Written by Ifrah Waqar
Infographic design by Fatima Sureyya
16th December will forever be marked as a Black day in the history of Pakistan, and for more reasons than one. It was on this day in 1971 that Pakistan lost its Eastern Wing, and it was on this day again in the December of 2014 that an act of malice, cowardice and terrorism of the most heinous sort shook the country to its very foundations. Pakistan witnessed a tragedy of such magnitude that it had no precedence in its history; a group of terrorists stormed a school – the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar – and brutally massacred 148 innocent people – the majority of them children – in cold blood.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy at APS, an All Parties’ Conference (APC) in Peshawar was summoned. In the APC, all political parties resolved to fight terrorism and build consensus on issues of national importance. A 20 point ‘Action Plan’ was agreed upon. The decisions made during the APC were presented in a joint session of the Parliament. These decisions included a nationwide campaign against terrorism and extremism. It should be noted that before the APC meeting, the PM lifted the moratorium on death penalty in terrorism related cases.
In the light of the APC and the agreed 20 points, the government, political leadership and armed forces embarked upon the enormous task of evolving the strategies to undertake operations for tactical implementation of the hurriedly forwarded policy. As a result of NAP and a unanimous Parliamentary vote, military courts were established under the purview of the Constitutional Amendment (21st Amendment Bill 2015). NAP was implemented all across Pakistan. On 20 June, 2014, NAP also was approved by the Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
To ensure the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism and extremism, on 27th December, 2014 the government formed 15 committees under one umbrella committee, headed by the PM himself, to supervise the overall implementation of the plan.
The heads of the 15 committees included Federal Ministers for Interior, Finance, Information, Defence, States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), the KP Governor and the PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs.
|So.#||Name of Committees||Headed by||Member Composition|
|1||Militias||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||DG ISI, DG IB, DG MO, all provincial home secretaries including Fata, GB and AJK; as well as the NACTA national coordinator and the interior secretary.|
|2||Hate Speech||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||Ministers for religious affairs, planning, information as well as the MD PTV, DG ISI, DG IB, all provincial home and Auqaf department secretaries, the NACTA coordinator and interior secretary.|
|3||Proscribed Organizations||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||DG ISI, DG IB, all home secretaries and Interior Secretary as members.|
|4||Counter terrorism||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||Ministers for Finance and Defence, the DG MO, the secretaries of Finance, interior and the NACTA Coordinator.|
|5||Religious persecution||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||Minister and Secretary for religious affairs, the Interior Secretary, all provincial police chiefs and the IGs of GB, AJK and ICT, as well as all home and Auqaf department secretaries and the NACTA coordinator.|
|6||Madrassahs||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||Minister and Secretary for Religious Affairs, State Minister for Education, all Home and Auqaf department secretaries.|
|7||Terror on the Internet||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||This is the only committee whose composition was not mentioned in the Government’s official press release.|
|8||Karachi||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||Governor Sindh, Chief Minister Sindh, Rangers DG and other senior officials.|
|9||Punjab||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||Input from the DG ISI, DG IB, Home Secretary and provincial police chiefs|
|10||Sectarianism||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||DG IB, all provincial police officers, home secretaries and heads of counter terrorism departments as well as the interior secretary and NACTA coordinator|
|11||Afghan refugees||Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control||Governor Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa , SAFRON Minister, Nadra chairman and other senior officials|
|12||Terror financing||Ministry of Finance||Governor State Bank, the DG ISI, Interior Secretary, FBR Chairman, FIA DG and Finance Secretary|
|13||Media curbs||Ministry of Information and Broadcasting||Ministers for Interior and Planning and Development, and the information secretary|
|14||Justice system reforms||Ministry of Information and Broadcasting||Interior Secretary, Provincial Representatives, ISI and IB heads as well as the law secretary|
|15||FATA reforms & Internally Displaced Persons’ Return||Governor Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa||The Ministers of Finance, Planning and Development and SAFRON, Economic Affairs Secretary, Corps Commander 11 Corps Peshawar and FATA Secretary Chief.|
All the political parties vowed to fight terrorism and build consensus on issues of public importance. The government lifted the moratorium on death penalty and established military courts for the speedy trail of terrorism related cases. However, three years on, the progress on implementation of the plan seems to be lagging.
The progress on implementation of NAP’s 20 points is as follows:
It is the need of the hour that all factions unite hands to eliminate the threats posed to the nation rather securing their own goodwill. Pakistan is a resilient nation. The posed challenges are humongous but we as a nation have proved our mettle time and again.
 National Counter Terrorism Authority, http://nacta.gov.pk/NAPPoints20.htm
 Senate of Pakistan, p. 54, http://www.senate.gov.pk/uploads/documents/questions/1509438079_519.pdf
December 11, 2017
A wise man once noted that each historical epoch has its own distinctive view of political conditions and opportunities.
The late veteran French general and statesman, Charles de Gaulle, once made the poignant observation that “a country cannot change its geography but it can change its geopolitics”.
It almost appears that he could have been directly addressing Pakistan. For since the latter came into being back in 1947 — the country has been struggling to find its rightful place in the region and beyond. Indeed, the interplay of historical, geographical and political forces has been driving our strategic decision-making process for the last 70 years. And as a wise man once said: while geography is the backdrop of history itself — man’s actions are limited by the physical parameters imposed by the former.
Yet in Pakistan’s case, three seemingly distinct yet interlinked ‘events’ have played an absolutely critical role in shaping the country’s foreign policy choices: namely, British colonialism, the Cold War and US dominance in our (external) affairs.
And if we go back to the beginning, to our very birth, the first thing that we saw upon opening our eyes was the devastation of the immediate post-war aftermath. But not only that, we found ourselves thrust into a new bipolar world. And it was one where the battle would be fought along geopolitical, ideological and military lines. With the Americans on one side and the Soviets firmly on the other side of the so-called Iron Curtain. This is to say nothing of a deepening sense of the existential threat emanating from our larger neighbour India. Thus was this new nation fixated on preserving its territorial integrity and sovereignty from anyone who would do it harm.
This led to the Pakistani leadership taking the drastic step of aligning with Washington, thereby denying the reality of its geopolitical neighbourhood. Things might well have turned out differently had Jinnah lived. For he immediately grasped that this new country was “the pivot of the world”. Just as he understood that the US needed Pakistan more than vice versa and the Russians would never be so very far away. Tragically, he died too soon and none of his successors managed to match him when it came to intellectual insight. Thus they — all of them — have been responsible for landing us in this current mess. It is unfathomable that a country with such a sizeable population and rich in natural resources; a nuclear-armed state, no less, has been dismissed as a rapidly failing state.
Pakistan has been slow to learn the lesson of choosing allies with whom it shares physical and political proximity. The fallout of which has been the expiry of our strategic relevance and geopolitical outreach
Thus Pakistan’s American embrace left it unable to make peace with neighbouring India, Afghanistan and Iran. Unresolved border issues soon escalated and wars were fought. With the passing years, it became fashionable for our leadership to claim that they made use of the country’s unique geo-strategic location to crush the Soviet Union, which benefitted everyone. Yet the reality is somewhat different; in that all we had actually achieved was paying greater geopolitical dividend to the US, particularly, and the West, generally. And it was Pakistan that spectacularly lost in that round of power politics. Fast-forward to today and our relations are worse than during the turbulence of the 1980s. And instead of preventing the USSR from nearing warm waters — we effectively landed ourselves in hot water. It has been the same for the last 20 years. Meaning that Pakistan has paid dearly for pursuing this policy of strategic depth; just as it has for being a front line ally in the displacement of Soviet Russia from the region. And it has been the same story since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Yet we have done nothing much to redress any of this. Our neighbourhood is still a largely hostile one in terms of ties with India and Afghanistan. Though there is some good news regarding bilateral relations with Iran. Nevertheless there are many things that are simply beyond our control. Such as: as the continued US presence next door across our western border; the rapid rise of New Delhi; a resurgent Russia; as well as the Chinese economic revolution. The latter is the one that we must not take our eyes off. Given that the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project encompasses some 68 countries with a combined population of 4.4 billion people and covers around 40 percent of global GDP. All of which brings to mind the wisdom of Halford J Mackinder, widely acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of both geo-strategy and geopolitics. And it was he who noted that each historical epoch has its own distinctive view of political conditions and opportunities.
For us, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) represents the new economic world order. And we, too, have a constructive role to play in our immediate backyard. But to do this we must make the most of our geostrategic position at the crossroads of the Silk Road between Beijing and the West. Indeed, we are able to provide stability to China’s troubled regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet, while also acting as a bridge to the Arab and greater Muslim world.
Thus this is an opportunity that Pakistan can ill afford to squander. If, that is, it is serious about casting itself in the role of regional elder statesman. This nuclear armed-country is home to a population of 200 million, a 0.7 million-strong military establishment and a $1-trillion economy in terms of purchasing power parity. In short, we have everything going for us.
About the Author:
Tahir Nazir is a research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS). His views do not necessarily represent those of the institute. He tweets @tahirdss
Same version of the article appeared in Daily Times.
Islamabad, 20th November, 2017: The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) organised a roundtable conference on “Shifting Strategic Landscape of South Asia: The Role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation” held at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services on 20th November, 2017. Speakers at the event included Ambassador (R) Abdul Basit, President of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) and as well as Dr Petr Topychkanov from the Carnegie Moscow Center.
The discussion revolved around the situation in Afghanistan, the impact of the increasing Indian role in the region, an overview of the Pakistan-Russia relations historically, the repercussions of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver to India as well as the future role of the SCO with regard to establishing peace in Afghanistan.
In her opening remarks, President CPGS Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) said the Asian region was going through a mega-transformation that stood at a precarious crossroads. She highlighted recent developments which will have a significant impact on the strategic landscape of the South region, such as the President Trump’s new South Asia Policy and the United States’ declaration of retrenchment after over 16 years of presence in Afghanistan describing it as unnecessary flexing of military muscles, which will only undo much that has been achieved over many years diplomatically. In addition to further antagonizing regional countries like Pakistan, China & Russia. She added that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is, on the other hand presented an invaluable opportunity, which regional countries, especially Afghanistan, could utilize for their benefit of their economies and their peoples.
While talking about the positive developments, especially in the context of Pakistan and the Russian Federation, she said we are moving into a new era of cooperative relations, based on mutual respect and equality. In addition to the alliance with China, strengthening collaboration with Russia has the potential to move the entire region into a more positive direction. In this regard, she added that the SCO offers a multilateral platform where both Pakistan and India will have opportunities to participate in regional cohesion and development. She remarked that China and Russia could play a constructive role in creating an enabling environment for stabilizing the region and as well facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan.
Ambassador (R) Abdul Basit in his speech said the region of South Asia is in the midst of paradoxical development. He said Afghanistan is the biggest challenge for our foreign policy. Pakistan’s approach has always been to establish peace in the region, but our efforts have not been reciprocated, repeatedly. In the context of the SCO, he said that Pakistan and India will attend the SCO Summit for the first time as full members, whenever the next session will be held and it would be interesting to note how that dynamic develops.
Dr Petr Topychkanov, in his presentation gave a historic overview of Pakistan-Russian relations. He said that it is vital to understand the shift that is underway in South Asia; the increasing strategic relationship between India and United States and the growing economic and political cooperation between China and Pakistan under the umbrella of CPEC. He remarked that the International community holds a different view towards CPEC; although it is apparently based upon economic aspects, but there are assumptions that it has a military and naval component as well. He highlighted that despite the fact the US signed a nuclear deal with India and helped in granting a NSG waiver, but the US still failed to establish nuclear power plants in India. On the SCO, he said the organization gives an opportunity to discuss broader regional and global strategic and security issues in a multilateral setting, but it was not forum to discuss bilateral issues. The solution to the Afghanistan problem lies within the region not outside of it, he added.
|1||Execution of Convicted Terrorist||No. of persons Executed under ATA/PPC: 483|
|2||Special Trial Courts||11Courts Notified
388 Cases transfered to STC
|3||Action against Armed Militias||Visibility of armed militias and display of weapons curtailed. Terrorist Killed: 2127
Terrorist Arrested: 5884
|4||Stregthening and activation of NACTA||
|5||Countering hate speech and extremist meterial||Hate Speech/Materials
Cases registered: 1353
Persons Arrested: 2528
Shops sealed: 70
Misuse of Loudspeakers Cases Registered:17795 Persons Arrested: 18520
Equipments confiscated: 7942
|6||Choking financing for terrorists and terrorists organizations||FERA/Hawala Hundi Cases: 777; Arrests: 1060, Recovery: 1320.705 Millions
Anti-money Laundering Cases:336; Arrests: 483
Suspicious Transaction Reports: STRs Received from EMU: 176; Converted into Cases:32; Closed: 14; Under Process:130 Counter Financing for Terrorists (CFT) Units established in all provincial CTDs.
Counter Financing for Terrorists (CFT) to be made an integral part of provincial investigations.
National Task Force (NTF) on Countering Financing for Terrorist (CFT) with reps from all stakeholders, set-up in June 2017 for effective coordination on policy and operaitons.
15 amendments made in (AMLA 2010) in 2015.
|7||Ensuring against re-emergence of proscribed organizations/Individuals||Categorize: (63+3) 164 UNSCR Common 13 4th Schedule Total Activists: 8333
Number of accounts freezed: 5023
Amount frozen: Rs. 150 Million
Following actions have been taken against Proscribed Persons: Passport Embargo
Freezing of Bank Accounts
Ban on Financial support and services by financial institutes. Arms license Embargo
Provincial Governments requested to take legal action under ATA 1997
|8||Establishing a Counter Terrorism Force||UNIT Sanctioned Present
ICT 1000 500
Punjab 5000 4300
Sindh 1000 728
Bal 3000 1000
KP 2206 2080
GB – 168
AJK 500 260
|9||Taking steps against religious persecution||Data collection in progress, to be verified and then put up for further action|
|10||Registration and regulation of Madrassas||Two seperate Registration and Data form for Madaris developed in consultation with ITMP
Committees under FBISE and HEC formed with representation from ITMP for grant of equivalence degree awarding status to Wafaqs.
|11||Ban on glorification of terrorism in media||Strict implementatoin of ban on electronic media of acivists of proscribed organizations.
Any violation is instantly reported to concerned quarters and actions taken.
Visible improvement noticed.
|12||FATA Reforms||The Federal Cabinet has approved in principle recommendations of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) reforms committee.|
|13||Dismantling communication networks of terrorists||98.3 million SIMs blocked
Biometric Verification system in place.
|14||Tangible measures against abuse of internet and Social media for terrorism||Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act 2015 passed.
937 URLs and 10 websites of proscribed organizations have been blocked by MoIT
|15||Militancy in Punjab||Visible improvement inlaw & order situation in Punjab.|
|16||Taking the ongoing operation in Karachi to its logical conclusion||Registered significant decline in terrorism, crime and improvement in law and order i.e.
Target Killing down by 97% Murder down by 87% Terrorism down by 98% Robberies down by 52% Weapons recovered 33.37%
|17||Steps towards Baluchistan Reconciliation||Surrender and Reconciliation/Rehabliation of Facraris/outlaws in progress.|
|18||Ending Sectarian Terrorism|| No. Year Incidents
1 2011 70
2 2012 185
3 2013 127
4 2014 176
5 2015 79
6 2016 37
7 2017 02
Visible decline in sectarian terrorism
|19||Resolving issues of Afghan Refugees||The Federal Cabinet approved the Repatriation and Management Policy
POR cards valid upto 31-12-2017, visa forms developed. Tripartite aggrement for voluntary repatriation has been extended for one more year.
The ministry of SAFRON in consultation with NADRA has finalized and Operational Plan for documentation of unregistered Afghan refugees.
Draft National Refugee Law has been developed and shared with relevant stakeholders.
|20||Revamping the Criminal Justice System||NACTA conducted Nine (9) meetings of Provincial Representatives since May, 2016 and one week workshop of the Federal Core Group in April, 2017 and developed Recommendation for Revamping of Criminal Justice system, its implementation plan, along with responsibilities, timelines and cost elements, Sector wise (Police, Prosecution, Prison, Parole & Probation and Judiciary), through consensus and in coordination with provinces, ICT, GB and AJK. These recommendations, approved by Interior Minister, have now been submitted to Prime Minister.|
By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
September 19, 2017
‘Non-proliferation will only work if all states are willing to cooperate, and that will only happen if all feel they are being treated fairly.’ John Bruton, Former EU Ambassador to the US.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is once again featuring in headlines following the detonation of its most powerful nuclear device yet, exacerbating the security concerns of its neighbours and raising the stakes for the international community and the non-proliferation regime (NPR) at large. The country’s actions have elicited a strong, almost unanimous response globally. But the fact remains that such highly irresponsible and continued provocative behaviour by Pyongyang has once again brought to light another, perhaps greater flaw: the limitation and weakness of the international non-proliferation regime, which despite claiming strong, cohesive networks and control, is failing to yield substantive results. This increasingly seems to confirm that the power of international regulatory bodies has eroded to a critical point. It also raises a question-mark over these bodies’ ability to prevent other countries from following suit, which further posits, can the international non-proliferation regime still be trusted as the legitimate guardian of nuclear material security.
This is far from the first time the legitimacy of the regime has come into the limelight; its leniency and continued practice of inconsistent policies, particularly in the context of India, has long been a large chink in its armour. In fact, ‘exceptionalism’ has become the defining characteristic of behaviour of the international community towards Indian nuclear ambitions, especially in recent years. It is a path that has been and is being created specifically, in line with the continued policy shifts of the United States in the region, and short-term economic interests of western powers, seeking to capitalize on the burgeoning Indian nuclear industrial complex. And it is a path being forged at the cost of regional stability and peace. This has also not only seriously undermined the international non-proliferation regime and the NPT framework, but also called into question the IAEA’s role as an independent, international body capable of promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, while continuing to limit the misuse of this technology for military purposes.
In order to comprehend the bigger picture, sometimes it is necessary to take a step back. The first nuclear test by India in 1974 was considered a failure of the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and necessitated the creation of the Nuclear Supplier’s Group. Thirty years on, with India remaining outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nothing appeared to have changed on the surface when the then-American President George Bush offered the country a ‘conditional’ NSG-waiver in 2008, allowing it to pursue nuclear trade and cooperation under the ‘123 Agreement’, and the Hyde Act of 2006, which was signed into law specifically to materialize a nuclear deal with India. The conditions included a requirement to separate civil-military nuclear programs completely, as well as bring all their reactors under IAEA safeguards.
However, empirical evidence indicates that India has not in fact been compliant with the ‘conditions’ of the NSG waiver – on the contrary, its nuclear force structure is proactively being enhanced. It is a known fact that at least eight of India’s nuclear reactors, as well as their Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) program remains outside any safeguards; essentially implying that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has legitimized vertical proliferation in a state outside the NPT. Furthermore, India’s scientific complexes (nuclear, missile, and space) remain poorly separated. Its nuclear programme is partially under international safeguards, but this remains limited and allows India to exercise de facto nuclear weapons state privileges in the context of the production of special fissile material.
Two recent reports from the Belfer Centre and the Alpha Project at the Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS), King’s College – respectively titled ‘India’s Nuclear Exceptionalism’ and ‘India’s Strategic Nuclear and Missile Program’ – also claim that at this point, India has already accumulated nuclear material for over 2600 nuclear weapons, including all of its unsafeguarded reactor-grade plutonium, which is weapon-usable, and raised concerns over this stockpiling. The Alpha report argues that ‘the process of Indian science developments taking the lead over policy direction is why India’s technological latency should raise concerns’. Turning a blind eye to these developments and the legitimate concerns of Pakistan vis-à-vis strategic stability in the region will only aggravate this dilemma.
The reports highlight that India’s strategic weapons complex has the potential to push its nuclear capabilities to a full spectrum of weapon systems, should there be political will. It is working on five to six ballistic-missile nuclear submarines; a force larger than either the British or French naval strategic forces; in order to fully operationalize and arm these vessels, it has also been working on the K-4 and K-15 nuclear-capable submarine-launched missiles. Given its growing missile program, and an under-developed naval submarine fleet, the project clearly indicates that India is seeking more plutonium and enriched uranium, ‘by hook or by crook’. Its efforts to join the NSG, therefore, are based primarily on a desire to secure nuclear trade for its ambitious three-stage fuel cycle. Furthermore, the supply of uranium from other countries will free up indigenous production for the expansion of their nuclear arsenal. Enhanced capabilities without restraints also create the possibility of erosion of political control of the nuclear arsenal, as well as of India’s commitment to ‘No First Use’ and to a maximum retaliation-only posture. Furthermore, there remains a risk of onward-proliferation, as military and civil scientists and engineers continue to meet discreetly in forums and conferences, which should raise concerns about cross-field blurring.
It is similarly clear that intrinsically, the geostrategic and commercial interests of the US were the motive behind the waiver. In other words, the interests of greater world were sacrificed by altering international laws, norms and values of peace for securing the national interests of the US. This phenomenon is further demonstrated via the India-US strategic partnership, and the Logistic Support Agreement (LSA), under which the sale of advanced military technologies to India thrives. These recent arms deals, which include submarine and drone sales to New Delhi, are likely to increase both Indian hostility in the region, as well the insecurity of neighbouring countries, completely upsetting the regional strategic balance. They have already dis-incentivized India from pursuing bilateral or multilateral talks for the resolution of core issues, or engaging in efforts to establish a strategic restraint regime and durable security architecture.
And yet exceptionalist behaviour towards the country continues as it is brought into the folds of the MTCR, while distinct pressure is created, once again by the US, for India’s unilateral membership of the NSG! The adverse impact of these developments on South Asia, and the threat that is posed to regional strategic stability can no longer be ignored. If the international non-proliferation regime is to retain both its legitimacy and control, it is vital that the culture of exceptionalism is discarded. It may well be time to also revisit the NSG waiver of 2008, in light of India’s vertical proliferation, continued failure to meet the conditions of the waiver, as well as the increasing threats posed by their force modernization, before considering an application to the NSG that WILL further disintegrate regional stability.
Same version of the article appeared in The Nation
By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
September 09, 2017
“Foreign policy cannot be reactional, incidental or occasional; clearly defined goals have to be followed with consistency to achieve tangible results.”
Over the past few weeks, Pakistan has once again been at the receiving end of controversial statements – from President Trump’s new South Asia and Afghanistan policy to most recently the BRICS declaration.
Each new event has been met with increasing furor and an aggressive, retaliatory response from every segment of the Pakistani society. Each event has also reinforced the perception of our increasing international isolation and the shrinking space for the Pakistani perspective in the international arena.
Much has been said, and much more is being written and debated in this context within policy and expert circles. More worryingly however, it seems that with each new problem, our responses are becoming increasingly repetitive and slightly tone-deaf. In the context of the newly announced American policy, for example, most responses have been adrenaline-fuelled and aggressively defensive, arguing that the Pakistani perspective is ‘totally ignored’ – which then must be countered by sending envoys and delegations to ‘convey’ our perception of the situation. At which point, naturally, all will return to its natural order as the offending parties will come to ‘understand’ how things really stand. Or, and this is the other popular response, a defiant thumping of the chest, standing in the shadow of our ‘big brother’, China. There is no doubt about the sincerity of China and Pakistan’s time-tested, all-weather friendship, but neither nation can unduly burden the other for the protection and promulgation of its own national interests – strong relationships require ‘balance’.
This is not to say that Trump’s speech was not as obtuse and ignorant as it was inconsistent. Pakistan is well within its rights to put forward a strong, unified response to the dangerous and inaccurate representation of the country.
But a complex problem requires a nuanced response, and therein lies the art of diplomacy. Much of what was stated by Trump has already been in practice by the US government for a while now; the mantra to ‘do more’, and a ‘conditional’ relationship, highlighted by the CSF repayments fiasco. Our government, which up until very recently was without even a Foreign Minister, appears to have been operating in a constant state of ‘denial’. What is perhaps more disturbing then is that our typical ‘fire-fighting’ response is falling on increasingly deaf ears, highlighting just how little space the country now has diplomatically to be unable to prevent such deliberately incendiary remarks, at the very least, if not actual influence on US policy in the region on legitimate concerns – such as the call for an enhanced Indian role in Afghanistan – despite our very important role in it.
The BRICS declaration was a similar example of this receding space, but an overhasty response has only added fuel to the fire. The inclusion of terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan is a blow, but given that those organisations are already proscribed within the country – indicating our own concerns on their operations and efforts to counter them – and the fact that BRICS is neither a platform for counter-terrorism nor maintaining international peace and stability, but primarily a mechanism to increase cooperation amongst its member states (which Pakistan is not), the ‘rejection’ of their declaration by Pakistan’s defense minister seems well out of place. Contrarily, the response of the Foreign Office was significantly calmer, but lost in the clamour, once again rendering the impact of Pakistan’s overall response confusing, inconsistent and unproductive.
It is sometimes said that a sign of ‘insanity’ is repeating an action over and over again, and expecting different results. Consequently, despite numerous ‘dossiers’ presented by Pakistan at various forums, with few follow-up efforts as part of a larger strategy, international perceptions have not been swayed in any significant manner. With the United States, chaos has become the defining feature of a relationship that has one character in our government’s state to state relations, and another entirely in the public eye. This duality, amongst other factors, has been responsible for the difference in public and state reactions, and widening the trust deficit between the two countries.
During a discussion at the White House in 2016, a Senior White House Aide rightly pointed out to me that Pakistan has maintained a relationship with the US administration. However, policy in the US is formulated by the Congress and legislative bodies, in which we have little to no ingress, which is exacerbating our problems today. There is no doubt that Pakistan is an indispensable nation for the long-term peace and stability of the region. But the fact that the US is choosing to take a more provocative position towards the country (if only to test the waters) while it seeks to re-entrench itself in Afghanistan is telling in itself; it is a shortcoming, if not failure, of our diplomacy.
Pakistan’s larger foreign responses and policy goals cannot be outlined or defined in a reactionary manner, on the basis of a single speech by a foreign President or some statement by a body that has little to no tangible impact on us directly. A country’s foreign policy must always reflect the national aspirations of its people; its formulation must incorporate clearly defined goals and directions, for a significant period of time, that won’t be changed willy-nilly. Only on the basis of these can national strategies be developed to achieve them. This cannot be done with a sword hanging over our heads, and without some – any – vision for the future. It is vastly important, now more than ever, not to give into reactionary instincts only to ride a wave of domestic populism.
As with any problem, the repetition and failures must first be identified. The Foreign Office must take charge, as well as responsibility for long-term engagement strategies, and monitor their effectiveness. Diplomatic missions abroad must be revitalized to actually perform their primary role, make consistent efforts towards clearly identified goals, and held accountable for failures. A target and task-oriented approach should be taken, with mechanisms for transparency and accountability for all sectors involved in the management of the relations.
Engagements with foreign parliaments and policy making bodies must be regular and continuous. Ideally, all international obligations, treaties and agreements should be brought before the Parliament for ratification, as is widely practiced globally. But until then, at the very least, law-makers should be thoroughly briefed about Pakistan’s current agreements and responsibilities, so that they are fully updated on ground realities and the country’s position on sensitive issues before engaging with their foreign counterparts or accidentally issuing tone-deaf statements in the media. Similarly, strengthening Parliamentary relations with foreign legislators, at large, and the US Congress and Senate in particular, is a crucial need of time, but one that must extend beyond the current crisis. Parliamentary exchanges can help in enhancing understanding and bridging trust gaps better than any other long-term strategy. Pakistan must also reconnect with its diaspora, engaging with them via permanent mechanisms to strengthen our lobbying abilities.
In the face of recent crises, we must take a proactive approach if Pakistan is to revive its international standing and prestige. A strong but mature response will resonate well, in Washington as well as the world, better than an angry outburst reflecting in short-sighted short-term policies which will cause more harm than benefit in the long run. Every country must put its own interests first, and the onus lies upon Pakistan to retake the charge of its destiny back into its own hands, and finally achieve the potential we have always known we hold, not just for today but for the nation’s tomorrow.
Same version of the article appeared in The Nation
The Indian Ocean covers an area of 73,556,000 square kilometers, and is the third largest ocean in the world. It is rimmed by three continents, Africa, Asia and Australia, thereby connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, where the global economic and political powerhouses lie. This renders it a highly significant geostrategic location.
The Indian Ocean is also significant for its bounty of natural resources. It is home to 65 % of the world’s oil, 35 % of its natural gas, as well as sources of numerous other manufactured goods and raw materials located in the littoral states. A number of important trade routes and choke points across its waters add to its significance in terms of global security and economy.
Within the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea has a central position, straddling the routes for all important energy supplies. It also provides access to the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz to the West, and the approach to the Bay of Bengal and Malacca Strait to the east. In addition to the teeming energy supplies, global trade of other commodities and raw materials also passes through the Arabian Sea. Moreover, it provides the shortest access to the sea for landlocked Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics, and China’s western regions. Its importance has increased manifold with the launch of the CPEC project to facilitate Chinese exports and energy imports through Pakistani ports, especially that of Gwadar.
Islamabad, May 06th, 2017: President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) has congratulated the nation on the successful test of short range Nasr missile. She applauded the country’s engineers, scientists and custodians of strategic force of Pakistan who have been contributing in bolstering the defence of the country. She said they are the real heroes and their efforts are laudable.
Senator Kamran has said that newly upgraded version of Nasr Missile, tested by Pakistan on May 5th, whose range has been extended up to 70 kilometers, has augmented the deterrence stability in the region. She said that the short range missile Nasr is an effective delivery system, which has the ability to carry tactical nuclear weapons, to deter any possible tactical military maneuver of India against Pakistan.
Senator Sehar Kamran said Pakistan was compelled to take such defensive and deterrent measures to retain regional stability in response to India’s use of destabilizing war machinery in the region. She said Indian provocations like the development of ballistic missile defence system which gives a false perception of first attack along with its aggressive limited war design of Cold Start Doctrine are a danger for the regional stability which can escalate limited war into a full scale war. She opined that the Indian aggressive posture especially witnessed in recent times is alarming and the world should take notice of such nefarious designs by New Delhi. Keeping in view the regional evolving threat perception, Pakistan should take all steps required to ensure its security, stability and peace, she said.
3rd July, 2017, Novosibirsk: At the invitation of the Governor of Novosibirsk and the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) participated in and addressed the First two day International Women’s Congress of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS Member States titled “The Role of Women in The Modern Society: Cooperation In The Political, Economic, Scientific, Educational and Cultural Spheres” held in the Novosibirsk Region, Russia. She addressed the Congress on the topic of “Regionalism and a Common Destiny: Role of Women in Peace, Prosperity and Stability”.
During her remarks, Senator Sehar Kamran emphasized on the importance of the SCO and stated the unique regional bloc offers alternate mechanisms for cooperation and has the potential to bring this resource-rich area together like never before. She said SCO is the only bloc which counts amongst its members, four nuclear powers located in the same region. She stated that geographically, its member states span across about 70% of Eurasia, host 43% of the global population which shares about 24% of the global GDP.
Senator Kamran said for Pakistan, entry into the SCO is an auspicious moment and the fruit of a labor of efforts spanning a decade. She said amongst the many positives that Pakistan brings to SCO, the foremost is connectivity; as the country lies at the tri‐junction of South Asia, West Asia, and Central Asia, and will act as the ‘zipper’ bringing the region together, both physically and economically.
On the vital role of women in establishing peace, prosperity and stability in Pakistan, Senator Sehar Kamran paid tribute to the mother of the nation – Fatima Jinnah and shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She said Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto– the first ever – twice elected – female prime minister of Pakistan and my leader and mentor fought against one of the most brutal dictators in the history of Pakistan. She led a great campaign in which she was joined by millions calling for the restoration of democracy and a return to democratic norms at a time when criticism against the sitting regime was met with public flagging but she galvanized her followers’ hearts and souls, challenged extremism and terrorism by promoting strategies for peace, and emerged victorious, she added.
Senator Sehar Kamran said that she has always believed that women can play a frontline role in the pursuit of peace, prosperity and stability and by working together, the women of SCO and BRICS can contribute enormously in improving the lives of women in the region as well as the world at large. She said better representation in decision-making processes, especially in institutions like Parliamentary Assemblies and other such legislative bodies such as National Parliaments are vital symbols of, and provide critical forums for, leadership and safeguarding of the rule of law and human rights. She stated that these legislative roles provide women parliamentarians with an important platform to influence social change and contribute to peace, security and development
Senator Sehar Kamran availed the platform of the First Women’s Congress and suggested putting together a similar forum titled “Women for Peace”, with members from amongst the most eminent women of this region who have played a significant role in promoting peace and prosperity in the region, and can tackle our differences from a different and perhaps a more effective perspective.
In conclusion, Senator Kamran said she truly believes that SCO provides a wonderful platform and if we work collectively we can achieve our common destiny. She said the success of this regional organization lies in the unity and cooperation of its member states, and economic prosperity lies at the heart of regional connectivity. Initiatives like the New Silk Road and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor are a move towards this, and are expected to open a plethora of opportunities for economic development and greater interconnectivity. Let us ensure that tolerance and peace remain the foundation-stones upon which our common destinies will be built by all SCO members, she added.
This two day Congress will become an important regional contribution to the strengthening of the international movement in support of women’s rights and the development of values supported by the 23d special session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to the role of women in the world development in the 21st century.
Honorable Governor of Novosibirsk Region, Mr Vladimir Gorodetsky, Her Excellency, Madam Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, Chairperson of the Council of Federation, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Zhao Hongju, Deputy DG, Liaison Department of All-China Women’s Federation and Nomasonto Maria Sikandar-Thusi, Ambassador of South Africa to Russia were among the participants of the International Women’s Congress.
Islamabad, June 2017: A two member delegation from the President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) held a four-day successful visit to the Republic of Korea. The delegation was headed by President CPGS, Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) and included Ms. Sundus Ahmad, Editor, Senior Associate at CPGS.
The visit was held at the invitation of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Aﬀairs, Republic of Korea, as part of their “Eminent Persons Program”.
The visit was an opportunity to represent Pakistan in a sphere where there has been limited interaction in the past, in an attempt to foster closer ties between the two countries, share perspectives and concerns on matters of national security and economic development, and address the apprehensions of policy formulators and decision makers on both sides.During the course of the visit the delegation held several meetings with the Parliamentarians from the Defence Committee, the Pakistan-Korea Friendship Group, Foreign Aﬀairs &
Uniﬁcation Committee, as well as senior oﬃcials from MoFA RoK, including the DG Korean Peninsula Peace Regime, the deputy DG South Asian and Paciﬁc Aﬀairs Bureau, and the former RoK Ambassador to Pakistan.Meeting at the Sejong Institute with Dr. Sang-Hyun Lee,Vice President Research Planning & President Korean Nuclear Policy Society.
There was also a visit to and a meeting with the President Korean Nuclear Policy Society/Vice resident Research Planning at the Sejong Institute in Seongnam, and a visit to the headquarters and brieﬁng at the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company Ltd.
The trip also included a visit to the city of Gyeoungju, and a visit to the DMZ.During candid deliberations with the officials of the Republic of Korea, Senator Kamran conveyed the deep regard Pakistan has for the RoK and the Korean people
in addition to highlighting the strengths and the untapped potential of the relationship between the two countries.
Visiting Korean Parliament, National Assembly Hall, RoKThe discussions revolved around strengthening Pakistan-RoK relations in the political, economic, strategic, diplomatic and cultural domain.
During different meetings it was accepted by both sides that existing gaps in the relations of the two countries must be filled by continuous collaboration and candid exchange of views for a comprehensive understanding of each other’s perspectives.
Senator Kamran welcomed a similar visit by the Korean Parliamentarians to Islamabad for strengthening of relations between the two countries in the near future.
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