Connect with us

South Asia

Mambo jumbo about Pakistan’s`Establishment’?

Published

on

Shahbaz Sharif says: `Despite having 100 per cent support of the institutions, the inept government of Imran Khan failed to deliver’. We were not even given 10 per cent support of the institutions” (Dawn dated October 24, 2019). When out of power, inept politicians scold the `Establishment’. In similar vein, Imran Khan gave vent to his frustration in his autobiography, Pakistan: A Personal History, October 17, 2011 edition) upon winning only one seat in first electtoral contest.  Furious at `Establishment/ISI’, He wrote, “No politician in this country’s history up till then had ever beaten the establishment” (p.225). He adds, “[ISI’s Major-General Ehtisham] Zamir gave me the ISI’s assessment of how many seats each party could get in the autumn elections… Sadly this has been a legacy of intelligence agencies in Pakistan, who without a proper broad based analysis, have made decisions which have proved disastrous for our country”. He recalls, “This was my first experience of dealing with the ISI”, pages 222-223, ibid. “Consequently a lot of potentially good candidates abandoned us. The ones that were left were turned on by the ISI; its agents either threatened the Tehrik-e-Insaf candidates or cajoled or lured them into Musharraf’s PML (Q)…Some candidates gave up altogether, telling me they could not fight the ISI. They said they would be wasting their money”.

 “Authority” under Pakistan’s Constitution: According to Pakistan’s Constitution (1973), “sovereignty” belongs to Allah Almighty, and “authority” is reposed in elected representatives? The Constitution, a written one, categorically spells out separation of powers between legislature, executive and the judiciary. Yet, Pakistan’s constitutional history reflects that various organs had been encroaching upon each other’s domain. Doubtless, `nothing is as simple as its looks at first sight’ (Murphy’s Law).

Civilians themselves invite military for intervention: In mid-1950’s Isikander Mirza appointed serving general, Mohammad Ayub Khan, defence minister in his cabinet. Unable to subdue agitation, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto  banked on General Ziaul Haq to quell popular Pakistan National Alliance movement. During sit-ins against MNS’s government, Imran Khan, now prime minister, and Tahirul Qadri 9minhajul Quran) held meetings with army chief. Now, ahead of 31st October Long March, Maulana Fazlur Rehman met army chief.

Establishment’s Composition: What is composition of the invisible, yet ubiquitous and decisive Establishment? Ayesha Sideeqa Agha tried to map its contours in her essay `Mapping the “Establishment” (Ishtiaq Ahmad and Adnan Rafiq, Pakistan’s Democratic Transition: Change and Persistence, pp.53-71). Besides, following books try to peek into the “Establishment”: (a) Maleeha Lodhi’s Pakistan: Beyond ‘The Crisis State’ (2011), (b) Anatol Lieven’s Pakistan: A Hard Country (2011), (c) Javed Jabbar’s Pakistan: Unique Origins; Unique Destiny? (2011), and (d) Aqil Shah’s The Army and Democracy.

Civil-military discord: Lack of Establishment’s support for the PML-N government was due to divergent perceptions about foreign policy concerning India. MNS’s  government launched aman ki asha, desire for peace, media campaign, spearheaded by Jang Media Group. AB Bajpayee, then India’s prime minister was given rousing welcome. En route, live size cow models were installed to show veneration for cow. The visit resulted in Lahore Accord. Re-elected PML-N government kept up its policy of rapprochement with India. The jingoist Narendra Modi developed affinity for Mian Nawaz Shareef.  He even called on MNS at the latter’s Jaati-Umara private residential estate (near Raiwind, Lahore)

Military’s offish attitude towards MNS was portrayed in media as an issue of civil-military relations. But, Saamuel P. Huntington, in his 1957 book Soldier and the State views this `issue’ as `an issue of civilian control of the military. He postulated ` a good balance of civil military relations was where the armed forces are subservient to political leadership’. Feaver also thought `a good balance depended on the `civilian leadership’s capacity to punish military for disobedience’. The erudite scholars’ vision of civilian control is relevant to cultures they discussed in their works. Their ideas do not appear to sync with Pakistan’s socio-economic milieu. Pakistan’s society and polity is nowhere near even Turkey where military dominated popular ethos.

Army is unwilling to cede its space in defence and foreign affairs to civilians, who, it regards as corrupt and incompetent. A social-media rumour was that MNS wanted to divest army chief’s powers through legislative amendment. The `Establishment’ acted fast to ensure that MNS did not enjoy majority in Senate also. An Inter-Services Public Relations release is self-explanatory `if you try to clip the army’s wings, it will react. It did react to forestall MNS (Yaroslav Trafimov, `Pakistan leader’s predicament shows power of the Deep State.  Prime Minister Sharif Tried to Emulate Turkey’s Erdogan, Now Risks Sharing Fate of Egypt’s Morsi’, Wall Street Journal September 9, 2014). The Journal reported `After winning elections by a landslide last year, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quickly moved to emulate another budding Muslim democracy, Turkey, in neutering the army’s political might’.

Ayesha Siddiqa Agha is of view that Pakistan’s military exercises its hegemony through not only politico-economic power but also intellectual power. The intellectual power, according to her, is exercised through `ISPR/ISI, Strategic Pans Division, military-created think tanks, military-sponsored journalists, military in universities, and partnership with ideological groups’.

Who wields `authority’: the venal politicians have any grass-root support. As such, when they are booted out, there are no tears in anyone’s eyes. The military `usurpers’ soon emerge as heroes, soldiers of fortune. History is witness to egoistic clash between bureaucracies, judiciary and the Parliament in Pakistan. It is not military, alone, but also other stakeholders vied for wresting `authority’ from contestants’ hands.

Shortly before pronouncing his verdict on Dosso case, Justice Muneer declared that ‘when politics enters the portals of Justice, democracy, its cherished inmate, walks out by the backdoor’.

The king-pins in various institutions, remained at daggers drawn, oblivious of jurist Jean Bodin’s dictum,  majesta est summa in civas ac subditoes legibus que salute potestas, that is ‘highest power over citizens and subjects is unrestrained by law’. Bodin explained power resides with whosoever has ‘power to coerce’. It does not reside with electorate, parliament, judiciary or even constitution. The force of circumstance may enable bureaucrats, judge, politico, and even a praetorian ruler to usurp `authority’ excluding others, or sharing it with others’

Julius Caesar and Napoleon also harboured extra-constitutional thoughts.  During his self-crowning in 1804, Napoleon said, “What is the throne, a bit of wood gilded and covered with velvet. I am the state. I alone am here, the representative of the people”. Napoleon told Moreau de Lyonne, “The constitution, what is it but a heap of ruins. Has it not been successively the sport of every party?” “Has not every kind of tyranny been committed in its name since the day of its establishment?” Take gen Zia of Pakistan. While addressing a press conference in Teheran, he said, “What is the Constitution?” “It is a booklet with ten or twelve pages.  I can tear them up and say that from tomorrow we shall live under a different system.  Is there anybody to stop me? Today the people will follow wherever I lead them.  All the politicians including the once mighty Mr. Bhutto will follow me with their tail wagging (ibid. pp. 87-88).  Dicey said, “No Constitution can be absolutely safe from a Revolution or a coup detat”.

Alas! All the soldiers of fortune, in uniform or civvies, were mortal. Pakistan’s PM-weres and PMs-to be should take the cues. Remember Nehru said, “Pakistan, I would not have that carbuncle on India’s back”. Patel called Jinnah ‘poison’.

Sand-dune leaders: Pakistan has no charismatic leader to confront military eyeball-to-eyeball on various issues (power sharing, defence allocations, etc.). Bolman and Deal say `Great leadership begins when a leader’s world view [Weltanschanschauung] and personal story, honed over years of experience, meet a situation that both presents challenges and opportunities’.  They add, `Great leaders test and evolve their story over time, experimenting, polishing abandoning plot lines that don’t work, and re-inventing those that do.  Bad stories often lead to disaster, but good ones conjure magic’ (Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E Deal, How Great Leaders Think: The Art of Reframing, 2014, Jossey-Bass, page 193). Weltanschauung is a German word which literally means `world view’. The word  combines “Welt” (“world”) with “Anschauung” (“view”), which ultimately derives from the Middle High German verb schouwen (“to look at” or “to see”). It is a particular philosophy or view of life; the world views of an individual or group. It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it.

Study of leadership styles across swathes of literature indicates that the two traits, a `world view’ and a `story line’ are common in all business leaders (Steve Job, Penny, Eisner, Ford, and Rockefeller). Or, in political leaders like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Lincoln, whether you abhor or adore them.  Some management texts sum up leadership styles (Robert Blake and Jane Mouton) through grids of `concern for people’ (country club, human orientation) and `concern for results’ (task orientation). The leaders share their `world view’ with people who fall in line to leave behind a legacy, a story. China’s XI, again and again, reminds his companions to tell China story, and tell it well, to the world. Pakistani pseudo-leaders have no story to tell.

Hitler, otherwise viewed as a psychopath, explains his `world view in Chapter 1 of his autobiography (Weltenschauung and party, page 298) Mein Kampf (My Struggle). He says `Thus we brought to knowledge of public those first principles and lines of action along which the new struggle was to be conducted for the abolition of a confused mass of obsolete ideas which had obscure and often pernicious tendencies’. In his autobiography (written in prison), Hitler reviews all aspects of German life, the World War I defeat, collapse of the Second Reich, `the mask of Federalism’, `propaganda and organisation’, `German post-War policy of alliances’, and Germany’s policy in Eastern Europe’. His efforts to forge alliances with adversaries reflect that he was a rational flexible man. Napoleon’s `world view’ (like Julius Caesar’s)  is less pronounced than his lust for `power’ and contempt for `constitution’ (a la ZA Bhutto, Zia, et al). Pakistan’s prime ministers and  prime-ministers-to-be forgot French jurist Jean Bodin’s dictum `majesta est summa in civas ac subditoes legibusque salute potestas, that is ‘highest power over citizens and subjects is unrestrained by law’ (Roedad Khan, Pakistan: A Dream Gone Sour,  p. 179.). Napoleon told Moreau de Lyonne, “The constitution, what is it but a heap of ruins. Has it not been successively the sport of every party?” “Has not every kind of tyranny been committed in its name since the day of its establishment?”

Today, we have no leader, like Quaid-e-Azam, with a `world view’, no `story line’ of sustained committed struggle. MJ Akber rightly observes `The [Pakistani] political leaders act like sand dunes. They move in the direction the wind blows’ (Akber, In Pakistan Today, Mittal Publications, New Delhi, p. 216). John R. Schmidt agrees, ` The mainstream political parties in Pakistan can best be viewed as patronage networks, whose primary goal is seeking political offices to gain access to state resources, which can then be used to distribute patronage among their members’ (The Unravelling, Pakistan in the Age of jihad, pages 36-37). Why it is so? Stanley A. Kochanek unpuzzles the conundrum by pointing out `Parties in Pakistan are built from the top-down and are identified with their founders.  The office holders are appointed by the leader.  Membership rolls are largely bogus and organizational structure exists only on paper’ (Interest groups and Development, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1983, p.64). `Most political parties are non-democratic in their structure, character and outlook. The process for leadership selection is not by election, but by nomination.  Political parties have no links with policy process as personalities rather than issues matter’ (Saeed Shafqat, Contemporary Issues in Pakistan Studies, pp. 247-256).

Street power: Our chequered political history tells that street power is more important than parliamentary supremacy. A political leader without such power is a wasp without a sting, or maybe, to his denigrators, a snake without fangs. Here I quote from Roedad Khan’s Pakistan: A Dream gone Sour. The author is witness to palace intrigues from Ayub Khan to General Zia. While musing over Bhutto’s execution, he says, “The fatal mistake made by the PPP leadership was to fight the battle for saving Bhutto’s neck in the court room only (p. 69). Zia told the author, “It is his neck or mine… Instead of mobilizing street power, the PPP concentrating on collecting appeals for mercy from foreign heads of government..Agartala Conspiracy Case was withdrawn not because prosecution case against Mujeeb was weak, but because over a million people were out on the streets of Dhakka (p. 70).’Bhutto had betrayed the common people who regarded him as their champion and who shared his ideals and dreams. With the loss of that base, he was totally isolated and at the mercy of the khaki [army] (p. 78).

Right to revolt: Do the people in a land of sand-dunes have the right to revolt?   Liberalist philosophers suggests there is a limit beyond which obedience to rule of law is no longer sacrosanct.  Locke suggests when government no longer fulfils its duty to provide for the common good, individuals have the right to rebel against it; the [social] contract has been broken’. Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Were he a Pakistani, he would have swirled and swooned in his grave to see life-like caricature of his dictum here.

Lip service in manifestos and Constitution: Manifestos are fanciful mementos, eclectic product of religious dictates and fancy provisions in our constitution. They have short life of one-political term unless truncated by praetorians.Article 37 of our constitution relates to `Promotion of social justice and eradication of social evils’. Clause 37 (e): provides `reduce disparity in the income and earnings of individuals…’ (differentials of wealth of an ordinary citizen and a politician?). Article 38 is about `Promotion of social and economic well-being of the people’.

Clause (d) directs `provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, as are permanently or temporarily unable to earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment’ (what about others who work without enough money to make ends meet or get medical treatment?). What about across-the-board accountability?

Plight of Pakistan’s Federal Government `Services’ Hospital: FGSH is the only hospital to treat civil servants and their families in Rawalpindi Islamabad area. For political expediency, the government has `entitled’ general public to this hospital. As PIMS charges fees for lab tests, so the whole population from Rawalpindi to Murree Hills and even Azad Kashmir with ICT/Rawalpindi CNICs falls swarms upon this hospital.

After outbreak of dengue, this hospital  became `unserviceable’ for civil servants, including over 70 years’ old retirees like me. There is no window to serve elderly civil servants in labs, clinics, Emergency or at medical store. They too have to queue up for long hours like `general’ crowd. The officers’ ward is occupied by unauthorized `sifarshees’ with little room for officers.

In an emergency like Dengue outbreak, all hospitals, civil or military, private or public, should share patient load equitably. Alternatively, the handful of civil servants and their families should be entitled to general treatment at military hospital through some insurance-based or revolving-fund mechanism.

Plight of Defence Paid Servants: Upon retirement, such servants are disentitled from the medicare they had been receiving during service life. They are not entitled to allotment of plots or flats by Defence Housing Authority. As such, after retirement they find themselves poorer than Church’s mice.

Compassion demands that `civilian officers paid out of defence service estimates’, and their families should, at least, be entitled to same treatment as admissible to their serving brethren. I, for one, was shocked to find that after 39 years’ service, I had been disentitled from medical treatment I enjoyed during serving years.  My daughter fell sick, and was practically denied any treatment at civil-government medical facilities. I fell back on Ali Medical who charged me non-reimbursable, hefty 80,000 rupees.

Do revolutions come from Heavens? Human beings created a social contract wherein they bartered some of their naturally derived freedom to get security from a sovereign ruler. They did so as in a state of nature they were `solitary, poor, nasty, brutish …’ (Hobbes). Locke suggests when government no longer fulfils its duty to provide for the common good, individuals have the right to rebel against it; the

[social]

contract has been broken’.   The US Declaration of Independence a’ la Locke provides that it is citizens’ duty to throw off a despotic government and provide new Guards for their Security.

An average Pakistani believes that revolutions are not made, they come about from Heavens. He is unmindful that a revolution, revolt or rebellion is `as natural a growth as an oak’ (Wendell Phillips). Yet, the bitter truth is that `a government which is united’ [by mafias in every sphere of life] `cannot be toppled’ (Plato). Apathy had been a feature of pre-partition society also. Till 1857, Moghal `emperors’ lived on British dole, less than one lac (Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah: Partition, India Pakistan). History of intruders is no history (Marx).Only a handful of rajputs committed johar (suicide en mass like Jews at Masada) when besieged or defeated.

The masses remained silent spectators to War of Independence (Sepoy Mutiny 1857) and isolated uprisings in Bengal _ Faraizi movement 1830-57, Santal Pargana 1855, Indigo districts 1859-61, Tushkhali 1855, Indigo districts 1872-75, Pabna 1873, Chhagalnaiya 1874, Mymensingh 1874-1882 and Munshigang 1980-81. David Hume, not any Indian, created Congress followed by four English presidents.

Aware of selfishness of the Indian people, the British created a class of chiefs (chieftains) to suit their need for loyalists, war fund raisers and recruiters in post -`mutiny’ period and during the Second World War. Peek into the pre-partition gazetteers and you would know the patri-lineage of today’s’ tiwanas, nawabs, pirs, syed faqirs, qizilbash, kharrals, gakhars, and their ilk. A gubernatorial gazetteer states, `I have for many years felt convinced that the time had arrived for the Government to try to introduce some distinction for those who can show hereditary services before the Hon’ble Company’s rule in India ceased. I have often said that I should be proud to wear a Copper Order, bearing merely the words `Teesri pusht Sirkar Company ka Naukar’ (servant to ruling East India Company for the third generation).

Some pirs and mashaikh even quoted verses from Holy Quran to justify allegiance to Englishman (amir), after loyalty to Allah and the Messenger (PBUH). They pointed out that Quran ordained that ihsan (favour) be returned with favour. The ihsan were British favours like titles (khan bahadur etc.), honorary medals, khilat with attached money rewards, life pensions, office of honorary magistrate, assistant commissioner, courtier, etc. A tiwana military officer even testified in favour of O’Dwyer (Jallianwala Bagh massacre) when the latter was under trial.

Health-care for all: Pakistan could learn a lot from Ayusman Bharat and Thailand’s success in achieving universal healthcare in 2002. Thai lesson is importance of tight control within very limited resources at their disposal. They initially excluded high cost treatments such as renal dialysis and organ transplantation. They then went on to build 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.

Born slaves: Population in the Sub-Continent has a slavish mentality. They are change-averse. Gandhi astutely perceived psyche of the Indians (Pakistanis included) (a la Tolstoy’s A Letter to a Hindu) that Indians themselves allowed themselves to be colonized for their own material interests.  Otherwise there was no way 30,000 `rather weak and ill-looking Britons could enslave 200 million `vigorous, clever, strong, and freedom loving people (Stegler, 2000).  He lamented that Indians had become `sly sycophants and willing servants of the Empire thereby proving to the world that they were morally unfit to serve the country. Gandhi’s ethos sound reverberated in revolutionary ideologies of several revolutionary movements. If government and people are nationalistic, there would be no need to overthrow them (Lincoln’s dictum `Government of the people for …’).  SunYat-sen (China) translated Lincoln’s principles into nationalism, democracy and socialism. Marx theory of society postulated that economics determines the socio-political realities.  Marx visualized god as creation of human hands, rather than His hand guiding the humans. Lenin envisioned a professional core to lead the revolution.

Mao like Gandhi was rueful at passivity and docility of people.  He wanted people to struggle (douzheng) to smash prevailing social inhibitions in such a dramatic and traumatic way that participants could never again re-establish their pre-struggle relationship.  Mao says `If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.  If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution you must take part in revolution.  All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience’. `A person learns to swim in the water not in a library’ [of how-to-swim books] (Paulo Freire). Sanerro Luminoso (the Shining Path) also advocated Mao’s ideas of prolonged guerilla warfare as the only way to overthrow the government. Paulo Freire points out “To affirm that men and women are persons and persons should be free and yet do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality is a farce’.

Ayub Khan added the chapter of 22 families to the English-raj aristocracy. About 460 scions of the pre-partition chiefs along with industrial barons created in Ayub era are returned again and again to assemblies. Pakistan’s successive ruling coteries are a miracle that defies common sense and principles of political science.

Conclusion

Politicians in Pakistan should do soul searching. Why people do not come on streets when the jackboots kick them out. It is because they have no grass-root support. They should at least provide for health-care, now in shambles. The politicians go abroad for medical treatment. As such, they do not care a fig for shabby medi-care in Pakistan.

Jubilant PTI should take a cue from Bhutto’s fate. It should shun clientele politics and do some pro-poor legislation. At least come up with a national healthcare and education policy. Waterston in Development Planning suggest `nucleus’ approach. Let government attend first to neglected handful of defence-paid civilians. Thereafter, a universal health-care, probably insurance based, be evolved. If Thailand could do it why can’t Pakistan?  Let’s pray our sand-dune rulers come up with, at least a uniform education, healthcare and housing policy. 

None of the scholarly works, being second-hand accounts, circumscribe the `Establishment’ fully. They remain esoteric mumbo jumbo. I, for one suggest, that Shahbaz/MNS, together with Imran Khan, with invaluable inputs from fall-guy Chaudhry Nisar,  should, for the benefit of posterity, write a first-hand expose of `obnoxious actions of Pakistan’s Establishment’ (RK Kaushik,  Pakistan’s Establishment a migraine we must live with , The Statesman February 21, 2019).

Let India loosen pressure on Imran Khan to enable him to fulfil his lofty promises. After all, he is not really “an ISI stooge”, or “a cobra in India’s backyard” (News. Statetimes dated July 29, 2018).    

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.

Continue Reading
Comments

South Asia

Rohingya repatriation between Myanmar-Bangladesh

Published

on

Rohingya refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in Myanmar (file photo). IOM/Mohammed

Refugees find themselves in a situation of limbo because of the prolonged refugee scenario. They are neither eligible for repatriation nor do they qualify as citizens of the host nation or a third country. However, they must deal with the harsh reality of the nature of vicious politics because of the complexity of state systems and the institutional weaknesses of international institutions.

Prolonged refugees, according to UNHCR (2004), are trapped in an impenetrable and protracted condition of limbo. Despite not being in danger or facing threats, they significantly lack access to basic rights, financial aid, and support for their psychological and social needs. As they are pushed toward outside help, they feel unable to escape the core of forced dependence.

Are Rohingya refugees in some way contributing to an ongoing, serious refugee crisis? In relation to the Rohingya crisis, statistics from UNHCR shows that more than 0.7 million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017. There are 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the prime minister of Bangladesh stated in 2018 during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.

For this South Asian emerging nation in 2017, the flow of this deluge was nothing new. These migrants have been entering Bangladesh since the 1970s after being forcibly uprooted by the military dictatorship.

According to a survey, there were around 0.25 million refugees in Bangladesh throughout the 1990s. Nearly 0.02 million people were returned after the 2000s, but the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) and the Bangladeshi government’s inability to settle their differences has made this process difficult to complete.

The world’s most persecuted minority, who is clearly stateless and has strong proof of persecution and genocide on account of race, ethnicity, and religion, is currently being cared for by Bangladesh. The responses of international organizations like the UN and its branches like the ICJ and IOM are not positive enough for Bangladesh in this regard to produce a permanent solution.

West African nation Gambia filed a 35-page application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2019 against Myanmar. The ICJ’s extraordinary victory in the Gambia v. Myanmar case regarding the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingya people is the first of its kind. This was founded on an “erga omnes” premise, which periodically reports on the situation of the Rohingya.

However, Bangladesh continues to push for international organizations to take humanitarian action through the UN. Though this worry might attract their attention and drive them to consider ensuring human rights for these forcibly displaced persons, it has instead placed a heavy load on Bangladesh.

Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, issued a warning to the international bodies regarding the Rohingya crisis just a few days ago during his visit to Bangladesh in December 2021. Bangladesh “cannot and should not bear this duty alone,” he said, urging foreign groups to express grave concern. He went on to say that Myanmar, not Bangladesh, was the origin of the conflict and where it will ultimately be resolved.

Bangladesh, a developing nation with a population of 160 million, is being horribly impacted by the Rohingya people in terms of social, economic, and political spheres. Rohingyas have been in a condition of limbo since at least 2017, which is now more than five years ago.

They have been relocated, assisted, and given security by Bangladesh and several international organizations, but they still yearn for a long-lasting solution.

Bangladesh has been taking every action imaginable to bring the Rohingya refugees’ home. Since the 2017 refugee inflow, the Bangladeshi government has worked with various international groups to promote peaceful voluntary repatriation; however, the Myanmar military junta has consistently resisted these efforts. Refugees from the Rohingya minority are currently suffering greatly as a result of the political unrest in Myanmar.

As Cox’s Bazar’s refugee camps are already overflowing with 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, the Bangladesh is moving them to Bhasan Char in order to provide for them improved living conditions.

International organizations had doubts regarding the safety and security of the Island; however, Bangladesh eventually persuaded them to cooperate. Bangladesh was left with no choice but to relocate some Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char. Bangladesh now faces a security danger from overcrowded camps. The Rohingya camps in Bangladesh are home to numerous terrorist and armed rebel organizations. One of them is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Despite the issues, Bangladesh has continued to push for bilateral discussions while also applying international pressure to the junta.

Myanmar, on the other hand, is a lawless state that disobeys international law and order. The arrangements established for the peaceful return of Rohingya refugees were broken.

In Myanmar, the regime has been increasingly hostile since the military takeover. Myanmar is utterly unwilling to help the Rohingya refugees develop a strong sense of desire for return. There is no “supranational” authority in anarchy, which is advantageous for Myanmar. It is now time for the international community to recognize that the Rohingya refugee crisis has grown into a regional security issue.

Myanmar-related news indicates a new genocide. the country’s rebel and protest groups are being repressed by the military junta with violence.

The Myanmar military is still buying new weapons from China and Russia, including the SU-30SME multi-role heavy fighter, the YAK-130 light attack advanced jet trainer, the K-8W advanced trainer, and Ming class attack submarine, among others, despite an arms embargo. The world community is concerned that these weapons could accidentally attack defenseless populations. A peaceful voluntary return will face further obstacles as a result of internal unrest in Myanmar.

The Rohingya catastrophe, which forced 1.1 million individuals to leave their country of birth due to state-sponsored persecution, was of a size that is easy to comprehend. When the state commits the crime, the environment becomes more hostile. The main duty of the state is to uphold the rights and interests of its citizens.

Refugees are currently skeptical of the military junta in Myanmar. They have a long and painful history of persecuting people. Therefore, persuading the refugees to return home voluntarily won’t be simple. Myanmar must extend their hands in mutually beneficial ways. More discussions between international parties, including the Rohingya, will build confidence and facilitate a peaceful voluntary return of the Rohingya refugees. Humanity and peace should ultimately triumph over all other factors.

Continue Reading

South Asia

Why the implementation of the CHT peace agreement is still elusive?

Published

on

When the “Top boxer” of Bangladesh, for the past eight years, Sura Krishna Chakma raised the national flag of Bangladesh in the first-ever professional boxing tournament held in last month, it reminds the contribution of the UK Ching Marma and other minority people who fought valiantly in the Liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.

Bangladesh began its independence journey with a population that is ethnically homogeneous, with less than 1% of the population being ethnically diverse. However, Bangladesh had struggled to deal with Chittagong Hill Tracts’ (CHT) tribal people as they have been waging an insurgency movement for autonomy. Later, Peace Accord was signed aiming to end the conflict in 1997. But, after 25 years of its signature, the treaty is still failing to instil trust among national political parties and factional groups. Currently, the situation in the CHT area is a complex mix of conflicts and negotiations. The area is also beset by ethnic tensions between indigenous communities and groups, interferences from neighbouring states, widespread poverty, resource scarcity, and low literacy rates.

Why peace in the CHT is still elusive?

In recent years, remote areas of CHT have become more prone to violence due to the involvement of various active groups in the area. The four ethnic political groups – PCJSS, Jana Samhati Samiti (Reformist-MN Larma), United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) and UPDF (Ganatantrik) – in the region appear to be at odds with one another. They have no ideological disagreements but are involved in inter-conflict for narrow self-interest rather than protecting the minority rights. All factions have specific armed wings with advanced weapons such as rocket launchers, automatic sniper rifles, and heavy machine guns, according to law enforcement. They extort wood trade, cooking markets, livestock markets, transportation, and a variety of other services, each on their own turf. Ransom for the abduction of ethnic groups and Bangalis are also a major source of income. Contractors also have to pay at the rate of 10 percent of the original budget. To stay safe, locals were forced to maintain good relationships with all parties. They are compelled to pay monthly tributes to remain in their homes. There are even reports of indigenous women being abducted and raped by rival groups. They are so vulnerable and frightened that they do not even move after the sunset. The inter-group conflicts have claimed more than 1100 lives since the signing of the peace accord. Although according to the terms of the accord, the guerrillas were to surrender and surrender their weapons but many haven’t surrendered arms yet.

What’s to blame for the present unrest?

The agreement’s lethargic implementation has reignited separatist tendencies among the Paharis. Recently, the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), an insurgent organization of small ethnic group, demanded a separate state in CHT with full autonomy and threatened strict armed movement. Prior to this, The UPDF, a breakaway group, continues to oppose the treaty and seeks full regional autonomy.

The most pressing concern in CHT, however, is extensive Christianization among the tribal population. ‘Evangelization’ is generally carried out by the missionaries through a number of NGOs operating under the umbrella of “development partner.” Christian missionaries use money and other worldly trappings to entice poor tribal people to become Christians. So far, 4344 families in CHT became Christian in the last two decades and the number of churches increased dramatically from 274 in 1998 to 644 in 2022. It’s worth noting that more than a third of the Bandarban district’s tribal population is now Christian.

Impact of the Peace Accord on the Situation of ethnic People

Certainly, the Peace Accord made room and rendered opportunities for the CHT’s development. In these 25 years, comprehensive and systematic development efforts have contributed to the socio-economic development of the Pahari people, which immensely contributed in reducing the gap between the Pahari and Bengalis. Many tribes are well-integrated into mainstream middle-class Bangladeshi society, with officers and ambassadors serving in Bangladesh’s military and diplomatic corps.

With its contrasting topography of hilly terrains, immense lakes, wide-open spaces, as well as rich ethnic and cultural diversity, tourism industry flourished in the CHT. Tourism boosted due to the infrastructural projects connecting the remote and mystic parts with the main areas of the country and security ensured by the law enforcement agencies from the precarious hilly terrain to the remote bordering area. The treaty also integrated the CHT people into the mainstream economy, while permitting them to retain their specific ethnic and cultural identities.

The ‘Small Ethnic Groups Cultural Organisation Act 2010’ was passed in order to safeguard and foster the cultural expressions of Bangladesh’s small ethnic groups. Small ethnic groups’ rights are now more recognized by the government in Bangladesh than before. The development allocation per capita in the CHT districts is significantly higher than in the rest other districts. The government has amended some laws to allow for the implementation of the peace accord mainly the formation of the ‘CHT Regional Council’ and the ‘Ministry of CHT Affairs’, establishing the ‘Land commission’ to deal with conflicts over land and natural resource rights. The government is also gradually reducing military camps. The number decreased from 546 to 206. Another feature of post-agreement development in the hills has been the influx of development partners and the extension of NGOs and INGOs in the CHT area.

Way Forward

The first and foremost, the Bangladesh Government must take into cognizance the factors behind the failure of establishing peace in CHT areas to ensure peace in the hilly region. Secondly, the implementation of the remaining articles should also need to be prioritized. So far, out of 78 provisions, 48 provisions of the Accord have been implemented. Hill people strongly believe that the implementation of the Accord is the key to solving problems in the CHT. Thirdly, it is crucial to control the armed factions to evict violence and restore peace to CHT on an urgent basis. Fourthly, both the Hill and the Bengali people emphasize that land disputes need to be resolved immediately. And finally, there is a need for consolidating the progress achieved so far.

Nevertheless, an established misconception is prevailing among the hilly people that their voices are not heard and they are treated differently from the rest of the Bengalis. To eradicate this misconception and build trust and harmony, more initiatives should be undertaken by the government.

Continue Reading

South Asia

How the USA’s Bid to Pitch India as a counterweight to China is destabilizing South Asia?

Published

on

modi xi jinping

South Asia indubitably presents the most precarious case for strategic stability. Two contiguous and bitterly hostile nuclear-weapon states; a festering conflict in Kashmir acting as a permanent source of tensions; the absence of a robust and comprehensive mechanism to manage nuclear risks; occasional crises that push the two nuclear-armed states on the brink of catastrophic exchanges; India’s hegemonic regional and status-oriented global designs; India’s long obsession with military buildup; and whatnot.

Of the aforementioned, India’s interminable military buildup, which is attempted to be rationalized by citing various security threats, has been the primary factor responsible for disturbing the strategic balance in South Asia — compelling India’s regional rival Pakistan to take remedial measures to restore the strategic balance. Nevertheless, provided India’s interminable and unquenchable acquisitiveness for arms, the strategic balance in South Asia continuously remains susceptible to the unsteadiness, essentially giving rise to a vicious cycle of India’s destabilizing actions being followed by Pakistan taking counteractive measures aimed at stabilizing the equation.

As if India’s regional hegemonic instincts and linked military acquisitions were not enough, the USA is now aiming to pitch India as a counterweight to China — whose concomitant is India’s attempted elevation as a hegemon in South Asia. In pursuance of the objective, the USA is bolstering India’s military capabilities besides extending unequivocal diplomatic support to New Delhi on a host of issues with far-reaching consequences for South Asian regional stability.

On the military side, the USA is supplying India with cutting-edge weapon systems besides the signing of landmark four foundational agreements that enable the Indian military to access real-time and precise information about its adversaries’ military activities through state-of-the-art American intelligence-gathering platforms. Furthermore, relevant services from the militaries of the two countries are regularly carrying out joint exercises primarily aimed at increasing interoperability. The increased military cooperation between the USA and India has essentially entangled the two countries in a de facto military alliance.

The most immediate and direct result of the USA-India burgeoning military ties is the disturbed strategic balance in South Asia – which Pakistan has been endeavoring so hard to maintain, despite serious budgetary constraints and without resorting to a parity-driven arms race. With the USA also contributing to the expansion of India’s military capabilities, the power asymmetry in South Asia continues to increase, which can incentivize the Modi regime to pursue their strategy of fighting a limited war under the nuclear overhang driven by the delusional belief that escalation control can be achieved. Leaving out yet another lucky break like in the 2019 Pulwama Crisis and the 2022 ‘accidental’ launch of BrahMos launch in Pakistan, the most probable result of such a venture by planners in New Delhi would dangerously increase the risk of inadvertent escalation between the two countries, possibly culminating into a nuclear exchange amidst the ‘fog’ of circumstances.

On the diplomatic side, the USA is now India’s foremost backer on various international forums steadily moving to incorporate the Cold War partner of the former Soviet Union in various multilateral regimes and institutions. Resultantly, not only India’s global influence is increasing but the absence of fear of any international reprimand for its shenanigans at home and in the region has made Modi-led India adopt a more aggressive posture towards Pakistan — which supplemented by the Modi regime’s proven penchant for resorting to nuclear brinkmanship to score domestic gains has added a dangerous new dimension to South Asia’s strategic calculus fraught with the cataclysmic endangerments.

India has a decades-long desire to strong-arm Pakistan into submission but initially the attempted external balancing followed by the introduction of a nuclear equalizer offset India’s obvious military advantage vis-à-vis its smaller neighbor. The already unfolded and imminent bolstering of India’s military capabilities further enhances the asymmetry in comparative military capabilities between the two countries besides amplifying ‘India’s counterforce temptations’ — which are a congenital recipe for disaster. These factors in tandem with India’s increasingly aggressive regional posturing — also enabled by the USA — are unprecedentedly adding to the instability in South Asia with the risk of grave escalation more credible and higher than ever.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending