Setting The Right Conditions

Source: brecorder.com

Source: brecorder.com

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is on a very successful tour to the United States. Earlier, the Army Chief has also met the US National Security Advisor. The United States is selling more F-16 jets to Pakistan, is looking to discuss a civilian nuclear deal, while also asking Pakistan to put the brakes on its growing nuclear arsenal. Furthermore, alongside the Prime Minister’s daughter, the American First Lady has also announced a program for education for girls. All these are very good signs for Pakistan’s future, not only economically, but in terms of defense as well.

As much as we criticize foreign aid, it’s a foreign relations tool that is not going to vanish any time soon enough. Probably countries such as Pakistan cannot do without it, but the United States must ensure that it serves its purpose of strengthening the alliance, and of promoting its interests.

The Jacobabad procession bombing is just a demonstration of how menacing the problem of domestic sectarian terrorism is, even when a massive operation has been conducted against anti-state Islamist terrorists. The Islamist terrorists who are not anti-state must be met with the same ruthlessness and vigor.

As a citizen of Pakistan, I would like to see the United States acknowledge Pakistan’s commitment and actions to fight against Islamist terrorism. But at the same time, as a concerned citizen of the world who would see the progress of secular values, I would also like to see the United States press Pakistan harder for taking actions against domestic terrorism. Not because the US government cares about human rights or dying minority sect citizens, but because such a country would be a threat to the national security of the United States and democratic values.

Lashkar-e-Jhangavi has again taken responsibility for the Jacobabad bombing and all we can do is to wait for the next Muharram for another one of these incidents. What is worse, these sectarian terrorists do not need an occasion or reason to attack the Shia, Ismaili, Hazara and Ahmadi population, as we have witnessed a plenty of times in the recent past.

All of us must commend the federal and provincial governments for all the hard work for protecting citizens and religious processions during the Ashura. However, it would be even better if they concentrate their efforts on proactively taking action against the roots of these sectarian groups, which are surely operating within the country. As much as it is a good thing that we are on the lookout for RAW agents, it would be helpful to pay attention to these immediate internal threats.

Fortunately, the armed forces also seem to be in the mood for taking on the challenge of extremism as well. The army chief has vowed that the military would do all in its power to protect Pakistan from the threat of ISIS.

It is important to recognize the growing religious intolerance in the society, especially when similar sentiment is prevalent in neighboring India, which is only going to make matters worse. But what the democratic and civilized world has in common is the commitment to fight religious extremism, which is a threat to freedom and democracy everywhere.

Just like the civil and military leadership has considered it vital to take action against miscreants in Karachi, it is probably even more important to protect the nation from the threat of sectarian terrorism. Not only are sectarian terrorists a threat to national unity, but they are a threat to freedom of religion and speech in this country.

I have complete faith in the civilian leadership and the commitment of the armed forces to fight terrorism. However, I wish that they would not require a nudge from a more authoritative entity to launch their pursuit.

Considering the relative inaction against sectarian terrorists, that surely seems to be the case.

But we know that wheels get moving when it comes to the bottom line.

So the US administration should set the right, strict conditions of action against religious extremism at home for military and civilian aid.

Not even that, they should make sure that the job is done properly.

A version of this post was published in The Nation blogs.
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Failed Diplomats, Diplomacy and the Press

Source: misz007.livejournal.com

When Diplomats need to get anything done, they are not really bothered about what the general public would think of them. What is more important is what the states thinks of them. Diplomats deal in politics, but they are not exactly politicians. They are discrete but not always politically correct. They look after the interests of their states but not always the interest of their people. That depends. But they take care of their own interests, at least.

However, when they need to get anything done, interferences can really prove disastrous to their cause. This is one of the greatest flaws of the openness of the modern day diplomatic practices. But much more than that, the media. This has been happening more frequently in the recent years. However, that has not changed the art of diplomacy itself and things get done as they used to in the past.

But sometimes the kind of coverage that media the offer to diplomats and diplomatic processes can damage their work quite a bit. Especially when it comes to spilling out the beans pertaining to what the diplomats have been talking about in private. Media entities such as the Wikileaks have created a tremendous impact on the world of diplomacy. Well diplomats, welcome to the Age of Information, and Technology.

However, All diplomats secretly hate the press. Some do so openly. Actually, you would hardly be a diplomat if you really loved the press. Let alone be a journalist, which really makes it an oxymoron. But some diplomats do become journalists or columnists after they retire. The better ones become consultants and lobbyists. Actually, you can never tell diplomats to retire. They choose to retire themselves.

Some of them had actually foreseen the troubles of the future.

Today the greatest evil—and therefore the most immediate—is the press.

Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich of the Austrian Empire                      (1773 – 1859)

Ah, how the diplomats miss the good old days when there was nothing like modern press. Prince von Metternich was the Chairman at the Congress of Vienna and said that at a time when clearly the threat from the media was not half as much as troubling as it is in the 21st century.

However, let us not forget that the press is also a tool for diplomacy. What can be used against you, can be used for you and vice versa. Therefore, the press is your greatest backstabbing machine, while it serves as your propaganda mouthpiece. This is what gives a literal meaning to the expression “War of the Words”.

Learn from the press. If and when you run out of content, create content. But if you underestimate the press, it is not always unsure of what it is doing. Actually it almost always is sure.

Diplomats who fail to change with time, adopt new techniques, adapt their stance and approach and accept new challenges are doomed to fail.

In the world of diplomacy, everything happens for a reason. Even if it is nothing. Therefore, if you see some smoke in the press, there is always a suppressed fire managing to surface some of its flames through the rubble piled up to cover it. Diplomatic scandals are the same and if a diplomat faces the music, it means that he or she did something terribly wrong as far as his or her own interest was concerned.

Diplomats who don’t watch their back pay dearly for it. Brutal truth, digest it if you can. Diplomacy and Backstabbing go hand in hand. Diplomats must choose their allies wisely and should be even more careful with the people who they call or consider their friends. Never trust people who are too hungry for attention. Or never trust them too much.

Diplomats cannot afford to have such friends. Or at least cannot afford to trust them with their lives. With friends like these, who needs enemies.

I respect diplomats, marketers and pimps.

Their jobs are not easy. But you have to be sure that you don’t get stabbed.

The world of diplomacy is just so amusing and entertaining. That’s what drives them. Apart from the kill.

If you are not a good liar, you can leave diplomacy to your grandmother. But if you do fail, you need to retreat safely.

I think you are pretty much defined by how and where you retreat.

Diplomats are, after all, humans. They can make mistakes too.

But then again they must never make mistakes unless on purpose.