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President Karzai, Let’s Fix This Broken Wheel in Afghanistan

Ajmal Sohail

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It is a long time now that international community blames President Karzai and his team for profound corruptions, lack of transparency and absence of good governance which mishandled all aid provided by the tax-payers of the international communities.

Such mishandling by President Karzai’s team drove the international community to place conditional ties before any assistance. The president, time and again, rebuffs all allegations in this concern. The truth is that there is a broken wheel on the wagon known as Afghanistan. We should be doing so much better with all the help we have been getting.

The president blames the international community for corruption and being short of transparency in the entire depiction. He also speaks harshly of the critics of former Chief Commander of US/Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, for disparaging President Karzai’s brother for not being sincere to materialize the contracts obtained from the US/coalition. The president in response asserts that it is the Coalition who makes the contracts, so why should they criticize the president, his brother or his team. In addition to this one time, the president invited the key political, economic and security analysts to raise their views on Afghanistan future relations, most especially Afghan-American strategic ties.

During an “off the record” declaration, President Karzai said that since the US military presence in Afghanistan, the corruption and black market activities turn out to have been tripled. Further, he said, the US’s different organizations and agencies have made deals and granted contracts to the most corrupt and fugitives in Afghanistan. It made no difference whether they are in the Parliament or Executive Branch of the state, according to Karzai.

In this blame game the most enduring and suffering strata of the Afghan society are the innocent people who bond to international aids. Therefore, all of us involved at all levels and from all countries need to stumble on the key elements which pave the way for corruption and trouncing of relief and aid in Afghanistan. Among others, the following are the touching factors to be addressed right now with regards to continued assistance from the international community and thwarting criminality and corruption through the use of and will to use conditionality:

  1. Strong coordination among the donor communities and consensus to set priorities
  2. Decide who owns each of the assistance priorities at each level using ISAF/NATO for leverage of direction and overseeing capabilities and implementation of projects.
  3. We need less complexity of procedures and bureaucracy in awarding contracts and subcontracts. For example, much money was taken by the international contractors whereas the projects were implemented by the national subcontractors.
  4. Use ISAF/NATO strength and experience while they are still here in force to build strong business processes and long lasting simplified and honest procedures for administering aid packages. Most of the countries would give money to UN agencies. Another example, first the UN agency would charge very high admin cost (20-30%). The UN agency would subcontract to another UN agency as an implementing partner which would spend a huge chunk of money to the international consultants, luxurious cars, rents of luxurious buildings. As a result a scanty amount of money would be left and again subcontracted to local firm and or NGO… and less money would be left to the actual activities …
  5. Good governance (transparency, accountability, ownership, rule of law) is absolutely required so as not to remain as solely a slogan.
  6. The international community should use the military structure. Parallel mechanism of funding, for instance the PRT. Most of the donor money would come through military channel that has not had previous experiences of funding development projects.
  7. Decide what the real and major projects are the international community can work on. Make those projects transparent and known to everyone in a concise list. The small and quick impact projects also have eaten a lot of money. For instance, millions of dollars would be spent on putting some gravel on road and it would last for six months to one year. Instead, it could have been rebuilt by putting tars, etc.
  8. Ensure ISAF/NATO and the international community actively participates in Oversight of all projects through one enduring organization and THEN turns the processes and procedures over to the Afghans. Corruption at all level has been one of the prevalent challenges. Money goes in private pocket. Qualities of the outputs achieved by the projects and programs are of very poor and low quality.
  9. Mostly the selection criteria have been always money. A first, whoever has had more money would win the contracts. The donor agency did not consider the competency, technical capability, management. If they did then it was done completely wrong.
  10. Continue to increase government capability and capacity. Lack of capacity in the government and the will to enforce good and proper rule of law loses the people in the process.
  11. Encourage and enforce government commitment at all levels with already proven processes and procedures. Don’t look for a unique Afghan version. Great processes and procedures already exist. Lack of commitment on part of the Afghan government is destroying our future. Those in government are more committed to their individual and or partisan objectives rather than to the national ones.
  12. Adopt a consolidated “Picture or Right” at all levels for all activities. This is a national issue and should be worked on at all levels by all responsible people. Lack of clear vision about the future and lack of political will.
  13. Improve the Judiciary now. Weak and corrupt judiciary and impunity have been one of the main hurdles in front of effective spending of money.
  14. Bring in approved international leaders who understand, can implement and train Afghans in reliable honest National, Provincial and Local money, business and general fiscal management. This one issue is a huge gap in capability and capacity.
  15. Provide legitimate monitoring and supervisory capability and capacity until the Afghans are able to do themselves. Lack of monitoring and supervisory systems in the government is so obvious.

subsequently taking in to account the above said elements that require joint efforts to give an end to the catastrophe and find out most viable methods for suitably utilizing the aid in Afghanistan.

The joint efforts necessitate meaningful revitalization of international tendencies and proceeds towards Afghanistan. In turn political transition, free, fair and just elections facilitate counter-corruptions, transparency, good governance and counter-black market activities. President Karzai, stop complaining. And let’s fix this broken wheel together.

Ajmal Sohail is Co-founder and Co-president of Counter Narco-terrorism Alliance Germany and he is National Security and counter terrorism analyst. He is active member of Christian Democratic Union (CDU)as well.

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South Asia

Criminal Silence of Ummah on Kashmir

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“The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.”

15 million people of Kashmir are under curfew for 2 weeks. One million Indian Army is suppressing them inhumanly. The Indian Army Kills, Tortures, Kidnaps, Rapes, Arrest, Detains the innocent Kashmiris. The whole region is turned into Jail. Due to prolonged Curfew, people are facing a shortage of food, fuel, drinking water and basic necessities of routine life. No Electricity, No sanitation, No Gas, No Fuel, No medicines, No medical Facilities, The life is at stand-still – Halt.

Secretary-General of the UN has spoken on the issue and expressed his deep concern. Security Council has called its meeting and deliberated the situation with serious notes. European Parliament has sympathized with the innocent oppressed people of Kashmir. International Community has raised its voice in favor of Kashmir. World capitals and big cities have expressed solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Public rallies, protests, demonstration, and agitation are witnessed all around the globe.

Kashmir is placed with 87% Muslim population and supposed to be part of Pakistan principally according to the agreed formula of partition at the time of independence in 1947 from British. But. Indian Army entered into Kashmir and occupied part of it known as Indian Occupied Kashmir. UN Security Council passed several Resolution on Kashmir Issue and asked to hold a plebiscite to seek the will of Kashmiri people either they want to join Pakistan or India. As the majority of the population was Muslim and India was dead sure that the Kashmiri people will vote for joining Pakistan. So India kept on delaying tactics and finding one or another lame excuse to avoid the implementation of UNSC decisions.

For 7 decades, India used all dirty tricks to control Kashmir and suppress the Kashmiri struggle of self-determination. They used a huge army and draconian laws to suppress Kashmiris. India has killed hundreds, thousands, and millions of Muslims in Kashmir, humiliated them, raped women and children, kidnapped, arrested, detained them, but could not change their will for self-determination. India damaged their properties, business, killed their castles, bun their housed and crops, destroyed their economy, but could not be succeeded in controlling them. India settled Hindus from other parts of India into Kashmir to change the demography of Kashmir, to make Muslims a minority, so that in case of the plebiscite, India may get a favor. But all their tactics failed.

The recent accession and provocation have crossed all limits of atrocities. A global reaction has been witnessed to condemned Indian brutalities. Even inside India, the intellectuals and moderate politicians are against Indian policy over Kashmir. NGOs and Human Rights Organizations are raising their voices in solidarity with Innocent Kashmiri People.

No doubt OIC has given a statement on Kashmir Issue, but it is not sufficient to resolve the Kashmir Issue. The OIC is the second-largest organization after the UN, consisting of 57 countries, and one-fifth of the population of the whole world, owner of the world’s major natural resources, especially energy – Oil and Gas, can do much more. As the people of Kashmir are Muslims, OIC has a stake and should do much more, the expectations are very high.

Governments in some of Muslim countries might have their personal interests or economic interests with India, but public has sympathies with Muslims of Kashmir. If the Muslim world or only few countries stop oil supply to India and ask Indian nationals to leave their countries, suspend trade and investment with India, till India resolves Kashmir Issue according to UN resolution, India may bow down and find no alternate except respecting the UN Charter and Humanity.

If Muslim Ummah kept criminal silence and become mere spectators, India may be encouraged to accede other nations and states. Silence must be broken with concrete action and observe unity of Ummah. Demonstration of Ummah’s strength will resolve may other issues faced by Ummah indirectly. The whole Ummah, each individual Muslim, all have a role to play. Especially the Scholars and Intellectuals of Ummah have heavy responsibility. Let’s contribute our share of responsibility and in our individual capacity, whatever we can do, we must act proactively. May Allah Protect “Islam” and “Muslims” anywhere on this earth.

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South Asia

Modi-fying Kashmir and Historical Facts

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The Modi government on 5th august 2019 revoked two key constitutional provisions — Article 370 and Article 35A — which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir distinctive rights. India moved around 50 thousand military personnel into the valley to avoid any backlash, which shows that the Indian government is afraid of the repercussions of an illegal act. But these curfews and emergencies are not new for Kashmiris. Kashmiri’s will continue fighting for their land and will never compromise. Kashmir is an 86,000-square mile disputed region that is divided between India, Pakistan and China.  Kashmir’s independence struggle has a long history.

Historically Kashmiris have not ruled their own land since their last king Yusaf Shah Chak who was defeated by the Mughals in the 16th century. Chak launched guerrilla attacks against the armies of Mughal king Akbar on November 1586, he was certain that “Independence was just a day away”. Since then it’s been 400 years since Kashmir has passed into the hands of Afghans, Sikhs, the British Great Britain and now Indian rulers after partition. Today, the same kind guerrilla attacks continue against Indian occupational forces, although by a renewed insurgency fueled by modern weapons and communications technology.

Thousands of Kashmiri’s are part of the armed freedom struggle against Indian forces. Now in the shape of the Kashmir freedom movement, it is entirely different from what it was during the early years of partition. Now, the use of social media has changed the dynamics of the freedom movement making it extremely challenging for India to curb the voices of Kashmiris in the present era. Though India always blames Pakistan for supporting freedom fighters and stone pelters it has never really applied an introspective approach to what its armed forces are doing.

As Kashmiris continue to reject India and its democracy the Modi government has locked down almost 90 lakh Kashmiris since 5 august. There is a complete media blackout in Kashmir and still India calls itself a democracy. Such Indian actions to erode the basic fabric of the Kashmir freedom movement will only fuel the struggle for independence even more. There are many people inside India which negate this act of oppression by the Modi Government. Modi’s actions are opposite to democratic values which India claims are reason for its unity. 

Several Indian activists have condemned the abrogation of articles 370 and 35 A. Till now 6 petitions have been filed in the Indian supreme court, all of which reflect the pure negation of Mr. Modi’s agenda. Hence, the way India is treating Kashmiris will surely have dire consequences for the state in the future. The country which calls itself the largest democracy is treating Kashmiris worse than animals, a democracy where even cows purportedly enjoy more rights than Kashmiris and Muslims.

In 1947 Kashmiris resisted against Dogra forces and around 2 lakh were killed but the Kashmiris refused to be subdued. After partition on 2 November  1947, Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had promised a plebiscite in Kashmir saying: “The fate of Jammu and Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. The pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir but also to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.”

But India has still not pulled back its troops since then and has continued to forcefully occupy the region. Pakistan and India have fought a number wars and smaller-scale conflicts in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 due to Kashmir with border skirmishes remaining common even today. India is involved in killing Kashmiris while the world remains in silence. Only a consistent struggle can force India to check its decisions otherwise, India is on its way to change the demography of Kashmir. Modifying the status of Kashmir within the Indian constitution won’t change realities which exist historically. Even today, the whole world acknowledges that Kashmir is an international dispute and not just an internal matter of India. By casting even further light and global attention on this issue through his most recent actions, Mr. Modi has gravely miscalculated the outcome of this move.

Revoking Article 370 A has already stripped Kashmiris of their special rights and now there would be single citizenship for Kashmiris. The Indian flag will be the only flag and article 356 and 360 will be applicable. Minorities will be eligible with a 16 % quota. People from other states will be eligible to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir. Assembly duration of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be for 5 years. All the above developments will further estrange Kashmiris in their own land.

From 1586 till now, the Kashmiris defeated many oppressors and none was able to subdue them. Mr. Modi’s modification of its status will definitely fire back in the coming days as India cannot impose a curfew forever. At least 4,000 people have been detained in Kashmir since August 5 and situation on ground as reported by international media is getting worse than ever. More and more Kashmiri youth will join armed groups and the intensity and number of armed attacks is widely expected surge dramatically. Without a doubt such a dangerous and arrogant decision by the Indian leadership has severely compromised the peace and stability of the entire region.

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Kashmir: A Victim of the Influence of Major Powers

Mohamad Zreik

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India-Pakistan relations are constantly tense and India-Pakistan history is full of struggles and rivalries. The problems between the two countries have emerged on the international scene recently when the Indian state decided to abolish autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir and apply full control of the Indian state over the region. The area is known to be the center of a dispute between India and Pakistan over land claims and border demarcation.

The Indo-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir is classified as one of the most dangerous in the world. India and Pakistan are nuclear states. The Kashmir conflict began in 1947 and did not end today, after Kashmir was a former independent region in the Himalayas. Kashmir lies in a strategic area on the Himalayas, bordered by India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan; it is a region of cultural diversity and contains the most important Eastern religions such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. The region of Kashmir is one of the most beautiful regions of the world and fertile agricultural land with a lot of natural resources, but the political instability and security has ruined the economic situation and the lack of tourists and investors.

Historically, Kashmir has been a Hindu religion, but the connection between Kashmiri people and Afghan families has led to the spread of Islam. Kashmir was ruled by the Mongols from the 16th to the 18th centuries, after which Kashmir returned to be an independent state. However, strong British influence in that period robbed the sovereignty of that country by selling land and people, who are mostly Muslims, to a Hindu warlord, Gulab Singh, for 7.5 million rupees.

This “contract of sale” was quickly legalized in the Amritsar Treaty. Since then Singh has declared himself “Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir”, and imposed on the local population by force Hindu culture and its religious principles. He burned mosques and overthrew anyone who begged himself to oppose his rule and stand up to Hindu principles. After Maharaja “Gulab Singh” took over the rule of Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja “Hari Singh”, who completed the same path of his predecessor in a land where the number of Muslims at the time 94%.

The severe repression of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in cooperation with the British prompted them to raise their voice in the face of the Maharaja and his allies in 1931. On 25 October 1947, after violent confrontations between the Maharaja and the population, the Kashmiri people won and the Maharaja was expelled. Maharaja sought support from India after Britain stopped supporting him.

The British colonial policy divided the area there on a religious basis. Most of the Muslim lands have been annexed to Pakistan, and the Hindu-majority lands have been annexed to India. In 1947, Indian military forces returned to Kashmir by force against weak Kashmiri resistance and little support from Pakistanis.

At that time, Pakistan began to support the rebels and the separatists from India, which led India to complain to the Security Council accusing Pakistan of supporting the rebels in Kashmir. Pakistan has responded that India is trying to promise Kashmir sovereignty, but it is working to annex Kashmir and bring Maharaja Hari Singh back to power. In 1948, the Security Council sought a mutually satisfactory solution, dividing Kashmir territory, one part called Azad Kashmir or Free Kashmir is supervised by Pakistan, and another part is Jammu and Kashmir and is supervised by India

The never-ending wars between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue prompted India in 1974 to conduct six nuclear experiments. This means that India has become a nuclear state and is capable of destroying every enemy, namely Pakistan. This has pushed Pakistan to become a nuclear power by acquiring nuclear weapons. In 1988, India and Pakistan signed a non-aggression pact. Military science suggests that the Asian region is the most dangerous on earth and capable of destroying mankind. India, Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran are nuclear states. Religious conflicts and territorial disputes are accelerating the nuclear war. According to the Pentagon, the next nuclear war between India and Pakistan will claim at least 12 million deaths and more than 7 million wounded from the region.

India, as a big country and a major nuclear power in the Asian region, will not concede to Pakistan in this Kashmir conflict. But India is demanding the entire territory of Kashmir, i.e. Pakistani Kashmir and Chinese Kashmir and this is impossible to achieve, and the conflict is increasing today through the legal measures taken by the Indian state to annex Jammu and Kashmir to the sovereignty of the Indian state and wrest autonomy. Therefore, the solution to this issue remains through diplomacy and negotiations because the weapons, force and many wars in that region did not lead to any positive result.

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