By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

February 13, 2016

“Terrorism can never be accepted.
We must fight it together, with methods that do not compromise our respect for the rule of law and human rights, or are used as an excuse for others to do so.”

Anna Lindh
Former Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Terrorism has now long been recognised as a cataclysmic phenomenon and the greatest threat to world peace in a very long time. Over the past two decades alone, it has been responsible for creating conflicts not only inside states but also between states. The controversial elements of ‘state-financing’ of terrorism and a continuation of proxy wars has put a significant question mark on the ability of the international community to come together as one to address this menace. Recognising the evil of ‘terrorism’ as an international/inter-state issue, therefore, lies at the core of our ability to devise effective policies to counter it today.

In this context, a momentous step was taken on November 18th 2015, when the Russian Parliament launched an international appeal for all Parliaments and International Parliamentary Organisations to come together in a joint effort to better combat the menace of terrorism.

While there have undoubtedly been many calls for increasing international cooperation and stepping up efforts to counter this menace, this particular appeal is unique, as for the first time it calls for concrete inter-parliamentary collaboration and action as a premise for international collaboration in this regard. The appeal is a milestone in itself, highlighting how far global counter-terrorism efforts have come from unilateral and multilateral interventionism to now be calling for all collective CT and CVE initiatives to be rooted within a politico-legal framework.

The appeal for parliamentary diplomacy condemns all acts of terrorism that have affected not only the lives of those within the Russian Federation, but also the multitudes affected in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Paris and elsewhere. The nature of many of these recent terrorist attacks, and their ownership by extremist groups that are both home-grown and international has only reaffirmed just how much terrorism is a multilateral problem, as well as how political manipulation of such incidents for temporary gains has only exacerbated the problem and rendered it an ever graver danger for world peace. The Appeal effectively recognises the fact that terrorism is in fact a ‘transnational’ problem, and underscores the fact that any global effort to fight it must be developed within the framework of a ‘representative’ model, for which parliamentary diplomacy is a prime platform.

While the resolution itself is fairly brief, it puts forward a range of principles that will be a useful foundation for any such policy development. A key feature of this diplomacy is that it would allow all issues and policies to be dealt with in a representative manner when, ironically, many international crises are often related to the un-representative character of the world political and economic order. It also highlights the importance for concerted efforts in not only the military and economic domains but also the cyber and social spheres, and identifies inter-state cooperation as a core premise for effectively criminalising terrorism, stressing the fact that the interaction of local parliaments can play a pivotal role in this regard. The appeal emphasises on the need for a crackdown on terrorist outfits in the financial and economic spheres, by ‘expos[ing] and cut[ing] off direct and potential sources of terrorism financing including drug-trafficking, trade of energy and other kinds of resources as well as arms supply channels to the terrorist organisations’.

While the appeal is yet another example of Russia’s firm and principled stance on these issues, particularly in the context of ‘regime change’ via intervention, its credibility is questioned due to its place of origin. In recent years, Russia and its president have found themselves recurrently ostracized in international media, due primarily to the significance of Russia’s role in key developments in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. The theme of these attacks relates most often to how the Russian premiere’s personality has and will continue to shape the role of his country in these regions, particularly in the Middle East. In contrast to the traditional US policies of compulsion and blackmail to push ‘client’ states towards reforms, Vladimir Putin’s policies are based on strengthening institutions and reforms. As a result, Mr Putin’s policies in the region have not only received public support, but also helped Russia reaffirm its major powers status.

Furthermore, it is important to consider that associating this positive initiative by the Russian Parliament and its attempt at outreach for a global consensus with mistrustful preconceptions is only counterproductive. In stepping outside the media bubble it becomes clear that Russia is highly critical of the application of double standards, proxy warfare, and unilateralism in international diplomacy. It demands a multilateral democratic world order, and it differs with the west on regime replacement through violent means, advocating instead the strengthening of existing state structures. The establishment and support of the contact group for Afghanistan is an example of its desire to introduce reform peacefully within the existing order. The Parliamentary Appeal is a natural next step of policies geared towards maintaining a stable and prosperous multilateral international order. And it is to this end that Russia recently started advocating such inter-Parliamentary diplomacy from the forum of the SCO that culminated in this formal appeal by the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia.

Pakistan, as one of the hardest-hit victims of terrorism in South Asia and one of the most-experienced countries in dealing with the menace of terrorism, welcomes such inclusive initiatives, and the promotion of an equitable world order rooted in the rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The creation of such a mechanism of parliamentary diplomacy will greatly assist Pakistan in combatting terrorism, both within its borders and in extending our experience in developing counter-terror military strategies and legislation for criminalising terrorism and related acts to international CT efforts in a comprehensive manner. This can be particularly useful in the context of the worsening situation in Afghanistan since the failure of NATO and Afghan National Army to establish peace in the country. Cross border terrorism on eastern and western borders of Pakistan, the emerging threat of ISIS which is gaining ground in vulnerable areas inside Pakistan (such as Kashmir), and the internal ethnic and sectarian fault lines (whose exacerbation can have international implications) require an international legal framework that is aligned with the domestic policies in order to be productive.

At a time when any number of alliances are emerging in hotspots across the planet, it has become all the more important for all stakeholders to be able to come together in a positive and un-fragmented manner. In this regard, the appeal under discussion is a positive and useful step. It is a call to all legislators across the planet to put aside differences in opinions and policies to develop a framework that will not only reduce such differences but also be effective against this global problem. If all the states can come together within one mutually agreed legal framework, then implementation of CVE and CT initiatives would not only become significantly easier but also far for effective in tackling this global menace.



Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Muhammad Suleman

February 09, 2016

On Sunday February 07, 2016, North Korea sent its satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 into orbit, ostensibly for “science, technology, economy and defense” research purposes.

Experts and the international community are concerned however, that the ultimate purpose of this mission was to test North Korea’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities, which pose a serious threat to regional and global security and stability. Experts believe that the missile has the range up to 13, 000 kilometers.
The launch of this rocket comes a few short weeks after the North’s ‘nuclear test’, which was also in violation of the current sanctions on DPRK. Before this latest, North Korea did notify the United Nations of its plans to send an earth observation satellite into space. The country’s National Aerospace Development Administration even called the launch “an epochal event in developing the country’s science, technology, economy and defense capability by legitimately exercising the right to use space for independent and peaceful purposes”.
In the immediate aftermath of this incident, reactions from the international community were numerous and varied. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) called an emergency meeting strongly condemning the action and resolving to adopt additional sanctions in response. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon further urged North Korea to “halt its provocative actions”, while the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said the UN would “come up with something tough”, as “there can be no business as usual”. The Japanese envoy said that since current sanctions could not halt North Korea from developing nuclear arsenals and long range missiles, the new sanction must be tighter. The Chinese ambassador to UN said the purpose of the new sanctions should be “reducing tension, working toward de-nuclearisation, of maintaining peace and stability, and of encouraging a negotiated solution.” Russia, the other significant member of the UNSC, emphasized on “reasonable solution” of the issue which may not produce an economic crumble in North Korea or increase current tensions, and emphasized on ‘six –part’ talks on the issue.

To date, the UNSC has imposed four sets of sanctions on North Korea since its first nuclear test in 2006. These mainly included arms embargos, asset freezes, travel bans and restrictions on luxury goods, with the aim of targeting the lifestyle of the country’s elite, so that they may be inclined to turn away from nuclear and missile programs. However, they have failed to produce these desired results.
South Korean intelligence agencies are also claiming that North Korea is also preparing for a fifth nuclear test and already has ICBMs capability. The agencies also said that the most recent launch should be considered as a ballistic missile test. Given the escalating situation in the Korean Peninsula, South Korea and the United States are contemplating deployment of the US advanced missile-defence system ‘Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD)’ as a countermeasure to North Korea. China and Russia however, are against this as they argue that this system would undermine the strategic stability between China, Russia and USA in the region.
Previously, North Korea launched a long range rocket with a communication satellite in 2012. However neither did the satellite send any signals, nor has it been detected as yet. In May 2015, it claimed to have has successfully conducted its first submarine-launched missile (SLBM) test. The veracity of this claim is also still considered dubious. In April 2012, North Korea tested the ‘three stages’ rocket, which however was an acknowledged failure. In 2009 DPRK had also tested the same missile, but the US also contests the success of that attempt, as it does with the 2006 DPRK test of its long range missile Taepodong-2.

North Korea’s Missiles

It is believed that North Korea possesses over 1,000 missiles of various categories, capabilities and range, which can potentially reach US soil. Its missile program began with small artillery rockets in the 1960s and 1970s, which it converted into short and medium range ballistic missiles in the 1980s and 1990s. It is also believe that even greater range missiles are under research and development.
North Korea currently possesses a variety of short range missiles, such as KN-02 (160km range), Hwasong-5 (300km) and Hwasong-6 (500km), aimed specifically for reaching anywhere in South Korea. These missiles have ability to deliver conventional, biological, chemical and nuclear warheads. Alongside, DPRK also possesses the Nodong missile, with a range of 1300km that can target Japan. North Korea tested these missiles in 2006, 2009 and 2014. The (untested) Musudan missile ranges between 2500km to 4000km, and can potentially target the Japanese island of Okinawa as well as US bases in the Pacific Ocean.
The Taepodong-1 missile is the DPRK’s first multi-stage missile; it is believed that its first stage consists of the Nodong missile, while the second stage consists of the Howdong-6 missile. Its estimated range is between 2200-2900km. Taepodong-1 is what has been used for sending the satellite into orbit. The yet untested Taepodong-2 is a three-stage missile with a 4300km range; the increased power enables it to potentially to hit Australia, some parts of the US as well as other regional countries.


The North Korean ambition to attain long-range missiles has severe implications for military strategy and geo-politics of the region and at international fora. Some of these are as follows:

  1. North Korea’s long-range missile is a direct threat to the US, its territory, strategic forces and military bases in the region. The capability is also a challenge for other nuclear countries.
  2. Continuous provocative actions by North Korea are also an indicator that it may take similar confrontational measures against its closer rivals, especially South Korea, Japan, and the US and also provoking to its rival countries. DPRK may also attempt to challenge the security and territorial integrity of its ‘ideologically rival’ countries.
  3. North Korea’s actions may in turn compel its rival countries, especially South Korea, Japan and USA, to deploy nuclear weapons for the defense of US allies in the region against any provocative measures by the DPRK.
  4. DPRK military initiatives will disturb arms control and disarmament initiatives at regional and global levels among major competitors. Any ‘countermeasure’ taken by USA in the region, in the form of deployment of THAAD or of nuclear weapons, could lead to increased antipathy between China, Russia and the US. These measures would also negatively impact arms control and disarmament initiatives.
  5. International security and strategic stability is locked in complex matrix of arms control measures and balance of power. In this context, if even one country – be it USA, Russia or China – triggers an arms race, it would create a catastrophic chain reaction among all nuclear countries, especially the US, China, Russia, DPRK, India, and Pakistan, due to their existent threat perception and security dilemmas.
  6. The DPRK’s actions can inappropriately encourage to other NPT member countries to purse nuclear weapons technology.

Way Forward

  1. Both sides must refrain from further provocation to try and arrive at a universally acceptable solution. In the current scenario, engagement via dialogue is the best, and perhaps the only option that could lead to the denuclearization of DPRK. The ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ is a useful prototype for the international community to develop such a roadmap.
  2. As China and Russia have closer relations to DPRK, they may act as a bridge between it and the US, South Korea and Japan, potentially reducing tensions, encouraging a negotiated solution and working towards denuclearization of DPRK to restore peace and stability in the region. The ‘Six-party talks’ initiative should therefore be restarted.
  3. As during the Iran case, the European Union could also play the role of mediator by inviting both sides to a dialogue for managing the crisis, and insisting on a peaceful resolution.
  4. The US should refrain from an over-hasty deployment of the THAAD system or of its nuclear weapons on the territories of its regional allies. Such actions may exacerbate the current ‘standoff’, not only with the DPRK, but also antagonize China and Russia as well, as both are vehemently opposed to the deployment of the THAAD system in the Korean Peninsula.

Muhammad Suleman (@M_S_Shahid) is a Research Associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) (@cpgs_org), Islamabad, Pakistan.

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