Tag 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

ali_abbas1

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.

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KOS, BODRUM, DESPERATE REFUGEES AND A DYING CHILD, by Andre Vltchek

The collapsing US Empire has left in its path of chaos an increasing global refugee crisis. What were once stable, growing and promising countries have been reduced to hollow versions of their former selves.

Andre gives us the story of one boy who is just one among millions being affected in our world today.

AE

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These lucky few Syrians just given papers to go to Athens
these lucky few Syrians just given papers to go to Athens

Para gliders are flying over the stunning emerald sea. Summer hordes are descending on a Greek island of Kos from all corners of increasingly aggressive European Union. On the faces of visitors, there seems to be no regret, no shame, that Europe just raped and humiliated Greece, forcing its government to cancel democracy, instead succumbing to dictate of the mighty Germany and other dictatorial powers.

Tourists are busy frying themselves, stuffing their stomachs with seafood and boozing up in countless cafes, bars and restaurants of the old city. Hotels and eateries are packed. It is yet another hot and sunny day. Crisis? What crises? Yes, it is somewhere… there, maybe in Athens, or maybe just outside the city center.

A few minutes away, in a local hospital, which is part of Greek collapsing national healthcare system; an Iraqi child is suffering, perhaps dying, from cancer. He is only 3 years old. His mother most likely passed away trying to reach Kos.

“We found him in a park”, explains Hara, a receptionist from Triton Hotel. “He looked terribly sick. We took him to the hospital, but there, nobody wanted to do anything. We had to scream and demand that this poor child would be attended. They put several IV tubes into his tiny body, and then… nothing else. We called Medicine Sans Frontiers in Athens, but they said they couldn’t deal with such a complicated case. We have no idea what to do. If action is not taken immediately, he will most likely die.”

refugees in Kos
refugees in Kos

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading KOS, BODRUM, DESPERATE REFUGEES AND A DYING CHILD, by Andre Vltchek

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