Pakistan’s Chief Justice, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, said on Friday that the people’s freedoms cannot be violated or limited in the interests of national security, adding that human rights cannot be ignored at any cost.
Excellent post by Madiha Afzal on the need for Pakistan’s leadership to take control of the national narrative and articulate a vision for the country’s future.
Slowly but surely, independent voices countering the Taliban narrative are being silenced. Last month, the Express Tribune, for which I write a regular column, was attacked for the third time in a few months. Three staff members were killed. After the attack, I was asked by the newspaper’s editors to refrain from writing about terrorism for the time being.
So Mr. Sharif must step up now and articulate his vision of Pakistan’s future. He must stand up for the sanctity of Pakistan’s constitution and its democracy. He must set preconditions for any future talks. Talks have to be held under Pakistan’s constitution—no ifs, no buts. His government must state its unwillingness to compromise on women’s rights, the rights of minorities and Pakistan’s place in the world. Most of all, if he is to win the war of words and ideas with the Taliban, and, along with it, the hearts and minds of Pakistani citizens, Mr. Sharif must start talking to the Pakistani people. Otherwise the TTP wins.
You can read the full article on the Brookings website.
This 10 minute film introduces the Punjab Education Reform Roadmap which since 2011 has had a transformative impact on education in Punjab in Pakistan. The Roadmap is led by the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the film is based on a 10 minute talk by Sir Michael Barber, Chief Advisor to DfID on Education in Pakistan.
The Lahore High Court this week tightened restrictions on screening foreign films – a move clearly targeted at India’s prolific Bollywood industry. This follows a campaign by some in Pakistan’s TV industry last year to secure a ban on foreign content. The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa officially banned a 12-year-old academic book by Suranjan Das, the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University in India. No rationale for the ban was given, and the Government of Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, recently banned the teaching of comparative religion. YouTube remains inaccessible in Pakistan, and earlier this week access to IMDb was temporarily blocked, with a Pakistan Telecommunications Authority describing the site as, “anti-state, anti-religion, and anti-social.”
But cutting itself off from foreign media is not the only isolationism that is gaining popularity in Pakistan. In the wake of a drone strike that killed senior members of the Haqqani Network, a group designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States, Pakistan’s Interior Minister publicly questioned how Pakistan could continue to regard the US as a friendly nation. Populist politician Imran Khan took the rhetoric a step further, declaring the strike to be “a declaration of war” between Pakistan and the United States and announced that he would organize a permanent blockade of NATO supply routes beginning today. Protests led by Imran Khan have begun, but it’s unclear whether they will actually be able to sustain an effective blockade of NATO supplies. What is clear is that, while Taliban militants continue to attack Pakistan, Imran Khan and other populist leaders are focused on casting the US as the real enemy, fostering sympathy for terrorists.
While Pakistan may be looking to replace American patronage by more closely aligning with China, it is unlikely that this would relieve Pakistan from pressure to tackle extremism. US and Chinese interests increasingly align in Pakistan, and earlier this year Pakistan was forced to take action against three militant groups due to pressure from China. The legality and efficacy of the US drone program can be debated, but it does not alleviate Pakistan of the responsibility to ensure that it is not becoming a safe haven for terrorists, as desired by al Qaeda.
Pakistan is facing a number of difficult challenges. Closing itself off from the rest of the world is not the solution.
Husain Haqqani, who served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 to 2011, has spent many years researching and writing about his country’s complex political history. His new book Magnificent Delusions explores how, despite over 60 years of being “most allied allies,” the US and Pakistan have never really understood each other. Ambassador Haqqani’s first-hand experience in US-Pakistan relations notwithstanding, Magnificent Delusions is not a memoir, but a case study. Neither is the book a polemic against the US or Pakistan. From Secretary of State Dulles overlooking the eerily prescient observations of Ambassador Langley in the late 1950s to Pakistan’s misunderstanding of the limits of US obligations in bilateral security agreements, Haqqani details a history in which both countries have developed foreign policy around a set of wishful assumptions rather than contextual analysis.
The US has failed to fully understand the India-centric narrative that has defined Pakistan’s national identity and served as a myopic focal point of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies as well as the role of anti-Americanism and fundamentalist religious groups in serving as leverage in bilateral negotiations. Ambassador Haqqani offers an equally incisive analysis of the failure of Pakistan’s political and military elite to understand their position relative to US regional and global interests, taking an outsized view of both their strategic importance and the limits of US .
Magnificent Delusions serves as a important point of reorientation for US-Pakistan relations, and is recommended to anyone who wants a keen understanding of not only how US-Pakistan relations got where they are, but how to forge a more productive relationship for the future.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I extend best wishes to all Muslims in Pakistan on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. I also congratulate the nearly three million pilgrims, including thousands of American Muslims, who are performing the Hajj this year. This great peaceful gathering breaks down barriers of race, class, and culture, and reflects the true image of a global community.
Those making the Hajj are a reminder of the powerful role that faith plays in lifting individuals and communities to a higher standard.
As Muslims unite to embrace the virtues extolled during the Hajj – those of sacrifice, benevolence, and brotherhood – I wish peace and strength to the people of Pakistan.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai discusses the importance of education in diffusing terrorism and empowering women in Pakistan.
H.E. Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
Prime-Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The General Debate of the Sixty-eighth Session The United Nations General Assembly
New York, 27 September 2013
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I congratulate you on your election as the President of the United Nations General Assembly. It is a fitting recognition of your distinguished career.
I also commend Mr. Vuk Jeremic, for his outstanding leadership of the General Assembly in the past one year.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has led the organization ably and wisely. We were glad to receive him in Pakistan in mid-August, as our honored guest on the anniversary of the Independence Day of Pakistan.
I stand here today before this Assembly, soon after my country has seen a new dawn.
I come before this house in all humility, as the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, for the third time. I feel exonerated, as my supporters and I stood firm in our commitment to democracy in the long years of exile, exclusion and state oppression,
I am happy to inform the distinguished delegates that we now have a strong Parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media and a vibrant civil society.
But there is no room for complacency. We cannot lower our guard. Democracy needs constant vigilance and strong institutions. It needs careful nurturing. Most importantly, it is not promises, but good governance that sustains democracy.
My Government has put people at the centre. We will work to give them peace and security, an environment of growth and development. I am pursuing an inclusive approach for the entire nation.
Over the past five years, Pakistan’s courts were widely criticized for pushing the boundaries of reasonable judicial oversight and taking an aggressively adversarial role against the previous Pakistani government. Many observers assumed that the judiciary’s behavior was the result of a personal dislike for former President Asif Zardari on the part of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other judges. Whether or not that was the case, the judiciary’s activism did not end with the Zardari government earlier this year – something that does not bode well for Pakistan’s democracy.