Does Pakistan realize its compulsions?

By K.N. Pandita

With financial crunch tightening its stranglehold with each passing day, Islamabad is re-evaluating some fundamentals of its domestic and foreign policy with which country’s economic stability is closely liked.

The apprehensions of Pakistan being listed in FATF, because of not too satisfactory a performance in cutting financial channels of various terrorist organizations, could prove of serious disaster.

A few moves noticed on the regional chessboard of politics are indicative of the necessity under which Pakistan will have to manage its affairs in near future. Foremost is the long drawn fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s dubious role. Washington seems to have lowered its tone about curtailment of the activities of Haqqani group in Afghan fighting. It means that Pakistan has discouraged if not fully dismantled safe haven for the Afghan warriors on her, soil particularly in Quetta.

Resumption of talks among the stakeholders in Afghanistan with Pakistan playing a notable role is matched by the faint indication shown by the IMF czars in agreeing to send its fresh delegation to Islamabad for carrying forward the dialogue for about 9 billion-dollar loan package with new perspective and maybe some new conditions.

The issue of listing Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Azhar Mas’ud by the Security Council had taken a new and alarming turn for China which stalled the passing of a resolution three times so far. Three big powers of the SC, the US, UK and France have brought a resolution for general debate and the resultant majority vote which obviously would have gone against China. Caught on the wrong foot, China had of late given an indication that it would advise Pakistan to let Azhar be listed by the SC. (As I am writing these lines the news flash has come that the SC has unanimously listed Azhar as international terrorist).

In a statement given to the press recently, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman had said, “We support the listing issue being settled within the 1267 committee through dialogue and consultation and I believe this is the consensus of most members. Second, the relevant consultations are going on within the committee and have achieved some progress.”

This is the Chinese way of retracting from its known stand. A change of tactics on the part of three permanent members of the SC seems to have had its desired impact. As Chinese spokesman Geng noted that the matter needed to be settled within 1267 Committee, Beijing has remained averse to dealing with the issue in the UNSC where proceedings are public as compared to the sanctions committee, which operates under secrecy.

Senior Pakistani officials disclosed to Dawn that China could lift its technical hold leading to Azhar’s designation, while developments in this regard are likely to be shared by the Foreign Office with the media at a special briefing.

This background development trivializes a statement of Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi given simultaneously that if India could provide substantial evidence of the involvement of JeM in Pulwama attack, it would strengthen Pakistan’s hands in filing a prosecution case in a court of law. India has done the right thing of presenting the plethora of evidence to the SC and not to Pakistan whose behavior is already known in such matters.

In yet another simultaneous development, Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, on a two-day visit to Pakistan, met Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Hayat, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, and several other key officials. Her visit coincided with the trip of US Special Envoy for Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and the two together held a few meetings.

While Afghan peace talks formed the key of Ambassador Wells’ visit, the issue of Pakistan’s financial crunch and borrowings from IMF and other lending agencies besides the Azhar Mas’ud case and importantly Indo-Pak situation also came under discussion at these meetings. Her comment to the journalists at the US Embassy in Islamabad was, “We would encourage the parties to move forward with the designation (of Azhar). It reaffirms the centrality of UN and UN role in designating terrorists. We believe designation process should be technical in nature, even assessment of evidence and countries moving forward to ensure that.” It has to be noted that last time (third time) when China vetoed the resolution against Azhar, her representative had touched upon the “technical” aspect and the commentators and experts lost no time in remarking that such matters did not entail any technicality. It seems that the US has given China a face-savor.

Pakistan newspaper Dawn has carried parts of the statements of Ambassador Wells given in the course of her interaction with Pakistani officials. These statements give an insight into the lines along which the interaction between the American and Pakistani officials has taken place recently. Of course, we are aware that after a spell of heightened spat, the more pragmatists among the senior echelons in both the countries had counseled for a balanced approach to relationship considering peace and normalcy as the primary requirement for enduring settlement of regional issues. The US embassy in a statement said Amb Wells in her interactions in Islamabad underscored the importance of all actors in the region taking steps to advance security, stability, and cooperation in South Asia.

The Assistant Secretary, who holds the charge of South and Central Asia, was categorical in laying the onus on Pakistan for stabilizing peace in the region by “detailing the steps it had taken to prevent the terrorist groups from fund raising and organizing.” This is the crux of the logjam in Indo-Pak talks and the US has, thus, recognized that dismantling the terrorist camps and snapping their funding sources are justifiable conditions for a constructive and meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan. The reverberation of this line of thinking is also discernible in the press statement of Pakistani foreign minister to which we have alluded in the beginning of this write up.

Interestingly, the US has shifted the issuance of a verdict on whether or not Pakistan has done enough to contain terror syndrome in that country to the observations of the FATF which are expected to come soon and which will decide where Pakistan stands. FATF report will show to what extent Pakistan has implemented measures that have resulted in cutting of the trail of financial support to the terrorist organizations.

When Ambassador Wells was asked about the status of relationship between India and Pakistan and the possibility of the two countries making a resolve of overcoming their differences, she was emphatic in stating that “it depended on the steps taken by Pakistan government to demonstrate its seriousness in implementing the (National Action) plan.”

Again for the first time, Washington conceded in no ambiguous terms that “use of force was the prerogative of the state and those militant groups could not use Pakistani soil. The action against terrorist groups needed to be sustained.” This very significant sentence is the candid recognition that India was within its rights to strike at the terrorist camp somewhere in the forests of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa adjoining the territory of Jammu and Kashmir State which legally belongs to India.

Reverberations of this re-alignment scenario shaping in close proximity of Kashmir are already in the air. As a result of the state unleashing a minimum of its might in literal sense of the term, the militants in Kashmir valley are on the run. This takes away the air from the sails of the separatists and ambivalent politicians who are frantically fraternizing with the secessionists while campaigning for parliamentary election. In their election campaigns they have been turning ire on Prime Minister Modi knowing it very well that people in the valley have lost faith not only in the regional political leadership but are also doubtful whether propagandist material like Article 370 and 35-A have brought them more harm than good. A Kashmiri has to rethink whether his lot with one carrying the begging bowl slung to his neck is desirable and in the interests of this progeny. Pakistan’s Ziau’l Haq had said that Pakistan would bleed India in Kashmir. The truth is that it is Kashmir that has bled Pakistan to its last drop and thrown a beggar’s scrip round her neck.

Letter to the Editor – Inspiration from Notre Dame

Daily Excelsior

Dear Sir

Apropos B.L. Saraf’s “Ram Janam Bhumi …..etc. (DE 29 April). The author rightly apologizes for comparing the otherwise incomparable two civilizational icons of Ram temple and Notre Dame but fortunately hastens to seek protection behind Victor Hugo’s altruism of “learning the art of seeing.” In the first place, Notre Dame was built by a nation that knew how to fight or die for keeping the nation free including its historical and cultural vestiges whereas Ram Janam temple was destroyed by a people who considered it their religious duty to destroy the vestiges of their ancestral civilization because their new faith was anchored elsewhere thousands of miles away from their motherland. I appreciate the courage of the writer questioning the authority and status of the lawmakers and law enforcing agencies in the country in asking for the proof of the existence of their civilizational icon. The irrefutable proof is the millennia-old faith of millions of Indians to the civilizational icon. Does not Ramayana precede the biographical works (siyar) on Muhammad? The difference is that while the French philanthropist calls Notre Dame a part of French life, the slave-nation syndrome defenders call Babri Masjid the part of an invader’s history. I wish legal luminaries in our country could read and understand what Shri Saraf has said in carefully chosen phraseology.

K.N. Pandita

India-Pakistan: Back from the brink of war

By K.N. Pandita

Issue to be discussed

In this article we shall discuss the escalation of tension between two Asian nuclear power states of India and Pakistan. They have been at loggerheads ever since the partition of India in August 1947 and the creation of a new State of Pakistan out of the western land mass. Actually, two Pakistans were created; the Western Pakistan which is the present–day Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Eastern Pakistan – separated by thousands of miles from the western Pakistan. The Eastern Pakistan rose in revolt in 1971 and separated from its western wing to establish the independent state of Bangladesh. Continue Reading…

India enters global space club

By K.N. Pandita

India scientist made a spectacular success in demonstrating their capability of indigenously developing the missile-based anti-satellite weapon called Shakti. It was successfully tested and the identified satellite in the space was hit with precision and destroyed. The scientists, the defence department and the entire government were excited on this achievement so much so that the Prime Minister Modi took the unusual decision of himself announcing the country’s great achievement in providing a weapon that will ensure the space security of India by destroying the possible satellite based attack. Continue Reading…

Some tightrope walking for China

By K.N. Pandita

The Western bloc had given sufficient indications that it would not take China’s brow-beating for granted. Hindsight shows that China has overplayed its veto card and has given rise to circumstances where the chances of its isolation in the international community can no more be stonewalled. Continue Reading…

Non-military pre-emptive strike

By K.N. Pandita

World community’s moral support to India for her air strike on terrorist camps across the LoC is the manifestation of bilateral and multilateral commitment of world powers to fight the menace of terrorism. It was neither aggression nor an offensive action; it was simply a preventive venture because the Jaish had more nefarious designs up its sleeve owing to the support it was receiving from the Generals of Pakistan army. Continue Reading…

World community’s rebuff to Pakistan

By K.N. Pandita

Nothing could be more farcical than the missive Pakstani foreign minister has sent to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday last seeking his help to “reduce the tensions between the two countries”. Raising alarm over the threat of India attacking Pakistan, the foreign minister has, in his letter, alerted the UN Secretary General that the security situation was fast declining in the region. He says that he writes with a sense of urgency. Interestingly, the foreign minister has underlined that the Pulwama suicide attack was “ostensibly and even by Indian accounts carried out by a Kashmiri resident.” He goes on to argue that India has heightened tension to fulfil its domestic political agenda. Continue Reading…

Developments in POK and Gilgit Baltistan, Implications for India

By K.N. Pandita

Legal status

In 1939, Muslim Conference was rechristened as National Conference to accommodate non-Muslim segment into the political struggle and structure of the State. In July 1947, Muslim Conference had passed a resolution demanding the merger of the State with Pakistan – the new dominion about to emerge with the transfer of power. The resolution was passed in the house of Sardar Ibrahim Khan despite opposition by some members including Chowdhuri Ghulam Abbas. Continue Reading…

South Asian nuclear power in a debt trap

By K.N. Pandita

It sounds ludicrous that Pakistan, a South Asian nuclear power, is caught in a debt trap and is beating every nerve to be bailed out. Amusingly, the debt trap is laid out by none other than a country which she proudly calls all-weather friend. Nevertheless, it is not the first time that Pakistan is faced with financial crunch. Continue Reading…

A mystery called the Third Front

By K.N. Pandita

This autumn in general and this week, in particular, saw high political drama being enacted in the summer capital of the eState. As the day was drawing near when Governor’s rule had either to go or get extended for another term, hectic activity was going on behind the curtain in which political permutation and combination were passionately discussed. Those who had to bear the maximum disappointment and developmental deficit were the people of State on the whole. Continue Reading…

The lament of pseudo-secularists

By K.N. Pandita

The word “secularism” is of western origin. It emerged from the concept that the church is separate from the state. The parameters of democracy set forth by western political philosophers established that religion was a personal matter and should not be allowed to shape the political ideology of the people. Those who believed in it and also practised it were called secularists. Continue Reading…

Is Imran riding the tiger?

By K.N. Pandita

For three days there was shut down, disruption of law and order, rampage and unleashing of violence and anger in the length and breadth of Pakistan following the radio broadcast of PM Imran Khan. He tried to his agitated compatriots a sane and sensible advice in the context of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Asia Bibi case of blasphemy. Continue Reading…

Letter to the Editor

Daily Excelsior

Kindly refer to ‘Rahul Gandhi- Not the next PM’ by B.L. Saraf (DE Oct 30). The Congressites who have directly or indirectly left open the question of the driver behind the wheel are staunch family loyalists. Continue Reading…

Pakistan Constitution and Human Rights: inherent contradiction

By K.N. Pandita

UN Secretary General, now on a visit to India, pontificates that India should take care of human rights in Kashmir. It shows he is not well informed on the history of Kashmir issuer or is under pressure from Pakistani and Islamic lobby. The right thing for him to do was to visit Pakistan and go deep into the human rights situation in that country. Let us summaries it for his quick reading and understanding. Continue Reading…

Good will dialogue before political dialogue

By K.N. Pandita

As India announced cancellation of the proposed foreign ministers’ sit together on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Pakistani media has gone berserk in bringing accusations against India that she is not interested in contributing to peace process in the region. The Pakistani media hype is meant to convince the world community and perhaps the US as well, that India is the source of disquiet in the region. Continue Reading…

Convergence of the strongest and the largest

By K.N. Pandita

The US high power delegation led by the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and including the US Army Chief, has just concluded its visit to India. The two countries are moving towards closer cooperation in their efforts for regional and global peace and development. The US lately recognizes that the strongest and the largest democracy in the world should have convergence on approach to many regional and global problems with terrorism at the top of them all. Continue Reading…

The US-Pakistan relations at crossroads

By K.N. Pandita

A fracas over a telephonic message from the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Imran Khan on 23 August only added to the already strained relations between the US and its former South Asian ally. Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi contradicted the content of the call. The State Department had said in readout that during the call “Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan”. Islamabad refuted the US readout as incorrect, saying that this “issue of terrorism” was not discussed. However, when questioned by a reporter, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said there would be no correction in response to Pakistan’s complaint. “I can only say we stand by our readout,” Continue Reading…

Imran is bidding for “New Pakistan”

By K.N. Pandita

We cannot help looking somewhat askance when we are told that Imran Khan wants to make a “New Pakistan”. There is mystery in the term “New Pakistan” about what it actually means? In his first speech after he was sworn in, Prime Minister Imran Khan focussed on very disquieting current financial situation of his country. The narrative is superscripted by what stance IMF will adopt once Pakistan approaches it for a massive bank loan to retrieve its collapsing economy. Continue Reading…

Is PM Modi going to Islamabad?

By K.N. Pandita

Observers are speculating Modi’s participation in the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister-designate on 11 August in Islamabad. Will Imran Khan invite SAARC leaders? Will he invite Modi also? Will Modi agree to go to Islamabad if invited? These questions are widely debated in political circles. Continue Reading…

Some Reflections on Pak General Election

By K.N. Pandita

On 25 July, Pakistan completed the third general election to the National Assembly. In the run-up to election campaigning, brutal unleashing of violence in Baluchistan and KP leading to hundreds of deaths and wounded marred the sanctity of election. Continue Reading…