There is no greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one’s native land. -Euripides 431 BCE
The unprecedented internal civil/ethnic conflicts have been causing a gross violation of human rights in terms of internal and external displacement. Consequently, some of the countries of the universe have been entrapped and crippled in refugee’s crisis. Afghanistan has also been facing a refugee crisis for the given of its political instability, underdevelopment, terrorism, fundamentalism, the presence of NATO forces.
Afghanistan has become a full member of SAARC in 2007. The SAARC was established on December 8, 1985, focussing on lofty and idealistic objectives such as the promotion of welfare and quality of life, acceleration of the economic growth, social progress, and cultural development and create mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems etc. The Afghan refugees have been facing myriads of problems despite such lofty and idealistic objectives of the SAARC. Against this background, the main focus of this article is look for, does SAARC take the notice of the plight of the Afghan Refugees to translate its objectives into reality by policy options? Does it have any refugee policy, if not, could it be made a part of the agenda for the 19th SAARC Summit (Islamabad-Pakistan) taking place in November 2016?
Scholars like Morgenthau (1948) and Malhotra (2009) have argued that the nation states have been fighting with each other to acquire more and more power to make their geopolitical space in the zero sum game. Afghanistan has been entrapped in the geopolitical cobweb. On account of its strategic location and richly endowed minerals attracted the intervention of the external powers like Russia, US, NATO and several other regional actors. The geopolitical and geostrategic interests of these players, made it battle ground till date by creating the dreaded terrorist organizations and Mujahedeen to fight with the Soviets. Later on, these groups became out of control and have expanded in many regions/countries. Responding to 9/11 attack, the Operation Enduring Freedom was launched which further complicated the Afghan refugee crisis. Out of this military solution of the terrorism, the people of Afghanistan had paid the price with internal and external displacements.
Afghanistan Refugees: A Rationale
The scholar like Ruiz and Emery (2001), have argued that the Afghan refugee crisis goes back to more than three decades. Since the Afghan-Soviet conflict, 26 million refugees have been compelled to run away from their homes either temporarily or permanently. The intervention of Soviets started the Afghanistan refugee crisis. Moreover, the violence and atrocities perpetrated by the Mujahideen forced the hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the country. The second critical phase for the afghan refugees during the Taliban control in 1994. The Taliban offensive had compelled about 1,50,000 Afghans to leave Afghanistan. The Afghan refugee crisis has been the product of unrelenting civil/ethnic conflict, unabated human rights violations, underdevelopment, lack of basic necessities of life like education, health, sanitation, unemployment, warring factions, and lastly the Operation Ensuring Freedom. As per the UN Commission on Human Rights special rapporteur on Afghanistan (October 2000), pointed out that the country has been in,
“A state of acute crisis—its resources depleted, its intelligentsia in exile, its people disenfranchised, its traditional political structures shattered and its human development indices among the lowest in the world.”
SAARC sans refugee policy
The SAARC was established in 1985, with prioritized objectives such as the promotion of welfare and quality of life, acceleration of the economic growth, social progress, and cultural development of the South Asian region. The plight and crisis of the refugees have been making fun of these objectives of the SAARC. For the given of critical problems of refugees, yet the SAARC has been failed to put its refugee policy in place till date. See the inflated number of the refugees, Haque (2012) has labelled the South Asian region as a “refugee melting pot”. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has mandated to protect and support the refugees across the world including the South Asia, by UN itself or at the request of refugees generating or hosting country, assisting in their repatriation and resettlement to a third country. The other instrument like the Convention on the Status of Refugees (1951) also governed the refugee crisis of the South Asian region. Though all the SAARC members have adopted generous approach towards the refugees but still they are hesitant to ratify the instruments governing the refugees such as the Refugee Convention (1951) and Protocol (1967), thus, individually and regionally lacking legal instruments to handle the refugee crisis of the region.
Vision for the 19th SAARC Summit
The SAARC countries have been hosting 10 per cent of global refugee population, yet it is lacking refugee regime. SAARC members are still reluctant to ratifying the refugee conventions and protocol. Moreover, no provisions have been made in their respective constitutions. Even it has been argued that the SAARC members also remained passive to make national legal framework to sort out the refugee problem. Notwithstanding of the generous approach in providing shelter, the refugee policies of the each members of the SAARC has been based on adhoc administrative decisions.
Refugee problem in the South Asia is very critical. Since Afghanistan entrapped in the ethnic/civil war during the last three decades, hence it has been facing serious refugees’ crisis. Afghanistan is full member of SAARC since 2008. It has been holding strategic importance as it a bridge link between South, Middle and Central Asia. The Afghan refugee crisis has security implications for not only for the South Asian region rather across the boundaries of other contiguous regions as well. Thus, it becomes important for the SAARC to take some steps for the resolution of this problem.
According to the available statistics of UNHRC, about 2.7 million have been registered as Afghan refugees in Pakistan, are living in 380 camps. Apart from these, many hundred thousand refuges have remained unregistered and live on their own resources in the same country. About 75 percent of Afghan refugees live in Northwest Frontier, 20 percent in Baluchistan and 4 percent in Punjab Province.
The number of Afghan refugees in Iran, is stood between 2 and 2.25 million (Khorasan-700,000; Sistan-Baluchistan-250,000; Kerman-50,000; Tehran- approximately 200,000 to 300,000; Mashbad-250,000 and the rest in nine other provinces. However, it has been argued that Afghan refugees settled in Iran also included about 200,000, who had settled prior to the Soviet invasion and about 400,000 who have been working at that time as seasonal laborers, tradesmen, and nomads in Afghanistan. Afghan refugees have also been lining in India and according to UNHRC, stood at 10,000. However, Putz (2015) has argued that the audit report of the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), data of refugees living in Pakistan and Iran are difficult to verify independently.
The 19th SAARC Summit (Islamabad) is taking place in November 2016. Till date, SAARC is lacking refugee regime. Even at the individual level, the member countries have been following the adhoc system to deal with the refugee problem. Since the 19th SAARC Summit will held in Pakistan, which is hosting the highest number of the Afghan refugees. Thus, it is highly recommended that refugee crisis of Afghanistan should be taken seriously on board. Since, the countries hosting the highest Afghan refugees, are going to participate in the 19th SAARC Summit, take this case on board seriously, so that the long term resolution of this could be seen.
Pakistan’s Increasing Tilt towards China
In a recent interview with the Washington Post; Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked what kind of relationship he wanted from the US. He responded by pointing out Pakistan’s long and storied relationship with China as an example of a successful and mutually beneficial relationship. He explained how Pakistan’s relationship with China, unlike the US was not one-dimensional and built more on trade, respect and mutual cooperation. In doing so he in effect presented the underlying reasons why China is often termed as Pakistan’s ‘All-Weather’ friend.
In fact, the very notion of China being an ‘All-Weather’ friend is borne in contrast out of the US’s more fair-weather and sporadic approach to Pakistan. This approach has been evident in Pakistan’s long-standing complaints of how after helping the US repel the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan was left to pick up the pieces as the US unilaterally withdrew from the region, leaving behind a devastating humanitarian and political crisis. The last two decades’ war on terror for which Pakistan once again allied with the US is also following a similar blue-print, which the Prime Minister made clear was an example of history repeating itself. In defining his country’s most recent reservations against the US, he made it clear that Pakistan would no longer serve as a hired gun for the US, and desired a more equitable relationship based on mutual respect.
Considering how Pak-US relations have deteriorated over the last few years, the Prime Minister’s remarks come as little surprise to observers who have witnessed this uneasy partnership throughout its peaks and troughs. Yet, what’s striking is the fact that this is perhaps the first time that a Pakistani head of state has directly presented its relations with China as the ideal blue-print for which to measure the long and troubled history of Pak-US relations.
In contrast, the official narrative ascribed to the Pak-China bilateral framework, has stood out amongst diplomatic and policy-making circles due to the broad poetic license that has more recently been attributed to it. The oft-quoted phrase of how Pak-China Friendship is ‘higher than mountains, deeper than the ocean, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey’, has been repeatedly used by officials representing the highest levels of government, from both countries to emphasize the far-reaching significance of their bilateral relations.
This includes their significance both within a more localized context, as well as a broader more regional context as evident in the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The corridor which promises an end to Pakistan’s development woes focuses instead on fostering peace and stability through economic growth and development. This is as opposed to the more security and strategically driven approach of the US, which has seen the region become increasingly violent and militarized. It is based on this difference that CPEC has been widely hailed as a viable solution to the relative instability and insecurity that has for years characterized the South Asian region.
However, over the past few months, Pak-China relations have themselves undergone an uncharacteristic period of friction and uncertainty. Interestingly, one of the major reasons behind this friction has been none other than the newly elected Prime Minister himself. As part of his anti-corruption campaign rhetoric leading up to the elections, he had promised greater over-sight and transparency with regard to Chinese investments under CPEC. This came at a time where growing trade and economic tensions between the US and China, had led to greater scrutiny and broad reservations against China’s rising influence the world over. Calls to re-evaluate China’s investments were echoed across countries such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Kenya; with allusions to unsustainable loans and China’s ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’ doing the rounds amidst key influencers and policy-makers across the globe. Pakistan’s rising debt too was linked to CPEC projects by none other than the US secretary of State, who had ruled out the possibility of US loans being used to bail out Chinese bond-holders in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has since gone to great lengths to dispel such sentiments, as was evident in his official visit to Beijing last month. In all his statements, he has been careful in acknowledging the benefits of China’s strategic partnership with Pakistan, and has lauded China’s tremendous achievements in eradicating poverty; something that he wants to emulate as part of his own government’s policies. His recent statements in the above-mentioned interview too, are based in part on these same reasons.
Taken together, the PM’s statements thus present a clear and very public declaration that the Pakistani government is quite willingly choosing to side with China in the ongoing US-China economic rivalry. Unlike before where Pakistan had to carefully balance its strategic relationships between China and the US, China’s grand overtures and the US’s more inward focus on ‘America First’ have accelerated Pakistan’s gradual tilt towards China. With the US-China rivalry currently seeming far from any sort of resolution, Pakistan’s need to pick a side in favor of the other represents a clear indication of which side the government believes its long-terms interests lie with.
Sirimavo of Sri Lanka: Refocusing on World’s first Women Prime Minister
Authors: Srimal Fernando and Pooja Singh*
In 1970s, there was a time when Sirimavo Bandaranaike caught the global attention and her premiership was one of the most momentous times in Sri Lanka’s political history. On 21 July, 1960, she became the first ever woman Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (formally known as Ceylon) and the world. Even today nearly half a century later, Sirimavo’s name is remembered among the thousands of Sri Lankans and among the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) supporters. Thus the Sri Lankan voters expectations about Sirimavo rose within no time after the unfortunate assassination of her husband S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1959.
In the summer of 1970, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) , the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and also the Communist Party (CP) was sweeping electorates in a general election by winning 115 seats out of 151. In essence, Sirimavo’s administration presented far-reaching constitutional and socio-economic reforms that were suitable for a small island nation. In fact Mrs. Bandaranaike handled the transfer of island nation becoming a republic under a new constitution tactfully. In this context, Dr. N.M. Perera, Felix Dias Bandaranaike, Philip Gunawardena was some of the primary shapers of her administration. At that time, unlike her predecessors, the former premier showed great interest in developing cement, paper, steel and chemical industries. Despite promising signs under her leadership, uneven inequalities from 1948 to 1970 and economic stagnation created tensions within rural masses. Surprisingly, a coup in 1971 by the southern insurgents headed by Rohana Wijeweera, the leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) shattered the hopes of Bandaranaike government for a short time. Although coup was unsuccessful because of Sri Lanka’s military support to premier’s rule.
It is noteworthy to mention Sirimavo era solidified Sri Lanka’s foreign policy in the coming decades, which set the stage for the island to increase bilateral ties with India and China. In fact, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a trustworthy friend of Mrs. Bandaranaike. This period also saw the closest bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries. Especially, Mrs. Bandaranaike was a giant among Non-Alignment leaders. In the summer of 1976 at the fifth Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall(BMICH) in Colombo, Mrs. Bandaranaike stated, “The non-aligned countries should fight against injustice, intolerance, inequality, old concept of empire and intervention.”
On the domestic political scenario, the opposition leader J.R. Jayewardene and his deputy Ranasinghe Premadasa had been outspoken critics of Sirimavo Bandaranaike policies. When she lost 1977 general elections, it was extremely a difficult situation for Mrs. Bandaranaike and for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) coalition partners who had developed a remarkable sense for socialist political culture within the multicultural society in Sri Lanka. Seven years later Mrs. Bandaranaike had lost her civic rights, the party hierarchy nominated veteran SLFP stalwart Hector Kobbekaduwa for the forthcoming referendum. The Referendum results did not reflect the true situation. Then while the atmosphere began to change in the island country after the eruption of ethnic conflict and signing of the Indo-Lanka accord. This scenario caused strong anti-United National Party (UNP) regime change feeling. In a closely fought presidential election in 1988, the SLFP leader Mrs. Bandaranaike lost to UNP presidential candidate Mr. Premadasa. There were no immediate solutions to the crisis in Sri Lanka under Premadasa’s presidency. Hence in the South, due to the JVP uprising and the Tamil tiger (LTTE) attacks in Northern and Eastern provinces, conditions inside the Island nation was going from bad to worse.
At the same time, the crisis in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) came to surface and the party was divided into several wings. Thus, the time had come for SLFP party unity for doing away with the seventeen years United National Party (UNP) rule. Mrs. Bandaranaike was convinced that it was time for a new generation of party leadership. She opened the corridors of political power to Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Maithripala Sirisena who later became presidents of Sri Lanka. In late years, Mrs. Bandaranaike was a prime minister for a short time from when her daughter Mrs. Kumaratunga was president. On the Foreign Policy front she reworked strong bilateral ties with India and China and her policies remained important for Non Aligned Movement (NAM) nations and for India and China ties with Sri Lanka. After more than fifty years of service to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), to the nation many of the Sri Lankan’s were finding it hard to come to terms with Sirimavo’s sudden death on 10th October, 2000.Late premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s pragmatic policies mattered very much for the South Asian island nation, the region and to the world at large.
* Pooja Singh, a scholar of Masters in Diplomacy, Law, Business at Jindal School of International Affairs, India.
Indian Human Rights violation in Kashmir
In International conflict management, the models and approaches to solve the deep-rooted issue are vital and applicable but these models became fragile if any one of the belligerent states lacks the intent to solve any tangible solution. India rigid stance of avoiding any Peace Talks on Kashmir issue is the main irritant between rivalries which derails the conflict resolution. It is far important for rivalries to elucidate the dispute to move ahead. Because it is ultimate truth that all the conflict and crises have an alternate way of tenacity.
In South Asian framework, Indian strategic ambitions are the main stumbling block in the way of Kashmir Resolution. While in the Global framework, major powers like Russia and USA military and then ideological interests compels states not to play any significant role for the resolution of Kashmir conflict.
Kashmiri Freedom Movement started from 1931 and still in 2018 it is constantly being exploited in the hands of Indian aggressive leaders. From 87 years, Indian barbarism is not a top-secret. Indian wanted to sideline and suppress the Kashmir issue in the prism of their national interests but the issue will remain alive with determined efforts of the Kashmiri and Pakistani people, human right activists, political and military leaders. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir must be resolved as per aspirations of Kashmiris.
Pakistanis and Kashmiris across the world chronicled their protest against Indian brutality and illegitimate occupation in Kashmir. Struggle for freedom of Kashmiri people will one day succeed by the grace of Almighty Allah. Each day is like a black day until the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir with the consent of Kashmiri people.
There are many pragmatic choices for the resolution of Kashmir issue but the real dilemma is that India is not ready to come on Table for Peace talks due to their hegemonic ambitions. Recent Talks at UNGA 73rd session was also negated by Indian. As a rational nuclear state, they should realize that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint. Both the nuclear states should talk constructively and negotiations are the only way forward in which mutual national interests must be considered.
In 1948, it was India who went to United Nations and then it was decided unanimously a plebiscite in Kashmir. It is the right of every Kashmiri to decide his destiny indigenously. As there are no law enforcement agencies of international organizations to implement its resolution but the role of P-5 states can facilitate for resolution. Till now no such role is played by them but the importance of UN forum cannot be negated as states like Pakistan can raise their voices at international level against Human Rights violations.
The Indian occupational forces under the cover of Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) and other black laws frequently involve in religious cleansing of Muslims. After the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016 Indian forces started using most dangerous weapons of pellet firing shotgun. Where are Human Rights Law against the killing of innocent Kashmiris? The lives of Kashmiris are as important the people killed in 9/11, London attacks, in Mumbai attack or a single Indian soldier. The US fought the war on terror and still engage in most complex war but What about Terror of India in Kashmir. Kashmir needs not to be forgotten at all. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo asked Pakistan to abandon terrorist attacks into India but from Where Kashmiri demand Freedom. The US needs to let her interest go, at least for once, to settle the Kashmir issue. For Pakistan, it is not just a matter of territorial importance but relates to the lives of Kashmiri people who are suffering at the hands of India’s state terrorism.
Modi government is supporting to have Direct Talks with the Taliban, but when it is about Kashmir, they became silent. There is a dire need for the Indian government to review their mindless Kashmir policy. Kashmiri people must be given the right of plebiscite to decide them their destiny. Pakistan’s foreign policy is on right direction that the tools of diplomacy need to be improved for better results and peace process is the only way forward.
Freedom, Sovereign Debt, Generational Accounting and other Myths
“How to draw the line between the recent and still unsettled EU/EURO crisis and Asia’s success story? Well, it might...
American (And Global) Oligarchy Rapidly Moving Towards Monarchy
Many people do not realize that the proverbial “noose” of civil rights, civil liberties and property rights are rapidly coming...
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered the Second World War. A war of horrors,...
Russian Aluminium, Health Ministry Announce Ebola Vaccine
Russian Aluminium (RUSAL), one of the world’s largest aluminium producers, together with the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation,...
Asia’s Growth Outlook Steady Despite China–US Trade Conflict
Economies in developing Asia and the Pacific are weathering external challenges thanks to robust domestic demand, while inflationary pressures are...
New ADB Platform to Help Boost Financing for Climate Action
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has launched a new platform aimed at helping its developing member countries in Asia and...
Arrogance of force and hostages in US-China trade war
Even before the ink on the comments made by those who (just like the author of these lines) saw the...
- Centre and Calm Yourself and Spirit on Restorative Yoga Energy Trail
- Queen Rania of Jordan Wears Ralph & Russo Ready-To-Wear
- OMEGA watches land on-screen in Universal Pictures’ new film First Man
- Experience the Prada Parfum’s Way of Travelling at Qatar Duty Free
- ‘Get Carried Away’ With Luxurious Villa Stays and Complimentary Private Jet Flights
Eastern Europe3 days ago
Rethinking Armenian North-South Road Corridor: Internal and External Factors
Defense3 days ago
Global arms industry: US companies dominate the Top 100, Russian arms industry moves to second place
Eastern Europe2 days ago
Dismantling Yalta system, or Ukraine as an instrument of destroying the world order
Defense2 days ago
European army: An apple of discord
South Asia2 days ago
Pakistan’s Increasing Tilt towards China
East Asia2 days ago
Will China Save the Planet? Book Review
Newsdesk2 days ago
New Initiative to Mitigate Risk for Global Solar Scale-up
Economy2 days ago
Key elements of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement