Mission Kashmir: A new wave of diplomacy to resolve Kashmir Issue

The Indian Occupied Kashmir is under siege since August 5th, 2019 when Indian government stripped the people of Kashmir off their special status by revoking Article 370 and 35A. Most of the Kashmiri leadership is either locked away in jails or have no access to the valley due to strict curfew. As PM Imran Khan met with President Donald Trump on Monday, the points under discussion were mainly regarding Kashmir issue and President Trump offered to mediate between Pakistan and India once again because he insisted that he wants every Kashmiri to be treated well. President Trump and PM Imran Khan also exchanged views on how to de-escalate the conflicting situation due to its drastic implications.

President Trump expressed the desire to mediate if leadership on both sides is willing to come on diplomatic terms. He also said that PM Modi’s statements while addressing the public rally of Indian-Americans in Huston regarding Pakistan were very aggressive, PM Modi also denied first offer of mediation straight away claiming that Pakistan is a base for terrorists. Mr. Trump appreciated the diplomatic efforts being made by Imran Khan to put the flames out with the help of USA. This was the second meeting between PM Imran Khan and President Trump in the search of solution for Kashmir issue. The crisis of Kashmir can escalate between Pakistan and India even further if not addressed timely.

Following his diplomatic efforts trail, PM Imran Khan met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and discussed of New Zealand in New York and discussed about the anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobia among the people and appreciated her efforts for reaching out to Muslims globally. PM Khan briefed PM Ardern about the atrocities of Indian government in Kashmir and that they are being kept in “an open jail” with total communication blackout. PM Khan also showed his concern that once the curfew is lifted in the valley of Kashmir, there is a chance of massacre of the residents just as it happened in Gujarat. Kashmir issue needs to be highlighted in World’s parliaments to stop the Indians from oppressing unarmed innocent Kashmiri.

Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan expressed his apprehensions after witnessing ongoing Indian atrocities in Kashmir and urged Pakistan and India to tackle the Kashmir issue through dialogues, during his address at the UN General Assembly session in New York. President Erdogan said that international community has been failing to pay attention and resolve the Kashmir issue for past 72 years, ignoring the fact that the development and prosperity of South Asia cannot be separated from Kashmir. The issue needs to be resolved on the basis of equity and justice because the lives and wellness of more than eight million people is highly on stake.

PM Khan shared his views during a press conference in New York that the brutal treatment of Indian government towards Kashmir is unprecedented in this day and age. Moreover, 11 UN Security Council resolutions recognize Kashmir as disputed which gives the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir through a plebiscite but India is still content that Kashmir is an internal and that they are the ones to decide the fate of Kashmir. PM showed his disappointment that Kashmiris are being treated worse than animals and majority of the international community is silent and that UN was established to eliminate radicalization against weaker parties to the conflict.

There is a dire need to handle and suppress the radical ideology of Hindutva that is being followed by PM Modi and his political party BJP to maintain peace in the region. Long term deterrence has only two implications that either the crisis de-escalates or escalates more severely than it initially was. In case of Pakistan and India the issue is continuously escalating and there have been talks of both the states going on war, most probably nuclear war. To deter and discourage the risk of war between two nuclear states there are not many options that having proper dialogues by keeping all the grievesnces aside and diplomacy via engaging the world to reach a long lasting and sustainable solution to the Kashmir Issue.



The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Eleanor Albert                                                                        October 14, 2015

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)is an intergovernmental organization composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan founded in Shanghai in 2001. Originally formed as a confidence-building forum to demilitarize borders, the organization’s goals and agenda have since broadened to include increased military and counter terrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing. The SCO has also intensified its focus on regional economic initiatives like the recently announced integration of the China-ledSilk Road Economic Beltand the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. While some experts say the organization has emerged as an anti-U.S. bulwark in Central Asia, others believe frictions among its members effectively preclude a strong, unified SCO.

Originally organized as the Shanghai Five in 1996, the organization added Uzbekistan in 2001 and renamed itself the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The six member states occupy territory that accounts for three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and have a population of 1.5 billion, a quarter of the world’s population. In addition to the six member states, the SCO has two new acceding members, Indian and Pakistan, four observer nations , and six dialogue partners.

As laid out in its charter, the organizationfunctions as a forumto strengthen confidence and neighborly relations among member countries and promote cooperation in politics, trade, economy, and culture to education, energy, and transportation. The SCO has two permanent headquarters, the secretariat in Beijing and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. One of the organization’s primary objectives is promoting cooperation on security-related issues, namely to combat the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism, and extremism. The organization adopts decisions made byconsensus, and all member states must uphold the core principle of non-aggression and non-interference in internal affairs.

As a young organization, the SCO’s regional influence remains limited. Richard Weitz, senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, writes that the SCO and its main organizational bodies are “chronically underfundedand have limited powers to take decisions independently of their member governments.” Member states’ penchant for pursuing “micro-agendas” alsounderminesgroup cohesion and sows mistrust, says Matthew Crosston, professor and director of the International Security and Intelligence Studies Program at Bellevue University.

Despite these challenges, the SCO has nevertheless broadened its mandate in recent years to include joint security and economic development programs. In 2014, China hosted the bloc’sPeace Mission, its largest military exercise in terms of the number troops involved, more than seven thousand, and advanced weaponry deployed. Other organizational priorities are initiatives to deepen economic and energy cooperation, including establishng a bloc-wide development bank.

The SCO as a group does not have much sway in Afghanistan, though the organization considers religious extremism, terrorism, and drug trafficking in the country as potential serious threats to the region. Its neighbors share the fear that instability in Afghanistan will spread beyond its borders. For  Kabul to participate in SCO counterterrorism initiatives, Afghanistan was elevated from an SCO contact group to full observer status at the 2012 SCO summit in Beijing. With the presence of theTalibanand local militants aligned with the self-proclaimed Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and the drawdown of NATO forces, the landlocked country’s security situation remains a top priority at SCO meetings. New Afghan leaders President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have backed greater SCO participation in rebuilding efforts, but the organization has had little involvement to date.

However, some SCO member nations have intensified bilateral engagement with the country. China, in particular, has sought to play a larger role in stabilizing Afghanistan to protect its substantial investments. Currently, China is the largest SCO investor in Afghanistan, with projects including the $3 billion contract to develop the Aynak copper mine (though its completion has faced numerousdelays). Leaders in Beijing hope that a stable Afghanistan will have a“spillover” effecton China’s own restive autonomous region ofXinjiang. Russia, too, participates in a variety of bilateral efforts with Afghanistan, including the provision of weapons to its army, counternarcotics initiatives, and its owninvestmentprojects. From 1979 to 1989 the Soviet Union and Afghanistan were at war, but today, Russia has a vested interest in the country’s security. Moscow views the SCO’s Central Asian members as a buffer zone between Russia and Afghanistan, says Raffaello Pantucci of the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and therefore chooses to strengthen broader regional security to prevent instability in Afghanistan from spreading to Russian borders. Central Asian partners, includingKazakhstanandUzbekistan, have also made significant investments in Afghanistan.

Despite these bilateral initiatives, it is unclear if the SCO will play a larger role in Afghanistan. The organization’s narrow action is in part due to the obstructivism by members who prefer to tackle security issues at the bilateral level, and friction and distrust between members prevent the SCO from forming a unified policy on security issues in Afghanistan. Experts cite the absence of not onlypolitical will, but also a limitedeconomic capacity (PDF)for the bloc to take on a military role. However, Weitz writes that if SCO members could make an effective contribution to Afghan prosperity and security, Western powers may come toappreciatethe Eurasian body.

Economic cooperation has become one of the organization’s more pressing  goals in recent years. At the Ufa summit in Russia, member states adopted the SCO Development Strategy, which included bolstering finance, investment, and trade cooperation as a priority over the next ten years. Beijing has pushed the organization to focus on economic cooperation with proposals like launching a development fund and a free-trade zone. In the past, many of these initiatives were“met with skepticism” (PDF)by regional, according to Pantucci. However, Central Asian member states, in need of infrastructure and energy investment, have been responsive to these overtures, despite Russian sensitivities to China’s expanding influence in former Soviet satellites.

Several SCO member states—notably Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan—possess some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and natural gas, driving interest in expanded energy cooperation among members. At a June 2006 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an “energy dialogue, integration of our national energy concepts, and the creation of an Energy Club.” During that meeting, member states discussed establishing a “unified energy market” for oil and gas exports, while also promoting regional development through preferential energy agreements. However, the plans never materialized due todiverging interests (PDF)between energy consumers and energy producers. China is looking to tap energy resources for its growing demand and while Kazkhakstan and Russia are dominant energy exporters, Uzbekistan increasingly needs its energy resources for domestic development and consumption, and the economies in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan remain weak. Members “prefer to keep national control over their production, supply, and consumption mechanisms and agreements,” according to Julie Boland, a former Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Still, regional energy cooperation occurs outside of SCO auspices. Russia hassecured agreementswith several of its Central Asian neighbors to build gas pipelines. China’s energy diplomacy similarly follows a bilateral course. For example, theCentral Asia–China Gas Pipelineconsists of multiple lines, both completed and still under construction, running more than 1,100 miles through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Beijing alsopledgeda $16.3 billion fund to integrate the region, reviving old trade routes as part of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt. Though China’s flurry of activity has been uprooting Russia’s traditionally dominant influence in the region,energy dealsbetween Beijing and Moscow are also on the rise.

Energy cooperation is but one facet of the economic exchanges among SCO members. China pitched the establishment of an inter-SCO Development Bank in 2010 as a smaller, regional version of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The SCO’s consensus-based decision-making procedures have enabled Moscow to block the emergence of the SCO Development Bank for years, fearing that the institution wouldcede full controlto Beijing as its dominant financier. Though the final document from the 2015 Ufa summit did not address the status of the bank, there are indications that Russia may be more willing to cooperate with China moving forward. RUSI’s Sarah Lain writes that within multilateral bodies, “Russia appears willing to accept someloss of statusin favour of China” in order to gain from closer ties with China.

China and Russia are the twin engines of the SCO, despite offering differing visions for the organization. Decades of rapid economic growth have propelled China onto the world’s stage, whereas Russia has found itself beset with economic turmoil and geopolitical isolation following its 2014 annexation of Crimea, subsequent ejection from the G8, and continuing involvement in the Ukraine conflict. In the past year, the Russian economy has faltered amid currency and oil price volatility, as well as an onslaught of sanctions imposed by the West.

Moscow had longblocked Beijing’s effortsto advance economic initiatives within the SCO. However, much like its Central Asian neighbors, Moscow is now looking to benefit from Chinese investments, including from energy and manufacturing deals. Since the fallout between Russia and the West, Russia has made its own “pivot” to the East to improve ties with its Asian neighbors, opening the door for greater cooperation between Beijing and Moscow in shaping the SCO agenda. Of late, China’s slowing growth has injected a degree of uncertainty about the future momentum of its economy, but analysts say that due to Russia’s own economy volatility, China will remain crucial partner for an increasingly isolated Russia.

Some experts believe that recent moves by Beijing and Moscow, including the agreement toharmonizeChina’s Silk Road Economic Belt and Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union and bilateral military exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, signal  an entente between the two regional powers. Greg Shtraks, a fellow at the East China Normal University in Shanghai,writes that the improvement in Sino-Russian relations seems to be a “genuine,lasting phenomenon.” Pantucci adds that Moscow’s overtures to Beijing not only indicate a willingness, but also an eagerness to have a close bilateral relationship, in both appearance and practice.

However, others like University of Tasmania’s Matthew Sussex believe that Russia’s relationship with China has “deepened by necessityrather than a sense of mutual trust.” Anita Inder Singh of the New Delhi-based Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution doubts the durability of Beijing and Moscow’s cooperation, claiming that the “‘has-been superpower’ and the ‘wannabe great power’ are engaged in acontest for primacyin Eurasia.”

Enlargement brings both risks and rewards. To date, the SCO has yet to finalize the expansion of its membership, despite applications from India, Iran, and Pakistan. In September 2014, the SCOclearedall legal hurdles to expansion at the heads of state summit, and India and Pakistan began the accession process at the July 2015 summit in Ufa. Belarus, a former dialogue partner, was also upgraded to observer state, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Nepal wereintroducedas new dialogue partners.

Beijing maintains that SCO expansion would “infusefresh vigorinto the group’s future development and boost its influence and appeal in the international arena.” Moscow sees the addition of India and Pakistan as a chance toincreaseboth the bloc’s political and economic potential and boost its ability to counter pressing regional challenges. Meanwhile, smaller SCO members, concerned of being squeezed by the interests of two superpowers, see the inclusion of India and Pakistan as an opportunity to diversify and build new partnerships.

Meanwhile, some area experts say that introducing new members—including those with fraught bilateral relations like India and Pakistan—to an organization that has been criticized for inefficacy is unlikely to result in greater efficiencies or cohesion. Barnard College’s Alexander Cooley cautions that expansion will make the SCO, “asymbolic organizationrather than a vehicle for any kind of substantive regional integration or cooperative problem solving.”

Despite the potential drawbacks, some experts say that there are collective gains to be made for the still-young grouping. As the two South Asian nations join, theprospects for a SCO Development Bankmay improve. New Delhi, keen to invest in Central Asia, would be a source of valuable financing and inject life into ambitious infrastructure and energy development plans. The addition of the world’s largest democracy, India, could also grant greater legitimacy to the body traditionally seen as a club of authoritarian governments. CFR’s Elizabeth C. Economy and William Piekos write that “while expansion may hinder the organization’s ability to act decisively, it will give the SCO theopportunity to revolutionize itselfinto a more comprehensive institution capable of connecting and integrating a broad swath of Asia.”

Interview: Francis Fukuyama

Emanuel Pastreich

Francis Fukuyama is a leading American political scientist, political economist, and author best known for his booksThe End of History and the Last Man(1992) and theOrigins of the Political Order. He serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.

We have to start with the simplest of questions. If we want to understand the challenges in East Asia today, we must first consider why it is thatAsia has become so centralin theglobal economy andwhy it plays an increasingly large role inglobal politics. How do you explain the enormous shiftthat we are witnessing today?

Well, there is a significant difference between the economic and the political spheres. Obviously, the biggest shift is to be observed in the economic realm. We can trace it back to the industrialization of China after the Cultural Revolution and rise of the four tigers: South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. But the shift in terms of political power is a much slower process than the economic shift.

Overall, Asia punches below its weight in terms of its ability to shape the rules for the global system and the direction that global governance is evolving towards. It is an issue of what Joseph Nye refers to as “soft power” – the ability of a nation to project ideas and concepts, build influential institutions and practices. The lag at the level of ideas is even more severe than the lag in terms of political power.

So if we talk about the rise of Asia, we must be sure that we are clear about what aspect of the rise we are referring to. If we ask the specific question, “Why has East Asia’s economic development been so successful?” We can speak with more confidence about a clear rise, although that rise does not necessarily fulfill all the traditional expectation for growing power and influence. We can be sure; however, that China will continue to increase its influence in global affairs for the foreseeable future.

And yet China’s rise is profoundly paradoxical. China is increasing influence in the political and economic spheres today, and is engaged in large-scale aid projects that are unprecedented in its history. At the same time, if you go to Shanghai, you will find more and more Chinese students studying English and trying to go abroad to study at American universities. There is more interest, not less, in moving to advanced countries now than was the case twenty years ago.

The trend is real, but it perhaps has more to do with the fact that there are simply more Chinese who have the money to send their children to the United States for their studies than anything else. Nevertheless, we can see that although China has the economic, the cultural and educational soft power is still lacking.

For all its weaknesses, the United States projects a tremendous amount of soft power globally. China cannot match that power yet.

But what is it exactly that gives the U.S. that advantage? Why has it been so hard for China, Korea and Japan, in spite of astounding economic growth, to have that sort of cultural impact? Certainly the cultures are extremely sophisticated and the level of education is very high.

We are seeing some changes these days, but the building of institutions, the growth of global networks, and the acceptance of new cultures takes generations.

Korea has done well in terms of culture. If you look at the spread of K-pop, Korean soap operas and Korean movies, Korea is producing a highly competitive culture that is expanding rapidly, even including spheres like manga and anime that were once exclusively Japanese. But such cultural influence has very little to do with GDP.

Significant shifts may come, but they will not be fast.

I suppose that the dominance of the English language is also an important factor.

The power of English has a long history, dating back to the British Empire, but its continued dominance is in part a reflection of culture, and in part a reflection of U.S. dominance in international business. In spite of the remaining dominance of English, we can perceive significant shifts. People are starting to learn Mandarin around the world, and that trend will continue. For some in Africa, Chinese seems like a very significant language. Eventually cultural influence will follow from growing economic power, but the lag time is significant.

And we are in an age of unprecedented age of globalization that defies previous precedents. For example, if you read the published statistics concerning members of the Chinese Central Communist Party committee, you will see that an extraordinary number of them have either a relative living abroad or own property abroad. They are committed to a global economy and they have an interest in the economy of the United States. We can see those overseas investments as a way to stash the cash, but there is also a sense in which those overseas investments are a security net of sorts. I do think there’s a sense that Western countries, whatever problems they may have, are fundamentally more stable politically than developing nations.

Therefore, despite all of China’s remarkable success, continued stability and prosperity is not something that they can take for granted? The accumulation of capital is not a replacement for quality of life, for getting a quality education, having safe food to eat. Even the superrich in Beijing can have kids with asthma who become terribly sick because of air pollution.

The author Lee Chang Rae recently published a novel entitled On Such a Full Seadescribing an authoritarian state in a megacity B-Mor (the former Baltimore) which is populated with immigrants from a village in “New China” that become uninhabitable because of climate change. The novel suggests that we may encounter a world quite different than our common “rise and fall of great powers” assumptions and that technology and climate change will be major factors. The entire world is being impacted by China’s rise and Lee Chang Rae’s scenario is not far-fetched.

There is a debate in the West, and to some degree in China, as to whether China is really capable of fundamental innovation. I probably fall into the camp of those who say that you we should not underestimate China’s ability to make profound shifts. China has changed far more than anyone imagined since the Cultural Revolution and it has a long history of institutional transformation. Although much of China’s recent economic and intellectual progress has been a form of catch-up. China is a vast country with many smart people. I would not assume that just because China lacks great political freedom that this means China isn’t going to be able achieve astounding progress, to innovate in technology and institution building.

Certainly China has a long tradition of good government and of institutional innovation. From the Tang and Song Dynasties to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, China has been able to generate internal reform on many occasions. There have been some scholars like Daniel Bell at Tsinghua University, in his bookThe China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, or Zhang Weiwei of Fudan University in his bookThe China Wave: Rise of a Civilizational State, who argue that China is fundamentally different than other nations in that it is a civilization, not a nation state. Is there perhaps something transformative of China that seeks to remake the entire world, not just expand into new markets?

I’m a little skeptical of such efforts to see some sort of new Confucian vision in the chaos that is the present Chinese political economy. I just do not see an integrated package; it’s an incoherent package. The official message coming out of China in its official sources is still taking Marxism-Leninism as its base. Perhaps there is a sincerely interest in the past, but basically Chinese are pretty confused about Confucianism. Although it may feel good to think on is building on a great tradition of millennia. But when push comes to shove they are back to Marxism or neo-liberalism. They end up filling the ideological vacuum with consumerism and greed. As long as the economic growth keeps up, they will be alright. But I do not see too much Confucian civilization in the hard choices that Chinese politicians make.

But in the West things are at last shifting a bit. Western intellectual are taking a stronger interest in Asia and reading and writing about China and its culture and politics. How broad is the interest in East Asia in Washington D.C.?

Although interest in Asia has risen remarkably, it is probably still far from what it should be. The rise of China has triggered broad introspection about Western and American institutions and their shortcomings. There have been some debates in the fringes, but the serious reorientation has not started. Most people in the West acknowledge there is a new drive in China and they express concern about job losses in the United States. But there are few who look at the rise of China and East Asia as a challenge to the dominance of Western civilization.

What do you think is the primary challenge to the U.S. and Europe today?

Many social scientists in the United States have postulated that economic freedom without a corresponding degree of political freedom is not sustainable. They assume that China will have to open up its political system and to democratize in one way or another. But there are serious problems with this assumption. If we think long term, say thirty years in the future, could we have a China in which economic growth is significantly higher than that in the West, a Chinese economy that has completely displaced the U.S. in scale and impact, but still have a China in which the government calls the shots domestically and internationally? Such a scenario is entirely possible and could create immense challenges to current global institutions. Few in the West want to imagine such an outcome. But that is not an excuse for presenting wishful thinking as critical analysis.

At the same time, the question of freedom is a complex one. Certain areas of Shanghai, for example, have access to Face book and Google and there are virtually no cases of interference from the government – if you are part of the “international community.” Many American expats feel oddly freer in that Chinese environment.

Yes, there are clearly pockets in China that are quite open these days. Globalization produces all sorts of complexities.

And what about Europe? How has the rise of Asia impacted France, Germany, Italy and other European powers?

What is striking about Europe is just how little attention they pay to China. Although I wish the United States took Asia seriously, compared with Europe, we are doing a pretty good job. You would be amazed to see how much Europeans still are talking about the challenge from America and the American model for business. They are having trouble getting their heads around the fact that China going to be a major player in the world and that what happens in the Chinese economy impacts the European economy. Similarly, the study of China, Japan and Korea in Europe is far behind the United States. There are not that many Chinese speakers and almost no one who can deliver a speech or read a book in an Asian language.

We have stressed China so far in our conversation, but in reality Korea and Japan remain quite significant. Might there be a risk that America focuses too much on the China challenge and loses track of the important developments in the rest of Asia. After all, Korea and Japan are major players in Southeast Asia and Africa, often displaying a greater sophistication than China.

Asia is polycentric, multi-polar, and constantly evolving. There is no uniformity in Asia in terms of geopolitics and culture and each of those countries is a separate world to itself, even as it overlaps in trade and commerce with its neighbors and with the United States. It is a challenge for Americans to keep up with that region.

The conditions are really different in each country. If we take a slightly longer-term horizon, all of Asia will be caught in this demographic trap (declining and aging population) which may have unintended consequences. Japan was the first to experience that shift, and we have seen articles about aging villages in the Western media for some time. But the trend for the future is actually more severe in Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. These countries are struggling to come up with some solution to the aging population crisis, and the resulting growth of a multi-cultural society.

But if you looked at middle-class and upper-middle class Caucasians in Europe or the United States, is not that population is more or less following the same trajectory as the aging populations of Korea or Japan. 

One cannot make sweeping statements. The fertility rates for Caucasians in the United States remain higher than that of countries like Korea and Japan. In the case of Scandinavia fertility rates have risen above the replacement rate. I speculate that countries that have the lowest fertility rates in the world are those in which you have a high level of female education, but still socially conservative mores that limit career opportunities for women. That is exactly what we find in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, where a lot of women don’t want to enter into marriages that require them to stay home and raise families, but the childcare facilities necessary for them to pursue careers do not exist. In Japan, the average age for the marriage of women keeps rising every year.

It’s amazing that although many families in Korea or Japan place so much emphasis on education for both boys and girls, there is an absolute distinction after graduation from college. Equality of opportunity suddenly ends when the student receives a diploma.

I met a professor at Julliard who was just livid because although many of his best piano students are Korean women, not a single one of them has turned that talent into a career as a musician. Despite all their talents, they dutifully go back to Korea and marry a rich corporate executive. Their outstanding musical talent becomes, he lamented, but an adornment, a hobby. There was no opportunity for those women to pursue a career in music.

Let’s talk about the current tensions in Asia, specifically those between China, Japan, and Korea. Although some make grim analogies between Asia today and Europe just before World War I, it seems to me that the conflicts over islands are fundamentally different in its nature from the battle over territory occupied by large populations.

I think the conflicts are quite serious because they are powered by the rise of nationalism in Korea, Japan, and China. Young people in each of these countries are growing more nationalistic than was their parents’ generation, and that trend is quite dangerous. Honestly, I am quite worried by what I see happening today. The territorial disputes are not inherently critical, but they take on tremendous symbolic significance and they are at the center of a struggle over geopolitical power. The fight over the future of the Senkaku Islands is not just about a few uninhabited rocks. It is a contest over who will set the rules in Asia, China or Japan. It is this larger question that absorbs the interests of both countries.

It’s still a different situation from, say, Alsace-Lorraine; no one lives there after all.

Sure, no one wants to start a war over a stupid bunch of rocks. But history shows that strange things like that can happen.

What are your thoughts about the U.S. and its position in East Asia? What do you think is the appropriate role for the U.S. to play in Asia going forward?

I think the U.S. needs to adjust to growing Chinese power but needs to be mindful of existing commitments. The accommodation of Chinese power cannot come at the expense of traditional allies – Japan, Korea, etc. Doing that is going to be very difficult. In the case of Japan, the Japanese have actually provoked a lot of the problems that they’re in right now, by the kind of nationalistic planes of revisionism that is going on there.

I am concerned by nationalist activities throughout East Asia. But as someone who taught Japanese studies for many years, I am disturbed especially by the purging of information about the Second World War from school history books and the shutting down of museums that provide an accurate narrative of what Japan did during the war. Japan is a sophisticated nation with a highly educated population. Such steps are just wrong.

There are definitely a lot of disturbing trends in Japan. The majority of the Japanese people do not support these actions, but there is a significant nationalistic right that has not accepted the outcome of the Second World War in the way that the Germans have.

You have grown up in the United States, but your family is from Japan. Does that impact your perspective?

My perspective on East Asia is completely American. I have no sympathy for the Japanese nationalists. The United States has an alliance commitment to Japan, but the position Japan has taken on many disputes with its neighbors has been self-defeating.

Coming back the U.S. role in East Asia, you suggest that the United States must engage China, and recognize its new status, but that there may also be some legitimate reasons for the United States to remain wary of China’s intentions. What specifically must the United States do to create stable security architecture in East Asia?

I feel that the U.S. needs to promote multilateralism in Asia and to consider multilateralism to be in its own long-term interests. The United States has certain advantages in its bilateral alliances. But the use of bilateral relations in Asia can also undermine American influence.

For example, China would like to deal with all ASEAN countries individually, through bilateral exchanges. But can we solve the complex multilateral disputes over coral reefs in the Pacific by a series of bilateral discussions? I think we need to do so through ASEAN, other international bodies, or new institutions that we will build.

I made a proposal inForeign Affairs about a decade ago for a multilateral structure related to diplomacy and security in which all countries, including China, can talk openly about defense budgets, confidence-building measures, and other topics and come to meaningful resolutions.

I have noticed thatKoreans, whether politically conservative or liberal, are committed to a multilateral vision of the future. Unlike the United States or Japan, there is no conservative faction that wants to dismantle multilateralism and pursue national military power without regard for international opinion. Perhaps this is a result of Korea’s position in multiple trade agreements that make its economy inherently multilateral.

I have noticed a strong interest in multilateral institutions in Korea. Such arrangements serve as a force-multiplier.

Let me close with a question about technology. How do you think evolving technologies (drones, cyberspace and other technologies with dual uses) are changing the nature of conflict and international relations, and what are the implications of those changes for East Asia?

I think you can see profound changes already in cyberspace. Already there are essentially no rules whatsoever. For example, if you hack into another country’s computer system, whether the computer belongs to a corporation or to the military, does that constitute an act of war? Who counts as a representative of the government of a country in cyberspace?

We have no agreement about the remedy to growing cybercrime. In fact we do not even agree on what kinds of responses are acceptable. Even if you do know who committed the crime, experts do not agree on how serious it is. And numerous reports of hacking have tended to make the public somewhat skeptical.

I suspect that rules and regulations about online crimes are going to be harder to enforce simply because the technology is so rapidly changing and often it is hard to show there has even been a crime.

Emanuel Pastreich is Director of the Asia Institute. Theoriginal versionof this article is available at Asia Today. This is the first of an interview series organized by theAsia Institute

Courtesy: The Diplomat

Hillary in History

Gail Collins                                                                     November 7, 2015

The Newyork Times

IT’S officially one year until the presidential election. Amazing how time flies, isn’t it? Once again we’re watching debates featuring what appears to be the entire supporting cast of “Ben-Hur.” Once again we’re asking ourselves why Iowa always gets to be first. Once again we’re wondering whether Hillary Clinton will make history by becoming the first woman president.

“It’s hard to believe there’s another year,” Clinton said in a phone interview, taking the glass-half-empty perspective. She was on her way to the airport during a fund-raising swing through California, broken up by an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show. Her formula for making it through another 12 months, she said cheerfully, was pretty simple: “We’re just getting up every morning. Step by step.”

“It’ll be a long slog,” she added with what I believe the entire nation understands is total accuracy. “But it’s more fun this time because I feel like we’re doing better.”

We’ve all been here before — a Hillary campaign and the first-woman-president possibilities it entails. In a way it’s so familiar that it’s hard to remember that the whole idea of a major female presidential candidate is new.

Clinton is the only woman who’s ever won a presidential primary. The only others who ever featured as even remote factors were the Republican Margaret Chase Smith in 1964, and the Democrat Shirley Chisholm, who got 152 delegates in 1972. (There were lots of ways to get little chunks of delegates without winning a primary back then.)

When we look back at our women-running-for-president history, we always have to start with Victoria Woodhull, who was the candidate of the Equal Rights Party in 1872. Woodhull still holds what may be the record for unsuccessful outcomes — she spent Election Day in jail after federal marshals arrested her on charges of publishing an obscene newspaper. This all had to do with Woodhull’s attempt to demonstrate the nation’s sexual double standard by publicizing an adulterous affair the famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher was allegedly having with a parishioner. She eventually left the country, worn down by all her battles. Meanwhile, Beecher’s parish raised his salary to $100,000 a year, and he got an endorsement deal with Pears soap. (“If Cleanliness is next to Godliness, Soap must be considered as a Means of Grace.”)

Woodhull was followed by a longish list of other women who ran for president as third-party or protest candidates. Many of them were lovely people, but we’re not going down a path that would force us to discuss the fact that the comedian Gracie Allen ran in 1940 on the Surprise Party ticket. Or that Georgiana Doerschuck ran for the Republican nomination in New Hampshire in 1996 on an anti-technology platform, promising that if elected, she would immediately issue an executive order banning all computers. Her campaign was particularly notable given the fact that Doerschuck was a desktop publisher. But really, we’re not going there.

We do have to talk about Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to have her name placed in nomination at the convention of a major party. “The first woman in politics I was aware of was Margaret Chase Smith,” Clinton recalled. “I can remember opening up Life magazine and reading about this woman who was in the United States Senate. I had no idea there was such a woman.”

Well, there certainly weren’t a whole lot. Smith, who spent much of the 1950s and 1960s as the only woman in the Senate, was the first senator with enough guts to stand up to Joseph McCarthy and his witch hunt. Her courage made such an impression that some Republicans talked about Smith as a possible vice-presidential nominee in 1952. But the party leaders thought a much sounder choice would be Richard Nixon.

Finally, in 1964, Smith tried running for president herself, and she did make it through three primaries. She campaigned only on weekends, a home-state newspaper reported, so “she would not break her record of never missing a Senate roll call since 1955.” Imagine living in a world so quaint that a presidential candidate cares about a perfect attendance record. And speaking of heartbreakingly old-fashioned, the paper also noted that Smith’s “whole campaign cost $355.”

Smith made history, but she didn’t make any real dent in the election. Most people didn’t seem to take her very seriously, and it didn’t help that her signature campaign tactic was passing out muffin recipes. The Republicans, in the end, nominated Barry Goldwater.

The Democrats’ first big moment came in 1972 when Shirley Chisholm ran for the presidential nomination. Chisholm, an African-American, would have been a double historic first. But her party was in no way ready to make symbolic gestures. They needed a winner! So they nominated George McGovern.

HAVE you noticed a pattern here?

While Carly Fiorina hasn’t been doing very well on the Republican side, she is their first serious female presidential candidate since — umm — Michele Bachmann? Let’s do the party a favor and say Elizabeth Dole, who ran briefly in 2000. Dole had been a cabinet official twice and ran the American Red Cross. While she was pretty clearly not going to beat George W. Bush for the nomination, many people did think she’d be picked for the vice-presidential slot. Instead, Bush chose Dick Cheney. Imagine how different our history might have been if things had gone the other way.

Yes, one of the running subtexts in this story is really, they couldn’t have done worse. Another is that when it comes to women winning political office, there’s a long line of wives in the cast of characters. Dole is married to the former presidential candidate Bob Dole. Margaret Chase Smith was both wife and office manager for Congressman Clyde Smith of Maine, and she took his seat after he died.

The first woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, won a special election in Wyoming to succeed her husband in 1925. The first female senator was Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas, who was initially appointed to succeed her husband. (This doesn’t count 87-year-old Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia, who was appointed to fill a one-day vacancy in 1922, as a tribute to newly enfranchised womanhood.) Debbie Walsh of the Center for American Women and Politics says 25 of the first 60 women to win congressional elections were widows who filled their husbands’ seats.

Clinton’s historical heroine is Eleanor Roosevelt, the ultimate example of a wife who achieves enormous political power without ever becoming a candidate herself. When the question of whether Hillary would have risen to presidential status if she hadn’t been married to Bill comes up, her fans tend to argue that if she hadn’t gotten married at all, she’d probably have gotten to the same place quicker on her own.

“I’ve heard that,” Clinton said. “Who knows? Life is so unpredictable.” (On the Jimmy Kimmel show, Clinton confided that if her husband had not been barred from seeking a third term, he’d have gone for it. And if she ran against him, “would I win? Yeah.”)

Thinking about the spouse question a little bit more, Clinton told a joke about a successful businessman and his wife who drive into a gas station where her old boyfriend is working. The husband notes with satisfaction that if she’d married him, she’d be the wife of a gas station attendant.

“And then,” Clinton concluded, “the wife says: ‘No, if I’d married him he’d be a big success like you.’”

Another rule for women running for high office is that they have to give the appearance of being very, very qualified. That would seem to be a given, but it doesn’t necessarily work the same for both genders. The pollster Celinda Lake says that voters expect female candidates to prove they’re up to the job, while they’re more likely to assume the men are qualified just because they’re on the ballot.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons — besides family responsibilities — that women tend to wait longer before they run for office. Even now, Debbie Walsh of CAWP says, women who get elected to state legislatures tend to be “older than their male counterparts and less likely to have children under 18 at home.”

But it gets worse: a study Lake did for the Barbara Lee Family Foundation showed that women also have to demonstrate they’re likable. “Voters will vote for a man they think is qualified but don’t like. They won’t vote for a woman who they think is qualified but don’t like,” Lake said. “It’s another double-bind for women.”

You will remember the famous moment in 2008 when Clinton was asked what she would say to the voters of New Hampshire “who see your résumé and like it but are hesitating on the likability issue.”

“Well, that hurts my feelings,” Clinton responded, adding, “I don’t think I’m that bad.” Feel free to bring this up the next time someone says that debate moderators treat all Democratic candidates with kid gloves.

And then, of course, Barack Obama interjected, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” It was supposed to be a joke, but it sounded supercilious, and may have helped seal the deal for Clinton in the New Hampshire primary — the first major party presidential primary in history to be won by a woman.

“I don’t sense the level of either novelty or resistance that I encountered in ’07-08,” Clinton said. Although there was a recent event where she took questions from children, and one girl asked what Hillary would do to end gender stereotyping.

But so far this time around, no men have gotten up in the middle of a speech to yell “Iron my shirt!” like someone did in New Hampshire eight years ago.

“Not yet,” she added. “Who knows what will happen. I still have a year.”

Clinton — the wife of a former president, with the longest résumé in the room — is a perfect transitional figure, whether she wins or not. Maybe there had to be a heroic Senator Smith with a muffin recipe, too. Maybe — and this is taking a really huge jump — there also had to be a “Ma” Ferguson, who became the first woman to be elected governor of Texas in 1925 after her husband was convicted of financial corruption. Ferguson did promise voters “two for the price of one” long before Bill Clinton thought of the phrase.

We definitely needed Jeannette Rankin, the first woman ever elected to Congress, who managed to destroy her political career by voting against World War I, resurrect it, get re-elected to Congress and then destroy it again by voting against World War II.

Good grief, maybe people will look back in 50 years and say we needed a Sarah Palin before there could be President X, who brought peace to the Middle East and reversed climate change after first winning public attention with her astonishing moose-hunting skills.

Try to think positive. The bottom line is that as we move forward, we never quite know what pushes history along

Pursuing Numaclacy

The Nawaz government has been in power now for nearly two months. Rather unusually, the prime minister has kept the foreign ministry portfolio to himself, supposedly because it is too important a matter to be entrusted to any of the 400-plus elected members of parliament.

Yet, he has so far failed to articulate a coherent blueprint of how his government will cope with the massive foreign policy challenges the country is facing, not to speak of his vision – assuming that he has one – of Pakistan’s place and role in the region and the world in a fast changing geopolitical environment.

The ‘guidance’ given by Nawaz to Pakistan’s diplomatic missions after he assumed office as prime minister and his ‘directions’ following a briefing at the foreign ministry on July 20 lay emphasis on the creation of a peaceful and stable neighbourhood, the promotion of trade and the “pursuit of economic diplomacy”. That by itself is unexceptionable. But there is also a clear message that the Kashmir issue, long regarded by successive governments as the core question with India, has been downgraded in importance.

The foreign ministry’s press release on the foreign policy ‘guidance’ given by the prime minister states that he “stressed the need to progressively pursue normalcy in our bilateral relations [with India], while actively seeking solutions for all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir”. In other words, the pursuit of ‘normalcy’ has been delinked from a resolution of Kashmir and other disputes with India, bringing Pakistan’s policy in full sync with the stand that India has consistently been taking and which Pakistan had always rejected.

That is not to say that Nawaz’s emphasis on building a peaceful and stable neighbourhood is misplaced. What is important, however, is to differentiate between each neighbour and pursue a carefully nuanced policy with respect to each of them. A policy that ignores the fundamental divergence, if not conflict, between the regional strategic goals and interests of Pakistan and India is bound to lead us to a dead end and must be avoided. Also, Nawaz must recognise that most of the problems between Pakistan and Afghanistan are of India’s making and are rooted in Delhi’s persistent effort to use Afghanistan as a base to destabilise Pakistan. Regrettably, Kabul once again seems to be falling for the Indian ploy.

Nawaz was right in choosing China, Pakistan’s biggest and most powerful neighbour with which the country enjoys a vitally important strategic partnership, as his first official overseas visit after becoming prime minister. That trip yielded more in strategic, political and economic benefits than the record nine visits made by Zardari to China in the last five years, most of which were uninvited. But the success of Nawaz’s China visit has less to do with his diplomatic skills than with China’s policy of opening up to countries to its west and exploring new trade and transit routes to the Middle East.

Nawaz seems to have peculiar notions on the importance of our relations with another neighbour – Iran. If the Zardari government did one thing right in its foreign policy, it was to try to develop relations with Iran. The agreement on building a pipeline to bring Iranian gas to Pakistan, which the US opposes, was to be the centrepiece of a vibrant economic partnership between Pakistan and Iran.

But Nawaz seems to have other ideas. A member of his cabinet is reported to have said that the project had not been altogether dropped, largely because doing so would entail a penalty payment to Iran. Instead, he said, the government “would procrastinate by trying to haggle over lower prices from Tehran”. Such double dealing, Nawaz should know, is not likely to deceive anyone and will only help Delhi in its longstanding policy of isolating and encircling Pakistan.

With Afghanistan, the prime minister seems to be on the right track. The government has done well to take the provocative statements emanating from Kabul in its stride, and continue to work patiently for an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. Progress is bound to be slow but this policy offers the best hope for bringing peace and stability not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan.

Of all of Pakistan’s neighbours, it is Nawaz’s policy towards India that raises the most misgivings. His pre-election statements on building economic and trade links with India, while sidestepping Kashmir, have now been followed up by rapid-fire action that go far beyond his oft-repeated promise to “pick up the threads from where he left off in 1999”.

First, Nawaz has been completely silent on the right of the Kashmiris to self-determination and on the continuing atrocities being committed by Indian occupation forces against the civilian population in occupied Kashmir. The entire valley and large parts of Jammu rose up earlier this month at the fatal shootings by the BSF of four villagers who were protesting against the desecration of the Quran by Indian forces in the Ramban district. While the OIC has expressed its “condemnation” of this unwarranted use of force, the Pakistani government’s statement only expresses “deep concern” and stops short of censuring the Indian atrocity.

PM Nawaz has now appointed former foreign secretary Shaharyar Khan as his special envoy for India. Shaharyar is a highly respected and experienced diplomat but his appointment betrays a delusion to which successive Pakistani governments have fallen victim. That delusion lies in assuming that the Kashmir issue, which has remained unresolved because of Indian intransigence, can somehow be tackled better through behind-the-scenes deal-making than conventional diplomacy. What Pakistan actually needs is not leaders who are adept at making secret deals but those who possess the necessary determination and grit in the face of adverse circumstances. That, however, is not a quality for which Nawaz (like either of his two predecessors, Zardari and Musharraf) is known.

Second, while India has shown no inclination to dismantle its non-tariff trade barriers against Pakistan and while unfair competition from India threatens the viability of many sectors of Pakistan’s industry, Nawaz is pushing ahead for expanded trade and business contacts.

Third, after having pledged in the PML-N’s election manifesto to open transit routes through Pakistan to give India overland access to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran, the prime minister has now been talking about opening the proposed China-Pakistan economic corridor to India. It is, therefore, no wonder that BJP President Rajnath Singh demanded last week that the Kargil-Skardu route should be opened for trade and extended further westward to give India access to Central Asia.

Fourth, Delhi has been pushing Pakistan to import electricity and Qatari gas from India. Indian’s vision, clearly, is to make Pakistan economically dependent and enhance its leverage over Pakistan. The amazing thing is that Nawaz is ready to play ball and has ordered his minister for power to visit India to discuss the matter.

Nawaz has a comprehensive agenda for ‘normalisation’ of relations with India, much broader than is contained in his party’s election manifesto. There might even be more surprises in store. Nawaz’s meeting with Manmohan Singh in New York in September should be carefully watched for clues.

Pak foreign policy needs changes

Shaukat M Zafar

The vision of our founding fathers of a progressive, moderate and democratic nation committed to development of a modern Islamic state is now badly at stake. A deliberate attempt is underway in the West to defame Pakistan by questioning its credibility in war on terror. Slamming Islam and tracking Muslims have become order of the Western civilization. The US used Pakistan to its advantage for as long as it could and Pakistan provided services for which the benefits accrued. The global landscape is now rapidly changing and Pakistan does not have the luxury of time on its side as it figures out its way out of the woods. Pakistan’s foreign policy requires a paradigm shift in the wake of recent deterioration in our ties with US by diversifying Pakistan’s international relations, while Pak-US relations face a deepening conflict. Its rescue is vital for our nation’s future as also for peace in the region and coexistence between civilizations.

Terrorist incidents taking place world over are often linked to extremist religious organizations in Pakistan leaving a bad image of the country and labeling it ‘the most dangerous country in the world,’ Cross-border missile and drone attacks, stated to be directed against Al-Qaeda, but killing many innocent Pakistanis are continuing that have strained cooperation between Pakistan and the United States. But our parliament and a number of its committees charged with the responsibility to oversee national security, foreign affairs and defense, seem to be absolutely indifferent. Being elected public representatives, it is parliament’s responsibility to oversee the country’s foreign and security policies. Pakistan army has demonstrated the will and actually done a superb job in apprehending, expelling and eliminating hundreds of Al-Qaeda cadres over the previous few years. A sound foreign policy is based on core interests tempered with a degree of real politic. Pakistan, unfortunately, has never had a foreign policy based on sound footings and its Political, Structural and Economic weakness plagued this nation from the onset. It has to devise a more self-reliant foreign policy because expectations of increased foreign assistance for our deteriorating economy seem unreal at a time when the world is afflicted with an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Foreign policy has taken a distinct back seat so far. It has not attempted to add substance to economic ties with the ASEAN states. It has to go a long way to establish optimum political and economic relations with a transformed Turkey which has not persuaded as yet in proper sense. China, our tested friend, has to be allured to make the investment in Pakistan’s energy and manufacturing sectors. Above all, Pakistan has to reconsider relations with India based on mutual respect and trust. Another important pillar of our continental strategy is the strengthening of bilateral political and socioeconomic relations with countries on our continent.

The main agenda on our foreign policy should be to support peace, security, stability and post-war-on-terror reconstruction initiatives. We must know from our own experience that the achievement of peace and stability can be a painstaking effort requiring patience and perseverance. However, we must keep in mind the dividends that come with peace. While readjusting this critical relationship to a new and probably lower order of mutual engagement, Pakistan has to break out of the constraints imposed unilaterally on it by the United States. We need to move towards clarity of thought in the identification of our enemy, focusing greater effort on isolation and liquidation of militants causing damage to the country, convincing the world of our earnestness and husbanding our resources with austerity and efficiency.

Fortunately, there is increasing clarity in the minds of common Pakistanis about the identity of the enemy. Pakistanis at home and abroad are now awake to the realities and citizens in seriously affected areas are now extending their full help to fight and expel the extremists. To revive Pak-US relations, constructive changes in the offing provide an opportunity for Pakistan to intensify security cooperation with the US in order to ensure elimination of Al-Qaeda presence on Pakistan territory, promote internal security against terrorism by stemming the tide of extremism threatening the realization of the progressive and modernizing vision of our nation. Pakistan has an equal interest in fighting terrorism because it is a victim of the scourge. Thousands of Pakistanis have been killed or injured by Al-Qaeda terrorists. Attacks on our armed forces and security and administrative personnel, suicide bombings, arson of schools and destruction of the economic infrastructure of our poor country have triggered a storm of outrage against the perpetrators who abuse the name of Islam and blatantly claim ‘credit’ for the mayhem.

We should enter into strong bilateral relations with Muslim Countries. Through these partnerships, we can foster stronger political relations, people-to-people solidarity, trade, investments, and tourism as we integrate our people. We should thoroughly consider these partnerships in order to identify ways in which we can strengthen them, focusing particularly on interventions necessary to promote trade in mutually beneficial and sustainable ways. Our understanding of international relations will be enriched by the greater knowledge of the social structures of the countries that we interact with so that we assume a departure away from international relations being the strict preserve of the ruling elites, academia and diplomatic community, and that we integrate other interested parties and stakeholders. Working together with all our people we can do more. This is about expanding the horizons of opportunities for our country. As we do this, we are also aware that there is growing recognition that emerging economies will be key catalysts of global growth as we emerge from the current financial and economic crisis. We have to seek out and grasp opportunities that these countries offer to our country.

India has been making incredibly smart choices in its international relations. It has assured to the democratic world that it is a truly secular state, protective and inclusive of its Muslim minorities. Needless to say, the countries that had initially supported our Kashmir cause have been seriously disillusioned. A cursory analysis of the dismal performance of the parliamentary committees responsible for overseeing Pakistan’s national security and defense policies would reveal that these committees have totally failed even to examine the serious issues confronting Pakistan, let alone offer policy advice on behalf of the people of Pakistan. We are in a serious crisis, and the root of this crisis is our inefficient, incapable, and corrupt Governments.

Sovereignty has two key elements; government and territory. The ideal is that the government is the sole authority over a territory and that its territory is unchallenged. The problem with Pakistan is that neither we have as much effective authority over our citizens and territory as we believe. We accept violations of outsiders when it is in our interest to do so, whether it is set out in the loan conditions of the International Monetary Fund, linked to any other aid program offered by the Western countries, or demonstrated in the fear of activities of troops propping up our government. If we try to enforce them, the outsiders may pick up and leave, reminding us that there are tradeoffs.

Recently, in a new twist, US House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee approved a bill significantly cutting overall US multilateral assistance and attaching more tough conditions on aid to Pakistan than that attached by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A separate bill voted on by the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations called for tough restrictions on civilian aid to Pakistan, tying it to Islamabad’s progress in fighting terrorism and checking nuclear proliferation.

We need a very, very big change—not only in the size of government but in the entire attitude and culture that defines the citizenry’s relationship to government. Now is not the time for status quo moderation. We cannot afford a “safe” democracy that has destroyed everything else. I believe that the economic well-being of this country is inextricably linked with the development of the country at large. We should boldly state a progressive position, anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist; support for the nonalignment and noninterference; respect for the sovereignty of nations, and an agenda for the empowerment and development of Pakistan.

Essential Army backing

Posted on December 9, 2012

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Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired the 155th Corps Commanders’ Conference held at the General Headquarters on Friday. As usual, the ISPR, the military’s public affairs wing—called the meeting a routine monthly affair that reviewed professional matters and was “briefed about internal and external security situation of the country”. Unnamed participant of the meeting, however, quoted in a section of press that the top brass of the army in the meeting expressed satisfaction over the outcome of initiatives taken by the Pakistan government to help the political reconciliation in Afghanistan and endorsed continuation of the political process. Had there been any official word from ISPR to this effect, it would have been more than a welcome move yet the report of the much required army backing ahead of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey trilateral summit in Ankara scheduled for December 11-12 to the civil government is good omen. The military support to the Pakistan government’s policy on Afghanistan ahead of the visit of the acting US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador David Pearce to Islamabad for further meetings with Pakistani officials assumes the greater significance in the sense that the military and civil leadership stands united on Afghan peace efforts.
Pakistan, in a sudden change of heart in meetings earlier with the Afghan High Peace Council and then later with the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, released mid-ranking Afghan Taliban detained in the country to facilitate contacts between the Afghan Peace Council and the militants warring against the USA and her allies. Pakistan did not even attach any condition or demand to the strategy of releasing the Afghan Taliban rather maintained secrecy about the identity of the released prisoners.
The US and Iran—key forces in the Afghan conflict, have already welcomed Pakistan’s move to set free Taliban prisoners. At this point in time, the success of the Pakistan strategy on Afghan reconciliation process cannot be predicted rather should remain beyond the speculations. Giving peace negotiations involving all the stakeholders in Afghanistan a chance is well perceived idea and its endorsement from the war veteran in the region Pakistan military will imply sustained support for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Army support to Pakistan’s Afghan peace policy will also infuse new impetus to the planned Ulema Conference scheduled for January in Afghanistan wherein religious scholars from both sides of the Durand Line who have strong following amongst Taliban will woo them to renounce violence and join reconciliation process. The Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, whom Fobres has placed at 28th in the list of the most powerful personalities of the world, is turning out to be biggest exponent of the “across board talks” in years long armed conflict resolution despite bearing irreparable loss of lives to the armed forces. Gentleman General was first to urge a caution in ruthless use of force against civilians in the name of war on terror, his resistance to the calls from various quarters to launch army operation in the North Waziristan. Today he has proven himself right

A new-look foreign policy

By M Ziauddin

Published: July 24, 2013

Let us stop looking at China through the eyes of our 1960s’ generation. It is no more a country fenced in under a bamboo curtain looking out only through a narrow Pakistani window. It has gone global since 1979. Today, China is an economic giant, second only to the US in size. With India alone, the size of its annual trade is $60 billion, expected to reach $100 billion soon against an annual trade of no more than about $12 billion with Pakistan and anticipating no dramatic change for the better in the near future. Against this backdrop, when one describes the Pakistan-China relationship as being higher than Himalayas, deeper than oceans and sweeter than honey, it sounds more like a boring cliche. Of course, this description could be true to some extent if applied to our strategic relationship with China. But strategic relations without the underpinning of strong economic ties have been known to have withered away when either of the two partners would, dictated by changing self-interests, develop new or mutually opposing strategic interests. That this has not happened to the Pakistan-China relationship so far is no guarantee that it would never happen. So, to avert that eventuality, we need to start focusing vigorously, without losing any more time, on attracting as much Chinese investment as possible in the manufacturing sectors, which have become economically unviable in China because of rising labour costs in that country.

The way the decades-long Pentagon-GHQ strategic relationship, sans any significant trade or investment ties, has gone into a tailspin in recent years reinforces this argument. Had these relations been buttressed by meaningful bilateral economic cooperation rather than keeping them solely dependent on defence cooperation they would, perhaps, have survived the recent widening of the trust deficit between the two, with Washington and Islamabad suspecting each other’s Afghan endgame intentions. So, let us also stop looking at the US through the eyes of our Cold War generation. Superpowers don’t have friends. They have clients. If we don’t wish to remain a client of the US anymore, we better not be on its wrong side as well. Let us not try playing games with it, like using the China option to neutralise US influence in the region or using the Afghan Taliban in our ‘custody’ and our access to the inaccessible-to-the-world Mullah Omar to play the spoiler in the Afghan endgame. In the first place, China would never go that far for our sake. Secondly, without the assistance of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which the US would see to it would not be forthcoming this time around, there is no future for a Talibanised Afghanistan. Also, no one in the neighbourhood, including China, Pakistan, Iran or the Central Asian countries, would feel secure with the Taliban back in Kabul.

So, the best option for Pakistan is to remain relevant in the endgame, not by being a US client or being a spoiler but by being a pragmatic facilitator in the global efforts to restore peace and stability to Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. The signals coming from Washington are very clear. The US wants to give India a role in the post-withdrawal Afghanistan. That is, perhaps, why US Secretary of State John Kerry visited New Delhi last month and currently, the US Vice-President, Joe Biden, is visiting India. Both have avoided Pakistan. We had only a low-level US official visiting us in recent weeks in the person of Af-Pak US representative James Dobbins. So, pragmatism further dictates that we stop wasting our breath resisting India’s entry into the Afghan endgame. India has galloped way away from Pakistan economically, enhancing the asymmetry already existing between our two countries. Its economic ties with the sole superpower, the US, and the emerging Asian superpower, China, have expanded the vested interests of the two in New Delhi’s political well-being. Let us profit from the emerging situation by enhancing our own economic ties with India without, of course, giving up our historic positions on bilateral disputes. By the way, nothing and nobody can undo the geographical, cultural and ethnic ties that exist between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is a gift of nature. So, as a first step, let us offer MFN status to India and follow up by providing a New Delhi transit trade facility to Afghanistan and beyond. This will also guarantee that India, in its own economic interests, would ensure peace in Pakistan by keeping RAW on a leash.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.

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Foreign Policy

In the short history of Pakistan, if we just concern about the foreign policy of Pakistan we will reach the conclusion that it was not consistent. Mostly our foreign policy was and is based on personality base, and our foreign policy is changed due to the changing of leadership or government. There were lots of fluctuations in our foreign policy throughout history by which we face a lot of long-lasting problems in forming good relations with India. Some internal factors were also there such as large identity groups who have much influence in domestic policy which ultimately impose effects on our foreign policy. Due to our religious class, the State is unable to its good relations with India. Someone rightly said that we cannot change our neighbors; we have to live with them in any case. But now the state is taking rational decisions like in the case of China and Russia, we are determining to form good relations with them it is a good initiative. But it will take some time in the case of Russia when both states have to forget their past role which both States did. Pakistan House will also provide some rules and regulations in this context so that the maximum benefit can be achieved only via forming good foreign policy.