“The Non Smoking Gun”

Cyber attacks are increasingly ubiquitous in the contemporary world of information technology. It becomes both unprecedented and insidious threat to the international security as well as to the global economy. Though, it is comparatively benign, with lesser probability of destruction of property and no direct threat to human beings, unlike the physical warfare. But its consequences in the long run are much damaging and enduring. The primary objective of the cyber attack or cyber espionage is to steal sensitive information, intellectual property, defence secrets, weapon designs, and financially beneficial information.

In the recent year there were prevalent cyber attacks by international actors against each other. It is alleged that most of the cyber attacks were state sponsored to gather high level sensitive information by intruding into adversaries’ cyber space. More and more states are investing in new dangerous cyber arms race. Predominantly, China has been criticized for creating this new warfare by attacking numerous Western and American multinational and even government controlled organizations. For example Reserve Bank of Australia’s computer system have been successfully hacked in a series of cyber attacks and it was presumed that attackers were state sponsored and wanted to infiltrate sensitive information of pre-G20 event which will held in November 2014. Before this more than 150 computers of French Ministry of Economy and Finance was hacked to penetrate into same high profile G20 event’s sensitive information which was held in France in February 2011. And obviously both times the alleged guilty was none other than China. Reports showed that the cyber virus contains the characteristics of Chinese origin.

The United States, in particular, appears to have run out of patience with the flow of cyber attacks targeting it, when Google and The New York Times being the victims of cyber attack. Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defence, said that the cyber space is the “battlefield of the future, where adversaries can seek to do harm to our country, our economy, and our citizens.” She further said “US reserves the right to pre-emptively cauterise cyber menaces with force and/or through its arsenal of digital weapons, which have been privately listed for first time.”

Before going ahead in this debate that what is happening in cyber space or what precautions should be taken to evade the threat of cyber attack. One should be known to the origin of this so called dangerous cyber warfare that where it actually stems from. Obviously it has decade’s long history but as it has been mentioned that cyber war is a kind of war with lesser probability of physical destruction but the time has changed the phenomenon and it can be physical, too. Let it be clear, when after so many sanctions and warnings from America and Israel, Iran refused to derail its nuclear program so as ultimate option Israel threatens Iran to attack it with the same dangerous warplanes to destroy Iranian nuclear plant which Israel had already used against Iraq and Syria. In 2006, to avoid this sinister conflict in Middle East, then president of US George Bush instigated the development of first known cyber weapon under the code name of “Olympic Games”. The project that had complete support and contribution of Israeli government was accelerated by President Obama and produced artificially-intelligent malicious software or malware with the sole aim of disrupting Iran’s nuclear program. The most well-known system which was designed is Surreptitiously Command the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition or SCADA which is controlled by infamous malware Stuxnet. Although, it is the latest form of cyber malware but the kind of same technology have already been used in 1982 by CIA and caused a Soviet gas pipelines to explode.

This system SCADA supervises the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant. The SCADA system violently accelerate the centrifuge spinning speeds and it is supposed to have destroyed up to 1000 centrifuges and stopped uranium enrichment on many junctures in 2009 and 2010. It is pertinent here to mention that it was the same time when Iran’s four leading nuclear scientists were being assassinated in different accidents. To retaliate on these attacks Iran build up A-grade cyber game and allegedly was responsible for derailing the services of different American leading organizations more prominently Bank of America and American stock exchange were attacked.

However, now many non-state actors have also jumped in the cyber warfare. And the problem goes further from international political issues to financial and infrastructural matters. The victims of cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sensitive as the numbers of suspected targets are increasing day by day specially in the West where power, transport, financial/economical management and infrastructures have been integrated into the internet. There may be anyone from anywhere attacking the high profile multinational and government institutions that may include banks or stock exchanges or social media.

Unfortunately if truth be told, it is really difficult for the victim to find out the blameworthy and to determine that whether the attack was state sponsored or not. Eventually it results in misapprehension between the states and accelerates the cyber space unrest. Resultantly governments are spending massive amount so as to enrich their web weapons and hastily building up cyber forces to defend their cyber space and to attack their adversaries. As it is shown by the history that without using a bullet or bomb, it can be dangerous physically so the possible targets are practically great in number. Until or unless states shall not start respecting one another’s cyber space sovereignty just like physical sovereignty and to start surveillance in cyber space by certain rules and regulations mutually agreed upon otherwise such regrettable incidents are likely to be happened in future. Many has predicted that cyber-attacks might lead to another Cold War for the internet generation but for this time America and Western World cannot use third world countries as their proxies because the possible targets would be under direct threat of being targeted.

the article was first published in Pakistan Observer: http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=204997

Constitutional Conundrum

These days everyone is free in bullying Pakistani constitution and no one can dare stop you from doing so. Nevertheless the only exception is that the person must not belong to Swat or Mengora, and should not be wearing a turban and have a beard. In such case he will be punished with for not giving due acknowledgment to the constitution, as it happened in Sufi Mohammad’s case. Otherwise if you are a modernist and liberal than just feel free and keep on bullying that’s your fundamental right of expression. It has become the tradition of today’s political campaign that everyone wants to have their say against article 62, 63 of the constitution and on the Election Commission of Pakistan. In upcoming elections the perilous problem politicians are facing is the decision to implement article 62 and 63 of the constitution.
Dealing mainly with qualifications and disqualifications for the membership of parliament; these articles scrutinize candidate by their truthfulness, trustworthiness, sincerity towards Pakistan and the basic knowledge of Islam. The so called liberalists scholars and politicians are highly pinched by this article and voices of dissent can be heard from every corner that Zia’s regime has come again and Election Commission is exploiting its powers. Yes their objections are justifiable to some extent because due to this highly compelling scrutiny many big names of traditional politics will be ousted from electoral process.     
Exactly after five years the virus of election fever has spread all the way from Karachi to Peshawar. Every layman, who in routine life is not concerned with the political happenings in the country, now days highly curious that what is going on in Pakistan. For the last few months many political pundits and scholars kept on threatening that upcoming elections would be highly formidable so the risk factor should not be taken for granted. However, none of them told the people that in the coming elections even the scrutiny of candidates will be that much unprecedented. No one envisaged that the names like Ayaz Ameer, Khurshid Shah, Shaikh Waqas Akram, Jamshaid Dasti and Faisal Saleh Hayat could be rejected on certain grounds. Yet, it happened! Though a lot of people are not happy with this procedure and these politicians are getting sympathy from their colleagues and even from media which usually castigates them. On the contrary, the question arises that should these politicians not be chastised for deceiving the whole nation rather than getting sympathies? The fake degree holder was the custodian of our education ministry. Alas! No wonders why we are still doing poorly in education. I was personally admired Shaikh Waqas and his political devotion but it simply does not permits him to betray the pitiable voters of his constituency who were happy to chose the highly educated and foreign degree holder as their MNA.
These forceful actions of the Election Commission annoy the political parties and so called scholars and they just do not understand how to deal with this. So they have start condemning the article 62 and 63. One of their arguments is that if this article was to implement upon Quaid-e-Azam he would have been disqualified as well. So they are trying to say that Quaid-e-Azam was either a fake degree holder, corrupt or he did not have even the basic knowledge of Islam. If they really meant this, than I must say that they are making fool of themselves and should study the life of Quaid at least for once. Unfortunately portraying Quaid-e-Azam as secular or an average person has become common now a day just because Quaid had British passport and he dressed up in western style. Anyhow that’s another debate but people who think that Quaid would have disqualified according to the criteria of article 62, 63 are wrong. The way Quaid alluded Quranic verses and Islamic teachings in a number of his speeches and writings shows very clearly that he had more than basic knowledge of Islam unlike today’s politicians who shamelessly fails in reciting even second Kalma or Surah Ikhlas. Moreover, the purity and honesty of Quaid is not questionable in any case not because he was some kind of sacred personality, but because his life and personality was crystal clear from these evils.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan and the interim government should take a serious notice of this defamation of article 62, 63 because these are the part of the constitution. Every citizen should abide by this and of course scholars and politicians are no exception. If you don’t like it you should have abolished it from the constitution or do it when you would come in power again. Other than you have no right to abuse the constitution of Pakistan.     

Incidents at Sea


Sea and oceans are major sources of movement of people and goods from one part of the world to another. The sovereignty of state extends to 12 nautical miles from the baseline of the coast into the sea. Up to the jurisdiction of 200 nm a coastal state may enjoy sovereignty and can use Sea water for different purposes like exploring and exploitation of deep water mineral and oil resources, for fishing, scientific research, and economic activities, and for humanitarian and military exercises. Many disputes of overlapping sovereignty and exploitation of deep water natural resources exist between the coastal states. South China Sea dispute is the major example of overlapping sovereignty disputes which involves almost six coastal states these are China, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia over the islands of Scarborough Shoal, Spratly and Paracel islands. Conflict is over the islands that are rich in oil and mineral resources. The dispute has resulted in serious security threats amongst the states. In early 2012 a military stand-off between China and Philippines took place, as both blamed each other of intruding into their territory. Another example of sovereignty disputes over sea water and islands is between China and Japan in East China Sea.

Another major problem, which can cause unpleasant incidents, is maritime pollution. Sea water covers almost 71% of the total area of the earth, and is critical for billions of lives. Therefore, prevention of sea pollution is in the interest of humanity. Unluckily due to lack of awareness about the seriousness of the issue, seas and oceans are getting more polluted day by day. Sewage and dumping of chemical and biological wastage in the sea, unintended oil spills from vessels and off-shore drilling of oil, cause sea pollution. Consequences of sea pollution are serious. Pollutants can be both organic and mineral resources. Living resources of the sea destroy or become unhealthy for utilization. The worsening of water quality can lead to poisoning and illnesses and have sever repercussions on the economy of coastal states by discouraging environment for fishing, leisure activities or water being used for industrial and other purposes.

Many incidents at sea happen due to the incomplete information, weak surveillance and navigation which can result in serious accidents at sea. They can cause disputes between the coastal states. The coastal states are responsible for strong surveillance with in their defined zones to avoid mishaps. Freedom of navigation and surveillance is very important to avoid safety and security threats which may harm coastal states especially. To avoid these threats each coastal state has to play its part by increasing surveillance through using satellites and other latest technology to keep an eye over high seas and to get awareness about the activities taking place in the sea with in their jurisdiction. Surveillance at sea has broader scope comprising of different actions i.e. detecting and sensing any problem, assessing and evaluating threat, communicating/coordinating and taking proper action in time to prevent any incident. Along with surveillance exchange of information between the bordering coastal states is necessary to avoid conflicts.