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  #21  
Old Thursday, May 04, 2006
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A Brazilian experience
Shireen M Mazari

Visiting Brazil last week was a most wonderful awakening in terms not only of another world which we have chosen not to interact with -- to our state's cost and our civil society's loss. Here is the fifth largest country in the world with a highly developed industrial and educational base and until last year, we were missing out on what can be a most fulfilling interaction. But even more important, Brazil is an all-encompassing experience like no other -- both at the human and intellectual levels.

Brazilians are truly free from the biases and prejudices that confront Pakistanis in the West. There is a warmth and acceptance of diversity because Brazilians are themselves an amalgam of global society. There are of course the Brazilians of European descent and the indigenous folk; but there are also Brazilians of Japanese origin and there are more Brazilians of Lebanese origin than the Lebanese in Lebanon! So, on the streets of Sao Paulo or Rio, it is impossible to tell the locals from the visitors. And the people are all-embracing right from the time you step off the plane. There is a welcoming smile, which I have not witnessed at any immigration desk anywhere.

Even more exciting is the intellectual depth one confronts. After all, it was Latin America that provided the bulk of the intellectual meat for movements of third worldism and underdevelopment. Today, one can find the same intellectual excitement in Brazil. Sao Paulo University was amazing in its development. It produces 2200 PhDs every year and these are quality PhDs not simply churned out, as we in Pakistan, seem to be moving towards presently, for the sake of number crunching.

Incidentally, their government has reduced funding their students for overseas higher education now that the Brazilian universities are competent of offering quality education. That also stops the brain drain and encourages locals to move into what is a highly valued field -- that of education. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned here for us since we seem to continue to ignore our domestic product for foreign faculty hiring (regardless of the quality or relevance) and overseas scholarships so that the local system continues to degenerate unchecked.

Meeting two leading female artists of Brazil was also exciting because they are showing all over the world from the Middle East to Singapore to Taiwan. Their art is innovative but it was sad to see a total lack of information about our equally exciting artists because we have limited our world to the US and Europe. The art galleries showing Brazilian art were striking not only for the variety of art forms but also for the presence of large groups of students of all ages who had been brought there for field trips. Apparently, the local government provides the transport facilities to bring children to the galleries so that they can grow up with this critical cultural exposure.

And that is another remarkable feature of Brazil: The richness of their living culture is such that the all-pervading McDonald culture is not overtly felt -- even though American fast food is very much there. But a Brazilian-ness absorbs you and insulates you from the intrusiveness of Americanisation. It is one of the few places that do not reflect this intrusiveness even though it may be there covertly!

With such richness and a welcoming approach, it is unfortunate that Pakistan has only now begun to wake up to the opportunities Brazil has to offer. As usual, we followed India, which had developed interaction with Brazil decades earlier and which finally was reflected formally in the Brazil-India-South Africa relationship. That has created hurdles for Pakistan especially in terms of accessing the highly developed arms industry of Brazil but inroads have been made and there is a tremendous potential because the Brazilian arms industry, especially in terms of airpower is highly developed. Brazil also makes civil airplanes and PIA is apparently looking to Brazil for the replacement of its rather old Fokker fleet. Let us hope that lures from the West do not undermine the Brazilian option.

Even in terms of other trade opportunities, there are so many areas, which we can tap, once we can see beyond the EU and Washington. For instance, the Brazilians eat rice as a staple and the way they cook it does not require the short grained or sticky variety. In fact, our Basmati rice would find a big market in Brazil once we can get our producers to move in that direction. The Brazilian market, with a fast paced developing economy, is enormous and still offers Pakistan a good entry point. If Shanghai is a pulsating city in Asia, Sao Paulo is no less pulsating in Latin America.

Basically, Latin America is a major part of the world, which we will continue to neglect at our cost. Moreover, it is a hospitable and friendly world with no colonial attitude or big power excess baggage. On many issues, our worldviews coincide, but where they don't, there is an acceptance of diversity. We can learn a lot also from the Brazilian experience, especially in terms of tolerance, education and development. Brazilian nationalism is also all-pervasive and the green, yellow and blue of the flag are everywhere. But the combination is mellow and soothing and the Brazilians do not vary their green. Unfortunately, Pakistan's original green has long been abused so that one is not exactly sure which is our green anymore -- especially since our national carrier has made the Pakistani green almost black (could it be a funeral green?) on its planes.

We actually have a lot in common with the Brazilians but what they have converted into assets, we have failed to do so. Their passion for sports is as ingrained as ours and presently the focus is on the soccer world cup. But the Brazilian footballers have an international following. A sense of nationalism can be felt everywhere in Brazil but their nationalism is not aggressive -- it adds to their warmth and beauty. And beauty is what Brazil is all about -- both of the human variety and of nature.

In fact, Brazil made me wish we could enjoy and project the beauty that is Pakistan. From the mountains to the sea and all that is in-between is so exquisite in Pakistan but, after 58 years, still awaits development. Nationalism has been reduced to a most damaging chauvinism and a positive national pride is diminishing at breakneck speed.

The humane-ness of the ordinary Pakistani has been lost in the bureaucratic machinations and political dialectics of the state. As for the richness of our culture, it has been butchered by cultural mafias and bigots. What we could be and are still not is frustrating and infuriating. To see and experience Brazil was to be chastened and saddened by our self-created inadequacies and our blinkered view of the world. When will our awakening come?
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  #22  
Old Sunday, May 07, 2006
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Arrow Future Of Terrorism: A Critical Appraisal

FUTURE OF TERRORISM: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL
Shireen M Mazari *


With war, in the traditional sense of violent conflict between states, gradually losing validity in terms of state policy - except within the context of self-defence - and with the end of bipolarity, states have been increasingly confronted with non-traditional security issues and threats. In fact, since the end of bipolarity, the traditional notion of security in terms of conventional military threats was expanded to a notion of comprehensive security - which included economic and environmental issues. However, even here, the state was seen as the primary actor. By the mid-nineties, we saw the notion of human security creep into the security paradigm - and this put the individual as a central concern within security strategies. Unfortunately, in many ways, by having an all-inclusive framework, the notion of security as a distinct concept has tended to be undermined. After all, if we are to include health, education and other such welfare issues within a security paradigm, then how do we distinguish the notion of security from other notions such as justice, social welfare and so on?


This is not to say that issues like poverty do not impact security within states as well as between states, but we need to maintain a certain identifiable notion of security within the language of international relations. In that sense then, while there are non-traditional security issues, I would limit these to issues within states and societies, and between states that pose a threat to stability through the use of violent interaction. In other words, when poverty or ethnic differences threaten civil society and state structures, as well as interstate relations, then they enter the realm of security. So, in a sense then, this paper does treat the basic notion of security in terms of absence of violence or a fear of violence. But, it also sees states as merely one set of actors within the overall international security paradigm with non-state actors becoming increasingly critical players both at national and international levels. As for the individual, it is still not clear how relevant human security is within international relations since international cooperation still tends to frame rules that undermine individual well-being in poor and developing states - as shown in the WTO arrangements and the policies of state subsidies/support programmes for agriculture in the EU and the US. So, at the end of the day, it is groups, rather than individuals, that have become important players impacting on intra and inter state relations. And many of these groups have transnational linkages in terms of recruitment and financing. This was highlighted most dramatically with the devastating terrorist attacks against US targets on September 11, 2001, which tended to focus on one growing non-traditional security concern - that of terrorism.


Assessment of the post-9/11 war against Terrorism


Post-9/11, the international war on terrorism was declared, supported by UN resolutions, and since then it has become a priority agenda for almost all member states of the international system. Has the war been successful in containing terrorism? Although one cannot give a definitive answer to this question, especially in terms of long-term assessments, one can answer tentatively, based on the situation prevailing on the ground in terms of acts of terrorism and the fate of the terrorist networks. Within this framework, one can say that, at best, the war on terrorism has reached a stalemate.


While the massive military power of the US, aided by the international community's support for anti-terrorist conventions through the UN, has broken up and scattered the networks of the terrorist organisations; the manner in which the US has led and conducted the war against terror has not only failed in denying political space to the terrorists, it has in fact, created more space for them. In order to examine this assertion, there is a need to also look at, briefly, the conduct of the war against international terrorism by the US.


Having identified Osama bin Laden (OBL) and his Al-Qaeda as the central terrorist enemy, and the Taliban as cohorts in crime for providing sanctuary for Al-Qaeda, the US, supported by the international community, launched the war on terrorism in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. Massive air power sent OBL and Al-Qaeda on the run and toppled the Taliban government in Kabul with the surviving Taliban leadership also going underground. A massive haul of prisoners resulted and many were taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be incarcerated with no trial or POW protection - as required under the Geneva Conventions. As the war in Afghanistan unfolded in the full glare of the international media, the horror of the "Daisy Cutters" and "Bunker Buster" bombs against a hapless Afghan population first began to create space for the terrorists. The killing of POWs at a camp, Qila Jhangi in Afghanistan, and the death by suffocation and shooting of prisoners incarcerated in containers of trucks added to the tales of horror relating to the conduct of the US-led war in Afghanistan. Gradually, in the face of these developments, the horror of 9/11 diluted with a growing sense that the US was now actively targeting Muslims, both abroad and within the US, under the garb of the 'war on terror'. All these factors created space for the terrorists in terms of shelter and even future recruitments. The framing of the terrorist issue within a religious framework - the notion of "Islamic terrorism" - also allowed space to the terrorists on the run.


So the 'war on terror' failed to adopt a basic strategy - that of space denial to the terrorists. After all, the war was an unconventional war with an ill-defined and mobile enemy, so the first goal should have been of military and political space denial, but this was never part of the US strategy. Sheer military power was seen as the counter to the terrorist threat. To make matters worse, the US then dissipated the focus of the war itself on the transnational network of terrorism, by moving into Iraq through an illegal invasion of a sovereign state which had no links to Al-Qaeda or OBL. Bush's invasion of Iraq also added a new dimension to the terrorism issue - that of WMD. The US began its new doctrine of the "axis of evil" and "rogue states" with WMD. That no WMD were found in Iraq has since shown the Iraq invasion for what it was - an effort to enforce regime change and control energy resources.


However, the problem was that the invasion of Iraq, with no legitimation by the UN, allowed the terrorists to expand their operational milieu; and with the US occupation of Iraq, linkages between international terrorism and local groups resisting the invasion became intertwined, with the former feeding on the anger and frustration of the latter. Also, members of the US-led "coalition of the willing" found their nationals and territories being targeted by international terrorists - as in the case of the Madrid bombings. As the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi told La Stampa, in March 2004, "Clearly the fight against terrorists cannot be resolved through force. We should remember that the war in Iraq began a year ago … The results are not good, whether we are talking about Iraq or elsewhere - Istanbul, Moscow and now Madrid." 1


Despite intelligence information to the contrary, President Bush, in his State of the Union address in January 2003 claimed: "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveals that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al-Qaeda." 2 And this claim was persuasive enough to persuade 44% of the US public to believe that some if not all the 9/11 hijackers had been Iraqis and 45% of the public thought Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks.3 Now, however, it has come to be generally accepted that not only did Iraq have no WMD but that Saddam Hussein had no link to Al-Qaeda. Ironically, post-Saddam Iraq is now seeing increasing space for Al-Qaeda acting together with disgruntled elements in Iraq as well as those opposed to the US occupation.


The impact of the Iraq war on terrorist recruitment was admitted to by the CIA Director, Porter Goss, before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in February 2005, when he stated that, "Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-US jihadists … These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism … They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries." 4 According to Goss, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, who joined Al-Qaeda after the US invasion of Iraq, hoped "to establish a safe haven in Iraq" from where he could operate against Western states and certain Muslim governments.5 And Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency admitted, to the same Senate panel that US "policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment." 6


The massive increase in terrorist counter attacks against American targets finally led the US government to actually abandon the publication of its annual report on international terrorism for the year 2004 which should have come out in early 2005. According to one report, the US government's main terrorism centre concluded that there had been more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985 - the first year covered by its publication entitled, "Patterns of Global Terrorism". 7 Even in 2004, the numbers of incidents for 2003 were undercounted, which led to a revision of the publication in June 2004-two months later. What finally came out was a much higher number of significant terrorist attacks and twice the number of fatalities that had been presented in the original report.8


So, clearly by all accounts, international terrorism has been on the increase in the aftermath of the internationally-declared war against terrorism led by the US - both in terms of intensity and operational milieu. Of course, in his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention in 2004, in New York, Bush painted a picture which attempted to show that the war on terrorism was being won. As he put it: "The government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror; Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders; Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests; Libya is dismantling its weapons programs; the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom; and more than three-quarters of Al-Qaeda's key members and associates have been detained or killed." 9 At the politico-diplomatic level, there have been a plethora of global and regional conventions and agreements aimed at fighting terrorism, including focusing on the financing of terrorism, as well as a number of UN Security Council Resolutions, including UNSC Resolution 1377 (November 12, 2001) and the earlier UNSC Resolution 7158 (September 28, 2001).


However, on the other side, OBL and his deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as Taliban leader Mullah Omar, have neither been captured nor killed. Al-Qaeda seems to have "gone global", and Afghanistan has yet to become truly free. Presently, not only are there foreign forces controlling security, warlords still reign supreme in many regions and President Karzai, despite being elected, has his security controlled by US guards. Additionally, in Afghanistan, linkages between drugs, organised crime and terrorism have increased. As for Iraq, it is seen as under military occupation by the US and its allies and there is an almost daily increase in the intensity of terrorist attacks. In addition, both Asia and Europe have become more vulnerable to acts of terror and the Arab world is highly destabilised.


As for Al-Qaeda, it has become what some have termed a "brand name", having mutated into a "multi-headed hydra" comprising international leaders and local heads.10 Worse still, with no central command or organisation, any group that wishes to come into the limelight selects the Al-Qaeda label or "brand". This ensures publicity which is part of the intent of such groups. New local obscurantist groups have surfaced that have no operational links to OBL and his leadership cadres, but they state an affiliation because this intensifies the context of a specific local act of terror. Using the brand name 'Al-Qaeda' allows them space for recruitment and support. Equally interesting is the fact that many of the born-again obscurantists are not citizens of Muslim states but are part of first and second generation Muslims belonging to European states. As Pepe Escobar points out, members of Al-Qaeda's new elite were "either born in Western Europe - many hold a legitimate European Union passport - or came to the West while still very young and then became radicalised."11


That is why there is a growing perception amongst European states that a more encompassing strategy is needed to fight international terrorism. The EU's Romano Prodi, when he was President of the Commission, argued that the use of military force as the main weapon in the fight against terrorism has not worked - as he put it, "Terrorism is now more powerful than ever before." 12 In March 2004, the EU adopted a wide-ranging counter-terrorism policy in which they recognised that they had to deal with the roots of terrorism which they saw as the "social economic and political problems in the Mediterranean and Middle East countries on which Islam fanaticism has built." 13


So, it becomes clear that, at the very least, there is a stalemate in the war against terrorism and at worse, the terrorist threat seems to be on the increase both in terms of intensity and operational milieu. The causes for this are also clear.


To begin with, failure to deny space to the terrorists and an almost total reliance on military means to deal with the problem of terrorism have been major mistakes. Simply by using heavy weaponry as means of reprisal against suspected states and groups will not end the problem. Asymmetrical warfare, if fought in this traditional manner, is ineffective and costly, and merely aggravates the problem.


Terrorism itself is merely a symptom of deep-seated political and economic problems which is why there has to be a long term multiple-level strategy that includes security measures but also focuses on the root causes of terrorism, which are primarily political. Amongst the recognised causes are unresolved political-territorial disputes affecting Muslim populations - especially the Palestinian problem, Kashmir and Chechnya. A sense of deprivation and injustice creates the necessary space for the terrorists.


Framing the terrorist issue in religious terms is equally counterproductive since terrorism has political roots. Even Al-Qaeda is not proselytising for Islam, so if the IRA's acts of terrorism were not seen as "catholic terrorism" why should Al-Qaeda's terrorist actions be referred to as "Islamic terrorism"?


Additionally, at the tactical level, what is being seen as a continuous abuse of Muslims, Islam, its Prophet (PBUH) and its Holy Book in the US and Europe and parts of the Dominion territories, is increasing the divide between Muslims and the West and this is also creating more space for the obscurantists, by exploiting feelings of hatred and victimisation that have increased amongst Muslims in Europe and the US post-9/11.


Linking issues of WMD, regime change and democracy in Muslim states has also diluted the focus of the war against terrorism.


What Constitutes Terrorism?


Separating perpetrators of pathological violence from those who indulge in political violence, the word "terrorist" - denoting the latter - is a term that has been fastened on political enemies since the time of the French Revolution in 1789. If a political movement, which has used terror as a tactic, succeeds then the label of terrorism disappears - with many political "terrorists" of yesteryears transformed into national or revolutionary leaders, once they have succeeded in their aims! Herein lies the problem of defining terrorism on its merits, in a manner that allows it to be a punishable offence through international treaties. Certain terrorist acts have been isolated and deemed punishable by the international community through international conventions. For example, there are the international conventions on hostage taking and hijacking. But there is, as yet, no comprehensive international convention on terrorism itself, despite the ongoing efforts in the United Nations. Also, special UN committees have continuously condemned acts of international terrorism in principle, but no agreeable definition has been forthcoming. There is still no consensus on how to define terrorism.


This is not to say that acts of violent political terror cannot be identified, nor is such terrorism new to the world scene. A German, Johannes Most pioneered the idea of the letter bomb.14 Since then, many political scientists have sought to define and explain political terrorism. According to one definition, "terrorism involves the intentional use of violence or the threat of violence by the perpetrators against an instrumental target in order to communicate to a primary target a threat of future violence." 15 Interestingly, barring the distinction between instrumental and primary targets and the actual use of violence, the difference between terrorism and nuclear deterrence is very fine!


E.V. Walters, in his work on terrorism, refers to a process of terror, which he says has three dimensions: `the act or threat of violence, the emotional reaction and the social effects.'16 So, three actors are involved - the source or perpetrator of the violence, the victim and the target. The victim perishes and the target reacts to the destruction. Here, there is a distinction between the process of violence on the one hand and, on the other, an act of destruction, which is complete in itself, and not an instrument of anything else. The former - as process - comes within the category of political violence, the latter seems to be closer to the pathological, or what Chalmers Johnson calls the "non-political" terrorism. 17


As long as terror is simply a means directed towards a goal beyond itself, it has to be limited in its dimensions so as to remain a process. Annihilation is not the intent of such terrorism - rather, the intent is to politically and psychologically hurt the enemy. When terror becomes unlimited and crosses the invisible line into irrationality, then it moves on from being a process to simply an end in itself - and then it loses its relevance within the political context. In a similar vein, political scientist Raymond Aron also highlights the distinction between the actual deeds of terrorists and the significance given to these acts by observers remote from the scene.18 This then brings up the issue of a third target relevant to the act of political terror - the international audience and the international victim. Aron feels that a violent act can be categorised as terrorism if the psychological effects are out of proportion to its purely physical result. However, this leaves the categorisation primarily at a subjective level, of measuring the psychological impact and how far it is "out of proportion."


It is the subjectivity brought to bear on the issue of terrorism that has prevented the international community from formulating an all-encompassing definition of terrorism. Despite the intensity of activities post-9/11 to create laws and conventions against terrorism at the global, regional and national levels, the international community has still not evolved any acceptable definition of what constitutes terrorism. International conventions have found it easier to sidestep the issue, while many of the prevailing conventions that deal with specific acts of terrorism, like the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages and the OIC's Convention on Combating Terrorism, focus on making a distinction between terrorism and struggles for self determination against colonial rule, alien occupation and racist regimes.19


Also, the 1973 UN General Assembly Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism makes a similar exemption, and this is further backed up by Article 7 of the General Assembly's 1974 Definition of Aggression, which states:


"Nothing in this definition, and in particular Article 3 20 could in any way prejudice the right of self-determination, freedom, and independence, as derived from the Charter, of peoples forcibly deprived of that right and referred to in the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination; or the right of these peoples to struggle to that end and seek and receive support …"


Beyond the issue of self-determination, there is also the issue of state terrorism. Many states perpetrate violence against the people of other states to send a message to their governments to fall in line "or else." An all-encompassing definition of terrorism would bring the perpetrators of such violence within the ambit of penalties for such acts. When the state in question is a major or even a super power, then the issue will arise as to who will ensure that an act of terror by that state is punished? Also, if deterrence between states fails and the threatened action is undertaken, does that also become an act of terror - especially if the action threatened is against civil society? And what of cases where, in a state of war, the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions are ignored, and massacres and revenge killings become the order of the day? It is all these issues, and the reluctance of states to give up their final right to violence, that has made it almost impossible to evolve an all-encompassing definition of terrorism.


Therefore, within the UN the focus is becoming increasingly on a way to move beyond this problem - indeed to sidestep the issue of definition and simply deal with the specifics of the acts of terrorism and their penalties. The draft (originally floated by India) of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, that continues to be under consideration in the UN, seeks to do this by simply ignoring the issue of defining terrorism specifically. Instead, it just links terrorism to any person who commits an offence, "unlawfully and intentionally" which is intended to cause either "death or serious bodily injury to any person" or "serious damage to a State or government facility, a public transportation system, communication system…" 21 Another major failing of this draft is that it totally ignores the exemption, internationally recognised, for struggles of self-determination - despite the fact that self-determination is a peremptory international norm.22


Muslim states have also pointed out that the preamble of this Draft Convention contains no reference to the underlying causes of terrorism and while there is a reference to "State-sponsored terrorism", there is no mention of "State terrorism". In any event, so far the Draft remains in the process of negotiations.


However, one major shortcoming in the way the international community is looking at the issue of terrorism is to focus on what is seen as "international terrorism". Yet "international terrorism" is simply one form of the trend in terrorism, and one can identify at least two other important trends. One of the problems confronting the war on terrorism is that none of the three trends function totally independently of the others.


I: International terrorism can also be seen as transnational terrorism, with groups having linkages across national borders and subscribing to an international agenda. Included in this are members and sympathisers of Al-Qaeda and some of the Taliban leadership. Al-Qaeda remnants are thought to be present in the tribal belt of Pakistan, but a number of acts of terror in India also are now being linked to Al-Qaeda. Also, Muslim groups fighting in Chechnya and Uzbekistan are also being lumped with Al-Qaeda - at least those thought to be sheltering along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Since the US-sanctioned 'jehad' against the Soviets in Afghanistan, various Muslim groups seeking political change through violent means are thought to have created linkages with each other since the US recruited Muslim fighters from across the Muslim world to fight in Afghanistan.


Within this mode of terrorism, the US policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are creating breeding grounds for supporters and sympathisers of these groups who are increasingly seen to be challenging US oppression towards Muslims. At the same time, in states like Pakistan, there is a proactive policy to isolate them from their support base. It is this policy, which has led the Pakistan Army to enter the tribal belt of the country for the first time since Independence. However, after sending a strong military message to the tribals in the form of military action, the military has realised the need to adopt a more fruitful policy of pacification through reward and punishment so that the locals hand over the foreigners in their midst. The problem has, however, been aggravated on three counts: one, the local hospitality tradition of the tribes whereby they give sanctuary to any one seeking it; two, many of the foreigners have been in the area since the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan and have married into local families; and, three, the violations by US forces of Pakistan's sovereignty through military action on Pakistani territory. This creates a political issue domestically for the Pakistan government and undermines the credibility of the military in the operational area.


II: The second trend in terms of terrorism is the local, sub-national extremist groups that are prevalent across many regions. In Pakistan, for example, there has been the problem of sectarian terrorism and the state had begun outlawing many groups linked to this, much before September 11, 2001. However, with a focus on transnational extremist groups, the sectarian problem has tended to take second place with the result that it has become exacerbated once again. Also, Al-Qaeda has fed into this problem directly by creating linkages between itself and some of the extremist Sunni groups. The same has happened in southeast Asia in countries like Indonesia where local terrorist groups have gained a new revival with the Al-Qaeda label. In Iraq also, one is seeing the linkages between local Iraqi resistance and Al-Qaeda.


One of the most violent sub-national, separatist insurgencies was the LTTE movement of the Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka. Initially, the Tamils got support from India, but over the years India suffered the backlash of this - culminating in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. While a peace process brokered by the Norwegian government gave some hope that this over 18 years conflict would finally be resolved, at present uncertainty prevails. Over 64,000 civilians, security force personnel, and LTTE cadres have died so far in this conflict - which saw the emergence of suicide bombers as an integral part of the Tamil strategy.


III: The third terrorist trend is that of state terrorism. This has become more acute in the post-9/11 period with the US declaring its pre-emptive doctrine, invading Iraq without a UN resolution and lending support to the Sharon policy of political assassinations. Strong regional powers like India have also claimed for themselves the right of pre-emption. Even before 9/11, the issue of state terrorism dominated the discourse on Palestine and Kashmir. The international community has shown no inclination to deal with this aspect of global terrorism. Yet one of the major factors aggravating the terrorist threat across the globe is the linkage between these three broad trends.


Future Terrorist Threats


It is already becoming clear that terrorism is going to be the new unconventional war to confront the international community. The present effort to deal with terrorism through military means and the curtailment of domestic political liberties has proven to be inadequate - especially in denying political space to the terrorists. Part of the problem is that these policies have been accompanied by aggressive external policies of the US and its allies, especially towards the Islamic World. Furthermore, perceptions within the Islamic World of being targeted by the West have also been growing - especially as a result of developments in Europe and the fallout of the US occupation of Iraq. It is not only at the politico-military level that the civil societies of the Muslim World are sensing a growing targeting of themselves and their religion. At the socio-cultural level also, especially within the migrant communities of Western Europe, there is a growing cleavage between the Muslim immigrants and the indigenous populations. Polarisation is becoming more evident in European states with large Muslim migrant populations. Intolerance on the part of many of the right-wing European establishments further aggravates the situation as has been reflected in the blasphemous cartoons' issue that came into being in late 2005 and gained momentum since January 2006.


Within this milieu, the extremists find ready recruits, so one is bound to see the political space of what could be future terrorists increasing, especially in the West itself. As has already been seen, the new Muslim radicals are neither primarily from the Muslim World nor are they Madrassah educated. Instead, as the July 2005 London bombings showed, the terrorists were British Muslims. Although efforts have been made to attribute their terrorist leanings to their brief stay in Pakistan, the fact is that they were marginalised within their own British societies. Even the 9/11 terrorists were Western educated. So, for the future, one will see a growing threat of terrorism coming form within Western societies as their migrant communities feel targeted and/or marginalised. The issue is primarily politico-social and requires an effort to focus on root causes so that potential terrorists never realise that potential and, instead, are coopted into the mainstream. This means that the war on terrorism has to have a new direction and emphasis.


In fact, a more holistic approach is required to deal with the terrorist threat which is going to be with us for the future because of the ease with which destruction can be caused, especially in modern, technologically-advanced societies. In this context, it serves no purpose to give religious labels to what are essentially acts of political terror. There is no "Islamic terrorism" just as there was no "Catholic" or "Christian terrorism" when the IRA and Ulster Unionists were carrying out their violent struggles and before the IRA became an accepted political dialogue partner of the British state. After all, Al-Qaeda is not proselytising for Islam. However irrational, Al-Qaeda has a political agenda which has expanded from getting the US out of Arab lands to a wider conflict with the US. So, if the Vatican was not held responsible for the excesses of the IRA in Northern Ireland, then Islam cannot be held responsible for the actions of Muslims using violence to achieve their political goals. In fact, by bringing in Islam into the equation of terrorism, the West itself is merely creating potential new support sources for these groups amongst Muslim communities, just as the UK did for the Catholics of the US - many of Irish descent - who lined up to provide assistance to the IRA for many decades.


The framing of what are basically political struggles, in religious terms has hardly helped in dealing with the problems in terms of seeking a sustainable solution. It may make demonisation of the enemy easier, but it will hardly create the environment for conflict resolution. And the argument that the "Islamic" terrorists cannot be dealt with rationally because they glorify martyrdom makes no sense, because one of the largest number of suicide bombings have been by Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka, who had committed massive acts of violence against innocent civilians and had been put on the list of terrorist organisations by many countries across the globe.


Nor does it help understand the issue of terrorism better by talking in terms of a "Clash of Civilisations" in terms of an "Islam" versus the rest context. Huntington's emotive "Clash of Civilizations" thesis added the intellectual force for this mind-set and 9/11 has provided the final "proof" of this thesis! But the lines were drawn much earlier on. As Sandra Mackey wrote in 1996:


"The very term 'Islamic fundamentalism' was given common coinage at the zenith of the Iranian revolution. Since then it has grabbed and held an American public emotionally scarred by military casualties and civilian hostages in Lebanon; violence inflicted against Westerners by Islamic militants in Algeria and Egypt; fear engendered by the shadowy group that detonated a bomb in New York's World Trade Center; and anger roused by the endless slogans of Islamic zealots that damn the West. Regardless of the range of grievances and geography of militant Islamic groups, the American mind sees the Islamic Republic of Iran as the fount of Islamic extremism." 23


There is a basic flaw in Huntington's thesis in that it creates artificial monoliths of an Islamic civilisation, a Western civilisation and so on. Facts on the ground reveal the contrary. For instance, there is a diversity amongst the Western and Christian worlds. Just as Christian states come in many cultural and geographical dimensions - ranging from Latin America to Europe to Asia - so do Western "secular" democracies. There is a whole political framework now being accepted that Islam has replaced Communism as the major threat to "Western" civilisation - especially the underlying concept of "secularism" on which this civilisation supposedly rests. Yet the fact of the matter is that this is nothing more than a dangerous myth. So-called Western secularism is simply a reflection of Christian values. 24


However, the intent in this paper is not to show the long list of abuse of Muslims at different levels in the international system today. The point is that, on the ground it is Muslims who are under threat because of their religion. But coming to the point of this so-called "Clash of Civilisations" focusing on Islam. There really is no one monolithic "Islamic" civilisation. Islam binds many diverse civilisations together through a religious bond. However, beyond that, which "Islamic" civilisation is in clash with the West? After all, Islam ranges from North Africa to East Asia and there is even an OIC member in Latin America - Surinam. Now the civilisation of Muslim Nigeria is totally diverse from the civilisation of Pakistan in Southwest Asia or Malaysia further to the East. The Arab world's cultural and historical legacies, which build its civilisational identity, are diverse from the Iranian civilisation and the Turkish civilisation … and so on. So to talk of a clash of the West with an "Islamic" civilisation makes absolutely no sense. In other words, there are many socio-political civilisations that have embraced Islam as a religion in the same way as other equally different civilisations have embraced Christianity. Even Confucianism cannot be confined to China, given the Confucian influence across East Asia. Perhaps the closest that one can talk of monolithic religio-political civilisations are the Hindu and Zionist civilisations - and both have shown an extremism and intolerance of diversities and other religious groupings.


The Linkage between Globalisation and Terrorism


A major source of an increasing terrorist threat is the globalisation that is taking place today. Globalisation has increased the ability of obscure groups to use violence and gain international focus. Communications have allowed groups to link up and global transfer of funds has allowed the funding of groups in one part of the world by groups in other parts in a matter of hours or days. So just as the international community has come together to share information and strategies to deal with the terrorist problem, extremist groups and fringe elements in different societies have developed the ability to support each other and share information and finances.


Beyond this, globalisation itself is a growing source of terrorism, especially by disgruntled elements of different types in differing societies. To understand the impact of globalisation, one needs to be clear what one means by the term itself. For the purposes of this paper, Stanley Hoffman's typology of "globalisation" is used, in order to try and understand what the West means by globalisation, and to examine what, if any, is the linkage between this phenomenon and Islamism. Stanley Hoffmann has identified three types of globalisation: economic, cultural and political. 25


The first - economic globalisation - is a reality in terms of economic interdependence across nations, which is defined by certain rules of the game created by the powerful, but which are enshrined in international institutional frameworks such as the IMF, the IBRD (World Bank) and now the WTO - with other international norms flowing from these agreements. Here the clash, as is being witnessed increasingly, is between the haves and have-nots of the world. It is the economic disparities created by economic globalisation that has created great inequalities between and within states, so that the clash has come from those who have suffered deprivation and injustice as a result of the policies and demands of international economics.


Hoffmann's second category - cultural globalisation - is seen as originating from technological and economic globalisation which has led to the efforts to uniformalise the world civil societies by selling what is basically an American-dominated Western culture as a universal culture - what many refer to as the "McDonaldisation" of the world. So, the conflict here comes from those wishing to retain global diversity and local cultures. The clash here again comes from those seeking to resist being overwhelmed by the forces of global economics and "global" culture. Hence one has seen a resurgence of local cultures and languages and a condemnation of efforts at global uniformity as being one more attempt to assert American hegemony.


Which brings one to the third Hoffmann category - that of political globalisation. This is reflected in the prevalence of one sole superpower - in politico-military terms - that is the US. Post-9/11, this aspect of globalisation has come to dominate, with the US embracing economic issues also within a politico-military framework. Also, with the US moving towards increasingly unilateralist interventionism in the world, international norms and treaties created over the decades stand threatened. In many ways, the post-9/11 trend towards political globalisation within the US unilateralist mode will threaten economic and cultural globalisation - since it will push a global agenda through national power rather than international cooperation.


In all three Hoffman typologies, one can find a link between globalisation and terrorism. To begin with, there is now very clearly the growth of transnational terrorism whereby different groups across the globe interact and learn from each other - as well as cooperating with each other. Just as states and civil societies have become more interlinked, so have marginalised groups with political agendas who feel left out of the mainstream processes; or who have reductionist agendas in the era of globalisation. Nor are these links new - they have been there for decades, with the Red Brigade in Europe having their liaison with the PLO and so on. Nor was religion the binding force. Rather, it was a common perception of struggling against the Establishment and against perceived injustices - all political goals.


So, as the mainstream international system has become more globalised, so has terrorism - especially with the advent of the internet and global electronic media through satellite. This is now the age of "netwar", a term used by Bruce Hoffman to describe, "an emerging mode of conflict and crime at societal levels, involving measures short of traditional war, in which the protagonists use network forms of organisation and related doctrines, strategies, and technologies attuned to the information age." 26 Also, with the technical barriers broken to create global access, the weapon of the weak has become transnational - from the protests that accompany meetings of the powerful states and institutions like the IMF and IBRD, to the most extreme form that led to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.


Also, the marginalisation of many developing states and groups within developed states as a result of the three strains of globalisation, identified above, have created more dissensions in civil societies and states across the globe. Terrorism has been one of the fallouts - as a weapon of the weak. The North-South divide has been further aggravated by global economic developments with the countries of the South being polarised between the haves and have-nots divide within their own countries as well as the developed-underdeveloped global divide. From the bread riots of 1976 in Egypt to the anti-IMF riots across continents inhabited by developing states, survival is the major issue for the man in the street. To make matters worse, people in these states see their natural resources being controlled by outside forces and with the state losing control over critical decisions. Nowhere is this clearer than over strategic resources like oil.


Even in developed states, there are groups who feel marginalised and out of the mainstream because they are no longer in control of their economic destinies. Hence the growth of radical, anti-global trends and ideologies both in the West and in the under-developed world. Radicalism of multiple types is growing as globalisation continues in the direction it is going. This radicalism is not particularly "Islamic" in nature - it finds its expression in neo-Nazi movements in the West, in the rise of fundamentalist forces in countries like India and in Muslim states, turning to religion becomes the norm because religion still continues to play an important part in the lives of people in this part of the world. When that religion is perceived as being abused by groups in states where the governments are not prepared to take legal action against the guilty, then frustration and anger spills over into violence and this rages across national borders.


Add to this the Western control of global communications and the economic anger and frustration is given a cultural expression through the rejection of the trend towards trying to compel global cultural expression in Western terms. When events are also interpreted through a particular prism in terms of news and current affairs language then the dialectical pulls in non-Western societies become further exacerbated.


Finally, the political-military globalisation which in effect is a new type of imperialism, is now reflected most clearly in the new US National Security Strategy that seeks to justify a military preemptive unilateralism on the part of the US across the globe. Mr. Bush proclaimed, at West Point on June 1, 2002, "Our Nation's cause has always been larger than our Nation's defense", reflecting clearly a "no-bounds" global agenda.


What has further aggravated the terrorist threat today is that terrorism has also become the instrument of the powerful states - from the US to Israel to India. And all acts of terror - barring pathological violence -have a political framework not a religious, proselytising one.


All in all, in the future the problem of terrorism is going to become aggravated because of the growing political space still being available to terrorists. Globalisation has also created many levels of the threat with linkages amongst these levels.


What can be done to Counter the Multifaceted Terrorist Threat


Simply barricading oneself against the terrorist threat will not work. In other words, for the developed states to think they can barricade themselves from the rest of the world is unrealistic. Globalisation, both economic and in terms of culture and ideas, is increasing movement between goods and people so fundamental liberties need to be maintained and these make all societies more vulnerable. That is why there is a need to focus on the root causes of terrorism, not simply the symptoms. In this, political dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts become essential tools with which to fight terrorism.


Rami Khouri has rightly pointed out that the world needs to accept "three important but uncomfortable facts" if it wants to achieve substantive results against terrorism and not just "feel-good revenge." 27


First, the Arab-Asian world, primarily Islamic, is the "heartland and major wellspring of the spectacular global terror attacks of recent years." That is why the reasons for this have to be tacked intelligently. According to Khouri, "The most important and recurring historical root cause of terror in, and from, the Arab-Asian region is the home-grown sense of indignity, humiliation, denial and degradation that has plagued many of (the) young men and women." Because the governments and societies of the region have been unable to come to grips with this, space has been allowed to states like Israel, the US and Britain to send in their armies to deal with the misperceived problems and disastrously faulty analyses.28


Second, Khouri points out that terrorism is a global phenomenon that also emanates from non-Islamic regions in the world which are not linked to Arab or the Islamic Middle East. That is why local environments and causes have to be understood, rather than linking everything to "a single, global Islamic militant ideology that is fuelled by hatred for America." There are, in fact, historical causes that have allowed terrorism to emerge over a period of time so it is important to address the different local root causes of terror.29


Three, the existing Israeli and US policy of fighting terror militarily, which is also being adopted increasingly by other governments, can, at best, have only limited and temporary success. Especially in the case of suicide bombers, you cannot deter someone who wishes to kill himself or herself, by threatening to kill them. According to Khouri, the British experience in Northern Ireland is one of the best contemporary examples of how "an intelligent, inclusive political response effectively brought an end to the terror that harsh police and military methods on their own could not stop." 30


There is also a need to ensure that just and legitimate liberation and self-determination causes do not become victims of the war against terrorism. After all, so many of yesterday's "terrorists" are today venerated as freedom fighters and national heroes. That is why the war on terrorism has to be redefined within the issue's proper political and social milieu - rather than continuing down the path of a narrowly-defined, primarily militaristic operational framework which not only failed to deny space to the terrorists, but is creating increasing space for future terrorists.


Also, in an effective war against terrorism, a major prerequisite is to stop talking in terms of "Islamic terrorism". Otherwise, mainstream Muslims will feel marginalised and victimised because of their religion and the global spread of Islam will then create what one assumes one is seeking to avoid: a clash between Islam and the US and its allies. As Dr Waseem points out, there is a danger of constructing a new collectivity: "the world of Islam … is increasingly understood as a bunch of Muslim states that shared the broadest denominational identity with the terrorist groups. This is a grim indicator of the fact that the contemporary world is passing through the fateful process of the crystallisation of an Islamic identity sans culture and tradition, history and geography, language and literature as well as public and private behaviour patterns. Here is the construction of the 'other' going on in a massive way." 31 This is a most dangerous reductionism. Just as the West, led by the US, made an expedient use of Islam as a policy instrument, in the 80s, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, so it is now trying to make the same expedient use of "Islamic terrorism" as an instrument of policy.


There is also a very real need to study the root causes of the problem of terrorism. Military power may deal with the immediate problem, but it can only aggravate the long-term threat. At the political level, the issues of Palestine and Kashmir need to be resolved in a manner committed to by the international community. Within this context, where democratisation has taken place, the results of that democratisation must also be accepted.


At the economic level, globalisation has to proceed in a manner in which groups and states feel less marginalised and where more equitable norms apply - so as to give all states a 'level playing field'. For instance, while Europe and the US continue to subsidise agriculture in different forms, it only creates resentments to have the IMF and IBRD tell developing countries to remove all traces of agricultural subsidies. Again, access to markets is critical for developing states as is freedom of movement of professionals - given that the service sector has been brought under the trade regime.


The problem of marginalisation of groups within states and of states within the system needs to be addressed. What is needed is not a forceful attempt at compelling the world to become an artificial monolith economically, politically and culturally. Unfortunately, that is what the US is presently attempting to do through its National Security Strategy in which pre-emption is justified on many counts ranging from ridding certain states of their weapons of mass destruction and what the US sees as unacceptable governments to imposing the free market economy and capitalism on the world at large. The heterogeneity of the world has to be recognised by the powerful and adapted to.


The fear of Islam as a powerful global force has to be replaced by an acceptance of this reality. Just as the world has learnt to live with a military super power, there is a need for this superpower and its allies to accept the spiritual power of Islam for people across the globe. Cultural and political pluralism have to be accepted with greater force even as economic globalisation cannot be stayed. If Islam continues to come under the sort of attack one is seeing in the Western media and amongst Western political circles, then Muslims of all shades will feel under threat and react. In fact, the debate on terrorism has to rid itself of the Islamic context, if it is to get anywhere substantive. The context of terrorism is political and that is the starting point in dealing with the issue. By removing terrorism from this false, religious context, dealing with the terrorists - including isolating them - will become much easier for states, especially Muslim states.


Perhaps the most critical need for dealing with the problem of terrorism is to break the cycle of violence at the correct phase. The Oxford Research Group (ORG), in a Briefing Paper on "The War on Terrorism: 12-month audit and future strategy options" (September 2002), identified seven stages in the 'classic cycle of violence' which they assert have been evident in the Palestine-Israeli conflict as well as in the different Yugoslav regional conflicts. The seven stages begin after the act of terror which leads to "shock terror" and on to "fear pain" then "grief" and on to "anger" and then "bitterness" leading to "revenge" and "retaliation" and the cycle goes on as another act of violence is set in motion (See Figures I & II). The post-9/11 "War on Terrorism" can also be analysed within this classic cycle. The ORG suggests that in order to break this cycle, intervention is needed at the stage of "anger" so that it does not go on to revenge and retaliation. Instead, a peace-keeping or peace-making intervention at the anger stage, followed by a series of other actions to contain violence through protection, deweaponisation, rule of law, bridge building, etc. can help undermine the cycle of violence (See Figure III).


Without adopting a holistic global strategy to deal with the problem of terrorism, which focuses on root causes and politico-social measures to accompany the military means, the international community will allow the terrorists continuing, if not an increasing political space.
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Default European elegance sans prejudices

Shireen M Mazari

Coming back from Latin America, via Europe to Pakistan is a rude reintroduction to the biases, prejudices and machinations of interstate relations between us and the "West". The death of a Pakistani while in custody of the German police was one micro level reflection of this and immediately raised the issue as to why the German government failed to act against the newspaper republishing the blasphemous cartoons under Article 166 of the German criminal code? As Europe seems to be delving increasingly into racism and religious bigotry, one wants to remain submerged in the liberating environment of Latin America.

Thinking that Rio and Brazil would be hard acts to follow, Argentina proved one wrong in a most pleasant experience -- different from but equally exhilarating to that of Brazil. Buenos Aires exudes an elegance that reminds one of Madrid. But there is an unmistakably Argentinean spirit one senses immediately. The broad avenues, surrounded by beautifully restored elegant buildings, recall various periods of the Argentinian people’s struggles in their names. The plazas resound with the sound of the tango beat and in many ordinary places around the city, tango dancers divert and refresh people from their shopping and other routines. Just as the samba beat reflects the openness and quintessential Brazilian passion and beauty, the tango reflects the European elegance and undercurrents of passion and feeling that abound in Argentina. Although Buenos Aires does not have the broad racial mix of Brazilian cities, the largely white populace is truly free of underlying prejudices which often lie just below the surface in Europe.

In a deeply religious country, there were no biases against Islam that cropped up, or were insinuated, in any of the discussions and Q and A sessions one had in various institutions in Argentina. Instead, there was an eagerness to learn our viewpoint and understand developments in our region. Beginning with the National Defence College and moving on to our host institution, the Argentina Council for International Relations (CARI), which organised two different types of interaction, the exchanges could not have been more free and refreshing. It only reconfirms my longstanding view that we have lost out by ignoring Latin America -- a continent rich in its humanity, and full of resources and opportunities. There is a genuine interest in learning about Asia now in both Argentina and Brazil, and the sensitivity towards our religion is a welcome change from the responses one finds in Europe and the US. Clearly, it is not secularism that breeds religious tolerance.

The diversity of Argentina was reflected in the completely different setting we found in Salta city, the capital of Salta province up in the northwest of the country -- close to the border with Chile and Bolivia. There was nothing European here, but the city was absolutely breathtaking in its indigenous well-preserved beauty. The religious influence is very overt here with churches of all shapes, sizes and colours -- primarily of the Catholic faith -- to be found almost a few metres apart! The central cathedral in the main square of the city was richly endowed and was fully in use even around mid-day with a fair amount of worshippers attending the service even as visitors also intruded.

Again, giving a seminar at the Catholic University, it was exciting to see the interest shown in Asia by the students. The University also honoured me by giving me an honorary degree and in a dinner exchange of ideas with some members of the faculty, it was truly comforting to realise that in this part of the world there is no Islamophobia -- only a genuine respect for all religions. Salta’s charm was intoxicating and a trifle nostalgic because its physical surroundings reminded one of Islamabad -- only more lush, now that CDA has decimated our city, and devoid of the wide avenues of Buenos Aires!

Incidentally, Argentinean agriculture and their well-developed livestock industry has much to offer Pakistan and I was pleasantly surprised to come across an Argentinian businessman who is doing textile business with Pakistan and is truly in love with our country which he visits frequently every year. There are many unexplored business and educational opportunities for us to discover and avail once we move beyond our narrow focus on Washington and Europe only. Incidentally, we found that President Musharraf had charmed his audiences in both Brazil and Argentina.

Returning to Buenos Aires, I explored the city and saw the marks of the political tribulations of the Argentinean people, including the actual bullet marks on the building from where Peron staged his last fight against the military before going into exile -- from where he returned years later. I also saw the building from where Eva and Peron waved to the people after their political success and then there was Eva’s grave which is visited by so many who admired her and who mourn her death so early, when she was only in her early thirties.

Even now, Latin America politically continues to lead the rest of the world in terms of progressive trends. While so much of the rest of the world is dominated by right of centre or extreme right parties and rulers, Latin America is dominated by left of centre and leftist parties -- with the state still taking a large proportion of the responsibility for people’s welfare. Latin America has also suffered US super power machinations, including the pre-emptive and regime change doctrines, far earlier than the rest of the world, having had to confront the Monroe Doctrine and CIA interventions. That is why while one can feel a European influence, the US influence in terms of culture is not visible at all -- despite the yellow arches of McDonald!

Instead, there is an intense sense of a Latin American identity amongst the states of the region with the larger states trying to pull some of the more reluctant smaller states into a genuinely cooperative structure. It is the big states like Brazil and Argentina that have an overwhelming commitment to regional cooperation and identity. Moreover, we see the Venezuelan leader, Chavez, linking up with Castro so that each helps the other -- for example, the former with cheap oil to Cuba and the latter supplying Cuban doctors to every remote corner of Venezuela. Again, Chavez has extended his support to the Bolivian leader, who is seeking to nationalise the country’s energy resources. While Brazil and Argentina are concerned about this move, they have chosen quiet dialogue with the neighbours to resolve the problem rather than issuing threats and ultimatums. Today, Latin America is one region that really does have a positive regional identity which is being deliberately forged and bolstered at all levels.

That is perhaps why there is such a liberating and feel-good air that surrounds countries like Brazil and Argentina. They really do offer the best of all worlds -- natural beauty, cultural richness flowing from an acceptance of diversity, a unique tolerance and a zest for life. If ever our society needed to learn from another’s example, we need to learn from the countries of Latin America -- from their spirit of tolerance and from their political experiences both internal and external.
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Default Coalitions of the willing

Post-9/11, the United States, along with its allies, has pushed forward an interesting approach to getting through its global agendas, when international consensus for them is not forthcoming, through the UN Security Council. This approach of forming "coalitions of the willing" to bypass the UNSC was most starkly reflected in the invasion of Iraq; but it is also being reflected in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactors (ITER) project, which India was invited to join last December and as a result of which India will now have free access to thermonuclear technology. This is a most dangerous trend of global interventions and a group of states allocating to themselves certain international prerogatives outside of the framework of the UNSC and international law, and it may well be operationalised in the context of the Iran nuclear issue.

Clearly, the US, France and the UK have been unable to convince Russia and China on the need to push through an open-ended UNSC resolution censuring Iran which would leave the way open for sanctions almost automatically. So now, the EU is seeking to make some "attractive" proposals to Iran. If Iran rejects these offers then we may see the EU and US using this as a pretext for imposing penalties outside of the UNSC.

In fact, at present, the US seems to be unwilling to accept the international community's desire for dialogue between itself and Iran. UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan's call for the same has found no positive response from the US, reflecting once again its disregard for the views of the international community. In any event, it seems a little absurd for the US to refuse to accept calls for a dialogue from the Iranian side, given that so far there are only alleged violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on the part of Iran.

This is in complete contrast to the North Korean case where the country left the NPT and declared it had acquired nuclear weapons. In response to this open challenge to the NPT, the US accepted the Chinese initiative of six-party talks, which are presently stalled. Despite this, the US has continued in efforts to restart the talks rather than seeking recourse to the UNSC.

So why is the US not prepared to talk directly through multilateral talks with Iran? And, equally important, why is the EU not pushing for such talks instead of simply trying to act as US surrogates when Iran knows only too well that the EU cannot make any commitment on behalf of the US? Should we assume that the difference between North Korea and Iran is the religious factor; or should we believe that the US is still suffering from an Iran trauma post-revolution and the hostage crisis?

Of course, if traumas can be so long lasting then Iran would have equal reason to desist from any contact with the US, given how the US intervened to overthrow a nationalist Iranian government and install the monarchy in Tehran! In any event, the US seemed quite willing to talk with Tehran during the Bonn process meetings on Afghanistan and also apparently on Iraq. Finally, on this issue, with the US now having itself contravened Articles I and III:2 of the NPT by signing the nuclear deal with India, how can it penalise Iran for alleged violations?

Whatever the case, the latest EU move of making yet another "offer" to Iran to forego effectively its rights under the NPT, seems a first step towards moving against Iran outside of the UNSC framework and therefore should be viewed with caution. After all, the EU knows Iran will not give up its right to low grade enrichment of uranium as allowed for under the NPT, so their demand that Iran halt all enrichment is neither fair nor plausible -- especially since many other NPT signatories like Japan, Australia and European states themselves also enrich uranium. What would have been more relevant was to get Iran to ratify the Additional Protocol and to resume observing its clauses as it had been doing earlier without the ratification. After all, it should be incumbent on all states to abide by all their international commitments, including treaty commitments.

Or else, the EU could offer talks on the model of the six-party talks involving the US, Russia, China, North Korea and its two important neighbours, South Korea and Japan. With Iran, the talks could involve the EU, the US, Russia and China -- and perhaps the UN Secretary General. The fact that the EU and the US are simply not prepared for dialogue on the nuclear issue with Iran shows a mala fide intent to create a scenario where a coalition of the willing can be put together to deal with Iran punitively -- something the international community through the UNSC is not prepared to accept at present.

It is in this context of the notion of coalitions of the willing that the new course being charted by NATO should also be a cause for concern for the international community, especially Asian states because this seems to be the new operational theatre being sought by NATO. Given that NATO's membership remains European and Atlantic, are these states going to decide on the strategic dynamics of Asia? It seems NATO is going to be one of the instrumentalities for carrying out the agendas of future coalitions of the willing -- as long as NATO consensus can be acquired, which was not possible in Iraq!

Some in Pakistan feel NATO offers possibilities for Pakistan through cooperative agreements but what will happen if such an agreement compels Pakistan to cooperate with NATO against one of its neighbours in the future -- be it Iran or even China in the distant future? A visiting Polish dignitary, on a recent visit to Islamabad, made a public statement that NATO was looking at the notion of expeditionary forces being sent to various parts of the world.

This expansion of the NATO agenda, from one of a limited collective defence organisation to a collective security organisation, with restrictive membership, has no legitimacy in international law or international norms today, since the UNSC is the only international collective security organisation sanctioned by the international community.

The argument that NATO functions more effectively because it has better resources and so on, does not hold since member states of the UN have chosen to deny this capability to the UN through the Security Council despite Chapter VII, Articles 42-47, which include provisions for a UN Military Staff Committee. To keep the UNSC without its teeth and then rationalise the expanding agenda and operational milieu of NATO seems a self-serving intent on the part of the US, France and Britain.

No matter what the lures may be in the short term regarding NATO and coalitions of the willing, for states like Pakistan moving outside of the framework of the UN is wrought with problems since coalitions of the willing observe no international norms or laws except those, if any, that may suit their agendas at a particular time even as they undermine international consensus and the legitimacy of the UN and its organs.

The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad
Email: smnews80@hotmail.com
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Default Pak-US Relations: No Room for Illusions

Pak-US Relations: No Room for Illusions

By Dr Shireen M. Mazari

President Bush's visit to South Asia was all one expected it to be, although the level of intimacy he achieved with India went far beyond expectations. In Pakistan, a lot of time was devoted to a visit that in the end produced little of long-term strategic value for the country -- no matter what spin one puts on it. But why do we always have expectations from the US when they consistently make it clear that these will be refuted. In the present context, the most painful example was the nuclear issue.

Despite consistent statements from US officialdom -- right from the top down -- that Pakistan could never be treated to a deal similar to the Indo-US nuclear deal, we were being told by various utterances from Scherezade Hotel that we would be demanding such a deal and it could actually happen. A delusional air surely hangs heavy in various corridors here!

Of course, the US arguments for sustaining this differential treatment on the nuclear issue do not hold in any rational discussion given India's formal nuclear cooperation with Iran and the Saddam regime as well as its scientists' work in Iranian facilities, but then rationality has never been a strong point of US policies in this region. In any case, President Bush tried to put the delinking of India's nuclear status from that of Pakistan's in as polite a form as he could muster: As he put it, "Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories. So as we proceed forward, our strategy will take in effect those well-known differences". Apart from the fact that he conveniently forgot that the two countries histories are also interlinked, he was right in stating that our nuclear histories are different because India broke the nuclear taboo in this region and it is India that has an extensive nuclear agenda as well as a questionable record in terms of nuclear cooperation officially with regimes like the Saddam regime! So is India being rewarded for its nuclear ambitions and past shenanigans?
Even more galling from the Pakistani standpoint, even on investment and market access opportunities, nothing was formalized. At the end of the day there were many promises and a commitment to a strategic dialogue at mid-level seniority, but nothing concrete. There can be no delusions as to where Pakistan stands with the US: We have an issue-specific strategic cooperation on the issue of terrorism. Beyond that, the US seeks an intrusive role in our domestic polity -- be it education or our political structures. Much has already been written on the Bush visit to Pakistan but there is nothing new or substantive for Pakistan that one can discuss. The only substantive agreement was the Declaration on Principles relating to the Integrated Cargo/Container Control Program (IC3), which is part of the anti-WMD and anti-terror agenda of the US. Even the issue of US forces violating Pakistan's sovereignty was ignored in terms of an expression of regret, let alone an apology, despite the fact that President Bush focused primarily on the "war on terror". Even the Bush body language in Islamabad was in marked contrast to the gushing and euphoric body language we saw in India. But why was anyone expecting anymore?

On Kashmir, where many Pakistanis went into a state of heady expectations after the Bush remarks to the Indian media prior to his visit, Bush clearly reversed into the traditional US posturing by the time he arrived in Pakistan from India. So on that count, too, it was clear that the US was not prepared to so much as put India in an even mildly irritable mood. Thankfully, President Musharraf also sought only US "facilitation" rather than mediation -- the latter portending dire results for Pakistan in the face of the new Indo-US relationship.

Far more important, especially in the long term, is the Indo-US nuclear deal. While the US talks of declining its relationship with India from its relationship with Pakistan, this delinkage in the nuclear field is going to have serious repercussions for Pakistan, especially when seen in the broader context of the US-India military pact with its missile defense component. In fact, the single most critical factor to come from the Bush visit is the Indo-US nuclear deal -- which was preceded by a nuclear agreement between France and India.
Effectively, the US has killed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). After all, any nuclear assistance to India, even in the civilian field, directly contravenes the NPT. Such assistance also contravenes the US Non-Proliferation Act, but the US can alter that. However, it cannot alter the NPT unilaterally so it has simply decided to kill it in a most brazen fashion. The global non-proliferation agenda is dead as a result of US unilateralism and total disregard for international treaties. Also, by allowing India a delinkage between its military and civilian facilities -- with India deciding which is which -- the US has accepted India de facto into the nuclear club. Pakistan remains outside and can now be targeted in the future on its nuclear program. Not that we cannot hold our own -- but it will be a source of future unwarranted threat/political pressure.

To make its rejection of the NPT even starker, the US has also given out its decision to retain its nuclear arsenal and to bolster it further -- thereby writing off Article 6 of the NPT. It is in this context that the US and Britain conducted a joint sub-critical nuclear experiment (February 23), Krakatau, at the Nevada test site. This has been followed by a statement from Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration declaring that "the United States will, for the foreseeable future, need to retain both nuclear forces and the capabilities to sustain and modernize those forces".
Nor is the Indo-US nuclear deal and the US formal abandonment of disarmament significant only for Pakistan. There will be consequences in terms of how the US now challenges Iran's nuclear program. After all, having laid the NPT to rest, how can there be any rationalization of taking the Iran nuclear issue to the UNSC? Also, unless the IAEA critiques the Indo-US nuclear deal, how can it further the goals of non-proliferation? Or is there now going to be a formal acceptance of the discriminatory approach to non-proliferation where only certain states' will be targeted for their WMD programs, while everyone else can continue to develop their WMD totally unchecked. After all, that is the signal that has been given to India in terms of its fissile material and nuclear weapons development. If one contrasts the manner in which the US is dealing with North Korea, where dialogue is being sought to resolve the nuclear issue, and Iran, one can make a valid assumption that it is the programs of Muslim states that will be targeted in the future.

In hindsight, Pakistan should have taken note of the Bush reference to its nationals as "Paks" in his opening statement to the Indian media in Washington. That would have better prepared many in Islamabad for the Bush visit. It would certainly have removed all delusional notions.

(The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The News)
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  #27  
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The US may claim that it has de-linked its relationship with India from that with Pakistan, but ironically, its policies relating to India now impact Pakistan's security concerns as never before and US government representatives continue to identify common security issues for Pakistan and India. In the context of the former, much has already been written in this column earlier on the direct security threat that the US-India nuclear deal poses to Pakistan, which will provide safeguarded US nuclear fuel for India's civil reactors and thereby liberate a large quantity of un-safeguarded Indian fissile material from these reactors. This can now be diverted to weapons production, allowing India to stockpile a vast nuclear arsenal.

In the context of the US constantly linking Pakistan and India in terms of regional security policies, we have now seen General Peter Pace, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a visit to New Delhi, urging Pakistan and India to work together to fight the Taliban. What was General Pace implying, given that India shares no border with Afghanistan and the highly questionable presence of Indian forces in Afghanistan is already a source of a security threat for Pakistan? Does he actually seek a more enlarged Indian military presence in Afghanistan? If so, is he truly unaware of the security dilemma and threat that would pose to Pakistan?

He also indulged Indian commanders as they apparently briefed him on New Delhi's concerns regarding Pakistan's Afghan policy. Now why should Pakistan's Afghan policy be a source of concern for India? Do we voice our concerns, of which there are many, to the US regarding India's Nepal policy, especially in the historical context of India's territorial expansion in the neighbourhood? And are we to actually believe General Pace's naiveté when he remarked that the Indians brought to his attention, "that the Taliban has sanctuaries in Pakistan"? Or was he actually using the Indians to voice his own accusations? Interestingly, while he declared that "Pakistan's President Musharraf is fighting hard to clear those territories" (that is, the so-called sanctuaries), the Pakistan army and state's efforts in this fight against terrorism was totally ignored.

This has been a common trait in US statements regarding Pakistan's massive contribution to the war against terror in the region. The state's role is barely mentioned and an attempt is always made to de-link the president from the state -- which seems to be an effort to undermine the state of Pakistan by insinuating that the state may not be fully supportive of the president's anti-terrorist commitment. This does no service either to Pakistan, which continues to sacrifice its own citizens in the fight against terrorism, or to the president in terms of his relationship to the state and society.

Clearly what we are seeing is a heightened arrogance on the part of the US with scant regard for the sensitivities of its allies. This is especially true in the context of Pakistan, whose nationals are often referred to as "Paks" in public remarks by US officials, including retired generals. Because we choose to be too accepting of all that is dished out to us, I suppose we are naturally prime targets of the prevailing American arrogance. But this arrogance is far more widespread. The US has only recently declared that the driver of the US truck that rammed into civilian traffic in Kabul, killing and injuring a number of Afghans, cannot be prosecuted in Afghanistan because of an agreement between the US and the Afghan government. So effectively US forces can act with impunity in Afghanistan.

Not that the US is concerned particularly with international norms and laws presently -- especially in terms of its soldiers and the treatment they mete out to their prisoners. According to a Los Angeles Times report of June 5, new policies on prisoners being drawn up by the Pentagon will leave out a key provision of the Geneva Convention that specifically bans "humiliating and degrading treatment". Given the level of abuse that prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay are already being subjected to, this action will only give a covert face to what is already a reality. For those in Pakistan, this arrogance becomes a direct issue of concern because one is increasingly seeing it being reflected in the Indian leadership's statements towards Pakistan and their approach to the bilateral dialogue -- especially the issues of conflict that show no sign of moving towards resolution. While the Indians have been exceptionally clever in creating a myth about their willingness to dialogue on all issues with Pakistan, while focusing primarily on atmospherics and trade, the reality of India's inability and unwillingness to dialogue on the conflictual issues in a substantive manner occasionally surfaces in bizarre ways that belie claims of the growing civil society interaction at all levels between Pakistanis and Indians.

A recent example of this was the issue of participation by Pakistani students from elite schools in a seminar/workshop on Kashmir in Pune, India. The project was part of the Initiative for Peace undertaken by the United World College, Hong Kong, over the last few years. This year the focus was on Kashmir and, as usual, Pakistan's elite schools chose their students who worked hard on learning about the Kashmir issue and dutifully sent their passports to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. Close to the time of the planned departure, and after a period of almost three weeks, the Indian High Commission informed the students that their visa forms had been misplaced. Despite hastily re-filling these forms and despite a supposed intervention on the part of the High Commissioner himself, the students could not make it to Pune so the meeting on Kashmir went ahead without the main Pakistani participation.

Now what were Indian fears regarding Kashmir? Would they have been put in an awkward position if the Pakistanis had reiterated President Musharraf's proactive proposals on Kashmir and asked why there had been no Indian response? Or were they expecting embarrassment on their human rights abuses for almost over two decades in occupied Kashmir? Whatever the case, India's hard line approach towards political issues, and the rigidity of its Kashmir policy, do get exposed occasionally. And we should learn from these brief revelations of India's real intent on bilateral conflicts and its arrogant efforts to shift the focus to atmospherics and platitudes even as it seeks to undermine Pakistan at multiple levels internationally -- be it in misrepresentations to third parties or in efforts to seek intervention indirectly within Pakistan's internal dynamics under cover of the war on terror. It is in this context that Pakistan needs to be wary of the emerging US-India strategic nexus, both in terms of form and content.
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  #28  
Old Friday, June 30, 2006
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The Pakistani state has certainly never been niggardly as far as its friends go -- especially if they happen to be part of the Muslim World. With our own citizens it is a different story. That is why while we have always been in the forefront of aiding Muslim causes since the time we came into being -- from lending our nationality to Tunisian and Algerian freedom fighters to taking up the cudgels for the Palestinian cause, we have continued to ignore the plight of our own Pakistani brethren stranded in Bangladesh.

Again, undoubtedly, it was in that spirit of being in the forefront of supporting the Ummah that dictator Zia decided to accommodate Saudi Arabia in its request that Pakistan provide temporary passports to Burmese Muslims fleeing religious persecution. The late King Faisal had acceded to the request of the Rabita Al Alam Al Islami to allow these persecuted Muslims to settle in Saudi Arabia, but wanted them to obtain passports from another country so as to facilitate their stay in Saudi Arabia. As usual, Pakistan stepped forward and obliged with passports and National Identity Cards on the understanding that these people would be granted Saudi nationality after 14 years of stay in the Kingdom -- that is, in the year 2000. Now the Saudis have reneged on this understanding and Pakistan is left with thousands of Burmese holding Pakistani nationality.

On financial matters, it is the same old story. One does not need to recount the scandalous tale of the sale of the Pakistan Steel Mills, details of which have already been exposed by the media, and the case is now before the Supreme Court. But it seems that we also showed an amazing generosity and accommodation to the UAE's Etisalat in the context of the sale of PTCL. When Etisalat failed to deposit the first installment despite three extensions of the deadline, Pakistan showed an amazing level of accommodation to renegotiate the deal with even more concessions because, as the then privatisation minister put it: "We wanted this deal with Etisalat". Now if only we can convince the UAE government to be as accommodating when it comes to projecting our perspectives in their media or accommodating our agricultural products in their market. And we need to remember that both PTCL and the Steel Mills were economically viable concerns at the time of their sale. Nor has Pakistan been anything less than generous in its sale of a controlling interest in Habib Bank to the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED).

However, our generosity is not limited to our dealings with fellow Muslim states and entities. If we just delve into our recent past in terms of state contracts with foreign companies, three features stand out: delays, cost overruns and penalties. Whenever we have had differences with foreign companies in terms of contracts, we have always ended up paying additional costs/penalties to these concerns. Take the case of the Ghazi Barotha project and the Italian firm, Impreglio. Delays in the initial start of the project plus 9/11 and the issue of security led Impreglio to move the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to reclaim what it said it had invested in the project. The Pakistan government challenged the claim and insisted that the company had not invested in the project and so could not go to the ICSID and in January 2005 the ICSID gave a ruling in favour of the Pakistan government. Yet, Impreglio did not withdraw its case until the government made an out-of-court settlement. Why we did this is not clear, but the Italians then went back to work on the project -- after the government of Pakistan had paid vast amounts for the so-called settlement out of Public Sector Development Programme funds. Despite efforts to find out why we had to pay the firm, all I could discover was that there was an initial delay in the start of the project because the land purchase had not been finalised and the international loans had not been procured at the time the contract was signed. What was the hurry to sign before these arrangements had been made given that this would result in delays and, therefore, possible penalties?

It was the issue of delays and design alterations in the construction of the new Karachi airport that landed the government in a situation where it had to pay costs to the French firm, Sogea. Despite a provision in the contract that in case of dispute Pakistani laws would apply, the French company took the case to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Paris, in 1993, which constituted an arbitration tribunal. The Civil Aviation Authority took the case to the Sindh High Court and obtained a stay order which the ICC totally ignored. It went ahead with its proceedings and announced an award in 1996 in which the CAA had to pay the French company 509.91 million francs. No one was interested in the terms of the contract calling for the applicability of Pakistani law and in the end the French government intervened -- so much for private enterprise -- and the Pakistani cabinet acceded to the French demands and agreed to pay 476 million francs, in installments. After all, right or wrong, we could not sustain the French government's pressure.

Then there are the infamous independent power producer (IPP) contracts with which the country is stuck with and which have failed to resolve our electricity problems -- despite all manner of claims when the contracts were being signed. In fact, the IPPs have been the subject of legal and politico-economic battles in almost all developing countries where they have been established. The argument that IPPs allow governments to conserve public resources for other priorities is simply not correct because IPP investors will not construct a power plant unless they are sure they will be repaid – via a generous profit margin. Hence, they first require a power purchase agreement in place which means the electricity utility gives an undertaking to buy all the power produced, the price of the power usually in foreign currency.

Clearly, apart from the issue of corruption, and a recent tender relating to the import of British black cabs threatening to become the next scandal to hit the public, a far greater problem that seems to be emerging is our inability to either read the fine print in the contracts or to even read the contract carefully.

It is in this context that a decision to pledge the motorways and national highway for a mere Rs. 6 billion loan to meet the National Highway Authority's (NHA) maintenance backlog, raises security concerns. After all, these assets are strategic in the sense that they are our communication lines. Private banks, headed by Habib Bank, are the leading consortium, and, according to the news reports, the laws governing the NHA have been amended to reassure the banks that in case of a default they could take over the NHA's assets to recover their dues. Where in the world are strategic communication lines handed over to private parties to do with as they please?

But then our state has been too generous by far to others. Perhaps it is time to look after our own.
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  #29  
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Let me state my position on capital punishment at the outset: I am unequi- vocally opposed to it on a number of counts. First, it does not act as a deterrent to murder and so far there is no data to show that the number of murders has been reduced as a result of the prevalence of the death penalty -- or that there are fewer murders committed in countries that have the death penalty than in those that do not. Second, from the developed to developing states, justice is never perfect and there is always human error. For instance, there have been cases even in the "developed" US where innocent people have been meted out capital punishment -- so life imprisonment is a more just option. Three, there is a moral issue involved regarding the whole notion of taking a life: if murder is wrong then on what grounds can one sanctify the taking of life by the state? This is of course not as straightforward as it may sound given the notion of war and so on, but it does reflect the moral dilemma linked to capital punishment.

Having said this much on capital punishment, at present there is the issue hitting the newspapers that relates to the murder of a taxi driver by a British citizen, in Rawalpindi, who has subsequently been given the death penalty. Of course, the European media has raised a hue and cry regarding the trial itself, along with Amnesty International, and there seems to be an absurd assumption that because the trial was in Pakistan it must, by definition, have been unfair or flawed. No doubt our legal system like so many others, leaves a lot to be desired but given the illustrious lawyers the British citizen had, and given that the family of the murdered man was hardly influential, why should there be an automatic assumption that the trial was flawed? Worse still is the assumption that an exception to the death penalty must be made in this case because it involves a British citizen. Why? Are British citizens above the law of the land in which they commit their crime or are they automatically to be treated above the rest of the local citizenry?

Of course, Amnesty has raised the issue of capital punishment per se, but it is the argument put forward by the head of Amnesty's South Asian team, Angelika Pathak who declares that the "death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence". This does not hold true with ground realities. After all, Britain has no death penalty but there is systemic violence ingrained in its society -- from football hooliganism to racial violence and police violence. The last has reached new heights after the July 2005 London bombings and this was witnessed not only in the shooting of an innocent Brazilian (who was killed in a hail of bullets by the Metropolitan Police)but also in the more recent shooting and violence against a Bangladeshi migrant family in London. In fact, while much is made of the distorted version of the concept of jihad in Islam, no one is paying much attention to the Church of England's violent hymns like "Onward Christian soldiers" and others in a similar vein. That is why British and other European soldiers from the "coalition of the willing" that invaded Iraq have found it quite acceptable to violently abuse Iraqi prisoners and Iraqi civil society -- along with the US whose tales of Muslim prisoner abuse are now sickeningly notorious.

And what of the case of Israel where the death penalty is available only in two cases: "Offences against humanity and against the Jewish People committed by the Nazis and their abettors" and "treason in war time". Yet Israel is hardly devoid of a culture of violence. In fact violence and abuse are endemic in the Israeli population vis-a-vis the hapless Palestinians. So before Amnesty has substantive data it should refrain from declaring that the death penalty reflects a culture of violence -- no matter how attractive that may sound to a particular audience. There are multiple factors that breed a culture of violence.

Even more absurd is the manner in which Pakistan is being targeted for the meting out of capital punishment to a British citizen. The House of Commons actually passed a resolution questioning our judicial system and declared that the charges did not conform to the "standards laid by the European and Human Rights Commission". Are we in Pakistan supposed to accept these standards? And why was Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms not applied by the Europeans in the case of the blasphemous cartoons?

Interestingly, this is not the first case of a British citizen being meted out capital punishment in another country. The US has been carrying out capital punishment against a number of British citizens and I have yet to find any House of Commons resolution condemning this action on the part of certain US States -- although I am willing to be corrected on this count. For instance, there is the case of British national Nicky Ingram, who was executed in Georgia in 1995 and, according to anti-death penalty campaigner Clive Smith, his life could have been saved had the then British Prime Minister John Major intervened. In 2002, Blair refused to intervene personally, and British citizen Tracy Housel was executed, again in Georgia. Incidentally, Housel was denied access to a British consul after his arrest -- which is a right guaranteed to foreign nationals by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and a right which Pakistan has also respected. The US has ratified this convention but is famous for routinely violating it. Then there was John Elliott who was executed by the US state of Texas in February 2003, again despite appeals by the British government. I have yet to trace the record of House of Commons resolutions condemning the trials and executions of these individuals.

It is unfortunate that instead of fighting for principles and creating greater public awareness regarding the issue of capital punishment per se at the global level, the Europeans are seeking to use political and economic pressure on Pakistan to save a British citizen on death row. What message is being sent out to Europeans -- that they will be treated above the law in countries like Pakistan? Did the president of the EU Parliament write an equally forceful note to President Bush in the case of the now-executed British citizens as he has done to the Pakistani President, to whom he has sent what can only be regarded as an ominous note, stating that "the carrying out of this execution will cast a shadow over the reputation of Pakistan as it would clearly represent a rare combination of excessive cruelty and profound injustice."

It is unfortunate that the whole issue of capital punishment has become lost in the web of political pressures and diatribes from Amnesty and the EU. This does no service to the fight against the death penalty. Instead, it only shows that the EU regards its own as above the laws of others.
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Shireen M Mazari

The democracy agenda of the US has certainly not made much of a mark in the Middle East especially in Palestine where the US is supporting Israel's massacre of the Palestinians and the leaders they had elected in a transparent and democratic manner. The fact that the so-called "free world", with its leader the US, is content to watch in silence as Israel moves closer to a potential genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza, shows the irrelevancy of democracy in the wider agendas of these states. Clearly, with the Palestinians rejecting the creation of a Bantuland in the Gaza Strip, Israel has decided to put a violent end to any dreams of a viable Palestinian state -– and the Bush Administration seems to have acquiesced in this murderous design. In these circumstances, it is unfortunate that a group of Pakistani Americans sought to visit Israel at the precise moment when Israel was conducting its onslaught against the hapless Palestinians.

More important, from a Pakistani perspective, is the sudden focus on democracy education by all and sundry for us Pakistanis. Notwithstanding the fact that the average Pakistani is probably more shrewd in terms of electoral norms and is as if not more politically aware than many in the West, especially in the US where the average citizen barely knows much about the world -- except when US soldiers go and get killed in far away places. Nevertheless, the donor agencies and the US have decided that they may find a more receptive audience in Pakistan, than elsewhere, to their version of democracy education. This is in keeping with the new trend amongst donors to focus more of their funds on advocacy than on service delivery. This gives a high profile to the donors with seminars in five-star hotels in the main urban centres and also allows them to push their agendas through in terms of our national policies. So what if the main population, especially in the rural areas is devoid of health and other services delivery. In any case, these services are primarily the responsibility of the state to begin with.

Coming back to the issue of democracy education, we now have the Women's Development and Youth Affairs Ministry undertaking a Norwegian-funded project entitled "Women's Political School", in coordination with the UNDP. This is intended to "mould" our women councilors into leaders. Equally important, why has it been assumed that only our women councilors need to be educated? Having seen the male variety, I think it is presumptuous to assume that the women are less politically aware than their male counterparts.

More disturbing is the issue of how different "moulding" really is from "indoctrinating"? Equally important, it would be interesting to know how much of the $4.5 million allocated for the fund will go to consultants and "teachers". Surely, all our elected (direct and indirect) women, in the Parliament and provincial assemblies should be obliged to undertake interaction with our women councilors in their constituencies, so both groups can become mutually aware of the issues and problems the other faces. This would be informative, educative and would not cost anything if one assumes the elected representatives do visit their constituencies on a regular basis. Why does one need massive foreign funding or a school for politics?

But these days, advocacy of all sorts is the name of the game in Islamabad. The result is that some organisations with highly contentious agendas have also moved in. For instance, it has been reported that a so-called "US expert" is coming all the way from the US to deliver a special lecture to women senators on democracy and the role of women lawmakers. If I were a woman senator I would be insulted at the assumption that I needed to be lectured on such basic issues by an American "expert". Apparently male senators will not be invited to this exclusive lecture. Who is this expert? Ah, therein lies the rub. It is a Ms Judy Van Rest who is the executive vice president of the International Republican Institute (IRI). "So what's the big deal?" the readers of this column may ask. After all, it would be logical to assume that this lecture and visit will not be at the expense of the Government of Pakistan and it is always good to listen to varied opinions even if it is a little demeaning to hear pontifications on democracy.

However, the issue is not so simple because the IRI's agenda is highly controversial. The Institute is loosely affiliated with the Republican Party -– now of Neocon infamy -- but it receives US government funding for so-called "international democratisation programmes". The IRI was founded in 1983 in the wake of a Reagan agenda item to promote a global "democracy" agenda which of course was not supposed to result in electoral victories for the likes of Hamas. Most of the staff of the IRI has strong links to right-wing think tanks and institutes as well to the neocons. Others represent the corporate interests of major oil, financial and defence sectors. IRI's President and CEO, George Folsom, was a member of the Bush-Cheney Transition Team and is also known to be a frequent guest at forums hosted by the extreme right wing Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.

Given this background, it is not surprising to find the IRI being linked to political upheavals and attempted coups in Latin America. For instance, after the April 2002 aborted coup against Venezuelan President Chavez, who has been highly critical of the US government, many accused the Bush Administration of having been involved in this attempted ouster. While the Bush Administration denied any role, one connection did become clear between the US government and the anti-Chavez movement: American government funding was channeled through groups like the IRI to the anti-Chavez groups. According to Mike Cesar of the International Relations Center (IRC), with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the IRI sponsored anti-Chavez activities in Venezuela and even flew his opponents to Washington to meet US officials.

In Haiti, in the first year of the Bush Administration, the IRI received USAID funds to effectively work with Haitian leader Aristide's opponents and the IRI point man in Haiti was a Stanley Lucas who had earlier been closely linked to the Haitian military. With such a dubious record, do our Senators really need to be educated by Ms Van Rest of the IRI? Incidentally, she was also in Iraq. And this seems to be another link developing in Pakistan. We now have US organisations moving into Pakistan, who have been working with the US government in Iraq. One prominent organisation is the Lincoln Group which has been working in Iraq and is now in Pakistan, and is one of three companies that were awarded a lucrative contract from the Pentagon, for the conduct of psy ops to improve foreign public opinion about the US, especially the US military. Already the Group has begun certain operations in Pakistan. And this is just one of many such groups that are now making their presence felt in Pakistan. Surely we need an awareness campaign on such groups?

As for democracy and political awareness, practice and indigenous experience sharing is the only rational teacher.
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