Thursday, 30 April 2015

COMMEMORATING MARTYRS’ DAY

Courtesy:-  Mohammad Jamil

Martyrs’ Day will be commemorated to pay tributes to the martyrs of the Pakistan Armed Forces that rendered great sacrifices in defence of the motherland and also fighting terrorism. The intention to publish this article before 30th April is to suggest that the entire nation should commemorate this event, and the ceremonies should not be confined to garrisons only. Indeed, it was a good initiative by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who decided to observe April 30 as Martyrs Day from April 2010. Last year, on second Martyrs’ day Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani paid tributes to the troops who laid down their lives in the line of duty. Addressing the ceremony, he had solemnly declared: “Pakistan wants peace with all its neighbours with dignity, but national honour and integrity will not be traded just for the sake of prosperity”. The armed forces have indeed played remarkable role in fighting the menace of terrorism and have successfully cleared terrorists’ strongholds in Swat, Bajaur, Malakand and South Waziristan. Pakistan’s armed forces have always played remarkable role during natural calamities like floods and earthquakes that hit the country. 

With these efforts and sacrifices of the armed forces, the day should be observed by all strata of society. During 1965 war, people of all the provinces had displayed complete unity and solidarity with the armed forces. From Khyber to Coxes bazaar in former East Pakistan, people lauded the jawans and officers of Pakistan army, navy and air force for the valour they displayed when India attacked in early hours of the day - 6th September 1965. The spirit should be invoked and the entire nation should observe Martyrs’ Day like it commemorates the Defence of Pakistan Day on 6th September. The martyrdom of thousands of jawans and officers since the inception of Pakistan deserve a national recognition. Pakistan is a peace loving country and the people of Pakistan believe in the principle of live with peace and let live. It has been Pakistan’s earnest desire to have friendly and cordial relations with all countries of the world, but due to hostile neighbour which showed utter disregard to the UN resolutions on Kashmir, the objective of durable peace could not be achieved. 

At a time when we are preparing to remember our martyrs, the nation is grieved over the heart-rending tragedy near Siachen Glaciers, whereby 127 army officers and jawans and 11 civilians were trapped at Gayari sector under tons of snow. Not only families of those martyrs but also people of Pakistan are in grief over this tragedy. Of course, our military officers and jawans have been performing their duties in difficult and dangerous terrains and laid down their lives so that the nation could live in an environment of peace, tranquility and security. We solute our officers and jawans who during war and peace times have rendered great sacrifices, and have played commendable role in war and peace times. In the war of terror, at least 5000 army and paramilitary personnel have been martyred during the military operations in Swat, Malakand and Bajaur, South Waziristan, Mohmand, Orakzai and Khyber tribal agencies. Thousands of them have lost their limbs and become disabled. 

India has to realize that a far greater number of soldiers have fallen victim to avalanches, crevasses and frostbite than have been killed in active combat. Secondly, it is so cumbersome and expensive to maintain a supply line of ammunition, water and food items in that region. Talat Farooq, a Ph.D student at Leicester, UK had given an account of the situation on the highest battle zone stating: “Other than the physical hazards, the troops are vulnerable to acute mental-health problems; lowered levels of oxygen at above 15,000 feet predispose soldiers to altitude illnesses and reduced mental and physicalperformance. In high-altitude combat, troops are subjected to extreme cold, intense ultraviolet radiation, heavy fog, treacherous weather, blizzards and avalanches. Physical conditions in such an environment become more hazardous than enemy gunfire. At 10,000 to 14,000 feet, human beings experience feelings of fatigue and increased sleepiness; however, at heights above 15,000 feet clear psychiatric morbidity is reflected in depression, anxiety, paranoia, hostile behaviour and obsessive compulsiveness”.

It has to be mentioned that India is spending colossal amount by deploying troops at 6300 metres (20800 feet). One would not know the exact amounts being spent at the present, but in 2007, analysts reckoned that India was spending approximately $1 million a day. Here soldiers are left to stare and shoot each other across the line. The fact remains that the human body continuously deteriorates and with temperatures 70 degree below zero, the inhospitable climate and inclement weather have claimed more lives than the exchange of gunfire. India therefore must shun intransigence and withdraw from Siachen. In fact, Manmohan Singh had agreed to announce the decision for withdrawal from Siachen during his proposed visit to Pakistan in 2008, which was not materialized due to Mumbai attacks. However, Indian army and air force top brass had prevailed upon the government not to withdraw as it would make India vulnerable, and would lose the advantage of monitoring both China and Pakistan. 

It is unfortunate that despite supreme sacrifice by the protectors of the nation, some media men, intellectuals and chattering classes denigrate the entire apparatus for adventurism of a few generals in the past. Such elements include some palmed-off media men, pseudo-intellectuals, some analysts and panelists that are out to denigrate the military. In many countries, there are security lapses and failures such as 9/11 in America and 26/11 in India. But in Pakistan, be it 2nd May incident at Abbottabad or attack on Salala check post, the media men start lambasting the military and intelligence agencies. They do not realize that by demoralizing the military, they are trying to weaken Pakistan. Nowhere in the world, armed forces are criticized the way it is done in Pakistan’s print and electronic media. They questioned the ability of the armed forces to decimate terrorists’ strongholds and safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. America should come forward and help restore the confidence of our people in our institutions, which was lost due to US administration’s flawed strategies.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Welcome, President Xi Jinping

Courtesy:- SYED ALI NAWAZ GILANI 

Sino-Pak relations: stronger than ever

The Chinese President His Excellency Mr Xi Jinping is arriving today on a state visit to Pakistan after taking over the office of President of the People’s Republic of China on March 14, 2013. His visit was earlier postponed due to some preoccupied engagements on both sides. This visit is taking place in the backdrop of a very important geopolitical and regional situation apart from further boosting the exemplary Pak-China relations. This visit is also very important from the Pakistan’s political and economic point of view as we are currently engaged in Pak-China Economic Corridor project which if implemented in letter and spirit will enhance our economic activities manifold and the country will ultimately prospers.
The visiting Chinese President who is also the head of ruling Communist Party is expected to lead China for the next decade. Since assuming leadership, he has initiated an unprecedented and far reaching campaign against corruption, called for further market economic reforms, governance according to the law, strengthening legal institutions, and an emphasis on individual and national aspirations under the neologism “Chinese Dream”. President Xi Jinping introduced this new term to lay out his vision of a stronger nation based on the Chinese Path, the Chinese Spirit and Chinese Strength. This led some analysts to the view that he could pursue a more assertive foreign policy during his decade in power. His Excellency actually wants that the world’s second largest economy should take its rightful place in the world whereas the great nation works hard for the Chinese renaissance.
The 61-year-old Chinese President, His Excellency Xi Jinping belongs to a very committed family. He is the son of veteran Chinese revolutionary figure, Mr Xi Zhongxun who was one of the founding fathers of Chinese Communist Party. Mr Xi Jinping was known as “intellectual youth” early on while he was working in remote village of Liangjahe for around six years and was considered as sincere honest. He served as a local party secretary in Hebei Province before going to Fujian and Zhejiang provinces at senior positions where he showed his extraordinary capabilities. Less than a decade back in 2007, he was named as party chief in Shanghai, a very important position for central leadership.
China and Pakistan share a border of just 523 kilometres but they are the good neighbours. Their relationship was formed ahead of normal diplomatic relations which were established in 1951. Most importantly the people to people interaction is quite good. This visit was very much awaited by Pakistanis for last few months. China-Pakistan relationship has been defined as “Iron Brothers” whose “all-weather friendship” is “higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the oceans” and “sweeter than honey”. These words need to be translated in realties by taking full advantage of Chinese expertise in all fields of life. We in Pakistan must prepare ourselves to enjoy the fruits of economic development and socio-economic prosperity.
Decades-old China-Pakistan relations have witnessed strategic cooperation and partnership in recent years, apart from political and cultural interactions. Both countries are serious in helping each other on economic issues as well. Recently, long term plans like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor have been finalised and various MoUs signed in this regard to materialise the Chinese investment in Pakistan. The economic corridor is mainly about cooperation in three areas: energy, transport and industrial parks which will be a new platform for the growth of China-Pakistan strategic cooperation in the next five to ten years. Current year also has a special significance for China-Pakistan relations as the year 2015 has been declared as “Friendly Exchange Year”.
This visit is an excellent opportunity for the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to prepare a proper plan to get help from China. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was declared as a friendly region with Xinjiang region of China in 2008 whereas Peshawar and Urumqi, and Abbottabad and Kashgar were declared as sister cities in 1985 and 2007 respectively. All these gestures can be used in a proper and favourable manner. Various NGOs under the banner of Pak-China friendship can play vital roles in promoting this friendship.

Monday, 13 April 2015

PM adopts a saner route

Courtesy:-  S Rahman

Although every government elected on the basis of popular vote possesses the inherent authority to make action plans according to changing situations and exigencies on the internal and external fronts, Nawaz Sharif government has taken up the matter with the parliament for arriving at the right decisions about the country’s possible role in Yemen crisis. Not only that, the Prime Minister has rather appealed to the parliamentarians to decide what course of action should be adopted particularly after receiving a formal request from Saudi Arabia for extending military support to the latter.
The decision thus made by the parliament would be abided by as assured by the PM himself on the floor of the House during the joint session of the parliament the other day.
This is indeed a manifestation of democratic mindset of the people in the government. This advice has been sought by the Prime Minister in all earnest although sufficient authority vests in his office and in his cabinet, by virtue of their representative capacity (they are representatives of the people and have been democratically elected), to take on the spot decisions in matters of national and international import. Take into consideration the visits of the Prime Ministers of different countries and the signing of agreements and MoUs with other countries. This work is done in good faith in keeping with the priorities and needs of the nations as assessed and gauged sincerely and seriously by their representatives in the governments. No country requires a session of the parliament, whether of one House or both the Houses, before entering into such agreements or before embarking on such tours. It is understood that the elected governments take decisions and actions on the basis of collective wisdom of the people as measured by the people’s representatives who continue giving their take to the government through interaction and through routine sessions of the parliaments.
Sometimes, however, as an exception to this practice, the parliaments are consulted when the countries are faced with complex situations that have borderline dimensions i.e situations which carry ambiguity as to what course should be adopted like the one Pakistan is facing ever since Riyadh formally requested Islamabad to extend military support against possible aggression from rebels that are disrupting peace in the Arabian region close to Saudi borders.
It is not a simple situation to deal with given the fact that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan enjoy very cordial ties. Both the countries are time-tested friends as they have stood the test of times and helped each other in all odd and difficult moments. People still remember the 1979 siege of Masjid Al-Haram by armed rebels who dared violate the inviolable sanctity of the holiest place by entering into the sacred premises and making the pilgrims hostage ultimately leading to the killing of many over there. And the most unfortunate episode of this siege was that the rebels too professed Islamic faith. A few other countries extended help to Saudi Arabia at that time but Pakistan’s military support was quite effective in putting an end to the siege and ensuring the arrest of violators of the Holy Mosque’s sanctity. Pakistanis have a strong bond of love and adoration for the country where the holiest places of Muslims are situated. No Pakistani or for that matter no Muslim of the world will ever like to see the repeat saga of desecration (siege etc) of these holiest places.
Pakistan’s government and the people are on the same page on this point. Likewise, the Pakistani armed services also hold the same opinion. Almost the same opinion has been expressed by the Turkish leaders during Mian Nawaz Sharif’s quick visit to Turkey. This tour was undertaken by Sharif also with the same spirit of mass consultation with all the key players of the region which matter. 
So, besides soliciting the opinion of parliamentarians at home with the pledge for implementation, the Sharif government has done equally efficient work on the external front in the shape of PM’s visit to Turkey and regular exchange of views with Islamic and other countries’ dignitaries. Pakistan has actually set into a motion a process of durable peace in the region in keeping with the genuine concerns and threat perception of Saudi Arabia and in strict accordance with Islamabad’s foreign policy of non-alignment with focus on friendship with all especially with good neighbours like Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad  Zarif’s visit to Pakistan is also being viewed as reciprocity of Tehran to Islamabad’s friendly posturing towards Islamic countries and neighbours. 
All these endeavours might take a little bit of time to bring about total cessation of hostilities but they will definitely lead to lessening of tensions besides clear identification of the aggressor party. They will also convey strong messages to the trouble-makers not to play with fire lest it engulfs the whole region and the world in a never-ending imbroglio.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Chinese humanitarian relief campaign

Courtesy:-  S M Hali

China's evacuation project may be its maiden humanitarian relief mission for future efforts to aid mankind in the face of indomitable odds, depicting China's willingness and capability to play a more constructive role in global crises

The age-old concept of human relief campaigns is that it entails coming to the aid of mankind in distress, irrespective of nationality, religion, creed or beliefs. The people in need include the homeless, refugees and the victims of natural disasters (earthquakes, flooding, cyclonic storms, famines), military conflicts and other trials. The primary purpose of humanitarian relief is to save lives and reduce suffering while respecting human dignity. History is replete with examples of nations providing support to human relief campaigns. One instance is the response to the northern Chinese famine of 1876 to 1879, which was brought about by a drought in 1875 that claimed the lives of 10 million people. British missionary Timothy Richard drew international attention to the catastrophe. The international community wholeheartedly responded to Richard’s appeal for financial aid for the victims.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Pakistan, China enjoy long-term relations

Courtesy:- Maiza Hameed

“Deeper than the deepest sea, higher than Himalayas and sweeter than honey” the preceding phrase is generally used to highlight the closeness and intimacy of Pak-China relations. Both countries have enjoyed a long-term consistent goodwill towards each other.

Both Pakistan and China are situated in an area that has great geographical importance and hosts almost half of the world’s population. Along with the human resources, the area is also rich in natural material resources. Also, three out of seven declared nuclear states of the world are situated here. Hence the importance of stability in the region and amiable relations between the countries, become a necessity.

China is a fast emerging global power and it has registered fast and sustained economic growth. China share in the world trade has exceeded $620 billion. Its relations with the United States, Japan, European Union and even India have broadened dramatically owing to its profile as world power and its significant role in global politics. Pakistan needs to understand the changing dynamics of world politics and should strengthen its bond with China in terms of bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

The trend of closer regional ties, particularly closer cooperation in the fields of economics and trade is dominating the world politics. China is Pakistan’s second largest trading partner and fourth largest export market. Pakistan is the first South Asian country to sign a free trade agreement with China and also takes lead among other South Asian countries in terms of China’s investment.

In the backdrop of US-India strategic ties Pak-China relations are vital for the supreme interests of both the countries. The course of recent Sino-Pak high level talks, the scope of bilateral ties has expanded and there is a shift in the recent dynamics of their relations as Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning and Development is reported to have said: “In the past, the economic relationship could not match the political one. Now the leadership on both sides has realised that we have to bridge that gap.”

As they say, “Credit should be given where it is due”, the present inflow of foreign investment is the outcome of consistent and persistent efforts of the PML-N government and was initiated immediately after they assumed power in Punjab. Gradually the momentum picked pace and was transferred to Center also. However, provinces like KPK still lag behind owing to the irresponsible attitude of people governing it.

The Pak-China economic corridor in physical terms is a 2000 kilometers highway stretching from Kashgar to Gwadar through khunjrab but in fact this will integrate the economies of the two countries. The project is designed to establish a number of economic zones and physical links connecting both the countries. It will begin a new chapter of economic cooperation in terms of regionalism in South Asia and will subsequently pave the way for progress and prosperity in the region by building pipelines and ports with roads/rail infrastructure generating massive trade and economic activity and opening up of new avenues for the people of two countries which is approximately three billion people of the region.

Sino-Pak relations have entered a new phase and are subject to a change from bilateralism to regionalism and long-term collaboration that is a step towards a comprehensive strategic partnership for peace and development in the world and particularly in the region.

Pakistan needs to focus on its cooperation with China to reap the benefits. The present situation also offers the opportunity to Pakistan to construct a new narrative of the Pak-US relationship that should be based on mutual self-respect and interests rather than vested interests. And also, the China-Pakistan nexus is clearly a case of convergence of interests of the two, in the backdrop of the geopolitics governing the present world order. For the foreseeable future, the Sino-Pakistani strategic nexus will remain an enduring aspect of the China-India-Pakistan triangle.


Friday, 3 April 2015

A concerned member of global fraternity

Courtesy:- S Rahman

Acting like a responsible state and a concerned member of global fraternity, Pakistan has taken timely, effective steps to extricate its citizens from war-torn Yemen and simultaneously sent a high profile civil-military delegation to assess the ground situation for determining Islamabad’s role in case of existential threat to the custodian country of the Islamic faith.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Infusing energy into Pakistan

Courtesy:-  S M Hali 

The 21st century will be the harbinger of prosperity to the continent under the guardianship of China as the century of Asia

While addressing the Pakistan-China Media Forum on the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and One Belt One Road projects, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong praised the people of Pakistan in a unique manner. He stressed that the magnificence, discipline and splendour of the Pakistan Day parade gave an impressive message of the strength, resilience and courage of the people of Pakistan, who celebrated their national day in a befitting manner, despite the trials and tribulations that they have faced in recent years.