Thursday, 25 December 2014

The right response

Courtesy:- Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The holocaust enacted at the Army Public School in Peshawar was arguably an act of ultimate bestiality that has grievously hurt the soul and body of the entire nation. This outrageous act has not only been condemned by the entire Pakistani nation but also the world community. While some retaliatory acts by TTP were expected in the wake of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, and they have been hitting different targets since then, nobody in their wildest dreams could have expected the kind of barbarity perpetrated on the innocent children in Peshawar. 

Such was the impact of this ghastly enactment that it was condemned by the Afghan Taliban. Even Jamaatul Ahraar, which is known as the most influential and ferocious splinter group of the TTP, thought it appropriate to distance itself from the incident and endorsed the statement of the Afghan Taliban. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Will the dream materialise?

Courtesy:- Iftekhar A Khan  

When the prime minister visited China in November and signed pacts of $45.6 billion investment in development projects, the nation had a good reason to be euphoric. Of the committed investment, $33.8 billion is allocated for power generation and $11.8 billion for developing roads and transportation network.

Pakistan and China signed the China-Pak Economic Corridor Agreement, under which China would develop a four-lane road infrastructure from Kashgar to Gwadar, besides setting up power generation plants in the power scarce country. The power plants will generate 16,500MW by 2021. The road transport system will stretch 2700 kilometres from Gwadar to Khunjrab Pass and thereafter into China. The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan last year called the undertaking a ‘flagship’ and a wonder of the world when completed.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Encouraging developments

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The last few days have witnessed some very positive developments which might help in thinning the pall of gloom hanging over the political landscape of the country and could eventually contribute to ending the ambience of political confrontation that has adversely affected the economy and the image of the country in the comity of nations. In this regard, the dismissal of the petitions for disqualification of the Prime Minister under articles 62 and 63 by the SC, filed by PTI, PML-Q Chief Shujat Hussain and a lawyer—- contending that the Prime Minister by lying on the floor of the parliament with regards to his request to COAS to play a mediatory role in resolving the political stalemate, is a very significant judicial response to the unconstitutional prayers made by the petitioners. The petitions filed in the wake of the failure of PTI and PAT in dismantling the edifice of democracy through violence and challenge to the writ of the state, were clearly a blatant attempt to drag the judiciary into political issues and precipitate the political crisis.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

No more blood

Courtesy:- Malik Muhammad Ashraf

In a marked departure from its predecessor’s policies, which were often marred by tensions with the west, the new unity government in Afghanistan headed by President Ashraf Ghani has opted to do things differently and made a conscious decision to work closely with the US and its allies to restore peace to Afghanistan and rebuild the country’s economy. 

That was the message the Afghan president gave to the international community at the London Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the UK and Afghanistan and attended by 74 international delegations including 59 partner countries, multilateral organisations, NGOs and representatives of Afghan civil society. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was specially invited by the British prime minister to attend the moot. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pakistan’s security challenges

Courtesy:- Dr Maleeha Lodhi

Pakistan’s principal challenge lies within – defeating militancy and extremism, reviving the economy, resolving the energy crisis, educating its children and generating jobs to absorb the youth bulge in our population to avert a looming demographic disaster. The implications of all these problems for national security are apparent and can be ignored only at great peril.

Thus the strategic choices most consequential to Pakistan’s future concern these internal challenges. However, the challenge within is, in several ways, linked to Pakistan’s external environment, not least because a peaceful neighbourhood is crucial for Pakistan to focus unhindered and undistracted on solving deep-seated domestic problems.

Friday, 5 December 2014

General Raheel’s US visit

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The unprecedented two week visit to the US by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif during which he held parleys with military authorities, security establishment and Secretary of State John Kerry, has been in the limelight in the Pakistani media with regards to the purpose of the visit and its outcome. The visit has also been commented upon by political and defense analysts giving their own interpretations from different perspectives. One of the analysts however, tried to link the visit to some recent developments on the domestic front and referring to the statement of John Kerry that Pakistan Army was the ‘real binding’ force in Pakistan, even insinuated the possibility of the US supporting an enhanced role for the Army in running state affairs on the lines suggested by Altaf Hussain. He hinted that this highly unusual visit could be worrying for the PML(N) leadership.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Khan’s choice

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf

While it is satisfying to note that the PTI rally at Islamabad on November 30 passed without any incident like August 31, when PTV headquarters and parliament were attacked by the workers of the PTI and PAT, it is equally worrying to see Imran Khan remaining as stubborn and determined as ever to continue with his confrontational style of politics. 

Relishing the usual diatribe against the Sharifs and contradictory claims about election rigging, he threatened the government to immediately order a probe into the or face ‘Plan C’ which is designed to block major cities like Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi. He repeated his demand for a judicial commission providing for investigations by a joint investigating team comprising members of all intelligence agencies and the FIA. He also showed his willingness to start dialogue with the government provided the government acceded to his demands and picked up the thread from the already agreed points.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Pros and cons of regional electricity grid

Courtesy:-  FARHAT ALI

Signing of an agreement at the 18th Saarc Summit to establish a regional electricity grid and meaningful smiles and shaking of hands between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Modi are the two high points at the summit and perhaps the only significant achievements of the organisation, which is struggling to find ground over the last ten years. 

In the region Nepal and Bhutan have massive hydroelectric power potential which is much in surplus to their need. India and Pakistan are deficient in power and they both would benefit from this environment-friendly and cost effective source of power. India's installed power grew from 120,000 MW in 2006 to around 200,000 MW in 2014, which means a yearly increase of 10,000 MW or an average yearly increase of 8.3% matching their GDP growth. Today India's energy mix is 65% thermal, of which 50% is coal-based, whereas 22% is hydro, 3% nuclear and 10% renewable. Their present energy strategy is to expand in hydro, nuclear and renewable and move out of thermal/coal-based power plants. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

US visit: déjà vu?

Courtesy:- Moeed Yusuf

Gen Raheel Sharif’s start in Washington has been positive.


So what of military-military ties now?
It is set to continue. Notwithstanding all the mutual angst over the past decade and views that the US will not take kindly to Pakistan’s military-intelligence combine in the wake of the 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan, US policy seems be operating on a simple calculus: the satisfaction of punishing a bad partner aside, how are US interests served by divorcing a Pakistani military that controls the country’s nuclear weapons and virtually everything on the counterterrorism front.