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10 COMMENT

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017

Rise of the right-wingers

After the death sentence

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Stop the slide towards the precipice

T was usual during the cold War for the US and Soviet Union to either swap their arrested spies from time to time or send them to jail for a number of years. That this failed to happen in kulbhushan Yadav’s case is indicative of antagonism continuing to deepen between india and Pakistan. The arrest of an indian navy officer turned raW operative helped Pakistan present proof to the world of new Delhi’s involvement in sponsoring terrorism in karachi and Balochistan. The death sentence is meant to convey a stern message that Pakistan will not allow anyone found involved go unpunished. india has consistently turned down offers of talks by Pakistan after the Uri terrorist attack. Meanwhile indian government continued to poke the Pakistan army in the eye, beginning with claims about a surgical strike and ending with photo-ops of Bangladesh Prime Minister hasina Wajid with narendra Modi at Delhi cantonment’s Manekshaw convention with pictures depicting the fall of Dhaka in the background. a full-fledged war has already erupted on social media between the supporters and opponents of the sentence. This will only add to the prevailing bitterness. india has already issued a strongly worded demarche. it has also decided not to release about a dozen Pakistani prisoners, who were to be repatriated on Wednesday. Will the indian government take a tit-for-tat action, by accusing someone in custody of being a Pakistani spy and seek a similar judgment against him? Will there be a spurt in ceasefire violations on the Loc? Or will the two nSas try to find a way that reduces tensions between the two countries? The only way to delay the execution or get it commuted to a lighter sentence is by using the right of appeal provided under the recently passed military courts law before the high courts and the Supreme court. rationality requires that both countries shun increasing the level of hostility by resuming the talks and agreeing to jointly fight terrorism which threatens to destabilise both the countries.

Chickens come home to roost All signs indicate a doomsday economic scenario is nigh

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acking the will and resolve for constructive action, and in the absence of considered plans and policies for economic uplift, various governments resorted to the easy but disastrous stratagem of borrowing right and left. Selling dollardenominated bonds or obtaining short term foreign commercial loans was their mantra. instead of raising domestic taxation, increasing exports through diversification, providing incentives and security to wary expatriates for remittances, and adopting an austere economic regime, the economic wizards have turned to short-term bailout measures which keep the wolf away from the door for the present. These include, apart from the rampant scrounging with begging bowl in hand, our particular economic genius of repeated money whitening schemes, which actually attract few takers from amongst our savvy tax evaders. and the country’s imports are rising by the day, due to ongoing cPEc projects and our runaway consumerism. now, the time of reckoning seems at hand. a 10-year Eurobond for $750 million at around 6.875 percent floated by the Musharraf government in 2007 is ripe for repayment and there is no money to pay for it. as always when the water reaches its head, the government has turned to all-weather friend and cPEc patron or partner for yet another $750 million loan, which would raise our total liabilities to china to over $ two billion in the past six months alone! By its failure to repay loans from its own resources, Pakistan’s vicious debt trap has come full cycle and become circular, like the national energy debt. The $2 billion Eurobond and $1 billion Sukuk Bonds sold in 2014 and the $1 billion Sukuk Bond of 2016, due in five and ten years, at ruinous rates of interest, among others(reportedly totalling $25 billion in the last three years!), point to catastrophic economic meltdown, meaning insolvency. Loans taken under iMF conditions to shore up foreign currency reserves, or, in the case of Sukuk proceeds, to retire domestic debt, will no doubt end up as ‘development funds’ in bottomless pockets, with the national elections looming.

Dedicated to the legacy of the late Hameed Nizami

Arif Nizami Editor

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Yasmeen afTab ali

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eTeR Foster is so right when he says, “The far-right drumbeat has now become the constant knocking in the pipes of Europe’s politics at a time when the plumbing looks increasingly fit to burst.” (The Telegraph, May 19, 2016) There is disgust at the liberal elites well ensconced in the system yet out of touch with the peoples’ sentiments. Till not so long ago these right wingers were relegated to the subtext. There but not in the mainstream. The proverbial back-benchers, so to speak. We only need to look at the contemporary world movements to realise this rise is not a passing phase. it’s here to stay. The national Front in France, the Sweden Democrats, the Party for Freedom in the netherlands to name a few. The demand is to turn inwards for strengthening the economy and the people as opposed to an open door policy pursued by their countries earlier. The stunning win of Donald Trump, is a case in point. The base was addressing voters’ fears. The fear of Muslims threatening the lives and security of the good americans, the fear of immigrants taking over their jobs, the fear of toeing a politically proper line that has been and will continue to create a hurdle in saying what needs to be said. rejected as a candidate who just could not resonate with the masses, Trump’s rise in popularity and bluntness in talking clicked with the people. it was a complete departure from the way how a presidential candidate was supposed to act and talk. The Uk independence Party has been supporting closing of the nation’s borders to immigrants. cameron had to resign on losing the referendum. This was followed by Brexit. Most important, to most, EU’s call for easy and free movement of the labour is equal to Britain’s inability to place any kind of check on labour moving in from member countries. increased labour and those willing to work at lower wages means an overall reduction in wage rates.

Marine Le Pen’s party national Front has a hard-line anti-immigration stance. “Long before the Paris attacks on 13 november 2015, Marine Le Pen made a link between immigration and militant islamism. in the immediate aftermath, she proposed to “expel foreigners who preach hatred on our soil” and to strip dual-nationality Muslims with extremist views of their French citizenship, a view traditionally associated with the far right.” This was in addition to her stance to end free education for the children of undocumented immigrants. (BBc news February 10, 2017) angela Merkel had admitted that she may have taken a wrong stance on immigration policy. germany took more than a million migrants in 2015. and she also signalled a change of tack in policy saying: “if i knew what change in refugee policy the people in germany want, i would be prepared to consider it”. “Faced with pressure from the EU to accept their share of refugees, officials in Slovakia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Poland have said they want to take only christian asylum seekers or none at all. The nationalist government in hungary even called a referendum on the issue for Oct 2, and the results are practically a foregone conclusion: hungarians are sure to reject the EU’s plan for refugee resettlement, further eroding the union. Even in germany, where shame over the nazis has long provided resistance to the pull of nationalism, the far-right alternative for germany party (afD) has broken into the mainstream. in a local election in early September, the afD got more votes than the conservative party of chancellor angela Merkel in her own electoral district (both finished behind the Social Democrats). in another local election, held in Berlin on Sept. 18, Merkel’s christian Democratic Union recorded its worst result in the capital ever.” (Time: September 22, 2016) The world also saw the rise of geert Wilders, a known anti-islam politician. Wilders led a chant against allowing Moroccans in 2014 to live in netherlands. he was found guilty of inciting discrimination. as per a news report of Independent “Mr Wilder’s allegedly vowed to “take care” of immigration.” in august, Mr Wilders said “he wants to ban all islamic symbols, mosques and the Quran from the netherlands, as part of a “total de-islamification”. Under the PVV, politicians say refugee asylum centres will be closed, and borders shut to migrants from Muslim countries.” What we see is an emerging pattern in the rise of the right winger parties and their radicalised

leadership. The common thread running is an opposition to immigrants. They are viewed as a threat to host country’s cultural fabric as well as a threat to their own job security. The European integration was seen to have weakened national ability to control policies in line with national needs, substantially affecting their sovereignty. Each nation’s rise of its right wingers though different in flavour does share common ingredients. These include (among other stances that may be individual to a nation) a very strong ant-immigration stance. The narrative against increasing immigration is its impact on demographics, questions related to national identity and pressure on prevalent welfare system thereby ‘snatching away’ benefits from the ‘rightful locals.’ increasing immigration directly or indirectly also supports upholding the host countries cultural values as opposed to a multi-dimensional cultural base. it also shares the resistance to existing established political parties that may be “politically correct” but are seen to have failed the state in addressing contemporary and changing issues. To quote an example, The Lega nord in italy abhors the US’ “melting pot” model. in its leader Umberto Bossi’s words: ‘o transform italy into a “multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country” modelled after the US mean[s] to keep italy divided. For “excessive cultural differences, especially if expressed by skin colour, are fatal for social peace. When streets and places are full of collared people” citizens no longer feel at home and lose their identity.’ (Betz, hans-georg radical right-Wing Populism in Western Europe (Macmillan: London, 1994) p 122) Politics are driven by economics. not only economics but also pandering to the fears of their voters. The mainstream parties need to create a balance in their immigration policy approach. Understanding and addressing the voters’ concerns rather than glossing over them. reinforcing their message via education, via social media, via media and via all other forums available. Multiculturalism can be enriching, not diminishing. “remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and i especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D Roosevelt Yasmeen Aftab Ali is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: tweets at @yasmeen_9 and yasmeenali62@gmail.com

Are those winds of change we detect in Pak-Russia relations? Finally, a third option terrorist networks and hideouts. The russian delegation was briefed about the landmark successes made by Pakistan army, and the efforts underway to uplift the socio-economic development in the conflict-stricken FaTa. The russian team expressed their satisfaction over the developments, and praised the role of Pakistan’s security forces and local administration in bringing back the war-torn areas to life. The complicated relations between Pakistan and russia, amid the controversial proxy war better known as the “afghan Jihad” and the disintegration of the Soviet Union restricting the World to Uni-polar status, found the road to recovery in 2014 with the visit of russian Defence Minister to sign the Defence cooperation contract with Pakistan. The two countries also engaged in joint military exercises back in 2015 and 2016, in order to strengthen the ties between the two defence forces to curb the global security challenges through exchange of expertise. russia’s largest antisubmarine ship Severmorsk also participated in the recent international naval exercise (aman 2017) organised by Pakistan navy. The 3-D opportunity With russia as a potential ally, Pakistan has the opportunity to capitalise on the 3 Ds i.e.: Diplomacy, Defence, and Development. at international forums, where Pakistan had the US and china as leading World powers to seek support from in favour of its stance on global issues, now in the form of russia there is a potential diplomatic partner

Hussaan Tariq

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hErE the eyes of Pakistan always remained focused on either the United States or china when it came to gaining the much required support from a “World Power” and influence in matters pertaining to national interest, with russia now there finally seems to be a much needed option c for Pakistan. russia, despite the disintegration of the mighty Soviet Union in 1991, still remains a dark horse, and a significant global player bearing the power - and the potential - to influence global dynamics. Pakistan’s long-time friend, and foremost ally, china, has played a key role in normalisation of relations with russia, and remains a key member of the developing nexus. The improving relations between Pakistan and russia, have, however, caught the eye of experts and analysts after the visit of russian army’s delegation under the leadership of Deputy chief of general Staff Israkov Sergi Yuryevich to north and South Waziristan regions. The delegation was received, and briefed by the corps commander Peshawar during their visit to Miran Shah in north, and Wana in South Waziristan. The russian army team is the first ever to visit the tribal areas following the launch of the onslaught by Pakistan’s security forces against the operating

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to look at. identifying the common interests of both countries, laying down the road map to achieve the same, and developing effective diplomatic channels are imperative to strengthening the ties between not just the two countries, but also to connect the people of different geographies. in respect of defence, both Pakistan and russia have already joined hands. russian forces have been actively participating in joint military exercises with the Pakistani forces one that stands out would be the special operations drills named Druzhbha (russian word for friendship) held in 2016 in which 200 military officials participated from both the countries. The purchase of Mi35 helicopters from russia was also confirmed by Pakistan, and the deal is already on the table. Last but not least, development is core to the prevalence of any country in this economic and technological age. Pakistan can benefit from russia in the domains of infrastructure development, education, technology sharing, and trade. Providing russia with its much needed access to the warm waters, Pakistan can find itself in a strong position to bargain with the latter and seek its assistance in the aforementioned domains. Let bygones be bygones Memories of the past remain the biggest hurdle in the establishment of cordial relations between countries. For a prosperous future, it is imperative for countries, suffering from reluctance in normalising their relations with others, to resort to the approach of forgive and forget. in context of Pakistan and russia, similarly, the past has remained a cause of discord between the two. Pakistan’s inclination towards the

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US, and the then Soviet’s towards india kept apart both the countries, and this discord intensified with the Soviet’s invasion of afghanistan, which ultimately led to its disintegration as a result of the proxy war (afghan Jihad) sponsored by the US, and allied by Pakistan. now that after decades of resentment both the countries have chosen the right track for themselves by extending their hands in friendship, it is essential for both to live beyond the bitter past, and to work together to build a bright and prosperous future for themselves, the region, and the World at large. The two must let bygones be bygones. What does the future hold? The uprising nexus of Pakistan, china, and russia is already a cause of concern for both the US, as well as india. Turkey too has expressed its interest in joining the trio. Pakistan, however, must remain focused on its national interests, and those of its allies. a relationship based on mutual understanding and benefit will last long, and prove to be sustainable. Pakistan and russia hold the potential to not just benefit each other as potential allies, but to play a vital role in stabilising the vulnerable region through establishing security and peace, improving the lives of the people by promoting trade, and economic activity, and contributing to global dynamics through actively engaged, and closely tied diplomacy. The role of china, however, remains significant in taking this new dynamic duo forward in their endeavours. Hussaan Tariq is an HR professional. He can be contacted at hussaantariq@gmail.com

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