[Tae-Hwan Kwak y Seung-Ho Joo (eds). One Korea: visions of Korean unification. Routledge. New York, 2017. 234 p.]
RESEÑA / Eduardo Uranga
A lo largo de la segunda mitad del siglo XX, las tensiones entre superpotencias en el este asiático hicieron de esta parte del mundo un punto caliente de las Relaciones Internacionales. Hoy sigue habiendo tensiones, como la guerra comercial que desde 2018 enfrenta a Estados Unidos y a la República Popular de China. No obstante, durante los últimos 70 años, un territorio en particular se ha visto afectado por un continuado conflicto que varias veces ha reclamado la atención mundial. Esta región es, sin duda, la península de Corea.
En este libro, coeditado por Tae-Hwan Kwak y Seung-Ho Joo y que reúne a diversos expertos sobre las relaciones intercoreanas, se exponen las distintas posibilidades de una reunificación de las dos Coreas en un futuro, así como los distintos problemas que deben ser solucionados para poder alcanzar este objetivo. También se analizan las perspectivas de las distintas potencias mundiales sobre el conflicto.
La cuestión coreana viene de la Segunda Guerra Mundial: tras ser ocupado el país por Japón, su liberación terminó dividiendo la península en dos: Corea del Norte (ocupada por la Unión Soviética) y Corea del Sur (controlada por Estados Unidos). Entre 1950 y 1953, las dos mitades lucharon en un conflicto, que acabó consolidando la partición, con una zona desmilitarizada en medio conocida como Paralelo 38 o KDZ.
Una de las fórmulas de unificación coreana descritas en este libro es la unificación a través de la neutralización, propuesta por ambas Coreas. De todos modos, los constantes tests de misiles nucleares de largo alcance llevados a cabo por Corea del Norte en los últimos años presentan un gran obstáculo para esta fórmula. En este ambiente de desconfianza, los ciudadanos coreanos juegan un papel importante en la promoción de la cooperación y amistad a ambos lados de la frontera con el objetivo de alcanzar la desnuclearización de Corea del Norte.
Otro aspecto que juega un importante papel a la hora de forzar un cambio de la actitud de Corea del Norte es su cultura estratégica. Esta debe ser diferenciada de la cultura estratégica tradicional coreana. Corea del Norte ha adoptado varias estrategias de unificación a lo largo de los años, manteniendo los mismos principios y valores. Esta cultura estratégica mezcla elementos procedentes de la posición estratégica del país (desde el punto de vista geopolítico), su historia y sus valores nacionales. Todo ello bajo la autoridad de la ideología Juche. Esta ideología contiene algunos elementos militaristas y promueve la unificación de Corea a través de un conflicto armado y acciones revolucionarias.
En cuanto a las perspectivas de las distintas superpotencias mundiales sobre una futura reunificación coreana, China ha declarado estar a favor de una unificación planteada a largo plazo; un proceso acometido a corto plazo colisionaría con intereses nacionales chinos, pues antes Pekín debería solucionar sus discusiones con Taiwán, o poner fin a la Guerra Comercial contra Estados Unidos. China ha declarado que no aceptará la unificación de Corea influenciada por una alianza militar entre Estados Unidos y Corea del Sur.
Por otra parte, Estados Unidos todavía no ha optado por una política de unificación coreana en concreto. Desde la década de 1950, la península de Corea no ha sido más que una parte dentro del conjunto de la política estratégica estadounidense para toda la región del Asia Pacífico.
La unificación de la península coreana se verá truncada mientras Estados Unidos, China y otras potencias de la región sigan reconociendo el statu quo de la península. Podría argumentarse que quizás un conflicto armado sería la única forma de alcanzar la unificación. Según los autores de este libro, esto sería demasiado costoso en cuanto a recursos utilizados y vidas humanas perdidas. Por otro lado, esa guerra podría desencadenar un conflicto a escala global.
[John West, Asian Century on A Knife Edge: A 360 Degree Analysis of Asia’s Recent Economic Development. Palgrave Macmillan. Singapore, 2018. 329 p.]
RESEÑA / Gabriela Pajuelo
El título de esta obra parece contribuir al coro generalizado de que el siglo XXI es el siglo de Asia. En realidad, la tesis del libro es la contraria, o al menos pone esa afirmación “en el filo de la navaja”: Asia es un continente de gran complejidad económica y de intereses geopolíticos contrapuestos, lo que plantea una serie de retos cuya resolución determinará en las próximas décadas el lugar de la región en el mundo. De momento, según defiende John West, profesor universitario en Tokio, no hay nada asegurado.
El libro arranca con un preámbulo sobre la historia reciente de Asia, desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial hasta la actualidad. Ya al comienzo de ese periodo se estableció el liberalismo económico como la doctrina estándar en gran parte del mundo, también en la mayor parte de los países asiáticos, en un proceso impulsado por la puesta en marcha de instituciones internacionales.
A ese sistema, sin renunciar a sus doctrinas internas, se sumó China al ingresar en 2001 en la Organización Mundial del Comercio. Desde entonces se han producido algunos shocks como la crisis financiera de 2007-2008, que afectó gravemente a la economía estadounidense y tuvo repercusiones en el resto del mundo, o las recientes tensiones arancelarias entre Washington y Pekín, además de la presente crisis mundial por la pandemia de coronavirus.
Los principios de proteccionismo y nacionalismo desplegados por Donald Trump y un mayor recurso estadounidense al hard power en la región, así como una política más asertiva de la China de Xi Jinping en su entorno geográfico, igualmente recurriendo a posiciones de fuerza, como en el Mar del Sur de China, han perjudicado el multilateralismo que se había ido construyendo en esa parte del mundo.
El autor proporciona algunas ideas que invitan a la reflexión sobre los desafíos que enfrentará Asia, dado que los factores clave que favorecieron su desarrollo ahora se han deteriorado (principalmente debido a la estabilidad proporcionada por la interdependencia económica internacional).
West examina siete desafíos. El primero es obtener una mejor posición en las cadenas de valor mundiales, ya que desde la década de 1980 la fabricación de componentes y la elaboración de productos finales se realiza en diferentes partes del mundo. Asia interviene en gran medida en esas cadenas de suministros, en campos como la producción de tecnología o de indumentaria, pero está sujeta a decisiones comerciales de multinacionales cuyas prácticas en ocasiones no son socialmente responsables y permiten el abuso de los derechos laborales, que son importantes para el desarrollo de clases medias.
El segundo desafío es aprovechar al máximo el potencial de la urbanización, que ha pasado del 27% de la población en 1980 al 48% en 2015. La región es conocida por las megaciudades, densamente pobladas. Ello acarrea algunas dificultades: la población que emigra a los centros industriales generalmente pasa de trabajos de baja productividad a otros de alta productividad, y se pone a prueba la capacidad de atención sanitaria. Pero también es una oportunidad para mejorar las prácticas medioambientales o fomentar la innovación mediante las tecnologías verdes, por más que hoy gran parte de Asia se enfrenta aún a elevados niveles de contaminación.
Otro de los desafíos es dar a todos los asiáticos iguales oportunidades en sus respectivas sociedades, desde las personas LGBT a mujeres y comunidades indígenas, así como a minorías étnicas y religiosas. La región igualmente afronta un importante reto demográfico, pues muchas poblaciones envejecen (como la china, a pesar de la corrección que supone la “política de dos hijos”) o bien siguen expandiéndose con presumibles problemas futuros de abastecimiento (como es el caso de India).
West hace referencia, asimismo, a las barreras que para la democratización existen en la región, con el destacado inmovilismo de China, y a la extensión del crimen económico y la corrupción (falsificación, piratería, narcotráfico, trata de personas, cibercrimen o lavado de dinero).
Finalmente, el autor habla del reto de que los países asiáticos puedan vivir juntos, en paz y armonía, al tiempo que China se consolida como líder regional: si existe una apuesta china por el soft power, mediante la iniciativa Belt and Road, también hay una actitud de mayor confrontación por parte de Pekín respecto a Taiwán, Hong Kong y el Mar del Sur de China; mientras que actores como India, Japón y Corea del Norte quieren mayor protagonismo.
En general, el libro ofrece un análisis exhaustivo del desarrollo económico y social de Asia, y de los retos que tiene por delante. Además, el autor ofrece algunas ideas que invitan a la reflexión, argumentando que “un siglo asiático”, así proclamado, es poco probable debido al retraso del desarrollo económico de la región, ya que la mayoría de los países no han alcanzado a contrapartes occidentales en términos de PIB per cápita y sofisticación tecnológica. No obstante, deja abierto el futuro: si se resuelven con éxitos los desafíos planteados, efectivamente puede llegar el momento de una centuria asiática.
▲ Terrazas de campos de arroz en Vietnam [Pixabay]
COMENTARIO / Eduardo Arbizu
La combinación de una economía de mercado y un régimen autoritario dominado por el Partido Comunista de Vietnam (PCV) ha llevado a Vietnam, un país con más de 90 millones de habitantes, a convertirse en una pieza esencial para el futuro del Sudeste Asiático
El Vietnam actual es la consecuencia de un proceso de cambio confuso y contradictorio que ha transformado no solo la economía del país, sino que ha tenido también un profundo impacto en la vida social, la configuración urbana, el medio ambiente, las políticas internas y exteriores y cuyos efectos finales se verán en el largo plazo.
Un impresionante cambio económico
La transformación del modelo económico en Vietnam deriva formalmente de la decisión adoptada en el sexto congreso del PCV en diciembre de 1986 de abrir el país a la economía de mercado, pero sus raíces las encontramos antes, en la crisis económica que siguió a la guerra, en el colapso de la producción agrícola que la radical implantación de un modelo comunista provocó en 1979. Esta debacle obligó a permitir el comercio privado de cualquier excedente de producción que superara los objetivos establecidos por el Estado para las empresas o tierras públicas. Esta especie de capitalismo de Estado abonó el terreno para la liberalización que siguió al fallecimiento del líder estalinista, Le Duan, en 1986. La aprobación de la política de do-moi o renovación supuso el abandono de la planificación y la opción por el libre mercado. No fue una decisión ideológica sino instrumental. Si el PC quería mantener el control del país necesitaba generar un millón de puestos de trabajo al año, garantizar el alimento para 90 millones de habitantes y reducir la pobreza.
Ha sido un éxito económico y social: la renta per cápita se ha incrementado radicalmente y la población bajo el umbral de la pobreza se ha reducido del 60 al 20 %. El embargo de Estados Unidos acabó en 1993 y en 1997 ambos países firmaron un nuevo acuerdo de comercio. En 2007 Vietnam fue admitido en la OMC. En ese contexto de apertura, más de 150.000 nuevas empresas se crearon bajo la nueva ley de empresas y grandes compañías internacionales como Clarks, Canon, Samsung e Intel instalaron centros de producción en Vietnam.
Los logros del proceso, sin embargo, no deben ocultar sus debilidades: una economía controlada por el Estado a través de joint ventures y empresas estatales, un frágil Estado de Derecho, corrupción masiva, un entramado de familias leales al PCV que acumulan riqueza y poseen la mayoría de los negocios privados, una desigualdad creciente y un profundo deterioro ecológico.
La agricultura ha evolucionado desde la súbita caída de producción que siguió a la colectivización comunista a la situación actual en la que Vietnam es el segundo mayor exportador de arroz en el mundo, cultivo que representa el 20% de sus exportaciones. La industrialización de la economía ha hecho que la agricultura, que era el 40% del PIB, sea hoy solo el 20%. La vida sigue dependiendo del cultivo del arroz, todavía la principal fuente de ingresos en los hogares rurales, donde vive la mitad de la población. Las exportaciones de arroz se gestionan por una combinación del libre mercado y un funcionariado corrupto, con las negativas consecuencias vividas en la crisis especulativa del 2008. Se ha experimentado una intensa migración del campo a las grandes ciudades donde los salarios son cinco veces superiores. La presión en busca de la riqueza está convirtiendo la tierra agrícola en parcelas residenciales o industriales. Cada año se recalifican 10.000 nuevas hectáreas. La transformación del mundo rural está apartando las antiguas estructuras que proporcionaban seguridad, sentido y propósito y está por ver como afecta a la estabilidad futura.
Un cambio social y medioambiental
La construcción de ciudades proletarias tras la guerra, bajo el programa comunista de vivienda, no ha impedido la superpoblación ni la continuidad de una vida comunal. Los emigrantes continúan llegando en búsqueda de trabajo, dinero y protección. Toneladas de desechos industriales siguen sin tratarse; los ríos alrededor de la ciudad de Ho Chi Min están biológicamente muertos y la polución en Hanói se sitúa muy por encima de los niveles internacionalmente aceptados. Problemas como la prostitución, con más del 1 % de las mujeres trabajando en tráfico sexual ilícito, o los niños abandonados en las calles son una realidad. Sin embargo, mientras doblaba o triplicaba su población urbana, Vietnam ha gestionado mejor estos problemas que sus países vecinos, evitando en mayor medida las ciudades fantasmas y sus problemas de criminalidad, pobreza extrema y drogadicción tan comunes en el resto de Asia.
El dinamismo comercial y urbano se refleja en miles de negocios ilegales de venta de alimentos en la calle y pequeñas empresas, pioneras del capitalismo a menor escala, que hoy constituyen un símbolo turístico de Vietnam. En ciudades llenas de jóvenes que identifican la libertad con una motocicleta contaminante, la juventud se rebela contra años de austeridad comunista pero no contra las tradiciones familiares.
Vietnam es un país donde una maravilla natural como la Bahía de Ha Long, una de las imágenes icónicas del país, es simultáneamente una atracción turística y un desastre medioambiental. Es también una de las zonas más expuestas a los efectos del cambio climático, debido a su poca altura y su dependencia en la producción agrícola en el Delta de Mekong y al turismo. El respeto por la vida silvestre y el medioambiente son cuestiones de una prioridad baja para las autoridades.
El PCV sigue al mando
Hay cuestiones que no han cambiado con la misma intensidad. Vietnam vive todavía bajo un “sistema natural de control”, el profundo sistema de vigilancia puesto en marcha por el régimen comunista para controlar los valores y el comportamiento de su pueblo. Un sistema en el que uno de cada seis vietnamitas acabo trabajando en las fuerzas de seguridad y que desembocó en un control de las “familias cultivadas”, aquellas que se comportan de acuerdo con los valores establecidos por el partido. Aunque ha probado su eficacia en crisis como la gripe aviar y en parte ahora en la del Covid-19, el sistema resulta hoy controvertido por la difusión de Internet y las redes sociales y de cambios sociales radicales que plantean la exigencia de más libertad. A pesar de este control, la corrupción está extendida y perjudica el futuro del país.
El PCV sigue teniendo el poder. Manteniendo sus raíces leninistas, es ahora una organización elitista e inteligente en búsqueda de su propia supervivencia. Un nuevo mandarinato que ha evolucionado de un poder centralizado presente en todos los aspectos de la vida pública y social a un control frágil y parcial; de un “insignificante sistema legal”, donde las decisiones se adoptaban directamente por el PCV y su adecuación a la ley era irrelevante, a un “Estado basado en la Ley”, donde las normas son la herramienta para supervisar a emprendedores e inversores, permitiéndoles crear riqueza y empleo pero simultáneamente cumplir con las expectativas del PCV. De manera similar el partido controla el poder legislativo, los tribunales e indirectamente la prensa, los medios y la cobertura de las noticias, lo que impide considerar a Vietnam como un país realmente libre.
La vida ha sido difícil y solitaria para aquellos pocos que intentaron oponerse al régimen y promover una democracia real. El nombre del sacerdote católico padre Ly y el de sus seguidores, brutalmente reprimidos, juzgados y condenados en marzo de 2007, una vez el país fue admitido en la OMC, ensombrece la esperanza de una transición hacia una libertad política efectiva.
Política exterior y futuro
La política exterior vietnamita trata de encontrar un equilibrio en sus relaciones con dos actores principales: Estados Unidos y China, con el contrapeso de un conjunto de alianzas con terceros países. Superar las heridas de guerra y establecer una cooperación confiada en materia de seguridad es el objetivo de la política de aproximación con Estados Unidos, que ya es un inversor significativo en el país. La relación especial con China, el mayor importador de productos vietnamitas, un gigante industrial y el mayor ejército de Asia, es el otro eje de su política a pesar de los viejos conflictos territoriales.
La sobrexplotación del entorno, la desigualdad, el atrincheramiento de las élites y, sobre todo, la incertidumbre sobre la evolución del Partido Comunista de Vietnam y del sistema político son aspectos que lastran las perspectivas. Sin embargo, una población joven y bien educada, así como el flujo de inversión extranjera, constituyen razones para el optimismo sobre una mayor liberalización del país, también política.
▲ The British Raj in 1909 showing Muslim majority areas in green
ESSAY / Victoria Paternina and Claudia Plasencia
Pakistan’s partition from India in 1947 marked the beginning of a long road of various territorial disputes, causing different effects in the region. The geopolitics of Pakistan with India are often linked when considering their shared history; and in fact, it makes sense if we take the perspective of Kashmir as the prominent issue that Islamabad has to deal with. However, neither the history nor the present of Pakistan can be reduced to New Delhi and their common regional conflict over the Line of Control that divides Kashmir.
The turbulent and mistrustful relations between India and Pakistan go beyond Kashmir, with the region of Punjab divided in two sides and no common ground between New Delhi and Islamabad. In the same way, the bitter ties between Islamabad and a third country are not exclusively with India. Once part of Pakistan, Bangladesh has a deeply rooted hatred relationship with Islamabad since their split in 1971. Looking beyond Kashmir, Punjab and Bangladesh show a distinct aspect of the territorial disputes of the past and present-day Pakistan. Islamabad has a say in these issues that seem to go unnoticed due to the fact that they stand in the shadow of Kashmir.
This essay tries to shed light on other events that have a solid weight on Pakistan’s geopolitics as well as to make clear that the country is worthy of attention not only from New Delhi’s perspective but also from their own Pakistani view. In that way, this paper is divided in two different topics that we believe are important in order to understand Pakistan and its role in the region. Punjab and Bangladesh: the two shoved under the rug by Kashmir.
The tale of territorial disputes is rooted deeply in Pakistan and Indian relations; the common mistake is to believe that New Delhi and Islamabad only fight over Kashmir. If the longstanding dispute over Kashmir has raised the independence claims of its citizens, Punjab is not far from that. On the edge of the partition, Punjab was another region in which territorial lines were difficult to apply. They finally decided to divide the territory in two sides; the western for Pakistan and the eastern for India. However, this issue automatically brought problems since the majority of Punjabis were neither Hindus nor Muslims but rather Sikhs. Currently, the division of Punjab is still in force. Despite the situation in Pakistan Punjab remains calm due to the lack of Sikhs as most of them left the territory or died in the partition. The context in India Punjab is completely different as riots and violence are common in the eastern side due to the wide majority of Sikhs that find no common ground with Hindus and believe that India has occupied its territory. Independence claims have been strengthened throughout the years in many occasions, supported by the Pakistani ISI in order to destabilize India. Furthermore, the rise of the nationalist Indian movement is worsening the situation for Punjabis who are realizing how their rights are getting marginalized in the eyes of Modi’s government.
Nonetheless, the question of Punjabi independence is only a matter of the Indian side. The Pakistan-held Punjab is a crucial province of the country in which the wide majority are Muslims. The separation of Punjab from Islamabad would not be conceived since it would be devastating. For Pakistan, it would mean the loss of 72 million inhabitants; damaging the union and stability of the country. All of this taking into account that Punjab represents a strong pillar for the national economy since it is the place where the Indus river – one of the most important ones – flows. It can be said that there is no room for independence of the Pakistani side, nor for a rapprochement between both parts of the former Punjab region. They have lost their main community ties. Besides, the disagreements are between New Delhi and Eastern Punjab, so Islamabad has nothing to do here. According to that, the only likely long-term possibility would be the independence of the Indian side of the Punjab due to the growth of the hatred against New Delhi. Additionally, there are many Sikhs living abroad in UK or Canada who support the independence of Punjab into a new country “Khalistan” strengthening the movement into an international concern. Nevertheless, the achievement of this point would probably increase the violence in Punjab, and in case they would become independent it would be at the expense of many deaths.
There is a last point that must be taken into account when referring to India-Pakistan turbulent territorial relations. This is the case of the longstanding conflict over water resources in which both countries have been increasing tensions periodically. Considering that there is a scarcity of water resources and a high demand of that public good, it is easy to realize that two enemies that share those resources are going to fight for them. Furthermore, if they both are mainly agrarian countries, the interest of the water would be even harder as it is the case of Pakistan and India. However, for more than five decades both Islamabad and New Delhi have maintained the Indus Waters Treaty that regulates the consumption of the common waters. It divides the six rivers that flow over Pakistan and India in two sides. The three western ones for Pakistan, and the other three of the eastern part for India. Nevertheless, it does not mean that India could not make any use of the Pakistani ones or vice versa; they are allowed to use them in non-consumptive terms such as irrigation, but not for storage or building infrastructures. This is where the problem is. India is seemed to have violated those terms by constructing a dam in the area of the Pakistani Indus river in order to use the water as a diplomatic weapon against Islamabad.
This term has been used as an Indian strategy to condemn the violence of Pakistan-based groups against India undermining in that way the economy of Pakistan which is highly dependent on water resources. Nevertheless, it is hard to think that New Delhi would violate one of the milestones treaties in its bilateral relations with Pakistan. Firstly, because it could escalate their already existent tensions with Pakistan that would transform into an increase of the violence against India. Islamabad’s reaction would not be friendly, and although terrorist activities follow political causes, any excuse is valid to lead to an attack. Secondly, because it would bring a bad international image for PM Modi as the UN and other countries would condemn New Delhi of having breached a treaty as well as leaving thousands of people without access to water. Thirdly, they should consider that rivers are originated in the Tibet, China, and a bad movement would mean a reaction from Beijing diverting the water towards Pakistan. Finally, India does not have enough infrastructure to use the additional water available. It is better for both New Delhi and Islamabad to maintain the issue over water resources under a formal treaty considering their mutual mistrust and common clashes. Nevertheless, it would be better for them to renew the Indus Waters Treaty in order to include new aspects that were not foreseen when it was drafted as well as to preserve the economic security of both countries.
Punjab is a territory obligated to be divided in two between India and Pakistan, yet Bangladesh separated itself completely from Pakistan and finds itself in the middle of India. Bangladesh, once part of Pakistan, after a tumultuous war, separated into its own country. While India did not explicitly intervene with Bangladesh and Pakistan’s split, it did promote the hatred between the two for its own agenda and to increase in power. The scarring aspect of the split of Bangladesh from Pakistan is the bloody war and genocide that took place, something that the Bengali people still have not overcome to this day. The people of Bangladesh are seeking an apology from Pakistan, something that does not look like it is going to come anytime soon.
Pakistan and Bangladesh share a bitter past with one another as prior to 1971, they were one country which separated into two as a result of a bloody war and emerging political differences. Since 1971 up to today, India and the Awami league have worked to maintain this hatred between Bangladesh and Pakistan through propagandist programs and different techniques. For example, they set up a war museum, documentaries and films in order to boast more the self-proclamation of superiority on behalf of India against Bangladesh and Pakistan. India and the Awami League ignore the fact that they have committed atrocities against the Bengali people and that in large part they are responsible for the breakup between Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) worked to improve relations with Pakistan under the governments of Ziaur Rahman, Begum Khaldia Zia, and Hossain Mohammad Ershad in Bangladesh, who had maintained distance from India. Five Pakistani heads of government have visited Bangladesh since 1980, along with signing trade and cultural agreements to improve relations between the two nations. While an alliance between Pakistan and Bangladesh against India is not a realistic scenario, what is important for Pakistan and Bangladesh for the next decade to come is attempt to put their past behind them in order to steer clear of India and develop mutually beneficial relations to help improve their economies. For example, a possible scenario for improving Pakistan and Bangladesh relations could be to join the CPEC to better take advantage of the trade opportunities offered within South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, and China and Russia.
Despite decades of improving trade and military links, especially as a defense against Indian supremacy in the region, the two countries continue to be divided by the question of genocide. Bangladesh wants Pakistan to recognize the genocide and its atrocities and teach them as a part of its history. However, Pakistan has refused to do so and has even referred to militant leader executed for war crimes as being killed for his loyalty to Pakistan.
Even though India supported Bangladesh in its independence from Pakistan, Bangladesh thinks that India is self-serving and that they change ideas depending on their own convenience. An alliance of Pakistan and Bangladesh, even though it is against a common enemy, India, is not realistic given the information recently provided. India is a country that yes, even though they helped Bangladesh against Pakistan, they are always going to look out for themselves, especially in search to be the central power in the region. India sees still a lot of potential for their power in the coming decades. Indian PM Narendra Modi is very keen on making strategic choices for the country to transform an increase its global leadership position.
The hostile relations between Pakistan and India find their peak in its longstanding conflict over Kashmir, but Punjab and Bangladesh must not be put in the shadow. The further directions of both PM Imran Khan and PM Modi could have consequences that would alter the interests of Punjab and Bangladesh as different actors in the international order. In the case of Punjab their mutual feelings of mistrust could challenge the instability of a region far from being calm. It is true that independence claims is not an issue for Pakistan itself since both Islamabad and Pakistan-held Punjab would lose in that scenario, and they both know it. Nonetheless, Indian Punjabis’ reality is different. They have crucial problems within New Delhi, again as a historical matter of identity and ethnicity that is still present nowadays. Sikhs have not found common ground with Hindus yet and it does not seem that it will happen in a near future. In fact, tensions are increasing, posing a threat for two nations with their views on Kashmir rather than on Punjab. In the case of Bangladesh, its relations with Pakistan did not have a great start. Bangladesh gained freedom with help from India and remained under its influence. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh took a long time to adjust to the shock of separation and their new reality, with India in between them.
In conclusion, Punjab and Bangladesh tend to be the less important territorial issues, and not a priority neither for Islamabad nor for New Delhi that are more engaged in Kashmir. However, considering the magnitude of both disputes, we should appreciate how the Sikhs in the Indian-held territory of Punjab as well as the Bengali people deserve the same rights as the Kashmiris to be heard and to have these territorial disputes settled once and for all.
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[A. Patanru, M. Pangestu, M.C. Basri (eds), Indonesia in the New World: Globalisation, Nationalism and Sovereignty. ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. Singapore, 2018. 358 p.]
RESEÑA / Irati Zozaya
El libro se compone de quince artículos, escritos por diferentes expertos, que tratan sobre cómo Indonesia ha abordado la globalización y qué efecto ha tenido esta en el país. Los textos han sido coordinados por Arianto A. Patunru, Mari Pangestu y M. Chatib Basri, académicos indonesios con experiencia también en la gestión pública al haber sido ministros en distintos gobiernos. Los artículos combinan los enfoques generales con aspectos específicos, tales como las consecuencias de la apertura al comercio y las inversiones internacionales en la industria minera o las medidas de nacionalización de alimentos.
Para explicar la situación actual de Indonesia el libro en ocasiones recapitula periodos de su historia. Precisamente, uno de los conceptos que aflora con frecuencia en el libro es el del nacionalismo: podría decirse, según los autores, que es lo que más ha marcado el modo de relación de Indonesia con el mundo, más allá de quién ha dirigido en cada momento este país que hoy cuenta con 260 millones de habitantes.
La primera parte del libro hace referencia de forma más general a la experiencia de Indonesia con la globalización, el nacionalismo y la soberanía. Comienzan mostrando la época colonial y cómo, por imposición de Holanda y Gran Bretaña de una apertura al mundo, empieza a surgir un fuerte sentimiento nacionalista. Tras la ocupación por parte de Japón durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial se implanta una autarquía total, llevando así a los ciudadanos a un problema que sigue muy presente en la actualidad de Indonesia: la práctica del contrabando. En 1945 el país logró la esperada independencia bajo la presidencia de Sukarno, quien cerró Indonesia al resto del mundo para centrarse en reafirmar la identidad nacional y desarrollar sus capacidades. Esto llevó al deterioro de la economía y a la consiguiente hiperinflación, que dio pie a una nueva época: el Nuevo Orden.
En 1967, con la llegada de Suharto a la presidencia, comenzó una cautelosa apertura al comercio exterior y a los flujos de inversión. Sin embargo, Suharto reprimió la actividad política y durante su mandato los militares obtuvieron mucha influencia y el gobierno retuvo el control sobre la economía. Además, el final de su presidencia coincidió con la crisis financiera asiática (1997-1998), la cual condujo a la caída del crecimiento económico del país y a un frenazo de la reducción de la pobreza, y en consecuencia al crecimiento de la desigualdad. La crisis financiera socavó la confianza en el presidente y culminó en el colapso del Nuevo Orden.
El siguiente periodo abordado es el Reformasi, una época que marcó el comienzo de un clima político más abierto y democrático. Los siguientes dos presidentes, Abdurrahman Wahid (1999-2001) y Megawati Soekarnoputri (2001-2004), se preocuparon más por la recuperación económica y la consolidación democrática y perduró un sistema proteccionista en cuanto a la economía. El libro no se centra mucho en el siguiente presidente, Yudhoyono (2004-2014), remarcando únicamente que fue un internacionalista que mantuvo una postura más cautelosa y ambivalente en cuestiones económicas.
Por último, en las elecciones de 2014 llegó al poder Joko Widodo, quien mantiene el cargo de presidente en la actualidad. Con él, Indonesia ha vuelto a la senda del crecimiento económico y se ha estabilizado como una democracia de razonable éxito. Dado que el presidente, conocido comúnmente como Jokowi, ha tomado nuevas medidas para remarcar la soberanía política y promover la autarquía económica y el renacimiento cultural nacional, a su mandato se le ha caracterizado de ‘nuevo nacionalismo’. En su discurso político, Jokowi pone a Indonesia como objetivo de conspiraciones extranjeras y llama a estar en guardia frente a esas amenazas. De todas maneras, el país mantiene una postura ambivalente hacia la apertura y cooperación internacional ya que, por mucho que en las últimas décadas hayan vuelto a incrementar las restricciones comerciales, Jokowi enfatiza el compromiso global y ha reactivado las negociaciones regionales.
Todo esto ha llevado al descontento de la población con la globalización, de forma que hasta el 40% de los ciudadanos piensan que esta amenaza la unidad nacional. Uno de los efectos más negativos y de mayor importancia en Indonesia es el de los trabajadores que se han visto forzados a emigrar y a trabajar en el extranjero en muy malas condiciones. No obstante, las últimas partes del libro muestran también las consecuencias positivas que ha tenido la globalización en Indonesia, manifestándose en una mayor productividad, el incremento de los salarios o el crecimiento económico, entre otros. Por ello los autores hacen hincapié en la importancia de construir una narrativa que pueda generar apoyo público y político para la apertura del país y contrarreste el creciente sentimiento de antiglobalización.
Como ocurre en un libro que es la suma de artículos de diferentes autores, su lectura puede resultar algo pesada por una cierta reiteración de contenidos. No obstante, la variedad de firmas supone también una pluralidad de enfoques que sin duda supone una riqueza de perspectivas para el lector.
[Ming-Sho Ho, Challenging Beijing’s Mandate of Heaven. Taiwan's Sunflower and Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, 2019. 230 p.]
RESEÑA / Claudia López
El Movimiento Girasol de Taiwán y el Movimiento de los Paraguas de Hong Kong alcanzaron una gran notoriedad internacional a lo largo de 2014, cuando retaron el ‘mandato del Cielo’ del régimen chino, por usar la imagen que da título al libro. Este analiza los orígenes, los procesos y también los resultados de ambas protestas, en un momento de consolidación del ascenso de la República Popular China. Challenging Beijing’s Mandate of Heaven ofrece una visión general y a la vez detallada sobre dónde, por qué y cómo estos movimientos se gestaron y alcanzaron relevancia.
El Movimiento Girasol de Taiwán se desarrolló en marzo y abril de 2014, cuando manifestaciones ciudadanas protestaron contra la aprobación de un tratado de libre comercio con China. Entre septiembre y diciembre de ese mismo año, el Movimiento de los Paraguas protagonizó en Hong Kong 79 días de protestas exigiendo el sufragio universal para elegir a la máxima autoridad este enclave de especial estatus dentro de China. Estas protestas llamaron la atención internacionalmente por su organización, pacífica y civilizada.
Ming-Sho Ho comienza describiendo el trasfondo histórico de Taiwán y Hong Kong desde sus orígenes chinos. Luego analiza la situación de ambos territorios en lo que va del presente siglo, cuando Taiwán y Hong Kong han comenzado a encontrar mayor presión por parte de China. Además, repasa las similares circunstancias económicas que produjeron las dos oleadas de revueltas juveniles. En la segunda parte del libro, se analizan los dos movimientos: las contribuciones voluntarias, el proceso de toma de decisiones y su improvisación, el cambio de poder interno, las influencias políticas y los desafíos de la iniciativa. La obra incluye apéndices con la lista de personas de Taiwán y Hong Kong entrevistadas y la metodología utilizada para el análisis de las protestas.
Ming-Sho Ho nació en 1973 en Taiwán y ha sido un observador directo de los movimientos sociales de la isla; durante su época de estudiante de doctorado en Hong Kong también siguió de cerca el debate político en la excolonia británica. En la actualidad está investigando iniciativas para promover la energía renovable en las naciones de Asia Oriental.
El hecho de ser de Taiwán le dio acceso al Movimiento Girasol y le permitió entablar una estrecha relación con varios de sus principales activistas. Pudo presenciar algunas de las reuniones internas de los estudiantes y llevar a cabo entrevistas en profundidad con estudiantes, líderes, políticos, activistas de ONG, periodistas y profesores universitarios. Eso le proporcionó una variedad de fuentes para llevar a cabo su investigación.
Si bien son dos territorios con características distintas –Hong Kong se encuentra bajo soberanía de la República Popular China, pero goza de autonomía administrativa; Taiwán sigue siendo independiente, pero su condición de estado se ve desafiada–, ambos suponen un reto estratégico para Pekín en su consolidación como superpotencia.
La simpatía del autor hacia estos dos movimientos es obvia en todo el libro, así como su admiración por el riesgo asumido por estos grupos de estudiantes, especialmente en Hong Kong, donde muchos de ellos fueron declarados culpables de ‘molestia pública’ y de ‘alteración del orden público’ y, en numerosos casos, acabaron condenados a más de un año de prisión.
Los dos movimientos tuvieron un comienzo y un desarrollo parecidos, pero cada cual terminó de manera muy distinta. En Taiwán, gracias a la iniciativa, el tratado de libre comercio con China no prosperó y fue retirado, y los manifestantes pudieron convocar un acto de despedida para celebrar esa victoria. En Hong Kong, la represión policial logró ir ahogando la protesta y se produjo una última redada masiva que supuso un final decepcionante para los manifestantes. No obstante, es posible que sin la experiencia de aquellas movilizaciones no hubiera sido posible la nueva reacción estudiantil que a lo largo de 2019 y comienzos de 2020 ha puesto contra las cuerdas en Hong Kong a las máximas autoridades chinas.
▲ Artistic image of a Pakistani Rupee [Pixabay]
COUNTRY RISK REPORT / M. J. Moya, I. Maspons, A. V. Acosta
The government of Prime Minister (PM), Imran Khan, was slowly moving towards economic, social, and political improvements, but all these efforts might be hampered by the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus since the government must temporarily shift its focus and resources to keeping its population safe. Additionally, high logistical, legal, and security challenges still generate an uncompetitive operating environment and thus, an unattractive market for foreign investment in Pakistan.
Firstly, in relation to the country’s economic outlook, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was expected to gradually recover around 5% in the upcoming years. However, according to latest estimates, this growth will suffer a negative impact and fall to around 2%, straining the country’s most recent recorded improvements. On the other hand, in the medium to long-term, Pakistan will benefit from the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a strategic economic project aiming to improve infrastructure capacity in the country. Pakistan is also facing an energy crisis along with a growing demand from a booming population that hinder a proper economic progress.
Secondly, Pakistan’s political future will be shaped by Khan’s ability to transform his short-term policies into long-term strategies. However, in order to achieve this, the government must tackle the root causes of political instability in Pakistan, such as long-lasting corruption, the constant military influence in decision-making processes, the historical debate among secularism and Islamism, and the new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, PM Khan’s progressive reforms could represent the beginning towards a “Naya Pakistan” (“New Pakistan”).
Thirdly, Pakistan’s social stability is contextualized within a high risk of terrorist attacks due to its internal security gaps. The ethnic dilemma among the provinces along with the government’s violent oppression of insurgencies will continue to impede development and social cohesion within the country. This will further aggravate in light of a current shortage of resources and the impacts of climate change.
In addition, in terms of Pakistan’s security outlook, the country is expected to tackle terrorist financing and money laundering networks in order to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Nonetheless, due to a porous border with Afghanistan, Pakistan faces drug trafficking challenges that further destabilize national security. Finally, the turbulent Indo-Pakistani relation is the most significant conflict for the South Asian country. The disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, a possible nuclear confrontation, and the increase of nationalist movements along the Punjab region, hamper regional and international peace.
▲ Logo of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence organization. It depicts Pakistan's national animal, Markhor, eating a snake [Wikipedia]
ESSAY / Manuel Lamela
Jihadism continues to be one of the main threats Pakistan faces. Its impact on Pakistani society at the political, economic and social levels is evident, it continues to be the source of greatest uncertainty, which acts as a barrier to any company that is interested in investing in the Asian country. Although the situation concerning terrorist attacks on national soil has improved, jihadism is an endemic problem in the region and medium-term prospects are not positive. The atmosphere of extreme volatility and insistence that is breathed does not help in generating confidence. If we add to this the general idea that Pakistan's institutions are not very strong due to their close links with certain radical groups, the result is a not very optimistic scenario. In this essay, we will deal with the current situation of jihadism in Pakistan, offering a multidisciplinary approach that helps to situate itself in the complicated reality that the country is experiencing.
1. Jihadism in the region, a risk assessment
Through this graph, we will analyze the probability and impact of various risk factors concerning jihadist activity in the region. All factors refer to hypothetical situations that may develop in the short or medium term. The increase in jihadist activity in the region will depend on how many of these predictions are fulfilled.
R1: US-Taliban treaty fails, creating more instability in the region. If the United States is not able to make a proper exit from Afghanistan, we may find ourselves in a similar situation to that experienced during the 1990s. Such scenario will once again plunge the region into a fierce civil war between government forces and Taliban groups. The proposed scenario becomes increasingly plausible if we look at the recent American actions regarding foreign policy.
R2: Pakistan two-head strategy facing terrorism collapse. Pakistan’s strategy in dealing with jihadism is extremely risky, it’s collapse would lead to a schism in the way the Asian state deals with its most immediate challenges. The chances of this strategy failing in the medium term are considerably high due to its structure, which makes it unsustainable over the time.
R3: Violations of the LoC by the two sides in the conflict. Given the frequency with which these events occur, their impact is residual, but it must be taken into account that it in an environment of high tension and other factors, continuous violations of the LoC may be the spark that leads to an increase in terrorist attacks in the region.
R4: Agreement between the afghan Taliban and the government. Despite the recent agreement between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Albduallah, it seems unlikely that he will be able to reach a lasting settlement with the Taliban, given the latter's pretensions. If it is true that if it happens, the agreement will have a great impact that will even transcend Afghan borders.
R5: Afghan Taliban make a coup d’état to the afghan government. In relation to the previous point, despite the pact between the government and the opposition, it seems likely that instability will continue to exist in the country, so a coup attempt by the Taliban seems more likely than a peaceful solution in the medium or long term
R6: U.S. Democrat party wins the 2020 elections. Broadly speaking, both Republican and Democratic parties are betting on focusing their efforts on containing the growth of their great rival, China.
R7: U.S. withdraw its troops from Afghanistan regarding the result of the peace process. This is closely related to the previous point as it responds to a basic geopolitical issue.
R8: New agreement between India and Pakistan regarding the LoC. If produced, this would bring both states closer together and help reduce jihadist attacks in the Kashmir region. However, if we look at recent events, such a possibility seems distant at present.
2. The ties between the ISI and the Taliban and other radical groups
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been accused on many occasions of being closely linked to various radical groups; for example, they have recently been involved with the radicalization of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Although Islamabad continues strongly denying such accusations, reality shows us that cooperation between the ISI and various terrorist organizations has been fundamental to their proliferation and settlement both on national territory and in the neighboring states of India and Afghanistan. The West has not been able to fully understand the nature of this relationship and its link to terrorism. The various complaints to the ISI have been loaded with different arguments of different kinds, lacking in unity and coherence. Unlike popular opinion, this analysis will point to the confused and undefined Pakistani nationalism as the main cause of this close relationship.
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, together with the Intelligence Bureau and the Military Intelligence, constitute the intelligence services of the Pakistani State, the most important of which is the ISI. ISI can be described as the intellectual core and center of gravity of the army. Its broad functions are the protection of Pakistan's national security and the promotion and defense of Pakistan's interests abroad. Despite the image created around the ISI, in general terms its activities and functions are based on the same "values" as other intelligence agencies such as the MI6, the CIA, etc. They all operate under the common ideal of protecting national interests, the essential foundation of intelligence centers without which they are worthless. We must rationalize their actions on the ground, move away from inquisitive accusations and try to observe what are the ideals that move the group, their connection with the government of Islamabad and the Pakistani society in general.
2.1. The Afghan Taliban
To understand the idiosyncrasy of the ISI we must go back to the war in Afghanistan, it is from this moment that the center begins to build an image of itself, independent of the rest of the armed forces. From the ISI we can see the victory of the Mujahideen on Afghan territory as their own, a great achievement that shapes their thinking and vision. But this understanding does not emerge in isolation and independently, as most Pakistani society views the Afghan Taliban as legitimate warriors and defenders of an honorable cause. The Mujahideen victory over the USSR was a real turning point in Pakistani history, the foundation of modern Pakistani nationalism begins from this point. The year 1989 gave rise to a social catharsis from which the ISI was not excluded.
Along with this ideological component, it is also important to highlight the strategic aspect; we are dealing with a question of nationalism, of defending patriotic interests. Since the emergence of the Taliban, Pakistan has not hesitated to support them for major strategic reasons, as there has always been a fear that an unstable Afghanistan would end up being controlled directly or indirectly by India, an encircle strategy. Faced with this dangerous scenario, the Taliban are Islamabad's only asset on the ground. It is for this reason, and not only for religious commitment, that this bond is produced, although over time it is strengthened and expanded. Therefore, at first, it is Pakistani nationalism and its foreign interests that are the cause of this situation, it seeks to influence neighboring Afghanistan to make the situation as beneficial as possible for Pakistan. Later on, when we discuss the situation of the Taliban on the national territory, we will address the issue of Pakistani nationalism and how its weak construction causes great problems for the state itself. But on Afghan territory, from what has been explained above, we can conclude that this relationship will continue shortly, it does not seem likely that this will change unless there are great changes of impossible prediction. The ISI will continue to have a significant influence on these groups and will continue its covert operations to promote and defend the Taliban, although it should be noted that the peace treaty between the Taliban and the US is an important factor to take into account, this issue will be developed once the situation of the Taliban at the internal level is explained.
2.2. The Pakistani Taliban (Al-Qaeda and the TTP)
The Taliban groups operating in Pakistan are an extension of those operating in neighboring Afghanistan. They belong to the same terrorist network and seek similar objectives, differentiated only by the place of action. Despite this obvious similarity, from Islamabad and increasingly from the whole of Pakistani society, the two groups are observed in a completely different way. On the one hand, as we said earlier, for most Pakistanis, the Afghan Taliban are fighting a legitimate and just war, that of liberating the region from foreign rule. However, groups operating in Pakistan are considered enemies of the state and the people. Although there was some support among the popular classes, especially in the Pashtun regions, this support has gradually been lost due to the multitude of atrocities against the civilian population that have recently been committed. The attack carried out by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Army Public School in Peshawar in the year 2014 generated a great stir in society, turning it against these radical groups. This duality marks Pakistan's strategy in dealing with terrorism both globally and internationally. While acting as an accomplice and protector of this groups in Afghanistan, he pursues his counterparts on their territory. We have to say that the operations carried out by the armed forces have been effective, especially the Zarb-e-Azb operation carried out in 2014 in North Waziristan, where the ISI played a fundamental role in identifying and classifying the different objectives. The position of the TTP in the region has been decimated, leaving it quite weakened. As can be seen in this scenario, there is no support at the institutional level from the ISI, as they are involved in the fight against these radical organizations. However, on an individual level if these informal links appear. This informal network is favored by the tribal character of Pakistani society, it can appear in different forms but often draw on ties of Kinship, friendship or social obligation. Due to the nature of this type of relationship, it is impossible to know to what extent the ISI's activity is conditioned and how many of its members are linked to Taliban groups. However, we would like to point out that these unions are informal and individual and not institutional, which provides a certain degree of security and control, at least for the time being, the situation may vary greatly due to the lack of transparency.
2.3. ISI and the radical groups that operate in Kashmir
Another part of the board is made up of the radical groups that focus their terrorist attention on the conflict with India over control of Kashmir, the most important of which are: Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Both groups have committed real atrocities over the past decades, the most notorious being the one committed by LeT in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008. There are numerous testimonies, in particular, that of the American citizen David Haedy, which point to the cooperation of the ISI in carrying out the aforementioned attack.
Recently, Hafiz Saeed, founder of Let and intellectual planner of the bloody attack, was arrested. The news generated some turmoil both locally and internationally and opened the debate as to whether Pakistan had finally decided to act against the radical groups operating in Kashmir. We are once again faced with a complex situation, although the arrest shows a certain amount of willpower, it is no more than a way of making up for the situation and relaxing international pressure. The above coincides with the FATF's assessment of Pakistan's status within the institution, which is of great importance for the short-term future of the country's economy. Beyond rhetoric, there is no convincing evidence that suggests that Pakistan has made a move against those groups. The link and support provided by the ISI in this situation are again closely linked to strategic and ideological issues. Since its foundation, Pakistani foreign policy has revolved around India, as we saw on the Afghan stage. Pakistani nationalism is based on the maxim that India and the Hindus are the greatest threat to the future of the state. Given the significance of the conflict for Pakistani society, there has been no hesitation in using radical groups to gain advantages on the ground. From Pakistan perspective, it is considered that this group of terrorists are an essential asset when it comes to putting pressure on India and avoiding the complete loss of the territory, they are used as a negotiating tool and a brake on Indian interests in the region.
As we can see, the core between the ISI and certain terrorist groups is based on deep-seated nationalism, which has led both members of the ISI and society, in general, to identify with the ideas of certain radical groups. They have benefited from the situation by bringing together a huge amount of power, becoming a threat to the state itself. The latter has compromised the government of Pakistan, sometimes leaving it with little room for maneuver. The immense infrastructure and capacity of influence that Let has thanks to its charitable arm Jamaat-ud-Dawa, formed with re-localized terrorists, is a clear example of the latter. A revolt led by this group could put Islamabad in a serious predicament, so the actions taken both in Kashmir and internally to try to avoid the situation should be measured very well. The existing cooperation between the ISI and these radical groups is compromised by the development of the conflict in Kashmir, which may increase or decrease depending on the situation. What is certain, because of the above, is that it will not go unnoticed and will continue to play a key role in the future. These relationships, this two-way game could drag Pakistan soon into an internal conflict, which could compromise its very existence as a nation.
 Ahmed, Zobaer. "Is Pakistani Intelligence Radicalizing Rohingya Refugees? | DW | 13.02.2020". DW.COM, 2020.
 Idrees, Muhammad. Instability In Afghanistan: Implications For Pakistan. PDF, 2019.
 Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan a Hard Country. 1st ed. London: Penguin, 2012.
 Blanchard, Christopher M. Al Qaeda: Statements And Evolving Ideology. PDF, 2007.
 Gabbay, Shaul M. Networks, Social Capital, And Social Liability: The Cae Of Pakistan ISI, The Taliban And The War Against Terrorism.PDF, 2014. http://www.scirp.org/journal/sn.
 Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan a Hard Country. 1st ed. London: Penguin, 2012.
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 "Pakistan May Remain On FATF Grey List Beyond Feb 2020: Report". The Economic Times, 2019.
▲ Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, also called Kartarpur Sahib, is a Sikh holy place in Kartarpur, in the Pakistani Punjab [Wikimedia Commons]
ESSAY / Pablo Viana
Punjab region has been part of India until the year 1947, when the Punjab province of British India was divided in two parts, East Punjab (India) and West Punjab (Pakistan) due to religious reasons. After the division a lot of internal violence occurred, and many people were displaced.
East and West Punjab
The partition of Punjab proved to be one of the most violent, brutal, savage debasements in the history of humankind. The undivided Punjab, of which West Punjab forms a major region today, was home to a large minority population of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus unto 1947 apart from the Muslim majority. This minority population of Punjabi Sikhs called for the creation of a new state in the 1970s, with the name of Khalistan, but it was detained by India, sending troops to stop the militants. Terrorist attacks against the Sikh majority emerged, by those who did not accept the creation of the state of Khalistan and wished to stay in India.
The Sikh population is the dominant religious ethnicity in East Punjab (58%) followed by the Hindu (39%). Sikhism and Islamism are both monotheistic religions, they do believe on the same concept of God, although it is different on each religion. Sikhism was developed during the 16th and 17th century in the context of conflict in between Hinduism and Islamism. It is important to mention Sikhism if we talk about Punjab, as its origins were in Punjab, but most important in recent times, is that the Guru Nanak Dev was buried in Pakistani territory. Four kilometres from the international border the Sikh shrine was conceded to Pakistan at the time of British India’s Partition in 1947. For followers of Sikhism this new border that cut through Punjab proved especially problematic. Sikhs overwhelmingly chose India over the newly formed Pakistan as the state that would best protect their interests (there are an estimated 50,000 Sikhs living in Pakistan today, compared to the 24 million in India). However, in making this choice, Sikhs became isolated from several holy sites, creating a religious disconnection that has proved a constant spiritual and emotional dilemma for the community.
In order to let the Sikhist population visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the Kartarpur Corridor was created in November 2019. However, there is an incessant suspicion in between India and Pakistan that question Pakistan motives. Although it seems like a generous move work of the Pakistani government, there is a clear perception that Pakistan is engaged in an act of deception. Thus, although this scenario might seem at first beneficial for the rapprochement of East and West Punjab, it is not at all. Pakistan is involved in a rhetorical policy which could end up worsening its relations with India.
The division of Punjab in 1947 was like the division of Pakistan and India on that same year. Territorial disputes have been an issue that defines very well India-Pakistan relations since the independence. In the case of Punjab, there has not been a territorial debate. The division was clear and has been respected ever since. Why would Pakistan and/or India be willing to unify Punjab? There is no reason. East and West Punjab represent two different nations and three religions. If we think about reunifying Pakistan and India, the conclusion is the same (although more dramatic); too many discrepancies and recent unrest to think about bringing back together the nations. However, if the Kartarpur Corridor could be placed out of bonds for the territorial disputes between Pakistan and India (e.g. Kashmir), Islamabad and New Delhi could use this situation as a model to find out which are the pressure points and trying to find a path for identifying common solutions. In order to achieve this, there should be a clear behaviour by both parts of cooperation. Sadly, in recent times both Pakistan and India have discrepancies regarding many topics and suspicious behaviours that clearly show that they won’t be interested in complicating more the situation in Punjab searching for unification. The riots of 1947 left a terrific era on the region and now that both sides are established and no major disputes have emerged (except for Sikh nationalism), the situation should and will most likely remain as it is.
The Indus Water Treaty
The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory. Seen as one of the most successful international treaties, it has survived frequent tensions, including conflict, and has provided a framework for irrigation and hydropower development for more than half a century. The Treaty basically provides a mechanism for exchange of information and cooperation between Pakistan and India regarding the use of their rivers. This mechanism is well known as the Permanent Indus Commission. The Treaty also sets forth distinct procedures to handle issues which may arise: “questions” are handled by the Commission; “differences” are to be resolved by a Neutral Expert; and “disputes” are to be referred to a seven-member arbitral tribunal called the “Court of Arbitration.” As a signatory to the Treaty, the World Bank’s role is limited and procedural.
Since 1948, India has been confident on the fact that East Punjab and the acceding states have a prior and superior claim to the rivers flowing through their territory. This leaves West Punjab in disadvantage regarding water resources, as East Punjab can access the highest sections of the rivers. Even under a unified control designed to ensure equitable distribution of water, in years of low river flow cultivators on tail distributaries always tended to accuse those on the upper reaches of taking an undue amount of the water, and after partition any temporary shortage, whatever the cause, could easily be attributed to political motives. It was therefore wise of Pakistan-indeed it became imperative-to cut the new feeder from the Ravi for this area and thus become independent of distributaries in East Punjab. The Treaty acknowledges the control of the eastern rivers to India, and to the western rivers to Pakistan.
The main issue of water distribution in between East and West Punjab is then a matter of geography. Even though West Punjab covers more territory than East Punjab, and the water flow of West Punjab is almost three times the water flow of East Punjab rivers, the Indus Water Treaty gives the following advantage to India: since Pakistan rivers receive much more water flow from India, the treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unlimited use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture and this is where the disputes mainly came from, as Pakistan has objected all Indian hydro-electric projects on western rivers irrespective of size and layout.
It is worth mentioning that with the World Bank mediating the Treaty in between India and Pakistan, the water access will not be curtailed, and since the ratification of the Treaty, India and Pakistan have not engaged in any water wars. Although there have been many tensions the disputes have been via legal procedures, but they haven’t caused any major cause for conflict. Today, both countries are strengthening their relationship, and the scenario is not likely to get worse, it is actually the opposite, and the Indus Water Treaty is one of the few livelihoods of the relationship. If the tensions do not cease, the World Bank should consider the possibility of amending the treaty, obviously if both Pakistan and India are willing to cooperate, although with the current environment, a renegotiation of the treaty would probably bring more complications. There is no shred of evidence that India has violated the Indus Water Treaty or that it is stealing Pakistan’s water, although Pakistan does blame India for breaching the treaty, as showed before. This is pointed out by Hindu politicians as an attempt by Pakistan to divert the attention of its own public from the real issues of gross mismanagement of water resources.
Pakistan has a more hostile attitude regarding water distribution, trying to find a way to impeach India, meanwhile India focuses on the development of hydro-electric projects. India won’t stop providing water to the West Punjab, as the treaty is still in force and is fulfilled by both parts. Pakistan should reconsider its role and its benefits received thanks to the treaty and meditate about the constant pressure towards India, as pushing over the limit could mean a more hostile activity carried out by India, which in the worst case scenario (although not likely to happen) could mean a breakdown of the treaty.
 The Punjab in 1920s – A Case study of Muslims, Zarina Salamat, Royal Book Company, Karachi, 1997. table 45, pp. 136.
 Guru Nanak Dev was the founder of Sikhism (1469-1540)
 Site where Guru Nanak Dev settled the Sikh community, and lived for 18 years after his death in 1539.
 Islamabad promoted the activity of Sikhs For Justice including the will to establish the state of Khalistan.
 World Bank (June 11, 2018). Fact Sheet: The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 and the Role of the World Bank.
 F.J. Fowler (Oct 1950) Some Problems of Water Distribution between East and West Punjab p. 583-599.
 S. Chandrasekharan (Dec 11, 2017) Indus Water Treaty: Review is not an Option South Asia Analysis Group.
 Mohan, G. (Feb 3, 2020). India rejects Pakistan media report on Indus water sharing India Today.
▲ Attack in Kashmir linked to groups of Pakistani origin [twitted by @ANI]
ESSAY / Isabel Calderas [Ignacio Lucas as research assistant]
There is a myriad of security concerns regarding external factors when it comes to Pakistan: India, Afghanistan, the Saudi Arabia-Iran split and the United States, to name a few. However, there are also two main concerns that come from within: jihadism and organized crime. They are interconnected but differ in many ways. The latter is frequently overlooked to focus on the former, but both have the capacity of affecting the country, internally and externally, as the effectiveness of dealing with them impacts the perception the international community has of Pakistan. While internally disrupting, these problems also have international reach, as such groups often export their activities, adversely affecting at a global scale. Therefore, international actors put so much pressure on Pakistan to control them. Historically, there has been much scepticism over the government’s ability, or even willingness to solve these risks. We will examine both problems separately, identifying the impact they have on the national and international arena, as well as the government’s approach to dealing with either and the future risks they entail.
Pakistan’s education system has become a central part of the country’s radicalization phenomenon, in the materialization of madrassas. These schools, which teach a more puritanical version of Islam than had traditionally been practiced in Pakistan, have been directly linked to the rise of jihadist groups. Saudi Arabia, who has always had very close relations with Pakistan, played a key role in their development, by funding the Ahl-e-Hadith and Deobandi madrassas since the 1970s. The Iranian revolution bolstered the Saudi’s imperative to control Sunnism in Pakistan, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan gave them the vehicle to do so. In these schools, which teach a biased view of the world, students display low tolerance for minorities and are more likely to turn to jihadism.
Saudi and American funding of madrassas during the Soviet occupation helped the Pakistani army’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), become more powerful, as they channelled millions of dollars to them, a lot of which went into the madrassas which sent mujahedeen fighters to fight for their cause. The Taliban’s origins can also be traced to these, as the militia was raised mainly from Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and Saudi-funded madrassas.
Madrassas are especially popular in the poorer provinces of the country, where parents send their children to them for several non-religious reasons. First, because the Qur’an is written in Arabic and madrassas teach this language. The dire situation of many families forces millions of Pakistanis to migrate to neighbouring, oil-rich Arabic-speaking countries, from where they send remittances home to help support their families. Secondly, the public-school system in Pakistan is weak, often failing to teach basic reading skills, something the madrassas do teach.
Partly in response to the international pressure it has been under to fight terrorism within its territory; Pakistan has tried to reform the madrassas. The government has stated its intention to bring madrassas under the umbrella of the education ministry, financing these schools by allocating cash otherwise destined to fund anti-terrorism security operations. It plans to add subjects like science to the curriculum, to lessen the focus on Islamic teachings. However, this faces several challenges, among which the resistance from the teachers and clerical authorities who run the madrassas outstands.
Before moving on to the prominent radical groups in Pakistan, we would like to make a brief summary on a different cause of radicalization: the unintended effect of the drone strategy adopted by the United States.
The United States has increasingly chosen to target its radical enemies in Pakistan through the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which can be highly effective in neutralizing objectives, but also pose a series of risks, like the killing of innocent civilians that are in the neighbouring area. This American strategy, which Pakistan has publicly criticized, has fomented anti-American sentiment among the Pakistanis, at a ratio on average of every person killed resulting in the radicalization of several more people. The growing unpopularity of drone strikes has further weakened relations between both governments, but shows no signs of changing in the future, if recent attacks carried by the U.S. are any indication. Pakistan’s efforts to de-radicalize its population will continue to be undermined by the U.S. drone strikes.
Pakistan’s anti-terrorism strategy is linked to its geostrategic and regional interests, especially dealing with its eastern and western neighbours. There are many radical groups operating within their territory, and the government’s strategy towards them shifts depending on their goal. Groups like the Afghan Taliban, who target foreign invasions in their own country, and Al Qaeda, whose jihad against the West is on a global scale, have been allowed to use Pakistani territory to coordinate operations and take refuge. Their strategy is quite different for Pakistani Taliban group, Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) who, despite being allied with the Afghan Taliban, has a different goal: to oust the Pakistani government and impose Sharia law. Most of the military’s campaigns aimed at cracking down on radicals have been targeted at weakening groups affiliated with TTP. Lastly, there are those groups with whom some branches of the Pakistani government directly collaborate with.
Pakistan has been known to use jihadi organizations to advance its security objectives through proxy conflicts. Pakistan’s policy of waging war through terrorist groups is planned, coordinated, and conducted by the Pakistani Army, specifically the ISI who, as previously mentioned, plays a vital role in running the State.
Although this has been a longstanding cause of tension between the Pakistani and the American governments, the U.S. has made no progress in persuading or compelling the Pakistani military to sever ties with the radical groups, even though the Pakistani government has stated that it has, over the past year, ‘fought and eradicated the menace of terrorism from its soil’ by carrying out arrests, seizing property and freezing bank accounts of groups proscribed by the United States and the United Nations. Their actions have been enough to keep them off the FATF’s blacklist for financing terrorism and money laundering, which would prevent them from getting financing, but concerns remain about ISI’s involvement with radical groups, the future of the relations between them, the overall activity of these groups from within Pakistani territory, and the risk of a future attack to its neighbours.
We will use two of Pakistan’s main proxy groups, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, to analyse the feasibility of an attack in the near future.
1.1. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)
Created to support the resistance against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, LeT now focuses on the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Kashmir, the highest priorities for the Pakistani military’s foreign policy. The Ahl-e-Hadith group is led by its founder, Hafiz Saeed. Its headquarters are in Punjab. Unlike its counterparts, it is a well-organized, unified, and hierarchical organization, which has become highly institutionalized in the last thirty years. As a result, it has not suffered any major losses or any fractures since its inception.
Since the Mumbai attacks in 2008 (which also involved ISI), for which LeT were responsible, its close relationship with the military has defined the group’s operations, most noticeably by restraining their actions in India, which reflects both the Pakistani military’s desire to avoid international pressure and conflict with their neighbour and the group’s capability to contain its members. The group has calibrated its activities, although it possesses the capability to expand its violence. Its outlets for violence have been Afghanistan and Kashmir, which align with the Pakistani military’s agenda: to bring Afghanistan under Pakistan’s sphere of influence while keeping India off-balance in Kashmir. The recent U.S.-Taliban deal in Afghanistan and militarization of Kashmir by India may change this. LeT has benefitted handsomely for its loyalty, receiving unparalleled protection, patronage, and privilege from the military. However, after twelve years of restraint, Lashkar undoubtedly faces pressures from within its ranks to strike against India again, especially now that Narendra Modi is prime minister.
1.2. Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM)
The Deobandi organization, led by its founder Masood Azhar, has had close bonds with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban since they came into light in 2000. With the commencement of the war on terror in Afghanistan, JeM reciprocated by launching an attack on the Indian Parliament on December 2001, in cooperation with LeT. However, it ignored the Pakistani military’s will in 2019 when it launched the Pulwama attack, after which the government of Pakistan launched a countrywide crackdown on them, taking leaders and members into preventive custody.
1.3. Risk assessment
Although it has gone rogue before, Jaish-e-Muhammad has been weakened by the recent government’s crackdown. What remains of the group, consolidated under Masood Azhar, has repaired ties with the military. Although JeM has demonstrated it still possesses formidable capability in Indian Kashmir, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba represents the main concern for an attack on India in the near future.
Lashkar has been both the most reliable and loyal of all the proxy groups and has also proven it does not take major action without prior approval from the ISI, which could become a problem. Pakistan has adopted a policy of maintaining plausible deniability for any attacks in order to avoid international pressure after 9/11, thus LeT’s close ties with the military make it more likely that its actions will provoke a war between the two countries.
The United States has tried for several years to get Pakistan to stop using proxies. There are several scenarios in which Lashkar would break from the Pakistani state (or vice versa), but they are farfetched and beyond foreign influence: a) a change in Pakistan’s security calculus, b) a resolution on Kashmir, c) a shift in Lashkar’s responsiveness and d) a major Lashkar attack in the West.
a) A change in Pakistan’s security calculus is the least likely, as the India-centric understanding of Pakistan’s interests and circumstances is deeply embedded in the psyche of the security establishment.
b) A resolution on Kashmir would trouble Lashkar, who seeks full unification of all Kashmir with Pakistan, which would not be the outcome of a negotiated resolution. More so, Modi’s recent decision regarding article 370 puts this possibility even further into the future.
c) A shift in Lashkar responsiveness would be caused by the internal pressures to perform another attack, after more than a decade of abiding by the security establishment’s will. If perceived as too powerful of insufficiently responsive, ISI would most likely seek to dismantle the group, as they did with Jaish-e-Muhammad, by focusing on the rogue elements and leaving Lashkar smaller but more responsive. This presents a threat, as the group would not allow itself to be simply dismantled but would probably resist to the point of becoming hostile.
d) The last option, a major Lashkar attack in the West, is also unlikely, as the group has not undertaken any major attack without perceived greenlight from ISI.
This does not mean that an attack from LeT can be ruled out. ISI could allow the group to carry out an attack if, in the absence of a better reason, it feels that the pressure from within the group will start causing dissent and fractures, just like it happened in 2008. It is in ISI’s best interest that Lashkar remains a strong, united ally. Knowing this, it is important to note that a large-scale attack in India by Lashkar is arguably the most likely trigger to a full-blown conflict between the two nations. Even a smaller-scale attack has the potential of provoking India, especially under Modi.
If such an attack where to happen, India would not be expected to display a weak-kneed gesture, as PM Modi’s policy is that of a tough and powerful approach in defence vis-à-vis both Pakistan and China. This has already been made evident by its retaliation for the Fidayeen attack at Uri brigade headquarters by Jaish-e-Muhammad in 2016. It has now become evident that if Pakistan continues to harbour terrorist groups against India as its strategic assets, there will be no military restraint by India as long as Modi is in power, who will respond with massive retaliation. In its fragile economic condition, Pakistan will not be able to sustain a long-drawn war effort.
On the other hand, Afghanistan, which has been the other focus of Pakistan’s proxy groups, is now undergoing a process which could result in a major organizational shift. The Taliban insurgent movement has been able survive this long due to the sanctuary and support provided by Pakistan. Furthermore, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba’s participation in the Afghan insurgency furthered the Pakistani military’s goal of having a friendly, anti-India partner on its western border. The development and outcome of the intra-Afghan talks will determine the continued use of proxies in the country. However, we can realistically assume that, at least in the near future, radical groups will maintain some degree of activity in Afghanistan.
It is highly unlikely that the Pakistani intelligence establishment will stop engaging with radical groups, as it sees in them a very useful strategic tool for achieving its security goals. However, Pakistan’s plausible deniability approach will come into question, as its close ties with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba make it increasingly hard for it to deny involvement in its acts with any credibility. Regarding India, any kind of offensive from this group could result in a large-scale conflict. This is precisely the most likely scenario to occur, as Modi’s history with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and their twelve-year-long “hiatus” from impactful attacks could propel the organization to take action that will impact the whole region.
2. DRUG TRAFFICKING
Drug trafficking constitutes an important problem for Pakistan. It originates in Afghanistan, from where thousands of tonnes are smuggled out every year, using Pakistan as a passageway to provide the world with heroin and opioids. The following concept map has been elaborated with information from diverse sources to present the different aspects of the problem aimed to better comprehend the complex situation.
Afghanistan, one of the world’s largest heroin producers, has supplied up to 60% and 80% of the U.S. and European markets, respectively. The landlocked country takes advantage of its blurred border line, and the remoteness and inaccessibility of the sparsely populated bordering regions with Pakistan, using it as a conduct to send its drugs globally. The Pakistani government is under a lot of pressure from the international community to fight and minimize drug trafficking from its territory.
Pakistan feels a special kind of pressure from the European Union, as its GSP+ status could be affected if it does not control this problem. The GSP+ is dependent on the implementation of 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance, including the UN Convention on Fighting Illegal Drugs. Pakistan was granted GSP+ status in 2014 and has shown commitment to maintaining ratifications and meeting reporting obligations to the UN Treaty bodies. However, one of the aspects of the scheme is its “temporary withdrawal and safeguard” measure, which means the preferences can be immediately withdrawn if the country is unable to control drug trafficking effectively. This has not been the case, and the EU has recognized Pakistan’s efforts in the fight on drugs; the UN has also removed it from the list of cannabis resin production countries. Anti-corruption frameworks have been strengthened, along with legislation review and awareness building, but they have been advised that better coordination between law enforcement agencies is needed.
The GSP+ status is very important to Pakistan, as the European Union is their first trade partner, absorbing over a third of their total exports in 2018, followed by the U.S., China and Afghanistan. The Union can use this as leverage to obtain concessions from Pakistan. However, the approach they have taken so far has been of collaboration in many areas, including transnational organized crime, money laundering and counter-narcotics. In this sense, the EU ambassador to Pakistan recently stated that the new Strategic Engagement Plan of 2019 would “further boost their relations in diverse fields”.
Even with combined efforts, erradicating the drug trafficking problem in Pakistan has proven to be very difficult. This is because production of the drug is not done in its territory, and even if border patrols are strengthened, it will be very hard to stop drugs from coming in from its neighbour if the Afghan government doesn’t take appropriate measures themselves.
A “5 whys” exercise has led us to understand that the root cause of the problem is the fact that most farmers in Afghanistan are too poor to turn to different crops. A nearly two decade war has ravaged the country’s land, leaving opium crops, which are cheaper and easier to maintain, as the only option for most farmers in this agrarian nation. A substantial investment in the country’s agriculture to produce more economic options would be needed if any serious advance is expected to be made in stopping illegal drug trafficking. These investments will have to be a joint effort of the international community, and funding for the government will also be necessary, if stability is to be reached. Unless this is done, opium will likely remain entangled in the rural economy, the Taliban insurgency, and the government corruption whose sum is the Afghan conundrum. And as long as this does not happen, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will be able to make any substantial progress in its effort to fight illicit drugs.
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