Category Archives: Pakistan

CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

Source: Katehon

The current century presents a plethora of strategic opportunities for Pakistan, provided that Islamabad knows how to pluck the low-hanging fruit and take the initiative. The steady development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is making the country ever more attractive for a wide variety of international partners, some of which have traditionally been aligned with Pakistan, and others which are entirely new and unprecedented. No matter which of the two categories these states fall under, it’s evident that they’re all interested in taking advantage of this game-changing series of infrastructure projects.

Never before has China had a reliable overland trade corridor to the Indian Ocean, and this in turn opens up a wide range of options for the People’s Republic and its economic partners. Moreover, the eventual completion of CPEC will allow Russia and the landlocked states of Central Asia to more easily conduct commerce with the broader Indian Ocean Region, thereby leading to the creation of previously uncharted trade routes which will invigorate each set of partners and profit the irreplaceable transit state of Pakistan. In terms of the bigger picture, each crisscrossing network of economic connections in one way or another is expected to pass through Pakistan by means of CPEC, thereby empowering Islamabad to leverage its crucial geostrategic position in pursuit of its national interests.

The convergence of so many diverse civilizational actors – including Europeans, Russians, Turks, Arabs, Iranians, Chinese, and Africans – in one state is made possible by Beijing’s One Belt One Road vision of global connectivity as manifested through CPEC, and it accordingly allows for Pakistan to mediate over a dialogue of civilizations in the 21st century. This is a pivotal role of the utmost importance and highest responsibility, and it has the very real potential of transforming Pakistan from a regional leader to a hemispheric Great Power within the next decade. This analysis will thus explore the way in which this grand strategy can be actualized, sequentially describing the overall concept, the various civilizational-connectivity channels, and the challenges that Pakistan can expect to face.

Concept

Abstract:

The economic attractiveness of CPEC serves as an irresistible magnet for all sorts of various actors to utilize its infrastructural connectivity in facilitating their trade objectives, whether it’s enhancing bilateral trade with China such as the EU, Mideast, and African states may naturally be interested in, or in acquiring a convenient outlet to the Indian Ocean such as what Russia and the Central Asian republics desire. The convergence of so many civilizational forces in Pakistan will propel the South Asian state to worldwide importance by gifting its leaders with the impressive potential to serve as the common middle ground between each of them, both literally in terms of CPEC connectivity and figuratively as it relates to the broader dialogue of civilizations concept.

The latter objective is wholly dependent on the former, meaning that Pakistan is unlikely to bring together a wide array of hemispheric interests and actors if the CPEC project isn’t completed or is severely undermined after the fact. Conversely, the completion of CPEC will enable Pakistan to do just that, which thus propels the country’s significance to global heights. The second and largest part of this research will describe the different connectivity channels that CPEC opens up between Pakistan and the rest of Afro-Eurasia, but at this point a lot more needs to be said about the grand strategy behind this exciting endeavor.

Once CPEC becomes fully operational, Pakistan will unofficially become China’s most important gateway to the rest of the world. Although the People’s Republic currently engages in a staggering amount of trade with each of its countless partners, the vast majority of this is conducted via maritime routes which traverse the bottlenecked chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca and the contentious waters of the South China Sea, both of which are uncomfortably vulnerable to an American blockade or similar sort of interference in the event of a conflict between the two Great Powers. It’s mostly for this reason and due to the foresight of Chinese strategists that Beijing decided to pioneer an overland trade route to the Indian Ocean through CPEC, relying on its decades-long and all-weather friendship with Pakistan in order to make this a reality.

Continue reading CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

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Thar Women and Pakistani Art, by Bina Shah

Source: Critical Muslim

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Two paintings hang in my bedroom, watercolours by the Hyderabad artist Ali Abbas. His primary subject is the men, women and children who live in the Thar desert in rural Sindh, desert nomads who are both Hindu Dalit and Muslim, all from the vast Kolhi tribe. Abbas has devoted his life to teaching art in Hyderabad, both at Jamshoro University and Mehran University; it was after a breakout exhibition, ‘Sindh Gypsies’, at the Alliance Francaise de Karachi in 2002, that he found critical acclaim both at home in Pakistan and overseas. According to the Pakistan Painters’ Series page on Facebook, Ali Abbas ‘works on location and creates movement in his compositions by depicting scenes of: dance, migration, labour, dramatic winds/breeze and shadows’.

Although I’ve never claimed to know much about art, that intellectual explanation of Ali Abbas’s themes encapsulates what grabbed me viscerally when I saw the first, smaller painting at his solo exhibition, ‘Gurd Baad’ (Bad Wind) at the Chawkundi Gallery in Karachi back in 2005. I stood transfixed in front of the small painting, only 10×14 inches in a simple brown frame and cream mount, while the hubbub of the opening night, always a popular event in the Karachi art scene, whirled around me. It was as if all the noise had died away and the only thing that existed in the world was me and the painting.

In the painting, two women took up almost all the space. They stood at the forefront and trained a fixed gaze on me, while a third sat in the shelter of a thatched tent, a two-year-old-girl in her lap, looking off into the distance. The women were adult, but young, unveiled, all dressed in the traditional brightly-coloured clothing of the Thar women, magenta, royal blue and green kermises and long swirling ghagras, with necklaces and the well-known white bangles from wrist to elbow that the married women of Thar always wear. But it wasn’t the exotica of their clothing and adornments that drew me to the painting. It was the look on their faces, bold, intense, and proud. The woman in magenta had her hand on her hip, the woman in blue rested hers on the pole of the tent. I had never seen a truer representation of a Pakistani woman, unburdened, unafraid, eyes blazing with full knowledge of who they were and what their place was in this most desolate of regions.

I had never bought art before, thinking it the bastion of well-heeled ladies and rich bankers. But I knew I had to have this painting, and I bought it for a fraction of what Abbas’s paintings sell for now. Later, I went back to the gallery to find out if they had any more of his work. This time the gallery was silent, the gaily-dressed and talkative elite of the city had vanished, replaced by a few silent art lovers walking reverentially amongst the paintings of another exhibition that I can’t remember now. I was only interested in Ali Abbas. My efforts didn’t go unrewarded: another watercolour was unearthed for me from the gallery’s colourfully disorganised anteroom. In comparison to the first, this was a giant, 22×30 inches, in the same brown frame and cream mount style. A Thar woman and a girl stood in the front, while a good distance behind, another woman held an infant in her arms protectively. They were all dressed in the same way as the figures in the first; a clay pot, the type that they use to carry water on their heads through miles of desert, lay at the first woman’s feet. But this time, the figures were small. The emphasis was on earth and sky, both portrayed in the same blue-grey tones, the earth captured in choppy brushstrokes that resembled tossing waves, so that it looked more like an ocean than a desert. In the sky above, Abbas had painted the breeze in large, smooth circular strokes, giving the impression of the wind in a storm, but also of the elliptical shape of the entire universe. The women were standing still, withstanding the force of movement in both sky and land, as if they had always existed here and would do so forever.
Continue reading Thar Women and Pakistani Art, by Bina Shah

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Does China hold key to the Afghan puzzle?, by Pepe Escobar

Source: RT

© Reuters
© Reuters

Just like Lazarus, there were reasons to believe the Afghan peace process might have stood a chance of being resurrected this past Monday in Islamabad, as four major players – Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China – sat together at the same table.

The final communiqué though was not exactly ground breaking: “The participants emphasized the immediate need for direct talks between representatives of the Government of Afghanistan and representatives from Taliban groups in a peace process that aims to preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A week before the Islamabad meeting, while in the Persian Gulf, I had an extremely enlightening conversation with a group of Afghan Pashtuns. After the ice was broken, and it was established I was not some Sean Penn-style shadowy asset with a dodgy agenda, my Pashtun interlocutors did deliver the goods. I felt I was back in Peshawar in 2001, only a few days before 9/11.

The first ground breaker was that two Taliban officials, currently based in Qatar, are about to meet top Chinese and Pakistani envoys face to face, without interference from the US. This fits into the strategy laid out by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, according to which the Afghan puzzle must be solved as an Asian matter. And Beijing definitely wants a solution, fast; think Afghan chapter of the New Silk Roads.

The post 9/11 Afghan War has been going on for an interminable 14 years; taking a cue from Pentagonese, talk about Enduring Freedom forever. No one is winning – and the Taliban are more divided than ever after the previous peace process collapsed when the Taliban announced Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.

Continue reading Does China hold key to the Afghan puzzle?, by Pepe Escobar

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Reshuffling Eurasia’s energy deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

Workers-in-Kazakhstan-complete-a-section-of-a-pan-Central-Asian-gas-pipeline-designed-to-300x183
Workers in Kazakhstan complete a section of a pan-Central Asian gas pipeline

Pipelineistan – the prime Eurasian energy chessboard — never sleeps. Recently, it’s Russia that has scored big on all fronts; two monster gas deals sealed with China last year; the launch of Turk Stream replacing South Stream; and the doubling of Nord Stream to Germany.

Now, with the possibility of sanctions on Iran finally vanishing by late 2015/early 2016, all elements will be in place for the revival of one of Pipelineistan’s most spectacular soap operas, which I have beenfollowing for years; the competition between the IP (Iran-Pakistan) and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipelines.

The $7.5-billion IP had hit a wall for years now – a casualty of hardcore geopolitical power play. IP was initially IPI – connected to India; both India and Pakistan badly need Iranian energy. And yet relentless pressure from successive Bush and Obama administrations scared India out of the project. And then sanctions stalled it for good.

Now, Pakistan’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi swears IP is a go. The Iranian stretch of the 1,800-kilometer pipeline has already been built. IP originates in the massive South Pars gas fields – the largest in the world – and ends in the Pakistani city of Nawabshah, close to Karachi. The geopolitical significance of this steel umbilical cord linking Iran and Pakistan couldn’t be more graphic.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Reshuffling Eurasia’s energy deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan, by Pepe Escobar

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Grisly Peshawar Slaughter – Who Created Taliban, Who Still Funds Them?, by Tony Cartalucci

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December 16, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) Taliban militants stormed an army public school in the northern city of Peshawar, killing over 100, including many young students. It is believed up to 10 militants took part in the attack, dressed as soldiers to first infiltrate the school’s grounds before beginning the attack.

While the details of the attack are forthcoming, the background of the Taliban and the persistent threat it represents is well established, though often spun across the Western media.

Who Put the Taliban into Power? Who is Funding them Now? 

In the 1980’s the United States, Saudi Arabia, and elements within the then Pakistani government funneled millions of dollars, weapons, equipment, and even foreign fighters into Afghanistan in a bid to oust Soviet occupiers. Representatives of this armed proxy front would even visit the White House, meeting President Ronald Reagan personally.

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Continue reading Grisly Peshawar Slaughter – Who Created Taliban, Who Still Funds Them?, by Tony Cartalucci

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Pakistan: the Army’s Role in the Country’s Life, by Natalia Zamarayeva

ArmyHelicopterMI-1717

Due to the historical development of Pakistan, over the years the Pakistan’s army has become a powerful government force and one of the actors in political life. But unlike political parties whose purpose is to become the head of the executive and legislative branches of government, generals of today’s Pakistan are not creating such prospects. Maintaining stability and the rule of law is their primary task except for, of course, when the country is threatened by a collapse from internal or external threats.

Over the course of nearly seventy years of the country’s history, the federal army has acted in support of the political processes occurring in Pakistan: Islamisation in the 1980s, in the 1990s – protection of the interests of the democratically elected civilian government; in 1999, once again, as in the 50s-70s it supported the military coup and further, in the first decade of the 21st century, the military-civilian administration. From 2008 to the present, the army has been the guardian of society’s democratic gains. Soldiers have always “played a role in shaping the course of history” of the state. This is the position of the Army Chief of Staff General R. Sharif. In other words, the army has stood for retaining the existing order in the country, supported and maintained the status quo existing at the time.

For many decades, the army has been the main stabilising force of the state. This concept in Pakistan’s recipe, as stressed by the generals, consists of several components: repulsing external aggression, maintaining the internal security regime, setting and implementing national objectives and/or mitigating natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, the army always lives by the aspirations or expectations of the nation.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Pakistan: the Army’s Role in the Country’s Life, by Natalia Zamarayeva

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Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistan Protest
The people of the Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaaf (PTI) ready to march on the capital, Islamabad.

While most of the world is busy following the turmoil and war theatre in the Middle East and Ukraine, another war is continuing in Pakistan.

There is a revolution brewing which does not bear the hallmarks of the US sponsored kind. And as such is being opposed by every organ of the Pakistani puppet state.

There is a slow motion civil war where 40,000 Pakistanis have lost lives because of America’s Global War on Terror. A gift that keeps on giving as Pepe Escobar so aptly puts it. Thousands of civilians have perished and the government continues to dance to the tunes set by the IMF, United States and it’s cronies & the local puppet oligarchy.

As with most vassal states, the establishment and the status quo is ferociously defended by the Imperial Mouthpieces. And as with most conscious people, the majority of the country has grown weary of the false empty promises of a puppet state masquerading as Pakistan’s embryonic “democracy”.

The most revolutionary voice out of Pakistan right now is Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaaf’s Imran Khan. Who is a popular cricket star turned politician. He has had a string of successes right from the cricketing world to his ambitious social project of a free cancer care hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. He has been in politics for approximately 18 years and has grown year on year, made mistakes, learned from mistakes and has kept marching on. He is a man with a vision and destiny, regardless of what his opponents say.

Imran is an ethnic Pushtun from the central province of Punjab and is unique in his appeal to a cross section of a strong 180 million Pakistani population divided across ethnic and religious lines.

Of course  for anyone who speaks about national interest and an independent foreign & domestic policy, Imran Khan is maligned daily by the elitists in Pakistani society. The usual hand picked puppet class vis a vis other client states.

Imran Khan has long been ridiculed in the national English press, especially Dawn. Which is the usual colonial chapter instrument of the Ministry of Propaganda. The NY Times, Washington Post or Kyiv Post of Pakistan. Imran Khan has been called even Taleban Khan for trying to negotiate with the Taleban.

The neoliberal puppet regime’s idea of a solution is to continue US drone strikes and military operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas where every man is a trained,seasoned and willing warrior. What was a few thousand militants has now, thanks to the “War on Terror”, grown into a full blown insurgency with a sympathetic population. Imran Khan has correctly stated that when the local population considers the militants as freedom fighters, then the war is already lost.

To take a gun from a tribal is like trying to take jewelry from a woman. What is the end game here? Kill 1 million Pakistanis so that America will be satisfied?

Of course the only solution is to eliminate the root cause of terrorism; American interference and drone strikes on the innocent civilians of Pakistan. Then only can Pakistan address it’s internal problems with extremism, an inadequate education system and poverty amongst a host of issues that have been left hanging for 60 odd years.

The biggest threat geopolitically to any puppet state is a united nation be it under an ayatollah or a dictator. A sovereign domestic and foreign policy is of primal importance. Without it, there is no democracy.  So who benefits from the status quo pathetic excuse for a democracy?

The answer always seems to be the US sympathetic oligarchy (include your industrialists, bankers, waderas etc). Oligarchy is not just restricted to the post soviet space, its a class that exists in most countries in varying shades and may easily work against the national interest.

The current billionaire Prime Minister,who is in power despite unaddressed claims of evidence of electoral fraud (a special Imperial gift to the 3rd world vis a vis Columbia and other vassal states), Nawaz Sharif was hosted in exile by Saudi Arabia and is an ally of the United States of America. Do I really need to explain further?

Everything is being analyzed on a micro level on an insane notion that free market hinged neoliberal democracy (that is literally destroying the planet) is good and will, and here is the kicker, save Pakistan from imminent doom should a social revolution succeed.

The typical establishment apologist jabs, like the one in yesterday’s Dawn newspaper, are replicas of “intellectual opinion” found across the mainstream presstitute media[1].

The aforementioned piece is essentially centered on two threats, to the social movement’s stated objectives, by the vassal state’s prime ally, the central bank.

The protesters at the capital on 16 August, two days after the National Day triggered a march on the capital.
The protesters at the capital on 16 August, two days after the National Day triggered march on the capital.

The following is very telling of what passes for normal in a vassal state.

“They could continue running the government and meeting its bills by running into overdraft with the State Bank, but they should know that the bank has in the past felt free to bounce provincial government cheques when it felt that the provincial authorities were being irresponsible in managing their finances.”
(Khurram Husain, “PTI’s empty threats”)

Translation: The central government can cut you off financially and watch you starve. A pretty brutal neoliberal “democratic” principle. A completely savage approach to collectively punish a people for dissent.

The idea of force is dismissed out of hand with one quick quip: “… threats that nobody is likely to take seriously.” and then another swift blow is dealt with “Without the revenue, will it also cut expenditures accordingly? “. The author is a classic mainstream journalist the likes of whom are now well known in other Imperial Mouthpieces like the NY Times, Guardian, Economist etc. 

I simply do not see why there is such hatred,contempt (and ultimately fear) of a social movement? Why not suggest ideas or perhaps entertain the idea of well, a revolution. 

IK at rally
Imran Khan addressing the protesters in Islamabad.

In a revolution, you do use force where necessary. You do perhaps divert revenue from elsewhere and when the centre cuts you off, you march to the capital. But wait, they are already in the capital. This could actually happen, even if the chance is remote. That is why the organs of state are working overtime to kill the threat to the status quo.

Noam Chomsky beautifully sums it up when he says : “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”

The spectrum of Pakistani neoliberal elite opinion rests on the foundations of a unicorn utopian democracy emerging from a corrupt rotten system that murders its citizens for dollars. Not just that but a system that has been pillaging the country for decades. But if any attempt to circumvent this “colonial democracy” is made, it will jeopardise the fairytale chance of Pakistan correcting course via the ballot box (which is routinely rigged in favor of the puppet oligarch of the hour).

Recently the Finance minister flew back from Dubai to answer Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s white paper on government corruption[2]. He was attending the latest round of meetings with the IMF which has been raping Pakistan for decades. 

So, who benefits from all this? The establishment,it’s sycophants and the classic hodge podge of neoliberal elites.

AE


[1] A typical establishment example of journalism http://www.dawn.com/news/1126607

[2]http://www.nation.com.pk/national/11-Aug-2014/finance-secretary-summoned-from-dubai-to-prepare-reply-on-pti-white-paper

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