RSS

Category Archives: International Affairs

My opinion and analysis on international politics, inter-state relations and developments in global politics, reflected through the articles shared through the posts under this category.

Helpless Rohingya Muslims


Rohingya Muslims, Courtesy: Asian Correspondent

Approximately 800,000 Muslims live in Burma, forming 4% of the Burma’s total population. Apart from these official estimates, the Muslim population in Burma is double according to neutral sources. These Muslims are commonly known as “Rohingya Muslims” and have never been given the legitimate citizenship of Burma despite living there from the 8th century. They are subject to racial discrimination as “Bengalis”, and, under a 1982 law, are denied citizenship. For decades, they have been suppressed by restricting their freedom to travel, practise their religion, or work as teachers or doctors. They need special permission to marry and are the only minority in the country barred from having more than two children. The discriminatory prosecution against them accelerated since 9/11, but it has surpassed all the previous brutality since June 2012. They are being slaughtered mercilessly and images on social media shook the world when it viewed the plight of these innocent victims. Marginalized for the past 30 years, this minority is seeking refuge in countries like Bangladesh and Thailand (that have their own reasons for not granting shelter to the distraught Rohingyas).

In a recent spate of this unconstrained atrocity, at least 48 Muslims were killed.  The incident took place in a small village that envelopes itself with an isolated corner of Burma. According to the United Nations (UN), Buddhist mobs attacked  at the village named Du Chee Yar Tan, situated in a state called Rakhine. This state at the northern side of Burma is home to 80% of the country’s 1 million Muslim Rohingya population. It runs along the Bay of Bengal and is disconnected with the rest of the country due to a continuous mountain range (Arakan Yoma mountain range). Not only this but, foreign journalists and humanitarian aid workers have limited access to this village, adding to the difficulties of confirming details about the violence. Above all,  the United Nations has declared “Rohingya Muslims” as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

According to a UN report, shared by an Iranian journalist, Dr. Ismail Salami, there are eight phases for any genocide:
1)  Classification, people are classified into “us” and “other”, the first stage towards isolation and colonization. In Burma, Muslims are seen as the ‘other’ and are considered inferior.
2)  Symbolizations, people are given names or symbols in order that others may tell them apart. This stage is not, per se, dangerous unless it turns into dehumanization.
3)  Dehumanization, in this stage, one group refuses to acknowledge the humanity of the other group. In other words, one group reduces another group to a subhuman. Rohingya Muslims are also being dehumanized according to this definition.
4)  Organization: Genocide is backed up by the government or government-related bodies. A genocidal act is carried out through an intermediary such as terrorist groups or punks in order that the government can exonerate itself from any blame whatsoever. In Burma, the government has frequently repeated that the carnage is conducted by mobs. In the recent case of Du Chee Yar Tan village, the government has also denied the occurrence of any carnage or mass killing.
5)  Polarization: Hate groups forbid some of the very fundamental rights of the browbeaten group. If Ronhingya Muslims marry unofficially, they may be arrested and burnt alive. Muslim men ought to shave their beard so that they may be given permission for marriage. They are not allowed to build new mosques or seminaries (places of worship) nor are they allowed to renovate the old mosques.
6)  Preparation: In this stage, the victim groups are identified and made to wear badges which distinguish them from others. Further to that, they are selected for the death row or marked for death. The selection may be random or systematic.
7)  Extermination, in this stage, the extermination of the downtrodden group starts at the hand of the hate group. The term signifies that the hate group who functions like a killing machine refuses to believe that the people they are killing are indeed human beings with human feelings and worthy of living in this world.
8)  Denial, it is the last stage and a routine with any genocide. In the recent attack and mutilation of women and children, the government denied that a Buddhist mob rampaged through a town and mutilated Muslim women and children. However, human rights group and eye witnesses testify that the mob intentionally killed the Rohingyas.

Matthew Smith, executive director of the Thailand-based rights group “Fortify Rights”, called on the Burmese government to give humanitarian workers, independent observers and journalists unfettered access to the village. He said hundreds were still in hiding and may need help. The Burmese government should let the UN probe the issue, if it believes that the incident didn’t take place at all. On the other hand, the Muslims countries should take a collective decision to support the case of Rohingyas at every platform.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2014 in International Affairs

 

Tags: , ,

Turk and Arab Youth Unite


TAYC-3

 

VIEW : Turk and Arab youth unite — Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

Events unfolding as a consequence of the Arab Spring had a substantial impact on the young people living in the countries in revolt. The Arab awakening is described at times as a ‘youth-driven’ movement, which is driven by the poor performance of authoritarian regimes. However, despair lingered amidst slogans of democracy, equality and freedom of speech. A recent opinion poll by Miftah (the Palestinian initiative for global dialogue and promotion of democracy) unveils that the Palestinian youth are distinctly less positive today about the effects of the Arab Spring. Presently, only 18 percent of all youth believe regional changes are positively affecting the Palestinian situation. Moreover, a study by Al Jazeera in July 2013 revealed that Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Tunisia’s youth feels disenfranchised from politics. Although young people represented a majority of those who sparked the revolutions, today they are alienated from politics.

To guide the youth in the right direction and to carve a vision for its future, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Youth Assembly (IMMYA) planned to arrange the Turk Arab Youth Congress (TAYC). This year, the second congress was conducted in which participants belonging to 24 different Arab countries participated, including conflict-ridden areas like Palestine, Syria and Indian-occupied Kashmir. During the congress, Turk and Arab youth convincingly decided to work together in order to chalk out a future that assuages their sufferings. I got an opportunity to attend the TAYC 2013 as a student of journalism from Pakistan, and to gather some interesting insights relevant to the Turk-Arab cooperation.

On the first day of the congress, eminent intellectuals and politicians provided the participants with the background knowledge to build a theoretical framework for understanding regional issues. Advisor to the Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ms Summeyya Erdogan, said that the common geography made Turks and Arabs closer to each other. She was of the view that borders had never been a barrier to the Turk and Arab brotherhood. Her message suggested that young people should remain optimistic under their common heritage and to think of Istanbul as their city. The notable part of her speech argued that Turkey works towards the ‘West’ but always takes the ‘East’ into consideration.

The first panel discussion for the first day was initiated by Fuat Keyman, Director of the Istanbul Policy Centre at Sabanci University. He threw light on the topic of the panel: “New approaches to the new world crisis” and defined the Arab Spring as a crisis of globalisation. He believed that integrated information and communication technologies (ICTs) can no longer allow countries to remain isolated. According to Mr Keyman, the Arab Spring proved both the Orientalist and Occidentalist perspectives wrong. Orientalism believed that the Arab world cannot change. However, the Arab Spring marks the initiation of a long term transformation in the region. On the other hand, the Occupy Wall Street protests challenged Occidentalism as well. As per Mr Keyman’s view, the west is weakening and the east is rising. Regarding democratisation of the Arab region, he held the opinion that Turkey cannot be taken as an exemplary model, as it is still in the phase where democracy needs to be consolidated. The rest of the Arab world is shifting towards democratic norms.

Bulent Aras, Chairman for the Centre of Strategic Research, defined the Arab awakening as the rise of collective consciousness. He elaborated that resistances do follow revolutions as history teaches us. The discussion was concluded by Yasin Aktay, Chairman of Institute of Strategic Thinking. He shared that things are only new when we have not experienced them before, and people only differ with regard to the way they react to the events happening around them. The second session of the congress revolved around building regional and global civil networks. The panel was led by Bekir Karliga, Chairman of the national coordination committee of the alliance of civilisation. He reiterated the need to develop a new and more robust sense of ‘civilisation’. As per his view, Islamic history proves that Muslims had a deep understanding of civilisation.

The next speaker for the second panel discussion was Ms Humeyra Sahin, an author. She believed that a uniform paradigm of modernisation was being imposed on the world at the moment. According to her, Internet is a tool for the present generation and it should be used for the right purposes and in the right manner. Ms Sahin thought that instead of letting the west define the east, the latter should write its own history.

Mesut Ozcan, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, took the topic further by explaining the significance of ‘soft power’ and civil diplomacy. His discussion tried to convince the participants that classical diplomacy is now changing, especially through cultural and academic exchanges between different countries.

On the second and third day of the congress, participants were asked to discuss different topics under three different commissions. One was based on social, humanitarian and cultural issues, the second one on economics, while the third one was based on the intervention of foreign powers and organisations in local conflicts. At the end, every commission proposed a social, economic and political solution to the Syrian refugee problem. The Turk and Arab youth had achieved a consensus on building networks to ensure an interest-free Islamic economic ecosystem. They opined that the Syrian refugees should be hosted and sponsored by the neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan), following the spirit of Muhajirin and Ansar during the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). On the stage of international politics, they thought that the Organisation of Islamic Conference should take a leading role and advocate the case of oppressed Muslims belonging to any region.

The Turk Arab Youth Congress 2013 was an interesting way of creating an interactive platform for the Turk and Arab youth; however, what is left to be seen is the practical application of what the youth aspires for the region. 

The writer is a student of Communication Studies at University of the Punjab. She blogs at http://www.fakihahassanrizvi.wordpress.com and tweets at @Fakiha_Rizvi

The verbal content of this post was published in Daily Times on November 5, 2013. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C11%5C05%5Cstory_5-11-2013_pg3_6

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 5, 2013 in International Affairs

 

Tags: , ,

Afghan Women after 2014


VIEW : Afghan women after 2014 — Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in two girls who should go to school remain at home in Afghanistan 

The unwavering faith and intense struggle of Afghan women has continued since the civil war started in Afghanistan. As the only woman to this date ever to be crowned ‘Miss Afghanistan’ (Zuhra Yousaf) puts it, “War steals the very breath of life. Afghanistan stopped breathing and the little that was achieved by Afghan women came to a standstill.” The female gender in the land operating under the yoke of Taliban rule had always been striving to deny the gender role that was assigned to them. They had coveted the identity that was invaded by the feudal lords, bigots and warlords. An average Afghan woman, even today, in any part of the world, feels like a pendulum swinging between ‘Orientalist representations’ and ‘stereotypes of Islamic tradition’ imposed on her. All she is worried about is ‘what others think of her’. The promises of peace, security and egalitarianism for them seem to fade away. Even after a decade of bombing and NATO strikes, Afghan women are still searching for their lost identity.

The question arises: why?

After the twin bombing of the World Trade Center, which the world remembers as 9/11, the weakening of the Taliban and al Qaeda was being portrayed as the liberation of Afghan women. However, nothing ‘just’ seems to prevail in their homeland for them. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in two girls who should go to school remain at home in Afghanistan. One in five children do not survive long enough to make it to school. Women trafficking rose to unprecedented levels since 2001. Economic problems, enhanced poverty and problems such as forced marriages have resulted in the dramatic increase of ‘self-immolation’ among women. Although 25 percent of parliament comprises of women, honour killings are still executed at an expeditious rate. Despite tragedies and hopelessness, Afghan women are valiantly fighting for their rights. They clearly denied the gender roles being ascribed to them by the Taliban and now they are dissenting against the tags placed on them by the invading forces. Had the champions of ‘peace, equality and humanity’ kept their promises, the situation would have been a lot different. Now, even a baby girl born in Afghanistan would be a matter of concern for her mother who would be worried about her existence in a respectable way. In her own way and according to her culture, norms and religious beliefs, she tries to shield her from forced social control.

While directly relating the downfall of the Taliban with the emancipation and empowerment of women, the west has forgotten the state structure and laws in Afghanistan. It is evident that Afghans emphasise on state-imposed changes to women’s legal and social status. The reforms initiated from 1919-1929 were a consequence of constitutional amendments. During the reign of King Amanullah Khan, women were guaranteed equal rights under the constitution. Female students were sent to Turkey for higher education. Then in 1959, the policies of Muhammad Zahir Shah allowed women to unveil voluntarily and to find employment. By 1964, women even won their right to cast votes. All these changes were legitimised only through constitutional means.

Contrary to the above mentioned measures of the past, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United States failed to devise any workable or long term strategy to ensure peace in the region. The devastation worsened due to drug cultivation, terrorist activities and the upward trajectory in crime rates. NATO forces made Afghanistan a battleground between themselves and the insurgents. The worst affected actors were the Afghan women. They were deprived of a conducive socio-political environment to institutionalise their legal rights such as education. This is the reason that women are still questioning their fate and future in Afghanistan, especially after the withdrawal of NATO forces from their country. Activist and author of A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, Malalai Joya has faced attempts on her life after speaking out against the oppression of women under the Taliban, but she is explicit in counting the US and NATO too as enemies of Afghan women’s (and men’s) right to live and learn in peace.

Entrenched in the mesh of uncertainty and trepidation, Afghan women are now looking forward to an alliance with the clerics. They are requesting pro-female Friday sermons. For them it is a hope to defeat violence and ameliorate the pitiful state of their rights. This campaign is likely to start in Kabul and would be implemented in all the provinces. However, there are 160,000 mosques in the country of 30 million people and this campaign will remain restricted to 3,500 government-funded mosques. With the withdrawal of the foreign invaders looming, Afghan women are now retreating to seek the support of traditional men who have always been represented as their worst enemies. Had the western analogy of ‘de-Talibanisation’ and ‘peace for women’ been correct or fruitful, the Afghan women would not have been left pleading for their fundamental rights.

The writer is a student of Communication Studies at University of the Punjab. She blogs at http://www.fakihahassanrizvi.wordpress.com and tweets at @Fakiha_Rizvi

Originally published in Pakistan Daily Times http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C07%5C20%5Cstory_20-7-2013_pg3_6#.UeojaMpqcYI.twitter

Tweets about Afghan Women after 2014

Tweets about Afghan Women after 2014

 

Tags: , , ,

Privatization’s Hidden Aim: Exposing a Critical Danger to the Country’s Survival


Privatization’s Hidden Aim

By Tariq Majeed
The writer, a retired naval officer, is a researcher in the global power game and has authored many articles and several books, including one titled, “The Global Game for a New World Order,” published in 1995.


Those who praise Thatcher’s massive privatization of Britain’s state-owned enterprises do not know the real story. She in fact wrecked the sound structure of Britain’s economy that was a fruitful mix of socialism and capitalism. She “enabled Britain’s rich to get richer, but made life hell for many working-class Brits.” It was some years later when independence for Scotland loomed on the political scene as a reality that the hidden political aim behind Thatcher’s policies dawned on the British people.

New Wave of Pressure. Pressure on Pakistan to privatize its state-owned enterprises is again increasing. This is not to say that there was any lapse in it. This pressure is a constant feature that is evident from its recurring mention in the media. Its heat, of course, is felt without let up by government officials, especially those in the Foreign Office and the Economic Affairs Division. But then, there are among them those who are part of the pressure machine.

Bhutto’s Nationalization – Part of the Plan. The pressure stems from the IMF-World Bank Duo, which demands that Pakistan sell off all its State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to private companies. The demand, actually the second part of a long-term plan, was initiated in early 1980s. Its first part was Z.A. Bhutto’s sweeping nationalization of all privately-owned enterprises in the country in 1972–that damaged both the economy and the economic structure of the country. A. G. N. Qazi, who had a long career in the Economic Affairs Ministry, disclosed in a PTV interview in June 1993 that, “ In the early 1970s, the IMF and the World Bank were coaxing and guiding us to make nationalization a prerequisite in our economic policies. Then, in the early 1980s they were coercing us to denationalize and privatize everything.”
Pakistan government, in fact, did not disappoint the two financiers, when it is considered that to meet their demand scores of SOEs were sold off to private parties in the past 20 years or so. Amongst them was PTCL, a strategic and highly profitable state asset. Most of them were profit-yielding entities and were sold off at literally throw-away prices when compared with their market value. It was in the first tenure of Mian Nawaz Sharif as prime minister (1990-93) that the privatization programme took off. Thereafter, it went on flourishing during each of the successive governments.

The Remaining Vital Assets. What is irking the IMF/WB is that several units that have been on the top of their demand, such as, Pakistan Railways, PIA, PSM, PSO, Pakistan Post, have still not gone into foreign private hands. The PPP government, like its predecessor, was willing to sell them off in spite of their vital strategic value for the country. However, wiser elements in the civil-military establishment and some within the PPP kept warding off the danger of losing these national assets, although the government had redoubled the efforts to turn them into ‘white elephants’ and ‘deadwood,’ to show that they were a drain on the economy. Now, new life has been put into these efforts.
The propaganda managers never let a word out in public about the valuable strategic nature of these units or about the ever-increasing financial misery imposed on the masses as a result of the ‘market forces’ controlling the numerous units already privatized.

“Thatcher Plan”- A Misconceived Model. On 30 April, the Nation, published an interview of Pakistani billionaire Mian Mohammad Mansha by Bloomberg with the headline, “Pakistan Needs Thatcher Plan after Poll.” Describing Mian Mansha “as one of the country’s richest men who oversees MCB Bank and whose Nishat Group spans finance, textiles and cement-making,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying: “State-run companies are bleeding cash…They have got so bad now that we need a Maggie Thatcher type of solution.” Bloomberg explained, Mansha was “referring to the 1980s push to sell-off loss-making government companies led by the late British prime minister.”
Mian Mansha is in big business and obviously has certain merits. But, does he not know that the ‘Thatcher type of solution’ actually wrecked the sound structure of Britain’s economy that was a balanced mix of fruitful practices of socialism and capitalism? She was a darling of the Big Business but was despised by most Britons, especially the Blue-collar Masses.
Thatcher made Masses Economically Miserable. A Reuters headline in the Nation, Wednesday, 10 April 2013, two days after her death on 8 April, summed it up: “Thatcher Mourned, But Opponents Celebrate.” “Loathed, Thatcher crushed trade unions and privatized swathes of British industry.” Britain’s Daily Mail, April 9, labelled her as “The Woman Who Divided a Nation,” and “questioned the ceremonial funeral planned for her.” Another story by Reuters in the Nation on April 16 said: “Thatcher deeply divided Britons and while some have paid tributes to the achievements of her Conservative governments, others said her privatization of swathes of industry had destroyed communities.”
Similar bitter comments were made by several columnists and observers, following her death. A column in New York Daily News, April 8, 2013, commented: “Thatcher’s popular capitalism enabled Britain’s rich to get richer and buttressed some sections of the middle class. But it made life hell for many working-class Brits and by the mid-1980s unemployment doubled to more than three million. And even when members of her own Conservative Party urged moderation, she tightened her resolve.”

‘The Thatcher Plan’ dislocated the steady, masses-friendly conditions of life in Britain and led to decline and volatility in the important sectors, including, health, public welfare, educational and social conditions, industry and economy itself. Does it offer a solution for Pakistan’s troubled economy? No, Mr Mansha! Thank you; Pakistan does not need the ‘Thatcher Plan.’ But, you can help with your business expertise, and advise the government on managing the SOEs efficiently and making them commercially profitable.

The Aim behind Britain’s Massive Privatization. The weekly Time, June 3, 2013, in a write-up on Prime Minister David Cameron’s political woes, shows a photo of “Protestors in London marching against Cameron’s austerity measures.” They are carrying placards with hostile slogans; one huge placard reads: “CAMERON HAS BUTCHERED BRITAIN.” Actually, Thatcher was the architect of such cruelty.

It was some years later, when independence for Scotland loomed on the political scene as a reality in the future that the hidden political aim behind Thatcher’s policies dawned on the British people. Divesting the government of the centrally controlled industries, services and utilities was to pave the way for Scotland to become independent. By then, they had also found that the assertions that these enterprises were functioning inefficiently and incurring losses were artificially created, and that their privatization, contrary to claims of yielding benefits, had worsened the economic and social conditions.

Silence over the Adverse Effects of Privatization in Pakistan. Both these adverse features have been painfully conspicuous in the privatization programme in our country. And yet the advocates of privatizing the remaining state-owned assets never say a word about the acute distress that these two elements have brought to our nation. The advocates lobby, besides some affluent businessmen and officials, in the privatization commission/ministry, includes leading politicians and economists. The silence of the former two groups is understandable, but that of the political leaders and leading economists cannot be explained except in terms of lack of sincerity.

The privatization project is a vast programme of stipulations–known as conditionalities–to be met. Its agenda of undesirable changes has included creation of Oil and Gas Regulating Authority (OGRA) and breaking down of WAPDA into various power supply companies, lifting of price controls, linking of POL prices with those in the international market, pegging the Rupee to US Dollar and thus exposing it to constant devaluation, terminating the beneficial subsidies on essential items and giving freedom to foreign buyers of SOEs to repatriate their profits in foreign exchange.

Distress and Damages Caused by Privatization. The conditions and consequences let loose by the privatization project have been harmful economically, socially and even politically, both for the State and the people. People are suffering from unemployment and a chronic inability to meet the ever rising cost of the basic necessities of daily life, food, electricity, gas, transportation, schooling of children. Impoverishing conditions in the society have increased bribery, robberies and suicides.
The State has lost several regular sources of large sums of revenue. It has lost much of its ability to control rising inflation and to provide relief to people including reasonable opportunity of employment. Its authority to ensure timely availability and maintenance of essential reserves of certain important commodities has been adversely affected.

Security, Sovereignty and Unity Affected. In privatization of a strategic enterprise, when its control is transferred to the foreign buyers/shareholders, as, unfortunately, was done in the case of PTCL, the State loses a measure of its security as well as sovereignty. Both these vital ingredients of the power and independence of the State will be greatly harmed if other strategic enterprises are fully or partially privatized. A vital point which should never be overlooked is that each of the large state-owned services, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Post, PTCL, WAPDA and PIA, operating all over Pakistan, naturally acts as a binding element in national integration and unity.

Shallow Arguments. What was the government’s explanation for selling off the SOEs to private parties? It was simply this: ‘The SOEs were sick units, mismanaged, incurring heavy losses and a drain on public exchequer and, therefore, had to be privatized.’ This was touted as a slogan–to justify the official policy. Twenty years on, the same slogan was used by Mian Mansha; only the words were different.
This argument holds no water, to say it in polite words. In critical analysis it turns out to be unsound, and far short of the level at which strategic issues are evaluated for taking decisions in the National Interest. Besides, this justification was clearly incorrect in the case of many of the SOEs, including PTCL, Sui Gas Corporations, Fertilizer and Cement Factories and the Landhi Tool Factory, which were earning profits. The Kot Addu Power Plant was showing high profits when it was privatized. When PTCL was being privatized in 2006, news appeared in the press that Pakistan’s Telecommunication Service was the highest profit earner among the world’s state-owned telecommunication services. Informed economists considered PTCL as one of the main engines of growth in Pakistan.

Top Management Posts in Wrong Hands . How did various units that were running efficiently and yielding profits turn into allegedly “sick” units a few years after their nationalization by Z. A. Bhutto in 1972? Mainly, because their top executive posts, in disregard to rules and regulations, were gifted to cronies of the country’s ruling elite. Such appointees, apart from being devoid of the expertise required for the job, treated it as an opportunity for making money. This has been the practice, starting from Bhutto’s PPP regime down to the PPP-led regime that ended on 16 March 2013. An excerpt from a story in the News on 15 May 2013 highlights this point:

“To pre-empt political appointments in state-owned entities by the upcoming government of Nawaz Sharif, a petition filed in the Islamabad High Court seeks a complete end to high profile appointments except in accordance with the transparent and competitive induction process as laid down by the Supreme Court. The petition expresses deep concern about the state of affairs where incompetent, unfit and corrupt persons are deliberately placed in top regulatory, government corporations and authorities. The previous government made appointments without following transparent, fair, merit-based procedures to at least 20 such bodies and organizations, including PIA, PSM, Pakistan Railways, SSGPL and SNGPL. The result of such blatant abuse of executive power was an 1800 billion rupees corruption during the last five years because of which there are huge electricity and gas shortages and state corporations like PIA, PSM etc. are virtually bankrupt.”

Massive Outstanding Bills and Loans. Apart from being victims of mismanagement and massive corruption, units such as WAPDA and KESC accrued losses due to non-payment of bills by large governmental and private consumers, and stealing of electricity by influential people. They were financially damaged also in other ways. When WAPDA was being prepared for privatization, its labour union leader, as reported in daily Din, 14 November 1997, lamented: “WAPDA was a profit-yielding body till by wrong policies billions of rupees of its earnings were shifted to outside agencies.”

Privatization of Banks was preceded by a flood of propaganda that the banks were failing due to huge losses. What had caused the losses? Enormous loans obtained by influential businessmen and politicians. These remained unpaid and went on multiplying from year to year. As their privatization was finalized, many of the loans were written off; some were recovered. The losses disappeared and the banks immediately began to show profits! These banks were a rich source of revenue for the government. Their profits now go into the coffers of private parties, and the outsiders among them promptly send the wealth in foreign exchange out of Pakistan.

Dishonest Dealings. It is not in the scope of this writing to discuss the irregularities committed in privatizing various units, including appointment of foreign consultants as asked by IMF/WB and payments made to them, and selection of the buyers and settling of the sale price and other terms with them. Other researchers have analyzed this aspect. It is covered in an extensive study, “Senseless Privatization in Pakistan,” by Usman Karim at http://www.paklinks.com/gs/pakistan-affairs. The financial managers in the newly installed PML(N) government would find it very useful. In the privatization programme during 1985 to 2008, dishonest dealings on the part of both parties, the government functionaries and the private buyers, caused serious losses to Pakistan in terms of national economy, security and sovereign control over the state assets. Just the corruption involved in that process amounted to US $42 billion, according to the study mentioned above.
The Political Aim. Scotland’s full independence, set for 2014, that will shatter Britain’s unity, could not have taken place without breaking up the state-controlled centralized structure of national systems of communications, transportation, utilities, services and industrial and other assets. The breakup was accomplished by Thatcher’s privatization programme. That was privatization’s hidden political aim. And so it is, in Pakistan and many other countries, including India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nicaragua, Nigeria and so on, where privatization is in progress. Everywhere the regimes are carrying it out on the directions of IMF and WB.

Part of the New World Order. Privatization is an integral part of the New World Order (NWO), which is a world-wide plan seeking to alter the value systems of societies and the geography of countries. Conditions are being promoted to break up the existing nation-states into smaller territorial entities using ethnic, linguistic and other parochial differences in the people within each state. The plan envisages uniting the new territorial/geographical entities into regional federations which would be under a restructured UN broadly acting as a One-World Government. Its originators are the exclusive group of International Financiers who dominate the world economy and consequently politics, media and other instruments of power.
It is not a conspiracy theory. It never was. When President George H. W. Bush in a speech on 28 February 1990, said: “Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective— a new world order— can emerge,” people heard this phrase for the first time. But implementation of NWO had been already going on. European Community, precursor of EU, and other regional organizations, such as ASEAN, SAARC and GCC, to be turned into federations in future, had been formed. And, privatization, the cornerstone of NWO, was in progress in many countries. People did not know its real aim, but they knew by experience that its end result was more misery for them. So, in every country they have been resisting it.

That privatization is a scheme for breaking up of countries is a very closely-guarded matter by IMF and World Bank, the principal implementers of the NWO. The people and even the political and military leaders in most countries remain ignorant of it. However, here in Pakistan, we are sure they would no longer be unaware of this grave danger to the country.

 

Tags: , ,

Pak-German Economic Diplomacy


VIEW : Pak-German economic diplomacy — Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

Germany has promised to stand by the new government in Pakistan and respects the mandate of the Pakistani people 

Germany and Pakistan have maintained a cordial relationship since the late 1940s. Germany is home to more than 30,000 Pakistani immigrants and more than 1,200 Germans are currently residing in Pakistan (mostly in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar). Almost 2,000 Pakistani students are currently studying in German institutions to pursue higher education. After the United States, China and Saudi Arabia, Germany also plays an influential role in the domestic politics of Pakistan. The interest of German economists in the South Asian region has engaged the country in economic diplomacy with Pakistan. This is the reason that Germany is the largest trading partner of Pakistan in Europe. It is also the fifth biggest source of foreign investment in the country. Several German multinational companies have been making lucrative businesses in Pakistan for decades. The German Federal Statistical Office shows that Pakistan’s exports to Germany increased by over 76 percent while bilateral trade volume increased by two percent during the past four years. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flowing from Germany into Pakistan has also enhanced. Interestingly, the newly elected government of Pakistan hosted the first foreign leader on June 8, 2013, Germany’s Foreign Minister Mr Guido Westerwelle. He defined his visit as a trigger for “new momentum” in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Germany has promised to stand by the new government in Pakistan and respects the mandate of the Pakistani people. It is worth remembering that during April 1998, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (who was the then Prime Minister as well) went to visit Germany, Poland and Brussels to improve economic ties. He said in Brussels at an official reception, “We [Pakistan] seek understanding and cooperation with Europe.” At that time Mr Sharif was Pakistan’s first ever business leader. Pakistan stitched associations with Germany and the European Community in general to integrate itself with the global economic order. In the 1990s, Pakistan and Germany sought a business alliance in the form of the Pakistan German Business Forum. This forum came into existence in 1997, again during the ‘Nawaz era’. After the country became a nuclear power in May 1998, Germany did not criticise Pakistan nor did it support it. In addition to this, the Germans were critical of India’s role in the Kargil war and remained silent supporters of Pakistan. During the Musharraf regime, Germany became one of Pakistan’s most important allies in the war in northwest Pakistan between Pakistan and the Taliban.

After the democratic transition in Pakistan, the economic condition of the country was abysmal. Bilateral Trade Investment Treaty signed in December 2009 with Germany opened a new chapter in economic ties and helped reinforce business relations. The contribution of the German parliament and people for the flood victims in Pakistan during 2010 was unprecedented. Out of an aid worth $ 300 million, an amount of $ 210 million was donated by ordinary German people. Germany had also been generous enough to support Pakistan in getting a larger share in exports to the European Union. However, the perception of German people about Pakistanis is quite low. According to a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, only five percent of Germans view Pakistan’s influence positively, with 82 percent expressing a negative view. This view should be dispelled by the new government in Pakistan under the leadership of Mr Sharif.


While Germany aspires to see Pakistan as a ‘regional power’ and economic hub of South Asia, Pakistan should strive to maintain a positive image back in Germany. Students, media and young Pakistanis employed in Germany can play a decisive role in this regard. In the recent visit of Mr Westerwelle, an assistance of 93.5 million Euros is promised. Following the historic trend of friendship, Prime Minister Sharif has once again invited German investors to help Pakistan with the ailing energy sector, in particular. The German Foreign Minister has indicated the continuity of support to Pakistan’s request for preferential trade plus (GSP) status in the European Union. The two countries have agreed upon the upgrading of Pak-German forum into a bilateral chamber of commerce. The support from Germany just days after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has assumed power is a healthy sign. It depicts the resolve of Germany to maintain a smooth and strong bilateral relationship with Pakistan. For the stabilisation of the Pakistani economy, the European trading partner wants democracy to pay its dividends. The economic revival is directly linked with a good perception of Pakistan in countries like Germany that offer financial assistance via development in the sectors of energy and health. The benefit of the doubt is being given to the cabinet by foreign investors, who have been sceptical of Pakistan’s economic transparency. Funds should be used justly and transparently to ensure that economic diplomacy between Pakistan and Germany flourishes. Only then can the new government expect to regain the confidence of other countries willing to invest in Pakistan, but reluctant due to bad governance and corruption. 

The writer is a student of BS Communication Studies at University of the Punjab and blogs at http://www.fakihahassanrizvi.wordpress.com. She Tweets at @Fakiha_Rizvi

Originally published in Daily Times http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C06%5C18%5Cstory_18-6-2013_pg3_6#.UcBq-9Zbd08.gmail

 
 

Tags: , , ,

Will Nawaz Sharif Mend Pak-US ties?


VIEW : Will Nawaz Sharif mend Pak-US ties? — Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

Dependency on the US is inevitable as this is not 1999, and the post-9/11 scenario has knitted Pakistan in the nexus of the war on terror 

With the electoral results of Pakistan at the international and national display, the triumph of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is prominent. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is geared up to take his seat as the premier of the country for the third time now. His victory speech promises the execution of his reasonable and sound manifesto (based on three Es: Energy, Economy and Education). The activities of the party, after its huge success, exhibit the renewed commitment through which Mr Sharif wants to tackle the problems entangling Pakistan. He has received a warm message from arch-rival India, the terror-ridden Afghanistan and the United States has acknowledged his election campaign and the mandate of Pakistanis in his favour. The new government will have to confront multiple challenges ranging from terrorism at home and in the region, to the faltering economy, making the country more dependent on foreign loans. In connection to this, Mr Sharif might be using his induction in the ruling position to amend the oscillating Pak-US ties during the tenure of Zardari-led coalition.

Foreign policy, especially the bilateral relations with the US, is going to be a more complex and intricate issue for the third term of Mr Sharif. A bird’s eye view of Pak-US ties since the previous tenure of Mr Sharif reflects that he took credit for the country’s nuclear tests in 1998. Even though the focus of American diplomatic strata remained converged at the objective of dissuading Pakistan from conducting the nuclear tests. At that point, every single dollar being rejected to India could have poured into Pakistan. As expected, the nuclear explosions were followed by heavy economic sanctions from the US. Adding fuel to the fire, the Kargil misadventure deteriorated the image of Pakistan and brought it under international glare. There was a rift in relations with the US.

After General Pervez Musharraf’s coup, Pakistan was stigmatised for three reasons, broadly speaking: nuclear weapons programme for its suspension of democracy, and for its support of the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, the ambiance of alliance and amicability started after 9/11. This did not last long and Pakistan;s democratic transition brought Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) into power. Since then, major developments took place and Pak-US ties wavered.

The diplomatic immunity given to Raymond Davis gave vent to anti-US sentiments in Pakistan. The events following the success of the ‘Abbottabad raid’ never made a smooth road for the allies to tread on. The dwindling relations were further deteriorated by the attack on Salala check post by the NATO forces. The public reacted strongly with protests all over the country. To contain the resentment of the masses, government took measures adversely affecting the US exit strategy from Afghanistan, including the evacuation of Shamsi air base and closure of the NATO supply line. The Zardari-led ruling coalition did not leave a grazed field near the end of its constitutional tenure by initiating the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, which was not viable in the eyes of the US. Moreover, handing over the Gawadar port to China is not a good omen for US hawks.

;Original caption: Secretary of Defense Willia...

;Original caption: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (left) welcomes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, of Pakistan, to the Pentagon, Dec. 3, 1998. Cohen and his senior advisors will meet with Sharif to discuss a range of regional and international issues of interest to both nations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Senator John Kerry is likely to visit Pakistan as soon as the new government takes up the daunting task of ameliorating the socio-political set up of Pakistan. Mr Sharif has an intention to boost ties with the US. It is noteworthy that throughout the election campaign, the PML-N took a vague stance against drone strikes. Unlike its competing political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which even planned a long march against drone strikes during electioneering. The PTI has earned the confidence of the people of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. On the contrary, Pentagon has no plans to end drone strikes. US Assistant Defence Secretary Michael Sheehan has explicitly stated recently before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services that drone strikes may continue during the next two decades and war is where enemy exists (from Boston to FATA). Consequently, Americans already expect a lot from the next government of Pakistan.

The public opinion in Pakistan is antagonistic to US aspirations. According to the Pew Research Global attitudes Project, “Only 11 percent of Pakistanis express a positive opinion of the US.” Not only this, but “64 percent of Pakistanis consider the US as an enemy.” The report released on May 7, 2013, further explains that the US is getting extraordinarily negative ratings in Pakistan. Under such circumstances, maintaining a necessity-based friendship would be an arduous task for Mr Sharif and his cabinet. Dependency on the US is inevitable as this is not 1999, and the post-9/11 scenario has knitted Pakistan in the nexus of the war on terror. Islamabad will have to sustain a smooth relationship with Washington by using Mr Sharif’s prudence. This will be the most expeditious diplomatic move that Nawaz Sharif will have to make, while keeping in view the sentiments of the masses that voted for his party.

The writer is a student of BS Communication Studies at University of the Punjab and blogs at http://www.fakihahassanrizvi.wordpress.com. She Tweets at @Fakiha_Rizvi

Originally published in Daily Times newspaper http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C06%5C04%5Cstory_4-6-2013_pg3_4

 

Tags: , ,

Quantifying the Terror Laden War


quantifying war on terror -page001

9/11 became the synonym of disaster and anguish in the 21st century. The so-called ‘war on terror‘ that was supposed to restrain terrorizing factors has caused even greater harm to human beings. For more than a decade, countless lives have been extinguished and human beings have been propelled to devour violence. The extent of suffering and brutality has trespassed all boundaries of morality. ‘We’, the silent spectators are standing at a point where human life is equated with a mathematical digit. This, obviously, isn’t new. History is preserved in a quantitative way. It will continue to do so till the time precious corporeal bodies will be quantified.

In a recent report that Pakistan‘s top brass intelligence shared with the Supreme Court it was revealed that:

24,000 people both civilians and troops were killed in terrorist attacks during the period between 2001 and 2008.

15,681 casualties have been suffered by the armed forces in the tribal areas since 2008- with 2009 being the deadliest year for them.

5,152 civilians have been killed and 5,678 injured in bomb blasts and suicide attacks since 2008.

More than 200 members of tribal peace committees or Lashkars, including volunteers and chieftains , were also killed and 275 wounded in targeted attacks in the last 3 years.

In return the intended targets don’t even reach 30% of the unnecessary or innocent victims.

As, since 2008, only 3,051 insurgents were killed. Another 1,228 were wounded in security operations.

235 suicide hits

9,257 rocket attacks

4,256 bomb explosions in the last five years

‘Brazen attacks and mutilated bodies’ is the most prominent outcome of a war that was in vain keeping in view the purpose with which it was waged. This isn’t new, it was initially indoctrinated during the Afghan war when the same insurgents and fundamentalists were the most applauded heroes in the US. The American hawks felt that it was justified to provide books under the USAID to Pakistani children living in the tribal regions near bordering Afghanistan. Those books taught children the basic ‘addition and subtraction’ not by counting apples or oranges, but by looking at the number of Russian soldiers! They know how to count, thanks to those cost-effective books! However, this time they are counting the members of their tribe and family. It isn’t hard to predict that how will they balance the equation, they too will quantify the terror laden war!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 30, 2013 in International Affairs

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: