All Posts (35)

Developments in Pakistan

Accountability Process

An accountability court pronounced its judgment on December 24 in the two pending corruption cases against the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had been out on bail from his imprisonment in yet another case decided in July, 2018. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, but acquitted in the Flagship Investments case and was lodged at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail to…

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Developments in Afghanistan

New date for Presidential Election

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced at the end of December that the Presidential election, scheduled to be held on April 20, 2019, would instead take place on July 20, 2019. A statement issued by the Presidency said that the IEC had decided the new date after consultation with all stakeholders and “in view of technical problems and to avoid past mistakes..” It further stated that the…

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Overview - January 2019

Pakistan

• ‘Accountability’ bandwagon continues to roll
• Economic concerns mount
• 8th meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee held in Beijing
• Army warns Pashtun Tahafuz Movement
• President Trump writes to PM Imran Khan for help with Afghan peace

Afghanistan: 

  • Presidential Election delayed
    • New Ministers for Defence and Interior appointed
    • Government announces…
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Developments in Afghanistan

Peace and reconciliation moves

Russia hosted a meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow on November 9 to which it had invited representatives of the Taliban, Afghanistan, US, India, Iran, China, Pakistan and the five Central Asian Republics. Initially scheduled to be held in September, the meeting was postponed because of Kabul’s insistence on an Afghan-led peace process. Afghanistan was represented by members of the High Peace Council and the US by a diplomat from its…

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Developments in Pakistan

Blasphemy protests

Widespread protests, spearheaded by the radical Sunni-Barelvi party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), broke out following the Supreme Court decision on October 31 to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, of the charge of blasphemy and overturn the death sentence awarded to her by the lower courts. She had been incarcerated since 2009 on the blasphemy charge. TLP called for mutiny against the army leadership and assassination of the judges. PM Imran…

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Overview - December 2018

Pakistan: 

• The blasphemy issue rocks Pakistan again
• Pakistan struggles with yet another balance of payments crisis
• PM Imran Khan visits China
• War of words between President Trump and PM Imran Khan
• Opening of the Kartarpur Corridor

Afghanistan: 

• Peace and reconciliation efforts continue
• Geneva Conference on Afghanistan held on 27th and 28th November
• Violence continues to rock…

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Developments in Afghanistan

Internal Security: Continued terrorist attacks and Taliban military activity meant that any initiatives spoken about for another Eid ceasefire in August would generate cynicism. Nevertheless, the upcoming elections scheduled for October and the US Taliban discussions underway are also factors to be kept in view in the context of President Ghani’s offer for a fresh ceasefire coinciding with Eid ul Azha. Major attacks with significant numbers of casualties were reported from…

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Developments in Pakistan

External:

United States: The US Secretary of State stepped into the debate on Pakistan’s external financing debate in the course of a TV interview in end July while expressing the desire “to engage with the new Pakistani leadership in a mutually beneficial relationship”. Replying to a question the Secretary also said “we will be watching what the IMF does. There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars — and associated with that, American dollars that are…

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Overview - August 2018

Pakistan: The national and provincial assembly elections on 25th July, their results and thereafter the process of post-election adding up of numbers and government formation have obviously predominated over all other narratives. The results, although less close than had been anticipated, nevertheless threw up usual surprises of the major victors and also losers. They are also revealing in terms of some long term trends howsoever speculative. The challenges before the…

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Developments in Afghanistan

End of Eid ceasefire: The end of the Eid ceasefire by the Taliban saw the beginning of numerous attacks of varying intensity. The first of these saw the killing of 30 Afghan soldiers and the reported capturing of a Afghan military base in the western province of Badghis on 20th June. What also had high profile was a suicide attack in Jalalabad on 1st July coinciding with President Ghani’s visit to the city. Amongst the 19 fatal casualties were 12 Sikhs and…

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Overview - July 2018

Pakistan: The drama associated with the election contested acquired a fresh intensity with the conviction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter by an accountability court. It received an added cutting edge when Nawaz Sharif returned from the UK leaving behind his critically ill wife and was immediately arrested and jailed. Certainly, this has injected a fresh narrative into the theatrical politics of this election that has otherwise been dominated by a…

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Developments in Pakistan

External:

Meeting of Intelligence Chiefs: There have been unconfirmed reports in the media that the intelligence heads of Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan met in Islamabad on 10th July to discuss the spread of the organization ‘Islamic State’ in Afghanistan. The news was first reported in Russian and then US news agencies. No formal statements were made by the Pakistan government although media reports mention official sources confirming such a…

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Developments in Afghanistan

Ceasefire: Afghanistan announced on 7th June that it would maintain ceasefire with the Taliban for Eid, though operations against other groups including the Islamic State would continue. The week-long ceasefire, backed by the US, was to extend “from the 27th of Ramazan until the fifth day of Eid ul Fitr”, according to a tweet from President Ashraf Ghani – the period indicated implying June 12-19. Ceasefire announcements from the Government are not in themselves new. It would…

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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…

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Developments in Pakistan

External:

Financial Action Task Force: According to press reports the National Security Committee (NSC) chaired by the caretaker Prime Minister in a meeting on 8th June has approved an action plan to be submitted to the FATF as part of the process for Pakistan to be placed on the organization’s ‘grey list’. The FATF meeting is scheduled to take place in the last week of June. According to reports Pakistan has so far had difficulties in persuading the…

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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.