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بدھ، 24 نومبر، 2010

Pakistan: New challenges

History shows that west exploits others but never uphold its promises may it be promise of saving Ottoman Empire, resolving Kashmir or Palestine issues under UN Resolutions.

 By Rizwan Ghani

Pakistan was not deliberately invited in NATO’s Lisbon Summit despite being the key Non-NATO ally, whereas UAE was. It shows that west did not want the world to honor Pakistan’s sacrifices in blood and kind, and improve its image. In addition, US/NATO leadership did not mention about deaths of 30,000 Pakistanis including 3000 armed forces personal, tens of thousands injured and those who were handicapped for life in America’s so-called war against terrorism (SWAT) and suicide blasts in Pakistan for supporting US led NATO Afghan occupation and its supply route through the country.
Also, the leaders of US, UN, EU and NATO failed to share with the world and international media that Pakistani taxpayers have spent 55 billion dollars on America’s SWAT so far. The America’s war has shattered Pakistan’s economy, industry and rendered millions of Pakistanis jobless. All this has forced hundreds to commit suicides. The decade long, SWAT has left Pakistan’s economy eternally dependent on the international support. The west is neither willing to admit this nor ready to recoup the cost of war. Instead, it is blocking Pakistan’s (energy) trade with Iran and China. It is an open affront to the policy makers in Islamabad who are pouring country’s wealth on SWAT at the cost of 90 percent Pakistanis struggling below two dollars a day.

Pakistan has been removed from its pivotal role in Afghanistan. UAE’s FM while talking to the media in Lisbon said that UAE engage Taliban. It speaks of a shift in the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan and its strategic interests. Reportedly, NATO and ISAF command see Pakistan as enemy due to Islamabad’s concept of “strategic depth”, and support Indian Boots in Afghanistan (local news Nov. 8). Afghan Defense Ministry and Head of NATO training mission denied Pakistan’s role in training Afghan army. US/NATO are stifling Pushtoons- 59 percent of Afghan population- to cut the influence of Islamabad in Kabul. The fact of the matter is all Afghans want an end to US/NATO occupation and accountability of its leadership for the war crimes committed by the occupation forces in Afghanistan. Karzai is letting the country down by failing to seek justice from UN and The Hague in return for stay in power.
Whereas, Islamabad still believes that in return for fawning cooperating with America it could keep India out of Afghanistan and secure its national and regional geo-military and economic interests. I have my doubts because history shows that west exploits others but never uphold its promises may it be promise of saving Ottoman Empire, resolving Kashmir or Palestine issues under UN Resolutions. Washington by supporting Pak-Afghan Trade Agreement (PATA) for last four decades has shown that it stands for India’s interests only. Islamabad must scrap PATA. Pakistan did not support Washington’s SWAT to compromise its own geo-strategic interests in the region, share its $400 bn trade corridor with India. Islamabad must justify its support of pro-US foreign policy and explain to the nation how it plans to protect its geo-strategic interests.

America is using SWAT to stay in Afghanistan and protect its long-term geostrategic interests in the region. International experts are of the view that terrorism is not linked to religion and extremism. In ninety percent cases, it is a reaction against foreign occupation forces. Australian writer has given the example of Sri Lanka where freedom fighters seeking political rights have resorted to suicide attacks. They do not practice any religion. Islamabad’s support for illegal Afghan occupation, use of tax rupees to secure and sustain NATO’s war supply route in violation of contract for non-combat supplies are some of the reasons fueling suicide attacks.
The message from Lisbon is clear that US/NATO is going to stay permanently in Afghanistan. Holbrooke’s statement to Pakistani press that we have a transition strategy but we do not have an exit strategy needs no elaboration. NATO Sec. Gen. promised international forces would stay “as long as it takes”. Head of British armed forces Gen. Richards while replying to a question said that US/ NATO (Afghan) occupation could last 30 to 40 years. It is opined that US is going to turn Afghanistan into its permanent airbase in Central Asia. Since they are form majority of Afghan population therefore On the other hand, reportedly, Turkey did not support attack on Iran because it would undermine safety of its own people. Thus, with no end of illegal Afghan occupation in sight how Islamabad plans to secure its own people while occupation forces continue killing hapless Afghan civilians and destroy their houses.

China is one of the reasons for Afghan occupation. There is a bipartisan consensus in America that maintaining US military presence in Central Asia and Middle East is of strategic importance. It allows Washington to control energy supplies in the region including China. Beijing is pursuing a three-pronged strategy to protect its interests. It is expanding its $550 bn trade with America further while America continues to expand its military presence around China. The support of Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia for NATO, agreement of installing a radar in Turkey under (new) START agreement, Obama’s visits to India and Georgia, lifting of sanctions against Sudan and proposed plans to engage North Korea and Myanmar in days to come are cases in point.
In foreign policy and security issues, China is pursuing policy of non-interference. While elaborating China’s Asia Policy during “Friendship Year” address, China’s Asst. Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue said that a new security concept should be established with mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination at its core, one that recognizes, respects and rises above national differences in terms of ideology, values, social system and development stage. Hu said that Beijing has played an active role in addressing hotspot issues and it is dedicated in its effort to seek peaceful resolution of disputes over territory, territorial sea and maritime rights and interests through friendly negotiations. China must play its role to end Afghan occupation because without peace in the “south yards” of China, there cannot be a “Golden Century of Asia”.

In economic terms, China is engaging different regions of the world proactively. Beijing has signed a $50bn deal with Turkey. Under Chiang Mai initiative, it has engaged Malaysia, Japan and South Korea with $120 bn for regional foreign exchange reserve pool, 360bn RNB Yuan bilateral currency swap agreement with Malaysia, $10 bn power-producing equipment deal with India’s Reliance Company. Beijing is deepening its financial, energy and social welfare cooperation with East Asia. Beijing ought to support Pakistan, (Afghanistan and Iran) on similar lines to strengthen local economy, trade and growth.
From the human rights perspective, Afghan occupation must end to free 340 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan (and Iran). In its ninth White Paper on Human Rights, Beijing has explicitly defined social empowerment, education, and right to justice as the fundamentals of human rights. British media is also claiming that European Convention of human rights is in Britain’s DNA. Therefore, it is time to use these laws to end Afghan occupation, bring war criminals to book, end extra-judicial killings by US drones on both sides of Pak-Afghan border, remove sanctions against Iran, impose sanctions on west, and uphold UN Resolutions on Kashmir and Palestine. Without addressing human rights, Beijing cannot end western imperialism.

NATO’s Lisbon Summit was about Russia not Afghanistan. However, Moscow needs to refresh Ottoman and USSR history to understand coy politics of the west. I think Russia’s WTO membership is a remote possibility, and skeptics of New STAR are confident that Republicans will thwart Obama’s denuclearization hopes, too. Thus, Islamabad, Beijing, Moscow, UN and EU need to review their US/NATO Afghan policies to end Afghan occupation, protect their national, regional and human rights interests.
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