KASHMIR – The Dispute That Continues to Rock South Asia

By Shahid R. Siddiqi

The Conflict

A cartoon published in an American newspaper in 2002 showed former president George Bush sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office, utterly confused by a news report he was reading about India and Pakistan going to war over Kashmir. “But why are the two countries fighting over a sweater,” he asked Dick Cheney who stood by with his usual sly smile on his face.

Besides reflecting the intellectual capacity of the American president of the time, the cartoon was a realistic portrayal of the understanding that American leaders have generally shown of this longstanding dispute between Pakistan and India.

The unresolved Kashmir conflict has rocked South Asia for six decades. It has created an environment of distrust and acrimony, forced the people to sink into poverty with bulk of the resources consumed by the war machines and claimed lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians as well as soldiers who died in the three wars fought between India and Pakistan. India, whose forcible occupation of Kashmir in 1947 created the conflict, refuses to settle it. The other stake holders, the Kashmiri people and Pakistan, insist on a fair solution. The international community including the US and the United Nations played little or no role in diffusing it either. Consequently, the conflict has developed into one of the most intractable problems of international politics that remains a continuing threat to peace of the region.

Indian Brutalities & The International Reaction

India has not hesitated to use brutal force to maintain its hold on Indian occupied Kashmir and suppress revolt. The US, UN and other international organizations failed to take note of grave human rights violations. They failed to provide any specific, actionable proposals for a permanent solution. All they extended were diplomatic courtesies, suggested vague formulas and generalities that are open to multiple interpretations.

Although the US considers South Asia to be a sensitive and strategically important region from its geopolitical, security and economic standpoint and has expressed the desire to see peace prevail, yet it has so far paid only lip service to finding a permanent solution. It would not chastise India for human rights violations, which would have attracted its immediate attention if these were taking place in a country that it had chosen to punish, for fear of displeasing or alienating India which it has aggressively been courting in recent years.

This situation was compounded by the Indian dreams of regional hegemony that led it to dismember Pakistan in 1971 and go on to become a nuclear power, which forced Pakistan to develop its own nuclear deterrent for safeguarding its security.

Consequently, India has consistently and blatantly refused to honor the will of the people, negotiate Kashmir’s future status and stop the use of brutal force.

The Conflict Leads To The First Kashmir War

In the wake of the August 1947 partition of British India that brought into existence two sovereign states of the Indian Union and Pakistan, the British left after having midwifed the Kashmir dispute that has since bedeviled peace between the two countries. Essentially, the agreed principle that governed partition was that Muslim majority states to the east and west of British India would form Pakistan, while rest of the subcontinent was to form Indian Union.

Decisions by several Muslim rulers for accession of their states to Pakistan that had Hindu majorities (Hyderabad, Junagadh and Manavadar being cases in point) were rejected on the grounds that a Muslim ruler did not have the right to overrule the will of the Hindu majority population. But the decision of the Hindu Raja of the princely state of Kashmir, which was predominantly a Muslim majority state and should have acceded to Pakistan, was immediately accepted by the British viceroy and the Indian government, despite a popular Kashmiri revolt against his decision. Although an agreement of non-intervention in Kashmir had been signed between India and Pakistan, the new Indian government sent troops into Kashmir at the request of the Hindu ruler to enforce the instrument of accession and forcibly occupy the territory, in disregard of the agreed principle of accession applied elsewhere.

This led to the first Kashmir war in 1947 between India and Pakistan. In 1948 India sought cease fire, taking the issue to the UN Security Council, which passed resolution 47 on 21 April 1948 that imposed an immediate cease-fire along the line of actual control of territory by both parties and called on them to withdraw their troops. It also ruled that “the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.” The cease fire was enacted in December 1948, with both governments agreeing to hold the plebiscite in areas under their control. Ever since, India has been rejecting all resolutions of the Security Council and the proposals of the UN arbitrators for demilitarization of the region – all of which were accepted by Pakistan.

The Security Council Steps In

Although the resolutions of the Security Council were regarded as the ‘documents of reference’ for a durable and internationally acceptable solution, no steps were ever taken for their implementation. This was because in technical terms these were not mandatory – not having been based under Chapter VII of the Charter. This allowed India to get away, dashing the false expectations of the Kashmiris as to the possible role of the United Nations as facilitator of a solution to the Kashmir problem.

This injustice to the Kashmiri people was intrinsically linked to the veto privilege of the permanent members of the Security Council and the lack of unanimity between them for enforcement measures according to Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter. Their plight is similar to that of the Palestinians, in whose case also resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) that call upon Israel to withdraw from occupied Arab territories are not based on Chapter VII and have hence enabled the occupying country, Israel, to ignore them.

That the United Nations Organization follows double standards was clearly visible when it adopted compulsory resolutions in other conflict situations, such as in case of the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990-1991, where the US – a permanent member, having an interest in the matter, was able to force the hand of other permanent members to do its bidding.

The cease fire line between the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir has since become the Line of Control and continues to be monitored by UN observers. Read more of this post

China — the all time superpower

Ali Sukhanver

Fortunes and misfortunes always go side by side. Pakistan is fortunate enough to have a friend like China as a neighbour but unfortunate to have a neighbour like India who never desires for stability and prosperity of Pakistan. The Pakistanis must be thankful to God for making China its neighbour because the situation could have been much painful for them if there were no China in the region. Pak-China friendship is time -tested and progressing by leaps and bounds every moment. Unluckily this friendship is proving itself much agonizing for those countries which dream of ruling this region on the basis of economic and political exploitation. This close cordial relationship between Pakistan and China has always been a target for such countries.

According to the reports the US authorities and other western countries always feel uneasy when they find the exemplary friendship between the two countries going ‘higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the ocean’. That is the reason they always try to create hitches and hurdles between the friendly relations of Pakistan and China. It is also said that the USA is providing nuclear support to India just to counter the increasing influence of China in the region. USA is very well aware of the fact that China is the only country which has a capability of giving tough time to it and this capability shall certainly increase manifold if Pakistan keeps on strengthening its relations with China. That is why there have been so many efforts to create misunderstandings between Pakistan and China. When we cast a look at the past ten years we find a long list of Chinese workers who lost their lives while working at different development projects in Pakistan. The terrorists targeted these Chinese workers simply to alarm and warn the Government of China that it must not send its workers to Pakistan. But in spite of all these threats China never backed out of its determination to make Pakistan strong and prosperous. Be it the Karakorum highway project or the Gawadar Port Plan, the heavy water reactor at Khusab or the manufacturing of JF-17-Thunder Air Crafts , China is always there to support Pakistan. The friendship between the two countries is becoming even stronger as time goes by.

Pak–China relations began in 1950 when Pakistan was among the first countries to recognise the People’s Republic of China. In 1962, the worsening Indo-China relationship turned into a series of hostility. That time Pakistan’ proved itself a very strong well-wisher of China by providing it all type of favour. It would not be an exaggeration if we call 1962, the title page of the story of love and friendship between these two countries. Since then this relationship is becoming stronger and stronger resulting in a variety of agreements of economic, military and technical assistance. The Pak-China friendship is a two-way journey. The whole of the Chinese nation is thankful to the people of Pakistan for their precious support on issues concerning China’s sovereignty, such as Taiwan, and Tibet. The Chinese leadership has always acknowledged the significant role of Pakistan in the early 1970s, which enabled China to break its isolation from the West and the US. Pakistan also helped China become a member for the United Nations. Pakistan has always played an effective role in bringing the Muslim world closer to China.

On the other hand China has always proved itself a very strong support to Pakistan through every time of trial and tribulation. The people of Pakistan can never forget the role of China during Pakistan-Indian tensions in 2008.That was the time when the Chinese leaders very openly promised unlimited financial and military aid to Pakistan. There could have been a very serious type of nuclear war if China were not there to support Pakistan. Above all, China has always provided a very staunch support to the Pakistani stance regarding the Kashmir issue. This affectionate assistance is something very positive for the people of Pakistan but very much discouraging to those who desire and plan for a weaker Pakistan. The countries like India are doing their best to dispel the clouds of vagueness and ambiguity between the two friendly countries. Recently it has been reported that the agents of Raw are trying to invade Xinjiang, the Chinese border province, in the guise of Islamic extremists. The RAW has provided them fake Pakistani identities. These agents are directed to create law and order disturbance in the peaceful land of Xinjiang. Most of these agents are the Hindus by creed but they are so well trained that it would be very much difficult to recognise their actual identity. According to the details some of these agents would intentionally surrender them before the security forces of China after being involved in some act of terrorism. The only purpose behind is to give the Chinese government an impression that Pakistan is trying to promote religious extremism in Xinjiang. Read more of this post

Legality of Indian Claim on Kashmir

Following the World War-II, there has been an unremitting resistance by the people of Subcontinent against the ruling British colonial power. Under the swelling pressure of the people of subcontinent, the British Government finally had to announce the partition of the Subcontinent on June 3, 1947. However, the British Parliament formally passed “The Indian Independence Act-1947” on July 17, 1947. As per provision of Article-I of the Independence Act, India was to be partitioned into two Dominions namely “India” and “Pakistan” from 15th day of August 1947.

However, Article 7 of the Indian Independence Act very clearly states that from 15th August 1947, “the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian states lapse and with it lapses all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian states”. Consequent upon this, all powers and functions, which were exercisable by the British Government in relation to the Princely States, also ceased.

All agreements of British governments with either rulers or states also lapsed on 15th of August 1947. Since the state of Jammu and Kashmir was a Princely State with a special autonomous status, therefore, it can be very conveniently said that on 15th day of August 1947, the Maharaja Sir Hari Singh was not the permissible ruler of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as all his treaties with British India lapsed on that day. Once he was not a ruler of the state, he had no right to sign the instrument of accession (if at all he signed that) with the new Indian dominion. This title to the state was granted to him by the British Government (East India Company) under the Treaty of Amritsar (Kashmir Sale deed) signed on 16 March 1846 and lapsed on the appointed day of 15th August 1947.

Besides, on July 25, 1947 in his address to special full meetings of the Chamber of Princes held in New Delhi, Lord Mountbatten categorically told all princes of Princely States that they were practically free to join any one of dominions; India or Pakistan. He however clarified that, while acceding to any dominion they could take into account geographical contiguity and wishes of the people. In case of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, either of the above factors was favouring state’s accession to Pakistan, but Maharaja Hari Singh did not accept this basic precondition of accession.

Indian claim that its forces landed Srinagar Airport on October 27, 1947, only after signatures on Instrument of Accession by Maharaja and the Indian government is also fallacious. Indeed, a heavy contingent of Patiala State was involved in fighting against the Kashmiri rebellions in Uri Sector on 18 October 1947, which means that they were very much inside the State`s territory much earlier than October 27, 1947.

On 24 October 1947, Kashmiris formally declared their independence from Dogra Raj and established their own government with the name of Azad (Free) Kashmir Government. Following this Maharaja Hari Singh sent his deputy Prime Minister Mr. R.L. Batra to New Delhi for Indian military assistance to his Government against those revolted and tribal from NWFP who joined their brethrens against a tyrant rule. He (Batra) met the Indian Prime Minster and other prominent Indian leaders and requested for assistance without making any mention or promise of state’s accession to the Indian Union. The Indian government instead sent Mr. V.P Menon (Indian Secretary of State) to Kashmir to assess the situation on the spot by himself on 25 October 1947.

After assessing, the situation in Kashmir Mr. V.P Menon flew back to New Delhi on 26 October 1947, together with Kashmiri Prime Minster Mr. Mahajan, who met top Indian leadership, seeking military assistance. He was refused to get that until state’s formal accession with India. On this Kashmiri Premier threatened the Indian leadership that if immediate military assistance was not granted, he would go to Lahore for negotiations with Pakistani leadership over the future status of the state. In a parallel development, Sheikh Abdullah met Indian Premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, on the same day, October 26, 1947, who agreed to despatch military assistance to the Kashmir government.

As stated by Mahajan, the Kashmiri Prime Minister, that V.P. Menon accompanied him to convince Hari Singh for accession of the State with India on 27 October 1947. Under the compulsion, Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession on the same day i.e. 27 October 1947, which was later taken to Lord Mountbatten (Indian Governor General), who also signed that on the same day (27 October), which was practically difficult. V.P. Menon, however, states that all these formalities of signatures were completed on 26 October 1947, which is impracticable. This version, however, seems concocted as even contradicted by pro Indian Kashmiri Premier. Both however are unanimous on one point that Indian state forces landed at Srinagar airfield in the morning of 27 October 1947 and a battalion of Patiala State received them there, which was already there. Read more of this post

Indian State Terrorism in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir

Disappearances and fake encounters of Kashmiris by Indian security forces and intelligence agencies in Indian occupied Kashmir.

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Motive behind India’s offer?

India’s proposal for talks at foreign sectary level sounds intriguing, because since the dialogue was stalled after Mumbai attacks, Pakistan had been fervently trying to persuade India to start the dialogue, but India took the position that first of all the mastermind of the attack should be tried and executed, evidence or no evidence.

Anyhow, Pakistan has accepted the Indian offer for foreign secretary-level talks with the caveat that it should be a step towards a full engagement on important issues, including Kashmir and terrorism. Analysts and commentators are speculating as to what has made India to change its mind. Is it on American prodding or India has realized that the way to reach Afghanistan and Central Asian republics is through Pakistan? Or in view of forthcoming Commonwealth Games, it wanted to create an atmosphere so that other countries should not feel security concern. Whatever the case may be, Pakistan must insist that the secretary-level meeting should set the dates for resumption of composite dialogue, and that India should stop building dams on Pakistani rivers – Chenab and Jhelum, because it would make Pakistan a wasteland. And it could lead to war between the two nuclear states.

Though India managed to force President Barack Obama to procrastinate his vision on South Asia yet Obama after weighing all the options have made a move in that direction and unveiled his plans in a televised speech from the US Military Academy at West Point stating that his new policy was designed to bring war in Afghanistan to a successful conclusion. The most significant part of Obama’s speech was his acknowledgement that “success in Afghanistan was inextricably linked to Washington’s partnership with Pakistan”. Some analysts were of the opinion that this was a piece of rhetoric, but President Obama had expressed his resolve “to have partnership with Pakistan built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust”, which is the only way that the US can salvage its position. There is no denying that American leadership takes decisions to advance its global interests, however some change is visible in Obama administration’s policy as compared with former president George Bush’s policy, as the latter had put India on a very high pedestal.

In fact, India understood its place in the international arena, when President Obama and President Hu Jintao met in November 2009 in Beijing. A paragraph in the joint communiqué had welcomed Chinese involvement in South Asia and mentioned about “Beijing’s ability to promote peace, stability and development in the region”. Many analysts in India and elsewhere see India having lost the centrality it enjoyed during the period when former president George Bush was at the helm, who had asseverated to make India not only a regional power but also a world power. Though Chinas has recently expressed its displeasure over the US arms deal for more than $ 6 billion with Taiwan, yet America considers China as an important trading partner and a creditor having invested almost a trillion dollars in US Treasury Bonds and other portfolios. B Raman a former top Indian intelligence official and head of the Centre for Topical Studies in Chennai said: “The ground reality is India at the moment does not count for the US in the same way that China and Pakistan do”. The recent London Conference on the future of Pakistan has ignored India considering that it has no role so far as Afghanistan is concerned.

There is a lot of frustration in Indian leadership hierarchy because international community did not see any role for India in the new policy which was obvious from the communiqué released after the London Conference on the future of Afghanistan attended by about 70 countries. In fact, it was India that had rejected with disdain President Obama’s policy for the region when he announced Richard Holbrooke as envoy for Afghanistan Pakistan and India. Perhaps now it has realized that American presence in Afghanistan is not going to last very long. And Pakistan could become a conduit to the reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban, provided they are ready to give them rightful share in the government. In other words, whatever scenario emerges it does not have any role in Afghanistan. In this backdrop, India will try to sabotage the reconciliation efforts clandestinely using its clout over the Northern Alliance. Nevertheless, it had no choice but to announce its decision to back the efforts for talks with the Taliban to showcase its desire for peace in Afghanistan. There is a perception that India’s initiative is damage limitation exercise in view of Deepak Kapoor’s ‘two front war’ statement. Read more of this post

Why India came back to the negotiating table

ISLAMABAD: Renewed international pressure and growing realisation in New Delhi that the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan could deprive it of its strategic leverage in the region has forced the sudden change of heart in India regarding ties with Pakistan, according to diplomats and analysts.

“It was being increasingly felt by strategists in New Delhi that after recent conferences on Afghanistan that endorsed President Hamid Karzai’s plan for reintegrating Taliban, India was being left out and Pakistan might take the centre stage,” a diplomat told Dawn when asked about the Indian proposal for resumption of bilateral talks.

It all started with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s call to her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, almost a week ago, inviting him to Delhi in February for talks on wide-ranging issues that have been constraining the bilateral ties, particularly in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

She expressed Indian government’s willingness to discuss issues besides terrorism which would remain the focus of the parleys.

Ms Rao went to the extent of offering negotiations on contentious issues like the water dispute, but stayed short of suggesting resumption of the Composite Dialogue.

India’s eagerness for resuming talks was evident from Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s belated admission that there was also a local Indian link to Mumbai attacks for which New Delhi had earlier been blaming Pakistan-based terror groups only.

Things afterwards started moving at a rapid pace towards detente. Pakistan sought clarifications and on Friday High Commissioner Shahid Malik met Ms Rao in New Delhi to discuss the agenda and possible dates for the meeting.

Although Pakistan is insisting on accepting nothing short of Composite Dialogue, there is realisation in the Foreign Office that sticking to revival of peace talks may jeopardise the opportunity for normalisation of strained ties.

The thinking is that the offer of initial contacts should be availed and subsequently taken forward to full resumption of Composite Dialogue.

“The attempt is to keep talking about the issues which are of concern to us,” Mr Malik said.

Although analysts and diplomats believe there are a number of factors that triggered the rethinking in India, the primary reason remains the changing scenario in Afghanistan coupled with the impending reintegration of Taliban in Afghan society. Read more of this post

The ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ is being observed today across the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir

LAHORE : The ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ is being observed on Friday (February 5) across the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir for expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir waging a struggle for their right of self-determination for the last six decades. The day has dawn with special prayers for the liberation of Kashmir, in all principal mosques throughout the country.

Prayers will also be offered for victims of Kashmir freedom struggle. One-minute silence will be observed throughout the country with sounding of sirens at 10 am and the traffic will be brought to a halt. Newspapers will also publish special editions on the occasion, while TV channels and radio centres will air special programmes, highlighting the freedom struggle of Kashmiris.

On this day, Pakistani nation renew its pledge that it would continue to extend unflinching moral and political support to their Kashmiri brethren in their heroic struggle for their right to self-determination. The day is also an occasion to salute the courage and bravery of the freedom loving people of Kashmir who have remained steadfast and resolute in their quest to attain their inalienable right of self-determination.

Political parties and people hailing from different walks of life will join hands to express complete solidarity and unity with their Kashmiri brethren on February 5, in their just struggle. To mark the day, seminars, public gatherings, rallies and other events have been planned in a bid to highlight the plight of Kashmiris besides expressing solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren.

Speakers through their speeches will press the peace loving nations all over the world to exert pressure on India to stop its aggressive policies and allow the Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination. The government has already declared public holiday for February 5 and all the government offices, as well as educational institutions will remain closed. Shops, markets and business centres will also remain closed on this occasion.

There is complete consensus among the ranks and file of political leadership in the country that Kashmir issue is a threat to peace and stability of this region while peaceful and durable solution to the dispute, in accordance with the UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of Kashmir is the only solution.

In Lahore, processions and rallies will be taken out from different areas to express solidarity with Kashmiri brethren and condemn atrocities against innocent people of the held valley. It may be mentioned that Pakistan has always emphasised the necessity of a meaningful and constructive dialogue to resolve the Kashmiri dispute.

Kashmiri leaders were of the view that the Kashmir Solidarity Day has assumed special significance in the changed geo-political environment of the region, where the Kashmir dispute is widely believed as a flash-point, drawing international attention for its resolution, according to the United Nations resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris. Mohammad Saleem

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Peace enjoyed by Pakistan is peace of Turkey and unease of Pakistan is unease of Turkey: Turkish PM Erdogan

ISTANBUL (Turkey): President Asif Ali Zardari urged the international community on Sunday to help Pakistan and Afghanistan overcome problems of the region, observing that Turkish-inspired Trilateral Summit could serve as useful model in this behalf.

The President stated this during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who promised that his country would soon deliver spare parts of Cobra helicopters to Pakistan free of cost, underlining the growing cooperation between the two countries in different fields.

Pakistan today is facing different challenges arising from the conflict in the region and it is incumbent upon the international community to step forward and help both the countries in tackling these challenges, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Malik Ammad Khan, quoted the President as saying in a briefing to reporters after the meeting.

The challenges we face in Pakistan today are of international, albeit world, magnitude and we need regional as well as international support to tackle these challenges, Minister of State, who was part of the delegation, quoted the President as saying.

Zardari said the conflict in Afghanistan had spreaded the menaces of terrorism, drugs etc. across its borders and countries of the region required active cooperation from all the friendly nations and states of the Western world to root out these problems.

In this behalf, he emphasized that Pakistan at this stage needed trade, and not aid, from the concerned countries to come out of its present difficulties. “For this purpose, we introduced the concept of Friends Of Democratic Pakistan (FODP) so that more access could be obtained for Pakistan to international markets.”

He said he was visiting Turkey for the fourth time in the last 18 months because the two countries enjoyed close relations and he wanted to further consolidate these ties as the head of a democratic state.

Welcoming the Trilateral Summit, being held on Monday among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey, President Zardari remarked that it gave the opportunity to his country to draw attention of the world to our case and to send a strong message to the people of the world that we want to curb terrorism but to do that we need to empower ourselves by getting access to global markets.

He said the proposed Islamabad-Istanbul-Tehran rail project would also greatly facilitate expansion in trade volume not only between the two countries but also among other countries of the region. He sought public-private partnership for this project.

He lauded support of Turkey to Pakistan on Kashmir issue, contribution in providing succour to the effectees of 2005 earthquake.and its offer to build a football stadium in Muzaffarabad.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Erdogan promised that Turkey would soon deliver – free of cost – spare parts to Pakistan under the agreement already signed.

Defence Minister Ch. Ahmed Mukhtar, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Ammad Khan, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Secretary Foreign Affairs and Secretary Railways were members of President delegation.

The Turkish PM said business communities of the two countries should also get together in commerce and trade activities.

During the meeting, the two sides pledged to soon introduce visa-free travel between the two countries while Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar informed the Turkish PM that Pakistan was looking into possibility of more Turkish Airlines flights to Islamabad and other cities.

Erdogan said the Turkish Deputy PM would attend the coming FODP conference in Dubai.

Peace enjoyed by Pakistan is peace of Turkey and unease of Pakistan is unease of Turkey, he said.

We need joint international struggle against terrorism and hence fourth trilateral summit is being hosted here to take positive steps against the threat of terrorism and the entire Turkish will do anything to curb terrorism.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul hosted a dinner in honour of President Zardari and Afghan President Karzai at the historic Sait Halim Pasa Palace. Turkey to provide Cobra spares to Pakistan Pakistan Times Special Correspondent

America on the road to perdition

Mohammad Jamil | For quite some time, Americans have been earning less and spending more, producing less and consuming more, with the result that both America and Americans have become technically bankrupt. In view of recession coupled with fiscal crisis, the entire balance of global economic power could shift, since economic strength is basic to remain predominantly military power. It is perhaps in this backdrop that two prominent authors Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt wrote an article under the caption ‘A fight against the odds’ published in Asia Time Online.

The concluding sentence of the article reads: “The fact is: Al Qaeda is not an apocalyptic threat. Its partisans can cause damage, but only Americans can bring down this country”. They have given details of America’s military might – its troops, reserves and intelligence personnel, well trained special operations and its arsenal comprising tanks, planes, missiles, aircraft carriers and a stock of nukes. They reckon that Al Qaeda’s ‘shock troops’ add up to perhaps 2100 fighters who have access to rocket-propelled grenades, small arms of various sorts, the materials for making deadly roadside bombs, car bombs, and of course ‘underwear bombs’. The authors ridicule America’s military might in these words: “After the better part of a decade of conflict, the US has spent trillions of taxpayer dollars on bullets and bombs, soldiers and drones. It has waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have yet to end; launched strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; dispatched special ops troops to those nations and others, like the Philippines, and built or expanded hundreds of new bases all over the world. Yet Osama bin Laden remains at large and Al Qaeda continues to target and kill Americans”. Al Qaeda was formed when the Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden’s demand was that American forces should withdraw its forces from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East., and he was critical of America for giving unqualified support to Israel. Anyhow, he was the man who was eulogized by the US and the West, and through western media he was presented as a symbol who left his luxurious life for the same of jihad. In other words, he was America’s find, and Pakistan should not be blamed for his actions. Read more of this post

President displays interest in Kashmir issue

IT is heartening to listen to President Asif Ali Zardari declare that fighting for liberation of Kashmir is duty of Pakistan and that there can be no peace in the region without resolution of this long-standing conflict.

During his first ever visit to Muzaffarabad where he addressed the joint session of the AJK Legislative Assembly and Kashmir Council, the President also expressed the confidence that time is not far off when the world powers and regional countries (a veiled reference to India) will have to take serious decisions about Kashmir. This must be music to ears for Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), as it is a healthy departure from Zardari’s earlier stance on the Kashmir issue, freedom struggle and the approach to resolve the problem. It is an open secret that the worthy President had an evasive stance on this crucial issue, which is rightly believed to be a nuclear flash point between two South Asian neighbours. One may recall that during his very first press conference after taking oath as President, Asif Ali Zardari had pronounced that the nation would hear some good news about Kashmir within a month. This announcement had raised both expectations and suspicions — whether the President has some workable agenda and mechanism to address this problem or had he entered into any behind the scene understanding with Indians. Similarly, at a certain stage he also proposed that Pakistan and India should work on normalization of their relations and settlement of the Kashmir issue should be left to the future generations. In an interview to Wall Street Journal, Zardari had also dubbed the freedom fighters as terrorists, triggering strong protests from Kashmiris and delighting the Indian Establishment. In this backdrop, one is pleased to note this positive turn in his thinking and hopefully this would not prove to be a mere PR exercise during his maiden visit to an area which is considered to be the base camp for the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people. We also expect other concerned institutions and policy-making circles would also start giving the issue the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, in the past, Pakistan deviated from its principled position by offering so-called out-of-the-box solution and, therefore, the focus now should return back to solution of the problem strictly in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.–Pakobserver

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