Pak Interests Differ from US on Substantive Issues

By Dr. Shireen M Mazari

The Americans cannot understand mainstream Pakistan because they never get beyond the selected few amongst even the elite, the rulers and the civil and military bureaucracies. Ms Clinton never got the real picture on her earlier visit and surely she will not understand the depth of the anti-American sentiment that prevails in Pakistan today, despite (or perhaps because of) the massive inflows of intrusive aid into this country.

We are told she has come with a $500 million aid package and apparently the aid will go into power, agriculture, health and dams also – but as we all know for the Americans there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – and already our country is bleeding because of the alliance with the US so we are going to be bled some more with this aid package which is believed to be part of the old $ 7.5 billion Congressional aid package.

So why is one seeing this as a “bribe”? Simply because it is intended to soften the blow that the US is trying to deal Pakistan in terms of altering what remains of our indigenous foreign policy. So much has also been admitted by the self-styled expert on Pakistan, like many others on Holbrooke’s team, Vali Nasr. In a talk with CNN while he admitted that there was a wide trust gap between Pakistan and the US, besides stating that changing the relationship would take time. But his assessment was that “We are not going to be able to change their foreign policy on a dime.” If he had been a proper expert on Pakistan and actually knew the country well, he would have realised that it is not money that will alter Pakistan’s thinking (leaving aside the fifth columnists) on the US, but actually policy changes in US strategic policy especially in this region.

What are the primary changes the US will need to make to allow Pakistanis to rethink their perceptions of the US?

One, a stop in drone attacks, which can in definitional terms be regarded as state terrorism against the Pakistani people. Let Pakistan talk to its militants – many of whom are Pakistani citizens – rather than demanding our military simply kill the people of FATA indiscriminately.

Two, a new approach to the Pakistan-India relationship and a more even-handed policy towards both states. As long as the Indo-US nuclear agreement remains and the US pressurises Pakistan on its civil nuclear agreements with China, the US will be suspect. Also, the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapon systems to India with no restrictions on their use, and the highly conditional sale of F-16s to Pakistan also add to the suspicions about the US agenda for Pakistan. And let us not forget the missile defence system for India, which will compel Pakistan to increase the number of its warheads and missiles. On Kashmir also, the recent statement by the US State Department, echoing the Indian position and ignoring the disputed status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir within the UNSC, hardly creates confidence in Pakistan. Many are asking why this is so and what the secret clauses are to this Agreement since the US is desperately seeking access for India through the land route across Pakistan into Afghanistan?

Three, the US has to rid itself of its approach to the Muslim World, especially towards Muslim states that refuse to toe the US line. Its killings of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; its harassment of Muslims in the US itself all add to the anti-US sentiment. The US analysts are ignorant about the fact that Pakistan has since 1947 been in the frontline of assisting Muslim causes – be it our pilots flying Syrian planes against Israel or the Tunisian and Algerian leadership using Pakistani passports and our embassy in Paris as they struggled for independence from France – to cite a few examples only. Read more of this post

Kashmiris, Nagas and Sikhs demand end to Indian Imperialism

LONDON, (APP)- On the occasion of India’s Republic Day, a powerful joint appeal Tuesday to the international community by key Kashmiri, Naga and Sikh leaders has highlighted the fundamental conflicts and contradictions at the heart of the Indian state, as well as the unwavering intent of their nations to secure freedom in accordance with their right to self-determination as enshrined in international law.

They issued a call to the international community to play a constructive role in dismantling India’s unlawful hold on their territories, which has been maintained purely by military means at the cost of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives since 1947, and to restore fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law in the most volatile region of the world.

The leaders included Syed Ali Shah Gilani, Chair of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir, Naga leader Th. Muivah, General Secretary of the NSCN-IM and Kanwarpal Singh of Dal Khalsa in Punjab.

Their message was endorsed by leading organisations based in the respective Diaspora communities which held demonstrations outside the Indian High Commission in London and elsewhere to once again publicly reject the Indian constitution as being applicable to their territories.

Rubbishing India’s claims to be a democratic, secular, peaceable state which complies with its international obligations, they pointed to the reality of a belligerent, militaristic state which oppresses the minorities and nations under its control, which has become a serial violator of international law and human rights.

They said Indian armed forces chief Deepak Kapoor’s recent public comments about bringing both China and Pakistan to their knees within 96 hours of a war betrays the dangerous  and aggressive mindset of the Indian establishment which has already conducted undeclared wars on the Naga, Sikh, Kashmiri and other nations using brutal means, systematically violating basic human rights, as routinely pointed out by the world’s leading human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international.

Pending India’s compliance with the international standards the Naga, Kashmiri and Sikh leadership urged the international community to robustly dismiss India’s pretensions to a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

“It would be the height of folly indeed to reward a serial violator of basic international norms by giving it the means to frustrate the one international body that can hold it to account,” they observed.

They pledged to work together, along with their friends in the region and beyond, in order to promote a peaceful transition from the current unjust framework of Indian colonialism to a new order in South Asia where freedom, peace and security and justice would prevail.

The withdrawal of Indian forces from these occupied territories would be a pre-requisite for that transformation. Instead of indulging itself in Republic Day posturing, India would do better to reflect on the crimes it has committed and its own inherent contradictions.

Threatening its neighbours and inhumanly oppressing minorities may have become the raison d’etre for ‘Hindutva,’ but these policies offend the very notion of religion and will surely ultimately prove suicidal for  the Indian state.

It demanded ejecting India from all the UN’s humanitarian bodies until it improves its appalling record of mistreating its religious minorities.

In August 2009, the United States Commission for International Religious Freedoms put India on its ‘watch list’ of states that fail to protect such groups.

In the UK, Muhammad Ghalib, Chair of the All Party Kashmir Co-ordination Committee,  Amrik Singh Sahota , President of the Council of Khalistan, and the Naga Support Centre all pledged to continue their campaign to enlist international support for the peaceable implementation of their national rights.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Chair of ‘Parliamentarians for National Self-Determination’, the cross party group at the Westminster parliament which promotes national self-determination, endorsed these demands.

Having been recently denied a visa to visit India specifically because of his support for these causes, he castigated the ongoing oppression of these freedom loving nations and urged the international community to hold India to account for its crimes.      Reflecting on India’s refusal to grant him a visa, he noted the move was consistent with India’s attempts to conceal its record by denying human rights groups, UN officials and independent observers access to conflict zones.

He remarked that all this was futile with the true picture is becoming ever more apparent to the global community which will be forced to act sooner or later.

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