Global Village Space (GVS) stands for bringing a nuanced perspective on Pakistan – in a fast-shrinking world that is forcing all of us to live like one large interconnected human society. We admit this country has many failings and shortcomings and suffers from chronic political, religious, and administrative challenges as revealed by the recent re-emergence of TLP in Punjab and the recent horrible tragedy of Sri Lankan engineer Priyantha Kumar in Sialkot.
These developments can be very destabilizing for the country’s national fabric, and unless countered through a well thought out sustained consensus between political parties, the state institutions, and the corporate world, will further erode Pakistan’s international connectivity and its struggling economy. But many such failings are common across the developing world – including neighboring India.
We assert that Pakistan also gets very bad press worldwide for its fault lines with its next-door neighbor, India, and because of a continuing schism between the world of Islam and the West. Given Indian English-speaking intelligentsia’s academic achievements and deep inroads in western opinion-making circles, Pakistan is often seen in Washington, London, and Brussels through an Indian lens.
For those who can fathom, this is a huge burden this fifth most populous nation carries and a challenge for its governments, corporate world, and citizens directly affected by this image problem. The solution can come from the intelligentsia, but it remains marginalized in the affairs of a Pakistan that is still possessed by power-sounding titles (ministers, generals, judges, commissioners, and so on) often without much cerebral contribution to public life.
We now exist in an age of sensational audio-visual content. Still, we believe the honest written word is crucial in reaching out to the world, and publications like GVS can play an essential role in presenting Pakistan in all its shades of grey and help improve understanding with its stakeholders from East to West.
We started our journey online in the latter part of 2016, and the first print magazine was published in December 2017. There is a bit of lag between the online and the print, but this December marks our fifth year of continuous publication on balance. This is the 48th print publication of GVS magazine, and GVS Online has been read online almost 100 million times.
This is no mean achievement for an English publication in a country that has been declared a “graveyard of English periodicals and tv channels.” Longstanding publications like The Herald (of Dawn Group) and Newsline have collapsed in the last ten years, and the country has seen neonatal deaths of several English channels – including Dawn, Geo, Express 24/7, and the Indus News for want of market and economic, human resources.
Our journey thus has not been easy. Ironically, Pakistani governments, institutions, and the corporate world talk a lot about the need for Pakistan to have English platforms to reach out to the world and its diasporas in North America or the UK, but these words seldom translate into real commitments. Governments and state institutions – in their bid to create state-controlled platforms – have wasted significant capital in failed projects, and the way it’s going, it appears that more disappointments will follow.
This happens because it’s not realized that bureaucracies created for accepting orders from the top cannot generate intelligent, meaningful, and sustainable ideas or national narratives. The plight of state broadcasters like PTV offers a case study. We are grateful to all those corporate entities in the public and private sector whose sponsorship and support have made this arduous journey possible.
This current issue is a collector’s edition. We have selected and republished 18 articles, including interviews, from past magazines. It was a difficult choice – there were so many to choose from, but we decided to pick up one who touched upon a vital cord of Pakistan’s existence and its myriad challenges.
For instance, our interview with Aitzaz Ahsan – the country’s leading constitutional expert and author of Indus Saga – reflects upon the country’s earlier identity conundrum; Ambassador Munir Akram’s article written from New York develops a broad overview of the challenges Pakistan faces in the first quarter of 21st century.
Discussion with Gen. Babar Iftikhar, DG ISPR, comes handy as it tries to understand the fifth-generation warfare Pakistan now faces. Shahid Raza’s piece picks up on the same thread of information warfare seen both on the domestic and international front.
Interview with Prince Turki Al Faisal, prominent Saudi intellectual, Ex-Head of Intelligence, is from the first issue of Global Village Space. We had conducted this interview on the sidelines of Salzburg Forum, near Vienna in Austria. This discussion – the first-ever of its kind – examines the Pak-Saudi military and intelligence cooperation along with Washington against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Today with the rise of China, history has moved full circle; both Washington and Riyadh have strained relations with Islamabad, and many yearn for a closer embrace with Moscow. Asif Aqeel, leading Christian historian of Pakistan, outlines the role of the country’s minorities in its cultural mosaic and the problems they face; this is a theme that GVS has repeatedly touched and is more eager to work upon in the future.
Editor Global Village Space, Moeed Pirzada’s piece of 2018 – Hafiz Saeed: Albatross around Pakistan’s Neck – has been reproduced, without permission, by several Pakistani and Indian publications, has been read more than one hundred thousand times online. Written more than 45 months ago, it had argued that FATF is not about financial money laundering but the country’s support for Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir and has a broader agenda for regional transformation. Forty-five months later, Pakistan’s struggle with FATF continues without any end in sight.
Our views from abroad picked up a number of pieces, but the two articles from Indian authors, Sudheendra Kulkarni and Mani Shankar Aiyar (out of the many – who have written for us over the years), both highlight how Pakistan and India need to work together and how to do this. Baseline respect for each other as Sovereign national independent states is a prerequisite. It is crucial for attaining peace and progress for close to 2 billion people in this South Asia region.
Over the years, we have covered many public policy issues that we think the Pakistani state needs to consider and address across political party lines. A ‘charter of policy’ on these issues is crucial to tackling population growth, scarce water resources, and food security. We picked up a couple of these in this issue, including Shakil Durrani- former Chairman Wapda’s piece on the management of water resources, Najma Minhas’s piece on ensuring food security, and Javed Hassan, Chairman NAVTTC, article on delivering skills to its population.