Saturday, June 10, 2017

Who ordered closure of Book series?

Dependence on Chinese CPEC investments may hit Indo-Pak trade: Pak scholar

Press Trust of India | Kolkata Jun 10, 2017 04:40 PM IST

Photo: Shutterstock

Pakistan's political economist Prof S Akbar Zaidi today said the growing dependence on Chinese investment in Pakistan had cast a shadow on Indo-Pak trade prospects.

"Currently, the official bilateral trade is stuck at around $2.1 billion and I don't see it going to double in the next five years when Pakistan thinks China is the best friend," Zaidi said on the sidelines of his lecture at the Bengal Chamber in Kolkata.

He believed that the prospect for Indo-Pak bilateral trade was of $10 billion.

"With Pakistan treating China as its best friend and putting all eggs in one basket which is unfortunate, I don't see trade is going up" Zaidi said.

He indicated that with US cutting aids since the last few years and China's aggressive investment plans in Pakistan, his country was moving close toward the dragon country.

He said though official trade with India was about $2.1 billion, unofficial and via third country it was about $4 billion, Zaidi said.

He said, now more Pakistani students were studying in China than in the US.

He said Pakistan was expected to gain from the investments from China of worth $56 billion in infrastructure, but warned that prostrating before China under the guise of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) might lead to potential debt problems.

In both Sri Lanka and Tajikistan, with rising costs and debts incurred by the host countries, a large chunk of land was handed over to the Chinese in lieu of unpaid funds, Zaidi said

“Japan’s Official Aid for Pakistan need to be scrutinized”

on June 10, 2017

Bolan Times ( Geneva ) : A well known Japanese Human Rights defender and a member of 23 NGOs alliance from Japan said “Japanese tax payer’s money must be scrutinized when it goes for Pakistan in shape of Developments”

In his recent interview talking with our correspondent, Japanese human Rights defender Mr. Shunichi Fujiki said that “Japanese Official Development Aid (ODA) which is from our tax payer’s money must be scrutinized when goes for Pakistan. Because we had been told by Japanese Government that money goes for Development of dams, schools and other infrastructures are basically stands in trust basis but once if the money is handed to the Pakistan government, it becomes out of control, which is really surprised us. Japanese government does not know how the aid-money has been used well. This is wrong and irresponsible. We requested to the Japanese government to put conditions such as to obey fundamental human rights on Pakistan Aids ”
Mr. Shunichi Fujiki also mentioned “To help the development of other nations are good because we know some people in Pakistan are living in bad conditions so giving ODA to them is good but on the other hand, the government himself suppressing Baloch people in Baluchistan need to be stopped immediately.”

“We wrote letters to our government as well as to our diet members include High level officials to carry out investigations of the human rights situation in Balochistan.”

“However we don’t think Pakistani Government would provide the accurate datas or details if our Foreign Ministry of Affairs ask about the situation of Baloch people in Balochistan to their counterpart in Pakistani government. Therefore we requested Japanese Government to “hire some private investigators or intelligence to monitor what is really happening in Balochistan.”

“We, Japanese people are very shocked to know about the serious violations of the Human Rights in Balochistan, we felt bigest concerned on it” he ended.

It’s been noted that last month in May 2017 , alliance of 23 NGOs of Japan had organized a symposium in Japanese National Diet Building in Tokyo, there in Tibetans, South Mongolians, East Turkistans, Baloch Human Rights defenders and Exiled King of Balochistan Khan of Kalat attended.

Three Chinese naval ships arrive in Karachi


Published: June 10, 2017

Chinese war ship Chang Chun at the Karachi harbour on Saturday, June 10, 2017. PHOTO: INP

KARACHIThree Chinese naval ships, Chang Chun, Jing Zhou and Chao Hu, arrived in Karachi on Saturday for a good-will and training visit.

The convoy is being commanded by Rear Admiral Shen Hao, the deputy commander of the East Sea Fleet. The visiting People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy ships were accorded a warm welcome and received by senior officials of the Pakistan Navy and the Chinese Embassy.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah visited the PLA Navy ships and met Real Admiral Hao.


Chinese naval commander appreciates PN for collaborative security in Indian Ocean

On Zakaullah’s arrival on board the Chinese ship, a contingent of the PLA Navy presented him with a guard of honour.

The Pakistan naval chief interacted with the ship’s crew and appreciated their operational competence. The naval chief said Pakistan-China friendship was highly valued and continuous cooperation between the two countries had proven to be their source of strength.

The admiral added that the PLA Navy task group’s visit is expected to enhance interoperability and maritime collaboration between the two navies.

US lauds professionalism of Pakistan Navy in maritime security

During their stay in Karachi, the officers of the Chinese ships will interact with their Pakistan Navy counterparts and hold discussions on subjects of mutual interest.

Operational training activities, joint interactive sessions and social events are also planned.

At the end of the visit, a passage exercise will be conducted at sea by the Pakistan Navy Flotilla and the PLA Navy task group to enhance interoperability between the two navies

Balochistan uplift: BEF calls for reducing reliance on federal divisible pool

By Mohammad Zafar

Published: June 10, 2017

A general view of the port before the inauguration of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor port in Gwadar, Pakistan November 13, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

QUETTAThe Balochistan Economic Forum (BEF) has issued an advisory to the provincial government, asking it to spend budgetary provisions on human resource development and laying the foundation of future economic development of the province.

The BEF, a non-government organisation working for economic uplift of Balochistan, has highlighted that the provincial government must find new and dependable sources of income to reduce its dependence on the federal government for its financial needs.

It says the financial problems in Balochistan should be an eye opener for the political leadership and economic planners of the province.


Progressive development planning: Balochistan prepares for a paradigm shift

“It is high time they drew a comprehensive strategy that might facilitate tackling of the economic challenges requiring urgent attention of the leadership, and also consider preparing a strong economic foundation to get rid of total dependence on the federal divisible pool,” it says.

According to the BEF, Balochistan’s share in the country’s tax income has spiked by almost eight times from Rs29 billion in 2009-10 to Rs220 billion in the estimated provincial revenue receipts for the next fiscal year following the implementation of the 7th National Finance Award in 2010-11.

“Balochistan government should widen its revenue base by encouraging foreign direct investments in the province and seeking international economic aid agencies and multilateral institution’s support in the socio-economic development of the province with the cooperation of the federal government,” it says.

The advisory urges the current political leadership in Balochistan to strongly support foreign direct investment, and more importantly, ensure that the message is reflected in bureaucratic policies and procedures.

It says Balochistan has now occupied the centre stage in the national narrative due to its centrality in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Gwadar port will be game-changer for people of Balochistan: PM

“Surely, success of the CPEC hinges on the successful development of the Gwadar port, which would be very difficult to achieve without the support of the locals. Seen purely through the lens of realpolitik, the CPEC is not just a game changer for Pakistan, but also a game changer for the historically-neglected province of Balochistan,” it adds.

The province has countless prospects for economic growth under the sphere of the CPEC, while the strategic importance of Gwadar Port is to open new vistas for economic development of Balochistan, as it would help the province become a strategic business hub of the region.

The advisory notes that under the Federal Budget 2017-18, Gwadar has received better attention in terms of allocation of more resources and funds for its development as well as a reasonable share in the Rs120 billion allocated for the CPEC projects.

“However, there is a dire need to complete the Gwadar Port projects earlier so that the port becomes operational in the shortest possible time. The government has to create a more conducive environment in the Gwadar Port city for development so that investors can look beyond real-estate business,” it says.

It mentions that Chinese investments have given confidence to the local tribes and now local and International investors are considering their direct participation in the economic development of the province.

“Gwadar has an immense strategic lure; the Balochistan Economic Forum believes that the government would announce without further delay special incentives for declaring Gwadar a free zone,” it adds.

The advisory, however, highlights the absence of basic infrastructure for future development and scarcity of water, power, gas, roads and other means of communication – particularly water deficiency – in every human settlement of Balochistan.

“The political leadership of Balochistan will have to wage an economic war at all possible fronts to bring economic and industrial revolution and improve the quality of life in the province,” says the BEF.

Neo southern front

June 10, 2017

For over the past hundred years, West Asia has been the theatre of conflicts and proxies. Most countries in the conflict did so due to history, dynasties and religion that attract attracted invasions from North Africans, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Turks, French, Germans and Anglo-US forces. Since 1930s, petro dollars have provided the impetus.

Nothing is more amusing and weirder. Yemen, a country under armed assault by KSA has cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar through an exile in Saudi patronage. Yemen, the starting point, puts the roots of acrimony between Qatar, Turkey and Iran with KSA, Egypt and the rest in historical and geopolitical context. Yemen, unlike Syria, is more transparent and one can discern who is who.

The containment of Eurasia was never the real theatre of conflict. The notion of Middle East was introduced by the American strategist Admiral Mahan eyeing Central Asia in the Great Game. He advocated the importance of the Persian Gulf to check Russians. This later became Brzezinski’s Integrated Euro Asian Geo-Strategy called the Southern Front. Religion, money, proxies and terrorism are instruments of policy.  USA and UK relentlessly pursue dominance for over a century with petro dollar, kingdoms, Israel and Egypt. Destruction of Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen supported by countries of CCG, UK and France, and Sissi’s military Coup are all part of this sustained conflict. The only resistance is forces of Pan-Islamism (Muslim Brotherhood and its namesakes like Jamaat-e-Islami and Hamas), Turkey and Iran.

Pan-Islamism supported the Ottoman Caliphate and reached out to Shia Iran. An Ottoman invasion in 1818 through Yemen brought down the first Saudi kingdom to be resurrected post WWI by the British and Americans. Turks remember that North Yemen inherited the Ottoman Empire and also the tragic destruction of the holy sites constructed by them in Mecca and Medina. The Shia Iranians will never forget the massacre and destruction of Karbala in 1802 at the hands of Saudis. As predicted, it is the interplay of Persian-Turk and Saudi rivalries that provide space and cause for the Anglo-US Integrated Euro Asian Geo-Strategy. KSA and Israel emboldened President Trump to cross a redline President Obama resisted. This dared KSA to challenge Qatar, that shares an economically rich oil zone with Iran, an idea afoot for a long time.

Egypt, the heir apparent of a great civilisation remembers the beating it got from Yemen from 1962 to 1970, compelling an Israeli historian Michael Oren to comment that the disastrous Egyptian adventure in Yemen could easily be compare to America in Vietnam. Saudi sponsored President Sissi sees an opportunity to be in league with North African Muslim conquerors.

These explanations help one understand why Iran has become the enemy and why Turkey is ready to give all out support to Qatar in this tiff with KSA. Enter Russia and the world could see a new shift in the Southern Front with Qatar’s sea lines of communications becoming overland through Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Given Turkish and Russian influence over the recently discovered oil and gas fields of Syria, the entire balance would shift. Israel enviously watches over this Syrian corridor and therefore its warmth with KSA and the other kingdoms. Qatar is the crucial link.

Cognisant of its wealth to population ratio, Qatar was always vulnerable to shifting geographies. The United States and Qatar have a Defense Cooperation Agreement since 1992. Qatar has also acted as a bridge between USA and Afghan Taliban (who oppose ISIS). ISIS is a brainchild of Southern Front to counter diverse strains of Muslim Brotherhood that include Al Qaeda, Hamas, Al Nusra Front and maybe also Afghan Taliban.

Armed with verifiable intelligence gathered over many years and weary that ‘Arab Springs’ sponsored by the coalition of the Southern Front could knock its doors, Qatar in chagrin to its Arab neighbours, is becoming a nursery of political reforms within its own system. It became a welfare state and eased restrictions on women. Simultaneously, Qatar strengthened the US security umbrella at Al Udeid military base. It now stations US coalition’s Combined Air Operations Center (Air arm of CENTCOM), a sophisticated facility that monitors air space in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Qatar was always weary of the narrow sense of Wahabism and its proxies within. This led to espousing Pan Islamism, Iran and Turkey.

Qatar acted as a bridge in the US diplomatic thaw with Iran led by Chuck Hegel and John Kerry. According to New York Times, “Qatar took a lead from the Obama doctrine of engagement with Iran, which led to the nuclear deal concluded in 2015. This diplomatic alignment and the presence of the strategically important air base meant that Doha enjoyed a measure of American protection as it pursued its own regional agenda… Punishing Qatar and isolating Iran also fit with the Israeli government’s assessment of its strategic interests, as it confronts Hezbollah forces to its north and Hamas in Gaza on its south-western border.”

In May, Qatar reacted vehemently to fake news attributed to its Emir regarding Israel and Iran but could not prevent the blocking of Al Jazeera Network and Qatari media by KSA. The situation became graver when Al Jazeera reported hacked emails of Emirati ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba revealing a sustained campaign to tarnish Qatar’s image. These emails revealed UAE interactions with a pro-Israel, neoconservative think-tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) jointly funded by pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson and UAE. In the recently concluded Trump visit to Riyadh, Qatar in private meetings reflected its threat perceptions. But Trump like the US envoy to Iraq sent confused signals. Saudis too eager to act reckoned that the tilt was favourable.

For KSA, Qatar crossed the redline when the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani felicitated  the Iranian President Hasan Rouhani on his re-election. This was taken as a rebuttal of Saudi plans and a call to conflict.

New York Times writes that, “Qatar is being penalised for refusing to accept the status quo of the past 40 years and for daring to challenge the conventional wisdom in the gulf that bashing Tehran, buttressing military strongmen and suppressing political Islamism are the right path for the region.” But the status quo that began in 1938 became stronger post 1973 with petro-dollars and destruction of all non-compliant countries around KSA.

Pakistan has also played its underling role through the crises. It was part of Baghdad Pact/CENTO. From 1952-70 it provided military assistance to Egyptian royals in Yemen against Egypt. Later, its forces ruthlessly eliminated the Palestinian resistance in Jordon. Pakistani storm troops were also involved when Saudi dissidents had briefly occupied Al Kaaba Al Musharrafah. Pakistani volunteer pilots were the only ones who flew successful air missions against Israel in 1973. Through the 80s to 90s, Pakistan had military contingents deployed in KSA for the protection of holy places and the house of Saud, but remained neutral in first Iraq war. Pakistan has a rather opaque defence agreement with KSA. Pakistan also has a very large work force in the region making significant contributions to its forex reserves. A Pakistani retired General unceremoniously heads the IMAT, the Saudi coalition now Iran specific. As an educated guess the planning and control of this force has already passed on to Israel and USA.

It is doubtful if Pakistan will display the same muscle as Qatar and Turkey. Pakistan has vulnerabilities of poor leadership, a non-performing foreign policy and too much economic reliance on Middle East. In this game of the neo-Southern front, Pakistan has few options. But prudence suggests that Pakistan must take a neutral course in the Middle East and an assertive one in the region. Gaining time will open more options related to BRI, CPEC and OBOR. Pakistan’s relations with China, Iran and Turkey will be crucial

Analysis: Why is Turkey deploying troops to Qatar?

08 JUNE 2017

Turkey's decision is not necessarily anti-Saudi, but it is definitely pro-Qatari, say analysts.

Turkey agrees with many aspects of Qatar's foreign policy vision, according to analysts [AP]


Birce Bora

Birce is an online journalist with Al Jazeera English. She mainly covers the Middle East with a focus on Turkey.

Only two days after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with Qatar for its alleged support of "terrorist organisations", Turkey's parliament has ratified military deals allowing its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar. Turkish analysts talking to Al Jazeera interpreted the move as "an apparent show of support for Qatar". 

WATCH: Focus remains on mediation to end Qatar's diplomatic crisis (3:10)

"This indeed suggests that Turkey sees its defence ties with Qatar as an indispensable pillar of its strategic posture in the region," Can Kasapoglu, a defence analyst from Turkey's EDAM, told Al Jazeera. "It also shows that Ankara would not drastically alter its long-term vision for regional fluctuations."

"Turkey has had a base and soldiers in Qatar for a while," Kadir Ustun, the executive director of the SETA Foundation in Washington, DC, explained. "Increasing Turkish presence there at this point might be an attempt to reassure Qatar."

Turkey set up a military base in Qatar, its first such installation in the Middle East, as part of an agreement signed in 2014. The base, which has a capacity to accommodate up to 5,000 troops, already hosts 200 Turkish soldiers. 

Late on Wednesday, two deals were ratified in Turkey's parliament; one allowing Turkish troops to be deployed in Qatar and another approving an accord between the two countries on military training cooperation.

Both agreements, which were drawn up before the spat between Qatar and its neighbours erupted, were brought to parliament by MPs from Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in an extraordinary session.

READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf crisis: Your questions answered

A power projection asset

"The military base in Qatar is an important power projection asset for Turkey," said Kasapoglu. "Turkey has always considered Qatar an important strategic ally in the region, and it is using this base to demonstrate this view."

Yet analysts added that it is important not to read Turkey's decision to deploy troops in to Qatar as "picking a side" in the spat that rocked the Gulf.

"Turkey's military base in Qatar has always been, and still is, a symbolic gesture and nothing more," said Atilla Yesilada, a political analyst with Istanbul's Global Source Partners.

"While Turkey values its partnership with Qatar, and does not approve the foreign policy vision Saudi Arabia is trying to enforce on the small but influential emirate, it is also not willing to - and can not afford to - pick a fight with Riyadh".

"The ratification of the military treaties is not an anti-Saudi move at all," Kasapoglu added. "Turkey still sticks to 'I don't want problems between my two good friends' policy.

"Yet, although this is not an anti-Saudi position, it is a pro-Qatari one for sure. Ankara prioritised its geopolitical perspective, and showed that it holds its military presence [in Qatar] above the recent diplomatic crisis."

WATCH: Turkey backs Qatar in Arab dispute as Trump claims to support solution (3:24)

On the same side

Turkey and Qatar have a long history of being on the same side of regional conflicts and developments. They both provided support for the Egyptian revolution and condemned the military coup that brought the country's current leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in to power.

Riyadh is viewing Iran as an existential threat, yet Qatar, much like Turkey, has been following a rather complicated and multilayered strategy against Iran.

Atilla Yesilada, political analyst

They also refuse to classify Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas as "terrorist organisations" and they both backed rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Their partnership in regional politics gained further strength after Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani showed strong support for the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during and after last July's failed coup attempt.

Qatar and Turkey are also following a similar strategy "of balance" in their relations with Iran. Analysts explained that at the moment Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with Donald Trump's support and encouragement, are trying to form a unified front to isolate Iran completely.

Qatar, as a result of its refusal to follow a hawkish strategy against the Islamic Republic, is being perceived as the "weakest link" in this anti-Iran Gulf alliance, analysts said. 

OPINION: Looking beyond the siege of Doha 

Turkey, with its strong trade links to Iran and apparent unwillingness to have a confrontation with its neighbour, is supporting Doha's appoach to the Iranian threat.

"Riyadh is viewing Iran as an existential threat, yet Qatar, much like Turkey, has been following a rather complicated and multilayered strategy against Iran," said Yesilada.

"Turkey is in loggerheads with Iran in Iraq and Syria, but it is also continuing its growing trade relationship with this neighbour - and this compartmentalised relationship is making Riyadh question the strength of Turkey's position in the alliance that is forming against Iran in the Middle East".

"Their attitude towards Iran is putting Qatar and Turkey in the same camp, once again."

Analysts explained that Turkey would do everything it can to resist the US and Saudi pressure to turn its historic rivalry with Iran into enmity. "Turkey and Iran had long been compertmentalising their relations," Kasapoglu explained.

"They faced each other in Iraq and Syria, but this did not stop the Iranian Foreign Minister from visiting Turkey, or affected the two countries' trade relations."

"Turkey agrees to many aspects of Qatar's foreign policy vision, and President Erdogan made it clear that he does not agree with the accusations Riyadh directed at Qatar," Yesilada said. "On subjects like Palestine, Egypt, Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood, two countries are definitely on the same page."

"But this does not mean Turkey is willing to jeopardise its relations with Saudi Arabia or the UAE."

OPINION: Qatar-Gulf rift - The Iran factor

Resolving the crisis through dialogue

Turkey also enjoys strong political and economic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The two countries signed a special agreement in April last year to establish a team specifically tasked with strengthening bilateral trade ties.

"Turkey wants to increase its share in the global arms trade," said Kasapoglu. "Ankara believes this is a prerequisite to becoming a global power and it rightly identifies Saudi Arabia as a sustainable and hungry market."

"Turkey is expected to sign a major export deal to sell several national corvettes to Saudi Arabia in the near future," he added. "If the deal comes to fruition, it is going to be Turkey's largest arms export deal to this day and Ankara is not eager to jeopardise this opportunity."

INSIDE STORY: Can the GCC still be relevant? (25:00)

Yesilada pointed out that Turkey also needs Saudi Arabia to stay a "trusted strategic partner".

"Ankara is aware of Riyadh's growing friendship with the new US administration and it wants to open up a new channel for dialogue with Donald Trump through Saudi Arabia," he said.

"Of course, this does not mean Turkey is going to abandon Qatar, but it is safe to say that Ankara won't be openly positioning itself against Riyadh."

Turkey supports resolving the crisis within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) through diplomacy, Ustun said. "I think Turkey is not interested in being seen as on 'one side' of a dispute like this," he added. 

"At the moment, Turkey does not want anybody to 'win' the conflict that is ripping apart the GCC," Kasapoglu said. "Turkey wants the GCC to swiftly solve its internal problems and show a unified front to the world and to their mutual adversaries

Why a ban on Qatar may not be in the interest of the countries joining forces against them

US President Donald Trump (L) and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud gesture during a signing ceremony at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

While the announcement that several Middle Eastern counties including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Yemen were outright banning all relations with Qatar, the fact that they actually did it has had reverberations across the globe.

Saudi Arabia declared a complete ban on all air, sea and land routes into and out of Qatar while UAE and Bahrain demanded the expulsion of Qatari diplomats from their countries. At last count, Libya and Maldives had joined the growing chorus against Qatar.

Qatar is a tiny emirate jutting out as a peninsula from Saudi Arabia towards Iran. While it is a member of the international oil supplying nation group Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), its contribution to OPEC is less than 1%. It is, though, the world’s largest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and sits on massive gas reserves. It shares exploration rights to a huge gas field with Iran as well.

While it was a sleepy Arab backwater prior to the 90s, it came of age in the new century and is now one of the richest countries by income per capita. It grew its state-owned sovereign fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) into a reputable investment vehicle and now holds stakes in some of the most reputable entities on the planet. It has over £40 billion invested across public and private entities in the UK alone. Moreover, it is also home to Al-Udeid Air base. This air base is the US Forward Central Command for all operations conducted across the region. It is also hosting the 2022 Football World Cup and construction of stadiums and athlete villages is taking place across the emirate at full-throttle.

Qatar has always been considered an upstart by its surrounding Arab nations. Over the course of its existence, it has been involved in territorial skirmishes with neighbouring Bahrain, border shootouts with Saudi Arabia, as well good relations with Iran.

Historically, it has also supported efforts of entities such as Hamas and Syrian rebels. In 2013, it also became the first nation to allow the Taliban to open up an office in Doha, effectively recognising their rule. Additionally, it has also raised its voice time and again against the dominating shadow of Saudi Arabia at international forums, as well as through the independent minded and slickly produced Al Jazeera news network, which is based out of Doha. This isn’t the first time that Qatar has been diplomatically given a kick in the butt. Several countries moved to break relations with them in 2014 as well, but not as drastically as what has happened right now.

So what triggered this ban? Well, a number of factors.

The most prominent were statements released on behalf of the ruling Qatari Emir that were complimentary of Iran and Israel. Qatar claims that this is propaganda and that their official news agency was hacked. Another trigger was the US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia to close a $300 billion weapons deal under the guise of an Islamic tolerance summit. President Trump singled out Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. Qatar enjoys cordial relations with Iran due to shared interests and was critical of this directly with President Trump in Riyadh as well as their news agency.

As an immediate effect, Qatari diplomats, as well as tourists, were ordered to leave their host countries as soon as possible. Qatar was also kicked out of the Saudi-led alliance against Houthi rebels in Yemen due to their alleged double-timing the coalition along with the Islamic State (IS) and Houthi rebels.

Flights of Qatar Airways across the Middle East have been grounded, severely hampering the airline. Residents of Qatar have been stocking up on groceries given the fact that the only land border with Saudi Arabia has been closed. QIA investments across the globe may take a hit as well if the Qatari economy is stalled due to sanctions. While there has been no official word from the FIFA organisation, the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup scheduled to be played in Qatar is also under threat of being removed.

In the murky world of geo-politics that still holds on to its colonial past, a prolonged ban on Qatar may not be in the interest of anyone involved. It may initially hurt Hamas and Hezbollah, who had been overtly and covertly supported by Qatar, but history tells us that these organisations are just two heads of a multi-headed hydra and suffocating one head will only produce more elsewhere. It also brings back the US influence into the region.

Unrest in the Middle East is often attributed to US meddling in the region. The events of 9/11 are directly attributed as a protest to US bases on Arab soil. The fact that President Trump signed a multi-billion dollar arms deals in Saudi Arabia has only stoked fears of a Sunni hegemony in the region. The fact that Doha is home to a US Central Command Base also means that it can’t be isolated for too long. For the Middle East in general, infighting between the Muslim countries is detrimental to all parties involved. It also takes away the focus from Israel leaving them free to act as they please.

If this ban continues, there are chances that Qatar will move into the Iranian camp even more. Given it’s prominence in the global media, it will come out swinging against pro-Saudi states. In a search for new allies, Qatar may also look outside its immediate region.

While Iran is the obvious choice, Turkey is another candidate that is willing to side with Qatar. Yesterday, Turkey threw its support behind Qatar, with officials saying it could fast-track troop deployment and provide crucial food and water supplies to the Gulf Arab country. Furthermore, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said that isolating Qatar would not resolve any problems. Erdogan, who has long tried to play the role of a regional power broker, said Ankara would do everything in its power to help end the regional crisis.

Fortunately, Pakistan has remained neutral so far. While it extends all the support to the kingdom, it has also not cut any ties with Qatar. Reasons include the balance of ties with Iran, the high number of labour that is exported to Qatar and the fact that Qatar provides a large amount of LNG to Pakistan.

Pakistan, on the other hand, provides tactical logistical and military support to Doha as needed. Pakistanis also provide a high contingent of travellers to Qatar Airways. On a lighter note, as the Panama scandal has shown, Qatari princes also serve as alibis for covering questionable sources of funds by Pakistani politicians.

In conclusion, this is most likely just a power move by Saudi Arabia. Qatar may have allegiances to dubious organisations, but geographically speaking, it seems incredulous that it harbors such organisations on its soil. Cutting relations with Qatar will only rile their leadership further and they will only increase their media savvy attacks on Saudi Arabia and all those that have joined forces against them

Why Pakistan needs to remain neutral in Qatar-Gulf rift?


Keeping Pakistan’s strong diplomatic relations with the Middle Eastern countries, it is in best favor of Pakistan to keep a balanced stance of the current Qatar-Gulf rift.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Maldives, Yemen and United Arab Emirates have cut off their diplomatic ties with Qatar over its alleged support of terrorism. Yemen, Maldives joins Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt in suspending relations, whereas, Qatari nationals given two weeks’ notice to leave the UAE. Qatar says that this move by the Gulf countries is "unjustified" and expresses "deep regret" over the decision. According to experts, tensions between the Arab Gulf states and Iran will not only have an effect on the Middle East, but the fallout from these diplomatic tensions will also affect South Asia. That is precisely the reason that this move by Saudi Arabia and its allies has put Pakistan in a difficult position with regards to the regional politics of the Middle East.

Pakistan-Qatar bilateral relations

Pakistan and Qatar have robust bilateral relations aided by the historical close ties and substantive engagement. In February 2016, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif went on the official landmark visit to Doha where he met Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar. Before this, he Emir of the State of Qatar had paid a landmark visit to Pakistan on 23-24 March 2015. In March 2017, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, went to Qatar on an official visit where he met Qatar’s Minister of Defense Affairs Doctor Khalid Bin Muhammad Al-Attiya. At this point, both the leaders vowed that the Pak-Qatar defense cooperation will have a positive impact on bilateral relations as well as on the regional security. General Bajwa also met Prime Minister of Qatar Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani, who showed his interest in learning from Pakistan Army’s experience in the security domain and sought assistance during the upcoming World Cup to be held in Qatar, including the provision of manpower.

Pakistan-Qatar Economic ties

During Nawaz’ visit to Qatar in February 2016, a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in the field of health, radio, television, education, research and a long term sale purchase agreement (SPA) of LNG were concluded by both sides. The main focus of the Prime Minister’s visit and interaction with the Qatari leadership will be on further enhancement of bilateral relations in various fields, including energy, cooperation, trade and investment, defense and increase in employment opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Qatar. But the highlight of the visit was the deal between both the countries on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for a period of the fifteen years. Pakistan has been suffering through a severe energy crisis and the import of LNG from Qatar would be a positive step to address the issue. The deal has large prospects for the energy sector as Pakistan would be able to meet its energy requirements. 3.75 million tons of LNG would be imported annually on a government-to-government basis, at comparative rates. The price agreed for each LNG cargo discharged per month is 13.37pc of Brent value which is cheaper than the gas to be imported through pipeline projects, including the Iran-Pakistan (IP) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) projects.

In the first phase, from 2016 to first quarter of 2017, the annual contract LNG quantity would be prorate of 2.25m tons, which would be increased to 3.75m tons per annum beginning second quarter of 2017. The long-term agreement would also provide for annual upward and downward flexibilities of up to three LNG cargoes against the two earlier agreed upon per contract year. The LNG deal would also provide the LNG to Pakistan on 15-day deferred payment against the earlier settlement of defer payment for 10 days. According to the agreement, the cost of imported gas is estimated to be $4.78 per mmbtu, lower than the Qatar’s current rate of $5.35 mmbtu and the cheapest in its kind in South Asia. Apart from LNG deal, PM Nawaz has called upon the Qatar Investment Authority to explore and invest in the oil, gas and power sector of Pakistan.

But why can’t Pakistan fully take Qatar’s side?

The problem for the government of Nawaz Sharif is that they have a close relation with both the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Sharif family was given refuge by the Saudi royal family after the coup of 1999. Also more importantly, Pakistan and Saudi-Arabia diplomatic relations that are age-old bond of friendship is getting stronger with every passing year. Saudi Arabia’s long-standing and comprehensive relationship with Pakistan operates at many levels and in many areas, including trade, governance and values, health, education and culture besides politics and security. The two countries also work together extensively at the international level, within the framework of several bilateral, regional and global organizations including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Moreover, the Kingdom is the biggest exporter of oil and petroleum products to Pakistan, while Saudi Arabia has been a key market for Pakistani goods and services. No doubt, the two sides sought to develop extensive commercial, cultural, religious, political and strategic relations since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. Pakistan affirms its relationship with Saudi Arabia as their most “important and bilateral partnership” in the current foreign policy of Pakistan, while working and seeking to further strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia, the country that hosts the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah. Another important point to consider is that Saudi Arabia has recently requested Pakistan to allow the ex-Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif to lead the 39 nations’ Islamic Military Alliance to combat extremism and terrorism in the Muslim World. It is said that this arrangement will bolster the relations between the two countries (only if Military Alliance is not used against the other Muslim countries like Iran).

Saudi Arabia’s or Qatar’s group? Dilemma of Pakistan

The government of Nawaz Sharif has a close relation with both the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Sharif family was given refuge by the Saudi royal family after the coup of 1999. On the other hand, the Nawaz government has trade relations with Qatar. Moreover, with regards to Panama leaks, Qatar is also important due as the letter by a Qatari royal is an important part of the case for Nawaz and his family. The Qatari who sent the letter, Hammad Bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, is part of the royal family of the current emir. Therefore, the Nawaz government will try not to offend the Qataris as it could backfire in the Panama leak case.

Another quandary for Pakistan is that hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia and UAE, and the about the same number of Pakistanis work in Qatar, whom remittances back to the home country are an integral part of Pakistan’s economy. Taking anyone’s side in this issue might put the employment of these people into jeopardy.

The larger picture of this division that is emerging is as such: On one side there is Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, United States and Israel. On the other side there is Iran, China, Russia, Iraq and Syria. In such a case, to talk about balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia is illogical. 
In this scenario, Pakistan cannot take the side of the anti-Iran group as Iran is Pakistan’s neighbor who has recently given churlish statements against Pakistan regarding border security issues. Pakistan, therefore, cannot afford to involve in any such matter that will fuel Iran’s anger further.

For Pakistan, CPEC is an important factor in the equation, and the deteriorating situation in the region might adversely affect the completion of CPEC. It could be a possibility that parties involved in these regional tensions start backing terror groups like Taliban and Jundullah for their own benefit. The resulting instability and tensions might put CPEC in danger and this will be detrimental to Pakistan. The effects of this situation between Riyadh and Doha on CPEC are Pakistan’s biggest source of stress right now.

Last but not the least, Pakistan cannot espouse the Saudi Arabia group against the Qatar on the basis of its alleged support of terrorism. Pakistan must know its vulnerable status today in the region and world politics, where it has repeatedly accused to sponsor and support terrorist and militant organizations that conduct suicide attacks in the neighboring countries. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a leading think tank in the United States, has released a report today calling Pakistan a “sanctuary for the Taliban and the Haqqani network”. In such situation, if Pakistan endorses the actions of the Saudi’s group against the Qatar’s, who knows the same allegations and diplomatic boycott, might become the fate of Pakistan in the future.

Therefor the foreign policy options for Pakistan are very limited. Pakistan has good relations with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil. Abu Dhabi in the UAE is also a major oil exporter. Meanwhile, Pakistan has a good LNG, low-density liquid fuel and refining product derived from natural gas deal with Qatar for the next fifteen years. So, it would be in the favor of Pakistan if Pakistan’s Foreign Office decides to remain neutral on the current Qatar-Gulf rift. The best option for Pakistan is to have a balanced stance for the time being, and wait for the dust to settle. The best response of Pakistan in this matter will be no response at all

The Qatar Crisis: A Diplomatic Curveball for Pakistan

The rift between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors may pose difficult choices for Pakistan’s foreign policy.

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

June 07, 2017


Following the ongoing row that has seen Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and even the Maldives formally sever their ties with Qatar, Pakistan has found itself in an unlikely diplomatic fix.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Pakistan was conspicuously shunned at the Riyadh summit, prompting rumors that former Army Chief Raheel Sharif would pull out of the Saudi-led Islamic military alliance that he commands. To address the growing criticism at home, Islamabad even suggested that its participation in the Saudi-led alliance wasn’t final yet, citing anti-Iran rhetoric and the ensuing sectarian tinges of the coalition, as the concern. But there’s little doubt that it was the humiliation jointly orchestrated by the United States and Saudi Arabia that pushed a rethink – or at least a façade thereof.

It is hard to imagine Islamabad not being cognizant that the Saudi coalition is, for all intents and purposes, a Salafi NATO designed to counter the “Shia Crescent” spearheaded by Iran.” But after finally acquiescing to compromising ties with Tehran, in exchange for the Saudi petrodollars, Islamabad now faces another stiff question, at the most inopportune of moments.

The existence of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) means that Pakistan, like the rest of the world, has treated all member countries as an extension of Saudi Arabia. Unlike relations with Iran, which have always had the sword of Saudi-exacted opportunity cost hanging over them, any agreements with other GCC states have been negotiated and signed without any such considerations.

But now with a potentially prolonged Saudi-Qatar rift, Pakistan might have to face a dreaded choice sooner rather than later. The answer would have severe ramifications for Islamabad, especially vis-à-vis the multipronged security and energy crises that the country finds itself in.

Last year Pakistan signed a 15-year gas supply agreement with Qatar. Islamabad would import 3.75 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually and add 2,000 megawatts of power to the national grid. Not only was the agreement with Qatargas-2 – the largest LNG producer globally – going to singlehandedly almost halve the country’s electricity shortfall and amount for over 85 percent of Pakistan’s LNG import capacity, it also diversifies Pakistan’s energy mix.

In addition, it was only last month that Qatar formally expressed interest in $1.5 billion Karachi-Lahore LNG pipeline project to supply gas to Punjab. Doha was set to ward off Moscow’s interest in the project after the deal was verbally agreed with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani during his visit to Pakistan in January this year.

In terms of security, Saudi Arabia earmarking another enemy in the region would mean additional demand for Pakistani troops. At a time when the state is still far from shoring up its defense against local jihadist groups, adding another conflict to be militarily involved in would smack of skewed priorities, and further underscore Riyadh’s clout over Islamabad.

Furthermore, with the Islamic Military Alliance already self-manifesting as a sham, a fellow member state being sidelined would reaffirm the coalition as an assimilation of al-Saud’s personal security force – especially with another member state, Yemen, being relentlessly bombed.

Pakistan, which is already surrounded by a hostile neighborhood accusing it of harboring terrorism and in turn threatening attacks inside its territory, can ill-afford the rupture of ties with another state in the Middle East. The conundrum would multiply for Pakistan if, in addition to Iran, Qatar draws closer to Turkey as it looks for outlets to bridge the economic gap that severing ties with the Gulf neighbors would cause. Ankara has supported Islamabad on multiple fronts in recent times.

For Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been instrumental in establishing Pakistan’s ties with Turkey, the timing of the Qatar crisis could not have been worse. With the Qatari royal family vying to bail the Sharif family out in the ongoing investigation over the Panama Papers corruption scandal, Sharif cannot distance himself from Doha, especially with the 2018 general elections less a year away.

On the other hand, more than Iran, Turkey, Qatar, or any other state, Nawaz Sharif is personally indebted to Saudi Arabia for saving his life during the Musharraf regime, as the then-deposed prime minister found a safe space for exile in the Kingdom.

With the interests of the civilian government and the military establishment, which enjoys a significant share of Saudi funding, aligning with Riyadh, it’s hard to imagine Islamabad doing anything that would be interpreted as support for Doha. Pakistan would hence look to stretch out its neutrality over the conflict for as long as possible.

What could further complicate matters for Islamabad is if China, after maintaining neutrality in most regional feuds, is pushed into picking sides in the conflict, especially if Washington allies with Riyadh as expected. For Islamabad, finding China and Saudi in opposing alliances would be an unprecedented nightmare that would officially sound the death knell for its foreign policy rulebook.

There’s a lot more than power supply and state security at stake for Pakistan

Progressive literature finds avid readership in disaffected Balochistan


 Hizbullah Khan

October 1, 2016

Quetta: As elsewhere in the country, the relics of Balochistan’s “progressive” or leftist politics and culture may have ceded space to globalization and the commercial and capitalist ethos it brings, albeit grudgingly.

Café and chai khanas – tea shops – that were once patronized by local politicians, activists, intellectuals and common people, resounding with political debate and left-leaning views on social issues, have turned into tiny temples to capitalism: banks, malls and shops. Revolution, as advocated by the left remains very much the stuff of literature however, available in bookshops in the form of translated texts.

The culture of reading revolutionary literature has developed in Balochistan in response to widespread deprivation, tribalism, unfair distribution of resources, violation of fundamental rights and conflict,” Hameed Khan, who teaches Pashto language at the Degree College, Quetta, told News Lens Pakistan.

Khan said people gravitated towards literature of revolution and reformation because they aspired to emancipation of society from the stranglehold of capitalists and political elite who, they believed, were the cause of the problems they faced. “In parts of the provinces of Punjab and Sindh where people live in better conditions and face fewer problems, they don’t read revolutionary literature.”

Social scientists say that people of any society that suffers from severe setbacks have deeper political consciousness and awareness of their state than those that live in developed societies facing fewer problems, says Khan.

At this point in time, political consciousness among the people of Baluchistan is more widespread than any other part of the country,” said Khan.

Khan said that political powers that had monopoly over sources of information and resources in the province did not tolerate open debate on issues because political awareness among readers of revolutionary literature brought more than just social and political consciousness, it helps them comprehend how local politics and world affairs contribute to their problems.

“The political leadership achieved power through conventional politics of biradari and buying support; they don’t have time or patience for politics that delivers. They worry that if they allow social and political debate; it would question and threaten their power and status.”

Revolutionary books are not available in libraries of schools, colleges and universities but only in bookshops because, says Khan, books come to libraries with the permission of political parties in power. Books that would create problems for them or question their role, whether local, national or international, do not make it to libraries in education institutions.

Far from being content with reading revolutionary literature, students of various universities in Balochistan are increasingly selecting revolutionary topics for their M. Phil and PhD research. On the other hand, socialists and leftists write books that reinterpret progressive literature and values for application in a modern world, says Khan. “Such luminaries and thinkers have their own dedicated magazines for which they write articles to educate people and reform the society.”

Wali Nasar, secretary at the youth bureau of International Marxist Tendency, Balochistan, says only those classes of people who have been exploited by the political and industrialist elite read revolutionary books and such literature plays a vital role in eliminating exploitation of the oppressed because revolutionary ideologies provide “scientific solutions of problems to the people.”

In a province like Balochistan, says Nasar, where nationalist politics is very much par for the course✔, the trend of reading revolutionary books is high among activists if nationalist political parties, progressive workers of student and socialist organisations. 🔴“The workers of these organisations arrange study circles in colleges, universities and their organisation’s offices to discuss literature and find solutions to problems of the oppressed people.”

A worker belonging to one of the nationalist political parties in Balochistan said overall, revolutionary literature had not benefited the nation in any way. 🔴“Nations change the thrust of their literature according to their requirements and circumstances for the development of society,” said the political worker who wished to stay anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to media.

He said the reason for failure of revolutionary literature to deliver in Pakistan was that societies where revolutions had happened had adopted such literature to their own situations, culture, traditions and conditions. “We have done nothing of the sort,” he said. 🔴“Ideologies look great on paper but when it comes to their application in reality, it is nearly impossible because one has to contend with a lot of factors that may not be conducive to revolutionary change.”

According to Zaeem Bukhari, a bookshop owner and a publisher based in Quetta, when the Saur Revolution came in Afghanistan, it led to a culture of reading revolutionary books. The trend died down eventually with the death of revolution in Afghanistan. Then, with conflict and insurgencies breaking out in Baluchistan, the culture was revived, only to die again. 🔴“The trend of reading translated revolutionary books depends on the political and social atmosphere. When it is quiet, the trend slows down but when there is turmoil, it is on the rise.”

🔴“In Balochistan, the trend of reading revolutionary books is far greater than Punjab but we have no good translators,” he said.

Dr Shah Muhammad Marri, a local scholar, has translated Mao’s Red Book in Balochi and other writers have translated Vladimir Lenin’s books. Scholars and writers often translate books in regional languages, not from the original text but from their Urdu translation done in Punjab, said Bukhari.

Yousuf Khan at Gosha e Adab, a leading bookshop in Quetta, said the sale of translated books was more than regular books because of the large readership that revolutionary literature enjoyed.

We sell nearly six to seven hundred [translated] books a month,” said Yousaf Khan. “A majority of readers that buy these books are students and activists of nationalist political parties.”

One of the reasons why students prefer translated books is that they come from Urdu medium schools, with very few students fluent in English, says Atta-ur- Rehman, an M. Phil student and avid reader of translated books.

“The biggest advantage of translation books is that different ethnic groups can access knowledge in their own languages,” says Rehman. “Linguistic experts advocate learning in mother tongue because pupils can assimilate maximum knowledge that way. Those who study in other language can only acquire a small percentage of that knowledge.”

However, Aslam Tareen, a writer and sociologist, says revolutionary literature creates conflict with local psychology and culture. “We live in a religious society whereas revolutionary literature promotes secularism. Its propagation is dangerous because it leads people towards chaos and destruction

Gul Khan Naseer: revolutionary Baloch poet

From the NewspaperPublished Dec 18, 2011 09:27pm

DECEMBER 6 was marked as the 28th death anniversary of Mir Gul Khan Naseer who enjoys an unparalleled position in the pantheon of Baloch poets. With his inspirational verse, he gave a new dimension to modern Balochi revolutionary poetry in the post-partition period.

Born in 1914, at Nushki, Balochistan, Gul Khan made his first appearance in the realm of literature in the early 1940s during the heyday of the Progressive Movement. He was among the few progressive Balochi writers who stayed committed with the ideology of the movement till their last breath.

Initially, he used Urdu as the medium of his poetic expression, but soon he diverted his attention from Urdu and began inking poems in his first language, Balochi.

‘Gulbang’, the first collection of his Balochi poetry appeared in 1951. It is also marked as the first-ever collection of modern Balochi verse.


As he drew inspiration from the Progressive Movement, the poor peasant who is bereft of attire and footwear, time and again, appears in his poetry for whom he dreams of a society where injustice, cruelty, indiscrimination and suppression have no room.

In Gul Khan’s poetic dictionary, one can hardly find expressions like ‘rosy cheeks’, ‘intoxicated eyes’ and ‘scented locks’.

Instead, it is adorned with expressions like hunger, empty stomach, shirtless people, darkness and oppression, to mention a few.

It may seem somewhat strange, yet true, that despite his close association with Baloch tribal leaders, so far, Gul Khan Naseer is the only Balochi poet who vehemently condemns the deeply-rooted tribal society of Balochistan. He has always viewed tribal chiefs and landlords as tormentors of poor farmers and ordinary people, and raised his voice for social justice, equality and, above all, reverence for humanity.

It is true, Gul Khan was also a seasoned politician, historian and translator, but today he is better known for his revolutionary poetry.

He enjoys the same status in Balochi literature as does Habib Jalib in Urdu.

He is the first modern Balochi poet who made his oppressed people aware of their rights to liberty and self-determination.

Today, from Atta Shad to Allah Bux Bozdar, almost upon all modern Balochi poets, the imprints of Mir’s poetry can easily be traced. Even poets somewhat sceptic about Gul Khan’s poetic sensibilities couldn’t avoid his impact.

In 2001, the Government of Pakistan, belatedly realising the meritorious services of Mir Gul Khan Naseer, posthumously awarded him the Sitara-i-Imtiaz.

Mir Gul Khan Naseer passed away on Dec 6, 1983, after a chronic disease.


Literature: Baloch poets and their inspirational poetry

By Shahjahan Zehri

Poetry is one of the most precious assets of Baloch land and its inhabitants. The tree of that poetic tradition has grown up, witnessing the wars throughout the history, the pain is so deeply rooted that even the entire war-torn history could not  uproot the Baloch poetic spirit; it has always smiled in the face of inevitable. Balochi poetic heritage is intimately connected with people’s daily lives: it’s rich and beautiful. Themes incite talk of tribe, love, beauty, wars and religion. There is mention of morals, values and their history as people. It’s both didactic and aesthetic in nature.

This land has given birth to celebrated and dynamic poets like Attah Shad and Sayed Zahoor Shah Hashmi, to unsung poets like Naseer Kubdani and Murad Awarani, whom the history has consigned to oblivion. To progressive and revolutionist poets like Gul Khan Naseer and Yousaf Ali Khan Magsi, the utmost objective was raising political consciousness among Baloch people in general and youth in particular.

Balochistan has been able to bring forth such versatile and universal poets because its people take the greatest pleasure in harmonious sound and poetic expression. As Walt Whitman (1819-92) an American poet said: “to have great poets, there must be great audiences.”

The most distressing thing in present-day Balochistan is the safety of poets. Lives of the poets are at risk, every day they are threatened, beleaguered and attacked. Their progressive and revolutionary ideas are not endured. Once Greek philosopher Plato said: “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history”. That is, perhaps, the reason.

The current disappointing scenario has given halt to poetry production in Balochistan. Mubarak Qazi, who was born on 24 December 1956, belongs to Turbet. He is one of the most distinguished and admired national poet of Balochistan. He is renowned for his progressive and rebellious poetry. His poetry is replete with anti-imperialist themes, which actually defines his progressiveness. He has been detained for several months for his revolutionary poetry, which instigates the people to fight for their rights. He has luckily survived two murder attempts: first on June 20, 2013, when his house was attacked with grenade, he remained safe but his house was badly damaged and his wife sustained serious injuries. Second time he was attacked on March9, 2014.

He is not the only Baloch intellectual confronting these murderous and brutal attacks, before him secular Baloch poet professor Saba Dashtyari was killed in broad daylight in provincial capital, Quetta. Haneef Shareef Baloch, another progressive novelist and poet, who was kidnapped and kept in solitary confinement for several months.

  Mubarak Qazi like Gul khan Naseer criticizes the feudal, waderas and sardars. He is against injustice and discrimination. His messages reinvigorate passion of Baloch youth, and guide them to the righteous path.

All these attacks are aimed to muffle the Baloch poetic voices and hinder their ideas. Attackers must be ignorant of What Atta Shad once said:

 Tou pa sarani gudga, Zindae hayalan kushae

pa sindaga dasht kne phullan, cha bo thallaniya

 By cutting Heads, can you kill thoughts of life?

By plucking flowers, can you mutilate their fragrance!


Writer is Student of English literature and linguistic At National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.

Published in the Balochistan Point on March 31, 2014