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Article 35A: Facts speak louder than lies do

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  • If Article 35A goes, State Subject laws will also go in J&K

Former State Finance Minister, Dr. Haseeb Drabu, has stated in his recent columns on Article 35A (Article 35A: Myth & Reality April 4, 2019 GK) that if this Article of the Constitution of India is abrogated, the people of India will still not be able to purchase land in J&K because the Constitution of J&K will not allow them to do so. Obviously he has in mind Sections 6-10 of Constitution of J&K which deal with special rights and privileges of permanent residents.

I beg to differ with Dr. Drabu’s contention because the moment Article 35A is repealed, Sections 6 to 10 of the Constitution of J&K will become vulnerable.

Rightwingers of India maintain that Article 35A is a  violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens of India in that it prevents them from purchasing immovable property in J&K State; and that it is not a Parliamentary enactment but a Presidential executive order; and,  therefore, unconstitutional. This is an imperially motivated reading of the provision, in my opinion.

Firstly, Article 35A is not a self-contained whole. It is a small part of a larger whole called Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, 1954. The whole Constitution Order, 1954 is a Presidential executive order whereby the President of India applied Constitution of India to J&K State albeit with exceptions and modifications.

There are more than one hundred exceptions and modification to various Article of Constitution of India in their application to J&K State as spelt out in the CO, 1954. Article 35A is just one of them; Article 35(c) is another; and so on. Rightwingers single out only 35A.

However, these exceptions and modifications are not printed in Constitution of India along with the regular text of these Articles whose provisions  happen to be either excepted or modified in their application to J&K State; and even Article 370 [the parent of CO, 1954 and of Articles 35A and 35(c)], which is a regular provision of Constitution of India, is printed in the same form as it was enacted in 1949, although its “Explanation” clause was twice modified: once in 1952 at the time of inception of the institution of Sadri-Riyasat in place of the Maharaja; and second time in 1965 when the institution of Sadri-Riyasat was abolished and the institution of Governor set up in its place.

Rightwingers of India prefer silence on other exceptions and modifications than Article 35A. They describe Article 35A as a violation of the fundamental rights of people of India which it was/is not. While as Article 35(c), which deals with preventive detention, was/is a violation of the fundamental rights of State Subjects of J&K.

And secondly, by giving concurrence in May 1954 to the application of Constitution of India to J&K State, the Constituent Assembly of J&K surrendered legislative autonomy of the State before the President of India, albeit retaining the power to legislate on the already existing State Subject Laws promulgated by the Maharaja in 1927.

Article 35A saves those laws: “Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution [of India], no existing law in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State, – (a) defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be, permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, or (b) conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon  other persons any restrictions as respects – (i) employment under the State Government; (ii) acquisition of immovable property in the State; (iii) settlement in the State; or (iv) right to scholarship and such other  forms of aid as the State Government may provide, – shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this Part [Fundamental Rights]”.

Now, should this provision be repealed, the Sections 6-10 of Constitution of J&K would be challenged in the same Court as being void on the ground that these are  inconsistent with and take away the fundamental rights of the citizens of India.

President of India will not repeal Article 35A for being an executive order and a violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens of India because this Article is part of a larger executive order, the CO, 1954. Abrogating Article 35A unilaterally will put the whole CO, 1954 in question. So the rightwingers have put their trust on the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court orders its abrogation, they would, as a corollary step, petition the same Court to declare Sections 6-10 of the Constitution of J&K null and void as being inconsistent with the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.

So the contention of Dr. Haseeb Drabu that the people of India will still not be able to purchase land in J&K even after abrogation of Article 35A is untenable. Therefore, the people of Kashmir should not feel complacent. Rather they need to be vigilant.

So  who will protect the rights of the State Subjects of J&K. My opinion is that only a genuinely elected civilian government could deliver on the issue of Article 35A (and also on the issue of Article 370). But then, where will a genuine civilian government come from if people support “separatist” decadence and boycott elections at their behest? Boycott will give the “mainstream” politicians a field day. 

For now they talk of rights of people being out of power. They will forget about those rights once in power. Then they will shower bullets and pellets on the same people who had voted them in.

India

Durable regional peace, stability contingent upon resolving Jammu & Kashmir dispute, PM Khan tells PM Modi

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China welcomes engagement between India, Pakistan

 

ISLAMABAD – In a major breakthrough in bilateral relations, Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday responded to a letter of Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, reminding him that durable peace and stability in South Asia region is contingent upon resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, particularly the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 27, 2019 (Xinhua) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 27, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS)

This is the first official exchange of goodwill  between the two chief executives of the two arch-rival states who have fought almost four wars on the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir left over by history since partition of subcontinent in year 1947. Tensions have been high between the two countries since past few years after Indian Premier Narendra Modi took over and opened salvo against Pakistan.

This exchange follows reports of back-channel talks between the two countries which was welcomed by China. A spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Zhao Lijian, Monday said that China welcomed the recent positive interactions between Pakistan and India and said that it was ready to work with Pakistan to inject positive energy into regional peace, stability and development.

Thanking the Indian Prime Minister for his goodwill letter in which Narendra Modi had conveyed greetings to the Pakistanis on Pakistan Day, observed on March 23, Imran Khan stated that the people of Pakistan also desire peaceful, cooperative relations with all neighbours, including India.

“We are convinced that durable peace and stability in South Asia is contingent upon resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, in particular the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.”

He maintained that creation of an enabling environment is imperative for a constructive and result-oriented dialogue.

“I also take this opportunity to convey our best wishes for the people of India in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Khan wrote in the letter dated March 29, 2021.

The Prime Minister further stated that the people of Pakistan commemorate the Pakistan Day by paying tribute to the wisdom and foresight of their founding fathers in envisioning an independent, sovereign state where they could live in freedom and realise their full potential.

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Afghanistan

The Political Aspects of APTTA

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By Dr Hussain Yasa

Abstract

The APTTA renewal between Pakistan and Afghanistan has always increased concern in the light of developing political scenario. This article evaluates the forthcoming challenges and hurdles during the renewal process of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).The agreement expires on February 11, 2021. The article evaluates the two major hurdles

  1. First, the technical and procedural problems, like cessation of informal trade, effective usage of Information Technology  (tracking devices of goods, vehicular tracking systems etc.), banking guarantees, and special bonded carrier licenses for transit trucks, container security deposits, and all other logistics and customs procedures, better working relationship and communication between the relevant authorities.
  2. Political and security concerns of both parties, particularly Pakistan. The first set of problems seems to be negotiated smoothly but the second problem might be a real bone of contention. It is the inclusion of India into this agreement or at least the provision of Indian access to Afghanistan via Wagah Border. On this issue, both Afghanistan and Pakistan stand on opposite sides.

Introduction

In spite of sharing the longest border, having much in common in religion, culture and language on both sides of the border, naturally locked in interdependency in the various key areas like economy and security, both Pakistan and Afghanistan could never acquire a smooth level of relationship.

The root causes of this discontent in the mutual relations between both neighbours have varying perceptions in their geo-political realm, sometimes difficult to sum it up in a small article. But the fact cannot be denied that both countries geographically locked in to each as neighbours will keep affecting a degree of consensus, though at times an uneasy one, in terms of security policy and economic cooperation between both the states. Notwithstanding the fact that both governments could not maintain a desirable level of relations, still millions of legal and illegal refugees prefer Pakistan as their second home and tens of thousands of Afghan children are being educated there. In addition to that thousands more are busy in licit and illicit businesses in Pakistan.

No doubt that Pakistan and Afghanistan have their own unique geopolitical and geo-economic strategic importance, it would be improper for both countries to undermine the other. Pakistan is a junction of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia with ample of coastline along the Arabian Sea which is of high importance and enables it to be an important hub for the transit trade to Afghanistan, china and the CARs. On the other hand, Afghanistan, though a landlocked country, has been known as a cultural crossroads of the Indian, Persian and Chinese civilisations, it has significant geostrategic and geopolitical importance by connecting East and West Asia or the Middle East to Central Asia, not to mention that it is the home of approx. over one trillion US dollars’ worth of untapped precious mineral deposits.

If Pakistan has one of the largest armies of the world and it is the only Islamic nuclear power state, the dilemma occurs when lasting peace in Afghanistan is only possible with mutual security consensus between both the states but for Pakistan not compromising on its own geopolitical concerns in the changing security, political and geo-economic dynamics of the region, the vicious cycle of instability seems to remain unresolved. As for Afghanistan, being the heart of Asia, as the poet of the East Allama Muhammad Iqbal acknowledged it; its destabilisation bears direct consequences on the region. In other words Afghanistan’s instability factor alone would be enough to seek its nuisance among the regional players at least, if it could not do much to prove itself otherwise, particularly, when Afghanistan lacks the capacity to contain trans-border spillover of its internal security problems.

Both countries can play important role in the stability of South and Central Asia. Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan has been dependent on its neighbours for transit trade and the provision of the basic necessities, from food items, petroleum products up to basic medicines. Amid the continuous civil war, it still exports fresh and dried fruits, carpets and other textile floor covering. Although. In spite of the huge investment in blood and money by the international community over the last two decades, Afghanistan still faces a huge trade imbalance. According to the available data from WTO, the trade deficit of Afghanistan in 2018 was US$ 6.4 billion with US$ 1.2 billion imports and the exports were only US$ 485 million which is -32.72% of the GDP. In 2019, the situation improved a little bit and this deficit decreased to -30.11% of the GDP[i].

Pakistan, Iran, China and India are the main trading partners of Afghanistan. Till 2013 Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan was at its peak by US$ 2.1 Billion but after that, the graph shows a decline in the mutual trade between the two countries[ii]. At the moment, Pakistan is the top export partner of Afghanistan with US$ 379million (43%) and India with US$ 359 million (41%) stays at number two but as far as imports are concerned Iran and China overtook Pakistan with US$ 1.26 billion and US$ 1.17 billion respectively. Pakistan stands third as the importing partner of Afghanistan by US$ 1.09 billion. Afghanistan’s import from India is US$ 359.47 million[iii].

From “ATTA” to “APTTA”

The first transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan signed on March 02, 1965. Although, it was a bilateral treaty but officially it was called “Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement” and according to that treaty Pakistan was not given the access to the then USSR while Afghanistan had the access to the ports of Pakistan, mainly the Karachi seaport which is the shortest and most cost-effective route to access the regional and the world market. In that agreement Afghanistan was not given the facility to access India by land route. For Pakistan the agreement was not balanced because it was not given reciprocal access to then USSR and after its collapse in the 90s, to the Central Asian Republics (CARs).

In the post-Taliban Afghanistan ATTA was replaced by the “Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement” which was signed by the commerce minister of both countries on October 28, 2010 in Kabul. This time the agreement was much more comprehensive with 58 articles and two annexes specifying exit-entry routes and four protocols with all the relevant technical and legal details.

By this agreement, Pakistan was given access to the CARs from three main points and Afghanistan was allowed access to Pakistan’s seaports as well as to the Wagah Border for its exports to India but does not allow Indian Exports to Afghanistan through Wagah Land Border.

The international community and the United Nations welcomed and appreciated the agreement and called it a positive step toward the promotion of mutual trade and relations.

In addition to the traditional Red-tapism and the corruption in border and customs authorities, there were always two problems which were raised time and again by both sides.

Pakistan was always concerned about the illegal and informal trade which costs Pakistan a huge sum of money annually as well as it had a bad impact on the Pakistani domestic industry and trade. It has been really a big challenge for Pakistan to control its more 2600 km porous border to control these illicit trade activities.

The second issue was Afghanistan’s persistent demand that India should be given access for its exports to Afghanistan through Pakistani land routes. Pakistan has never responded positively to this Afghan demand due to the legal aspects of the agreement as well as the security concerns.

Informal Trade             

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Pakistan is uniquely challenged by the nexus between crime and the illegal economy due to its geographic location. The country’s relations with its neighbours, particularly Afghanistan, are complicated by cross-border criminality, which in turn creates a thriving regional illegal economy orchestrated by complex informal and formal organised criminal networks of supplier rings, wholesalers, financiers, protectors and patrons. The situation within the region has implications for the broader global community as the risks created by illegal and criminal economic activities spread and multiply far beyond. For example, illegal drug trafficking risks human health globally; illegal trade that funds insurgencies poses not just local and regional security challenges but also to more distant locations. The report also says that Afghanistan’s illicit trade is still the major source of income. While the illegal economy raises the cost for conducting legal economic activities, it also weakens states, threatens development opportunities, undermines the rule of law, and keeps countries trapped in a cycle of poverty and instability[iv].

A research paper by the Pakistan Strategy Support Program (PSSP) writes the details that how the goods destined for Afghanistan under the APTTA, upon arrival at the Karachi port, pay no duties, after which they are loaded onto trucks which transit Pakistani territory to reach Afghanistan via Chaman or Torkham (border crossing points). After arrival in Afghanistan the merchandise is smuggled back to Pakistan[v].

According to CIDOB, the informal (non-opium) trade including smuggling (electronics, car parts, semi-precious stones, carpet, livestock, and foodstuffs). Informal trade reportedly accounts annually for US$ 1.5 billion, with smuggling accounting for US$1 billion. The same report mentions that “Lack of justice and rule of law, of which informal economies are a part, are a greater threat to Afghanistan than insurgency”[vi].

Abdul Razak Dawood, the adviser to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment depicts more serious situation. As said by him, the volume of informal trade between the countries was UD$ 2 billion in 2019[vii].

But bad news for the smugglers and the people engaged in illegal trade across the Pak-Afghan border, Inter Services Public Relations, or ISPR (The media wing of the Pakistan Army) said that the barrier has already been installed along “about 83 percent” of the western Pakistani frontier. Additionally, hundreds of new outposts and forts have been built under the roughly $500 million program. The project was started in 2017 to block militant infiltration, smuggling, and other illegal crossings on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Under the military-led border management project, Islamabad has also upgraded several formal crossings with Afghanistan to further facilitate bilateral and transit trade activities[viii].

In spite of the serious blames that Pakistan is not doing more against the infiltration of terrorists across the border, the Afghan government didn’t welcome this Pakistani measure and called this fencing illegal. Kabul still unilaterally claims that a huge area inside Pakistan belongs to Afghanistan and presently occupied by Pakistan.

The Afghan Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs, in its official website doesn’t recognise the borders between Afghanistan as legal and calls it “Malicious Durand Line”[ix]. Another dilemma overshadowing Pak-Afghan Relations in all areas of mutual cooperation.

 

APTTA and India

In fact, after the partition of British India into two states of India and Pakistan in 1947, Afghanistan never had good relations with Pakistan. The ethnocentric approach of the consecutive Kabul governments toward the Durand line and territorial claim over a vast area in Pakistan has been the main obstacle in building a good working relationship between Kabul and Islamabad. With the utopian vision of a greater Pashtunistan or Afghanistan, India was a better ally to rely on. India also did not mind it to be accommodated in Afghanistan, in the immediate neighbourhood of its hostile neighbour Pakistan. But for Pakistan, the Indian presence on both Eastern and Western borders have always been a matter of concern.

In brief, this negative trend in low-level relations between the two neighbours dominates all areas from politics to economy.

For India, there are only two roads leading to Afghanistan and onward to the reasonably sized CARs market and access to their natural resources. The distance between Wagah (Indian Border) to Torkham is only 588.4 km and from there to capital Kabul is only 228.4 km. It means the total distance from the nearest Indian border to Kabul is 816.8 km. Considering the unfriendly relations with Pakistan, in particular, the long-lasting issue of Kashmir, it is almost impossible for India to access this route to Afghanistan without the solution of the key issues with Pakistan.

The other issue which is seriously disturbing India is the expanding project of “The One Belt One Road Initiative” led by China and its Southern extension, the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). The CPEC is not only an important part of the Chinese-led global economic project but also a game-changer in the region which enables China to access and dominate the maritime politics of the Indian Ocean. The total distance via land route between Gwadar, the main hub of the CPEC to the “Khunjarab”, the Chinese border is only 2757 km.

If India would search for another alternative route to reach Afghanistan and ultimately to CARs, it has only one option, that is Iran. The Iranian port of “Chabahar” is said to be the potential competitor of Gwadar and no doubt that it is also an important port strategically.

To bypass Pakistan, years before the APTTA is signed, India has started a key highway project of Zaranj-Dilaram Highway (Route 606). This 215km long highway connects Iran to the Kabul-Herat highway, the only and the key route of Afghanistan, connecting Herat to Kabul and onward to northern Afghanistan. This ambitious project was started in 2005 and completed in 2009. The highway is constructed by the Building and Road Organization of India (BRO) and it cost US$ 125 million.

On January 22, 2009, Hamid Karzai, the former Afghan President and Pranab Mukherji, who was serving as the Indian FM at that time, participated in the inauguration ceremony of route 606. Both leaders, in their speeches talked about the benefits of the project and its probable impact on the regional integration but some parts of both speeches were said to be provocative. Mukherji said, “The completion of the road reflects the determination of both India and Afghanistan that nothing can prevent or hinder collaboration between the two countries” and Karzai was two steps ahead, he said, “the completion of the project, which opens a shorter alternative route connecting Kabul to Iran, is a message to those who want to stop cooperation between India and Afghanistan. “Our cooperation will not stop[x].”

On May 23, 2016, India, Iran, and Afghanistan signed a trilateral transit trade deal in Tehran. This transit trade pact was inked in the presence of Narendra Modi, Hassan Rohani, and Ashraf Ghani, all three heads of states.

In the same visit, Indian PM announced that India would invest US$500 million to develop the strategically important Chabahar port, close to Iran’s border with Pakistan, he said that the port would open a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia for Indian goods and products, avoiding the land route through Pakistan. The Iranian business daily, Ta’adol, also welcomed the deal. It said that India wants to challenge China’s power in central and South Asia through Chabahar port. Noting that China is trying to control the pulse of regional trade by making extensive investments in the Pakistani port of Gwadar, India is now positioned against its strong competitor by investing in the port. The newspapers reminded its readers of ‘setbacks’ that Iran has faced due to India, “We should raise our complaints… and ask them [India] to be more honest in their trade with Iran, and to fulfill their obligations more seriously,” Another Iranian daily E’temad added that Mr. Modi’s visit and the signing of agreements on joint projects, energy and connectivity will ring danger bells in Islamabad, China, and Riyadh[xi].

Indian newspapers called the deal a milestone and a strategic defeat of Pakistan as well as the potential to provide an Indian strategic counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port being developed by China right next door to Chabahar.

The Iranian daily’s concerns came true when the U.S. President Donald Trump overturned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and imposed rigorous sanctions on Iran in 2018. India could not continue with Iran, the way Iran counted on it.

Iranian Foreign minister, Zawad Zarif conveyed to his Indian Counterpart that Iran had expected the Modi government to be ‘more resilient’ in the face of Washington’s bullying at a time when equally Modi government was dragging its feet on the Chabahar port project, which has far-reaching implications for regional connectivity, stability, and security. In fact, Zarif reflected the deep misgivings at the highest level of Iranian leadership that India’s capacity or political will to pursue independent foreign policies are increasingly in doubt[xii].

On the other hand, a partnership with the US to restrain China was also attractive for India. The table moved further around after the two-day visit of Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) in India on February 29, 2019. The visit was followed by a UD$ 100 billion Saudi investment in Indian in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals, and mining[xiii].

This strategic shift in both Indian and Saudi foreign policy were received with great concerns in all three relevant countries, Pakistan, Iran, and China.

As a logical percussion in August 2020, a piece of breaking news about the Chino-Iran mega-deal of US$ 400 billion through a strategic partnership, over the next 25 years rattled not only the Indian policymakers but also the western countries. Now, Iran did not need any more Indian investment in Chabahar port, the crucial railway line from Chabahar to Zahedan that ultimately connects the Iranian port to Zaranj nor the Iranian were eager for Indian money to explore the Farnaz B gas field. India started feeling to be footed out of the deal and the ambitious approach to access Afghanistan and the CARs. India wooed Iran to keep China away from Chabahar. Although Iran had a very diplomatic and soft response to India but a former Iranian diplomat, who served in India, said New Delhi’s “growing ties” with the US and Israel under the Narendra Modi government have “not gone down well with Tehran.[xiv]” But it seems to be too late.

 

Another angle

Now, how the APPTA could be an important factor for both countries to preserve their geopolitical/economic importance and guarantee the prosperity of the people in both countries. Although, Pakistan continued to disallow the transit of Indian exports to Afghanistan via its land routes due to multidimensional political, security, legal and technical problems. But it allows exports of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from Afghanistan to India through the Wagah land border. It means Afghanistan does not have any problem with its exports from Pakistan. Over and above to India and the rest of the world, Pakistan itself has been the favorite destiny of Afghanistan’s fresh fruits and vegetables minimal spoilage and without losing its natural taste and freshness. Fresh fruits and vegetables comprise a big percentage of the total Afghan export.

According to the paper AFGHANISTAN NATIONAL EXPORT STRATEGY 2018-2022, FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES SECTOR published Afghan Ministry of Industry and Commerce, over 90% of Afghan fresh fruits and vegetables are consumed in Pakistan, US$ 71.5 million and it is predicted an increase of 45% in coming years.[xv] Moreover, there is a high demand for Afghan coal in Pakistan. Only one company ‘Fauji Cement Company ltd.’ requires up to 324,000 metric tons of Afghan coal per annum.[xvi]

Now, let us explore two more important issues related to APTTA.

The Chabahar Port indeed bypasses Pakistan and if the other issues did not overshadow the Indo-Iranian relations, as it is discussed earlier, India may have an access to Afghanistan but the main destination of India is CARs and beyond that. Why India would use Afghanistan as a transit route while Iran has better infrastructure, better roads, railway lines, and better management bodies as well as there are no security threats, it operational in all seasons and the no hard terrain to cross.  So, the importance of Afghanistan as a crossroad and a connecting hub will be badly effected which will have a long run affect. India will certainly use the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC). It is the ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe, and Central Asia. The INSTC project was initiated by Russia, India and Iran in September 2000 in St. Petersburg. The trilateral agreement was signed on May 16, 2002, at least one-half decades earlier than the India-Iran-Afghanistan trade transit agreement.

 

Another agreement ‘The Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA)’ was signed by Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan on March 09, 1995, in Islamabad, 15 years earlier than the APTTA. Later on, in 2017 Tajikistan also wished to join this agreement while Kabul has reluctant to finalize a transit trade agreement with Islamabad. Tajikistan is poised to join a separate initiative that will connect Pakistan to Central Asia, bypassing Afghanistan entirely. The QTTA provides Pakistan an alternative gateway to Central Asia by completely circumnavigating Afghanistan. It would use the Karakoram Highway which connects Gilgit-Baltistan to China’s Xinjiang region, which links to Central Asia.[i] On May, 08 2020, the Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister, Sardor Umurzakov also submitted a formal request. The road will provide Uzbekistan an access to China and the Pakistani seaports.[ii] Now, this project is part of CPEC and is operational. This transit route is also bypassing Afghanistan. Although, the road passing from the tough mountainous areas and the traffic might face problems, it the same case with Kabul-Mazar-e Sharif highway when it passes through Salang Mountains and Tunnel.

 

Source- Ministry of Communication

 

Concluding Remarks

  1. All knows the undesirable fluctuating relationship between both neighbours but both has to overcome those problems as soon as possible; lest it will undermine all facet of relation from trade to peace and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  2. APTTA has more implications beyond mutual trade. If, Afghanistan cannot incorporate the region economically by this project; it should not lose Pakistan and CARs. If APTTA is not signed Afghanistan may lose its leverage as the crossroad of the region. The countries all around Afghanistan, which are much more stable economically and politically may find their way for mutual trade with or without Afghanistan. The two examples of INSTC and QTTA projects, respectively led by Russia and China are already discussed above.
  3. No doubt that India is an important country of the region but the persistent pressure of Kabul to include India in the APTTA does not seem to be materialising. Since the mutual relations between Pakistan and India has its own dynamics and history, until they do not resolve their problems of considering each other an existential threat, APTTA has to move forward with or without India. India cannot export to Afghanistan via Wagah and Pakistan land route but the government of Pakistan has given Afghanistan a special dispensation to export Afghan Goods to India.
  4. India has already found another trade route for its exports to Afghanistan and CARs., Afghanistan does not need to worry about that.

Although one can realize the immense pressure on president Ghani, Afghanistan really a hard land to rule with the history of four-decade war. At present, the issues of his lavish dining table with fourteen various types of meet and the deadlock in Doha Talks might be the matters of more importance but APTTA is also a matter that should be dealt on priority basis.

Dr Hussain Yasa, the author

Dr. Hussain Yasa is the former Editor in Chief of the daily Outlook Afghanistan. At the moment he live in Germany in self-imposed exile. The views expressed by author are his own and DiploMag is not responsible for it. 


[1] https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/AFG/afghanistan/trade-balance-deficit#:~:text=Afghanistan%20trade%20balance%20for%202019,a%209.89%25%20increase%20from%202016.

[1] Husain, I., & Elahi, M. (2015). (Rep.). US Institute of Peace. doi:10.2307/resrep20156

[1] https://tradingeconomics.com/afghanistan/indicators

[1] UNDOC & SPDI- (December 2011) Examining the Dimension, Scale and Dynamics of the Illegal Economy: A Study of Pakistan in Region

[1] MIANKHEL, ADIL KHAN (2015), CHANNELIZING AFGHANISTAN TO PAKISTAN INFORMAL TRADE INTO FORMAL CHANNELS. The Pakistan Strategy Support Program (PSSP). THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY June 27, 2015.

[1] Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), (November 2014)- “Sources of Tension in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Regional Perspectives (STAP RP)”. FORMAL & NON-FORMAL ECONOMIES IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: THE VIEW FROM THE GULF

[1] ptProfit, (November 8, 2020)-‘Exports to Afghanistan to reach $5bn in 3 years’

[1] Gul, Ayaz, (December 04, 2020). Pakistan Says Afghan Border Fence Nearly Complete

https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/pakistan-says-afghan-border-fence-nearly-

[1] Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Official website). BORDERS & DURAND LINE                 https://mobta.gov.af/en/borders-durand-line   accessed on January 22, 2021

[1] Kaul Ajay | PTI, (JAN 22, 2009) Delaram (south Afghanistan),

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world/india-hands-over-strategic-zaranj-delaram-highway-to-afghan/story-WSbFNMguMWjvY39V7fR46H.html

[1] BBC (23 May 2016), India and Iran sign ‘historic’ Chabahar port dealhttps://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36356163

[1] BHADRAKUMAR, M K (November 19, 2019), Why Iran is upset with India.

https://www.rediff.com/news/column/why-iran-is-upset-with-india/20191119.htm

[1] The economic Times/ News (September 29, 2019), Our investment plans in India on track, Indian economy has strength to bounce back: Saudi Arabia.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/saudi-arabia-to-invest-usd-100-billion-in-india/articleshow/71358978.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

[1] Mahdi, Sayed Zafar (September 17, 2020), India wooed Iran to keep China away from Chabahar.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/india-woos-iran-to-keep-china-away-from-chabahar/1976190

[1] AFGHANISTAN NATIONAL EXPORT STRATEGY 2018-2022

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES SECTOR

http://ambafghanistan-fr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AFG_Fresh-Fruits-Vegetables.pdf

[1] Fauji Cement Company ltd.

http://fccl.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Afghan-Coal.pdf

[1] Bhutta, Zafar (February 24, 2017), Tajikistan to join Pakistan road link bypassing Afghanistan. Dushanbe’s request to join Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement has been approved

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1337274/tajikistan-join-pakistan-road-link-bypassing-afghanistan

[1] Khan, Mubarak Zeb (May 08, 2020), Uzbekistan looks to Pakistani ports

https://www.dawn.com/news/1555445/uzbekistan-looks-to-pakistani-ports

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India

Legal eagles say PM Khan’s UNGA speech provides basis for ‘lawfare’ against India for Kashmiris’ gencide 

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APHC, Kashmiri diaspora welcome UNGA speech of Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD – Top international law experts and Kashmiri activists believe that the legal points raised by Prime Minister Imran Khan during his second speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has opened a new opportunity to take up war crimes committed by Indian occupational forces at the International Criminal Court (ICC), International Court of Justice (ICJ) and other legal forums and get them punished.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness Forum, told DiploMag that Prime Minister Khan’s intervention during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly was based on factual data on Kashmir.

“In particular, his warning to the world powers has been shared by other world leaders in the past, like President Nelson Mandela, President Putin and President Bill Clinton and others,” he said.

Fai said that Khan’s appeal to the UN to persuade India to agree to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people “is the true reflection of the desire and wishes of the people of Kashmir”.

“The people of Kashmir have made it clear that no solution will stand unless it carries the stamp of genuineness and rests convincingly on the principle of right if self-determination,” said Fai, a global Kashmiri diaspora leader.

Hassan Aslam Shad, Director Legal, CMS McKenna, one of the top 10 global international law firms, told this reporter that the PM has paved way for Pakistan’s ‘lawfare’ against India.

“Lawfare is the use of law as a weapon of war. Lawfare is achieving the same or better results as warfare but without firing a bullet. PM Khan’s speech was as brilliant reiteration of his UNGA address on 26 September 2019 where he opposed warfare and made a call for global peace. He has done the heavy lifting for us. Time for Pakistan is to up the ante through its lawfare,” he asserted.

When asked to explain, Hassan Aslam, who is the first person from the Muslim World to be offered paid internship for 6 months with the President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, said that Khan’s speech was a ‘brilliant narration of events’.

“It gave a proper road map for Pakistan and prosperity of the Muslim Ummah. We now need to garner support of world community to refer an appropriately framed ‘Kashmir Question’ to ICJ for advisory opinion. We need to frame the question in a way that the right of self determination stands out as the remedy sought by Pakistan,” he maintained.

Hassan argued that Pakistan needs to accede fully or partially to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and make fascist Modi & co liable for their International crimes against Kashmiris and the crime of aggression like Balakot attack committed in Feb. 2019 against Pakistan. “It is time for us is to move and move fast.”

“We have to submit dossiers of crimes committed by India in Pakistan through proxies e.g. Kulbhushan Jadhav. FATF is India’s lawfare against Pakistan. After having passed the three FATF bills, Pakistan will be out of the gray list soon. It is time for us to wage our own counter lawfare against India. India is becoming a hub of terrorism (a major terrorist hub nabbed in Kerala) due to Modi’s nefarious policies. It is time to up the ante and take India to task,” he asserted.

He suggested Pakistan needs to use ‘Brand Imran Khan’ for soft power purposes across the globe.

“Khan’s name resonates in the world. We need to leverage his brand and goodwill and use that to soften the world’s stance towards Pakistan. Why wait any longer? Let’s help him in achieving his aspirations for Pakistan which is to make it a global power house,” he said.

“Develop Pakistan, in particular areas covering CPEC. I’m part of the Frontiers Corps South Balochistan Skills Development Program. We need to make the youth of Pakistan stand on their feet which will enable Pakistan to be fully independent and become the power house of the Muslim Ummah in line with PM Khan’s aspiration,” he said.

Nasir Qadri, lawyer and head of Legal Forum for Kashmir, said that to alert the world community on the possible genocide and gravity of conflict in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Prime Minister Khan has proved to be the ‘humanitarian leader of the world’.

“PM Khan’s stance on the war crimes, crime against humanity and pro-longed occupation of Kashmir are worth to be addressed by the UN Security Council to refer this dispute as advisory opinion to ICJ. Prime Minister’s speech has one important element which enunciated prosecution of war criminals who have been involved in war crimes and other heinous crimes in occupied Kashmir,” he said.

Qadri said that this decades-old conflict has taken toll on more than one lakh civilians, crimes perpetrated by Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces amount to war crimes.

“The office of the ICC prosecutor must initiate suo moto action against the Indian army officials and state establishment who are involved in such war crimes,” he said.

Ambassador Abdul Basit said Khan’s assertions at the UN were ‘all the right things’ on Kashmir and he did so forcefully.

“The government must now prepare a well thought out strategy to build pressure on both internal and external fronts. Without that there is no realistic possibility on settling the dispute as per aspirations of Kashmiris. This cannot happen unless we have an all-encompassing strategy,” he maintained.

Dr Waleed Hussain, a Kashmiri scholar, said that the speech of Prime Minister Imran Khan at UNGC is base-line and Kashmiris support it because it represented the sentiments of the Kashmiri people whose struggle is legitimate as per 11 UNCIP resolutions.

“We, Kashmiris caught under Indian occupation since decades, demand the legal connotation needs to be pushed as per article 1 to 4 of the international criminal court as the war crimes perpetuated by the Indian occupational forces under AFSPA in IIOJK. The AFSPA is legal cover to give a license to the Indian occupational forces to kill at will with impunity and they are now engaged in genocide of Kashmiris which is documented by UNCHR in 2017 and 2018 report,” he said.

Dr Waleed said the offence against the Kashmiris is a breach as per Geneva Convention in the context of the armed conflict.

“We Kashmir are caught under occupation demand an immediate cognizance by the International Criminal Court of the mass killings committed vg the Indian army. It has already been agreed on 15th December 2017 that the state parties had unanimously decided to extend the jurisdiction of the ICC over the crime of aggression which is at the highest degree in post 5th August,” he said.

“We demand that special turbinal needs to be established as per international law to book Mr Modi and the Officer Commanding of 15th Core stationed in Srinagar for committing War crimes against the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” he concluded.

Kashmiris welcome PM’s valour, wise address at UNGA

All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) AJK Chapter Saturday welcomed and hailed the address of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying he took it as an opportunity to tell the world that Kashmir’s freedom was the writing on wall.

“PM Khan ventured UNGA for a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions and the urges and aspirations of the 13 million Kashmiris fighting for the right of self-determination since the last century when India was partitioned and both India and Pakistan had assured the people of their support the political destiny of Jammu and Kashmir,” APHC AJK Convener Mustafa Muhammad Hussain Khateeb told DiploMag.

Once again, PM Khan has undauntedly raised international questions like Kashmir, Palestine, Islamophobia and situation of Indian Muslims and warned the West and India’s RSS regime that “India was playing  a dangerous game against Pakistan and Kashmiris in such a nuclear environment”.

“The APHC thanks PM Imran Khan for urging and calling the UN that the Security Council must prevent a disastrous conflict and secure the implementation of its own resolutions on Kashmir as it did in the  case of East Timor.”

In their statement of thanks to the PM Pakistan, APHC AJK hoped that the UN General Secretary would recommend necessary steps in this regard and the Prime Minister would initiate international campaign to achieve the right of self-determination and freedom for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Dr. Farhan Mujahid Chak, an associate Professor of Political Science at Qatar University, said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s hard-hitting and heartfelt speech further captivated an already enamoured Kashmiri populace, both inside the occupied territories and among the diaspora.

“With admirably purposeful eloquence and fearlessness he touched on new and innovative ways that Pakistan intends on raising the issue of war crimes against India’s Hindutva fascist government. But not just through lawfare and heightened internationalization, Pakistan’s principled approach is winning the hearts of minds of several world leaders, and this must continue,” he added.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, a member of UK Parliament, said that PM Khan has raised Kashmir issue at UNGA for second consecutive year.

“He uses clear and vivid terminologies on Kashmir which is well taken by the world community. This is historic session of the UNGA as Turkish official is heading it. Turkish President also raised Kashmir issue. Today we saw media reports that certain Indian banks were involved in money laundering. The world bodies like FATF should immediately launch an investigation into the report and bring the facts to the fore,” he concluded.

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