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Tag Archives: Pakistan Focus

CPEC: JIGSAW takes shapes in Balochistan

Balochistan would remain the soft belly of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for a decade or two. And in this context, the current security sate in Balochistan is likely to stay by and large the same. Internal disturbance and foreign interference are likely to continue. Direct and indirect foreign interference is likely to remain a potent facto. Therefore, security of the infrastructure has to be planned and executed in a comprehensive way, not only in terms of gun and bullet but also in terms of community participation. Security of personnel working on the CPEC related projects could only be achieved by making the local population stakeholders in these projects through Corporate Social Responsibility offset projects. From political perspective, the things are moving in the right direction. Mid-term political transition has been smooth and without any blame game. Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri has once again extended an invitation to self-exiled Baloch leaders to the negotiating table for resolving political issues and building on the reconciliatory approach of the government. This process needs to be accelerated to build on past breakthroughs. Narratives that engage the stakeholders rather than isolate them are key to stability. Politics of violence have hurt Balochistan, and the use of force brings nothing but destruction. Time is ripe for a new beginning, while at the same time window of opportunity may not be unlimited.Implementation of CPEC can also help overcome a number of problems of Balochistan and therefore, it is incumbent upon the political parties not to create hurdles in the way of execution of various projects under its umbrella. If socio-economic environment of the province is changed, then there would also be no no-go area there and this would, in return, help promote national unity and harmony. Balochistan, despite being the largest, remains the least developed, least secure of Pakistan’s provinces; with poorest Human Resource Development Indicators in the world. CPEC has the potential of reversing all these miseries. In the broader context, it is a century long project that would eventually inter-connect Asia-Europe-Africa under the broader umbrella of One Belt One Road (OBOR). Finances are readily available through Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank that has a projected equity of US$ 200; other major financial institutions have also shown interest in investing in CPEC projects.

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Afghanistan: a rudderless ship!

China has offered to host a meeting between Afghan government and Taliban, but has declined to mediate. China’s special envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun called the Taliban “one of the main forces in Afghanistan’s political arena.” Like Pakistan, China opposes a military solution to the Afghan conflict, and favours intra-Afghan dialogue. “We think dialogue is the only way out for Afghanistan to achieve lasting peace and stability,” Deng said. “We have difficulties and obstacles when we have in such kind of things. We have many problems and challenges ahead but if we sit down, if we talk with each other, then I think the future is bright”, he added. He reassured Pakistan of China’s continued support in addressing common challenges faced by the region. Both Pakistan and China have convergent interests and shared goals with regards to Afghanistan. A report by the ‘US Congressional Research Service’ published in October has revealed that India’s goals in Afghanistan are: to deny Pakistan strategic depth and the ability to block India from trade and other connections to Central Asia and beyond; India also wants to prevent militants in Afghanistan from attacking Indian targets in Afghanistan; it wants to prevent Pakistan from regaining “preponderant” influence in present day Afghanistan. Report added that “it (India) does not want to be saddled with the burden of helping secure Afghanistan” after the US departure. It says that Afghanistan also seeks close ties with India because it wants access to India’s large and rapidly growing economy – “but without alarming Pakistan.” Apparently intra-Afghan battles of turf shall gradually come to an end and the peace process shall resume. Peace in Afghanistan is vital for the stability of the entire region. The underlying factor for resumption of Murree process is how long President Ashraf Ghani takes to calibrate the extent and limits of his political outreach with Taliban. Extension in the tenure of foreign forces limits the chances that during next fighting season the Taliban could over run urban centres one after the other; while at the same time, it also limits the Taliban to not to finalize a political deal before at least end 2016, on the pretext of presence of foreign forces. Until then, pot is poised to keep simmering—patterns would will continue jockeying between fighting and talking seasons.

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Palestine at the UN

Pakistan Focus felicitates the government and people of Palestine, the world over, on the eve of hoisting of the flag of the State of Palestine. Pakistan Focus also urges upon all members of the UN, especially Israel and the United States  to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign State.

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Yemen Crisis: Time to cease the moment!

Iran-Turkey summit has reinforced the likelihood of a cease fire in Yemen. Iranian foreign minister shall soon convey this to Pakistan; at the same time he will urge Pakistan to not to join the Saudi led coalition. By this evening all information gaps would be filled. While an overwhelming consensus is emerging for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, no frame work for such talks is on the horizon. Space for diplomacy is clearly increasing; by now, all parties to the conflict have nodded affirmative for negotiations; hence raison d’etre for sending the military contingent to Saudi Arabia is fast diluting. Handling of this crisis by the government of Pakistan was slow, it could not match the speed of events. Political parties also kept shifting their stance. There was a huge gap between the Pakistani and Saudi positions regarding the ongoing role of Pakistan in Yemen crisis—positions varied between meek denial by Pakistan and total embrace by Saudi Arabia. People of Pakistan were left in a state of confusion. By taking a strong partisan position, Pakistan, like Turkey, lowered its acceptability for playing a lead mediatory role. While Pakistan government is overwhelmingly on Saudi side, leadership should not lose the sight of the stark reality that key to the resolutions of Yemen crisis is with Iran. Inclination toward dialogue by all sides presents a unique opportunity; Pakistan should make a course correction and take a lead in converting this widow of hope into a workable action plan for lasting peace in Yemen.

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