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Bangladesh: Will this country become Pakistan or Kashmir?

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A political group is spreading the perception that the country will again become Pakistan if Awami League loses control of Bangladesh. They even suggested a label “Banglastan” for this supposed nation which transforms into an improvised Pakistan in the East. But symptomatically it appears to become another Kashmir, or in a classical sense be called Banglashir (Bangladesh + Kashmir).

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went to Shantiniketan, India to attend the VishvaBharati convocation. On the same occasion, Narendra Modi joined in as a Vishva-Bharati’s Acharya. Various observers believe this particular rendezvous was orchestrated at an opportune moment to help re-establish a relationship between the two leaders. The media hyped it as  viewing a display of the mythical chariots (RathaYatra), but the primary objective was to push a package; “how to win the upcoming election at the end of this year once again”; by hook or crook, whatever it takes.

On this visit, Hasina propagated the fear of Pakistan and that; her’s is the only party that can be trusted to continue the pro-India mantle faithfully that works out magnificently for India and also gives the power she wants.

The “Ananda Bazar Patrika” zealously propagated the Pakistan fear. Even though this magazine was not supposed to be privy to the contents of the secret meeting between Hasina and Modi, and yet they published a piece covering the event. It was headlined “Hasina’s message – the anti-liberation forces are perpetrating the plot to make Bangladesh into Pakistan. If Awami League loses power, India has to live with two houses of Pakistan; one in the West and the other in the East.  So, India should render its necessary support to the present government of Bangladesh.”

Indira Gandhi uttered the above sentence in 1971. She used to say that the head could survive pain on one side. But it is difficult to sleep with pain on both sides. Ananda Bazar highlighted a similar statement by Hasina. As there are no comments on this issue from Hasina’s office, it can be assumed to be a true declaration by Sheikh Hasina.

A “Preeti” press conference was organized at Ganobhaban (Prime Minister’s residence) after her return from that trip. The entire country was watching the congregation of such an elite group of flattering journalists who were asking appealing questions allowing her to continue her long cacophony against her opponents without even semblance to the questions asked. One of them asked; “we understand, an Indian newspaper has indicated that Bangladesh wants a reward for what you have done for India.” To this, the Prime Minister retorted; “I do not want any rewards. Why do I need a reward here? I do not have the habit of asking for favors; rather I am magnanimous in giving more than I receive. Whatever I gave to India; India should remember me forever. ”

Another Sheikh, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah of Kashmir, also gave away everything without asking for anything in return. He had the habit of being magnanimous in giving more than what he received. People in Kashmir have not forgotten that ever since 1947.

In 1947, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah welcomed the Indian army into Kashmir. He fully supported the document evidencing alignment with India. In exchange, he was able to act as the Chief Minister of Kashmir till 1953. The man who is most responsible for the suffering of people in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the people of India and Pakistan; is Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.

In the lust for power, these Sheikhs became so blind that, the sufferings of the people never crossed their minds. There were mass killings of about 250,000 Muslims and displacement of approximately 1,000,000 persons in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah realized he made a tremendous mistake by trusting India when his perceived friend Nehru put him in jail. This mistake has caused enormous sufferings for the Kashmiri people for which they are paying till now. They do not see any future in the Indian Federation.

All indications are that Bangladesh is proceeding towards the path of Kashmir. By creating the myth of a Pakistani Genie, Bangladesh is being prepared to become another Kashmir. Here, we can hear the sound of another Sheikh’s footsteps.

Before the arrival of the British, the Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully in these lands what was India.  To effectively administer India, the British devised a “divide and rule” policy between Hindus and the Muslims. It worked out very well for them. They were acting as the judge and the jury while the Hindus and Muslims were fighting. If they did not get tired, the British could have ruled India for another century using the same method.

Their “divide and rule” policy created a new dimension of troubles in India. Even before leaving for good, they embedded a seed of enmity between Hindus and Muslims. One of these seeds was the creation of the Kashmir problem. India and Pakistan; even though very poor, were importing arms and ammunition in record levels heeding poverty of their population. Now, both of these nations are very large purveyors of weapons and are two big nuclear powers.

British misdeeds have created this enormous enmity amongst peoples that were otherwise living peacefully for centuries. Without the Kashmir issue, India and Pakistan could have lived peacefully. But the British had to leave their legacy behind. Instead of using their wealth for the benefit of their people, they indulged into purchasing arms and ammunition. Otherwise, the region could have achieved unprecedented prosperity.

A prolific crusader, Arundhati Roy promoted the cause of Kashmiri independence despite the stereotyped Indians calling her a traitor and wanted her incarcerated. In an interview, Miss Roy said, if the state runs a case against me in the court of law then there should be a case against Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India) even post his death. She mentioned several telegrams and radio addresses by Nehru in which he said; “I declare, the fate of the Kashmiris will be decided by themselves. This promise is not only for the Kashmiris; it is to the entire world. I will never renege from this covenant, and I won’t be able to do it either (3 November 1947)”.

For the sake of Kashmir, Pakistan and India fought three wars; 1947, 1965 and 1999. It is incumbent to the parties in this conflict to address issues and mitigate their differences for the sake of peace and prosperity. The people who talk about the European like peace in the sub-continent, somehow are not getting involved deeply in this pursuit.

The armed forces of India comprise of about 1,300,000 persons which makes it the third largest standing armies of the world. About 700,000 of their armed personnel are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. With a population of 7,000,000, this is one to ten ratio and makes it the largest per capita army deployment in the world. Naturally, the expenditures related to this engagement is enormous.

If Bangladesh was to be made into a defacto colony, India has to deploy 20 times the soldiers as in Jammu and Kashmir. When India is already over-stressed within Kashmir, where should she be looking into when it comes to Bangladesh?

If India thinks Bangladesh will be similar to the peoples of Sikkim and Bhutan, they would grossly misjudge the situation on the ground. In 1947, 90 percent people of the then East Bengal (now Bangladesh) voted for the formation of Pakistan. Bangladeshis got disenchanted with the misrule of the Pakistani ruling class. Even with the commonality of religion, which was initially thought to be viable, now could not keep the Bangladeshis from remaining in Pakistan. The war of liberation in 1971 was the result of the resolve of the Bangladeshis.

India must realize, the hatred towards Pakistani rulers is now being diverted against Indian defacto rule of Bangladesh by maintaining Awami League as their proxy. More the Awami League gets through with make-believe elections; the more Bangladeshis will be agitated against India. They firmly believe, the Indian government is behind these fake elections.

Anti-India feelings are running high throughout South Asia. Leaving Pakistan alone, one cannot forget Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the people of Bangladesh who are tired of Indian policies. Even the Hindu Nepal is no exception. How long will the peace in Bhutan last is someone’s guess? No one likes anyone to pry into one’s family and nation. People abhor agents of foreign governments. If this hatred magnifies, the scenario in the entire sub-continent may drown into chaos.

Various Indian think tanks are already warning about these scenarios. With China encircling India in all directions, one does not have to look in any other direction.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When India is playing with her smaller neighbors, a counter activity/reaction is developing. Indian neighbors would rather have China as their friend owing to meddling in their internal affairs by India. Not only that India has pain on both sides; that pain will propagate to every organ of the body. Because of wrong Indian policies, all neighbors are transforming into Pakistan.

When the neighboring nations like Bangladesh and India create ties with some political parties and not the people, they focus all their energies on the winning of that political party.  With aiding Awami League only, there is already tremendous anti-Indian feelings within the people of Bangladesh. China would gladly work her way into the void.

Awami League strengthens their power by exhibiting the fear of the Pakistani Genie. The main opposition party BNP must expose that point in a clear voice. The recent trip to Delhi by the BNP leadership must be clearly explained to the public. BNP must proceed with their political agenda in a transparent, concise manner keeping the people with them at every stage.

BNP was in power at a crucial time of Bangladesh when coups and counter-coups were happening every time you look around. BNP is a nationalist party and never converted Bangladesh into Pakistan then, and is not planning for it now. It is transparent propaganda spread by Sheikh Hasina and her party. Creating Sheikh Abdullahs by instilling fear of a ghost of Pakistan, we cannot save Bangladesh from becoming a Kashmir. India must realize this and not put all eggs in one basket.

While BNP needs India, India also requires the cooperation of BNP. If the scenario changes, India may have lost their opportunity to maintain a reliable neighbor. Any shortcut way may bring a considerable loss for India as well as BNP.

India’s general election is forthcoming. In the last election, Awami League government helped the Congress Party. BJP is fully aware of this. Doubt remains whether Modi government will bring the crocodile by digging the canal. Whether Modi has realized this, it is a matter of guess.  “All disciples’ in a temple are not true disciples”; Modi is fully aware of this.

BNP and their partners are deeply rooted in various localities outside the capital city Dhaka. At this time, BNP has only one roadmap in front of them. They should not participate in the upcoming polls without the help of a neutral caretaker government; otherwise, it will be another electoral fiasco like 2014 election. Awami League and Hasina know, they are shouldering a burden of illegitimacy and BNP must make sure this burden should crush an authoritarian regime Hasina is running. With firm resolve and clear direction, this fascist government will crumble.

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South Asia

Pakistan’s Increasing Tilt towards China

M Waqas Jan

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In a recent interview with the Washington Post; Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked what kind of relationship he wanted from the US. He responded by pointing out Pakistan’s long and storied relationship with China as an example of a successful and mutually beneficial relationship. He explained how Pakistan’s relationship with China, unlike the US was not one-dimensional and built more on trade, respect and mutual cooperation. In doing so he in effect presented the underlying reasons why China is often termed as Pakistan’s ‘All-Weather’ friend.

In fact, the very notion of China being an ‘All-Weather’ friend is borne in contrast out of the US’s more fair-weather and sporadic approach to Pakistan. This approach has been evident in Pakistan’s long-standing complaints of how after helping the US repel the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan was left to pick up the pieces as the US unilaterally withdrew from the region, leaving behind a devastating humanitarian and political crisis. The last two decades’ war on terror for which Pakistan once again allied with the US is also following a similar blue-print, which the Prime Minister made clear was an example of history repeating itself. In defining his country’s most recent reservations against the US, he made it clear that Pakistan would no longer serve as a hired gun for the US, and desired a more equitable relationship based on mutual respect.

Considering how Pak-US relations have deteriorated over the last few years, the Prime Minister’s remarks come as little surprise to observers who have witnessed this uneasy partnership throughout its peaks and troughs. Yet, what’s striking is the fact that this is perhaps the first time that a Pakistani head of state has directly presented its relations with China as the ideal blue-print for which to measure the long and troubled history of Pak-US relations.

In contrast, the official narrative ascribed to the Pak-China bilateral framework, has stood out amongst diplomatic and policy-making circles due to the broad poetic license that has more recently been attributed to it. The oft-quoted phrase of how Pak-China Friendship is ‘higher than mountains, deeper than the ocean, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey’, has been repeatedly used by officials representing the highest levels of government, from both countries to emphasize the far-reaching significance of their bilateral relations.

This includes their significance both within a more localized context, as well as a broader more regional context as evident in the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The corridor which promises an end to Pakistan’s development woes focuses instead on fostering peace and stability through economic growth and development. This is as opposed to the more security and strategically driven approach of the US, which has seen the region become increasingly violent and militarized. It is based on this difference that CPEC has been widely hailed as a viable solution to the relative instability and insecurity that has for years characterized the South Asian region.

However, over the past few months, Pak-China relations have themselves undergone an uncharacteristic period of friction and uncertainty. Interestingly, one of the major reasons behind this friction has been none other than the newly elected Prime Minister himself. As part of his anti-corruption campaign rhetoric leading up to the elections, he had promised greater over-sight and transparency with regard to Chinese investments under CPEC. This came at a time where growing trade and economic tensions between the US and China, had led to greater scrutiny and broad reservations against China’s rising influence the world over. Calls to re-evaluate China’s investments were echoed across countries such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Kenya; with allusions to unsustainable loans and China’s ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’ doing the rounds amidst key influencers and policy-makers across the globe. Pakistan’s rising debt too was linked to CPEC projects by none other than the US secretary of State, who had ruled out the possibility of US loans being used to bail out Chinese bond-holders in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has since gone to great lengths to dispel such sentiments, as was evident in his official visit to Beijing last month. In all his statements, he has been careful in acknowledging the benefits of China’s strategic partnership with Pakistan, and has lauded China’s tremendous achievements in eradicating poverty; something that he wants to emulate as part of his own government’s policies. His recent statements in the above-mentioned interview too, are based in part on these same reasons.

Taken together, the PM’s statements thus present a clear and very public declaration that the Pakistani government is quite willingly choosing to side with China in the ongoing US-China economic rivalry. Unlike before where Pakistan had to carefully balance its strategic relationships between China and the US, China’s grand overtures and the US’s more inward focus on ‘America First’ have accelerated Pakistan’s gradual tilt towards China. With the US-China rivalry currently seeming far from any sort of resolution, Pakistan’s need to pick a side in favor of the other represents a clear indication of which side the government believes its long-terms interests lie with.

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Sirimavo of Sri Lanka: Refocusing on World’s first Women Prime Minister

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Authors: Srimal Fernando and Pooja Singh*

In 1970s, there was a time when Sirimavo Bandaranaike caught the global attention and her premiership was one of the most momentous times in Sri Lanka’s political history. On 21 July, 1960, she became the first ever woman Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (formally known as Ceylon) and the world. Even today nearly half a century later, Sirimavo’s name is remembered among the thousands of Sri Lankans and among the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) supporters. Thus the Sri Lankan voters expectations about Sirimavo rose within no time after the unfortunate assassination of her husband S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1959.

In the summer of 1970, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) , the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and also the Communist Party (CP) was sweeping electorates in a general election by winning 115 seats out of 151. In essence, Sirimavo’s administration presented far-reaching constitutional and socio-economic reforms that were suitable for a small island nation.  In fact Mrs. Bandaranaike handled the transfer of island nation becoming a republic under a new constitution tactfully. In this context, Dr. N.M. Perera, Felix Dias Bandaranaike, Philip Gunawardena was some of the primary shapers of her administration. At that time, unlike her predecessors, the former premier showed great interest in developing cement, paper, steel and chemical industries. Despite promising signs under her leadership, uneven inequalities from 1948 to 1970 and economic stagnation created tensions within rural masses. Surprisingly, a coup in 1971 by the southern insurgents headed by Rohana Wijeweera, the leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) shattered the hopes of Bandaranaike government for a short time. Although coup was unsuccessful because of Sri Lanka’s military support to premier’s rule.

It is noteworthy to mention Sirimavo era solidified Sri Lanka’s foreign policy in the coming decades, which set the stage for the island to increase bilateral ties with India and China. In fact, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a trustworthy friend of Mrs. Bandaranaike. This period also saw the closest bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries. Especially, Mrs. Bandaranaike was a giant among Non-Alignment leaders. In the summer of 1976 at the fifth Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall(BMICH) in Colombo, Mrs. Bandaranaike stated, “The non-aligned countries should fight against injustice, intolerance, inequality, old concept of empire and intervention.”

On the domestic political scenario, the opposition leader J.R. Jayewardene and his deputy Ranasinghe Premadasa had been outspoken critics of Sirimavo Bandaranaike policies. When she lost 1977 general elections, it was extremely a difficult situation for Mrs. Bandaranaike and for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) coalition partners who had developed a remarkable sense for socialist political culture within the multicultural society in  Sri Lanka. Seven years later Mrs. Bandaranaike had lost her civic rights, the party hierarchy nominated veteran SLFP stalwart Hector Kobbekaduwa for the forthcoming referendum. The Referendum results did not reflect the true situation. Then while the    atmosphere began to change in the island country after the eruption of ethnic conflict and signing of the Indo-Lanka accord. This scenario caused strong anti-United National Party (UNP) regime change feeling.  In a closely fought presidential election in 1988, the SLFP leader Mrs. Bandaranaike lost to UNP presidential candidate Mr. Premadasa. There were no immediate solutions to the crisis in Sri Lanka under Premadasa’s presidency.  Hence  in  the South, due to the JVP uprising and the Tamil tiger (LTTE) attacks in Northern and Eastern provinces, conditions inside the Island nation was going from bad to worse.

At the same time, the crisis in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)  came to surface and the party was divided into several wings.  Thus, the time had come for SLFP party unity for doing away with the seventeen years United National Party (UNP) rule. Mrs. Bandaranaike was convinced that it was time for a new generation of party leadership. She opened the corridors of political power to Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Maithripala Sirisena who later became presidents of Sri Lanka. In late years, Mrs. Bandaranaike was a prime minister for a short time from when her daughter Mrs. Kumaratunga was president. On the Foreign Policy front she reworked strong bilateral ties with India and China and her policies remained important for Non Aligned Movement (NAM) nations and for India  and China ties with Sri Lanka. After more than fifty years of service to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), to the nation many of the Sri Lankan’s were finding it hard to come to terms with Sirimavo’s sudden death on 10th October, 2000.Late premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s pragmatic policies mattered very much for the South Asian island nation, the region and to the world at large.

* Pooja Singh, a scholar of Masters in Diplomacy, Law, Business at Jindal School of International Affairs, India.

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Indian Human Rights violation in Kashmir

Adeela Ahmed

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In International conflict management, the models and approaches to solve the deep-rooted issue are vital and applicable but these models became fragile if any one of the belligerent states lacks the intent to solve any tangible solution. India rigid stance of avoiding any Peace Talks on Kashmir issue is the main irritant between rivalries which derails the conflict resolution. It is far important for rivalries to elucidate the dispute to move ahead.  Because it is ultimate truth that all the conflict and crises have an alternate way of tenacity.

In South Asian framework, Indian strategic ambitions are the main stumbling block in the way of Kashmir Resolution. While in the Global framework, major powers like Russia and USA military and then ideological interests compels states not to play any significant role for the resolution of Kashmir conflict.

Kashmiri Freedom Movement started from 1931 and still in 2018 it is constantly being exploited in the hands of Indian aggressive leaders. From 87 years, Indian barbarism is not a top-secret. Indian wanted to sideline and suppress the Kashmir issue in the prism of their national interests but the issue will remain alive with determined efforts of the Kashmiri and Pakistani people, human right activists, political and military leaders. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir must be resolved as per aspirations of Kashmiris.

Pakistanis and Kashmiris across the world chronicled their protest against Indian brutality and illegitimate occupation in Kashmir. Struggle for freedom of Kashmiri people will one day succeed by the grace of Almighty Allah.  Each day is like a black day until the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir with the consent of Kashmiri people.

There are many pragmatic choices for the resolution of Kashmir issue but the real dilemma is that India is not ready to come on Table for Peace talks due to their hegemonic ambitions. Recent Talks at UNGA 73rd session was also negated by Indian. As a rational nuclear state, they should realize that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint. Both the nuclear states should talk constructively and negotiations are the only way forward in which mutual national interests must be considered.

In 1948, it was India who went to United Nations and then it was decided unanimously a plebiscite in Kashmir. It is the right of every Kashmiri to decide his destiny indigenously. As there are no law enforcement agencies of international organizations to implement its resolution but the role of P-5 states can facilitate for resolution. Till now no such role is played by them but the importance of UN forum cannot be negated as states like Pakistan can raise their voices at international level against Human Rights violations.

The Indian occupational forces under the cover of Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) and other black laws frequently involve in religious cleansing of Muslims. After the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016 Indian forces started using most dangerous weapons of pellet firing shotgun. Where are Human Rights Law against the killing of innocent Kashmiris? The lives of Kashmiris are as important the people killed in 9/11, London attacks, in Mumbai attack or a single Indian soldier. The US fought the war on terror and still engage in most complex war but What about Terror of India in Kashmir. Kashmir needs not to be forgotten at all. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo asked Pakistan to abandon terrorist attacks into India but from Where Kashmiri demand Freedom. The US needs to let her interest go, at least for once, to settle the Kashmir issue. For Pakistan, it is not just a matter of territorial importance but relates to the lives of Kashmiri people who are suffering at the hands of India’s state terrorism.

Modi government is supporting to have Direct Talks with the Taliban, but when it is about Kashmir, they became silent. There is a dire need for the Indian government to review their mindless Kashmir policy. Kashmiri people must be given the right of plebiscite to decide them their destiny. Pakistan’s foreign policy is on right direction that the tools of diplomacy need to be improved for better results and peace process is the only way forward.

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