Regional Security

Pakistan's National Anti-Narcotics Policy 2010

Writing for The News, EWI Director Ikram Sehgal addresses the current issue of drug trafficking in Pakistan, and how to eradicate it.

“For Pakistan, supply reduction requires an integrated strategy of domestic enforcement, border control and international cooperation, both within the region and with partners such as the UN,” explains Sehgal.

With the increased proliferation of drugs throughout Pakistan, Sehgal explains that the problem needs to be addressed at several levels: “Proliferations of drugs and psychotropic substances within Pakistani society and the subsequent increase in numbers of drug addicts are emerging challenges, particularly because sale and distribution occurs at the micro-level with responsibility spread across many Government agencies.”

Another aspect of the national drug problem that must change is the way governments handle drug users and dealers:  “Drug users should be assisted with treatment and rehabilitation, be treated as victims rather than criminals. Drug traffickers must be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

Sehgal explains that the link between drug trafficking and drug use with terrorism and civil unrest is paramount: “The nexus between insurgency, terrorism, drugs manufacturing smuggling and organized crime requires Pakistan’s counter-terrorism and counter-terrorism strategies to be integrated with the poppy-eradication strategy at the national level to ensure a comprehensive approach to transnational crime.” 

Sehgal concludes: “Enhanced public participation in combating drug abuse, strengthened drug enforcement structures and boosting of treatment and rehabilitation services will achieve the ultimate goal of a drug-free Pakistan.”

Click here to read this piece online

Roundtable on “Middle East Regional Security Challenges and Opportunities: Dangers and Vision for 2020”

The Turkish Weekly wrote an article on EWI's roundtable discussion: "Middle East Regional Security Challenges and Opportunities: Dangers and Vision for 2020." The roundtable was moderated by Mehmet Yegin (Center for American Studies-USAK) and Bahadir Dincer (Center for Middle Eastern Studies-USAK). The discussion included EWI President and CEO John Edwin Mroz, EWI Co-Chairmen Francis Finlay and Ross Perot Jr, former Chief of the U.S. Air Force General Michael Moseley, Ambassador Richard Viets of Kissinger Associates and EWI senior fellow Allen Collinsworth.

The Turkish Weekly
Source Author: 
Agshin Umudov and Emrah Usta

Challenging battle for women's rights in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s Parliamentary elections took place on 18 September. More than 1o million people cast their vote to elect the new Wolesi Jirga, lower house of parliament, for the second time since the fall of the Taliban. Each of Afghanistan's 34 provinces elected members in proportion to its population. Out of 249 seats, 68 seats are guaranteed for women.

As the campaign was approaching the crucial final stage, we spoke with MP Safia Saddiqi, a member of Afghan Lower House of Parliament who represents the south-eastern province of Nangahar, about the challenges that women MPs face in Afghanistan. Ms. Saddiqi travelled around Nangahar with her team and discussed the future of Afghanistan with women, and the role they need to play in it.  She shares with us some of her valuable insights from the field.

PN: What were the main difficulties that female MPs running for Parliamentary elections faced during the recent campaign?

SS: Security had a crucial role to play. The lack of security, especially with regards to women candidates, prevented them from travelling to remote areas or to their provinces. This greatly affected their ability to raise the support of their constituency. Financial constraints added to the difficult security situation. Because of the lack of financial resources, women did not have enough funds to organize a proper campaign and print out posters or flyers. Under such conditions, it is hard to compete with male candidates and this means that many women simply can't afford to be active in politics.

Moreover, there is the problem of candidates running for Parliament that actively try to discredit other candidates, and unfortunately these discredited candidates are often women. All these problems are further aggravated by corruption and slander practices. And the situation is the same everywhere in Afghanistan, being it rural or urban.

PN: What are the challenges to come for those women who will be part of the newly-elected Parliament?

SS: I think that the biggest challenge for women is the difficult financial situation. For example, in the former Parliament I did not even have an office. How are we supposed to work in such conditions?

There has not been much attention given to women and their legislative proposals, or any other activities in which they are involved in the Parliament. The Afghan society is still a male-dominated society. Generally, there are no major changes in the situation of Afghan women for many reasons, be it the political or economical situation or the cultural constraints. This situation is mirrored in the Parliament.

Unfortunately there are no signs that the discrimination against women will end in the near future. There is some support from certain male Parliamentarians for the work women have been doing so far in terms of women’s rights, but on the ground, there is no crucial change for the Afghan women. Discrimination between men and women will remain one of the main challenges, as it was for 99% of the women MPs, and hopes that the current situation will change are very low.

PN: How can Parliamentarians worldwide contribute to strengthening the role women MPs in Afghanistan can have in stabilizing and transforming Afghanistan?

SS: I think that there is much value in an international network of Parliamentarians, especially from a working group focused on women MPs in Afghanistan and the wider region. Parliamentarians worldwide need to raise awareness of the importance of women’s participation in the political life of Afghanistan. There needs to be more support from Parliamentarians, especially in the neighbouring countries. The Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention could be the best convener of such events. Women MPs in Afghanistan need to connect with their fellow colleagues, especially from neighbouring countries and learn from their experiences and apply the best practices and lessons learnt. There is a great need to establish cooperation among women MPs, not only within the Afghan Parliament itself but also with women MPs in the wider Arab world, which support our work tremendously. Women from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Iran and other neighbouring countries could greatly benefit from sharing experiences and working together on the issues that concern us all. If we can support each other, work together for our women, children and people, and bridge our political divisions, then we can transform the region and bring peace and stability to our countries.

Click here to read this article on the Parliamentarians Network website

Support is Still Needed for Pakistan’s Flood Victims

Over the past months Pakistan has been hit by unprecedented floods, the worst in living memory, and perhaps the worst floods in history. More than twenty million people have been uprooted and over 2,000 died along the broad plains along the river delta, starting in the mountains. This is has impacted the lives of more people than the Indian Ocean tsunami, Haiti’s earthquake and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake combined.

The damage has been enormous: whole villages washed away, roads and bridges broken and cut off, immense loss to agriculture, industry, infrastructure and services. Millions of people lost their homes and livelihoods. In addition to all the other damage the floods have caused, floodwaters have destroyed much of the health care infrastructure in the worst-affected areas, leaving inhabitants especially vulnerable to water-borne diseases.

A massive international effort is ongoing since August, providing emergency medical care, distributing food, water and shelter, and helping to rebuild Pakistan’s shattered infrastructure. Even so, almost 1.5 million people are still homeless, while 800,000 people have been cut off by floods and are only reachable by air. More than 70 per cent of Pakistan's population doesn’t have adequate access to proper nutrition, and food shortages will only increase.

The situation is still at a crisis point. Aid agencies are doing all they can on the ground to reach people, but support is necessary for this work to continue. As an EWI board member, I am proud of the Institute’s commitment to humanitarian causes. In fact, they are at the root of its work for a safer and more stable world.   Everybody committed to EWI’s efforts may therefore wish to support the millions left fighting to survive with little food, clean water or shelter.

Donations can be made to the reliable organizations listed below. I also stand ready to forward any assistance to responsible and effective local organizations that will ensure help gets to those really affected. You can contact me at

Ikram Sehgal is a Board Member of the EastWest Institute.

The Philippines' Long Road to Peace

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility lists 36 media killings in 2009, when the Maguindanao Massacre occurred. This year, four cases of media killings have been recorded. Over 1,000 cases of extrajudicial killings were recorded under the Arroyo administration. Barely a hundred days into the recently installed Aquino administration, seven activists have been killed. Activists and militants, as well as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, attribute this to the government’s counter insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch), a policy that remains in place to date.

Indeed, the prospects for peace and security in the Philippines and the Asia Pacific are, to say the least, unpromising. Social injustice remains the biggest obstacle to peace and security in the Philippines. We are a backward agricultural economy that, to date, has failed to concretely recognize in practice the right of tillers to own the land. 70% of the Philippines’ peasants do not own the land they till. Some 10,000 farmers working the land owned by the king of the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III, are in the middle of a legal battle to lay claim to the land. At least 2.7 million Filipinos are unemployed, while those who managed to find work remain among the lowest paid workers in the region, deprived of job security and benefits. 

Poverty remains high and the rich-poor gap continues to widen. According to the Forbes Asia list, the net worth of just the twenty richest Filipinos reached $20.4 billion, an amount that is roughly the equivalent to the combined income of around 12 million Filipino families. Efforts of previous administrations to court multinational companies and other investors with the hopes of bringing in employment and boosting the economy have not had much impact on the poorest communities. In the first quarter of 2010, the Philippine economy posted an impressive 7.3% growth, which was attributed to an increase in remittances from overseas Filipino workers and election-related spending. But the supposed growth in the economy trumpeted by the government has not trickled down to the impoverished sectors. This has not translated to improved services for health and education; it has not translated to socialized housing, higher wages or improved benefits, or to an improved, modernized agriculture.  

This situation of immense poverty and social injustice is a situation that inevitably breeds conflict. As a matter of fact, the most war-torn areas in the Philippines, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is the most impoverished region in the country. Poverty incidence in ARMM is at 56%, a far cry from the national poverty incidence level of 32%. The region is also home to tens of thousands of evacuees who have been forced to leave their communities as a result of armed conflict and intensified militarization. Armed groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as the New People’s Army which led three decades of rebellion, persist in the far-flung rural communities of Mindanao. 

Intervention from countries like the United States has not helped at all in the peace process with both the MILF and the National Democratic Front. In 2008, the US government has managed to encroach in Mindanao communities and manipulate a supposed peace agenda and a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain with Congress-funded organizations like the US Institute of Peace. An assured protection of US interests in the mineral rich lands of Mindanao was part of the deal. The MOA-AD was later deemed unconstitutional by the Philippine Supreme Court. 

On the other hand, peace negotiations with the NDFP conducted with previous administrations have been bogged down repeatedly. While a Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law was achieved during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos, the succeeding governments of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo did not recognize this landmark agreement. Both governments adapted an all out war policy in compliance with the US Counter Insurgency Guide which instructs governments to disarm, dismantle and reintegrate revolutionary forces instead of addressing the root causes of conflict.

Several moves have been initiated by parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and church organizations as well as local government units towards the resumption of peace talks. This year, the Philippines became the 17th country to adopt a national action plan for the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which emphasized the need for governments to specifically address the impact of war on women and girls and recognize women's contributions to conflict prevention. It also emphasized the need to support local women’s peace initiatives and indigenous processes for conflict resolution. 

Peace negotiations with the three month old Aquino administration have yet to begin but barely 100 days into the Aquino presidency the prospects are dim. In President Aquino’s first state of the nation address, preconditions have been set for the resumption of talks and revolutionary groups like the NDFP see these preconditions as moves towards bringing revolutionary movements to capitulation. Philippine parliamentarians have, in various venues brought forth the issue of peace and security in the country. Legislation is being proposed and laws like the Anti-Torture Law have been passed to help address issues of peace and security in the country.  International bodies like the United Nations as well as the Inter Parliamentary Union have been very helpful in compelling the Philippine government to take action against extra judicial killings, political persecution and human rights violations. Many sectors are looking forward to the immediate resumption of peace negotiations, and towards the implementation of concrete measures that will put in place comprehensive social and economic reforms.

For indeed, the road to peace goes far beyond negotiations and talks. It goes beyond the passage of legislation and the campaign and intervention of independent bodies and international human rights organizations. A people will know no peace in the midst of poverty, injustice and aggression.

Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan, Representative to the 15th Congress, Gabriela Women’s Partylist

Pakistan's Trust Deficit

Writing for The News, EWI Director Ikram Sehgal gives an inside perspective on the rising distrust of Pakistan’s government, which has occupied the national conversation.

“No one seemed sure about how trust in governance could be restored in Pakistan, only that anything, or anyone, would be better than our present rulers,” writes Sehgal of recent discussions.

Exploring possible avenues for change, Sehgal considers the army, whose image has been bolstered by its response to the recent floods. Although Pakistanis widely oppose martial law, many are resigned to it as a last resort against total anarchy, Sehgal observes. And while Army Chief Kayani apparently has no ambition to grab political power, “stranger things have happened.”  

Taking stock of the country’s political dysfunction, Sehgal writes about the perceived corruption of President Zardari’s government and the concern that the Supreme Court may be unable to administer rule of law, particularly in tumultuous regions like Balochistan, which was swamped by diverted flood waters. Remarking on the possible reemergence of unpopular former president Pervez Musharraf, Sehgal predicts that Zardari “may possibly suffer the same fate as the person he deposed, someone who now fancies himself as the ‘Comeback Kid.’”

For Sehgal, the only hope for constructive change lies in principled bureaucratic officers at the lower end of the political spectrum. If there is no change within the system, Sehgal warns, the result will be anarchy.

Click here to read this article online.

In the U.S., Rise of the Enemy Within

In his recent commentary, Sidhu addresses what he perceives as a growing trend of religious extremism in America. Pointing to preacher Terry Jones’s threat to burn the Koran and the recent controversy over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, Sidhu writes that religious tolerance in the United States has become “fragile” – a fragility that, he implies, has led to increasing feelings of insecurity among American Muslims.

“Even as the alienation grows, the efforts of the current administration to bridge the gap between Muslims… and other faiths is found to be wanting” Sidhu writes, highlighting an article by a recently-naturalized Iranian writer in The New York Times entitled “Was the Bush era better for U.S. Muslims?”

What the Obama administration can do to counter domestic extremism is not immediately clear, but the stakes are high. As Sidhu writes, “If the US is to succeed in tackling global terrorism, let alone play a leadership role, it will have to reinforce its secular credentials and address the causes and consequences of the enemy within.”

Click here to read Sidhu's piece on

The Reagan of Seoul: Lee Stands Up to His Communist Foe

Don’t be fooled by the recent signs of a thaw between the Koreas. Pyongyang and Seoul have discussed more family reunions on the divided peninsula, and $8.5 million in aid from the South to help the North cope with devastating floods. But the underlying trend suggests a fundamental shift toward confrontation, as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak sounds more and more like Ronald Reagan and his attack on the “evil empire” of communism.

Since taking office in 2008, Lee has largely reversed the course of his predecessors, who pursued a “sunshine” policy of warming relations with the North. Lee criticized his predecessors for lavishing money on Kim Jong-il’s dictatorial regime and getting only belligerence in return. North Korea continued to push its nuclear program, missile tests, and other provocative behavior. After a South Korean warship was torpedoed in March, killing 46 sailors, Lee’s government threw off the gloves. It blamed the attack on the North, and called Pyongyang its “principal enemy,” an epithet Seoul had not used in six years. It also vowed to cut off aid until Pyongyang apologizes, which of course it refuses to do.

The modest new aid offer doesn’t resolve the standoff. In fact, Lee raised the stakes last month, issuing what sounded like an outright challenge to the legitimacy of the Pyongyang regime just as it was preparing a ruling-party conclave, at which Kim was expected to begin passing power to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. Lee appeared to envision the end of the Kim family reign when he proclaimed that “the time has come” for the South “to start discussing realistic policies to prepare for” reunification, including a “reunification tax” that would help the South absorb the North. On a visit to Moscow last week, he claimed that he was only envisaging a gradual process of peaceful unification, not the collapse of North Korea. But his backpedaling seemed to confirm that he had indeed been thinking about the end of the Kim regime.

The call for a reunification tax is a wonky way of echoing Reagan’s call to the Soviets to “tear down” the Berlin Wall. The message: you are presiding over a doomed political system, and we are preparing to absorb you. Last week, the Federation of Korean Industries put the likely cost of reunifying the two Koreas at roughly $3 trillion, or $1 trillion more than West Germany spent on reuniting with East Germany. Why the difference? East Germany had a reputation as the most isolated and repressive of the Soviet satellites, but North Korea is even more isolated, and in even sharper economic decline. One third of North Korean children under the age of 5 are malnourished, and mortality rates for both infants and adults rose about 30 percent between 1993 and 2008. A currency devaluation in November 2009 and the replacement of the old won with a new won effectively robbed people of their meager private savings. There are reports of growing popular resentment and black-market dealings, but no real sign of resistance to the iron control of the Kims.

One lesson from Eastern Europe is that the more repressive the regime, the harder it falls. The closest analogy to North Korea was Romania, where Nicolae Ceausescu the (“Genius of the Carpathians”) built a cult of personality almost as ludicrous as Kim’s, and worked with his wife to set up their son Nicu as the heir apparent. Instead they were both executed in the only violent revolution of 1989, and Nicu was dispatched to prison.

South Korea now has two options. It can help North Korea stay afloat, since a rapid collapse could unleash chaos, and hope that the Kim regime will slowly fade away. Fearing a flood of refugees, China is committed to that route. Or, like Reagan when he dealt with the Soviet Union, it can continue to negotiate, making agreements that help both sides whenever possible, but demanding real accountability and not hesitating to challenge the legitimacy of a political system that is brutal and dangerous.

Lee isn’t as openly confrontational as Reagan, but his instincts are pulling him toward a more subtle Reaganism. It’s a rational calculation, because another unpredictable Kim regime is in no nation’s best interests.

Click here to read this article in Newsweek.

Andrew Nagorski is vice president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute. A former Newsweek foreign correspondent and editor, he is the author of "The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II."


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