By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan

Dec 23, 2013


Contrary to popular speculation, the local Government elections in the province of Balochistan were carried out in a peaceful manner. Sequel to conduct of these elections, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has expressed optimism for the restoration of peace and normalcy in the rich province, bestowed with numerous mineral and natural resources. He declared the holding of local government elections as “a positive stride towards restoration of peace in the restive province, plagued by sectarian violence and attacks by Baloch insurgents.”

The most significant part of this development was that these elections were free, fair and peaceful. Apart from over 50,000 provincial security personnel (FC, police and levies), 5,325 soldiers of the Pakistan army were deployed for security duties in various parts of the province. As viewed by an independent analyst, apart from a few minor incidents of clashes and firing among rivals groups, the “polling process remained peaceful across the province.” For the 4,600 seats of local bodies, 18,000 candidates contested the election, including elections of Quetta Metropolitan Corporation, four municipal corporations, 53 municipal committees and 32 district councils.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, under Acting Chief Election Commissioner, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, directly controlled the election process in the Province. He personally visited various polling stations, witnessed the polling process and expressed complete satisfaction over the conduct of this election. Indeed, under the existing security conditions and uncertainties in the province, it was only natural that people feared bloodshed and violence during the conduct of the event. However, a successful and peaceful election in Balochistan has set an example for the other three provinces, where compared to the Balochistan there is stability, and yet a greater show of reluctance for holding local elections. Now more than ever it is important that these provinces should not use minor issues as excuses to further delay the elections.

The bulk of the people of the province opted to vote in Balochistan, and Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has expressed optimism for vigorously pursuing dialogue with separatists and disgruntled Baloch leaders, who have generally remained annoyed with the Federation or the Provincial governments for various reasons and are under the influences of external forces. Following the national and provincial assemblies’ elections in May 2013, the LG elections act as a consolidation of the mandate given, and will enable the Chief Minister to connect with the lower-tier leadership of the province at the grass-roots level, for redressing their grievances and bringing them into the mainstream. The process would also enable the Provincial Government to empower the masses through their elected representatives at the lowest level. Dr Malik declared the 21st century as the century for the promotion of peace and tranquillity at all levels; domestic, regional and global. He said, “The 21st Century is not for wars, we should enjoy peace now.”

It is a reality that the “Use of force doesn’t offer any solution, rather table talks extinguish the flames of fire.” The people of Balochistan too need to be dealt with respect and their problems resolved on an immediate basis. The unemployed youth of the province need to be provided with the jobs and the socio-economic issues faced by the masses of the province are to be redressed on priority. In this regard, an all-inclusive approach has to be adopted rather than facilitating people on the basis of political affiliations and ethnic grouping. We already have a model for mainstreaming the youth via the Pakistan army, which has inducted over 20,000 Baloch youth in its regular cadre during the last five years. These Baloch youth have joined various regiments and corps of the army after completing their basic training. Furthermore, the Navy and PAF have also inducted a huge number of youth from all areas of the province, particularly the rural areas.  According to the feedback received, there have been no desertions by these Baloch youth, who have proved to be more competent, patriotic and law-abiding than their compatriots from other parts of the country. Their performance has been excellent in their profession and courses. Beside this bulk recruitment process, the Armed Forces of Pakistan have provided facilities for imparting education to the children of the province in their own educational institutions, where they are given free boarding and lodging facilities. A similar model could be adopted by the Provincial or Federal governments, as well as the relevant ministries and departments. The process would facilitate in ending the alienation of the Baloch masses and deprivation of the Baloch youth.

Over the years the socio-economic development in Balochistan has been lower than other parts of the country; however, successive governments have launched many mega projects for the development of the province. During the last decade alone, many projects were launched for the improvement of communication and socio-economic development in the province, Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan being one example. Secondly, the budgetary losses of the province have been paid by the Federal Government. It remains a matter of concern however, that a few individuals with vested interests as well as the media, both domestic and foreign, portray a highly pessimistic picture of the happenings in the province. Sporadic and minor incidents are projected in a manner as if, God forbid, the province is at the brink of secession from the state of Pakistan, with an uncontrollable state of anarchy and chaos spreading across the province. The Armed Forces of Pakistan and its premier intelligence agency ISI are projected as the killers of Baloch people. The media and various pessimistic scholars have, time and again, also tried to mislead the nation and the international community about the state of affairs in the province, particularly the earthquake hit areas of Awaran and its surroundings. Being the hometown of Dr Allah Nazar, a BLF separatist (and founder of BSO-Azad), the Awaran District has been epicentre of the current anti-state activities. Terrorists from this group have killed many non-Baloch people as well as those who do not comply with their orders. Under the directives of these separatists, locals were at times forced either to not accept or to destroy the relief goods provided.

The fact of the matter is that under the Federal and Provincial Governments, Pakistan army and FC have made incredible efforts for the rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the Province in the Awaran District. The army and FC troops were the first to reach the area and provide all-out assistance to the locals. The initial assistance provided to the people was from these forces’ own resources. Using resources provided by Federal Government and all provincial governments, local organizations and international community, they continued to distribute relief goods as well as beginning the rehabilitation program. This has all been done despite strong resistance from local separatist elements that resorted to firing on the soldiers providing aid, killing many. It would appear that these sub-nationalists wanted to get hold of the relief goods and finances in an attempt to expand their sway and influence over the locals by distributing seized goods selectively and to supports, rather than on the basis of need. The efforts of the Armed Forces and FC in the area should have been highlighted by the media and all relevant persons and authorities as well as the truth about dissident activities during that tragic period rather than the propagation of misleading reports that spread désespoir in the society at large.

There is a need that an unbiased group of media persons, analysts, social scientists, politicians, doctors, and academicians from various parts of the country visit the area without any political and military influence or agenda and give their true assessment about the progress in various fields. The positive achievements of various Government departments including the Armed Forces of Pakistan, a few of which have been mentioned above, should be projected as a trend for others to follow. Conduct of successful local Government elections and efforts of Chief Minister for pursuing peace and stability in the province should also get its place in the national and international media. Analysts, media and academicians should give a balanced view of the situation after consulting all stakeholders and knowing the facts on ground. Rather than being pessimistic and spreading this cynicism, they can play a vital role in bringing Balochistan back onto the track of progress and development.  The media is a vital player, and should actively project the themes of optimism and national integration for a better, flourishing and futuristic Pakistan.

The writer is a Professor and Head of International Relations Department in National Defence University (NDU) – Islamabad. Email;

By Manzar Zaidi

Dec 5, 2013

Political Islam

In order to understand the logic or lack of it behind terrorism, one needs to understand the interplay of governance structures and radicalization first. Islam with its clarion call for implementation of the Sharia has been widely used throughout the Islamic world to mobilize the masses. The spectrum of ruling elite which has utilized it for the political purpose ranges from secular nationalist to  pan-Arabist to Marxist , which utilized its populist appeal to support agenda of self preservation .Paradoxically, many of the same rulers created Islamist movements, which they then crushed with an iron hand. In Egypt Nasser attempted to make the prestigious Azhar University dependent on the government in order to lend religious legitimacy to governmental policies, including his ruthless suppress of the Islamic Brotherhood.  Saddam Hussein, the leader of the zealously secularist Ba’th party, put “God Is Great” on the Iraqi flag , and engaged in speeches about the duty of jihad in a failed effort to get Iraqis to fight to defend his regime. Zia created the Jihadist groups, and then attempted to disown ‘turncoats,’ independent minded warlords like Masud which wanted an Afghanistan freer from Pakistani control. This schizophrenic mindset gets even  more complicated when  applied to states which have a large spectrum of tribes.

Iran for instance, has a huge diversity of tribes and clans, standing at 96 tribes and 647 independent clans according to a recent census; however, some of these clans have become redundant as power structures over time, just retaining evolutionary historical interest. However, for the ruling Pehlavi elites, it was a dominant priority to suppress these tribal cultures in order to usher in the era of ‘modernity.’ This made Raza Shah extremely un popular amongst people in whom the ‘conservative spirit’  is deeply ingrained, and arguably contributed to the rise of Islamism. Thus, the ruling elites tried to supplement a modernist project on a populace wholly unprepared for the same; this tended to usher in the 1979 revolution. An observable phenomenon in modern day Iran is the alliance of politics with Islamism; arguably Islamism has proved more adept at integrating different tribes than modernism in Iran. The ‘Ummah in peril against the great Satan’ has been used repeatedly as a powerful symbolism of Islamism transcending tribal affiliations.

This had the usual result of integrating the tribals who have lost their power base either to modern ethnic nationalism, or on the other end of the spectrum, detribalization and absorption into ideology-based organizations; since Islamism dominated, recruitment to these organizations occurred to a greater rate, while ethno nationalism sentiments of the Balochis in Sistan and Kurds were suppressed. Similarly, the Bakhtiaris, whose Khans constituted the pr revolutionary elite, were ruthlessly put down; this has been a prominent feature accounting for the rise of Islamists, since they replaced the Khans as dominant ruling elite. Both the modernity project and the subsequent Islamism could not accommodate the ‘Khan’ power structures, which tended to lead the clans and the tribes into staunchly tribal trajectories; this was anathema for both the Islamism and the modernity project in Iran, so the Khanate system was suppressed and eventually tended to die out.

The Shiite state of Iran and the Taliban were governments taking over systems driven by a tribal mindset of how things needed to be run. It only needs engagement with the plethora of existing literature about these regimes, to comprehend how they foisted their versions of Islamism upon the masses. Mia Bloom, the famous political scientist postulates that martyrdom operations tend to boost the reputation of the organization causing them, as evidenced by the case for Palestine. For instance, Nichole Argo argues that martyrdom or shahadat has become a mainstream Palestinian social paradigm, with social status being accorded congruent with the level of sacrifice.

During the Oslo process, majority of Palestinians were opposed to violence.  In November 1998, as much as 75% showed opposition to suicide operations. However, with gradually incremental ineffective governance, Arafat’s popularity plummeted. Along with an increase in political credentials, there was a simultaneous rise in the popularity of Islamic Jihad and Hamas, with a share of almost 70% going to Hamas .Islamic Jihad and Hamas started using a judicious use of the suicide bombing tactic, coupled with the provision of social services, to gain popularity in masses. Against the back drop of economic decadence, rising unemployment and gloomy prospects, groups like Hamas which are seen to be “doing something” (using the suicide tactic) about the escalating Israeli aggression undermined a substantial market share of popular opinion of the Palestinian authority.

Even though there are clear differences between the Iranian clerical leadership and the Taliban as well as the Palestinian authority, the deterioration in socio economic opportunities for the middle class and income disparities between the elite and the lump-proletariat were identical drivers of Islamism; arguably these operate throughout the whole breadth of radicalized Islam today, including Pakistan.

Another type of model one could examine to draw analogies with Pakistan is the type of governments which modeled themselves on the Stalinist model. The ruling elite of these states used the rhetoric of the rising of the proletariat against the bourgeois, which petered out with the advent of the end of the cold war. As in Iraq and Syria, these ‘caring’ regimes evolved into little more than brutal dictatorships utilizing the devices of mukahbarat (secret police) as coercive instruments. An epitome of this variant is Nasser’s’ government in Egypt, and Numairi’s government in Sudan, which prompted violent reaction by Islamists. Nasser’s strong-arm tactics
would later spark the Islamist movement, particularly the Islamic brotherhood, into a roaring flame. However, what is not very well appreciated is that Sadat, with his purportedly patronizing attitude towards Islamist groups, was perhaps even more instrumental in igniting these movements. The Islamists felt betrayed by Sadat’s unfulfilled promises, which would lead more radical Islamists like Al jihad into a causal loop violence begetting more violence. Qutb’s simplistic analysis has been inspirational for a vast majority of Islamists disillusioned by regimes which could be clearly discerned to have one agenda; self sustenance. Thus Qutb used the classical Pre Arabian Islamic concept of ‘jahiliva’ or ignorance to denounce the Muslim leadership, which he saw as failing to overthrow the yoke of the West.

The placing of Islamic tradition at the altar of political objectives and nationalistic causes has gravely affected the perception of Islam, particularly in the West. This is paradoxical inasmuch many of the leaders in this category tended to woo the West, but caused a schizoid identity crisis in their conservative masses. Increasingly, since Islamic heritage was selectively sifted through to support shifting and temperamental political causes, the intellectual revivalism in the Muslim world suffered greatly. Also, Islam started to connote a politics of identity, amongst which exploitation of feelings of the masses by the leadership for their own ends became inextricably intertwined with political agendas; this also served to display to the outside world a distorted picture of Political Islam.


By Air Commodore (R) Khalid

Nov 25, 2013

Loya Jirga

As anticipated, the Afghan Loya Jirga has endorsed a much awaited bilateral security agreement (BSA), allowing an unspecified number of American troops to stay on in the country after 2014. “Given the current situation, and Afghanistan’s need… the contents of this agreement as a whole is endorsed by the members of this Loya Jirga,” said the statement read by Jirga deputy Fazul Karim Imaq. The Jirga overwhelming backed the BSA and urged President Karzai to sign it by the end of this year.

However, as typical of him, Karzai has left the matter in a vacuum by refusing to say whether he would sign it into law. Karzai, in his final remarks to the four day meeting, said he would not sign it until after a presidential election due next April. However an Afghan analyst Fardin Hashemi has opined that despite Karzai’s comments, he expected the deal to be signed soon. “Afghanistan needs US aid to function and the continuation of the aid has been conditioned on a signing of the pact before the end of the year,” he added.

Jirga comprised of about 2,500 chieftains, tribal elders and politicians—all presidential nominees. However, Karzai had thrown an open invitation that all those who have reservations about the BSA, should register their point of view during the Jirga proceedings. He had also indicated that Taliban would also be present in the Jirga. Independent security analysts had drawn their conclusion well before the Jirga that the rubber stamp assembly would approve the agreement after some customary noises. Karzai had floated the concept of a Jirga because he wants the BSA approved without single-handedly shouldering the responsibility. Perception had it that Karzai would succumb to American pressure and sign the BSA in exchange for his personal security and that of his immediate family members.

Jirga delegates spent three days debating the deal seen as necessary to enable thousands of American soldiers to stay beyond a 2014 deadline, on the pretext of to training and mentoring government security forces who are still struggling to face a resilient Taliban insurgency on their own. The Loya Jirga has no legal weight and can only recommend to Karzai what he should do. He convened the council to solicit their advice on whether he should sign the agreement or not.

Karzai argued that Afghanistan needed more time to ensure that the United States was committed to peace in the country and stressed that the April 5 elections were a key date. He also hinted that if the agreement is signed now, he will lose the influence he needs to ensure that the elections are not the subject of manipulation. He has in the past accused the United States of interfering in the 2009 elections, which he had almost lost despite massive fraud. He was elected after the runner-up Dr Abdullah Abdullah dropped out of a run off round. Karzai is not contesting the elections, but his brother is one of the ten candidates.

Karzai has also laid out conditions for signing the pact, which include US ‘cooperation’ in efforts to make peace with the Taliban. “This agreement should lead to peace. If it does not lead to peace, it will lead to disaster,” he said. Karzai also stipulated that there could be no more US military raids on Afghan homes, a sensitive topic which threatened to derail the deal last week. “If the US goes into Afghan homes one more time, there will be no agreement…The Americans should cooperate, and bring peace. If this agreement leads to peace, on my eyes, I will endorse, and accept your order and sign it…We want security, peace and we want a proper election. You have asked me that I should sign it within a month. Do you think that peace will come within a month? If I sign it and peace does not come who will be blamed for it by history? So that is why I am asking for guarantees,” Karzai told the assembly. He said he had told the Americans ahead of Jirga that “You waited 12 years and you can’t wait another five months.” Karzai, often looking angry, argued repeatedly that Afghanistan needed more time to ensure that the United States was committed to peace in the country. “We need a period of implementation. We want a period of implementation for peace. Peace is our condition. If they bring peace we will sign it,” he said. Karzai’s latest move could be an attempt to avoid taking personal responsibility for an agreement that some Afghans might see as selling out to foreign interests.

At the end of meeting, Jirga chairman and Karzai’s close ally former President Sibghatullah Mujadidi told him: “If you don’t sign it, we will be disappointed.” He also threatened to leave the country if Karzai refused to sign the pact. “You should sign it, you should sign it for this issue to be over,” Mujadidi yelled at Karzai. “This is our request. That this agreement should be signed very soon and if the president does not sign it, I will promise you that as I am a servant of this nation, who has served these people for 40 to 50 years, I will resign and I will leave this country,” the 89-year-old Mojaddedi pleaded. Karzai had stunned the US when he urged the delegates on  opening day to approve the security pact but said he will leave it to his successor to sign it. Karzai also seems to be concerned about his long-term legacy, that he doesn’t want to be seen as the Afghan leader who agreed to keep foreign troops in his country beyond 2014.

Failure to clinch the deal could mean a full US pullout, leaving Afghanistan to fight the Taliban on its own. US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, have repeatedly said that deal must be finalised by year-end to begin preparations for a post-2014 presence. The US State Department has warned that failure to promptly sign the pact could jeopardise billions of dollars in vital aid to Afghanistan.

Draft text of the agreement made public about a week before the Jirga indicated that Karzai had agreed to all key demands made by the US; whereas Americans had not accepted any demand made by the Afghan side. American troops stand exempted from Afghan jurisdiction if they are accused of war or other crimes. President Karzai  told delegates he would “work on the agreement and continue bargaining” after they made recommendations for the deal. These included the return of Afghan detainees held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.nad that   American soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan should be put on trial in courts on the US bases in Afghanistan.

Taliban, who before the Jirga had threatened to target delegates if they backed the agreement, have condemned the pact. The “illegal and insignificant pact of slavery with America will neither benefit the American invaders nor criminal slaves”, they said in a statement referring to the Jirga members.

President Barak Obama’s administration has said it wants a deal signed by the end of the year and warned that planning for a post-2014 military presence may be jeopardized if it is not approved by Karzai. The Obama administration has said it will pull all its forces out of Afghanistan without a security deal, as it did when Iraq failed to sign a similar agreement. Most of America’s allies have also said they will not keep troops in Afghanistan without the deal. “We are studying President Karzai’s speech. We continue to believe that concluding the BSA as quickly as possible is to the benefit of both nations.” US Embassy spokesman Robert Hilton said.

In a preamble, the document repeats language from a broader strategic partnership agreement signed last year in which the United States pledged not to use Afghan territory or facilities “as a launching point for attacks against other countries.” But that language is not expected to prohibit the US drone strikes against al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups in Pakistan. Roughly two-dozen-page accord falls well short of Afghan demand that the United States commit to protecting Afghan territory against any outside attack. It expresses a strong US interest in Afghanistan’s stability and security, and promises consultation and consideration of unspecified assistance.

The document also does not include troop numbers for a residual garrison. President Obama is likely to announce a plan for troop levels, to be determined unilaterally by the US early in 2014. Most estimates have indicated that the administration will retain up to 15,000 personnel in Afghanistan to advise and train local forces and conduct some counterterrorism missions.

Loya Jirga route for the BSA approval had come under fire by Karzai’s political opponents, who argue that there was no need of such an assembly in the presence of Afghan parliament. Opponents claim that Karzai invited like-minded people to the Jirga as a way of ensuring approval of the controversial pact; whereas being an elected body, the parliament could have taken an independent stance, and may be secured a better deal for the Afghan nation.

Afghan economy remains war and drug dependent. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has revealed in its latest report that Opium cultivation in Afghanistan has risen to a scary level covering more than 200,000 hectares in 2013, a 36 percent rise over last year. It indicates a grave trend for the country and raises alarm bells for the international community, especially the immediate neighbours of Afghanistan. New assessment represents the highest total cultivation ever for Afghanistan, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000 hectares in 2007. Total opium production has reached roughly 5,500 tons, an increase of 49 percent since 2012.

Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC has called for a more comprehensive and integrated response to the drug problem. To achieve the objective, counter-narcotics efforts must be an integral part of the security, development and institution-building agenda but the weak Karzai led government is unable to deliver on any of these fronts. Targeting poor farmers would not deliver the desired results and the international community would have to get serious about removing known traffickers from positions of responsibility in the Afghan government. At the same time farmers need to be provided compatibly profitable alternatives.

Pakistan needs to reassess the situation in the backdrop of the BSA. It should resume back-channel efforts for negotiations with the TTP. It should contact the disgruntled groups and urge them to break away in exchange for amnesty and other incentives. After Hakimullah Mehsud another pro-peace Afghan Taliban leader Dr Nasiruddin Haqqani was recently killed in the suburbs of Islamabad. There is a need to create secure venues for negotiations to avoid recurrences of killing of high profile pro-dialogue Taliban leaders. Despite the apparent tough stance taken by the successor of Hakimullah Mehsud, there are fair chances of an early resumption of dialogue with Taliban. Pakistan needs to device a comprehensive policy to ensure sustainable demobilization of militias on the conclusion of an agreement with the TTP and integration of former militants into mainstream economic activities. There is also a need to strengthen anti-drug effort to prevent proliferation of drug trafficking through Pakistan. These tasks cannot be accomplished single-handedly by Pakistan. Therefore, negotiations on these issues should be initiated with the UN and other willing donors for working out a comprehensive and economically sustainable plan of action. A timeline of mid 2014 should be pursued for reaching a political settlement with major chunk of Taliban entities of Pakistan.

Pakistan has reiterated time and again that it will continue to play a positive role in promoting peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Pakistan is of the view that any political vacuum in Afghanistan after 2014 drawdown could prove harmful for the region. Therefore the Afghan people should be allowed to decide their fate on their own.

Pakistan has supported the Jirga endorsed security arrangement but has said that it should not harm the interests of neighbouring countries. “Whatever arrangement is finally worked out between Afghanistan and the US… [it] should not undermine the interests of Afghanistan’s neighbours,” Foreign Office spokesman commented.

Acceptance or rejection of the BSA by the Afghan government will determine the future trajectory of the Afghan conflict and its fallout on Pakistan. Approval of the BSA means that Afghan Taliban would, in all probability, take a divergent route and continue their militancy dominated political struggle. In such an eventuality, Afghanistan would continue to suffer the pangs of insurgency; and the ensuing political uncertainty would have serious ramifications for Pakistan. Outside the American military fortifications, there will be a spate of never ending skirmishes between the combat hardened militant groups and poorly skilled Afghan National Security Forces. Pakistan should workout its strategy to safeguard its interests from the negativities arising out of the fallout of an instable post 2014 Afghanistan.

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By Manzar Zaidi

Nov 21, 2013


It is commonly stated by many Western and Islamic scholars that Islam is not only a religion but is also a blueprint for social order, governance and politics. It is therefore purportedly encompassing all domains of life, including law and the state. This is supposed to set Islamic polity apart from secular Western states. However, in actual point of fact, the Islamic states have passed through a wide range of governance experiences, ranging from Caliphate to monarchy, military dictatorship and dictatorship, communism and National Socialism, as well as theocracy, religious fascism, and democracy. Even those who decry a theocratic element to governance are beset by it, as evidenced by the role of Israeli religious parties in politics, and the gradually increasing interaction of the highest level American executive echelons with the Christianity, due to personal convictions.   The problem with Islamic interpretative discourses is to contextualize the ephemeral boundaries   between theocracy, society, and human rights within a governance paradigm.

Despite the commonly held perception that the institutions of state and religion are unified in Islamic polity, most observable Muslim societies did not conform to this ideal, but were built around separate institutions of state and religion. This holds particularly true for societies which tend to hold on to concepts of honour and group solidarity based upon tribal or loose religious affiliations. In this context, it becomes important to understand the basic sense of social solidarity which exists in the Muslim world, which is composed more of tribal, dynastic and group affiliations rather than the idea of a monolithic Islamic state. Many scholars have argued that this is a scenario which is destined for trajectories of radicalization.

Authoritarian political structures in Pakistan have also affected this radicalization process; it has often been argues that since democracy came late to Pakistan and has faced numerous difficulties, this allowed Zia ul Haq’s initiated processes to take root. As an analogous argument, it has also been argued that dictatorships have tended to enable incumbent government to adopt repressive measures and ultimately abolish democracy itself, since these movements were used by governments to justify the continuation of repressive policies. Such arguments were accepted by Western states which feared that radical Islamists, upon assuming power, would also turn against their interests.

These regimes ostensibly inculcated virulent anti-American rhetoric in place of political dissent . Thus, by analogy to the Middle East, the conclusion was quickly drawn that the democratic deficit in Pakistan had contributed to the emergence of Islamist terrorism. However, this is notwithstanding the fact that the transition from dictatorship to democracy has often been turbulent and that more than a few established democracies have struggled with persistent terrorist threats. Indeed, studies on democracy and terrorism (which is an extreme form of radicalization) do not demonstrate a simple causal relationship between the lack of democracy and terrorism anywhere in the world, as a seminal work by Martha Crenshaw, a scholar of terrorism, suggests. She argues terrorism and radicalization to be a result of retaliation in ‘blocked’ societies resistant to innovation. Similarly, surveying the American political scene, Christopher Hewitt, a political scientist,  concludes that ‘the resort to violence is most likely to take place when members of a group have their hopes and aspirations raised, but then become disillusioned with the political process.’

Globalization is also one of the main agents of this disillusionment. Besides other explanations, one could argue that the exaggerated trajectories of Islamism are the reaction of a world religion influenced by the response of traditional cultures to globalization. The reaction is a mixture of bewilderment, anger, fascination, incomprehension, confusion, seduction and violent hatred with Western modernity. The Islamic world to a great extent still holds on to tribal and cliquish emotive sentiments of group loyalty or social solidarity, termed by Ibn Khaldun as Assabiyya. Akbar S.Ahmed, a Pakistani scholar living in the US, suggests that this exaggerated group loyalty can become the basis of identification with Muslims under peril anywhere in the world, which can be a cause of Radicalization.

Modern Muslim nation states have had their boundaries redrawn by colonial powers, which sometimes cut straight across the tribal and rural heartlands, separating a particular tribe, caste or religious minority across a line or divide. Imposed boundaries of this kind are bound to create a stronger feeling of group solidarity in a group which feels that it has been sequestrated.  Globalization appears to challenge the very roots of tribal identity by attacking the familiar cocoons of cultural identity which surround individuals: families are divided as individuals are forced to leave home to look for employment or in response to a political or cultural situation, some­times never to return. The tribe is similarly affected; members gravitate to congested urban areas, due to the constraints of the tribal resources to maintain themselves. This results in the weakening of central genea­logical principle of common descent, which again engenders a loss of identity.

Simultaneously, a  much more connected world have made the Muslims aware of the fact that they had been victimized in conflicts left over from centuries of European wars and from decolonization. The perpetual Palestine problem, the thorny Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan were seen as legacies of blatant colonial aggression. Chechnya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo etc were seen as avoidable human tragedies, if it were not for the intransigence of the western powers, which were perceived to have acted disproportionately quickly in the Gulf war as opposed to these orphan conflicts .Thus ,hegemony over oil was perceived to have overtaken human rights interests.  This started to be a widespread perception in the Muslim world. It is this metamorphosis of honour as the exaggerated feeling of group solidarity of Islamism, based upon a perception of grave necessity of redemption of this violated collective honour, which is arguably one of the many variables of political science which contributes to radicalization in the Muslim world as well as Pakistan.


By M. Zaidi.

By Manzar Zaidi

Oct 24, 2013

ideological Radicalization

It is necessary to clarify the associations of ideology with radicalization at the outset, since the debate about ideology being the major construct of radicalization rages on. The simplifications of complex issues into binary oppositions which create a visceral impact are a characteristic of ideologies, especially when they tend to articulate a set of grievances of one set of people against the other; this sort of simplification is also the pre dominant process within radicalization. This is the contextual paradigm of ideology that resonates within paradigms of terrorism in Pakistan, wherein the terrorists have used a reductionist worldview to whittle down complex socio-economic, geostrategic and poetical problems, into essentially a contest between good and evil. Thus, there are hardly any grey areas for terrorists in Pakistan i.e. the fellow citizen not following the terrorist ideology is clearly a murtid, one who has turned away from the true faith as perceived by one school of thought or sect against the other. Since ideologies present a perfect spatial parameter for the conflict to be resolved by the logical triumph of the perceived good over perceived evil, it is important to comprehend that ideology can be used and has been used as a potent tool fostering terrorism in Pakistan. Thus, terrorist attacks become justifiable through ideology for the perpetrators.

   The need for action which edifies the spirit and allows the ideology to grow has been a common theme within anarchism, fascism, communism, and for the purpose of this essay, radicalization. When there is a conducive environment which induces a sense of emasculation or despair, ideology can provide not only a source of solace, but an impetus for action for populations undergoing stresses. Thus, venting of grievances through the platform of ideology whether it is Jihadism or any other , has the potential of making the message resonate to other persons undergoing similar stimuli. Since an ideology is self replicating, it will have the potential of attracting more converts, and in essence it is actually more powerful than the violent behavior which it inculcates. In a Pakistani context, this means that extremist terrorist ideologies are the overarching paradigm which drive and also foster terrorism, and in many cases radicalization.

It also needs to be realized that a single variable is not always enough to radicalize individuals. For example, religion as an ideology or set of ideologies is often unthinkingly invoked as the paramount disposing factor radicalizing Pakistan, without taking into account the fact that that issues of terrorism and extremism do not arise merely from mere ideology. Rather, the problems that Pakistan is confronted with also arise from fundamental socio-economic and class inequalities, which have prompted a reaction by the have-nots to challenge a disproportionately affluent elite. This has espoused, promoted and encouraged orthodox, rigid and fundamentalist versions of religion, as opposed to the more tolerant, peaceful ones. As Pakistan redefined its identity by invoking the Arabian origins of Islam during the Afghan Jihad heydays, the relatively more tolerant, syncretic and peaceful versions of South Asian religion have been increasingly replaced by harsh, literalist and bland versions of Arabian Islam amongst an extremist fringe.

This ideological trajectory allows young Pakistanis to be swayed towards radicalization, and adds support for militant agendas from among the Pakistani populace, particularly when there is high unemployment and income disparity. This income disparity has manifested itself by the ratio of the highest to the lowest income quintiles ranging from 3.76 in 2001 to 4.15 in 2005, and further to 4.2 in 2005-06. Since poorer households in Pakistan tend to have a higher number of children on average, especially in rural areas, this implies that an exceptionally large number of young men and women are being forced to live below or around the poverty line. Furthermore, at least one tenth of the rural communities do not even have access to basic facilities, which add incremental stress to an already overburdened economy. The children who come from these families are the ultra-poor whose children seem destined to have a grim future, particularly with regard to employment. The high level of underemployment for the young from lower socio-economic classes causes an escalating strain. While the growing economy has expanded the labor market, and the unemployment rate has declined to around 5.32 percent in recent years, the modest improvement cannot cope with the rapidly expanding youth bulge. This alienates the poor segment of the youth bulge, since the majority of non-elite young men can only find relatively menial, unfulfilling jobs. Since the richest 20 percent of the population are continuing to grow richer, the sense of alienation among the poor young men is not surprising, and forces them to look for other alternatives. Radicalization is one of the ways that the poor and the dispossessed find voice, since the path to radicalization demands action to challenge the status quo, often in the form of violent activism. This violent action may become terrorism in its extreme manifestations, or smolder within the non elite youth in the form of extremism. Thus, presuming radicalization to be a process, and also assuming certain Pakistani demographic segments to be more vulnerable to it than others, one can draw up empirical frameworks of how individuals in Pakistan tend to get radicalised, and then populate these frameworks with data. Studying these trends is the need of the day , and is becoming more and more urgent with every passing moment.

By The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies

Oct 23, 2013


On 17 October 2013 the General Assembly elected five nonpermanent members to the Security Council for the 2014-2015 term. The elections were held to replace five countries whose terms are ending this year: The newly elected states are: Chad and Nigeria (for the African Group), Saudi Arabia (for the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States), Chile (from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States), and Lithuania (from the Eastern European Group). These states were elected in a “clean slate” election (without significant opposition and only requiring one round of voting). In an unprecedented move Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), one of the founding state of United Nations, has turned down the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) non permanent membership. Saudi Foreign ministry in their statement pointed out some of their reasons and the double standards being practiced in UNSC but there are some implicit messages as well. KSA demonstrated its resentment over the inability of UNSC to remove the Syrian regime and managing the deteriorating political situation in Middle East. The issue needs some deeper understanding as it has serious implications for the region and beyond.

This is first ever incident in the history of UN when a country has refused the membership of UNSC. It is also the first time that KSA has been nominated for this position. This move has jolted the existing foundation of international system and has stunned every one at UN and UNSC. All the member states and the Secretary General  Mr Ban ki moon are expressing their great concern. It is acknowledged that KSA is an influential UN member and enjoys high respect and stature among the Muslim world. There is sense of resentment that already exists among Muslim World over the absence of permanent Muslim representation in the UNSC. This rotating position in the UNSC is a nominal position and has very limited role in the decision making. Interestingly in the past 57 years since 1966, when the number of non permanent members were enhanced to 10, only 68 countries have so far been selected for this seat. This is the first time that KSA has been elected for this position with 176 votes in its favor.

This refusal has aired anomalies in the existing international system under United Nations which has been criticized for its inherent inabilities to ensure international peace and security. There has been serious debate on much needed “reforms within UNSC” but the issue was dormant for quite some time. This incidence has allowed many states including France to once again voice their concerns and the Kingdom’s move will help promote this idea and will possibly move the ongoing debate towards an acceptable and reasonable solution.

There are some other latent problems and reservations which paved the way for Saudi refusal, and those are not between Saudi Arabia and UN, but between KSA and USA. The bilateral relations between both these states are passing through some turbulent times due to difficulties finding the mutual consensus on various issues. USA is signaling confused policy over the evolving political situation in the Middle East. Apparently US shows its opposition to Assad regime but practically it has not played its due role in resolving the crisis. Moreover in another move US is showing soft corner towards Iran regarding its nuclear weapon program which is raising serious concern in Saudi Arabia.

USA‘s current foreign policy towards Middle East has a mismatch with the Kingdom’s policies in this region. KSA very rightly and vocally stand against so called Arab Spring, as it has deteriorated the environment of peace and stability in the region. At the same time Saudi government has expressed serious concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Syria.  Contrary to Saudi policy, USA supported the violent protests in many countries of Middle East, where political instability poured in against the respective governments of those countries not on humanitarian grounds but in accordance with its geopolitical politico-strategic interests. Rather Saudi Arabia is in favor of peaceful reforms and discourages violent methods in all their forms and manifestations. That is the reason the Saudi government has also been pressing for support for a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly that would denounce Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons and his government’s abuse of human rights.

Saudi Arabia was particular not happy when in an effort to take a multilateral collective action on Syria to remove the Assad’s regime a resolution was moved in UNSC to ensure the security of innocent people of Syria, but was turned down by Russia. It was likely that USA along with its allies could act against Assad‘s regime apart from UNSC framework, as it did in case of Iraq, but this could not happen due to lack of American interest and  political will.

KSA argues that Assad regime used Chemical Weapons against its own population and broke the international norms and law. The world community took a serious note of this matter and demanded a punitive action against Assad’s regime, but nothing could be done practically on ground. The Russian proposal has put to halt the international pressure and gave time to the Syrian regime to regain control and defeat opposition. This knee jerk US reaction on Syria has seriously damaged the KSA’s interests in the region.

The Saudi strategic thinking in current strategic scenario revolves around a deep concern that the presence of two nuclear weapon states in Middle East—Israel and Iran—would be highly detrimental to the peace and stability in the region. Saudi Arabia has always criticized the international silence—especially of the US—over Israel’s nuclear weapon program and has been a frontline state in promoting the global non-proliferation regime and idea of Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East. American strategic alignment along the Iranian and Israeli lines in Middle East is an unacceptable scenario for Saudi Arabia.

Another area of concern was the US Iranian relationship and concerns regarding Iranian nuclear program, being considered as threat by KSA for the peace and stability in the Middle East. The Iranian nuclear program is point of deep concern for Saudi Arabia; it will deteriorate the security and stability in Middle East and will generate a nuclear arms race in the region. Saudi position on this issue is very clear and realistic, if Iran acquires nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will be forced to go down the same course.

Moreover, the unresolved Palestinian issue, which always remained at the heart of the problem in Middle East, is another concern and latent factor that pushed the Saudi government towards refusal. USA has always adopted pro Israel policies and despite Kerry’s recent active diplomacy the Israeli rigidity has brought down all efforts to solve this long pending dispute. The Israel-Palestine peace talk’s process is near collapse in Middle East.USA is not ready to break the status quo in this matter and knowingly not taking any serious interest Saudi Arabia wants the resolution of the Palestine issue as it rightly perceives that this issue will not only establish peace in the region but also will reduce the intra-faith and intra-cultural differences.

This unprecedented move by Saudi Arabia has earned it respect and high moral ground not only in the Muslim countries but also all over the world. The Saudi position has been consolidated in the Muslim World as the real leader and representative of Muslim Ummah. Many in the international community share Saudi concerns but were waiting fro an opportune moment to respond. Now is the right time to air grievances and concerns regarding international system in this rapidly changing and evolving geo-political and geostrategic world situation exposing the inabilities to solve international disputes.

It may be noted that this refusal by the Saudi government has actually insolated itself from any likely US pressure demanding support on various international issues in UNSC. Thus will not be party to mostly anti Muslim and non popular US policy decisions.

By Manzar Zaidi

Oct 12, 2013

radical Proccess

A lot has been written about radicalization in Pakistan without emphasis on the conceptual grounding of what radicalization really is. The Oxford dictionary till 2006 did not provide a definition of radicalization, radicalism, or even radicalize, which clearly shows the recent evolution of the term. It does, however, list these terms as derivatives of radical, which means to relate to or affect the fundamental nature of something, or advocate thorough complete political or social reform which may be politically extreme. As is evident, all these terms do not necessarily carry negative connotations which are associated with the term today

These negative connotations arise from the threat from extremism labeled as radicalization, which is usually defined as a process whereby an originally moderate individual or group of individuals becomes progressively more extreme in their thinking, and possibly their behavior, over time. This process is often associated with youth, adversity, alienation, social exclusion, poverty, or the perception of injustice to self or others. The terms ‘Radicalization’ and ‘Talibanisation’ are being employed to refer to the increasing tendency to use a peculiar brand of religion, as the justification for conquest and control over territory, populations and resources, and the establishment of specific forms of judicial and social systems by the use of force.

Some analysts like American author and counter terrorism practitioner Marc Sageman reject the notion that radicalization can aptly be described in terms of a fixed sequence of stages, while others view terrorism as the final stop along a path of radicalization characterized by a fairly orderly series of stages. A four stage model has been proposed. This includes pre-radicalization, self-identification, indoctrination, and extremism stages, respectively. According to this model, in the pre-radicalization stage, the individual lives an ordinary life and has not yet accepted the radical ideology that will later provide the motivation for becoming an extremist. In the self-identification stage, the individual begins to explore that ideology, and that change tends to be triggered by a cognitive opening, or crisis, which shakes one’s certitude in previously held beliefs. In the indoctrination stage, adherence to the radical worldview is intensified, usually with support from like-minded group members under the direction of an ideological leader. Finally, in the extremism stage, individuals willingly accept their duties and commit to carrying out their assigned acts of terrorism, or adhering rigidly to extremist views. Stage models essentially represent radicalization as key transition points along a time course, leading from the normal life of individuals to their adherence to extremist ideologies or paradigms.

Such models, however, leave much to explain in terms of the psychological, organizational, and social processes and drivers that lead people into the radicalization process in the first place, and then reinforce their continued radicalization to the point of committing acts of terrorism. One pertinent analysis framework would be the degree to which ideologues and instigators of extremist movements rely on “black-or-white” or “all-or-none” thinking. Another set of cognitive factors that support extremism revolve around the extremist’s social perceptions of out-group members, namely, people outside one’s one social  and ideological group or “in-group” . Violence toward a group is facilitated by thinking of its members as being justifiably excluded from the moral considerations one would impact on members of one’s own group. Perceiving a social category of others as being morally excluded can free individuals to become morally disengaged in their behavioral interactions with members of the ‘out-group’ social category.

Notwithstanding the attention paid to radicalization as a precursor to terrorism-perhaps even a “root cause” of terrorism and socio-political violence, it is widely agreed that although radicalization increases the potential for such forms of violence, it does not necessitate any of them. For instance, according to a recent Global Futures Forum report, radicalization is a process, not an end unto itself, and it does not necessarily lead to violence. Simply put, radicalization cannot be a sufficient cause of terrorism because most radicals are not terrorists. This may be why the term violent radicalization is often encountered in discourse on terrorism. If violence were indeed necessitated by radicalization, the qualified term would simply be redundant. Prevalent usage of terms such as violent radicalization or militant radicalization would thus seem to suggest that many theorists do not view radicalization as a sufficient cause of terrorism or other forms of violence.

There is a commonly observed tendency to conceive of radicalization in terms solely of ideology. Religious zealotry, extremism and militancy, or whatever one prefers to call them, are often regarded as signs of backwardness, lack of education, absence of a civilized mind-set and a reflection of a barbaric or savage worldview. Recourse to colonial binaries, such as backward versus modern, savage versus civilized, or illiterate versus enlightened, serves to obscure the issues, rather than clarify them. These categories fail as explanations since they become tautologies i.e. they committed the act because they are barbaric, they are barbaric because they committed the act. The reliance upon psychological and ideological categories, which refer to some kind of assumed inherent proclivity among certain people to commit heinous acts, becomes essentialist. Such explanations become redundant, for they obliterate history, as well as the material reality that forms a part of the dynamics of radicalism. The use of overarching ideological categories seems to rely on some form of biological determinism, thereby rendering such categories deeply racist, i.e.  FATA was always a radicalization prone area.

Instead of characterizing the perceived extremism and violence as some kind of inherent flaw within a particular people, religion, culture or belief system, it is more fruitful to explore the political economy of radicalization, in order to lay bare the material basis that may have generated it. It seems to be more useful to examine the conflicts between competing social classes attempting to establish their hegemony and deploying religion, or a specific form of it, to justify their position in the social and economic hierarchies.

By Mr. Saqib Mohammed 

Sep 24, 2013

NCAA meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA) was held on September 5, 2013. NCA is the highest decision making body responsible for the development, deployment, and employment of nuclear weapons in Pakistan. The statement issued following the meeting reiterated Pakistan’s stance on a number of nuclear issues, and highlighted a number of concerns and associated policy compulsions of Pakistan.

The NCA meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif and attended by all members of the NCA, the Federal Ministers of Finance and Interior, the Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Services Chiefs.

In the statement, NCA reposed “full confidence in Pakistan’s robust nuclear Command and Control structure and all the security controls related to strategic assets of the country.” This gesture of recline and confidence was essentially a response to the recently revealed secret information published in the Washington Post, regarding the ultra-active American scrutiny of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program and intelligence estimates and analysis predicting the possibility that Pakistani nuclear weapons could potentially fall into the hands of militants. The intention here is to send a signal to Western propaganda centers declaring ‘relax, everybody, we’ve got the safety and security of the nuclear programme under control.’[1]

In the following paragraph of the statement, the NCA, after reviewing the ‘developments at regional level’, reiterated that Pakistan would continue to ‘adhere to the policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence’. In the same vein, given the rapidly changing dynamics of security in the region, the NCA also affirmed in the same paragraph that Pakistan would ‘maintain full spectrum deterrence capability’.[2]

What then does the NCA mean by ‘developments at regional level’ and ‘rapidly changing dynamics of security in the region’? And what does ‘full spectrum deterrence capability’ realistically include – is it a new term to redefine ‘capability’, or merely an extension of the existing policies in certain aspects? Do both these terms define the one same concept, or do they hint at different thoughts and two different postures? Let us examine them individually.

Regional Developments / Evolving Security Dynamics

The regional developments which have sensitized Pakistan’s threat perception stem mainly from the Indo-US nuclear partnership that has sparked nuclear nationalism and strategic anxiety in Pakistan. This partnership, based on doctrines of apartheid and discrimination, has the potential to destabilize the strategic balance in South Asia.[3]

The first step in this regard was taken in January 2004 with the signing of an agreement on ‘strategic partnership’ between these two states, according to which, the US will help India to build its civilian space program (which also has clear military implications), missile defense and nuclear energy infrastructure.[4] The deal paved the path for ending the international isolation of India’s nuclear program.

Furthermore, the inclusion of India in the NSG and other export control regimes, as well as the civil nuclear deal between the US and India is fueling these apprehensions. India has large stockpiles of enriched uranium and plutonium – much larger than Pakistan’s. According to the International Panel on Fissile Material (IPFM), India is estimated to possess a stockpile of 0.8 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU). The total production of non-civilian plutonium is estimated to be between 5.2 tons, and civilian use plutonium is approximately 0.24 tons. Pakistan is estimated to possess 0.15 tons of non-civilian plutonium[5].

India is currently running twenty two nuclear power plants – including eight heavy-water power reactors, fast breed reactor and tritium production, uranium enrichment and fuel reprocessing facilities which are allowed to run outside IAEA safeguards. India is rapidly expanding its uranium enrichment program and may add another three thousand gas centrifuges for producing more highly enriched uranium (HEU) for its nuclear submarine program[6]. To date, it has been using only two of its production reactors, CIRUS and Dhurva, for the production of fissile material, which may have given, according to some conservative estimates, ‘500kg of weapon grade plutonium, sufficient for some 70-90 weapons’. Furthermore, under the Indo-US deal, ‘eight of its unsafeguarded heavy-water reactors – if operated on low burn-up – can produce another 1,250 kg of plutonium-laden spent fuel per year’[7].

Furthermore, the terms of the agreement are overly beneficial for India and lack specific measures to limit India’s nuclear weapons program. While India has pledged that any U.S. assistance to its civilian nuclear energy program will not benefit its nuclear weapons program, some experts argue that India could use the imported nuclear fuel to feed its civilian energy program while diverting its own nuclear fuel to weapons production. New Delhi has done similar things in the past; India claimed it was using nuclear technology for civilian purposes right up till its first nuclear weapons test in 1974.[8] As the deal lacks preventive measures, India’s nuclear intentions cannot be guaranteed, as a Congressional Research Service report (PDF) on the agreement states, “There are no measures in this global partnership to restrain India’s nuclear weapons program.”

Additionally, following the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group waiver of September 2008, the scope for supply of both reactors and fuel from suppliers in other countries to India opened up. It paved the way for signing civil nuclear cooperation agreements with the USA, Russia, France, UK, South Korea and Canada, as well as Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Namibia.

Despite the fact that Pakistan lags behind India in terms of its nuclear weapons development, the international nuclear regime unduly favors and supports India, disrupting the nuclear balance of the region and increasing mistrust.

Apart from the abovementioned apprehensions, Indian Cold Start military doctrine, its pursuance of Billistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme and assured sea based second strike capability, Conventional Arms modernization and its advanced and ambitious military space program are major concerns which force Pakistan to adapt, develop and maintain ‘full spectrum deterrence capability.’

Full Spectrum Deterrence Capability

Firstly let us reexamine the very basic logic of nuclear deterrence. Nuclear weapons, as asserted by the famous American Military strategist Bernard Brodie in a piece written just after end of the World War, are not meant to ‘win war’ but to ‘avert war.’ The chief purpose of nuclear deterrence is to deter and restrain the enemy’s behavior, hence making the war impossible. Throughout of Cold War period, both the US and the former Soviet Union managed to maintain strategic stability and stayed away from war by following this very basic and simple logic of nuclear deterrence.

This same deterrence logic, according to some deterrence theorists (optimists) has made the concept of full scale war obsolete in South Asia. They believe that it was this deterrence that worked in 1984, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2001-02 and 2008. However, while nuclear deterrence may have made war less likely between two nuclear arm rivals, it has not quite rendered it impossible. The Indian military believes that a small scale ‘limited’ war is possible under the nuclear threshold. This idea is reflected in the Indian military Cold Start Doctrine, which India theoretically and, to some extent, operationally has tried to manipulate since the Kargil Crisis.

The Cold Start doctrine is based on an assumption that rapid military action involving the element of surprise, could trump India’s political leadership and have the upper edge at times of crisis, and that a faith accompli would resolve the conflict politically and diplomatically.

In response to this potentially destructive, dangerous and destabilizing Indian military doctrine, Pakistan, on April 19, 2011, announced the successful test firing of a newly developed short-range missile named ‘NASR’. This missile with a range of 60 km can be launched from a multi-tube mobile launcher capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads. This development revealed that Pakistan has achieved the technical capability to miniaturize its nuclear warheads.

Two principal schools of thought emerged following the announcement of the test-firing of this battlefield tactical nuclear weapon. One claimed that the successful test-firing of NASR aimed to add a deterrence layer at the battlefield level, and inducing nuclear deterrence at the battlefield will make the enemy believe that even small-scale conventional conflict under the nuclear threshold is impossible, thereby making conflict impossible at all levels. According to this group, NASR is a counter-measure against the Indian Cold Start military doctrine.

Simultaneously, skeptics claimed that the negative implications that are attached with this development are far more significant. They argue:

  1. The certainty or at least the very great probability of use at very early stage in case of aggression (Use it, or lose it dilemma)
  2. Physical security at a fluid battle field is difficult
  3. Greater vulnerability to enemy’s counter action
  4. Problem of command and control (centralized or delegative)
  5. Greater chances of rapid escalation to the full blown nuclear war

The problem with the above mentioned five arguments is that most of these arguments are applicable at a stage where the conflict is already underway. In that case, since the conflict has broken out, deterrence has already failed and these arguments become irrelevant.

On the other hand, the proponents of tactical deterrence believe and rationalize the role of tactical nuclear weapons before the outbreak of the actual conflict, as a preventive countermeasure to restraint the enemy behavior to take certain aggressive steps.

From the Western perspective, the two terms may well be seen as contradictory. If ‘credible minimum deterrence’ implies the minimum level of nuclear capability to deter aggression, then ‘full spectrum deterrence capability’ may not necessarily adhere to the minimum standards.

This point of view has developed in the backdrop of prevailing Western perspectives on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. A large number of western scholars argue that while initially Pakistan’s doctrinal thinking may have aimed at developing ‘enough’ weapons for ‘credible minimum deterrence’ – due mainly to the lack of economic resources or a disinclination to get into nuclear arms race with India[9] – it is no longer the case. They now believe that Pakistan has shifted the calculus of its strategic thinking from credible minimum deterrence capability to credible deterrence capability. They argue that Pakistan is rapidly increasing and diversifying its nuclear capability and has become the fastest growing nuclear weapon state in recent years.

The ambiguity of the terminology used in the statement, i.e. “full spectrum deterrence capability,” may be seen to support the idea that Pakistan is entering into the realm of Credible Deterrence. A misinterpretation of the statement can therefore send the wrong signals, potentially escalating a regional arms race.

While the NCA endorsement to develop full spectrum nuclear deterrence indicates that it would develop both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons to deter aggression at tactical, operational, and strategic levels, this does not necessarily mean that Pakistan is aiming to build a vast stockpile of nuclear weapons. Rather, the only aim in developing this policy is to bridge the gaps in credible minimum deterrence and help deter war at all levels.

Pakistan and the proposed FMCT

Furthermore, NCA also took note of the discriminatory trends and policies’ within the international arena and reiterated that ‘Pakistan’s position will be determined by its national security interests … while maintaining its principled position on various arms control and non-proliferation issues’. This is reflected in the country’s continued opposition to the proposed Fissile Material (Cut-Off) Treaty [FM(C)T], which is viewed as specifically targeted towards Pakistan and bringing about asymmetry and hence deterrence instability between India and Pakistan. Pakistan is the only country currently blocking negotiations on the FMCT.

Pakistan has actively participated in the last two NSS summits, which have given huge impetus to nuclear security worldwide. Pakistan marked a history by joining these summits and ensures that nuclear security lies within the state. However, in any form, the security of the state is its national responsibility. Pakistan being a responsible nuclear weapon state, inclined to make its nuclear security as utmost priority.

Pakistan and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

PAEC has the following five training Institutes/Centers, which provide academic as well as practical training in diverse areas of nuclear science and engineering. The NCA states ‘as a responsible nuclear weapon state with advanced technology and four-decade long experience in safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants, Pakistan is ready to share its expertise with other interested states by providing fuel cycle services under IAEA safeguards and by providing training placements at its Centers of Excellence on nuclear security.’

The application of science and technology has been successful in Pakistan for the prosperity of the country. Despite widely known limitations, Pakistan has done remarkably well in establishing a nuclear security regime and an evolving nuclear security culture that requires encouragement and support. However, Pakistan is in a position not only to use nuclear science and engineering for its national programmes for development and progress, but also can provide assistance and help for countries of the region in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Therefore, Pakistan can become a regional/international hub to meet the futuristic existing energy shortfalls and to respond to the future requirements of a growing population and economy.


[1] Cyril Ameida, Full-Spectrum Deterrence, DAWN, September 8, 2013, view at,

[3] Feroz Hassan Khan, “ Eating Grass: The making of Pakistani Bomb” ( New Delhi: Cambridge University Press,2013)385

[4] “US Plans to make India a major World power”, Agence France Press, March 26, 2005.

[5] Accessed on 9th September 2013 at 14.__ hours

[6] Feroz Hassan Khan, “ Eating Grass: The making of Pakistani Bomb” ( New Delhi: Cambridge University Press,2013)385


[8] Esther Pan, Jayshree Bajoria “The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal” September 2008 accessed accessed on 9 September 2013

[9] David O. Smith, The Us Experience with Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Lessons for South Asia, Stimson Centre,

By Adeela Bahar Khan

Aug 13, 2013

gwEven in times as challenging as these, abundant opportunities still exist for growth. It is the country’s responsibility to explore and properly exploit these opportunities to the full— by expanding into new markets, finding new ways to innovate rapid advancements of economic structures and taking new approaches to discover and refine local talent.

Since Pakistan is also currently faced with trade deficits and a flailing economy, it is a real hour need to integrate the economy with global markets via new and expanded economic engagements.

Pakistan is blessed with a sea coastline of approximately 1100 km, stretching to the West and Southeast axis. Over 36,000 ships transit through Pakistan’s zone of influence each year. Pakistan’s total annual trade is about 38 million tons, of which approx 95% takes place via the Arabian Sea. Karachi port handles 68%, whereas Port Qasim takes care of 32% of all sea-borne trade. The projected rise in total trade by the year 2015 is 91 million tons, which will increase shipping activity phenomenally at existing ports. In fact, economicdependence of Pakistan on sea routes for trade and commerce is of cardinal importance for the country’s economic survival. Against this backdrop, Gwadar port meets the envisioned targets of its economic viability, which can further be ensured through the development of its infrastructure and assuring and increasing its connectivity with the hinterland.

Gwadar is an important port in this context, with tremendous economic spin offs, situated at the cusp of the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, from where almost 80 percent oil of world trade flows. Besides its geo-strategic importance, the port may serve as a cornerstone of economic development for Pakistan and Balochistan, and has the potential to entirely change the dynamics of inter and intra regional states and the fortune of its people. The port serves as the mother port at the junction of traditional ancient sea routes, opposite the Strait of Hormuz and can serve as the best alternative to the Persian Gulf ports for accommodating large ships and oil tankers. This would also lead to increasing access and control of the transit trade of Central Asian states as well as the facilitation of transshipment between different regions.

The deep-sea port at Gwadar is visualized as a regional capital hub, serving commercial traffic to and from Central Asian Republics (CARs), Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Gulf, Xinjiang, Iran, and South East Asia. The Gulf countries are more dependent on imports from around the world, all except for oil. At present, Gulf is on the focal plate of the world due to increasing instability in region, especially after the Arab Spring. Specifically, impending conflict between Iran and the West which may, at any moment, result in a blockade of Gulf by the West and the US. In this case Gwadar would become even more important as it would be the only choice left for these states. The unique geographical location of Gwadar port provides greater opportunities to our neighbors in the Gulf for capitalizing on trade from China and the CARs. According to one estimate, CARs possess up to 250 billion barrels of petroleum and as well as large gas reserves. As the fossil fuel reserves elsewhere are rapidly being depleted, growing economic powers are now focusing on this region. A number of dream pipeline projects are already at various stages of development, including one that would pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan to reach warm waters through Gwadar. It provides an economical route for the flow of Central Asia’s natural resources to the world along with easy access to the growing consumer markets of Asia. Unfortunately, India has many apprehensions regarding this port, in which the foremost is that Pakistan would have greater control of more of the world’s energy circulation and Indian tankers will be excluded.

Beside this, sour relations between Iran and the US and Western countries provides enough reasons for the international community to opt for Gwadar rather than another port in the Persian region. Due to these factors Gwadar is going to be the home of major shipping competitors as it is the most efficient route to Indian Ocean for world markets. Therefore, keeping in mind the importance of Sea Line of communications (SLOCs) for provision of uninterrupted oil supply, Gwadar port would provide a much-needed alternate for Karachi/ Qasim ports. As soon as Gwadar goes operational, the establishment of special economic zones, free trade zones, and Export Processing Zones (EPZ) will attract foreign investment creating a rapid socio-economic uplift for Balochistan and will be witnessed via the change in the living standards of people dwelling in the backward areas of Balochistan.

Furthermore, the unique and attractive landscape of Gwadar has immense potential to attract national and international tourists. The mud hillocks, the God gifted landscape looks as if engraved by an artist. The turquoise sea water with golden sand beaches facing south is unparalleled.

Today, the major super powers are focusing on the Middle East and Asia with the primary concern of protecting economic interests in the form of free flow of oil from the Gulf region, as well as tapping the natural resources of the Central Asian Republics. Gwadar holds an important key to Pakistan’s socio-economic prosperity particularly for the Baloch people, by ending an era of deprivation, and encouraging them to work for regional progress and prosperity. However, Pakistan needs to adopt a balanced approach to ensuring stability, security and cooperation rather than conflict and confrontation with its neighbors, as well as the international community.

The writer is Research Associate at Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies, Islamabad.


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