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Old Wednesday, November 16, 2005
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Thumbs up Dr. Shireen Mazari (The News: Every Wednesday)

India's insatiable appetite
Shireen M Mazari

When India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) on November 11, his reference to "failed states" emerging in the region triggered a terrible sense of deja vu. It was once again a reminder of India's appetite for constant expansion of its national borders. After all, apart from Israel, India is the only other state to have expanded its territory through the use of force and military power since its creation. Besides the annexation of the princely states of Hyderabad and Junagarh and the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, India took military action in Goa in 1961 followed by the incorporation of that state within the Indian Union in 1962. Then, in 1975, Sikkim was swallowed up by the Indian Union.

The case of Sikkim is particularly interesting because it shows the devious manner in which the Indian state manipulated events to end the sovereignty of that tiny territory which had remained an independent Buddhist kingdom under the Namgyal Chogyal dynasty from 1642 right up to 1975. Earlier, in 1835, the king of Sikkim had been forced to give Darjeeling to the British as a 'gift' and it was at this time that Sikkim became a British protectorate. When the present state of India was created in 1947, it took over the protectorate and as such the foreign policy and national defence of Sikkim were transferred to India. But that was never enough for Indian rulers. Using Nepalese settlers in Sikkim to intrigue and plan the overthrow of the Choygal, India continued to increase its influence in this kingdom. In 1975, Mrs Gandhi annexed Sikkim in a well-planned drama. On April 8, Indian tanks and soldiers surrounded the palace and placed the Choygal under Indian surveillance. On April 10, the Sikkim Assembly unanimously resolved that "the institution of the Choygal is hereby abolished and Sikkim shall henceforth be a constituent unit of India". Then on April 14 a referendum was held, while Indian forces continued their presence, which supported the Assembly's resolution. Ten days later, the Indian parliament accepted the Sikkimese request of merger and thus India was able to make this one-time independent kingdom the 22nd state of the Indian Union. This Indian practice of moving in its forces was similar to what the Indians had tried in their occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. In the case of Sikkim, the pretext given throughout was one of instability and insecurity of a weak regime -- what would be referred to as a failed state in today's political language.

So when Indian leaders talk of the "danger of a number of failed states emerging in our neighbourhood" and how this will have "far-reaching consequences for our region and our people", the neighbourhood should certainly be alarmed. After all, India has sought control over all the smaller states within its neighbourhood, one way or another.
At present, it is experiencing problems not only with Nepal but also with Bangladesh. Despite the fact that Maoist rebels use sanctuaries across the border in India, New Delhi refuses to seal this border because it has never regarded it as a proper international boundary. Instead, its forces have gone across at will to arrest people on the Nepalese side. Indian political intervention in Nepal is well known and efforts to control Nepalese foreign policy are also documented. For instance, how can anyone forget the stoppage of Nepal's transit rights as a landlocked state when it chose to purchase a few anti-aircraft guns (a purely defensive weapon system) from China? Given the political use India has made of this situation, Afghanistan should be grateful that it has uninterrupted transit rights across Pakistan. Because Nepal has persisted with displaying a sense of independence as behoves a sovereign state that was never colonised, India has become increasingly bellicose towards the Himalayan kingdom. The remarks made by Singh at the IDSA, therefore, contain a veiled threat that should not be ignored. Nor did the threat only target Nepal, given the reference to refugees and destabilisation of India's border areas. This was a clear reference to Bangladesh and its ongoing conflict with India on the issue of refugees and outstanding border demarcations.
Even more critically, Singh's statement is extremely dangerous for the neighbourhood because the language is similar to that of the US pre-emptive doctrine and regime-change notions. As we know, India had already laid claim to this doctrine so it would not be fanciful to assume that India, with US blessings, now seeks greater control over the smaller states in its neighbourhood. This does not mean that it will necessarily use overt military force to implement its agenda.
History should never be forgotten and we need to recall how India gained control over Bhutan's external affairs. Bounded on three sides by India, Bhutan has always been a key part of India's strategic planning. As early as 1949, India signed a Treaty of Friendship with Bhutan, which remains in force in perpetuity. This Treaty, comprising ten articles, assures Bhutan of India's "non-interference" in its internal affairs in return for Bhutan agreeing "to be guided by the advice of the Government of India in regard to its external relations" (Article 2).
As India's military might has increased and its strategic partnership with the US has proceeded by leaps and bounds, it is now seeing itself in a position to be more forceful and assertive with states like Nepal and Bangladesh. Eventually, it can also increase belligerency towards Pakistan. After all, despite the ongoing peace process, it continues to remain intransigent over conflictual issues. Here, it is not just Kashmir but also the water issue. We have now seen how India kept us uselessly involved in talks that led nowhere on the Kishanganga project and that is why we are now compelled to seek the international arbitration allowed for under the Indus Waters Treaty. Nor should we assume that the violence meted out to our diplomatic staff and their children is simply an odd incident -- even though our own sudden silence on the beating up of our High Commission staffer's child is strange and surely should not be the price we have to pay for sustaining positive atmospherics for the dialogue process.

Meanwhile, it would seem that India's insatiable appetite to gain ever more control over its neighbourhood seems to be overwhelming us all. That is why Afghanistan is in Saarc and China is not. After all, becoming a member of Saarc would have allowed China freer access to trade in this region given the push for SAFTA, and that would pose a threat to Indian goods. With Afghanistan as a Saarc member, how will we now prevent Indian access across the land route to Afghanistan under SAFTA? India talks of no redrawing of borders but it has an endless hunger for expanding its own national frontiers, directly or indirectly. Manmohan Singh has shown us the new face of this voracious appetite. We will have only ourselves to blame if we ignore this warning.

The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad

The India factor
While we as Pakistanis should be grateful for all international aid, we must not allow anyone to make political capital out of our human tragedy
Shireen M Mazari
At this time of devastation and tragedy the nation has shown a remarkable spirit of giving and a tremendous sense of gratitude to the international community for providing an ever increasing amount of aid. After all, whatever aid is extended by the international community needs to be appreciated as it is voluntary and reflects a basic humanity that overrides politics and conflicts. In that context, Pakistan has also appreciated the aid sent across by India. Realising the massive scale of the disaster, Pakistan has welcomed aid and assistance from wherever it has been offered.

However, it is unfortunate that India has not missed the opportunity to try and score political points even at this time of immense tragedy that has also impacted the territory of Kashmir occupied by the Indian state. It is even more pitiful that some in Pakistan have fallen prey to this Indian game and have been haranguing the state of Pakistan for refusing to accept Indian military personnel and helicopters for rescue operations in AJK.

Certain points need to be clarified from the outset. To begin with, the Indian offer of military helicopters with their military crews was made only once when the earthquake struck and this seemed to have been enough to rally round the Indophiles in this country. But they forgot that the quake had also struck Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). If the Indians had an excess capacity of helicopters, why were Kashmiris in IOK lamenting the lack of response from the Indian state and civil society? Given that aid had not reached the remote quake-stricken areas in IOK even after three days of the disaster, why were the available copters not being deployed in that region by the Indian state? Five days after the quake, survivors in areas such as Salamabad, Gundishot and Gawalan had yet to see the face of any assistance -- either from civil society or the Indian government. Reuters quoted farmers like Syed Mukhtar Hussein expressing anger that "the government of India is sending relief to Pakistan and they are not helping us, who they claim are their people." Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front declared that the disaster "was a golden opportunity for the government of India to show a human face but the government missed the opportunity."

Nor is the Kashmiri anger in the occupied territory directed only at the Indian government. A Reuters report, dated October 14, cites Noor Ahmed Baba, head of the Political Science Department at Kashmir University, Srinagar, complaining: "When the tsunami happened, Kashmiris donated money and were involved in the aid effort. But this time we have not seen Indian civil society moving to help Kashmir." The slow response of the Indian state and society in aiding the stricken in IOK drew a sharp comment from Mir Waiz Umar Farooq during a special prayer at Srinagar's Jamia Masjid on Tuesday, October 11. Contrasting the response of Indian civil society to the Gujarat earthquake, he lamented: "It is sad that people have not responded to this great tragedy. This was not expected. When Latur and Bhuj were ravaged, big industrialists stepped forward to help. But no one seems to be coming to our aid." (The Hindu, October 13.)

The Indian state's slow response in terms of aid and assistance to the Kashmiris living under its occupation has also resulted in a public litigation filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in which the petitioners have also alleged that the injured were being charged an ambulance fee of between Rs 300 and Rs 1,500 for shifting them to Srinagar hospitals, adding that the government had made no attempt to send aid beyond Tangdhar. So where is the excess capacity of the Indian military in terms of the helicopters that they apparently want to sent to AJK? Worse still, a week after the quake, according to Reuters, UNICEF was still waiting for permission to enter IOK and set up its relief efforts -- unlike in AJK where it is in the forefront of relief work.

Clearly the Indian 'offer' of helicopters was more of a point-scoring move, given its own situation in Occupied Kashmir. But there was a more devious purpose as well, in case Pakistan had succumbed to the Indian game plan. Any Indian military personnel given access to AJK would not only have seen the lay of the land but also the military situation relating to the Pakistan Army -- including the damage in lives and material.

In contrast, the Indian media has been given access to AJK with NDTV moving in almost immediately. Would India allow similar access in IOK to Pakistani media teams? So far that has not happened, but if UNICEF is finding it hard to get into IOK with relief, certain rational conclusions can be drawn regarding Pakistan's media presence.

Indian intent regarding the extent it is prepared to go to in aiding relief efforts can be assessed from the Indian conditional permission to allow Pakistani copters to fly in the one-kilometre-wide "peacetime no-fly zone" over the LOC. Given how the Indians feel it quite proper for us to allow their military presence in AJK, why has the Indian government been so niggardly in granting permission to Pakistan to fly over this zone only on a case-by-case basis? What possible threat would India have faced if it had given this permission unconditionally, so that time would not be wasted in having the DGMO on the Pakistani side of the LOC first contacting his Indian counterpart every time a Pakistani rescue helicopter had to enter this zone? So it is time the Indophiles in Pakistan woke to the reality of the Indian state's mindset.

Unfortunately, the India factor is impacting more than just the helicopter debate. The strong Indian influence over the BBC is evident not only in the time given to discussion on the helicopter issue, but also in the fact that while reports on the quake from India are being handled by an Indian BBC stringer, for reports from AJK and Pakistan the Pakistani representative of the BBC was obviously seen as suspect and so we have had BBC reporters descend on us from London itself. As a result the Pakistani face of the BBC is barely visible on the screen.

But the real absurdity is the BBC Urdu Service on the radio. Seemingly full of Indian-origin interviewers, they have been conducting pre-interview interviews to ascertain who can be critical enough of the Pakistani state so that his/her voice can be broadcast. I witnessed one such event where in the pre-interview interview the interviewer desperately tried to make a doctor declare that the Pakistani state had failed and the hospitals were neglecting the injured and so on. When that did not work the interview was simply cut off! So much for the BBC's credibility. So while we as Pakistanis must be grateful for all international aid, including that from our neighbours, we must not allow anyone to make political capital out of our human tragedy.


Have we come to this?
Shireen M Mazari

The desecration of the Holy Qur'aan in Guantanamo Bay simply to cause psychological torment to the incarcerated Muslims, with no thought to the sensitivity of innocent Muslims across the globe, certainly makes it clear how the US administration views Muslims. Add to this The Washington Times' portrayal of Pakistan as a pet dog obeying the commands of the US, in the wake of the arrest by Pakistan of al-Qaeda's Abu Farraj Al Libbi, clearly reflects the abuse the US media feels it can dish out to Pakistan at will. The cartoonist's explanation is absolute drivel and he should recall the British reaction to George Michael's video, "Wag The Dog". Incidentally, on such a blatant abuse of Pakistan, why was it left to the Deputy Chief of Mission to take up the issue at the level of our embassy in Washington? Surely our ambassador should have made the public protest. Despite this continuous insult of Pakistan and Islam, we continue to live under the illusion that we are being seen as a partner in the war on terrorism!

In fact, there seems to be a growing disconnect between our national sovereignty and developments on the ground. As stated in an earlier column we now have foreign personnel actually examining our passports within our own territory - in our departure lounges. No other state would accept this micro level usurpation of sovereignty-- certainly not a state that is a major regional player and a nuclear power. It is no wonder then that we have had the US and British ambassadors pontificating on our domestic issues ad nauseum. In fact, we have the EU and the US (with a few exceptions) evolving a highly intrusive and dialectical relationship with Pakistan. They want us to have democracy but cannot stomach the results of the electoral process. Then they want to alter our social norms and educational system so that eventually we shed our Islamic identity - something that seems rather remote and a trifle absurd also.

While the US focuses on external strategic cooperation with India, with Pakistan the focus is primarily on seeking to shape internal societal dynamics. But we have continued to accommodate and go more than the extra mile in the open-ended war against terror. This, despite the abuse of Muslims and Islam in Guantanamo Bay and the many attacks against Pakistanis in the US itself - of which little ever comes out in the US media. And one cannot forget the anti-Islam tirades from within the US Administration by such representatives as General Boykin!

What has been the net result or our extensive cooperation with the US and its allies? We have had our nuclear programme come under scrutiny while the Iran-India nuclear cooperation has remained beyond the pale of examination, and the European links in the A.Q. Khan network have been kept out of the media spotlight. And now there are members of the US Congress who are seeking to link the supply of US weapons to Pakistan with a US Presidential certification that Pakistan has provided unhindered access to Dr. Khan. So while we may read news reports of new weapon systems that the Pentagon is expecting to sell to Pakistan, all these sales will have to get Congressional approval! And that is not going to be smooth sailing for Pakistan.

The worse aspect of our cooperation has been the domestic access given to foreign governments and NGOs, both at the micro and macro levels. It is not just the man at the departure lounge, but the intrusive NGOs commenting on developments within Pakistan with a heavily biased agenda. Take the case of the International Crisis Group and its heavily biased reports on Pakistan. Interestingly enough, the ICG had to leave India, where it was working on Kashmir, because of "safety" reasons. So while Pakistan allows the ICG to continue functioning and producing its own agenda-ridden reports, there is now no ICG office in India. Strange how no one at the ICG headquarters in Brussels has made a noise on this.

With our increasingly accommodating approach to all abuse, it is no wonder, then, that even US film stars, feel a compulsion to hold forth on aspects of our policies. Notwithstanding Ms Angelina Jolie's very attractive personality and dedication to the cause of refugees, we had to suffer her political statement on the relocation of refugees. She declared, while in our country, her opposition to our policy of seeking a return of Afghan refugees back to their country and setting them up in camps in Afghanistan instead of their continuing presence in Pakistan. The similarity between her views and US views on the subject expressed soon after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan must surely be a coincidence.

Pakistan has done more than its share of accommodating Afghan refugees, including allowing them full access to the country - in contrast to most states that keep refugees in camps. But why we should accept them as part of our civil society remains unclear, especially when thousands of stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh have yet to be accommodated. So while we appreciate Ms Jolie's work on behalf of Afghan refugees, her blundering into a sensitive political issue, is unacceptable. Incidentally, with the billions earmarked by the international community for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the return of the refugees either to their homes or to camps within Afghanistan should be part of that reconstruction process. If the process itself is faulty, why should Pakistan have to continue paying the price - especially when aid for these refugees within Pakistan has been dwindling over the years? As it is, the continuing presence of these refugees is a growing security risk for Pakistan because they can provide space for the al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants.

There really is a strange slide down a slippery path in terms of our national identity and sovereignty. This is apparent in meetings visiting Indian delegations have with Pakistani elites - both official and at the level of civil society. Some Pakistanis now seem to be hell bent on informing Indians how we are all the same! Well, in one sense I suppose we are the same as all humankind. But many of us do relate to the reality of a Pakistani identity which is why the doling of our nationality to any foreigner who happens to state his love for the country is also not very comforting. If I were to declare my love for a European or Asian state, would I automatically receive an offer of nationality from that country?

Where are we headed and how far will we go in compromising our sovereignty seems unclear, but we have reached a low point when we are seen as pet dogs by our supposed ally's media and American movie stars state their opposition to our policies while in our country. Apart from the strong Foreign Office protest, where are the voices that normally harangue on our foreign policy? Strangely silent. So this is what we have come to now.

The writer is a Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad

The flaw in Pak-US ties

by Shireen M. Mazari
US policy towards Pakistan is fast bordering on the absurd - the realities of power notwithstanding. On the one hand, the US relationship with Pakistan has degenerated into a one-way traffic of punitive measures, which are being dished out almost on a daily basis - or so it would seem, and here the perception is as important as the reality on the ground! On the days that there is no negative action against Pakistan by the US Administration, there will be news of some US-based study or the other, which condemns Pakistan for all manner of ills. The latest such report has obviously run out of individual ailments and has simply declared that Pakistan has the worst of everything.
On the other hand, a state which has been condemned as being the worst of the worst (by no less an agency than the CIA - and we know what the CIA does to such states! Remember Allende's Chile many decades earlier?), is also being asked, again on almost a daily basis, to do this or that US bidding. If it is not a demand to disown the Taliban and hand over Osama, it is direct intervention in the country's internal affairs - be it in relation to the religious parties or the nuclear programme (funny how the Indian nuclear programme seems to have been missed entirely by the same agitationers of the US) or even the economy. The latest demand to come down has been for Pakistan to sign the children's treaty (Hague Convention on Children) and the accompanying accusation that Pakistani parents were "abducting" their US nationality holder children. At the same time, the US government failed to cite any such case. Of course, the US would never think that US nationals might also be guilty of "abducting" children born to a mixed marriage between a Pakistani and an American. Yet such cases abound where American mothers have kept their children in the US forcibly away from their Pakistani fathers. European mothers do the same. There is an inherent - though blatantly false - assumption that a child would prefer the US/European way of life. This is as blatant a case of racism - almost bordering on the racial superiority policies of the Nazis.
In any event, why should Pakistan listen to the US demands? Because they are powerful? That may be the case, but since Pakistan is already the most sanctioned-against state - in terms of US-sanctions at least, although in terms of UN-sanctions other Islamic states like Iraq would win by a huge margin - there is not much more left for the US to do in punitive terms. Of course, they could send the marines/special services in directly - already some press reports are suggesting that 150 of them are here around the Tarbela area - but they would find it difficult to make much headway. Grenada was many continents away! As for getting tough economically through the IMF and the World Bank - that would go against their own economic interests. Also, they are using the IMF quite effectively to destroy our agricultural sector so that we are forced to take in the West's agricultural surplus. So there is not much more damage the US can do to Pakistan that is not already underway, especially with the UN monitors and the fallout that may result.

However, there is a great irony surrounding the latest request from the US for Pakistan to sign the Hague Convention on Children. This particular Convention has 51 states party to it but most of these, barring about five, are white, Western states. Amongst the many US allies in the south, India and Saudi Arabia are not party to it but one has seen no demand from the US go to these states! But the irony is that there is also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the most universally accepted treaty in human history. There are only two states that have not become party to it: Somalia and the United States of America. And there is more to this American absurdity: Presently, at the UN in New York, the UN member states are trying to negotiate and prepare a Final Document for the upcoming UN Special Session on Children and the US is singularly insisting that this document should have no mention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child! Can anything be more tragically absurd?

While Pakistan cannot ignore the realities of power, there is nothing to prevent it from making public the contradictions and absurdities of the major powers in terms of prevailing international norms and treaties. After all, even the power flexing states seek shelter in these norms!
This pressure on Pakistan to concede on so many fronts has been aggravated from within the country by those who would have Pakistan make all the concessional moves - without examining whether there are any benefits from such compromises. For instance, there are now moves within Pakistan's elite to push for Pakistan making concessions to India on trade, etc at the Musharraf-Vajpayee Summit in New York. Why should Pakistan do so in the face of increasing Indian bellicosity and hardening of the Indian position not only on Kashmir but also in general towards Pakistan. Throughout the post-Agra period, Pakistan maintained a silent posture in the face of India's aggressive posturing. But there has been no response in kind from India and even leading up to the Summit, India has simply upped the belligerent ante. So on what basis should Pakistan concede to the Indian stance of not focusing on Kashmir? Concessions have to be reciprocal, so why do we always demand that Pakistan always make the first moves?

This is not to say that Pakistan must adopt a rigid posturing in negotiations and dialogue. Nor has Pakistan done so. Even at Agra, the Pakistani side adopted a very flexible, holistic approach to the Pakistan-India relationship and even Kashmir. In the case of the latter, Pakistan was prepared to move beyond the UN resolutions and wanted to mutually discard positions on Kashmir totally unacceptable to either side - so that dialogue could begin on a flexible note. As for the overall Pakistan-India relationship, Pakistan maintained that dialogue could be conducted on other issues simultaneously, but that final progress on other issue was directly linked to some progress on Kashmir. This is a far more pragmatic approach than the segmented Indian approach, which seeks to discuss only one or two issues from the "basket" of issues earlier agreed to for the comprehensive bilateral dialogue. It is this approach Pakistan should maintain in New York and let the Indians now respond in kind in terms of flexibility and concessions - the latter should be substantive not simply for scoring media points as happened prior to Agra.
All in all, it is time that we in Pakistan stopped being overwhelmed by the global "realities of power" on issues such as sanctions, peacekeeping, international treaties and so on. Yes, there are these realities but there are also international norms, a UN Charter that has not been formally discarded, and very real limitations to the exercise of these "realities" of power. We also need to make our own people and the power flexers realize the contradictions and absurdities of the latter laying claims to international morality and norms. Naked power plays, at the very least, must be exposed for what they are.
At some point, even the most loyal of allies of the powerful will reach the end of their tether. This is already beginning to happen in the Middle East where the US is tolerating all manner of violence and abuse being unleashed by Israel on to the Palestinians. This has driven even the most cautious of states like Saudi Arabia not only to condemn US policy but also to show their disapproval in more substantive terms with the Saudi Chief of Staff General Salah al-Muhaya cancelling his trip to Washington DC. Given the intimate military relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia as well as a high level of military dependency of the Saudis on the US, this move is of great significance. The manner in which the US is choosing to go for unabashed power plays in this region may well lead to its increasing isolation. An isolated power will find its options undermined so that it may only have the option of having to use naked power more and more - and that, in today's interdependent world, will achieve less and less in real terms.

Last edited by Argus; Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 02:41 PM.
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