Looming threat of water wars

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Nazia Nazar:

Last year, Pakistan suffered a loss exceeding five billion rupees in paddy crop production only in the wake of water shortage after India stopped Chenab
water to fill its Baglihar dam during the month of September 2008. But this was not the first instance, as India violated Indus Water Treaty many a time, and the objective seemed to be India’s attempt to dry up Pakistan because India feels that Pakistan is a major obstacle in its hegemonic designs against the countries in the region. India’s think-tanks have been working on river diversion plans with a view to creating acute water shortage in Pakistan. The
objective is to adversely impact production of wheat and other crops, and also to stoke inter-provincial conflicts over distribution of water.

In the pastmthe world has witnessed wars between different countries of the world over religions, usurpation of territories and control of resources including oil. But in view of acute shortages of water in Africa, Middle East, Asia and elsewhere, the future wars could be fought over water.
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Light at the End of the Afghan Tunnel?

Is it finally light at the end of the Afghan tunnel, or an oncoming express train?

Total confusion erupted last week as the US, NATO, the UN and the Kabul government all issued differing views on new plans to end the nine year Afghan war by bombarding Taliban with tens of millions in cash instead of precision bombs.

One thing is clear: the US and its NATO allies are losing the war in Afghanistan in spite of their fearsome arsenal of high-tech weapons and war chests of billions of dollars.

Lightly-armed Pashtun tribesmen are living up to their legendary reputation of making Afghanistan the graveyard of empires.

So Washington and London, both in dire financial straits, say they are now ready for a possible peace deal with the Pashtun Taliban and its nationalist allies. But, in spite of a $1.4 trillion deficit, President Barack Obama is asking Congress for an additional $33 billion more for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

If you can’t bomb them into submission, then try buying them off.

A conference was held in London last Thursday to raise tens of millions of dollars to try to bribe lower-level Taliban to cooperate with the western occupation and/or lay down its arms.

Bribery is a time-honored tool of war. But it’s not the answer in Afghanistan. The bloody Afghan conflict can only be ended by genuine peace negotiations and withdrawal of all foreign troops.

US commanders in Afghanistan admit they have lost the military initiative. The resistance is steadily gaining ground. Obama’s increasing US and allied troops to 150,000 won’t be enough to defeat Taliban. By year end, US and NATO forces will only equal the number of Soviet forces committed to Afghanistan in the 1980’s.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, without whose cooperation the US cannot wage war in Afghanistan, is in turmoil. The US is infiltrating Xe (formerly Blackwater) and DynCorp mercenaries into Pakistan to protect US military supply routes north from Karachi to Afghanistan, and to operate or defend US air bases in Pakistan.

US mercenaries are also reportedly being used to assassinate militants and enemies of Pakistan’s US-installed government, and to target Pakistan’s nuclear installations for future US action. This, and increasing attacks by US killer drones, have sparked outrage across Pakistan and brought warnings of creeping US occupation.

US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are like a man trying to fix a chimney on the roof of a burning house. Read more of this post

One day we all will be terrorists!

“Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism.”

– Chris Hedges (in an article of the same title)

My generation grew up in a different Pakistan. A different Lahore, a different Karachi, a different Peshawar, a different Quetta, a different Islamabad and an entirely different country.

In Lahore, people sat in Pak Tea House and Coffee House and talked about politics, poetry, religion, culture and friendships gave birth, on a daily basis, to youthful romanticism of our times: the mutual seduction of kindred spirits within the confines of our cultural values and the gentleness of Urdu poetry, songs, geets (lyrics) and the Lahori humour. We celebrated basant (the kite-flying festival), maila-charagha (the festival of lights) and Urs Data Gung-Baksh (the festival of a saint). We observed Muharram with great reverence.

Karachi used to be alive 24 hours a day all year round. It was a city of “lights”, “fashion”, hustle-bustle of a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. Ethnic diversity and tolerance was the hallmark of this city.

Peshawar was a beacon of hospitality, a tribute to human gentleness and an affirmation of a rich community life.

Quetta’s apple-laden trees decorated its roads everywhere and the Balochis colourful existence found its spirit in its music, songs and even in its cuisine. Moreover, Pakistan’s rural society existed in purity, simplicity and the zealousness of hard working people.

Pakistan was a different country then: we lived in relative peace, tolerance and mutual harmony. A delicious puri nashta cost one rupee, petrol was Rs 2.50 a gallon, schooling was cheap, sugar and food were plenty, and a round-trip by PIA from Lahore to Karachi was Rs 250.

The majority of Pakistanis were poor even then, but there was no mass starvation, deprivation suicides, forced prostitution, massive collective depressive communities, agonising socio-psychological conditions, economic collapse, and no one knew of crippling demoralising inner fears. We did not know of institutional violence and extensive state terror – though police brutality and legal system atrocities were common, bureaucracy was horribly cruel, corrupt, inefficient and unbelievably powerful vis-à-vis the citizenry, commerce thrived on black marketing and the political class wholly and completely indulged in vested interests, inappropriate use of political power and mismanagement of state affairs.

Even though we lived with a million vices as a nation, but strangely enough, life was not as painful as it is in today’s democratic Pakistan. Neither was the entire nation, every one of its citizens, gripped with such forceful, depleting and paralysing fear – a fear that the management of the survival of this country has gone out of control. A fear that we all may be blown away from existence the next moment, if not literally then at least in a metaphorical sense!

Do you realise the seriousness of our contemporary political crisis?

The present state of our deplorable existence is the work of our decade long political leadership inclusive of Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship and the incumbent political dispensation in the country.

The fundamental failure of our national policy is this country’s ruling elite’s destructive all time political-economic-military alliance with the US and its allies (now India included).

Even at the time that I have described as the “golden days” of Pakistan’s past, our ruling elite was fully and comprehensively politically engaged with the US and its allies. However the US was in a different political mode then: it was fighting its own self-invented “demons” – the communist ideology and the communist nations (though communism was not a threat – it was a political experiment to solve mass poverty). The objective of American foreign policy was global political-economic and military domination.

In the present day world, the policy objectives of the US and its allies remain same: worldwide imperialist hegemony and exploitation by the west’s multi-national corporations.

However, in the contemporary equation, the west’s enemies have been redefined: Now we are the “demons”. They have declared a war against Muslim nations, their people, their faith, their culture, their traditions, their values and customs, their history and even against their existence as we know it today. Huntington in The Clash of Civilisations warns that if we do not transform our civilisation to a western model, then we must be prepared for an ultimate obliteration through successive wars at the hands of the west: we are given no choices.

Seven hundred Pakistani citizens died in American drone attacks in 2009 alone. It is not accidental!

What the US and its western allies do not understand is that their present war is not against an economic-political ideology (communism). This war is against a people, a faith, a history, an existential reality, an entirety of a civilisation, an actual formidable historical presence and an enduring spiritual entity. They, the US and its allies (which include collaborating political elites in Muslim countries), cannot win this war. Indeed, they can unleash havoc, a wave of destruction (as they are doing now), but they cannot and will not win!

Coming back to the context of Pak-US relations, consider the following most plausible scenario in the immediate future:

Through covertly managed organised violence, collaborations, propaganda, bombings and political manipulations, the US succeeds in destabilising Pakistan to an extent of complete political chaos, limited anarchy and a near civil war situation. Under the pretext of threat to international security, American and NATO forces are moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Pakistan’s nuclear assets are seized, a puppet regime is installed: Pakistan is de-nuclearised, India (the newest US ally) becomes a dominant regional power, Iran is contained, China-Russia growing political clout is checked, the US/west’s historical global dominance is achieved – the world is saved!

Is that what the Pakistani nation wants and deserves?

Imran Khan’s perspective on Pakistan’s foreign policy and domestic priorities is correct: we need to politically-militarily disengage Pakistan from the US/west’s global objectives. We need to immediately end this so-called War on Terror against our own citizens. We need to negotiate peace with political dissidents in NWFP, Balochistan and in every corner of Pakistan. We must appreciate the fact that political dissent is not terror!

We ought to, by engaging our own citizens and political dissidents, quietly and secretly do a complete “cleansing” of the foreign elements and local collaborators involved in organised violence in our country. This can only be accomplished by a determined, independent, nationalist and highly efficient political leadership that can make the national policy without American influence and interference. And this is the ultimate requirement of our times.

At last, Mian Nawaz Sharif said something right the other day: the public in Pakistan needs to think in revolutionary ways now.

Allow me to go one step further: what we need is a revolutionary political leadership in this country. We deserve a change in the political mindset and political conduct of this nation’s leaders. We need fresh leadership in Pakistan.

We all do not need to be politically loyal to our contemporary political dispensation or to our present political allies. We must completely reject a global political system of US/west’s dominance.

We all ought to be political dissidents! After all, dissent is a vital element of the democratic political process. It is a duty of an engaged citizenry!

One day we all might be considered terrorists by our western “friends”.

Never mind. So be it!

–By Dr Haider Mehdi
The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert.

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