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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Forced demands on Pakistan

Sajjad Shaukat

Setting aside the ground realties that Pakistan, itself, is the major victim of terrorism, which has been bearing multiple losses in combating this menace since 9/11, Indian blame game against Islamabad, continues in during exchange of information between the two neighbouring countries regarding Mumbai mayhem of November 26, 2008. Rejecting Pakistan’s stand that its government or any official agency is not involved in the Mumbai attacks, presenting one after another list of bogus evidence, New Delhi wants to make Islamabad accept all other Indian demands since our rulers admitted on February 12 this year that Ajmal Kasab is Pakistani national and Mumbai terror-attacks were “partially planned in Pakistan.” Pakistan’s government not only submitted its report to India after lodging FIR against the nine suspects but also took six accused persons into custody. In fact, Islamabad’s admission which has emboldened New Delhi was forced by the US-led some western countries which have been continuously insisting upon our government to “do more” against the militancy in the tribal areas by ignoring internal backlash and sacrifices of our security forces during war on terror, while paying no attention to the Lahore-terror attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team. 

Although being a responsible state actor, Pakistan’s leadership did not accuse Indian secret agency RAW of planning Lahore mayhem which had similarity with that of Mumbai, yet India backed both these tragedies to achieve some secret goals against Pakistan. In this context, India wanted to avail this opportunity in increasing further pressure on Pakistan with the help of America and some other European states in order to force Islamabad to confess that all the terrorists responsible for Mumbai attacks came from Pakistan. While Pakistan has not yet completed investigation in connection with the terror-attack on the Sri Lanka’s cricket team, Indian Minister of External Affairs, Pranab Mukerjee, repeating his old rhetoric of baseless allegations against Islamabad stated that Lahore incident and Mumbai catastrophe “are part of Pakistan’s terror-infrastructure” and it should dismantle terrorist training camps. It is mentionable that US former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice and British Foreign Secretary who had visited New Delhi and Islamabad in the aftermath of Mumbai catastrophe stressed upon us to take actions against the banned Jamaatud Dawa and the already banned Lashkar-i-Tayba. Speaking Indian tune, they also said that the terrorists involved in the Mumbai events came from Pakistan. 

Notably, America and the Great Britain had played a key role last year in getting passed a resolution through the UN Security Council which added Pakistan-based Jamaatud Dawa and four of its leaders to the list of Al Qaeda-related terrorists. Without any doubt, this similar approach by the US and India show that these states are in collusion to destabilize and ‘denuclearise’ Pakistan through coercive diplomacy. So demands on Pakistan to take action against the Jamaatud Dawa and its related welfare organistions including admission regarding the departure of the Mumbai culprits from our soil were forced. And Islamabad accepted these false allegations as our country is facing serious internal and external challenges of grave nature. In the recent past, IMF decided to sanction loan to Pakistan after American green signal. Past experience proves that economic dependence on foreign countries always brings political dependence in its wake. While, at this critical juncture, our country has been facing precarious financial problem, US and its western allies compelled Pakistan to accept some Indian false demands. 

Hollowness of New Delhi’s allegations and forced admission of Islamabad of February 12 could be gauged from the fact that on February 27, while addressing a press conference, Pakistan’s Naval Chief of Staff Admiral Nuaman Bashir remarked that he had no proof that Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of the Mumbai attacks used Pakistani waters to reach India. He further explained, “I do not have any proof…the Indian navy is much larger than ours, and if Ajmal Kasab had gone from here, then what were their coastguards doing, and why they did not stop the terrorists?” The statement of our naval chief coupled with western duress makes it quite clear that Mumbai mayhem was pre-planned by the Indian intelligence agency, RAW to further distort the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations as well as to manipulate the world phenomena of terrorism with the help of US-led Europe in declaring our country a terrorism-sponsored state. Another aim of New Delhi was to convince the sole superpower to continue drone strikes on Pakistan’s tribal regions which are already considered by Washington and some other western capitals as safehavens from where Al Qaeda-related militants could plan a terror attack inside American homeland and Europe. Nevertheless, all this is part of Indo-Israeli and western lobbies to weaken Pakistan in on way or the other as our nuclear assets irk their eyes.

On the other hand, west’s silence over a number of developments such as assassination of Indian Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare in Mumbai during terror attacks, involvement of Hindu extremists in the Malegaon bombings, confession of Indian serving Lt. Col. Purohit in relation to the bombing of Samjhota express which brunt alive 69 Pakistanis, demolition of Babri Masjid, massacre of Muslims in Gujrat, recent genocide of Muslims in Assam and assaults on Christians from time to time clearly show double standard of the US-led international community. In this context, anti-Muslim approach of India was also witnessed during the present election campaign when grandson of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and candidate of the BJP, Varun Gandhi, with the pledge of Gita, warned that he would “cut off the hands of Muslims.”

Inaction of the west over Hindu terrorism and such duplicity undoubtedly indicates that America and major European states have their common interest in India. Hence, they blindly support New Delhi’s shrewd diplomacy against Islamabad. These major countries only tolerate Pakistan owing to its role as a frontline state against terrorism, otherwise, they leave no stone unturned in tarnishing the image of our country so as to harm our interests. In this respect, forced demands on Pakistan regarding Mumbai mayhem entailing accusation of cross-border terrorism either in Afghanistan or the Indian-held Kashmir are also part of this double game.

As a matter of fact, we are living in an unequal world order. The prevalent global system tends to give a greater political and economic leverage to the affluent developed nations who could safeguard their interests at the cost of the weaker countries. Whenever, any controversy arises on the issues, the UN Security Council enforces the doctrine of collective security against the small states, while the five big powers protect their interests by using veto. This shows discrimination between the powerful and the weaker. In this context, it is notable that in 2001, UN had permitted the United States to attack Afghanistan under the cover of right of self-defence. Consequently, NATO forces invaded and occupied Afghanistan. In case of the Sub-continental Kashmir, the issue still remains unresolved as UN resolutions in relation to the plebiscite were never implemented because Washington and some western powers support the illegitimate stand of India due to their collective interests by ignoring the legitimate rights of the liberation of Kashmiris.

There is no doubt that it is the General Assembly where the Muslim states of the Third World constitute majority, but they are helpless in implementing their decisions. In economic context, the world order reflects greater disparities as the flow of capital and credit system is also dominated by the United States and other developed countries—the consequent result is an increase in the activities of the Multinationals which shattered the economies of the poor developing states. Besides, international financial institutions like I.M.F and World Bank are under the control of the US and its partners who protect their interests by blackmailing the governments of the small states through financial pressure.

Nonetheless, the principle of might is right which was order of the day during the period of nature is being implemented in the modern era, but in its refined form. Major powers can change falsehood in truthfulness by legitimating it through Security Council. It was due to this master-client relationship that Pakistan was forced to accept Indian self-created demands which were baseless, but still the US and other western countries had been backing the same in connection with Mumbai catastrophe. In wake of a continued debate abroad and rising tension between the two South Asian nuclear states in relation to the culprits of Mumbai tragedy, the fact remains that Pakistan and its land have played no role, but was forced to accept Indian concocted evidence as the country depends upon the sole superpower and other foreign donor agencies because of rising financial crisis and political instability which have been created by external secret agencies, especially RAW.

Like Hitler, Indian leadership is increasing its demands as recently it sent some more evidence in reply to Islamabad’s report regarding Mumbai tragedy. Our government needs caution as New Delhi, with the support of west could entangle Pakistan in vicious circle of terrorism with the sole aim to isolate our country diplomatically.

Enduring Power Struggle in Pakistan: New Phase-III

The seemingly endless power struggle in Pakistan is very dangerous for the nation, its progress, prosperity and global image. India snubs Islamabad and succeeds in painting both Islam and Pakistan in the worst possible ways and manners thanks to its media power and deceptive global influences.  So-called (skeleton) democracy perpetrated by the Western money makers have attracted several Muslim across the world and they prefer "free religion" to Islam, and work hands in glows with capitalists form west and India against Islam and Sharia’. They are against Sharia’ in Swat and Pakistan at large. Ironically, some analysts & newsmakers who thrive on espousing hollow emotionalism among the masses by writing about issues that are of their own imagination, are deliberately or inadvertently churning out derogatory and damaging statements just to get some space in newspapers columns without realizing the fuller implication of their rhetoric.
If the chief goal of the opposition leader Nawaz Sharif was to oust Musharraf, then, he has fully achieved that objective, while in the process by getting the sacked judges reinstated, he has got some extra points too. But if he wanted to take over power from Pervez Musharraf, Sharif has not made any plus points. He even outsmarted Zardari who was believed to oppose the return of the judges because he fears they will repeal an amnesty on corruption charges granted him last year.. The former businessman has served more than eight years in prison on corruption and other criminal charges, but without being convicted.
An almost lost case, Punjab courts helped rekindle the judges’ issue by ordering to sack the government which President Asif Zardari did. Amid efforts to defuse the political crisis, former Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif has attacked President Asif Ali Zardari for "fighting democracy" and blamed his actions for the unrest in the country." The Sharifs and 16 other protest leaders were initially ordered under house arrest. Before dawn, hundreds of police surrounded Sharif's residence in Lahore, carrying an order for his house arrest. Sharif denounced the order as illegal and later left the house in a convoy of vehicles as police stood by. Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani’s engagement of Sharif brought the crisis to a positive end. Announcing that the march on Islamabad had been called off, Sharif urged supporters to celebrate "with dignity". He explicitly said that the government wants to implement the CoD and seeks the cooperation of PML-N for that. Chaudhry would resume his post following the resignation of the current Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar on 21 March and he has kept his word. He also promised restoration of all other deposed judges. Gillani has proved by his conduct that he values prudence and knows that it is time to act more maturely to bring stability to the political process that seemed to have derailed in the recent past. After a jubilant reception from thousands of supporters, Pakistan’s main opposition leader headed to Islamabad. He was determined to lead lawyers and political activists in the final leg of what is called a Long March to push their demand for the restoration of the deposed chief justice. Announcing that the march on Islamabad had been called off, Sharif urged supporters to celebrate "with dignity".

With a single anti-Musharraf agenda, the alliance between the PPP and the PML-N was regarded by some quarters as a marriage of convenience between the two archrivals, which were instrumental in toppling each other’s governments in the 1990s. Fallout from a lost battle against the judiciary as well as the plans of former premiers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto to mount a dramatic political comeback and fight a tough political battle made Musharraf to consider his way out without much hassles. In the ensuing power struggle between Zardari had to assume the place of Benazir who was killed during the campaign making way for future showdown by the leaders while Zardari assumed the leadership of PPP along with his son. Then came the choice of a new president of Pakistan in place of Pervez Musharraf. Clearly, Sharif had been aiming at the President’s chair after Musharraf’s exit. PPP already appointed Gilani as the premier and Sharif expected the PPP appointing him for the president’s slot. Sharif was also angered by an announcement that Asif Ali Zardari, chairman of the PPP and widower of its former leader, Benazir Bhutto, would stand for president. The coalition partners had agreed to back a nonpartisan candidate until the presidents' powers were constitutionally pared down. In the 1990s, Sharif and the PPP, under Ms. Bhutto, were bitter rivals and alternated terms in power. Many Pakistanis dread a return to the rancor and chaos of those days, which resulted, in 1999, in Musharraf's bloodless coup.
The first phase of power struggle ended by unseating President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in the establishment of Zardari-Gilani government in Islamabad the quitting power by former President Pervez Musharraf, but Nawaz Sharif losing the battle and without gaining anything in a big way. His brother from Muslim League got power in the Punjab Province where he is strong. Blamed for the corruption and economic problems that nearly bankrupted the country in the 1990s, when Bhutto and Sharif each had two short-lived turns as prime minister, they were sent abroad by Gen. Musharraf. Living abroad as punishment, Nawaz Sharif failed in his first attempt to enter Pakistan and was sent back from the airport by Musharraf who claims Sharif as premier had plotted to kill or dispose him as the General. However, under US-Saudi mediation, Musharraf allowed Sharif in his second attempt and let him strengthen political institutions. Sharif sympathizes with Sharia' movement. A "conservative" Muslim with even more conservative followers, Sharif said that he was intent on quashing "militancy" but would like to lower the profile of US involvement in the war on terror. In 2007, under US-Saudi Arabia mediation both former premier Sharif and Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan to reactivate the political system in the country and soon elections were held where both PPP and PML forged an electoral alliance and won both parliamentary and provincial elections. However, due to differences of opinion on crucial issues on which the polls were fought, PML drifted from PPP and declined to join the central government led by PPP and has formed its own ministry in Punjab.
In August 2008 Hopes for much-needed political stability in Pakistan have crumbled along with its ruling coalition. Following Nawaz Sharif's exit from the government, the political stage looks set to be dominated by a power struggle, which will draw attention away from anti-militant efforts and a faltering economy. Only a week after it celebrated the resignation of former president Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's fractious coalition broke when former Prime Minister Mr. Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), stormed out on the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). He blames his former coalition partner for repeatedly reneging on its promise to reinstate 60 judges suspended by Musharraf.

However, the controversy over the Long March mushroomed into a political crisis several weeks ago, when the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from holding elected office. The Sharifs saw this as a deliberate attempt, backed by the president, to remove them from power, despite Zardari's denials. That suspicion was reinforced when Asif Zardari imposed federal rule on the Punjab province - the power base of Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League Party (PMLN). In effect the Sharifs' government was dismissed while the president's representatives seemingly began negotiations with other parties to permanently replace the PMLN.
Zardari has also proved himself to a shroud politician. Sensing the Sharif’s long march danger ahead for Pakistan and PPP, Zardari was quick to arrest the trouble without letting the situation descending into total chaos leading to break down which the enemies for outside would use to disintegrate Pakistan. The PPP has representation across the country, particularly in the province of Sindh, Zardari’s base, while PMLN is Lahore based which is the largest and wealthiest province. There was a concern at rhetoric level about danger for the fragile threads of Pakistan’s federation, implying that a Punjabi leader is trying to destabilize a Sindhi president. Some observers believe Zardari may have tried to remove the Sharifs' provincial government for the reason that the centre and provinces are in conflict, both governments struggling to function. But that brought situation back to the instability of the 1990s, when Sharif's ML and Zardari's PPP traded terms in power, each undermining the other. More over Zardari faced the similar situation that Musharraf faced a couple of years ago when Islamabad was under virtual siege by the opposition. 
Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary has re-assumed his office at Supreme Court. Former President Musharraf at later stage was not averse to reinstating the disposed CJP, but however, left the matter to the emerging new government under Zardari to decide. The judges' restoration might have restored people's confidence in “democracy” but the army chief's role as mediator between the government and the opposition will increase Zardari's dependence on the army. As the first face-to-face contact between them, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and PML-N leader Muhammad Nawaz Sharif met at Raiwind on Match 22 to discuss the roadmap for the implementation of the Charter of Democracy (CoD) covered issues like the formation of government in Punjab, the disqualification of Sharif brothers, the judges’ restoration as well the emerging political dispensation in Punjab.
Removal of Musharraf as the power struggle between the government and opposition brought the US-India forces and their agents right inside Pakistan and drowns are being dropped by US terror forces killing innocent Muslims in this Islamic nation. Fallout from a lost battle against the judiciary and the plans of former premiers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto to mount a dramatic political comeback made Musharraf make way for Zardari to assume power eventually.
Unfortunately, the issue of miserable plight of common people who voted overwhelmingly for PPP-PMLN does not bother Pakistani rulers in any manner - both at centre and in provinces. But when Punjab government was dismissed on court orders, a few politicians suddenly remembered poor people. Politicians in the opposition talked about "all round failed policies against poor", country and nation has lost every trust in the PPP-led government. For a government in an Islamic society ignoring the welfare of common people is indeed a crime, a big crime at that. Gilani government did initiate some programs to uplift the poor, but the politics and US-led terror war in Pakistan has halted that process, possibly as a deliberate attempt.

(To Continue….>)

The author is Delhi based Research Scholar in International Studies and can be reached atabdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com 

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Iran, India may join US war in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON: A key US senator said on Thursday that the United States and Iran might begin their cooperation for stabilising Afghanistan after a meeting between officials of the two countries in The Hague next week.
‘We also need to reach out to Afghanistan’s other neighbours, including India, China, and Iran,’ Senator John Kerry told the confirmation hearing for the new US ambassador to Afghanistan.
The former Democratic presidential candidate, who now heads the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that in 2001 and 2002, Iran helped to stabilise Afghanistan. ‘And the Obama administration is right to explore how our interests might coincide again on this issue, beginning at the Hague Conference next week,’ he added.
Earlier on Thursday, Hasan Qashqavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Tehran that Iran would join the United States at two international conferences on Afghanistan, including the one at The Hague which begins on March 31.
‘The level of participation is yet to be determined,’ he added. Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially invited Iran to the Hague conference.
The US move is seen in Tehran as a moral victory for the Iranian government, which was castigated by the Bush administration as part of an ‘Axis of Evil’.
Although the US still plays a leading role in the campaign against Iran’s nuclear programme, the US decision to involve it in its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan enhances the stature of the Iranian government.
Both the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are expected to attend. Other attendees will include foreign ministers from countries in the region, countries that are part of the International Security Assistance Force and other countries and organisations that are contributing to reconstruction in Afghanistan.
At the confirmation hearing, Senator Kerry outlined some of the salient features of a new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is expected to be announced on Friday.
The new strategy also seeks to triple US economic assistance to Pakistan and a greater engagement with the Afghans.
‘I will soon be re-introducing with Senator Lugar the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, which seeks to triple non-military aid to the people of Pakistan,’ Senator Kerry said.
The proposed legislation will also hold Pakistan’s ‘security forces more accountable for assistance provided in their fight against the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda,’ he added.
Senator Richard Lugar, a ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which authorises US foreign aid, also has pledged to support the bill.
‘We can all agree that today Afghanistan, along with its neighbour Pakistan, represents the central front in our global campaign against terrorism,’ Senator Kerry told the confirmation hearing.
Referring to the new strategy, Senator Kerry stressed the need for a regional approach for bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. ‘Our strategy must also reflect the interconnectedness of the region’s challenges,’ he said.
‘This requires redoubling our efforts to strengthen Pakistan’s civilian government and support its activities against militants in the tribal belt.’ That’s why, he said, he was seeking to triple US assistance to Pakistan.
Senator Kerry noted that President Barak Obama has pledged to recommit to Afghanistan, beginning with the deployment of 17,000 additional US troops and a significant effort to increase the size and capacity of Afghan security forces. He said while he supported this move, he also believed that ‘troops alone will not bring victory.’