By Azhar Ahmad
Nov 27, 2014
On July 7, 2014, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, handed over its much-awaited verdict on the maritime dispute between Bangladesh and India. Bangladesh, like Pakistan, is a country heavily dependent on the sea. The country had serious differences with India and Myanmar on maritime boundary issues. Having failed to resolve the issues bilaterally, it opted for third-party arbitration. The final decisions on both the cases are generally considered favourable to Bangladesh. How did Bangladesh manage to get favourable decisions on both cases from different arbiters?
According to the existing law of the sea, countries have three options to address any dispute under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, which are as follows:
The controversy began when, in 2008, Bangladesh claimed a sizable block of sea for oil exploration deep in the Bay of Bengal. The area announced by Bangladesh overlapped the claimed Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of both the neighbouring countries, and therefore, attracted opposition from India and Myanmar.
Bangladesh, realizing the importance of the issue for its future maritime endeavours, and aware of the hiccups involved in bilateral dispute resolution, decided to opt for international mechanisms available under the existing laws and submitted its case for resolution of its maritime boundary with India in PCA on October 8, 2009. A little later, in December, it decided to take on Myanmar in ITLOS. On March 14, 2012, Bangladesh won its case in the ITLOS in which it was awarded an area of 111,000 sq. km. of EEZ against the original claim of 107,000 sq. km. Having won its case against Myanmar strengthened Bangladesh’s position and, finally, on July 7, 2014, the PCA also declared its verdict, in which the tribunal awarded almost 4/5th of the disputed waters, i.e., 19,467 sq. km. out of the total of 25,602 sq. km. (an area equal to the size of Indian state of Bengal) to Bangladesh.
It may be noted that India has always emphasized on bilateral mechanisms for resolution of problems with its smaller neighbours. It has always stood against international/third-party involvement, particularly in the case of Pakistan. However, Bangladesh not only managed to convince India to accept third-party arbitration, but also won its case favourably. The acceptance of arbitration by both the parties means that the verdict is final and binding. It cannot be challenged in any other forum; however, the parties may refer to the tribunal for clarification in interpretation of the verdict. Bangladesh managed to achieve this success only because it took the task seriously and did its homework correctly. The Bangladeshi team was headed by its foreign minister herself and a retired admiral from the navy who was appointed as an Additional Secretary in the ministry solely for this purpose, besides a team of more than two dozen experts.
After resolution of this issue, India has now resolved its maritime boundary with six out of seven neighbours, Pakistan being the only exception. The resolution of maritime boundary issue with Pakistan has been delayed so far due to lack of agreement on land boundary terminus in Sir Creek. Ironically, while India used historical records (Radcliffe Award) to fight its case against Bangladesh, in the case of Pakistan, it has refused to accept previous verdicts.
According to historical evidence, land boundary dispute in Sir Creek areas was settled between the then state of Kutch and the Commissionerate of Sindh through a resolution dated February 24, 1914. The boundary on the maps is shown by a green line from the mouth of the Creek running along the eastern edge of the Creek. However, at the time of demarcation of the land boundary in this segment during 1969, the Indian authorities reneged on the agreement and claimed the boundary to be running along the western border (Pakistani side). During later talks, the Indian delegation changed their stance and asserted that the boundary ran in the middle of the Creek. Since then, the Indian position has fluctuated between the two claims. However, of late, the two sides have submitted their proposals for extension of continental shelf despite the pending issue of Sir Creek. This means that only a small portion of the Creek and the adjacent sea will remain to be resolved later.
In 2012, when news leaked that the Sir Creek issue is about to be resolved, Narendera Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat threw a spanner in the talks by protesting against it. Since Mr. Modi has now become the Prime Minister of India, the fate of the issue has become doubtful. Maritime or land boundaries are not the only issues. Pakistan has also suffered at the hands of India on other issues, most prominent of them being construction of dams by India on rivers allocated to Pakistan through the Indus Basin Waters Treaty.
Some observers are of the view, the treaty provides a mechanism for third-party resolution, Pakistan has always delayed taking the issues to the international arbiters losing precious time and the verdicts have generally not been favourable. Why Pakistan is reluctant to opt for third party arbitration. While the Simla Accord between Pakistan and India is one reason, it is believed that the Pakistani bureaucracy is reluctant also because they know they will lose the case. It was obvious in both the Baghliar and Kishinganga cases that Pakistan could have achieved more favourable results only if the cases were moved in time and with due preparations.
The recent success of Bangladesh has been heralded internationally as a sign of peaceful resolution of disputes. It also shows that even weaker nations, with lesser international clout, can achieve victory in international fora, if they are serious in protecting their national interests and do their homework religiously and honestly.
By Tahir Ahmad
Oct 1, 2014
Operation Zarb-i-Azb launched in North Waziristan Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan is considered the most important of all the campaigns launched in the Tribal Areas and some other parts of Khyber Pakhthunkhwa. The Inter-Services Public Relations (the media wing of the Armed Forces of Pakistan) press release issued on September 3, 2014, claims the Army’s successes in Zarb-i-Azb to the extent that 910 terrorists had so far been killed, and the Khajuri-Mirali-Miranshah-Dattakhel and Ghariom-Jhallar roads had been opened, as also major towns of Miranshah, Mirali, DattaKhel, Boya and Degan, had been cleared from the militants’ stronghold.
According to rough estimates, nearly 50,000 persons have been killed in the War on Terror and more than 55 million displaced, with four million repatriated to the Swat region after the Armed Forces took the region back from Talibans’ control, and one million are still in the camps of Bannu and surrounding areas. The war has already shattered the economy and social fabric of society; an arduous task for any government and political leadership to cope with in the coming days.
Unfortunately, the claims made in the Operations are tactical, while the question of Pasthun’s, especially the Tribals’, survivability is historic in nature and content. The word ‘Temporarily Dislocated People (TDPs)’ has been used in the press release. The approach using such terminology about the displacement of the inhabitants of these areas undermines the fact that they have a long history of exclusion.
The Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) imposed during the colonial era have led to the absence of a State system in the region. Subsequently, the failure of the State of Pakistan, Abubakar Siddiq says in his book, The Pashthun Question, to co-opt the inhabitants of tribal areas, together with other factors, has been responsible for the current crisis. In other words, it was the absence of statism that invited a spate of different currents of conflict between different forces to the region.
Therefore, the war between the Pakistan Army and militants should not be confused with the war between statism and militancy. The former has tactical military objectives; the latter is concerned with the power structure and political orientation of society. In all conflicts of the region, the war objectives of the sponsoring states; the colonial British, the Soviet Army, the United States and its allies; allied for the containment of socialism and now the conflict between the regional and world powers is strategic in nature.
They ignore the historical process that has been shaping the region’s power and organizational structure. It is the fourth phase of the historical conflicts that has been occurring since the Colonial age between the established character and identity of Pashthuns, and the current of colonialism. In the first phase, society encountered colonialism through nationalism and tribalism together with religion and customs of Pashthuns.
Among the notables nationalists were Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan and Faqir of Epi who fought in the name of nationalism and tribalism with non-violent and violent discourses, respectively. In some places, it was more religious in nature, as it was declared a war between the followers of Islam and the infidels which lasted till independence. The colonial power could not achieve victory.
Rather, for restoration of peace and security, order was imposed through the Frontier Crime Regulations, which continue to operate in the region till today. Amir Abdur Rahman, the then Afghan King, after the Durand Line agreement was signed had warned the British that the inclusion of these areas into colonial empire would bring instability and the people of these areas would be fighting against them. His words fell on their deaf ears and the British Empire did what they could.
In the following years, the area witnessed violence against the colonial rule which the latter failed to establish peace. Consequently, the tribal society remained deprived of the experience of statism and modern political institutions. Tribalism under the rubric of FCR was accepted as the sole regulating structure of society.
The second phase was characterized by a war between the currents of socialism and tribalism. The emergence of Socialism in Afghanistan, the trans-border population along the Durand Line faced the onslaught of Socialism on their religion and customs. Under State patronage, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with Islamists who came from all over the Muslim world, fought to contain Socialism.
The defeat of Socialists and the settlement of Jihadists in the tribal areas militarized society socially and religiously. In the subsequent years, tribalism was weakened and Islamic militancy took roots. After the defeat of Taliban in Afghanistan and their concentration in the Tribal Areas, the focus of the War on Terror was shifted to the Tribal Areas of Pakistan and the bordering region.
The third phase is characterized by the encounter of tribalism with militancy. Militants gained support on Islamic appeal from the locals, and those who were opposed to militants, were treated brutally. By terrorizing and killing the tribal leadership, a vacuum of power was created in society.
Every Agency of the Tribal Areas was controlled by its respective Taliban leader. The Jirga (the customary council for settlement of disputes) remained absent, while the FCR were ineffective. Society was left in a state of anarchy at the cost of thousands of people killed and millions displaced.
After the spillover of militancy into the settled districts of Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, the conflict between statism and militancy started. Military operations against militants in Buner, Swat, Dir, Malakand, Mohamand, Khybar, Kurram and South Waziristan were successful in routing out the terrorists from the region. While the current Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan is in progress, one million displaced persons residing in camps are waiting for their safe return, the military claims success every now and then, but the battle against militants is not yet over. According to a BBC news a few days ago, pamphlets were distributed in the Afghan regions adjoining the Tribal Areas to get support for the ISIS. Hezb-i-Islami was alleged to have aligned itself with ISIS, but media reports deny this by quoting Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbaddin Hikmathyar. Moreover, the porous nature of the border and the inability of Afghan security forces to seal the border may provide exit sanctuaries in Afghan regions contiguous to Tribal Areas. That would pose a challenge to the tactical victories of Pakistan Army in the shape of trans-border incursions, frequently occurring in Dir these days.
Moreover, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, in his article published on August 29, 2014, in the New York Times states, “The United States will hold the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in September, and we will use that opportunity to continue to build a broad coalition and highlight the danger posed by foreign terrorist fighters, including those who have joined ISIS. During the General Assembly session, President Obama will lead a summit meeting of the Security Council to put forward a plan to deal with this collective threat.”
If any decision is taken at UN against any of the organizations having links with the regional militant organizations, Pakistan will be pressurized for doing more. It is high time to tackle on militancy militarily and replace it with statism in the Tribal Areas.
Statism does not come through establishment of check-post and cantonments, but by administering the power structure of society through State institutions. The political and legal alienation needs to be put to end by introducing the judicial and political system. The generation of economic activity is another aspect which will encourage the inclusion of the tribals into the mainstream of the State.
Those who think that the people of these areas are separatists are still living in the 1970s. The age of separatist politics in Pashthun political ranks has ended which is evident from the fact that both the hard-core nationalist parties; Awami National Party and Pakhthunkhwa Mili Awami Party; are co-opting with the centre in the national parliament through constitutionalism. It is a critical phase of the history of the people of FATA to be accommodated in the mainstream of Pakistani society. But, unfortunately, the military operation is in progress, the political parties across the country display lack of interest to envisage a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of tribals. If the region is left in a vacuum under in the clutches of the FCR, another phase of violence with new dynamics would start. History repeats itself and those who do not learn from their history are doomed to failure.
Tahir Ahmad is currently working as a Research Associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS). The views expressed in this article are of writers own and do not necessarily present the position of the Centre.
By Ghani Jafar & Ifrah Waqar
Sep 4, 2014
Pakistan has been in the grip of a political turmoil since the second week of last month. The schools are closed, government offices shut, public transportation halted and the economy of the country jammed because of the on-going protests and sit-in by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s PAT (Pakistan Awami Tehreek). The two parties are currently encamped outside the Parliament House in Islamabad. They have one demand in common which calls for the resignation of both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif.
Although the government and the prime minister have repeatedly refused to oblige the protestors by stepping down, the two parties have also been reiterating that nothing short of the resignations of the two brothers would make them call off the sit-ins.
The Federal Government is virtually paralysed as the protestors have also blocked the entrance to the Federal Secretariat in the vicinity of the Parliament House. Nor is the protest confined to the Capital; the supporters of the two parties are staging demonstrations and sit-ins in other major cities of the country as well.
On top of all this, the President of Pakistan’s one of the most friendly countries, China, Xi Jinping, was scheduled to visit Islamabad from September 14 to 16. The visit has been postponed according to media reports because the Chinese President’s security team which was in Pakistan this week refused to issue him security clearance. It is most regrettable that Pakistan’s lingering political dispute has barred the Chinese President from visiting Pakistan. It is also deplorable that Pakistan has not been able to extend hospitality to the honourable guest from China.
Nobody can predict what will happen or what shape or form these on-going events will take? Speculations and rumour mills are at an all-time high, with some quarters wanting the army to take over, whereas others are rallying against the protesters. The security situation of the country is precarious with the on-going military operation “Zarb-e-Azb” in North Waziristan, and about 800,000 internally displaced persons from North Waziristan in relief camps or other places to which nobody, except the Pakistan Army and Paramilitary Forces, is giving any attention.
At the same time, taking advantage of Pakistan’s internal turmoil, Indian troops are frequently firing and shelling rockets across the Line of Control as also the Working Boundary dividing Indian-occupied former state of Jammu and Kashmir and Azad Kashmir and some of Pakistan’s border areas with India. The international scenario is getting further complicated with every passing day as the electoral crisis in Afghanistan remains unresolved, whereas the date of the American and NATO troops’ withdrawal from Pakistan’s bordering country, Afghanistan, is only a few months away. Militants of the so-called “Islamic State of Syria and Iraq” are opening up their tentacles beyond Syria and Iraq and now there are reports of their distributing pamphlets and literature in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well.
Against this backdrop, it would perhaps not be wrong to say that Pakistan is currently facing one of the worst political crises of its turbulent history. According to the figures released by the Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, the PTI and PAT sit-ins have caused some 500-800 billion rupees to the country’s economy since the protests began. The policy-makers in Islamabad seem incapacitated to deal with the on-going political crisis.
According to some observers, the present government’s attitude is a part of the continuing problem rather than a solution. Their dismissive attitude and failure to cope with the crisis has led the country to the point that it has become a laughing stock within the world community. The government, instead of trying to resolve or even listen to the grievances of the protesting parties, has chosen to pay no heed instead. The protesters are being imprisoned all over the country, and, in Islamabad, they are being obstructed by the police and even shelled with tear gas, rubber as well as metal bullets which has resulted in the death of an unknown number of persons and hundreds have been injured.
A week-long Joint Parliament Session was called in the after-math in which leaders from a number of political parties have made thunderous speeches on the importance of democracy, and yet have aligned themselves with the government by stating they would support democracy and would not provide space for a third party to intervene.
The current political situation seems like a big ongoing circus. The protesters do not know their exit strategy, and the government has no clue as how to deal with them. Add to in this mix the inflated egos and hubris of the political leaders involved, and we have a full-blown crisis on our hands. No one is ready to give a breathing space or show some flexibility to the other as it has now become more of a personal face-saving issue rather than an attempt to get the country out of this mess.
The solution of the problem lies in both the Opposition and the Government parties taking a step back in the larger interest of the country. The onus of responsibility is on the Federal Government as it responsible for all citizens of Pakistan not just the ruling group. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently serving his third time as the Chief Executive of the country, has spent more or less 31 years in politics; the current situation demands a display of political maturity and magnanimity on his part. Whether the current ruling elite is able to follow rationality, only time will tell, but what is evident is that the Government needs to review and revise its current and future policies if it wants to survive politically and in government.
It should also be remembered that a crises bring opportunities as well. While this political turmoil has created a tense situation, it has also given many lessons to the ruling elite as well as the people of Pakistan. Politics and Parliament have once again become relevant to the educated middle class. Political awareness has reached new heights. Politics is no longer the business of a few selected families. Depending on a peaceful resolution of the crisis, all these developments would have a positive impact in the long run, insofar as democracy in the country is concerned.
Mr. Ghani Jafar is currently working as an Editor/senior research fellow at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies.
Ifrah Waqar is currently working as a Research Associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS).
The views expressed in this article are of writers own and do not necessarily present the position of the Centre.
By Ifrah Waqar
Jul 9, 2014
The Protection of Pakistan Bill has finally been passed by both the houses of Parliament. This much hyped Bill was first presented in October 2013 in the National Assembly by the name of Pakistan Protection Ordinance, but the government was not able to get it passed due to some controversial clauses which were heavily criticized and slammed by both the media and the civil society. This Bill, however, was then amended and named Protection of Pakistan in January 2014.
The Protection of Pakistan Bill was then presented in the Senate and was passed unanimously. Then it was tabled in the National Assembly on July 2, 2014, and there too it was accepted, thus making this Bill into an Act of law. It is applicable for the next two years.
The critics of this legislation have declared it to be in clear violation of not only the Constitution of Pakistan but also to be against the United Nations Convention against torture. For example, it allows any law enforcement official of Grade 15 and above to shoot anyone he/she suspects to be a terrorist. The officials (armed and civilian), under this Act would be allowed to “enter and search, without warrant, any premises to make any arrest or to take possession of any property, fire-arm, weapon or article used or likely to be used…” Moreover, the Act enables the authorities to hold an individual in detention for a period of up to 60 days without presenting the detainee before a court.
The Protection of Pakistan Bill calls for the creation of special courts and Joint Investigation Teams consisting of armed and civil forces to hold investigations against those accused. The forces would have to inform the special courts about the location of their investigative centres.
The suspects held under this Act would be not be granted bail, and “A person arrested or detained under this Ordinance whose identity is unascertainable shall be considered as an enemy alien.” It means that if a person cannot prove his/her identity, and their neighbours fail to recognize them, he/she would be considered an “enemy alien” who is waging war against the state of Pakistan unless he/she can prove otherwise.
The Act also states: “acts that are calculated to influence or affect the conduct of Government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct” are also punishable under this Act. It means the government can crackdown on legitimate protestors and processions under the cover of this law and use it as a means to achieve their own political objectives, thus hampering people’s democratic and constitutional rights by legalizing unchecked use of violence by the State and legitimizing State oppression.
It is not too far-fetched to speculate that the Act would create impunity for the State to hold people in illegal detention which could result in an increase in the number of cases of missing persons in the country which would further create chaos and instability in the country.
This bill violates the fundamental human rights like the freedom of speech as one of the scheduled offenses state “crimes against computers including cyber crimes, internet offenses and other offences related to information technology etc”.
This clearly states the underlying agenda of the government about how it wants to restrict and control the cyber space. Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. If the authorities think the state can strip its citizens of their opinion and their voices then they are gravely mistaken as such tactics adopted to terrorise its citizens have not worked before and will not do so even in the future.
National security is perhaps the most important aspect of any state and a state can go to any length to protect and preserve it but it should not be merged with freedom. National security and freedom should not be exclusive to each other. There is a difference between a police state and a democratic one and that difference should be evident in the policies and laws implemented by the state. Any laws which magnify black spots in the systems which the agencies or the government can utilise to their own interests should be discouraged especially when the laws categorically state that any person accused or who commits a crime in the scheduled offenses listed in the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) immediately comes under the “cognizable and non-bailable offense.”
On the other hand, proponents of this bill argue that in these testing times especially in the light of the on-going military operation in the country, the bill was the need of the time. They are of the view that in the light of the current ground realities of Pakistan, the constitution does not embody full punishments and the methods to deal with the terrorists and this bill provides with a way to apprehend these terrorists.
All in all, it is pertinent that the government ensures that this law is not used for perusing personal vindictive agendas and to carry out extra judicial killings. However, it should be kept in mind that what benefit this Protection of Pakistan will have when the other laws pertaining to maintain the law and order situation in the country are not fully enforced. When the trials are delayed and there is no accountability of the executive then it would not be wrong to say that such laws or bills will not make a significant impact in the longer run.
The writer is currently working as Research Associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS). The views expressed in this article are of writers’ own and do not necessarily present the position of the Centre.
By Manzar Zaidi
Jun 10, 2014
Terrorism is a major national security ambiguity producer for Pakistan. The reasons for this are many and multivariate, and the more you scratch the surface, the more nuances to the problem you will unearth. Generally, the major strategic orientation for Pakistan has been the global war on terrorism, which many Pakistanis perceived as being hoisted upon Pakistan in the aftermath of 9/11. President Musharraf is widely perceived to have colluded with US in joining the GWOT in an attempt to give legitimacy to his undemocratic regime and by propping it up with American financial assistance. What began as tribal uprisings in FATA against this alliance of Pakistan with the US soon escalated into a full blow insurgency in Swat and Waziristans, and saw the rise to notoriety of entities such as Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which are now household names. Even more worryingly, extremism and radicalization has been on rise on Pakistan at an exponential level, not necessarily coupled with the post 9/11 scenario as such, but given impetus by it.
Since Pakistan seems so susceptible to terrorism and extremism, there is a corresponding need to understand these phenomena in context to Pakistan. The irony is, the bigger the need, the bigger seems to be the gap in understanding. When you switch on the television in the west, perhaps the only news you will hear about Pakistan is that related to terrorism. Thus, it is not very difficult to envisage why you would be tempted to think of Pakistan as full to the brim with terrorists or extremists. You may be excused for missing the point, that perhaps there are millions of other ordinary non- violent non- terrorist Pakistanis who have not caught the attention of media because their story is not worth telling. Even Pakistani news channels relish breaking stories of disaster related events or contentious shout out loud debates, which are infinitely more entertaining than dreary stories of mundane everyday issues. When it seemed in 2009 that Taliban in Swat were about to overrun Islamabad, the Federal capital, and the world held its breath in anticipation of a Taliban central in a nuclear Islamic country. Some might still be, but they might be in for a long, maybe endless wait. Pakistan’s armies, the sixth largest in the world, have demonstrated that they can counter the Taliban’s asymmetric terrorist tactics when they have to, and are certainly no push-overs. We start hearing about how terrorism and extremism have seeped into the core of Pakistani society, but if it were true, religious right wing parties should have swept the electoral polls, a feat that they have been nowhere even close to achieving in the past, and may never do. Extremism may certainly be a fringe in the society which is arguably ink spotting towards the centre, but it is nowhere close to pervading the entire society. At the same time, as mentioned above, extremis and incidents of terrorism are on the rise in Pakistan, which is unfortunately also a reality. What then does the real picture look like? It is perhaps also true to say that the Pakistani ethos has not been subjected to intensive scrutiny which generates the murkiness around the issues. This ethos is what drives the security perceptions of Pakistan towards internal security as well as for threats from outside.
I would also like to stress at the outset that it I am quite concerned about the impacts of society on culture on the Pakistani individual. I am also concerned about the impact of Pakistan’s culture and society on groups , whose basic building blocks are individuals, since the fulfillment of basic needs cannot just be an individual matter in exclusivity to the society. Leaving aside the potential for conflict within groups made up of individuals, there are a number of stresses that a Pakistani individual, or any individual for matter, will face in everyday living. Thus, how the culture dictates everyday life, relations between groups, the institutions of society, and the existence and nature and impact of local communities on the individual and families will provide a framework of reference as to how these people will live their lives. This will impact upon how basic desires and needs are met, how children are treated and in turn treat elders, will delineate the poor from the rich and how they will act etc. This will also delineate social structures and statuses of the poor and rich and their social networks. An obvious negative impact is that it may sometimes rigidly define statuses, so as to affirm or diminish people as individuals depending on social status, as has happened in Pakistan. It is a much discussed topic amongst Pakistanis who have been abroad to western societies that even the menial jobholders (as perceived by Pakistanis) such as sweepers and plumbers tend to have equal citizen status in the West. This may seem enviable as discussion topics, but as I explain later, social grouping status wise is so ingrained in the minds of even the most seemingly liberal Pakistanis that they would not willingly adapt themselves to this mindset, even if societal conditions were conducive to producing such an equitable society. Thus, there are certain cultural and societal nuances ingrained within the mind of an average Pakistani which condition him to live within the paradigms of the Pakistani society. Such conditioning is usually necessary for a person to survive within a society, in fact any society. Sometimes, as in the case of not only Pakistanis but many other societal groups as well, this conditioning can also produce a retrogressive mentality resistant to change or innovation. This will also produce a certain orientation towards security and how it is perceived.
By Asad Ullah Khan
Jun 6, 2014
Much was promised by the government for the 2014-2015 budget, but contrary to the pledges made by PML-N government during the election campaign, they did not deliver as much as they had promised. It seems that the PML-N government is not working on the agenda of improving the common man’s life. Their policies mainly revolve around the interests of a specific community, mainly business tycoons. The government needs to focus on its actions which benefit the common people instead of mere words. The budget lacks true and fair figures and seems nothing more than manipulation.
The common man was offered nothing in the budget except peanuts whereas the elites are rewarded by all means. Maintaining the past tradition, a significant increase in the budget can be seen in those areas where reduction was necessary as the budget of economic affairs (food, irrigation, forestry and fishing) is reduced by 9 percent as compared to the previous year which directly affects the life of a common man.
Subsidies in different sectors affecting the common man have been reduced from 340 billion rupees to 203 billion rupees which is a huge reduction and an increased burden on the poor. This cut has been made from the energy sector which will not only result in energy shortage but also in increased prices of electricity. The common man will have to bear high tariffs. Health and education sectors have once again been ignored by the government. The government has reduced the education budget by 11 per cent. Moreover, the programmes offered by Higher Education Commission seem to be favouring the students from Punjab province only. This step will fuel the feeling of deprivation among the students from smaller provinces as the sparks of nationalism can be ignited in smaller provinces which can be capitalized by other destabilizing elements.
Both these factors have a significant role in the formation of a stable and progressive society. The figure of external debt resources will increase dramatically which means foreign debt will continue to be a burden.
Nominal increase of 10 per cent in the pay of government employees along with increase of only 1,000 rupees in the minimum basic wage, is not a significant step. In addition to this government should design such budget in which local industry of our country can nourish instead of promoting foreign companies as they sell finished products on much higher prices than the local suppliers. This will also help raise the living standard of lower middle class people of society.
The increase of 11.6 per cent in the defence budget is due to the ongoing insurgency and threats looming on the Western as well as the Eastern side. It may be also because of the raise of 10 per cent in military budget by New Delhi.
According to the finance minister, for protection of poor segments of society the government has designed National Income Support Programme which consists of Prime Minister’ s Youth programme and Benazir Income Support Programme. This step will have a little impact in a developing society. The government should introduce such packages and incentives by which the above-mentioned segments of society can live a life that leads to self-sufficiency and not making them dependent on aid and grants. Instead of doing such political stunts, the government should support cottage industry and small-scale industries at various levels.
Pakistan is not in a state to bear any more experiments now. It needs proper long-term planning to achieve the dream of sustainable economic growth. All the stake holders and segments of society should be consulted in this regard. A developed Pakistan can be seen only in the form of industrialized Pakistan, and for this we will have to bolster with our energy requirements. Without improvement in health, education and economic sustainability Pakistan will never be able to achieve firm growth and will move towards darkness.
By Ikram Ullah Khan & Ifrah Waqar
Jun 5, 2014
Pakistan and Russia are entering into a new phase of bilateral cooperation as Moscow announced lifting of an arms embargo on Pakistan on June 2, 2014 which was imposed during the Soviet era. This step is being viewed by the relevant experts as a major development insofar as the two countries’ relationship is concerned as no such cooperation or collaboration has existed before between them.
Nonetheless, it needs to be seen how the lifting of this embargo will benefit Pakistan. While Pakistan already has a sufficient arms supply chain from the United States, it is widely assumed that the quality of those weapons is better than the Russian ones.
If we analyze the situation carefully, the scope of this development may not be limited to military cooperation only. It is highly likely that this development will widen the scope of bilateral cooperation between these two countries. This notable development will open new frontiers of cooperation which will primarily deal with three main domains, i.e., defence, politics and economy.
This recent move by the Russian side will bolster the bilateral ties between these two states. It would act as a catalyst to improve bilateral relations between Pakistan and Russia in the coming years. It will also facilitate in establishing close professional collaboration based on mutual trust between the two militaries and in energy development and industrial sector. This cooperation will also strengthen the regional anti-terrorism efforts and maritime security.
In the past, both the states have had no formal cooperative defence mechanism, and their defence ties were rather strained and more influenced by the Cold War era relationship of the Soviet Union with India. During the Cold War period, there were two global blocs headed by the United States and the Soviet Union. Pakistan was then a U.S. ally and had tense relations with the Soviet Union.
Especially after the 9/11 incident, the strategic landscape has changed which has set a strategic compulsion forcing the countries to revisit their earlier foreign policies. In this context, Pakistan and Russia are no exceptions.
In the post-9/11 era, the politico-military leadership of both sides paid important visits to each other’s country. In this context, the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affaris, Alexander Losyukov’s visit in April 2001, former Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharaff’s visit to Moscow in 2003 are worth mentioning. The relations revitalized between the two countries when the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov visited Pakistan in 2007. He was the first post-Soviet prime minister to visit Pakistan in 38 years.
The Army Chiefs of both sides have also visited each other’s country. First, the Russian Army Chief paid a visit to Pakistan and then Pakistan’s former Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, visited Russia in 2012. This visit turned many heads as Russia’s Defence Minister cancelled his visit to India in order to receive General Kiyani in Moscow.
Apparently, these past developments have brought no significant outcome as far as the relationship between the two countries is concerned. It is important to note that the recent happenings are a direct result of the afore-mentioned events that have taken place as far as Pakistan-Russia relations are concerned. It is also a poignant question as to why such a crucial decision, having strategic implications, has been taken by the Russian side to lift the arms embargo on Pakistan, at this point?
It is pertinent to note that the Russian decision to lift this arms embargo has come after the Crimea episode which has been referred to by the observers as Cold War version 2.0; the echoes of the Cold War era are being heard across the globe.
Experts view that in this current world order, new informal alliances are taking place, especially after the Syrian crisis when Iran, Russia and China have made it clear through diplomatic means and gestures that they will not accept any foreign interference in the entire region. The world has seen that there were tangible Western plans to attack Syria, but they changed their intentions mainly due to the resistance of and the combined pressure applied by China, Russia and Iran.
Many believe the resurgence of Russia has brought a new opportunity for Pakistan to engage, initiate and enhance a meaningful bilateral dialogue and cooperation with Russia. This opportunity should not be missed as was the case during Liaquat Ali Khan’s first visit to Washington in 1950 because, according to some historians, he chose to visit Washington instead of the Soviet Union and so the opportunity to forge ties with the Soviet Union was not utilized.
A pleasant and meaningful bilateral cooperation between these countries appears to be of paramount importance for regional peace and stability as a stable Afghanistan is in favour of both states. A prevailing opinion within Pakistan is that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the likelihood of a proxy war will have a spill-over effect on this country.
It has been evident in the past that the U.S. has left Pakistan to deal with the consequences as was seen at the end of the Afghan war in 1988. It is a known fact that the extremists Pakistan is currently fighting against are a by-product of that Afghan war. So, in this regard, Pakistan has a lot of concerns regarding the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Some political analysts within Pakistan also believe that the formation of a new regional alliance consisting of China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan would have great potential in stabilizing the region in the post-2014 scenario. Moreover, Russia can play an instrumental role in preventing a vacuum formation in Afghanistan. It is of significant importance that Pakistan needs to be on the same page with all neighbouring countries of Afghanistan to the extent post 2014 Afghanistan is concerned.
Pakistan and Russia are nuclear weapon states. Russia can help Pakistan by providing its support in this domain just the way it supported India by leasing it a nuclear submarine in 2011 which was formally commissioned into service by the Indian navy as INS-Chakra in 2012. If Russia and Pakistan can strike a deal on the procurement of the Russian Mi-35 helicopters, which are currently being negotiated between the two countries, it would be a huge leap forward in their relations.
Pakistan and Russia have a huge potential in the field of trade. Russia can utilize Pakistan’s southern waters for trade and shipping. That will help increase Pakistan’s bilateral trade volume with Russia many-fold. Pakistan’s infrastructure will also improve if Pakistan provides Russia with this trade corridor in case these plans materalise. An example of Pakistan steel mills is in front of us which was established with Russia’s assistance and has proved to be one of the most important strategic assets for Pakistan.
Russia can help Pakistan in the energy development sector as it has the relevant expertise and technology. During the past few years, Pakistan has been facing an intense energy crisis which has directly affected Pakistan’s economic growth. Pakistan’s energy sector can provide a huge potential for establishing collaboration between Pakistan and Russia. Russia can not only invest in Pakistan’s energy sector, but Pakistan can also reap benefits from Russia’s vast experience and expertise in the fields of oil and gas exploration.
Pakistan can utilise Russia’s influence in Central Asia to garner future energy collaboration with the Central Asian Republics (CARs) as it will not only benefit Pakistan’s energy needs but also provide the CARs with a new market. Moreover, an agreement with Russia’s Gazprom (Gas company in which Russian government has major stakes) can prove to be of vital strategic importance between the two countries.
In a nutshell, Pakistan and Russia have a huge unexplored potential in their relationship. It is quite evident that Islamabad is not oblivious to the resurgence of Russia and, meanwhile, a strong realization of Pakistan’s geo-strategic location and importance also exists in Moscow. It is the need of time that the two countries formally channelized their bilateral cooperation and explore further avenues of mutual importance to the maximum. The lifting of the Russian arms embargo is a significant step, but it should be kept in mind that this step is not an end in itself; it should rather be viewed as one of the many steps to come.
The writers are currently working as Research Associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS).
The views expressed in this article are of writers own and do not necessarily present the position of the Centre.
By Ikram Ullah Khan
May 29, 2014
Most across the globe, correlate the word ‘nuclear’ with death and destruction. The other dimension of nuclear technology which includes saving the lives and bringing economic progress through its peaceful uses is not very well known.
Nuclear technology has both military and peaceful uses. In contemporary world, many nations are using nuclear technology in various civil fields, including industry, medicine, agriculture and energy, for their economic development. This kind of use of nuclear technology to put it in plain words, contributes in a positive manner for social and economic development of a country.
The automobile industry, aircraft manufactures mining and petroleum companies, pipeline companies, construction crews, newspapers, photographic films, textile, tin and aluminum industry, are all benefitted from the nuclear technology.
Studies have revealed that 800 million people are malnourished and thousands of them die daily from hunger and hunger-related issues every year. Today, enhanced quality food production and effective seed storage is possible with the help of nuclear technology. It has made it possible for mankind to preserve food for a long period of time. It will help not only overcome the threats of food shortages but also help improve the food security.
In order to explore these beneficial prospects of nuclear technology, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation is working in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to better utilize nuclear technology in food and agriculture. Food irradiation is the process that increases the food shelf-life to save millions of lives.
Pakistan became nuclear on May 28, 1998 in response to the Indian nuclear tests. It was forced to start its military nuclear programme, to preserve the country’s integrity and security. But, parallel to that, it has never abandoned to take benefit of civil nuclear technology for the country’s socio-scientific progress and development.
Even today Pakistan is included in the list of those countries; that are using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Fourteen Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission operated Cancer Hospitals are located inside Pakistan along with various private hospitals and oncology centres, including Agha Khan University Hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and Centre for Nuclear Medicine (CENUM).
In the contemporary world advanced nuclear technologies are essential for the economic progress of the countries. Nuclear energy, among all alternative sources of energy, is considered the cleanest and environment friendly source of energy. Currently, Pakistan has a small civil nuclear programme that produces only 725 MWe. It has plans to expand its civil nuclear programme.
The developed countries with advance nuclear technology are restricting the uncomplicated share of nuclear technology under the garb of rigid non-proliferation architecture. This posture adopted by the developed countries is against the interests of those developing countries which want to put in place a large-scale civilian nuclear power programme. This kind of approach is an obstacle in the way of building a global consensus to achieve the desired goals set by the global community. It is also undermining the sincere efforts and role of these developing countries which aim strengthening the global efforts in the realm of non-proliferation, nuclear safety and security.
This rigidity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime has not served even the interests of major powers in this new age of multi-polarity. They have often used the excuses of geopolitical and strategic interests to unlock or ease the fundamental provisions of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture.
The existing discriminatory approach of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture that is also based on inequality and selectivity should be reviewed and transformed into non-discriminatory approach.
Why only India received the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)’s waiver for trade in nuclear technology, despite its fragile record in nuclear safety. Why Pakistan is still being refused to provide a similar status, despite its proven clean record in nuclear safety and security. This unfair treatment is probably due to the great powers’ commercial interests with India and their vested geo-political interests in the region to transform India into a great regional power against China.
The nuclear states outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should be treated equally so that all of them could equally share the responsibility to strengthen the global nuclear safety and security and non-proliferation efforts. It is highly likely that with this single initiative, all states would be free to exchange the high-tech advanced nuclear technologies and research for global peace and prosperity.
The nuclear states outside-NPT would be more cooperative, firm and confident to fulfill their national and international responsibilities in the areas of nuclear non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament, in the field of nuclear safety and security. This would also generate a more transparent nuclear culture and would enhance trust at all levels.
The existing non-proliferation architecture is a product of Cold War fears and threats. The world has changed, and this architecture should also be changed. The leaders of the major powers should immediately design a new or modified non-proliferation architecture that would promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and should treat all states with equality and justice.
This approach could change the prevailing perception about the word nuclear. The increased global peaceful nuclear cooperation would gradually enhance civil nuclear trade. It is likely that nations would receive utmost benefits from nuclear technology. Those people who stage protests against the use of nuclear technology after observing its miraculous benefits in many fields of life would become its admirers.
This situation could possibly reduce the existing level of mistrust and threat perception among nuclear nations. It is a fact that knowledge is a blessing and war is destruction. If world leaders sincerely want to strengthen peace and security, they should work for smooth exchange of civil nuclear technology. One can hope that with this there would be no more nuclear arms races in future; there would be ‘race for knowledge’ and prosperity among nations.
The writer is Research Associate at Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS).
The views expressed in this article are writer’s own and do not necessarily present the position of the Centre.
By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
May 28, 2014
In the rapidly changing international environment, Pakistan’s defence planners are confronted with a number of fundamental issues that mainly emerge from some transitions at the national, regional and international level. The expected drawdown or total military withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan and the new American strategy of ‘Asia Pivot’ clearly indicate that a relative shift in the balance of military power in Asia is undoubtedly underway.
This shift amidst tensions and disputes in the region will result in hefty defence budgets and military developments and procurements at a much larger scale by the Asian States than was the case earlier. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ military balance report of 2014, Asian defence spending in 2013 was 11.6 per cent higher than in 2010. In one way or the other, the game of power has begun in Asia; and Pakistan, because of many reasons, is not in a good position as far as defence and security are concerned. There is a three-layered problem, which becomes more complex, more unpredictable and more unanticipated, when the forces at these three layers interact which each other.
At the outer-layer, due to a relative shift in the balance of military power to Asia, the Asian countries are rapidly increasing their military capabilities, some of which are generally related to routine force modernization, and others for enhanced power projection, or deterrence. A chain reaction that starts from the accumulation of American military forces in the region and a circle of alliance around China to contain it under the so-called ‘Asia Pivot’ strategy fuels systematic military competition that drags India and Pakistan in. China’s defence spending rose 7.4 per cent in 2013 as compared to 2012, and India has been marked as the largest arms buyer state in the world.
This upward shoot in Indian defence developments and acquisitions are not aimed at security but the projection of Indian military influence in Asia. The development of an Inter-continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) like Agni-V reflects the Indian hegemonic future designs. The BJP has won the Indian elections and in its election manifesto, stated a commitment to indigenise the development of defence technologies through encouraging domestic industry to have a larger share in design and production of military hardware for both domestic use and exports. According to some reports Narendra Modi is likely to spend an additional $200 billion on stealth fighters, main battle tanks, backfire bombers, aircraft carriers, frigates and Scorpion submarines.
Pakistan’s security dilemma runs along this uncontrollable systematic problem, where it has to balance between its socio-economic development and security. But a blurred and chaotic picture makes it difficult to strike a reasonable balance between both these continuums.
At the second, regional level, Pakistan is facing a three-front problem. On the east, India with its rapidly increasing military might, offensive military doctrines and new right-wing government. In the North West, an unreliable and presumably unstable Afghanistan because of a possible civil war after the NATO drawdown and along its western border, the deployment of Afghan National Army (ANA).
Finally at the third, national level; rising militancy, separatist violent movements and a conservative political right-wing, pose the single biggest challenge to Pakistan’s internal security and integrity. Pakistan has suffered the loss of more than 40,000 lives and economic losses of more than $100 billion.
To overcome these challenges, Pakistan needs to work at two levels. At the strategic level, it needs to take into account the changing strategic scenarios and their implications on Pakistan’s security, and then take appropriate measures to deal with them. Nuclear weapons play a vital and central role in this regard. Though the likelihood of a large-scale conventional war between India and Pakistan has become obsolete because of nuclear deterrence, Indian intent to fight a limited war under a nuclear threshold, development of second-strike capability and ballistic missile defence and bringing in military doctrines like Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) or Proactive Military Operations (PMOD) in South Asian strategic environment, have forced Pakistan to revisit its strategic and conventional development postures. Pakistan has responded with the development of short-range ballistic missiles such as NASR and cruise missiles such as Babur to fill the gaps at the tactical and operational levels. However, to strengthen the structure of strategic stability, Pakistan needs to develop its sea-based nuclear deterrence capability, along with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).
At the conventional level, Pakistan needs to enhance its counter-insurgency capabilities, along with effective security of the western border along Afghanistan. To this end, adequate budgetary allocations are needed for training and procurement of equipment for conventional operations and fencing and building of more check posts along the Afghan border. In addition, the capacity and capability of intelligence agencies for accurate and timely detection of threats needs to be enhanced. Investing more on counter-insurgency training and early and accurate intelligence gathering will greatly reduce the fatality rate during future counter-insurgency operations. Also, the most important area to focus on beyond enhancing our kinetic capability is to increase our non-kinetic capabilities. Effective non-kinetic operations with limited and well-calculated kinetic operations will result in early and effective elimination of threats.
Pakistan’s defence procurements have remained constant in five years before 2013. However, after that, Pakistan increased its defence spending by 15 per cent, from $6.12 billion to $6.45 billion in 2013-14. Whereas, in India, there has been double digit growth in 2004-05 (17.92 per cent), 2008-09 (10 per cent), 2011-12 (11.59 per cent) and 2012-13 (17.63 per cent). Analysis of the statistic testifies the fact that India has regularly enhanced the defence budget substantially, whereas in the case of Pakistan, it has remained more or less constant. In fact it does not even cater for inflation. Pakistan’s defence allocations have been at the lowest as compared to the rising defence budgets of India, China and Turkey.
There has been a lot of criticism on the defence spending of Pakistan, but if we see Pakistan’s defence budget against its defence requirements in the backdrop of the threat that Pakistan faces, there is a huge disparity between threat and security. There are geo-political realities which can’t be ignored and it is important for Pakistan to ensure its security, safeguarding its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The budgetary allocations for defence have been kept lowest in the previous few years. However, the changed national, regional and global security environment does demand an increase in our defence budget; appropriate fiscal allocation is required to meet the country’s defence needs. In this regard, a thorough review and analysis is required to outline the defence budget for 2014-15. In this process, various defence and strategic institutions should be involved to fully grasp ground realities. In the same vein, the political leadership should also play its due role in strengthening the defence and security structure of the state by understanding geopolitical realities and realizing the responsibility that people have put on their shoulders.
The writer is the President of Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies and Member Senate Standing Committee on Defense, Foreign Affairs , Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development and Functional Committee on Human Rights.
By Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal
May 22, 2014
Pakistan-India relations follow a peculiar pattern. Comparatively hard-line political parties of both countries are better poised to take bold initiatives in terms of bilateral relations. BJP and PML(N) are better anchored to deconstruct and reconstruct Pakistan-India relations. Decisions taken by them have greater acceptance amongst the people of the two countries. Near simultaneous rise of these two parties to power has raised expectations of the peace lobby in both the countries. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif romanticizes the erstwhile Lahore declaration and espouses a foreign policy vision of ‘friendly neighbourhood. Immediately on assumption of power, he radiated an intent to stabilize the problematic bilateral. Despite embarrassing response from his Indian counterpart, Nawaz Sharif is anxiously waiting to engage the new leadership of India.
As Narendra Modi’s rise to prime ministerial slot is appearing increasingly certain, hawkish lobby in India is working in top gear and overtime to come out with all sorts of jingoistic ideas related to foreign policy—especially its Pakistan and China content. India’s external challenges are well known and policy responses have been examined time and again by numerous governments including those led by the BJP. While the pressure is building, Modi is struggling to shed his earlier impression of a hardliner demagogue and project his image as a pragmatic statesman. So far, he has declined to carry forth his party’s intent to abandon ‘No first use’ option from Indian draft nuclear doctrine. Reportedly he has also sent an emissary to Pakistan to convey certain assurances like restoration of composite dialogue.
Hawks in India argue that Indian foreign policy is weak and accommodating, too risk-averse and lacking in self-confidence. Others argue that India is unsure of what it wants to achieve, and consequently its policy is reactive at operational levels, hence allowing others to take the initiative to define agenda and parameters. Both these assessments are overstatements.
Nevertheless, India’s Pakistan policy has flaws and ensuing weakness is not an outcome of a docile policy per se; rather, it is the upshot of paradoxes within Indian foreign policy—especially those emerging out of gaps between articulations and implementation. Ghandian non-violence and Nehruvian realism; declaring China as principal enemy and doing over US$100 billion per annum trade with it; professing nuclear non-proliferation and considering massive retaliation in case a tactical nuclear weapon is used; projecting non-alignment while being part of strong military and non-military arrangements, alignments and treaties are some of the glaring policy contradictions that induce resident weaknesses in the Indian foreign policy. Over time, these limitations have led to capacity issues in the context of crisis management. During the time of crisis Indian policy echelons are overwhelmed by public opinion, political expediencies and options are dictated by mob-mentality rather than statesmanship.
Proposals are afloat in India that Modi-led government should reject any hurried dialogue with Pakistan and exclude Kashmir and Siachen from any future structured agenda. Demagogues also argue against any back-channel contacts unless Pakistan publicly speaks of its willingness to compromise with India.
Another suggestion by India’s policy analysts is that India should welcome and foster the thaw in relations between the US and Iran and a strategic alliance that supports peace in the Indian and Pacific Ocean. And that India must develop a strategic understanding with China, Russia, and the US concerning the jihadist explosion in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Central Asian countries. This is also an unrealistic stand point, given that Pakistan is combating terrorism and in this pursuit has suffered colossal losses.
In continuation to its pursuits of arrogance, India is now demanding NDMA as a pre-requisite to resume trade talks with Pakistan. Theoretically, India accorded MFN status to Pakistan in 1996. Practically, India neither has the will nor the intent to implement it. Non-traffic barriers, hidden costs embedded in its six-digit code bar, and issues related to the quality and standards make India an import hostile country—especially in the context of Pakistani goods. Moreover, in the international framework also, India bags the maximum number of violations of the WTO, and is the most notorious violator of WTO. In its latest offer, India has promised a reduction in the 30-45% tariff on textiles to 5%; whereas Pakistan is pushing for duty free access for textiles, similar to what India had given to Bangladesh in 2011. Last week, Pakistan’s senate has recommended that the government should exclude agriculture while granting MFN status to India, and negotiate this sector under a special arrangement. This is due to heavy direct and indirect subsidies provided to its agriculture sector by India.
Modi in an interview published by Times of India on May 05 said that foreign policy cannot be conducted by having a confrontational approach with neighbouring countries. “We don’t want a confrontational approach with neighbours or for that matter with any other country”….relations cannot be improved as long as there is a trust deficit and to bridge the trust deficit, mere talk cannot place concrete action”. He said India “continues to face the onslaught of terrorism emanating out of the soil of Pakistan. The first step in building any meaningful relation with Pakistan has to be Pakistan taking effective and demonstrable action against the terror networks operating from its soil.” However, I think the people in Pakistan increasingly want to strengthen the democratic institutions in Pakistan”. If Modi thinks that Pakistan’s curbing of terrorism—as interpreted by India— is the starting point then he may have already reached the dead end.
In material terms, there is no on ongoing concession from India to Pakistan that Modi could withdraw. Composite dialogue is suspended, water distribution related matters are routinely ending up with third party for adjucation. Indian military force modernization and capacity enhancement programme is well under way, it is neither reversible nor expandable. The only area in which Modi could show his toughness is the nuclear doctrinal pitch. He may officially embrace the already well known fact that India no-longer wishes to abide by ‘No first use obligation’; this would invoke strong reaction from the international community. Knowing well that India never had intent to adhere to ‘no first use’, Pakistan has long ago factored this aspect in its strategic calculus.
Predictions about a radical change in India’s foreign policy are unrealistic. Especially, there isn’t much playing space in India’s policy towards Pakistan. Modi carries the baggage of a hardliner and being at least an ex-member of RRS cadres, by default, he is not likely to take softer (read realistic) stance on most of the issues between India and Pakistan. At the same time, there is not much he could add to make his talk about Pakistan still tougher. His past rhetoric has consumed all the space.
Hence, ascendance of Modi to prime ministerial slot will not make much of difference for Pakistan, however there is a cautionary note, his crisis management capability may not be as sound as of his predecessors; he may act first and think later. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif while addressing the concluding session of ‘Envoys Conference’ at the Foreign Office has said that his government’s priorities were to safeguard national interest, and building a peaceful neighbourhood. On relations with India, Sharif said Pakistan remained committed to seeking peaceful resolutions to all disputes through sustained dialogue. He said the central emphasis had been on building a “peaceful neighbourhood,” and he had pursued a policy of constructive engagement with all neighbours. Pakistan remains ready to take two steps to greet a hand extended in friendship.”
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