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Speaker(s): Ali Dayan Hasan
Chair: Professor Athar Hussain
Recorded on 7 June 2012 at Old Theatre, Old Building
As the Pakistan-US relationship reaches an unprecedented low, Pakistan appears to be in human rights and security freefall. The elected government remains wellmeaning but inept. The military appears unable to let go of its India-centric security paradigm and to be using its "time-out" from its alliance with the US to craft a hardline on Afghanistan, attempt regime change domestically and shrink space for liberal discourse. Three years after its restoration to office, the internationally lionized "independent" judiciary appears to be less than perfect, using judicial activism not just to curb the excesses of the executive but also to incessantly exceed its mandate and trigger political instability. The mineral rich South Western province of Balochistan is in a state of effective rebellion, the tribal areas reel under predator drone strikes and the port city of Karachi suffers from hundreds of political killings which are exacerbating ethnic tensions. As things go from bad to worse, the only unifier in Pakistan appears to be anti-Americanism. The civilian government and mainstream political parties that many hoped would provide a counterpoint to the Pakistani military appear to be in meltdown despite having publicly thrown in their lot with the country's army with grave implications for the human rights of ordinary people on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Can the West still be a force for good in the country, or is it in fact the problem? Why is the American embrace considered so deadly that many Pakistanis prefer a compact with the abusive Taliban? And can the US afford to just walk away from the human rights mess it sought to clear up after 9/11 but a decade later only appears to have made worse?
Before taking over as Pakistan Director, Ali Dayan Hasan served as Human Rights Watch's South Asia researcher since 2003 and has specialized expertise in Pakistan. Hasan is responsible for researching, authenticating and writing reports, briefing papers and news releases produced by Human Rights Watch on Pakistan. He advocates South Asian human rights concerns globally with regional bodies, national governments, international financial institutions and is a regular contributor on Pakistan in the international media. In addition to appearing frequently as a commentator on television, his opinion pieces have appeared in major international media. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Hasan was a senior editor at Pakistan's premier independent, political news monthly magazine, Herald. During 2006 and 2007, Hasan was also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Leverhulme Changing Character of War Programme at the University of Oxford.