Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran have placed Pakistan in a precarious position during at a time when there is little room for error in strategic discourse. Our unique geostrategic location combined with our responsibility of having the most powerful Muslim military immediately draws us into many regional and even global conflicts. Our historic relations with Saudi and Iran, two Muslim countries, also affects our interests. Unfortunately, just when rational and effectively diplomacy is called for, what our political and military leaders are delivering is anything but. Rather what we are seeing are the same old games being played.
When PEMRA issued its directive to media groups not to give coverage to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, journalists expressed frustration about how to do this when JuD works so closely with authorities. All attempts at enforcing the directive seem to have been forgotten, though, as now it is not only JuD working closely with officials that is being broadcast, but JuD amir Hafiz Saeed is in the media giving opinions on all major issues facing the country.
Hafiz Saeed is giving advise not only in print media:
He is also appearing on talk shows giving opinions on extremely sensitive matters also.
Is PEMRA taking a nap? And how is Hafiz Saeed given such attention by media when censors are removing entire reports from newspapers?
Recent articles published in the US media are giving the impression that Islamic State, with a global Jihadi appeal, is struggling hard to get a foothold in Pakistan but the authors of these articles are either downplaying the tell tale signs or the articles lack the necessary framework in which emerging terror organizations flourish.
As the Taliban lose steam as a result of the death of their supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and splintering and internal fighting, stage is set for a new group to take over. A cursory look at the metamorphosis of Jihadi organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past two decades indicate that they are getting deadlier, sophisticated and high tech savvy with every passing year; from Mujahideen groups willing to negotiate to Taliban willing to blow up and finally to Islamic State willing to behead innocent people. This is a worrying development not only for the South Asian region but for the entire world as well.
Saudi Arabia’s announcement of a new 34-nation Islamic military alliance was greeted with cheers by many, and confusion by others. For many Muslims, the idea of a grand alliance of Islamic countries was a dream come true, forgetting the sad reality that the Ummah is deeply divided over sectarian and political issues, many of the divisions being made worse by Saudi Arabia, not better. In Islamabad, confusion had once again taken hold as Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry expressed surprise about the announcement saying the first he heard of Pakistan’s joining the alliance was in the news.
Senior officials at the foreign ministry initially expressed surprise at Pakistan being included in the new group, and said that Riyadh had not taken Islamabad on board. But subsequent developments revealed that Saudi Arabia had been given a secret commitment regarding joining the alliance, about which the Foreign Office was not aware.
There were speculations about who had given that assurance.
The military had started in October a new phase in the bilateral defence relationship by training Saudi special forces personnel in countering terrorism. Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif visited Saudi Arabia after the special exercises for discussions on counter-terrorism efforts.
Today the Foreign Office has confirmed Pakistan’s commitment to Saudi Arabia’s new military alliance, however explains that officials are still “awaiting further details to decide the extent of its participation in different activities of the alliance”. It was not clarified whether they are awaiting these details from Riyadh or Rawalpindi. For all the confusion, one thing seems clear: Important decisions are appearing to be made outside the constitutional channels. As long as this continues, don’t expect the ‘coup’ question to disappear.
NGOs have acquired a particularly bad reputation lately. In reality, NGOs serve an important role in society. First let us define what exactly an NGO is. NGO stands for ‘Non-Governmental Organisation‘:
A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political particpation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health.
Save the Children is an NGO, and so is Edhi Foundation. Catholic Relief Services is an NGO, and so is Islamic Relief. Each of these organisations provides important humanitarian services to people who are not receiving these services from their own government.
Unfortunately, the same government that makes NGOs necessary by failing to provide necessary services is now putting NGOs under suspicion. Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar has said that some NGOs are backed by America, Israel, and India and they were “doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest”. The Interior Minister did not however bother to tell anyone which NGOs were working against the country neither did he tell what exactly they were doing. This was left to the wild imagination.
If it is true that there are any NGOs that are doing something which is against Pakistan’s interest, we should have every right to stop them from operating. My question is why the Interior Ministry is making vague claims about unnamed NGOs backed by America, Israel, and India but at the same time completely ignores NGOs backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that are openly doing something which is against Pakistan’s interest.