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Pakistan Constitution and Human Rights: inherent contradiction

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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.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations is actually the Magna Charta of minority rights. It urges member States to institutionalize protection and promotion of human rights of its citizens without discrimination.

Pakistan is signatory to several international human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and it also adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). However, Pakistan has taken a reservation on most of these and made their observance subject to the injunction of Islam. That immensely limits the scope of the treaties.

Article 18 of the UDHR guarantees the right to freedom of thought, religion and conscience to every human being. Under the international treaty and customary law, Pakistan is bound to enforce the right of freedom of religion and belief of its people, especially the minorities, who are equal citizens of Pakistan.

Sunni Muslim majority does not allow Ahmadiyyeh to call themselves Muslims. Thereis demand from Sunni orthodox segment to declare Shia, the largest sectarian minority in Pakistan as non-Muslims, and other religious minorities like Christians, Hindus, Ismailis and others are treated discriminatingly.

Pakistan is not a homogenous society. The current population of Pakistan is 192 million out of which the majority are Sunni Muslims. The country is home to several religious minorities: Ahmadiyah, Ismailis, Bohras, Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Kalasha, Parsees and Sikhs. As per the last recorded census (1998), 2.7 million Christians, 1.8 million Hindus, 106,989 Buddhists, 30,000 Sikhs, and 25000 Parsees constitute the religious minorities in Pakistan. Shia’s comprise the largest religious minority in Pakistan but parsec\uted the most after Ahmadiyyeh and Hindus.

The majority population of Sunnis comprises various schools of thought like Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahle Hadith. Maudoodi etc, Add to this Wahhabis and Salafis. Broadly speaking there are four traditional theological streams viz. Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali.

Pakistan was created in 1947 as a separate country for the Muslims of India but not for any particular majority or minority denomination among the Muslims. The Lahore Resolution of 1940, which provided the basis for the creation of independent State of Pakistan also said about safeguards for the rights of religious minorities.

Perhaps this spirit had prompted M.A. Jinnah to make his famous address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. He said,
“You are free: you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State… We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not so in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as a citizen of the State.”

This curious address of the founder of Pakistan carried in its womb the seed of unmitigated contradiction that has haunted Pakistan from the very day of its creation.

How could non-Muslims be equal citizens of a State that was created for the Muslims? How could all citizens of the newly carved State be equal when the State came into being on the basis of two-nation theory? Most of Pakistani ulema even today reject the concept of universal equality for all citizens of Pakistan. The underlying conviction was that Muslims are superior to all other communities and Pakistan was a Muslim.

Jinnah corrected himself in many of his subsequent speeches in which he referred to an “Islamic form of democracy” and thus emphasized the role of Islam in the state where he had hoped that religious minorities and women would enjoy equal rights.

The first indication that the nascent state of Pakistan will be tilting towards predominance of Islamism over western type of democratic dispensation came in the form of the Objectives Resolution, which the first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan proposed to make the preamble of the new constitution. Under Ziau’l Haqq’s dictatorship it was incorporated in the Constitution.

While we deal with the narrative of Human Rights in Pakistan, we need to essentially focus on the Objectives Resolution of the Constitution of Pakistan. Human Rights activists need to pay more attention to this crucial part of Pakistani Constitution.

The preamble (as it was called then) reveals the intentions of the framers of constitution to make it an Islamic State. The bitter contradiction was whether Pakistan had to be an Islamic State as the Objectives Resolution envisaged or non-Islamic democratic State as per the 11 August address of the founder of Pakistan.

It has to be noted that Liaquat Ali Khan did not table the Objectives Resolution during the life time of Jinnah nor did he even once refer to the famous 11 August address of Jinnah. This reveals the dichotomy at the very outset.

When Pakistan Muslim League government started working on the details of the new Constitution, it faced considerable problems and demands. The most important and immediate was the demand to pronounce Pakistan an Islamic State. The groups of ulema in the Government, i.e. Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, the President of the Jamiatu’l-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI), Pir of Manki Sharif in the NWFP, Maulana Akram Khan, the President of the East Pakistan Provincial Muslim League, and outside the Government i.e. Jama’at-i-Islami (JI), constantly urged the Government to declare Pakistan an Islamic State and to base the future constitution on Islamic principles. Maulana Maududi, the Amir of JI presented following four points and demanded that the future constitution should be based on these principles: (i) that we Pakistanis believe in the supreme sovereignty of God and that the state will administer the country as His agent (ii) that the basic law of the land is the shariah which has come to us through our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) (iii) that all such existing laws as are contrary to the shariah be gradually repealed and no law contrary to the shariah shall be framed in the future; (iv) that the State, in exercising its powers, shall have no authority to transgress the limits imposed by Islam.

If we want to understand the source of violation of human rights in Pakistan, or to be precise, violation of the human and civil rights of the minorities of Pakistan, we shall have to take into account the entire gamut of great and historic debate which took place in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in which the then Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali Khan tabled the Resolution.

The move was strongly supported by the Muslim League members but the Hindu members from the then East Pakistan, though less in numbers opposed it tooth and nail. The apprehensions to which they alluded have come true in letter and in spirit as we go through the Rights history of Pakistan.. One should give credit to their vision and wisdom and one should note with special attention the warnings which they had issued about the fragility of the proposed Islamic State of Pakistan purely on political and social basis.

The draft Objectives Resolution contained 13 clauses. It is beyond the scope of this paper to deal at length with all the 13 clauses. Therefore for brevity sake, I take up for discussion only the first clause and proceed to explain its fragility. But before I do that, let me reproduce below Clause 1 of the Resolution. It says:
“‘Whereas sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone, and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust.”

Opening the debate on this clause Bhupendra Kumar Datta, a member of PNC from East Pakistan, pointed out as this: “ Relations between a state and its citizens have been the subjects of politics, and relations between man and God come within the sphere of religion. ‘Politics comes within the sphere of reason, while religion within that of faith. If religion and politics are intermingled then there is a risk of subjecting religion to criticism, which will rightly be presented as sacrilegious; and it would also cripple reason and curb criticism as far as the state policies are concerned.” Datta also warned that this resolution was prone to be misused by a political adventurer who might find a justification for his ambitions in the clause that referred to the delegation of the Almighty’s authority to the state through its people. He could declare himself as Ruler of Pakistan appointed by his Maker.” He also pointed out another potentially dangerous implication that “the limits” prescribed by the Almighty would remain ‘subject to interpretations and liable to variations, liberal or rigid, from time to time by different authorities and specialists, Chandra Chattopadyaya, a member of PNC from East Pakistan, expressed the same fears that: “All powers rest with the people and they exercise their power through the agency of the State. The State is merely their spokesman. The Resolution makes the State the sole authority received from God Almighty through the instrumentality of people. People have no power or authority. They are merely post-boxes according to this Resolution. The State will exercise authority within the limits prescribed by Him. What are those limits, who will interpret them? In case of difference who will interpret? One day a Louis XIV may come and say, “I am the state, appointed by the Almighty” and thus paving the way for the advent of Divine Right of Kings afresh. Instead of the State being the voice of the people, it has been made an adjunct of religion. People are the manifestations of God.

Raj Kumar Chakraverty, a member of the PNC from East Pakistan, moved another amendment in the same clause: He said the words “ State of Pakistan through its people” should be substituted with the words “ people of Pakistan”. He further elaborated that ‘a State is the organized will of the people. A State is formed by the people, guided by the people and controlled by the people.

He also quoted the constitutions of the leading Muslim states of Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and Iran where the sovereignty resides in the people and all people are equal before God. Another member Leonard Binder also commenting on the first paragraph said that the clause “acknowledged the sovereignty of God, recognized the authority of the people derived from their creator, and the vested authority delegated by the people in the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of making a constitution for the sovereign state of Pakistan’ thereby declared ‘God sovereign, the people sovereign, parliament sovereign, and the state sovereign in Pakistan’.

Notwithstanding the prophetic remarks of a senior League Member Hamid Khan that the Resolution had sown the seeds of suspicion, alienation and distrusts among the minorities the resolution was passed by majority vote. He further asserted that it might have been ‘more prudent to accept some of the amendments proposed by the members representing the minorities in order to reach an understanding with them so that the Resolution could have been passed by consensus. Some of the proposed amendments were moderate and might have been adopted”.

Objectives Resolution was a definite retreat on the part of government and provided some grounds on which the religious forces of the country thrived and gained advantage over progressive forces. Later on, Bhutto’s further retreat to get the favour of religious elements enhanced the influence of religious forces in the country. This not only resulted in the increasing insecurities and anxieties of the minorities but inflamed the sectarian differences within the Muslim community itself.

The retreat of liberal and moderate forces in the Muslim community gave way to extremism. Today it has become a menace not only to Islam getting portrayed as fanatic religion but to the Muslim community also who has become a hostage to a minority group wanting to impose its version of Islam.

Secondly, the government’s policy of uniting people in the name of Islam failed because of its failure to comprehend the plural sensitivities of Pakistani society and to address the problems of the people for whom they had sacrificed and achieved a separate State. This created alienation among certain people and provinces of Pakistan which ultimately lead to the disintegration of Pakistan and separation of East Pakistan in 1971. The event proved that ideology alone cannot keep the people united. Justice and fair opportunity is a must to keep a plural society together and save it from disintegration.

Good will dialogue before political dialogue

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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.

Who does Islamabad want to convince by such wishful claptrap, Washington, London, Moscow or Beijing? Who has been calling Pakistan the epicentre of global terrorism? Where was the master-mind of contemporary terrorism discovered and killed by the American marines? Where are the premier terrorist organizations designated not only by the US but also by the UN, based? Which country has sought shelter behind the dubious identities called “non-state actors” and which country runs tens of thousands of religious seminaries throughout its length and breadth to prepare them for joining the ranks of jihadis who want the free world’s order to be replaced by antiquated radical conservatism and sharia order and the world turned into an Islamic Caliphate?

Hindsight will show that in near and distant past free and democratic India took many initiatives for bringing about rapprochement between the two neighbouring South Asian countries, India and Pakistan. How did Pakistan respond to late Atal Bihari’s initiative of bus trip to Islamabad or Modi’s unscheduled visit to the then Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif? We know that Islamabad’s India policy is framed by GHQ and not by any other authority.

From day one of his government, PM Modi made Indo-Pak peace talks subject to Pakistan calling a halt to clandestine infiltration of armed and trained jihadis from Pakistani border in J&K to the India side of Kashmir. However, Pakistan claimed that she was fighting terrorism in Waziristan but extending political, moral and moral support to “Kashmir freedom movement.” Islamabad rulers often claimed they were avenging the hostility of India of Bangladesh era. The revanchist mindset never left Pakistan and the rulers there never even tried to make some introspection particularly after the Humudur Rahman historic report, the like of which is seldom fond in the annals of human history.

Notwithstanding what has been said above, Prime Minister Modi believing that a change of government in Islamabad might also mean Pakistan’s readiness to be pragmatic in chalking out its India policy afresh agreed that the his foreign minister may meet with her Pakistani counterpart to talk and not to discuss on the sidelines of General Assembly session in New York.

Pakistan failed to comprehend the spirit of this gesture and the pre-requisites necessary to maintain an environment conducive to the beginning of a new attempt. If Pakistan was sincere in its intention of promoting peace, it was of utmost importance that she should not do anything on the ground to scuttle the chance for resumption of bilateral dialogue. Pakistan allowed its terrorist outfits and the jihadis to continue their perfidy in Kashmir. Further, it angered New Delhi by issuing a stamp in the name of a rank terrorist who was in close liaison with the LeT chief.

Pakistan is under the misconception that it can bring India to talking table through a show of muscle power. We do not know who prepared Pakistan for this nativity? Why India withdrew from the proposed foreign ministers unscheduled meet in NY is lucidly explained by her External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj in her address to the informal meeting of the SAARC ministers on the sidelines of the GA session in NY. She made it clear that peace meant negation of war. But entire peace spectrum stands vitiated by one member-country of SAARC. How can there be peace when war is waged by proxy and those proxy warmongers are labelled as non-state actors only to escape the blame of fomenting and fuelling crisis in the region. Sushma lamented that the huge potential for development in SAARC region is wasted by one particular country which has allowed its soil to become the hotbed of jihadi terrorists.

The jihadi outfits sponsored, recruited, trained and indoctrinated by ISI have the patent assignment of disrupting peace and normal life in the region by unleashing proxy war in India and Afghanistan, which together make the largest part of the SAARC geographical region.

India had boycotted the SAARC summit that was scheduled to meet in Pakistani last year and Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan had joined India in the walkout. SAARC has made no progress worth the name. How can it make any progress with the government of one member country allowing the land to be used by terrorist organizations for launching global terrorism?

Many among the opposition in Pakistan National Assembly have questioned Prime Minister Imran Khan sending an undiplomatic letter to Modi and suggesting renewed efforts for normalising relations. In the same way many critics at home have not approved Modi’s more than necessary overture in this regard. Perhaps some invisible hand somewhere has been moving behind the curtain to prompt both sides for resumption of dialogue. If that is the case, the initiative should have been left to the lower ministerial rungs. Perhaps both sides have overdone their job.

While Pakistani foreign minister is knocking at various doors in the US in a bid to seek moratorium on Trump’s aid cancellation spectacle, Prime Minister Imran Khan made a sudden jaunt to Riyadh despite his election promise of not going on a foreign tour for first three months in office. This may be the fourth or fifth time for Saudi monarchy to bail out Pakistan from financial crunch. At the same time Shah Mahmood Qureshi once again carried his beggar’s scrip to the doorsteps of IMF Notwithstanding Imran Khan’s penchant for US-bashing psychosis, Washington is not going to stop its effort of chalking out a working formula with Imran Khan’s regime of bringing about substantial change in Afghan political scenario. India, including Kashmir, undoubtedly figures in their narrative. .All that one would say is that a goodwill dialogue between the arch rivals should precede political dialogue.

Convergence of the strongest and the largest

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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.

Strategic importance of relationship between the US and India lies primarily in their political arrangement of democratic governance. While the US is the strongest democracy in the world India is the largest. Both are multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-religious and multi-cultural societies. Together they send a message to the entire world that they are living examples of unity in diversity, something which other countries with diversified social structures can emulate and adapt voluntarily. In a world torn by contradictions and controversies democratic dispensation is the time tested module of accommodating different shades of opinion and approach. Protection and preservation of democracy against the forces of exclusiveness becomes a priority with the two countries.

Security and trade are crucial to development. Both countries have stakes in the security of the region which is catalyst to free flow of trade. Three-fourth of oil requirement of the world passes through the Arabian Gulf and equal size of international trade has to flow through the Straits of Malacca. This speaks loudly for the need of security of the Gulf and India-Pacific regions. Good relations between India and the US are a key to the imperative of security and trade with development as the final destination.

The United States was favourably disposed towards the leadership of Indian freedom movement against colonial power. However, during the cold war era the US’ found its interests served better by patronizing Pakistan. India pandered to the Soviet bloc. Nevertheless, the US did not fail to understand that despite many odds, India was wedded to democratic governance. Therefore relations never reached a freezing point which reflected maturity of statesmanship on either side. This understanding was reflected in the US offering huge quantity of wheat to India to overcome her grave food shortage during 1950s. The PL- 480 programme is a significant landmark in the history of bilateral relations. India improved its agriculture sector as a result of collaboration with the advanced agricultural expertise of the US. This was part of PL – 480 and later on it became catalyst to what Indians call “Green Revolution” or self-sufficiency in food production.

A marked change appeared in India’s policy towards the US after the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991. Heads of the two governments exchanged friendly visits. India found vast scope for collaboration in many areas of development like strategic security, trade and commerce, science and technology, energy resources etc. But the most significant area was that of civil nuclear cooperation. The civil nuclear initiative has been strengthened by the regular meetings of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Working Group (CNWG).

Cooperation between two major democracies purports prosperity of people in both countries and the world at large. Modi government’s objective of cooperation with the US is multi-dimensional but regional security and free and fair trade concept is at the centre of this cooperation. At present, the trade side of the U.S.-India partnership is vastly underperforming. Two-way trade in goods and services is about $115 billion. This pales out in comparison with two-way trade between the United States and China, which at about $650 billion is almost six times as large. Modi believes that raising bilateral trade to match the size of Sino-US trade is the key to the success of his doctrine of “Make India”. Here lies the importance of a “free and fair” trade agreement between the two sides that would serve their common interests. A fair and free trade agreement when signed could go a long way in strengthening bilateral relations. However, for the time being the process of finalizing such an agreement remains in suspended animation owing to unjustifiable tariff regulations on either side. Once they clinch an agreement, India could take care of other areas like energy, defense production, anti-terror and the growing influence of China in the region on its own.

Mechanisms like defense and anti-terrorism cooperation; strategic consultation, mutual investment programmers, space civil science cooperation, energy development projection etc. are the instruments that will enhance trade and economic prospect of both countries.

Trump administration’s India policy is a component of US’ South Asia policy overarched by Indo-Pacific strategy. Initially Trump’s strong stand on H-1B, EB-5 visa and immigration caused disquiet to New Delhi. His predecessors were liberal on these matters. Trump’s accusation that India was seeking billions of dollars from advanced countries in exchange for its support for the Paris Climate Change Agreement caused serious concerns in New Delhi. However, Prime Minister Mode’s US visit to the US helped normalize the situation.

Trump-Putin understanding bodes well for New Delhi. It can stop Russia from falling into the embrace of Xi Jinping. It allows India greater room in proposing important projects like the International North-South Trade Corridor.

President Trump’s deviation from the lukewarm policy of the Bush and Obama administration in dealing with terrorism and extremism gives satisfaction to India which is a victim of terrorism. During his visit to India, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had hoped that India would take her rightful place at the global table meaning the Security Council… The two sides have also focused on strengthening cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and respecting freedom of navigation, over-flight and commerce. It is a matter of great relief for India. Revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue among the US, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia last year indicates expanded bilateral engagement between New Delhi and Washington.

However, accusing India of raising tariff on US imports is the latest irritant in Indo-US relationship. Their representatives are scheduled to meet soon to find a solution to the issue.

In his South Asia policy statement in 2017, President Trump said India was crucial to America’s interests in peace and stability in Asia-Pacific region. Previous administrations in Washington did not seriously think so. Trump administration also recognizes India’s role in stabilizing Afghan peace and economy. In Trump administration’s “Defense, Technology and Trade Initiatives” India occupies a prominent place as the world’s largest democracy and fast developing economy conducive to strengthening of peace in Asian region and the world. Calling ties with India as of utmost importance, US Defense Secretary Mattis said, “Washington would pursue a long term partnership with India to stabilize Asia-Pacific region.”

Trump has not minced words in declaring US’ determination of fighting terrorism to let humanity live in peace. He has made a resolve to take on these enemies of peace with the cooperation of democratic countries in the region. Indian Prime Minister Modi has been emphasizing on world powers to understand the seriousness of terrorist and extremist threat to peace. This shows convergence of policy of fighting the menace of terrorism.

Trump administration will support India’s membership in the Security Council as well as in NSG. The US supports Quad – 4 viz. Japan, Australia, South Korea and India… Thus Trump administration recognizes the strategic importance of India to peace and security of the Indian Ocean.

However, among the irritants in their relationship are the trade imbalance and Trumps’ decision to do away with EB-5. In both cases prospective Indian investors will be affected adversely. However, the two sides will be talking to resolve differences.

Asia-Pacific idea, dating back to 1960s was related to Cold War strategy of the US in the East. The proposition that future world history would be actually the history of Asia made the American think-tanks focus on broad East Asian cooperation in Asian politics and economic growth… However, China’s rapid economic growth enabled her go militarily strong enough to intimidate the South China Sea states and make naval forays into the Indian Ocean. This posed threat to the vital world maritime trade route passing through the Straits of Malacca… The concept of Indo-Pacific was thus born to meet military and commercial challenges in the Pacific region.

The concept was first expressed by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his address to the Indian Parliament in 2006. In 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about “expanding our work with the Indian Navy in the Pacific because we understand how important Indo-Pacific basin is to global trade and commerce.” The rationale for re-cycling the nomenclature is that the region now boasts the world’s three largest economies, seven of its eight fastest growing markets, and seven of the world’s ten largest armies and it is expected to produce more than half of the world’s economic output in the coming years. The reason why the US prefers Indo-Pacific instead of Asia-Pacific is that it acknowledges the historical reality and the current-day reality that South Asia, and in particular India, plays a key role in the Pacific and in East and Southeast Asia. Secondly, it is in the interests of the region, that India plays an increasingly weighty role in the region. India is a nation that is invested in a free and open order. It is a democracy. It is a nation that can bookend and anchor the free and open order in the Indo-Pacific region, and it’s America’s policy to ensure that India does play that role, does become over time a more influential player in the region.

The US-Pakistan relations at crossroads

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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”

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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?

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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

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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…

Bloody beginning of Pak elections

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By K.N. Pandita

Writing sadly about the bloodshed of the previous week in Baluchistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, the widely circulated Dawn of Pakistan made a meaningful comment. It wrote, ”If there were any doubts that Pakistan still remains vulnerable to terrorism, the past week has put an end to them.” It is polite but irrefutable admission that willy-nilly terrorism is allowed to remain entrenched in Pakistan. Three separate attacks in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan have claimed 150 lives and over 200 persons are wounded. Among the dead are Awami National Party leader Haroon Bilour and Baluchistan Awami Party candidate Siraj Raisani. Continue Reading…

Indo-French bilateral partnership: New approach

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By K.N. Pandita

Prime Minister Modi visited France soon after Emmanuel Macron’s election in May 2016. Prior to him three Indian Prime Ministers had visited France since 1980. Not all formal visits of the heads of government move beyond the established protocol and patent rhetoric. Continue Reading…

Politics of vandalizing statues

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By K.N. Pandta

Installing statues of distinguished persons is an old practice beginning with the ancient Greeks. From there it spread to Europe. There is no desk-book criterion for identifying a person whose statue is raised. Continue Reading…

The US and Pak-based terrorists

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By K.N. Pandita

The US is showing no relent in its reproach of Pakistan for allowing safe haven to terrorists – individuals as well as organizations – operating in Afghanistan. There are many individuals involved in raising and transferring funds, and providing logistic support to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Taliban and LeT that are either based or have their hideouts in Pakistani. Pakistan army and intelligence circles including some senior bureaucrats are well aware of these antics. At the end of the day elusive Osama bin Laden was captured in a house just few kilometres away from the GHQ in Rawalpindi. Continue Reading…

Ghazavatu’l-Hind: A Matter of Faith

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By K.N. Pandita

These days, top leadership of Pakistani religious extremist organizations like Jaysh-i-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Tahiru’l Qadiri and others has become vociferous about Ghazavatu’l-Hind meaning the Indian crusade. They whip up anti-India hysteria while addressing huge crowds. The common theme of their claptrap is that the way of liberating Kashmir is through an armed crusade of India. Destruction of India is their war cry. Continue Reading…

The roots of Afghan war

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By K.N. Pandita

A US official spokesman said that the Saturday devastating attack in the centre of Kabul city was planned and executed by Taliban and the Huqqani Network. 103 people were killed and hundreds wounded. A UN observer called it” massacre”. Taliban and Haqqani Network have intensified attacks and bomb blasts in recent weeks and months in Afghanistan. Continue Reading…

South Asia: Re-alignments on the anvil

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By K.N. Pandita

In bilateral relations, there are no permanent friends or foes: there are only permanent interests. US-Pakistan relations almost reached nadir when President Trump; twitted “lies and deceit”. Nobody had anticipated that relations between Pakistan – a country once more aligned than allies – with the US would sink to such depths. Continue Reading…

Trump–Pakistan jihad love

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By K.N. Pandita

The news has come that Pakistan has imposed a ban on Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation from collecting donations. Pakistani media have given wide publicity to this news in print and in electronic media. Since some years the organization and its chief have been actively collecting donations in the name of ‘crush India.’ Continue Reading…

Trump’s new security strategy

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By K.N. Pandita

Addressing his nation from the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, President Donald Trump has enunciated his administration’s new national security strategy. The strategy paper identifies four vital national interests, or “four pillars” namely (a) Protect the homeland, the American people, and American way of life; (b) Promote American prosperity; (c) Preserve peace through strength; and (d) Advance American influence. Continue Reading…

Cannibal of Mumbai carnage walks free

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By K.N. Pandita

Acquittal of Hafiz Saeed by Lahore High Court is a slap on the face of the US and the UN. They have classified Saeed’s organization JuD as a terrorist group and forefront organization for terrorist outfit LeT responsible for 26/11 Mumbai attack in which 166 innocent persons including six American nationals were killed. Continue Reading…

How much neutral is Switzerland?

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By K.N. Pandita

Around the year 2000, I was in Switzerland working with an African NGO at the Human Rights Council (then it was called Commission). A story was making rounds in the town that some WW II German Jewish refugees had claimed that their close relatives had deposited certain amounts of money in Swiss banks which should be returned to them. Continue Reading…

Iran-US relations: the nuclear spat

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By K.N. Pandita

The US and North Korea are on the verge of nuclear clash. By implication, Iran also figures in the imbroglio. But why and how, let us see. Continue Reading…

Pakistan: Compulsions for Realigning Regional Strategy

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By K.N. Pandita

Pak watchers have noted a flurry of events taking place in succession during a couple of weeks in recent past at GHQ with drop scene in Washington. While GHQ is mulling realignment in Trump era, Pakistan foreign office is in hectic activity at Washington to do some damage controlling exercise. These events need to be examined along with their hindsight. Continue Reading…