Understanding NATO’s agenda

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by Dr. Shireen M Mazari

By now one should not be surprised by any statement coming from the present leadership in the context of foreign policy. After all, if President Zardari could declare, contrary to all historical facts, that India was never a threat to Pakistan; and FM Qureshi could become virtually hysterical in praising the controversial Kerry-Lugar Act; then why should the PM be found wanting in these absurdities? So, when PM Gilani sought guarantees from NATO not to leave Afghanistan till peace had been established there, one was disappointed but not surprised. After all he had just come back from a visit to Brussels and one knows how Pakistanis, from the media to the bureaucrats (both civil and military) to the political leaders, are easily seduced by NATO in Brussels and their military headquarters not too far away. This scribe has herself seen the extensive PR operationalised by NATO for this purpose and only the diehard dissenters can survive the charm onslaught!

However, one hopes the PM will rethink his belief that NATO can establish peace and security in Afghanistan, given how it, along with the US, has been responsible for the worsening situation in that country because of its military-centric approach. In fact, if NATO were to leave and hand back charge to ISAF as originally decreed by the UN Security Council, peace and stability will probably come quicker to Afghanistan. Certainly, in the context of Pakistan, the stability factor would become more evident with a US-NATO withdrawal from this region.

Unfortunately, NATO is not likely to do so, because since the end of the Soviet Union, NATO has been desperately seeking new rationalisations for its continuation as an organisation. After all, NATO was established as a collective defence organisation and, in legal terms, remains so in terms of its legitimacy through the UN system – under Chapter VIII, Articles 52 and 53, as well as Chapter VII’s notion of collective self-defence as embodied in Article 51.

However, regional collective defence organisations need to operate in the specific region of their membership since decision making is restricted to this membership. Despite NATO expanding its functions and strategic concepts, its essential purpose as stated in its 1999 Strategic Concept remains “to safeguard the freedom and security of its members by political and military means” (Chapter 2: The transformation of the Alliance).

Given the continuing European-Atlantic membership of NATO, it is somewhat disturbing to see NATO transforming itself from a collective defence organisation (Article 5 of the NATO Charter is surely in the context of collective defence?) to a collective security organisation to serve the interests of its membership. There is no legitimacy for any collective security organisation other than the UN with its universal membership. Article 51 of the UN Charter provides a very clear and limited framework for collective defence organisations. Article 52 of the Charter relates to regional arrangements in connection with maintenance of peace and security and talks in terms of these organisations coming into being “as are appropriate for regional action.” Also, under Article 53, there can be no action without authorisation of the Security Council except against an enemy state as defined in Article 53:2. 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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