A leading journalist has urged that “the UK should stop all aid to Pakistan". David Vance, a writer at AltNewsMedia in a panel discussion on Saturday, 23rd November noted that “Pakistan is a failed state, a global terrorism incubator and that we have indulged it quite long enough.”
Alongside Vance, the panel discussion titled'Reimagining Pakistan: A Global Perspective', was also attended by Taha Siddiqui, Khalid Shah, Seth Oldmixon, and Dr. Christine Fair. Members gathered at the David Game lecture hall to discuss the geo-politics of South Asia and its domino effect on the diaspora groups in the UK.
Amidst such discussion Fair, a Georgetown University professor announced that “the Pakistani High Commission in London had tried to coerce the venue of the panel discussion into cancelling the event”.
"That is reflective of the kind of state it is," she said, adding that a reimagining of Pakistan could happen from within its diaspora, but diaspora communities are not often fully in tune with the realities on the ground.
"Washington needs to cut off all aid because aid is toxic to that state. The longer it stays on the grey list, it gets to bargain with the international community using the threat of terrorism," she said.
The panel also discussed the current financial and political conditions in Pakistan especially in light of the appointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, current Chief of the Pakistan Army. Addressing concerns around freedom of media in Pakistan, Taha Siddiqui, a Pakistani journalist living in exile in Paris said,
“Under the Bajwa doctrine, journalists are regularly called upon and briefed by the military. Social media platforms like the Facebook appear to have been collaborating with the Pakistani government in censoring critical and opposition voices. Based on my recent interactions with journalists back home, some even said that if the situation continues with the way it is now, then the oldest newspaper Dawn may also collapse.
“Pakistan is not interested in the end game in Kashmir or Afghanistan, the idea for them is to keep a low intensity conflict alive so that the Pakistan military remains relevant as a power centre in Pakistan.”
The event was organised by the Jammu Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC) UK think-tank alongside Indian National Students Association (INSA). The panelists were in general agreement that the country risks becoming increasingly isolated in the wake of its recent grey-listing by the global money-laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) unless some urgent steps are taken and that China could act as a counter-weight, given its own economic interests in the region.
“The best solution is to use every option to create a reduced landlocked Pakistan Punjab, surrounded by a series of new independent nations such as Baluchistan, Sindh, Pashtoon and Muhajeer that are considerably more likely to live with us in peace and harmony.
“All UK Foreign Aid to Pakistan should be ended and British Pakistanis should start accepting our laws and integrating to our ways. This, it must be noted for some slow learners, is not “racist’ but simply desirable,” said David Vance.
Khalid Shah, Associate Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi, traced the history of "Pakistan's jihad in Kashmir", leading up to what he described as the current "cyber jihad" aimed at radicalising Kashmiri youth and glorifying the idea of jihad.
The panel discussion was followed by a Q&A session.