25
February

Written By: Dr. Huma Baqai

Dr. Huma Baqai’s special note for Hilal based on observations and impressions after her recent visit to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s enduring security crises is a source of concern for the international community but it means a lot more to Pakistan and its economic future. The cordial relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are intrinsically linked with peace and security in Pakistan along with peace and security in Afghanistan. The trust deficit that exists between the two countries is very pervasive on the Afghan side. The broad overarching consensus is that Pakistan continues to play a role of enabler of violence in Afghanistan.

 

The recent desire, willingness and commitment shown by Pakistan to facilitate the peace dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban is also viewed with a lot of skepticism in Afghanistan. Very few in Kabul see it through the prism of Pakistan’s desire to bring peace in Afghanistan; largely it is viewed as a ploy by Pakistan to continue to manipulate the politics of Afghanistan and keep India out. Probably, the reality has not been able to take its due place!

 

Since 2014-2015, Pakistan has re-emerged in the calculation of the movers and shakers of the world as the key to peace in Afghanistan. United States, China and even Russia look at Pakistan to deliver Taliban to the Peace Process. This has come about after the endorsement of the stark reality by US, NATO and Afghan military officials, that after more than a decade of war with billions of US funds to build up an Afghan military force has not resulted in the defeat of the Taliban insurgency that remains a threat across the entire country.

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On March 12, 2014, US General Joseph Dunford, then Commander of ISAF and US Forces-Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “If we leave at the end of 2014, the Afghan security forces will begin to deteriorate. The security environment will begin to deteriorate, and I think the only debate is the pace of that deterioration.” Almost all foreign forces left at the end of 2014, leaving only 12,000 administrators, trainers and US Special Forces door-bashing assailants who have done more than any other element to set ordinary Afghans against America. As forecasted by General Dunford, the “security environment” is deteriorating day by day. So, blaming Pakistan from Afghan side for the prevailing beleaguered security situation and violence is a very myopic view of things. The fighting winter and a very tough spring offensive was also the result of the failure of the Afghan security infrastructure to respond to the emerging ground realities of less foreign forces and operations in Pakistan.

 

Peace Process and Talks with the Taliban

Post-establishing Pakistan’s relevance to the peace process, Murree Talks took place. The road paving for it was also done by China and it had the blessings of many countries. It was seen as a major breakthrough at that time. The scuttling of the Murree Peace process because of Mullah Omer’s death leak was a huge blow to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations and has resulted in President Ghani losing out domestically. Most political observers are of the view that he has no political capital to take more risks by investing in good relationship with Pakistan.

 

In the conversation that the author had with Afghan civil society representatives, CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai, the joint narrative is that Pakistan cheated Afghanistan by not revealing the fact that Mullah Omar is dead and they are convinced that Pakistani establishment knew about it. In fact they go a step forward and say that before the Murree Peace Process, assurance was sought that the group representing the Taliban in Murree has Mullah Omar’s blessings and the same was assured.

 

Interestingly, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah ridicules President Ghani for thanking a dead man for coming to the negotiation table. President Ghani had taken a huge risk by initiating the peace process with the Taliban (through Pakistan) and apparently it back fired.

 

Ex-President Karzai, now is very vocal about the fact that US, UK and Pakistan are bed fellows and that work for the promotion of the US interests in Afghanistan, which is not in the interests of Afghanistan. The spike in violence in Afghanistan post the breakdown of talks and the Mullah Omar’s death leak is also seen in that light. Pakistan’s stance may continue to be that the leak of Mullah Omer’s death was a conspiracy of the Afghan intelligence agency (NDS) or the doing of palace conspiracy in Kabul. The point remains that the Afghans showcase it as another nail in the coffin of trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The pressure built by the proponents of the war economy and very active Indian lobby in Afghanistan are also the factors contributing to the deteriorating relations between the two countries. Serious internal rifts exist within the Afghan ranks, and unless an internal consensus on relations with Pakistan and about the policy on the Afghan Taliban is achieved, real progress on peace and security will remain unattainable.

 

Indian Factor

The Afghans may want to talk to the Taliban for the lack of any other option and dwindling interest of the West to continue to bail them out but are very annoyed at the (alleged) existence of Afghan Taliban groups in Pakistan. They see them as tools which Pakistan continues to use to exercise influence and control within Afghanistan. The statement of the Indian Ambassador in Afghanistan Mr. Amar Sinha right after the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ghani in Paris was that Pakistan is working towards giving leadership space to the Haqqani Network, which is on the verge of getting international recognition as the defacto Taliban leader due to Pakistani’s initiative has not helped the situation. The statements by the Indian Ambassador on relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan found very prominent space in Afghani newspapers. The fact that an envoy gives regular comments and advice on how the relationship of the two countries should progress is against all international protocols and tantamount to interference is never seen in that light in Afghanistan.

 

Operation Zarb-e-Azb

Pakistan has carried out Zarb-e-Azb against TTP and others that challenge the writ of the Pakistani state but at the same time, the Afghan perception is that they continue to facilitate, host and nurture the Afghan Taliban. To them Zarb-e-Azb, aimed at crushing Pakistani militants, has further undermined security situation in Afghanistan. The Afghan President said in the Heart of Asia Conference that the operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in the wake of Army Public School attack in the city of Peshawar had created additional security challenges for their country. He also spoke of Afghanistan hosting 350,000 to 500,000 Pakistani refugees as a result of military operation resulting in civilian displacement. Ghani, although more categorical of his criticism of Pakistan in the recent visit, has once again shown his pro-Pakistan tilt, which is severely criticized in Afghanistan. The unprecedented gesture made by Pakistani political and military leadership, in giving President Ghani state welcome, is a step in the right direction but more has to be done. The most important being dispelling the impression that Pakistan continues to harbour, facilitate, nurture the Afghan Taliban that perpetuate violence in Afghanistan. The irresponsible statement by a former President and few others do not help the situation and are constantly brought up in discussions by the Afghans and the anti-Pakistan and pro-Indian lobbies in Afghanistan.

 

The soft power thrust and cultivation of Afghan political elite ‘through all means’ is the strategy used by India and the counter strategy of Pakistan on these fronts seems extremely weak or not delivering. Although Pakistan is crucial to Afghanistan, be it peace and security or regional connectivity, but it has failed on both fronts. Afghanistan seems more inclined towards Iran and India for the same.

 

The media in Afghanistan is also very pro-India and skeptical of Pakistan. The statement by a former Interior Minister that “India is main hurdle in normalization of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations,” has not been well received in Afghanistan. They perceive it as an interference and Karzai uses it to say that Afghanistan is all set to go under the thumb of Pakistan. Pakistan has to be more pragmatic and innovative in its approach towards Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. The continuous reference to ‘India in Afghanistan’ has not been able to make its desired impact.

 

Hopes for the Renewal of the Peace Process

The Heart of Asia Conference 2015 on Afghanistan has once again raised hopes of talks between Afghan government and the Taliban by the facilitation of Pakistan. The warm welcome given to President Ghani by Pakistan and the statement by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Afghanistan’s enemy is Pakistan’s enemy and that should be realized on ground, has once again raised hopes. An added term to address the concerns of the Afghans is “reconcilable Taliban” and commitment of targeted action against the Haqqani network.

 

General Raheel’s concerns shown in Washington on the sincerity and commitment of the Afghan security officialdom for peace process that they may thwart the renewed peace process and the agreement reached between Pakistan and the United States to work together for an early resumption of the stalled Afghan reconciliation process seem very real. However, right after the resumptions of commitment of talks, the Chief of Afghan intelligence agency (NDS) resigned, sharing his disappointment on Ghani’s initiative to start the talk with the Taliban. That indicates existence of such elements.

 

China Factor and Regional Cooperation

Coming back to Pak-Afghan relations, the major bone of contention perhaps is the international border (Durand Line) and Afghanistan’s relations with India.

 

Pakistan is all for Afghan-led Afghan-owned peace process. The long term economic vision of Pakistan to become a part of the regional economic turnaround by following the CPEC cannot see the light of the day without peace in Afghanistan and peace in Balochistan. Now regional cooperation to defeat terrorism is a policy that is intrinsically linked to the economic turnaround that Pakistan foresees for itself. This has to be showcased. As the new People’s Republic of China ambassador to Afghanistan, Sun Yuxi has stated that his country’s “larger strategy is also economic development, i.e. construction of the Silk Road which includes Pakistan and Afghanistan.” This approach was welcomed by both Pakistan and Afghanistan in equal measure. Karzai calls it the only ray of hope for improved relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

 

Future Outlook

Pakistan must impress upon the Afghans that the paradigm shift that has taken place on the Pakistani side from Geo-Politics to Geo-Economics. Pakistan has an economic vision which it sees being realized through CPEC. There is complete ownership and commitment for this. Pakistan is set to address all the issues that may emerge as impediments to it becoming a reality both internally and externally which include relations with Afghanistan, peace in Afghanistan, peace in Balochistan and defeating terrorism in the region.

 

A revisit of Pak-Afghan policy is need of the hour. No ‘safe havens’ to anyone against anyone. The irreconcilable Afghan Taliban are seen as enemies in Afghanistan and be treated similarly. So far, the lack of policy effectiveness has allowed India to acquire strategic political space in the polity of Afghanistan which it blatantly exploits against Pakistan.

 

Just a word of caution here – Pakistan may have abandoned the policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan but it can ill-afford strategic vulnerability, leading to the strategic defeat, emanating from its western borders, facilitated by its eastern neighbour.

 

The sustainable way forward for Afghanistan government and Pakistan is to address each others’ sensitivities and sensibilities without outside interference. The desire of some regional and extra-regional powers to pitch Pakistan and Afghanistan against each other to achieve their vested interests in the region should be identified, exposed and defeated. Pakistan needs to further pursue peace with dignity for its own reasons: stability and economy. The fact remains and stands that Pakistan can play a major role of peace driver in the Afghan peace process.

 

There exists a window of opportunity between now and spring 2016. These four months are very crucial for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to consolidate peace and defeat the forces working against the interest of both the countries. If a spring offensive happens in 2016 – post the winter, we will all be back to square one. It is only when the sitting Afghan government can achieve an internal consensus on the viability of talks with the Taliban as a way forward to peace. The dialogue initiatives and the resumption of talks with the Taliban can deliver the desired results. Pakistan is sincere and committed in its desire to broker a dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban to the best of its capability. The lack of consistency and commitment exists on the Afghan side.

The writer is an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences , IBA . She is also associated as a foreign and current affairs expert with Radio Pakistan and a private TV Channel.
There exists a window of opportunity between now and spring 2016. These four months are very crucial for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to consolidate peace and defeat the forces working against the interest of both the countries. If a spring offensive happens in 2016 – post the winter, we will all be back to square one. It is only when the sitting Afghan government can achieve an internal consensus on the viability of talks with the Taliban as a way forward to peace. The dialogue initiatives and the resumption of talks with the Taliban can deliver the desired results. Pakistan is sincere and committed in its desire to broker a dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban to the best of its capability. The lack of consistency and commitment exists on the Afghan side.

*****

 
25
February

Written By: Jennifer McKay

The new year is off and running. A glance at the global situation doesn’t exactly fill one with cheerful thoughts and optimism. Wars, poverty, massive numbers of refugees moving across Europe in search of safety, rising Islamophobia in many western countries, and economic downturns are now a feature in many parts of the world. With so much continuing chaos in the world around us, what can we expect for Pakistan in 2016? Will it really be a happy new year?

 

First let’s look back at 2015 to assess some of the key achievements and challenges for indicators, then consider how these might play out in 2016. There were many of both, large and small, but let’s focus on a few of the big ones that are a regular feature of our lives in Pakistan – peace and stability, law and order, relations with Afghanistan and India, natural disasters, impact of global events, and economic prosperity. Pakistan had a quieter 2015 than we might have expected following the tragic end of 2014 when we mourned the murder by terrorists of more than 140 people, 122 of whom were children at the Army Public School in Peshawar. The perpetrators have been dealt with, either killed in the attack, or have faced the Military Courts for the ultimate punishment for their horrendous crime. But the pain is with us still a year later and for the families, it will never fade.

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But as 2015 progressed, things seem to improve a little. The APS attack was a wake-up call to the nation that the fight against terrorism is a fight for all of us, not just the Armed Forces and security agencies. A 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) was formulated to bring together all government institutions and agencies to take all steps to eradicate terrorism. A series of initiatives and responsibilities were established within the NAP and some have already been implemented, contributing to a drop in the levels of terrorist activity. However, there is still much more to do and this will require the commitment of all the government authorities at all levels of government throughout 2016.

 

To find core reasons for why 2015 was a better than expected year, we can look to the extraordinary success of Zarb-e-Azb in the tribal areas. After 18 months of military operations, the benefits have really kicked in, and most of FATA, including North Waziristan, is now cleared and peace is returning. The last few pockets of resistance close to Afghan Border were, at the time of writing, being cleared.

 

In a mid-December update from Director General of ISPR, Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, he apprised that the main terrorist infrastructure has been dismantled and their links with sleeper cells have largely been disrupted. Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) continue to identify and break up remaining cells. At least 3,400 terrorists killed and 837 hideouts, from where they carried out their terrorist activities, have been destroyed. More than 13,200 IBOs have been conducted across the country in which 183 hardcore terrorists have been killed, and 21,193 arrested. That’s quite a success story.

 

But this success has come at a heavy cost. Some 488 officers and men of Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps KPK, Balochistan, and Sindh Rangers, sacrificed their lives and 1,914 were injured in Operation Zarb-e-Azb by mid-December 2015. The terrain, in which the Army has taken on the terrorists in FATA, is a hard place to fight – the terrain is extremely challenging. So it makes the success of Zarb-e-Azb all the more impressive, especially when you compare it to the huge International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations conducted over many more years, next door in Afghanistan.

 

With peace returning to FATA, more than 110,000 families displaced by the operations, have already returned to the various agencies, including North Waziristan. The cost of re-settling the displaced families has already placed a substantial financial burden on the country and will continue to do so. But this is a small price to pay for peace. We should not neglect these people, as the country owes them a great deal. They have lost so much to allow the military to bring us greater peace and stability. In 2016, most of the remaining 192,000 displaced families will return. This is a major achievement. Many doubted that this could be achieved in such a time frame but a coordinated effort between government and Army, with additional support from international donors and civil society, has made this possible. In 2016, there will also be a stronger focus on the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase in FATA to ensure there is proper funding, technical and other support available, to ensure proper restoration of the area and improvement in living standards to ensure future stability.

 

Security and law and order issues across the entire country are improving. Following the establishment of military courts to deal with terrorists, 142 cases have been referred, 55 cases decided, 87 cases are in process and 31 hard-core terrorists have been convicted. This is a significant step forward. Too often in the past, those who have committed terrorist acts escaped justice in the civilian courts as fear prevented judges, lawyers and witnesses from proceeding against them, freeing them to strike again.

 

Karachi is becoming more peaceful since Rangers commenced operations there to improve the law and order situation. In 2016, Rangers will continue their operations making Karachi a much safer place for residents and visitors. And Balochistan, so long a troubled province, has taken great steps forward towards peaceful solutions with many separatists and militants handing in their weapons to the Government and Army and agreeing to become peaceful. The overall improvement in security and law and order across the country has given people more confidence to attend public festivities and national events for the first time in several years making national and Independence Day celebrations a more joyous time. While it would be naïve to think that there will be no incidents – and as I was writing this, an attack at Parachinar in Kurram Agency – the overall situation looks like it will continue to improve in 2016.

 

2016 will also see a change in the Chief of Army Staff. The current COAS, General Raheel Sharif, has captured the public’s imagination and confidence with his ‘can do’ leadership and achieved a great deal during his tenure. Towards the end of 2016, his tenure is due to come to an end and a new COAS will be appointed. Regardless of whether his tenure is extended as some have suggested as a possibility, or whether a new COAS is appointed, the country can be confident that matters, related to the defence of the nation, will continue to progress in positive direction.

 

Relations with India soured in 2015 with an increase in ceasefire violations by India on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, leading to the deaths of a number of Pakistani civilians, and Rangers. The vitriolic rhetoric by leaders in India against Pakistan was ramped up and despite the agreement made on the sidelines of the Ufa meeting for talks to be held between the two countries, nothing eventuated as India insisted the only agenda item would be terrorism while Pakistan had a broader agenda including Kashmir.

 

However, as the year drew to a close, a breakthrough appears to have been achieved, to the surprise of many. The External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj led an Indian delegation to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process held in Islamabad on December 8-9, 2015. During the visit, she called on Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and held discussions with the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz.

 

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the visit, Minister Swaraj and Mr. Aziz condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. They noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial. Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a comprehensive bilateral dialogue and directed the foreign secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the dialogue including peace and security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar

 

Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counterterrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people-to-people exchanges and religious tourism. The two foreign secretaries were tasked to work out the details of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue and the level of interaction in various working groups and also decide the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the dialogue.

 

If the comprehensive talks do actually eventuate, it will be a positive step forward. However, as we have seen in the past, as was the case at Ufa, the bonhomie seems to fade quickly and the ceasefire violations start again. If the talks do stay on track, then the people in the villages on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control and Working Boundary should be able to look forward to a more peaceful year ahead.

 

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, is focused on a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and a secure and prosperous region through a series of Confidence Building Measures including disaster management, counter terrorism, counter narcotics, trade, commerce and investment, education, and documents. Pakistan is a key player amongst the many member and supporting countries of this important process which was initiated in 2011, and has hosted a number of meetings including the December Ministerial Conference and two Regional Technical Group meetings on the Disaster Management Confidence Building Measure. Pakistan is the Co-Chair of the Disaster Management Confidence Building Measures, which brings together a number of the member countries to focus on this important issue. Heart of Asia is proving to be an effective grouping of nations with a number of successful steps already achieved as we saw at the Islamabad meeting.

 

In addition to the attendance of the Indian Minister and the outcomes arising out of that, there were indications of renewed warmth in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Ashraf Ghani was another high profile visitor for the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad and held positive meetings with the Prime Minister and also the Chief of Army Staff. Shortly after these meetings, the Head of the Afghan Intelligence, Raimatullah Nabil, announced his resignation citing his disagreement with the President’s statements in Pakistan on a more positive cooperation. Most likely, he was pushed. Nabil has been a constant negative force in countering Pakistan's earnest attempts to help broker peace talks in Afghanistan. It is hoped that these recent developments will pave the way for closer ties in the coming year. This will be a very positive outcome for both countries in trying to find solutions to a lasting peace in Afghanistan. With a resurgence of attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan in recent months, this becomes more urgent. Peace in Afghanistan will bring positive outcomes for Pakistan and the region. It would again be naïve to think that this complex process can be achieved quickly but we should at least hope for some forward steps in 2016.

 

Natural disasters again made their presence felt in Pakistan in 2015. Glacial lake outburst, cloud outburst and flash floods hit various parts of Chitral in July causing extensive damages to houses, mosques, bridges, roads, irrigation and water channels. The communication infrastructure has also been severely affected. Fortunately, loss of life was low but a large number of people were cut off in this mountainous terrain.

 

Then on October 26, an earthquake struck the same areas, killing 232 people, damaging 97,995 homes, as well as infrastructure including roads, telecommunications, clinics and schools. The total cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the areas affected by the floods and the earthquake is estimated at more than USD 500 million. Yet, despite the endless chain of disasters over the years, very little has been done to reduce the risks posed by the catalogue of potential disasters that can cause massive damage in Pakistan. The direction we need to take in Disaster Management in 2016 needs to include a strong focus on Disaster Risk Reduction and Community Based Disaster Risk Management. Reducing risk reduces that cost of natural disasters, and leads to a far more resilient country, yet there is little investment by governments at any level in this.

 

But what of the rest of the world and how will what’s happening elsewhere affect Pakistan? The Middle East is in chaos and it, really, is difficult to keep up with who is bombing whom. The misery of innocent civilians as their homes, neighbourhoods and their entire countries, are reduced to rubble, has created a refugee crisis not seen since World War II. The humanitarian needs of these millions of people caught up in the conflict and fleeing Iraq and Syria, is causing extreme pressure on donor funding, drawing much away from other countries like Pakistan. Should there be a major disaster in Pakistan in 2016, the amount of international funding available to supplement the national efforts is likely to be severely reduced. This will make life very difficult for those affected.

 

With peace comes the chance of prosperity and also an improvement in investor confidence. Investment is too big a topic for this article and better addressed by those who specialize in economic matters. But there is something else that will enhance investor confidence and that is solving Pakistan’s energy crisis. The government has promised to do this by 2017 so let’s hope we start to see improvements in 2016. What a difference this will make to business and living in Pakistan!

 

Pakistan is a developing country so we should not compare ourselves with developed countries. Instead, we should focus on what we have to do to achieve developed status one day in the future. The country has almost 200 million people and many challenges to overcome to lift people out of poverty and ensure education, healthcare, housing, and food security for all. This will take a long time but it would be nice to get to the end of 2016 and see positive steps forward have been made. Despite the challenges, Pakistan will continue to face, to me it seems to be a safer and more peaceful place than so many other countries now. With attacks on the decline, a more positive spirit, and engagement with the neighbours on a fair and equitable level, we can move forward.

 

So will it be a happy new year for Pakistan? We cannot know what lies ahead but some of these positive indicators certainly should allow us to take from Jinnah’s words and have hope, courage and confidence. Happy New Year, Pakistan!

 

The writer is Australian Disaster Management and Civil-Military Relations Consultant, based in Islamabad where she consults for Government and UN agencies. She has also worked with ERRA and NDMA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
04
January

Written By: Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme received immense attention in the international media during the recent months. The impressive advancements in the nuclear capable delivery systems and miniaturized nuclear devices have further solidified the defencive punch of the country. Simultaneously, it alarms the adversary. Therefore, a few security analysts expressed their distress over the modernization of the programme. Ironically, they make baseless claims such as the “fastest-growing nuclear programme on earth” or “Pakistan might be on the verge of deploying a small tactical nuclear weapon”. They spelled out a few policy options to disrupt the qualitative improvement in the programme.


neuwapimp.jpgRealistically, neither Pakistan has faster-growing nuclear weapons programme nor is it contemplating to deploy its battlefield nuclear weapons. Recently, two senior American journalists David Ignatius and David E. Singer reported in Washington Post and The New York Times, respectively that Obama administration is exploring a nuclear deal with Pakistan. Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon, two leading American nuclear analysts, also published a report titled “A Normal Nuclear Pakistan” in August 2015. These writings have intensified debate on Pakistan’s nuclear programme in the international media. India’s reaction on the US engagement with Pakistan in realm of peaceful use of nuclear technology was hysterical.


Islamabad, today, seems prepared to negotiate a civilian nuclear deal with Washington without compromising on its ‘credible minimum full spectrum nuclear deterrence posture’. Similarly, Pakistan’s desire to be a member of all international export control regimes, i.e. the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australian Group, Wassenaar Arrangement. However, it is not ready to compromise on its nuclear posture by accepting unrealistic conditions on its nuclear weapons programme. It’s because, Pakistan’s nuclear decision making is very much determined by its regional strategic environment instead of idealistic norms of nuclear non-proliferationists or nuclear pessimists conclusions. Moreover, Pakistan developed its nuclear weapons to defend itself from the Indian nuclear blackmail. That’s why; the national and international nuclear pessimists’ maligning and horrifying propaganda against Pakistan’s nuclear programme as well as United States and its like minded Western nations’ economic sanction had failed to thwart Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme evolution during the last quarter of the twentieth century.


Importantly, Islamabad has not only expressed its aspirations, but had also endeavoured to keep South Asia free from nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, it had failed to keep South Asia free from nuclear weapons due to India’s Great Power designs. Therefore, despite Islamabad’s earnest desire to keep South Asia free from nuclear weapons, it has refrained from joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970s. Subsequently, it developed its indigenous nuclear infrastructure.


The review of Pakistan’s nuclear programme’s evolutionary history reveals that Islamabad’s nuclear policy has always been rationally perceived and logically executed. Despite that, a few strategic pundits question it prejudicially. Instead of examining Islamabad’s nuclear policy objectively, within the context of South Asian strategic environment, they demand for the rollback of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. They deliberately ignore the Indian military doctrine transformation entailing colossal military buildup. Similar flaws or deliberate negations of Pakistani concerns one noticed in Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon report — A Normal Nuclear Pakistan.


The report is an interesting reading. The contributors diligently endeavoured to prove that presently Pakistan is a typical nuclear weapon state. They also recommended Islamabad five nuclear weapon-related initiatives to become a normal nuclear weapon state. These recommendations warrant serious deliberation on the subject because speculatively these five proposals to Islamabad seem benign, but in reality these proposals are perilous for Pakistan’s national security in general and defence in particular. The report fails to treat Pakistan at par with India.


The objective analysis necessitates that each proposal ought to be examined systematically. Toby and Michael’s recommended five proposals are following:


1. Shift declaratory policy from “full spectrum” to “strategic”
deterrence.
2. Commit to a recessed deterrence posture and limit production
of short-range delivery vehicles and tactical nuclear weapons.
3. Lift Pakistan’s veto on Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty
negotiations and reduce or stop fissile material production.
4. Separate civilian and military nuclear facilities.
5. Sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without waiting for
India.


The aforementioned recommendations accentuate that the complex strategic environment of South Asia has completely been ignored by the authors of the report. In addition, they also disregarded India’s colossal military buildup and transformation in its military doctrine. Indeed, today, for the Americans India’s military buildup is an advantageous development due to the Indo-US strategic partnership and New Delhi’s potential to purchase American military hardware.


The Indian strategic community has successfully been propagating that India would check China’s rise in the Asian strategic environment. It’s a debatable assertion that whether New Delhi checks China or only maintain a phony rivalry with Beijing. But it’s an established fact that India’s military buildup is perilous for Pakistan’s defence. Therefore, Islamabad ought to chalk out a viable strategy to defend itself from the increasing conventional fire power of India.

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India has emerged as one of the world’s largest buyers of weapons systems during the recent years. Therefore, the United States has established “India Rapid Reaction Cell at the Pentagon” to streamline the coordination required for India’s procurement of American arms in February 2015. Keith Webster, Director, International Cooperation Office of the Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, heads this cell. The cell is in the great advantage for India. New Delhi would not only use the cell to pursue its military objectives alone, but it would also be employed to facilitate New Delhi directly/indirectly to pursue its political, commercial and diplomatic targets in Washington. The cell would attract the mighty American Military Industrial Complex to invest for the sake of co-production of hi-tech military equipment in India. Both Pentagon and India would also garner military industrial complex support for lobbying at the Capitol Hill.


Many analysts seem ignorant about the factual situation when they opined that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme is a fastest-growing programme. The comparative analysis of India and Pakistan nuclear inventories reveal that latter’s programme is not fastest-growing. For instance, the Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris findings contradict Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon estimates about India’s fissile material. They concluded that: “India is estimated to have produced approximately 540 kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium, enough for 135 to 180 nuclear warheads, though not all of that material is being used.” The Pakistani estimates also contradict the authenticity of international analysts estimates. It was reported that “Pakistani assessment is that India has enough fissile material, both reactor and weapon-grade plutonium, for more than 2,000 warheads.” In such a situation, certainly, it is difficult for Islamabad to alter its credible minimum full spectrum nuclear deterrence policy.


The proposal about “committing to a recessed deterrence posture and limit production of short-range delivery vehicles and tactical nuclear weapons” seems partially acceptable. But it is only viable, if Islamabad is capable to spend billions of dollars to purchase conventional sophisticated military hardware from the developed world’s military industrial complex. In simple words, Pakistan limits its nuclear weapons production and enters into an economically devastating conventional arms race with India. Indeed, it would be an economically disastrous option for Pakistan and thereby it ought to avoid conventional arms race with India.


Islamabad has been maintaining a firm stance on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) at the Conference on Disarmament. Today, many nations are pressuring Islamabad to soften its stance on the FMCT. Conversely, Islamabad seems convinced that FMCT scope should include both arms and disarmament components. Thus, it seems appropriate to focus and address the causes due to which Pakistan is reluctant to lift its veto on FMCT negotiations at the Conference. Moreover, the current trends in the global nuclear politics also reveal that the reduction or stop of fissile material production is impossible.


Today, the long-term nuclear force modernization or advancement programmes are underway in all the nuclear armed states. According to the SIPRI Yearbook 2015, “all the nuclear weapon-possessing states are working to develop new nuclear weapon systems and/or upgrade their existing ones.” It was reported that between 2014 and 2023, the United States expects to spend $355 billion to modernize its nuclear arsenal.
President Vladimir Putin announced on June 16, 2015: “Russia would add more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to its nuclear arsenal this year’’. The following table also draws attention towards the disparity between India and Pakistan fissile material stockpiles. Thus, neither international nor regional trends support the demand of authors of the report to reduce or stop fissile material production.


The global nuclear environment is not conducive for the CTBT. This treaty lost significant support in October 1999, when the Senate of United States refused to ratify it. Therefore, it is an erroneous conclusion that Islamabad is waiting for India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The practical approach for the entry into force of the CTBT is that the United States Senate ratifies the Treaty.


To conclude, the discriminatory and arbitrary sanctions against Pakistan during the last decades of twentieth century, global war on terrorism, and cementing Indo-US strategic partnership have shifted the conventional and strategic forces balance of power overwhelmingly to the advantage of India. The Pakistani decision-makers have been forced to make the nuclear related hard choices for the sake of the country’s sovereign defence. Hence, Islamabad cannot underplay the prevalent trends in its regional strategic environment while chalking out its nuclear strategy.

 

The writer is Director and Associate Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He contributes for print and electronic media regularly. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Islamabad has not only expressed its aspirations, but had also endeavoured to keep South Asia free from nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, it had failed to keep South Asia free from nuclear weapons due to India’s Great Power designs. Therefore, despite Islamabad’s earnest desire to keep South Asia free from nuclear weapons, it has refrained from joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970s. Subsequently, it developed its indigenous nuclear infrastructure.

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04
January

Written By: Shamshad Ahmad

This year the nation observed the Defence and Martyrs Day all over the country with unprecedented zeal and solemnity. It was indeed an occasion for acknowledging the supreme sacrifices rendered by our martyrs and sharing with the families their sense of pride and fortitude. But this was also an occasion to look back and do some real soul-searching to determine what we, as a nation, have done individually and collectively to live up to the supreme cause our martyrs laid their lives for.


I attended the ceremony at Yadgar-e-Shuhada in Lahore where thousands of people sat spellbound for hours listening to the tales of heroism and witnessing the rejuvenation of a new spirit that we as a nation need so badly.natunisec.jpg The tales of supreme sacrifices in the cause of Pakistan took me back subconsciously to the fateful train journey that my family undertook in 1947 leaving behind millions of others, their hearths and homes, their properties and their ancestral history of thousands of years to submerge into a new larger national identity. No sacrifice then, was greater than freedom.


No wonder, for my family as indeed for millions of others, it was a momentous decision to opt for the newly-independent state we so proudly called Pakistan. Memories of many gory moments and painful experiences from those days are still seared into my mind. I cannot forget the moment when our train after crossing into Pakistan steamed into Harbanspura Station with everyone on the train crying with joy and raising spontaneous slogans Allah-o-Akbar and Pakistan Zindabad. Tears of joy filled every eye at the end of that fateful journey.


Here on the Yaom-i-Shuhada this year, while feeling a similar soul-jerking ambience all around, I asked myself what has gone wrong with us as a nation? Where is the larger national identity that the Quaid had left for us in the form of Pakistan? Those millions of Muslims who left their ancestral identity in India did not migrate to the ethnic and linguistic entities now called the Punjab, Sindh, KPK or Balochistan. They migrated to a newly-independent Muslim state to be able to live their lives and raise their children with dignity, free from fear, want, hunger, disease, illiteracy, corruption, violence, oppression and injustice. Where is that state of Pakistan? We are still looking for it.


Indeed, the emergence of Pakistan on the map of the world as an independent state on 14 August 1947 was the finest hour of our history. It was with a sense of supreme satisfaction at the fulfilment of his mission that Quaid-i-Azam told the nation in his last message on 14 August 1948: "The foundations of your State have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can." Had the Father of the Nation lived longer, he would have only been embarrassed to see how miserably we as a nation have failed to live up to his vision of Pakistan.


Within the first year of our independence, which woefully happened to be the last of his life, Quaid-i-Azam had presciently foreseen the coming events. He was disillusioned with the scarcity of calibre and character in the country’s political hierarchy which was to manage the newly independent Pakistan. Political ineptitude was written large on the country’s horizon. Quaid’s worries were not unwarranted. Since then, politics in Pakistan has remained hostage to the elite classes which have been inimical to the promotion of genuine nationhood in the country.


Unlike India’s Congress Party, the Muslim League, Pakistan’s founding party was almost wholly dominated by a few feudal families, whom the British had patronized before partition and were powerful enough to retain control over national affairs through the civilian and military bureaucracy. Even after Muslim League’s disintegration, the same elitist oligarchy with different faces at different times under different political flags has remained in power with the help of civil bureaucracy which in fact has been wielding the real authority.


As “elected” leaders, they never inspired hope for a democratic state that could provide socio-economic justice, rule of law and fair administration to all Pakistani citizens. The curse of terrorism that we are fighting today is itself the product of successive leadership failures. With frequent political breakdowns, the people started welcoming military take-overs in one form or the other. The situation today is not much different if not addressed with quick remedial measures.


The problem is that the overbearing elitist power structure in Pakistan is too deeply entrenched to let any systemic change or reform take place. It doesn’t suit them. They make amendments in the Constitution for self-serving reasons only. In any unequal, parochially defined set up, no method of governance can work. Instead of removing our systemic weaknesses and reinforcing the unifying elements of our nationhood, our rulers have made provincial set-ups as their virtual kingdoms that they rule in the decadent Mughal style.


No government has ever attempted to correct the systemic anachronisms in our federal structure or to redress provincial grievances. As a newly independent nation, we just could not cope with the challenges of freedom inherent in our geo-political and structural fault lines. Language became our first bête noire. The real Pakistan disappeared with its dismemberment in 1971 and yet, we learnt no lesson from our mistakes. We are still possessed by the same ghosts in the name of religion, culture, language and ethnicity. We have divided ourselves on sectarian and ethnic grounds.


The country has still not been able to evolve a political system that could respond to the challenges of an ethnically and linguistically diverse population. There is a strong underlying resentment in smaller provinces against what is seen as continued “Punjabi dominance” and inequitable distribution of power and resources. The overbearing visibility and involvement of the Chief Minister of only one big province in matters of national importance to the exclusion of his other counterparts is just one testimony to our unequal governmental set-up.


To make things even worse, in recent years, the so-called liberal elites and pseudo intellectuals in our society have been willfully distorting our history misleading the youth that Pakistan’s birth was only ‘an accident of history’ and that the India-Pakistan border is no more than an artificial ‘thin line’ drawn on paper. They are naïve enough to believe that if we were to erase this artificial ‘thin line’, there would be no India-Pakistan problems and we would be living happily thereafter at peace together as ‘one people’ with no need for any armed forces. They are sadly mistaken and need a tutorial in history to know that Pakistan is not an accident of history.


Those of us familiar with the history of the Subcontinent know why having lived together for centuries, Hindus and Muslims remained poles apart in their attitudes to life with a different worldview altogether. This distinctiveness was evident in the “encounter” between the two communities and their cultures that began over a thousand years ago. And yet, they remained distinct and far apart. Nobody can deny this reality; otherwise, there would not have been two states carved out of India in 1947. The artificial 'thin line' that they want to erase is not just a line on paper. It is a border of an independent state drawn in blood.


Our Armed Forces have been protecting this border with great resolve and determination. They are now valiantly fighting another decisive battle of our life in the form of operation Zarb-e-Azb. They are again giving sacrifices for our survival and existence as an independent state. Unfortunately, in this grave situation, our rulers continue to disappoint the nation by failing to rise above their vested interests and to provide the needed back-up support that any military operation requires in terms of strong and dedicated civil administration in areas being freed of insurgents. No wonder, we continue to face one crisis after another deeply impacting the nation's common sense of purpose, unity and security.


Thanks to weak policies, the enemy is no longer knocking at the door. The enemy is already within our ranks. Pakistan is being subverted from within. As a country and as a nation, at this critical juncture in our history we cannot leave ourselves to the vagaries of time or at the mercy of our systemic aberrations. We can’t even innocently continue to believe that everything will be alright, magically or providentially. To avert the vicious cycle of known tragedies and to foster a sense of unity which is also critical to national security, we need a serious and purposeful national debate involving a holistic review of our entire governmental system.


Looking at the systems of other developed and developing countries, we find ourselves a unique example of a federation with almost no parallel anywhere in the world. We need genuine political, economic, judicial, educational, administrative and land reforms. Changing faces will not do, nor elections under the present system will make any difference. The system itself must change. We must move beyond cosmetic measures. Reason, not self-serving emotion should be our yardstick.

 

The writer is a former Foreign Secretary. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
To make things even worse, in recent years, the so-called liberal elites and pseudo intellectuals in our society have been willfully distorting our history misleading the youth that Pakistan’s birth was only ‘an accident of history’ and that the India-Pakistan border is no more than an artificial ‘thin line’ drawn on paper. They are naïve enough to believe that if we were to erase this artificial ‘thin line’, there would be no India-Pakistan problems and we would be living happily thereafter at peace together as ‘one people’ with no need for any armed forces. They are sadly mistaken and need a tutorial in history to know that Pakistan is not an accident of history.

*****

Those of us familiar with the history of the Subcontinent know why having lived together for centuries, Hindus and Muslims remained poles apart in their attitudes to life with a different worldview altogether. This distinctiveness was evident in the “encounter” between the two communities and their cultures that began over a thousand years ago. And yet, they remained distinct and far apart. Nobody can deny this reality; otherwise, there would not have been two states carved out of India in 1947. The artificial 'thin line' that they want to erase is not just a line on paper. It is a border of an independent state drawn in blood.

*****

 
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