Pakistan News

When Pakistan handed back Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India, the spectacle of the graciously quick return of the MiG-21 pilot, shot down and captured by Pakistan, elicited both international plaudits and misplaced triumphalism. But the spectacle also masked more important military and political factors at play.

The two military rounds played between Pakistan and India on February 26/27 in the wake of New Delhi’s aggression against Islamabad, after the February 14 Pulwama attack, have important lessons for deterrence as well as the question of whether limited war options are possible between a nuclear dyad.

India has, since long, accused Pakistan of playing the conflict game at the sub-conventional level while denying India its superior conventional capabilities by signalling the resolve to introduce nuclear weapons first and early into a conventional conflict. This line of reasoning, simplistic though it is, has been widely lapped up, not only by Indian analysts but also Western scholars.

Meanwhile, India, since the limited conflict in Kargil (1999) and then the 10-month long Twin Peaks crisis (2001-02) has been conceptualising how to punish Pakistan conventionally while remaining below the nuclear threshold.

Pakistan and India came closer to a devastating war than they have in almost 17 years. As the dark clouds of impending all-out conflict begin to dissipate, it is important for both to see what the current tensions can teach us about deterrence and preventing a repeat

Put another way, India thought — and many experts agreed — that there was a band in which India could act militarily and punitively. That, if India were to play within that band, it would make it extremely difficult for Pakistan to escalate to the nuclear level because such escalation would be considered highly disproportionate and would draw international opprobrium and consequences. The argument was that the certainty of international diplomatic and economic isolation would force Pakistan to stay its hand and not escalate to the nuclear level.

The banal equivalent of such a situation would be someone punching another person in a crowded bazaar and the victim, instead of keeping the fight to fisticuffs, chooses to draw and fire a pistol. Not only would such a person lose the sympathy of the crowd, he would also invite the full coercive and normative weight of the law.

Corollary: whoever ups the ante in a basic fight ends up as the loser.

India’s Cold Start doctrine dates back to 2001-02 but has only now been deployed by PM Narendra Modi | Reuters
India’s Cold Start doctrine dates back to 2001-02 but has only now been deployed by PM Narendra Modi | Reuters

 

However, while the Indian military planners were thinking about this for the past two decades, until the arrival on India’s political scene of Narendra Modi and his éminence grise, Ajit Doval, New Delhi shied away from actualising a short, sharp military option against Pakistan, focusing instead on exploiting diplomatic channels using its diplomatic heft.

According to India’s official figures, the 2001-02 standoff cost India three billion dollars with hundreds of soldiers killed without any exchange with Pakistan. The mobilisation was a political decision and as then-Indian Chief of Army Staff S Padmanabhan noted, in an interview to The Hindu, “You could certainly question why we are so dependent on our strike formations and why my holding corps don’t have the capability to do the same tasks from a cold start. This is something I have worked on while in office. Perhaps, in time, it will be our military doctrine.”

COLD START DOCTRINE

This was the beginning of India’s Cold Start doctrine that envisaged creating eight Independent Battle Groups, placed closer to the border and capable of a short, sharp, punitive action against Pakistan without the long mobilisation delays India experienced in 2001-02. Interestingly, while India for long denied that such a doctrine existed — despite having done some field exercises to validate it — the current Indian army chief, Bipin Rawat, acknowledged its existence in an interview barely three weeks after taking office on December 31, 2016.

As an explainer in The Economist put it, “Cold Start is the name given to a limited-war strategy designed to seize Pakistani territory swiftly without, in theory, risking a nuclear conflict. It has its roots in an attack on India’s parliament in 2001 … by the time its [India’s] lumbering Strike Corps were mobilised and positioned on the frontier, Pakistan had already bulked up its defences, raising both the costs of incursion and the risk that it would escalate into a nuclear conflict. Cold Start is an attempt to draw lessons from this: having nimbler, integrated units stationed closer to the border would allow India to inflict significant harm before international powers demanded a ceasefire; by pursuing narrow aims, it would also deny Pakistan a justification for triggering a nuclear strike.”

Let’s consider the underlying assumptions in all this.

The ‘theory’ assumes that:

(1) There is a band in which India can use its conventional military option;

(2) that band can be exploited;

(3) India has the conventional superiority to make it work;

(4) if it does so in response to an attack it can pin on Pakistan, it has enough diplomatic weight to have the world opinion on its side for such a strike;

(5) it can make it work through a military surprise which can gain its objectives;

(6) Pakistan, having suffered a setback, will be hard pressed to retaliate because it will have to climb up the escalation ladder, a costly proposition both for reasons of the earlier military setback as well as international diplomatic pressure;

(7) given India’s upper hand, both militarily and diplomatically, Pakistan will choose to not escalate;

(8) if, however, Pakistan did choose to escalate, India will still enjoy escalation dominance because of its superior capabilities and because it will have international diplomatic support; and

(9) India, given its diplomatic and military heft, will be able to raise the costs for Pakistan in an escalation spiral.

Result: Pakistan will weigh the consequences as a rational-choice actor and prefer to climb down.

Modi from the word go has been hyping his masculinity and informing his right-wing Hindutva vote bank that he could and would act where his Congress predecessors failed to, namely that he would teach Pakistan a lesson and create a “new normal”.

The interesting assumption in all this, and one that should not be missed is this: the first-round result. Every subsequent assumption flows from what India could achieve militarily in the opening hand.

Pakistan’s jointly developed JF-17 Thunder jets acquitted themselves well in the current tensions
Pakistan’s jointly developed JF-17 Thunder jets acquitted themselves well in the current tensions

 

Somehow, barring a few analysts, most literature took for granted that the first round would, of necessity, go in favour of India. And therefore, Pakistan’s cost for retaliation would increase both militarily and diplomatically. In fact, this does make sense if it can be guaranteed that India’s gambit will work. Except, the opening round success could be guaranteed only if India were applying force on an inanimate object or if its conventional capabilities were far superior to Pakistan’s.

As Clausewitz noted, “War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty.”

The second crucial point in unpacking these assumptions is the limited nature of the engagement. It should be clear that India’s politico-military strategy post the 2001-02 standoff looked at any punitive military action in a limited, not full-scale, mode: military action below the nuclear threshold.

Pakistan has never drawn clear red lines, managing risk through ambiguity. The only time a former — and longest-serving — Director-General Strategic Plans Division, Lt-General Khalid Kidwai, enunciated four parameters for resorting to nukes was during an interview to two visiting Italian physicists:

(1) India attacks Pakistan and conquers a large part of its territory (space threshold);

(2) India destroys a large part of Pakistan’s military forces/assets (military threshold);

(3) India strangulates Pakistan economically;

(4) India destabilises Pakistan politically or through internal subversion.

As Dr Nitin Prasad says in his book, Contemporary Pakistan: Political System, Military and Changing Scenario, Kidwai was using hypothetical scenarios, and his four thresholds — geographic, military, economic, domestic-political — were not red lines, defined and understood by the adversary or other parties, because clearly defined red lines dilute deterrence and provide room for conventional force manoeuvring.

The point about the limited nature of India’s military plans is important because, while a case can be made for India possibly overwhelming Pakistan in a drawn full-scale conventional conflict which brings in other factors, a limited thrust or strike — if there’s not a huge differential in technical and other capabilities — may not necessarily play to the stronger adversary’s advantage.

Put another way, if the presumably weaker side denies the stronger side success in the opening round, draws its own blood successfully while showing restraint, it can raise the costs for the stronger actor by upending the latter’s assumptions based on the success of the opening round.

DIMENSIONS OF DETERRENCE

This is exactly what has happened in the two rounds fought this time. One can put it thus: deterrence has held because the aggressor has to factor in the nuclear dimension and keep its military options below that threshold. The defender, having defended successfully and then drawn blood, shows restraint. Third parties get involved knowing and realising that any attempt by one or both sides at escalation dominance could spiral. [Note: Dr Moeed Yusuf has a brilliant book on third party brokering (2018), which studies US diplomacy during three crises — Kargil (1999), Twin Peaks (2001-02) and Mumbai (2008).]

But what exactly is deterrence?

After his capture, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman being escorted to a military facility | APP
After his capture, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman being escorted to a military facility | APP

 

It can have both the conventional and the nuclear dimensions. Essentially, deterrence is the ability to discourage an actor from undertaking an unwanted action, including an armed attack. It is, in other words, about prevention, i.e. convincingly stopping an actor from an action. The sister concept, what Thomas Schelling described as compellence, is about forcing an actor to do something in line with what the compeller (adversary) wants it to do.

By India’s reasoning, its limited military options are about deterring Pakistan to undertake actions at the sub-conventional level and to deter India from making use of its conventional strength because of the existence of nuclear weapons.

This is where the problem begins.

Deterrence is not just about threatening an adversary with punitive action. In order for it to be successful, it must shape the adversary’s perceptions, i.e., force the adversary to change its behaviour by estimating that it has options other than aggression and which are more cost-effective. Shaping perceptions of the adversary that needs to be deterred would then require the deterrer to understand the motives of the actor who has to be deterred. Without that exercise, any limited action, even if it were temporarily successful, would fail to impact a behaviour change or incentivise a state actor to do something different.

Also, deterrence by denial, the ability to deter an action by making it infeasible is a far better strategy than deterrence by punishment which, as the term implies, promises the resolve and the capability to take punitive action(s) and inflict severe punishment.

So, in the case of the rounds played, deterrence has worked at two levels.

First, the overall, umbrella deterrence that flows from the possession of nuclear weapons on both sides. This level ensures that even if one or the other side decides to undertake military action, it must keep it limited.

Kashmiri children hold placards and shout freedom slogans in Srinagar: the root cause of Indo-Pak tensions is ignored by India | AP
Kashmiri children hold placards and shout freedom slogans in Srinagar: the root cause of Indo-Pak tensions is ignored by India | AP

 

The second level is about conventional deterrence. If X has undertaken a military action, Y can prevent it from achieving its objective and, by successfully undertaking its own action, can force X to rethink its use of any military option. The rethink is important because, in such a play, if Y has prevented X’s action and successfully undertaken its own, X cannot simply retaliate to a reprisal. X will have to climb up the escalation ladder, i.e., it has to scale up by using an escalatory option to defend his commitment. Escalation is about a higher cost and the rethink is a function of forcing X into that cost-benefit analysis.

It is precisely for this reason that the opening round is so crucial for the aggressor, in this case India. To recap, as noted above in the list of assumptions, every subsequent assumption flows from the success of the opening round.

MODI-DOVAL CALCULATION

At this point it would be instructive to view all this from the perspective of the Modi-Doval duo. Both men believe, or at least had convinced themselves into believing, that the previous Indian governments did not make use of a conventional military option because they were weak-kneed. Modi, by referring to his 56-inch chest, from the word go has been hyping his masculinity and informing his right-wing Hindutva vote bank that he could and would act where his Congress predecessors failed to, namely that he would teach Pakistan a lesson and create a “new normal”.

In September 2016, following an attack on an army camp in Uri in Occupied Kashmir, one morning the Indian Director-General Military Operations announced to a packed press conference that India had conducted “surgical strikes” in Azad Kashmir, across the Line of Control (LoC) and destroyed “terrorist” bases. He also said that he had told his Pakistani counterpart that India did not intend to take any further action and that its action was only directed towards non-state actors.

The Indian media, as well as serious analysts, went into a tizzy. Days on end, there was nothing on Indian TV channels and newspapers other than this “great victory” against Pakistan. We were told that Pakistan had not retaliated because Pakistan Army posts and troops in the area were caught off-guard and Pakistan was playing it down because the action was an embarrassment for it. Even serious analysts began talking about a new normal.

This is what Shashank Joshi, then based at the Royal United Services Institute in London, wrote in the opening paragraph of his op-edin The Hindustan Times: “India’s ‘surgical strikes’ on Wednesday night… — barely a few kilometres across the Line of Control (LoC) — … represent one of the most important changes in India’s military posture to Pakistan in over a decade.” He did acknowledge that this hadn’t happened for the first time and the fact, as he put it, “that Pakistan will not reverse seven decades of policy without a diplomatic process” but there was headiness, nonetheless. And this is just one example. There are scores of others.

Pakistan did not retaliate because it was a fire raid where Indian troops were blocked at two points of ingress but managed to sneak in at the third, fired at some hutments and withdrew.

Pakistani Kashmiris carry the coffin of a civilian who was killed in a gunfight between Indian and Pakistan troops on the Line of Control | AFP
Pakistani Kashmiris carry the coffin of a civilian who was killed in a gunfight between Indian and Pakistan troops on the Line of Control | AFP

 

By hyping it, Modi locked himself further into a commitment trap. Apart from some discerning commentators in India, everyone chose to forget that such actions had been undertaken at the LoC by both sides in the past and that there was nothing ‘surgical’ about India’s fire raid.

On February 14, therefore, when a bomber mounted the deadliest attackon Indian paramilitary troops in recent times, Modi was left with no option but to act. With a tough election staring him in the face and his chest blocking a clear view of rationality, he decided to use a limited military option. Only this time it had to be more than just a raid across the LoC. He jumped a few rungs on the escalation ladder by deciding to use his air force.

The story about what happened on the morning of February 26 has now become a laugh and it has been walked back a few miles and some more by India itself, so those details are not necessary. Whatever little was left of India’s fantastic claim about hitting a “training camp” and killing “terrorists” has been finally laid to rest by a Reuters story that reviewed satellite imagery from Planet Labs Inc.

However, what is important is not whether Indian planes came into Pakistan (original claim), whether they struck in a stand-off mode (i.e. when aerial platforms are used from a safe distance, away from defensive weapons, and use precision munitions such as glide bombs to attack a distant target without actually coming upon the target and swooping down for a bombing run) or even whether they could or could not make a hit. The important and crucial point was that India had challenged Pakistan and Pakistan needed to put an end to the “new normal” talk. Pakistan chose its targets, struck to show resolve and capability and then also won the dogfight.

Later, we are told that India had thought of using missiles to hit nine targets in Pakistan. But Pakistan readied its missiles and informed India that it will hit back. That forced India to back off. If this is true — and it comes to us from a briefing by Prime Minister Imran Khan — then it seems that Modi had nursed the idea of playing a very dangerous hand, which he couldn’t because that would have meant exchange of missiles between a nuclear dyad — a development which has remarkable escalation potential. Missilery between nuclear powers is a big no. There’s no known technology in the world that can determine whether the incoming missile has a tactical or a strategic (nuclear) warhead and that can lead to response miscalculation.

The two sides are back to the ‘old normal’ — artillery and small-arms duelling across the LoC. The attempt by an Indian submarine to enter Pakistan’s territorial waters was also deftly picked up by Pakistan Navy, with the sub forced to return. It could have been sunk but Pakistan, in keeping with its policy of not escalating, chose not to make a hit.

From here on, there’s nothing more for India but to understand the imperative of positive engagement through a sustained dialogue. The framework for such engagement is already in place. There is no alternative to talking and walking that talk. But that will not happen until we see the electoral contest in India and its results.

At the same time, Pakistan must not underestimate India based on these limited rounds. While India could not coerce Pakistan militarily at this moment, if the growth differential between Pakistan and India continues to grow, the technological asymmetry will increase to the point where strategies of coercion could kick into play. That scenario could see very different results on the ground. For instance, India will possess the anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) S-400 system by 2020. That system is not just defensive but can also be employed in a preemptive offensive role. Typically, A2/AD systems ensure that they can deny a mission to incoming hostiles (anti-access) and ensure safety of their own area against any hostile action (area denial mode). If things do not change through engagement, we could see India use the S-400 in any future round. That would be an entirely different ballgame altogether.

The writer is Executive Editor at Indus News and specialises in defence and security.

He tweets @ejazhaider

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 10th, 2019

Overseas Pakistanis investment convention and Expo on 17-Mar-2019 at Jinah Convention center Islamabad, Pakistan

 

 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) conducted strikes across Line of Control (LoC) from within Pakistani airspace, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

"This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage," the FO statement read.

"Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm," it added. "That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight."

The FO further said, "For the last few years, India has been trying to establish what they call “a new normal” a thinly veiled term for doing acts of aggression at whatever pretext they wish on a given day. If India is striking at so called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan. We do not wish to go to that route and wish that India gives peace a chance and to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation."

"The jets entered into Indian air space over Nowshera sector this morning," Indian media quoted an official as saying.

Pakistani jets targeted two Indian planes, according to reports. One Indian plane was shot down and the other was engaged, the reports added. 

The retaliatory act comes after Pakistan warned India of a "surprise" on Tuesday in the wake of Indian military aircraft's intrusion into Pakistani airspace.

Pakistan Military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor on Tuesday warned India that it was time to "wait for our surprise". "I said three things: You will never be able to surprise us. We have not been surprised. We were ready, we responded, we denied. I said we will retain the escalation ladder. We have that initiative in our hand," he said.

"I said that we will surprise you. Wait for that surprise. I said that our response will be different. See it for yourself. The response will come, and response will come differently," Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) warned the Indian army.

Pakistan Army warns India: 'Time to wait for our surprise'

 

Earlier today, six citizens were martyredas Indian forces once again violated the LoC by resorting to unprovoked mortar shelling. Sources in the area said six citizens were martyred in the unprovoked shelling in Kotli village in Nakyal sector of LoC. Three of a family were among those martyred in the Indian firing. A woman was martyred in Indian unprovoked firing in Khoi Rata sector of the LoC while a citizen was critically injured in the LoC violation in Abbaspur sector.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had chaired a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) a day earlier which rejected Indian claims of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and said that Pakistan will decide the time and place of response to the aggression.

Indian military aircraft violated the LoC as they "intruded" from the Muzaffarabad sector and were forced to return owing to the timely response of the Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said early Tuesday.

"Indian aircraft intrusion across LoC in Muzafarabad Sector within AJK was 3-4 miles. Under forced hasty withdrawal aircraft released payload which had free fall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties. Technical details and other important information to follow," Major General Ghafoor wrote on Twitter.

He also tweeted images of the "payload of hastily escaping Indian aircraft" which "fell in [the] open".

The incursion into the Pakistani air space follows a series of threats by Indian political and military leadership following the attack on an Indian Army convoy at Pulwama by a local youth, in reaction to the oppression unleashed by the occupational forces.

President Arif Alvi on Monday conferred Pakistan's highest civil award — Nishan-e-Pakistan — on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during a ceremony held at the President House in Islamabad.

 

 

According to the citation provided at the President House, Mohammad bin Salman was honoured due to his "outstanding support for reinvigorating Pak-Saudi bilateral relationship".

"It is privilege for me to host this banquet," President Alvi said after presenting the award to the Saudi crown prince. "Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been indispensable partners for a very long time. We have been together for centuries. Our friendship is bound in religion and culture.

"Even though there is geographical distance between us but we are very close in our hearts. The recent visit of the prime minister and your visit has cemented the friendship between us."

The president congratulated the Saudi crown prince on his "modernisation efforts" as well as measures taken to highlight Saudi Arabia's previously "hidden" tourism sites.

"Pakistan, too, is a beautiful country," the president said. "It's at the crossroads. There is a huge change. It is a golden era for Pakistan also. It is open for investment. We have fought terrorism very bravely. We are on the cusp of an era where there could be an increase in prosperity for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia."

Following the president's speech, the Saudi crown prince addressed the audience. "I was honoured to meet the president of Pakistan. I thank you for honouring me with Pakistan's highest award.

"The brotherly relationship between the kingdom and Pakistan focus on the principle of Islamic solidarity. It is a model to be emulated by other nations. Our [countries' relationship] go back 67 years that witnessed continuous development that rendered itself beneficial for both countries.

"The founding fathers for both countries established these relations on the principles of truthfulness, common understanding and mutual respect that go back to the first days of the establishment of Pakistan, post-World War 2.

"Our Pakistani brothers participated truthfully and effectively in the great development project that Saudi Arabia witnessed, especially the enlargement project of Masjid-e-Haram and Masjid-e-Nabwi. More than 2 million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia and are contributing to the development of both the countries.

"I wish all the best to the president and the prime minister in the service of this country and its people."

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser and various other leaders were in attendance.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Saudi crown prince said his goodbyes to the president and members of the federal cabinet before leaving for Nur Khan Airbase. As was the case when he had arrived, the prime minister personally drove the car carrying the Saudi crown prince.

MBS, PM Khan take chariot to President House

Earlier, the Saudi crown prince and Prime Minister Imran Khan had arrived at the President House in a traditional chariot.

 

 

The two leaders were escorted by the presidential guard on their way from the PM House to the President House.

President Alvi received the Saudi crown prince upon his arrival at the President House. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry were also present when the Saudi crown prince and the prime minister arrived at the President House.

Sanjrani-led delegation of lawmakers call upon Saudi crown prince

Lawmakers led by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. — Photo by author
Lawmakers led by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. — Photo by author

 

An assortment of lawmakers under Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani's leadership called upon Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Monday at the PM House, according to a press release issued by Senate Secretariat.

Sanjrani hailed the crown prince's plan to make a multi-billion-dollar investment in Pakistan, and termed it "a reflection of the international community's faith in Pakistan".

"In addition to mutual assistance and partnership, these investments will also pave way for regional development," the Senate chairman said. "Saudi Arabia's Vision 2020 is the vision of peace, economic growth and prosperity. This visit [of the crown prince] will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the two countries' relations."

Sanjrani hailed the timing of Saudi Arabia's decision to invest in the country, noting that "the situation has changed in Pakistan. The atmosphere for investment and trade is extremely conducive now."

The Senate chair acknowledged the kingdom's "time-tested friendship", adding that the Arab country "has always helped Pakistan in trying times".

Sanjrani said that "both the countries share the same point of view on various political and security issues" and "are in agreement at a multitude of fora".

The chairman of the upper house of the parliament suggested that further efforts be made to boost bilateral trade, make the joint business council active and increase participation in business exhibitions.

During the meeting, Sanjrani also mentioned the Pakistani community based in Saudi Arabia, and credited them for acting as a "bridge between the two nations".

Sanjrani was accompanied by senators Azam Swati, Mushahidullah Khan, Raja Zafarul Haq, Shibli Faraz as well as NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan.

The Saudi crown prince had arrived in Pakistan on Sunday amid heightened security and arrangements in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa saw off Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at Nur Khan Airbase as his first state visit to Islamabad came to an end on Monday evening.

At a joint press briefing prior to Prince Mohammad's departure, Prime Minister Khan thanked him and expressed his happiness over the royal's visit, hoping that he would stay longer next time "so I can show you the beauty of Pakistan and the northern areas."

The prime minister also thanked the visiting dignitary for his announcement this morning to release over 2,000 Pakistani prisoners languishing in Saudi jails with immediate effect.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan address a joint press briefing at Nur Khan Airbase prior to the royal's departure. ─ DawnNewsTV
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan address a joint press briefing at Nur Khan Airbase prior to the royal's departure. ─ DawnNewsTV

 

"I woke up this morning and when I looked at my mobile phone, I realised ─ after your statement last night saying that you would be Pakistan's ambassador in Saudi Arabia ─ that if you stood in elections here, you would get more votes than me," the prime minister joked, addressing the crown prince who was standing at a podium to his right. "You are extremely popular," he added.

"I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Pakistan" for announcing the release of Pakistani prisoners, the prime minister said, also thanking the crown prince for the agreements worth $20 billion that had been signed during his visit.

Prime Minister Khan also noted that with the signing of the new agreements, the existing relationship between the two countries has managed to expand beyond its "narrow confines" and is now "developing into other spheres".

"But what I feel is that this is just the beginning," he asserted. "I think Pakistan's geo-strategic location, the comparative advantage Saudi Arabia has in certain areas, and the advantages that Pakistan has ─ the combination augurs very well for the future."

"We want you to consider Pakistan your second home. The PM House, where you were staying, rest assured that when you are in Pakistan ... [you can] consider it your own house and come and stay there," he told MBS.

Prince Mohammad responded to the prime minster's offer by saying that he also feels "at home in Pakistan".

Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa confer after the crown prince departs. ─ DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa confer after the crown prince departs. ─ DawnNewsTV

 

"We believe in Pakistan's future and that it has a huge opportunity. In 2030, Pakistan will be next to two huge economies. One, China will be the largest economy in 2030, and two, India will be the third-largest economy so Pakistan will definitely benefit from these neighbours," he said.

MBS once again reiterated his faith in the country's leadership. "There is great leadership here to put Pakistan in the right position. We can see it happening."

"We saw the Pakistani economy grow by 5 per cent in 2018 so we believe that Pakistan has huge potential, it could be one of top 20 economies in the future, easily. If the efforts of the leadership, the people of Pakistan, and their allies come together, definitely it can reach that one day."

"So because of that, we believe in Pakistan. Because of our long relations [...] we want to be part of that journey and we want to risk our money, to risk our efforts, to start from day one," he explained.

"What we did today, it's the beginning and we hope in the close future we do more and more partnering with Pakistan," the crown prince concluded.

Prince Mohammad bid goodbye to the army chief, the prime minister and minister Khusro Bakhtiyar on the red carpet before returning to his plane and waving to the crowd from the top of the steps as he departed. The crown prince's next official visit is a trip to India scheduled for Feb 19.

RAWALPINDI: Due to concerns about foreigners visiting sensitive locations without the permission of intelligence agencies, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has been asked to develop software which will contain all information regarding foreigners and the exact number of foreigners in the country and to share the same with law enforcement agencies.

Sources said the provincial government has also been asked to maintain an updated record of foreigners to ensure a strict check on their movement and ensure their security.

The decision was made in a high level meeting held in Islamabad which was attended by senior officials of the federal government and intelligence agencies.

Decision was taken amid concerns about foreigners visiting sensitive locations without permission

The meeting also discussed loopholes in the existing security apparatus for foreigners since many foreigners, especially Chinese nationals, have been working on various development projects including those of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Sources said it was suggested to devise a central mechanism for updating a databank of all incoming and outgoing foreigners because they have been found to be visiting sensitive locations without permission from intelligence agencies and concerned provincial and district governments.

Law enforcement agencies have been asked to keep a check on movement of foreigners.

Details of foreigners visiting Pakistan will be updated on the software along with the purpose of their visit and other details of their stay.

Details of the locations they want to stay at and for how long will be incorporated in the immigration documents of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Provincial governments may maintain an updated record of foreign security cells which are to address issues of foreigners and to maintain a report of their activities.

Observing the increased international investment in the province and the increasing role of foreigners in development activities, the Punjab government has already chalked out fresh standard operating procedures for the security of foreigners.

The fresh guidelines to all divisional police chiefs and commissioners suggested that all foreigners shall report to the district foreigner security cell when they arrive for the first time in the district and will inform the cell about their departure details.

The cell will sensitise them about their responsibilities and will provide them with written instructions regarding their security in English and Chinese.

A computerised database and bio-metric record of each foreigner living or working in the jurisdiction of each police station will be maintained and this record will be tallied with the FIA’s records.

The Special Protection Unit of the police has been established in Punjab for the protection of foreigners working in development projects.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2019

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an end to all commercial activities on military lands in Karachi while ordering Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to summon a cabinet meeting and determine how the city will be restored to the form envisioned in its original master plan.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, which is hearing a case pertaining to illegal constructions in the city, at the outset expressed severe displeasure at the absence of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and cantonment board officials during today's proceedings.

Only Sindh Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shalwani and Advocate General for Sindh Salman Talibuddin were present in court.

The apex court directed all concerned secretaries to take part in the cabinet meeting and ordered them to come up a comprehensive report about how the city will be restored to its planned shape to be submitted in two weeks.

Later, while ordering an end to commercial activities on military land, Justice Gulzar wondered why the armed forces and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were running wedding halls and cinemas.

He inquired if it was their job to do so.

Taking aim at the CAA, he noted that a wedding hall was being operated near the Karachi airport, which had been the target of a terrorist attack in the past.

Then, turning to the armed forces, he asked what a wedding hall was doing operating so close to the Central Ordnance Depot, meant for stockpiling active ammunition and weapons.

"Have some fear of God!" he thundered.

He also asked why walls were being erected along main thoroughfares based on the wishes of an armed forces officer, who, judge said, wishes to use them (the walls) to generate revenue from billboards.

"And, behind these walls, big buildings are being constructed," he noted. "If they [the people involved] had their way, they would be constructing buildings on the streets."

Rejecting a report presented by the Sindh government and Karachi Development Authority officials, Justice Gulzar lambasted provincial officials for "singing lullabies" for the court.

"This report of yours is of no use," Justice Gulzar thundered. "If we passed an order on the basis of this report, your entire government will be sent reeling."

"Don't tell us bedtime stories," Justice Gulzar censured the Sindh advocate general. "You do know AG sahab, what it means to sing someone lullabies? It means, 'Listen to this lullaby and go to sleep'."

"We are not here to be sung to sleep," Justice Gulzar said.

"You have a good secretary in Mumtaz Ali Shah, and yet you have been able to achieve nothing," he complained.

The court ordered that the Sindh government's report be submitted along with formal architectural plans and suggestions.

"Let me make it clear: This city will be restored to its original master plan," Justice Gulzar asserted.

"Look at at what the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has done to the coastal strip," he remarked.

"They have encroached so far into the sea that if they had their way, they would build another city on the sea itself.

"The owners of DHA will [then] encroach on the entire sea all the way to America and plant their flags there," the judge commented.

"They are currently wondering how they can make inroads into India as well," he added.

Court orders public park to be made on TP-II, Askari Park to be handed over to civil authorities

The apex court also ordered the occupation of the Sewerage Treatment Plant-II (TP-II) to be dealt with.

Justice Gulzar asked the managing director of the Water Board if the land had been emptied yet, to which the director said the issue had been handed over to the KMC as per the court's orders.

The court subsequently ordered the land to be turned into a public park. Similarly, the court ordered that Askari Park, which was made on the land of the old 'Sabzi Mandi', be handed over to civil authorities.

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