Policy Perspectives Latest Issues

Below you can find the table of contents for the latest issues of Policy Perspectives. All articles are Open Access and links to each article are provided below. The journal is hosted on JSTOR and can be found here to read online. 

Faith Conversions in Pakistan: Projections and Interpretations

Ghulam Hussain

This paper evaluates the definition of ‘forced conversion’ as presented in various reports—mostly published by different non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—about Pakistan and its projection through social as well as print media outlets. Taking insights from the writings of Lewis R. Rambo, Nathaniel Roberts and Katy Sian, the paper compares the narrative in Pakistan with the studies undertaken in the West on conversion and its politics. It analyzes the political perspectives and their sources used to conceive the meaning of proclaimed forced conversion based on the age and maturity of alleged victims and perceived vulnerability. By presenting social media activism as the case study, this paper interrogates the narrative that relies on ambiguous definitions explicated in legislative bills on ‘forced conversion’ and the NGO reports. It argues that the narrative reflected in proposed bills, reports, and social media reinforces the role of patriarchy and caste as the social forces. The paper concludes that this narrative is politically motivated and does not take into account multiple push and pull factors that lead to religious conversion while defining the term.

Keywords: Forced Conversion, Faith Conversion, Islamophobia, Social Media, Political Narratives, Narrative-Making

Footprints of Fascism in India: Implications for Local Muslims

Usama Hameed

Fascism, a twentieth century Eurocentric phenomenon, seems to be knocking at the world’s doors through a number of populist regimes. Distinguished among them is that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) led Narendra Modi government in India, which shares many characteristics with classical fascist regimes of Italy and Germany. Under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, India is steadfastly moving from its secular constitutional values to a rigid and fascist future which is exclusive of everything disliked by the Hindutva forces. The Indian minorities—Muslims, Christians and Dalits—have the same status in a Hindu India which Jews had in ‘Nazi Germany’ and Communists in ‘Fascist Italy.‘ This paper, while explaining the theoretical aspects of classical fascism, attempts to draw a comparison between classical fascist regimes and the present day India under the BJP’s rule. It also examines the argument that the institutional mechanism of the state is not only supporting this fascist agenda but is actively involved in it. The paper then goes on to briefly analyze the response by different segments of the society to this form of fascism prevailing in India.

Keywords: Fascism, Hindutva, India, Muslims, Minorities, RSS, BJP

China-Iran Relations: Prospects and Complexities

Kulsoom Belal

China-Iran relations have steadily evolved and expanded in the domains of geopolitics, economics and diplomacy since the Iranian revolution. Presently, being increasingly isolated from the world under Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, Iran has been further drawn towards China, which, in the long term, can significantly alter the existing regional security architecture of the Persian Gulf. The recent agreements and partnership between the two countries, which is reflected in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as the draft 25-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) will pave the way for a long term strategic cooperation between the two countries. In this context, the paper analyzes various factors that have systemically fostered friendly ties between the two countries. The paper also explores historical and contemporary trends that can impact the future of bilateral relations. Further, it evaluates the economic relations between the two countries outlining the trade in the oil sector as well as other sectors. Lastly, the paper examines the plausible challenges to the future of bilateral relations. For this, the paper relies on three variables: the internal dynamics and perception in Iran about its relations with China; the major power-middle power dynamics that can prove to be a barrier in the relations; and the outlook and responses of the regional countries that may scuttle the process of strategizing bilateral relationship.

Keywords: Belt and Road Initiative, Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, China-Iran Relations, Middle East Security, Saudi-Iran Rivalry

Muslims’ Share of the Waves: Law, War and Tradition

Tuba Azeem

The Muslim jurists opted for a balanced, equitable approach in water resources, particularly the oceans, held and taken care of as a collective, shared, and common asset. They devoted several writings on the humane conduct of hostilities, safety of civilians, seaworthiness of ships and shipwrecks with the help of original sources of Islam and the commandments of Muslim governors. Their principles and practices had remarkably contributed to the law of the sea much before the development of the modern Western international law concerning the oceans. Numerous military expeditions undertaken by Muslims for naval warfare in the Mediterranean Sea (MS) and the Indian Ocean (IO) inspired intellectual engagement of these jurists vis-à-vis port cities and maritime trade routes. The coastal settings even caused differences in opinions among popular schools of thought in Islam. This paper discusses such events in history and outlines issues and principles that emphasized the utility of oceans and shaped the conceptual debate on freedom of navigation in the Muslim world. It tends to suggest that international bodies recognize the customary practices of Muslim littoral states to further refine and develop the modern law of the seas. It recommends that the Muslim countries should develop and promote comprehensive codes in accordance with the maritime principles and practices developed by early Muslim jurists for sustainable exploitation of the marine resources without discrimination.

Keywords: International Law, Naval Warfare, Law of the Seas, Maritime Tradition, Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean

Net Metering and Solar PV Prosumage in Pakistan: Growth and Challenges

Naila Saleh and Sara

In the wake of an on-going energy crisis in Pakistan, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) issued net metering regulations in 2015 in order to encourage consumers to contribute in power generation. Contrary to the anticipation of attracting large-scale prosumers after the launch of these regulations, the overall capacity installed so far remains insignificant. Moreover, an uneven distribution in terms of issued licenses as well as installed capacity across the power distribution companies (DISCOs), wherein the growth is concentrated in three major cities of Pakistan—Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi—is another challenge. Based on this insight, the study aims to probe the challenges to distributed generation (DG) in Pakistan. Primary data for this paper was collected from three primary stakeholders: the prosumers; the non-prosumers; and the DISCOs or the primary intermediaries. The findings indicate a number of challenges hindering DG growth in Pakistan including cumbersome application process; serious financial barriers; inaction of DISCOs; low trust in technology; absence of awareness programs and absence of fee-for-service (FFS) models. Finally, the paper gives a roadmap to overcome the aforementioned challenges, and catalyzing the prosumage drive.

Keywords: Net Metering, Prosumage, Solar PV, DISCOs, Distributed Generation

Decentralization of Environment in Pakistan: Issues in Governance

Maryam Umer Khayam and Iftikhar Ahmad

Environmental governance in Pakistan, which although had never been strong in the past, has further debilitated post 18th amendment. This paper focuses on environmental governance post devolution. It analyzes who can effectively protect environment—the center or the provinces—and so shall be responsible for efficient environmental management in a federal state. Further, it highlights post-devolution challenges particularly the weak fiscal decentralization and lack of coordination in the area. Being a developing country facing fiscal constraints, it is very unlikely for environment to become a central subject, hence, the paper underlines possibilities on increasing inter-governmental, intra-provincial partnership especially focusing on participation by the local governments for optimal environment protection.

Keywords: Environment, Devolution, Decentralization, 18th Amendment, Fiscal Decentralization, Forestry