Pakistani Hawks Threaten India, the U.S. – and Peace

Munir AkramPakistan’s long-serving ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram, is known for his close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence service and for reflecting the most hawkish stance of the Pakistani establishment against India, the United States and Israel. His other claim to fame is that, while serving at the UN in New York, the U.S. State department had to ask Pakistan to withdraw Akram’s diplomatic immunity when his then girlfriend Marijana Mihic charged him with misdemeanor assault Akram got out of that mess by getting his girlfriend to withdraw the charges.

Since his retirement from the Foreign Service, Akram (like some other former colleagues of his) has taken to espousing Pakistani hyper-nationalism in the Pakistani media. Unlike the domestic violence against Marijana Mihic, this chest-beating has significant implications for Pakistan’s future. It reveals the deep-rooted ideological pre-disposition of Pakistan’s establishment to take risks with the country’s security, based on incorrect assessments. (The 1965 and 1971 wars and the Kargil misadventure come to mind).

Continue reading

Army’s ‘Coup Committee’

DG ISIS Zaheer-ul-Islam

Of the many questions have risen from the dual PTI-PAT protests that have rocked the nation, one of the most mysterious has been the question of timing. If the protests were really about election rigging, why now? Why over a year after elections? And why is it so important that PM resign immediately? The government may not have ushered in a new golden era for Pakistan, but it’s performance has not been outside an expected range. The mystery may be clearing up, though, as inside reports reveal that a group of Generals may have gone behind the back of the Chief of Army Staff and formed a ‘coup committee’ dedicated to overthrowing the government by hook or by crook – and their time is running out.

Continue reading

China’s warning to Pakistan: Are we willing to do the needful?


China is in many ways an ally that is the complete opposite of America. One way that has had great consequences for our relationship has been America’s insistence on doing business in the public spotlight whereas China has always been willing to speak about sensitive matters behind closed doors. Even though Chinese officials don’t give public statements the way Americans, do, it is still possible to understand how relations between our two countries are going if you’re willing to pay attention. Today, China sent us a very clear message: And it’s not good.

Continue reading

The Coup That Is Not A Coup: Army’s Masterful Checkmate

PM Nawaz and COAS Gen Raheel

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. After a week of long marches and escalating threats, one side has emerged victorious in the battle for control of Pakistan. While Imran Khan desperately tries to incite bloodshed and Nawaz desperately prays for the protesters to pack up and go home, the Army has brilliantly checkmated.

Continue reading

Children of War: Facing the Truth of 1971

Children of War

“Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”

–Desmond Tutu

It has been over three decades since the tragedy of 1971. Enough time for those involved to look back and consider with the benefit of hindsight, what went wrong. In a new article in Foreign Affairs, Harold H. Saunders a senior member of the US National Security Staff during the time, looks back on the events that led up to the 1971 war and asks whether mistakes made by the US added to the tragic events that followed.

The events of that war are also the subject of two recent films, and the treatment of each should be taken into consideration. First is the movie Gunday, which is an Indian attempt to white wash the entire affair and presents Bangladeshis speaking Hindi, declaring themselves as Indian, and in one infamous scene rejecting the Independence of Pakistan in 1948. What was supposed to be an action-packed blockbuster ended up as a massive failure because no one was interested in seeing such a distorted version of history.

Another new movie has received a much different reaction. ‘Children of War’ is another Indian-made film, but this time the history was not manipulated or distorted. Actually, it was told in all gory details, even those that many Bangladeshi would hope to never see.

Despite the grim portrayal of atrocities, Children of War film was not greeted with anger, but premiered in Bangladesh to an esteemed audience that included Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor and a number of other lawmakers and political personalities.

Interestingly, the film does not attempt to make the Indians or any other group as heroes either. In fact it is reported that in some cinemas, anti-American slogans were raised against its willingness to stand with Gen Ayub. Rather it is a painful reminder of the horrors of the 1971 war.

The film has been praised by Member of European Parliament Ryszard Czarnecki who ‘strongly recommended to the European Parliament and other European institutions – committed to the principles of secularism, democracy and tolerance – to promote this movie in order to witness the realist depiction of events of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh’. 

Sadly, the film has been banned where it is most needed.  Central Board of Film Censors in Islamabad termed the film as ‘one-sided’. But what excuse can be given to justify such atrocities? The real danger, though, is that without facing the brutal truth and remembering what happened, we may doom ourselves to repeat it.