Pashtuns are an eminent part of the Pakistani society and have been valiant sons of the motherland who have given unprecedented sacrifices for Pakistan, its people and ideology. On the very initial days of independence in 1947, when war was imposed by the historical and ancestral enemy Hindu India, these brave Pashtuns at the first call to take up arms in defence of the new motherland were the first to lay their lives and liberate parts of Jammu and Kashmir from the deceit of its Hindu ruler and the mischief of Hindu India who had become haughty after being installed in Delhi from where Muslim power in the subcontinent had prevailed for a millennia before the ascendency of the British by treachery.
Pashtuns also historically had served in Muslim armies who dominated India, even the grand trunk road which linked the most eastern part of the Indian subcontinent from Calcutta to Central Asia was conceived by a Pashtun general Sher Shah Suri who envisioned a Muslim empire stretching from the inner most Central Asian Steppe to the jungles of Far East Asia. Later the grand trunk, the first gigantic geopolitical project of mass military and non- military movement of man and material become the bulwark of contention in the great game between the British and the Russian Empires. Strategically speaking all the British military deployments were along the grand trunk road, done to counter the influence and the post 1812 Russian military posture which was poised for the conquest of India and planned by the Imperial general staff of the Tsar to oust the British all along the grand trunk road starting from Amu Dyra which is modern day border of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, by first ceasing control of the north western portion of the grand trunk road (modern day Pakistan, specifically Khyber Pakthunkawa and Potohar region of Punjab) and then later incursions further into the Indian heartland across the Indian plains towards the southern and south eastern coasts. The Tsar in St. Petersburg was quick to recall an ancient Russian saying “Valiant Russian soldiers will wash in the warm waters of the seas at coasts of Russian India”.
During this great game the historical areas of Pushtun tribes came right in the middle of this geopolitical great game between the British and the Russians. Both of these imperial and hardcore colonial powers tried to use the Pashtuns as their proxies. The famous English author Rudyard Kipling who was English ethnically but by sole an ardent Lahori (hence a modern day Pakistani) has written extensively and romanticized the adventures, mysteries and espionage games between the British and the Russians in the historical areas of Pashtuns. Despite being under pressure from two bullies of the day, the Pashtuns were to maintain their independence, some out rightly in the mountains and some in semi feudal structures cunningly playing out the British and the Russians.
With the advent of the 20thcentury came the advancement in technology which meant that socio-cultural, linguistic and political transformations could be achieved rapidly and unprecedentedly. These transformations which took several generations or centuries to accomplish in the past now could happen in the number of years or even in days if backed by exacerbating the protest potential of the targeted population or an ethnic group with a population. Under these conditions the Pashtuns faced a new threat, firstly from the communists from Moscow and contemporarily now from the western and Indian presence in Afghanistan.
During the Cold War or even before in the intermit period between the first and the second world wars, the communists who had established themselves firmly in the Eurasian heartland were eager and confident to spread this ideology throughout the world either through revolution or through spreading of propaganda socio-cultural propaganda. The Pashtuns being a primordial ethnic group and residing in strategic areas connecting South and Central Asia became the prime targets. What the communist did was to spread the false notion of similarities between Pashtuns and the Russian people based on utter lies. Such as linguistic similarities, cultural similarities, etc. These similarities never existed as the historical evolution of both the races happened in very different geographical and political circumstances. With the Russians originating in modern day Sweden and the Pashtuns whose ethnic origins scientifically are still not confirmed with just oral traditions, either in Khorasan region of greater Persia or in Arabia. These oral traditions with lack of scientific studies were quickly realized by the communist who began disseminating pseudo-scientific publications and propaganda of ethnic similarities. They did this for two reasons, first to gain soft power over the Pashtuns and secondly to instill their political ideals through a Pashtun nationalists political party (which in reality were Stalin’s useful instrument of subversion (within the sociopolitical sphere of the Pashtuns, so when the time would come for the annexation of the Pashtun homeland into the Soviet Union there would be no or minimal resistance. Instead the communist would be welcomed as long lost ancestors. During the latter part of the Cold War, the Americans picked this sinister communist plot and used their subdued ally Germany as a substitute by propagating that Germans and Pashtuns are long lost brothers as a counter measure during the Soviet- Afghan War.
With the advent of the 21stcentury and the subsequent start of the Global War on Terrorism as a follow up to the lost Global War on Drugs started by Regan, new dynamics and rigor began to appear in the manipulation of the Pashtun social sphere. For just to gain soft power over the Pashtuns and to totally control their hearts and minds towards acceptance of subjugation through first rebellion and destruction of their homeland and secondly through whatever would remain or those who would survive would be so thwarted that they would become powerless and hence ineffective to challenge the ropes of the control system. What now the adversaries are planning is to artificially create reality for the Pashtuns. In this sinister and evil plot from the very prominent personalities to the very obscure are playing the devil’s advocate within Pakistan and also from outside backed by political parties and NGOs who are bent upon to manipulate the primordial social structure of the Pashtuns. In this sinister plot, NGOs are also playing their part by instilling social practices which are alien and utterly unacceptable to historical Pashtun traditions. In the garb of humanitarian assistance, these NGOs are now instilling ideals of changing sexual orientations of the Pashtun youth and children while bent upon destroying the traditional social fabric in the name of gender equality. Majority of the Pashtuns and also other ethnic Pakistanis do not know that those giving lessons on gender equality within their countries and social dynamics women are still fighting for achieving equality. Within EU equal respect, equal remuneration and equal access to public and private goods are still not achieved while in Pakistan these very people are promoting these ideals with their house not in order. This smells of a clandestine plot not understood by the policy maker in Pakistan or who is deliberately a silent observer bought out.
And of course there is old adversary India, who at the moment appears silent but is hand in hand in supporting these clandestine sinister plots against the Pashtuns. Waiting for an opportunity that when the time will come when either soft power over Pashtuns is complete or there is outright rebellion against Pakistan, it will decisively intervene and make it sure that its greater India project is realized.
Youm-e-Takbeer: When A Responsible Nuclear Power Was Born
Youm-e-Takbeer is a day of greatness when Pakistan already a responsible country was transformed into a strategically mature regional power. It sensibly understood the management and liability of having nuclear weapons for security. Ever since independence, Pakistan is neighbor to a hostile state – India, ruled by extremist Hindutva ideology that has threatened Pakistan’s sovereignty and existence. In 1948, India forcefully occupied Kashmir, Hyderabad, and Junagadh areas by massacring people who did not want to annex with India.
In 1971, Indian subverting and destabilizing activities resulted in disintegration of East Pakistan. India till today is covertly sponsoring terrorism through its agents in Iran and bases in Afghanistan to weaken Pakistan. In 1998, India tested nuclear weapons while openly threatening to sabotage Pakistan. Therefore, on 28 May 1998 Pakistan as a direct response also tested nuclear weapons to deter Indian aggression at any cost. Pakistan annually commemorates this day as the National Science Day and also as a reminder of the struggle and great odds it faced in order to defuse Indian threat.
“If India had not exploded the bomb, Pakistan would not have done so. Once New Delhi did so, we had no choice because of public pressure” – Former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif.
Acquisition of nuclear deterrence capability was also necessary to project Pakistan’s self-sufficiency in defense against any territorial threat. Pakistan’s nuclear tests made it clear that when it comes to national honor and survival, Pakistan would maintain a balance of power against its adversaries. Indian acquisition of nuclear weapons compelled Pakistan to build its nuclear muscle for improving national security, otherwise it had no intentions to do so. India’s covert pursuit of weapons of mass destruction had drastically heightened the security perception of Pakistan.
South Asian strategic dynamics were changed forever with the advent of nuclear weapons. Former Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani warned Pakistan that it should “realize the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region and the world” and Pakistan must submit to Indian dictation otherwise “will be futile and costly for Pakistan.” So, the hostile hegemonic plan of India had to be neutralized by Pakistan through reciprocating nuclear tests. Since then, nuclear dissuasion has played a critical role in political security and strategic stability of South Asia. It is pertinent to note that Pakistan has always been hesitant to engage in the nuclear weapons race in South Asia.
It is quite obvious that Pakistan’s decision makers are well aware of repercussions of military conflict and escalation as well as nuclear arms race in the region. Pakistan on numerous occasions has bilaterally proposed India to limit the manufacturing or acquisition of nuclear weapons in order to strengthen arms control and disarmament in the region. India, though, has always declined to sign any disarmament or restraint agreement with Pakistan.
So, it is India, which is to be blame for triggering the nuclear arms race in the region. For instance, following are the occasions when Pakistan proposed restraint solutions to India:
1974 – The establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in south Asia.
1978 – A joint Indo-Pakistan declaration renouncing the acquisition and manufacture of nuclear weapons.
1979 – Mutual inspections of nuclear facilities.
1979 – Simultaneous adherence to the NPT.
1979 – Simultaneous acceptance of full-scope IAEA safeguards.
1987 – An agreement on a bilateral or regional nuclear test ban treaty.
1991 – Commencement of a multilateral conference on the nuclear proliferation in south Asia.
1993 – Creation of a missile-free zone in south Asia.
1998 – A strategic restraint regime aimed at ensuring a nuclear restraint, establishing a conventional balance, and resolution of all disputes between the two countries.
2004 – A joint agreement to reduce the threat of nuclear war and a missile race.
2006 – A prohibition on development of missile defense systems, and restraint in deployment of nuclear weapons and missiles.
2011 – Again a Strategic Nuclear Restraint Regime (SNRR) pertain to Missile Restraint, Peaceful Resolution of Conflict and Conventional Balance.
2016 – A bilateral arrangement on non-testing of nuclear weapons.
These propositions, however, were met with cold feet by India, which not only decreased nuclear weapons control possibilities in the region, but also pressured Pakistan to enter the nuclear arms race. Unlike India, Pakistan has no offensive strategic approach or aggressive hegemonic design rather, its nuclear capability is purely defensive. A nuclear conscious Pakistan has a strong understanding of the sensitivities involved in military adventurism.
Youm-e-Takbeer has helped Pakistani leaders in making wise decisions to consistently support nuclear nonproliferation. Pakistani scientists and engineers have employed research and development of nuclear technology for peaceful uses. For instance, power generation, agriculture, medicine, and environment. Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence and as a responsible nuclear country, it has put serious efforts to settle longstanding disputes. If the international community would force India to follow the same, South Asia could not go into nuclear brinkmanship.
The U.S Lauded Pakistan’s Assistance in Fighting COVID-19
The United States has thanked Pakistan for its donation of protective gear and surgical masks to support the fight against coronavirus. In a Tweet, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s goodwill donation of surgical masks and protective suits to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said this delivery is a symbol of Pak-US solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 and termed it a “partnership for the prosperity of the two countries.”
Meanwhile, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, in her tweet, also expressed gratitude to Pakistan for the goodwill donation. She said our countries’ health partnership and the coordinated response would help defeat this virus and rebuild our prosperity.
Earlier, the consignment of Personal Protective Equipment from Pakistan via a C-130 flight from Islamabad landed at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. The equipment was also handed over to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency for onward delivery to the US armed forces.
Pakistan values its Seven Decades-long friendship with the US. Although, it is meager Medical Supplies, yet as a token of friendships values a lot. Pakistan is also facing a huge challenge of the outbreak, and the rapid growth is alarming in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Pakistan is a responsible nation and always willing to share its part of responsibility in any part of the World. Either it is a natural disaster or warlike disaster, Pakistan always played its role on the front line as a volunteer. Pakistan is a country with the highest number of philanthropists per million population.
The US was one of the few first countries that recognized Pakistan in 1947 after getting independence from British rule. Pakistan was a close ally with the US in the cold war era and the Afghan War. Pakistan was a frontline ally with the US in its War on terror. Pakistan enjoyed non-NATO close ally status. Definitely, Pakistan was also beneficiary of US AID and assistance. Either it was on Economic front, or S&T, Defense or Education, Military or civilian, Agriculture or Industry, almost all areas witnessed the US assistance in the past. The US is a major trading partner with Pakistan too.
Pakistan has no objection if the US changed its priorities and aligned itself with India. The US is aiming to strengthen India to counter China, but India used all of the American assistance to counter Pakistan. The US may keep balance and restrict its assistance to India to a condition not to use against Pakistan. There can be designed a monitoring and tracking system to check that American assistance is not used against Pakistan directly or indirectly. A close monitoring system may be deployed on India and verifiable by any third party. I believe “there is the way if there is a will.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan is a visionary leader and peace-loving in nature. His declared-policy to be a partner in peace with any country in any part of the World is well appreciated widely. Pakistan was a victim of the Afghan War for the last four decades and learned a bitter lesson. War means disaster; War means a net loss of human lives and economy; War means no victory for either side. Pakistan will be no longer partner wth any one in War with any country.
Pakistan’s strategic location, where it connects almost half of the World and at the major trade route – Middle-East to rest of the World, is vital for maintaining peace and stability of this region as well as the whole World. Pakistan is a nation of 220 Million, with its 70% population of youth under the age of 40 years. Pakistan is a resilient nation and can survive under any circumstances.
Pakistan wanted to keep traditional friendship with the US and strongly wish an early resumption. Pakistan wanted to contribute its potential to global peace and stability. In the past, especially in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Pakistan kept close alliance with the US while maintaining its strategic relations with China. I hope the US may not object to Pakistan’s strategic interest with China or Russia while restoring traditional friendship with Pakistan.
The Need for Pakistan’s Digitalisation Policy
Change is the only constant and one has to keep evolving through new trends in order to compete with the changing dynamics of the world. There is no denying the fact that any country’s economic growth is now directly linked to one factor i.e., adoption of information and communications technology. The adoption of digitalisation is the new reality where majority of population has access to mobile phones and internet than to basic necessities of life. Digitalisation is not a choice, it is the need of the hour, therefore, the governments are now determining their policies and strategies for digitalising every sector, to promote and strengthen their socio-economic fabric.
Keeping in view the current scenario, the COVID-19 has had a major impact on almost all socio-economic sectors, the digital world has never been more important than it is today, Digitalisation is the new normal where consumers are buying everything online whether it is to buy groceries and essentials or to socialise and virtually reach with friends and family. During this critical time, many of these adoptions will persist long even after the situation has stabilised.
Globally countries are adopting new ways through digitalisation to ease the life of their citizens by providing them with improved and rapid amenities. The access to free internet services made it possible to pave the way for effective digitalization. An exponential increase is observed in the number of internet providers and consumers which demonstrates that the world is adapting with the concept of digitalization. It is witnessed that the developed countries has already shifted all their services from the outdated ways to online portals to facilitate the masses. In recent years, Pakistan is also evolving its IT sector promptly by introducing the latest technological mechanisms in the country.
The present government has taken up the task to digitalize the entire country and is working hard to create an e-governance system to bring down corruption, to ensure accountability process and also to augment the productivity in the country. The government has been taking great strides in the advancement of technology- from the Mohafiz app to digitizing the Postal service and the introduction of Tax Asaan mobile app which provides taxpayers with quick access of verification features like active Taxpayers list (ATL), NTN/STRN inquiry and exemption certificate etc. and many more. The PTI government has been proactive in the inclusion of technology within various segments and has also launched the online FIR system where people can submit their complaints online, and will be facilitated by government officials.
Nevertheless one might assume that digitalisation and government don’t blend,but in reality this fusion is helping the government agencies and officials to represent their agendas and administrative progress directly to the people through social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.).Perhaps the defined role of government social media accounts is to serve as a source of unrestricted updates. This includes everything from present initiatives to upcoming policy reforms and breaking news. Therefore, news should be a foundation of your content strategy as a government account. For instance, we are currently seeing social media crisis management in action for government organisations, including real-time updates in response to COVID-19. This illustrates that social media actually serves as a first hand source of information and provides people with timely updates. This is the brilliance of digitalisation and government that the voters and opposition are already there and the government has only one job that is to publish content which engages the attention from the public. This also suggests educating your followers by clarifying potential misinformation, keeping in view the fact that how quickly fabricated content can spread through social media, the government accounts serve as an important source for authentic information.
Statically, as per Pakistan’s Digital2020 Report, Feb 2020: there were 76.38 million internet users in Pakistan in January 2020 which illustrates that the number of internet users has increased by 11 million (+17%) between 2019 and 2020 and internet penetration in Pakistan stood at 35%. As far as the social media users in Pakistan are concerned, the number has increased by 2.4 million (+7.0%) between April 2019 and January 2020 which shows that there were 37.00 million social media users in Pakistan in January 2020 and the penetration rate stood at 17%.The source of this penetration depends widely on mobile connections in Pakistan. Reportedly, there were 164.9 million mobile connections in Pakistan in January 2020. The number of mobile connections increased by 9.6 million (+6.2%) between January 2019 and January 2020. Surprisingly, the number of mobile connections in Pakistan was equivalent to 75% of the total population in January, 2020.
With these growth trends projected to persist in the future, Pakistan is dire need of a comprehensive ‘Digitalisation Policy’. There should be a policy that must be implemented in its true spirits, and the government should devise an efficient monitoring mechanism to evaluate the vitality of that policy.
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