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This Is Our Country, President Karzai

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Dilemma between Kabul and Washington: Meticulous dialogue moves on between President Karzai and President Obama over the authorization of the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Progress has yet to be made because of the divergence among the Karzai led government and the government led by the Obama administration. Again, it is Afghanistan verses the United States instead of Afghanistan working with the United States.

President Karzai agrees in broad-spectrum to approve both SPA and SOFA but he stresses unbelievable preconditions including; political stability, peace building and sustainable economic developments and sustainable growth of economic infrastructures in order to even retain national interest of Afghanistan in either agreement. President Karzai seems to believe he has 2 full years to negotiate all these points and the major points of a myriad of other issues. “President Karzai, this is our country. And you are losing it because you are more interested in yourself than the interest of the people of Afghanistan.”

President Karzai’s wide-ranging difficulties to endorse these agreements are not to preserve national interests of Afghanistan but to hoard his personal wellbeing. He figures that if US forces want to remain in Afghanistan and establish permanent bases in the country they will need to flow capital and funds as it was promised in Tokyo conference. The international community will do this anyway if we are just honest with everyone. This is to assist Afghanistan in the aftermath of a NATO complete withdrawal in 2014. The equivalent of 16 billion USD would be pumped rapidly into Afghanistan. Some NATO forces will remain in the country to maintain economic and political and security stability.

What President Karzai expects is that to make the international communities, led by US, give as much as possible for as long as possible.  Karzai will then be able to siphon the capital to pockets of his own. Then, either he or someone from his family or inner circle will remain in power. That is why he shows disparity in the name of defending national interests of Afghanistan. “This is our country, President Karzai.”

This time Karzai’s childish negotiations seem unlikely to succeed. The international community, led by the US, is fed up with his notions. So that same international community decided not to consider him as viable figure anymore.  He never brags about Afghan military capabilities. He never cheers on the police for their progress. He never attempts to have real and improved justice. He never tells the Afghan people the progress in health/medical care, housing, or jobs that was caused clearly by the Coalition being in Afghanistan. Instead, persisting corruptions, nepotism, injustice and missed capacity building opportunities has led his administration to extraordinary conditional requirements placed on us by the helpful Coalition for any forthcoming negotiations. This is brazen, erratic and stupid.

There is no reason to make enemies out of people that have helped Afghanistan so much. In order to keep hold of the flow of funds to Afghanistan President Karzai ought to agree with the US to set up international tribunal to keep an eye on spending of all aid. Secondly, he should approve the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) and set up a real time line for presidential elections and approve the SPA. “President Karzai, this is our country, not just yours for your convenience.”

President Karzai’s strain on his personal intuitions in the label of national interests should be retained because of his experience. This will allow the US and its close allies to keep up with their preparations and plans in Afghanistan. Conditionality on all aid will be now  necessary.  Otherwise, Afghanistan will not get any aid in relation to sustainable economic developments, political and security stability and so forth.

The US will stay in Afghanistan since the US needs to hang about in the country in order to build up Strategic Global Positioning (SGP). Therefore, they enjoy sustainable economic developments, political stability adequacy of security, in order to make Afghanistan another Qatar, Kuwait or Oman. President Karzai needs to abide by what US yearns for otherwise insurgents will take over within six months. There will be a gigantic scuffle flanked by Afghan lawmakers and executive branch of the government. This will lead to the self-destruction of the Afghanistan from inside.  Pakistan and Iran they will try to expand territories. Pakistan will take over the eastern Afghanistan and the western part of the country would be over-taken by Iran. They will deal among each other later on to avoid forth coming quarrels. “President Karzai, this is our country. Do you understand?”

Hopefully, this is what President Barak Hussein Obama will openly explain to President Karzai during his next visit to White house, which will happen in up-coming weeks. In order to keep Afghanistan on its right track and strengthen meaningful relations between Kabul and Washington, President Obama will enlighten President Karzai to resign before elections and he will be praised for his heroic act and scores of books would be written about him. Many stories will be written of his greatness for these last years and his whole life. He will be a legend in Afghan history forever. If Karzai walks out in order to delude US and the rest of the international community the entire relationship between US, the IC and Afghanistan’s people will be destroyed. Negotiations for and about the Afghan people are good. Negotiations for Karzai’s benefits are low rent second class and ghetto negotiations.

Here is a likely scenario the President is planning.  Karzai will try to make a secret deal with Fahim Khan to maintain his political power and his personal economic wellbeing. Qasim Fahim will obtain the administration as President by Karzai resigning.  Fahim secretly promises to take care and protect Karzai. In the result, lawmakers will stumble on a method to systematize a decree to endorse Fahim for the next term. Subsequently, Qasim Fahim Khan will eliminate all requirements for elections and he will call for a new set up occasion for the elections. Or Fahim Khan will call for a manner similar to referendum to stay in power for the next five years. If Karzai will not get agreement with Fahim then Fahim will get under the weather and Karzai will select someone else as a new vice-president in anticipation of elections to be held. Otherwise or also there will be no fair elections because Karzai could not guarantee someone would win that would protect him. “Mr President, this is our country. You are only looking out for yourself not the Afghan people.”

It seems like this era and the game is over for President Karzai. The US will not snuggle up with him. The US will undertake to find out a best partner for the wellbeing of America and Afghanistan as partners for the future. If this corrupt, second rate ghetto government mentality continues the US and all countries will say good ridden to Afghanistan and we will again be alone at this crucial moment. The world is looking for Afghanistan to say Thank You in some way for assisting these past 10 years for all our growth in so many areas. The world is not looking for Afghanistan to spit in the eye of those who have helped. This continuous corrupt government is killing its own people because of ignorance of the laws of life.

Karzai continues in a dreamland of running to radical Islam countries for help. The conditionality they put on him is to swear off all the countries that have and will help.  You are killing us President Karzai as sure as if you held a gun to our heads. Sharing the future with our international friends is a good thing. They don’t treat us like slime and give no services for our hard work. They treat us like real people like the rest of the world. They don’t treat us like poor slaves in a broken governmental system. Our people are proud. We have accomplished many things. You don’t give us credit for anything. “This is our country, President Karzai. And we want it back. And we want you out.”

Ajmal Sohail is a graduate in terrorism and extremism studies from both Leiden University in the Netherlands and Maryland University in the United States; he works in the meantime as an intelligence analyst and Counter-terrorism expert. He does remain well connected with the political players in his country, both those physically in Afghanistan and those working from outside, allowing him to gain insights into the extremely complex geopolitical situation in Afghanistan and in the South Asia region. He is the co-founder and co-president of the Counter Narco-Terrorism Alliance Germany, directing its intelligence and counter-terrorism portfolios. His analysis is regularly featured in various international news outlets, print and television and he even runs his own sources to get the most classified Intel. His analysis and other content can be accessed at his personal website: http://www.ajmalsohail.com

South Asia

A long way of solidarity: a voice for the voiceless Kashmiris

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Friday prayers in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. © John Isaac

Every year on February 5 Pakistan observes Kashmir Solidarity Day. It aims to demonstrate Pakistan’s support and solidarity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir, and their continuing liberation struggle, and to honor Kashmiri martyrs who sacrificed their lives fighting for Kashmir’s independence.

Every year, on Kashmir Solidarity Day, Pakistan expresses its political, moral, and diplomatic support for the righteous fight of our Kashmiri brothers and becomes its voice in the international forums.

Kashmir’s discord carries historical as well as contemporary events that hinder its political future.

Historical account of the humiliation of Kashmir’s people

The history of conflict dates back to 1947. In the June 3 plan, the princely state offered a choice between India and Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh deceived Pakistan and ceded Kashmir to India through a standstill agreement, which sparked an uprising of Pashtun tribesmen and the Hindu nationalists and RSS to organize a program against Muslims, killing between 20,000 and 100,000 Muslims. On October 27, 1947, Indian troops landed in Kashmir to fight against the Pashtuns and the local armies; this led to the first India-Pakistan war. During the war, India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, promised a referendum: “The fate of Jammu and Kashmir is ultimately decided by the people; the pledge we have given is not only to the people of Kashmir but also to the world.” “We will not and cannot back out of it.”

India referred the dispute to the United Nations a little more than two months later. A resolution passed on August 13, 1948, asking both nations to withdraw their forces; once that happened, a referendum was to be held, allowing the people of Kashmir to decide their political future. But the Indian troops were never withdrawn, and the referendum never happened. On January 1, 1949, the ceasefire was agreed upon, and Kashmir became a disputed territory. Over the next 70 years, India and Pakistan fought three wars over Kashmir.

In Indian-administrated Kashmir, India maintains around 600,000 troops in Kashmir, who have committed human rights violations like rape, torture, and enforced disappearances that continue today. The number of people killed in Kashmir is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000, which shows the ruthlessness of the so-called largest democracy in the world.

Situation after the abolishment of articles 370 and 35A

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government abrogated Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which granted Jammu and Kashmir a special status and autonomy. The Indian government enforced a curfew, disrupted communication connections, arrested political leaders, and deployed extra soldiers in the area, generating widespread resentment and demonstrations.

Since the abolition of Articles 370 and 35A, human rights abuses and violations in Kashmir have increased significantly, with claims of widespread mass arrests, torture, and extrajudicial executions by Indian security personnel. The Indian government has also restricted freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, making it impossible for citizens to openly express their thoughts and report on the state of the area.

In addition, the Indian government has been accused of fostering demographic changes in the area through the settlement of Hindu migrants, which has resulted in a fall in the percentage of the Muslim population and degradation of the Kashmiri people’s distinctive cultural and religious identity.

International human rights groups have shown concern about the situation in Kashmir and demanded an independent investigation into the reported human rights breaches and abuses. About 87 civilians have been killed by the Indian forces since the abrogation of Article 370. The international community has also advocated for a peaceful settlement to the issue that takes the Kashmiri people’s rights and interests into consideration.

The situation in Kashmir remains severe, and the continuous violence and human rights violations continue to provide the international community with a formidable task. The region’s political future is still unknown, and a sustainable resolution to the war has not yet been found.

Pakistan’s Advocacy for Kashmir

Pakistan has made several attempts to resolve the ongoing conflict in Kashmir and has sought international backing for its stance on the matter. Pakistan has repeatedly discussed the Kashmir issue at the United Nations and other international forums, stressing the need for a peaceful settlement of the conflict based on the self-determination principle and the right of the Kashmiri people to choose their destiny. Pakistan has also made diplomatic attempts to garner international support for its viewpoint, notably via the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Pakistan has also endeavored to provide political, diplomatic, and moral assistance for the Kashmiri resistance movement. India has accused Pakistan of financing terrorism in the area based on information that Pakistan supports separatist organizations in the region. Pakistan has denied these allegations and advocated for a peaceful settlement according to UN Resolution 47 (1948), which calls for a ceasefire, and UN Resolution 51 (1948), which calls for a plebiscite to be held in the region to determine the will of the Kashmiri people.

Despite these attempts, the situation in Kashmir remains unresolved, and a permanent resolution to the conflict has not yet been reached. The issue remains a significant source of conflict between India and Pakistan and a problem for the international community.

Conclusion:

Kashmir’s political future remains uncertain and is the subject of ongoing discussion and negotiation between India and Pakistan, as well as international engagement.

Currently, the territory is split between India and Pakistan, with India administering the greater part and Pakistan the smaller. The Line of Control (LoC), which divides the two managed territories, has often been the scene of tension and bloodshed.

There have been appeals for a peaceful conclusion that takes the rights and interests of the Kashmiri people into consideration. Some have suggested the concept of “self-determination,” in which the people of Kashmir would have the right to choose their destiny through a referendum or a negotiated solution between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir’s political future is unpredictable and vulnerable to the continuous dynamics of the war as well as the shifting political and strategic objectives of the major regional countries. The international community still has a big part to play in finding a solution, and India, Pakistan, and the other countries in the area are likely to have to be involved and support any lasting solution.

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Sri Lankans deserve a clean break from the past

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The decision of former president Maithripala Sirisena to run for president pits two unpopular, establishment candidates against one another. With both Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe involved in past political turmoil and the current economic crisis, Sri Lankans deserve a clean break.

While a presidential election cannot be held until 2024, the Sri Lankan Electoral Commission recently announced local elections for February. With no popular mandate and as the only member of his party, President Wickremesinghe is expected to face an embarrassing defeat in the poll, but it is unlikely to bring down the government.

The announcement that Sirisena would run as president comes at a pivotal time for Sri Lankans.

Wickremesinghe warned this week that the Sri Lankan economy could contract by up to 4% this year, after shrinking 11% last year.

Last year, the island nation descended into turmoil, with an economic collapse leading to its worst crisis in years. Foreign currency shortages, runaway inflation and a recession left the government unable to make debt repayments and left Sri Lankans desperately short of food and fuel.

This led to unprecedented unrest, particularly in the capital Colombo, resulting in the deaths of protesters and police, with hundreds more injured or detained. The protests culminated in the storming and occupation of the presidential palace, forcing Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country, with Wickremesinghe replacing him as president.

Sirisena has a chequered history in Sri Lankan politics.

Sirisena was part of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet before defecting to the opposition and winning a surprise election victory against Rajapaksa in 2015.

As President, Sirisena formed a close partnership with Wickremsinghe, appointing him Prime Minister, before the two spectacularly fell out. This culminated in the sacking of Wickremesinghe in 2018, replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa. At the time, Wickremesinghe claimed that the move was “unconstitutional”.

This led to a constitutional crisis and power struggle between Wickremesinghe, Rajapaksa and Sirisena, with the former President dissolving parliament and calling snap elections. Sirisena then decided to not seek re-election, leaving office in early 2019. He was replaced as president by Mahinda’s brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Recently, the Sri Lankan supreme court ordered Sirisena and several other top government, police and intelligence officials to pay millions of rupees in compensation to the victims of the 2019 Easter bombings in Colombo. The court found that Sirisena, as former president, ignored multiple warnings about an imminent terrorist attack weeks before the deadly event took place.

But Wickremesinghe is also no saint.

Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister, won a parliamentary vote with the backing of the Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party to replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa in July 2022. For this reason, he is accused of owing his position to the family.

Upon gaining the presidency, Wickremesinghe immediately cracked down on protesters, condemning the protests as “against the law” and calling protesters “fascists”. Under his watch, more than 140 protesters have been arrested and its leaders driven into hiding.

In August 2022, the United Nations condemned his government’s crackdown on protesters. The UN also criticised the repeated use of emergency measures, such as curfews, calling them a “misuse of emergency measures”.

The president has also been accused of delaying this poll, claiming the economically crippled country cannot afford to spend 10 billion rupees on a local election. However, the election commission decided to proceed despite the president’s request. Nonetheless, this raises doubts about Wickremesinghe’s respect for the democratic process.

What Sri Lankans desperately need is political stability and good economic management so the country can dig its way out of its worst crisis since independence.

Sirisena and Wickremesinghe offer neither. The former is struggling to finalise a bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund and both are notorious for poor political decision making and unpopular with a public desperate for change.

Therefore, Sri Lankans are faced with two establishment candidates who only offer more of the same.

The solution, at least for the time being, is for Wickremesinghe to call a presidential election so the next president has a clear mandate by the people. This will assist in forming a stable government and in bailout negotiations with the IMF.

Power also needs to be decentralised through ambitious political reforms that allow for wider participation and decision making in parliament. While, admittedly, this would be difficult under both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe, it is the first step in dealing with corruption and nepotism in Sri Lankan politics.

Presidential candidates serious about solving the countries problems also need to focus on key issues, such as rebuilding the economy, accountability for human rights and rebuilding political integrity and public trust.

Only once this is achieved, and Sri Lanka has shed itself of its dysfunctional political past, will it be able to recover.

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South Asia

A Hybrid Political System for Pakistan: A Proposal

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The political system of Pakistan is an amalgamation of Islamic, British, and Indian influences, shaped by a multifaceted array of religious, ethnic, and regional factors, making it a culturally rich and ever-changing landscape. Pakistan is renowned for its powerful military establishment, which has traditionally wielded significant influence in determining its political direction. The nation’s political history is characterized by cycles of military rule, punctuated by several coups, followed by phases of democratic rule, though the military has continued to exert a significant degree of influence in the country’s politics. Furthermore, Pakistan has had to contend with the pernicious threat of extremism, with various militant groups operating within its borders and perpetrating terrorist attacks, which have destabilized the nation’s political, social, and economic stability.

This article aims to shed light on the challenges faced by the political system in Pakistan, specifically concerning the current political turmoil the country is experiencing. It also suggests a potential solution to stabilize the system and bring about a revolution in the way politics is conducted in Pakistan

The challenges faced by Pakistan’s democracy are compounded by the elite classes’ actions. The country is currently facing significant upheaval, which can be attributed to several factors. The lack of solid democratic institutions, frequent military takeovers, and the involvement of powerful military and civilian elites are among the underlying causes of the country’s political instability. Additionally, ethnic and regional conflicts, poverty, and economic growth issues further exacerbated political instability. The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, as well as political unrest in neighboring countries, have also had an impact on the country. Furthermore, Pakistan’s history of military control, political corruption, and a lack of a deeply ingrained democratic culture have all contributed to the volatility in its political system.

The current political quagmire that plagues Pakistan is multifaceted, primarily stemming from a dearth of political acumen and a paucity of commitment on the part of leaders to prioritize the exigencies of the populace over their own personal and factional interests. This has led to a diminution of public confidence in the political system and government officials. Furthermore, the military’s prolonged political intervention and sway history has exacerbated a lack of democratic stability and accountability. Another critical conundrum that has impeded the country’s political evolution is the preponderance of corruption and nepotism in every government agency, rendering it difficult for citizens to repose trust in government officials. As a result, there is a burgeoning loss of faith in institutions of all varieties, with people losing trust in the government, corporations, and political leaders.

Furthermore, the failure of successive governments to address the issue of corruption has further undermined public trust in the political system. The permeation of corrupt practices in every government institution has made it difficult for citizens to have faith in government officials, leading to a general disillusionment with the political system. Additionally, the lack of transparency and accountability in government operations has enabled corrupt officials to operate with impunity, further eroding the public’s trust in the political system. The aforementioned issues have resulted in a political climate marked by a lack of stability and continuity, hindering the country’s economic and social development. It is imperative that the political class and other stakeholders work towards addressing these issues to ensure that the political system can effectively serve the people’s needs and promote the country’s long-term stability and prosperity.

Proposing A New Way to get stability in Political System?

A hybrid political system combines characteristics of many political systems, such as democracy and autocracy. Two examples are a semi-presidential system, which combines a prime minister and a president, and a federal system, which combines a central government with regional administrations. Hybrid systems can also include components of other kinds of democracy, such as a parliamentary system combined with a robust presidential system. These systems are frequently viewed as a compromise between competing political ideologies or as a means of balancing the strengths and shortcomings of various systems

If the official replaces the current political system with a hybrid one, it could be very beneficial. One of the main advantages of a hybrid system is that it allows for a balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government. In a presidential system, the executive branch is separate from the legislative branch, with the president having a lot of power. In a parliamentary system, however, the executive branch is accountable to the legislative branch. In a hybrid system, the executive branch has some independence from the legislative branch but is still responsible for it. This helps to prevent too much power from being concentrated in one person or group and also helps to protect citizens’ rights and to avoid abuse of power.

An additional benefit of implementing a hybrid system is that it may facilitate more efficient decision-making by leveraging the strengths of both presidential and parliamentary systems. In a presidential system, the separation of powers can result in stalemates and prolonged indecision, while in a parliamentary system, the government can swiftly collapse if it loses the legislature’s support. A hybrid system, on the other hand, can offer a balance of stability and agility, allowing for more prompt decision-making while maintaining the accountability of the executive branch. Furthermore, considering Pakistan’s history of military involvement in politics, a hybrid system can provide a mechanism to hold the military accountable to the civilian administration and reduce the likelihood of military intervention.

It is imperative to acknowledge that a hybrid system may not be the ultimate remedy for all of Pakistan’s issues, and its successful operation would require meticulous planning and execution. Nevertheless, this system could potentially provide a glimpse of sustained stability in Pakistan’s political landscape, and it is incumbent upon the authorities to consider this system as a viable option to circumvent further obstacles.

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