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Archive for category NAYA PAKISTAN

Challenges faced by the Imran Khan in Pakistan By Asif Haroon Raja

Challenges faced by the Imran Khan Govt in Pakistan

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imran Khan (IK) has assumed charge of the government at a time when Pakistan is in a dire economic strait and the disenfranchised people socially traumatized. It is politically polarized, economically weak and is carrying a huge burden of foreign debt and circular debt. Foreign exchange reserves have dipped to about $10 billion while fiscal deficit and current account deficit have ballooned.

Pakistan is faced with a looming water crisis and has still not overcome the menace of terrorism. Regionalism has gained strength as can be seen from the emergence of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement in FATA/Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), simmering in Gilgit-Baltistan and in AJK, and foreign abetted terrorism in Baluchistan.

IK has promised a lot and is expected to show results in next 100 days. He is determined to bring back the $ 200 billion looted wealth from abroad, end culture of corruption and pomposity, introduce simplicity and austerity, carryout across the board accountability, restore merit, provide jobs to ten million people, and 50 lacs houses to the poor, provide clean drinking water, make the country green by planting trees, carryout electoral, bureaucratic, judicial, education, health and police reforms, build Diamer Bhasha dam, implement 20-point National Action Plan. He intends to convert PM House and Governor Houses into public places and has taken a lead by shifting to the 3-bed house of military secretary, has cut down servants from 520 to two and fleet of cars to two. On the occasion of oath taking ceremony, only tea and biscuits were served. 

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At the outset, he has made mistakes which are censured by his critics. In his bid to complete the number game in the Centre and in Punjab, he had to induct independents and members from PML-Q and MQM whom he had severely disparaged and vowed that he will never take them on board. In his 21-member cabinet, 18 are from other parties and only three from PTI. The most censured act is the selection of chief minister Punjab about which apart from PTI, all are of the view that it is not a wise choice. Handing over the portfolio of the defence minister to former CM KP Pervez Khattak is viewed as a poor choice. Placing of jailed three-time PM Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam on exit control list, while ignoring absconder Gen Musharraf living in self-imposed exile and wanted by the trial court is also not well received.           

The country is faced with major challenges on the foreign policy front. Pakistan’s foreign policy is often visualized through the prism of the country’s unpredictable relations with Afghanistan, the eternal rivalry and perpetual tension on the Line of Control (LoC) with its much bigger neighbour India and the love-hate relationship with the United States. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Middle East also figure out notably in the foreign policy framework. The US, western world, Israel and Afghanistan are heavily tilted towards India and have formed a strategic nexus. China and Turkey are the only two countries upon which Pakistan can depend upon but both are faced with US sanctions. 

While IK did not explain his government foreign policy in his inaugural address to the nation on August 18, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s news conference soon after taking charge of the office in Islamabad on August 20 quietened the critics. Besides passing on a message of peace to the governments and people of Afghanistan and India, Qureshi also tried to dispel the general impression that the security establishment is the real formulator of Pakistan’s foreign policy. He made it clear that the foreign policy will be made at the Foreign Office of Pakistan.

Strained relations with the USA

Relationship with the US is at the lowest ebb. Insecurity in Afghanistan has been one of the major reasons for the ups and downs in relations between the two countries. After spending billions of dollars and sacrificing the lives of more than 2,300 American men and women over the past 17 years, the US wants to terminate the war and exit with honour.

Miffed by the defiance of Pakistan, the US is prompting Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to blacklist Pakistan if it refuses to mend its ways. The FATF, the global financial watchdog, has placed Pakistan on the greylist at a time when the country needs an immediate bailout package of $12 billion. To this end, a meeting has already taken place a few days ago and the next meeting is scheduled for October. The US has already frozen aid to Pakistan for the country’s alleged failure to take serious steps in fighting terrorism and extremism.

Since Trump’s security speech on Afghanistan on August 22, 2017, the US has been distancing itself from Pakistan and is now at the verge of cutting off relations and imposing sanctions. After several punitive steps, the Trump administration has now instructed the IMF to give a loan to Pakistan only if it receives an assurance that the money will neither be used to repay the loans to China nor for the development of CPEC. It has made it clear that help will be rendered if IK becomes compliant to a degree of undercutting his domestic credibility and dipping Pakistan’s relations with China. CPEC has become a bigger threat than the nuclear program for the USA since it breaks the strategic encirclement and containment of China and also poses a threat to the US hegemony in Asia.

 

The Trump administration, in its latest attempt to put pressure on Pakistan, has started to close various training programs for Pakistani military officials. Trump’s decision to shut down military training programs that have kept the two countries’ security institutions engaged means that Washington’s influence will further reduce over the country, particularly when it comes to the question of engaging with the national security establishment in Pakistan.

The US stands to lose more by withdrawing the training than just the prospects of future relations with the Pakistan military. They have only two plausible access routes to Central Asia. One passes through Iran and the other via Pakistan. Having already severed relations with Iran, it makes no sense to push Pakistan into a corner at the same time as well. The US has all along been giving a raw deal to Pakistan. Drone attacks, raids on military posts, refusal to reimburse costs of logistics supplies, cessation of military aid, do more mantra etc. are the rewards doled out for the huge sacrifices rendered.

Presumably, Washington takes it for granted that Pakistan’s dependence on the US for spare parts and stores for her existing military equipment is such that it over-rides all other considerations. 

The US changed stance towards Pakistan and its heavy tilt towards India will certainly become a factor that will further drive away Pakistan’s national security apparatus when it comes to developing strategic ties with other states that are willing to fill the void being left by the US.

The possibility that Washington may resuscitate the military training program for Islamabad in the near future cannot be ruled out. Pakistan cannot afford to wait for any such development to take place. Pakistan is bound to feel alarmed and threatened enough to consider instituting suitable measures to protect her security that may not suit the US in the future. Pakistan has already signed a military training agreement with Russia and the first group of Pakistani military officers is expected to arrive in Russia soon. According to the agreement, the Pakistani military officials will receive training in Russia’s military institutes.

The decision is likely to further isolate Washington’s remaining pockets of influence in Pakistan. Pakistan’s national security establishment, which prefers to maintain a working relationship with the US, particularly in the area of security cooperation, is not going to appreciate a decision that directly targets its institutional professional development and outreach. It will only leave Washington more secluded when it comes to developing a direct connection with Pakistan’s security institutions.

Furthermore, an effort to segregate Pakistan militarily at a time when the US is trying to directly engage the Afghan Taliban doesn’t bode well for any effort to revive the Afghan peace process. Pakistan has big stakes in the Afghan peace process and an eventual settlement will have to incorporate Pakistan’s concerns. In that context, the ongoing targeting of the country’s security apparatus would simply create more distrust among both countries’ national security institutions, which are directly engaged in Afghanistan.

Pak Army’s resolute stance against Indian aggressive posturing and on Kashmir issue and its insistence to reduce Indian influence in Afghanistan irrespective of what the puppet Afghan regime in Kabul may want are not to the liking of Washington. To keep Pakistan under pressure, the US-Afghan-India troika keeps hurling unsubstantiated allegations of providing safe havens to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network. Imran is also accused of having a soft corner towards the Taliban.

 

The military leadership has concluded that the US is not a reliable bilateral and regional partner. GHQ has decided to abstain from doing more at the cost of harming Pakistan’s national interests. This change in posture has angered the US. The US policymakers are feeling upset that Imran Khan will “lubricate the military agenda”, since he is viewed as a pawn of the military, likely to pursue GHQ dictated national security policy.

 

India’s persistent animosity

The archrival India which has still not reconciled with the existence of Pakistan even after breaking it into two has doubled efforts to strategically encircle and further isolate Pakistan on the international level in her bid to create conducive conditions for another adventure to further splinter Pakistan.  

India blamed Pakistan for all the terrorist attacks in India and in IOK and for keeping the LoC hot. Ignoring the hard reality that IOK is in illegal occupation of India since October 1947, and that unresolved Kashmir issue is the chief bone of contention which led to three major wars and several conflicts between the two arch-rivals, India has created a false narrative that Pak Army stands in the way of good relations with India.

 

This fake narrative is far from the truth. The reality is that India is a hopelessly diverse and divided country. It will not be wrong to say that it is an ethnic museum and Indian union is farcical and artificial as is evident from dozens of separatist movements and insurgencies in all parts of India. India needs an external enemy to keep the attention of her people away from the internal woes. Pakistan fits the bill perfectly for this purpose. In its absence, India will fall apart sooner than later. They know it, which makes close relations between the two countries wishful thinking at best.

 

Yet another notion in play is that if Pakistan accepts LoC as the permanent border and resolves the Kashmir dispute, it will end the age-old antagonism and usher in an era of peace and friendship. This idea died its death in the aftermath of 9/11 when India started to meddle in FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi and threatened to break Pakistan into four pieces and also resorted to water terrorism to make Pakistan’s arid lands barren. India has deployed over seven lacs troops in IOK to suppress the freedom movement and to deny the Kashmiris their right of self-determination in accordance with the UN Resolutions.    

 

Afghanistan’s unwanted resentment

Afghanistan under a string-puppet regime continues to act as a base of operation for anti-Pakistan agencies involved in cross-border terrorism to destabilize Pakistan. Relations with Afghanistan are once again returning to the usual blame-game phase following the Taliban’s unsuccessful attempt to besiege Ghazni City, capital of Ghazni province, located 120 kilometres south of Kabul. Visiting the city of Ghazni days after the Taliban attack was repulsed by the Afghan security forces, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the attackers came from Pakistan and many of those injured in fighting are now being treated in hospitals across the border. Pakistan refuted the charges by saying that many Afghans visit Pakistani hospitals for treatment on daily basis. It is still ready to play its role in establishing peace in Afghanistan.

The Taliban that are on the offensive and have gained influence over 65% of Afghan territory and are now attacking cities, refuse to have parleys with the unity govt. They have held direct talks with the USA at Doha and will soon be holding a second round of talks. Their stance of withdrawal of occupying troops remains unchanged. 

Since victory against the Taliban is now almost out of the question, and for all practical purposes the US has lost the war, the need for a negotiated settlement is felt more than ever before. Pakistan’s role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table is considered pivotal both by Washington and Kabul.

Iran’s unfounded reservations

Iran has its own reservations and off and on heats up the southern border. It has serious objections over the appointment of Gen Raheel Sharif as the head of 41-Muslim States military alliance. It is more close to India than to Pakistan and is in a way helping India in her encirclement plan by letting India develop Chahbahar seaport and connecting it with road/rail network in Afghanistan to provide trade routes to Central Asia and to undermine Gwadar Port.

Mellowed relations with the GCC States

Pakistan’s relations with the Saudi led the GCC States are not as warm as they used to. Coolness occurred when Pakistan crassly refused to come to the rescue of Saudi Arabia faced with Yemen crisis in 2016. Since then, Saudi Arabia and UAE have veered towards India. However, a change is seen in their attitude after the takeover by the new regime in Islamabad. Riyadh has promised to extend financial assistance and oil on deferred payment.   

Pak-China ever-growing relations

China is the only country which has never let down Pakistan and irrespective of changing leadership, their relations have progressed leaps and bounds. CPEC is a glue which has bonded the two together.

 

Pakistan’s nuclear program an eyesore

 

With regard to Pakistan’s nuclear status, it is unacceptable to both, the US and India as well as to Israel. They feel that the Pakistan Army stands in the way of her nuclear disarmament. Realistically, this US objective is not going to change and will always remain at the base of her policy towards Pakistan. All the allegations related to terrorism, Afghanistan, etc. are mere excuses and ruses to keep Pakistan under pressure.

 

It will be juvenile to think that all will be well if Pakistan were to give up her nuclear weapons. A capability once acquired can always be recreated. The next step will be to reduce her to a state that makes this impossible. In a sense, Pakistan is riding a tiger and she cannot afford to dismount. 

Reasons behind strain in Pakistan-US relations

Following are the main reasons that resulted in distancing both the countries from each other and contributed towards growing Pak-Russia relations:

  • Washington has now since long been choking the military assistance and funding to Pakistan alleging Pakistan to be harbouring terrorists and supporting non-state actors in Afghanistan.
  • As if the denial of financial aid and military hardware was not enough, US has also put a block to the International Exchange Program of Military Training with Pakistan.
  • Under the new South Asian policy, the Trump administration has given India a larger role believing it to be a more dependable and trustworthy partner to resolve the Afghan quandary, instead of Pakistan, thus further alienating Pakistan, which has rendered thousands of sacrifices for the cause.
  • The US called a special FATF session to get Pak placed in the grey list and played the main role in diverting Saudi support against Pakistan.
  • The US has been criticizing CPEC and has also gone as far as to caution IMF and Pakistan as to not allow using IMF money to pay back Chinese loans. Pakistan has still not opted for the package.
  • Though the US policymakers are mindful of the implications of isolating Pakistan and realize that a likely isolated Pakistan will fall into the lap of Russia, yet the US is continuing with its policy of pressurizing Pakistan.
  • Cessation of the military training program has caused a serious blow to the GHQ-Pentagon’s direct line of contact for the military-to-military relationship.

Pakistan-Russia improved relations

 

Security cooperation between Islamabad and Moscow has expanded over the last few years. Among other things, Washington’s heavy-handed approach toward Pakistan has been considered one of the reasons driving it away from the US.

Islamabad had sufficiently anticipated the upcoming harsh decisions by the Trump administration after the New Year Tweet alleging Pakistan of cheating, deceiving and backstabbing. As such, Pakistan started cultivating relations with Moscow which were already on an upward trend after the sale of Russian MI 35 helicopters to Pakistan in 2015/16.

Following are the reasons for ongoing warmth in Pak-Russia relations:

(1) Both the countries have sufficiently moved past cold war and Soviet- Afghanistan war legacy. Credit should be given to Pakistan’s aggressive military diplomacy with Russia over the past 3 – 4 years.

(2) Gen Qamar Bajwa’s visit to Russia was extraordinary in further fomenting the Pak-Russia relations during which Russia acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution in War on Terror and termed Pakistan as a geo-strategically important country. During the early half of this year, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister and National Security Advisor had already conducted successful visits to Russia.

(3) During his visit to Moscow, the COAS also discussed the possibility of buying air defence systems, the T-90 tanks and Russian engines for JF-17 fighters. The discussion has also been started to sign the Sukhoi-35 deal.

(4) Pakistan and Russia have now been regularly holding military exercises. The military exercise, Druzhba (Friendship-2016 and 2017), a two-week long exercise had been held twice at a time when Indo-Pak tensions were particularly high. The military drill not only strengthened Pakistan-Russia military ties but also provided a conducive environment for trust building.

(5) After the stoppage of military training exchange program with the US, Islamabad signed a similar agreement with Moscow allowing Pakistan military officials to join training in Russian institutions on a reciprocal basis.
(6) The supply of military hardware and equipment with Russia is also expected to increase in coming years.

(7) The chief of Russia’s external intelligence agency visited Pakistan to participate in a four-nation meeting, with Chinese and Iranian spymasters in attendance. The rare meeting focused on the buildup of ISIS (Khurasan) in turmoil-hit Afghanistan, which might jeopardize key interests of both countries in the region. Induction of Blackwater in Afghanistan by the USA to take over security duties will add to the worries of regional countries. 

(8) The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries has increased by 82 per cent in the first five months of 2018 and stood at $450 million.

(9) Moscow is also working to help Pakistan build a 1,100-kilometer gas pipeline linking Karachi to Lahore.

(10) There is a strong possibility of nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes.

(11). Moscow had also sent its envoy in Islamabad to meet PM-elect IK. The Russian ambassador urged him to fast-track the growing relations between the two countries while IK also expressed interest in economic cooperation and asked for Russian drilling companies to explore oil and gas in Pakistan.

(12). Being blackmailed and alienated by the US, Pakistan is also seeking Russian support for its fragile economy. The country needs IMF bailout package worth more than $ 5 billion to repay due instalments of foreign loans, however, Pakistan is trying to avoid IMF bailout.

Imran’s dilemma

Alarm bells have started to ring in the USA after IK’s election and he has spelt out his policies to convert Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state on the model of Madina and make it self-reliant. Knowing that he is a go-getter and will brook no external dictation, the US will redouble efforts to apply diplomatic and economic pressures on Pakistan as in the case of Turkey and Iran. International media will also train their guns on Imran Khan to discredit him.     

 

His dilemma is that if he disregards the US unsubstantiated allegations and terms them as a pack of lies, and at the same time establishes himself as a leader after dismantling all the internal obstacles in the way of building Naya Pakistan, the US will remain wary of him that as a national leader he will take no exterior dictation either.

 

Placing own national interest over the US strategic interests comes at a price. Turkey is faced with this reality. Nevertheless, IK will need to make it clear to all and sundry that no matter what the price, he will face down all who presume to limit his vision for Pakistan.  

 

The US Secretary of State is visiting Pakistan on September 5 to meet the newly elected PM IK. Foreign Minister Qureshi has made it clear that after listening to the concerns of the visitor, Pakistan security concerns will also be put forward and an effort made to carve out a relationship based on mutual respect and reciprocity.

 

It will be seen how dexterously IK and Qureshi will play their cards to bridge the trust deficit with USA, India and Afghanistan, reinvigorate relations with Iran and Arab States, further cement relations with China, build mutually sustaining relations with Russia, forge deeper relation with ASEAN, Central Asia, Africa and Europe, explore new markets to enhance exports, and above all, improve the image of Pakistan and restore the pride and honor of Pakistanis.  

 

The new Finance Minister Asad Umar will be under close scrutiny and judged how he will tackle the debt problem and energize the sinking economy. Speedy development of CPEC will be crucial for the revival of the economy.

 

Way Forward 

Pakistan should continue with its steady approach in stimulating its relations with Russia as it is in need of a heavyweight like Russia apart from China at the global level to counter challenges posed by the US.

As highlighted by PM IK and FM Qureshi, Pakistan should follow an engagement policy with the US to avoid further damage to the bilateral relations and ensure a balanced and mutually beneficial relationship.

The US has sufficiently denied Pakistan of the military hardware agreements, so it must try to diversify its suppliers of military needs and Russia can be a major contributor.

Pakistan must commit as well as ensure benefits of CPEC to Russia and Central Asia to gain from this major economic initiative.

Pakistan should continue to work with all regional and global partners to seek a long-lasting and peaceful resolution to Afghanistan conflict instead of being pressurized on the issue.

The US is trying to use economic tool against Pakistan like it is doing against China and Turkey to further its political goals. The world needs to see such non- constructive moves by the superpower, which are detrimental to global peace.

Pakistan-Russia are important regional partners desiring peace in Afghanistan through political moves instead of using force.

Pakistan offers the benefits of CPEC to all the regional countries including Russia and it invites open partnerships in this landmark economic initiative.

Military diplomacy guided by the landmark visit by COAS to Russia has opened new avenues of cooperation between Pakistan and Russia from which both the countries have only to gain.

Convergence of interests of Pakistan and Russia in the military domain will help both the countries to work for peace in the region. The ultimate aim of Pakistan leadership is to have a peaceful and prosperous South Asia.

Afghanistan peace is a joint desire of all regional countries and Pakistan-Russia partnership in Afghanistan is likely to bring a lasting end to the Afghan conflict.

Stronger Pak-Russia ties are the need of the hour for a peaceful South Asia.

 

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defence and security analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member Council PESS and TJP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

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Pakistan Day 23 March, 2017

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Pakistan Day

23 March 2017

Mubarak to Global Pakistanis:

Under Protection of الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ:

Be Warned All Enemies

No Earthly Power Can Harm it

Pakistan Day Demands National Unity

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

Although the Pakistan day is being celebrated every year on March 23, yet this time, this very day has come at a time when Pakistan stands at the crossroads of its destiny, facing internal and external challenges and threats to the national security of the country, which demands selfless national unity among all the segments of society.

 

The 23rd of March 1940 was a watershed in the history of the Sub Continent when All India Muslim League passed the Resolution in Lahore for the creation of an independent state. Now, it is popularly called as Pakistan Resolution. Earlier, in his address to the Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930, the idea of a homeland for Muslims in their majority areas had been envisioned by the poet Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal and had become the aspiration of Indian Muslims.

 

In fact, the British colonialists in connivance with majority Hindu population had manipulated and targeted Muslims through every possible way. In that background, Muslims started the struggle for a separate state.

 

Prior to the Lahore session of Muslim League, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had specified to this historical congregation of the Muslims, the watch-words of ‘Faith, Unity and Discipline’ which were not only necessary for waging the battle for an independent homeland, but also for present Pakistan. So, while struggling against the enemies, the essence of these watch-words is the unity which is the real spirit of the Pakistan Resolution.

 

However, it was due to the selfless practical unity among the Muslims under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam that Pakistan became a tangible reality. But that unity started declining after passing through various crises, and the result was the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, as the India manipulated differences between East Pakistan and the West Pakistan.

 

However, the 23rd March which is celebrating by every Pakistani as the Pakistan Day, has come at a time when Pakistan is facing multiple threats of grave nature, which are not only worrying all the citizens but are also creating division between the rulers and the opposition parties including rival politicians, taking the country towards anarchy.

 

The Pakistan Day has come at a time when Pakistan’s security forces have been facing a different war, while the enemy is also different, which employs subversive activities of various kinds which also include internal and external challenges. In these terms, Pakistan is in the state of new war, being waged by the Armed Forces and intelligence agencies against terrorists. In this respect, our Armed Forces have almost obtained their objectives in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) through military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists who had challenged the writ of the state and had frightened the entire nation by their terror acts. In Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and other parts of the country including tribal areas our security forces and law-enforcing agencies have broken the terror networks and restored peace by eliminating and capturing terrorists. Unlike the past, peace has, especially, been restored in Balochistan and Karachi.

Besides, Pakistan launched a nationwide military operation codenamed Radd-ul-Fasaad earlier this year, which includes broad-spectrum security and counter-terrorism operations in Punjab and other cities of the country, while continuing the ongoing operations. The move came after a series of deadly bombings across the country all through February, which killed hundreds of civilians.

 

According to various news releases of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistan’s security and law enforcement agencies have killed and arrested more than 600 suspects, terrorists and their facilitators, including capture of huge cache of arms and ammunition in a crackdown across the country, especially Punjab as part of the ongoing Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. The ISPR disclosed that some suspected terrorists were killed during an exchange of fire with security personnel. It said some Afghan nationals and RAW agents were among the arrested suspects.

 

Nevertheless, during this very day, it is also of particular attention that since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of the reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province. However, civil, federal and provincial governments are making strenuous efforts to restore complete peace and order in the province. For this purpose, a paramilitary committee has also been formed by the ruling party to hold negotiations with the disgruntled elements. And the former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif also supports political settlement—general pardon to the insurgents in Balochistan, so that, development works including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would bring unlimited benefits to the province and its people must be completed. Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa continues the same policy.

 

Unfortunately, it is because of lack of solidarity among our politicians, leaders, and media that foreign opportunists have been manipulating the chaotic situation of Pakistan in order to fulfill their secret agenda by destabilizing the country which is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. In the past few years, nefarious designs of some foreign secret agencies like Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which have tactical support of American CIA can be gauged from a number of anti-Pakistan developments such as their support to insurgency in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, separatism in Balochistan and targeted killings especially in Karachi coupled with subversive acts all over the country.

 

Pakistan which has become a special arena of this different war and has faced terror activities such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, ruthless beheadings of the innocent people, assaults on security personnel and prominent religious figures. Besides blowing children schools and attacking the female teachers in order to deny education to girls, the terrorists, particularly of the Afghan-based Indian-backed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also targeted mosques, Imambargahs, mausoleums, temples, Churches and disgraced dead bodies. Their pitiless acts resulted into killings of several persons in Pakistan. Although terror attacks have been reduced, yet RAW, CIA, and Mossad which are based in Afghanistan and are in connivance with the terror outfits like TTP, Daesh and other similar militant groups—their affiliated outfits have again started these acts of sabotage in Pakistan.

And it is also due to lack of national unity that Pakistan is also facing multi-faceted crises such as load shedding of gas and electricity, soaring prices, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities, and dependence upon the US-led developed countries, IMF and World Bank for financial aid.

 

Externally, Pak Army and Rangers are, boldly, responding to India’s unprovoked firing at the Line of Control in Kashmir including Working Boundary in Sialkot and other sectors. While the fundamentalist party BJP led by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda. In this context, BJP leader Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, a staunch promoter of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) stated on July 12, 2014, that India needed only two years to defeat Pakistan militarily, and the only solution of Kashmir was war, as “there is no peaceful, democratic solution.

 

Meanwhile, in response to the new Indian Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat’s statement of January 3, 2017 about the so-called “surgical strikes” in Pakistani side of Kashmir, Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on January 5, 2016 rejected claims by his Indian counterpart Gen. Bipin Rawat about “so-called surgical strikes” and their possible recurrence. Gen. Qamar Bajwa made it clear that “Pakistan Armed Forces were fully geared to respond to any aggression by India.”

 

As regards the unity, no doubt, it was displayed among all segments of society, after the TTP massacred 132 school children at Army Public School and College in Peshawar on December 16, 2014—as the situation warranted bold and firm decisions to deal the menace of terrorism, especially the threat of the TTP and its banned affiliated groups which are still conducting subversive activities in Pakistan. In this regard, the government, encouraged by the resolve of public opinion responded prudently and lifted the moratorium on death penalty awarded to the criminals according to law. Taking note of the delicate moment, on January 2, 2015, political and military leaders agreed on a draft of legislative measures which paved the way for the establishment of special military trial courts. It was unanimously agreed that the 20 points (National Action Plan) enunciated in the All Parties Conference (APC) Resolution of December 24, 2014, shall be acted upon expeditiously—the bill as 22nd (Constitutional) Amendment has been enforced soon after its approval from the parliament. Now, special military courts have been established and the ruthless terrorists facing death penalty are rapidly being hanged. In this context, National Action plan must also be fully implemented to defeat the terrorists.

 

In fact, it is a war of every patriot Pakistani against terrorists, as the enemy is different, and it cannot leave the security forces alone to wage this different conflict of history. In this context, Pakistan Day demands the cooperation of every citizen, politician, and religious leader with the security forces and agencies to defeat these merciless terrorists.

 

While emphasizing national unity against terrorists, the former Army Chief and the present one Gen. Bajwa has stated the We will continue to go after the inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination.

 

Taking cognizance of the present critical situation, Pakistan Day demands selfless national unity which must be shown practically. This significant day demands that our political leaders must pledge that they will not manipulate their regional and provincial differences at the cost of the national interests so as to grab political power. In this connection, a blind dedication to one’s own race, tribe and creed should not be allowed to create hatred in one group against the other. They must avoid exploiting the ongoing thorny issues in order to increase their vote bank at the cost of the integration of the country. If any controversy arises, it can better be settled in consonance with the constitution. For this aim, in order to castigate the conspiracy of the external enemies against the integrity of the country, some of our political leaders, media houses and human rights groups must also stop manipulating any crisis against Pak Army and country’s primary secret agency, ISI whose image are deliberately being tarnished by the external plotters.

 

True and selfless unity against the foreign enemies requires that our rulers and leaders of other political parties and must create national cohesion among various segments of society. Particularly, our electronic media should give a matching response to the malicious propaganda of the US-led some western countries including India and Israel which are distorting the image of Pakistan, its army, and ISI.

 

Especially, on this very day, media must also project a soft image of Pakistan by highlighting national heroes and tourism sights of the county.

 

Nonetheless, at this crucial time, Pakistan’s survival lies in selfless national unity and strong cohesion as at present, even a layman can note that our country is in chaos and it seems as if there is a “war of all against all” in the sense of ‘Hobbesian state of nature.”

 

On the occasion of Pakistan Day, we must follow the essence of the Pakistan Resolution in real terms by displaying selfless unity in practical terms, which is not possible unless the government, the opposition leaders, civil societies and media owners including all other segments of society pledge to sign a charter of integration which is very necessary to pull the country out of the ongoing serious crises and threats.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: The US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

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China-Pakistan Energy Corridor By Brig (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

China-Pakistan Energy Corridor

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

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Establishment of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was first proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013. Li stated, Our two sides should focus on carrying out priority projects in connectivity, energy development and power generation”. At that time, Pak-China bilateral trade had reached $12 billion. The proposed project of linking Kashgar in northwest China with Gwadar Port on southwestern Arabian Sea coastline in Baluchistan was approved on July 5, 2013 during the visit of PM Nawaz Sharif to Beijing, which included construction of 200 km long tunnel. In December 2013, China committed $6.5 billion for the construction of a major nuclear power project in Karachi. In May 2014, another agreement was signed to start Orange Line metro train project in Lahore worth $1.27 billion. In November 2014, the two countries signed 19 agreements related to CPEC. In addition, Chinese firms started work on six mega power projects in Gilgit-Baltistan such as Dassu, Phandar, Bashu, Harpo, Yalbo to tackle Pakistan’s energy crisis.  

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Originally scheduled to come on September 14-16 last year, China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit was postponed in the wake of prolonged anti-government protests in Islamabad and security concerns, and the government not wanting anything untoward happening. Postponement of the visit was seen by the government as a big setback since it entailed investment of $26 billion in Pakistan. Onus of postponement was squarely put on the shoulders of those indulging in futile dharna politics. This setback was not an ordinary one when seen in the backdrop of worst ever energy crisis, economy in shambles, state corporations in decay and all economic indicators in negative – thanks to the inglorious five-year rule of PPP led coalition. Cash-strapped Pakistan struggling to finance energy projects from western donors couldn’t afford a single day delay.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb which started in mid June 2014 in North Waziristan after the brazen terror attack on Jinnah airport in Karachi and peace talks having fallen apart was put in top gear after the gruesome tragedy in Peshawar Army Public School on December 16, 2014. Its scope was spread all over the country and cooperation with Afghanistan was greatly improved. Rangers-Police intelligence based targeted operation in Karachi was also speeded up and so was Frontier Corps-Police operation in Baluchistan. These efforts were backed by National Security Policy, Counter Terrorism Policy, Joint Intelligence Directorate to coordinate efforts of 33 intelligence agencies, formation of Counter Terrorism Force at federal and provincial levels, lifting of moratorium on hanging of convicts, setting up of military courts and focussed 20-point National Action Plan, all in a bid to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

Brilliant successes against terrorism and extremism, which raised the stature of Pak Army backed by air force very high among the international comity, helped in further enhancing the confidence of China’s leadership in Pakistan. Well aware of Indo-US encirclement plan and shifting of Ameica’s pivot to Asia-Pacific to contain China, the latter wanted an early opening into world market to become an unchallenged economic giant as well as the super power. Mindful of the under developemnt of its western province which is its soft belly and ongoing Uighur movement, China wants speedy modernisation of Xingjiang to bring it at par with eastern provinces. For the accomplishment of these dreams, China needs access to warm waters in Arabian Sea through Gwadar since this route is the shortest and the cheapest. This access was never granted to Russia. With this objective in view, President Xi Jinping undertook a visit to Islamabad and pleasantly surprised the Pakistanis by raising the level of investment from $ 26 billion to $ 45 Billion in Pakistan.

Pakistanis opened their hearts to welcome the worthy guest. During his two-day historic visit (April 20-21, 2015), President Xi signed 51 agreements/MoUs worth $28 billion, with $17 billion in pipeline spread over 15 years. His visit achieved the milestone of the groundbreaking of historic 3,000 km-long strategic China-Pakistan-Energy-Corridor (CPEC). It includes $ 18 billion worth energy projects such as coal, solar, hydroelectric power projects which will inject 10,400 MW electricity in the national grid by 2017/18, laying down fibre optic cable from Xingjiang to Rawalpindi, 1240 km long Karachi-Lahore motorway, metro and bus service in six major cities, up gradation of 1300 km long Karakorum Highway (first opened in 1978), oil/gas pipelines, commercial sea-lanes and host of other projects.

The CPEC project will include building new roads, a 1,800-km railway line and a network of oil pipelines to connect Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region to the seaport of Gwadar. It includes a string of energy projects, special economic zones, dry ports and other infrastructure. China is helping Pakistan in producing plutonium at Chinese built Khushab reactor and will also sell 8 submarines worth $5 billion, which will give a quantum jump to Pak Navy’s sea capability.

Gwadar, once a part of Oman before it was sold to Pakistan in 1958, is one of the least developed districts in Balochistan province. It sits strategically near the Persian Gulf and close to the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world’s oil passes. Work on Gwadar deep-seaport had started in 2002 with China’s investment. In 2013, management of the seaport which was in the sloppy hands of Singapore PSA International was handed over to China’s Port Holdings. It is planned to develop Gwadar into free trade zone with a modern airport on the model of Singapore or Hong Kong and a gateway to CPEC. Some analysts perceive Gwadar port turning into China’s naval base in the Indian Ocean, enabling Beijing to monitor Indian and American naval activities and thus frustrating their ambition to convert the ocean into exclusive Indian lake. Modernization of Pak Navy by China is seen as a step in that direction.

 

 

Energy-poor Pakistan certainly seems to have found a saviour in China, which has promised to stand by the country in its dark hour (parts of the country suffer power cuts for up to 18 hours a day). Jubilant President Mamnoon Hussain predicted that the economic corridor will be a “monument of the century” benefitting “billions of people” in the region. Analysts believe that the CPEC has the potential to radically alter the regional dynamics of trade, development and politics. They say the projects conceived under CPEC will ease Pakistan’s energy shortages and make a substantial difference in the long term with both generation and transmission covered. Some experts opine this initiative can bring greater cohesion in South Asia, one of the world’s least economically integrated regions. Adil Najam, Dean of the Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies, believes anything that binds the region together is “a good idea” since countries tend to focus on “zero-sum geostrategic posturing” rather than recognising the benefits of integration. MNA Ahsan Iqbal says “CPEC is a game changer for the entire region and will uplift the lives of about 3 billion people across China, Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.

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While the CPEC may be ‘monumental’ for Pakistan, for China it is part of more ambitious plans to beef up the country’s global economic muscle. Chinese officials describe the corridor as the “flagship project” of a broader policy — “One Belt, One Road” — which seeks to physically connect China to its markets in Asia, Europe and beyond. This initiative includes the New Silk Road which will link China with Europe through Central Asia and the Maritime Silk Road to ensure a safe passage of China’s shipping through the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. China is not building the corridor as an act of charity for Pakistan. It will happily fund and build any structure that plays into this goal – whether we’re talking about roads or ports”,  says Michael Kugelman, a senior associate at the Washington DC based Woodrow Wilson Centre. Access to Indian Ocean via Gwadar will enable China’s naval warships and merchant ships to bypass Malacca Strait.    

 

 

 

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At the same time, the new silk roads are bound to intensify ongoing competition between India and China –and to a lesser extent between China and the US – to invest in and cultivate influence in the broader Central Asian region. Kugelman stated, India has long had its eyes on energy assets in Central Asia and Afghanistan, even as China has gobbled many of these up in recent years. The US has announced its own Silk Road initiative in the broader region. India is concerned about China’s huge investment in Pakistan, particularly its recent decision to fund a new batch of nuclear reactors. Pakistan plans to add four new nuclear plants by 2023, funded by China, with four more reactors in the pipeline (adding up to a total power capacity of 7,930 MW by 2030). India and other detractors of Pakistan are propagating that China is supplying nuclear technology to Pakistan in defiance of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines, which forbid nuclear transfer to Pakistan as it has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. China argues that these projects were agreed with Pakistan before it became a member of NSG in 2004.

Pakistan has remained under a dark star for a long period; it has bravely sailed past the period of trials and tribulations but at a very heavy cost. Pakistan has acted as the frontline state against the Soviets and against global terrorism and suffered enormously, but in the process it allowed China 35 free years to develop and prosper. Landmark CPEC has further cemented Pak-China relations and made them natural allies. China’s liberal investment which surpasses all foreign investments in Pakistan in the past are based on trust, confidence and convergence of interests and both are in a win-win cooperation. The all-weather, time-tested friends share common vision and seek peace and not confrontation. They have entered into a new era of geo-economic relationship and plan to boost two-way trade to $20 billion.

The Silk Road Economic Belt will not only connect and develop China and Pakistan but also the regional countries for the first time and promote peace. It has opened vista of great opportunities for Pakistan and will greatly help in poverty alleviation, overcome unemployment, remove inequities of smaller provinces and help Pakistan in becoming the next Asian tiger. Strategic economic moment for Pakistan has arrived and interesting part is that Pakistan has assumed the position of economic pivot for the whole region. This paradigm shift in circumstances is a cause of great worry for the enemies of Pakistan both within and outside. They have put their heads together to work out new strategies how to block the forward march, but time and tide is not in their favor.  

The writer is a retired Brig/defence analyst/columnist/author of five books, Member Executive Council PESS, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors TFP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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Media can make Naya Pakistan By Asad Khan Betini

Media can make Naya Pakistan  

By Asad Khan Betini 

 

Even if your intellect is a replica of “Plato”, The Mainstream Newspapers won’t allow your ideas reach millions of readers unless an elite bureaucrat or a leader intends to make news headline or contribute. What can you expect from such Mediums those are not the voice of general masses but a platform of particular contributors who have wrapped themselves in the cloak of patriotism, human rights or both to overawe and undermine the real ideology of Pakistan.  Do you have any idea how poor survive when cold or the warm weather is on its zenith? We must not forget IDPs, who are craving for medical aid; their loved ones are dying in vain, The Thar which is not being covered properly, and Balochistan an abyss of problems due to unnoticed corruption.  Mainstream Newspapers will only try to make headlines of The “President” or the “Opposition” or waiting for a “Mishap” to be happened, but won’t bother question local people of their snags. Our common crowds have turned into sacrificial animals and sole edibles of our failed democracy. The ignored people of FATA and Balochistan are strongly in dissonance, agitation and discomfort and their cities are on the verge of backwardness. Those representatives who are continuously elected must be brought into account if we want Naya Pakistan. Particularly, In Balochistan, one representative is elected again and again with a simple trick of aiding “needy people” during election campaigns.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We must remind these politicians their real purpose, we ought to enforce “The Success of Democracy”, and it is possible through engaging common citizen taking part in opinions at grass-root levels. Due to unawareness, illiteracy, blind fundamentalism, these people fall prey to political tactics and their long convincing speeches especially by Mullas or by other wealthy factions. There should be honesty without the thought of heaven or hell.  There are other high profile politicians too who can be named here, and I openly mention here honorable Asif Ali Zardari who has turned his back to Garhi Khuda Baksh Where people are starving to death, and the lack of many basic facilities, and the other so called heros of Sindh Who disregard Thar. Similarly Maulana Fazal ur Rehman has not done a single development work for the people of Dera Ismail Khan and not to speak of Balochistan because Corruption is still an instance of white ant in the province. The Media must enforce popular will, instead encouraging terrorist attacks with live coverage and front page stories, there should be minor amendments in our minds. I think the greatest Jihad is spreading educational awareness, through letting people know the practical means of popular sovereignty. These things are possible if an integrated effort is done by mainstream Media through the opinion polls with title of “Kia aap apnay muntakhib numainday say mutmaeen hayn?” At least there ought to be a soft corner for general masses of the parishes, towns and districts where they could share the progress report of their elected representatives and administration.If this concept is officially applied, it is not less than a grand proposal, through database or NADRA type organization can manage application to engage citizen in official public opinion programmes.  Media has to assume its real purpose and forget being pawn. 

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Pakistan’s Daughters: Pakistan Air Force Officers

 

 

 Pakistan’s Daughters: Pakistan Air Force Officers

 

 

Pakistani female fighter pilot is ‘war ready’

Ayesha Farooq, first to pass qualifying tests for combat, says she will do “same activities” as male colleagues.

Jun 2013 10:53

Ayesha Farooq said she does not feel different from her male colleagues at Mushaf base [Reuters]
Pakistan’s first war-ready female fighter pilot has said she is ready to defend her country, and sees no difference between herself and her male colleagues when it comes to “precision bombing”.

Ayesha Farooq, from Punjab province’s city of Bahawalpur, is one of 25 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade.

Out of the 25, there are five other female fighter pilots who have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat, news agencies said on Thursday. Non-fighter pilots fly slower aircraft, ferrying troops and equipment around the country.

“I don’t feel any different. We do the same activities, the same precision bombing,” the 26-year-old said of her male colleagues at Mushaf base in north Pakistan.

Because of terrorism and our geographical location it’s very important that we stay on our toes

– Ayesha Farooq, Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot

A growing number of women have joined Pakistan’s defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change.

“Because of terrorism and our geographical location it’s very important that we stay on our toes,” said Farooq, referring to Taliban fighting and a sharp rise in sectarian violence.

Deteriorating security in neighbouring Afghanistan, where US-led troops are preparing to leave by the end of next year, and an uneasy relationship with India, add to the mix.

Farooq was at loggerheads with her widowed mother seven years ago when she said she wanted to join the air force.

“In our society most girls don’t even think about doing such things as flying an aircraft,” she said.

Family pressure against the traditionally male-dominated armed forces dissuaded other women from taking the next step to become combat ready, air force officials said.

 

‘Less of a taboo’

“More and more ladies are joining [the force] now,” said Nasim Abbas, Wing Commander of Squadron 20, made up of 25 pilots, including Farooq, who fly Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jets.

Farooq, 26, told her mother she wanted to join the air force seven years ago

“It’s seen as less of a taboo. There’s been a shift in the nation’s, the society’s, way of thinking,” Abbas told Reuters news agency on the base in Punjab’s Sargodha district.

There are now about 4,000 women in Pakistan’s armed forces, largely confined to desk jobs and medical work.

But over the last decade, women have become sky marshals, defending Pakistan’s commercial liners against insurgent attacks, and a select few are serving in the elite anti-terrorist force.

Like most female soldiers in the world, Pakistani women are still banned from ground combat.

Pakistan now has 316 women in the air force compared to around 100 five years ago, Abbas said.

“In Pakistan, it’s very important to defend our front lines because of terrorism and it’s very important for everyone to be part of it,” said avionics engineer Anam Hassan, 24, as she set out for work on an F-16 fighter aircraft.

“It just took a while for the air force to accept this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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