Overview - June 2018

Pakistan: The month saw Pakistan’s political class firmly in election mode with the usual cut and thrust associated with the weeks before polling. Caretaker governments were sworn in at the centre and the provinces. A former chief Justice Nasirul Mulk took oath on 1st June as caretaker prime minister along with a skeleton cabinet. A wider context is that this is the third continuous national assembly in Pakistan’s history that has completed its regular term. On the other hand, its tenure was frequently rocked by civil military turbulence and like its two predecessor assemblies continuity in the tenure of the prime minister could not be ensured. 

After a long period of a frozen situation in India Pakistan relations with frequent clashes on the LOC, a telecon between the respective Director General of Military Operations with a reiteration of the need to uphold the 2003 ceasefire suggested a thaw. That this had largely coincided with the government decision of suspension of operations during Ramadan in J and K also suggested that a wider policy change may be afoot. Post Ramazan developments in J and K have however now suggest otherwise. The UN Human Rights Commissioner report on J and K coincides with this period and gets therefore greater amplification.

Afghanistan: Terrorist attacks and clashes with the Taliban in different parts of Afghanistan continued the trend of the past months of a deteriorating internal security situation and the failure of all political efforts to address this. Change however came on the 7th June with the government of Afghanistan announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban until June 20- broadly coinciding with the second half of Ramadan and Eid. What was unusual was that the Taliban reciprocated and also announced a three-day halt in hostilities against the country's security forces -its first ceasefire in Afghanistan since 2001. There were attacks that disrupted the ceasefire yet the development itself was novel enough to hold attention. Post Eid the Government extended the ceasefire for a further period without any reciprocal decision emerging from the Taliban.

The ceasefire howsoever temporary and the fraternization that accompanied it is a significant development in itself. The overall context is also important since at around this time a major TTP leader was killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan. These steps together suggest a overall improvement in regional atmospherics especially when compared to the past few months.


June 25, 2018

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About the Author

Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal

Former Indian Ambassador to Pakistan and Uzbekistan and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre

Mr Sharat Sabharwal joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1975. After serving in various positions in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in Geneva and the Indian Missions in Madagascar, France and Mauritius, he was Director/Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi from 1990 to 1995. The positions held by him subsequently have been Deputy High Commissioner of India in Pakistan (1995-99), Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva (1999-2002), Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan (2002-2005) and Additional Secretary/Special Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (September 2005-March 2009).

Mr. Sabharwal was High Commissioner of India to Pakistan from April 2009 to June 2013.

He was appointed Central Information Commissioner in November, 2013 and served in this position till September, 2017.
Mr. Sabharwal has been Deputy leader/member of the Indian delegations to the UN General Assembly, the erstwhile UN Commission on Human Rights, International Labour Conference and World Health Assembly. He was also the Deputy Leader of the Indian delegation to the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent held in Geneva in October 1999 and member of the Indian delegation to the World Conference against Racism, held in Durban in September 2001.

Mr. Sabharwal holds a post graduate degree in Political Science. He speaks English and French besides Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

Mr. Sabharwal has been an author at the Indian Express, The Hindu, India Today, The Tribune and The Wire.