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Old Friday, November 09, 2012
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Reopening of Nato Supply Routes

A Case of Pakistan’s Flawed Use of Leverage



Finally, it came out to be what was expected, Pakistan has allowed the Nato supplies through its territory. Resuming the Nato supplies may be something unpalatable for the far right elements in Pakistan, but it is not entirely bad. The thing to be understood is that the suspension of Nato supplies was not only hurting the US, but the international community was also in a quandary as the efforts for stability in Afghanistan were frustrated. The reopening was inevitable also because Pakistan had to honour its agreements with the International community. However, the way this standoff ended was quite disappointing as Pakistan remained unable to extract even a penny more as compared to what it was being paid. Succumbing to the US pressure on opening the supply routes with just a simple “sorry” will surely have a domestic backlash. It is also a grim reminder of our leaders' lack of diplomatic farsightedness. In its entire history, Pakistan has always failed to get advantage of the leverage bestowed upon it by its geopolitical situation.

Leverage is the power that enables one actor to influence the other to reach agreements more favourable to the first actor. It operates on many dimensions. Firstly, on the premise of positive sanctions or rewards, secondly, on threat of negative sanctions like damage to valued items and thirdly, it operates on appeal to other's feelings of sympathy and respect. It gives additional power to bargain and enables a party to transact additional outcomes along with original outcomes.

The instruments of leverage are employed usually outside the corridors of formal negotiations. In international diplomacy, the leverage is a time and space bond concept. According to Hans J Morgenthau, “Foreign policy of a country should be moulded in accordance with the exigency of time and place”. In terms of theories of IR, blocking of the Nato supplies through its land was an attempt by Pakistan to reach an exchange of values that tangibly or intangibly are valued by both US and Pakistan. This bargaining can also take place through action without the exchange of words.

International affairs can be seen as a series of bargaining interactions in which states use power capabilities or geopolitical situations as leverage to gain the favourable outcomes. Unfortunately, Pakistan has never been able to utilise its geographical leverage to its advantage. Our rulers had never been able to draw out concessions and privileges that Pakistan could, given its enviable geographical position. The causes of this declination are multifarious, ranging from the ineptness of our political leadership, faulty dealings and decisions with marked unscrupulousness in understanding the exact scenarios. In cases, tight military control on some areas of our foreign policy has also caused our geographical leverage to evaporate. Pakistan faces the problem of incoherent policy-making and experimenting with different policies has been a hallmark of our diplomatic history.

In 1950s, the west enlisted Pakistan's help against communism and Soviet expansionism, considering Pakistan's geopolitical situation. The help that it gave to Pakistan always fell short of Pakistan's expectations. Pakistan could never convince the US and the west about its strategic needs. The west's indifference to our security needs during 1965 and 1971 wars with India also had been a cause of frustration to the Pakistanis. This instigated Pakistan into seeking friendship with the Socialist block however, being a reactionary plan, it also ended in disaster. During the Soviet-Afghan war, US realigned with Pakistan to defeat the Soviets while Pakistan consented again to give its services, but without extracting reasonable privileges. Those were desperate times for the US, and Pakistan could have got any kind of demands fulfilled. But Pakistan couldn't cash the leverage that its geographical location provided to it. Then came the 9/11 events, and due to international pressure, the previous policies were changed overnight, and thus Pakistan brought to home the war of others. By now, Pakistan is seen as part of problem, not the solution.

The decision of stopping the Nato supply, after the Salala attacks, was something open for debate. Apparently, Pakistan didn't get anything out of this conundrum. From 26th Nov 2011, the day when Salala incident took place, to this day, Pakistan has missed the Bonn Conference. If it had missed the Chicago Summit of the Nato and non-Nato allies, it would surely have run the risk of being left out of serious discussions on the region's future. The emergency in the Pakistan government and military circles, to resume the Nato supply, was evident as new found urgency for catching the bus for future deliberations on Afghanistan. Our policy-makers knew from day one that this decision was not sustainable, and in the recent days, the government itself was in a hurry for reopening of supplies. It was quite clear that even a nominal apology will be sufficient to resolve the crisis.



The US also, at times, resorted to coercive diplomacy, drawing undue concessions and favours from Pakistan, and that too on Pakistan's peril. This coercive approach of the US coupled with offers of meagre economic help also made Pakistan virtually unable to avail its leverage properly. In the aftermath of 9/11, the then president of US, George W. Bush, told President Musharraf that he had to decide whether Pakistan is with the US or with the terrorists, thus leaving Pakistan with no other choice but to join the global alliance on war on terror, albeit half-heartedly, this is a flagrant example of coercive diplomacy.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has never been able to utilise its geographical leverage to its advantage. Our rulers had never been able to draw out concessions and privileges that Pakistan could, given its enviable geographical position.
On the other hand our leadership has also given priority to their myopic self-interests over the greater national interests. Gen Musharraf conceded to the American pressure just to get de-facto international recognition for his dictatorial government. Thus, instead of using Pakistan's geographical position and other strategic aspects as leverages for gaining a better bargain, Gen Musharraf just squandered Pakistan's better leveraging for the sake of legalising his own regime. Such an air of life was also given to Gen Zia ul Haq's dictatorial regime by the outbreak of Afghan war. The fact of the matter is that both the countries have never been able to be at the same page on any issue afflicting this region. This had been a relationship of compulsion, in which the real potentials of both the countries have never been utilised for improvement in relations.

If the greater geostrategic, economic and political interests of both are taken into account while formulating the future relationship, then only both countries will be able to strike a balance in this troubled relationship and only then can evolve a sustainable relationship based on trust, equality and respect for each other's sovereignty. Such shared interests need to be worked out which will serve to glue together both the countries even beyond war on terror. US need to appreciate geopolitical potential of Pakistan and try to shun adhocism in its relations with Pakistan, which have always premised on abstract relationship with particular regimes rather than comprehensively-worked out relations. Pakistan needs to plan a comprehensive strategy to pursue a foreign policy that should give it the rightful leverage for its geo-political location.

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Last edited by Silent.Volcano; Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 01:58 PM.
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China And Pakistan A Tale of Two Coetaneous Countries



The equation between Pakistan and China is asymmetric. In terms of geography, economy, political structure, size of population and social values and trends China and Pakistan are poles apart. However, with all the existing dissimilarities the two states have carried on a friendly relationship and partnership based on mutual interests. And convergence of interests is what defines Pakistan and China relationship.


This year marks the 65 years of independence of Pakistan. Although a number of accounts present and highlight the state of affairs in Pakistan every year, especially on the Independence Day, it requires a constant reminder to our nation and leaders both to feel blessed that we are independent and also put in collective efforts to do away the political and social ills in order to defend and preserve our independence. Pakistan has been faced with turbulent times since its independence. For past decade, in particular, the country has been strangulated economically, devastated politically and segregated socially. Both internal and external factors are responsible for plunging the country into a total chaos.

There can be varied views and perspectives on the internal factors contributing to frail state of affairs in Pakistan, however; I would like to highlight three important factors that appear to be forming the basis of most of the issues the country is faced with today: Pakistan's colonial past; absence of pluralistic culture and economic inconsistency. Some analysts have tended to argue that the roots of the problems in Pakistan lie in the colonial legacy the country still carries. Pakistan is a post-colonial state and it did inherit structural problems from the British Raj. The political structure was created and defined by the all powerful military-bureaucracy oligarchy (Hamza Alavi 1972). The influence exhibited by the military-bureaucracy, as a consequence, led to non-democratic trends in the newly independent state and society. Subsequently, the process of nation-building suffered to a great extent as pluralistic culture was never allowed to flourish. Nation-building refers to the unity among a nation through national identity and aims for fostering social harmony, economic growth, development and political stability.

The Independence Movement had a clear objective of securing a separate land for the Muslims of the subcontinent. There was an obvious source and a sense of unity prevailing among the people fighting for a separate land. However, that sense of unity was maligned by the problems we inherited in the form of colonial legacy. Authoritarianism influenced pluralistic tendencies which were prevailing in Pakistani society during early two decades following the independence. Also, the leadership never stimulated the sense of unity among the people of Pakistan in order to establish a strong political structure for the welfare of the people. What we have today is a segregated society on the ethnic, linguistic and sectarian lines. Moreover, the country also lacked timely and feasible economic reforms. Till 1960s, Pakistan's economic performance was reasonably well. Two important factors appeared to have cast a shadow on Pakistan's economic performance in 1970s: the disintegration of Pakistan and the international economic crisis.
Three important features form the track of success for China: nation-building; ability to reform economy timely whenever felt necessary; China's objective to counter the superpower. These factors complimented by effective policies and collective efforts have helped China assume the position of an emerging giant in international politics.
In addition to this, a number of external factors have influenced and led to a situation where Pakistan today considered as a failing economy or a failing state. What continues to engage Pakistan on a foreign policy front is its critical equation with India. Only a reference of Pakistan-India troubled relationship here explains that how detrimental this troubled relationship has been to Pakistan's politics and economy. As compared to Pakistan, India being a bigger country not only managed, to a great extent, the colonial legacy and the structural problems it inherited from the British Raj but also sustained the cost of troubled relationship with Pakistan. The influence of extra-regional powers, mainly the United States has also affected Pakistan's politics, economy and society. During cold war, post-cold war and now in post-9/11 era, Pakistan has paid a heavy cost of its alliance to the US. Today, Pakistan is faced with the most critical phase since its independence both at foreign policy and domestic fronts.

Following Pakistan and India, China also secured independence in the wake of a Communist revolution in 1949. The political stability, economic growth, national unity and nation-building in China make the country an exemplary case, especially for Pakistan. The close ally and friend of Pakistan, China has supported and rendered its expertise to Pakistan economically and strategically. What are the factors that contributed to the national unity, political stability and above all fast economic growth in China? Can Pakistan draw some lessons from China? These are the questions that arise if we draw a comparison between Pakistan and China. Before exploring the answers to the above mentioned questions few facts are required to be considered here.

The equation between Pakistan and China is asymmetric. In terms of geography, economy, political structure, size of population and social values and trends China and Pakistan are poles apart. However, with all the existing dissimilarities the two states have carried on a friendly relationship and partnership based on mutual interests. And convergence of interests is what defines Pakistan and China relationship.


To draw lessons from China, we need to look into China's efforts, policies and expertise that contributed to post-revolution political stability and fast economic growth. Three important features form the track of success for China: nation-building; ability to reform economy timely whenever felt necessary; China's objective to counter the superpower. These factors complimented by effective policies and collective efforts have helped China assume the position of an emerging giant in international politics.

The country officially recognises 56 ethnic groups; however, the dominant ethnic group “Han” constitutes 91 per cent population. All the other groups or ethnic identities form the rest of nine per cent population. The “Han” group was advanced, learned and skilled and all the other groups are said to have developed politically, socially and economically around Han group. Keeping in view the centuries of political crisis and tumultuous state of affairs, Chinese nation found its way in unity. The realisation came from within that to fight or stand against odd they are required to be united.
If we wish to draw lessons from China's experience the government and people of Pakistan will have to shun their differences of all kinds and work collectively towards a better tomorrow and a secure future.
China's success and strength lie with its ability to introduce timely economic reforms. The revolutionary and Communist leader Mao Zedong's policies were directed towards centralisation and authoritarianism; however, Deng Xiaoping managed to induce a new life to a country fraught with social, economic and institutional woes. Deng Xiaoping was a reformer and opted for policies that aimed towards decentralisation. He had introduced a number of economic reforms based on self-reliance; the most famous among them was 'open door policy' and transformed Chinese economy from an agricultural to a productive industrial one. Substantial external investments in manufacturing were attracted based on education and cheap and skilled labour. The country has also effectively managed the population burden by demolishing old structures and providing people with austere living space and style. Also, China itself has drawn lessons from Singapore's economic experiences, Japan's industrial policies and the country has also been benefited by adopting an alternative policy to Mao's version of Communism.

The abovementioned key features justify China's nurturing a dream of becoming one of the major powers in the world. Being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the country has developed a sound strategic base and hence formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with Russian Federation and six Central Asian Republics. The country, aiming to counter the US economic influence and the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial institutions, has also created an economic alliance with the name of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Within 63 years of independence and three decades of introducing a series of economic reforms, the country has shown remarkable performance. The country has access to global market for its goods and excels in every kind of product. Now comparing this situation from the one prevailing in Pakistan, a troubled and grim scenario appears. Neither nation-building nor economic reforms introduced by China in the near past seem to be fitting into Pakistan’s case. Nonetheless, China is an example of self motivation, self realization of the significance of unity and continuous struggle to achieve the targeted or set goals.

If we wish to draw lessons from China’s experience the government and people of Pakistan will have to shun their differences of all kinds and work collectively towards a better tomorrow and a secure future.
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Corruption and National Security



Transparency International's definition of corruption is the “abuse of public office for private gain”. National security, on the other hand, has two dimensions: internal and external. Internal security, in turn, has at least three dimensions: physical, economic and health security. External security is about state security or to 'maintain the survival of the state' through the use of each and every resource at the state's disposal.

Corruption can be either systemic or sporadic. Systemic corruption is “when corruption is an integrated and essential aspect of the economic, social and political system, when it is embedded in a wider situation that helps sustain it.”

Sporadic corruption, on the other hand, occurs irregularly and thus is not a big threat to national security. Corruption can also be understood as being grand, petty or political. Grand corruption takes place at the top levels where policy formulation takes place. Petty corruption, on the other hand, is “small scale, everyday corruption that takes place at the implementation end of politics.” Political corruption —sometimes used interchangeably with grand corruption— is any transaction through which 'public goods are illegitimately converted into private'. Political corruption almost always involves the highest levels of political decision-makers. Now consider the 'Three gaps theory'. This theory asserts that systemic and political corruption give rise to three gaps—legitimacy, security and capacity. Legitimacy gap comes up when the occupants of high public offices exercise authority which is not in accordance with “people's wishes, choices and expectations.” Security gap is when a government fails to provide security of life, limb and property to its citizens. Capacity gap comes into play when a government fails to provide essential public goods like dispensation of justice, provision of gas, electricity or critical municipal services. The three gaps put together become a potent threat to the internal dimension of national security.
Corruption, to be sure, is a national security issue. The worst case scenario takes roots if corruption manages to seep into the state apparatus that itself is responsible for national security.
According to the IMF, “Empirical evidence suggests that corruption lowers investment and retards economic growth to a significant extent.” Hardcore evidence exists that if a country's “corruption index improves by one standard deviation … the investment rate increases by more than 4 percentage points and the annual growth rate of per capita GDP increases by over a half percentage point.” There is evidence also that “corrupt politicians choose government projects on which it is easier to levy bribes rather than those that promise the greatest public good.”



Corruption is not just financial like bribery, embezzlement, graft or extortion. In our case cronyism ('appointment of friends to positions of authority'), patronage (recruiting on the basis of political affiliation) and nepotism (favouring relatives and friends) actually do more damage than financial corruption.

Corruption, to be sure, is a national security issue. The worst case scenario takes roots if corruption manages to seep into the state apparatus that itself is responsible for national security. A state-any state-whereby an incremental number of its citizens begin to fall below the line of poverty owing largely to political corruption is bound to become incrementally more insecure. And no army—any army—can safeguard a state's external security when internal security is under threat by systemic, grand or political corruption.
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Chicago Summit and Beyond



However, trainers will continue to stay back to train the Afghan forces. It also impressed upon Pakistan to open up the NATO supply routes, which were closed in the wake of Salala incident in November 2011 in which two dozen of Pakistani soldiers were killed in an aerial attack by the NATO gunship helicopters. The communiqué also underscored the centrality and inevitability of the Pakistani role for durable peace and development in war-torn Afghanistan as well as for withdrawal of the NATO forces, adding that the war objectives could not be achieved without the cooperation of Islamabad.

Chicago summit was billed as the most important moot to discuss the endgame in Afghanistan as well as reassure the war-weary NATO allies of the American determination to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Of significance has been the emphasis on the inevitable role of Pakistan in seeking a way out of the war, which continues to defy military solutions by the day despite major investment of time energy, and hard military equipment. So far, it has proven to be the longest and the most expensive war in the American history.

Chicago conference was also important for Pakistan in the sense that it provided Islamabad with an opportunity to clarify its position and make the world understand of its concerns and legitimate stakes in Afghanistan. Coming as it did on the heels of Bonn Conference II held in December 2011, which Pakistan chose to boycott as a mark of protest of the NATO attack on its forward military check post, Chicago conference sought to solidify gains and roll out a consensual plan for concrete endgame.

While addressing the conference, President Zardari said that a stable and prosperous Afghanistan was in Pakistan's interest. He said that extension of Pak-Afghan Transit Trade up to Tajikistan was a proof of the fact that Pakistan would continue to work for peace and stability in Afghanistan and stay the course for elimination of all forms of terrorism and extremism in the country. He said that Salala attack undermined the Pakistani efforts against terrorists. Talking of political consensus in Pakistan of the need to link the renegotiations of new terms of engagement with the parliamentary approval, the president said that the government was bound by the recommendations of parliament, which he termed as binding. He also expressed Pakistan's readiness to get out of NATO supply impasse through deeper engagement with the US, saying that the country needed international support and not reprimands.

As the last minute invitation to attend NATO summit came, it was rumoured that the invitation by the NATO secretary general to Pakistan came after Pakistan 'assured' the NATO of its willingness to reopen the supplies. By choosing to refrain from making any such announcement, President Zardari made it clear that notwithstanding the need for cooperation with the US and NATO, the national interest was paramount and supreme. The president also committed $20 million for Afghanistan despite worsening economic conditions back at home, which indicated Pakistan's resolve to work for Afghanistan's prosperity and stability. In a brief meeting with President Obama, the Pakistani president called for an end to drone strikes within his territory.
Chicago summit was billed as the most important moot to discuss the endgame in Afghanistan as well as reassure the war-weary NATO allies of the American determination to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Analysts believe that the root of the present stalemate between Pakistan and NATO lies in latter joining the American bandwagon in an unconditional manner following 9/11 attacks in New York. For well over a decade, NATO supplies continued to use Pakistani roads without any kind of transit fee. The thousands of NATO containers which kept on plying between Pakistan and Afghanistan damaged the roads whose cost runs into about Rs. 200 billion.

Of all the countries after Afghanistan, Pakistan, as a frontline ally, suffered the most both in man and material. According to official sources, Pakistan's economy suffered an aggregate loss of $78 billion besides loss of lives of 35,000 people including its armed forces. In an effort to save the world from scourge of terrorism, Pakistan, somehow, became a victim of terrorism itself. While it continued to suffer causalities owing to bomb blasts and suicide bombings which occurred almost on daily basis, the US and NATO placed more demands on it with a proviso that it should 'do more'.

Thus, when Pakistan raised the banner of defiance following the Salala incident by choosing to upping the ante, the US and NATO, who have been used to proverbial free lunch at the Pakistani table, could not come to terms with this defiance on the part of Islamabad. They did not expect Pakistan to behave in such a manner. So at the heart of the US reluctance to offer public apology, which is a major Pakistani demand for opening of NATO supplies, is this psychological barrier.

The US, which is having to incur heavier expenses on transportation of its supplies from other routes, is not ready to accept the Pakistani demand of a transit fee on each container. In doing so, it has ignored a fundamental imperative of as to how a country like Pakistan will be able to grapple with a horde of challenges if it was not supported in diplomatic and economic terms.
Of all the countries after Afghanistan, Pakistan, as a frontline ally, suffered the most both in man and material. According to official sources, Pakistan's economy suffered an aggregate loss of $78 billion besides loss of lives of 35,000 people including its armed forces.
What needs to be understood is the fact that Pakistan suffers from serious divide on the nature of its engagement with the US. Any policy of putting more pressure on Pakistan to open NATO supplies without understanding her concerns will only deepen the fault-lines in the Pakistani society. It needs to be understood that the US needs to win over the support of regional countries through greater collaboration for a successful pullout from Afghanistan. The US should understand that the era of threats and unilateralism is over and the countries like Pakistan are justified to secure their interests. Expecting them to deliver without being alive to their concerns is just a bad policy.


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Strategic Depth in Afghanistan New Calculations


The U.S is least concerned about the Pakistan’s genuine strategic concerns vis-à-vis giving greater regional role to India, as this move will make Pakistan’s western borders unsafe and has the potential to destabilise the precarious balance of power that exists in subcontinent.


Since the initiation of U.S attack on Afghanistan, in pursuit of her illusionary objectives, South Asia’s geo-strategic milieu is being continually defined and redefined by the changing realities of the time – and that too at a fast pace. The ongoing tussle among the key players – U.S.A, Talibans, Pakistan, India Russia and China - has become further complex by the Global economic recession in general and the U.S desperate search for a face saving military withdrawal from Afghanistan, at the earliest, in particular. This article is penned to highlight the new trends and shifts in the war on terror in general, and their impact upon Pakistan.

On February 01, in a rare press briefing General Kayani ‘spelled out the terms for regional stability’. The proper context of the news item is the offer to the Indian army by the U.S.A to train the Afghan Army and Police. In addition to this carefully calculated offer, Indian army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor is also on record when he gave this statement that ‘a limited war under a nuclear overhang is still very much a reality at least in the Indian sub-continent.’ On November 23, 2009 Pakistan Foreign Office Spokes man Abdul Basit had to ask the world community to take notice of remarks passed by the Indian Army Chief. He also said that India has set the stage and is trying to impose a limited war on Pakistan: “There are reports that Indian intelligence agencies have made a plan to hit some Indian nuke installation, alleging and then striking Pakistan.”

Now the question arises why the U.S has given such an offer to India and what would happen if she would seize this opportunity to entrench in Afghanistan in the name of improving the security apparatus of Afghanistan? For the first part of question the reasons are not far to fetch and important ones are as follow:

1. The U.S wants to pave way for an early face saving exit from Afghanistan and it has given the opportunity to India possibly for three reasons.

a. After global economic recession, the leading U.S economic institutions failed miserably leaving the U.S economy in dire straits. Therefore this public perception is gaining strength that this recession is somehow linked to the global war on terror and also the U.S economy is not in a position to effectively finance this war. Hence, President Obama’s administration is under great pressure to ensure an early withdrawal from Afghanistan – which was also one of his election manifestoes.

b. The U.S wants to take India into confidence since another great game, chronologically the third one, is being played and this time between the U.S and the China because the U.S wants to counter the China’s economic expansion with India’s growing influence in the region.

c. The U.S wants the India to fill that vacuum that would be created after the withdrawal of U.S and NATO forces lest the Taliban would seize this opportunity.

2. Notwithstanding the buzzwords of major Non-Nato-Ally and the Front-Line-State in the WOT, It has become evident from this offer that the U.S administration doesn’t want the ISI or any Pakistani sponsored factor to manipulate this vacuum in its favour. Also, it shows that the U.S is least concerned about the Pakistan’s genuine strategic concerns vis-à-vis giving greater regional role to India, as this move will make Pakistan’s western borders unsafe and has the potential to destabilise the precarious balance of power that exists in subcontinent.

The answer to the second half of the question as to what would be the aftermath, once the India would seize this opportunity, and decides to go ahead with training the Afghan Army and the Police, is as follow:

1. India’s traditional hostility against Pakistan is in evidence. India will make every possible attempt to develop the Afghan security apparatus to take on Pakistan Army and will try to sandwich Pakistan between threats from both the eastern and the western borders.

2. It will exploit every possible opportunity to spark the flames of sectarianism and ethnicity in the Baluchistan and the N.W.F.P. Even in present times, there are many compelling evidences that India is involved in fishing in troubled waters of Baluchistan and FATA.

3. Pakistan’s economy will be strangulated by the Indian blockade.

4. The regional Balance of Power would be destabilized massively and would be tilted in favour of India and that scenario would be a nightmare for Pakistan.

5. India’s extended presence in Afghanistan will create problems for China as well and heightening of regional tensions would be its immediate fallout.
6. U.S will cash in the opportunity by selling its military hardware to India in the name of upgrading and overhauling the Indian Army to enable it to take on the Chinese forces. The earlier mentioned statement of Gen. Deepak Kapoor is an evidence and supports this analysis.
Now in the context of this analysis, it is quite clear that the statement of Army Chief is perfectly timed and germane. He sounds unequivocally when he articulated it loud and clear to all and sundry after participating in Nato commanders’ conference in Brussels that Pakistan had serious reservations over Indian Army stepping in to fill the vacuum as this would create new tensions in the region. He offered help of Pakistan Army in training the Afghan’s security status and expressed his optimism that the proposal would embrace a positive response. In the same breath he went on to emphasize upon the concept of strategic depth vis-a-vis Afghanistan with a crystal clear connotation.

“We want a strategic depth in Afghanistan but do not want to control it. A peaceful and friendly Afghanistan can provide Pakistan a strategic depth… If we get more involved with the ANA (Afghan National Army) there’s more interaction and better understanding…. We have opened all doors ... It’s a win-win for Afghanistan, the United States, Isaf and Pakistan.”

-Gen. Ashfaq Pervaiz kayani
Realistically speaking, Pakistan has been left with a few options to press the international community to accede to its concerns. For instance, Pakistan could strain its battle against militancy and extremism but this is not a viable option given the fact that Gen. Kayani has himself pointed out that Pakistan is fighting ‘our’ war, not ‘America’s. But General’s statement is perfectly timed since international community is pushing Pakistan to launch Military operation in North Waziristan and Pakistan is refusing to acquiesce in such demands before some of its key concerns, as discussed earlier, remain unaddressed. In the words of Daily Dawn:

“We hope that the army’s response is part of a well calibrated response for there are many other powers jockeying for some say in the future of Afghanistan (Russia and the Central Asian Republics, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, America, etc)…. Then there is the question of a future power-sharing agreement among Afghanistan’s internal players. Here, too, what the Pakistan Army can achieve appears to be limited. Pakistan is hugely disliked by the non Taliban, non-Pakhtun forces in Afghanistan, while its ability to influence the Taliban and the broader Pakhtun community may be in question. What, then, are Pakistan’s options? Gen Kayani called on the US and Nato to come out with a clear strategy on Afghanistan; we can only hope he has told his Pakistani strategists the same thing.”
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Pakistan and the Central Asian States



Pakistan’s relations with the Central Asian Republics have made good progress during the past few years. A time may come, when Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the Central Asian States may form a Common Market.



The Central Asian States (CAS), i.e., Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, with a total population of over 60 millions spread over an area of about four million square kilometers, are located on historical Silk Route. The region has adjoining borders with South Asia, West Asia, China and Russia and is of great geo-strategic and politico-economic importance. Its potential is attracting the attention of extra regional powers.

Pakistan-Central Asia relations are based on geographical proximity, common history, religion, culture, traditions, values and destiny. Pakistan and these states can work together in matters of security, stability and development of the region.

They can collaborate in numerous areas, such as scientific and technical fields, banking, insurance, information technology, pharmaceutical industry, tourism and media. The economies of CAS and Pakistan are complementary to each other. There is cooperation in several spheres, notably, war against terrorism, combating religious extremism and drug trafficking.
Current Scenario of Relations between Pakistan and Central Asian States

1. ECO, Pakistan & Central Asian States
• Pakistan and Central Asian States are also the members of Economic Cooperation Organization; it provides a good opportunity for the Heads of State and Government to meet. Bilateral meetings on the sidelines offer a closer focus on bilateral relations

2. Common Security Policy
• There is a desire in Pakistan that the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) of the Central Asian States, which is basically an economic grouping, should try to assume a political role and in due course of time also aspire to the possibility of geopolitical and geo-economic role.
• ECO may help in adopting a common security policy on similar grounds as pursued by EU in the European States combating religious extremism and Terrorism.
• Although Central Asian States are land-locked and dependent on other regional partners for export purposes but still all eyes are set on central Asian States. The Caspian Sea in Central Asia contains the world’s largest untapped oil and gas resources. All countries in the region are getting close to Central Asian States and they geared up their trade.

3. Trade and Economic Cooperation
Pakistan should concentrate on the economic and trade ties with CA States.
• An important agreement has been concluded with Germany for a rail-road from Hamburg to Shanghai, through Eastern Europe, Moscow, Tashkent, Kabul, Lahore, Delhi and Shanghai. This would open the rich mineral deposits of Uzbekistan and Kazhakistan for exploration and export by Pakistan and through the Arabian Sea again, with a new railway road from the Khyber Pass to the Russian land.

4. Investing in Untapped Natural Resources of CA States
• Although Central Asian States are land-locked and dependent on other regional partners for export purposes but still all eyes are set on central Asian States. The Caspian Sea in Central Asia contains the world’s largest untapped oil and gas resources. All countries in the region are getting close to Central Asian States and they geared up their trade.
• Pakistan’s loans of $ 10 to 30 million to each of the CA States and its commitment to cooperate in the building of $500 million hydel power station in Tajikstan are some of the many indicators of its keen wish to assist them in their economic development.

5. Direct Air Link
• The expansion of PIA’s air network to Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Alma Ata in Kazakstan is a major step forward in cementing ties with these two states. The PIA is has finalized plans for air services to the capitals of the other three Central Asian States

6. Cooperation in Admission to OIC
• Pakistan cooperated with the CA States in their admission to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

7. Communication Network and Media exchanges
• Radio Pakistan is working on projects to strengthen its service for the Central Asian region so that the people there can be informed and educated about Pakistan in their own native languages.
• An expansion of Pakistan Television’s transmission facilities in Peshawar can enable it to beam its TV programmes to the entire Central Asian region, covering all of Afghanistan as well.
• Media exchanges between Pakistan and the Central Asian States are at present skimpy and their canvas must be expanded rapidly.

8. Establishment of Joint Economic Commission
• Pakistan developed institutionalized arrangement to promote cooperation in the economic and commercial fields. For this purpose Joint Economic Commissions (JECs) have been established with all the Central Asian States.

9. Technical Assistance Programme
• Under Technical Assistance Program initiated in 1992-3 Pakistan provided training facilities, which are fully funded. The Program includes courses ranging from English language, banking and accountancy to diplomacy. These have contributed to better understanding and closer cooperation. Pakistan wishes to keep up the momentum

Measures to improve the Relations with CA States
Following measures and implementations will improve the ties between Pakistan and Central Asian states.

1. Pakistan an attraction of Shortest Land Route
• Pakistan would enjoy the role of middle man between the SAARC, ECO and EEC and the attraction of the shortest land route to the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and the Black Sea would clearly give discomfort to Russia.

2. Encourage Mutual Trade
• The Government of Pakistan, despite its economic difficulties, should provided more credit facilities to the Central Asian States to encourage mutual trade and the setting up of stable banking channels.

3. Better Port Facilities for Handling the Transit Trade
• Despite their ethnic bonds with Turkey. Iran and Afghanistan, the CA States can benefit more from Pakistan’s port facilities, trade and commerce with the countries in tire Southern Hemisphere.
• The ports of Abadan and Bander Abbas in Iran and the Karachi port in Pakistan can handle this transit trade by expanding their facilities rapidly. The Tajik capital of Dushanbe is about 3000 kilometers from Bander Abbas in Iran and about 2200 kilometers from Karachi while the Black Sea port of Odessa for access to the Mediterranean is about 4200 kilometers away

4. Speedy Implementation of Projects
• Bilaterally and through the ECO, many schemes and projects for intra-regional cooperation in trade and travel, industrial enterprises as joint ventures, banking and exchange of technology and technical know-how are rapidly emerging, whose speedy implementation would be to their mutual advantage.

5. Expertise in Banking system to be shared
• A strong, modern banking system capable of operating internationally without dependence on or control by Moscow, is a dire need of all Central Asian States and Pakistan has the expertise and the infrastructure to assist them in this direction.

6. Joint Shipping Company to be established
• The landlocked Central Asian states can even set up a joint shipping company with Pakistan under the aegis of the EC.O to handle a large part of their transit trade.

7. Gwadar Port- An Asset for Pakistan and the Central Asian States
• If Pakistan speeds up the development of the Gawadar port on the Baluchistan coast into a large-size modern port, it can be an asset for this province as well as for the CA States.

8. Trade via the Land Route
• Kazakstan’s ruling leaders, who are energetically improving their relation with Beijing, have shown interest in building rail and road links with Urumchi, capital of the Chinese province of Xinjiang, and thus using the Karakorum Highway between Pakistan and China for trade via the land route.

9. Cheap Air Cargo Service
• A cheap and regular air cargo service between Pakistan and the CA states is the need of the hour.

10. Dynamic Railway Network
• The Pakistan railway network, which runs Zahidan in Iran, should he linked via Iran with Turkmenistan, Pakistan and China are now working on the expansion of the Sino-Pakistan and Karakorum Highway in such a way that it will be extended to Tajikistan, Kyrgistan and Kazakstan will give a boost to intra-regional trade among these states.

11. Pakistan to invite senior editors of newspapers of CA States
• Pakistan should invite senior editors of newspapers of the Central Asian States to Pakistan and provide them with ample opportunities to know facts for themselves and to study Pakistan’s economic development, especially its industrialization, in the past 48 years of its independence

12. Business Encouragement backed by the Governments of Pakistan in CA States
• With Governmental encouragements, Pakistani entrepreneurs can set up industrial units in Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and other CA states, especially for footwear, textiles, building materials, agro-processing, cold storage, petro-chemicals, garments and pharmaceuticals.

13. Cooperation between the Universities
• There is immense scope for cooperation between the Universities of Pakistan and those in the CA States. Pakistan, which has a low literacy rate of 30 per cent, can learn a great deal from the CA States which have made nearly 95 per cent of their population literate. It would have a salubrious effect on their relations with Pakistan for their mutual benefit.

14. Regional Security is to be improved
• Pakistan’s relations with the Central Asian Republics have made good progress during the past few years.
• With improved regional security after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan have decided to push ahead with plans for the ambitious 1,500-kilometre-long gas pipeline. The leaders of the three countries have signed a framework agreement (The Trans Afghanistan Pipeline).
• The Trans-Afghanistan pipeline would export Turkmen gas (from Dualtabad gas field) via Afghanistan to Pakistan, from where it could reach world markets. Proponents of the project see it as a modern continuation of the Silk Road.
• The Asian Development Bank is the leading coordinating financial and technical partner.

Conclusion
The stabilization and steady expansion of these relations may take time and would require deft, patient and wise handling on the part of the States concerned. A time may come, perhaps sooner than expected, when Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the six West and Central Asian States; having a population of nearly 300 million and an area larger than that of the SAARC region, may form a Common Market.

In the meantime, Central Asia and Pakistan must keep on vigorously pursing the peace option in Afghanistan. Mutual Pak-Afghan trade is expected to reach Rs one billion in this year.
In the final analysis, it is the “Afghan corridor” that is still blocking Pakistan’s physical access to the CARs, and, vice versa, only its unblocking will materialize the connectivity with South and Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the war-tossed Afghanistan remains a major stumbling block. Yet it holds the ultimate key for Pakistan to gain access to the CARs. Therefore, all efforts need to be focused to pry open this passage to gain access to the ex-Soviet republics.

While regional and international circumstances have no doubt conspired against Pakistan, the latter should leave no stone unturned in combating international terrorism, building a sound infrastructure along Pakistan-Afghan border and cleansing its own fractious tribal belt of foreign militants. At the same time, there is a dire need in setting its political house in order by co-opting major political parties and regaining the trust and goodwill of Afghans through trade, assistance and policy of non-interference.

Sohaib Nisar Ahmad
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MFN Status to India: Merits and Demerits



Granting MFN status to India may be beneficial for both countries. It may expand the size of the market because of trade creation and trade diversion. This possibly can help expand production on a large scale and also infuses competition into markets.


Introduction
In international economic relations and international politics, Most Favored Nation (MFN) is a status or level of treatment accorded by one state to another in international trade. For the promotion of international trade in general and the reduction of tariff barriers in particular, contracting countries of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) do meet time to time in negotiating conferences in which tariff “concessions” are exchanged and try to give this status to all member nations. This rule is known as the Unconditional Most Favored Nation Principle (MFN); it guards against discrimination in international trade. Most favored nation relationships extend reciprocal bilateral relationships following both GATT and WTO norms of reciprocity and non-discrimination. In bilateral reciprocal relationships a particular privilege granted by one party only extends to other parties who reciprocate that privilege, while in a multilateral reciprocal relationship the same privilege would be extended to the group that negotiated a particular privilege. The non-discri-minatory component of the GATT/WTO applies a reciprocally negotiated privilege to all members of the GATT/WTO without respect to their status in negotiating the privilege.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) members agreed to accord MFN status to each other. Exceptions allow for preferential treatment of developing countries, regional free trade areas and customs unions. Together with the principle of national treatment, MFN is one of the cornerstones of WTO trade law. The term means the country which is the recipient of this treatment (which is India in our case) must, nominally, receive equal trade advantages as the “most favored nation” by the country granting such treatment (in this case Pakistan). Trade advantages include low tariffs or high import quotas. In effect, a country that has been accorded MFN status may not be treated less advantageously than any other country with MFN status by the promising country. There is a debate in legal circles whether MFN clauses include only substantive rules or procedural protections. The United States grants many countries a status known formally as that of “most favored nation” (MFN), a guarantee that their exporters will pay tariffs no higher than that of the nation that pays the lowest. All countries granted MFN status pays the same rates. Tariff reductions under the GATT always—with one important exception—are made on an MFN basis.

The logic here seems to be legal rather than economic. Nations are allowed to have free trade within their boundaries: Nobody insists that California wine pay the same tariff as French wine when it is shipped to New York. That is, the MFN principle does not apply within political units. But what is a political unit? The GATT side-steps that potentially thorny question by allowing any group of economies to do what countries do, and establish free trade within some defined boundary. Tariff reduction is a good thing that raises economic efficiency. At first it might seem that preferential tariff reductions are also good, if not as good as reducing tariffs all around. After all, isn't half a loaf better than none? Currently, Pakistan is enjoying MFN status with almost 100 countries.

History
In the early days of international trade, most favored nation status was usually used on a dual-party, state-to-state basis. A nation could enter into a most favored nation treaty with another nation. With the Jay Treaty in 1794, the U.S. granted most favored nation trading status to Britain. Generally bilateral, in the late 19th and early 20th century unilateral most favored nation clauses were imposed on Asian nations by the more powerful Western countries. One particular example of “most favored nation” status is the Treaty of Nanking as part of the series of unequal treaties. It was implemented in the aftermath of the First Opium War between Great Britain and Chinese Qing Dynasty involving the Hong Kong islands.

After World War II, tariff and trade agreements were negotiated simultaneously by all interested parties through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which ultimately resulted in the World Trade Organization in 1994. The World Trade Organization requires members to grant one another most favored nation status. A most favored nation clause is also included in the majority of the numerous bilateral investment treaties concluded between capital exporting and capital importing countries after the Second World War.

Benefits
Trade experts consider MFN clauses to have the following benefits:
A country that grants MFN on imports will have its imports provided by the most efficient supplier. This may not be the case if tariffs differ by country.

MFN allows smaller countries, in particular, to participate in the advantages that larger countries often grant to each other, whereas on their own, smaller countries would often not be powerful enough to negotiate such advantages by themselves.



Granting MFN has domestic benefits: having one set of tariffs for all countries simplifies the rules and makes them more transparent. It also lessens the frustrating problem of having to establish rules of origin to determine which country's part of the product (that may contain parts from all over the world) must be attributed to for customs purpose.

MFN restrains domestic special interests from obtaining protectionist measures. For example, butter producers in country A may not be able to lobby for high tariffs on butter to prevent cheap imports from developing country B , because, as the higher tariffs would apply to every country, the interests of A's principal ally C might get impaired.

As MFN clause promotes non-discrimination among countries, they also tend to promote the objective of free trade in general.
India is a huge economy relative to Pakistan; opening up of trade between the two countries will expand the markets for both countries, stimulate investment both domestic and foreign, and thereby increase the growth rate of the economies of the respective countries.
Granting MFN status by Pakistan to India
Pakistan and India want to work on roadmap for trade normalization, but the entire trade liberalization process is linked with the removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) by the Indian government. India granted Pakistan MNF status in 1996, but Pakistan was reluctant to reciprocate arguing that India maintained a long list of NTBs that restrict Pakistan's exports to India despite having the MFN facility. Statistics show that trade between the two countries was US$ 1.4 billion in the year 2009-10. Of these, Indian exports to Pakistan were of worth US$1.2 billion, while Pakistani exports to India were just US$268 million, which is a clear indication that India did not open its market for Pakistani goods. This is so because Pakistan trades with India under the positive trade list and allow 1,946 items to be imported from India while India allow import of all but 850 items. Because of this attitude of India, and pending Kashmir issue, Pakistan was reluctant to grant MFN status to India. Time has come now for Pakistan to reciprocate by granting MFN status to India.

Granting MFN status to India may be beneficial for both countries. It may expand the size of the market because of trade creation and trade diversion. This possibly can help expand production on a large scale and also infuses competition into markets. India is a huge economy relative to Pakistan; opening up of trade between the two countries will expand the markets for both countries, stimulate investment both domestic and foreign, and thereby increase the growth rate of the economies of the respective countries. This in turn can create employment opportunities, increase income levels and lead to improvement in the standards of living in both the countries. Such “investment creation” can be partly offset by what might be called “investment diversion” when investments are diverted from the most rational location in the world to Pakistan and India. Since India has comparative advantage (low cost of production in many commodities) as compared to Pakistan, India will reap more benefit than Pakistan because of granting of MFN status to India. In sum, the impact of granting of this status needs a comprehensive study to consider various items to be traded between India and Pakistan to find out where the benefits lie before embarking upon all items free trade.

The MFN status can benefit consumers, producers and workers in Pakistan because of more trade with India. Opening of trade will enable the consumers to buy variety of products at lower prices. Domestic industries that use cheap imported raw materials and other inputs will also benefit. Export industries, their workers, and their suppliers benefit from the sales to other countries. The government of the exporting country will earn foreign exchange. The losers as a result of trade with India will be import-competing industries and their workers and domestic consumers of export industries. The former suffers because it will adversely affect their volume of sales and their prices. The latter suffers because the export of part of the output of an industry tends to increase the prices of the goods to domestic consumers. The government of the importing country has to absorb capital and labor in alternative employment chances. If India plans to capture the Pakistani market for its products, the MFN status will enable it to dump her products in Pakistan. This will result in decline of Pakistani industries and cause of additional unemployment.

The writer is Chief of Research and Dean Business Studies
Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad
For feedback: zfrnasir@gmail.com
Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir

Source : Jehangir World Times Magazine.
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What is to be done to alleviate poverty in Pakistan


According to recent Asian Development Bank's estimates, almost one-third of the Pakistan's population lives below the poverty line. Seventy-five percent of these poor reside in the rural areas. Major poverty characteristics in Pakistan include high levels of income and asset poverty, economic and social vulnerability, gender disparity, and low levels of human capital. Poverty has several dimensions in Pakistan. The poor people not only have low income levels, they also lack access to basic needs like education, health, clean drinking water and proper sanitation facilities. All of these undermine their capabilities, limit their opportunities to secure employment, result in their social exclusion and expose them to exogenous shocks. The vicious cycle of poverty is accentuated when the system of governance excludes the most vulnerable from the decision-making process. It is an alarming situation, indeed, for a country which is conferred with huge natural resources, vast agricultural land and a large labour force. There are a number of factors responsible for this sorry state of affairs. These can be broadly divided into political, economic and social.

The policy makers in Pakistan are facing two very huge challenges. They need pragmatic steps to revive economic growth of the country and also to help a huge chunk of population come out of the deadly trap of poverty. Serious efforts are needed to ensure pro-poor growth and socially inclusive development. It has to be kept in mind that an increase in growth rates may only lead to an appreciable reduction in poverty if it is broad-based. Social development can only be inclusive if it provides protection to the most vulnerable sections of the society.
The vicious cycle of poverty is accentuated when the system of governance excludes the most vulnerable from the decision-making process.
Employment opportunities are diminishing day by day because the overall milieu of the country is not very conducive for economic activity of the private sector. Consequently, the domestic as well as the foreign investors are not willing to inject their money into the system. Public resources have not been managed properly and significant improvements are required to make best use of them. An intrusive system of economic regulation coupled with deteriorating law and order situation are aggravating the problem.

Role of prudent macroeconomic policies in reducing poverty can hardly be overemphasized. At the same time, large-scale improvements in the structure and functioning of systems of governance have to be brought about. We have been hearing about good governance for quite some time now. Have we ever realized what the repercussions of poor governance are? It is the root cause of poverty as it increases vulnerability and reduces business confidence which translates into lowering of investment and substantial reduction in efficient service delivery. All of this has serious implications for human advancement. Public sector in Pakistan has made only half-hearted and lukewarm attempts in some areas like devolution, public expenditure management and anti-corruption efforts to improve governance within the country. There is a dire need of reforms in the tax collecting machinery, the police and the judiciary in specific and in civil service in general.

Devolution is needed to ensure that development of the country is equitable and includes all segments of the society especially the poorest and marginalized. Improvements in corporate governance and overhaul of the Public Sector Enterprises in order to reduce government's liabilities are imperative for encouraging private sector participation and investments.



Sustained economic growth is essential for poverty alleviation. The policy maker and managers in Pakistan must understand that there are strong linkages between pro-poor growth on one side and human development, good governance, private sector development and regional cooperation on the other.

Rural development demands a lot of attention from those who are at the helm of affairs. Serious efforts are needed to enhance agricultural productivity and strengthening of research and extension services. Role of private sector in storage and agriculture support services has become all the more important.

Developing agribusiness for exports and rural small and medium enterprises has the potential of increasing non-farm employment opportunities substantially. Improving communications infrastructure needs more focus, as it will promote rural-urban linkages. Inadequate infrastructure has remained one of the major obstacles in the economic growth of the country. Improved access to credit in rural areas and mobilizing savings can also play a vital role in rural development.
Have we ever realized what the repercussions of poor governance are? It is the root cause of poverty as it increases vulnerability and reduces business confidence which translates into lowering of investment and substantial reduction in efficient service delivery.
Pakistan has to make it a priority to employ major portion of its labour force, both male and female as income generation from employment is considered to be the most potent weapon in alleviating poverty. The demographic transition, commonly known as the 'demographic dividend', results in a smaller population at young dependent ages and relatively larger population in the adult age groups. Pakistan must make full use of this advantageous position. The period of this dividend will not be infinite but will come to an end as the working-age population grows older, eventually increasing the size of dependant population. Moreover, the dividend will not be repeated. This unique opportunity can, however, easily turn into a 'demographic liability' if appropriate policy measures are not taken to fully utilize the expanding labour force. Government of Pakistan has established National Vocational and Technical Training Commission as an apex body to coordinate, facilitate and regulate the technical and vocational education and training sector of the country. Although this is a very positive step in the right direction but the results of this effort have yet to be seen. A more professional approach in handling the affairs and strategic direction of this Commission is required in order to reap maximum benefits from it. Linkage with industry and revamping the training methodology along with revision of curricula, keeping in view international advancements and requirements, are imperative.

The country's poverty reduction strategy must include large-scale investment in strengthening the available human resource base so as to produce a skilled and competent workforce that can respond to the increasing demands of a steadily growing economy. This strategy has to take into account four very important factors;

(i) accelerating economic growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability;
(ii) improving governance;
(iii) investing in human capital; and
(iv) targeting the poor and vulnerable.

Athar Mansoor
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Role of Electronic Media



A Discussion Forum held at the Department of Mass Communication in LCWU, Lahore under the auspices of Jahangir's World Times. The discussion was chaired by Dr. Anjum Zia the chairperson of the Department of Mass Communication while MS. Huma another faculty member of the department also participated in the debate along with students. The students and faculty members shared their views on the Role of Electronic Media vis-à-vis Political Stability in Pakistan. Their arguments were logical, convincing and categorically sound. Actually, their views highlighted the destructive and exaggerated role of electronic media in Pakistan. Thus, they applied their general understanding about the media in order to analyze the overall outcome of electronic media vis-à-vis political stability in Pakistan.

The discussion was started by MS. Huma she said, “.Today, media is known as the fourth pillar of any state and in my opinion all pillars of a state should be strong and autonomous enough be it Executive, Legislature or Judiciary. In fact, present age is of information so, in the globalized world media is supposed to play the role of an army for a state. Every anchor person on a TV Channel is actually armed personnel because in the current era we have to defend our state through the media instead of military might.” “Therefore, this army must be selected very carefully by keeping in view all the ground realities and the requirements of this age. Now talking about today's media I would say that its focus is not to inform or educate the public but to make business and the promotion of rampant commercialism, only. That is why our media especially the electronic media is not playing any satisfactory role as far as political stability is concerned.”
Mushroom growth of TV channels especially News Channels is the major cause of irresponsible behavior of electronic media.
Sidra a student of Mass Communication spoke differently she said, “I believe that mushroom growth of TV channels especially News Channels is the major cause of irresponsible behavior of electronic media. In fact, we did not have so many heroes or icons so, the 'TV Anchors' emerged as heroes for the masses therefore; they have many expectations from them. It all happened due to the hype created by these news channels. In fact, most of the population of Pakistan is illiterate similarly they are unable to differentiate between the myth & reality. Thus media should be neutral and it must highlight all the aspects of an issue. Then media can be able to bring political stability in the country, she added.



Rbia Waheed another student of Mass Communications said that now in Pakistan media is not only a source of information instead it has emerged as a profitable business so,as a result they have to fabricate news for business, even if there is no news at all. Hence, this quantity driven approach instead of quality misplaced the truth and objectivity from the news. Furthermore, our media is not following the ethics as far as live coverage of bomb blasts or terrorist attacks are concerned. Thus, all these factors which are present in the media are producing chaos, uncertainty as well as political instability in the country. Lastly, I would say our electronic media must remove its biased image for the political stability in Pakistan.

Aqsa Arshad said that being a student of Media Studies I believe, our media is not promoting the positive image of Pakistan. For example, if we see the incident of a girl flogged by the two militants in Sawat, how it had been played up in the media. It showed that our media is either immature or it does such things deliberately. Actually, it also projected a very negative image of Sawat which is paradise for tourists in Pakistan. On the other hand, western media does not portray the negative image of their country but our media does why? Then our media has developed a criteria that they will remain anti-government they will even not appreciate the good works of the government.
In fact, electronic media has important functions to perform i.e. to inform with objectivity, educate, guide and entertain the masses. But the media has constraints and limitations also, like vested interests, corruption, political motives and monetary gains.
Shehla Qureshi student of Mass Communication was of the opinion that we must accept this fact that at least media has provided awareness to the masses, it has never happened in the past. However, absence of any proper code of conduct made the media too much independent. Therefore, how can we achieve political stability through such sort of media which never knows its limits?

Shjia gul khan another student said, “I think our media is for the educated people, there are three tiers of media namely: print media, broadcasting and social media similarly, radio and TV comes under broadcasting. But, the 70% of the population living in small towns has not access to the Cable-TV networks and due to lack of education they are unable to read good newspapers like Dawn, The News etc. Mostly, they have radio as only source of information but the content used at radio is not enough to aware those masses it must be adequate and up to the mark.”

Hafsa Amjad another student of Mass communication said that unfortunately in our country journalists are on sale although a journalist cannot be a product for sale. The reason is that they toe the policies of the owners of news channels and are not independent enough to do what they want so; in such a situation media can produce more conspiracy theories and less political stability.

Fatima Aslam spoke in a unique way she said, “Our media is creating confusions among its viewers and readers. Media must give adequate, authentic and complete information of a particular issue to the viewers which should cover all the dimensions.

Palwasha Khan Student of MS-Program department of Mass Communication gave bold comments about the media. She said, “It is clear that media is a watch dog in a country but there should be a counter check on this watch dog (Media) too, what it is doing? But sadly, in case of our electronic media there is not any concept or mechanism of counter checking”.

In the end MS. Anjum Zia concluded the debate she said that it was a very good and focused discussion she also appreciated the opinions of the students. She was of the opinion that the media is being considered as a fourth pillar of the state as Huma rightly said in the beginning so, it needs to play an imperative role for political stability in Pakistan which is indeed, a serious issue. In fact, electronic media has important functions to perform i.e. to inform with objectivity, educate, guide and entertain the masses. But the media has constraints and limitations also, like vested interests, corruption, political motives and monetary gains. Therefore, it has both positive as well negative roles in generating public opinion on national issues. On one hand it is influencing public opinion in a significant manner particularly focusing on political leaders and working of political parties while on the other hand the information provided is biased and distorted. The electronic media is an agent of change but the direction of change depends upon the reported information. That is why the credibility of media is questioned most of the time.

But sadly, in case of our electronic media there is not any concept or mechanism of counter check that is why our media presents non issues as important issues.

For instance the personal life of Meera; those who have not electricity or enough finances to meet the basic requirements of daily life. What they will do with the life of Meera.


Moreover, release of Indian movies becomes our news headline being a student of media studies I am unable to understand.

The forum: was concluded with the following recommendations:

It is recommended that media should maintain a data bank of eminent scholars, distinguish educationists, prominent leaders and specialists in their relevant fields to discuss issues related to political stability.

The education and trainings for media people may be arranged at appropriate level in order to equip them with adequate knowledge and skills to improve quality of reporting.

The electronic media may identify societal conditions that resist change required for the political stability in Pakistan.

Dr. Anjum Zia
Chairperson Department of Mass Communication
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Social Challenges of Pakistan



Pakistan did not adequately invest in its people. Such underinvestment is directly responsible for the poor social and economic statistics. It has made limited progress on poverty and health indicators. Similarly its education outcomes remain below those of other countries at similar levels of development.



Pakistan is a country of about 180 million people, full of natural resources and more than 63 years of independence, but still not respected in the world community. In less than 30 years of independence, its one wing got separated and emerged as Bangladesh on the world map. Since its inception, Pakistan is dependent on World Bank, IMF and foreign donations. Majority of the population is living in rural areas and is deprived of the basic supplies of life. It is a country where financial gap between rich and poor is widening day by day.

Despite being rich in natural resources, Pakistan is a developing country with very limited development in every field due to a horde of problems being faced by it. Almost every kind of problem exists in Pakistan ranging from deterioration of economy, electricity load-shedding, inadequate educational facilities, insufficient health facilities, sky-rocketing inflation, extremism, injustice, increasing crime rate and non provision of drinkable water in many parts of the country.

According to an analysis of the government of Pakistan, the poverty has increased roughly from 30% to 40% during the past decade. According to the definition of literacy i.e. persons aged 15 or above who can “read” and “write” Pakistan officially reported to have 50 % literacy rate, which shows that half of its population is illiterate. The point to be pondered here is that 40% of the total population of the country is living below the poverty line which means that they are deprived of basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothes, thus there is no question of education and medication for them. Such families are fighting for their survival only. With such family backgrounds in the country, the rate of inflation, poverty, crime and child labour is expected to be increased in future.
Terrorism and extremism is increasing in Pakistan for the last 10 years. Therefore whatever is happening in the world, it is considered even before investigations that it might have been a link with Pakistan. The whole world looks at Pakistan as a land of terrorists.
Further a Pakistani termed as “Literate” (only able to read and write), is still taken as illiterate in today's technology-oriented world. It is general observation that majority of top position holders are almost not comfortable with latest technologies and technical mindset. Thus, causing the country to adopt the new technologies at a snail's pace. Education is not treated as a priority and inevitably child exploitation continues within our nation. Most people in the rural areas have no access to educational institutions. Pakistan does not have sound educational system under which a child can be adequately socialized into becoming a productive member of society.

Pakistan is also facing a health crisis due to insufficient health facilities with rising rates of hepatitis, diabetes, heart disease, and other non-communicable diseases. This situation worsens during natural calamity. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 4 million cases of diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and skin conditions that had largely resulted from the flood conditions. Cholera outbreaks have also been reported from flood-affected areas.



Electricity shortage is another major social problem Pakistan is facing today. There are around 16 independent power producers that contribute significantly in electricity generation in Pakistan. For many years, the issue of balancing Pakistan's supply against the demand for electricity remained unresolved. Pakistan is facing a considerable challenge in restoring its network responsible for the delivering of electricity. In recent years Pakistan has shrunk by 50% in electricity generation. Resultantly load-shedding (deliberate blackouts), and power blackouts have become severe in the country. It is said that the main problem with Pakistan's poor power generation is the non-existence of the political will.

Another social challenge and highly destructive phenomenon in Pakistan is of terrorism. Terrorism and extremism is increasing in Pakistan for the last 10 years. Therefore, whatever is happening in the world, it is considered even before investigations that it might have been a link with Pakistan. The whole world looks at Pakistan as a land of terrorists.

The Pakistani army in 2004 launched a pursuit of Al-Qaeda members in the mountainous area of Waziristan on the Afghan border, although sceptics question the sincerity of this pursuit. Clashes there erupted into a low-level conflict with Islamic militants and local tribesmen, sparking a war in Waziristan. A short-lived truce, known as the Waziristan accord, was brokered in September 2006, which indicated Pakistan's reluctance to fight Islamic militia.

Terrorist attacks staged in Pakistan have killed over 35,000 people, 5,000 of which are law enforcement personnel. On the other hand, the material damage caused to the Pakistani economy is about $67 billion. Pakistan has an estimated 2 % growth rate which for a country of official population of 180 million turns out to be roughly around 3.2 million every year. This is a big dent to the economy of Pakistan and hinders the progress of every fileld.
One of the biggest challenges to the country is the ever-growing population and absence of any focused measures to control it.
One of the biggest challenges to the country is the ever growing population and absence of any focused measures to control it. It is predicted that by the year 2050, Pakistan will be the third most populated nation in the world. This alarming growth rate is causing immense pressure on head of the families who are to support them. As it has been previously mentioned that about 40 % of the population is living below the poverty line and 5.6 % (official figures) of the population is unemployed, the ever-growing population of Pakistan is just adding to the problems of the already under pressure nation.

At the time of partition, Pakistan had 30 million people with per capita income of $100. Agriculture accounted for almost 50 % of the economic output with hardly any manufacturing, as all industries were located in India. Therefore, it was unable to feed 30 million people and the country has to depend on imports. This process carried on and today out of every hundred rupees of our national income, we consume 85 rupees and save only 15 rupees. Thus, a very small amount of money is available to invest for economic growth and advancement. Further due to the instability of political system and terrorism in the country foreign investment is also negligible.

In 1990, Pakistan's share in the world trade was 0.2% which has shrunk to 0.12% within 20 years. On the other hand, world trade has been growing faster as compared to the world output. Therefore, the Pakistan's exports/imports imbalance is increasing. Another important reason for imbalance between import and export is that Pakistan is focusing on limited commodities for export including rice, textiles, leather, sports and the surgical goods only and paying attention to a few markets i.e. Middle East, EU, USA and UK. The biggest challenge for the survival of the country in today's world is to increase the investment amount, find new markets, improve the qualities of its products and add new commodities in the list of export goods.
Half of government expenditures are dedicated to fulfill debt repayment compulsions. In order to make these payments, every year additional loans and grants are indispensable which amount to approximately 25 per cent of the revenues.
Pakistan's another extremely large dilemma is the ever-increasing debt. The debt is mounting up mainly, due to the large spending on military and imbalance of import-export, dependence on foreign oil and other imported fossil fuels, etc. These resources are used primarily for the generation of power. Half of government expenditures are dedicated to fulfill debt repayment compulsions. In order to make these payments, every year additional loans and grants are indispensable which amount to approximately 25 per cent of the revenues. This exercise averts Pakistan to allocate considerable funds to economic development and social improvements.

One of the social concerns within Pakistan is child labour which is considered a violation of human rights by the United Nations. In Pakistan a poor child, believed to be an earning hand for the family is easily deprived of right of basic education. Child labour is not practiced in Pakistan only but it exploits the children in all the third world countries also, as they are a cheap source of labour. According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics of Pakistan, 3.3 million out of 40 million children are working in various industries, though child labour is strictly prohibited by law. Child Labour is a serious social problem within Pakistan because the future and progress of any country depends on an educated and enlightened youth and if a child is not properly socialized then he/she will not be able to grow as confident and literate Pakistani citizen. Need of the hour is that government, NGOs and civil society should come forward to deal with the situation properly.

Pakistan did not adequately invest in its people. Such underinvestment is directly responsible for the poor social and economic statistics. It has made limited progress on poverty and health indicators. Similarly its education outcomes remain below those of other countries at similar levels of development. Thus it can be concluded that Pakistan’s performance in achieving human development goals is uneven, therefore its social challenges are increasing day by day.


Dr. Anjum Zia
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