The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated an online poll to assess public opinion on Pakistan’s counter-response to Indian designs of ‘isolating’ it in world community of nations. In wake of recent attacks on Indian soil, particularly at the Pathankot base and Uri camp, India has blamed Pakistan without carrying out any investigation and evidence. Moreover, New Delhi also labelled Pakistan as a ‘terrorist state’ to sabotage its standing in the international diplomatic arena. Recently, India and some of South Asian states under Indian pressure, boycotted SAARC Summit that was to be held in Pakistan.
A majority of 56.7% of the respondents expressed their satisfaction over the way Pakistan has been addressing this issue. While 33.3% of them were not happy with the way Pakistan has been handling the Indian propaganda. However, only 10% of the respondents had no clear idea on the matter.
Jammu and Kashmir is the disputed territory between India and Pakistan since the two countries gained independence in 1947. The two countries have fought three wars over the issue. The United Nations has passed several resolutions calling upon India to give the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK) that India has been denying. Over the decades, India has been violating fundamental human rights in Kashmir at a humongous scale. Thousands of Kashmiris have lost their lives at the hands of the stationed Indian forces in their struggle to attain independence and basic human rights since India occupied the Valley. In May 2016, India martyred a young Kashmiri freedom fighter, Burhan Wani, which triggered and infused a fresh zeal in the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Ever since, the Valley has been imposed under curfew, more than 100 Kashmiris martyred and thousands injured especially by pellet gun attacks. Pakistan has raised this matter at world forums that Kashmir awaits justice and basic rights for a long time.
India has a long history blaming Pakistan for its domestic security shortcomings. Every attack on its soil is blamed on Pakistan, without any evidence. India blamed Pakistan for the September Uri attack on India’s army camp in Kashmir that Pakistan believes can be instigated by Indian repression on Kashmiris. Moreover, it has been trying to belittle Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terror. India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval’s leaked video confirms that India has this policy to tag Pakistan as a ‘terrorist state’ and diplomatically ‘isolate’ it in the comity of nations worldwide. It is argued that by carrying out false-flag operations on its soil and blaming Pakistan for terrorism (that Pakistan itself is one of the biggest victims of), India is not only trying to cover its brutalities in Kashmir and suppress the freedom struggle, but also strip Pakistan of its reputation as an anti-terror state that it has got in wake of several successes against terrorism such as Operation Zarb-e-Azb which the world has time and again also acknowledged.
The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated a poll in order to ascertain public viewpoint about the possible impact of the recently signed ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)’ for defence cooperation between India and the US. The agreement was signed in Washington during Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to the US in August, 2016. The agreement would give way to the militaries of the two states to work closely and uses each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies. It can also be said that this agreement would serve as a gateway to future military pacts and cooperation between the two states.
Of those who responded, a clear majority of around 83.7% was of the view that the defence pact between the two states will have an impact on the balance of power in the continent. However, 10.2% of them denied probability of any such shift in near future. Whereas, only 6.1% of the respondents had no clear opinion on the subject.
In last few decades, the Chinese economy has grown manifolds causing the balance-of-power shift to tilt in favor of the People’s Republic of China. This called for a much greater US role in the East and Southeast Asia that looked for countering China’s rising influence in the region. The US’ ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy is also heavily linked with this agenda of its foreign policy. Inevitably, it gave birth to an unavoidable power tussle between the US and PRC. Subsequently, Indo-Pak rivalry, the end of the Cold War, China’s ‘opening’ economy, Indo-China’s uneasy relations and the US-China economic and trade competition were some of the biggest factors that brought the US and India closer together for their own benefits.
The agreement also marks a major policy shift in the historically ‘militarily neutral’ state of India on the face of global power games. Mr Parrikar’s US counterpart, the Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, also drew comparison between the US’ ‘Pivot to Asia’ and India’s ‘Act East’ policies on the occasion. Therefore, the US-India LEMOA can be termed as a threat to China’s influence in Asia and its maritime trade routes through the Indian Ocean. Hence, the agreement is said to have some impact on the balance of power in the continent. It was confirmed by China’s reaction as its state-run daily not only criticized the development but also warned India against joining the US ‘alliance system’. Additionally, as suggested by an editorial in the Global Times, the agreement could also irk Pakistan and possibly Russia, and tantamount to being a source of much greater geopolitical rivalries in Asia.
In wake of the agreement and the responses it received, it is pertinent to gauge its impact on the balance of power especially in Asia. Given the parties involved in the pact and the states that might be affected by it, it is safe to say that the defense agreement has global significance. However, only the subsequent events related to this significant development can confirm the kind and degree of impact it has.
 IANS. “India, US ink logistics defence agreement: Pact does not involve setting up military bases.” First Post, August 30, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016. http://www.firstpost.com/india/india-us-ink-logistics-defence-agreement-pact-does-not-involve-setting-up-military-bases-2983844.html
 “Is India Heading toward Alliance with US?” Global Times, August 30, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1003574.shtml.
In the context of a failed military coup in Turkey and the ongoing crackdown on supporters of the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen’s ‘Hizmet Movement’ funded schools also came in the fold of Turkish government’s wrath. The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated a poll to assess the public opinion at home. Views in favour for seeking closure of the Pak-Turk schools and criticism on it, were essentially divided into half. 35.7% poll respondents supported the closure of Pak-Turk schools. However, the same number of respondents opposed these steps of the Turkish government deeming it counterproductive and impractical. At the same time, a considerable number of poll respondents, 28.6%, exhibited uncertain expectations regarding this decision.
On 15 July 2016, an attempted coup d’état by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces to depose President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was thwarted by the Government of Turkey. In the aftermath operation, academics, officials in the civil judiciary, and soldiers were detained. Thousands of names were added in the Exit Controls List.
Meanwhile, outside the Turkish territory, the after effects of the failed coup attempt have also reached Pakistan. As a reaction to the coup, President Erdogan imposed a state of emergency in Turkey, stretching to three months, and reaching out to the United States for extraditing Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey, the man allegedly behind the latest coup attempt. However, cleric Gulen has dubbed the events as a ‘staged coup’ by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to gain excessive power in the Turkish bureaucracy by arresting and executing the people from all arrays of opposition from governance to politics.
The Turkish Embassy in Islamabad requested the Government of Pakistan to shut down the Pak-Turk school branches, catering to almost 10,000 students through Fethullah Gulen’s funds for education, since 1995.
The matter of exploiting a non-profit – reputed for educating thousands of children across the globe – now being shut down, is thus far an uncorroborated fact. Moreover, if the orders to shut down Pak-Turk schools come into effect or the chain runs out of funds, the noble cause of provision of low-cost yet quality education to children in Pakistan would be severely affected.
Against the backdrop of increasing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan by the ‘Islamic State’ (Da’esh), Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) generated a poll to ascertain how people perceived the probability of Da’esh gaining a strong hold in the Af-Pak region?
As many as 48.4% of the respondents expressed uncertainty by marking the option of “Don’t know”. 32.3% believed that Da’esh is close to gaining a strong foothold in its so-called Khorasan Chapter. Whereas, only 19.4% opined that the militant group cannot gain a stronghold in the Af-Pak region.
Afghanistan has been the hub of instability and tension for about four decades now. The US and NATO’s invasion of the country only exacerbated the security dilemmas, and post 2001 we have seen the country take a turn for worse. Taliban uprisings, weakness of the Afghan civilian regime in gaining control of the country and weak defence forces have all resulted in destabilized Afghanistan.
Recently, we have also seen a wave of violence erupt in Afghanistan; this time it has been claimed by Da’es (also known as the ‘Islamic State’). The militant group which has its roots in the instability caused during the war in Iraq, has now called for global ‘jihad’ to set up an Islamic Caliphate. The perceived threat of the organization has been grossly miscalculated, leading to its gradual increase in strength. ‘IS’ first gained prominence on the world map when it captured the key city of Mosul, Iraq in June 2014. Since then the organization has spread across the Middle East, its tentacles reaching parts as far as South Asia, (especially Afghanistan) within the short span of two years.
IS’s presence in Afghanistan is viewed with animosity by both the Taliban and the Afghan Security Forces albeit for different reasons. Where the Taliban consider it a breach of their territory, Afghan forces view the presence of ‘IS’ as one more group creating instability inside Afghanistan and making it more difficult to govern.
However, recent events of escalating violence in Kabul City during a peaceful protest by the Hazara Community, and the continuous split of factions from the Afghan Taliban pledging loyalty with the ‘IS’ manifests the militant group’s advance towards gaining a strong foothold in Afghanistan. Some splinter groups of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have also announced allegiance with the Afghan Chapter of the ‘IS’.
Observers suggest that these developments can lead to the organization gaining a strong foothold in the ‘Af-Pak’ region, especially the border areas. Pakistan, which launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in Northern Waziristan in 2014, has been partially successful in rooting out major hideouts of the militants especially in the FATA region, however, it is vital that systematic action is taken in Afghanistan against these militants operating from the Afghan soil.
In the wake of the recent unrest in Indian Occupied Kashmir, the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated a poll to ascertain opinions over the extra-judicial killing of the freedom fighter Burhan Wani, and the resultant protests in the valley. 53% of the 167 respondents opined that extra-judicial killings in the valley will not demoralize the freedom struggle of Kashmiris. 40% respondents remained uncertain of its consequences, while only 11% of the respondents were of the view that the increase in clashes between the public and Indian Occupation Forces would not favor the freedom struggle.
The people of Kashmir have been living under oppressive rule since before the partition of the Sub-continent (back then a minority elite ruled over its Muslim majority). Post 1947, after the then Kashmiri ruler, with the support of British technocrats, handed the region over to India without taking into account the will of the people, Kashmiris have been fighting for their right of self-determination. When India and Pakistan both laid claim to the Valley, it was split along the Line of Control between ‘Azad’ Kashmir and the Indian-Administered, ‘Jammu’ Kashmir. Every few years, the cycle of violence re-erupts and protests begin all over again in the world’s most heavily militarized region.
Pakistan’s diplomatic initiatives, such as the Track-II diplomacy and Composite Dialogue Process from 2004-2007 have made great ingress towards the resolution of this dispute; however, they remain subject to the volatile political environment of the country, and continue to get reversed with every new confrontation – big or small. Despite the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, passed on April 21, 1948, India continues to refuse holding a plebiscite to determine the status of Kashmir.
Pakistan has been raising its voice for the Kashmir cause at all international forums, and has also proposed the demilitarization of the Valley, for the ‘greater good of the people residing in it’. However, India’s response has not been forthcoming, up until the very latest uprising led by Kashmiri youth who call it an “intifada”. The Indian state has imposed curfews, imposed censorship and restriction of access to international media as it fired pellets to quell massive crowds, blinding many and attracting criticism both at home and abroad. Opposition parties and civil society in India have demanded another plebiscite for Kashmir, with the hope of diffusing tensions.
 Security Council Resolution 47 of April 21, 1948.
 UNGA address: Nawaz proposes agenda to diffuse tensions with India, Dawn, 1 Oct, 2015.
 Kashmir unrest: Explore other methods besides pellet guns, J&K High Court to Government, The Indian Express, 27 July, 2016.
 Ashoka University students demand for plebiscite in Kashmir, Daily Pakistan Global, 28 July, 2016.
Pakistan again asks India to hold plebiscite in Kashmir, The Economic Times, 28 July, 2016.
Poll Question: Do you think that the UK referendum results to exit the European Union will have the implications on international stability?
The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated a poll to establish the public’s view pertaining to Brexit and the international stability linked with it. Around 46% of the poll respondents viewed Brexit as an apparent fault line leading towards international instability. Only 20% did not foresee the new developments as a major change in the international arena. On the other hand, as many as 34% respondents could not gauge the future implications of Brexit, since they marked “Don’t know”.
Implications of Brexit
It is safe to say that Brexit not only caused immediate reactionary implications at least for the UK, but it may also have a long-term impact, both politically and socio-economically. It marks as the first ever instance (notwithstanding Greenland’s plea of remaining outside the EU) of regional disintegration in a regional bloc that has always been presented as a shining example of regional integration for rest of the world.
The British vote to exit from the EU has come as a shock as global markets and UK stocks significantly dropped. Post-Brexit, business investments and other decisions are being taken cautiously as uncertainty prevails much to the dismay of industries in the UK. On the very next following Brexit vote, the Sterling fell by 8% against the US Dollar. Not only did it reach $1.29 on July 6 (13% lower than the rate before it was clear ‘Leave’ would win over ‘Remain’), its lowest in three decades, but it remains vulnerable to further depreciation.
The greatest implication of Brexit may well have to do with the phenomenon of the ‘single market’, which is considered the EU’s biggest achievement (achieved in 1992) in the region to date. It includesthe free movement of people, goods, services and money within the group in order to boost intra-regional trade, create jobs and lower prices. The exit will strip the UK of its access to the single market. Additionally, there may also be a negative impact on pensions, savings, investments and mortgages in the UK.If Britain manages to remains in the ‘single market’, which is unlikely, the Britons will retain free movement and work rights within the EU. If work permit restrictions are imposed, the Britons will have to require visas to work in the EU. Similarly, non-UK residents might also need work permits to work in the UK.
Another potential implication concerns the status of Scotland and Northern Ireland, both of which voted for ‘Remain’ with a significant majority, and are seeking to remain within the EU, with or without the UK.
The government of Spain has also called for joint control of Gibraltar. Analysts opine that Britain will now be ‘less able’ to wield its political power in the world, as it will not be in the room where decisions will be taken. Moreover, it is also feared that Brexit’s impact can even amount to the ‘tearing apart’ of the EU itself. The political ramifications of Brexit are also visible in campaigner,British PM David Cameron’s resignation from his post and the PM-in-waiting, Theresa May replacing him with immediate effect.
The UK’s exit from the European Union will have a landmark significance, one way or another. Until the process is completed, however, the UK continues to be an EU member and will abide by its treaty commitments and laws, but will cease to be a part of any future decision-making.
It is up to the UK government when to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to formally start the proceedings to withdraw the group which may take up to two years.
Wheeler, Brian, and Alex Hunt. “The UK’s EU Referendum: All You Need to Know.” BBC News, June 24, 2016. Accessed July 14, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887.
“After the Brexit Vote (I): Rules and Britannia.” The Economist. July 9, 2016. Accessed July 14, 2016. http://www.economist.com/news/business/21701811-uncertainty-especially-about-regulation-spreads-among-industries-most-exposed-britain-rules.
“Sterling: How Low Can it Go.” The Economist. July 7, 2016. Accessed July 14, 2016. http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21701794-already-30-year-low-pound-vulnerable-further-depreciation-how-low-can-it-go
Foster, Alice. “What is Brexit and what is going to happen now that Britain has voted to LEAVE the EU?” Express, July 12, 2016. Accessed July 14, 2016. http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/645667/Brexit-EU-European-Union-Referendum-David-Cameron-Economic-Impact-UK-EU-exit-leave
The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) generated a poll to assess public opinion regarding the prospective of impact India’s entry into MTCR, and push for entry into the NSG would have on Pakistan’s long-term interests, which are closely related to Indian defense initiatives. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), established in 1987, is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of any technology related to weapons of mass destruction including missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), capable of carrying a payload of over 500 kg for over 300 km.As of 27th June 2016, India is a full member of the MTCR.
Currently India is also engaged in an aggressive diplomacy to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), another pillar of the international nuclear regime.
The NSG, founded in response to the Indiannuclear test in May 1974, is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.As of 2016 the NSG has 48 members.
According to the poll results, approximately 56.2% of respondents think that India’s bid for entry into MTCR and NSG (if they were successful) would cause instability in this volatile region and set a ‘wrong’ precedence for country-based exceptionalism. Only 14.2% of the respondents did not believe that Indian membership of these regimes would damage Pakistan’s long-term security interests. While29.6% opined that they remained unsure of the consequences.
The region of South Asia has been marred with security concerns for a very long time. The historic rivalry and security reservations between India and Pakistan perpetually exacerbate this insecurity. If India is allowed to join MTCR (which it already has) and ultimately the NSG, whilst ignoring Pakistan’s reservations and preventing its inclusion, it may lead to a great strategic imbalance and fuel instability in the region as both the MTCR and NSG provide their member countries with access to trade of missile and nuclear technology for both civil and military purposes. As a result of access to the technology, a spike in both the quality and quantity of military weapons may be expected. Entry into the above-mentioned cartels as a non-signatory of the NPT only further embeds Indian exceptionalism;such a step would have far-reaching effects, both regionally and globally.
 “History.” Nuclear Suppliers Group. Accessed June 29, 2016. http://www.nuclearsuppliersgroup.org/en/history1.
 “About the NSG.” Nuclear Suppliers Group. Accessed June 29, 2016. http://www.nuclearsuppliersgroup.org/en/about-us.
 “Introduction.” The Missile Technology Control Regime. Accessed June 29, 2016. http://www.mtr.info/english/index/html.
The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated a poll to observe the understanding of the public concerning the connection between sustainable development and a stable, democratic system of governance. Of the 833 poll respondents, 46% endorsed the essential link between democracy and development, and 20% respondents did not agree that their efficacy is directly correlated. On the other hand, as many as 34% of the respondents opted for “Don’t know”, suggesting that they could not decide whether there was any relevance between a stable democracy and sustainable development.
Sustainable Development, as a concept, originates from and is rooted in the 20th century environmental concerns.It can be defined as a process to meet human development goals without depletion of natural resources, thus, catering to needs of the future generations.As the concept has evolved, its focus has shifted to emphasize social development, economic growth, as well as environmental protection.In this context, Scandinavian countries are the epitome of development sustainability, and Sweden leadsthem as the ‘most sustainable’ country in the world, known for its renewable energy resources, low carbon emissionsand environmental policies.Interestingly, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all constitutional monarchies. On the other hand, Germany isanother nation aspiring for sustainable development, while also being one of the largest/strongest economies both within Europe and outside it. It isa federal parliamentary republic,and currently in the process oftransitioning its energy production from conventional to renewable resources. Over the next five years, it plans to shift upto 40% of its electricity demands onto clean energy.
As the poll responses suggest, sustainable development is a vital necessity for the modern world to ensure its own survival. In order to conserve energy and prevent the depletion of natural resources, global partnerships for technological breakthroughs can play an incredibly important role. In order for such partnerships to exist, a commonality of values and goals becomes of primordial importance, perhaps even more so than a democratic system. Stability however, is another prerequisite for actual growth in the sector. Therefore it may be argued that only a stable government dedicated to the goals of sustainable development can be effective in this regard, highlighting their correlation. The type of government – democratic or otherwise – is of secondary importance.
On the eve of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death in a U.S drone strike within the territory of Pakistan, it was widely perceived that the Afghan reconciliation process would face another setback. As the events unfolded, the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated a poll to ascertain where the fate of the Afghan reconciliation process lies in the eyes of the public. Around 54% of the respondents believed that derailment of the Afghan reconciliation process is now inevitable. Only 6% of the poll respondents were still optimistic about the continuity of peace talks, while as many as 40% of the respondents were stymied between both the possibilities, as they marked “Don’t know”.
The deceased Emir of Taliban had ascended to the throne of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in August 2015, after the death of the former Emir Mullah Omar was confirmed. For three years, Mullah Mansour kept his predecessor’s death discreet for fear of disbandment of the Afghan Taliban into various factions. However, the cracks within the militant group’s ranks became evident after the news of his death broke out, leading to the cancellation of the second phase of the peace talks. Although, Mullah Mansour was largely perceived as a strong proponent of peace talks, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) could not take the negotiation process ahead during Mullah Mansour’s era as the Taliban leader. So much so that the reconciliation process seemed to be reversing amid deadly attacks in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.
The core Taliban leadership was stuck in a dilemma when the Khorasan Chapter of the terrorist outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) started gaining grounds in Afghanistan by recruiting the disgruntled Taliban warriors. It was believed by experts that the Taliban were launching multiple attacks in Kabul city and the northern provinces to prove mettle within its ranks. Until March 2016, the QCG could not succeed in bringing the Taliban to negotiations. Currently, with persisting cracks in the group during turbulent times of transitioning from Mullah Mansour to Mullah Haibatullah’s leadership, the probability of derailment of the Afghan reconciliation process is apparently high unless the new leader Haibatullah changes the course.
The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies held a poll to ascertain how the public in Pakistan perceived their Facebook data being accessed by the Government of Pakistan. 51.9% respondents endorsed the government’s attempts to access Pakistani users’ Facebook data. 37% respondents did not approve of government to access private data. 11.1% were uncertain about this step by the government’s in the efforts to control cyber crimes in Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan made 471 requests for data related to 706 user accounts between July and December 2015. These figures were provided in Facebook’s bi-annual transparency document, “Global Government Requests Report”. 192 such requests were made for data related to 275 Facebook accounts in the first half of 2015, against which 313 requests were entertained. Apparently, there has been a 145% increase in the number of requests made by December 2015. Digital rights activists in Pakistan have time and again expressed reservations over the government’s increasing requests to social media websites for access to users’ private online data, deriving it an act of transgression of civil liberties in Pakistan. Experts suggest that the sole responsibility for data privacy does not lie with the government, but also with international social media websites that facilitate governments’ requests. While the legal experts agree that cyber laws are necessary for countering terrorism, online radicalization, and rising extremism, however, it is the structure of the bill that has twisted the intent behind its formulation.
The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) was formulated in consonance with the National Action Plan’s 20-point agenda to uproot decades-long violent extremism in Pakistan. Critics of the bill claim that the state will further misuse the new found authority to violate freedom of expression and basic rights under the pretext of a counter terrorism strategy. The PECB draft is widely viewed with scepticism by lawmakers and civil society. Despite this visible opposition, and the requirement of a two-third majority vote, the Bill it was pushed through with only 30 votes in a house of 342 members. Lawmakers have hinted at blocking the bill when it reaches the Upper House of the Parliament. Legal experts have termed the definitions of cyber offences in the bill as ‘vague’, with too harsh penalties. If clauses of the bill contradict the provisions in the Constitution of Pakistan, breaches can be struck down during the judicial review.
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