Dividends to Pakistan’s Economy from Afghan Peace – Challenges and Opportunities

The Afghan Peace Process has welcoming prospects for Pakistan, which is an immediate neighbor of Afghanistan. The two neighboring countries have shared tortuous relations in the past, but the peace talks are expected to have a positive impact on their relations. The peace talks provide Pakistan an opportunity to strengthen its presence in the regional politics. The Afghan Peace Process will help Pakistan suppress the antagonistic actors in Afghanistan from prospering. The initiation of peace process was the extensive diplomatic effort by Pakistan that made the process to follow the path ahead smoothly for which Pakistan was appreciated by USA. Pakistan is ambitious to project herself as a peace loving State and also that the prosperity of the region is closely linked to having peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan has been making sure since the beginning that the peace process is completely Afghan owned and no external factors gain access to any kind of interference.

To encourage and improve the trade and investment relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, National Assembly Pakistan has organized a two-day seminar titled “Pakistan and Afghanistan Investment and Trade Forum” on Monday 28th, 2020. Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed to the seminar as chief guest. 17-member Afghan parliamentary delegation, led by Speaker of Wolsey Jirga Mr Rahmani are also a part of this seminar. The USAID Pakistan has extended a supportive hand for the sake of regional connectivity and integration initiative. While addressing to the seminar, Prime Minister Imran Khan along with NA Speaker Asad Qaiser and Speaker of Afghan Wolesi Jirga (Afghanistan’s parliament) Mir Rahman Rahmani insisted on boosting the trade and investment between Pakistan and Afghanistan to generate more wealth and to encourage the industrialization. They also emphasized that the normalization of traffic between states will improve the condition of trade that has been damaged further by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the connection between Pakistan and Afghanistan is quite old and no foreign interference has ever succeeded in Afghanistan. He further explained that Afghani people have always taken their own decisions and Pakistan will be happy to work with any government that Afghani nation will choose. Prime Minister sympathetically said that the 40 years of tragedy in Afghanistan is unfortunate and it has been effecting Pakistan for past 18 years as well. He also suggested that dwelling in past has only causes mistrust but we, as nations, need to look beyond it to reassure transit trade and future investments. Following are the economic peace dividends for Pakistan and Afghanistan if the Peace Process materializes:

The first and the most significant dividend of the Peace Process is the Afghan-Pakistan trade. Both countries will be able to continue trade without the irritant of smuggling of timber, mineral resources and other goods. Afghan Peace Process will pave the way for traders to do open and legal trade which will eradicate the illicit trade in form of smuggling. This will

encourage the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in both countries to enhance legal trade of goods and products.
The second dividend, also economic in nature, relates to creation of regional energy corridor. The end of instability, and war offers Afghanistan and Pakistan a safe corridor into Central Asia. This would create a regional energy corridor from Sixth, Central Asia into South Asia. The economy of Afghanistan can flourish if it can earn revenues by levying the TAPI Pipeline. Afghanistan will be able to extract royalties from these projects and also meet her energy requirements. Moreover, peace in Afghanistan, the “Heart of Asia,” will allow Pakistan and other South Asian countries to connect with Central Asia, which offers a great opportunity at developing Central Asia-South Asia (CASA) electricity transmission line.

Thirdly, it is significant for Pakistan’s national interest to have a peaceful border at the western end. The success of the Afghan Peace talks can guarantee peace within Pakistan. If the Afghan government, Taliban and the US find common grounds as a result of negotiations, it will be advantageous in helping curb the terrorism that has caused immense damage to both nations. This will be vital for safeguarding Pakistan’s security interests along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the utmost interest of Pakistan.

The fourth dividend of the Peace Process relates to the role of Pakistan as a negotiator in the Afghan Peace process. The Peace Talks help Pakistan in building up her pragmatic image globally. During the entire process, Pakistan represents itself as a country that is dedicated to peaceful development in the region. Stability in Afghanistan will bring out the positive and peace loving image of Pakistan to the world, Pakistan will have a peaceful neighborhood. The rigorous efforts as a negotiator have helped Pakistan gather international appreciation. Pakistan holds a significant position in the Afghan Peace Process because as a central player, attaining peace and stability in Afghanistan would not possible without her participation. The Afghan peace talks are not only a golden opportunity for achieving peace in Afghanistan but offer a chance for Pakistan to gain a reputation of “Peace Promoter,” at international chessboard of politics.

Fifthly, the efforts of Pakistan demonstrate her clear intentions for Afghanistan. The dedicated efforts on both sides, will help regain the lost trust and push both countries towards mutual cooperation. Reducing the trust deficit is crucial for building peace in the region.

Sixth, the active participation of Pakistan in ensuring peace in Afghanistan which will subsequently lessen the influence of India in the region and in Afghanistan. This is important because India, an aggressor state, has been taking advantage of the hinges between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both trade wise and as well sentimentally. The Peace Process holds a tantamount position in the relationship of both countries.

Seventh, if Pakistan is able to lessen the influence of adversaries in Afghanistan, it would augment the communication between the leaderships and the people on both sides of the border.

The Peace Process will restart the trade, freedom of movement, economic prosperity and strengthening of defense between Pakistan and Afghanistan which will eventually help the economies to travel towards betterment since Pakistan also provides the shortest access to the sea for landlocked countries. If Pakistan’s objective of bringing peace in Afghanistan materializes, great dividends for both countries will just be one arm’s length away.

Sea Control by Pakistan Navy in 1965 War

Kashmir is termed as the ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan as all major rivers originate from there. The agricultural prosperity and power generation of the country is dependent on the waters of these rivers. It is an unfinished agenda of partition. By 15 August 1947, all the 600 princely states except Junagarh, Hyderabad, and state of Jammu & Kashmir had acceded to either Pakistan or India on the principle underlying the partition of British India, that Muslim majority states to join Pakistan and non-Muslim majority states to join India. According to book of S.M. Bruke, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy (p 17-27) the state of Jammu & Kashmir, popularly known as Kashmir had overall 78% Muslims, but in the valley of Kashmir Muslims were 93%. The ruler was Maharaja Hari Singh a Hindu. He initially wanted Kashmir to become independent but it was not possible as per partition rules. India sent its troops to Kashmir and occupied in October 47. In accordance with partition rules the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir should have been part of Pakistan. The first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir was fought 1947/48. India approached the United Nations asking to intervene. The United Nations recommended holding a plebiscite to settle the question of whether the state would join India or Pakistan which have not yet taken place. Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) was given special status within the Indian constitution, which guaranteed that it would have independence over everything except communications, foreign affairs, and defense. This special status (article 370 of Indian constitution) was revoked by the Indian government on 5 August 2019. A meeting of the members of Security council was held in mid-August to discuss the Kashmir issue at the request of Pakistan. After the close door meeting, China’s Ambassador Jun Zhang told reporters that Council members feel that India and Pakistan should both stop from any unilateral action over Kashmir. The fact that Kashmir issue was discussed in the highest diplomatic forum of the world is testimony to Pakistan’s point of view that this is an international dispute. Since then India has imposed locked down in Kashmir and continuously committing atrocities on the residents. Pakistan government is highlighting these aspects at every forum. Pakistani citizens should also expose Indians by whatever means available about the illegal occupation of Kashmir and mayhems being committed on the inhabitants. In short Kashmir is a major dispute which has yet to be resolved between India and Pakistan. It is considered main hindrance for normalization of relations. Border skirmishes take place on the Line of Control(LOC) frequently.

In early January 1965, dispute of Rann of Kutch emerged. According to Abdul Sattar book, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy (p102-105), India contested 3,500 miles area north of 24 degrees parallel. Fighting flared up in April. British government persuaded both sides to agree to cease fire which took place on 1 May. later on the issue was resolved by a Tribunal. Keeping this in view, Pakistan Navy (PN) was ready for any more eventuality. In the next few months PN units remained extra alert and went to sea frequently. Had embarked fuel, ammunition and stores for war. In the meantime, operation Gibraltar was executed by the Army in early August 1965 calling for incursions by Kashmiri volunteers into IOK. It was assumed that large scale Indian offensive is not likely. But India launched an offensive on the international border on 6 Sep with the objective to capture Lahore which was countered effectively. Hence all-out war commenced, India as aggressor. According to Jane’s fighting Ships of 1965-66, PN had a cruiser, a submarine and 7 destroyers (DDs)/ frigates (FFs), whereas India had an Aircraft carrier, two cruisers, and 19 DDs/ FFs. Indian Navy (IN) had considerable numerical superiority. Correct ratio between the two navies cannot be determined because PN did not have Aircraft Carrier, it may be assessed as 1:5. According to the book Story of the Pakistan Navy (p216-20), role assigned to PN was Sea word defense of Pakistan, keep sea lines of communication open, interdiction of shipping, thwart amphibious landing and assist army in the riverine operations in former East Pakistan. India had deployed an Aircraft carrier, 2 cruises and 14 DDs/ FFs on the East coast and 5 DDs/ FFs on their West coast. PN Submarine Ghazi was deployed off Bombay area to sink heavy units of IN that is Aircraft Carrier Vikrant and two heavy cruisers, Delhi and Mysore. She sailed on 2 Sep and was in her patrol area off Bombay on 5 Sep. Vikrant and Delhi were refitting in Bombay. Mysore was operational in Cochin harbor. It was assessed that Mysore will move north towards Bombay but it never left Cochin area. PN received message about starting of hostilities by India at 0630 on 6 Sep. PN units were preparing to leave harbor at 0800 for weekly exercise program and left harbor before 0800 and moved towards their assigned patrol stations. Naval control of shipping organization was activated to effectively control merchant ships. An embargo was declared on all merchant ships carrying war like stores to India. The river routes used by Indian steamers transiting through former E Pak were sealed. Orders were issued to seize all such vessels and their cargo. All these action were taken swiftly in order to inflict severe losses to the enemy in terms of valuable cargo, ships and river craft. In the afternoon of 7 Sep while the Task force comprising cruiser Babur and six destroyers and frigates was on patrol, orders were issued to carry out bombardment of Dwarka from a distance as close as of 5.5 nautical miles. The main objective was to destroy radar station, to draw heavy IN units out of Bombay for Ghazi to attack, lower morale of Indians, and to divert Indian air effort away from northern area close to Karachi. The city of Dwarka was completely blacked out. Bombardment was started about 30 minutes past midnight and completed in five minutes. Each ship fired 50 rounds. The Task Group safely arrived on its patrol station at 0630 on 8 Sep after successfully completing the mission. IN ships did not come out even after bombardment therefore, Ghazi was assigned patrol off the Indian Kutch coast. On 22 Sep she managed to get an IN frigate as its target. She carried out attack with four torpedoes at 7: 11 pm. The commanding officer, commander K R Niazi (retired as CNS) and second in command Lt Commander Ahmad Tasnim (retired as Vice Admiral) got gallantry awards Sitara e Jurrat (SJ). Hardly any movement of IN unit was observed in the North Arabian Sea and in the Bay of Bengal during the entire 16 days war. The PN had achieved Sea Control (establishment of naval superiority in areas where operations were intended to be conducted) of North Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal in the classic sense. However, the government accepted the cease fire on 22 September. The PN task force remained at sea till 27 Sep to meet any contingency. The PN dominated the IN which was about 5 times more in strength by her superior training, planning, foresight, and courageous execution of operations.

*Cdre ( r ) Dr Anjum Sarfraz is former Director National Center for Maritime Policy Research and Senior Research Fellow at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad

Challenges to the Internal Stability of Pakistan

Pakistan being an important country is in the midst of the crisis because of its geographical position. This geographical location has been imposing threats and challenges to the country and its people. Regional storms have surrounded the country due to its neighbors and global politics that is run by regional interests. Now the traditional and non-traditional threats have become a challenge for the complex security environment of the country. The international affairs have become unpredictable as there is no diffusion of power or problem solving mechanism creating a strategic influx. Pakistan has always been a central point for counter terrorism. It has been facing security threats from west, east and internal. Initially efforts were made to regularize relations with India. But the strategic relations have been affected by the improved atmospheric, business and political environment. The unresolved issue of Kashmir has become the main reason. Moreover, the strategic and conventional buildup of India has also posed a serious threat to the security of Pakistan. Trade liberalization has been taking place to normalize the relations. But the challenge is still there that whether the economic path could be sustained for the longer period without referring the political disputes. This can be referred in terms of strategic developments. India has been focusing more on the operationalization of proactive military doctrines to engage in limited conventional war which is below the nuclear threshold. This has further added a destabilizing aspect to affect the strategic scenario.

Pakistan has responded to this situation be redefining its military strategy and changing its comprehensive response to achieve its full spectrum deterrence in nuclear and conventional domains. Despite these dangers Pakistan is not a hopeless case. Pakistan has been making some serious efforts to end the war in Afghanistan through a political solution. Therefore, only in recent weeks, the diplomatic efforts have paved way to find the possibilities for a peace process involving a dialogue with Taliban. Pakistani Taliban have found their sanctuaries in Nuristan and Kunar and they are conducting cross border attacks which has further aggravated the security threat to Pakistan. Two major military operations in Swat and South Waziristan and ongoing actions elsewhere have driven militants out of some of their bases and halted their advance into the settled areas. But the sleeper cells of these miscellaneous militants in North Waziristan have to be tackled. Violent Extremism has posed a serious threat to the country’s law enforcement agencies and army has become a daunting challenge dominating the country’s threat perception. Moreover, the external dynamics have also posed a challenge making it necessary that an economically stable and tolerant nation can meet the external challenges.

Pakistan is making reassuringly steady progress out of the grip of militancy. There has been a gradual decrease in the number of fatalities as compared with terrorism-related fatalities in 2013. Moreover, suicide attacks have shown a great decline, as 2019 marks the first year in which no drone attack took place. After nearly two decades of violence in which thousands of innocents lost their lives in the wake of terrorism Pakistan has now turned a corner. This has been made possible only because of the kinetic operations taken by the security forces in the affected areas.  The geopolitical factors along with the ideological objectives can spill over in our country. The never ending struggle in Afghanistan and the sleeper cells of militant Islamic State group in contiguous with Pakistan is the cause of concern. We have to fight a ruthless enemy and the latest interesting figures depicts that the country is moving in the right direction.


Pakistan’s Ingenuity: Look Africa Policy Initiative

Pakistan and Africa have deeply imbedded relations in history since the period of anti-colonial melees because both the States were British colonies. After getting independence Pakistan provided material, ethical and emotional assistance to Algeria, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Nigeria. Moreover, during the times of need and predicaments Pakistan and Africa’s United Nation peacekeeping missions have been at pole positions. Pakistan has not only contributed in strengthening the institutional development in Africa but also have made them audible to the international community. Because of heavily imposed restrictions on Africa by the Commonwealth of Nations, Pakistan and Africa failed to form official consular relationships up till the year of 1994. Pakistan’s exports to Africa have been comparatively less in the sectors of textiles, leather, cotton and various fabrics. Pakistan’s presence and influence, having only 13 resident missions in 54 African countries, is very limited so are country visits. But it should not be neglected that Pakistan singularly holds an honor of extraordinary input to “Blue Berets” for United Nation peacekeeping forces to serve in Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Sierra Leone.

During the initial months of the year 2019, adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood mentioned, in the conference entitled “Engage Africa”, that through operative policies Pakistan can double its trade with Africa in the sectors of rice, engineering, foods, electronic equipment, pharmaceutical products, sports items, surgical instruments and cutlery in next six years that can boost the annual current trade volume of $4.28 billion. He also stated that Pakistan should not miss this great opportunity which can hike GDP from $2.4 trillion to $29 trillion. While addressing the same conference, foreign minister to Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed that Pakistan is aiming to increase both political and military cooperation with these States for which about 700 diplomatic officials are under training in Islamabad. Currently the trade between Pakistan and Africa stands at $3 billion which can be taken up to $4 billion through increased trade volume.

Keeping in view the potential and importance of African continent, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi visited Africa in efforts to boost economic cooperation, trade ties and to reaffirm momentous ties under Pakistan’s “Look Africa” policy initiative. On January 30th and 31st of the year 2020, “Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference” was jointly held by Ministries of Commerce and Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan in Nairobi. The visit was mainly focused on holding meetings and discussing ways and means to explore and enhance trade with Kenyan leadership, Cabinet Secretaries for Foreign Affairs & International Trade, African Community and Northern Corridor Development, Transport and Ports, as well as for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.


More than 100 delegates from Pakistan, Kenya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Niger, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Mauritius, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi attended the conference. Following the initiative Minister of Energy and Minerals Jama Mohamoud Egal and the country’s envoy to Kenya Amb Bashe Omar leading a delegation from Somaliland showed keen interest in developing great economic and diplomatic ties with Pakistan. It was discussed that to accelerate bilateral trade, tariff and non-tariff barriers are to be reduced. Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood also stated that six new trade wings will be opened at Pakistan’s embassies in Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania.

Pakistan’s “Look Africa” policy initiative can turn out to be one of the fastest routes to economic cooperation and growth which will also generate employment opportunities in both States to help reduce poverty. To serve the purpose Pakistan has reached out to the Southern African Customs Union, Economic Community of West African States and East African Community to discuss trade covenants and possible prospects that exist under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The integration of Pakistan and Africa will establish a connectivity hub providing Government-to-Government and Business-to-Business interface out-setting win-win avenues for both. This initiative will only work the best when the private sector will recognize the government’s efforts of being a facilitator and take tangible steps to make the most out of it. Pakistan has and still can play a vital role in maintaining peace in African continent through the United Nations. Pakistan and Africa are both facing poverty, hunger and unemployment which is one the biggest reasons to honor this initiative basing upon political will and respect for each other.