Why Has Modi's India Failed to Internationally Isolate Pakistan Despite its Best Efforts?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has pursued a policy of internationally isolating Pakistan for the last 8 years. Indian diplomats and mainstream media have engaged in a concerted campaign to hurt Pakistan diplomatically and economically during this period. Even the sport of cricket has not been spared.  All of the available evidence suggests that this Indian campaign has failed.  

Pakistan PM with Other World Leaders at SCO Summit in Samarkand, Uz...

A prominent Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta has recently summarized the reasons for the Modi government's failure to achieve its objectives relative to Pakistan. Gupta argues that Pakistan is too important to be ignored or isolated by the international community. He says, "Pakistan is too big in terms of population, too powerful militarily, too Muslim, too nuclear and too well located to be isolated". 

Pakistan PM Shahbaz Sharif with President and Mrs. Biden. Source: White House

Here are some of the key points Shekhar Gupta makes in episode 1093 of his show Cut The Clutter : 

1.Pakistan is our most important neighbor. We must focus on Pakistan.

2, We can not ignore Pakistan in India because the world can not ignore Pakistan

3. The Western world has an intrinsic relationship with Pakistan which doesn't go away

4. The West does not see Pakistan as so useful to them today and yet Pakistan can not be isolated.

5. You can see all the indications that Pakistan is not isolated.

6. A lot of (Indian) TV channels say Pakistan is isolated but the evidence doesn't support it.

7. Pakistan FM visited Washington and met his counterpart Tony Blinken. 

8. Pakistan Army Chief has received a warm welcome at the US Defense Dept and met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Bajwa matters more than the Pakistan Defense Minister. Nobody knows his name.

9. US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome, a career diplomat, has visited "Pakistan Occupied Kashmir" and called it Azad Kashmir...Azad means free.

10. When the chips are down in the region Pakistan is the ally Americans reach out to.

11. The US does not want Pakistan to drift to China.

12. German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has spoken about Kashmir...the K word. She has asked for the UN to help solve the Kashmir issue.

13. Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa is not a warmonger. He wants to normalize ties with India. He wants to trade with India. He doesn't want Faiz Hameed to succeed him. He used to be the ISI chief and took credit for the Taliban victory in Afghanistan. Do the Americans have leverage here?

14. Where does Pakistan's unique power come from? Why can't Pakistan be ignored? Why can't Pakistan be isolated?

15. The Indian public needs to understand it.

16. Pakistan is too big in terms of population, too powerful militarily, too Muslim, too nuclear and too well located to be isolated.

17. Pakistan has the 5th largest population and its population is growing fast. It could soon exceed Indonesia to become the largest Muslim nation in the world.

18. Pakistan has the 5th strongest military in the world.

19. In terms of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has the 4th largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

20. Pakistan is too well located to be isolated. It has geo-strategic location. Pakistan is the western gateway to China. Pakistan opened China's ties with the US. And then helped the US defeat the Soviet Union.

21. The factors that made Pakistan such a strong ally to US still exist. Don't blame the Pakistanis for it.

22. India is not willing to commit to an alliance with the US.

23. Imran Khan tried to change Pakistan's foreign policy to be more like India's but he failed.

Mentions of Afghans and Afghanistan in US National Security Strateg... 

Prime Minister Modi is getting similar inputs and advice from retired Indian diplomat Sharat Sabharwal. In his recently published book "India's Pakistan Conundrum", Sabharwal disabuses his fellow Indians of the notion that Pakistan is about to collapse. He also writes that "Pakistan has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity".  "Pakistan is neither a failed state nor one about to fail", he adds. He sees "limitations on India’s ability to inflict a decisive blow on Pakistan through military means". The best option for New Delhi, he argues, is to engage with Pakistan diplomatically. In an obvious message to India's hawkish Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he warns: "Absence of dialogue and diplomacy between the two countries carries the risk of an unintended flare-up". Ambassador Sabharwal served as Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan from 2009 to 2013. Prior to that, he was Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad in the 1990s.

Here's Shekhar Gupta's video titled "Gen Bajwa in DC, US envoy, German FM statements on Kashmir, show why Pakistan can’t be isolated."

https://youtu.be/NuXd4d_clf4

http://www.youtube.com/embed/NuXd4d_clf4"; title="YouTube video player" width="560"></iframe>" height="315" src="https://img1.blogblog.com/img/video_object.png" width="560" style="cursor: move; background-color: #b2b2b2;" />

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 20, 2022 at 5:47pm

New Delhi Senior serving and retired Indian and Pakistani officials participated in a conference organised recently by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IIS) in Oman with the stated aim of encouraging engagement between the two countries, people familiar with the matter said.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-pak-officials-joine...

The 15th edition of the Southern Asia Security Conference saw the officials from the two sides participating in “off the record” sessions that were held behind closed doors. The people cited above made it clear that there were no bilateral meetings between the two sides though there were extensive discussions during the various sessions of the conference.

The conference, which was held in Muscat during September 17-18, saw the participation of an Indian delegation that included the external affairs ministry’s pointperson for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, joint secretary J P Singh, and at least two former officials from the external intelligence setup who continue to be active in tracking Pakistan-related issues, the people said.

The Pakistani side was represented by former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, the special representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, and Brig Zulfiqar Ali Bhatty, the director of strategic communications in Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Haneef Atmar, the foreign minister in the former Afghan government led by president Ashraf Ghani, also participated in the conference, the people said.

Indian officials did not respond to a request for comment on the participation in the Southern Asia Security Conference, which is usually organised by UK-based IISS in collaboration with the Near East South Asia Center (NESA) of the US National Defense University in Washington.

The conference was held at a time when there are virtually no bilateral contacts between India and Pakistan, with relations having plummeted since New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019. At the time, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India and sent back the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad.

The joint secretary for the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk in the external affairs ministry has participated in past editions of the Southern Asia Security Conference along with serving and retired diplomats and intelligence officials. The conference resumed in 2021 following a hiatus in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

IISS states on its website that its South and Central Asian defence, strategy and diplomacy programme aims to “encourage contact and engagement between the security establishments and strategic communities of India and Pakistan to help resume an India-Pakistan peace process”. It further states that relations between the two countries “hit a 20 year low in 2019 and have been damaged by a decade with no peace dialogue”.

The people said some of the discussions at this year’s conference centred on the possibility of resumption of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad, though some participants thought this was unlikely because Pakistan is expected to go into a national election in 2023 and there will be a leadership change in the Pakistan Army in November.


Issue such as Kashmir, counter terrorism, Pakistan’s support for pro-Khalistan elements and normalisation of trade also came up in the discussions. The participants reportedly noted that the revival of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in 2021 had helped improve the security situation, the people said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2022 at 10:16am

Pakistan Removed From Terror-Financing List After Four Years - Bloomberg

A global anti-money laundering watchdog removed Pakistan from its “gray” monitoring list after four years, providing relief for the South Asian nation that is facing a crisis.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said the country “has strengthened the effectiveness” of its regime for anti-money laundering and combating terror financing, and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans.



https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-10-21/pakistan-removed...


Pakistan has been on the FATF’s monitoring list since 2018 for its inability to combat money laundering and terror financing. It was given a 27-point plan that year and another seven-point action plan in 2021. In September of this year, the watchdog had sent a team to verify steps taken.

The exit will ease access to finances for the country after catastrophic flooding caused losses of around $40 billion to lives and livelihoods. Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service have downgraded the nation’s credit rating deeper into junk while its bonds traded in distressed territory.

FATF is an intra-governmental body that includes 37 countries and two regional organizations. China, Turkey and Malaysia have lobbied in the past to prevent severe penalties against Pakistan, while India, which accuses Islamabad of funding militant groups operating in its portion of Kashmir, had sought a downgrade to the more severe blacklist

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2022 at 1:31pm

FATF
@FATFNews
Pakistan and Nicaragua have been removed from the FATF’s Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring list, often referred to as the 'grey list'. See the full update on the list here➡️ https://bit.ly/3Dj3K9S #FollowTheMoney

https://twitter.com/FATFNews/status/1583499858123448330?s=20&t=...

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Paris, 21 October 2022 - Jurisdictions under increased monitoring are actively working with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. When the FATF places a jurisdiction under increased monitoring, it means the country has committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to increased monitoring. This list is often externally referred to as the “grey list”.

The FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) continue to work with the jurisdictions below as they report on the progress achieved in addressing their strategic deficiencies. The FATF calls on these jurisdictions to complete their action plans expeditiously and within the agreed timeframes. The FATF welcomes their commitment and will closely monitor their progress. The FATF does not call for the application of enhanced due diligence measures to be applied to these jurisdictions. The FATF Standards do not envisage de-risking, or cutting-off entire classes of customers, but call for the application of a risk-based approach. Therefore, the FATF encourages its members and all jurisdictions to take into account the information presented below in their risk analysis.

The FATF identifies additional jurisdictions, on an on-going basis, that have strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. A number of jurisdictions have not yet been reviewed by the FATF or their FSRBs, but will be in due course.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FATF has provided some flexibility to jurisdictions not facing immediate deadlines to report progress on a voluntary basis. The following countries had their progress reviewed by the FATF since June 2022: Albania, Barbados, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Senegal, South Sudan, Türkiye, UAE, and Uganda. For these countries, updated statements are provided below. Gibraltar chose to defer reporting; thus, the statement issued in June 2022 for that jurisdiction is included below, but it may not necessarily reflect the most recent status of the jurisdiction’s AML/CFT regime. Following review, the FATF now also identifies the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

The FATF welcomes the progress made by these countries in combating money laundering and terrorist financing, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Pakistan
The FATF welcomes Pakistan’s significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime. Pakistan has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans regarding strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in June 2018 and June 2021, the latter of which was completed in advance of the deadlines, encompassing 34 action items in total. Pakistan is therefore no longer subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process.

Pakistan will continue to work with APG to further improve its AML/CFT system.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 22, 2022 at 8:20am

Rain threatens #India-#Pakistan blockbuster. India will be particularly under pressure to avoid a repeat of the last year's #WorldCup when a 10-wicket thumping by Pakistan in their opener set the tone for their early exit from the tournament. #Australia https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/rain-threat-looms-over-ind...

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is set to become a cauldron of emotions but the tournament's most anticipated clash could prove a damp squib with rain forecast this weekend and India skipper Rohit Sharma said his team will be ready.

"The toss does become a little important. But again, I've been hearing about the Melbourne weather for a while now and it keeps changing," Rohit said. "You don't really know what is going to happen tomorrow.

"The things that are in our control we'll try and control... We need to come here thinking that it's a 40-over game. We'll be ready for that. If the situation demands that it's a shorter game, we'll be ready for that as well.

"A lot of the guys have played such kinds of games before, and they know how to manage themselves in a situation like that where you're getting ready for a 40-over game and then suddenly it's a 20-over game for both sides."

Players from both sides have sought to downplay the hype around the match even though tickets sold out within five minutes of going on sale earlier this year.

They even hobnobbed with each other though many suspect the bonhomie is a coping mechanism to deal with the pressure of expectation from their unforgiving fans back home.

India will be particularly under pressure to avoid a repeat of the last year's World Cup when a 10-wicket thumping by Pakistan in their opener set the tone for their early exit from the tournament.

The strike rate of their top order and death bowling remains a concern for the inaugural champions who are without injured pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.

The onus is on their explosive middle order, led by the swashbuckling Suryakumar Yadav, to come good against Pakistan's formidable pace attack bolstered by Shaheen Afridi's return from a knee injury.

Afridi had removed Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in last year's tournament to set the tone for their comprehensive victory and the left-arm speedster would be eager to prove his class on Sunday.

Pakistan's much-maligned middle order showed signs of form in the recent tri-series in New Zealand but a lot would depend on what kind of start they get from Mohammad Rizwan, currently the top-ranked T20 batter, and skipper Babar Azam at the top of the order.

"It's a high-pressure game but we'll try to keep it simple and keep faith in our abilities and the practice that we've done," said Babar.

India's Yadav separates Rizwan and Babar in the official rankings and fans would be justified in expecting batting fireworks in a match featuring the world's top three T20 batters.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 25, 2022 at 9:39am

Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-s...


With the clock ticking on his expected retirement, Pakistan's all-powerful army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, paid a long-delayed visit to Washington in early October. Some saw it as a valedictory trip. Others speculated that it was a signal he intends to stay on after his term ends next month, just as he secured an extension in 2019.

Either way, Bajwa's mission was clear: shoring up a crucial diplomatic relationship undermined by years of distrust, at a time when Islamabad faces an unprecedented storm of challenges, including political turmoil inflamed last Friday by the disqualification of former Prime Minister Imran Khan from holding public office.

Sources with firsthand knowledge of the general's recent meetings paint a picture of Pakistan seeking nothing less than a new arrangement with the U.S. -- one that balances ties with China, helps decrease tensions with India and boosts the struggling economy, while sustaining military relations.

Forging such a broad relationship would normally be up to civilian diplomats. Indeed, new Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari recently made his own lengthy stateside trip. But few would deny that it is the commander of the 600,000-man army and the only nuclear-armed Islamic military who wields the most clout in Pakistan, where the elected leadership relies on the top brass's patronage to stay in office.

As whispers swirl over Bajwa's future and who might succeed him -- late last week the general himself declared he is retiring -- a key question is whether his outreach to the U.S. can usher Pakistan onto firmer footing. The South Asian country's weak government is wrestling with high debt, dwindling foreign exchange reserves, catastrophic flooding and a raucous opposition further riled by Khan's disqualification.

Over the course of six days, from Oct. 1 to 6, the general held a flurry of meetings with senior officials from the State Department, Defense Department, the National Security Council and the intelligence community. According to one official familiar with the proceedings, Bajwa presented a vision for a bilateral relationship "much like the Americans' understanding with South Korea."

"He told them that we'd like to be a strategic partner of the U.S. not in name, but in action," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The message was that there should be "a wider net connecting us -- infrastructure, tech, health and trade -- and not just the military and defense ties that we've depended on for decades."

Alluding to Pakistan's dire economic straits, the official noted the country can be a "more useful partner" if it is doing well. "Frankly, we'd rather [the Americans] invest in us."

While the Pentagon issued only a brief statement about the general's visit, commemorating 75 years of diplomatic relations, the State Department made a clear disclaimer: Pakistan's civilian government, and not the military that has ruled the country directly or indirectly since independence in 1947, is America's "primary interlocutor."

Still, another source confirmed that U.S. "follow-ups" to the general's visit are underway across different departments.

Bajwa's trip made it apparent that the U.S. wants Pakistan's advice on Afghanistan, particularly how to help Afghan women. A source said that Bajwa was consulted about the women at every meeting, and that he offered ideas such as incentivizing the Taliban to allow women to study and work by sponsoring all-female schools and hospitals.


Comment by Riaz Haq on October 25, 2022 at 9:40am

Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-s...


Moreover, the U.S. and other partners last week removed Pakistan from the Financial Action Task Force's terrorism financing "gray list," after major efforts by Bajwa's security agencies.

But to restore its Cold War-era position as a trusted U.S. partner, Islamabad has its work cut out. Pakistan has lost America's confidence due to its support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, its tilt toward China, its never-ending rivalry with India and its expanding nuclear arsenal.

"Pakistanis have to be careful not to start expecting a return to the relationship of the past," warned Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington and now a director of Central and South Asia at the Hudson Institute.

"At the same time, there is now potential for a new relationship," he added. "It will be based on a more realistic assessment, hopefully by both sides, of what the two countries can do for another. ... Pragmatic engagement is the only viable way forward."

Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, observed, "Given that the visit came at a moment when U.S.-Pakistan relations have shown signs of a resurgence, it can also be seen as another data point indicating that the relationship is stabilizing after some years of uncertainty."

Yet Pakistan still has a serious reputation problem.

On Oct. 13, U.S. President Joe Biden called Pakistan "one of the most dangerous nations in the world," possessing "nuclear weapons without any cohesion." The rebuke was made on the campaign trail, but it propelled Islamabad to summon the American ambassador. The next day, a bipartisan resolution was tabled in the U.S. House of Representatives, declaring that the Pakistani military had committed genocide in 1971 against its citizens.

One Pakistani diplomat said the country's "toxic branding" does not afford it much leverage. He pointed out that although U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin invited Bajwa to Washington back in 2021, partly out of appreciation for the Pakistani military's contribution to the Afghanistan evacuation last year, "publicly, the U.S. couldn't, or wouldn't, be thankful to Pakistan, because we are associated in America with being pro-Taliban ... and behind bringing them back to power."

A wave of anti-Americanism triggered by the ouster of former Prime Minister Khan in April is not helping. The born-again-Muslim populist blames the Pakistani military and the Americans for orchestrating "regime change" through a no-confidence vote. Khan's message resonates despite a lack of evidence. This month, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party swept a series of parliamentary by-elections, winning six out of seven contested seats.

Even so, the government -- or more precisely, the military -- has refused to accept Khan's demand for a snap general election. And now Khan's disqualification, which he is appealing, has thrown his fate into doubt.

In Washington, sources said that Bajwa, in addition to laying out a new vision for the relationship, explained Pakistan's positions on a wide range of regional issues, even the prospect of opening up relations with Israel.

Regarding China, sources said U.S. officials cautioned Bajwa about Islamabad's proximity to Beijing and the need to adhere to a rules-based order, even as they claimed to understand the compulsions of the neighbors' "all weather" friendship. Islamabad owes Beijing $29.82 billion -- about 30% of its total external debt -- in bilateral and commercial loans, according to recent International Monetary Fund figures.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 25, 2022 at 9:40am

Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-s...


On India, Bajwa assured senior administration officials that the cease-fire at the Line of Control -- the heavily militarized de facto border in Kashmir -- has been "holding very well," according to an official.


The source said Bajwa also noted that "the diplomatic vitriol between New Delhi and Islamabad had reduced over the last couple of years," despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist government and anti-Muslim politics within India. On the other hand, according to the official, Bajwa reiterated that India's suspension of Kashmir's autonomous status in 2019 put bilateral ties in a very difficult place.

Critically, Gen. Bajwa is said to have moved away from a long-held Pakistani position, conceding that Islamabad does not expect the U.S. to play an intermediary role with India for now. "We have to act like big boys and figure this out between ourselves and the Indians," said a diplomat present in the meetings. "We told them that if we improve our position, the U.S. can act as a natural back door [for] talking to India. But first, both sides have to take concrete steps towards peace."

On the military front, Pakistan is too broke to buy new equipment, but diplomats said the general sought to sustain existing agreements.

Much of Pakistan's front-line hardware, including F-16 fighter-bombers, is U.S.-made. Just a month before the visit, the Pentagon announced that it would be servicing a $450 million F-16 sustainment package for the Pakistan Air Force. There are also agreements for Pakistani military officers to be trained at U.S. military colleges and academies.

According to two Pakistani officials, Bajwa wanted an answer on the continuity of service and upgrades. "For legacy systems, sustenance packages and maintenance supplies that are owed to our purchases, it is their responsibility," said an officer. "We said to them: just say yes or no, so we have clarity."

A source said that "follow-up teams" are exploring "creative solutions" for giving the financially-strapped Pakistanis access to more American equipment -- if not directly, then by leasing hardware from common partners. These could include "F-16s from the Jordanian Air Force, which has many of the fighters and doesn't really need them because of Jordan's peaceful regional dynamics, or even decommissioned frigates from the U.S. Navy, which cost less money and require less red tape."
Despite covering so much ground, some analysts are skeptical about how much Bajwa's visit achieved.

"There were no specific asks or gets," said Shuja Nawaz, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. "Normalization has been going on for some time. But the reality is that bilateral financial assistance -- the need of the hour -- is extremely low, and is not going to increase as a result of this visit."

Back home, the timing of Bajwa's visit, unusually close to the end of his tenure, added an element of controversy. His intentions are still being debated, with Twitter threads and WhatsApp groups -- but not censored mainstream media -- war gaming different scenarios: him taking up an advisory role in the Middle East or another extension.

Despite his imminent exit, the nearly 62-year-old, four-star Punjabi infantry officer continues to make waves politically.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 25, 2022 at 9:41am

Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-s...


Soon after arriving back in Pakistan on Oct. 8, he issued an open warning: The army will never allow any "country, group or force to politically or economically destabilize Pakistan." This was seen as a barely veiled threat to Imran Khan to call off plans for a civil disobedience movement.

Days later, investigators arrested -- and allegedly stripped and roughed up -- Khan's deputy, Azam Swati, over "obnoxious and intimidating" tweeting against Bajwa. Swati had questioned the general's apparent support for incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his family.

Although Bajwa has said the military does not want to interfere in politics, reality appears more complex. In September and October, phone and personal conversations between Khan and his top advisers, as well as Sharif and his staff, were leaked on social media. The leaks were seemingly edited and timed to put both the government and opposition on the back foot. Analysts say such tradecraft can presumably be attributed to the military-run intelligence apparatus, and designed to curb the ambitions and power of the civilians.

At a recent rally, a visibly angry Khan questioned if the military's job was to protect the country or spy on its leaders.

Pakistan's record on press freedom under Bajwa is also under scrutiny. The authorities in Pakistan are known for pressuring the media, and suspicions have long swirled over extrajudicial killings, with 89 journalists killed since 2002 including 13 during Bajwa's term since 2016, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists database. When Bajwa was asked about press freedom while in the U.S., he initially denied knowledge of such pressure, according to a source. When pressed, the source said he suggested that Pakistan lacks legal means such as gag orders, so the authorities resort to other measures.

If Bajwa's tenure is indeed coming to an end, as he insists, he will leave behind a tattered economy, a polarized polity, rising insurgencies and a wave of populism that could upend traditional power structures.

It may take more than mere generals to fix the myriad problems of the Islamic republic.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 26, 2022 at 8:05am

Pakistan leader Shehbaz Sharif to make first visit to China next week

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3197332/pakistan-...

Prime minister will be joined by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for two-day trip
Sharif will meet President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and head of the legislature Li Zhanshu

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will travel to China next week, soon after a reshuffle of Beijing’s top leadership.
Sharif will visit China from November 1 at the invitation of outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it would be a two-day trip and that Sharif would be joined by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
It will be the Pakistani leader’s first visit to China – the South Asian country’s long-time close ally – since he took power after Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Sharif was among the first foreign leaders to be invited to China after last week’s Communist Party congress, at which Xi Jinping secured a third term as its chief and unveiled a new leadership line-up.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and ‘hardcore’ friends,” Wang told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.
“China looks forward to working with Pakistan to use this visit as an opportunity to further promote all-weather and high-level strategic cooperation, to build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, and to make greater contributions to maintaining regional peace and stability, and international fairness and justice.”
Wang said President Xi, Premier Li and Li Zhanshu, head of China’s legislature, would meet Sharif during his visit. The two sides are expected to exchange views on the development of bilateral relations and international and regional issues.


Sharif’s visit comes as Pakistan’s economy is struggling in the wake of political turmoil earlier this year, and amid a devastating flood season that has caused more than 1,600 deaths and displaced millions.
Sharif expressed gratitude to China early this month after Beijing provided more than 644 million yuan (US$88 million) in aid to Pakistan. China has also sent disaster relief supplies and experts to help manage the flood situation since it started in June.

Pakistan’s leader is also likely to raise its debt issues with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing, after the country asked China to roll over its US$6.3 billion debt on Saturday.
The two nations signed a loan facility agreement in June, with Chinese banks lending US$2.3 billion to Pakistan to help boost its reserves.
Sharif is one of several foreign leaders to visit China following the ruling party’s twice-a-decade national congress. On Tuesday it was announced that Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong would travel to China on Sunday.


And German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday confirmed he would visit China in November with a delegation of business leaders. He is expected to discuss trade and other issues, amid tensions over visits to Taiwan by German lawmakers.
Scholz refused to confirm whether he would travel to China with French President Emmanuel Macron, who will reportedly meet Xi for separate talks next month.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 27, 2022 at 5:13pm

Pak-Saudi reset
The countries have reiterated their resolve to graduate their relations to new heights

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2383539/pak-saudi-reset


Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have reiterated their resolve to graduate their relations to new heights, and agreed to work collectively on issues of regional and international concerns. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was on a whirlpool visit to the Kingdom, to iron out the upcoming itinerary of Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan, took the opportunity to seek renewed investment in Pakistan, and assured that the country is striving to pull out of degeneration through forward-looking policies. Riyadh had been of great support in cushioning Pakistan’s economy in times of crisis. It has recently rolled over its $3 billion cash tranche for another year. Besides, the assistance in the wake of monsoon destruction is highly valued, and the PM made it a point to thank Royal leadership for their sustained generosity.

The visit will make way for Prince Salman’s visit to Islamabad next month, wherein he is scheduled to open new investment opportunities. Saudi Arabia has already signed MoUs and other protocols for over $20 billion investment in refinery and other power sector avenues, and the leadership will take a review of it, accordingly. Shehbaz also addressed the ‘Future Investment Initiative’ conference and underlined the importance of clean energy resources, as well as other multifaceted aspects that can be tapped bilater- ally. The Middle Eastern state is home to Pakistan’s biggest diaspora, and expatriates are the backbone of the economy who funnel in more than a billion dollars per month.

Shehbaz’s two-day sojourn has come at a time when Pakistan is passing through a critical phase of instability and economic hardship. The PM is scheduled to fly into China in the next couple of days, and it seems the visits are part of grand initiatives to pull the economy out of slumber, and kick-start a new phase of development. The rapidly evolving power equation in the region, especially in the backdrop of the Saudi-US tension, has poised a new fulcrum and Pakistan’s tilt is of immense importance on either side. This is where Islamabad’s proactive diplomacy counts, and is a tangible factor in realpolitik.

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