Has soft power become an esoteric term? The term alone calls for priority in the agenda of states in a world that hurriedly ushers a digital global community. Last month, Paradigm Shift conducted a poll, wherein 86% of the participants considered it crucial for Pakistan to develop its soft power. In view of that, the author underscores the importance of soft power not only for Pakistan but for every state.
Palestinians and their supporters have realized that the most effective way of fighting against Israel is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement. By boycotting Israeli products and pushing for divestment and sanctions on Israel, the movement aims to exert international pressure on Israel, the world governments, and international institutions to dismantle Israel’s apartheid wall, ensure the rights of the Palestinians, end the colonization of Arab lands, and impose the UN Resolution 194. The author, Muhammad Hamza Tanvir, explains that since the drive is a threat to Israel and its allies, the western media, has labelled the movement as “racist”. He further explains that supporting the movement will not only benefit the suffering Palestinians but also the people of the countries backing it.
Due to its strategic location and vast oil reserves, Libya has attracted the attention of the world’s major powers. For these states, Libya’s war-torn condition is irrelevant and only their national interests matter. The author, Ayesha Zafar, notes that since the US’s interests are linked to oil in Libya, it continuously exploits the state by not only making use of the capitalist economic order but also by supporting opposing factions—the Haftar group and the Government of National Accord (GNA)—simultaneously, within Libya. Moreover, to influence the state, the US and the major powers impose the capitalist ideology on it through policies introduced by international economic institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.
Israel is a nation involved in uranium enrichment programs – just like Iran. While these programs are not acknowledged by the Israeli government, expert opinions confirming these statements are available. The author argues for a framework (like the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action i.e. the Iran nuclear deal) for Israel’s quietly escalating nuclear projects.
This is a review of a study on the ‘Gaza Massacre’ which was launched by Israel in 2008 – where they killed over 1400 Palestinians. The study uses the Just-War Theory to delineate how Israel acted immorally and illegally during this operation – and many times in the past. Many human rights violations of the Palestinians were cited by international overseers, where they noted the cruelty of the Israeli forces.
Over the years, the people of Pakistan have expressed their growing concern over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has become a common misconception in Pakistan that CPEC is just another modern-day East India Company. The author, Ayesha Zafar, compares the two and argues that the objectives of CPEC and the circumstances under which China set foot in Pakistan are different from that of the East India Company. She notes that while the East India Company was imperialist in nature and only benefitted the British Empire, CPEC profits both China and Pakistan. Instead of exploiting Pakistan, it is aiding in infrastructural development, energy production, and alleviating unemployment in Pakistan.
The author considers the violence against Palestinians to be a threat to international human rights, as Israeli attacks on Palestinians have continued since last Friday, shaking Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Indiscriminate violence by Israeli forces mounted after protests by Palestinians against the forceful eviction and occupation of Palestinian land. The attacks inside Al-Aqsa mosque – a place held sacred by both Muslims and Jews – have sparked outrage and calls for condemnation of the Israeli forces.
Through the example of the Franc of the Financial Community of Africa (CFA franc), the author argues that France is practicing a form of neo-colonialism in Africa. France ensures this euro-backed currency for the 14 states part of the CFA franc zone—12 of these states are former French colonies. In return, it demands 50% of their foreign reserves to be deposited in the French treasury. Moreover, France has maintained a presence in the banks established for the implementation of the CFA franc policy, giving it control over the financial and exchange rate policies of the former colonies.
In the last decade, Islamophobia has been on the rise in France. The situation worsened after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, called Islam a “religion in crisis”, defended blasphemous caricatures, and declared that he would make Islam “compatible” with French republican values and liberate it. The author notes that although the French government claims that it introduced policies like the hijab ban and the religious disassociation in schools, offices, and public areas, to curb radicalism, separatism, and Islamism, they marginalized the entire Muslim community in France. The author asserts that France witnessed a 53% increase in religious violence last year, and if the gap between the French Muslims and the rest of France continues to increase, the Muslim population will become easy targets for terrorist organizations.
Olympics diplomacy is a type of diplomacy that hasn’t garnered much attention in the international diplomatic arena. Both (the hosting and the participating) states try to assert dominance through the performance of their athletes. The Olympics can also build alliances, which was the case with China and the US in 1971. However, China’s alarming human rights violations have called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The US was never really in control of Afghanistan. Trillions of dollars spent, over a 100,000 casualties, & two decades later – the US is now stuck in a stalemate. Negotiating directly with the Taliban via Khalilzad seemed to be helping the US, but the recent change of date for the withdrawal of troops (from May 01 to Sep 11) can potentially hamper the peace process.
Pakistan’s past choices — the creation of Pakistan itself; the decision to join the American bloc; the decision to wage the war on terror; and choosing China as an ally — have defined its present status. Although these choices have been deemed appropriate, the mismanagement resulted in an economic downturn and an impairment of its diplomatic ability.
Although Pak-Russia relations have been marked by distrust and suspicion in the past, ties between the two states seem to be positively changing due to diplomatic visits and joint exercises. The recent visit of the Russian Foreign Minister to Pakistan and the mutual stance on the Afghan peace process have emboldened ties between the two nations. These bilateral relations have enormous potential in the areas of defence, mining, energy, tourism, among others.
The implications of the world systems theory, proposed by Immanuel Wallerstein, can be seen in the influence of the coronavirus on the economy of each state affected by the virus. The author asserts that while the virus has heavily impacted the rich core states, they are still better off as compared to the developing and underdeveloped states. She explains that the pandemic has made the North-South divide even more apparent; it has made it clear that the world cannot have a unified economy.
The long-awaited Afghan peace process seems to be evident from the Biden administration’s letter to President Ghani. The letter has communicated the Biden administration’s desire to end the war in Afghanistan. However, it will certainly prove to be a challenge for the parties to commit themselves to a peace deal that is already tenuous.
The peacekeeping missions of United Nations have considerably evolved since 1948. With each generation of peacekeeping, new challenges have emerged. The author notes that while the UN has reformed peacekeeping by a large extent in the third generation, the operations face threats in the form of terrorism, weak political will, funding, weapons proliferation, and sexual and physical abuse.
After two decades of war in Afghanistan, the time has finally come for the US to withdraw its forces. While the Doha Agreement paved the way for the US to extricate itself, its implementation will be based on the US interests defined by the Biden administration. Regardless of that, it is necessary for the US to withdraw its forces so that the war-torn state can learn to rely on itself.