Najmuddin A. Shaikh

Spent 38 years in the Pakistan Foreign Service before retiring in 1999. Foreign Secretary from 94-97. A member of the Board of Governors of the Pakistan Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. He writes a weekly column on foreign affairs in the “Daily Times” newspaper and is a commentator on the same subject on various TV and radio channels. Attends unofficial international conferences on issues of importance to South Asia on a regular basis. Lives in Karachi.

all articles

August 11, 2013
Whither US-Pak Relations After Kerry’s Visit

After a number of false starts US Secretary of State, John Kerry finally did arrive in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad on the 31st July… One subject that figured prominently during the Kerry visitwas the drone attacks on Pakistan soil. Kerry defended these attacks…Pakistan, however…wanted the drone attacks to be stopped and not just curtailed. This will remain a point of contention between the two sides…Kerry had made an effort to put US-Pak relations on the path of normalisation.Whether this reasoning would be accepted remains open to question in a Pakistan where anti-American sentiment has been growing over the years…

August 4, 2013
Syria and the Spread of Sectarianism in the Muslim World (II)

The latest news from Iraq about the storming of two prisons by the insurgents and the consequent escape of some 500 prisoners, many of the them members of the Al-Qaeda or the Al-Qaeda associated Islamic State of Iraq, have added a new edge to the apprehensions about the assistance that the extremist forces in the Syrian opposition will be getting from sympathisers in Iraq…The initial inquiry by the Iraqi government suggests that the attackers were assisted by some of the guards and one can presume that many of the alleged accomplices were Sunnis…

August 4, 2013
Syria and the Spread of Sectarianism in the Muslim World (I)

The figures emerging from Syria are grim. Two months ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that by their conservative count some 93,000 people had been killed in since the insurgency began in March 2011… Since the beginning of this year Syrians have been fleeing their country at the rate of 6000 a day. In Jordan alone there are now 550,000 Syrian refugees… Within Syria the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that some 4.5 million have been displaced…

June 11, 2013
Whither Afghan-Pak Relations (III)

…An optimistic but perhaps plausible scenario is that once there has been an exchange of prisoners – a sine qua non for building Taliban confidence in the efficacy of negotiations – Pakistan can play the role assigned to it in the Roadmap proposed by the Afghan High peace Council and help bring about a reconciliation which remains at this time the best hope for bringing a modicum of peace to Afghanistan. This will require Karzai to abandon his current anti-Pakistan stance and revert to thinking of Pakistan and Afghanistan as «conjoined twins» whose fates are intertwined.

June 6, 2013
Whither Afghan-Pak Relations? (II)

Karzai believes or at least indicates publicly that the difficulties in advancing reconciliation have arisen because Pakistan has not cooperated. Pakistan, his spokesman says, has failed to release the Taliban prisoners Afghanistan wants specially Ghani Baradar Mullah Omar’s former No.2. Further, his spokesman alleges that at Chequers, Pakistan laid down 3 conditions for Pakistan’s cooperation. These were that Afghanistan limit its relations with India; reach a domestic consensus on peace; and immediately sign a strategic partnership with Pakistan…

June 1, 2013
Whither Afghan Pak Relations? (I)

From all the media reporting of developments in Afghanistan and the statements made by President Karzai and his aides it is evident that in Kabul’s perception or perhaps more accurately President Karzai’s perception Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan have reached a new low…

May 18, 2013
Can There be Rapprochement in Syria? (II)

New routes for supplying the Syrianopposition with arms have now been opened through Jordan. Qatar is said to have expended $3 billion for providing arms to the opposition and assistance to the Syrian refugees. Now Saudi Arabia is apparently taking the lead in the supply of arms through this new route.More carnage lies ahead and therefore any and every effort to find a solution no matter how hopeless it may seem must be pursued… 

May 15, 2013
Can There Be Rapprochement in Syria? (I)

Amid the welter of  bad news from Syria – the only positive news is the agreement reached between Russia and the USA after long hours of intensive discussion to convene an international conference by the end of the month to discuss the Syrian situation and to carry forward the implementation of the decisions reached in Geneva in 2012…

November 22, 2012
Syria the Bleeding and Spreading Wound (III)

As was expected the meeting of Syrian insurgents / opponents of the Bashar regime in Doha hosted by Qatar but having the strong backing of the USA and its allies along with the GCC countries came up with a creation of a new Syrian Opposition group called «The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces»… The 12 point agreement to set up the Coalition would create a Supreme Military Council, a Judicial Committee and a transitional government-in-waiting of technocrats. It was also agreed that the parties work «for the fall of the regime and of all its symbols and pillars," and would rule out any dialogue with Assad's government…

November 8, 2012
Syria the Bleeding and Spreading Wound (II)

As Lakdar Brahimi, while in Beirut canvassing support for his proposal for an Eid Festival ceasefire in Syria warned “This crisis cannot remain confined within Syrian territory»,… «Either it is solved, or it gets worse… and sets [the region] ablaze». This was for most observers no more than a statement of the obvious when one looks at the developments in the countries of the region…