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Old Friday, July 27, 2007
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US-Pak relations


Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi
Friday,July 27,2007

US diplomats and policy makers have been making waves in the media stating US could take unilateral action against terrorist inside Pakis-tani border. The current rhetoric by Bush administration removes all doubts that Richard Boucher might have threatened to bomb Pakistan if they did not support the US. At the same time Turkey, a strong US ally, refused to support US invasion of Iraq. The reason for this extreme step is the failure of government of President General Musharraf in achieving results in the fight against terrorist. This change in US policy should not come as surprise to any one. First, the Bush doctrine since 911 has been to fight terrorism through weapons instead of ideas. Second, US foreign policy has always been driven by the adage that "US has no permanent friends or allies". As long as it suits US they keep a friendship but once the purpose is served they drop a friend like a rock. For Pakistan this is a familiar scene since it gained independence in 1947. First US refused to help Pakistan in its fight against India when it supported separatist movement of Awami Leaque of East Pakistan. Second, it used Pakistan as a frontline state in its cold war with Russia especially during the Afghan occupation. But as soon as Russia withdrew from Afghanistan US left Pakistan on its own to deal with the Afghan problem. The result was the proliferation of drugs, weapons and extremism in the moderate Pakistani society. Soon after Afghan war and Russian break up US imposed Pressler amendment on Pakistan effectively blocking all aid and stopping the delivery of F-16 fighter jets for which money was already paid for. The friendship between US and Pakistan can, at best, be termed as unilateral. Pakistan has always been on the giving end while US has always been pushing for more. Pakistan accepted the membership into US sponsored coalitions of SEATO and CENTO to provide counter against growing communist influence in the region. Pakistan also allowed US to use its air space to fly U-2 spy planes over Russian territory. It ultimately embarrassed Pakistan when a U-2 was shot down by Russians damaging diplomatic relations deeply. In early 1970s, Pakistan was also instrumental in arranging first secret meeting between then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Chinese government which resulted in opening trade ties between US and China. The highest price Pakistan paid for US friendship was when it agreed to become a frontline state to support Afghan Mujahideen against Russian occupation. That role resulted in growing extremism in Pakistan as well as an attack on its social fabric in the form of drug addiction and small arms proliferation among political and sectarian parties. These arms are now fully utilized by extremist element to fight the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan in large parts of NWFP and Balochistan. US image has suffered in the Muslim word by adopting dual policy. At one hand it wants to introduce democracy among Muslims to counter extremism and on the other hand it supports autocratic rulers like General Musharraf to gain support for fight against terrorism. This approach encourages extremist elements to blame the declining social conditions on US duality and offer salvation by returning to conservatism. If democracy is good for Iraq then it should also be good for Pakistan. US should support establishment of democracy by forcing the General to give up his military uniform and conduct fair elections in the country allowing participation from all leading parties. US should also understand that social reforms can not be achieved through weapons. It requires patience, negotiations and understanding. West should also realize that almost 70% of the Muslim population is 30 years olds as compared to an average age of 45 in the western world. There is no way a 45 years old can win a fight from a 30 something youth. After 911, General Musharraf provided unconditional support to US largely to protect his own rule in the disguise of the national interest. Looking at the history of our relations with US it is important that we take a long term view of the situation instead of complying with short term directives. Pakistan's foreign policy should be driven by due considerations given to its geopolitical situation, its position in the Muslim world and its economic dependence on certain countries. Based on these three considerations we can not afford to have a confrontational position with India as well as weaken our relationship with China. Similarly we have to create partnership with Iran to help create stability in the region as well as provide a bridge for them to negotiate with West on their peaceful nuclear program. In the Muslim world Pakistan should take a leadership position considering its size, military strength and intellectual depth. Pakistan is rightly emphasizing on restructuring of the Organization of Islamic conference (OIC) to make it a central player in bringing the Muslim world together to negotiate its issues with the Western societies. For its economic development Pakistan should view India and China as two large markets for its exports instead of fearing them as competitors. Pakistan should also form trade blocks with Middle Eastern countries which can benefit from deep human pool of Pakistan as well as improve trade and investment. Recent Arab investment in banking, real estate and retail industries is a positive development are positive developments. Sovereignty can not be achieved by Pakistan unless it resolves its internal conflicts, progress economically and understand its true role in the Muslim ummah. It is a good time for all of us to come together to gain a dignified position for ourselves and create peace in the region.

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News....cat=ar&nid=326
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US can lose out to China


Manik Mehta
Friday,July 27,2007


Experts caution that the United States can lose its foothold in Southeast Asia, the bulwark of which is the 10-member nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), if it ignored the region and focused only on fighting - military and verbal - wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and elsewhere. China, which provides technical and economic assistance, and also market accessibility to the Asean countries, earns a lot of goodwill amongst the region's business community as well as the political elite. The US administration seems to have earned notoriety for its habit of cancelling scheduled visits and meetings; this has frustrated the Asean leaders who feel that their region is of little or no consequence to Washington. The cancellation of two scheduled trips in three years by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has fed suspicions amongst the Asean leaders that Washington is losing interest in the region. Rice, who is soon visiting the Middle East to follow up a major US peace initiative, recently cancelled her participation in the forthcoming meeting of the Asean Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines, next month. The foreign ministers of the Asean group, China, South and North Korea, Australia, the European Union, Japan, India, New Zealand, Canada and Russia sit side-by-side with the Secretary of State, and discuss important issues. "It's a unique opportunity for her to meet so many foreign ministers under one roof, and I am surprised she let it slip by for the second time," remarked a New York based Asean diplomat who insisted on anonymity. Surin Pitsuwan, a former foreign minister of Thailand, who is expected to become Asean's next secretary general, recently said that Rice's no-show announcement, which follows President George W. Bush's cancellation of a scheduled visit to Singapore in September on his way to attend the Asia-Pacific Forum in Australia, sent the "wrong signal" to the region. The US business community in the Asean region is also uneasy about China's growing influence in the region, manifested in a number of high-profiled projects, including the proposed Asean-China Information Superhighway which is described as a "crown jewel" of that country's economic ties with the Asean group. The second Asean-China Information Superhighway Working Group Meeting, recently held in Gadong, discussed a feasibility study report of the project. Both sides believe that the ambitious project would open up a "new world" for the partners. The much-touted "crown jewel" project will give plenty of mileage to China in a region where the US presence has, traditionally, been ubiquitous in almost all aspects of life. The China-Asean Expo (CAE) which will be held in Nanning, Guangxi, China, in the third week of October, is expected to provide a strong impetus to China's ties with the Asean group because, according to Nong Rong, the deputy secretary of the CAE secretariat, it is a "gateway" to China's huge market. America, many Asean scholars say, needs an urgent wake-up call in the region which is not only a huge market but also has abundant natural resources. The region also encompasses the disputed Spratly Islands which are claimed by China and Taiwan, along with several Asean members. The islands, located in the world's busiest shipping lanes, are of great strategic importance for China because of their huge deposits of oil, gas and other minerals. According to China's Geology and Mineral Resources Ministry, the Spratly area holds oil and natural gas reserves of some 17.7 billion tonnes, far exceeding the 13 billion tonnes held by Kuwait, making it the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. The Philippines, which discovered oil in March 1976 off the coast of Palawan within the Spratly Islands territory, meets some 15 per cent of its petroleum consumption from these oil fields. China, which has eyed the Spratly Islands to meet its future energy needs, will seek a compromise, rather than a military conflict, with the other claimants to secure a steady and trouble-free oil and gas supply for its urgent development priorities. To many, China's meteoric rise as a military and economic superpower seems unstoppable. It is time America got its act together and took interest in the Asean region. If it failed do so, it would soon discover that that it has lost precious ground to a formidable rival in the making.

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News....cat=ar&nid=327
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Time is like a river.
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I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
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