Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pakistan approves setting up new shipyard at Gwadar

in Shipbuilding News 23/03/2018

The government has approved a plan to set up a new shipyard at Gwadar with the capacity to build very large and ultra large crude carriers, sources told The Nation.

Sources in the Defence Ministry said the plan approved by the federal cabinet would be implemented within three to five years. The plan also includes dry docking facilities for repairing and maintenance of commercial ships including oil and gas tankers.

Pakistan Navy especially the incumbent Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi from the very outset has been strongly supporting plans to set up Gwadar shipyard.

Pakistan Navy was of the view that since technical know-how and basic industrial infrastructure to support research and development (R&D) is available in the country, it was about time to integrate and optimise these facilities to further strengthen the process of self reliance.

The government believes that the shipbuilding industry will provide a good avenue for generating employment and supporting economic growth in the country.

As per the initial framework unveiled in 2008, Gwadar shipyard would initially offer ship repair and maintenance services at two dry docks with the capacity to handle 600,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage).

It would eventually lead to shipbuilding with capacity of constructing up to VLCC and ULCC.

At present, the state-owned Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) is the lone facility available in Pakistan for shipbuilding, maintenance and repair work.

But this facility is largely catering to the needs of Pakistan Navy whose responsibilities have increased to meet the defence needs of the country in the wake of multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that connects the deep sea Gwadar port with China.

The government is also upgrading the facilities at the KSEW by enhancing its capacity by installing Syncrolift ship-lift-and-transfer system.

Nevertheless, this facility would remain dedicated to meet the future needs of Pakistan Navy.

Experts believe Gwadar shipyard would become a very viable commercial venture because of the lack of adequate shipbuilding facilities in the region.

Iran, which operates the largest commercial shipping fleet, has also developed basic know how, yet it will take a long time to become a viable shipbuilding nation.

None of the Gulf Arab countries have a proper shipbuilding facility except offering limited dry docking facilities including Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (ASRY) in Bahrain and in the UAE.

Since these are very limited facility for repair and maintenance, most of the commercial ships move to Singapore for this service.

Analysts are of the view that Gwadar shipyard because of its close proximity to the Persian Gulf through which nearly 38 per cent of the world’s precious goods largely oil and gas are carried, could attract many commercial vessels looking for maintenance and repair works.
Source: Nation

How can Romania attract investments under the Belt and Road Initiative

How can Romania attract investments under the Belt and Road Initiative | Gabriel Wong (PwC China): ”It’s the balance of reform and stability”

By Ovidiu Posirca News March 22, 2018 15:07 0 comments BR Exclusive

China is perceiving the whole Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe as one of the strategic areas of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Romania might attract investments under this program for transport and energy infrastructure, suggested Gabriel Wong, head of China Corporate Finance, One Belt One Road Leader, PwC China.

In 2016, the countries and regions along the Belt and Road including China accumulated about USD 22.4 trillion in total GDP (in constant USD 2010), accounting for 29 percent of the world’s GDP, surpassing the United States, the European Union and Japan. The total volume of GDP reflects a rising trend in the last two decades, with a tripled volume of total GDP, according to a report of UNDP and CDB.

The volume of imported goods and services of the countries and regions along the Belt and Road reached about USD 6.53 billion in 2015, and the volume of exports reached USD 7.12 trillion, says the same report.

Countries along the BRI in Europe comprise 22 states, out of which 12 are part of the EU.

“One thing is applicable to all and I believe it also applies to Romania: It’s the balance of reform and stability. The reform has to go under a stable environment. (…) Financing is one of the biggest challenges to overcome. The political trust/stability is one thing. Financing is always the biggest challenge. The registered capital of the fund of all shareholders is USD 100 billion, far smaller than the demand.  But the demand just for infrastructure, according to statistics, is of USD 500 billion per year. Just infrastructure, without telecom, property,” Wong told BR.

The representative of PwC China suggested that Public Private Partnerships (PPP) could help mobilize private investments for the Belt and Road Initiative.

Asked what are the strategic industries for the CEE from Chinese perspective, he mentioned energy and transportation.

“In think the energy and transportation will be active in the next 5-7 years. After this I would see the manufacturing and then the real estate and the social infrastructure. What is inspiration for me is e-commerce,” said Wong.

Since July 2017, the China-based office of PwC has worked on 120 projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

“I can mobilize certain departments and offices, we have 24 offices in China, so now we have 30 partners involved,” said Wong

Belt and Road Is Not a (Completely) Closed Shop

Belt and Road Is Not a (Completely) Closed Shop

22 March 2018

Though the infrastructure initiative will continue to be led in many places by Chinese investment, where there are benefits of scale, effectiveness and risk management, outside participation will be welcome.

Andrew Cainey

Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme and Global Economy and Finance




Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Belt and Road Forum in Yanqi Lake in May 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

First announced in 2013, President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative promises, at a minimum, to improve infrastructure and connectivity between China and the rest of Eurasia. Any bold plan to finance infrastructure on a large-scale across so many low-income economies deserves a sympathetic ear and a positive reception. But many wonder how large the role can be for non-Chinese players in what is clearly an initiative of the Chinese government.  

So far, Chinese state and policy banks account for the overwhelming majority of the financing – and this money then flows to Chinese enterprises, mainly state-owned.  One study found that 89% of the work went to Chinese contractors on China-funded projects.  

Yet, recently in Paris, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Belt and Road was a ‘sunshine initiative’ that was open and for all to benefit from.  He declared that there were to be ‘no backroom deals.  There is openness and transparency.’ The Belt and Road Initiative will ‘respect international rules’ and ‘will run according to market rules’.

There are some notable instances of Belt and Road projects changing to conform more to international rules as they develop. For example, work on the Belgrade–Budapest high speed rail link originally ran into problems. 🔴 Contracts were allegedly awarded to Chinese companies without following the EU-mandated competitive procurement processes. Now, the most recent round of contracts is to be awarded by tender.

Such a switch perhaps does not herald the unrestricted ‘market rules’ that Wang speaks of, but it does highlight that China is willing to turn Belt and Road towards openness in certain instances. These will be cases where it clearly brings benefits for China – but also where private sector players can be convinced of good commercial returns. These benefits are most likely to lie in three areas: scale and access, effectiveness and risk management.

Mutual benefits

Firstly, scale and access. Belt and Road can achieve greater scale if additional financing comes in alongside the current Chinese state and policy bank lending. This can come both by working together with multilateral institutions and with private sector institutions. This will in turn require defining projects or structuring financing with attractive risk-return trade-offs.  In some cases, this will be feasible – in others not.  

Getting bigger also necessitates initiating meaningful Belt and Road activity in more countries. As the Belgrade–Budapest rail experience has shown, approaches vary in terms of competitive tendering requirements and consideration of non-Chinese bidders. An approach that works in, say, Tajikistan, may not be effective in Poland. This is a pragmatic recognition of context that is quite separate from debates on what the ‘right’ approach to these standards should be. Both these elements suggest that a more open Belt and Road will be a larger and more far-reaching one.

Secondly, effectiveness. Despite extensive experience building infrastructure within China, many Chinese companies are much less familiar operating outside of China. Western, Japanese and Korean companies can bring their own experience to the table and help the success of these projects. By doing so, they also put competitive pressure on Chinese companies to improve and upgrade, while providing opportunities to learn.  This in turn creates a stronger, more productive Chinese economy.

Beyond physical hardware, the ‘software’ is also critical to success. Again foreign companies have much to contribute. Areas such as maintenance, training, legal and accounting services are all in demand. Indeed, many such British and other companies are already actively engaged in working on projects with Chinese companies to help in these areas.

Finally, risk management. Beyond the usual project management risk of large projects, Belt and Road brings additional challenges. Many countries have weak governance, internal divisions and security issues, all within distinctively different cultures and traditions. Chinese companies with little experience of local conditions will struggle. Going it alone may provide what is an illusion of control, but exposure to social and political dynamics can rebound on China in unexpected ways.

Cooperating with others who have a history of in-country experience is a way to manage these risks. Examples would include British and Chinese cooperation both at company and governmental level in engaging in particular African countries, in partnership with the relevant country government.

Mixed system

Mechanisms that encourage competitive choices and restrain corruption are positive, but mechanisms that slow decision-making to a crawl also prevent countries from getting benefits of infrastructure projects. Conversely, continuing along the current path of Chinese-led investment does have some clear attractions in certain settings, at least to those directly involved. It combines the ability of Chinese policy banks to provide large-scale funding in even high-risk environments with the relevant experience and production capacity of Chinese state-owned businesses. It allows for government-to-government deals, pragmatic negotiations and all-encompassing accords, at times out of the public eye. In many cases, it is hard to make a commercial case for the investments.

But in cases where there is mutual benefit, engagement and will, there will be a role for international partnerships

CPEC impact: Growing Chinese influence may be driving Western investors away from Pakistan, say reports

China continues to push for greater control over the factors surrounding its investments, and the Pakistani establishment is beginning to push back. (Picture: Hilal)

By Zee Media Bureau | Updated: Mar 22, 2018, 11:40 AM IST

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and China's ever-increasing presence seem to be putting some Western off from making investments in Pakistan, news agency Reuters has reported. A top government official has scrambled to assure Western investors that Pakistan would not give any sort of preferential treatment or concessions.

Naeem Zamindar, the chairman of Pakistan's Board of Investment (BOI), said his government expects Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to jump about 60 percent. But persistent failure to deal with home-grown extremism, the souring of ties with the US and the rising hand of China could dampen the FDI projection.

Zamindar told Reuters in an interview that some Western investors appeared non-committal about making investments in Pakistan. He said they could be reluctant over concerns that they would not be given a level playing field. This would stem from the expectation that Pakistan would continue expanding the concessions it gives to the Chinese. 

"A perception was created that the Chinese are taking over. The fact of the matter is that this is not true." Zamindar said. "Pakistan's government is very clear about it: we want investors of all hues to come in and participate in building this economy - whether American, English or Japanese," he added.

He assured that Chinese companies would not be given preferential treatment in the second part of CPEC, which entails the setting up of a number of SEZs along the CPEC route. "That is completely non-discriminatory," he said, adding that Pakistani law does not allow for any country or company will get preferential treatment within SEZs.

However, as major Pakistani news outlets had reported on Wednesday, the Chinese may not even bother to set up factories in these SEZs. Pakistan lifted import tariffs on about 6000 items, which would make it cheaper for Chinese companies to manufacture at home and import into Pakistan.

Repeated invitations from China and Pakistan to other countries in the neighbourhood to join CPEC have so far not received an enthusiastic response. China had even gone so far as to reach out to Indiato ensure smooth sailing for the project. India is opposed to CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which New Delhi seen as illegally occupied by Islamabad.

CPEC is a critical part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), considering it is at present the only operational part of the showcase project. However there are an increasing number of strains on CPEC. These range from protests over Chinese workers being used instead of locals, to rising voices from politicians about the high non-financial costs of CPEC, to questions over whether Chinese companies are operating illegally in Pakistan, to unhappiness over unfavourable terms on some of the infrastructure projects, and repeated attacks on Chinese workers

China Wants To Loot Our Resources: Baloch Activist

Written By Asian News International | Mumbai | Published:March 22, 2018 10:43 IST


Chinese President Xi Jinping's statement that Beijing is ready to fight the bloody battle against its enemies for its position in the world shows the country is present in Pakistan to loot resources, a Baloch activist saidThe activist said Pakistan was a victim of Chinese expansion in the name of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from Gilgit Baltistan to Gwadar PortThe activist said the day was not far when China would threaten even the West as it dominates Pakistan


Chinese President Xi Jinping's statement that Beijing is ready to fight the bloody battle against its enemies for its position in the world shows the country is present in Pakistan to loot resources, a Baloch activist said.

Baloch political activist Munir Mengal said it was clear from Xi's remarks while addressing the National People's Congress (NPC) that Chinese only believed in manipulating people.

The Baloch Voice Association President said the people of China were not ready to give anything to anyone but wanted to loot, subjugate and dominate other countries.

The Chinese President had in a speech after becoming the President of the country without any term limit said China was not ready to give an inch of its territory to anyone.

The activist said Pakistan was a victim of Chinese expansion in the name of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from Gilgit Baltistan to Gwadar Port.

Mengal said the country had military designs and not economic ones. "It is very clear that they are going to build a naval base there. The Chinese military is in Pakistan in the name of security of the country's people."

The activist said the day was not far when China would threaten even the West as it dominates Pakistan.

The activist said the Chinese people were trying to give a message that it had not come for infrastructure development of Pakistan, but will many other dangerous aim

The historical aspect of chokundi graves -- Kambar Baloch

The renowned historical graves of Chokundi located at Suni Shoraan, Hub Choki, Lasbela, Malir Balochistan. Some of graves by Chokundi are spotted in few areas of Sindh such as, Karachi, Haiderabad, Meer Pur Sakaro, Sonda, Gajjo, Tharbia, Dadoo and Sewen Shareef.

Historians did many researches and analysis over these graves. As far as chronicles records are concerned, a Historian, Hinery Kinz named these graves as "CHOKUNDI". Another historian, Mumtaz Hassan wrote that "the word 'Chokundi' is a combination of two Sindhi words, ‘Cho’ means ‘four’ and ‘Kund’ means ‘Corner’'. He further said that the graves having four corners are known as Chokundi.

However, this analysis is not true and cannot be generalized for all the graves, because all the graves represented by Chokundi don't have four corners, some of them are with twelve stands, Which are still in good conditions in Malir Raziq Abad graveyard, where the graves are decorated beautifully and attractively.

In Baloch civilization, Chokundi graves have much significant importance. The maximum area of each grave in width is 2.5 feet, in length it is 5 feet and while the height is 4 feet. However the beautifications and decorations of the graves of Chokundi are the obvious witness of creativity and technical mindsets of the human in history.

While talking about the decorations and designs, the graves of men are different from the women. The graves of men are usually pictured with models of horse riders having swords in the hands, while the graves of women are decorated with the models of gold and other sort of jewellery.

After visiting the historical graves, we can say that such human creativity of past deserves appreciation. More expilcitly visits to the graves emerge the feeling of being in a human society with civilized residents, because the decorations of the graves are very surprising and charming.

A close view over the decorations of the graves give proofs of an enormous  creativeness. After  visiting the graves, I came to a conclusion that human beings want to live for a long durration in order to  build up some historical memories.

Many historians and Archeologists say that the stones used in Chokundi graves were brought from Tatta Sindh and some Sindhi historians say that the Chokundi graves belong to Sindhi, but this analysis lacks reliability and validity, because an observation to the nearest society of Chokundi graves make us to reach to a  conclusion that Baloch live and cultivate their lands around the graves since many decades; such as Malir Karachi to be given as an example.

The Malik Tuta Graveyard is in Malir's subsurb where a population of Baloch is inhibitated. There was a farming land around the graveyard which was used for the purpose of farming by the Baloch.

Another historical fact through history have been gotten that, Baloch and Sindhi have fought a war, which is a part of Baloch history and those Sindhi living near the Chokundi graves but the Graves are not being owned by them. Sindhi says about a grave in Dado Sindh that it belongs to a Baloch Sardar. They mention that this speculation about the described grave was given by their ancestors and when the ancestors/elders of the village were asked about the grave, they told that the grave is of a Baloch Sardar , namely Sardar Nod Bandag Lashari.

It is the weakness of our Baloch writers and historians who couldn’t give space to the Chokundi graves in their books related to history. Therefore, Sindhi historians are trying their best to merge Chokundi graves with their civilization and history.

Many historians say that Chokundi are the graves of 17th or 18th Century. In the first time, at 1815 AD, J. Malik Waditch B.I Freri wrote a letter about the described civilization-wealth. The first researcher on this civilization-wealth is of Hinery Kinz, he did his research in 1910 AD. He was the Archeology Surgical Survey Superintendent of India. In his research, Hinery Kinz shows that the graves belong to Baloch .

In 1925 Kinz’s book was published, in which one chapter of the book is about Chokundi graves. After that a member of Hindustan Civil Service G.E.L Corter visited Balochistan and Sindh.

Later, In 1910, Sir Thomas Holdich visited Malir Karachi, and did a research study over the Chokundi graves. In conclusion, he stated that the graves belong to Kalmati tribe of Baloch.

In 1917 H.D Baskerville, the Assistant Collector of Tatta in Karachi, carried a  research study over the Chokundi graves and published a research paper.

In 1978, Dr Zajadacz Hasternrath published a book in German language about the Chokundi graves including 112 pictures. Dr Zajadacz stated them as the graves of several tribes of Baloch.

After the visit of above researchers, Sarjon Martial, Major M.A Telle, and Dr. Kaleem Ullah Lashari visited the Chokundi graves. Sarjon Martial and Major M.A Telle stated that the civilization-wealth has reduced to 30 percent.

To protect Baloch history and civilization, Baloch writers and researchers have to carry research on the civilization-wealth, Chokundi Graves and it also reqiures to be further included in research.

The Land Mafia as far as their moves indicate, is intending to capture the graveyard's land and level it to the earth. Sindh's and Balochistan’s civilization is being snatched forcefully, which requires a protective concentration. The graves stones with other materials having a precious perspective are to be sold in international Market soon after owing to lack of concentrations, which could be a huge loss for the Baloch history and civilization.

Water running out in Balochistan as drought, drop in sea level worsen crisis


Nadeem Kausar

hursday Mar 22, 2018

Drought and a sharp drop in sea level are posing a serious threat in Balochistan.

Experts have warned that if dams are not built and ground water recharged, the province will turn into a desert.

A half century ago, water could be seen flowing in the streams and coasts of the province. Water could be found upon digging a mere 20 feet to 25 feet into the ground.

However, the situation is very different now.

The government installed a large number of tube wells but did not build any dams nor take action against illegal drilling.

Currently, over 6,000 tube wells are lifting water from districts across the province. In addition to this, drought and an increase in population have exacerbated the problem of water scarcity.

Photo: File

Drought coupled with a drop of 2,000 feet in sea level has destroyed agricultural lands across the province. Meanwhile, residents of Quetta and Gwadar do not even have water to drink.

Experts have issued warning bells that due to a drop in seawater level, the land on which Quetta lies is sinking in by 10 centimetres.

According to the Quetta Water and Sanitation Authority (QWASA), the city has a daily demand of 50 million gallons of water. However, the authority is only able to supply 30 million  gallons of water leaving a shortage of 20 million gallons of water daily.

The authority has installed around 417 tube wells in the provincial capital of which 100 are not functional.

“To address the issue of water scarcity, work is underway at Mangi Dam located in Ziarat,” a QWASA official said.

Stating that work on the dam will be completed in two years, the official added, “Mangi Dam will provide Quetta with 80 million gallons of water daily and should help solve the water crisis in the area for a short period of time.”

Further, experts claim that there’s not enough water in the province for the next generations.

To stop people migrating from the province due to water shortage, government should device a contingent water policy along with building dams and recharging underground water,” the experts advised

Germany seeks enhanced cooperation in CPEC

Category : Latest News   Source : Pakistan-China Institute (PCI)   Date : 21-01-2017   

German ambassador expresses the country's interest in joining the China Pakistan Economic Corridor to improve trade relation with Pakistan. Ambassador, along with her Defense Attache met Pakistan's National Security Advisor and stressed cooperation in human resource development, security, trade, and defense.

Germany seeks enhanced cooperation in CPEC

ISLAMABAD: German companies are interested in joining the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to improve trade relations, the country’s ambassador said on Friday.

Ambassador Ina Lepel was speaking after a meeting with National Security Advisor Lt General (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua. German Defense Attache’ Colonel Klaus Wilhelm accompanied Lepel. The two sides exchanged views on bilateral relations between the two countries and the ways to further strengthen the ties.

During the meeting, matters concerning regional security and stability were also discussed. The ambassador shared her experience of working in Pakistan. She said that Pakistan and Germany enjoy good educational and economic ties which would pave the way to fight the common challenges.

Lepel said that Germany is the second largest partner in trade with Pakistan in Europe. “German companies are keen to join the CPEC to further improve trade relations,” the ambassador said.

She said that there is a lot of potential for enhanced cooperation between the two countries. She stressed the importance of cooperation in multiple areas including human resource development, security, trade and defence. She also lauded the steps taken by Pakistan against terrorism.

Discussing the Afghan situation, Lt. General (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua reiterated that Pakistan has always supported all endeavours seeking peace in Afghanistan but at the same time, Pakistan should not always be looked through the prism of Afghanistan. Janjua said Pakistan is a rising country and soon would be a gateway, connecting the world and generating a huge economic activity. “Connectivity at global level would come through us”, he added.

Janjua also sensitised the ambassador over rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir and stressed the importance of international pressure to resolve this issue

China Acknowledges Sale Of Advanced Missile Technology To Pakistan

March 22, 20185:49 AM ET


Pakistan test firing of its new Ababeel surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSM), in Pakistan, on January 24, 2017. Ababeel has a maximum range of 1,350 miles and is capable of delivering multiple warheads using Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology, according to Pakistani sources.

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated at 6:40 a.m. ET

China has sold Pakistan an advanced tracking system that could boost Islamabad's efforts to improve ballistic missiles capable of delivering multiple warheads, according to The South China Morning Post.

The website of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced the deal with Pakistan and Zheng Mengwei, a researcher with the CAS Institute of Optics and Electronics, confirmed to the Post that the purchase was of a "highly sophisticated large-scale optical tracking and measurement system."

The newspaper writes:

"An optical system is a critical component in missile testing. It usually comes with a pair of high-performance telescopes equipped with a laser ranger, high-speed camera, infrared detector and a centralised computer system that automatically captures and follows moving targets.

The device records high-resolution images of a missile's departure from its launcher, stage separation, tail flame and, after the missile re-enters atmosphere, the trajectory of the warheads it releases."

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The CAS said a Chinese team spent three months in Pakistan helping calibrate the system. "The system's performance surpassed the user's expectations," it said, adding that it was considerably more complex than Pakistan's home-made systems, the newspaper said.

Although ostensibly for missile testing, it is similar to technology deployed in ballistic missile defense systems.

Rival India has been working on a missile defense system, which it claims to have successfully tested late last year. Meanwhile, Pakistan has concentrated on a possible countermeasure. In January 2017, it tested a missile that reportedly can deliver multiple warheads, known as MIRVs, which can greatly increase the number of incoming targets, possibly overwhelming missile defense systems.

Pakistan, after its first successful launch of the MIRV-capable missile, known as Ababeel, said in a statement that it is "aimed at ensuring survivability of Pakistan's ballistic missiles in the growing regional Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) environment."

India and Pakistan have been locked in a nuclear arms race since the two countries openly conducted nuclear weapons tests within days of one another in May 1998. Since that time, their respective rocket and missile programs have also proceeded swiftly, frequently raising tensions in the South Asian region.

On Thursday, India's Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the successful launch of a supersonic cruise missile, the BrahMos, jointly developed by India and Russia. One version of an anti-ship missile, and the army also has fielded its own variant. India is working on yet another version that could be launched from an Sukoi Su-30 fighter jet.

China — which also views India as a regional rival — has long been recognized as the covert benefactor of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, providing technical know-how and expertise.

Last year, Pakistan deployed a Chinese-made low-to-medium altitude air defense system (LOMAD).

But the latest public statement by Beijing of a deal with Islamabad for such sensitive technology is rare — and possibly meant as a signal to New Delhi, with whom it has had recent border tensions and possibly the U.S., which has increasingly tilted toward India in recent decades, especially amid what is viewed as Pakistan's tepid commitment to shutting down Islamic extremism.

In January, President Trump tweetedthat Pakistan had given the U.S. "nothing but lies [and] deceit" in exchange for billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Missing persons and international pressure

Daily Times

MARCH 22, 2018

International pressure is building on Pakistan on the missing persons’ front. Amnesty International (AI) has said this week that the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has more than 700 pending cases from this country; with hundreds more being received by Pakistan’s State Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. This comes in the wake of last November’s UNHRC Universal Periodic Review on human rights here. Back then, AI had highlighted cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly in Karachi and throughout Balochistan.

All of which represent violations of Pakistan’s international commitments on human rights. And as AI notes: no one has ever been held accountable for those who have disappeared. From, more recently, activists such as Raza Khan to journalist Saleem Shahzad who had reported on Al Qaeda infiltrating the Navy back in 2011 before he disappeared. His dead body was found four days later, bearing marks of torture. This is to say nothing of the thousands and thousands of nameless Pashtuns who have gone missing over the decades; being little more than footnotes in someone else’s history. Presently, the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) has compiled a list of 1,200 missing persons after speaking to victims’ families.

By failing to act, the Pakistani state is effectively shooting itself in the foot. For enforced disappearances fall into the dangerous ambit of crimes against humanity, if committed on a widespread scale. And the worst part is that the government is not in the dark about things. After all, Ahsan Iqbal, the man at the Interior briefed the National Assembly last month on the fact that 1,640 persons remain unaccounted for in Pakistan as of February 2018.

If the Centre is unwilling or unable to act, short of admitting it time to pack up shop on the grounds of failing to establish its writ, it should at the very least relay the following message to those who can: unless this issue is at least partially resolved — which must mean bringing to book all those involved, regardless of whether they represent certain state organs or not — Pakistan’s diplomatic and trade relations remain at risk. This point was underscored by Anne Marchal, EU minister and Deputy Head of Mission, Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan earlier this week when she noted that the bloc does not tolerate human rights violations.

Thus if the Pakistani state continues to peddle notions of some lives being worth more than others — it is hoped that the threat of having its largest trading partner take action against it may give way to the required impetus to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; something that AI recommends. Then there is the matter of reviewing counter-terrorism laws that allow arrest without judicial remand and prolonged pre-trial detention; which are routinely used to allow human rights abuses in areas like FATA and Balochistan.

To not act is to admit that the democracy project is fast failing.  *

Published in Daily Times, March 22nd2018