Following the United States and NATO’s invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 attacks in 2001, Pakistan became the frontline state as non-NATO ally of the US in the war on terror. Islamabad provided the required logistic support to the US/NATO mission in Afghanistan besides deploying security forces on the Durand Line to seal the border. After 18 years of this relentless war, attempts are now underway to get rid of this war and create an environment for durable peace in Afghanistan. The peace talks entail all stakeholders including the US, Taliban, and the Afghan government. The incumbent US administration led by President Trump has time and again criticized the unnecessarily protracted nature of this war, which has resulted in huge economic losses to the US tax payers. In the 2016 election manifesto for his Presidential run, he promised to end this war and bring the US troops home. Since then, several unsuccessful attempts have been made to engage all stakeholders in a dialogue process. The US appointed Former Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as its special envoy to Afghanistan to fast track the dialogue process. Now, as the 2020 Presidential Electionscome close, the US troop’s proposed withdrawal from Afghanistan might be consequential for President Trump to win the second term in office.
The war in Afghanistan has resulted in a humongous economic and physical cost to the US. In the last 18 years, the US has suffered approximately 2,4001 military casualties in Afghanistan, and the financial cost has been around $975 billion.2 The US military engagement in Afghanistan appears closer to ending as the US officials negotiate directly with Taliban representatives on major issues like the withdrawal of US troops, and preventing Afghanistan from being used by terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Despite exclusion of the Afghan government from the talks, the US’ official claims regarding the progress made received setbacks when Afghanistan witnessed Taliban attacks that claimed several lives including a US soldier. Consequently, just before the Afghan presidential elections, President Trump announced withdrawal from the talks amid apprehensions that Taliban might not respect the peace agreement in future.
The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies Islamabad (CPGS) organized a Round Table Conference at Islamabad on 09th August 2019, in the wake of the Indian constitutional abrogation and military aggression in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
5th August 2019, India’s ruling right wing nationalist, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP),launched a calculated assault on the special constitutional status of Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, bifurcated the State into two ‘Union Territories: first Jammu -Kashmir with a legislature, and second a separate Ladakh but without a legislature.
India undertook the move unilaterally through a Presidential order, bypassing stipulated constitutional procedures. It is aimed at effectively stripping the Kashmiri people of their identity and bringing an end to the legal status of J&K as registered in the UN documentation.
The Hindu hardliner BJP’s intention to revoke Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was enshrined in its election manifesto back in 2014. The initial plan was famously referred to as ‘Mission 44’. The only difference was that previously New Delhi was trying to achieve this controversial act through constitutional means. However, it failed owing to BJP and its ally’s failure to secure 44 out of 87 seats in J&K Legislature, and the subsequent Kashmiri uprising post Burhan Wani’s martyrdom in 2016.
It is no secret that the main intention behind this Indian move is to suppress the Kashmir dispute in the international arena, by changing the demographics within the Kashmir valley, along the lines of what Israel has done in the West Bank, with the Palestinians. Over time, the aim is to convert the Muslim majority into minority. According to Dawn newspaper, the total population of the IOK is 12.5 million with 68 percent Muslims, 28 percent Hindus and less than one percent Buddhists. Whereas, within the state, Muslims make up the majority in Kashmir with 94 percent of population, and in Jammu Hindus have majority with around 63 percent population and Muslims being 33 percent.
Article 370 allowed limited control to the Indian Central Government in Kashmir, but now it can exercise and control all the state affairs, redraw electoral constituencies, and shift the power center to the Hindu-majority area of Jammu. However, the Indian designs will have devastating consequences in the state and further impair the fragile strategic balance of the region.
A stakeholder based analysis of Indian Ocean Region (IOR) will provide us with insight, critical for future political realignments. States in current dynamic political structures need to work on governance mechanisms to protect their national interests while extending cooperation to other states for peace and regional security. One can press on the need for development of a new maritime security governance framework to address the challenges threatening the regional security architecture. The use of maritime space for a common purpose creates room for shared objectives. Other than this, the stakeholders maneuvering in the IOR are subject to common risks and vulnerabilities. Sharing of common objectives and collectively facing challenges set the stage for effective risk treatment and vulnerability reduction efforts.
Maritime security is, therefore, a matter of vital importance for the national interests of states, as access to resources and their secure transportation are the drivers behind national growth and development. Against the back drop of maritime significance, states are taking initiatives to secure specific routes, ports and choke points. Despite this understanding, the existing security architecture is least effective in the region. The ineffectiveness of security architecture in the IOR can be traced to regional diversity along with chauvinistic self-interest. These are two primary hurdles that thwart the formation of an effective governance framework.
This policy brief lays out the rational need for regional powers to frame an action plan for preserving the maritime potential, not purely from a strategic perspective but also from multilateral perspectives of social, political, economic, human development and safety significance. The need of the time is to identify inter-linkages between direct and indirect security threats to determine the possibilities for a new model of governance along with identification of inter-state obligations.
Pakistan’s strategic importance in the maritime domain has been at the center of debate, particularly with the on-going development of the “Port of Gwadar” and how it may lead to a new economic architecture in the region and globally. However, the broader significance of the IOR lies in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) initiative taken by China that includes Port of Gwadar under China Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC), aiming to strengthen regional connectivity.
The purpose of this study is to examine the need to strengthen maritime security governance, particularly in reference to Port of Gwadar and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.2 The rising significance of the IOR is central to the discussion on maritime security. The maritime involvement of different states in the IOR and the change in their strategic approach calls for strategic management of maritime potential as well as improvisation of the power kinetics through effective legal and governance framework and collaboration.
By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
May 03, 2019
“If we want to rise as a nation we need to value human development indicators and formulate policies that ensure sustainable growth and development of the country. Investing in target oriented policies from a future perspective is a trump card to save the future generation from vices of poverty and terrorism.”
Population growth is at the heart of all global problems and is a matter of grave concern to control before the world run out of space and resources. As believed by Malthus, “population control is necessary for humanity in order to overtake the world’s carrying capacity.” The current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a new United Nations report. This calls for addressing population challenge in a broader framework. The developed world has made some remarkable progress in controlling their population growth; however some countries in the developing part of the world are struggling to infuse the rational of family planning.
Unchecked population growth and lack of an effective policy framework are among the serious challenges faced by Pakistan. The phenomena of population growth inadvertently effects states’ plan to strike self-sufficiency in different human development indicators. Not surprisingly, Pakistan is ranked 150th in the Human Development Index (HDI) with close to 29.5 percent of the population living below the poverty line. As rightly identified, “one of the biggest worries of Pakistan’s young population is not terrorism but ‘insecurity of jobs, justice and economic inflation.” With thousands of new-borns added to the population each day, even this ranking on the development index would be hard to sustain. To pursue on the path of sustainable development, Pakistan as a state needs to revisit its approach towards population control. Population Planning has to be treated as a priority because of two main reasons i.e. correlation between population growth and resource management and secondly, for maximizing the outcome of development efforts.
The struggling economy as that of Pakistan with poor health and development indicators is lagging behind in addressing the needs of its population and provision of better facilities and opportunities. The main reason behind this poor functioning can be attributed to weak governance strategies and certain cultural and religious restraints. Pakistan at the moment is struggling with the placement of its surplus and unemployed manpower for whom basic human and fundamental rights are no more than luxuries. This mismanagement of manpower is making the situation more alarming as such segment of the society is more susceptible to criminal activities and exposure to extremist ideologies. To counter these worsening outcomes and to steer the population to a sustainable future is a foremost duty of the state as well as a shared responsibility that can only be addressed by keeping all relevant stakeholders on the board.
The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (UN 1994) implied that policies and programmes should not focus only on population numbers and growth rates. It argued instead for an integrated approach linking population action to development, including human development, women’s empowerment, gender equality and the needs of young people. It was the sixth five year developmental plan of Pakistan that demonstrated the interaction of fertility management with other development programs. The plan illustrates that population welfare and planning is a national responsibility.
An overview of the five year developmental plans of Pakistan will give us an insight into the steps already taken and the causes of their failure. It is of no doubt that population planning has remained part and parcel of each developmental plan; however its weak implementation in the absence of proper plan of action has remained an issue at large. Keeping in view the basic hurdles in the implementation of population control measures, a target oriented approach is the need of the time to address the specific nature of hurdles both in a rational and culturally acceptable manner. Other than this collaborative approach of governance between the state, society, community building institutions and inclusion of new and modern techniques and tools of population control can aid countries struggling with the challenge of population growth.
A mix of ethics, cultural and religious values and practices is making the scenario complicated. Such societal complications disrupt the provision of sexual and reproductive education and services. Family planning has served as a traditional and cost-effective model but in case of Pakistan it has not been strengthened over the period of time. This policy implementation gap is further pushing Pakistan in the midst of crisis on other fronts as well. Government goals for family planning shall also be defined in terms of unmet needs for information and services. To create a broader understanding in the domain of family planning and population growth there is a need to develop population control narrative from a multiple lens. This narrative can then be infused in the society through social, political, legal and economic incentives and interventions.
Keeping in view the socio-cultural settings of Pakistan a community based approach would be more effective to bridge the gap of understanding between rural and urban areas. The second most important social measure is to educate the girls and ensure gender equality. As said, “If you educate a girl, you educate a whole nation.” The education will enable the girls to determine their rights and use their freedom in family planning. Thirdly, Public awareness programs, seminars at the educational platform with equal representation from the religious scholars would serve as a most effective tool in promoting a population control narrative. The ‘Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’ (PEMRA) can play a central role in the diffusion of knowledge, awareness regarding the effective use of contraceptives and run programs that promote the population growth narrative. Monetary and health and educational incentives can complement the family planning and population control program.
There is now global recognition that the effectiveness of programmes promoting reproductive health and rights depends critically on broader health system issues which affect both the demand for and the supply of health services. Public-Private partnerships can also play a dominant role in collectively addressing the challenge of population explosion. It is a growing belief that partnership between public and private sectors can lead to increased efficiency, equality, accountability, quality, and accessibility in the health system. Monetary and health incentives can complement the family planning and population control program. National action plan on population control is required to be introduced in order to train our human resource and match skills to the available opportunities.
It is imperative for Pakistani legislatures to take a leadership role in complementing and reinforcing the above mentioned recommendations. For example the Government of Pakistan can take an initiative in introducing a legislation on the size of the family, just like what is happening in other highly populous Asian countries such as China and India. Legislations based on rights based population policies and restriction on child marriages can add to the practicality of the efforts made.
To address population challenge in Pakistan, the government of Pakistan must strive to put in order a regulatory framework of policies that address the determinants of the population control and family planning accordingly. The population control tools that can prove to be effective are termed as education for all, ensuring gender equality through proper legislation, increased awareness and modernization of technical and delivery services. Other than addressing the challenge of population control, Pakistan as a state has to keep in mind its international obligations as well i.e. the fulfillment of the criteria stipulated in the sustainable development goals (SDG). Measures taken to control population will help Pakistan climb up the ladder in the status of SDGs.
To pursue on the path of sustainable development, Pakistan as a state needs to revisit its approach towards population control.
Same version of the article appeared in The Nation
Same version of the article appeared in Seharkamran.com
Afghanistan is global hub of narcotics production and smuggling. It is the main source of opium, morphine and heroin, among other cannabis-type and amphetamine-type stimulants. Since the Soviet invasion in 1979, the country has attained a notoriety for being one of the largest producers of the illicit opium poppy. The level of its production and smuggling reached new heights in the 1990s. The production got reduced significantly for a short period of time during the Taliban rule, but again its cultivation started increasing after the 2001 invasion of the US/NATO troops on Afghanistan. According to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime’s annual opium survey, in 2017, opium production in Afghanistan reached a record high. After years of US military strikes, global efforts by the UN along with US and its allies, as well as spending of more than $8.7 billion dollars to counter the country’s illicit narcotics economy, Afghanistan still remains the world’s largest opium producer.1 As a result in February 2019, the US ended its anti-narcotics campaign in the country, without achieving any substantial results or dismantling the production and trafficking network, which, despite the campaign has spread to more areas.
For the first time since the invasion of Afghanistan, the US has recognized that only a durable peace process can ensure peace and stability in the war-torn country. Previously, the US relied on a military solution, but the US President Trump’s desire to exit the 18 years long war has opened a new avenue of diplomacy, by conducting negotiations with the Taliban leadership. The security situation in Afghanistan has considerably worsened, in the last couple of years;, the uncertainty and instability in Afghanistan has had negative implications on the region. All the stakeholders to the conflict, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran, and even the US agree that the cycle of violence must be broken, and the Afghan conflict must be brought to an end.
The appointment of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, and the consequent rounds of peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban leadership haves given hope to the world. However, there are several hurdles impeding the success of this peace process, mainly political. It is imperative that a meaningful peace process may be undertaken to establish long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies and National Institute of Maritime Affairs sign a Memorandum of Understanding at Bahria University, Islamabad on 13th June 2019. The memorandum was signed by Vice Admiral (R) Syed Khawar Ali Shah HI (M) on behalf of NIMA and Ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam member advisory board. The signing ceremony was graced by Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) President of CPGS. Both the think tanks, realizing the need of in depth research on the potential of oceans in the global geo-strategic and economic dynamics and to face the challenges arising from the power kinetics in the oceans, have decided to share their intellectual endeavors. The MoU is a timely step in the right direction for realization of responsibility on part of the both institutions to enhance strategic awareness as well as render policy recommendations to the concerned quarters on matters of national concern.
Send this to a friend