Top Left Link Buttons
  • English

Pakistan

Category Archives

SCO Opens in Tajikistan: Pakistan’s Imran Khan Calls for Replacing Geo-politics With Geo-economics

SCO Opens in Tajikistan: Pakistan’s Imran Khan Calls for Replacing Geo-politics With Geo-economics

Sept. 16, 2021 (EIRNS)—The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is convening at the head-of-state level in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with the crisis in Afghanistan the major immediate challenge to their 20-year mission. The eight SCO countries—China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—become nine with full membership granted to Iran. (Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia are “Observer States”; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey are “Dialogue Partners.”)

Early reports indicate multiple “sideline” meetings of the leaders of various countries. In particular, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was quite busy on Thursday, meeting on the sidelines with Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He had a more extensive bilateral meeting with Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on “trade, investment and transportation links.”

He had been welcomed at Dushanbe’s airport by Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon. According to the statement released by the Pakistani government, he described an upgrading of the two countries’ engagement—what he termed his “Vision Central Asia” policy—and emphasized connectivity and Pakistan’s “pivotal position in providing the shortest access route to the sea.” His key example of connectivity was the Trans-Afghan railway project connecting Termez/Mazar-e-Sharif/Kabul/Jalalabad/Peshawar. His statement repeated the need to transform from “geo-politics” to “geo-economics.”

He also addressed the new Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum on expanding the “minuscule” $80 million of trade. He declared that Pakistan would expedite work on the CASA-1000 power transmission line to benefit from “your clean and cheap energy [such as] hydroelectricity”, too much lacking in Pakistan. Otherwise, he stated that he would work with President Rahmon to stabilize Afghanistan: “We will be doing our best to make sure they get together and there is an inclusive government.”


Taliban Want Relations with Regional Nations

Taliban Want Relations with Regional Nations

Sep. 6 (EIRNS) — TASS, citing Al Jazeera, reported this morning that the Taliban intend to invite a number of foreign countries to be present at the installation of the new government that they expect to announce within the next few days. “We have sent invitations to Turkey, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Qatar to take part in the [ceremony] of announcing [the composition of the new Afghan] government,” said an unnamed Taliban representative.

Mohammad Akbar Agha, a former Taliban field commander and now the leader of Afghanistan’s High Council of Salvation, told TASS yesterday that the Taliban is very interested in establishing relations with Russia, Iran and Pakistan. “We should establish broad relations with Moscow, since it is in the interests of both the Taliban and Russia,” he said. “Iran and Pakistan are also countries we want to establish relations with. They need us and we need them.”

Agha also said that the Taliban have no objections against having a U.S. embassy in Kabul but Washington is afraid of it. “Before the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan there was a possibility to have good relations with Washington. But after their invasion and their crimes … relations have worsened,” he said. Agha said that “there are chances that [diplomatic] relations between the United States and the Taliban will be established. I think the Taliban will not be against opening the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. But the United States is afraid of the current situation in the country and most likely there will be no embassy for some time,” he said.


Afghanistan: the Role of the Neighboring Countries in Development

Afghanistan: the Role of the Neighboring Countries in Development

Aug. 5, 2021 (EIRNS) – During a Schiller Institute conference July 31, Prof. Pino Arlacchi, the former head of the United Nations Office of Drug Control who negotiated near-elimination of Afghan opium production with the Taliban 20 years ago, noted that immediately neighboring countries should play a primary role in planning South Asian regional development to include Afghanistan, and in stopping drug traffic from that country. One country clearly taking the point for this kind of development is Uzbekistan, under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

A July 31 article in EastAsiaForum.org by Nasriddinov Salokhiddin, a researcher at the Institute for International Security of Tokyo International University, calls the February 2021 conference with Pakistan and Afghanistan organized by Mirziyoyev, “the event of the century for Central Asia”, because it will connect landlocked Central Asian countries to the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The conference attendees decided on a 600-kilometer Tashkent-Mazar e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railroad and requested $4.8 billion in World Bank funding for it, Apparently the railroad corridor project was planned from the first to include new electricity transmission lines through it.

Noting the criticism that surmounting the Hindu Kush Mountains will make the project very expensive, Salokhiddin wrote: “Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan filed an appeal for investment to international financial institutions, which [appeal] received support from the United States, China and Russia. Representatives of the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank also expressed their willingness to assist the project through technical consulting and financing. Such wide support for the project means that the source of investment is no longer a concern.” He did not give dates or details regarding these other nations’ and international institutions’ support. He did add that the route transits Afghanistan through regions and cities which are under relatively secure government control now.

The author wrote that freight traffic in Afghanistan was about 4 million tons for 2020 and had risen by 25%. “Estimates suggest that if implemented, the trans-Afghan railroad will increase annual volume of rail freight by 20 million tons.” Some economists in Uzbekistan have advocated a railroad corridor to Chabahar in Iran instead, as allegedly more secure. But, “To achieve its economic objectives, access to the ports of Karachi and Gwadar is Uzbekistan’s highest priority.” Full article is here.


28 Nations Participate in China’s Belt and Road Partnership on COVID Vaccines Cooperation

August 3, 2021 (EIRNS)—On June 23 of this year, at the Asia and Pacific High-Level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation, presided over by China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, 28 nations joined in launching the China Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Covid-19 Vaccine Cooperation. The statement announcing this initiative stressed that international cooperation and solidarity are key to fighting the pandemic, that “people and their lives” must be put first, and that no one is safe until everyone is safe. It emphasized that vaccines must be equitably distributed and that there must be “open, fair and non-discriminatory international cooperation on vaccines.”

A number of other recommendations for the BRI vaccine cooperation initiative included facilitating joint vaccine research, development and technological exchanges; promoting partnerships between vaccine producers and developing countries for joint vaccine production, to scale up global production; encouraging regional and multilateral development banks to provide more concessional financing to developing countries for their vaccine procurement and production; and “strengthening Belt and Road cooperation on connectivity to ensure cross-border flows of vaccines.”

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday, in less than two months the BRI vaccine initiative has yielded impressive results, reaching cooperative agreements with several of the initiative’s 28 co-sponsors on a total of 775 million doses of vaccines, including in the form of concentrates, of which 350 million doses have been delivered. In addition, Chinese companies have started joint production with four co-sponsors of this initiative, whose names were not specified, and are discussing joint production “with other interested countries.” In today’s foreign ministry press conference, spokesman Wang Wenbin reported that China has provided vaccine assistance to over 80 countries and vaccines to 40 countries, also reporting that China is collaborating with other developing nations to mass produce the vaccine. It was also announced today that the World Health Organization has granted emergency use authorization to China’s Sinovac vaccine. (The full initiative statement is detailed here.)

The 28 countries include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Fiji, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.


Schiller Institute Afghanistan Webinar: Circulate a Common Interest Development Program Right Away

July 31 (EIRNS)–Today the Schiller Institute brought together in a five-hour intense discussion at an international virtual conference, diplomats and experts from many nations, including Afghanistan, Russia, China, Pakistan, the United States, Italy and others, on the theme: “Afghanistan: A Turning Point in History After the Failed Regime-Change Era.”

Helga Zepp-LaRouche (Germany,) Chairwoman and founder of the Schiller Institute, who has been leading a process of institutional and informal dialogue for the past 18 months, said at the conclusion of today’s event, that we now “have a perspective of where to go.” The priority is “to put development on the table, which will be difficult to refuse” by anyone, and to give all the support possible to make it happen. The last speaker of the day, Hussein Askary (Sweden/Iraq,) Southwest Asia Coordinator for the Schiller Institute, put it forcefully, that we must “make development the first item” in any talks, not the last. He warned, “Keep the warlords and the British out!” Askary’s presentation, which covered concrete aspects of development, was titled, “Put Afghanistan on the Belt and Road to Peace.”

The event was opened by Moderator Dennis Speed (U.S.A.), who said that the deliberations would change the usual conception of war or peace, to partake of the diplomacy of formulating policies for mutual understanding and development. He introduced a short 1985 video by statesman-economist Lyndon LaRouche making the point, with reference to President Abraham Lincoln’s record, that the power of infrastructure transforms an economy. Zepp-LaRouche’s opening remarks stressed that we are at a special moment in history, where geopolitical confrontation must be ended, and a new paradigm begun—not only for Eurasian integration and prosperity, but for universal history. She showed the beautiful “Golden Mask” artifact, to make the point of the 5,000-year history of the Central Asian region.

Playing a lead role in the discussion from beginning to end was Professor Pino Arlacchi (Italy), who participated from Italy. Currently Sociology Professor at the Sassari University, he was Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (1997-2002,) and former European Parliament Rapporteur on Afghanistan. He spoke on, “Eradicate Opium in Afghanistan, Develop Modern Agriculture, Build the Nation, Now.” He described his original plan which by 2001 had nearly eliminated opium poppy growing in Afghanistan, which then was reversed under the ensuing years from 2001 of U.S. and NATO military operations. Arlacchi again proposed a plan in 2010, which was thwarted by the EU, Britain and the U.S. Today, Afghanistan is the source of over 80% of the world’s opium drugs. Arlacchi laid out what can and must be done today. The needed approach uses alternative agriculture—supporting farmers to switch to other crops, and similar realistic methods. Arlacchi stressed how relatively inexpensive this is, given the huge leverage by the drug cartels. Farmers in Afghanistan might get $300 to 350 million for their opium crop, which then is worth $20 billion to organized crime in Europe. There are many alternative crops of great use and value, for example saffron.

The diplomats presented a sweeping picture of the present situation. Ambassador Hassan Shoroosh (Afghanistan), the Afghanistan ambassador to Canada, spoke from Ottawa, saying that there is a “new chapter of partnership” ahead, which must be worked out. His talk was, “The Way Forward for Afghanistan.” He said that his country is “positioned to serve as a land-bridge” in Eurasia, and reviewed in detail various transportation corridors, from the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, to the Five Nations Railway route.

Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva (Russia,) from the New York City, where she is Deputy Permanent Representative at the Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN. Her presentation was titled, “Russia’s Outlook for Afghanistan and Eurasia.” She stressed that the goal is stability, and there is no military solution. There are important frameworks among the neighbors in the region, including the CSTO and SCO and bilateral relations. There is a special role for the “extended troika,” which has been in place for many years. There are meetings coming up in the near future. She noted that transport and infrastructure are of great significance.

Dr. Wang Jin (China,) Fellow at The Charhar Institute, spoke on the topic, “Afghanistan and the Belt and Road Initiative.” He presented four key aspects of China’s concerns: 1) that there are no “spillover” impacts of instability; 2) that there is a future of advancement for Afghanistan; 3) that extremism and terrorism do not gain ground; and 4) that China and Afghanistan have positive ties.

From Pakistan, Mr. Hassan Daud spoke. He is the CEO of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Board of Investment. He pointed out that Afghanistan is one of “the least integrated” economically in the Central and South Asian region, after these decades of strife. He spoke of the great “economic spillover” that will ensure, with Pakistan leveraging its position and resources to become a logistical hub, and extending benefits to Afghanistan through CPEC and the BRI. We must have “the spirit of the ancient Silk Road” again. He called for more seminars on this, involving scholars, chambers of commerce and others.

From the United States, Ray McGovern spoke. He is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, co-founder of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Addressing the topic, “The Real Interest of the United States in Asia,” he made many strong points, including that there must be “accountability” for the string of commanders who lied about what the U.S. was doing in Afghanistan, also in Iraq and elsewhere. He dramatically pointed out, that there weren’t even competent “situation estimates” that should have been done, about terrain, weather, LOC—lines of communication, and other standard assessments of what the U.S. is doing in places. In 2010, the U.S. Navy logistics was paying $400 a gallon to put gas in the tanks of military vehicles in Afghanistan! He hit hard at the racism involved in presuming you can do anything, anywhere; he quoted Kipling.

Many others were involved in the two question and answer periods, with important exchanges over key topics. For example, Earl Rasmussen, Vice President of the Eurasian Society, raised the point of the necessity to build trust. Dr. Stephen Fischer, an American physician, reported on a year he spent in public health in Afghanistan, working with a provincial reconstruction team. Zepp-LaRouche stressed many times, that in the context of the prolonged pandemic, it is imperative that we move in Afghanistan, and everywhere, for public health and modern medical care infrastructure.

Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva made a concluding point, that it is “important to rise above geopolitics.” She said that in Russia, “at all levels, including President Putin,” we are ready for cooperation.” Helga Zepp-LaRouche called on the panelists, and anyone in the viewing audience, to contribute to the development program perspective under discussion, and mobilize. Prof. Arlacchi, who has a new book out, Against Fear (in Italian,) gave parting words that, “peace is stronger than war. Let’s be more courageous. Not a victim of huge deceptions.” The full conference is archived for viewing. Now is the time to join the Schiller Institute.


RIAC Analyst Believes Geo-Economics Is Overtaking Geopolitics in Central Asia

July 24 (EIRNS) — Moscow-based American foreign affairs expert Andrew Korybko writes on his blog on the website of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), that the ongoing settlement of the Afghanistan war is putting “geo-economics” ahead of the zero-sum game of geopolitics. He writes that “geo-economics” is at the center of the cooperation among the U.S., Russia, China and Pakistan in seeking an Afghan settlement and the creation of the so-called “Quad” of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States which was created on July 16 at the connectivity conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This latter, Korybko writes, “complements the prior such platform between the former two states, China and Tajikistan back in 2016 as well as the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (PAKAFUZ) railway project that was agreed upon in February.”

Crucial to the development according to Korybko is Pakistan’s new “Geo-Economic Grand Strategy Is Multi-Alignment,” which was adopted during March’s inaugural Islamabad Security Dialogue, where it was announced that geo-economics will now constitute the basis for all policy formulation and not geopolitics. The first fruits of the policy was the creation of the so-called Quad platform among Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and the U.S.

Korybko writes: “Pakistan is actively fulfilling its geostrategic destiny as the ‘Zipper of Eurasia’” by connecting a variety of stakeholders through their shared economic interests. “Islamabad is leveraging its influence in Afghanistan to advance the neighboring country’s peace process, which saw it facilitate Beijing and Moscow’s incipient ties with the Taliban. Upon these multipolar great powers establishing pragmatic political relations with the group, they were then able to seriously countenance the viability of trans-Afghan connectivity corridors. Russia is interested in reaching the Indian Ocean Region through PAKAFUZ (which can also unofficially be conceptualized as N-CPEC+), while China is pioneering the so-called “Persian Corridor” to Iran via Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The U.S., meanwhile, aims to use PAKAFUZ as a means for expanding its economic influence in the post-withdrawal Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics (CARs).”

As for India, it is finding itself left out of the process, he writes, because it is maintaining a geopolitical policy aimed at countering Pakistan. Nonetheless, he believes now India has begun to seriously reassess its policy away from geopolitical principles, which of course will require an improvement of relations with Pakistan. One option would be reversing the August 2019 abrogation of Article 370 which dismantled the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir to bifurcate the region, which would admittedly be a very difficult political decision.

He concludes: “The very fact that the U.S., which is known for its geopolitically driven zero-sum policies, is joining together with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in order to expand its economic influence in Central Asia speaks to just how dramatically everything is changing.”


`The Place Where These Rivals Can Work Together’: Afghanistan

`The Place Where These Rivals Can Work Together’: Afghanistan —

July 18 (EIRNS) – An interesting statement by Pakistan’s ambassador to China, Javid Ahmad Qaem, was quoted in Global Times July 17. “The only place,” the Ambassador said, “where the U.S., China and India could really cooperate, and at least there could be a starting point to cooperate between these rivals, if I can call them that, is Afghanistan.”
            The same Global Times article which quoted Qaem made clear that China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative – the Eurasia-wide infrastructure corridor development plan it initiated in 2013 – as the basis for cooperation in shifting Afghanistan from the theater of endless war and poverty to a nation developing and a contributor to stability. At the July 15-16 conference of 40 nations’ representatives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on “stability and connectivity” in the region following the NATO withdrawals, “China urges Central and South Asian countries to forge a closer regional connectivity partnership through high-quality cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” Global Times reported, not implying U.S. participation. A White House readout July 18 said only that A high-level US delegation led by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the international conference in Uzbekistan and discussed the evolving security situation in Afghanistan and the US support for the Afghan defense forces.”
            The impression is given by many media accounts (leaving aside those that forecast the Taliban overrunning Kabul this week) that China and Russia are working with the Taliban on new regional security concepts while the United States and India try to meddle. Russia at least is, according to an Asia Times report July 15, preparing to move at the UN for the Taliban to no longer be designated as supporting terrorism, if that movement maintains peaceful relations with the Central Asian Republics and does not support either al-Qaeda or the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM, Uiygur separatist terrorists). The Taliban have proposed friendly relations with China.
            But the Afghan government has also made moves toward economic reconstruction potentials for the region, in anticipation of the NATO troops getting out. In February it agreed with Pakistan and Uzbekistan on a rail corridor from Peshawar, Pakistan to Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan to Tashkent, clearly linking to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and to the main Eurasian Land-Bridge rail corridor. It also discussed with Pakistan a highway in the same corridor but branching to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. And the Ghani government has started a 50 km gravel and asphalt road through the formidable Wakhan Corridor to the 5,000 meter-high Wakhjir Pass; it continued beyond it would be a rugged but short and direct route to China through Xinjiang Province.
            Afghan consultant to Ghani’s office Shokrullah Amiri, writing in Global Times July 18, says that the Afghan and Chinese governments have been consulting since May on the Wakhan  Corridor also becoming part of the Belt and Road Initiative (it was a part of the 12th Century Silk Road). This, said the Asia Times July 15 report, was why the Ghani government began on the road. Amiri has much more to say about the potential development of Afghan minerals and Afghan-China trade as a result.  For more details, go here.