Saturday, September 30, 2017

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Pakistan - Shedding the liabilities

By - Afrasiab Khattak

Building on the theme of “cleaning our house”, Khawaja Asif, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, has now publicly said that Hafiz Saeed and Haqqanis are not assets but liabilities and the country needs time to get rid of them. Addressing a function in the US earlier this week, Khawaja Asif reminded his American hosts, who now criticize Pakistan for not effectively dealing with terrorism, that in the past, they themselves once supported the same elements.
It’s an important departure from the past position, particularly in regard to the Haqqani network. Instead of denying its existence in Pakistan, our Foreign Minister is now asking for time to get rid of the liability (which used to be regarded as an “asset” at one stage). Khawaja Asif was right in reminding Americans about their patronage of Haqqanis along with other elements known as the Afghan Mujahideen during the Afghan war in 1980s. Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is a different story altogether as it has only recently increased its footprint in fighting inside Afghanistan. It was originally created to deal with the Indian front.
Bringing the focus back to this theme on the part of Khawaja Asif is interesting because the patrons of these liabilities had done everything to make sure that issues like these do not figure in political discourse in Pakistan and political debates remain confined only to Panama Leaks (that also to the extent of Nawaz Sharif’s or his family’s involvement in it). The charade of accountability is meant not only to politically demolish a Prime Minister (now former) who wants to normalize relations with the neighboring countries but it is also aimed at keeping the real issues like extremism and terrorism out of political discourse. If one looks at the newspaper headlines or TV talk shows of the last few years, this effort has been by and large successful.
It’s quite rare that political analysts would raise questions about implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). Approved by an APC in December 2014 for elimination of extremism and terrorism, extremist violence was declared to be an existential threat for the country on that occasion. However, this post-APS Peshawar massacre narrative could not exist alongside the policy of making a distinction between “good” and “bad” terrorists. It was gradually pushed out of the political discourse of the country by spicier material presented in the name of accountability. We have witnessed the fact that Panama and Iqama have successfully stolen the show on media.
The constant forgiving and ignoring of terrorists is not something new. We have been here before. After all, the “good Taliban” were able to survive the “enlightened moderation” of General Pervez Musharraf after 9/11. The deep state is quite experienced in handling media when it comes to shaping the national narrative in general and narrative on extremist militancy in particular. For some “defense analysts”, it is a full time job.
So how is it that the question of “Jihadist assets” turning into “liabilities” has broken out into public discourse of the country during the crusade on Panama and Iqama? It is obviously the development on international front that has forced the country’s political leadership to address the issue of extremist militancy in the country. President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan and the declaration of BRIC’s summit has reminded Pakistani leadership that the fallout of the extremist militancy isn’t just an internal problem as it threatens peace in the entire region and the world at large. Most of the other countries, including some of Pakistan’s best friends, wouldn’t put up with the theory and practice of “good terrorists” anymore. The country is faced with a stark choice. It has to either get rid of these liabilities or face complete isolation.
There have been questions about the position of political parties on extremist militancy. Some of the major political parties were complicit in denying the existence of this problem in Pakistan for quite some time. Most of the rightist political parties used to say that fighting against terrorism isn’t Pakistan’s war although thousands of Pakistanis were killed by terrorists. It was only after massacre of children in APS Peshawar that NAP was approved by an All Parties Conference. Even after that, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has not been consistent on the question of defeating extremism and terrorism. Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) was also reluctant in taking determined and effective action against extremist militancy in Punjab. Some of its provincial ministers were known for flirting with militants for garnering votes during elections. But now it seems to have realized that the country can’t afford to ignore this problem in its own interest. The Ministry of Interior has taken a bold step in the right direction by writing a letter to Election Commission opposing registration of the mainstreamed militant outfits masquerading as political parties. This has punctured and exposed the effort for projecting the liability as an asset yet again under the garb of peaceful political parties.
Khawaja Asif is asking the world for time to overcome the challenge of extremist militancy. However, what Pakistan actually requires is the political will to wrap up the Jihadist project started in 1980s. There is no doubt about the valiant sacrifices by the people of Pakistan and rank and file of the security forces in fighting this menace. But the state (or its effective part) has been reluctant to address the root causes of this problem. For example, there is zero progress in purging curricula of hate materials. So much so that some reform introduced in syllabus in Pakhtunkhwa province by the previous government was brazenly reversed by the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) dominated government (led by PTI). Religious seminaries remain unreformed and are still producing huge numbers of brainwashed youth every year. Support for Afghan Taliban isn’t possible without some sort of Talibanization on local level. FATA remains unintegrated in the state system. Banned outfits publicly operate and collect funds for militant activities. COAS General Bajwa is on the dot when he says that Jihad is a state function. But this position will become meaningful only when Jihadist activities of the non-state actors are criminalized and stopped inside Pakistan.
We have to realize that implementing NAP even after some delay would be serving the best interest of the country. It wouldn’t amount to “doing more” on the diktat of others.


Pakistan’s consensual foreign policy response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s critique of Islamabad’s terrorist “safe havens” is based on the presumption of a “fatal foreign policy blunder”—that of joining America’s war against terrorism. When General Zia joined the “deniable” war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, no one thought it was a blunder. After an interregnum of isolationism under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Army thought it was getting back among nations that took on the Soviet Union collectively. Above all, when America went to the United Nations on the issue, it had found India missing. That was enough for Pakistan: India was left out of the most powerful consensus against the existence of the Soviet Union.
Hence, it was okay to get on the bandwagon of a war that Pakistan liked because it was “deniable”: look we are not involved! A much-weakened post-Bhutto economy got a boost as the purse-strings in the United States and Saudi Arabia were loosened dollar-for-dollar and Pakistan was given the freedom to deal with the private warriors zeroing in on Pakistan from Indonesia to Algeria. Above all, the general-president in Islamabad got the free space he needed in which to push forward Pakistan’s “nuclear program”—which had become the central point of Pakistan’s India-centric nationalism after the loss of East Pakistan. From Pakistan’s control of the anti-Soviet covert war in Afghanistan sprang the covert jihad of Kashmir. It was not a “blunder” to have joined “America’s war”; it was a boon for a troubled Pakistan. It got the money and it got the non-state warriors to fight the “asymmetric” war against India.
No one else but Pakistan is to blame. Least of all America on whose money Pakistan got back the equilibrium it had lost by overturning democracy and killing an elected prime minister. The non-state actors have returned from Pakistan’s covert war to trouble a state that has lost its writ to their localized tyranny in almost half of its territory, including the megacity of Karachi. It has seen Mangal Bagh ruling in Khyber Agency, Fazlullah ruling in Swat and the Taliban-Al Qaeda ruling in Waziristan. It “mainstreamed” the Afghan Taliban in Quetta Shura while most of Balochistan remained a no-go area. It steadily “mainstreamed” Sipah-e-Sahaba by renaming it Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat in South Punjab and let ex-ISI chief General Hamid Gul “mainstream” the rest through the Defense of Pakistan Council now in the control of a “charity” warlord on the U.N.’s list of internationally designated terrorists.

Pakistan - Khursheed Shah criticizes PTI for ‘dividing opposition’

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah once again on Saturday criticised Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s attempts to remove him from office, saying the party has introduced divisions in the opposition.
Addressing media here, Shah said that alliance of PTI and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) to replace the incumbent opposition leader has cause irreparable damage to a united opposition.
Shah rebutted claims that the Pakistan People Party (PPP) takes “solo flight” and does not take the PTI onboard on matters, reminding PTI that the last PPP govt had appointed Justice Fakrukhdin G. Ebrahim as the Chief Election Commissioner on its advice.
“If the PTI wanted an opposition leader of its choice, they could have asked me, I would have fulfilled their desire; it was wrong to divide the opposition,” he said.

132,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Pakistan: survey

There are currently around 132,000 HIV/AIDS patients in Pakistan, a staggering increase of 39,000 in comparison with last year’s figure.
These figures have been disclosed in a recently-concluded nationwide survey of HIV/AIDS patients. The report will be made public next week, Express News reported.
Some 60 teams visited 20 cities nationwide and collected data from 5,000 locations. The survey revealed that in a span of one year, the number of patients suffering from the life-long disease has increased by 39,000, climbing to 132,000 patients in the country.
According to the survey, Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, has the highest number of HIV/AIDS patients — 60,000. There are up to 52,000 patients in Sindh and 11,000 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, while three cases were reported in Balochistan. In the federal capital Islamabad, there are 6,000 registered HIV/AIDS patients.
The initial report shows intravenous drugs users are the largest group of people infected by the disease.
According to MedlinePlus, HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms a person’s immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. This puts them at risk for serious infections and certain cancers. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.
HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.
The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go within two to four weeks. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.
A blood test can tell if you have HIV infection. There is no cure so far, but there are many medicines that fight HIV infection and lower the risk of infecting others. People who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time.

Imam Hussain’s sacrifice a call to resist tyranny and falsehood: Bilawal Bhutto

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the sacrifices rendered by Hazrat Imam Hussain and his companions called upon every Muslim to keep aloft the banner of truth and resist oppression and falsehood even under the most trying of circumstances.

In a message on the Yom-e-Ashur tomorrow on Sunday, he said that Imam Hussain will also be remembered in history for redefining the meanings of life and death on the one hand and the victor and vanquished on the other.
Today Imam Hussain is alive and victorious while his tormentors are dead and vanquished, he said. Tyranny and falsehood appear from time to time under different garbs and a Hussain is needed at every point of time in history. The falsehood and oppression of our time has reared its head in the garb of religiosity.
We need to emulate the example of Imam Hussain in resisting tyranny, oppression and falsehood, he said. Let us therefore reiterate our resolve today that we shall neither submit before oppression and injustice nor let the evil have its sway, the PPP Chairman said.
On this day we also pay homage to the immortal martyrs of Karbala. May Allah be pleased with them all.

Friday, September 29, 2017

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Minorities demand abolition of Minority Wings from political parties

By Durdana Najam

Human rights defenders, political activists, and representative of civil society organization has demanded, the elimination of Minority Wing from political parties. According to the activists the minority wings impede the prospect of full representation of religious minorities in mainstream politics. 

In a country achieved on the religious ground, religion has been made a source of discomfort for those who were not part of the majority religious group. From the tussle to end separate electorate to the inclusion of blasphemy laws in the Pakistan Penal Code, the entire edifice of the religious structure has been endowed with discrimination against minorities and marginalized section of society. With radicalization becoming a norm and Jihad its manifestation, the struggle to enforce pristine Islam demanded an end of tolerance towards other religions or sects within Islam. As the role of the state increased in religion, the division between the Muslims and the non-Muslims increased, impacting the attitudes of the people who then aligned to the divide that best suited their interest. This was in complete negation of participatory democracy and its norms that demand equal right to all citizens irrespective of their religion. 

Pakistan is a Muslim majority country. Roughly four per cent of its population is non-Muslim. Sunnis make the majority of the population, while Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis and other small groups form a minority. 

State policies and legislation bar minorities from governance structures. Over the years as Pakistan became more Islamized discrimination against minorities has increased. A general attitude among the hard-liner religious groups has been to equate minorities with foreign countries or treat them as outside enemies. After attacking the All Saints Church in Peshawar, the militant faction Jundullah claimed: “They are the enemies of Islam; therefore, we target them. We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land.”

The political parties, toeing the line of the state have restricted the movements of the minorities within a particular sphere by making Minority Wings. Barring a few, nearly every political party in Pakistan has a Minority Wing on the lines of student and women wing. People belonging to minority say that this segregation implies that minorities in Pakistan are marginalized even within the political system. This wing for all its purpose design policies and term of references concerning minorities only that further cut them away from the mainstream. 

The downside of the Minority Wings is that even if the non-Muslims join political parties, his efforts notwithstanding his qualifications, capabilities, and services to the nation, remain confined to the minority roles.

Since the inception of Pakistan in 1947 to up until 1984, all Pakistanis voted on a joint electorate. 

In 1985, Zia introduced separate electorate for all religious minorities, including the Ahmadis. Minorities were required to declare themselves non-Muslims to vote for the five per cent minority seats of National Assembly.

In 2001, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIR) demanded an end to discrimination of minorities in Pakistan. As the international pressure mounted, General Pervez Musharraf reintroduced joint electorate in January 2002 with no segregation for Ahmedies, and they were also allowed to enjoy equal voting rights. But the pressure of the religious hardliner prevailed upon the President, and he accepted their demand of allowing the Christian, Hindu and other minorities to vote on the joint electorate, but created a supplementary voter list only for the Ahmadis. 

The Constitution’s Article 51(2A) provides ten reserved seats for religious minorities in the National Assembly, and 23 seats for minorities in the four provincial assemblies under Article 106. The political parties are given reserved seats proportional to their numerical strength in parliament and lawmakers are elected according to the order of the list provided by the party.

Experts are of the opinion that the Representation of the People Act of 1976 and the rules under the Election Commission need to be amended to bring religious minorities into the national mainstream.

Khalil Tahir Sandhu currently serving as Provincial Minister for Human Rights in Punjab Assembly, said that he was personally against Minority Wings and demanded that the representatives of the minorities should be given parity tickets just like normal candidates and allowed to contest the election. 

“Here we are talking about two amendments. One will be made in the Constitution of Pakistan to get away with the reserved seat for minorities. Two, the Political Parties Act of Pakistan would have to be amended to allow minorities to contest elections on party tickets,” Sandhu said. 

Shanila Ruth, President of Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaaf Minority Wing, however, has a different take on this subject. She believes that minority wings within political parties are necessary for Pakistan because of the very fact that minorities are still a vulnerable group and lacks representative of high caliber. 

“If minorities are merged in the mother party, they will lose their identity altogether. The vulnerability of the minorities demand that Minority Wings are maintained in parties, and unless strength is gained both politically and socially the members of minorities should not demand dismemberment of these wings,’ Ruth said.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan leader, Farooq Sattar says that his party has committed to the Christian People’s Alliance to disband minority wing from MQM. However, Sattar said that without offering an alternative of the Minority Wing eliminating it would only add to the identity crisis of the minorities. 

“For the complete restoration of the status of minorities, the political parties have to give the membership of the Central Coordination Committees to the members of minorities and allowing them to contest elections on general seats from party tickets.” 

He further said that the name minorities should also be abolished from the constitution. 

Pakistan People’s Party’s MPA, Sharmila Farooqi, said that the Minority Wing helped the minorities in giving voice to their grievances and issues. 

“I believe that this wing should not be abolished because it makes the minorities more compelling in the sense that they work in unison among themselves that makes easier for them to get their concerns resolved or issues addressed”

Samson Simon Sharaf, the political analyst, and Columnist in The Nation, Lahore, gave the following viewpoint on Minority Wings in political parties.

“I am against Minority Wings in political parties. It does not help anyone from the minority to blend with the Muslims of Pakistan. It excludes them. It is also counter to the spirit of the joint electorate system of Pakistan. So if we have a joint electorate, we should also struggle to learn to value the votes of the minorities. The vote of non-Muslim Pakistani matters. Minorities have the capacity of swinging election results in at least 78 constituencies of Pakistan. The most recent example is the results of PPP in PS 114 elections in Karachi, which had over 35,000 Christian votes. And because PPP appears to take a secular stance and Bilawal spoke to the Christian voters the PPP was able to take away votes, which was previously gained by the PTI in 2013. This is the power of Pakistani minorities. But to persuade political parties to eliminate Minority Wings, the community will have to raise its level and decide not to be swayed by personal interests.”

Pakistani legal advocacy group calls for repeal of blasphemy law

Pakistani legal advocacy group calls for repeal of blasphemy law.

LEAD’s demand comes after yet another Christian man namely Nadeem James was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. Nadeem James’s friend accused him of sending a blasphemous text message on Whatsapp. In this regard, LEAD has compiled a report regarding persecution of Christians in Pakistan by dint of blasphemy law.
Misusing blasphemy law has become a common practice in order to settle personal or communal disputes. In recent case, Nadeem James was purportedly embroiled in a blasphemy case, in a bid to take revenge because he had married a Muslim girl.
LEAD report covers a period of twelve years, detailing the scenario of Pakistani Christians who fall a prey to the blasphemy law. Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill updated CIP stating: “The Repeal Blasphemy Laws campaign holds that blasphemy laws are wrong in every way for Christians:
a)They are inconsistent with and in derogation of Fundamental Rights
b)They endanger the security of person and property
c)They destroy the safeguards as to arrest and detention
d)They destroy the right to fair trial
e)They violate the human right to freedom of faith, religion and expression
f)They promote agenda of one faith and religion-Islam
g)They destroy the rule of law and equality
h)They instigate and enrage Muslims to attack Christians, to burn them alive and to burn their homes
i)They are overwhelmingly being used to settle personal vendettas and to settle their personal scores
In many cases, the accused is likely to face an extra judicial judgment at the hands of furious mobsters. In an incident, an entire Christian neighborhood Joseph Colony was torched by the vandals because a Christian resident Sawaan Masih was accused of committing blasphemy. On another occasion, a Christian couple was lynched alive in a brick kiln on the pretext of committing blasphemy.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister - Khawaja Asif’s correct stand

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has once again spoken boldly about Pakistan’s need to reflect on flawed security policy choices of the past and urgently put its house in order today.
Predictably, Mr Asif’s remarks have drawn criticism from nationalist quarters more concerned with issues of image and how Pakistan is perceived in India or the US than the threat that militancy poses to the future of this country.
Indeed, the foreign minister’s critique of Pakistan’s embrace of non-state actors decades ago began with a familiar attack against the US for encouraging jihad in the region in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. That is undeniably true and too few US policymakers are willing to acknowledge that choices made under the umbrella of the Cold War changed the course of history in this region.
History has shown that the fear of the Soviets seeking access to a warm water port through Afghanistan and Pakistan was overblown, but the Pakistani state controlled by a military dictator found the combination of that fear and US-financed plans to wage war against the Soviets in Afghanistan irresistible.
Nearly four decades since the start of asymmetric warfare in Afghanistan, championing the cause of jihad in the region is a historic wrong that rivals the mistakes that led to the break-up of Pakistan. Certainly, Pakistan has done much to try and correct the errors of the past; the counter-insurgency campaigns and counterterrorism operations of the past decade have won a hard-earned semblance of stability in the country for which the country’s soldiers and civilian security personnel are owed an immeasurable debt of gratitude.
But true peace and meaningful stability cannot be achieved without the total dismantling of all militant and terrorist networks and sustained counter-extremism programmes across the country.
What the foreign minister has claimed ought to be unremarkable and uncontested. Groups such as the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba are no allies of this country and their leaders have agendas that are inimical to the rule of law, constitutionality and democracy in Pakistan.
There cannot and should not be space for such groups to operate, either clandestinely or openly, in Pakistan and the state has no business forfeiting the rights and future of the Pakistani people in the pursuit of some self-defeating strategic goals. What can be debated is the right approach to dismantling the remaining militant networks and deradicalising Pakistani society.
Fears of blowback are not unfounded and where peaceful means can be found, they should be thoroughly explored. Perhaps the government should consider widening the incipient debate to include parliament, the provinces and civil society.
A more inclusive, tolerant Pakistan at peace with its neighbours is first and foremost a victory for the Pakistani people themselves. Bad choices stem from narrowly confined deliberations. All of Pakistan should be invited to debate the country’s future.

Malala Mesmerizes

By Akbar Ahmed
I have often wondered whether it was possible for a Muslim, especially a woman wearing a veil, to be heard with public appreciation in the USA in this time of high Islamophobia.
I got the answer on 25th September at American University (AU) in Washington, DC. That evening, I was part of an audience of some 2000 students and faculty packed into a large sports arena to witness Malala Yousafzai receive the annual Wonk of the Year award presented by AUPresident Sylvia Burwell, an award given to President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush. President Burwell described how Malala has lit a candle of knowledge for women around the globe and embodies courage and bravery in her humanitarian work.
The audience gave Malalaa rapturous welcome, frequently erupting into prolonged applause. Speaking without notes, Malala established an easy-going relationship with the audience at the outset in the way she described the “firsts” in the award—-“first foreigner... first Pakistani... first Muslim...first Pashtun.” With impeccable timing she added, “I’m also the youngest one to receive it. And I’m also the shortest one to receive it.”
Malala talked of her goals in promoting women’s education around the world, particularly in regions where women’s education has long seemed taboo. She described the work of the Malala Fund, which seeks to empower localleaders to push for equal education in their communities, support women facing long odds in pursuing their education, and lobbygovernments to put forth resources so that more women around the globe can go to school.

Malala today is no longer just a celebrity; she is a movement inspiring millions from London to Lagos. No other Pakistani has that star power.Yet many Pakistanis have launched a hate-filled rumor campaign against her suggesting that her father stage-managed the attack to defame Islam and Pakistan and get fame and wealth in the West.

She recounted the time from her childhood under the Taliban whenwomen’s education was banned in Swat: “I realized that when my education is banned, I would not be able to follow my dreams—to become a doctor, to become a teacher, to be myself.” To thunderous applause she said, “The terrorists had actually made a big mistake. They had made a big mistake because, first, I used to think about getting attacked or being harmed. But I had gone through this already, and now I knew that nothing can stop me.”
She urged men to “Think about your daughters. Think about your sisters. Think about your mothers. And allow them space, give them opportunity.”Malala took special care to honor her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, asking for him to rise from the audience so he could be applauded for his vital work and support for Malala and women’s education in Swat and beyond. She remarked, “I got the opportunity to be here because of my father—because he allowed me to speak. There’s nothing special in my story, but only that no one stopped me. So, girls can do anything.”
Malala spoke extensively about her views on Islam, which she considereda religion of peace, kindness, and forgiveness. She also discussed the importance of understanding how the Prophet of Islam,taking care to add “peace be upon him,” empowered the women around him and demonstratedhowIslam really does strive for gender equality:“We need to.... unite and say that those people who are misusing the name of Islam, they are not us. We do not stand with them.”
After every question,each posed by AU students, Malala would acknowledge the studentby name, gracefully thank them, and respond with her trademark wisdom beyond her years and incorporate the stories of young women she has met around the world fighting for their education.
At the end she shared the story of her younger brother who enjoyed “annoying” her. Now contemplating her move to Oxford University,he asks, “‘Who am I going to annoy, and who am I going to tease?’ And now he’s telling me that after two years, he’s going to apply to Oxford. And that is shocking. I just do not want that. I might send him to American University.” The audience roared with laughter.
Malala transcends the divide between Islam and the West because she reminds both of their common humanity. Patrick Burnett, who accompanied me to the program, remarked that, “People adore her. She is the best ambassador any country or faith could ever ask for. She is simply amazing.” My friend retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, replied when I sent a picture of myself alongside Malala and Ziauddin, “I am jealous. She is a special lady.”
Malala today is no longer just a celebrity;she is a movement inspiring millions from London to Lagos. No other Pakistani has that star power. Yet many Pakistanis launched a hate-filled rumor campaign against her even suggestingthather father stage-managed the attack so as to defame Islam and Pakistan and get fame and wealth in the West.
Neverthelessthe hearts of the family are in Pakistan and they speak of Swat often and with pride. When I told Ziauddin of my intention of writing this piece, he responded,“That will be so kind of you. There is a big gap between Malala and her countrymen. They don’t understand her simple message or even don’t try to do so. They can’t see her compassionate heart and sublime soul. She has an immense love for her people. She literally doesn’t want anything for herself. All she wants is for them and especially for the women and girls of her country. I hope love, respect and peace will prevail in our land.”

In Pakistan's coal rush, some women drivers break cultural barriers

By Syed Raza Hassan
As Pakistan bets on cheap coal in the Thar desert to resolve its energy crisis, a select group of women is eyeing a road out of poverty by snapping up truck-driving jobs that once only went to men.
Such work is seen as life-changing in this dusty southern region bordering India, where sand dunes cover estimated coal reserves of 175 billion tonnes and yellow dumper trucks swarm like bees around Pakistan’s largest open-pit mine.
The imposing 60-tonne trucks initially daunted Gulaban, 25, a housewife and mother of three from Thar’s Hindu community inside the staunchly conservative and mainly-Muslim nation of 208 million people.
“At the beginning I was a bit nervous but now it’s normal to drive this dumper,” said Gulaban, clad in a pink saree, a traditional cloth worn by Hindu women across South Asia.
Gulaban - who hopes such jobs can help empower other women facing grim employment prospects - is among 30 women being trained to be truck drivers by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), a Pakistani firm digging up low-grade coal under the rolling Thar sand dunes.
Gulaban has stolen the march on her fellow trainees because she was the only woman who knew how to drive a car before training to be a truck driver. She is an inspiration to her fellow students.
“If Gulaban can drive a dump truck then why not we? All we need to do is learn and drive quickly like her,” said Ramu, 29, a mother of six, standing beside the 40-tonne truck.
Until recently, energy experts were uncertain that Pakistan’s abundant but poor-quality coal could be used to fire up power plants.
That view began to change with new technology and Chinese investment as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key branch of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to connect Asia with Europe and Africa.
Now coal, along with hydro and liquefied natural gas, is at the heart of Pakistan’s energy plans.
SECMC, which has about 125 dump trucks ferrying earth out of the pit mine, estimates it will need 300-400 trucks once they burrow deep enough to reach the coal.
Drivers can earn up to 40,000 rupees ($380) a month.
Women aspiring to these jobs are overcoming cultural barriers in a society where women are restricted to mainly working the fields and cooking and cleaning for the family. Only this week in Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan, women were granted permission to drive for the first time ever, ending a ban that was supported by conservative clerics but seen by rights activists as an emblem of suppression.
Gulaban’s husband, Harjilal, recalled how people in Thar would taunt him when his “illiterate” wife drove their small car.
“When I sit in the passenger seat with my wife driving, people used to laugh at me,” said Harjilal, who like most of the people in the community only has one name. But Gulaban, seeking to throw stereotypes out of the window, is only focused on the opportunities ahead.
“As I can see our other female trainees getting paid and their life is changing,” Gulaban added. “I hope...for a better future.”

The Pakistan In Denial And ISIS Flags In Capital City, Islamabad

Last week, an Islamic State (IS) flag was seen hoisted above one of Islamabad’s main highways. The flag, which sprung the capital’s law enforcement agencies into action, bore the message “The caliphate is coming.” While the capital police have not been able been able to find the people behind the incident, the hoisting of the flag in Pakistan’s capital offers a chilling reminder that support for militant groups such as IS is growing in Pakistan.
The government in Pakistan has said that the hoisting of the militant group’s flag doesn’t mean that the IS threat is serious in Pakistan. While the group’s presence in the country may not have emerged in the form of an active resistance, the militant group’s “passive support” base has grown exponentially over the last few years.
Pakistan launched a major counterterrorism campaign more than two years ago to contain militancy in the country. One of the core aspects of Pakistan’s recent counterterrorism campaign was to revise the country’s public education curriculum, which has been filled with religiously inspired nationalistic rhetoric, and to regulate religious seminaries all across Pakistan, which continue to radicalize young minds. Unfortunately, beyond making tactical gains related to killing militants that are targeting the state, the country’s counterterrorism campaign has not achieved anything.

At least 20 injured in Peshawar's Ring Road explosion

At least 20 people were injured in an explosion outside a private hospital on Peshawar’s Ring Road near Shinwari Town, within the jurisdiction of Paharipura police station on Friday.
Talking to The Express Tribune, police said the hospital owner was the target of the attack as he was already receiving threatening calls from extortionists.
“The blast occurred just outside the hospital, injuring many people including one of the owners, Osman Maqsood, who was on his way back from Friday prayers,” an official said, adding that according to bomb disposal squad officials the device used in the attack was probably homemade. While Rescue 1122 spokesperson Bilal Faizi said 20 people sustained minor injuries, and were treated on the spot; SSP Operations Sajjad Khan said only three people were seriously injured. They were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital where their condition is said to be stable.

Explosion near private hospital injures 5 in Peshawar

An explosion has taken place near a private hospital at ring road in Peshawar, says SSP Operations Sajjad Khan.
Atleast five people have been injured.
According to media reports minor level explosion took place.
Rescue teams have reached the scene and assisting the injured. Critically injured are being shifted to Lady Reading hospital.
Police has not confirmed the nature of blast.
Security agencies are taking all precautionary measures to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. Security has been beefed up across Pakistan in the wake of 9th and 10th Muharram.

Pakistan to pay back $100 bn to China by 2024

Pakistan has to payback $100 billion to China by 2024 of total investment of $18.5 billion, which China has invested on account of banks’ loan in 19 early harvest projects mostly relating to energy sector under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The sources in Chinese Embassy told ‘The News’ that loans which China had given to Pakistan were considered as concessional loans, having special subsidy from the Chinese government. These loans are not the burden on Pakistan economy, as these constitute only 1.1 percent of total Pakistan foreign debt.
The sources said that Chinese financial assistance to Pakistan made a big contribution in strengthening Pakistan’s economy. Four years back GDP of Pakistan was 3.6 but now it reached 5.2, this reflected the fact that CPEC has played a major role in the economy of the country,” sources added.
Embassy’s sources further said that Chinese companies working in Pakistan has taken loans from Chinese banks for different development projects under CPEC and these companies are responsible for paying back loans not the Pakistani government.
The sources further said that China is also providing free assistance to some high-profile projects like construction of Gwadar Port, motorway linking Gwadar Port, schools and emergency health care centers etc. In future, China has planned to build more emergency healthcare centers in different parts of the country.
So far there are around 20,000 Pakistani students getting education in China. A large number of them are on Chinese government scholarships. CPEC also contributed in overcoming unemployment problem in Pakistan. As many as 60,000 Pakistanis got jobs in CPEC-related projects and 24,000 people got direct employment in different projects of CPEC. The sources said that in the next phase, china will focus to build industrial parks, which will bring not only Chinese but also other countries’ investment to Pakistan.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

#PPP Song - Jeay Sab Dadu Wara(Jalsa Dadu 16 Sep 2017)

Pakistani: Mystery clouds govt’s silence on registration of political party formed by a Killer's supporters

While the interior ministry has objected to the registration of Milli Muslim League (MML) for being a political face of banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), it has maintained a mysterious silence about Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) – a party raised from the ashes of the self-confessed killer of the former Punjab governor.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has questioned the registration application of the MML for being an extension of Hafiz Saeed’s JuD – which is facing UN and government’s sanctions for suspected militant activities, but it silently registered the TLP as a political party in July this year without questioning its credentials.

The TLP is in the limelight since last year as it glorifies Mumtaz Qadri, the murder of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. The self-confessed convict was hanged after being condemned to death by a trial court and upholding of the sentence by the higher courts.

Allama Khadim Husain Rizvi heads the TLP as well as the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLR), a religious pressure group whose political ambitions have given birth to the TLP. Rizvi is known for his strong views against the state for hanging Qadri and suspected blasphemers.

The TLR was founded on March 1, 2016 — only a day after the hanging of Qadri when a large number of his supporters and sympathisers gathered in Rawalpindi’s famous Liaquat Bagh to attend his funeral, according to TLP secretary-general Waheed Noor.

He said that the TLP is the political wing of the TLR and it was registered on July 26 this year by the Election Commission. “We had applied around three to four months before the registration,” he added.

World-renowned cricketer Shahid Afridi willing to succor Arif Richard

Popular cricketer Shahid Afridi has expressed deep distress over the situation of disabled cricketer Arif Richard. Arif Richard represents Pakistan disabled cricket team in international events. Poverty-stricken, Arif Richard, member of Pakistan disabled cricket team has left been with no other option but to clean streets of Karachi, in order to make both ends meet.
Media reports reveal that Shahid Afridi taking notice of the quandary of Arif Richard said that he felt disappointed that a cricketer had to clean streets in order to make both ends meet. He expressed a desire to meet disabled cricketer Arif Richard in person. He said that it was a shame that Arif had to take up job of a sweeper in order to survive. Shahid Afridi said that the government must help Arif Richard.
Shahid Afridi said that he will extend all possible help to Arif Richard in his personal capacity, adding that he would invite Arif Richard to his academy. He stated that he intends to appoint him as a coach at his academy. Shahid Afridi said that we must honor naturally talented sports persons.
Arif Richard plays as an opening batsman for Pakistan Disabled Cricket team, representing Pakistan in matches against international teams like India, Bangladesh, England and Afghanistan. Disabled cricketer feels heart-wrenched over being disregarded by the government. He sweeps streets of Karachi, earning a petty amount of 150 rupees or even less on daily basis.
Arif Richard is impoverished and marooned as none of the concerned authorities have tried to succor him. He said that he has been forsaken and the government must take notice of his quandary.
Talking to media, Arif revealed that at times he manages to earn only 70, 80, 90 rupees after a whole day’s hard-work. He also told that despite that fact that he plays international matches but since he is jobless, he has to earn money by sweeping the streets. Richard has been playing for Pakistan, since ten years.

Does Pakistan’s foreign minister mean what he is saying about Lashkar, Saeed?

Asif’s remarks were only aimed at satisfying a world community angered by what it sees as Pakistan’s questionable and duplicitous role in countering terrorists.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif did what appeared to be some plain talking when he told an audience at the Asia Society in New York that Hafiz Saeed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba and others of their ilk had become liabilities for his country. This was not the first time the suave banker-turned-politician has spoken of Pakistan’s need to do more to rein in jihadi groups, including those which mainly target India. Days after the Brics grouping bracketed the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, Asif had acknowledged the need to restrict the activities of these terror groups and hinted that Pakistan could no longer test its friends like China on the issue of counterterrorism. But the question that continues to linger is whether Asif’s remarks were only aimed at satisfying a world community angered by what it sees as Pakistan’s questionable and duplicitous role in countering terrorists.
Asif also trotted out Pakistan’s well-honed arguments that these groups had become so powerful largely because of the US patronage of the mujahideen that battled the Soviet occupation forces in neighbouring Afghanistan. These were the same forces, he said, who were the “darlings” of the US, that were “wined and dined” in the White House three decades ago. But as former envoy Husain Haqqani, an astute observer of the links between Pakistan’s military and terror groups, pointed out on Twitter, 28 years should be enough to change the country’s policies and deal with the jihadis helped by the US to take on the Soviets.
It is now evident that no amount of pressure from the US and Western powers, who are largely acting with an eye on Afghanistan, can make the Pakistani military establishment give up its dangerous policy of using terror groups as proxies. A change can only come from within but even that seems unlikely when the latest reports from across the border suggest that Hafiz Saeed is well on course with his plans to make his Milli Muslim League the political face of his extensive jihadi network to give a modicum of respectability, if one can call it that, to his activities. These reports also suggest the “mainstreaming” of forces such as Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah is proceeding under plans drawn up by the all-powerful intelligence set-up. More evidence, if ever it was needed, that it will be extremely difficult for Khawaja Asif to walk the talk about reining in the jihadis.


Last May, Chinese President Xi Jinping described the Belt and Road Initiative as the “project of the century.” Premier Li Keqiang has identified the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the initiative’s “flagship project.” Marked by the fanfare of high-flying rhetoric and backed by billions of dollars in new investments, China has undeniably taken on a new and more active role in Southern Asia.
In the years since CPEC was announced, analysis of the geopolitical implications of these developments has also gotten more sophisticated. For the most part, this has led to gloomier prognostications about the geopolitical implications of China’s involvement in the region. This installment of the Southern (Dis)Comfort series aims to take yet another step into the gloom by showing how China’s grand schemes, Pakistan’s agenda, and India’s threat perceptions are, in combination, more likely to feed a spiral of suspicion and hostility than to encourage increased regional cooperation.
China’s Vague Grand Ambitions
In the initial phase of work on the CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative, the primary questions for observers and commentators were “What is China actually doing?” and “What is Beijing ultimately trying to accomplish?” Answers were mixed. At one end of the spectrum were the rosy-eyed optimists and more than a few propagandists who presented China’s actions as driven purely by the desire for economic integration that would present “win-win” opportunities for China as well as the other regional players. The corridor, by this logic, was primarily a massive development scheme by which China could simultaneously serve its own economic agenda as well as that of Pakistan, all without undermining the interests of other states in the region.
At the other end of the spectrum were those inclined to see every Chinese initiative as a carefully crafted strategic move to advance its own power projection capabilities, build regional geopolitical influence, and, ultimately, further its aim of challenging the United States in Asia and on the world stage. By this logic, China’s main aim in Pakistan was undoubtedly Gwadar port, from which the Chinese navy would gain a valuable foothold in the Arabian Sea. Connecting roads, railways, and even pipelines would enable China to escape its “Malacca Dilemma” by providing a new overland route from the energy-rich Persian Gulf directly to China’s western provinces.
But neither of these extreme explanations quite held up to scrutiny. Yes, some projects could well make money, and others will at least provide work for Chinese firms that are having trouble competing at home, where infrastructure supply now too often outstrips demand. Yet the economics-only interpretation could not explain China’s apparent willingness to dump considerable sums of money into projects with questionable prospects for repayment. And the security-only interpretation was flawed in two ways: First, because the Pakistanis seemed a great deal more eager to get the Chinese into Gwadar than the Chinese were to deploy naval assets to the region, and second, because the forbidding geography between Pakistan and western China is hardly conducive to massive commercial flows.
As a consequence, the debate has effectively matured to recognize that China’s motivations in supporting the corridor are mixed. Potential economic gains are real but insufficient; China’s economic investments are too often only justifiable by strategic rationales or, it seems, by the fact that CPEC enjoys the personal and political backing of Xi himself. Individually, China’s strategic moves in Southern Asia are opportunistic works-in-progress, but collectively they reflect deeper and longer-term aspirations for regional hegemony and global preeminence. China, at least for the moment, has bold but still somewhat vague ambitions for Southern Asia and will likely cross this river by “feeling the stones,” as Deng Xiaoping famously said in the context of his own reform efforts. Still at issue is whether the complexities of the region, and especially the longstanding tensions between India and Pakistan, will lead Beijing to slip and fall.
Pakistan Plays CPEC
Understanding how China’s actions will play into existing regional realities begins with Pakistan, the locus for most of Beijing’s new initiatives. A second major debate has centered on the question, “What is Pakistan attempting to achieve through CPEC?” Once again, the poles of the debate can be identified as, on the one hand, an optimistic economic agenda of promoting growth and opportunity sparked by Chinese capital, and, on the other, a strategically-oriented agenda, seeking to use China as an external balancer in Pakistan’s core strategic aim of resisting Indian domination. A corollary to this strategic argument is the observation that Pakistan faces a particular need for additional external assistance because its ties with the once-generous United States are fraying.
Here, too, there is ample evidence to suggest that neither of these poles captures the whole story. If Pakistan had primarily been interested in using investment from China to spur additional investment from domestic and other international sources, Islamabad would have embarked on a broader scheme of economic reform, opening its economy and revising its regulatory procedures in ways that would have provided a level playing field to all investors, with the Chinese leading the way. Instead, Islamabad has conducted its negotiations with Beijing almost entirely behind closed doors, suggesting other motives beyond simple economic development, both political and strategic. And framing the corridor as merely an anti-Indian balancing strategy cannot explain at least the initial allocation of Chinese investment, since the lion’s share of funds are directed to Pakistan’s civilian energy sector.
A more sophisticated read of Pakistan’s intentions would see both logics at work, with Islamabad seizing a last, best opportunity to advance its economic and security agendas with Chinese assistance, but without submitting to the politically wrenching path of sweeping economic reforms or acquiescing to the even more painful reality of India’s regional supremacy. In other words, whatever China’s broader intentions might be, its involvement in Pakistan is reinforcing some of the least healthy aspects of Pakistan’s political culture at home and its relationship with neighboring India.
India Responds
This takes us to the third debate, centered on the question of how India will respond to CPEC. Thus far, India’s official reaction to the corridor has been negative in a narrowly diplomatic sense, with New Delhi’s criticism focused on Beijing’s direct involvement in the disputed territories of Gilgit-Baltistan. More broadly, however, India sees the tightening China-Pakistan axis as a twofold problem: First, the threat of Chinese encroachment in what New Delhi considers its traditional sphere of influence, and second, the threat that a China-backed Pakistan could be emboldened to pursue even more aggressive anti-Indian tactics, both by cross-border attacks by militant proxies and by ratcheting up tensions in the heat of a crisis. Combine these threat perceptions with the Indian government’s increasingly muscular approach to international politics under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and you have a recipe for heightened regional competition and a greater chance of violent conflict.
The Sino-Indian competition, including its maritime dimension and recent territorial spats, has been well-covered by other essays in this series. Whatever worries India has about China’s new naval base in Djibouti are likely to be mirrored in its concerns over Gwadar, assuming the port will welcome Chinese warships even if it doesn’t become a full-fledged Chinese base. Overall, India is showing every sign that it will aim to balance against these moves, by improving its own military capabilities, cultivating powerful new friends (like the United States and Japan) and pursuing tactics to deny Chinese territorial gains in ways that aim to throw China off its standard game plan for coercing less powerful states in Asia.
As for the second threat — that of an emboldened Pakistan — it is at least conceivable that China’s tighter embrace of Pakistan would help to resolve Islamabad’s fundamental insecurity from facing a larger Indian neighbor. With that insecurity addressed, Pakistan would no longer feel the need to deploy risky asymmetric tools for balancing, namely a large and growing nuclear arsenal (informed by an inherently risky first-use doctrine) and militant proxy forces like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, which routinely launch terrorist strikes inside India that threaten to set off another war. Instead, this thinking suggests, Pakistan could sit back and get its own house in order, confident that China would have its back in the event of Indian hostility or bullying. Moreover, to the extent that China’s CPEC investments in Pakistan are aimed at promoting economic stability, they would pose no serious threat to India. To the contrary, most Indian policymakers would likely cheer an economic stabilization package for Pakistan if it promised a more prosperous, peaceful, and secure neighbor.
By most Indian estimates, however, China’s backing is more likely to embolden Pakistan than to restrain it. This conclusion is based on the widely held Indian assumption that Pakistan is a revisionist state, not a pure security seeker. Because Pakistan aims to alter the status quo, both in a territorial sense (e.g. Kashmir) and in terms of an overall power balance that increasingly favors India, it will attempt to deploy Chinese power to that end. Put crudely, Pakistan could continue to jab India with proxy forces while collecting potent Chinese military technologies and sheltering behind Chinese defensive security guarantees. Chinese-assisted enhancements to Pakistan’s economic or security condition at home would, from this perspective, only free up resources for a more vigorous competition with India.
CPEC or no, India is already in the process of attempting to establish a more effective deterrent against Pakistani adventurism and Chinese coercion. Accordingly, we see the standoff at Doklam and the “surgical strikes” at Uri. In both instances, Modi’s government managed a feat that eluded its recent predecessors: quick escalations that demonstrate commitment and place adversaries in an uncomfortable tactical position. On the diplomatic stage, we have seen some evidence that India is willing to take a similarly provocative stance, for instance by skipping China’s Belt and Road Forum last May and releasing its own set of guidelines for international investment. Similarly, in early September, Indian diplomats made clever use of the BRICS summit to take a swipe at Pakistan-based terrorist groups.
India’s new and apparently effective tactics may add up to a broader strategy for countering the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Sino-Pakistani cooperation writ large. At the very least, India has shown that it will up the ante with both Pakistan and China. Precisely how far New Delhi is prepared to go in response to the emergent China-Pakistan axis is not clear. Pakistanis already claim — on rather flimsy evidence — that India is engaged in covert operations to undermine CPEC. These claims are easily brushed aside, but it would hardly be surprising if New Delhi were to explore all options, from covert tactics to conventional military and diplomatic initiatives, in response to what it interprets as a defining — and expanding — strategic threat. In short, as in the case of Pakistan, we reach the gloomy prognosis that China’s deeper involvement in Southern Asia is stirring competitive Indian tendencies rather than cooperative ones.
The Next Debate
Armed with this (perhaps tentative) resolution to the third debate, we should now open the door to a fourth: How are Beijing and Islamabad likely to respond to a more pugnacious India? The answer will depend in part on how Beijing and Islamabad interpret India’s actions, and their interpretations may differ. At issue is whether India’s tactics of escalation are interpreted mainly as efforts to deter and de-escalate, or if they are instead perceived as signs of fundamental Indian hostility and increasing regional, if not global, ambition.
The first interpretation could lead China and Pakistan to adopt a more restrained approach, both in terms of how they manage a potential crisis with India and in the way they frame their emerging cooperative ties. This impulse toward restraint seemed at the core of a May 2017 statement in which China’s ambassador to India downplayed the exclusive character of CPEC and promoted India’s cooperation. Of course, that statement was subsequently retracted, almost certainly due to Pakistani protests, but also because of China’s own frustration with India’s refusal to attend the Belt and Road summit meeting. This suggests that the second interpretation of Indian actions will dominate in Islamabad and perhaps in Beijing as well.
If China and Pakistan both perceive the need to check Indian tactics by escalating their own competitive initiatives, the scene is undoubtedly set for an increasingly dangerous spiral of moves and counter-moves. In short, the further we press our analysis, the gloomier the conclusions we reach.

Pakistan - Radicalising the mainstream?

By Talimand Khan
The participation of Milli Muslim League (MML) and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)’s candidates in the by election of NA-120 indicates our security establishment is going to add another feather to its history of shortsightedness so that the latter comes full circle in the form of Frankenstein. Both the candidates contested the by-election as independents because they were not yet registered as political parties with the Election Commission of Pakistan. However, apparently they belonged to the prohibited organisations and used its slogans. More importantly, the pictures of Hafiz Muhammad Said and Mumtaz Qadri adorned their election banners and posters. The US had announced a bounty of $10 million against Hafiz Said in 2012 while Qadri had been hanged by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the murder case of Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer.
The aftermath of the United States new strategy for AF-Pak announced by President Trump on August 21, 2017, during his twenty six minutes speech indicates the seriousness of the US regarding our security and foreign policies. Yet such moves can be translated by the international community, particularly by America and its allies as outright defiance which may produce dire consequences for the country as well as for the region.
Although, our security establishment formulated polices in the past with double edge use like the Afghan jihad policy requiring religious extremism as a tool to be a front-line state against the evil empire, those policy measures were also used as an edge in the regional power game as well as for domestic political control which resulted in constant political instability and social — religious polarisation.
If we could not achieve our maximalist objectives in Afghanistan and South Asia in the 1990s, when the West was dazzled by the aura of defeating the evil empire, how is it possible today in such a hostile international and regional environment? Alas, policy audits, introspection and accountability in the case of policy failures never crossed the mind of overzealous patriots whose mantra of accountability began and ended with selective financial accountability of civilians.
We expect that the world to recognise our strategic fantasies as legitimate policy concerns. Our declared policy in the 1980s was to help the free world in defeating the Communist empire in the form of the Soviet Union that not only posed, according to our narrative, a threat to the free world, but also a dire existential threat to the Muslim Ummah. However, after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, we expected that the western world, particularly the US, would acknowledge our right to use the residue of the Afghan jihad as policy tools.
Is this only a psychological problem preventing our policy makers to come out from the decade of 1990s? Why have we put all our eggs of regional policy in one basket making it a do or die mission? Foreign policy is the most intricate business wherein the state not only deals with its own citizens but with other states and adversaries within it. And therefore, the states are employing more than one option and alternatives to avoid ending up in an impasse.
If we could not achieve our maximalist objectives in Afghanistan and South Asia in the 1990s, when the West was dazzled by the aura of defeating the evil empire, how is it possible today in such a hostile international and regional environment?
Instead of changing our policy tools, realigning policy options and objectives, the policy makers seem to crawl in the same rut that leads them nowhere.
Currently, if the radicals of a certain hue have been provided political legitimacy in the mainstream media, how can the state deny it to other groups tomorrow?
What would be the long term domestic and institutional consequences of a policy that only focusses on short terms domestic political objectives to truncate assertive political forces?
So far, our state and its institutions were trying hard to persuade the world that extremism and radicalisation were not a societal issue but a peripheral ripple effect, along with other social and political costs of our efforts for Afghan Jihad, the majority of Pakistan’s population was moderate. Their voting for mainstream secular political parties has been presented as evidence of moderation. In case the MML takes electoral roots, like the MMA benefiting from the expertise of election engineering of our institutions, with their political outlook and slogans, what is the guarantee that mainstream politics would not get radicalised and what would be our explanation to the world? How, can the state prevent the MML not to become a political umbrella for other radicals like Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesperson for the Taliban?
On the other hand, we are working hard to remind the world to acknowledge our sacrifices, though why and how the sacrifices were made had never been debated either in the parliament or media. But how can we expect the world to listen to us any more on the subject if we mainstream the elements and ideology against whom we portrayed as an existential threat and fight them? Such schemes of mainstreaming political inclusion and exclusion can promote sectional interests and certain institutional control over the polity but at a huge cost to the state in the long run.