India’s view is that abrogation of special status and Kashmiris’ hereditary proprietary rights is an internal matter. They harp that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Kashmiris’ struggle to shake off Indian yoke amounts to terrorism. And that its legislative coup d’état would be harbinger of peace, amity, and lasting prosperity in Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan’s view is, unless revocation is withdrawn and curfew lifted, the situation would result in blood bath. There are eight million Kashmiris under clampdown by nine lac Indian troops. What’s the truth?
Terrorists or freedom fighters
Unlike Kashmir, Bangladesh was not a disputed state like Jammu And Kashmir State. It was an integral part of Pakistan. But, harboured, nurtured, trained and armed Bangladeshi `freedom fighters’ in India’s lexicon. Pakistan calls them `terrorists’. USA’s gallery of `freedom fighters’: Noam Chomsky recalls USA sheltered gallery of Latin American terrorists, extolled as `freedom fighters’. Jallaludiin Haqqani (founding father of formidable Haqqani taliban) `was once a White House guest! (Indiavision news September 28, 2011).
Kashmiris, not `terrorists’, but India, a `rogue state’
Let India not forget that Kashmir is a disputed state as per UN resolutions and the Simla accord. A state that flouts international treaties is called a `rogue state’ (Noam Chomsky’s Rogue States).
To refresh India’s memory: (a) It was India, not Pakistan, which internationalised or multilateralised the Kashmir issue by rushing a reference to the United Nations under Article 35 (Chapter VI). This Article enables any member to draw the Security Council or the General Assembly’s attention to any dispute or situation, which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute. Both India and Pakistan accepted ceasefire from Jan 1, 1949, onwards, and supervision by UN observers. (b) No UN resolution incorporates India’s view that Indian-held Kashmir has acceded to India by virtue of the Maharaja’s decision to accede to India. (c) Kashmir is not a domestic or strictly regional issue, as the UN has already intervened. The government of India has itself invoked and submitted to the jurisdiction of the UN and has accepted its role for resolution of the dispute, and acquiesced to the resolutions passed by the Security Council on Jan 17, 1949, Jan 20, 1948, April 21, 1948, and June 3, 1948. (d) Kashmir is still on the agenda of the Security Council though dormant due to culpable default. (e) The UN resolutions stand validated by the Simla agreement of 1972.
India is reminded of jus cogen, pacta sunt servanda (‘treaties are to be observed’) and are binding upon signatories. India may try to wriggle out of this maxim by pleading that the UN resolutions stand antiquated under another principle clasula rebus sic stantibus (‘things as they stand’ or ‘fundamental change of circumstances’).
But it has not yet so done for obvious reasons. It cannot renounce international and bilateral treaties without being declared a rogue state.
Terrorism against minorities
Why pro-India bloc is mum about terrorism and minorities’ persecution by ruling-BJP-RSS-Sangh Parivar conglomerate (maha gathbandhan)? Why international community is blind, deaf and dumb towards persecution and killing of beef-eating Indian minorities, arson of Muslim houses at Meerut, hounding of Kashmiri students, girls included, and manhandling and looting of Kashmiri traders, across India? When he was a chief minister, prime minister Narendra Modiled an 11-phase gaurav or papadshahi yatra (pride parade) to terrorise Muslim community in July 2002. He winked at Gujarat carnage, and Babri masjid demolition. Why UNO is hesitant to designate him a terrorist?
RSS’s anti-Muslim stance
Rashtrya Swayem Sevak Sangh (RSS) is busy r-imaging it in media as just a cultural entity without any political ambitions. But its severalacts unmask its brutal face.
Indian newspapers (datelined Kanykumari, July 6, 2003) have highlighted the anti -Muslim and -Christian resolutions, passed at RSS’s national executive’s meeting held at Kanykumari from July 5-6, 2003. The resolutions inter alia criticised so-called Christian terrorism against the Hindus. The meeting appealed to the Christians not to submit themselves to the dictates of the `extra-territorial’authority of the Pope.
The RSS called upon the Hindus, particularly Swayamsevaks, to be vigilant about `anti-national and terrorist’ Christian groups, posing a threat to the country’s internal security. It urged the Government to take strong measures against said groups. In a separate resolution, the RSS condemned Pope John Paul II’s statement criticising Indian states’ legislations banning conversions of the Hindus by missionaries.
The executive declared that such conversions were a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the country (It is significant to mention that the Pope had just said that `free exercise of the natural right to religious freedom was prohibited in India’. Besides, the right to change one’s religion is enshrined in the UNO’s Charter of Human Rights, also). It urged the Centre to lodge a protest with the Pope for exhorting the Christian missionaries to carry on their campaign of conversions defying the law of the land.
RAW officers’ confessions
Some Indian diplomats and RAW’s cover officers have made startling revelations in their books about involvement in insurgencies or terrorism in neighbouring countries. . For instance, RK Yadav, and B. Raman (The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane) make no bones about India’s involvement in Bangladesh’s insurgency. They admitted that India’s then prime minister Indira Gandhi, parliament, RAW and armed forces acted in tandem to dismember Pakistan. Raman reminds `Indian parliament passed resolution on March 31, 1971 to support insurgency. Indira Gandhi had then confided with Kao that in case Mujib was prevented to rule Pakistan, she would liberate East Pakistan from the clutches of Military junta. Kao, through one R&AW agent, got hijacked a plane Fokker Friendship Ganga of Indian Airlines from Srinagar to Lahore. India’s security czar Doval publicly claims that he acted as a spy under a pseudonym in Pakistan for 11 years. In an article, titled How India secretly armed Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, in Hindu dated September 1, 2019, India’s former ambassador tells about India’s secret support to Northern Alliance. He discloses India’s ambassador Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar, with consent of then foreign minister Jaswant Singh, `coordinated military and medical assistance that India was secretly giving to Massoud and his forces. The support involved `helicopters, uniforms, ordnance, mortars, small armaments, refurbished Kalashnikovs seized in Kashmir, combat and winter clothes, packaged food, medicines, and funds’. These supplied were `delivered circuitously with the help of other countries’ or ` through his [Masssoud’s] brother in London, Wali Massoud’. The less said about Kalbushan Jadhav, the better.
Mujeeb, a `terrorist’
Roedad Khan, in his book Pakistan: A Dream gone Sour’ ( page 70) writes Agartala Conspiracy Case was withdrawn, not because the prosecution case against Mujeeb was weak, but because over a million people were out on the streets of Dhaka, several government offices and the houses of ministers including Kawaka Shahabuddin’s house-were burnt. .Ayub had no choice but to withdraw the case’.
Through its proxies like Naila Baloch, India sponsored offensive posters on taxi cabs and buses in Switzerland and Britain. USA has recently outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army. However, earlier, in 2012, a handful of Republican had moved a pro-separatist bill in US Congress. It demanded `the right to self-determination’. Diplomat Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar’s involvement in anti-Pakistan/taliban activities as well known.”
Pushtun Tahafuzz Movement
Pushtun Tahafuzz Movement is apparently being backed up by India. In their over-ebullient speeches, PTM’s leaders openly scold Pakistan’s National Security institutions. For instance, Manzoor Pashteen, in his interview (Herald, May 2018, p.48), berates Pak army operations and extols drone strikes. He says, ‘The army did not eliminate even a single Taliban leader. All the 87 Taliban commanders killed in the last 18 years were eliminated in drone strikes’. At a PTM meeting in Britain, even Malala Yusafzai’s father (Ziauddin), like His Master’s Voice, echoed anti-army sentiments. He said, “Pakistan army and intelligence agencies knew that Fazalullah was a terrorist who continued to operate radio station in Swat’.
Kalbushan Jadhav’s episode
Jadhav was an Indian-navy officer, attached to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). His mission was to covertly carry out espionage and terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistan also alleged there were Indian markings on arms deliveries to Baloch rebels pushed by Jadhav. To India’s chagrin, India’s investigative journalists confirmed from Gazettes of India that he was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1987 with the service ID of 41558Z Kulbhushan Sudhir. A later edition of the Gazette showed his promotion to the rank of commander after 13 years of service in 2000. His passport, No E6934766, indicated he traveled to Iran from Pune under the name Hussein Mubarak Patel in December 2003. Another one of his Passports, No. L9630722 (issued from Thane in 2014), inadvertently exposed his correct address: Jasdanwala Complex, old Mumbai-Pune Road, cutting through Navi Mumbai. The municipal records confirmed that the flat he lived in was owned by his mother, Avanti Jadhav. Furthermore, in his judicial testimony before a Karachi magistrate, Karachi underworld figure Uzair Baloch confessed that he had links with Jadhav. India’s prestigious Frontline reportage (Praveen Swami, February 16, 2018, India’s secret war) surmised the possibility that Jadhav still served with the Indian Navy. Gazette of India Files bore no record of Jadhav’s retirement. India told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Jadhav was a retired naval officer. But, it refrained from stating exactly when he retired. The spy initially worked for Naval Intelligence, but later moved on to the Intelligence Bureau. He came in contact with RAW in 2010.
The myth of `revocation’ benefits
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill is no panacea for the region’s prosperity and multifarious problems. It has in fact exacerbated Kashmiri’s misery (lockdown, no food, communication, sense of security).
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill could not plug up `infiltration’ routes. The walnut and apples crops have been destroyed for want of buyers, rain, or immobility. No new jobs. The state already had over 484,901bloated jobs in 27 government departments. Where would Governor Satya Pal Malik absorb announced (August 28, 2019) new 50,000 jobs to be created in three months. A Global Investor Summit is scheduled to be held in October. It is unlikely that Indian investors, let alone global, will come to the Union Territory in an risky environment.
One of the outcomes of the reorganisation legislation is the renewed claim to “Azad Kashmir”. In the IHK’s 114-seat assembly, 24 have been kept aside for Azad Kashmir.During the debate in Parliament on the resolution on the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Home Minister Amit Shah mentioned that the region included “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” and that “we would be willing to sacrifice our lives for it” (that is, having it within the boundary of India). At a public event, a few days later, India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh said that “in future, if talks are held with Pakistan, they will be on the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and no other issue”.
Gilgit and Baltistan Tensions: they are closer ethnically to Kargil, which has a mosaic of distinct ethnic and religious groups from the rest of the undivided State.
Informal discussion of the issue in a closed-door format at the Security Council led to no resolution. Yet, it is a source of concern to India. As soon as the situation becomes a threat to peace and security, P-V and security council would spring into action.
China is executing several infrastructural projects in Gilgit and Baltistan bordering Ladakh and Azad Kashmir. The U.S. position tilts in Pakistan’s favour for consideration of Afghanistan exit. Pakistani diaspora in Britain and sikhs may increase Pakistan’s leverage.
Internal tensions and dissensions within IHK
The supporter and detractors of abrogation are now rigidly polarized. The pro-abrogation camp is frightened by demands in Jammu, including by local BJP leaders, to de facto continue the current practice of allowing only current State subjects to buy land or get local jobs.
They have argued for the adoption of domicile rights as prevalent in States such as Himachal Pradesh.
In Ladakh, the tensions are already visible between the Buddhist-majority Leh and the Shia-majority Kargil districts. While Leh is in a celebratory mood, a different reality prevails in Kargil. There are significant minorities in both districts. Leh got its Autonomous Hill Council in 1995 when the State was under President’s Rule. Then people from Kargil opposed a collective Ladakh Council for Leh and Kargil. This was preceded by long bouts of tension between the two districts. In 2003, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed decided to give Kargil its own council. In a memorandum to the Governor on August 30, 2019, Joint Action Committee Kargil Chairman Sheikh Nazir demanded that the new Union Territory be called Kargil-Leh, the rationale being that Leh had become synonymous with Ladakh. On the other hand, the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) wrote to home minister Amit Shah seeking protection of the Buddhist community in Kargil. The letter written by LBA president P.T. Kunzang accused Sheikh Nazir of instigating communal tension in the region. Too, like the people of Jammu, the people of Leh want a check on outsiders acquiring lands and jobs in the new Union Territory.
Dalit residents of the State also are demanding permanent resident Certificates (PRCs). Over 1, 50,000 refugees who came from neighbouring Sialkot in 1947 also are clamouring for PRCs.. On February 8, 2007, the IHK’s Legislative Assembly rejected a bill giving them the right to become citizens of the State. Speaking in the Assembly, the then State Finance, Law and Parliamentary Minister, Tariq Hamid Karra, said: “We have full Assembly sympathies for West
Pakistan refugees. But the matter has to be resolved in a consensual manner as it has many dimensions.” A similar demand for PRCs was made by a section of the Dalit (Valmiki) community. Its members had come from the Gurdaspur and Amritsar areas of neighbouring Punjab province in 1957 to work as sweepers because sweepers in Jammu and Kashmir had gone on strike.
Nuclear Armageddon: A fair worry? Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan warned war
between the nuclear rivals could `have consequences for the world’ (Washington Post Sep 27, 2019) Kashmir is the flashpoint that triggered the past wars in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999, besides a quasi-war or the military standoff in the years 2001-2002. It is the real casus belli between the two next-door nuclear-capable neighbours. Even today, it remains the nuclear tinderbox. India wants the issue to remain on the back-burner, but Pakistan wants its early resolution. John Thomson, in his article ‘Kashmir: the most dangerous place in the world’ has analyzed whether it is a myth or reality to perceive Kashmir as the most dangerous place in the world (Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Bushra Asif and Cyrus Samii (eds), ‘Kashmir: New Voices, New Approaches’). He has given cogent arguments to prove that the Kashmir issue could once again spark another Indo-Pak military confrontation with concomitant risks of a nuclear war.
Most western analysts, also, do not rule out the possibility of a nuclear war because of the Kashmir dispute. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has, inter alia, pointed out that ‘avoiding nuclear war in South Asia will require political breakthroughs in India-Pakistan’. The earlier India revamps its attitude to Kashmir dispute, the better. India is stoking up entente by alleging that Pakistan is air-dropping munitions in East Punjab through drones (Pakistan, drone, Punjab Police, Punjab, State Special Operations Cell, NIA,The Statesman September 27, 2019).
India’s forte: Modi assures the world that India is headed for a five-trillion-dollar economy. He is a Buddha incarnate, a doyen of world peace. Some of his slogans may nevertheless be hollow. India has seen numerous slogans in 16 general during 72 years of independence_ Nehru’s slogan of “aaraam haraam hai.” (rest is not kosher), Lal Bahadur Shastri’s “jai jawan jai kisan” (long live farmer, long live soldier), Indira Gandhi’s “garibi hatao” (eradicate poverty), post- 1977 echo of “Indira hatao, desh bachao” (remove Indira, save the country), post-Indira-assassination (October 31, 1984) “jab tak suraj-chaand rahega, Indira tera naam rahega” (till sun and moon shines Indira will live on) , BJP (1996) slogan “sabko dekha baari-baari, abki baari Atal Bihari” (now it’s Bihari’s turn), BJP (2014) “achchhe din aane waale hain” (good days are in the offing), BJP (2019) Modi hai to mumkin hai (If Modi is there, then it’s possible), jal sey nal jal shakti (water power), jal jeevan (water is life ), ayushman bharat’ (happy India) and swachh bharat (clean India). . Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by the government. The world is enamoured of Modi’s reformist programmes.
Pakistan’s foible or Achilles’ heel
Indian propaganda is that Pakistan is headed for bankruptcy. Invisible `establishment’s rule’ has ruined its economy. Some `intellectuals like Ayesha Siddia Agha (author of military inc.) caricatures life-style of Pakistan’s armed forces visa-vis that of the common. Hey make no mention that successive civilian governments did nothing to provide universal healthcare or education to the people. In actual fact, the Military Inc. shares its blossoming profits with its burgeoning civil employees. One sore point however remains. The civilian governments shun defence-paid civilian employees. The civilian health and institutions regard them as pariah, as celestial aliens. Besides they are woefully inadequate to meet the burden of existing civilian employees in various ministries and departments.
The incompetent civilian governments wasted funds on deco rational projects, instead of establishing new hospitals. By a stroke of pen, the government shifted burden of general public to Federal government Services Hospital. As a result, the hospital became good for nothing for both serving civilians and general public. The Mil Inc. is nice enough to extend them medical and educational facilities at par with serving officers till superannuation. But, overpowered by its own load of retirees, the Inc. disentitles them from medi-care upon superannuation. That, unfortunately is the time when the sexagenarians need medi-care, shelter and education most for their children. I, for one, spent over Rs. 60, 000 at Ali Medical for treatment of a `disentitled’ family member without reimbursement. The defence establishment could benevolently extend benefit of `revolving fund’ to their defence-paid employees. In case of fund crunch, their proportionate share could be extracted from civil-hospitals budget. As a last resort, this fund could be insurance- or contribution (50% department, 50% retiree) –based. This is how the defence establishment could snatch away one propaganda lever from hands of `Inc.-bashers. The contributory or insurance based formula could be extended by do-nothing civilian governments to all citizens.
Pakistan government could learn a lot from Ayusman Bharat and Thailand’s success in achieving universal healthcare in 2002. Thai lesson stressed importance of tight control within very limited resources at their disposal. They built a careful architecture which allowed them, through their Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program, to clearly specify medically validated protocols and associated prices for all the available services, including diagnostics and medicines.
A few words about housing. Like Defence Housing Authority, two civilian bodies, federal government Employees’ Foundation and Pakistan Housing Authority, are supposed to cater for shelter needs of retired civilian officers. The DHA allots plots and flats to all military officers according to strict criteria. So is not the case with civ bodies. I, for one, have not been allotted any plot or flat despite 40 years of service. Look at my misery, a septuagenarian with heart, diabetes and kidneys ailment. Instead of following date-of-birth/retirement criterion, the civilian housing authorities allot plots only to Grade 22 officers, for sure, leaving other in the lurch. It is unfortunate that civilians devolve blame for their incompetence to the Inc. India propagates that defence allocations are lopsided.
Conflict of interests and war are natural to communities, societies and countries. Lasting peace has been unprecedented in history. A bitter lesson of history is that only such states survived as were able to strike a balance between constraints of security and welfare. Garrison or warrior states vanished as if they never existed. Client states, living on doles from powerful states, ended up as banana republics. We should at least learn from the European security experience.
Just think of what great status were empires like Austria-Hungary, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden and Tsarist Russia (exposed to the 1917 revolution) and even the erstwhile USSR.
A common feature of all strong states had been that they had strong harmonious military and civil institutions, de jure capability to defend their territory and policies that favoured the citizenry rather than dominant classes _feudal lords, industrial robber barons and others. Pakistan needs to weed tout mafias, put its economic house in order, and provide, at least, universal healthcare to its people.
The clusters of sub-sets around the hegemon, with unequal capabilities may not share US vision. USA’s hegemony is imperiled by Venus effect, fanaticism (terrorism), political fragmentation of hegemon’s society, and chemical-biological terrorism. USA pampered India to be its proxy in the sub-continent. But she is tight–rope balancing Iran, Russia, and China.
EU experience shows how weak but intelligent states coalesced to ensure their survival by constraining the hegemon. Alternatively, they would have been on hegemon’s bandwagon in a subordinate position. India should read the writing on the wall and coalesce toward Pakistan.
Bhashan Char Relocation: Bangladesh’s Effort Appreciated by UN
Bhashan Char, situated in the district of Noakhali, is one of the 75 islands of Bangladesh. To ease the pressure on the digested camps in Cox’s Bazar and to maintain law and order, Bangladesh has relocated about 18,500 Rohingya refugees from the overcrowded camps to the island since December last year. The Rohingya relocation plan to Bhashan Char aligns with the Bangladesh government’s all-encompassing efforts towards repatriation. The initial plan was to relocate 100,000 of the more than a million refugees from the clogged camps to the island. From the onset of the relocation process, the UN and some other human rights organizations criticized the decision pointing to remoteness and sustainability. UNHCR showed their concern over the island’s susceptibility to seasonal storm and flood. They proposed for a “technical assessment” of the Bhashan Char facilities.
An 18-member UN delegation visited Bhashan Char Island on March 17 this year to have a first-hand assessment of the housing facility for the Rohingya forcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMNs). Shortly after the UN’s visit, a team with 10 diplomats including heads of missions of embassies and delegations from Turkey, the EU, US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands also went to the island on April 3 to appraise the facilities. All the members of the technical team opined that they are ‘satisfied’ with the facilities in Bhashan Char. The experts of the UN told, they will hand over a 10-page report of their annotations and they have already submitted a two-page abridgment. On April 16, they released the two-page synopsis after a month of the visit. After the three-day study of Bhashan Char by the UN delegates, they recommended the Bangladesh government to continue the relocation process to the island in a ‘phased manner’. The team twigged three points – education for Rohingya children, increasing heights of the embankments and better communication system. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A. K. Abdul Momen concerted to take the necessary measures to create a safe and secure environment for the Rohingya refugees until the repatriation takes place. The relocation is not the solution of the Rohingya crisis rather the over emphasis of the relocation and facilities inside Bangladesh is protracting the crisis and distracting the attention from the broader emphasis on the repatriation to Myanmar.
The UNHCR and other concerned parties should plan for a long run repatriation process. Repatriation is the only durable solution, not the relocation of the Rohingya refugees. For the time being, resettlement under the Asrayan-3 project is an ease for the FDMNs but in the long run the Rohingya crisis is going to turn as a tremendous threat for regional peace and stability. Besides, resentment in the host community in Bangladesh due to the scarce resources may emerge as a critical security and socio-economic concern for Bangladesh. It is not new that the Rohingyas are repatriated in Myanmar during the Military rule. Around 20,000 Rohingya refugees were repatriated to Myanmar in the 2000s. The focus of the world community should be creating favourable conditions for the Rohingyas to return safely regardless who is in the power seat of Myanmar-civilian or military government. The UN should largely focus on repatriating the Rohingya refugees in a “phased manner”, let alone deciding their concern in the camps and the Bhashan Char. After the praiseworthy relocation plan, they should now concentrate on implementing speedy and durable repatriation. Proactive initiatives are essential from all walks for a safe and dignified return of the FDMNs. To be specific, the relocation is a part of the repatriation, not the solution of the problem.
Afghan peace options
President Biden’s decision to withdraw unconditionally all foreign forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 will leave behind an uncertain and genuine security concerns that ramifications will be born by Afghanistan as well as the region.
The Taliban seems least interested in peace talks with the Afghan government and appear determined to take control of the entire afghan government territory by force during post-withdrawal of American forces. Short of the total surrender, Afghan government has no possible influence to force the Taliban to prefer talks over violence. Resultantly, the apprehensions that Afghanistan could plunge into another civil war runs very high.
The consequences of yet another civil war will be deadly for Afghanistan and the whole region as well. Among the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan will bear the severe burnt of an escalation of violence in particular. A civil war or possible Taliban takeover will surely upsurge and reinvigorate the Islamic militancy in Pakistan, thus threatening to lose the hard won gains made against militancy over the past decade.
The afghan and Pakistani Taliban, nevertheless, are the two sides of the same coin. Coming back to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan is surely emboldened and revives Pakistani Taliban and other militant outfits. Moreover, spread of violence not only reduce all chances of repatriation of refugees but possibly increase the inflow of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Furthermore, worsening of the security situation in Afghanistan will jeopardize the prospects of trade, foreign investment and economic development initiatives such as china-Pakistan economic corridor. The chances of Gawadar and Karachi port to become a transit trade route for the region and link the energy rich region of central asia will become bleak until a sustainable peace and stability is achieved in Afghanistan.
It is against this background that the successful end of the intra-afghan talk is highly required for Pakistan, for its own sake. Officially, Islamabad stated policy is to ensure the afghan-led and afghan-owned peace solution of the afghan conflict. It helped in bringing the Taliban on the negotiation table, which finally resulted in the signing of the Doha deal between US and Taliban. Further, Pakistan has time and again pressurized the Taliban to resume the dialogue. Moreover, Islamabad holds that, unlike in the past when it wanted a friendly regime in Kabul, it aims to develop a friendly and diplomatic relation whoever is on the power in Kabul.
Notwithstanding the stated policy and position of the Islamabad, the afghan government and the many in the US remains dubious of Pakistan’s commitment. Against these concerns, Islamabad categorically stated that it does not have complete control over the Taliban.
The success of the peace process will require coordination and cooperation among the all regional actors and the US and afghan government. Pakistan’s role is of an immense significance because of its past relation with the Taliban. There is no denying of the fact that Pakistan has not complete control over the Taliban. Despite, it has more leverage than the other actors in the region.
The Islamabad’s willingness to use its influence over the Taliban is her real test in the achievement of peace process. However, Pakistan has successfully used its leverage and brought the Taliban on negotiations table. Although, history is the testimony of the fact that mere cajoling won’t dissuade the Taliban from unleashing violence.
The prospects of intra-afghan talks will develop in success when the cajoling strategy is backed up by with credible threats of crackdown which may involve denial of safe heaven to militant leaders and their families, stopping medical treatment, and disruption of finance etc. on the other hand, strong arm tactics fail to bring the Taliban to the table, then Pakistan should make sure that its territory is not used to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.
The afghan peace process has an opportunity for Pakistan to bury its hatchets with Afghanistan and start its diplomatic journey with a new vigor. While Kabul every time attach its failure with the Pakistan and shun away from its responsibility of providing peace to people of Afghanistan, it has a fair point about our pro Taliban afghan policy. Now that the US is leaving Afghanistan, it is high time that Pakistan bring forth a shift in its Afghanistan policy. Sustainable peace in Pakistan, especially Balochistan and ex-fata region is unlikely to achieve without Pakistan contributing to peace in Afghanistan.
Pakistani Fanatics and their Foreign Policy Overtures
A prudent leader ought to have regard not only for present troubles but also for future ones. They must prepare with every energy because, when foreseen, it is easy to remedy them; but if you wait until they approach, the medicine is no longer in time. Through not having been foreseen, they have been permitted to grow in a way that everyone can see them, there is no longer a remedy. These words are famously attributed to 16th-century Italian Philosopher Machiavelli, advising the ruler about statecraft, in his Magnus Opus, The Prince.
A similar kind of ignorance and obliviousness against which Machiavelli was warning to the ruler of the state was reflected by the government of Imran Khan when protests by a radical religious organization (TLP) shook the country from 11-20 April. Previous to this latest episode, TLP has also staged various sit-in and violent protests by which they effectively froze all life in twin cities as well as in various cities of Punjab.
2017 Faizabad interchange protest was the zenith of its anarchical behavior. In that protest, TLP demanded the resignation of the law minister altering the oath declaration in the election bill 2017. Preceding, the court heard a plea on the stated matter. Justice Qazi Faiz Essa while hearing a plea on the case, remarked; “The ambitious leadership of a fledgling political party [TLP] projected itself as the defender of the Muslim faith. They provoked religious sentiment, stoked the flames of hatred, abused, resorted to violence, and destroyed property worth Rs.163 million.” Another takeaway from the ruling of the Supreme Court goes like, “Protestors who obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against by the law and held accountable.”
Qazi Faiz Essa’s observation is enough to make a viewpoint on the organization. It is recommended that steps must be taken to curtail the reach of TLP. But allowing its leaders to further myth-spin bogus and inflammatory narratives, catch the attention of masses, effect normalcy in the country, and take hostage federal and provincial capitals many times after that shows sheer incapability on behalf of the state.
Moreover, the recent episode is also another criticism of religiosity interwoven within Pakistani society that has been exploited by opportunists to gain the support of the masses since its birth. TLP, an amalgamation of religio-political narrative, first appeared on the scene when it demanded the release of Mumtaz Qadri, the person who assassinated Governor Punjab Salman Taseer for criticizing blasphemy laws. After the execution of Qadri, Rizvi laid the foundation of Tehreek-E-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) for the purpose to protect the Blasphemy laws of Pakistan under the banner of protecting Honor for Prophet (PBUH). TLP is the political wing of TLYR which emerged as the 5th most popular political group in the electoral race of 2018. These numbers are a barometer to show that the party has gained considerable support among the masses for its narrative
Though the rise of TLP is attributed to fault lines within the domestic political culture of Pakistan and cultural cleavages that exist in the society. The recent protests were the result of its activeness in international affairs relevant to its narrative. The group tried to dictate the foreign relations of Pakistan. In the latest episode, TLP took on the streets again and demanded severing diplomatic ties with France. In the short aftermaths of TLP protests, European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling the review of the GSP+ status of Pakistan for abuse of blasphemy laws and expressed deep concerns over prevailing anti-French sentiments.
To add insult to injury, all of this is happening at a time when Pakistan is looking to create a soft image for herself, seeking an effective role in regional and international organizations for political and economic benefits, lobbying to move out of FATF grey list, and initiating an international campaign to unmask Indian state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, etcetera. Unfortunately, this has seriously jeopardized our pursuit of national interests and can nullify progress.
Disrespect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is an issue sensitive to all Muslims but there is always a better way of doing things. The goal should be to stop disrespect and blasphemy and not forging further cause of hatred. On the other hand, the French president defended the acts as Freedom of Expression – a value so dear to the west – so even if Pakistan sends the French Ambassador back and suffers all the losses, is there any assurance for improvement in a situation regarding blasphemous content? What will be the next step of TLP if this continues? What will be the alternatives for Pakistan after that? Surely, this calls for some reflection on self-proclaimed defenders of religion. Government, on its part, must opt for softer and diplomatic ways in reaching out to France and making them realize the severity of the issue for Muslims.
To sum up, State ought not to be bogged down by religious pressure groups and fanatics like TLP for the reason being that they have not understood long-term national interests. Pledging to Khadim Rizvi on moving the parliament about French ambassador was never a wise act. One should have been vigilant enough to access the Omens. Furthermore, the government must impart this to such groups that they must not test the nerves of the state. It is in the interest of the state as well as government to not let things slip out of hand and go this further hereafter where one more episode similar to this makes international isolation inevitable.
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