’ is both a pledge and a promise to the Quaid’s words. The Joint Services’ military parade aptly depicted both resolve and our commitment towards peace and security of the country. The soldiers’ professional excellence, state-of-the-art indigenously manufactured military weapons and equipment, and diverse capabilities to respond to any threat to our territorial integrity and sovereignty displayed during the parade are not instruments of any aggressive design but of peace and stability. Our words are sincere, and our actions reflect unity of purpose that is only aimed at peace within Pakistan, and peace around the world we live in. Pakistan has, over time, substantially proved how we have stood for peace since the very inception.

Pakistan has participated in 41 UN Peacekeeping missions and 156 Pakistani peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives, which includes 23 officers, for the noble cause of helping various countries navigate their path from conflict to peace. Peacekeepers from Pakistan have served in some of the most complex and difficult regions in the world, risking their lives to build peace and stability, notwithstanding the massive and comprehensive counter-terrorism operations that had to be conducted within our own country to achieve peace. Pakistan continues to participate in the peacekeeping mission abroad with the same commitment and dedication since it began participating in the mission in July 1960. Ever since, 1,69,000 Pakistani personnel have served in 23 countries with professionalism and distinction.

Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees and has accommodated them despite them being used against the state. In the War against Terror, the spaces being used and exploited by terrorists were mostly based in Afghanistan as terrorism poured over from the porous Pak-Afghan border. According to an estimate over two million Afghan refugees including 1.3 million registered and at least 600,000 unregistered are still residing in Pakistan. Pakistan has and will remain committed to playing a constructive role towards the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process not only to protect its citizens, but also for regional and global peace and security.

The participation of foreign contingents in Pakistan Day Parade is a reflection of our standing in the comity of nations as a responsible state. The propaganda of Pakistan’s isolation trumpeted by the enemies has come to naught. There are agreements and disagreements based around rational policy choices and pursuit, but today’s Pakistan stands fully aligned with the agenda of collective peace and security. The actions of external powers have an influence on the peace and security situation in Pakistan. We have conveyed and proved our commitment to peace time and again but at the same time have made it clear that aggression will not be accepted. Pakistan holds dear its national pride, is capable of defending the country and has demonstrated exceptional commitment and fortitude to counter threats including terrorism.

The steadfast Pakistani nation is forever united in its resoluteness to promote peace within the country and across the globe.

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Written By: Hussain H. Zaidi

From time to time, Pakistan is given the shaft for ‘short-shrifting’ regional trade. In particular, the finger is pointed at the security related policies of Pakistan for having ‘hobbled’ the growth of trade with neighbouring countries. Admittedly, Pakistan’s regional trade is below the desired level. However, any analysis which sets down the regional trade situation to a set of government policies is only skin-deep. Instead, it’s imperative to take into account the whole gamut of regional political-economy dynamics to understand the obstacles to expansion of Pakistan’s trade with its neighbouring nations.

Trade, including regional trade, presents a trade-off among competing interests. This statement may be a tautology but it brings to light arguably the most crucial aspect of trade—whether it’s in a regional or multilateral context. Trade has winners as well as losers. While it may make one group better off, it will leave another worse off. For instance, when Pakistan exports large consignments of rice, it’s the rice millers who gain at the expense of consumers, who have to pay a higher price for the commodity.
The effects of trade cut across social spheres. It’s not only the economic but political and cultural interests as well on which trade expansion, or for that matter contraction, casts its impact favourably or adversely. When, take another example, the European Union (EU) grants GSP-plus trade concessions to countries like Pakistan subject to compliance with some international conventions relating to human rights and governance, the effects are both economic–increase in exports—and political—intrusion into the country’s politico-legal system.

More than a decade ago when the government in Sri Lanka was in the final phase of putting down Tamil insurgency, the EU had suspended the country’s GSP-plus status for alleged human right abuses. But a defiant Sri Lankan government went ahead with the military operation brushing aside the loss of a few hundred million Euros, thus demonstrating that national security outweighs trade. Recently, the United Kingdom left the EU when it found that regional integration was undermining its national interest. In the end, every nation has to decide which interests to enthrone above others.

The relationship between economic and political relations of sovereign states goes either way. Regional economic integration, as in case of EU countries, may serve as an instrument of averting inter-state political hostilities and strengthening political relations. Conversely, political tensions, as in South Asia, may thwart regional trade. It’s by no means necessary that what’s true of, or good for one region is also applicable to another. This is for the reason that every region has its own dynamics. By the same token, trade, while it may bring two countries together, may pull them apart or escalate tensions between them. At present, the United States’ growing trade deficit with China is probably the thorniest issue between them. The search for markets or raw materials, let’s not forget, has been a powerful casus belli for wars in history.

Moving back to Pakistan’s regional trade, we will first present the facts and then analyze the factors that bear upon Pakistan’s trade performance in the regional context. The facts and the analysis will be confined to Pakistan’s trade with the countries of South Asia or South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the members of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and China. SAARC comprises eight countries, namely Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. ECO has ten members including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Thus in addition to Pakistan, Afghanistan is the only country that is a member of both ECO and SAARC. Both these blocs have economic integration as one of their core objectives. Although Pakistan does not share the membership of a regional trade agreement with China, our north-eastern neighbour, both countries have a free trade agreement (FTA), which is operational since 2007. Pakistan’s regional trade is summarized in Table 1.

 tradingwith.jpgTable 1: Pakistan’s Regional Trade in 2016

Value in Billion USD
Calculations based on United Nations Comtrade Data

Pakistan’s regional trade in 2016, the last calendar year for which full year is available, was USD 22.76 billion ($5.94 billion exports and $16.82 billion imports). This included $15.27 billion trade with China ($1.59 billion exports and $13.68 billion imports), $4.75 billion trade with South Asian countries ($2.61 billion exports and $2.14 billion imports), and $2.74 billion trade with ECO countries ($1.74 billion exports and $1.0 billion imports). Pakistan’s regional trade accounts for 34.22 percent of its global trade, 28.93 percent of its global exports and 35.79 percent of its global imports. Trade with China makes up 22.96 percent of Pakistan’s global trade (exports: 7.74 percent, imports: 29.11 percent). The South Asian and ECO regions account for 7.14 percent (exports: 12.71 percent, imports: 4.55 percent) and 4.12 percent (exports: 8.48 percent, imports: 2.13 percent) of Pakistan’s world trade respectively.

Country wise, Pakistan’s major trading partners in the region in addition to China are Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, and Turkey. India is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in South Asia. Pakistan's total trade with India is $1.99 billion including $341 million exports to India and $1.64 billion imports from India. This gives India 3.3 percent share in Pakistan's global trade, 1.69 percent share in Pakistan’s global exports, and 4.23 percent share in Pakistan’s global imports. At the same time, Pakistan accounts for less than one percent of India's world trade. The low level of Pak-India trade is one of the principal reasons for ineffectiveness of SAARC in the economic sphere (albeit political reasons for which India shares main responsibility).


 tradingwith1.jpgTable 2: Pakistan’s Trade with Some Regional Countries in 2016

Value in Million USD

Calculations based on United Nations Comtrade Data

Pakistan has a very healthy trade turnover with Afghanistan—$1.73 billion including $1.36 billion exports to Afghanistan and $369 million imports from that country. Afghanistan is Pakistan’s third-largest export market accounting for nearly 7 percent of Pakistan’s world exports.

Since Afghanistan is a member of both SAARC and ECO, Pakistan's major trading partner in ECO region after Afghanistan is Turkey. The total bilateral trade is $496 million including $236 million exports from Pakistan and $260 million imports from Turkey. Pakistan’s trade with the five Central Asian Republics (CARs) is $87 million including $37 million exports and $50 million imports. With Azerbaijan, the bilateral trade is $61 million.

Thus among the regional countries, China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner. It’s also Pakistan’s largest trading partner globally. Pakistan is running $12 billion trade deficit with China, which although a cause for concern, is understandable. Because of the enormous size of the domestic market, China enjoys cost advantages that few other countries match. Over the past more than two decades, China has maintained a very healthy growth rate, the economy has diversified substantially, and the country has moved up the value chain in manufacturing. The growth in China has been export driven. Although in 2016, the export-GDP ratio came down to 19.6 percent from 37 percent in 2006 (World Bank data), as the country is focusing more on domestic demand, the ratio on the whole has remained very high considering that bigger countries tend to have lower export-GDP ratios. By contrast, Pakistan’s export-GDP ratio is only 9 percent. Pakistan’s FTA with China has also been instrumental in driving up the bilateral trade imbalance. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can be another instrument of significantly enhancing bilateral trade. However, at least in the short run, trade balance would further tilt in favour of China.

The SAARC region accounts for only 7.1 percent of Pakistan’s global trade. Despite the presence of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which is in force since 2006, the intra-region trade is less than 7 percent of the world trade of the eight member countries. The major reason is said to be lack of normal trading relations between Pakistan and India. Pakistan has not granted the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India. The MFN principle essentially stipulates that a country should accord the same level of market access to all its trading partners. One major exception to the MFN treatment is that a country may grant preferential treatment to imports from other countries with which it has an FTA. The market access is broadly categorized into import tariffs and non- tariff measures (NTMs). Pakistan applies the MFN or normal tariffs to all imports from India. However, Pakistan maintains a negative list, comprising some 1200 products, for imports from India. These products cannot be imported. It is this import restriction that withholding India’s MFN status entails, which Pakistan sees as an NTM.

On the other hand, our exporters maintain that Pakistan-specific NTMs—such as cumbersome product certification and customs clearance procedures, restrictive trade routes, and visa issues—in India—restrict their access to the enormous Indian market. These NTMs vitiate the MFN market access for Pakistan's exports in India and are one of the reasons for Pakistan’s $1.3 billion trade deficit with India.

The hostile political relations between Pakistan and India have also cast a pall over the bilateral trade. Pakistan has historically linked normalization of commercial relations with India to that of political ties, in particular the resolution of the long-standing Kashmir dispute. The Pak-India composite dialogue, which kicked off in 2004, was an attempt to sort out the outstanding, including commercial issues between the two countries. The process, however, come to a standstill in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which India set down to “the non-state actors from Pakistan.” Be that as it may, in a departure from its historic stance, in 2011 in a unilateral move, Pakistan replaced the positive list for imports from India with a negative list. The positive list meant that only the products contained on the list could be imported from India. The move was aimed at normalizing the bilateral trade relations. However, it did not prompt a similar overture from New Delhi in the form of easing of the restrictive NTM regime.

In recent years, the Pak-Afghan bilateral trade has come down. For instance, in 2013 Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan were $2 billion; thereafter the exports started declining. Iran has replaced Pakistan as the largest source of Afghan imports. Being a land-locked country, Afghanistan is dependent on Pakistan, as well as Iran, for its overseas trade. The causes of the downward movement of Pak-Afghan trade are both political and economic.

The tense security situation in the region occasionally causes the closure of the Pak-Afghan borders at Torkham and Chaman. Even when the borders are open, beefed-up security measures slow the movement of the traffic. Another reason is tariff differential. The import tariffs in Afghanistan, which has no domestic industry worth mentioning to protect, are much lower than in Pakistan. Therefore, the Afghan transit trade through Pakistan has become a conduit for smuggling, forcing the Pakistan Customs to take to more stringent countermeasures than the Afghans would like.

Besides, New Delhi has tricked Kabul into believing that Afghanistan’s economic, not to speak of political, problems are largely due to Islamabad. One answer, as suggested by New Delhi, is to give the Indian exports overland access to Afghanistan through Pakistan. Such a move would only result in India replacing Pakistan as a principal supplier to Afghanistan; it would neither drive up Afghan exports nor drive down Afghanistan’s immense trade deficit. Nevertheless, essentially for political reasons, the overland access of Indian exports to Afghanistan remains the foremost item on the Afghans’ wish list for enhanced economic ties with Pakistan. At any rate, the countries of South Asia should first learn to live in concord, which is contingent upon resolution of the key issues; regional integration will come through subsequently.

Afghanistan aside, Pakistan's low trade volume with other ECO countries has multiple causes. One, the ECO is arguably the only region in the world, which does not have a functional preferential trading arrangement. The ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), which was signed in 2003, has not yet come into effect despite commitments made by the top political leadership from time to time. Besides, the ECOTA has been signed only by five, out of ten ECO members, namely Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and Tajikistan. This shows the actual level of commitment to regional economic integration among ECO countries.

Two, the commitments of the members to trading blocs outside the ECO have also hampered bilateral trade. For instance, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the Eurasian Customs Union, a Russia-led trading bloc, which dampens their interest in shoring up trade relations with other ECO members. Among the CARs, only Tajikistan is a signatory to ECOTA. On the whole, the trade policies of CARs are Russia-centric. Turkey has a customs union with the EU and prizes its trade relations with the mega bloc more than those with ECO countries, with the exception of Iran from which it purchases oil and gas.


Besides, New Delhi has tricked Kabul into believing that Afghanistan’s economic, not to speak of political, problems are largely due to Islamabad. One answer, as suggested by New Delhi, is to give the Indian exports overland access to Afghanistan through Pakistan. Such a move would only result in India replacing Pakistan as a principal supplier to Afghanistan; it would neither drive up Afghan exports nor drive down Afghanistan’s immense trade deficit. Nevertheless, essentially for political reasons, the overland access of Indian exports to Afghanistan remains the foremost item on the Afghans’ wish list for enhanced economic ties with Pakistan. At any rate, the countries of South Asia should first learn to live in concord, which is contingent upon resolution of the key issues; regional integration will come through subsequently.

Three, international sanctions on Iran struck a heavy blow to its world trade. The sanctions also left Iran a highly regulated, protected, and non-transparent economy, with exceedingly high tariffs and other stringent barriers to trade. They also rendered Pak-Iran PTA, in force since 2006, virtually ineffective. Not surprisingly, the bilateral trade nosedived from $1.06 billion in 2010 to $358 million in 2016. The lifting of most of the sanctions offers an opportunity for increase in Pak-Iran trade. However, due to continuing American sanctions on Iranian financial institutions, Pakistani banks remain reluctant to do business with their Iranian counterparts. Since the banks provide the most credible mechanism to carry out international trade transactions, the lingering banking issue constitutes one of the most serious obstacles to the bilateral trade. With an unpredictable Donald Trump calling the shots in the U.S., the fate of the Iranian nuclear deal, and thus Iran’s international trade including that with Pakistan, hangs in balance.

Pakistan’s businesses, which believe in playing safe, prefer to do business with their counterparts in North American and European countries, which are characterized by political stability and fairly familiar and predictable market behaviour. Hotspots like Iran or the markets like CARs, for which an unstable, and presently unfriendly, Afghanistan provides the shortest transit route, do not hold much of an attraction for them. In a market economy, it’s the private sector, not the government, which decides who and how much to trade with.

For both trade—lack of economic integration and little interest of the corporate sector—and non-trade—security, political tensions, international sanctions—reasons, neither the members of SAARC nor those of ECO have been able to set up regional production networks, in an era in which such networks are at a high premium in the rest of the world. The outcome is a Catch 22.


The writer is a frequent contributer to national print media on issues of politics and economy.

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Written By: Sana Ejaz

On a fine Tuesday morning around 9 a.m. I walked into the Army Sports Directorate (AS Dte) to interview the sportswomen who are enrolled there. Walking into the area I came face-to-face with the site of women and men practicing archery in the front lawn. As the interview progressed I interacted with several other sportswomen engaged in training for their respective sports under the guidance of their coaches. The significance of AS Dte’s work dawned upon me as I learned through each conversation about how it uplifts them and supports their hope to participate in national and international competitions. The AS Dte’s initiative is a reflection of the stance and belief of the Pakistan Army which supports the empowerment of women not only those who wear uniform but also in all other areas. The organization’s commitment towards this initiative is one which serves as evidence to the nation’s progressive spirit which does not differ between men and women, rather believes in ensuring that equal opportunities are provided to all, without any discrimination. The point of pride for the Directorate comes from its active efforts of representing the country’s women in the arena of sports at both national and international level. The strides made by this institution can be gauged from how the number of women under the patronage of the Army Sports Directorate has increased from 80 in 2015 to around 220 in 2018. These women participate in twenty-five sports ranging from archery to wushu. Their best performing teams include that of swimming, taekwondo, wushu, archery, baseball, cycling, volleyball and basketball among others.

Means of Selection
The efforts of the recruiters and coaches is best described in the words of Bushra Rashid, a player in the Directorate’s women’s Rugby team who has won a silver medal while competing nationally, she explained that the role played by the coaches, recruiters as well as other female athletes of the organization is critical not only in the training period but specially in the initial phases due to their help in convincing their families and guardians for allowing them to train and compete. She stated that a team without a supportive coach is like a car without a driver, bound to crash. There are different means employed by the Directorate for the purpose of selecting and inducting women into its program. One important method is that of monitoring the inter-provincial games to recruit female players in different games. Another method involves recruiting sportswomen from villages and other areas. The physical fitness, training and skill of these women is gauged in order to come to the decision of whether or not to recruit them. An important point for consideration on which the Directorate does not compromise is the passion and love for the game which the selected athletes hold. A great feat and difficulty for the recruiters are the selection of players for a team sport. The challenge lies in the critical nature of recruiting individuals who can be successfully gelled as team so that their performance in team sports like volleyball, basketball, rugby and likewise is not compromised. Saba, a national player on the Directorate’s volleyball team, stated that their ability to perfect their teamwork comes from the guidance of their coaches and the long hours that the teams put in to practice their form and harmony. The model of recruitment and training is based upon undertaking physically fit individuals with their raw talent and transforming them into professional players through rigorous training and skill development.

Training and Trajectory of Improvement:
There are 11 training sessions which are held in a week. These training sessions and special training camps, organized prior to a competition, have proved to be extremely beneficial with comparison charts showing an increase in the player’s performance and physical condition in the last 2 years alone. Players put their all in training under the guidance of their coaches and mentors, competing at both national and international levels with their aspirations for winning gold for their country. To describe the importance of training the Director AS Dte Brigadier Ghulam Jilani aptly quoted Stephen Covey, “The law of the farm operates in all facets of life and there’s no way to fake a harvest.” Just as Covey said, in the case of sportswomen a training period is required for them to grow, attain their optimum physical condition and to effectively learn, adapt and hone their skills.

Their passion and love of the game allows them to power through with their demanding training and excel in the performance they give. To raise not only the participation of women athletes but also their skills it is imperative to invest in them and to polish them so that they can go for gold and represent their country at all levels with pride and preparation. The sportswomen of the Directorate compete at local, national and international level, showcasing their skills and drive.

The issues most commonly faced by female athletes in our country are that of societal pressure and family strains with regards to the traditional gender roles. Since training and competing requires going to different camps around the country or outside of the country, many parents do not feel comfortable in supporting their daughters to participate in them. This difficulty was echoed by wushu players Zahra and Kulsoom who find familial support–particularly paternal support–imperative in such a situation. Despite the Directorate’s efforts and intentions the regrettable reality is that their female athletes have to leave this all behind and return home after the contract ends. However, in a bid to support them and to contribute to their flourishment, the Directorate provides them with insurance after their athletes have peaked to give them financial support. There is also an ever-present worry for recruiters that the women they have enrolled in their training programs and teams may not come back after their vacations/off-season. Their return is most likely hampered either due to marriage or family opposition. Nor is there a guarantee that the physical condition and diet of their female athletes will be maintained. Some girls face difficulties in joining the field of sports owing to sexist stereotypes and negative assumptions of women breaking the assumed characteristics of an “ideal” woman or daughter. While talking to Saba Sultan who is not only an international Kabaddi player but who also has experience in playing handball she stated in detail about the need to brave through the criticisms, the hardships and the failures as one’s passion for the sport and hard work can turn the game in their favour. She further stated that while coaches and institutions are important, the government’s support is critical for sports to flourish in Pakistan as they can ensure that competitions are not delayed or postponed and are held in a timely and safe manner. Saba emphasized the need for women to be strong and to not shy away from criticism, saying that “a woman’s dignity is reflected by her strong character”.

Services and Provisions
The Directorate provides the female athletes with hostels and transport facilities during their stay in the training period. Their hostels, comprising two buildings, are equipped with mess, heating/cooling facilities, and entertainment. To give them a reprieve from their packed schedule trips are also organized. During their stay at the facility, the athletes are given a special diet and they train in the presence of coaches, nutritionists and doctors whose objective is to ensure their athletes’ healthy diet, physical strength and safety. Medical insurance is also provided to the athletes which covers their injuries. To contribute to the development of their athletes and to practice the spirit of healthy competition, routine friendly matches are held between male and female athletes. During their participation in the competitions, the athletes are provided with costumes, kits, accommodation and transport. These female athletes not only gain physical empowerment but also financial independence with the monthly stipend that is provided to them.

Importance of Sports
Sports is an essential activity to pursue as it improves the physical and mental fortitude of any and all persons who practice it. There is no one who argues against the positive impacts that participation in physical activities bring to a person. The most apparent impacts of sports include a boost in self-confidence, initiative taking abilities, decision-making skills, healthy use of energy, physical fitness and discipline. For women in particular, the importance of sports goes beyond the aforementioned benefits resulting in financial autonomy, breaking gender-based stereotypes, making a place for themselves in the society, gaining exposure, and finding ways to support themselves, their aspirations as well as their families. Sports also equip women with the physical ability and mental strength to fight against sexual and gender based violence. Their participation in varied areas deemed traditionally limited to or dominated by men contributes to more progressive and changing views on the gender-discrimination and feminism debate hence setting off the need for sustainable policies for the creation of a gender positive environment. Kanwal Naz and Amna Rasheed are both judo players where the former is a bronze medal judo player who progressed from competing at club level to district and national level and eventually progressing to international level. The latter has experience in other areas like weightlifting and powerlifting as well. Both women are of the view that family support in pursuing sports is important as sports like judo, martial arts, weightlifting and the likes contribute to good health while also teaching women self-defence.

Pakistani Role Models
There are many women who have competed at national and international levels in various sports and have not only proved their competence but that of Pakistan’s as well. Kiran Khan–an Olympic medal winning swimmer and Naseem Hameed–a track and field athlete who won gold at the South Asian Games in 2010–are just two names who have proved to their critics and naysayers that women are more than capable of excelling and surpassing in all areas, including physically strenuous areas of sports. Sabiha Zahid of Pakistan Army is yet another name in the list of women who proved women’s prowess in sports. She has won multiple awards including gold medal in women cyclist events of National Games in 2013 and a bronze medal while competing internationally in the South Asian Games held in India in 2016.

Gender equality can pay a lot of dividends for sports. Their benefits are many. It can lead to the improvement of diversity, attract more potential participants and pave the way for active participation in sports at all levels. The quality of the services delivered will also experience an exponential increase with women and other athletes being able to see more role models who are not defined or judged by their gender rather their skills and talent act as a measure of their greatness. Gender equality and diversification can mean for current and prospective athletes, both male and female, to learn newer approaches for preparing, planning and working towards a sports career. It can translate into increasingly safe and secure sporting environments where the authorities, organizers and other stakeholders are aware of how to handle the risks and prevent harm to the athletes. Pakistan is navigating its way through increasing awareness of sports and uplifting its athletes, its progress can be seen in young talents like Rubab Fatima and Pakeeza, two sisters aged 11 and 13 years, who have competed at national and international level respectively. Their love for gymnastics allowed them to power through their tough training and learn the craft in six months. Now with an experience of a year-and-a-half in gymnastics these sisters are more determined than ever before to represent their talent and their country at the international level and win the gold.

Many of the female athletes interviewed for this piece, like Poonam who is a basketball player at AS Dte, were of the view that exposure to sports training and competition at a young age is very helpful, however the lack of events for women or competitions in general can hamper interest and progress. For this reason if Pakistan is to benefit from the multitudes of advantages that sports offers to the human mind and body as well as to the society as a whole, efforts should be made to invest in holding serious physical education classes and competitions in schools, colleges and universities. The AS Dte’s work in the area of women empowerment through sports is a commendable one. It stands by the Pakistan Army’s belief of equal opportunities for all by investing in the skills of all its athletes and polishing their talent. The Directorate’s efforts have materialized in the form of recognition of the Pakistan Army’s female athletes who have won several gold, silver and bronze medals in both team and individual sports while participating in competitions both inside and outside of the country. Of course, these female athletes are the pride of not only their families and the Pakistan Army but also the pride of the nation whose achievements continue to raise Pakistan’s stature into further prominence.


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Written By: Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed

1905 was a historical year for Einstein as well as science. A relatively unknown clerk in the Swiss patents office in Bern, Einstein, published four papers; each paper changed the course of science. Prior to Einstein’s work light was regarded as an electromagnetic wave and the wave nature of light was considered an established fact. Einstein expounded that light was not a continuous wave but consisted of localized particles. In the first paper he applied the newly developed Max Planck’s quantum theory to light to explain the phenomenon of photoelectric effect, by which a material emits electrically charged particles when light beam hits it. He wrote in his paper that, “According to the assumption to be contemplated here, when a light ray is spreading from a point, the energy is not distributed continuously over ever-increasing spaces, but consists of a finite number of energy quanta that are localized in points in space and move without dividing, and can be absorbed or generated only as a whole”.

In the second paper Einstein produced an experimental proof of the existence of atoms by analyzing the Brownian motion of tiny particles suspended in water which is caused by the chaotic motion of the air molecules above and water molecules below the surface. This proof laid the base for the Standard Model of Physics which is the foundation of the modern science.

The third and most famous paper was on the “Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”. Einstein confronted the apparent contradiction between two principal theories of physics: Isaac Newton’s concept of absolute space and time and James Clerk Maxwell’s idea that light travelled at constant speed through ether. The concept of ether was proven unnecessary by the famous Michelson-Morley experiment in 1887 which established that speed of light was not affected by direction of its travel with respect to the movement of the earth. A Dutch physicist Lorentz explained the results of Michelson-Morley by suggesting that the space contracted and time slowed down along the direction of motion through the ether. Knowledge grows at the edges through a slow and progressive buildup, but every now and then the expanded base of knowledge provides a springboard for a quantum jump that pales the history of knowledge growth. Such a quantum jump occurred when, to resolve the prevailing contradiction in the theory, Einstein introduced his Theory of Special Relativity, which postulated that the laws of physics were same even for objects moving in different inertial frames (which move at constant speed relative to each other), and that the speed of light was constant in all inertial frames and there was no ground for the existence of ether. Accordingly, all observers should measure the same speed of light no matter how fast they are moving.

The fourth paper expounded the fundamental relationship between mass and energy, which is a natural consequence of the Theory of Special Relativity. Ether to mass and energy were regarded two different entities. Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 (where “c” is the constant speed of light) provides a mathematical relationship for precisely calculating the conversion. It established the interchangeability of mass and energy and explained the amount of energy released during nuclear fission or fusion. This equation is also at the heart of the destructive power of the atomic bombs. At one point in time Einstein had written a letter to President Roosevelt as well as encouraged the U.S. Government to fund research into the development of nuclear weapons which were later used in the Second World War against Japan.

In particle accelerators protons are accelerated to almost the speed of light and thereby becoming much more massive, following Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, and then smashed into each other creating more massive particles than the original protons such as the Higgs Boson discovered very recently.

The Theory of Special Relativity changed the fundamentals of theoretical physics and cosmology forever. Time and space were no more absolute and independent fundamentals, both changed relative to a fast moving observer. The speed of light became the only immutable entity that would remain constant in all inertial frames that move at constant speed with respect to each other, regardless of the motion of the source or the observer. Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his pioneering work on photoelectric effect, but the remaining three papers in their own right were also worthy of Nobel prizes. Special relativity explained the gravitational phenomenon for objects moving at constant speeds and was not applicable to accelerating bodies involving the force of gravity. It provided that time did not pass identically for everyone. If one of the identical twins undertakes a relativistic fast travel in a spacecraft his time will pass quicker and he would look younger than his twin on his return to earth as the time, near a massive body like earth, slows down. Time dilates and slows down and length shrinks along the direction of motion at relativistic speed close to that of light. As an object moves with a speed close to the speed of light it acquires immense amount of kinetic energy and its equivalent mass increases immensely. With further increase in speed the equivalent mass tends to become infinite and it requires infinite energy to increase the speed further. Consequently, no object with a finite mass can achieve the speed of light and this places a limit on the superluminal motion. Only waves like the light electromagnetic waves, that have no mass, travel at the speed of light.

These papers brought Einstein into prominence and he started getting job offers from various universities. Despite his monumental success Einstein realized that his theory did not fit with the concept of gravity of how things fell and he came to a conclusion that the universal law of gravity developed by the father of physics, Isaac Newton, needed a revision. Newton had postulated that the force of gravity between two bodies emerged instantaneously but Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity had established that nothing, no signal and no effect, could move faster than the speed of light. Building on the Special Relativity Theory Einstein realized that he could include the effect of gravity in his theory if he could capture the effect of acceleration of moving bodies. Guided by his powerful intuition and mathematical techniques, Einstein embarked on the development of the Theory of General Relativity by analyzing the accelerating frames of motion to capture the effect of gravity. This was a tough nut to crack and Einstein endeavored to pursue it for nearly a decade. Searching through mathematical literature he came upon the formulation of two dimensional curved surfaces like the sides of a hill by the nineteenth century legendary mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. Gauss had assigned the task of extending his work to a brilliant student named Bernard Riemann. The latter did groundbreaking work and extended the curvature to three dimensional surfaces in his doctoral thesis. His mathematics described a three dimensional curvature tensor that came to be known as Riemann Curvature and is generally denoted by R in mathematical formulations. Einstein was intrigued by Riemann’s mathematics and spent a long time in understanding and extending it to four dimensions of space-time fabric to study the curvature caused by nearby massive bodies at a specific time. He published the Theory of General Relativity in November 1915 which became a masterpiece of modern physics. It was received with awe and skepticism across the scientific world. The field theory still remains a powerful and radical concept that has put to rest the conjectures that gravity was some mysterious innate and instantaneous force between bodies having mass.

The theory not only provided the basis of working out the gravitational force in relation to fast moving massive bodies it also explained the origin of it as the bending of time-space fabric. As a special case of relative motion at ordinary speed it validated the work of Newton done some 250 years earlier of calculating the gravitational force between two bodies. It is this force that gives the cosmos the given structure, keeps the planets in their orbits and causes the tidal motion. The Theory of General Relativity still remains a tough and challenging concept to grasp and few contemporaries had a thorough understanding of it and the circle of understanding expands as the time passes.

In its original formulation the theory had predicted an expanding universe, but sensing that it would go counter to the commonly held belief of a stable and static universe Einstein fudged the equation by introducing a cosmological constant. But as would happen later in 1929, Mr. Hubble proved incontrovertibly the fact of expanding universe while observing the phenomenon of Red Shift of the distant galaxies through his telescope. Embarrassed, Einstein recanted calling the manipulation of the cosmological constant as the biggest blunder of his life.

Einstein’s general relativity had predicted bending of light rays while passing by massive stars. A couple of British expeditions were sent to two different locations in Africa and Brazil in November 1919 to observe the path of light emanating from stars located close or behind the sun during a predicted complete solar eclipse. An iconic British astronomer, Mr. Eddington, heading the African team precisely measured the path of light emanating from seven selected stars and waited for final analysis. The eclipse enabled the scientists to observe the rays of light coming from the stars close to the sun, which would otherwise not be visible due to the bright light of the sun. There existed three possibilities: If there was found no bending Einstein would be proven wrong and the Theory of General Relativity would be invalid; if the bending was much less than the prediction of the theory, England would win as the model by Newton would hold good in explaining the behavior of the universe and; if the bending was in line with the prediction of the Theory of General Relativity Einstein would have been successful in giving the world a new model of the universe. The field observations supported the third possibility which catapulted Einstein into global acclaim and put him in front of the leading scientists of the time. The theory would continue to explain new phenomena bringing into open the secrets of the cosmos. In due course the scientists would label the field theory as the God’s equation, as it came close to reading the mind of God about the architecture of the universe.

The General Relativity Theory also predicted the existence of gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are ripples in the space-time fabric and are created by fast moving massive bodies like the motion of fast spinning massive binary stars revolving around each other or the collision of massive stars or black holes. This prediction had eluded proof for nearly a century. But in 2013, scientists studied precisely the motion of two massive binary stars, a neutron and a white dwarf, revolving around each other 300 times per second at a relatively closer distance of about 7.5 million light years from the earth. Einstein had explained that the loss of energy caused by the motion would reduce the time period of the revolution which would indirectly prove the occurrence of the gravitational waves. A number of scientists conducted precise measurements of the binary system for a year and concluded that time-period had reduced by eight millionth of a second in one year which was exactly in accordance with the prediction of the General Relativity Theory. This was the toughest test yet of Einstein’s epoch changing theory. Even though it proved the existence of the gravitational waves indirectly, no one had ever actually observed these waves. The world did not have to wait much longer as in February 2016 gravitational waves were physically detected as well as heard.

Using four kilometer laser light waves interferometer in LIGO Lab, the underground scientists detected the signal of the gravitational waves generated by the old clash of two massive black holes over a billion-and-a half light years before. The amount of energy released by the clash was equivalent to 3 times the mass of the sun. The gravitational waves travel with the speed of light twisting and compressing the space in their path. The latest achievement will enable scientists to look to the events further behind in time closer to the Big Bang for a better understanding of the early moments of the universe! The Big Bang was the explosion of an extremely young, small and hot universe. The detection of the Cosmic Background Radiation which is a diffuse glare from the remnant of the heat generated by the original explosion proved the concept of Big Bang. The Theory of General Relativity has met every test so far with success and the stature of the genius of Einstein keeps increasing as the time passes.
It is amazing how the mere thoughts on paper by a genius continue to be proven right through the precise field measurements of the cosmos. Here I would like to quote the genius himself, “How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so exactly the objects of physical reality”. A famous astrophysicist, Mario Livio, in his book titled “Is God a Mathematician?” published in 2009 seeks an answer to an eternal question: Does mathematics hold the key to understanding the mysteries of the physical world? He puzzles over the mystery of how God created reality follows so prophetically the creation of human thought. He argues, how does mathematics have omnipotent powers; is it woven into the fabric of nature and meant for the human being to discover it? At times it gives an illusion of a virtual universe and a perspective of the human mind. Take for example the simple Law of Gravity envisioned by Newton in 1660s that force of gravity equals the product of masses divided by the square of the distance between the two masses and multiplied by a gravitational constant. This very simple but prophetic mathematical formulation has been providing the basis for precisely calculating the trajectories of all space missions, even beyond the solar system, undertaken to-date. It remains an area of mathematical romanticism for challenging the conventional wisdom.

Another proof for the Theory of General Relativity came from explaining the peculiarities in the orbit of Mercury, the first planet of the solar system that feels the maximum effect of solar gravity. The theory successfully explains the anomalous precession of the planet’s perihelion which is the rotation of the line joining the sun to the point of the closest approach of the planet. Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation had not been able to predict this effect.

Einstein’s work remained very challenging in common understanding and very few people understood it well. It may be useful to highlight some related fundamentals for aiding common understanding. Newton, around 1667, had realized that all material bodies attracted each other with a force that he named as gravity. However, Newton continued to puzzle unsuccessfully as to how this force acted between bodies through empty space between them. Newton's laws had assumed that gravity was an innate force of an object with an ability to act over a distance instantaneously. On the contrary, Einstein’s General Relativity is based on a wave equation and the force of gravity propagates with the speed of light. The gravitational waves emanating from the clash of two black holes in the distant past had taken 1.5 billion light years to reach the earth. It would be mind boggling to imagine the infinite number and extent of time-space warps that might have been set in motion by infinite cosmic events over the whole life of the universe. The world would continue to discover them as generated gravitational waves keep reaching the earth labs. Although Newton believed that space was not absolute but he didn’t believe that space could be affected by the objects in it. Einstein, however, changed that as he believed that space was affected by the presence of matter which appeared in the form of bending of the time-space fabric which he called time-space warp. Einstein had theorized that mass can warp, bend, push, or pull the space. Gravity was thus a natural outcome of the presence of mass in the space. According to General Relativity warping is not independent of time since gravity or the effect of matter on space propagates with the speed of light therefore there is a time-space warp. Contrary to this Newton had believed that time was absolute and therefore not affected by gravity. Following the Theory of General Relativity at any one point in space the space-time warp changes with time and at any one time the warp changes with space. Had Newtonian contention of instantaneous gravity been true we would have been seeing the simultaneous effect of cosmic events by sensing the gravitational waves in real-time.

Reviewing the prevailing scientific concepts before the unfolding of the General Relativity there had existed no concept of any field pervading the empty space. But just before Einstein was born, two British scientists Michael Faraday and James Maxwell had developed the concept of an electromagnetic field in the space that Newton had considered empty. This field fills the space and vibrates and oscillates like a flexible surface and carries the electrical force across the space. Einstein built on the concept of electromagnetic field and visualized the existence of a likewise gravitational field filling the space and carrying the force of gravity. He was seized with trying to unravel the working of this field and expressing it in the form of a mathematical equation. At some point down the creativity lane, he hit upon a Eureka moment that the gravitational field did not just fill the space like that of the electromagnetic field but that the gravitational field was the space itself. Space and matter were not two different things but features of the same fabric. The time-space-matter fabric, that contains space and matter and that twists, turns, undulates, flexes and curves with time, is actually the gravitational field itself. The extent of the expanding gravitational field means the edge of the space that contains matter and the motion of it is the flow of time.

Time started as the movement of the universe started at the time of the initial explosion of the Big Bang. Time is a consequential effect of movement and is not an independent entity and its flow is affected by mass as well as speed of motion. The sun curves the space around and the earth revolves around it to follow the curvature of the gravitational field like a marble rolling in a funnel. There are no mysterious forces working on the earth or the marble, they simply follow the curved path while rolling around. Planets circle round the sun and things fall because of the bending of the gravitational field. Force of gravity originates from the dynamic gravitational warp. What we commonly call space is actually the pervading gravitational field. It extends up to where matter extends and that sets the edge of the universe. As the universe or the gravitational field is accelerating while expanding, the density of the matter continues to reduce and so does the curvature of the universe.

There is a lingering conundrum, if the time-space fabric extends only up to the extension of the gravitational field there can be no vacuum beyond the edges. For vacuum to exist beyond the gravitational waves the space has to be pre-existing before the start of the gravitational waves at the time of the Big Bang. How did the pre-existing empty space devoid of matter or energy and thus having complete vacuum come about cosmologically needs to be explained outside of the Big Bang concept? If time, space and matter/energy are inter-woven in the physical fabric of the universe, we need to find the mathematics that can provide a way out. This may explain the search for the Modern String Theory which is seeking to combine the dimensions of time, three normal space dimensions and seven folded quantum space dimensions that take care of the effect of gravity at quantum level as well.

Another conundrum relates to the growing difference of scales of the extent of the expanding universe and the maximum speed of transmitting signals from one part to others. The speed of light is woefully inadequate to map the dynamism of the universe. There is a need to discover a faster messenger whose speed relates compatibly to the extent of travels involved in the expanding universe. Otherwise the reality of the present day cosmos will forever remain a mystery elusive to the mankind.

In Einstein’s magical formulation of the Theory of General Relativity he started with equating the Riemann’s curvature known as Ricci Tensor denoted by Rµv with the gravity tensor Tµv and added the metric tensor gµv which provides measurement of infinitesimal distances along the curved space. The resultant equation can be described in half a line:

Normally in mathematical equations space and time dimensions are denoted separately by different symbols as both are treated as different entities. In this case the space and time dimensions are combined together in the Ricci Tensor and represent the space-time fabric. This equation does not have the term for the infamous Cosmological Constant which Einstein had later dropped but the scientists are again bringing it in for defining an open universe expanding faster and faster. The equation reveals how a given amount of mass and/or energy warp the space-time. The left-hand side of the equation describes the curvature of space-time whose effect is felt as the gravitational force. is termed as the energy-momentum tensor which describes the way mass, energy, momentum and pressure are distributed throughout the universe. The constant is the Newton’s gravitational constant and c is the speed of light. The Greek letters and are 4 dimensional parameters, three of space and fourth of time and can each take on the values of 0, 1, 2 or 3. It is symmetric tensor known as Riemann Manifold and has only 10 effective terms.

If and both take the value 0, then the equation
relates only to time. The term now stands for energy, which causes time to speed up or slow down. The left-hand side of the equation describes the change in the flow of time at one point in space. The flow of time, for example, will slow down near a black hole due to the massive gravitational effect and time will stop to flow at the surface of a black hole as the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light which is in line with Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity.

Developments in Physics generally follow the developments in the mathematical techniques. The Theory of General Relativity followed the developments in mathematics of the curved spaces by the famous mathematicians like Carl Friedrich Gauss, Bernard Riemann and Ricci for the technique using 4-dimensional tensors. The space and time are interwoven through a single 4-dimensional tensor represented by R in earlier equation. Tracing the history’s successive developments, the Greek philosopher Aristotle gave his model of the physical universe by holding space and time absolute in 340 BC. Newton published his famous book titled “Phiolsophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” in 1687 and gave a new model of the universe replacing that of Aristotle. According to Newton time alone was considered absolute. The current challenges facing physics of merging the big and small are awaiting further breakthroughs in mathematics for some future Einstein to visualize the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of the working of the universe. The modern String Theory postulates eleven dimensional branes which include three common dimensions of space, one of time and seven folded dimensions of quantum scale which would require mathematical techniques involving 11 dimensional tensors presenting hitherto unsurmountable mathematical challenges. It is for this reason that eminent physicists like Stephen Hawking commonly undertake crash courses in new mathematical developments for expounding new theories to handle the challenges facing Physics.

It takes a determined effort to master the mathematics of Riemann Curvature for understanding and using the most famous and beautiful equation of the Theory of General Relativity. The equation presents serious computational challenges requiring supercomputers for real life general cosmological solutions. The growing understanding as well as mounting evidence of its correct predictions is leading to the unlocking of the new secrets of the universe. In some romantic sense the three attributes of simplicity, beauty and truth are interrelated. In the words of the romantic Poet Laureate John Keats: beauty is truth and truth beauty. Einstein’s equation of General Relativity with inspiring mathematical lyrics is a befitting measure of truth and beauty.

Einstein did have his share of frustration after he had achieved worldwide fame in 1920s. He differed with mainstream physicists and made pointed criticism of quantum mechanics calling it incomplete. According to Einstein extrapolating the quantum mechanics mathematics predicted the bizarre phenomena of quantum entanglement that particles separated in space could still interact among themselves instantaneously. He wrote to Max Born in 1926, “Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing but an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing…. I, at any rate am convinced that (God) is not playing at dice”. He had even dubbed entanglement as a spooky action at a distance which after his death, was confirmed experimentally in 1982 by the French physicist Alain Aspect. This concept is now being used successfully in a number of applications like the quantum cryptography and information technology. Although no particle or a signal can travel at more than the speed of light according to the Theory of Special Relativity, the instantaneous interaction between entangled particles at great distance apart remains a conundrum in physics. On September 29, 2017 President Academy of Sciences China made the first ever totally secure and hack-free call over 7000 kilometers away to an Austrian physicist using quantum cryptography based on the quantum entanglement. This was made possible by the launch of the very first quantum satellite by China in August 2016. But none of Einstein’s frustrations can eclipse the far reaching contributions to physics that he was able to make in the earlier part of his life. In December 1999 the Time Magazine splashed his picture on the cover page choosing him as the Man of the 20th Century. It is very likely that he would also be the Man of the Second Millennium when Time or any other institution comes to defining the millennial personality.

The greatest challenge confronting Physics of uniting the Theory of the Big, Einstein’s Theory of Gravity, with the theory of the small, the Quantum Theory, has remained elusive although the best of scientific brains have been trying endlessly for several decades. If the universe is the continuum of the dynamic gravitational field, it physically combines the worlds of the big and the small together. The jiggling of the field by the elephants distorts the effect of the quantum world owing to astronomically smaller curvature of the quantum particles on the dynamic global gravitational field. The motion of the gravitational field swamps the effect of the very small. For this reason gravity is the weakest force in the everyday world yet it is the strongest force in the universe. The scale gets infinitely more distorted at the quantum level. The recent discovery of the Higgs particle of 125 billion electron volts mass establishes the permeation of Higgs field in the universe. Higgs field is the field of mass/energy provided by the interacting particles which fills every region of the universe. It appears natural that the Higgs field merges or meshes with the gravitational field enveloping the time and space continuum. As a particle interacts with the Higgs field it gains mass or energy. Light particles, photons gain no mass but only energy and are thus able to travel with the speed of light. A particle gaining mass loses ability to travel at the speed of light.

Were there an achievable chance of uniting the worlds of the big and the small, the creative genius of Einstein might have hit upon it in the later decades of his searching life. Einstein as a man died on April 18, 1955 at age 76 in Princeton, but Einstein as an icon continues to live on to see his work gain greater credibility. A picture taken of his office hours after he died shows a blackboard full of mathematical scribble and a dozen or so books opened and piled a product of mathematical poetry randomly on the table suggesting that the search for a complete theory of everything went on till the last moment of his calling.


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

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Written By: Maj Muzaffar Ahmed

Shakarparian parade ground, lying at the base of Margalla and Shakarparian Hills, saw the dawn of another peaceful morning on Pakistan Day. Under a clear sky, 1.5 kms stretch of parade ground was fluttering with national, armed forces’ and regimental flags. Multicoloured flowers and lush green grassy plots were adding to the aroma of the morning breeze and serenity. The portraits and panaflexes put on display were showing the conception of Pakistan’s dream on March 23, 1940 and the journey that followed in making this dream a reality.

While approaching towards the parade ground, portraits of our heroes placed astride roads emotionally charged everyone. Exuberance of the people including media persons, artists, politicians, military-men and others from different walks of life was evident with long queues of vehicles on Islamabad Expressway. Meticulous planning and elaborate security mechanism emplaced on the venue helped cars and thousands of people entering the parade ground parking area through various laterals in getting to their respective seats.

The parade started with points-men taking position in the parade ground while the troops marching column, elegantly dressed up in their regimental uniforms, appeared from the east and positioned in formations facing the spectator stands. They were followed by flag bearers who marched in carrying national standards and held in position facing the dais.

Excited Pakistanis who couldn’t make it to the parade ground had their eyes pinned on their television screens, anxiously waiting for the Pakistan Day Parade broadcast. The wait was over once the transmission aired with Subedar Major Zafar Iqbal handing over the parade to the Parade Commander Brig Amir Amin. Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa NI (M), Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi NI (M) and Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Arshad Malik HI (M) (who was representing the Air Chief) arrived at the parade venue. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mehmood Hayat NI (M) and Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan reached the venue before the arrival of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The guest of honour, the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena, was received by the Prime Minister. Earlier in the day, the guest of honour expressed gratitude and appreciation for Pakistan’s unequivocal moral and material support during Sri Lanka’s successful war on terror. He also appreciated successes of the Pakistan Army in its ongoing war against terrorism.

With the announcement of trumpeters, President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain arrived on a horse drawn buggy with a smart group of equestrians of President Body Guards who have a unique honour of receiving National Flag from Father of the Nation on June 7, 1948. The Presidential salute was followed by the national anthem, sung by all participants of the parade and audience with zeal and vigour–their voices reflecting the passion and the unity of the nation.

After President Mamnoon Hussain’s review of the parade, the impressive ceremony started with traditional flypast of aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy led by Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, NI (M). The Air Chief Marshal flew over the parade venue in his F-16 aircraft, presented salute to the President and disappeared in skies by performing a vertical roll, earning a big round of applause from the audience. Flypast continued on with 5 participating fighter aircraft which included Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 (Fighting Falcons), JF-17 Thunder, Mirages (The Eagles), F-7PG (The Tigers) and F-7P. Fighter aircraft were followed by PAF airborne early warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft comprising K Eagle-3 and SAAB-2000 aircraft. Following them were combat support aircraft (The Big Guys) IL-78 and C-130, including the P-3C Orion of the Navy.

After the flypast, Corporal Technician Rashid Arshad recited few verses from the Holy Quran, after which President Mamnoon Hussain addressed the nation. During his speech, the President spoke on the Kashmir issue and drew attention of the audience to the Indian ceasefire violations and human rights abuses which have put the regional peace at stake. Stressing on peaceful coexistence and continuing support for peaceful resolution of Afghan issue, he appreciated the nation’s unity and resilience to face the challenges. The president also acknowledged the role of Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies which have endeavored to dismantle the remnants of militancy and enabled an environment conducive and integral for the new era of economic prosperity. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other mega development projects are a testimony to this reality. He urged the nation to once again reiterate the resolve to take Pakistan to the heights of glory as envisioned by our forefathers. During his speech the President thanked Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and contingents of brotherly Islamic countries which included the United Arab Emirates, Jordanian military band and paratroopers as well as the Turkish Aviation Contingent for their participation in Pakistan Day Parade. At the end of his speech, the President announced new medal “Tamgha-e-Azm” for all Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies’ personnel who have participated in the war against terrorism.

It is important to highlight that Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr. Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam also witnessed the parade among other foreign diplomats and dignitaries.

After the foot columns, elegantly dressed 85 members parade column of UAE Armed Forces led by Captain Khalid Hamid Alblushi marched in with their band playing tones “captain my captain, brave of the unit”. Their senior delegate Major General Faisal Muhammad Alshi said, “Participation of the UAE Armed Forces in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s National Day is in the spirit of historical and unique ties between UAE and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The participation of the UAE Armed Forces represents different leagues of the UAE Armed Forces; the Marine Forces, the Air Force, the Land Forces and lastly the military band”.

After UAE contingent, the Jordanian Armed Forces Band comprising 55 individuals led by Major Meher Rawashdi followed. On reaching infront of the dais, they made beautiful formations in the shape of a heart and particularly the figure 78 commemorating Pakistan’s 78th Pakistan Day. The band played melodious and patriotic notes of music of both the nations, out of which one was Jeeway Jeeway Pakistan. The emotionally charged crowd gave a standing ovation to the Jordanian military band. It requires special mention that Pakistan and Jordan enjoy historically deep rooted trust-based relations. Pakistan’s Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Saiful Azam, shot down Israeli aircraft in 1967 war while on deputation in Jordan. In reciprocity, King Hussain of Jordan sent two squadrons of aircraft to support Pakistan against India in 1971 war.

The band was followed by the mounted and mechanized columns. First were the President Body Guards marching across the parade ground saluting the dais with tamed horses and smartly donned up riders. It followed mechanized columns led by indigenously produced main battle tank Al-Khalid and other tanks such as Al-Zarrar and T-80 UD which presented barrel salute with fascinating barrel turn while moving past the dais. Mechanized infantry passed while mounted on Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) with their TOW missiles (tube-launched-optically tracked-wire guided missile system) and Mine Resisitent Ambush Protection Vehicles.

While the marching columns and drum beats were raising the adrenaline of the spectators, the commentary team led by Lt Col Muhammad Shafiq Malik was also warming the hearts of the audience at the parade venue and millions on the TV screens. Their words were powerful, expression full of patriotic fervor and the poetic tinge was touching the deeper chords of patriotism. It was also appreciated by domestic and foreign media like The Washington Post as it wrote the next day about “the amplified commentary” and how “as each weapon system or marching unit passed the reviewing stand, it was described in detail, with rolling gusto and snatches of patriotic poetry”.

In the Artillery column the leading were 155 MM Self Propelled (SP). The columns from Army Air Defence included Oerlikon Guns, Giraffae Radars, FM 90 Missiles. Moreover, LOMADS LY-80 system were also part of the Army Air Defence column. PAF Air Defence contingent comprised Mobile Pulse Doppler Radar, SPADA-2000, and the Air Defence Command and Control System. A contingent from Army Engineers was also part of the parade. The equipment of 314 Assault Engineers Battalion comprised Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB), Troll Anti Mine (TAM), Rocket Delivery Mine System (RDMS), Assault Track Way, Ribbon Bridge, AM 50 Bridge, and Field Tracks. The Signals Battalion displayed the communication equipment of Pakistan Army. It had a ‘Concept Vehicle’ mounted on the float. The vehicle displayed satellite equipment, radio and microwave equipment, combat radios/VHF sets, and End User Data Services. Pakistan Army Tactical Communication (PATCOM) vehicles and Satellite Communication (SATCOM) vehicles, Electronic Warfare equipment, and Mobile Data Hub were also part of the contingent.

The contingent of Strategic Plans Division (SPD) was once again the recipient of an awed audience. The indigenously produced weapon systems that formed part of the column included Shaheen-1,2 & 3 Missiles, NASR Missile system and Raad. The indigenously produced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) ‘Buraq’ and ‘Shahpar’ were also part of the parade. To display the different colours of Pakistan, each province was represented by a float which reflected different angles of their everyday life, their traditions and culture.

The flypast of Army Aviation led by Maj Gen Nasir Dilawar Shah, HI (M) including Cobra Attack Helicopters, Fennec, Bell 412, Puma, MI-17 and Zulu-9 attack helicopters was eye-catching. The flypast became special when first time participating Turkish gunship helicopters T-129, hovered across the parade venue.

After Aviation, PAF Sherdil team led by Wing Commander Khalid Matin and Braveheart formation lead by Wing Commander Ahmer Zia performed aerobatics and did criss-cross maneuvers, wingover and parallel loop with utter mastery. Thundering aerobatics of F-16 and JF-17 Thunder were matchless too, fetching due applause from the audience and then disappearing in the heights of the sky. Then came the moment everyone was looking forward to. With the announcement of free fall jumps, all eyes went up in the sky to look for the paratroopers from SSG, PAF, Pakistan Navy and the Jordanian Paratroopers team who conducted free fall jumps from 10,000 feet. Brave commandos from tri-services displayed exceptional skills of para-trooping and landed safely in front of the audience. Maj Gen Tahir Masud Bhutta, General Officer Commanding SSG, was the last one to jump and landed safely with a Pakistani flag tied to his parachute. He presented the flag to the chief guest and also introduced his team to him.

The parade ended with a colorful entry of Inter-Services Public Relations’ float carrying children and renowned singers Sahir Ali Bagga, Akhtar Chinal, Arif Lohar, Asim Azhar, Qasim Azhar, Bano Rehmat, Mubarak Ali Sawan and Gul Panra singing the inspiring national song “Aman ka nishan ye hamara Pakistan” thus ending the show on the climax of patriotic note.


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Written By: Omair Alavi

All that has now changed thanks to the effective attempts by the Pakistan Army who in collaboration with the Pakistan Cricket Board brought international cricketers back to not one but two cities–Lahore and Karachi. Lahore had its share of matches during the last few years but Karachi didn’t appeal to the international cricketers much, until now. With National Stadium making its debut as one of the venues for the event, Cricket returned to the City of Lights and brought hope with it of a better future and a new tomorrow.

Ever since the War on Terror began in the neighbouring countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan has been termed as an ally of the Allied Forces. But instead of being praised for its stand, extremists from these countries made Pakistan their next target. For nearly a decade, the game of Cricket, which we Pakistanis love, suffered due to the presence of these terrorists who attacked the Sri Lankan Cricket team in Lahore, whose attempt to disrupt the Pakistan-Zimbabwe series was nullified and whose emergence was the reason why Pakistan was deprived of hosting many tournaments such as the coveted ICC Champions Trophy and the Cricket World Cup.

All that has now changed thanks to the effective attempts by the Pakistan Army who in collaboration with the Pakistan Cricket Board brought international cricketers back to not one but two cities–Lahore and Karachi. Lahore had its share of matches during the last few years but Karachi didn’t appeal to the international cricketers much, until now. With National Stadium making its debut as one of the venues for the event, Cricket returned to the City of Lights and brought hope with it of a better future and a new tomorrow.

Moving on to the present, whoever has been to Karachi understands that it is one of the largest cities in the world in terms of both population and area. To control an entire city for one match that too of 40 overs in total would be humanly possible but when it’s impossible, that’s where the heavy machinery comes in. From the Jinnah International Airport to the Red Zone in the metropolis to the National Stadium and back, all the roads were decorated as if the World Cup was being played in the country. Players–both national and international–who were part of making Pakistan Super League a success had their images stamped all over the route and got the superstar treatment they deserved.

For once the whole city was all open except for the areas where the teams were supposed to pass from, and that’s one of the main reasons why the Karachi’ites were able to celebrate the return of Cricket to their city with all their might. Cinemas screened the match for those who couldn’t get the tickets; restaurants set up special screens to facilitate their customers and people who didn’t get a place at either ended up at a friend’s place to enjoy the match with like-minded individuals.

And then comes the National Stadium where everything was changed, upgraded and enhanced except for the top roof that is still under renovation. People from all walks of life and all parts of the world came to the most important place on Earth that day to witness the final of the PSL 3. The champions of the last two editions were there to become the first team to win multiple PSL trophies and their excitement was nothing compared to the zeal and fervor with which their fans attended the grand finale. Yes, they were not allowed to take food and water inside but who cares when you get to watch your favourite cricketers in the flesh, live in action from just a few feet away. The sun shone on top of them without the stadium providing them any shade but the match was an all-night affair and all those possible heat-strokes were cooled down by Luck Ronchi’s ‘master’ strokes.


crickedhitterror1.jpgThe closing ceremony that took place before the grand finale also electrified the proceedings. There were renowned singers like Strings, Shehzad Roy, Farhan Saeed, Aima Baig and Ali Zafar who made the saying ‘Good Things Come To Those Who Wait’ true. They all performed their own songs with Shehzad Roy using his Karachi Kings anthem as one from the hosts rather than the team that failed to qualify for the event. The crowd went berserk in the presence of Ali Zafar and Strings who left no stone unturned in entertaining the audience. It must have been a déjà vu moment for Strings who also had the honour of performing at the World Cup 2003 in South Africa and remain a force to reckon with even 30 years after their debut.

Finally, something about the 30 thousand people who braved the heat, long commute and bad weather to reach the National Stadium. Apart from a few individuals who were expecting to be visiting Melbourne Cricket Ground and were highly disappointed, the rest were at home because they were welcoming the game they love, the players they adore and were at the place where dreams come true, and you will understand that only if you are a Cricket enthusiast. Every wicket, every boundary was cheered as if it was the final wicket or the winning run of the World Cup and that not only helped the players perform better but also made the other stands do more in turn.

For a country that had been battling terrorism that has had its men, women and children martyred in the line of fire and that had lost its soldiers in the line of duty, Pakistan has come a long way. It was a night to remember for fans of the game who were treated to top class cricket in their home city. Many foreign players who had signed for the event including Shane Watson and Kevin Pietersen didn’t come to Pakistan but it was their loss as their teams failed to qualify for the grand finale. Legendary West Indian Cricketer Viv Richards’ team Quetta also failed to reach the final round but he came to Karachi and had a round of Golf before leaving for his home. He did pay a visit to the very stadium where he scored 181 not out against England 31 years back and declared Pakistan a safe place for Cricket. Thank You, Sir Viv!

The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board Najam Sethi must be commended for convincing international cricketers to visit Pakistan and play in front of the real Pakistani crowd. Had it not been for him, even Luke Ronchi, Chris Jordan and the winning captain JP Duminy might not have said yes to visiting Pakistan, but they did and were praised by all those involved for their bravery. The Federal and Provincial Governments also deserve the credit for making Karachi safe for others to visit because a few years back, there was lawlessness everywhere in the City of Lights. It was only due to our collective efforts and victory against terrorism that normalcy returned to the country and Pakistan was able to host the knockout stage of the event, knocking out terrorism for good.


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Written By: Wing Commander Bahroni

In recent history, nature and dynamics of warfare have changed dramatically. Gone are the days of conventional warfare between two organized forces under established Military Rules and Laws of War. Weapons of mass destruction and aversion of masses towards destruction and misery caused by wars, as witnessed in two great wars, has made conventional conflicts less and less likely. Nations, jostling for power and influence, now resort to low intensity conflicts to achieve their objectives. Similarly, small groups within a state, who resort to armed struggle for their perceived rights or to enforce minority views on the majority, cannot wage a conventional battle against regular armies. Such groups resort to terror tactics and when supported by external entities pose a significant threat to the host nation.

Unfortunately, our nation has lately been targeted by such foreign funded terror groups. We have suffered enormously by the loss of precious lives of our brave soldiers and civilians, and by the loss of economic opportunities to the tune of trillions of rupees. Despite all odds, our Armed Forces have fought valiantly along with law enforcement agencies of our country. Results achieved in the past were commendable, but it was later realized that better synergy of tri-services would have resulted in increase efficiency in terms of achievement of objectives. As a result, PAF enhanced its counter-terrorism effort, with its unmatched attributes of Height, Speed and Reach. Better synergistic effort has acted as a force multiplier and PAF was able to deliver a lethal blow to anti-state terrorist elements who no longer find any safe havens to conduct their subversive activities in Pakistan.

There is an assortment of collectives and individuals with a vested interest in terrorism and they have defined the term in the form that suits their bias or perspective. They include organisations and alliances of nations, academics and researchers, the legal profession, the health profession, counter-terrorism and law enforcement agencies, governments that wish to protect their citizens and even governments that wish to repress their citizens, terrorist groups and the media. Nevertheless, the most accepted definition, that characterizes the monster of terrorism, states that: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force/violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

Counter-terrorism on the other hand incorporates the practice, military tactics, techniques, and strategy that government, military, law enforcement, business, and intelligence agencies use to combat or prevent terrorism. Counter-terrorism strategies also include attempts to counter the financing of terrorist outfits. The methods adopted to counter terrorism will thus be a combination of political, social, economic and military measures. When applied collectively, they are called counter-terrorism operations and are undoubtedly comprehensive civilian and military efforts, designed to defeat and contain the terrorism and to address its root causes.

Role of Air Power in Counter-Terrorism Operations
Air power, by virtue of its characteristics of Height, Speed, Reach, Flexibility and Responsiveness supplements and overcomes inherent limitations of land forces. The terrain which prohibits reach of ground forces, the operations which demand quick response and the targets which warrant precision engagement make air power the first choice of arm. Air Force’s primary role in counter-terrorism operations is to employ real-time target intelligence and accurate target engagement for providing opportunity to friendly ground forces to attain their aim thus ground forces take charge of the area of operation after air power has softened the desired targets.

Control of Air
Control of air is the pre-requisite of any air as well as ground military operation. Mostly, in military operations against terrorists, the control of air is inherently available with the state’s air force. However, in-case terrorists possess aircraft or anti-aircraft weaponry then gaining control of airspace would be the first step towards military action in CT air operations.

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Missions
The second yet important role of air power is actionable intelligence and target identification which is a vital aspect of CT military campaigns. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions flown by ISR platforms provide accurate real-time target location, identification, early warning and physical disposition of targets allowing for subsequent engagement of assigned targets from air. The information gathered through actionable intelligence and ISR platforms is then put to use in counter land operations. Availability of real-time targeting picture and precision guided munition enables air power to engage targets with greater accuracy and minimal collateral damage. Through well-coordinated and knitted CT airstrikes, air power can effectively engage targets with precision, reach and speed as compared to ground forces. Employing UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in CT operations doubles the advantages; long endurance and less operating cost further improves upon persistence and cost-benefit ratio of any military action. With application of air power, terrorist elements can be hit discreetly and proactively. The responsiveness enables commanders with initiative, flexibility and negligible exposure to dynamic threat environment.

Planning Hierarchy
In the modern world whenever a military operation is planned, it is highly coordinated and involves assets from all services. They appoint a Joint Force Commander who is overall incharge of a CT campaign. Under him, there is a Joint Force Air Component Commander who is responsible for the proper employment of the air power. Then there is a qualified officer called as Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC).

Joint Terminal Attack Controller
JTAC term is used in the modern Armed Forces for a qualified service member who directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other offensive strikes from a forward position. JTAC coordinates the entire CT air operation from the start till the very end i.e., from target engagement till the fighters vacate the ops area airspace.

PAF and CT Operations
No two CT campaigns can be the same in terms of reasons/counter measures. Pakistan Armed Forces had to come up with a procedure tailored to best suit the terrain and demography which was being exploited by terrorist elements. Our ground forces have fought with commitment, courage and dedication in extremely difficult and unfriendly terrain in north-western region of Pakistan. They were faced with an adversary who was equipped with sophisticated warfighting arsenal and posed difficulties for our ground combatants. PAF was thus brought into action to engage the targets with precision and effectiveness thereby softening the ground for friendly forces. The core of CT operations is equally understood and professionally executed by Pakistan Armed Forces through tailor-made procedures acclimatized to meet our own environment. Pakistan Armed Forces have not only exhibited their strong arm in conventional wars with commitment, courage, dedication and professionalism but also have evolved the tactics and strategies to fight unconventional warfare.

Planning Procedure
The fundamental rule governing all air operations jointly with sister services in PAF is directed against personnel and objects that are declared and identified as hostile. The operational planning cycle is mainly based on keeping in view home ground and consideration of zero collateral damage.

Target Identification
Target generation and identification is initially carried out by tactical soldiers and other intelligence agencies, whereas, aerial platforms are also being utilized for identification procedure through onboard ISR capabilities.

Verification and Approval
The next step involves verification of the targets which is done initially at GHQ through ground intelligence alongside PAF through ISR images and coordinates of targets to confirm their authenticity. After verification, these targets are then allotted to Pakistan Air Force for effective engagement. PAF, AHQ has established a separate Directorate which after allocation of designated target and approval by competent authority assigns the target to the Fighter Squadrons in the field for mission planning, consideration and timely execution.

Mission Planning
Mission planning is initiated on the receipt of an air request. Detailed analysis of the task target is carried out during planning of this mission. Meticulous operational planning ensures safety of mission and desired results. Due to cost, limited availability and implications on war reserve material, strict adherence to the principle of economy of effort is maintained by PAF. Specifically, in sub-conventional warfighting, economy of effort for precision guided munition is being calculated as One Target, One Bomb. All assigned targets are studied to ascertain the possibility of collateral damage. This involves taking into consideration the type of weapons, fuse settings, target composition, and terrain. It is imperative to ensure that the Forward Line of Own Troops (FLOT) stays clear from debris of the weapons dropped by the friendly fighters, therefore, FLOT distance is kept on weapon simulation.

Safe Conduct of Operations
In order to ensure safe conduct of operations all the missions are co-ordinated with Air Defence Command/other ground agencies so as to ensure that the airspace in the vicinity of target area becomes exclusive and no other traffic transits or shares this operational airspace.

Dynamic Targeting
Upon indication of a possible air strike, the group of terrorists might change their location therefore intelligence agencies and ISR pictures are utilized to reconfirm their location and thus the dynamic targets are engaged by fighter aircraft. As a pre-requisite to receive real-time target Full Motion Video (FMV) for the conduct of Time Critical Targeting, an ISR asset with fully functional telemetry is deployed on station throughout the DT process. This in turn reduces sensor to shooter decision cycle time.

PAF has been at the forefront, shoulder to shoulder with sister services to uproot the menace of terrorism from Pakistan’s soil. May it be Balochistan unrest in the past or recent military actions like Operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, PAF has turned out to be a major instrument in breaking the backbone of militants through joint operational methodology. Since intelligence is a key attribute of CT operations, PAF actively undertakes ISR operations in the area of interest for provisioning of real-time target information to own fighters as well as to Pakistan Army. For effective deployment and subsequent engagement, the ground troops require a detailed assessment of target which is also met by PAF through launching ISR missions in the area of interest, providing accurate geo-location, identification of target and detailed picture of terrain. Assessment of damage and confirmation of target engagement is also undertaken by PAF through ISR platforms. The battle damage assessment missions provide useful information for effective engagement of target, specifically by ground forces. The activities of terrorist elements along the porous western border made it crucial to destroy their focal point and leadership which has been achieved through precision strikes by PAF on terrorists’ concentration, training camps, leadership and logistic reserves in support of Pakistan Army. PAF’s instant response and application of precision guided munitions have ensured in-time and accurate engagement of targets with negligible collateral damage.

Analysis of the subject reveals the following points:
• Contemporary model of CT Operations reveals wholesome utility of knitted assets exploiting full spectrum network centricity.
• Current operations have unprecedented synergy among tri-services at operational and tactical levels which may further be cemented through inducting procedural, technological and training measures.
• Popup threats can be efficiently neutralized through dynamic targeting by PAF fighters, exhibiting unmatched flexibility and responsiveness.
• Persistent ISR is the cornerstone of CT operations; Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force are working to further synergize the ISR efforts.
• PAF’s application in CT operations has ensured quick response, accurate target engagement with minimal/no collateral damage.
• PAF can lethally raze assigned targets, however for permanence of effects, Pakistan Army holds ground without giving breathing space to violent actors.

The success of CT operations is deeply rooted in the level of expertise, training, technology and most importantly, synergy. Although PAF is not a substitute for boots on ground, yet its unique capabilities of being a force multiplier combined with lethal firepower, ability to strike rapidly and maintaining diligence makes it an indispensable part of CT operations. Employment of Air Force in CT operations has gained unequalled dividends with minimal collateral damage. Pakistan Air Force has cut its teeth in the challenging anti-terrorism operations and has provided Pakistan Army invaluable support in the combat against the terrorists. No matter what the challenges are; a full scale aggression or counter-terrorism operations, PAF has maintained its professional image throughout its existence. Officers and men of the PAF are proud inheritors of a legacy of warriors who have left a permanent imprint on history. With the hallmark of courage and compassion, spurred on by its proud heritage as an efficient and hard hitting force, PAF shall remain committed to meet any challenge with dedication beyond the call of duty. No wonder that PAF has come up to the Quaid’s expectations of being Second to None.


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Written By: Dr. Huma Baqai

Pakistan has supported U.S. for seven decades, the relationship has swung between being the most sanctioned ally to a non-NATO ally. Post 9/11, Pakistan helped U.S. more than any of its NATO allies. The reward unfortunately is public humiliation now and then. President Trump’s tweet was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The shifting thought in Pakistan is that it’s time to change the equation. The message from Pakistan is loud and clear. The Armed Forces of Pakistan have restored country’s stability while the stability in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Afghan government and U.S. forces.

Pakistan-U.S. relations are witnessing an unprecedented realignment. Washington has taken an exceptionally tough stance on Pakistan with the U.S. President accusing it of lies and deceit. Pakistan and U.S. relations are a textbook case of political realism. Since 1947, the construct of convergence between the two states is ambiguous. The engagement is compulsion driven. On more than one occasion, both the states have pursued divergent interest trajectories sabotaging each other’s interests at regional and international levels. Uneasy marriage to odd couple of modern international relations is how the relationship is referred to. This roller coaster alliance is the direct outcome of the lack of a shared threat perception. Pakistan at best is, and was, a utility partner.

The relationship has experienced a more obvious downward slide since President Bush’s second term, where an attempt was made to de-hyphenate India and Pakistan. In 2008, under Obama, America launched the AfPak policy, a term popularized by Richard Holbrooke, who later became the first U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan both resisted and resented this grouping.
Another major irritant was the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by the allied forces stationed in Afghanistan against targets in Pakistan. U.S. was seen as a state violating Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty and killing innocent people. This led to the dwindling of public support for General Musharraf’s pro-U.S. policy, which was low to begin with. Other factors included the increased levels of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan, U.S. treatment of captives at Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, and handing over of the alleged terror suspects to the U.S. The rising levels of insecurity also impacted the economy adversely. In 2012, three-in-four Pakistanis (74%) considered the U.S. an enemy, up from 69% in 2011 and 64% in 2009. President Obama was held in exceedingly low regard. Pakistan because of its pro-U.S. policies, became a country that was internally divided and doubted abroad.


pakindiausthe.jpgPresident Obama, known by many as a pacifist and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize within the first nine months into his presidency as well as for his notable speech “A New Beginning” in Cairo, six years into his time in the office had approved military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that the Obama administration launched more than 390 drone strikes in five years across Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, eight times as many approved during the entire Bush presidency. 330 of the 390 drone strikes were carried out in Pakistan.

The China Factor
Since then, the relationship has only deteriorated and the trust deficit between the two countries has increased. U.S. desire to replace Pakistan by New Delhi to achieve its larger objectives of curtailing China’s rise and maintaining its influence in the region has only worsened the situation. Admiral Harry Harris, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, called China a disruptive power in the Indo-Pacific region, while speaking alongside Indian and Japanese counterpart at the annual Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi in January 2018. Earlier in 2011, Hillary Clinton wrote an article titled “America’s Pacific Century,” where she says, “the future of politics will be decided in Asia, not in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.” 2013 onwards, senior U.S. officials like Joe Biden, John Kerry and former commander of U.S. Pacific Command Samuel Locklear III began to use terms like Indo-Asia Pacific or Indo-Pacific. The outcome of this is the very active engagement between U.S. and India in the Asia-Pacific. The Indian Ocean has become the new field for the rebalance. U.S. also sees a strategic convergence with India’s “Act East Policy.” India is now the lynchpin of U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance Strategy.

“India is in” and “Pakistan is out,” is the crux of President Trump’s South Asia Policy. This turnaround is embedded in the shift in Washington’s focus from being Asia-specific to Indo-specific to counter the new power dynamics of South Asia, where U.S. now views China as more than just a latent adversary. China’s rise has changed the regional balance, making it imperative for U.S. to sustain its supremacy by aligning more proactively with India.

Damage Control
The first visit of a senior American official since President Trump’s new year tweet, in which Pakistan was accused of lies and deceit, happened in mid-January 2018. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Principle Deputy Assistant and Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Alice Wells met Pakistani officials and gave the first so-called policy statement on Pakistan-U.S. relations. She said all the right things and more of the same just a bit more nicely, trying to soften the blow. The crux of which is that U.S. is not desirous of giving Pakistan a key ally status anymore, nor wants to sever its ties and perhaps there are consequences for non-compliance and some acknowledgement of Pakistan’s contribution ending on the usual ‘more has to be done’.

This is perhaps the problem. James Carafano, a senior defence analyst with the Heritage Foundation, way back in 2015, said, “Washington has failed in the efforts with Pakistan and it is stuck playing tit-for-tat with Islamabad, that’s fine for kids’ game, but it is disaster when it comes to playing politics in what might be the most dangerous part of the world.” He also said, “sadly, the White House doesn’t have any other game plan. The back and forth with Pakistan is not only unproductive, it just keeps adding space for Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and others to grow making the world less safe for Washington and Islamabad.”

In an attempt at damage control from Pakistan’s side, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Ms. Tehmina Janjua, made a quiet visit to Washington in March 2018, where she held two high-level meetings at the White House and the State Department. Apparently, the visit resulted in Washington responding to Pakistan's longstanding demand to take action against TTP terrorists using Afghan soil to launch cross-border attacks.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a hefty reward for information on three TTP leaders: $5 million reward for information on TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah and $3 million each for the leaders–Mangal Bagh and Abdul Wali Khan–of its two affiliated groups. Earlier in March 2018, 21 TTP terrorists, including Fazlullah's son, were killed in drone strikes inside Afghanistan. It is also believed that Qari Yasin, a notorious trainer of suicide bombers, and Maulvi Gul Muhammad, the group’s head from Bajaur Agency, were also killed in the strike.

Fazlullah, Wali and Bagh are among the most-wanted men for Pakistan, which had already announced reward money for their capture and outlawed their groups. Their organizations had claimed responsibility for some of the most horrendous terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Fazlullah’s TTP claimed the 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in which around 149 people, including 133 schoolchildren, were killed. It also claimed responsibility for the beheading of seven Pakistani soldiers in June 2012, shooting of Malala Yousafzai in October 2012, and the failed bid by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad to detonate an explosive device in Times Square, New York, in May 2010. Among other attacks, Wali’s JUA was accused of killing two Pakistani employees of the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar in March 2016, and Bagh’s men of attacking NATO supply convoys.

Ms. Janjua’s visit was an attempt to improve ties with the U.S. and at least have a working relationship. She said that both sides wanted positive engagement and were partners in the War against Terror. However, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel–who was present at Janjua's White House meeting–told the House Armed Services Committee "we are now beginning to see positive indicators" from Pakistan, though in terms of a strategic shift it is "not equal to actions that we would like to see them take." The divergence in the two sides' views of the situation is hardly surprising. As the Foreign Secretary explained after her discussions in Washington, there are differences on modalities. Pakistan "wants less (emphasis) on kinetics and more on reconciliation, as ultimately it's reconciliation that produces results." Ambassador Wells and Secretary Janjua’s statements are following the vicious cycle of public humiliation followed by damage control which has become a signature of Pakistan-U.S. relations. More importantly, the term “ally” was neither used by U.S. nor Pakistan.

What's New?
Pak-U.S. relations have reached a new low, and has nothing new to it. What’s new is that this time Pakistan has chosen to respond differently to American pressure tactics. It is actively looking for alternatives and options; they are coming in plenty. China was already filling the growing void left by the U.S. while Russia is the new entrant. Russian analysts say that it is motivated by years of growing presence of Islamic State militants in neighbouring Afghanistan. Russia has warmed up to Pakistan as well as to Taliban insurgents battling the ISIS.

Daniel Markey, senior research professor in international relations at John Hopkins University, has said that Russian relations with Pakistan aim to solve two problems for Moscow. First, to blunt the threat of ISIS from Afghanistan. Second, to undermine U.S. influence; but perhaps more importantly, according to him Russia and Pakistan probably have more in common with respect to the war in Afghanistan, than the United States has with either, and this is a real turnaround from prior history. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov has also accused Washington of failing to go after Islamic State groups in Afghanistan.

As U.S. influence in Islamabad diminishes, Pakistan’s former adversary Russia is building up military, diplomatic and economic ties, that could replace the alliance of the past. The forthcoming energy deals and blooming of military co-operation, are very promising and may turn a new leaf in Pakistan-Russia relations, that was dead for many decades. Pakistan’s Defence Minister rightly said, “Both countries have to work through the past to open the door to the future.” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was of the view that Russia and Pakistan are on common grounds on most issues at diplomatic level and that “it’s a relationship that will grow substantially in the future.”

The détente between Pakistan and Russia will not only act as a diplomatic lifeline for Pakistan in the face of its growing friction with Western powers, but will also help Pakistan in its relations with India which now leaves no stone unturned to exploit the distancing between Pakistan and the U.S. The sale of F-16 to Pakistan, absence of a favourable approach towards China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, grey-listing Pakistan by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and criminal silence on Kashmir by the U.S. are some of the examples of how the Indian lobby has used its clout with American congressmen to sabotage Pakistan’s interests and its relations with the U.S.


The thrust of the doctrine is that the effort Pakistan military has put in since 2001 to counter terrorism on its soil and in the region must be both appreciated and recognized. The repute of Pakistan is not at stake anymore, it has changed for the better and Pakistan military has worked very hard and given a lot of sacrifices to make it happen. Now, in 2018, America needs Pakistan and not the other way around. The American establishment knows U.S. forces cannot survive in the landlocked Afghanistan without Pakistan’s active support. The myth of Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation is challenged with Turkish, Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers’ public support for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts.

U.S. had played the role of a balancer between Pak-India relations; this role is now compromised. This compromise may have a very high cost. India is becoming more aggressive with each passing day. Since 2013 the LoC is in a state of mini war. India has been resorting to violation of ceasefire treaty signed with Pakistan in 2003. However, the escalation since 2013-14 is dangerous. Indian forces have routinely resorted to unprovoked firing at the LoC, 382 times in 2016 and as many as 1881 times in 2017. More than 300 ceasefire violations along Line of Control (LoC) have been committed by Indian Army since January 1, 2018 alone, making LoC one of the most dangerous borders in the world.

No wonder, India is skeptical of both China and Russia growing closer to Pakistan. “If the Russians start backing Pakistan in a big way at the political level, then it creates a problem for India,” said Sushant Sareen, a leading expert on India’s relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan with New Delhi based Observer Research Foundation. Moreover, the new warmth in Pak-Russian relations’ also in some ways offsets the over-dependence of Pakistan on China.

Russia and Pakistan are negotiating potential energy deals worth in excess of $10 billion, setting up of five huge power projects is in the pipeline. Russian companies are keen on building up an oil refinery and a power station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Much bigger deals have their focus on gas supply and infrastructure to Pakistan (a go ahead has been given to a 1,100 km gas pipeline from Lahore to Karachi). The takeover of the dysfunctional Soviet built Steel Mill by a Russian company is also on the cards.

The relationship may be in its infancy, but the potential is immense. Moreover, the convergence is now being built on commonality of interests, which includes peace in Afghanistan, countering the threat of ISIS in the region and defying U.S. arrogance.

The other major change in Pakistan-U.S. relations is how Pakistan is resisting American pressure tactics with the new-found confidence it has gained after successfully winning the War on Terror on its land and its new-found friends.

In the face of constant public humiliation dished out by the Americans, Pakistan desires to balance its sovereignty and interests against American pressures by embracing new centers of power. The other policy response is what the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a leading British think tank, has called the push back that Pakistan has given to the United States “The Bajwa Doctrine”. The observations made are that the doctrine is biting back hard against threats issued by the American Administration. It also says Pakistan appears far more confident than it was in the past. The doctrine categorically states that the Pakistan Army has done enough, it’s time for the world to do more.

Pakistan is also now adamant that time for American threats and directives is over. It is prepared to face cuts in the U.S. military aid and counter potential threats of cross-border incursions by American forces.

The thrust of the doctrine is that the effort Pakistan military has put in since 2001 to counter terrorism on its soil and in the region must be both appreciated and recognized. The repute of Pakistan is not at stake anymore, it has changed for the better and Pakistan military has worked very hard and given a lot of sacrifices to make it happen. Now, in 2018, America needs Pakistan and not the other way around. The American establishment knows U.S. forces cannot survive in the landlocked Afghanistan without Pakistan’s active support. The myth of Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation is challenged with Turkish, Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers’ public support for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts.

Pakistan has supported U.S. for seven decades, the relationship has swung between being the most sanctioned ally to a non-NATO ally. Post 9/11, Pakistan helped U.S. more than any of its NATO allies. The reward unfortunately is public humiliation now and then. President Trump’s tweet was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The shifting thought in Pakistan is that it’s time to change the equation. The message from Pakistan is loud and clear. The Armed Forces of Pakistan have restored country’s stability while the stability in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Afghan government and U.S. forces.

Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies have warned the Congress that Pakistan will continue to slip out of American influence and into China’s orbit in 2019, and thereby, will become a threat to U.S. interest in the South Asian region. The review is part of an annual report that Director of U.S. National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The agencies that jointly produced this report include Central Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency.

The report is frozen in time, it continues to harp on the themes of nuclear weapons, ties to militants, Pakistan drawing closer to China and tensions with India compounded with Pakistan’s economic vulnerability. It seems that U.S. is incapable of digesting the change Pakistan is undergoing.

More recently, General Qamar Javed Bajwa in the Munich Security Conference held in Germany, has given a soldier’s view of what Pakistan has done, which includes Pakistan defeating Al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban and other outlawed militant groups, and, he has also said that no organized militant camps exist on Pakistani soil today. More than 35,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in the war against terrorism and over 48,000 are critically wounded or disabled whereas the financial cost is exceeding USD 250 billion which is shared fractionally by the global partners. Interestingly, out of the last 131 terrorist attacks in the border areas of Pakistan, in 2017, 123 were conceived, planned and executed from Afghanistan. 89 percent of Pakistanis in a recent Pew global opinion poll said that violence against civilians in the name of Islam was never justified. This is the real face of Pakistan. There are positive changes taking place in Pakistan that need to be recognized and embraced. U.S. attitude and policy towards Pakistan is not responsive to the new changes taking place on the ground which include Pakistan’s desire to be a geo-economic state.

This, in itself, is a major paradigm shift. The economic objective that Pakistan has set for itself has direct stakes for peace and stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan, improved relations with Iran and Russia, in fact even India. Pakistan is fast becoming a country investing in the politics of economy of growth, regional integration and peace. Pakistan’s energies are now geared towards neutralizing all conflicts inside its territory and improving relations with its neighbours to cultivate the atmosphere of peace. Pakistan exercises strategic restraint in its response to U.S., India and Afghanistan and the resolve to exercise this restraint is tested every day.


The writer regularly contributes to national electronic and print media. She is currently an Associate Professor at Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts at IBA, Karachi.

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Written By: Hasan Khan

At Kabul Process II on February 28, President Dr. Ashraf Ghani unveiled an unprecedented ‘peace plan’ inviting Taliban to direct peace talks with Kabul government to draw a comprehensive peace strategy and end one of theworld’s most ‘intractable’ wars.

“We are making this offer without preconditions in order to lead to a peace agreement,” the President told international participants of KP-II.


afghanpeaceprocess.jpg“Taliban are expected to give input to the peace-making process, the goal of which is to draw the Taliban as an organization to peace talks.”

President Ghani’s peace initiative is dubbed by many as a ‘bold initiative.’ For the first time Kabul administration accepted Taliban militia–hitherto labelled as ‘foreign sponsored terrorists’–as a political force (inviting them) to open political offices anywhere in Afghanistan including Kabul.

The new peace initiative also attracted admiration and support from regional and international stakeholders of the conflict. Even cynics started believing President Ghani’s unconditional offer for peace talks coupled with delisting names of certain militia leaders from UN terror-watch lists, releasing of prisoners, offering passport, travel and offices facilities would render the insurgents change their hard position on negotiating peace directly with Afghan government.

It will be too cynical to appear disappointed at this stage. However, it seemed evident that Taliban leadership is deliberately downplaying the President’s talk offer by not responding to the same even after passage of weeks.

Taliban have so far avoided responding directly to Dr. Ghani’s peace plan, however, their lack of interest in talking to Kabul is obvious from the militia’s spokesman response as a reply to an ‘open letter’ published in New Yorker magazine written by Barnett Rubin–a leading expert on Afghanistan and South Asia–who urged Taliban to accept talks with Kabul government.

“Our country has been occupied, which has led to an American-style supposed Afghan government being imposed upon us… And your view that we talk to them and accept their legitimacy is the same formula adopted by America to win the war,” Taliban response said, adding the Kabul Process was simply aimed at seeking the “surrender” of Taliban militia.

The militia leadership still believe Americans have occupied Afghanistan and the Kabul government is a puppet government imposed over the Afghans. Instead of talking to what they believed is ‘the puppet Kabul regime,’ they wanted to talk directly with the U.S.

In a statement issued days after unveiling Ghani’s peace proposal, Taliban had asked the U.S. to talk directly to the militia’s political office in Qatar, and not negotiate through the Afghan government.

“You [U.S. administration] know how to reach us through our office in Doha,” a Taliban media operator in a tweet message told the U.S. administration and added, “Let us [Taliban] know when you’re ready to talk to discuss your exit… Soon is better before it becomes very ugly for you in Afghanistan.”

They also wrote an ‘open letter’ to American people, urging them to put pressure on President Trump and U.S. military to stop war in Afghanistan and start negotiations.

For Taliban trusting the Afghan government leadership is also a major issue. They knew the Kabul regime is not independent in taking decisions vis- à-vis peace.

In the last week of January–by which President Ghani would have finalized this ‘new peace initiative to be unveiled at KP-II’ after consultations with Afghans–a statement from the President office ruled out any sitting for peace talks with Taliban. This statement was a follow up of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of ‘no talks for peace with Afghan Taliban for the time being’ following deadly terror attacks in January in Kabul.

“[The] Taliban have crossed a red line and lost the chance for peace… we have to look for peace on the battlefield. They have to be marginalized,” Afghan President Ghani’s office issued this statement. Before this statement of the U.S. President on January 29 said, “I don’t think we’re prepared to talk right now… They’re killing people left and right. Innocent people are being killed left and right.”
On the other hand the growing impression in Kabul is that by announcing the new peace initiative Dr. Ghani seemed to be in full command of the situation and is re-enacting the successful model of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar episode with Taliban.

The new initiative–which many believed is a comprehensive one–has also dispelled the impression that [though] Afghan government leaders are lacking a workable peace strategy. According to political commentators Dr. Ghani has thrown the ball in the Taliban’s court and the insurgents must respond positively. Pressure might be increased on Taliban leadership as the new peace initiative has overwhelming support of Afghans from across the ethnic and political divides.

The reason for widespread support and acceptance lies in the action prior to formulating the comprehensive package by President Ghani and his government’s chief executive Dr. Abdullah as they had long deliberated and held consultations with political leaders, members of civil society, religious figures, women and youth leaders from across the country.

But, is there any attraction for the insurgents to jump the bandwagon of Dr. Ghani and, that too, at a time when Ghani’s regime is fast losing control over more and more territories and shrinking to major population centers only? Kabul government is practically dysfunctional with its authority eroded by the increasing ethnic tensions, resurgent warlords and endemic corruption.

This situation is further worsened by the phenomenal increase in the civilians’ casualties both in the rising Taliban attacks in urban localities and U.S. airstrikes in rural areas.

The prevailing perception is that the government made the unconditional offer of peace negotiations to the Taliban under duress. And it’s highly unlikely that Taliban leadership will accept the peace offer in a situation when the militia is gaining more and more strength and influence.

Going by the surveys of western sources including SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) and BBC the militia has phenomenally increased territories under sway to over 50%.
BBC study shows Taliban are in full control of 14 districts and have an active and open physical presence in a further 263, significantly higher than previous estimates of Taliban strength. The Afghan government has full control over merely 30% of country and about 15 million people–half of Afghanistan’s population–are living in areas that are either controlled by Taliban or where the militia is openly present and regularly mounts attacks, as per the report.

SIGAR–U.S.’ main watchdog in Afghanistan–in its report submitted to Congress in February, claimed Afghan government has control over only 57% of its territory leaving 43% to Taliban insurgents. A year earlier government was in full control of 72 percent of the country.

This is coupled with another very important development. Historically, Taliban used to increase territorial influence in summer. But shrunk back to mountains and rural areas in severe cold winter losing control over territories, particularly in the northern regions. This winter the Taliban not only continued holding more and more areas in the north, center and west of Afghanistan but also continued hitting the country with widespread deadly attacks.

Holding more territories throughout the year means Taliban have the luxury of now recruiting more fighters and extending their fights to areas which are under government control and thus can further dent Kabul regime in the eyes of Afghans.

A senior Pakistani military leader recently shared that under emerging possibilities of peace, Pakistan is using its maximum leverage on Afghan Taliban to negotiate with Kabul. Pakistan through border control mechanism and strict watch over Afghan refugee camps has been able to curb the cross-border movement as well as use of other facilities like medical etc. in Pakistan. In this backdrop, recent peace signals by Taliban should be tseen in this context. However, Pakistani military leader has also maintained that Pakistan does not have much leverage and Afghans fighting on their soil are an independent entity. It is time for others to understand Pakistan’s limitations and view us pragmatically. It is encouraging that like Pakistan, other important regional countries Iran, China and Russia are also encouraging the militia leadership to resolve the conflict through table talks.

In their open letter to American people, Taliban said that their preference is to solve the Afghan issue through peaceful dialogues. In Herat when work on Afghan section of a $10 billion gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India started, Taliban declared support for the pipeline and other infrastructure projects that could benefit Afghans.


The writer is a senior journalist, analyst and anchorperson at a private TV channel.

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