Weekly Newsletter

Afghan Peace Talks Progress

The CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker and Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Ahmed bin Hassan Al Hammadi welcomed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan on Saturday in Doha. Secretary Pompeo met with Taliban and Afghan government’s negotiators in Qatar along with Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha. Progress in delayed peace talks and withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan were thoroughly discussed. Recently, violence broke out in Kabul when rockets hit densely populated areas killing at least eight people. SITE Intelligence Group, ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan have claimed the responsibility of carrying out the attack. The US Secretary’s visit highlighted the attack and emphasized the negotiators on stimulating and sharing their ideas on increasing the successful outcomes to deal with such issues. It is true that peace talks between Taliban and Afghan government have not progressed much because of different issues i.e. the Taliban are expecting to have a Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence but Afghan government is not agreeing to it because it will sideline the Hazaras who are predominantly Shia and they will become more vulnerable to violence. The delayed and stalled process of talks have surged the violence in Afghanistan. In response to the recent visit of Secretary Pompeo and violence augmentation in Kabul, Taliban started negotiating and talking to Afghan government. The representatives of Taliban and Afghan government announced on December 2nd, 2022 that they have reached a preliminary deal which is their first ever written agreement in a span of 19 years. Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team informed that,

“The procedure including its preamble of the negotiation has been finalized and from now on, the negotiation will begin on the agenda.”

The Taliban spokesman also confirmed that a joint working committee has drafted the agreement which includes a way forward for further discussions which will allow the negotiators on both sides to pay attention to more serious issues including ceasefire. As per US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, agreement is three pages long including rules and procedures for the negotiations and inclusive ceasefire. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, also said that the agreement will help both sides to reach some conclusions. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo encouraged the negotiators on both sides for their willingness to find common grounds. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry also encouraged the negotiators upon reaching the preliminary deal and said that it is another substantial step ahead. The agreement is an important development which is very essential for Afghanistan at the moment.

Massacre of Farmers in Nigeria

Nigeria has been facing and fighting violence for years. It is reported on Sunday that dozens of farmers and people were gruesomely slashed and massacred in northeastern Nigeria. The killings were carried out in the early afternoon of Saturday in the village of Koshobe and other rural communities in the Jere local government area near Maiduguri, the capital of the conflict-hit Borno state. As per the United Nation the death toll initially was 110.  Security forces and volunteers are still looking for dead bodies and at least 10 women that are still missing. According to Edward Kallon, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, armed men entered the area and started killing men and women who were busy harvesting the rice fields. He further explained that people were not only ruthlessly killed but wounded as well. The incident has been called the most violent attack against harmless and unarmed civilians during the entire year. Though nobody has claimed the responsibility for carrying out this act but as per estimated Boko Haram and other minor groups including the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) have been involved in carrying out heinous crimes and killing in the same vicinity in recent years. Boko Haram has also been involved in stealing farmer’s money and crops. It has also been reported that these groups are involved in killing at least 30,000 people and displacing about two million people, who are seeking refuge in Nige, Chad and Cameroon, during their armed campaign. The UN has urged that culprits behind this massacre must be brought to justice and the President of Nigeria seconded UN, while denouncing the attack, that the security crisis will be tackled. The president condemned the senseless killings of hard working Nigerian farmers by the hands of terrorists in Borno state.

Trump Bans Cotton Imports from Xinjiang

The U.S Customs and Border Protection Agency stated that under “Withhold Release Order,” the government has banned the import of cotton products from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), which is China’s largest producer and a quasi-military organization. The Trump administration scaled up the economic pressure on Chinese region, Xinjiang as it has asserted that the factory has employed people to work forcefully. People who are working in the factory are said to be the detained Uyghur Muslims or from other Muslim minority groups. The reports suggest that the mega firm XPCCC has employed 12% of Xinjiang’s population. XPCC was founded in 1954, as a business and paramilitary unit, to settle the far west region of China. In 2015, XPCC produced 30% of Chinese cotton and the U.S. Treasury Department imposed a ban on all dollar transactions with the company. Kenneth Cuccinelli, Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, who also manages the border agency views the label of “Made in China,” as a warning signal. In a news conference, he stated that

“The cheap cotton goods you may be buying for family and friends during this season of giving – if coming from China – may have been made by slave labor in some of the most egregious human rights violations existing today in the modern world,”.

 The government is considering imposing a region wide Xinjiang cotton import ban. According to the reports of the United Nations, nearly 1 million Uyghur Muslims have been detained in these camps, living in inhumane conditions. However, Chinese authorities deny such allegations and have stated that these camps have been created as vocational training centers for fighting growing extremism in the region, which poses a threat to the country’s peace and stability. A ban like this is going to have far reaching implications for the textile companies in China, who are involved in apparel business with the US traders and clothing companies. Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said that US has been fabricating the news of slavery of people in Xinjiang. The US economic practices against China undermine the market principles and can result in increasing unemployment in the region. The suppliers will sharply increase the manufacturing costs due to the new economic sanctions. There are only a few large enterprises that will be able to guarantee that no product of their company has been manufactured from the XPCC cotton. But for the small business owners, giving guarantees like these to the US importers would be very difficult, which will leave a very negative impact on their product sale.  Banning cotton imports from XPCC means banning all cotton imports from China. The US ban on importing cotton products from China could have implications for the other clothing exporters, specifically those in Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. The garment factories in China and other textile producing countries have been using the XPCC cotton. Since the imposition of the new law, any US firm that is caught doing business with the XPCC could be blacklisted and will be liable to pay a civil financial penalty (the greater of twice the value of the transaction or US$307,922 per transaction). Similarly, if the executives of the company are found to willfully violate the economic ban on XPCC, they will become subject to civil and criminal penalties.   In the last days of his presidency, Trump has been taking steps to establish the United States’ rigid position against China. Such measures are likely to make it difficult for president-elect Joe Biden difficult to ease tensions between America and China. In retaliation, China could impose a ban on import of US cotton and can therefore, intensify the trade war between the countries.

Iran Passes a Law to Boost Uranium Enrichment

The Iranian parliament on Tuesday approved a bill allowing uranium enrichment by at least 20% and a rise in low-level enriched uranium stocks. Iran steps up uranium enrichment beyond the limit set under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal if sanctions are not eased in two months. Uranium will be used for different purposes including the making of Nuclear Weapons. The decision had been made in retaliation for the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist in Tehran last week, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, Iran’s hardline dominated parliament had on Tuesday approved the bill with a strong majority. The draft law called the “Strategic Action Plan for Lifting the Sanctions and Protecting the Interests of the Iranian Nation” was accepted by 251 votes in the 290-member parliament, the Votes show the Iranian interest in the new Law.

Under the new law, Tehran would give two months to the deal’s European parties to ease sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors, imposed after Washington quit the pact between Tehran and six powers in 2018. The law pushed by hardline lawmakers would make it harder for US President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office in January to rejoin the agreement. If the bill passed by the parliament gets the final approval of the Constitutional Council and becomes a law, the Iranian Atomic Energy Authority will begin to enrich uranium by at least 20% and increase their stockpile this could be an alarming situation for US and European countries. Iran is permitted to keep up to 300 kilograms, or about 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent purity, a level that can be used for civilian purposes like nuclear power fuel. Iran has also stopped UN inspections on its nuclear sites. Iran also includes an additional point to allow Iran to withdraw in two months from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), if the parties to the nuclear agreement do not take steps to normalize Iran’s banking relations, trade and oil exports. This decision will cause more difficulties for Iran and compel the US to get back into the pact.

UK Approves Covid-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use

UK making them the 1st country to begin vaccinating its population from COVID-19. British authorities announce this vaccine for emergency use, it’s a green signal for the world & a first step towards ending the pandemic backed by rigorous science and multiple experiments from months. Multiple countries have invested in vaccine as the second wave of COVID put the countries into new economic burden, American drug maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech comes as the virus surges again in the United States and Europe, putting pressure on hospitals and funeral homes in some places and forcing new rounds of restrictions on citizens and more load on economy of the states.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which licenses drugs in the U.K. and allow them to work on the vaccination of COVID-19, recommended the vaccine could be used after it reviewed the results of clinical trials that showed the vaccine was 95 per cent effective overall, it also offered significant protection for older people, among those most at risk of dying from the disease. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “The vaccine will begin to be made available across the U.K. from next week. It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.” People over 80, and health-care workers and other care workers will be the first to receive the shot in the UK. The drugmaker Pfizer will deliver its first shipping to the UK with the limited supplies of 80,000 vaccines & in the second half most will be delivered to the US but the final testing must be completed before that. Still this is unclear whether the Pfizer-BioNTech shots protect against people spreading the coronavirus without showing symptoms? Another question is how long protection lasts? The vaccine also has been tested in only a small number of children, none younger than 12, and there’s no information on its effects in pregnant women. Lot of work still has to be done.




International Assesment Report

Indian Farmers Upset on New Agricultural Reforms:

Thousands of Indian farmers filled the streets of Haryana, governed by BJP, and started marching towards New Delhi on November 26th against contemporary agricultural reforms. The protests have been going on since September in Haryana but Indian police force used tear gas, water cannons and barricades to disband the protesters when they tried entering New Delhi in buses and tractors. As per recent agricultural reforms, farmers are now allowed to sell their finished or raw products to anyone at any desired price. The prices will not be fixed by the government under the control of the State. According to BJP the reforms will transform the agriculture sector and will empower millions of farmers by attracting much needed investments. The reforms are said to have an aim of modernizing Indian agricultural sector and to fuel growth. BJP did not take farmers on board because drafting and announcing the reforms, hence the protests broke out. The reforms are anti-farmer because they will leave farmers at the mercy of big corporate houses and private investors.

Pro-Western Victory in Moldova:

Russia has been trying to keep Moldova in its sphere to have more influence if any security crises or political disorder unravels. Recent presidential elections in Moldova have shaken the idea of Russian regional supremacy. Maia Sandu, a former prime minister and an ex-World Bank economist and Pro-Western, had a sweeping victory in presidential elections against Igor Dondon, a Pro-Russian. Moldova has joined Belarus and Kyrgyzstan and has discredited the leaders that are backed by Moscow. Dondon is claimed to have kept a carefree attitude towards controlling the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 in Moldova. Dondon is also accused of practicing corrupt politics which is why the people of Moldova tilted towards Sandu. Sandu will have to fight a battle against ill and corrupt practices in Moldovan politics along with finding common grounds with both Russia, as she did not criticize Russia at any point during her presidential campaign, and the west.

Ethiopia: Steps Away From “Full-Scale” Humanitarian Crisis

Nearly thirty years later, after putting an end to a 17 year long civil war, Ethiopia is steps away from entering into another catastrophic conflict that has the propensity to extirpate the progress of the past three decades. The conflict has already turned Ethiopians against the Ethiopians and can result in a full-fledged civil war if the differences between the government and Tigrayan are not resolved. There’s a possibility that if the fighting between the government, led by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the Tigrayan nationalists continue, it would have far reaching implications, extending the arc of conflict to the fragile Horn of Africa, mount tensions in Eastern Mediterranean, East Africa and Middle East. The region can have strong repercussions as countries like Somalia and Eritrea are already entangled in conflicts. The prolonged hostilities can spoil the hopes of a two year peace agreement with the neighboring country Eritrea. A country of 11 million people could destabilize due to the differences between the federal government and the nationalists, instigating a humanitarian crisis and aggravating the already existing ethnic divisions. The people of Ethiopia are facing grave challenges due to the fighting because if the confrontation continues a famine likely haunts the nation and many have already started migrating to the neighboring country. The neighboring countries can experience a huge influx of refugees from Ethiopia, posing new challenges to their frail economy and stability. The region can become more volatile due to the tensions between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, latter has failed to find common grounds on the yearlong dispute of the controversial dam that Ethiopia has been building on the Blue Nile River. Since the country has mobilized armed forces against their own people, danger of protracted lethal conflict is augmenting. Tigray’s and the Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki, who has strong affiliation with the Tigrayan nationalists can exploit the conflict for their regional ambitions and draw countries with them who are trying to compete for gaining influence in the Horn of Africa.

Palestine to Restore Coordination with Israel

Palestine is facing devastating effects economically, after announcing to boycott Israel six months ago. In the recent days, the Palestinian Authority planned to restore relations with Israel where would be given the opportunity to discuss important matters such as financial, health and political issues. Restoration of the relations is important for peace and development reasons, but more than that due to the pandemic, Palestinian economy has been hit hard. If the relations are reestablished, Palestine will receive $890 million tax transfer money from Israel For long term effects, the leadership on both sides must remain committed to their objectives. On the other hand, if Israel does not give up its annexation ambitions, reaching a peaceful agreement on the “two state solution” would be unworkable. Coordination is crucial for both countries in the time of coronavirus because there are thousands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and tens of thousands of Palestinians commute daily to Israel for work purposes. Only with coordination the governments will be able to spread the virus. The lives of Palestinians and Israeli citizens are interconnected, therefore, fighting against the deadly Coronavirus alone will be impossible. Restoring relations with Israel, will also pave way for recommencing contact between the new Biden Administrations and the Palestinians. Due to recent geopolitical shift in the region, which was a result of normalization of relations between Israel and other Arab countries, it is paramount for Palestinian Authority to resume relations with Israel.

Nigeria: Protests against police violence in Lagos

What initiated as peaceful youth-led protests in Lagos, Nigeria’s financial center, against police violence have now turned brutally violent. Protests started on October 7, 2020 when tens of thousands of people turned up in streets across Nigeria and demanded to dissolve one of the Nigerian police units called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). SARS is extensively accused of extra-judicial killings, blackmail and torture. In response to protests SARS was disbanded on October 11th and was immediately taken over by Special Weapons and Tactics Team. Authorities have asked all personnel to report to the police headquarters in Abuja for debriefing, medical and psychological assessment. Despite the disbandment protests continued and soon government authorities started using extensive force against the protesters using water cannon, tear gas and live ammunition in Lekki district. As per eye witnesses more than 20 armed soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire, which killed at least 10 protestors, and were seen to remove the bodies from the scene. It has been reported that as protestors stormed in police facilities, 2000 inmates from two prisons have escaped in Benin City in southern Nigeria. A live video of protestors removing bullets and crying for help was streamed live on Instagram by DJ Switch. The videos of excessive use of force and death of protestors due to live ammunition in Lagos have caught the attention of Amnesty International and the organization will be investigating the killings. In response to protests and unrest, Lagos, a home to 21 million people, has been put under an indefinite 24 hour curfew and police chief has ordered the deployment of anti-riot forces to handle the increased attacks on police facilities.




International Assesment Report

Biotechnology

Biotechnology is now one of the fastest growing areas of bio-sciences. Huge sums have been spent by the Planning Commission of Pakistan for developing infrastructure, capacity building and HRD for undertaking R&D in biotechnology especially related to agriculture and health in various universities and R&D institutes. Presently, there are around 30 centers of Biotechnology spread all over the country. However, nearly all the Biotech Centers are in the public sector; only a few institutions could offer some deliverable products. Much of these achievements are in the area of agricultural biotechnology such as tissue culture technology and its commercialization (virus free potato and banana, exotic orchards, cut flowers, bio-fertilizers etc.). Significant among these are the development of cotton being one of the most important cash crops for Pakistan. This crop consumes nearly 80% of the pesticide. Therefore pest resistance is one of the most desirable traits in cotton. In 2010 some varieties of Bi-Cotton were released for commercial cultivation. Some of these varieties were developed by private sector seed companies. Furthermore, efforts continue on R&D for developing and maintaining Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) resistant cotton varieties. However, work on several approaches involving other crops, vegetables and fruits are underway. In the area of health most efforts focused on estimation of prevalence, their somatic and genetic nature and type of mutations besides diagnostics of some human diseases. Success has also been achieved in addressing biotechnology application for fossil fuel alternates and several selected useful enzymes.

Biodiversity

Pakistan’s latitudinal spread and altitudinal variation provide diverse ecology and splendid biodiversity to the country with human livelihoods directly dependent on ecosystem diversity and function. The diversified habitats and landscapes support a rich variety of different species which contribute to the overall biodiversity of the country. Economically, the services provided by biodiversity cannot be replicated at scale by human technology therefore; it is the most valuable and most necessary natural resource for Pakistan providing means of livelihood especially to rural dwellers. However, rapid human population growth, un-judicious land use and increased poverty has forced especially the rural people to exploit biodiversity at unsustainable rates resulting into deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, salinity and water logging to the remaining biodiversity of the country mainly due to overexploitation and loss of natural habitats of diverse natural flora and fauna. This continued loss of biodiversity will have serious implications for the nation’s natural and agricultural ecosystems threatening food, health and survival security of the country.

Poultry

Poultry sector is one of the most vibrant and performing sub-sector of the livestock industry in the country. The current investment in Poultry Industry is more than Rs. 700 billion. This industry is progressing at an impressive growth rate of 8 percent per annum over the last few years. Pakistan has become the 11th largest poultry producer in the world with the production of 1,163 million broilers birds annually. This sector provides employment (direct/indirect) to over 1.5 million people. Poultry today has been a balancing force to keep a check on the prices of mutton and beef. Poultry meat contributes 35 percent (1,657 thousand tons) of the total meat production (4,708 thousand tons) in the country. Poultry meat production showed a growth rate of 9.1 percent whereas egg production showed a growth of 5.6 percent to 20.0 billion Nos. during 2019-20 as compared to previous year. The transformation of poultry production in the controlled shed system is making a tremendous difference of quantity and quality of poultry production. There are now over 6,500 controlled environment poultry sheds in the country which indicates that the poultry sector is moving in the direction of modernization and using advanced technology. Currently poultry products especially its fresh meat and eggs are being sold at a higher price (poultry meat Rs. 300-350 per kg), whereas eggs are being offered in the market at Rs. 150-200 per dozen. These prices are higher than average during the current and the previous year.

Chemical Industry of Pakistan

In Pakistan, almost every economic sector has faced considerable impact due to the low supply and demand. The situation further exacerbated with the countrywide lockdown and the bar on international imports and exports. The chemical sector was severely affected with the outbreak of COVID-19. Two of the largest chemical industries-Lotte Chemical and Engro Polymer and Chemical- revised their expected earnings of the year 2020. The chemical industries are facing lower sale volume as the demand of their products has significantly curtailed. In early 2020, the Engro Polymer and Chemical Limited reported a drop-in profit for the year 2019 from Rs 3.7 billion to Rs 4.9 billion recorded the previous year. The financial analysts have predicted that the yearly income of the chemical companies can remain unchanged in the year 2021, as the growth will be at a slower pace due to the world-wide economic crisis. The chemical industry faces challenges in importing raw material from the foreign countries required to produce their products. The manufacturing of the chemicals has thus slowed down, and it has an adverse impact on the other economic sectors that are relying on supply from the chemical industry, for instance the textile industry. Since 2018, Pakistan’s chemical sector has been importing 31% organic chemicals and 28% miscellaneous chemical products from the neighboring states. Pakistan Chemicals and Dyes Merchants Association (PCDMA) Chairman Amin Yousaf Balagamwala said that the commercial importers are facing acute financial crisis because a lockdown has been imposed, therefore not the supply and demand decreased but the factories in many areas have closed down. This economic sector will not be able to recover immediately, even after the normalization of the economic situation throughout the world, because the whole supply chain has been distorted. The traders and commercial importers seek help from the government because their businesses are at the very verge of collapse. If the situation continues, there will be eventually cash flow problems, affecting the other economic sectors. Recently PCDMA has also suggested the government to set up a separate chemical ministry for development of the chemical industry, as it would not only add value to other industrial sectors but reduce the dependency of importing raw products from the neighboring countries and Middle East. This would allow the government to save huge sums of money by setting up import substitute industries within the country. Relying on imports of raw material puts burden on the foreign exchange of the country. The chemical industry sector has not been given adequate attention to develop and diversify over the time. Therefore, its production and revenue have remained stagnant for a decade.

Pakistan’s Cotton Quandary

For the past few years, the economic experts were predicting the low quality of cotton yield in Pakistan, which was likely to affect the textile industry. The contamination rate of crops in Pakistan is seven times higher than the international standards. The major reason that Pakistan is yielding low quality of cotton crop, that is eventually affecting the textile production, are the outdated and unproductive picking methods. The old methods of cotton picking are dangerous because human picking and storage of cotton in fertilizer bags further exacerbates the contamination issue. This later results in production of low-quality cotton and mixing of plastic fibers with the cotton. Another reason why Pakistan’s cotton industry has shown a very sluggish progress is almost insignificant research in the department of enhancing the seed quality. The other economies of the world have made momentous research on genetically modified seeds that enables them to improve the cotton output quality. Although few farmers in Pakistan have tried to use the genetically modified seeds for cotton, called Bi generation, the usage has been counter-productive. The primary reason for this failure is the lack of applicative study which has averted the farmers from reaping the benefits of these seeds. The textile industry of Pakistan is heavily dependent on the input of cotton. From the last decade, Pakistan has gradually moved away from a self-sufficient cotton industry to having a highly import oriented cotton industry. Cotton industry has a great significance for the economy of Pakistan, but it requires due attention from the authorities, as the entire textile value chain is suffering due to low quantity and quality of the cotton. Reforms are necessary in this regard if the country needs to ensure a sustaining textile trade. The inefficiencies on the part of authorities are costing the country billions of dollars, which is an unfeasible situation for the country’s economic progress. Cotton is a sector that for years has single-handedly supported the exports of the country. Prioritizing it has become critical, especially for the post-pandemic economic situation, as in the near future the global textile is to become more competitive. Producers from countries like India, Bangladesh and Vietnam are expected to engage in a tough competition and will attempt to dominate the monopoly of cotton and textile trade in the international market. There is also an urgent need to standardize the seed industry of the country. The lack in this area has wreaked havoc on the cotton producers due to the decreasing demand of the cotton from local and international cotton traders. Cotton is a main input for the country’s export sector and therefore, if proper attention is given and measures are taken, it can contribute to the overall GDP of Pakistan.

Textile Industry

A country is totally dependent on its economy, and economic growth is dependent on its Industrial Condition. The industry act as an engine for any economy. Pakistan is one of the largest contributors of jute to the world, but to the country’s misery, it does not possess a single jute mill. Even today, the sector is heavily dependent upon textile, with other key industries of agro and chemical-based. Textile industry the single largest export earning sector of Pakistan and has scaled up productions in the pandemic of Covid-19 with the level of full-capacity, as a significant improvement in the pandemic the country led the world buyers to partially divert their orders to domestic manufacturers as the imports were canceled or delayed by other countries.

Now the Government of Pakistan introduced Textile policy 2020-2025 providing subsidies for the industrial sector, especially for textiles. The policy includes:

  • Special duty-drawback rates
  • Rationalization of duty on the textile value chain
  • Subsidy on long-term loans and development subsidies
  • Electricity and gas tariff will be fixed for the next five years till 2025

Pakistan’s share is 1.6 percent in the global textile trade targeted for 3 percent over the next five years. Pakistan textile industry is now focusing on Man-Made Fiber (MMF) that is less costly & can be produced more. Globally the use of Man-made and synthetic fibers against natural fibers has shifted to a ratio of 70:30 the synthetic fibers having the main share. At present, Pakistan’s consumption ratio of MMF to cotton is 30:70 and now with the support of the Government of Pakistan, this ratio will be increased to 50:50 within the next 5 years.




International Assesment Report

 

United States Elections: Domestic and Foreign Policy Implications

Joe Biden has become the 46th President of the United States of America. People who have voted in favor of Biden are clear about their domestic and foreign policy views. Most of the people support the involvement of the US in other countries but worried about the other counties taking advantage of the US. 

It is clear that Biden will hold the white house and as like any other American President his top priority will be “America First” only the characteristics and approaches will be different with the same motive. Joe Biden will be backing international re-engagement, but his voters still clearly want him to prioritize domestic issues, but it is still to witness if he will continue the Trump’s isolationist and protectionist policies. The best guide to any President foreign policy is to understand his psychology and disposition, not to study his management formal policy documents and actions. Ex- president Donald Trump’s administration picked fights with the country’s long-standing allies and friends and walked away from multiple agreements, international scientific and environmental agreements, and organizations that include, the 2015 Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the United Nations’ science and education agency UNESCO, and in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO). It is expected of President Joe Biden that he will change the situation of the US and unite the Americans again by removing the superiority of Black and White restore trust in truth, in evidence, in science, and in other institutions of democracy, and begin the urgent task of rebuilding the United States reputation in the world by making favorable relation with different countries.

Israel: Peace agreements with Muslim Countries

To normalize the diplomatic relations, the government of the State of Israel and the government of United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement titled “Abraham Accord.” Within the region, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt have overtly welcomed the Abraham Accord and USA has been an active player in designing and reaching peace deals. 

Saudi Arabia has remained silent, whereas States including Iran, Turkey and Qatar have opposed the accord. Recently, Sudan has reached an agreement with Israeli government as well. The growing and coagulating coalition between Israel and Muslim States have been precluded by Palestinian leaders. Palestinians have been calling it a betrayal but these accords can be utilized in resolving a long-standing issue between Israel and Palestine. If analyzed closely, UAE claims to have helped Palestine in halting the annexation and on the other side the accord has great economic implications for UAE and Israel. Israel’s trade with Jordan and Egypt never grew but with UAE the case will be dissimilar. While Israel will have access to a confederation of whopping seven emirates, UAE will have access to USA’s weaponry including F-35 combat planes. These accords with Muslim States will not only encourage the acceptance of Israel’s existence but also to regularize the diplomatic ties.

Iran Nuclear Agreement with USA: Current Status

Since U.S ex-president Donald Trump unanimously pulled United States of America out of the Iran nuclear deal, The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018, other signatories including Germany, France, United Kingdom, China and Russia have been trying to recoup the agreement to restraint Iran’s capability to resuscitate a nuclear weapon program.

Despite the deal being pulled out, Iran has kept the verboten uranium enrichment activity going while keeping the doors for the deal reversal open. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action provided Iran with some relief in economic sanctions. As the ex-president Trump’s administration ended the deal, it pushed Iran into unfathomable multi-year inertia, devalued its currency by 60% in May 2020, swollen inflation and discouraged foreign investors to invest in Iran causing a loss of multibillion dollars in revenue, exclusively from oil export. This economic compression is already causing the Iranian regime to decide between its survivals, or continuing nuclear ambitions. Iran has collapsed from 3.7% growth in the deal’s second year to a negative growth of 7.6% in 2019. Now that Joe Biden has won the U.S. elections, there is a possibility that he will prefer not to get enmeshed in solving Middle East issues and might stay flexible towards Iran. Upon being given no relief, Iranian regime can be driven to a decision where the Iranian government can be forced to commit to end nuclear ambitions. Terrorism, human rights violation and foreign aggression.

French President Sponsors Islamophobia

Muslims all over the world are outraged by the statements made by French president, Emmanuel Macron earlier this October. The statements came after a French teacher, Samuel Paty was beheaded in the broad day light near his school on October 16. The teacher was killed after he had displayed the caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to his students.

These caricatures were shown to the students in a class of freedom of expression and were previously published in a French satirical magazine. The French officials have associated the killing to Islam and Muslims were accused for igniting separatism and hatred. Since the news has spread to the Muslims countries, social media is crammed with criticism on Macron. Muslims are showing their reaction on social media by trending the hashtag #BoycottFrenchProdcuts. These hashtags were so common in Arab countries, that the local trade associations have declared to boycott the products that are French made. The French President, who is a critique of Islam has been a facing severe counterattack from the Muslim world. Tayyib Erdogan, Turkish president questioned the mental stability of his counterpart. Other countries that have strongly condemned the French president’s remarks include Pakistan, Jordan, Iran, Libya, Kuwait, Egypt, and Qatar. As a national leader there can be several reasons for issuing statements deliberately that are clearly anti-Muslim and can result into strong reactions from the targeted community. One motive for such statements can be that the French president wants to move towards stricter immigration policies, which also suggests the intensifying French nationalism. France is a country where the world’s third largest Jewish population lives, who have also faced anti-Semitism from the French people. Many Jews have migrated to Israel but those that still reside in France report facing anti-Semitism regularly. These exclusionary policies and statements do not only give birth to robust nationalism but are a way to marginalize the minority group in the country. The promotion of abhorrence for a certain community, on the basis of their beliefs and religion can be precarious for the peace of a society since it can endorse radicalization. The statements given by the French president are likely to foster islamophia amongst the non-Muslim French population.

Lebanon and Israel Talk over Maritime Dispute

In recent months, Lebanon will become the third Arab country to initiate talks with Israel. The representatives of each side will hold public talks, negotiating an agreement over a maritime border claimed by both states.

Although Lebanon and Israel are longstanding foes, with cooperation and mediation of the United States, the countries took a first major step towards mutual benefit. The talks to negotiate and resolve the maritime dispute is mediated for years by the United States, which has also been successful in brokering a deal for two Gulf States with Israel. The conflict over the sea border had hampered the exploration of oil and gas reserves neighboring the disputed line. Due to good economic condition and technological advancement, Israel for years has been pumping large volumes of gas from the offshore fields. On the other hand, Lebanon has been facing a serious economic crisis since its civil war (1975-1990), and is now looking for foreign investors and donors to help explore and utilize energy resources from its own waters. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, financial meltdown compounded. The situation further deteriorated with the explosion that caused a havoc of Beirut, killing approximately 200 people. The round of negotiation talks between Lebanon and Israel are hosted by the United Nations, which has also been monitoring the land boundary since the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon in 2000. The talks will focus on discussing the 330- square mile patch of the Mediterranean Sea that has rich reserves of natural gas. This is the area that both states claim, thus making it a disputed territory. If both adversaries are able to resolve the dispute, it will have a momentous effect on the two states, as well for the peace of the overall region. Furthermore, this deal would be significant for the battered Lebanese economy. This would strengthen the energy alliance of Eastern Mediterranean, backed by the US. However, the talks will not be similar to the one that Israel held with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Israeli Energy Minister had said, “This isn’t a negotiation for peace and normalization.” Thus, the talks will not likely blossom into an agreement of normalization of relationships. In the future, the negotiating teams will be discussing only the disputed territory between the economic zones of both states, not peace. Nevertheless, even an economic agreement would mean that both states would not be losing billions of dollars each year anymore.

USA-Afghanistan: Intensified violence in response to Peace Talks

The United States signed an agreement this year with the Taliban pledging to extract all American forces from Afghanistan. The agreement revolves around the condition posed by the USA that the Taliban should provide reassurance regarding Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups that they will not use Afghan territory to carry out any terror attacks or activities.

Jettisoning Al-Qaeda and ousting the Taliban regime, which has been providing safe haven to Al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan were the basis of USA’s invasion in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and Taliban are still closely joint and still carry out military and training actions, agreement has not altered that. Over the years, Al Qaeda’s capability and strength has weakened in carrying out terror activities against the West but Al Qaeda’s resilience cannot be ignored because they killed Husam Abd al-Rauf, a high ranking Egyptian al-Qaeda member, in an operation in Ghazni province just last week. Taliban have averred that they will honor the agreement with the USA and prevent insurgents from carrying out terror activities. The maiden issues of ceasefire and power-sharing agreement have still not been deliberated to reach some conclusion. The Afghan peace process has already been delayed and losing its impetus because violence in Afghanistan has intensified in recent weeks. If the American forces are withdrawn before reaching any compact agreement, there is a possibility that violence will intensify even more. It can even encourage extremist groups to sharpen their nails and they can transform into an international terror threat again.