Sunday, April 29, 2018
BY TOM HUSSAIN
Islamabad has more reason than most to feel uneasy as China’s President Xi Jinping meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Days before the informal summit between President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi met Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif on the sidelines of a meeting of defence and foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Beijing. Wang emerged from the meeting to tell reporters China was “ready to work together with our Pakistani brothers to undertake the historical mission of national rejuvenation and achieve the great dream of national prosperity and development”.
“In this way, our iron friendship with Pakistan will never rust and be tempered into steel,” said the Chinese state councillor and foreign minister. Asif responded in matching rhetoric, describing China as “our iron brother”.
Since Pakistan and China signed a 1963 treaty to resolve their differences over the status of their shared border in Gilgit-Baltistan, a region of Kashmir also claimed by India, their hyperbole of bilateral friendship has mostly been matched with actions.
After Xi unveiled the US$46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – which has since risen in potential value to US$60 billion – as the showcase project of his pet Belt and Road Initiative in 2015, the Chinese leader characterised it as a thank you for Pakistan’s key role in helping communist China establish diplomatic ties with the US and end its international isolation in 1971. And although, for geopolitical reasons, Pakistan cannot say as much, it has China to thank for enabling it to keep pace with India’s strategic programme, through the transfer of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology between 1989 and 1992.
The two have drawn ever closer as China’s Belt and Road-driven expansion across Asia has brought it into direct competition with the US, India and Japan, while Pakistan’s relations with the US, its other major international partner, have deteriorated markedly.
But lately, China and Pakistan have not always been on the same page when it comes to India. At the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental anti-money-laundering watchdog, China in February made what, to Pakistan, was a shock decision. It withdrew its opposition to a US-led move to place Pakistan back on a terror financing watch list for failing to crack down on militant groups fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir and Nato in Afghanistan.
Since initiating the CPEC in 2015, China had been quietly warning Pakistan that it cannot indefinitely block multilateral moves to punish it. But Pakistan’s national security and diplomatic narrative has remained deeply invested in countering the threat of an Indian attack across the ceasefire line in Kashmir, and geared towards supporting anti-government forces in India-administered Kashmir.
Wang is understood to have reassured Asif that any progress arising from the Xi-Modi summit would not compromise China’s relations with Pakistan. But the very day after Wang’s rust-and-steel bombast, the deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad, Lijian Zhao, tweeted a section of an editorial in the Daily Times, a liberal Pakistani newspaper, saying “Beijing has been asking Islamabad to engage with New Delhi and keep tensions to a minimum.”
Pakistan’s military, which dominates defence and foreign policy, has consistently blocked attempts by the elected government to promote trade relations with India, making them conditional upon Indian engagement in talks on Kashmir, which Modi has flatly refused.
“I’m sure there’s a bit of unease among the Pakistani military brass about this summit and the apparent detente. Still, the military won’t be overly concerned, as it will conclude – rightly so, in my view – that China very much remains in Pakistan’s orbit, regardless of this new India-China warming period that could well prove short-lived,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia programme at The Wilson Centre, a Washington think tank.
Arif Rafiq, a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute, another Washington think tank, said that since the Pakistani military was the “Communist Party of China’s principal strategic partner in the region”, he didn’t think Beijing was willing to damage relations for tactical benefits vis-à-vis India. “But, at the same time, I think there is recognition in Pakistan that dependence on a single strategic partner puts them in a position of weakness,” he told This Week in Asia.
Hence Pakistan is closely watching the Xi-Modi summit for clues on its own relations to China, especially the iron brother’s approach to its Kashmir dispute. But most analysts believe it is too early after the Doklam stand-off last year for China and India to talk Kashmir.
“China and India may be in a period of detente, but this doesn’t mean China will want to undercut the deep trust in the China-Pakistan partnership, especially with the critical role Islamabad plays in [the Belt and Road Initiative],” Kugelman said.
“The summit will focus more on some narrowly defined issues of importance to India-China relations. Kashmir is unlikely to come up. And I certainly don’t think China will pressure Pakistan about toning down whatever role it may play in stoking unrest.”
The concerns rise from Indian press reports that Beijing and New Delhi have been quietly discussing an unlikely compromise resolution of India’s opposition to Belt and Road projects located in the Pakistan-administered half of Kashmir, through which flows its only overland link to China.
C. Raja Mohan, the director of the Carnegie India Delhi-based think tank, said a deal, if any, could involve the removal of Kashmir-based projects from the official CPEC listing and their execution under a separate bilateral arrangement.
“Delhi has said it is open to consultations with China on the development of regional transborder infrastructure. Beijing, in turn, has apparently floated a number of new proposals for Delhi’s consideration,” Mohan wrote in The Indian Express. “These include the extension of the CPEC to India, promoting connectivity across the Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir, Nepal, Sikkim and other places. If it has the will, China should not find it too hard to address India’s concerns on sovereignty on Kashmir,” he said.
But China might struggle to gain Pakistan’s backing for such an extension of CPEC into India-administered Kashmir.
“I can’t imagine Pakistan agreeing to de-link projects in Gilgit-Baltistan from the CPEC portfolio. Such a move, even if accompanied by a plan to expand the project into India-administered Kashmir, would be perceived by Pakistanis as a direct capitulation to an Indian demand tied to sovereignty. And that’s something the Pakistanis can’t accept,” said Kugelman.
Syed Ali Shah
Angered at the killing of two Hazara men on Saturday, members of the persecuted Hazara community are staging a protest in Quetta against the unabated killings of members of their community.
Led by social activist Jalila Haider, the protesters continued their hunger strike outside Quetta Press Club for the second day on Sunday.
The protesters criticised law enforcement and security agencies for their inaction and failure in preventing Hazaras from being murdered with impunity. The Hazara community also demanded that Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa meet the widows of the deceased men and hear their grievances.
Jalila Haider said that the hunger strike would continue until the Hazara community is provided with adequate security.
Meanwhile, a protest rally was held under the banner of the Balochistan Shia Conference at Shuhada Chowk, Alamdar Road — a Hazara-dominated neighbourhood.
"The people of Balochistan do not want roti, kapra and makaan; all we want is the right to life," former PPP lawmaker Nasir Shah told the gathering, which was attended by members of the Hazara Democratic Party, the Balochistan National Party, the Jamhuri Watan Party and others.
"Peace is destroyed when the state becomes weak," he said, criticising the "wrong policies" which have led to "such disastrous circumstances".
Other speakers commemorated the "over 2,000 Hazaras killed and 3,000 injured in targeted attacks in the past few years."
Zair Agha, a speaker at the rally, said: "Our neighbourhoods have been turned into orphanages. Our blood has become cheaper than water."
The protests began after two Hazara men were shot dead in the fourth targeted attack this month in Quetta.
Two members of the community were killed and another was injured in an attack in the Western Bypass area of the city last Sunday. A shopkeeper was gunned down on April 18 while another Hazara man was killed in the beginning of the month.
Sectarian terrorism in Balochistan has disproportionately targeted people from the predominantly Shia Hazara community, easily identifiable because of their distinct physical attributes.
A report by the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) released last month stated that 509 Hazaras were killed in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta in the last five years.
ISLAM & IGNORANCE IN ACTION TO KILL A WOMAN - Honor killings are being labelled in Italy as a Pakistani phenomenon
By Sabika Shah Povia
I was sitting in the airport transit area in Bahrain when this young Pakistani girl ran up to me. Her name was Sitara. She had been living in the Italian town of Brescia with her parents for a few years. Her father wouldn’t allow her to go to school, so she would always get into discussions with him. That’s when he decided it was time to send her back to Gujrat and get her married, just like her more traditional sister had long before her.
“So you’re going back to get married?” I asked.
“There’s no way I’m boarding the connecting flight to Pakistan!” she laughed. “I have some money, I’ll figure something out.”
I never heard from her again. This was seven years ago, but not much has changed for young women in Brescia today, the city in the northern region of Lombardy, Italy’s industrial hub, with the largest Pakistani minority in the country. About 70 per cent of the 118,000 Pakistani passport-holders live in and around the area, and only about 37pc of the total are women.
“You heard the story of one Sitara, but in Brescia all the stories are like that,” says Wajahat Abbas Kazmi, a Pakistani activist and film director living in Italy. Wajahat used to be a member of the community of Brescia until he decided to break his engagement and come out as being gay. His family left the city shortly afterwards to move back to Pakistan.
“My parents had spent years building a reputation for themselves. I didn’t fit in anymore,” he continues. “I was afraid of the consequences, which is why I told them over the phone before moving to a different city.”
Last week, Wajahat launched the campaign #TruthForSana on social networks after the case of Sana Cheema, the 25-year-old Italian Pakistani from Brescia, who died while on a trip to Pakistan visiting family, began making headlines. Investigations in Pakistan are still on, but the Italian press seems to have closed the case: Sana was murdered for so-called honour after refusing to marry the man her family had chosen for her.
It was easy for them to jump to conclusions due to the troubled relationship with this particular Pakistani community and the precedent of the 2006 murder of Hina Saleem, a 21-year-old from Brescia who was killed by her family for “becoming too Western”. At a moment that sees Italy as the main country of arrival for migrants in Europe and after a very polarised election that saw immigration at the top of the debate and resulted in Italians voting anti-establishment and for far-right parties in record numbers, people seem to be waiting for immigrants to make a false move.
Italy has made the mistake of dealing with the migration situation as an emergency from the start. This didn’t help integrate migrants and favoured the creation of small, closed communities. All the unfounded fears of migrants stealing people’s jobs, of Islamisation of the West, of an increase in crime, come out when a story like that of Sana is reported.
“The hijab she would have never worn while alive, was put on her dead body,” wrote one national newspaper in Italy. “She died where she was born, but where she never wanted to return,” wrote another. “This is how Muslim fathers keep them away from temptations,” was another’s headline. Islam and its alleged incompatibility with the West is at the centre of the debate around this case. Honour killings are being labelled as a Pakistani phenomenon, connected to religion and a patriarchal society, and not to social class and education.
“My friends messaged me asking me if I’d heard about Sana,” says Iqra, a 19-year-old law student of Pakistani descent. “I had been watching the media coverage of the case and began getting worried about the future. Issues like these touch you personally. The media is spreading prejudice against our community by generalising the situation of all Pakistanis in Italy. We’re not all like that.”
Iqra grew up in Italy, studied in Italian public schools, and perfectly blended within society, yet she loves wearing traditional clothes and two of her best friends are second-generation Pakistani immigrants, just like her.
Thousands of Pakistanis reach Europe every year. They are mostly young, unskilled men with rural backgrounds. They seem to believe that they can come to this country and live without ever mixing with “the other”. Their purpose is usually to make enough money to support their families back home or to build a house to go back to.
“I wouldn’t kill my daughter if she wanted to marry an Italian,” says Waqar Amin, who was born in Italy and is expecting a baby girl. “I wouldn’t be happy and I would tell her I disapprove. We shouldn’t hate Italians, especially since we live in this country, but our culture is different.”
Even if police end up revealing that Sana Cheema did die from natural causes, it will be too late to stop the backlash this case has caused on the entire Pakistani community in Italy.
عمران اورالطاف ایک دوسرے کاعکس، پہلے لندن ، اب بنی گالہ سے کراچی پرراج کرنے کے خواب دیکھے جارہے ہیں: بلاول
چیئرمین پیپلزپارٹی بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا ہے کہ خان صاحب!پرانے نعرے کی ناکامی کے بعد نیا نعرہ لے آیا، عمران اور الطاف ایک دوسرے کاعکس ہیں، ایک ہڑتال تودوسرا دھرنا دیتا ہے،ایک تقریر کرکے معافی مانگتا ہے دوسرا یوٹرن پریوٹرن لیتا ہے، پہلے لندن سے اب بنی گالہ سے کراچی پرراج کرنے کے خواب دیکھے جارہے ہیں،ہم بانی ایم کیوایم کی سیاست کے پہلے دن سے مخالف تھے۔انہوں نے اتوار کو لیاقت آباد ٹنکی گراو¿نڈ میں خطاب کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ اہل کراچی کومیرا سلام! میں شہیدوں کوسلام پیش کرتاہوں۔یہ وہی علاقہ ہے جہاں پہلے گولی بعد میں بات کی جاتی تھی۔یہ وہی علاقہ ہے جہاں میں پیدا ہوا اور سانس لیا۔لالوکھیت صابری برادران کا کراچی ہے۔ صابری برادران نے میرے نانا کیلئے سدا رہے آباد، بھٹو زندہ باد قوالی بنائی۔انہوں نے کہا کہ شہر قائد میں نسل پرستی کے بیج بوئے گئے،طاقت کے زور پرکراچی میں پیپلزپارٹی کی حمایت کوختم کرنے کی کوشش کی گئی، اور نفرت کے بیج بوئے گئے۔پیپلزپارٹی کوختم کرنے کیلئے ہزاروں جیالوں کوشہید کردیا گیا۔ جیالوں کوگھروں میں گھس کرگولیاں ماری گئیں۔ مگر دیکھ لوہم فنا نہیں ہوئے۔کیونکہ بھٹو تقدیر کاوہ پرند ہ ہے جوباربار اپنی ہی راکھ سے پیدا ہوتا ہے۔بلاول نے کہا کہ 30سالوں میں کراچی میں جو ہوا وہ سب کے سامنے ہے۔لیکن وہ وقت گزر گیا اب کیا کرنا ہے یہ پیغام لیکر میں آپ کے پاس آیا ہوں۔انہوں نے کہا کہ کراچی کامسئلہ کراچی میں پیدا ہونے والا اور محبت کرنے والا ہی حل کرسکتا ہے۔ اور ہاں ! میں بھی کراچی والا ہوں۔ جائیں اپنے بڑے سے پوچھو کہ انہوں نے بھٹو سے کیسے وفا کی ؟ انہوں نے کہا کہ کراچی میں اگر آپریشن قائم ہوا تواس آپریشن کے کپتان وزیراعلیٰ سندھ تھے۔یہ الگ بات ہے کہ اب ہرکوئی امن کاجھنڈا لیکر پھر رہا ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ جب دہشتگردوں کے سامنے سب کے سرجھکے ہوئے تھے تب پیپلزپارٹی ان کے سامنے ڈٹی ہوئی تھی۔اب امن توقائم ہوگیا ہے لیکن اب سوچا کہ پولیس کوفعال کیا جائے۔انہوں نے کہا کہ پولیس میں سیاسی بھرتیوں کوختم کرنا ہوگا۔ایسی پولیس ہوگی جس پرعوام کواعتماد ہو۔ہم پرفیکٹ نہیں مگر ہم ٹارگٹ کلر والی پارٹی نہیں ہے۔لاء اینڈ آرڈر کے نام پرانسانی حقوق کی دھجیاں اڑانا