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Old Wednesday, November 16, 2005
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India's insatiable appetite
Shireen M Mazari


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

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

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

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


The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad
Email: smnews80@hotmail.com
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The India factor
While we as Pakistanis should be grateful for all international aid, we must not allow anyone to make political capital out of our human tragedy
Shireen M Mazari
At this time of devastation and tragedy the nation has shown a remarkable spirit of giving and a tremendous sense of gratitude to the international community for providing an ever increasing amount of aid. After all, whatever aid is extended by the international community needs to be appreciated as it is voluntary and reflects a basic humanity that overrides politics and conflicts. In that context, Pakistan has also appreciated the aid sent across by India. Realising the massive scale of the disaster, Pakistan has welcomed aid and assistance from wherever it has been offered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Have we come to this?
Shireen M Mazari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The writer is a Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad
Email: smnews80@hotmail.com
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The flaw in Pak-US ties

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

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

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

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

Last edited by Argus; Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 02:41 PM.
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  #2  
Old Wednesday, December 07, 2005
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A law unto themselves


Shireen M Mazari


The exhilarating victory of the Pakistan cricket team against the much-touted English side was yet another reminder that, given an opportunity, this nation is second to none. As I have believed and stated in these columns earlier, our cricketers always win in spite of bureaucratic machinations and the cricketing officialdom, which seems to be a law unto itself and unaccountable for any actions and decisions. Nowhere was this more clearly reflected than in the absence of the PCB chief on the day our team won against all odds in Lahore. Instead of being there at this critical juncture for the team, he saw fit to whiz off to India to talk to the new BCCI led by Sharad Pawar. Could his meeting in India not have waited for another day? Had he and the PCB shown such speed to take up the issue of Inzamam's wrongful 'dismissal', Bell's cheating in claiming a catch that wasn't, or Pietersen threatening Afridi with the bat, Shahriyar Khan may have redeemed some credibility for himself and the board. But that has not happened to date. Worse still, the question arises whether Shahriyar, while in India, unilaterally took the decision to give in to Indian demands for postponing the Asia Cup which Pakistan is to host? Was it in our interest to do so?
Clearly, the new PCB set-up, comprising foreign office retirees (the Shahriyar-Zaidi combine), has little empathy for our players and more 'diplomatic' sensitivities for the Indians. That is why the Pakistani team had to relish its victory without the congratulatory presence of Mr Shahriyar. Surely, the representatives of the people in their parliamentary committees need to the find out why he had to absent himself from the day of victory. That is if the PCB chief, known for his arrogance towards his fellow countrymen, will deign to come before such a committee -- after all, his past record is not very encouraging on this count. Nor are the PCB chief and his minions alone in feeling they are accountable to no one. The PTF's antics have undermined many rising but poor tennis playing youth to accommodate favourites, but that is a story in itself.
There is a growing trend in this country for all manner of organisations and bodies to feel they cannot be held accountable to anyone. Despite efforts by parliamentary committees, bodies like the CDA by and large continue to carry out activities regardless of their propriety and legality. Press revelations simply pass off with a shrug while coming before committees is seen as a transitory discomfiture. As a CDA official lamented when questioned on the legal position relating to certain road expansions, such legalities "will only delay the work". The assumption that nothing could truly stop them from doing what they intended, smacked of arrogance and a cavalier attitude towards serious public concerns and the laws of the land.
But what of the bureaucrat who actually retains his sensitivities to the plight of the nation and its limited resources, and points out the erroneous decisions taken by his political boss -- be it in the case of overpaid or illegally hired foreign consultants, or the hiring of excessive staff? These bosses also feel they are a law unto themselves and not accountable to state employees. That is why one secretary, sensitive to the nation's resources, now finds himself a pariah whom no politician will touch.
Nor is it just in the field of government and politics where we find the powerful becoming laws unto themselves. Take the case of the private schools that have mushroomed all over the country, supposedly to provide better quality education than the government. Some undoubtedly do. But the critical issue is that there is absolutely no law or supervisory mechanism for these schools. They can charge whatever fees they want, they can hire whatever quality teachers and, most crucially, they can teach whatever they want -- at least until they get to the 'O' or matriculation class levels. There are schools that are highly politicised in their overall agendas; there are schools that have overcrowded classrooms; and there are schools where there is a quick turnover of teachers -- in one case, a class is on to its fourth teacher in one subject alone, in the space of one term. Worse still, there are no minimal qualifications for subject specialists, nor are the CVs of the teachers made public to the parents. There are textbooks, published abroad, that still talk of "Indo China" and others that wrongly calculate historic periods. Many schools still do not have assemblies where children sing the national anthem, so we have a whole generation that is unfamiliar with the national anthem of this country. Yet, the Ministry of Information can make this compulsory for all schools, including private schools. What is preventing them from doing so?
Who will oversee the working of private schools? The education ministry seems unable to even oversee its own schools in terms of what is being taught there. The horrifying incident of US propaganda finding space in our textbooks in the form of a poem of praise for Bush is a sorry reflection on how textbooks are formulated here. To say it was purely accidental is even worse because it reflects an unacceptable level of ignorance on the part of the compiler of the book in question. In any case, it is unfortunate that our own English-language poets are disregarded when it comes to compilation of English poetry or English literature in general.
Coming back to the issue of some form of supervision of private schools, civil society clearly needs to develop a greater sense of civic duty. We need to form civil society groups to help the state oversee educational activities in the private sector. At the very least, we need to set minimal educational qualifications for subject teachers and assess the books and syllabi. Also, all teachers being hired should sign contracts for a minimal period so that there is some continuity in the teaching. Private schools, by and large, are offering good salaries so there is no reason why they cannot implement minimal standards of teaching. The facilities offered by private schools also need to be looked into. In the long term, there is also a need to bring private -- and public-sector education at par, including in terms of examination systems and boards.
All in all, there is a need for civil society to move actively to challenge all those who feel they are laws unto themselves and thereby not accountable to anyone in the country. It is the power of civil society that will push the political elite in parliament into action and strengthen institution-building and the parliamentary form of governance. It is time we became dependent on institutions and due process rather than on individuals, no matter how charismatic. The system needs to deliver and that can only happen when there are checks and balances in all sub-systems because accountability is central to responsiveness and that is a critical factor in national well-being.
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Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.!!!
  #3  
Old Wednesday, December 07, 2005
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Default Dr. Shireen Mazari (The News: Every Wednesday)

Assalam Alaikum,

This space is exclusively reserved for Ms. Mazari's articles that mostly publishes in The News, every Wednesday.

Note: Any irrelevant posts will be deleted under this Thread, as we want to limit this thread for reading purposes only.

Your cooperation will be appreciated.

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Last edited by THE 1; Wednesday, December 07, 2005 at 07:43 PM. Reason: typos
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Old Wednesday, December 14, 2005
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Default The Indian scheme of things

Shireen M Mazari
It has been apparent for some time now that since the dialogue process recommenced between Pakistan and India, the latter has adopted a devious and indirect approach — the line of least resistance on the part of Pakistan, as Liddell Hart would have put it — towards seeking resolution of Kashmir on its terms. There have been multiple tacks on this approach, some overt and some covert — but all aimed at getting de facto recognition of the status quo given that de jure recognition of the same is not a possibility even in the most conducive of atmospherics that could possibly be created.
In terms of overt efforts, while Pakistan has moved to demanding demilitarisation and self-governance as interim measures, which could create a better climate in which to seek a final resolution of the Kashmir conflict, the Indians are making the self-governance issue an end in itself — even as they continue to ignore the demilitarisation CBM sought by Pakistan. The latest salvo fired in this regard came from Kuldip Nayyar, in Islamabad, when he suggested that self-governance was the only possible way to resolve the Kashmir issue! What exactly is meant by self-governance? The Indians are very clear that it refers to autonomy for the Kashmiris, but under the Indian Constitution — a situation that prevailed in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) till 1953. Pakistan has accepted the self-governance principle for AJK, as an interim measure which is why it has never sought to bring AJK within the permanent purview of the Pakistan Constitution.
Under this framework, all that self-governance would do is at best create a more conducive political environment for the Kashmiris, but within the prevailing control structure of the Indian Constitution for Kashmiris in IOK and AJK’s linkage with Pakistan. So self-governance does not in any way deal with the issue of the Indian occupation of Kashmir and the right of self-determination of the victimised Kashmiris –- all necessary to resolve the conflict. Therefore, at best, it can be an interim measure. But again we in Pakistan need to be careful when we talk of self-governance for Kashmiris. We can ensure this in AJK but we can only express a hope that India will do the same, as an interim measure, in IOK. If we make this a formal issue to be discussed between the two states, then we are giving de facto recognition to the Indian Occupation of Kashmir — which is exactly what India would want. Hence their efforts to submerge us in this self-governance issue, with our refrain of "interim measure" soon becoming a mere whimper, lost to all but the keenest of ears — and we know the international community lacks such acute sensitivity. So we need to continuously point to the limitations of this notion even as we commend it temporarily to provide greater political breathing space to the Kashmiris.
Incidentally, Mr Nayyar’s claim that the partition of Kashmir along religious lines goes against the secular policy of New Delhi is nonsensical because India used the religious argument to take control of Hyderabad and Junagadh, so where it suits India, it is quite happy to use religion despite its claims to secularism. Indians also seem to suffer from a convenient amnesia regarding the reality of the LoC — that is, it is merely a ceasefire line and not a border, so it can be neither a "soft" nor a "hard" border.
Linked to the self-governance issue is the issue of movement of people across the LoC. Pakistan has rightfully been pushing for greater access to Kashmiris across the LoC — especially in the wake of the earthquake tragedy but if Indians and Pakistanis are going to cross the LoC this raises a series of legal issues. Will they use passports? If so, then they will be giving de facto recognition to the sovereignty of Pakistan and India over AJK and IOK. If such movement is allowed, then investors and traders will also begin coming across the LoC so we would have Indian investors in AJK — the likelihood of Pakistanis investing in IOK will not be a possibility for some time given the Indian Occupation and emergency rules. At the end of the day, such developments will also create a de facto recognition of the status quo as a solution since there will be no impetus for seeking another solution with trade and political movement being conducted across the LoC as if it were a border! The Indians know the logic of the policy of opening up of the LoC to non-Kashmiris including political elites from Pakistan and India but are we also now prepared to go along with this ploy which will inevitably bolster the status quo?
Another ominous development is the statement coming recently from New Delhi from the IOK’s Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad that international flights would start from Srinagar in two years. This would clearly give legality to India’s occupation because any foreign airliner that landed in Srinagar would be accepting the writ of the government there — that is, the Indian occupying force. Once India has notified the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) of the airports available for international traffic, through its national civil aviation authority, it will be on the ICAO list of international destinations with ICAO determining air lanes and so on. Even unused airports are in the ICAO log book, once their name has been sent there. There is a need for Pakistan to do something to counter this indirect approach of India to get legal recognition for its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. This must be opposed in ICAO. At the very least a letter should be sent to ICAO in the form of an indemnification document to protect our legal position on Kashmir.
Worse still, if Pakistanis, and one hears some are contemplating this damaging move, were to fly from within Pakistan directly to Srinagar, we would have played the game India wants us to play. That is why foreign policy must be guided clearly from one central source and not be decentralised or privatised.
Of course, there is also talk of Muzaffarabad becoming an international airport. We should not expect the Indians to protest because this would only bolster the Indian position of seeking the status quo as a solution to the Kashmir conflict. But again our position will certainly be compromised. Unless we are extremely careful on how we move on Kashmir — and there is no reason for us to show an unseemly haste — we can be in danger of allowing state practices to gradually dilute our legal position on Kashmir to an extent where the status quo and Indian occupation of Kashmir becomes a legal reality for all intents and purposes.
Tailpiece: It was interesting to see one retired bureaucrat supporting another. As long as the bureaucratic brotherhood overrides rationality, the PCB chief can break all propriety, as he did recently in hiring, against the advice of the PCB sub committee, Mushtaq Ahmed as a bowling consultant and the wife of the Pakistani team’s physio as the new physio for the women’s team. We also seem to have a penchant for hiring wives of foreigners working in Pakistan!
The writer is director general
of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad
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Old Wednesday, December 21, 2005
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The viceroy syndrome continues

Shireen M Mazari

As US vice president Cheney visits Islamabad, we should remember this is merely a stopover en route from Kabul for the opening of their new parliament -- for which the US, as an occupying/liberating power can rightfully claim credit. And, of course, as we have never ceased to point out on so many public fora, we are truly grateful for the help provided for the earthquake relief by the US -- as we are to so many other countries and foreign groups who perhaps do not seek so much public acknowledgement but have done more in terms of their resources than the more powerful members of the international community. Also, their work in the field does not tie up our security resources in terms of providing protection, in contrast to US and NATO forces whose relief effort, laudable as it is, involves tying up at least 7000 Pakistani soldiers simply for their protection! Just as an aside, it was highly intriguing to discover a NATO vehicle accompanied by their Pakistani safety escort, patrolling Khayaban-e-Iqbal in Islamabad, the other day. What could they have been doing? Surveillance work of some sort perhaps?
Back to the issue at hand, we also need to remember that Cheney is the main source of support for the US's use of torture, and is at the heart of the religious right lobby within the Bush Administration. His oil interests and his views on Iraq are too well-known to recount again, but we should know what he is all about. Even more important, his stopover comes in the wake of the viceroy-like pronouncements of the US ambassador in Islamabad. Despite some sort of an explanation put forward by our Foreign Office, the fact of the matter is that if he had been misquoted, his embassy would have put out a clarification. Moreover, according to many journalists who were present on the occasion, he did make the pronouncements that were reported in the press. And we know that US ambassadors in Islamabad do tend to bestow upon themselves viceregal airs and go on to pontificate on all manner of internal matters of the sovereign state of Pakistan.
Why should Crocker be perturbed about jihadi groups providing relief to their brethren in AJK? He talks of them not having renounced violence, but obviously he missed their early statements that they were now involved in a different kind of jihad -- that of providing succour to the traumatised Kashmiris. Or perhaps Crocker finds the word 'jihad' itself discomfiting just as we find the word 'crusade' hard to digest. If that is the case, he needs to deal with that issue because jihad is an integral word of our Islamic faith and hence cannot be done away with. Incidentally, given that the US is practicing covert and overt violence, including using chemical weapons and torture, in Iraq and elsewhere, it was a trifle ironic to find Mr Crocker wanting to see a renunciation of violence.
Even more galling was the Ambassador's statement on Pakistan's past experiences with democracy. Good or bad, it is not for the US to dictate what kind of democracy they would find acceptable in Pakistan. Perhaps they have got carried away with their mapping out of the political constructs in Iraq and Afghanistan! In any case, Mr Crocker did no service to the present leadership of the country by this outburst.
In fact, there have been some disturbing developments relating to the US that have converged publicly around this time. There were the revelations of secret prisons and torture by the US in the territory of its allies in Europe; there was the continuing saga of Guantanamo Bay; and, there was the announcement that the Pentagon is to invest $400 million in psy-ops targeting foreign populations and the media. We know that this includes buying air time on foreign television channels, but does it also mean slipping in texts into school textbooks? Was the poem found in a Pakistani English text book there by design -- and some uncooperative person discovered the message before it could be disseminated? Anyhow, clearly one should now look warily at all news stories portraying something positive of the US in case they are part of the Pentagon's psy-ops.
With all these revelations in the media, it has been equally surprising to find that our media has ignored a rather crucial piece of information regarding nuclear and missile proliferation. Given how once again Dr Khan is being pilloried and news of the arrest of his Dutch 'friend' is in all the foreign and Pakistani media, how has it escaped us that a US federal court found US citizens guilty of violating US export control laws in order to sell missile technology components to India? This happened on November 22 this year, when a US federal court found two defence companies in New England and their top executives guilty of selling technology to India that helped it to improve the Agni missile. The law breakers had managed to export a control panel, needed to operate a production size hot isostatic press, to India's Defence Research Development Laboratory in April 1988. According to the court, the defendants' provided equipment to India which "may facilitate nuclear weaponry and thereby threaten stability in South Asia." We all know how India's nuclear ambitions progressed up to 1998, but why should this important news be of no interest to the media as opposed to a story relating to Dr Khan's Dutch connections?
The issue is important, because presently there is a concerted effort to push under wraps Indo-Iranian nuclear cooperation -- both at the level of the two states, which continue to have a nuclear cooperation treaty since neither has rescinded it, and at the level of individual Indian scientists. Iran's efforts to deflect its nuclear issue on to Pakistan are unfortunate, but why is the rest of the international community not prepared to examine the Indian connection to Iran? Is there a more insidious long term intent discernable here, especially on the part of the EU and US? After all, the US is undermining the NPT itself with its nuclear agreement with India and many European states are also moving to provide India technology contrary to the Nuclear Supplier Guidelines. Is this also part of the Pentagon's plan to protect certain interests of its strategic allies, especially those which may call into question the efficacy of US agreements?
Unfortunately, Pakistan seems to be a choice target to attack on all issues -- as if extremism, violent religious cults, corruption and political inadequacies are peculiar only to us! Perhaps we present an easy target because we are highly critical of ourselves. To read the press would be to believe that nothing is right with us. This is certainly not the reality on the ground, despite all our faults. We are allowing ourselves to be overcome by a negative milieu in which all and sundry feel they can lash out at will and get away with it. Mr Crocker certainly felt that. Yet, there should be no room for a viceroy in the sovereign state of Pakistan.
The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad
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Indian intimacy with Saddam

Shireen M Mazari

Recent revelations regarding former Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh's linkage to the UN oil-for-food programme scandal should not have come as a surprise to anyone who knew of the long history of close cooperation between India and the Saddam regime, especially between the Iraqi Ba'ath Party and the Indian Congress Party. This relationship had a strong strategic dimension to it which the US would do well to recall as it goes into a strategic partnership with India which includes a nuclear dimension.
The India-Iraq relationship also had a nuclear component going back to the first Indian nuclear test in 1974, as highlighted in a document of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). It was in 1974 that Saddam flew into India specifically to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with the Indira Gandhi government. This agreement included exchange of scientists, training and technology transfers. Iraqi scientists were working in India's fuel reprocessing laboratories when India separated plutonium for its first nuclear explosive device. Later, those same Iraqi scientists were in charge of the nuclear fuel reprocessing unit supplied to Iraq by the Italian company, CNEN. This was followed by an Indian scientist spending a year at the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission's computer centre, training Iraqis in the use of nuclear computer codes.
So it was hardly surprising to find Iraq supporting India's nuclear tests. The Ba'ath Party's newspaper, Al-Thawra, declared: "We cannot see how anyone can ask India not to develop nuclear weapons and its long-range missiles at a time [when] it is like any other big state with its human and scientific potential" (ISIS brief, May 28, 1998). Also, in May 1998, a Baghdad weekly, owned by Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday, announced that India had agreed to enrol several groups of Iraqi engineers "in advanced technological courses" scheduled for mid-July. The field of training was left unspecified.
An Indian company, NEC Engineers Private Ltd, is believed to have helped Iraq acquire equipment and materials "capable of being used for the production of chemicals for mass destruction," according to a CNN report of January 26, 2003. The company also sent technical personnel to Iraq, including to the Fallujah II chemical plant. Between 1998 and 2001, NEC Engineers Private Ltd shipped 10 consignments of highly sensitive equipment, including titanium vessels and centrifugal pumps to Iraq.
Nor was Iraq-India cooperation limited to the hi-tech and nuclear fields. Before the Gulf War of 1990-91, Iraq was one of the major sources of India's oil imports and one of the biggest markets for India's project exports, mostly in the construction sector. With the onset of the Gulf War in 1990-91, and the imposition of UN sanctions, India's trade with Iraq suffered seriously. That is why India opposed the sanctions regime. As late as September 2000, India's then minister of state for external affairs, Ajit Kumar Panja, visited Iraq. In his meeting with Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yasin Ramadhan, he said, "India has been and is against any sanctions and we tried to convince all bilaterally and multilaterally, even at UN forums, that sanctions against Iraq must be lifted."
On the sidelines of the 1998 NAM Summit in Durban, South Africa, a meeting between India's prime minister at that time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the then Iraqi vice-president, expanded Indo-Iraqi cooperation with the setting up of a joint business council. In November 2000, Iraqi Vice-President Taha Ramadhan visited India, the highest Iraqi dignitary to travel to India in 25 years.
The Indian media consistently played up the intimacy of the Saddam regime with India and the consistency of the support provided by Saddam for Indian positions. Under a Times of India headline of July 7, 2002, 'Iraq conveys support to India on J&K issue', it was reported that Saddam Hussein had "conveyed his principled and unwavering support to India on the Kashmir issue and said Iraq greatly values its relationship with New Delhi." Saddam conveyed his views to the visiting Indian petroleum minister, Ram Naik, and declared that "friendship with India had been a source of strength not only to Iraq but to the Arab world." Two days later (July 9, 2002), the Times of India carried another story titled 'Iraq prizes ties with India: Saddam Hussein', in which Saddam stated that "We are ready to cooperate with India, and we say this not because we are under siege but within a strategic vision of the region and the world; most importantly, within the framework of India's relations with Arabs." During this visit by Ram Naik to Iraq in July 2002, Iraq and India signed an agreement to boost trade ties, especially in the oil sector. During the visit, the Iraqi oil minister, Amir Muhammed Rasheed, described India as a "strategic partner". By July 2002, bilateral trade between Baghdad and New Delhi under the 'oil-for-food' programme had reached $1.1bn. So an Indian connection in the scandal related to this programme was almost a given.
It is believed that talks on oil vouchers probably took place when the then Iraqi vice-president visited India in 2000. According to India Today (December 12, 2005), Singh managed to get an invitation in his name and then got clearance for a four-member Congress delegation to visit Iraq from January 17-24, 2001. Singh then added his son and his business partner, Andaleeb Sehgal, to the official delegation. Apparently, it was on this trip that the deal was sealed and four million barrels of oil were allocated by the Saddam regime to Singh and four million to the Congress.
Nor did India develop close strategic links only with Iraq, once again during a Congress government. Following a visit to Iran by Indira Gandhi in April 1974, in which agreements were reached on a number of cooperative ventures including in the technological field, India went on to sign a formal nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in February 1975 -- similar to the one signed with Iraq a few years earlier. The Iran-India nuclear connection in terms of scientist and technology exchanges has been listed in these columns earlier. But clearly in the seventies and eighties, the Indian state saw nothing wrong with playing a proliferator role in the nuclear field. The energy issue has also been critical in Indian considerations, and continues to be so. That Iraq and Iran are major energy suppliers was certainly a crucial consideration for India in its nuclear cooperation with these two countries. Now India is also wooing the Saudi Kingdom and King Abdullah is to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi in January 2006. Of course, the Muslim angle is also a factor as close links with Muslim states plays well with India's Muslim population.
The question is whether the US and other western powers are either oblivious to this role or have deliberately chosen to ignore the Saddam-India connections that continue to surface. As the US moves effectively towards undermining the NPT and recognising India as a nuclear weapons power, the answer to this question will clarify the proliferation issue for the Pakistani state and civil society.
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Dangerous politics of exclusivity

Shireen M Mazari


The political mistrust dominating and distorting the issue of water distribution and dams in Pakistan have become so pronounced that unless these are overcome, there can be no rational debate on the issue. Undoubtedly the country needs three major dams but the where and how surrounding one of them has become a political minefield. This has been the result of years of a politically exclusivist approach that has been adopted by the ruling elite. No matter which province we look at, politics from the local level up have been and are dominated by political mafias involving families, biradaris, tribes, and so on. Instead of sharing the expanding network of power, they continue to sustain an exclusivity that marginalises anyone wanting to break the mode.
We witnessed this in the last stages of the local body elections in Rajanpur district, but the example is not unique. After successfully challenging the political mafia at the union council level, we were bulldozed into supporting one of the two political mafias that prevail in the district. The Dreeshak mafia, presently in power with the support of the deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly -- who left the PPP after decades of a politically useless existence -- sought total control. Mr Dreeshak is an MNA and of his two sons, one is the Punjab finance minister and the other has now become the district nazim. So the mafia looked within its circle to the deputy speaker's nephew -- whose name had only just been struck from a kidnapping FIR in Rahimyar Khan, thanks to the political power bosses in the Punjab. While no one doubted the hold of the Dreeshak mafia, as with all folk heady with power, they could not accept even a small challenge in the shape of a woman contender for the District's naib nazim post.
It was fascinating to see how the local power plays work because it helped in understanding why the area has remained underdeveloped! No one outside the mafias ever gets to see any of the development funds. As for women, they were barely to be seen in the area in terms of the political landscape until Mehrine Mazari successfully challenged the mafia in the union council nazim elections.
This challenged the mafia structure of the district, so when the district council elections came up, the heat was on. We were offered all manner of political lures if only we complied in the district elections. With the districts now controlling local affairs and the kitty, the national political scene has become far less attractive for those with no national commitment. Becoming fed up with an unresponsive and corrupt system of the local political bosses, we chose to persist with our challenge.
Clearly, President Musharraf's enlightened moderation and support for political space for women in the country has not filtered down to the politicians. Because we had dared to challenge, unsuccessfully, we are now under constant threat in our village from one or the other henchmen of Dreeshak and his sidekick, the deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly. Where earlier we received calls offering all manner of lucrative political rewards for not challenging the Dreeshak mafia, now we are getting threats of dire consequences.
But we feel the challenge was necessary and worthwhile. After all, for decades the political mafias have controlled the fate of the local people with no attention to health, education and the welfare of women and children. There has never been any accountability of local funds. That is why there is a need to challenge and expose these decadent structures.
President Musharraf must break up these mafias to successfully move this country into enlightened moderation and modernity -- despite pulls by forces of exclusivity. The decadent political mafia is as much of a threat to this society as religious extremism. The mafia mindset does not seek inclusivity, which implies widening the consensual base. Instead it thrives on exclusivity and an 'us vs them' mindset.
The dams' issue has also been distorted by this mindset, creating divisions amongst the provinces and sustaining unresponsive political elites in power. For instance, in Sindh, the waderas are allowed first right to water when the canals open. With no regard for efficiency and conservation, they leave little for the small peasants -- simply telling them that Punjab is stealing their water. The real problem in Sindh is one of maldistribution of water within the province -- which has led to waterlogging. Of the three barrages -- Guddu, Kotri and Sukkur -- the first two serve northern and southern Sindh abundantly, but central Sindh gets very limited water from Sukkur barrage. So what is required is a more equitable distribution of water within Sindh.
As for fears relating to Kalabagh dam (KBD), they centre on the issue of undermining of flood irrigation in the katcha areas, increase in sea intrusion and destruction of the mangrove forests and fish culture as a result of lack of fresh water supply. However, presently on an average basis 35 maf of Indus and its tributaries' water is thrown into the sea below Kotri and the KBD capacity is only to be 6.1 maf --which would leave enough fresh water to flow into the sea. Also, with the amount of water allocated to Sindh from new storage sites on the Indus, there could be all year round water and farming for the katcha areas. How this would impact on the hold of the waderas is another issue!
As for the NWFP, there are serious issues of waterlogging and massive displacement of people, especially in the Mardan area where the drains empty into the Kabul river and it is feared that the raising of the water level as a result of KBD would make these non-functional and result in Swabi getting waterlogged. Yet these fears have been dealt with in the Wapda studies and the KBD design modified accordingly. However, the issue of displacement of people requires sensitive handling.
There is also the issue of monetary royalties for power stations built alongside the large dams and has aggravated inter-provincial suspicions. The NWFP gets royalty for the Tarbela dam powerhouse located within the province. The KBD would have its powerhouse located in the Punjab. Perhaps it is time to examine alternatives to the royalty system.
Undoubtedly the KBD issue needs to be dealt with sensitivity and it does no one any good when the political elite of Punjab chooses to adopt a blustering approach. That the dams are vital is clear. But it may be better to begin by building the non-controversial dams and build the consensus on the KBD through a policy of inclusivity. The politics of exclusivity have been the bane of this country's existence for decades. It is time to affect a paradigm shift in our political culture. A framework of inclusivity requires tolerance and patience and a radical move away from elitism. Power may make exclusivity more tempting in the short run, but no good has ever come from this approach.
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Pak-India dialogue:
A qualitative change


Shireen M Mazari

The third round of the composite dialogue between Pakistan and India begins later this month with the foreign secretary-level talks in New Delhi on January 17-18. The atmospherics, that had sustained the 'feel-good' milieu despite no substantive movement on any conflictual issue, have finally altered to reflect a more realistic situation on the ground. Despite Pakistan's continuing concessionary initiatives on Kashmir and other issue areas, India has totally vitiated the atmosphere by holding forth on Balochistan and expressing its 'concern' over what it refers to as the spiralling violence and 'heavy military action'. Even though Pakistan objected to this unwarranted meddling in the country's internal affairs, the Indians continued with their tirades.

Why should we be surprised at this Indian effort to interfere in Balochistan? After all, many of us have been pointing to the fact that India will use its access in Afghanistan to conduct Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) within Pakistan simply to keep Pakistan under pressure. After all, we saw something similar happening when India opened its consulate in Zahidan, Iran and eventually the proof was so overwhelming that Pakistan had to approach the Iranian government. Regardless of the efficacy or otherwise of the present Pakistani government's actions in Balochistan to deal with the terrorist threat, the fact of the matter is that there is abundant money coming from some quarters which is allowing terrorists to purchase sophisticated weapons. Now Iran, with its own sensitivities on its side of Balochistan will hardly want to aid instability so close to its borders at a time when it is already facing other international crises. But the US would like to see Balochistan remain undeveloped so that Iran is not given any access to the East -- all part of its efforts to isolate Iran. And India has never missed an opportunity to try and keep Pakistan bleeding. So there is logic in President Musharraf's accusation that there were strong indications of Indian financial involvement in Balochistan.

But it is not just Indian statements on Balochistan that have vitiated the atmospherics between Pakistan and India. It is also India's continuously negative responses to Pakistani initiatives on Kashmir that have finally altered the atmospherics on the bilateral dialogue. With both Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership, including Mir Waiz and the APHC, seeking demilitarisation as a major CBM, India has revealed its rigidity on the Kashmir issue by not only rejecting such proposals but also declaring that demilitarisation or redeployment of forces in Indian-Occupied Kashmir was a 'sovereign' decision of New Delhi. In other words, that IOK was Indian territory. Clearly India has not moved an iota since the dialogue commenced on Kashmir despite a continuous flow of suggested concessions from Pakistan! Of course, demilitarisation of Kashmir has been a part of UN resolutions on the conflict also, so Pakistan does not have to give any quid pro quos when it demands the same.

Unfortunately, our somewhat confused Foreign Minister, seems so eager to please what he seems to regards as his Indian constituency that following India's blatant snub of President Musharraf's demilitarisation proposal, he followed up by suggesting that Pakistan was willing to remove its deployed forces from AJK. He then added that Pakistan "also wants the entire region to be demilitarised by both Pakistan and India". So he has either inadvertently, or deliberately, not linked Pakistani demilitarisation with a simultaneous move by India. Instead, he has said that additionally -- the word 'also' is what he used -- Pakistan would like both itself and India to demilitarise the 'entire region'. One really shudders to think how he envisages the composition of this 'entire region!' Words are critical in diplomacy but we are still not careful in how we use them.

Coming back to the dialogue process, now that the false 'feel-good' atmospherics are over, Pakistan needs to take a good hard look at what has been achieved so far in the two years that are now nearing completion, since the dialogue began.

• On Kashmir, India has reasserted its old line of IOK being an integral part of the Indian Union and all that India seems to be seeking is to gain access to freer movement of people and goods across the LoC so that this becomes the de facto international border.

• On Siachin, the Indians want to rewrite the agreement that both sides had almost signed in the late eighties, so that the line from where they would withdraw is demarcated. Effectively this would mean that their territorial claim to that area would be bolstered since demarcation of a withdrawal line implies ownership over it in the first place.

* On the water dispute, India's unrelenting rigidity on Baglihar and Kishanganga has meant that Pakistan will have to persist in seeking international arbitration.

* On Sir Creek also India has failed to budge in order to get an agreement.

So what has happened as a result of the dialogue? More trade opportunities for India and greater access for Indian politicians into Pakistan. A far more insidious development has been the linkages moving apace between Pakistan's Punjab and Indian Punjab. It was strange to hear a call from US Senator Dan Burton asking Pakistan and India to resolve the Khalistan issue. What has Pakistan to do with this issue unless Mr Burton is seeking support for the notion of Greater Punjab? Could this be a new can of worms opening for Pakistan? With Punjabi political leaders gracing Indian Punjab's calendars and with road development from Wagah to Indian sacred sites in Pakistan in full swing what is happening between the two Punjabs?

One additional factor that also needs to be brought into the calculations is the US role now that India and the US are strategic partners and nuclear allies. Judging by the rather worn-out rhetoric and advice of American scholars visiting Pakistan in recent times, the US would like to push Pakistan not only into accepting the Indian position on conflictual issues but also into accepting greater curbs over its nuclear programme and ideally they would like to see open acrimony between Pakistan and Iran. One way is to go along with Indian covert efforts at LIC in Balochistan even though the end game for the two may be different at the strategic level.

Under these circumstances, while breaking off the dialogue would serve no purpose, going into it in a more realistic fashion is certainly the need of the hour. Now that the atmospherics are not clouding the ground realities, Pakistan needs to realise that for two years its peace overtures and initiatives have all been repudiated by an unrelentingly obdurate India. So now we should wait for India to make the next move. Unilateral concessions never work and they have not done so for Pakistan. It is time to alter our game plan as we go in for the third round of the Pakistan-India dialogue process.

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

Email: smnews80@hotmail.com
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Old Wednesday, January 18, 2006
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Bajaur: US attempt to destabilise government? Shireen M Mazari
The missile attack by the US on Pakistani territory in Bajaur Agency on Friday, 13th January, has naturally drawn strong reaction from Pakistanis across the board. The government's reaction has been somewhat muted, even though the US ambassador was summoned by the Foreign Office. At an immediate level, this act reflects a lack of respect for Pakistan's sovereignty and a neo-imperialist approach to the territorial integrity of "other" states. In addition, it once again shows a complete lack of concern for innocent human lives -- especially if they happen to be Muslims. After all, the main victims in this latest US outrage were women and children. Worse still, it also shows that the US is not only trigger happy, but also continues to suffer from bad intelligence -- for which innocent Pakistanis have to pay with their lives. And not as much as even an expression of regret for the loss of innocent lives.
However, going beyond the obvious, one needs to really examine why this action happened at this particular time. One needs to then focus on a disturbing question: Is the US trying to destabilise the present government and the state of Pakistan? What exactly is the US gameplan? The reason why these questions arise is because it is abundantly clear to everyone that Pakistan is in the grip of political controversies, not only over the Kalabagh Dam but also the situation in Balochistan. The last thing the government of Pakistan needed at this time was to see a so-called ally carry out a missile attack on its territories -- especially given that we are supposed to be allies in the war on terror and therefore committed to taking action ourselves, if required, in our own territory against al-Qaeda suspects. After all, it has been Pakistan that has so far helped to deliver all the al-Qaeda leadership to the US. So why this unilateral action?
The suspicions become more substantiated when one sees how the action was coordinated by a media campaign in the US which gave out that the attack was not only in the knowledge of the Pakistan government but supported by them operationally. What purpose can such disinformation serve but to discredit the present GoP? Had there been any truth in this information at all, the intelligence would have not been so inaccurate! For anyone in the GoP who still feels that there was nothing insidious in US intent towards Islamabad should take careful note of Condoleezza Rice's statement defending this arrogant act of violence. She not only stood by the killing of innocent Pakistanis but also declared that the US would "try to address" Pakistani government concerns -- meaning that at the end of the day such concerns clearly were of limited value to the US. She went on to add that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were not "people who could be dealt with lightly", but clearly she regards Pakistanis as such. As for her imperious declaration that the biggest threat to Pakistan is al-Qaeda's attempts to "radicalise" the country, she should rest assured that if the US continues to behave this way in this region and globally, it will do al-Qaeda's job for them. Post-9/11, US policies have created an ever-expanding political space for this terrorist outfit.
But coming back to the timing of the missile attack -- it came a few days before the secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India, which are taking place in the backdrop of Pakistan linking the terrorism in Balochistan to India and India rejecting Pakistan's demilitarisation and self-governance proposals on Kashmir. The missile attack also comes when the GoP is already burdened with critical political issues within the country. The attack precedes the visit to South Asia of US Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Nicholas Burns -- the man who in his ultimate ignorance declared that India had an impeccable record on non-proliferation, having totally ignored India's nuclear cooperation treaties with Iran and the Saddam regime and a well-documented record of Indian nuclear assistance to Iran including in the form of scientists working in Bushehr. Finally, the attack came a few days before Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's visit to the US.
What purpose does such a murderous missile attack serve? It creates more problems within Pakistan for the GoP, especially allowing the opposition forces to unite under a common cause. It destabilises the border area with Afghanistan further, again allowing for greater space to the terrorists. It creates even more problems for the Pakistan military, not only in Balochistan, but also in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. It certainly helps detract Pakistan from a forceful approach towards India in the secretary-level talks; and it presents a dilemma for the political forces within the GoP thereby creating more fissures within the ruling party. Already there have been calls from some PML members for the cancellation of the US visit by the Pakistani Prime Minister. Whichever way one looks at it, there seems to be little purpose in this unwarranted act of military destruction on the part of the US, beyond undermining the present GoP. A dangerous aspect of the present US policy is the growing sense that it is attempting to play the military against the political forces in Pakistan. Even more dangerous is that this action will add to the alienation and misery of the people of the tribal belt; so is the US intent to break up the state of Pakistan? US arrogance is also reflected in the declarations of US Senators like McCain and Bayh that the US would do the same again -- with Bayh referring to the tribal belt as the "wild, wild west", and we know what happened to the native population of the "wild west" in the US!
So it makes little sense for the Pakistan government to pussyfoot on the issue of condemning the US missile attack -- the second of its kind so far against Pakistan. At the very least the Prime Minister should postpone his present visit to the US. There are times when the leadership has to show a greater sensitivity to its own civil society from which it eventually must draw its strength, rather than the demands of external forces. We have shown an amazing level of tolerance for US abuse of our sovereignty, including raids across the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan to kidnap individuals from Pakistani soil. Surely we have reached the limits of tolerance now?
Therefore, we should also tell Mr Burns not to visit us on this round of his South Asian tour. Finally, the President needs to summon back our ambassador in the US, as this will signal a strong and unequivocal condemnation of the US action. We should not allow ourselves to be treated with the level of disdain and frivolity which the US is heaping on us, even as it forges ahead with its strategic partnership with India. There comes a time when we need to be assertive regardless of our internal limitations -- especially when we are in the right in defending the sanctity of our territory and our nationals' lives. We expect no less from any GoP
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Old Wednesday, January 25, 2006
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Inexplicable commissions and omissions

Shireen M Mazari

It must always be an ego-boosting experience for American officials to visit Pakistan after New Delhi. After all, in India they meet only their equivalent Indian officials and political leaders. Hence we saw Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns meet with Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. On arrival in Pakistan, in the wake of the Bajaur missile attacks that killed innocent Pakistani civilians and in the face of an arrogant American refusal to even express regret, forget about apologising, Burns had access to all tiers of Pakistani officialdom and leadership.

No one bothered to recall Mr Burns's defence of the Indo-US nuclear agreement in terms of India's so-called 'impeccable' non-proliferation record. Conveniently suffering from amnesia, Burns chose to forget India's nuclear and other military dealings with the Saddam regime and with Iran. And it is now abundantly clear that one of our major failings is our excessive politeness and accommodation when it comes to foreigners, especially from the West. So of course we were not about to correct Burns's politically correct amnesia.

However, what was truly astounding to learn was that many Pakistani politicians who had been taking on the government on the Bajaur issue adopted silence at a meeting the US ambassador had arranged at his residence, on January 21, for select to meet with Burns. Yet another meeting was held a day or so later, which was reported in some sections of the press. Of course one would have thought that, as a protest against Bajaur, the Pakistanis would have refused the invite. After all, so many in the opposition were wanting the government to take a strong stand on the issue and some politicians were advocating cancellation of the prime minister's visit to the US. But there they all were, at the US ambassador's residence, greeting Mr Burns and - barring the MQM representative -- maintaining a deafening silence on Bajaur (at least in the Saturday meeting).

Worse still, instead of discussing US policies in this region and the unacceptable efforts of the US to delink India's nuclear status from that of Pakistan's, the Pakistanis present chose to embark on a harangue against the state of affairs within the country and the terrible acts of commission and omission by the present government. Now what was the purpose of discussing Pakistan's internal issues with a US official? Are we seeking US intervention on an even greater level within our domestic affairs? It is no wonder then that while the US discusses security and foreign policy issues and cooperation with India, in Pakistan they make pronouncements on our democratic dispensation and other internal problems.

This is truly our national tragedy: we cannot decide whether we want to assert our sovereignty and keep foreign powers like the US from meddling in our internal affairs, or if we want them to listen to us vent against the state and intervene. After all, there is no point in ranting and raving to a US official unless we are seeking his country's intervention in our domestic affairs. Is this what our opposition is seeking? If that be the case, they can hardly complain about the government's seeming compliance with US policies. One wonders where our national self-respect and circumspection is when we come into contact with US officials? Is it any wonder they can kill our citizens with impunity?

We now have our Foreign Office spokesperson declaring that Pakistan has not sought an apology from the US. Why? Do we hold our citizens lives in such contempt that we can simply accept their deaths as so much acceptable 'collateral damage'? What is extremely disturbing is a report in the US weekly Time magazine stating that Islamabad has an understanding with Washington that the US can conduct military attacks within Pakistan's border regions following which Pakistan will conduct formal protests to deflect domestic criticism. One hopes this report will be strongly contradicted by the Government of Pakistan for it totally undermines the country's basic sovereignty.

Meanwhile, as a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), I am disturbed by the latest HRCP Report on Balochistan - not only by what is included but also by what has been ignored or merely mentioned in passing. I have always held the HRCP and its chairperson in the highest esteem and admired the latter's indomitable courage in the face of extreme personal dangers. While we may disagree on many issues, there is never any doubt as to her commitment to the upholding of human rights. That is why the new report on Balochistan is a surprise, because it focuses on only one side of the story.

It documents abuses by the state but does not examine the root causes that have militarised the situation. It merely touches on the tribal system and the tribal leaders who continue to maintain private armies, massive armaments and their own system of justice. It condemns the state's use of military action but does not recommend how the state should deal with the land mines laid by 'militants' and rockets launched by unknown groups and individuals against not only military personnel but also the head of state. The militarised response of the state has not come about in a vacuum and rocket fire cannot be countered simply with political dialogue.

Interestingly, the report does accept the existence of 'militants' and expresses concern "over the fact that militants had placed land mines along roads". However, in its recommendations, it merely requests these militants to de-mine these areas! But how should the state deal with those who indulge in such militarised activities?

The report is also unwilling to recommend ways to bring tribal leaders into the mainstream of national laws, even though it admits that "Balochistan is awash with arms". The report does recommend that "all steps" be taken to end penal sanctions, jirgas and private prisons, but how does the state compel the tribal leaders to disband their private militias, jails and hand over their large arsenals? The report also mentions inter-tribal feuds but again does not focus on these as one major source of human rights abuse. As for tribal norms, these are also not examined and condemned for their multiple human rights abuses.

In terms of disappearances and the deaths of innocent citizens, the report gives a harrowing account which cannot be condoned by anyone. But it is interesting that the report especially notes that "the dead included some Hindus", as if that makes the killings worse. The report talks of "alarming accounts of summary executions, some allegedly carried out by paramilitary forces." Who are the other parties who may have allegedly carried out these executions? Why have these not been mentioned? Elaboration on this count would give a clearer picture of the brutal tribal system. If the people fear the state, they also fear the wrath of the tribal chiefs.

The recommendations should be heeded but there are some noticeable omissions. Why a crucial recommendation to deweaponise the province has been left out is inexplicable. After all, unless there is deweaponisation, violence will always remain endemic. Of course, it is a weakness of the state that the tribal system continues to follow its own writ. But it is also easier to condemn the state while ignoring the ground realities of the violence and abuse of human rights, especially of women, that are part of the tribal system. If a rational assessment is to be made of the present situation in Balochistan, all aspects of the ground realities have to be examined fully and the fault lines exposed across the board. This is where the HRCP's latest Report on Balochistan is found wanting.
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