Russia, Maldives and their Common Interest
Despite the long history of diplomatic relations, over 50 years, Abdulla Shahid has become the first Foreign Minister of the Republic of Maldives to visit Russia. In 2004, Russia and Maldives signed a protocol on political consultations. “We highly assessed the cooperation between our foreign ministries and agreed to make these consultations more regular,” Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov offered this assurance during talks with Abdulla Shahid.
“We know you as a very experienced diplomat and politician, who both focused on international problems and headed the parliament. Today, we hope to discuss ways of intensifying our interaction based on the very friendly and warm feelings that our peoples have for each other,” Lavrov also said at meeting held late June.
The official visit of Abdulla Shahid was to strengthen relations and explore some possibilities for trade and investment. Resultantly both ministers discussed, in detail, the status of and prospects for bilateral economic cooperation and noted the recent positive dynamics of trade, although the amount is still fairly modest for now.
Maldives demanded for Russian agriculture products, notably poultry while, on the other hand, economic operators planned to increase the import of marine bio resources from Maldives.
On the whole, Moscow and Male have agreed to build up and diversify trade and investment ties, in particular, considering the results of Maldives international investment forum in Male, which was attended by a Russian delegation.
Maldivian students could be trained in Russian universities as part of the agreement to holdfast the diplomatic relations. In addition, there are some prospects to develop tourism. Last year, the increase was substantial in the number of Russians visiting the Republic of Maldives and the trend also could be sustained.
As a further step towards improving the contractual legal framework, Moscow and Male signed an agreement on visa-free travel for Russian citizens, which will facilitate the growth of the tourist flow and, in general, the development of contacts between business circles and in other areas. Russian Tourism Agency could not make figures available when contacted.
Moscow and Male hold similar positions on most international issues and share the sense of importance to further democratize international life and develop interstate communication based on international law and with reliance on the principles of the UN Charter.
According to reports by the United Nations, Maldives has an estimated population of 410, 000. For many centuries, the Maldivian economy has entirely depended on fishing and other marine products. Fishing remains the main occupation of the people and the government gives priority to the fisheries sector. The next developing industry is ocean tourism. The Republic of Maldives is an island country located in South Asia. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 1,000 km from the continent of Asia.
Pakistan’s relation with Muslim Countries during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Period
14 August 1947 marked the emergence of a new Islamic state on the world map for the Muslims of Indian Sub-continent. The foundation of this state lies on the religious grounds. Religion became the compelling force behind the creation of Pakistan. As the founder of this state Quaid-e-Azam mobilized Muslims on the name of religion to get their separate state to live freely. But the motive of Quaid was to establish a secular state for Muslims. After partition religious factor did not fade away in the politics. Ulema of the country kept trying to use religion for political motives. But until Quaid was alive, he did not allow any religious interference in the politics. But Jinnah did not long survive the birth of Pakistan, and the government quickly came under pressure from the ulema to give the new nation a more Islamic character. After the demise of Quaid-e-Azam, Liaqat Ali Khan could not control the interference of religious scholars. First objective resolution which Liaqat Ali Khan presented showed the evident influence of religious in politics. So, the upcoming governments after Liaqat Ali Khan either military or civilian government could not block the religious interference. The constitution of 1956 declared name of the country as “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. Other than these factors Pakistan always remain on the fore fronts for supporting the oppressed Muslims in all over the world. The influence of religion can also see in the Muslims of sub-continent before partition. They have religious sentiments with not only the Muslims of sub-continent but with the Muslims of all over the world. They supported the Palestinian Muslims and raised voice in Support of them. There also started khilafat movement in sub-continent in the Support of Caliphate of Turkey. After partition, Pakistan remained active in freedom struggle of many Muslim states Bosnia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Libya, Morocco to name a few. First as the Muslims of united India and then independent Muslim state stand for Muslims rights.
Islamic ideology becomes an important determinant in making of foreign policy of Pakistan. The former governments of Ayub Khan and Liaqat Ali khan made their foreign policy more inclined toward the western countries. But with the change of government the foreign policy of the country also changed. Loss of East Pakistan in 1971 was one of the major reasons behind the change in foreign policy of country. Bhutto diverted the principle of foreign policy of Pakistan from western counties toward Muslim countries of Central Asia, Gulf states, and Middle Eastern countries. Bhutto served in government during the Ayub era as foreign minister, and he was against the Ayub pro-western policy. He claimed that when he was foreign minister all Muslim nations supported Pakistan during its 1965 war with India. He started making strong relations with Muslim countries including Saudi, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Oman, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and many other. As an economically under-developed state, Bhutto wanted to expand the sources of economic aid for our country. The relation with Muslim world were on ideological basis but it also proved beneficial in material terms including economic, and defense assistance. This paper will briefly explain and analyze the Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with Muslim world under Bhutto government and the bearings of that relations.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto served in office first as president and then as prime minister from December 1971 to 1977. In the political history of Pakistan, Bhutto is remembered for his charmistic and diplomatic characteristics. He is considered as wise politician as he knows how to turn any event in his own favor. Same is the case with the event of separation of East Pakistan. This 1971 loss proved a turning point in the politics of Pakistan. He viewed this event as betrayal from the west as west neither intervene to stop war nor it was able to secure territorial integrity of Pakistan. This event changed the geopolitical situation of Pakistan. He used succession of East Pakistan as opportunity to invoke element of pan-Islamism in foreign policy. He wanted to create Third world order of Muslim countries. He believed in close affinity with Muslim nations. He introduced the policy of bilateralism. The ideology of Bhutto regarding foreign policy principles includes “evolution of bilateralism, Third World mobilization through the creation of a new economic order, criticism of nuclear proliferation and establishment of special relations with the Muslim countries of the world on the bases of pan-Islamism.” He raised his voice for the issues which Muslims were facing all around the world. He visited different Muslim countries soon after he came into power. He did not appoint any foreign minister. He himself assumed the office of foreign minister ship. This increasing relation with Muslim world also had psychological impact on the nation. It boosted the morale of deprived nation of Pakistan. These relations also gave Pakistan economic benefits. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Libya, Iran, Iraq, and UAE provide economic assistance to Pakistan. Foreign relation with different Muslim nations were not remained smooth. There were ups and downs in the relations with Muslim countries. There were happened changes in the policy toward Saudi, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Geographical factor, economy, and security interests were the few factors which had influence on changing patterns of foreign policy.
There happened some important event during the era of Bhutto government which changed the Pakistan’s image at international level. Pakistan was seemed like the fort of Islam. It raised voice at international level for the liberation of Muslims struggling in different parts of the world including Palestine, Libya, Kashmir and highlighted Arab-Israel issue. This made Pakistan the stronghold of Muslim nations. The other important event was second Islamic Summit which was organized by Bhutto in Feb 1974 in Lahore. This event boosted the importance of Pakistan among the Muslim countries. This summit was attended by heads of almost thirty-two Muslim states. In this summit different issues were discussed including Arab-Israel issue, oil embargo by Arabs, and many agreements were made to improve trade relations, and to provide economic and defense aid to the under-developed and developing countries. In this summit Pakistan recognized the government of Mujib-ur-Rehman in Bangladesh. This summit enhanced the relations of Pakistan with Muslim countries. The other important event during Bhutto time was Iranian revolution which change the discourse of relation between Muslim countries. This revolution impacted Pak-Iran relations and impacted relations with Saudi. Bhutto was credited for his policy of nuclear program. He named it Islamic bomb to get Support from Islamic countries. He once said that, if necessary, Pakistani would eat grass to produce the bomb to show the seriousness and need of making nuclear bomb. To make development in Pakistan’s Nuclear program, he wrote: “We were on the verge of full nuclear capability when I left the government to come to this death cell. We know that Israel and South Africa have full nuclear capability. The Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilizations have this capability. Only the Islamic civilization was without it, but that position was about to change.”
Makah and Medina are remained a source of close affiliation of Muslims with Saudi. In the start of Bhutto era, the relation between two countries were not fruitful. As Bhutto belonged to Shia school of thought and Saudi has majority of conservative suni. This was the main reason behind the unpleasant relation between two countries. Bhutto did his best to warmer relation with Saudi. Pakistan established relation with Saudi at both religious and political levels. His policy of Islamic socialism, and nationalization policy changed Saudi’s attitude toward Bhutto’s Pakistan. There was established two-way relations. At economic level, Saudi provide economic assistance for several developments in Pakistan after the loss of East Pakistan. Trade facilities were increased. Pakistan exported rice, cotton, fabric, and other essentials to kingdom. Saudi provided cash transfer to Pakistan when its foreign currency reserves were low. At defense level, both signed defense agreements. Saudi provided funds for strengthening its military as after 1971 loss Pakistan’s military was weak. Pakistan army was sent to Saudi for training of their corps. Pakistan provided them with training opportunities. Military units of Pakistan also stationed in Saudi. There were exchange of visits between both countries. Bhutto visited Saudi four times. King Khaled of Saudi also visited Pakistan in 1976. The famous “King Faisal Mosque” was completed with the funds provided by Saudi. The 1974 second Islamic Summit hosted by Pakistan in Lahore in which more than thirty Muslim countries took part. This summit was hosted with the assistance of King Faisal of Saudi. Saudi was also present in it. In this summit Arab-Israel issue was discussed. Saudi provided funds for establishment of many religious institutions including Ahl-e-Hadith, Deobandi madrassas and funded already existing religious institutions. These institutions also got funds from private sources. Iranian revolution based on Shia school of thought considered as major event in changing policy of Saudi. Iranian revolution was like a threat to Saudi and Sunni ideology. Therefore, Saudi increased their funds to anti-Shia organizations and institutions. Pakistan also got funds on the name of Islamic Bomb. The collective amount of economic aid received from Saudi during 1970s was almost 130 to 140 million dollars.
In 1964, Pakistan signed RCD pact with Turkey, and Iran during Ayub government. This pact strengthened the relation between Pakistan and Iran. Iran is also an Islamic state. Pakistan moved forward to make good relations with Iran. Iran also had interests in Pakistan. Fear of Soviet expansion and Arab radicalism also kept the imperialistic regime of the Shah fully occupied. Pakistan has strategic location which impacted the security of Iran. As after the loss of east Pakistan, West Pakistan was militarily weak which was threat to national security of Iran. It provided military and economic aid to Pakistan for developing its military. After the British left South Asia, Iran wanted to become regional power. It started building up its regional power following the oil embargo of 1973. This change in regional power proved beneficial for Pakistan and so, it supported Iran. The collaboration between both countries increased. Both countries helped each other in normalizing their relations with rival countries. Iran helped in normalizing Pakistan’s relation with Afghanistan. As Iran has security threat from US and Arab states, Pakistan helped in normalizing its relations with Arab states. At economic level, Iran provided financial and economic assistance to Pakistan. It provided loan of almost 730 million dollars. The trade between both countries also flourished and increased four times. The relation between both countries were smooth until the Iranian revolution. This revolution marked the shift in foreign policy of the country. Iran joined non-align movement and tried to dissolve RCD, but Pakistan wanted to save it. This revolution weakened the Pak-Iran relations.
Afghanistan is a neighboring state with Islami ideology. After joining the office, Bhutto visited Afghanistan three weeks later. This visit was aimed at establishing good relation between both countries. In the start of Bhutto government, the relation between two countries was not healthy. Bhutto visited Afghanistan after coming into power to discuss the territorial issues between two countries. Iran helped in improving the relation between both countries. It provided two billion dollars for economic and development aid to Afghanistan for improving relations. After the coup of 1973, Sardar Muhammad Daud came to power. Bhutto went quickly to recognize the new government of Afghanistan. He offered friendship to M. Daud, but the relation remained unhealthy. M. Daud was remained the leading force behind the Pakhtunistan. During 1972 to 1973 Afghanistan faced worst drought. Pakistan provided with drought relief to Afghanistan. Pakistan provided trade facilities to Afghanistan. In the earth quick of 1976, Pakistan again provided relief supplies to Afghanistan. Famine and earth quick damaged Afghanistan severely. This changed the attitude of M. Daud toward Pakistan. He developed receptive attitude toward peace struggles of Pakistan. Both countries signed agreement of non-interference on June 10, 1975. There were exchange of visits in 1976.
There were many other Muslim states which includes Libya, Turkey, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Bangladesh, UAE, Gulf States, and Syria to name a few. All these states directly and indirectly affected Pakistan politics. Bhutto visited all these states in 1972 aimed at establishing direct relations with Muslim states. The policy of bilateralism was adopted by Bhutto. Pakistan had number of economic and defense agreement with these countries. Pakistan provided military training and technical assistance to these countries Iraq, Oman, Saudi, UAE, and Kuwait. Pakistan had good relationship with Muammar Qaddafi of Libya. It provided financial assistance for the rebuilding of Mirage Fighter Aircraft. But relation between Libya and Pakistan could not last long due the Shah of Iran. Gulf states are rich in oil. 60% of the world oil resources are present in Gulf states. After the independence from Britain, they looked toward Sunni, non-Arab Pakistan for the security of their territory. Defense agreements were increased with Gulf States. Turkey is a Muslim state but a secular form of government. Pakistan had signed defense agreement with Turkey before Bhutto government which was known as RCD. Pakistan for its part has received steadfast Turkish support on the Kashmir issue and some degree of military assistance during the two wars with India. All these Muslim states provided Pakistan with economic assistance, cultural cooperation agreements, defense agreement, and these countries became a largest export market for Pakistan.
Keeping in view the multiple facts, Pakistan’s foreign policy under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto can be concluded as there seems a shift in it. Bhutto introduced new policy in foreign relations. In historical perspective, every event of past had both significance and some drawbacks. Bhutto attempts to bring change in foreign policy proved beneficial for Pakistan in many perspectives, but it also had some negative impacts as well. Bhutto wanted to establish bilateral relations with each Muslim country. Relations with Muslim world benefited Pakistan in case of economy as Pakistan got large amount of economic aid for development projects. He wanted to make Pakistan garrison of Islamic activities. At international level, he increased the morale of Pakistan. Muslim nations recognize the importance of Pakistan and they asked for military assistance from Pakistan. Pakistan got investments in its project of nuclear bomb from Muslim nations as Bhutto named it “Islamic Bomb” to add religious significance with it. Bhutto was successful in making good relations with Muslim world. The second Islamic Summit held in Lahore in 1974 increased the importance of Pakistan in international community. Bhutto promised to raise voice against the injustice happening all around the world with Muslims both national and international level. This gave Pakistan much popularity. Bhutto wanted to increase the sources of economic aid for Pakistan, and he became successful in his attempt. Bhutto foreign policy also had some drawbacks as well. Bhutto introduced the policy of bilateralism, but he could not implement it properly. The conflict between Saudi and Iran on basis of Islamic ideologies also impacted Pakistan’s relation with Iran. It made Pakistan dependent on other countries for economic developments.
State discrimination and Balochistan insurgency
Balochistan is the westernmost province of Pakistan and is connected with Iran and Afghanistan. Balochistan is the longest and less populated province and almost covers 43% of the land with an area of 347190 sqm. Primarily Baloch and Pashtuns are the two major cultural groups of the province. It is resource-rich but unfortunately the poorest province of the state. The region is economically, socially, and politically marginalized by the federal government. It has geostrategic importance due to its location. But the law-and-order situation is unstable in the province, and it has been dealing with terrorism for the last two decades. It is going to be the trade hub and a game changer for Pakistan due to Gwadar port.
There has been a security dilemma from the beginning as Pakistan invaded the territory of Kalat and forced Khan Ahmad yar khan to sign a merger document and Pakistan has formally annexed Balochistan. On 18 August 1947 khan of Kalat the head of state declared Baluchistan as a separate state but after 10 months in July 1948 khan of Kalat declared the region as a part of Pakistan. His brother prince Abdul Karim and another Baloch Nawab Nouroz khan started rebelling against the decision and started fighting against the government of that time.
No provincial government has completed its term due to the interference of the federal government. The Baloch nationalist parties need to make a coalition with mainstream parties in the federal to get support in making government in Balochistan. In the first three decades of the Pakistani government, there were only 4 cabinet members who were ethnically Baloch out of 179 cabinet members. Balochistan is an economically deprived province, and its resources are being exploited by the state. Balochistan is a resource-rich land and makes up 4% of Pakistan’s GDP and 40% of natural gas is being supplied to the country. Balochistan uses 17% of the available resources, while the remaining 83% are sent to the state. Various projects are being run by Chinese companies with the help of the state; reko diq, Gwadar international port, CPEC, and saindak project but peoples in Balochistan feel that these projects are instruments of colonization they give more services to the state but have no utility. The Chinese company took Gwadar on a 40-year lease in which 48% goes to the company itself, 50% goes to the state and only 2% will be rewarded to Balochistan.
Now we are in the fifth phase of insurgency from 2004 which is still going on and the longest and most violent one. Previous ones were in 1948, the 1950s and 1960s, and 1970s. The uprising is weak but they are fighting anyway groups are divided and have multiple internal issues regarding the autonomy of the province. (BLA, BRA, BRF, UBA,) and many other groups are there but BLA and BRA are the most prominent groups led by Dr. Allah Nazr and Brahmadagh Bugti. Baloch student organization (BSO) established in the 1960s is the most influential organization in manipulating the minds of the youth of Baluchistan and aligned with the Balochistan liberation army. Most of the middle class is being influenced by BSO towards nationalism and the separatist movement. The separatist movement is changing as traditionally the leadership was in the hands of nawabs and sardars of tribes but the current situation is different the middle class and well-educated youth are taking over the command of insurgent groups.
Moreover After 2006 the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti fouled the fire of insurgency increased and the brutal operation has been started by the security forces against these so-called nationalists which are still active, and they are presently increasing their number. The actions of security forces increased the ethnic tension in the province, and the targeted killing of non-Baloch mainly the Punjabis have been being in 2009 and about 200 deaths occurred in 1st half of 2009. So, it could not be wrong if someone says that security forces have been fighting against the insurgents for the last two decades. However, they achieve some success but the instability still is present and they are a big threat to mega projects like CPEC, which is going to be a game changer for Pakistan. And there is another perception that security forces are violating human rights through their actions, death squads, fake encounters, and forced disappearance of people especially the youth of Balochistan. The courts of Pakistan failed to question security forces about their actions and the breaking of laws. So, this is a big question why the supreme court of Pakistan is still silent on these unlawful acts? And these types of insecurities make people feel that no one in Islamabad can listen to the innocent voices of the Baloch people. So, for the future of their motherland, they have to join the separatist movement. People back in Balochistan have grievances that their provincial sovereignty is being undermined, and exploitation of resources and the allocation is not being done on a merit basis. The local people of Balochistan are not getting benefits from the project rather people from outside Balochistan are more benefit. Balochistan still is an underpeopled province.
Lack of basic facilities in the education and health sector which are the essential need of any region. According to the census of 2017, the literacy rate of Balochistan is less than 43%.and as per another report 63 deaths per 100 births in the province, which is equivalent to Punjab, the state’s highest populated province.
The experiment of a nuclear bomb has been tested in the famous hills of Chaghi and people affected by different diseases, there is no proper hospital for them and there is nothing regarding development. The federal government ought to deal with the many issues which are in the thoughts of the Baloch people regarding economic immobility and development issues to prevent further insecurity among the Baloch people. Despite 76 years of ongoing resistance, the insurgency remains active, growing even more, and just changing its stages. State officials are contemplating a military solution to a political and economic issue.
So, the Balochistan insurgency could be solved through soft power on a round table and only the political solution could change this chaos in Baluchistan there is a need to work on development projects and make sure to improve the lives of the single entity back in Baluchistan. An essential need of Balochistan is education if the youth is educated they would be more patriotic and loyal to the state, so there is an emerging need for cadet colleges, military colleges, and functioning existing schools.
Pakistan participated in the 22nd Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Minister Meeting (CFAMM)
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries. It is home to 2.5 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. 32 of our members are small states, including many island nations.
All member governments have agreed to a shared goals like development, democracy, and peace. Our values and principles are expressed in the Commonwealth Charter.
The Commonwealth’s roots go back to the British Empire. But today any country can join the modern Commonwealth. The last two countries to join the Commonwealth were Gabon and Togo in 2022.
This week, 56 nations spanning five geographical regions, including some of the largest economies on earth as well as the smallest of islands, celebrated their unity of vision and common commitment to peace and justice in an increasingly polarized world.
In London, Commonwealth Day was marked on 13 March with a series of events, including a wreath-laying ceremony in memory of fallen Commonwealth servicemen and women, followed by a special service at Westminster Abbey and a reception for visiting dignitaries hosted at Buckingham Palace.
During the Commonwealth Day Service, His Majesty King Charles III addressed the gathering as Head of the Commonwealth for the first time. Delivering his Commonwealth Day Message from the Great Pulpit, he hailed the “extraordinary potential” of the Commonwealth, stating:
“The Commonwealth has an incredible opportunity, and responsibility, to create a genuinely durable future – one that offers the kind of prosperity that is in harmony with Nature and that will also secure our unique and only planet for generations to come. “The myriad connections between our nations have sustained and enriched us for more than seven decades. Our commitment to peace, progress, and opportunity will sustain us for many more.”
Pakistan is among the 56 independent countries that make up the Commonwealth in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific. It joined the Commonwealth in 1947 and re-entered it again in 1989 after leaving the fold in 1972. Pakistan is an active member and has been contributing a lot.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar led the Pakistan delegation to the 22nd Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Minister Meeting (CFAMM) held on 15 March 2023 in London. She also represented Pakistan at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey and the reception hosted by Secretary General Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace.
The agenda focused on enhancing the resilience of Commonwealth countries, recognizing the concurrent crises and challenges faced by many members such as climate change, the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, and spiraling food and energy costs, which pose risks to peace and stability.
Addressing the gathered Ministers, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC said:
“We have shown again this week that our Commonwealth Family is unique in the world: bound by our special blend of shared interests, practical advantages, and shared values. We are strengthened by our diversity, and united in our commitment to our Commonwealth Charter.
“As we celebrate the Charter’s tenth anniversary, we can renew our commitment to the vision it expresses: for a fairer, more equitable, more peaceful, and sustainable world rooted in democracy, justice, and human rights.
“And we can take confidence in the firm foundation it provides us: to face the challenges of today and seize the opportunities of the future.”
At the CFAMM, the Minister of State presented Pakistan’s perspective on global and regional developments and their implications for developing countries including Pakistan. She called on the Commonwealth to take the lead in developing a new fiscally responsible model for sustainable development that addresses the issues of existing debt burden.
The Minister of State outlined the importance of international collaboration on climate change and the availability of significant, additional, and predictable financial resources for climate adaptation and mitigation. She also called for early operationalization of the ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ and associated arrangements.
The CFAMM endorsed, inter alia, the initiative by the Board of Governors to modernize the Commonwealth, with the establishment of three working groups on reforms; administration and program; and finance. Pakistan in its capacity as Vice Chair of the Board of Governors would be leading the working group on administration and program.
On the sidelines of Commonwealth events, the Minister of State met with UK Minister of State for Development Andrew Mitchell, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka M.U.M. Ali Sabry, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs of Kenya Dr. Alfred Mutua, Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Minister MP Robert Oliphant, and Secretary General Commonwealth Patricia Scotland.
Pakistan has been playing a pivotal role in international affairs and participates in all international forums.
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