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Naveed_Bhuutto Saturday, October 19, 2013 10:34 AM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Gwadar Port: Geo-economic and Geostrategic Dimensions[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

Gwadar has geostrategic significance as it lies on the conduit of three most commercially important regions of the world. Gwadar has geostrategic significance as it lies on the conduit of three most commercially important regions of the world. The oil rich Middle East, Central Asia bestowed with natural resources, and South Asia having the potential for growth, for this century.

The awarding of the multi-billion dollar contract for construction and operation of Gwadar Port to China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC), a state-run Chinese firm, in February this year, has added a new chapter in decades-long Sino-Pak partnership. The project is mutually beneficial for both countries in the region for it will not only give them a corridor for greater commercial activity but will also bring closer the Central Asian countries. It is also expected to earn them a great strategic leverage. The recent agreement is the part of a plan to open up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf region, across Pakistan to western China.

The transfer of project operations to China caught attention of the international media and triggered discourse on the economic and strategic shift that the presence of China tends to induce in one of the world's major maritime zones. Naturally, it raised concerns of major stakeholders in the Indian Ocean, particularly Pakistan's eastern neighbour, India, and the United States.

It was March 2002, when the groundbreaking of Gwadar Port marked the execution of the decades-old plan of Pakistan to build a deepwater seaport (Panamax port) at its coastline in Balochistan province. Highlighting the paramount geo-economic and geostrategic significance of the port, the then president Pervez Musharraf said:

“The Gwadar port shall provide modern, up-to-date facilities for cargo vessels in line with modern ports. The coastal highway which is also being constructed simultaneously with the port, will provide a very healthy linkage between Karachi and Gwadar ports. If we see this whole region, it is like a funnel. The top of the funnel is this wide area of Central Asia and also China's western region. And this funnel gets narrowed on through Afghanistan and in Pakistan northern areas into Pakistan and goes through Pakistan and the end of this funnel is Gwadar port. So this funnel, futuristically, is the future economic funnel of this whole region. All the top of this funnel, the broad top of the funnel, anything going into it or out of it, Pakistan and Gwadar port provides the real input, the inlet and the outlet into it. There is no doubt that Gwadar port, when operational, will play the role of a regional hub for trade and commercial activity.”

The port was established with the help of a Chinese construction company and the first phase of the project was completed with initial investment of 248 million dollars in a record time of four years. After completion of the first phase of the project, the operational contract was given to the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) through open bidding in 2007. Owing to some unforeseen reasons, the PSA expressed reservations on investing the agreed amount in five years time. Also, it failed to operationalize the port as expected and agreed in the contract. Later on, Pakistan offered the operational contract to China which the latter rejected.

With the changing dynamics of regional politics and the global shift that has taken places during past couple of years, apparently, three key factors compelled China to opt for taking the operational command of the Gwadar port. First, the increasing US influence in the Asia-Pacific poses considerable economic and strategic challenges to China. Second, Gwadar port provides China with an alternative route and eases its reliance on Strait of Malacca. Third, the expected withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan by 2014 is going to provide other countries a room for economic ventures Afghanistan as well as the Central Asian Republics.
The expected withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan by 2014 is going to provide other countries a room for economic ventures Afghanistan as well as the Central Asian Republics.
To the US and India, it's quite a perturbing development. The policy analysts in both the countries are wary of China’s greater access to the Indian Ocean through Gwadar as it poses a challenge to the commercial and strategic interests of the US and India. Some quarters in the US referred to China's entry into Gwadar as part of its “string of pearls” strategy which refers to Chinese Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) extending from mainland China to Port Sudan straddling over Strait of Malacca, Strait of Bab-el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz and run through some significant maritime centres, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives. It is believed that the array of ports that China has established in the Indian Ocean region, including a port in Hambantota, Sri Lanka; a port in Chittagong, Bangladesh and a port and pipeline complex off Myanmar's coast in Rakhine region; would help the country maximize its control over the commercial and naval activity across the Indian Ocean.

Indian concerns are no different than the America's. India is apprehensive of Chinese presence in Indian Ocean. For couple of obvious reasons, India is also flustered on China's control over a port in Pakistan. Through Gwadar, China would be in a position to invalidate the India-US “counter China strategy”. India also fears that China's growing influence may result in harming Indian interests. Above all, India believes that the port would enable Pakistan to take control of more of the world energy circulation and interdiction of Indian sea-borne trade. However, India seldom mentions its plans to invest profusely in Port of Chabahar in southeastern Iran. The port was partially built by India in 1990s and is located on the flanks of Indian Ocean and Oman Sea.

Criticism and apprehensions apart, economically, the port is expected to be the hub of trade and commerce in the region as it holds tremendous opportunities to boost economic prospects and activity in Pakistan. Pakistan has a coastline of about 1100 km along the shores of Arabian Sea. Total annual trade of Pakistan is about 38 million tonnes out of which 95 per cent takes place through sea. According to projected estimates, Gwadar port will exponentially increase the shipping activity in other ports (Karachi port and Ports Qasim) as well. However, Baloch nationalists have expressed reservations and has severely criticised the decision to provide China access to the Gwadar port. They view it as an unlawful exploitation of the resources and depriving people of Balochistan of their own economic asset. Also, they are sceptical of China's plans believing it would lead to further militarization of the region.

While analysing the future of Balochistan with reference to Gwadar port, Robert D. Kaplan, an American Geopolitical analyst stated:

“One key to its (Balochistan) fate is the future of Gwadar, a strategic port whose development will either unlock the riches of Central Asia, or plunge Pakistan into a savage, and potentially terminal, civil war.”

From a geostrategic perspective, Pakistan will have a strategic depth and access to the finest naval facilities. It may also enjoy greater maritime interaction with the Middle East countries as well. The Chinese naval presence may also meliorate Pakistan's coastal defence. It will also give Pakistan an edge over India, economically and strategically.

China heavily relies on the Middle East for energy resources and hence the country is involved in trade, exploitation and development here and in African region. The Gwadar port can provide the Chinese with a listening post to observe the naval activities of US in the Persian Gulf 460 km further west of Karachi and away from Indian naval bases. In military and strategic terms, Gwadar port can help China to monitor the SLOCs from the Persian Gulf. Gwadar has strategic importance for China as about 60 per cent of its crude supply comes from Gulf countries that are close to Gwadar. Besides, owing to historical affiliations with Indian Ocean region, China considers it its right to be associated with every activity in the Indian Ocean.

Along with opportunities, a number of challenges and risks are also involved in the Gwadar port project for both Pakistan and China. Baloch nationalists' stance towards the project and the continued unrest in Balochistan needs to be dealt with carefully and sensitively. China, while expanding its influence in the Indian Ocean, may also come across the problem of distance for shipping activity. The unrest in Balochistan may also pose some security-related risks and challenges to development activity in Gwadar. Moreover, China needs to be cautious and conscious of its internal economic and political weaknesses which, at certain point, may cause trouble to its greater interests in the Indian Ocean.

As the Gwadar port project will require time to be fully functional, speculations and predictions will keep circulating and resonating in the media and policy circles of major stakeholders. Nevertheless, the port is destined to change the future course of commercial activity in the region.

Nabiha Gul

Naveed_Bhuutto Sunday, October 20, 2013 02:23 PM


[I][COLOR="rgb(65, 105, 225)"]Long-awaited Gas Pipeline agreement has been finally inked by Iran and Pakistan. Both countries signed historic deal partly out of feeling of Islamic solidarity, to take Pakistan out of energy crisis, and partly to frustrate Western countries’ imposed isolation on Iran in the name of nuclear programme.[/COLOR][/I]

The gas pipeline is not the only one that will limit to Pakistan and it is not the only pipeline which is threatened by the US sanctions. In 1992, Tehran had offered assistance in the construction of a gas pipeline to carry Turkmen gas to Turkey and Western Europe through Iran. The idea of such a pipeline, costing $ 3 billion, upset Washington, which tried to sabotage it. Thus under the US pressure, it was announced that the plan was being held in abeyance since international bankers were unwilling to finance a project involving Iran. A fear was also expressed that Iran, for political reasons could turn off energy supplies to Turkey and Europe, thus playing with the future of the two.

In 1995, a reversal for America occurred when Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan signed a $ 20 billion natural gas deal with Iran. This deal was scheduled to run for twenty-five years. A pipeline was to be laid to carry initially 3 billion cubic meters of Iranian gas annually, rising to 10 billion cubic meters in 2005.

Confident of their oil and gas wealth, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan continued to defy Washington's policy of economic boycott of Iran. In December 1997, Iranian President Muhammad Khatami and Turkmen President Niyazov inaugurated a pipeline to carry natural gas from Turkmenistan's Korpeje gasfield to Kord-Kui in northeast Iran. Further to that, in June 1998, the National Iranian Oil Company invited bids for a $ 400 million contract for a 400-kilometer (250 miles) pipeline between the Caspian port of Babol Sar and Tehran, to carry oil supplied by tankers to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The pipeline was designed to handle 200,000 bpd, with Iran exporting the same amount from its Gulf ports to the customers of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

In July 2007, Iranian and Turkish energy ministers signed a memorandum of understanding under which Turkmen and Iranian gas would be exported to Europe through Turkey. Moreover, Turkey would also develop three later phases of Iran's giant South Pars gas field of Tehran's buyback scheme. This MoU was 'a dream come' true for Turkey as she was a pivotal country for the transfer of energy from one part of the world to the other. However, the document drew a quick condemnation from the US State Department. Like his predecessor Erbakan, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan rebuffed Washington.

Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline is one of the projects in Iranian historical perspective. However, in this project, Pakistan is keeping high ambitions for the resolution of its energy crisis and as a result political stability. Pakistan is short of 4000 MW electricity which has impaired its already shabby economy. Power breakdowns have badly blighted the country's economy by dawdling industrial production, deteriorating the country's agricultural capacity and having a detrimental brunt on business. In a cyclical manner, laying off has resulted in declining purchasing power resulting in reduction of daily- wagers. Hence the poverty level is on the rise. The growing dependence on costly furnace oil, with $ 1 billion per year import, for the production of thermal power continues to raise electricity charges.

Pakistan is keeping high ambitions for the resolution of its energy crisis and as a result political stability.

Once the shortfall is compensated, Pakistan will regain political stability which will be supported by the strengthening of its political economy, enhanced industrial output, bringing back laid off workers, foreign investment and over and above shrink poverty level. The imported gas from Iran would allow the generation of additional 4,123 megawatts of electricity at cheaper rate. It will also restore the 2,232 megawatts of idle thermal power generation capacity that will help, in addition to the domestic gas, for other uses such as manufacturing fertilizer and supplying gas to domestic consumers. While Pakistan would pay Iran $3 billion a year, it would reduce its oil imports by $5.3 billion, resulting in a net annual reduction in energy imports by about $2.3 billion.

The energy crisis in Pakistan has become a question of life and death for the survival of the state. Hence success of the IP project is the dire need for the survival of the country. Once, successful, India which is already facing energy crisis, will give a second thought to rejoin the project what was originally called Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Pipeline. After an exchange of MFN status, it will be another milestone in providing the two arch-rivals to resolve their mutual suspicions and conflicts via economic means. Thus it would be another Confidence Building Measure (CBM) that will result in true sense of “A Peace Pipeline”. No doubt, a successful project attracts the attention of every country interested in cashing the booty of a ready-made venture. China can join the project via Pakistan which will in turn bring significant economic benefits from the deal for Pakistan.

The US threat of sanctions against Pakistan is a definite bluff. However, The US can use Saudi Arabia and Qatar to exert pressure on Pakistan to abandon the IP project.

However, there are serious hurdles in the way of IP becoming functional, the most important being a stiff opposition from the US. The US wants to strangulate the Iranian economy through sanctions and imposed isolation on Tehran. While brandishing the threat of sanctions against Pakistan, we need to gingerly weigh their possible effects. At the moment, the US is about to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and the cheapest way out is via Pakistan. Secondly, peace and reconstruction of/in Afghanistan is in its absolute embryonic stage. Pakistan- being a frontline ally of the US during the war on terror in Afghanistan played a pivotal role in the execution of the US objectives in the region. Be it a Bonn Conference in 2011 or negotiations with the Taliban, it has always been seen that any effort in Afghanistan minus Pakistan is doomed to fail. Therefore, Pakistan's help is a prerequisite in restoring long-lasting peace in the post-2014 Afghanistan. Thirdly, in Pakistan, pro-American sentiments are extremely rare. The US sanctions will add fuel to the fire. Hence, the US threat of sanctions against Pakistan is a definite bluff. However, the US can use Saudi Arabia and Qatar to exert pressure on Pakistan to abandon the IP project. Still, this will depend on what they offer in reciprocation to an already pursued and half completed project.

Gone are the days when the extra-territorial major powers' Cold Wars used to take place in this region. The animosity between Iran and the US is a bilateral issue which must not hinder the development process of other regional countries. Pakistan and India are arch-rivals. But the US ignored this fact and signed a nuclear deal with India. Similarly, any pressure by the US on Pakistan for the IP project will tantamount to the negation of its own trend of bilateralism that she set in this region. For an animosity between Iran and the US, Pakistan must not bear the brunt. Everybody for oneself and God for us all.

[B]The writer teaches at the Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar. [email]syedshaheed@hotmail.co.uk[/email]

Dr Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Sunday, November 03, 2013 05:28 PM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]NATO's Thorny Prison Dilemma[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

[I]As the majority of coalition forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan at the close of 2014, concerns are growing for the future of the detainees they must leave behind.[/I]

During the course of the twelve-year war, NATO troops have apprehended thousands of suspected insurgents, most of whom have been released or transferred to the Afghan authorities. However, renewed fears regarding the prevalence of torture in Afghan custody have compelled ISAF forces to halt the process of handing prisoners over to the Afghan authorities.

In a damning report, released in February, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) concluded that torture is an "institutional policy or practice" in at least ten of the country's detention facilities. The methods include beatings, suspension from the ceiling and electric shocks. Transferring prisoners to face such conditions is a breach of international law. But as ISAF remains tied to a fixed timetable for military withdrawal, the need to find a legal solution to prisoner transfer, by getting rid of institutional mistreatment, grows ever more pressing.

For the British government, the issue is a particularly thorny one, and its approach to transfers has drawn sharp criticism, both from human rights groups and lawyers acting on behalf of prisoners who faced mistreatment after being transferred from British custody.

On 29 November 2012, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was forced to re-impose a third moratorium on the transfer of UK-detained prisoners to the Afghan intelligence service (NDS). As of October 2010, the UK had detained 1,399 individuals, of whom at least 487 were transferred to the Afghan authorities. Today, the number remaining in British custody is believed to stand around 70.

Hammond's decision to ban transfers came after two years spent defending the practice of releasing detainees into a penal system where abuse has been described as widespread. The day before a high court hearing into the legality of a previous transfer that had resulted in allegations of sustained abuse, the Defence Secretary obtained new (as yet undisclosed) evidence suggesting that prisoners transferred to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) were indeed at "real risk of serious mistreatment or a flagrant denial of justice".

The ban on prisoner transfer appears to have been vindicated by the new UNAMA report. After interviewing 635 inmates held across 89 detention facilities, UN representatives concluded that the culture of abuse was most prevalent within NDS Kandahar, a key destination for UK-detained prisoners once they have been transferred.

So far, the British government has aimed to minimise the risks facing detainees by using a two-pronged strategy. This strategy involved 'diplomatic assurances' from the Afghan security services that the individuals in question will remain free from harm, while at the same time, monitoring and encouraging the use of surveillance within detention centres.

The practice of striking diplomatic deals regarding torture has long been controversial. Amnesty International has condemned the practice as a dereliction of both states' duty to take the overall threat of torture seriously. The specific focus on the treatment of individual detainees, Amnesty argues, ignores a wider picture of abuse in which confessions are regularly extracted through mistreatment. Amnesty has also pointed out that diplomatic assurances are not legally binding and not only that, but they have no enforcement mechanisms. This leaves the governments involved to voluntarily assume responsibility for investigating breaches and holding perpetrators to account. In the case of Afghanistan, levels of accountability for mistreatment remain very low. According to the recent UNAMA report, over the last 18 months, NATO representatives have reported 80 allegations of detainee abuse to Afghan authorities. To date, Afghan officials have only taken action over one case.

After ISAF nations resumed transfers to these facilities and reduced its monitoring, incidents of torture appeared to rise once again.
Britain's latest agreement with Afghanistan regarding the treatment of prisoners was signed in a low-key meeting between Asadullah Khalid, head of the NDS, and a representative from the British Foreign Office. To say that Khalid is seen by many to be a deeply flawed interlocutor is putting it lightly: he has been described by Canadian diplomats as someone 'known to personally torture people' in a 'dungeon under his guest house'.

The worth of Khalid's assurances against the use of torture is monitored by a team of British military personnel. They conduct interviews with UK-transferred prisoners, questioning them about their detention experience and giving them an opportunity to register any allegations of mistreatment. However, critics argue that British monitoring efforts are at best ineffective, and at worst, lead to a systematic cover-up of abuse. The human rights charity ‘Reprieve’ has documented examples of British monitors finding torture equipment in interrogation rooms, but saying nothing out of fear of 'causing a scene'. More concerning still is that UNAMA this week reported receiving "sufficiently reliable and credible information that officials hid detainees from international observers and held them in underground or other locations"

This is not to say that monitoring does not have an impact. UNAMA observed that some NDS facilities saw a decrease in allegations of torture during the one-year period in which the interviews took place. This corresponded with a decrease in transfers by international military forces and increased monitoring. However, after ISAF nations resumed transfers to these facilities and reduced its monitoring, incidents of torture appeared to rise once again. Monitoring is a useful and necessary stage in the quest to eradicate torture in Afghan detention facilities. It is not, however, a silver bullet.

Britain's repeated bans on prisoner — transfer to the Afghan authorities have led to a shift in strategy when it comes to detentions. Military operations are usually conducted in conjunction with Afghan forces, and it is now the latter that is expected to take charge of any arrests.

But this does not solve the problem of what to do with the prisoners who remain in British custody. Speaking at a press conference in Kabul on Monday, Georgette Gagnon, UNAMA's Director of Human Rights, emphasised the need for the ISAF governments to focus on "deterrents and disincentives to use torture, including a robust, independent, investigation process, criminal prosecutions and courts' consistent refusal to accept confessions gained through torture". Without such deterrents, she said, Afghan officials will have no incentive to cease the practice of torture.

As the date for NATO's withdrawal from Afghanistan draws ever closer, the imperative for coalition governments to encourage such deterrents will grow ever stronger.

[B] (Courtesy: Foreign Policy Magazine)
JWT Desk[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Sunday, November 03, 2013 05:29 PM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]On Ties with India[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

[I]Historically speaking, Pak-India bilateral relations have predictably been unpredictable. The more both countries seem to make headway the more pitfalls they have to contend with in trying to negotiate this fragile and volatile relationship.[/I]

Just at a time when all was set for the third round of composite dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi, the incidents at the Line of Control (LoC) upset the applecart. Using these incidents as justification to delay his planned visit to Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was quick to opine that it was not possible for the Congress-led coalition government to have 'business as usual' with Pakistan.

While the Pakistani leaders, foreign office, media and opinion-makers showed maturity in dealing with the ensuing crisis at the LoC, their counterparts in India resorted to their usual tricks of playing to gallery. Though the composite dialogue process was not halted, which has been the usual practice when faced with spanners in the normalization works, a visible slowdown in the bilateral relations was clearly discernible. New Delhi cancelled the Secretary-level talks to discuss Wullar Barrage issue and put a stopper on making operational the new visa regime. It also ordered Pakistani hockey players to leave the Indian soil immediately.

As a reaction, Islamabad, which was all set to grant the status of Most Favoured Nation to India by December 2012 had to defer its decision.

Before leaving office near the end of tenure, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar threw light on the main highlights of the PPP-led government's handling of foreign policy at a press conference. On her government's policy towards India during five years in office, she had this much to say:

“There is level of mistrust even in the Indian media. I am disappointed but would not call it a strategic failure. We have walked the talk. We can only conduct our own policy and wait for them to come to us. We need to lead domestic opinion rather than follow. Both countries have invested in improving relations so let us take away ammunition from the naysayer.”
This nicely sums up the situation.

A review of Pakistan's India policy reveals that New Delhi has failed to make good use of extraordinary consensus among the stakeholders in the country on the need of improving relations with its eastern archrival. The following is instructive in this regard:

It was in June 1997 that the composite dialogue framework, which had eight points including Jammu & Kashmir, was launched. Pakistan made progress on composite dialogue framework conditional to the resolution of the core issue of Jammu & Kashmir, while India favoured a simultaneous progress on all issues contained in the dialogue process. Both countries stuck to their traditional stands through the following years till 9/11 happened and changed the regional and global geostrategic landscape.

As global terrorism became a major concern, India joined the bandwagon and tried to portray the indigenous freedom struggle as terrorism, allegedly aided by the safe havens located in Pakistan. The emerging international consensus against terrorism and policy shifts forced Pakistan to review its India-policy. It was for the first time in Pakistan's history since 1947 that Islamabad backtracked from its historic stand on Kashmir during incumbency of General Pervez Musharaf.

Instead of echoing its usual mantra of the UN resolutions being the key to acceptable solution, it accepted the Indian downgrading of the Kashmir issue as bilateral one between New Delhi and Islamabad. The various formulae proposed by Musharraf reflected the country's departure from its traditional stand much to the ire of rightist political and religious parties. The rest is history.

All along the succeeding years, India pegged dialogue with Pakistan with the latter's progress on dismantling terrorist network, it accused Islamabad of harbouring. Each time when both countries picked up the thread where it was broken either it was in January 2004 or 2010, the leaderships of both countries made tall claims of 'opening a new chapter' in bilateral relations. But each time, as history goes by, one minor incident has the potential of derailing the whole process with both countries going back to their earlier positions.
The various formulae proposed by Musharraf reflected the country's departure from its traditional stand much to the ire of rightist political and religious parties.
India's Pakistan policy shows that it has allowed itself to be dictated by past by refusing to visualize the dividends that normalization and peace with Pakistan would bring. It failed to discern a sea change in all elements of national opinion vis-à-vis India. Pakistan's powerful military, whose strategic orientation has historically been anti-India, favoured normalization of ties with New Delhi. General Musharraf's peace overtures reflected a strong desire within the establishment to think out of box to improve ties with their eastern neighbour. Recently, the military identified home-gown terrorism as the biggest threat to national security.

Previously, this 'coveted slot' has been occupied by India. This is a major policy shift, which has taken years to come about starting with Islamabad's fight against terrorism from 2001 onwards.

Secondly, there is a rare consensus among all key political parties in Pakistan to improve relations with India. PML-N, PPP and PTI, which otherwise have deep fissures on political plain, are on the same page and the leaderships of these parties have conveyed their willingness to engage India in productive and result-oriented dialogue. The religious parties that feed on anti-India rhetoric have not been able to get the kind of acceptance they would get in the past. There is a greater realization among the masses as well that improved relations with New Delhi are in Pakistan's interest as it will save precious resources for usage on the uplift of society. It will also give greater space to the armed forces to deal with the menace of terrorism, which has assumed dangerous proportions for the country's stability and security.

In failing to render this consensus into a basis for improved ties on sustainable basis, the Indian leadership has proven to be reactive, lacking depth of vision and courage to put the region on a trajectory of socioeconomic development. A lot depends on the approach of new governments, which would be voted into power in Pakistan in 2013 and in India in 2014 following parliamentary elections, as how they take up the bilateral agenda. Armed with fresh mandate, they would have the political support to begin afresh. What they need to understand is that continued and meaningful engagement is no more a luxury but a strategic need. But only time will tell whether they learn lessons from history or insist on repeating previous mistakes.

[B]The writer is a civil servant and can be reached at [email]amanatchpk@gmail.com[/email]
Amanat Ali Chaudhry[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Sunday, December 01, 2013 12:57 AM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Why Obama's Israel Trip Is One Big Mistake[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

[I]Netanyahu insulted the president, backed Romney, and hasn't moved the peace process. Now, White House should not reward behavior like that, not even from an ally.[/I]

Iran is accelerating its nuclear program, Syria's gruesome civil war is beginning to bleed across its borders, Two years after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, Egypt's political transition is, at best, dicey and yet according to deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “more important” than all of that “in some respects” is that President Obama take this opportunity to “speak directly to the Israeli people.''

I get the logic of whoever dreamed up the president's trip to Israel this week: Send Obama to reassure the Israelis he's got their back on Iran. Demonstrate he doesn't prefer the Arabs—an impression left in his first term when he visited Cairo but didn't stop by Tel Aviv. Pay his respects at the graves of Israel's fallen and acknowledge the historical artefacts that show Jews' ties to the land. Let them know he really admires their technological prowess. Then maybe Israelis will feel more inclined to make peace with the Palestinians knowing the relationship with their most important ally is solid.

But this trip—the timing and the script—makes no sense. And even more than simply being a big waste of Obama's time at a moment when he has little time to waste, it's burning crucial American political capital that ought to be reserved for moments that truly warrant it.

The White House says the president is going to hear out what the newly – appointed Israeli government has planned. Here's a quick preview: Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon wants to bomb Iran and Housing Minister Uri Ariel wants to build new settlements. If Obama wants to talk about drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews intothe Israel Defense Forces or the price of apartments in Tel Aviv, he'll find an audience. Those relatively marginal issues are what dominated Israel's recent election, not the future with the Palestinians.

Three years ago, Vice President Joe Biden went to Israel tasked with a similar mission—reassure Israelis that Obama loves them. Biden hit all the right notes, saying that the bond between Israel and the United States was “unshakeable” and “unbreakable” so many times that we reporters, who covered that trip, started keeping a running tally. Then as the vice-presidential motorcade was leaving the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, news that Israel's Interior Ministry had authorized 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem destroyed what should have been a pure celebration of American-Israeli ties. Biden returned to his hotel to consult with the White House on what to say, leaving Netanyahu waiting awkwardly at his residence for an hour and a half for dinner. When Biden arrived, he issued an unprecedented rebuke that embarrassed the Israeli prime minister, as they sat down to eat.

American-Israeli ties remained sour. Two months after Biden's visit, Obama refused to hold a photo op with Netanyahu when he visited the White House. The next year, when the president agreed to share the stage with Israel's prime minister, Netanyahu lectured him before the cameras in the Oval Office on why Obama's (hardly original) idea that the 1967 borders could be a baseline for peace negotiations with the Palestinians was bunk. In 2012, Netanyahu—frustrated that he couldn't goad Obama into saying when the U.S. would bomb Iran—publicly suggested the president had no “moral right” to stop Israel from taking action itself. All the while, Netanyahu, over the past few years, did nothing to further peace with the Palestinians. He floated via surrogates that he thought Obama was naïve on the Middle East. And he left the strong impression last year that he was rooting for Mitt Romney to win the U.S. presidential election.

In spite of all this, the president is headed to Tel Aviv. The anti-Obama peace-process sceptics can't help but gloat. As Barry Rubin, a conservative, pro-Israel American pundit put it on his Facebook page: “I think we have just won a huge victory … Obama has admitted defeat on trying to bully, manipulate, or pressure Israel.”

The White House doesn't want this trip to be about Netanyahu or his new government. That's why Obama will address Israeli college students in a convention hall rather than speak to politicians in the Knesset. But when it comes to how this trip will be perceived in Israel, it will be all about Netanyahu and his political fortunes. Netanyahu will be seen as the victor in his battle with Obama, rewarded not only for defying—or standing strongly against, depending on one's political perspective—an American president. And Netanyahu will learn one powerful lesson from Obama's visit: I don't have to do anything on the Palestinian issue. I can continue to expand settlements, focus solely on Iran, and insult the U.S. president, and he will still come and thank me with a two-day dog-and-pony show.

It's clear why the White House wants to avoid the thorny Israeli-Palestinian disputes of Jerusalem, settlements, and refugees. Past presidents have expended enormous time and energy on the matter and failed miserably. The last time Obama tried to articulate some guiding principles on borders, he got shouted down by Bibi. The United States “will always continue to be engaged in this process in terms of trying to move it forward,'' Rhodes told reporters in a pretrip briefing that illustrated just how radically Obama has scaled back his ambitions since September 2010, when he said he thought peace could be achieved within a year.

If Obama wants to talk about drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the Israel Defense Forces or the price of apartments in Tel Aviv, he'll find an audience.
So why is Obama going? Is it really an attempt at “repairing relations with America's primary Middle East ally” as the Washington Post's Scott Wilson wrote? Or as Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in a column for Bloomberg, to reintroduce himself to Israelis and convey to them that he understands their situation? Perhaps! But if it is, then this is truly a waste of time. Just as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel—whose nomination was held up by those who worried he wasn't pro-Israel enough—wasn't running for Israeli defense minister, Obama isn't running for Israeli office (or any office for that matter). And anyone who knows Israelis and their current mindset on the Palestinians (Palestinians, who?) knows that a little ego stroking isn't going to get that population behind a peace deal.

That doesn't mean the trip couldn't do some good. While the president is there ostensibly repairing the relationship with Israelis who've felt jilted, Obama may be sending an important signal to Tehran. The message: Just because I can't stand Bibi doesn't mean I won't stand with him in preventing you from getting a nuclear weapon.

Since Obama is making the 12-hour flight, there's one important thing he can accomplish if he wants to achieve something beyond simply making Israelis feel good. When he delivers his speech in Jerusalem, he can remind Israelis that if they want their nation to be a nation like all others—one with internationally accepted borders, no longer targeted by divestment campaigns, and not facing a possible third Intifada—they need to stop saying they have no partner and make peace with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before it is too late. And if they can do that, he looks forward to coming back a second time as president—when they have a peace deal to sign.

[B]JWT Desk[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Tuesday, December 31, 2013 12:06 AM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Afghanistan A Dilemma for China and the US[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

[I]As NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan continues, China finds itself in a conundrum. With tensions flaring throughout the Asia-Pacific, the last thing Beijing wants is to face a security threat along its western border. China needs to become more involved in efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. The United States and its international partners thus have an opportunity to provide incentive for China to become a more reliable international security participant.[/I]

[B]The Afghan Element within US-China Relations
The US-China relationship is certain to define 21st century international relations to a great degree. As such, the two countries, as well as the world, are scrambling to better understand the relationship. China's complaints about bilateral ties stem from a view that the US is unfair to rising powers and, in particular, disregards Chinese traditions and history. The US position is framed as one where China is an irresponsible stakeholder within the international system.

These portrayals aren't completely inaccurate in either case, but they do not sufficiently define this bilateral relationship. It is indubitable that trust between both the countries is low and that many segments within both countries see each other as opponents. Yet, much of the tension in the US-China relationship is linked to territory, commerce, and relationships throughout the Asia-Pacific region. If we move beyond the Asia-Pacific, then greater opportunity for cooperation exists.

The future of Afghanistan offers an opportunity to these two major powers to work together in furthering Afghan national as well as South and Central Asian regional security. With the majority of NATO forces to leave Afghanistan in 2014, China is realizing that its investments in Afghanistan will be at risk, its Central Asian trade threatened, and its relations with Pakistan strained. In short, China needs to take steps to protect its interests.

The US population has exhausted from war and its politics is focused on domestic problems, and it is consumed with withdrawing its security forces from Afghanistan. However, Washington does not wish to watch Afghanistan fall into absolute chaos. Not only would it be negatively affected by the further loss of life, but it would also make the country's years of investment meaningless and create a security vacuum that may once again require a major US presence.

Thus, China wants to protect its Western border and the US wishes to find a means to enhance Afghan security. This issue can be a basis for building cooperation between the two nations. Unfortunately, neither country is focused on the Afghan issue in respect to the other. That must change.

[B]Bilateral Strategic Cooperation

[/B]Too many in the United States view China as an inevitable strategic opponent, ignoring counterevidence in favour of a quasi-Cold War worldview. Likewise, many analysts in China argue that the United States is a diminishing power, intent on inhibiting China's growth. Neither country should be so easily caricatured as such. Both countries' foreign policy establishments constantly debate how to augment bilateral relations. What both countries need to do is recognize mutual interests. Mutual interests, particularly outside the Asia-Pacific region, should be the source of US-China international cooperation.
The future of Afghanistan offers an opportunity to these two major powers to work together in furthering Afghan national as well as South and Central Asian regional security.
First, each country needs to figure out what costs it is willing to pay for Afghan security. Both countries publicly declare their desire for a prosperous and safe Afghanistan, but neither has made headway in exploring what international institutions it will need in order to reach the desired end. China, given its policies of peaceful development and respect to sovereignty, will resist pressure to step up its involvement in security matters. The US, for its part, will be intensely hesitant about China taking on a more robust role in Afghanistan. Yet the past ten years have proven that when it comes to Afghanistan, what works best is often not what any party favours.

Second, the US and China should immediately initiate both formal and informal dialogues regarding post-2014 Afghanistan. Experts can meet in a Track II setting to formulate policy options, while Track I meetings can follow. These meetings need to be candid and based on past arrangements that proved successful, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Southeast Asia and anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Third, both countries should utilize international institutions in which they have influence. For the US, this means working with its strategic allies to provide continued training for Afghan security forces, foreign aid and private investment. In China's case, it means engaging the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to mobilize resources throughout Central Asia.

Fourth, both countries need to cooperate in their engagements with both Afghanistan's and South Asian leaders. The US can leverage its relationship with Afghanistan's government to further interaction between China's leaders and their Afghan counterparts. Both countries can engage Pakistan's new government to show a united will that encourages Pakistan to do more to inhibit destabilizing groups operating in FATA.
The US and China should immediately initiate both formal and informal dialogues regarding post-2014 Afghanistan. Experts can meet in a Track II setting to formulate policy options, while Track I meetings can follow.
Finally, India should be brought into talks with respect to its diplomatic operations in Afghanistan and its own investment in the country.

It will be immensely difficult for the US and China to cooperate on Afghanistan. Over the long term, however, these two countries have parallel national interests when it comes to Afghanistan and that must be the basis of all forward movement. Added to the complexities of the bilateral relationship are the intricacies that will be required when working with the Afghan, Central Asian, Pakistani, and Indian governments.

This effort will be more difficult for China, for it will require them to revise their stance on international security engagement. There is no chance that China will send security forces to Afghanistan, but it is equally unlikely that another international force will replace NATO. Thus, China must engage the security situation directly. As such, the US, given its experience in Afghanistan, will have an opportunity to encourage China to take on a more responsible international security role.

Courtesy: The Diplomat
Foreign Writers

Naveed_Bhuutto Thursday, January 09, 2014 02:07 PM


[I]From outside China, the Bo Xilai trial looks like the Chinese news event of the year, one of the preoccupations of Western media, along with corporate corruption and the clampdown on American and European companies. Yet these issues are no more than sideshows to the most important economic event of recent times; the unveiling and ratification of a major programme for reforms for the next decade. The reforms would bring another great leap forward in China's dramatic ascent.

Chinese officials will reveal, this November, how long China will need to make the transition from an investment-led, middle-income country to an innovative, consumer-driven, high-income one and, thus, when it will become the world's largest economy. The challenges that China's new leadership faces in pushing for rising levels of innovation, entrepreneurship and skills will be the main discussion points at the New Champions Summit in Dalian, China, organized by the World Economic Forum. The Summit recognizes that China's degree of success will determine global growth: it will determine whether the twenty-first century will be the Asian century, and whether by mid-century Asia will represent half or just a third.

On paper, the November plenum of the 18th party committee is just the latest in a sequence of party events that celebrate China's new leadership. Yet it is the culmination of a carefully-planned process of deliberation on reforms. It started with the Central Work Conference last year, the second plenum in March, the National People's Conference in June and, most recently, this summer's brainstorming session at the seaside Beidaihe retreat. Historically, third plenums have turned out to be much more than run-of-the-mill events. At the third plenum of the 11th party committee in 1978, Deng Xiaoping launched the market reforms that set China on its industrial course to becoming the world's second-largest economy. During the third plenum of the 14th committee in 1993, under Zhu Rongji, Chinese leadership ratified a “socialist market approach” of combining markets and state decisions, which led to an unprecedented era of industrial growth.

Now with the third plenum focusing on China's next challenge, the aim is to double average incomes by 2020, to achieve 70 per cent-plus urbanization by 2025 and to have the world's largest supply of graduates. If it succeeds, China will quickly surpass America as the world's largest economy. By 2025, it will probably move from middle-income status to high-income status and make around 1 billion of China's 1.3 billion population “moderately prosperous”.

By “deepening reforms in all aspects” across those remnants of the command economy that survived the market push from the 1980s, economic policy will now give priority to structural changes, reinforcing the “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” According to the new premier, Mr Li Keqiang, “China can no longer afford to continue with the old model of consumption and high investment.” Reform, as he puts it, is “the driving force.”

It is, of course, inevitable that as China moves from a focus on export-led growth, it will have to address structural issues, such as restrictions on labour mobility and private credit. In recent years, under the first wave of modernization, China's progress to middle-income status has been astounding. In the first decade of the century, China became the world's largest manufacturer. In 2009, China surpassed Germany as the world's largest exporter. In 2010, it passed the US to become the world's largest car producer.
In the first decade of the century, China became the world's largest manufacturer. In 2009, China surpassed Germany as the world's largest exporter. In 2010, it passed the US to become the world's largest car producer.
China is gradually reducing its role as a processor of lower-value-added technological goods. As a share of national income, services have just overtaken manufacturing, and since 2011 consumer spending has been a bigger driver of growth than investment. In the future, China will depend less on exports to the West. In the last 10 years, merchandise exports to developing economies have already doubled, to 25 per cent. China's portfolio of $110 billion in loans since 2000 rivals that of the World Bank.

For 35 years, China's export-led growth has been spectacular, steering 500 million Chinese out of poverty. But as the World Bank “China 2030” report acknowledged, productivity per worker and income per head are still far below America's, so the second wave of modernization must break China out of that potential “middle-income trap.” Typically, a country's growth slows as soon as its income is among the top 30 in the world. This slowdown occurs because as a country's income rises, it is no longer able to compete on low wages, and it is unable to compete on value-added because of low productivity. Indeed, the “China 2030” report forecasts the loss of 80 million of China's 130 million manufacturing jobs to lower-wage Asia and Africa.

China's leadership believes it can beat the odds. Many economists believe that within fifteen years China will make it to a $20,000 average per capita income by combining its current manufacturing dominance with its future role as the geographic centre of a global supply chain.

Of course, China cannot rely on “one-off” advantages such as the move from an agricultural to an industrial economy, comparatively low-cost labour, and the boost from membership in the WTO. With its urban population expected to expand by 300 million, China knows it will have to move quickly to exploit the “Third Industrial Revolution” from 3D printing and digital design to nanotechnology, biotechnology and genetics, hence its one million research and development workers and its plans for 100 million more graduates. The new growth agenda will need that talent, but it will also need an obsessive focus on innovation, enterprise and social reform. The requirements are:

1. Liberalization of interest rates and the prices of producer goods and utilities;
2. A fairer competitive environment for private enterprises;
3. The opening up of the land ownership and household registration systems;
4. Local government fiscal reforms and the end of an overreliance on highly-volatile land sales through the creation of a solid local tax base;
5. The gradual internationalization of the yuan, most recently with free convertibility with the Australia dollar and the UK currency swap agreement.
Perhaps the most important barriers to long-term success are the disparities in wealth, now being addressed under the premier's desire to “promote social equity.” This is a prompting for tax reforms and plans for better health and welfare benefits. A phrase unfamiliar to the West!
If the United States could increase its share of China's imports from its current 7 per cent to 10 per cent, that increase alone would, over time, boost US exports by an additional $100 billion, and support almost 500,000 new jobs, a win-win for both countries.
But like other emerging market economies, China's success depends not just on a new reforming government, but on a continuously expanding world economy. China's historic decision to join the G-20 was not just a recognition of the country's new status in the world, but the start of a new era of China’s world leadership. Chinese leaders are too shrewd to believe post-2008 stories about the decoupling of the West and the rest. But, with the West looking inwards, recent G-20 meetings have done little to halt the slowdown in world growth from a potential 5 per cent to 3 per cent.

The global way forward is through cooperation comparable to the creation of the liberal trading orders in the years after World War II. The West — once the world's biggest producer and consumer — could stimulate world growth. In the mid-2020s Asia will be strong enough to drive the world economy forward. But today, we are at a transition point. The majority of production is now outside of the West. But with the majority of consumption still in the West, neither the West nor the emerging markets can prosper in isolation from each other. China and America should return to the idea pioneered by the G-20 of 2009: a global growth compact under which China agrees to boost growth, increasing its consumer imports in return for America and Europe boosting growth through expanding investment and infrastructure. Today, inflation is low, there is surplus of savings and if the United States could increase its share of China's imports from its current 7 per cent to 10 per cent, that increase alone would, over time, boost US exports by an additional $100 billion, and support almost 500,000 new jobs, a win-win for both countries.

Instead of struggling through the fallout from yet another failed G-20, heightened cooperation would raise growth, increase employment, raise living standards all round and address poverty — the rocket the post-crisis world now needs.

[B]The writer is former Prime Minister of the UK.
Foreign Writers[/B]

Roqayyah Saturday, January 11, 2014 02:59 PM


Water is one of the most precious natural resources of our planet. Only 2% of the world's water resources are made up of freshwater. This scarce resource, however, plays a crucial role in all segments of nature, society and economy.
Yesterday, nations went to war for land. Today, our conflicts involve energy. And tomorrow, Brahma Chellaney writes, the battles will be about water. The award-winning author believes that Mark Twain was right when he said, “Whisky is for drinking, water is for fighting over.”

There is “blue water,” “green water,” even “virtual water.” But however labeled, water is the world’s single most important resource. Life is not possible without it. It will likely determine our future.
And it is becoming scarce. In the twentieth century, the world’s population grew by a factor of 3.8 and water use by nine. Today, with the number of people passing the seven billion mark, it should come as no surprise that more than half of humankind lives in water-stressed areas. That figure could increase to two-thirds during the next decade.

At this time, more than a fifth of the inhabitants of this planet do not have easy access to potable water. Scarcity causes illness, thereby making the lack of this resource “the greatest killer on the globe.” There are, incredibly, more people with a mobile phone than access to water-sanitation services. Already, bottled water at the grocery store is more expensive than crude oil on the spot market.

The Yemeni city of Sanaa, now home to two million, will be the first national capital to run dry in this century, if its groundwater reserves are depleted, which could happen as soon as 2025. Abu Dhabi and Quetta, experts believe, might also turn to dust. The international community should expect “water refugees” in just over a decade, Chellaney warns, and there could be two hundred million of them by the midpoint of this century.

So forget deforestation, climate change, or peak oil, and think about the coming crisis over “blue gold,” Chellaney advises. “The golden age of safe, cheap, and easily available water has come to an end in most parts of the world, replaced by a new era of increasing supply and quality constraints.”


Water creates instability in surprising ways. For example, Chellaney argues the Arab Spring was about water, at least in the large sense, as it was triggered by rising food prices caused by a “worsening regional freshwater crisis.” The crises caused by a lack of water are sometimes even more intricate and subtle. In one of the book’s more intriguing passages, we learn how South Korea’s persistent water shortages led to the toppling of Madagascar’s leader in 2009, indicating that this commodity can spread trouble from one part of the globe to another.

The real geopolitical challenge of water scarcity will be national competition for rivers, lakes, shorelines, and glaciers—a series of “water wars.” Chellaney’s fine work describes itself as “a study of the global linkages between water and peace,” but most of the book is an examination of the connection between water and conflict. “Hydropolitics” promises to become increasingly contentious and nasty.

So far, no modern war has been fought just over water, but water has been, the author believes, a factor in a number of them. Chellaney contends that the 1967 Six-Day War, for instance, was essentially a struggle for headwaters. Israel, he points out, ended up with control of the sources of the Jordan River, and he notes that Ariel Sharon, in his memoirs, emphasizes the role of water in the conflict. A water war was also hidden in the 1965 fighting between India and Pakistan, in mountainous Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s military objective was to take an area where three rivers collected a substantial portion of their flows. In all, the United Nations counts thirty-seven cases of water-related violence between nations since the end of the Second World War.

Conflict over water arises in large part because it flows from one nation to the next or sits on top of geographical boundaries. Across five continents, there are two hundred and seventy-six transnational river and lake basins separating one hundred and forty-eight countries and accounting for three-fifths of the world’s river flows. Excluding Antarctica, almost half the planet’s land mass is covered by river basins spanning more than one country. And if that weren’t bad enough, there are at least two hundred and seventy-four underground freshwater basins beneath national borders. Some of these aquifers even encompass more than two countries.

Water rivalries (“rival” comes from the Latin rivalis, or “one who uses the same stream”) are growing, with some of them already taking on the character of “silent hydrological wars.” Antagonism and resentment inevitably follow when a dominant riparian, mostly but not always upstream, diverts water with little regard for neighbors, “commandeering shared resources,” as Water, Peace, and War puts it.

At the heart of this book is an analysis of water treaties. The United Nations claims that more than two hundred international water agreements have been signed since World War II, but Chellaney carefully notes that most of these deals are “structurally anemic.” The “toothless” agreements lack dispute resolution mechanisms and even monitoring rules. Moreover, most have no provisions formally dividing water among users and many do not include key basin states.

At this moment, there are only eighteen agreements with specific allocation provisions. Significantly, none of these arrangements was signed this century, and most of them were concluded “when serious water shortages were uncommon.” This suggests to Chellaney that similar deals will be hard to reach in times of increasing water stress.

He makes a good point. The 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, intended to become the world’s water law, is in trouble. It has yet to come into effect, lacking ratification by the minimum number of countries. Until more states sign on, most rivers and lakes will remain subject to free-for-alls among thirsty populations and nervous national leaders.


While Chellaney (whose previous book, Water: Asia’s New Battleground, won the Asia Society’s Bernard Schwartz Award last year) sees water-related conflict as a growing international threat, he does not believe that armed conflict over this one truly indispensable resource is inevitable. But preventing water wars, as he sees it, will require “rules-based cooperation, water sharing, uninterrupted data flow, and dispute-
settlement mechanisms.”

This is right, of course. But agreements by themselves are not enough, particularly given the fact that authoritarianism is endemic in the water-thirsty world.

The issue is highlighted most clearly by the 1960 Indus River agreement, “the world’s most successful water treaty.” In that deal, the Indian democracy generously agreed to allocate four-fifths of the six-river Indus system to downriver Pakistan. The inking of the agreement, however, only convinced the Pakistani political establishment that it had to control the entire river system. Mohammad Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s ruler at the time, wanted to grab the headwaters of the river from India after the signing, thinking the existence of the cooperative arrangement actually justified his country’s aggression.

The agreement, Chellaney points out, “was founded on the opposite logic, that a guaranteed share of the Indus-system waters for Pakistan would ease the territorial dispute and pave the way for subcontinental peace—an assumption that helped sway India to grant the lion’s share of the waters to the lower-riparian party.” But the deal did not in fact work, as Pakistan provoked a war just a half decade later.

In an analogous situation, the People’s Republic of China, the world’s “hydro-hegemon,” is the source of river water for more countries than any other nation. The Chinese control headwaters that are needed by almost half of the world’s population, in Central, South, and Southeast Asia, as well as Russia.

Yet Beijing, which annexed by force virtually all its water resources in the middle of the twentieth century, is building dams at a “frenetic” pace—it has completed an average of one large dam per day since 1949—and obviously seeks to present downriver neighbors with a fait accompli by diverting river flows. Significantly, the country with fourteen land neighbors—thirteen of them co-riparians—is a party to no water-sharing treaties and refuses to begin negotiations on water-sharing with other capitals. “No other country has ever managed to assume such unchallenged riparian preeminence on a continent by controlling the headwaters of multiple international rivers and manipulating their cross-border flows,” notes Chellaney.

Unfortunately, agreements with hard-line states do not ensure solutions to water disputes. As Ronald Reagan told us, the nature of governments matters, and this is evident from the peace along “the world’s most international river,” the Danube basin, which we learn in this important book includes a record nineteen countries. There is tranquility along the vital river because it is lined with democracies.

Yes, the world has a water problem. But it has a bigger problem with authoritarianism. Despots and dictators will use this liquid gold to disrupt peace, accumulate power, and force neighbors to submit.

[B]Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World. He blogs about China and Asia for World Affairs.[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Tuesday, January 28, 2014 09:38 PM


[I][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Pakistan is tangled in the web of foreign factors and domestic conflicts. The US and its Western allies, regional countries, judiciary, media, executive, religious leadership and feudal lords or industrialists, are the stakeholders of power here.[/COLOR][/I]

Unless a contender appeases these stakeholders, it cannot get the power. A realistic analysis of the last three decades reflects that Muslim leaders were either removed or assassinated, turn by turn, in a manner that appears to be 'just and democratic'. Several leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and now Egypt and Syria are some examples.

While addressing the Arab League, Libya's Col Qaddafi once warned the Arab leaders that “after his 'removal or hanging', their turn would come soon”, over which Bashar al-Assad and others laughed. Today, the noose has tightened against Assad and the turn is waiting for others too. Our political elite must know that when a foreign authority is confiding in you, he will be quick to get rid of you, when not needed.

A common pattern of deaths and assassinations of Pakistani leaders depicts that nationalist leaders have been killed or removed. In Pakistan, present political environment shows domination of regional political parties. These populist leaders are given safe havens in Western states and neighbouring countries, in the name of political asylum. These countries and their allies fund these separatist leaders and do much more covert things for them to weaken Pakistan and to disallow federal political parties to operate in tier areas of interest.

One does not need to go back much in history to observe as to how Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq and Benazir Bhutto were assassinated. They were not killed due to domestic feuds. Their deaths had this commonality that allegedly foreign powers were involved and as such inquiries could not be made public. For the sake of stability of the country, there is a need to examine the pattern of 'removing' leaders, irrespective of their political merit, draw lessons from such incidents.
May 2013 elections in Pakistan can be viewed in the backdrop of international and domestic factors, interests and strategic environment. Pakistan, like most other countries, is a 'relatively' sovereign state. A country that is heavily under debt, and is forced to get loans to repay its loans, and accepts drone attacks obliquely, cannot be termed as completely sovereign.
Nations are prepared to sacrifice their citizens, as for example, in Afghanistan, where soldiers from such distant countries as France and England are laying down their lives for preservation of their national interests. There is no love-hate relationship between countries, but only national interests reign supreme. The United States and allies have their critical national interests in Central Asia as well as South Asia that are followed as a policy and are not changed following a change in government as a valid principle of statecraft. The interests relevant to Pakistan are, firstly, making a vigil at the ability of Russia, China, Iran or the Central Asian Republics (CARs) to dominate Afghanistan or to be able to approach or use 'warm waters' through Pakistan for their power projection or economic advantage. So, Afghanistan will remain destabilized. This interest is also shared by Russia which cannot see NATO forces operating peacefully in its backyard. As and when these national interests of US and Russia will be challenged, it will have a physical reaction by these countries. Consequently, Pakistani leaders who tend to accommodate US and Russia will be supported by them but only till their interests are served.

To keep Afghanistan and Pakistan destabilized, the presently working plan is to roll down insurgency from the line of Hindu Kush Range that horizontally divides Afghanistan into Pushtoon and non-Pashtoon areas. This plan has multiple advantages, as even after NATO departs, the seeds of enmity and revenge between Afghanistan, the Tribal Areas and Pakistan will keep germinating.

Secondly, Iran is an ideological, religious and political enemy of Western forces. In the past, Turkmenistan-Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, other natural gas projects, any shipping or trade effort through land or Chah Bahar and Gwadar ports, has been vehemently resisted. Iran borders Balochistan and safe and firm naval, air and land bases or routes for attacking it exist through Balochistan and Mekran Coast. Western allies will be, therefore, seen supporting separatist Baloch movements on 'humanitarian grounds'. Economic development of Mekran region, Riko Dik deposits and improving economic ties with Iran or China will be disliked by the US and it will be of interest to observe if any government in Pakistan dares to venture in this area.

Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Balochistan have an interesting commonality for foreign interests. Both are reasonably well-populated by Shias, and both have Chinese intruding into these regions. GB provides access to China to ports, like Afghanistan can provide such access to Russia and CARs. It must be understood that the regions that provide economic or military accesses can never remain peaceful and will have to be sabotaged. The geographic and religious reality will never allow peace and development to these unfortunate regions of Pakistan also, unless a prolific Pakistani leadership is ready to bear the consequences. Only a prudent government that is able to cruise through these predictable foreign interests has chances to bring some relief to the people. All states have right to pursue their own interests legitimately. While we should understand our own and foreign interests, we should have our strategies ready to counter inimical interests and thus win freedom, economic stability and peace for our people.

[B]The writer is an independent researcher. She can be contacted at:munazzakhan_ink@hotmail.com[/B]

Naveed_Bhuutto Monday, March 17, 2014 10:30 AM

[B][I][CENTER][SIZE="5"][COLOR="Blue"]China's Role in Post-Nato Afghanistan[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER][/I][/B]

[I][COLOR="Blue"]While Nato and the US forces are preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Afghanistan government is increasingly interested in boosting its relations with regional powers such as Russia and China. Conversely, both Moscow and Beijing are concerned about the future of Afghanistan after US withdrawal. Mr Karzai's visit to China speaks volumes about Afghanistan's efforts to strengthening its relations with China and fostering regional cooperation on Afghanistan.

China also seems interested in Afghanistan and is bracing to play a more engaging role in Afghanistan's security and development after 2014.

Recent media reports suggest that China intends to invest in extracting oil reserves. It must be noted here that the Chinese companies already are the leading investors in Afghan mining sector as well as many other development projects. During his recent visit to China, Karzai attended an economic conference in the northern city of Xian, held talks in Beijing with China's President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to boost Chinese investments in Afghanistan as well as the country's role in the efforts for stabilizing Afghanistan.

Afghan president also discussed with Chinese officials the Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the US that would allow presence of US forces in the country after 2014. Both sides also signed a number of agreements which would definitely catalyze the economic activities in the country. China also agreed to donate 250 million Chinese Yuans as aid to Afghanistan.

As Afghanistan and the US are inching closer to reach a deal over the Kabul-Washington security agreement, Karzai's move in engaging talks with China and other Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members is an attempt to address concerns of the regional countries regarding the security agreement and prolonged presence of the US in the region.

China's future role in Afghanistan is highly important in the wake of international efforts to stabilize the country and develop its fragile economy. Afghanistan and China upgraded their relations to “strategic level” last year and Afghanistan was granted the status of observer country in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is led by China and Russia. With the US-led international alliance preparing to exit Afghanistan, Chinese officials must have reached the conclusions that the post-2014 security situation in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on China's security.

Closer relations between Afghanistan and China will attract more Chinese aid and investments in Afghanistan which will greatly contribute to the country's economic development and extraction of the vast untapped underground resources. China could also play a crucial role in supporting Afghanistan in developing its armed forces. Given that China is a powerful member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, it can support development of Afghan security forces through the SCO.

Here a question arises that why China is concerned? The most befitting answer to this question is that the regional security is a prime concern for both Russia and China; the two major members of the SCO. Beijing is now cautiously enhancing its engagement in the Afghan conflict. The trilateral summit of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, hosted by Beijing last year, signalled that the China is more than willing to increase its engagement in Afghanistan's security challenges.

It is believed that armed Uighur separatists, who are demanding independence of Chinese Muslim region of Xinjiang, a province bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, are being trained at militants' training centres in those bordering areas. With the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, the Uighur separatists pose a serious concern for Chinese authorities.

After the US and NATO forces leave Afghanistan, the Afghan security forces may still remain engaged in a war with the Taliban. This will allow the 'Eastern Turkmenistan's Independence Movement', considered a terrorist group by Beijing, to seek shelter and find safe havens in Taliban-controlled areas. In addition, they also believe that continued instability in Afghanistan will increase production of opium and, resultantly, drug trafficking into China through the volatile Xinjiang province.

Another serious concern for China is the stability of Pakistan, the closest ally to China. The prospect of a prolonged war in Afghanistan and a possible Taliban resurgence could be seen as a potential threat to stability of Pakistan too. A prolonged turmoil in Afghanistan will unpredictably involve Pakistan, which is considered as a strategic backyard to China. However, instability in Afghanistan would trigger more proxy wars between India and Pakistan on the Afghanistan soil which leaves China in dire straits.

Given a somehow shared approach by China and the United States over the Afghan conflict, it seems that interests of both sides are other than conflicting in the country. As Western countries do, China also wants a stable Afghanistan as a regional economic partner and a crude market for Chinese products. On the other hand, Afghanistan's situation closely affects the central Asian States which are neighbouring China and have direct impacts on Xinjiang. With the US and NATO exiting from the unpopular Afghan war, China is moving in with its multi-billion dollar investments in the economy of Afghanistan.

[B]JWT Desk[/B]

06:03 PM (GMT +5)

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