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Pakistan coerced once again: Added to Black List Over Religious Freedom

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But this time it was different excuse. Generally, US blame Pakistan for its failure in Afghanistan and blame Pakistan for not doing enough and demand “Do More”.  But the fact that US has spent trillion of dollars, best weapons, all types of latest military tactics, best trained forces from US, and Its allies, but could not gain any victory. Even today, US troops cannot move freely or fearlessly inside the Capital Kabul. They are restricted inside the Bagram Air Base only. Whenever they need to move outside air base, they move in big convey, under heavy security cover. US is the “Super Power”, largest Economy, Largest Producer of Weapons, Largest exporter of Weapons, Largest Geopolitical Power, and yet could not win a war against a very small country like Afghanistan, which is suffering shortage of food, no health care, no educational facilities, no electricity, no fuel, even no shoes to wear. Ranked least developed county, 177th position in poverty, but rich in faith, brave genetically, never conquered by any invaders, Afghans are still controlling major part of the country. Which makes US to lose face and trying to use Pakistan as “scapegoat”.

US always blaming that Pakistan is providing safe heavens to Taliban, who were creation of US, against Russian Occupation of Afghanistan in 1980s. US armed them, trained them, provided US Dollars and used them against Russian, they were heroes, who made US win over Russian, but today they are terrorist and unwanted people.

US was blaming Pakistan for not taking actions against “Haqqani Network”. But recent death of Haqqani leadership inside Afghanistan, proved that, it was stationed inside Afghanistan, and was operating from Afghanistan, and nothing to do with Pakistan. In fact, US or US-backed Afghan Government should be blamed for not doing enough. They need to “Do More”. Pakistan has done enough. We are a small country, weak economy, our strength is limited, resources are limited, but we sacrificed 75000 precious lives and 250 billion US Dollars in economic lose.

When the world recognized the positive role of Pakistan and US could not use Pakistan as “Scapegoat”. They opted for new excuse to pressurize Pakistan. The United States has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over the treatment of minorities in the country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the US government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has lodged a strong protest with the US for placing Pakistan on the blacklist of countries that it says violates religious freedom.

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday he had designated Pakistan among the “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally-mandated annual report, which means that the US government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations.

Pakistan has rejected the US State Department’s move to add the country to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom as “unilateral and politically motivated”. US diplomats were summoned at the Foreign Office and handed over a protest letter.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, “expressed surprise at the US Administration’s decision to add Pakistan to the ‘blacklist for religious freedom violations’”.

In a statement issued by the minister’s office, she said it was apparent the US was using this as a brazen political tactic to pressurize Pakistan to mitigate US failures in Afghanistan. “The timing of this move reflects this most clearly,” says the statement. Further she suggested United States to assess the situation of minority rights in other countries as well. “There is no doubt Pakistan’s record on religious freedom is not ideal but then is the EU’s record much better given the restrictions on churches, the banning of certain dress codes of Muslims, refusal of entry of certain preachers – the list continues. In our own neighborhood we have India where Muslims are being targeted and where the BJP is supporting violence against Muslims ostensibly over beef,” the statement says. Please refer to “Human Rights Watch” report 2018, India has surpassed on violations of religious rights and crimes against minorities. UN official could not control while presenting his report on Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir, and was weeping and crying out of his control. Israel is also worst violator of the regions rights and human right in the world.

The fact is that sometimes Pakistanis due to economic hardships travel to Western World and seek assistance from their local Lawyers or Immigration consultants, who charge them heavily to seek “Political Asylum”. These Lawyers or Consultants, knows the local rules and regulations and loop holes in their system and manipulate the case in a way that their client belongs to minority and may face life threat in Pakistan, so that Political asylum may be granted. In fact these migrants are not from the minorities, but their hired consultants and Lawyers who charged them hefty amounts, declare them minorities to win their cases and justify huge fee. It is business for them but may bring bad name for Pakistan.  Otherwise, in Pakistan, Minorities rights are very well protected by our constitution and there are precedence that our courts and government has favored them inn past on many occasions. We cannot deny any exceptional case or individuals’ acts, but state policy is very well protecting minorities and they are enjoying full freedom to practice their religion and customs and traditions. Pakistan is well matured, sensible and well civilized nation. It is a friendly nation and accommodates every one irrespective of its religion, race or class. We have accommodated up to 5 million Afghanis, 3 Millions Iranians, 2 Million Bengalis, few million Africans and few million Burmese, and so on.

While in Europe, officially they ban “Veil” for Muslims and denied the freedom of dress code for Muslims. US president, keeping aside all diplomatic norms humiliated Africans, Muslims and immigrants. India and Israel are the worst countries in violation of human rights and religious freedom.

In fact, US wanted to pressurize Pakistan to bring Taliban on talking Table and wanted to make Pakistan “Scapegoat”. But world already knows Pakistan’s positive role and may not be fooled any more. Pakistan is politically victimized once again.

We strongly condemned any act to unnecessarily pressurize Pakistan and lodge strong protest over such attempts.

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.

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South Asia

Pakistan Securing Its Maritime Interest and CPEC

Qura tul ain Hafeez

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The IOR is a major sea route that unites the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and America. The excessive economic growth of littoral states of Indian Ocean obliges them to protect their energy needs and interests in order to endure their purchasing power. This has great security implications for the sea line of communication of the littoral states of IOR like Pakistan.

Continuing to Pakistan’s interests in IOR the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has great potential to transmute Pakistan into a central trade platform, which would undeniably gushed the enemies, particularly India, to halt it. The development of Gwadar sea-ports as part of BRI in general  and that of CPEC in particular has amplified India’s concerns’ and aimed for more sophisticated and advanced naval build-up. Furthermore, India perceives the Gawadar port (that is considered as crown jewel of CPEC) as a hazard to its contesting interests in Central Asia countries.  The reason being, India can access Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian Republics (CARs) only through Cahabahar by passing Pakistan and Gawadar  a deep water sea port that is easily accessible to these land locked states then Chahabahr. A couple of days back on 24th December 2018 India has formally over taken the operational control of Iran’s Cahabahar port – only (0 Km away from Gawadar port. India’s aspirations to become blue water navy in the IOR raise serious concerns among Pakistan’s maritime security. CPEC would lead toward increased maritime politics and contestations not only between Pakistan and India but would also involve China and US.

In such turbulent circumstances Pakistan is required to prepare its sea based defense to secure its sea lines.   Islamabad needs to carefully evaluate its options and develop its strategic response accordingly, involving but not limited to continuous development of its naval capability and an even closer maritime cooperation with China. In view of the prevailing power dynamics in Indian Ocean Pakistan Navyin order to secure its interest in IOR inked a contract with China’s State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC)in June 2018 for two, Type 054AP frigates. The agreement is an extension of a previously signed agreement in 2017. Recently on December 19, 2018 steel-cutting ceremony for the second Type 054A frigate for the Pakistan Navy was held at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai. The type 054 AP warship frigates will be equipped with modern detection-state of art sensor and Guided Missiles weapon systems; capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine and air-defense operations. According to the report of China Daily report added that the “Type 054A is the best frigate in service with the PLAN”.

It is pertinent to mention here that maritime security is linked with the Economic security and vice versa. Gawader port is one of the most important projects of the CPEC where Pakistan and China are very hopeful that in future this shipping port will generate the revenue for Pakistan’s economy.  There is a big chunk of fishery industry through which Pakistan can earn a lot. It will stimulate business and trade activities at state level and across the region.  The 054 AP frigates ““Will be one of the largest and most technologically advanced platforms of the Pakistani Navy and strengthen the country’s capability to respond to future challenges, maintain peace and stability and the balance of power in the Indian Ocean region” a report on 2nd January 2019 released by  Chinese state owned media said.

In some, to deal with all these existing defies Pakistan Navy (PN) has espoused to a multi divided line of action for safeguarding the port in more effective manners. It conducts security patrolling h and coastal exercises from time to time. Furthermore, previously in 2013 it has inaugurated its Joint Maritime Information Coordination Center (JMICC) in Karachi to provide with an effective mechanism of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).  After receiving these 054 AP frigates warship Pakistan will definitely in far more better position to counter India’s vested interests in Indian Ocean region. It will also help secure the Gwadar port which is the chief component of Pakistan maritime trade activities. China has always been an al weather strategic partner of Pakistan. Although India always tries to propagate that CPEC is military agreement instead of an economic one however, securing the economic interests with an advanced mechanism does not mean at all that it’s planning something militarily. Pakistan has always adopted a defensive policy and it is the right of every sovereign state to secure its interests even if they are economic as there is no morality in international politics, still CPEC is an economic project which welcomes every state of the region for economic cooperation  even if it is India as well.

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2018 was the deadliest year in the history of Kashmir

Irfan Khan

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Kashmir is natural paradise and gorgeous valley located between Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, China and with a small strip of 27 miles with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. But it is still a disputed region since partition of United India into India and Pakistan (also Bangladesh in 1971) in 1947.

The history of the freedom of Kashmir dates to 1931 when the people, both Hindus and Muslims, initiated a freedom movement against the then Maharaja (ruler) to have their own indigenous rule. The resentment of the people led to the ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign against the Maharaja in 1946. Faced with the insurgency of his people, the Maharaja fled the capital, Srinagar, on October 25, 1947 and arranged that India send its army to help him crush the rebellion. India, coveting the territory, set the condition that Maharaja must sign an ‘Instrument of Accession’ to India. At the same time, India had to attach another condition that accession was made subject to ‘reference to the people.’ On India’s showing, therefore, the accession has a provisional character.

Then India brought the dispute to the United Nations where the Security Council discussed the question exhaustively from January to April 1948. Then both India and Pakistan and approved by the international community that the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir can be settled only in accordance with the will of the people which can be ascertained through the democratic method of a free and impartial Kashmiri citizens vote.

The people of Kashmir, despite of being injured since long could not lost their hope. They believe in United Nation(UN), assuming it will advocate choice of freedom for them. During the July-August 2018, people from entire Srinagar and other towns, were protesting government of India’s violation of Article 35-A of Indian’s constitution. 35-A, assure special rights to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Whenever, there is peaceful demonstration from them, then they must suffer basic human rights violation, fear and state of starvation as response of Indian government. In 2018, 111 civilians are killed which is double to the previous year recorded 40 killing by the Indian forces. India has some 500,000 troops deployed in Kashmir. Popular unrest has been rising since 2016 when a charismatic young Kashmiri leader, Burhan Wani, was shot dead by Indian forces.

Pakistan always has been bolstering the way of peaceful talk with India over the issue. Last year, in October, Prime Minister Imran Khan, repeated Pakistan’s stance that the solution to the region’s dispute laid in dialogue. He said,”It is time India realised that it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UN SC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people”.

Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in response to PM Khan said we welcomed “Pakistan’s concern” but called for Pakistan to “do much more” to “put an end to the appalling grind of repression and human rights abuse that Kashmiris are suffering at the hands of Indian state.

Happily, UN has issued human right report on Kashmir in June 2018. The report of 49 pages strongly emphasis on human right violation and abuses and delivering justice for all Kashmiris. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein remarked “The political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan have long been centre-stage, but this is not a conflict frozen in time. It is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering. Therefore, any resolution of the political situation in Kashmir must entail a commitment to end the cycles of violence and ensure accountability for past and current violations and abuses by all parties and provide redress for victims”.

2018 was the deadliest year in the history of Kashmir. Hope so, Pakistan and India sandwiched by UN would resolve the issue based on Kashmir people’s choice of freedom so that human violation could be ceased.

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South Asia

CPSEC: The Saudi addition to CPEC

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CPEC has been a cornerstone of Pakistan’s long-term macroeconomic policy, and no matter who has been in power, the resolve to continue it further has been steadfast. Pakistan has realized its geopolitical advantage and has focused on constructing trade, energy and transportation corridors throughout its length. China and Pakistan in 2015, had agreed on partnering for the development of an economic corridor which would connect China’s western front with that of the Indus Belt and eventually with the Arabian Sea. The plan saw $ 62 Billion being committed to the execution of the project, building roads, rails, and power projects all along the length of Pakistan.   Contrary to popular belief, the economic corridor actually benefits both countries. China needs alternate routes for uninterrupted trade and energy supply, while Pakistan direly needed infrastructure and power sector development.

Saudi Involvement

At the recent Investment Conference titled “Davos in the Desert”, Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister had pitched the investment opportunities in Pakistan. Saudi Arabia now wants to be a partner in the CPEC project. The investment revolves around the establishment of an “Oil City” in Gawadar. Adviser to the Pakistani Prime Minister had said Saudi that the investment in the huge Oil City project in Gwadar would be $22 billion.

Recently after the twitter spat between the US and Saudi Arabia, the relations have been strained between the two long-term allies. Saudi Arabia, a longstanding US ally in the region is looking to diversify its relations with other nations to reduce its American dependence. This is why Saudi Arabia wants to partner into the CPEC project.

What benefits does Saudi Arabia have with the joining in the project? Saudi Arabia is still the largest supplier of crude oil. It has been looking to secure its oil exports and look for stable markets for its oil export. China is the largest importer of crude oil in the world, accounting for 18.6% of the total global import. The US, on the other hand, is the second largest importer of crude oil, though it also has a huge domestic production which accounts for 40% of its total domestic use. China clearly has the demand and the will to import Saudi oil and for this reason, Saudi Arabia wants to establish refineries, storages, and oil processing units at Gawadar to allow for uninterrupted oil flow into western China. The flow of this oil would be through Pakistan which has longstanding friendly bilateral relations with both Saudi Arabia and China. These relations are also independent of each other, hence the relations would not be affected by overlapping national interests. China also wants to have an uninterrupted energy supply to its mainland via alternate routes, which could not be affected by the geopolitics of the seas.

Saudi Arabia also looks at Pakistan as its long-term partner and a potential market for its exports.  Pakistan has a 202 million population, 70% of which is under 35 years of age. In case, peace returns to the region, Pakistan could show exponential growth and bulge of a new vibrant and energy-hungry middle class. In addition to that, Saudi Arabia wants to have stakes in Pakistan’s economy and what better way of doing all this than to invest in an Oil City, which also happens to be geographically nearby Saudi territory. Pakistan has also been very eager for investment diversification in its economy to avoid being labeled a China-only economy. Showing to the world that’s its doors are open for any country willing to invest into Pakistan.

Convergence of interests

This incredible convergence of interests paves the way for the China Pakistan Saudi Economic Corridor to be a very constructive regional partnership.  This partnership would see three regional powers engaging in positive regional trade and connectivity projects which would eventually increase trade, trust, and dependence on each other. Pakistan and China, both have repeatedly stated that CPEC is open for all to join in and collectively reap the benefits of trade and regional connectivity.

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