Volume 22 Issue 6, June 2018
By Shahid Javed Burki

Will Pakistan emerge stronger after the elections of 2018? My answer is yes and why I believe that would be the case is the subject of this article. I have just returned from a visit to Pakistan and had the occasion to meet and talk to a number of senior serving and retired officials from both the civilian and military side of the government. I also conversed with several contributors to the opinion columns of major newspapers. These conversations left me with the impression that a fairly large segment of the thinking populace in the country has serious concerns about the direction in which Pakistan is moving.

There is a stir all round as the term of the present government draws to an end and the country gears up for the next general elections. Paeans are being sung and panegyrics recited about the importance of the vote while pundits are at pains to explain the quintessential value of the vote in elections and why it is a quasi-religious duty of a citizen to vote to elect a government.
In simple terms, a vote is an expression of a voter’s opinion, for or against, a person or an issue, which ought to be respected.

Click this photo to view
the 'Genesis Awards' video.


Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

S. G. Jilanee

Ayaz Ahmed
Dr. Ikramul Haq
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Dr. Raza Khan
Faizan Usmani
Huzaima Bukhari
Khurram Ali
Mirza Aqeel Baig
Mubashir Noor
M. Omar Iftikhar
M. Shaiq Usmani
Mujtaba Baig
Noor Javed Sadiq
Noureh Mourad
Sajjad Ahmad
Samar Quddus
S.G. Jilanee
Shahid Javed Burki
S. M. Hali
Soha Sheikh
S.R.H. Hashmi
Syed Mohib Akhtar
Taha Kehar
Taj M Khattak

Neha Ansari

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih


Syed Ovais Akhtar

Aqam-ud-Din Khan

SouthAsia is published every month by Syed Jawaid Iqbal for and on behalf of JAWZ Communications (Pvt.) Ltd.

Views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily shared by the editors.

Published since 1977 as Thirdworld, the magazine was re-launched in 1997 as SouthAsia.



We all know that the whole democratic system of governance revolves around votes which determine who will form the government and who will sit in the opposition. The voting pattern also determines whether the government will be a strong one, with a simple majority on its own and will not need the help of other parties in attaining the simple majority in parliament.

At least, the book, ‘The Spy Chronicles, RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace’ proves one thing – that spies from India and Pakistan, two nuclear nations and sworn enemies - meet quite frequently and the intelligence agencies of both countries do not lift a finger, or perhaps they do not know what is happening and they choose to ignore it. Had they been more vigilant, the book wouldn’t have gotten even near a printing press. It is quite startling that meetings occurred in Kathmandu, Bangkok and Istanbul, not between two ordinary spies but between two persons who had headed the spy agencies of their respective countries many years ago and no one noticed why they were meeting. One of the persons was A.S. Dulat, who was head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in1999-2000 and the other was Lieutenant General Asad Durrani, who served as Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) in 1990 -1991. Indian journalist Aditya Sinha was also present at these meetings and recorded the conversations between Dulat and Durrani. He is also said to have moved the conversations forward by asking leading questions at various points. Now that the book has been launched and probably everyone has downloaded it from the net, a lot of noise is emanating from various quarters as to how these gentlemen got together so often and how they got to talk so intimately about the espionage they conducted against each others’ countries?

Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani was hauled in by the Army GHQ in Rawalpindi after the book was published and became a source of sensation for armchair commentators and TV anchors. He was probably questioned by the military about how and why he came to write the book and why he made the disclosures he did because, in many places in the narrative, the Pakistan army could be perceived in a bad light. Apparently, Durrani was also asked if he had sought the GHQ’s permission before writing the book and whether his manuscript was vetted by the senior generals after it was finished and sent off for printing in India. The former intelligence chief has now been barred from leaving the country and the army has also ordered an investigation into whether he violated the military’s code of conduct by writing the book. There is no news, however, about A.S. Dulat being given the same treatment in India as Durrani is being given in Pakistan. Does that mean that the Indian government or its military establishment has no problems about their former chief spy meeting a similar person from Pakistan and exchanging views on their respective espionage activities? It is also apparent in the book, which has been written in the form of a conversation between Dulat and Durrani, with journalist Aditya Sinha interspersing his bit in-between, that most of the talking was done by Gen. Durrani while the other two listened. Was it then that whatever they said, which was duly recorded, provided many gems of intelligence from Durrani’s side for the benefit of the Indian intelligence community and that what has appeared in the book is only a tip of the iceberg as the real information has been saved as a booty by the Indians?

It is worth considering that all this is happening between two enemy countries since the India-Pakistan rivalry has carried on for over 70 years. Things got bad over Kashmir in the very beginning after independence in 1947 and the issue continues to be a bone of contention between the two nations. In fact, they have fought at least three wars in this regard. They also continue to have differences on many other issues, such as Siachen, bilateral security, Afghanistan, the Indus Water Treaty, trade and visas. In these circumstances, it was amazing those former spies from both countries who had held top positions, continued to meet and discuss what their nations had gone through at various critical points. It is quite absurd that at no stage were they checked in their activities and they carried on regardless. What is really astounding is the fact that these exchanges were taking place on a regular basis and no intelligence agency, whether in India or Pakistan, ever bothered to check what these two senior retired officials were up to since they were travelling so frequently in and out of their countries? For all that it is worth, such movements are kept under strict observation even if persons of such significance move between friendly countries. For a long time, Track II diplomacy was the ruse. If that was the case, was the behind-the-scenes diplomacy leading to any improvement in India-Pakistan ties? Had treatment of the Kashmiris by the Indian army and police improved or had Indian firing across the LoC stopped? Had India stopped its activities in Balochistan or had persons like Kulbashan Jadev been reined in? Since none of this was happening and bilateral relations continued to be cold, what were Messrs. Durrani and Dulat up to? Spy Chronicles is a mystery that will take some time to unravel.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief


Booming Fertiliser Sector

In the international market, Pakistan is usually known because of its textiles and garments. However, it tends to be the country’s fertiliser industry that outperforms the rest of the sectors, in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethical business pra-ctices. The sector is among the leading contributions to the national economy and earns significant foreign exchange through exports. For the most part, Pakistan’s fertiliser industry has never been merely a profit-oriented sector. Since its inception, it has been playing a major role in the country in terms of social welfare initiatives taken in many socio-economic areas, such as literacy promotion, girls’ education, vocational training, capacity building, economic empowerment of farming communities, etc. Particularly in rural areas, it has been running several social development programmes that aim to enhance living standards through education, engagement and empowerment. In short, the fertiliser sector has become a leading example for the industry.

Ajmal Barohi,
Larkana, Pakistan.

Enemy in the Backyard

Despite being neighbouring countries, the diplomatic relations between India and the Maldives have gone to a further low, since the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen came to power after deposing Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically-elected president in the political history of the Maldives. India views Abdulla Yameen as being pro-China. Since assuming the presidential office, Yameen has had many meetings with Chinese government officials and business representatives, who are now investing in the Maldives’ fishery and tourism industries and are also planning to enter the real estate sector due to its high market potential and growth prospects. With a declared enemy in its backyard, India feels it is loosening its grip on the archipelago that was once a no-problem child for the mighty neighbour. This is not good news for the region that is already gripped in turmoil and uncertainty.

Khawaja Najam Ali,
Dhaka, Bangladesh.



FATF Fiasco

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on the Asian Development Bank (ADB). I must congratulate the editorial team of SouthAsia magazine for positively highlighting the ADB’s role in the development of the South Asian region. Usually, people in this region think little of the financial help offered by the international financial institutions, such as the ADB, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), etc. I believe this is not a wise approach and we must first introspect about our own actions. The plight of South Asia tends to be much beyond the region’s fiscal backwardness and its poor socio-economic indicators. Frankly speaking, this is mostly flawed leadership that fails South Asia time and again. In fact, the region has been suffering from an acute leadership crisis since ages and it can never achieve the desired development goals before setting its own house in order.

S. Kamran Durrani,
Karachi, Pakistan.

Another Game Changer

Living in a war-ravaged country like Afghanistan, we have had enough of promises of peace and prosperity over the last four decades. Unfortunately, the situation of the country is becoming worseday by day and the people of Afghanistan seem to have lost their faith in both local politicians and the international community that has its own vested interests in the region and has no regard to the human life suffering. In Afghanistan, every new development programme is portrayed as a game changer and every new project painted as a fateful moment that will ultimately solve all the miseries of the people of the country. The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) Pipeline project is being described by international media as a turning point that will turn the fate of the country in the right direction and will open a new page in regional cooperation. To me, the TAPI project is another pipedream that will soon come to a dead end.

Nawaz Yar Khan,
Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Rising Intolerance in India

In today’s India, the trend of suppression is visible everywhere. For instance, Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer, was lynched to death by cow vigilantes in Alwar in April 2016. A few months later, 35-year-old Umar Mohammed was killed and thrown on railway tracks in Bharatpur on November 10, 2017. He was transporting cows to his home in Ghatmeeka in Pahari tehsil of the district. It all seemingly began to catch media attention with Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi, who was lynched to death on the same pretext in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, in September 2015. There also is the vigil of the squads to ‘salvage’ (read ‘separate’) couples following different faiths and belonging to different caste groups from ‘unholy’ union. In addition, there also has been Una. Young Dalit youth were beaten ruthlessly for having refused to clear the animal carcass which they were forced to do for generations, as their traditional work. The state machinery has been quiet and uncommitted towards a meaningful punitive action to the perpetrators. The unruly actions of the self-proclaimed vigilantes have continued unabated.

Sanghmitra S Acharya,
New Delhi, India.

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