, by DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI
What message the Dec 5 Bonn (Germany) Conference, attended by 85 countries and 15 international organisations to mark the overthrow of the Taliban Government, 10 years ago, has for Kabul?
Is it a first step towards the fulfilment of an average Afghan’s dream about his homeland, his and his family’s life in future, his ambitions and aspirations, as well as his national destiny, closely linked to Islam?
Did any country move even a semblance of resolution to push Afghanistan, presently a pan on the chessboard of the region, towards its goal?
We posed these unhinging questions simply because the proud Afghans had, in their 2010 National Peace Jirga or grand gathering, expressed their desire to lead independent, sovereign and dignified life, in accordance with their sources of inspirations and age-old traditions. To quote the key-part of the resolution: “We don’t want to become again a playground for regional conflicts.”
Did any participating foreign minister recall what request the Afghans had made to the United Nations, 10 years ago, through the 2001 Bonn Agreement? They had asked the world body to take the necessary measures to guarantee the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Afghanistan as well as the non-interference by foreign countries in Afghanistan’s international affairs.
Does today anybody remember the Istanbul Process?
Till you strain your memory to recall, let us consider what is the most prized possession of an individual or a party or a state? Before dealing with this childish question, let us try to delve deep in the current US-Pakistan crisis, rooted in the flawed foreign policy of the United States, which has inflicted umpteen wounds on the body politic of Pakistan, which today stands crest fallen, glum and gloomy.
Modesty is not the strong point of Washington. The latest masterpiece of arrogance is: “The White House has decided that President Obama will not offer formal condolences to Pakistan – later on he reluctantly regretted the tragedy to the Pakistan President – for the deaths of soldiers overruling State Department officials who argued for such a show of remorse to help salvage America’s relationship with Pakistan.” So reported the New York Times on Dec 2. Initially, this sane piece of advice was given by the US envoy in Islamabad, Mr. Cameron Munter.
Ms Harry Clinton asked Pakistan to review its decision to remain absent from the Bonn Summit. She was opposed to Pakistan discontinuation of cooperation with the US in the field of terror elimination, while her Pakistani counterpart, Ms Hina Rabbani Khar maintained: “Enough is enough. The Government will not tolerate any incident of spilling even a single drop of any civilian’s or soldier’s blood.”
What, however was likely to exacerbate the crisis is the NATO killing of two more, quite poor Pakistanis in Afghanistan, who were returning to their home after gathering wood in the forest.
As a logical corollary of the unprovoked and deliberate killing of 24 Pakistanis – US bombing continued for two hours – Pakistan also ordered the US to vacate within 15 days the Shamshi Airbase in Southern Pakistan, reportedly used as a hub for covert CIA drone strikes. Add to it the closure of two of the three routes through which food items and petrol were reaching the aggressor.
Boycott of the Bonn Conference by Pakistan is now an old story. That has massively caused embarrassment to the stiff-necked America.
Following the deadly cross-border US strike, Islamabad has also started review of all the arrangements with the US and NATO, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence activities.
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has vowed ‘effective response’ to the attack, which has been taken all over the Arab Muslim world as an aggression, and violation of Pakistani sovereignty. The point is: Does the General mean business? Consider this provocative question in the backdrop of the cacophony involving the possible emergence of either the military or the Islamists at the helm of affairs in Pakistan.
Perhaps the hands of the General are tightly tied and the conspirator is President Asif Ali Zardari, the usually suspect in all ignoble things. In a 540-word story, datelined Islamabad, Nov 16, the PTI said: Pakistan’s political circles were abuzz with speculation about the recall of Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, in the wake of media reports regarding secret communications between President Asif Ali Zardari and the US administration to avert a possible military takeover. Haqqani has been at the centre of controversy following Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz’s allegation that Zardari reached out to the Obama administration to prevent army chief Gen. Kayani from staging a coup in the wake of the US raid that killed Al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.
Superlatives cut a sorry figure while writing about some persons like Mr. Zardari. See his essay in self-perpetuation in the light of the US propensity for changing foreign leaderships. Has the bargain been struck or is in the process, which is likely to wash off drone assassinations of Pakistanis on the Pakistani soil. How the Pakistanis would take this hijacking of their country’s grassroots leadership? How the world at large would view this farce?
As we rush to the Press, Mr. Zardari, who flew to Dubai last week in a secret manner, has been admitted to a hospital for cardiac treatment. Pakistan is said to be abuzz with the rumours of his resignation. In his letter to Mr. Obama, he had, it is alleged, promised to defang military. By the way, we here are inclined to feel that a greater nation-seller has yet to be born in the world than Mr. ‘10 Percent’. Of course the history of the subcontinent is punctuated with the Mir Jafars, the Mir Qasims, and the Jai Chands, to the dismay of all of us.
DRONE ATTACKS ILLEGALITY
The United States is good at self-deception. If it thinks it can use Muslims for liquidating Muslims for a longer period of time, it must revisit its strategy, the sooner the better. It has seen Pakistan confidently protecting Osama bin Laden. Ideological bonds, not bonds of terror, are not tenuous.
Instead of going deep into the causes of why the Osama bin Ladens do not die rather proliferate, Washington has invented a cheaper method of liquidating Muslims. To quote Roger Cohen (the New York Times, Nov 29): “Drone attacks have become the coin of Obama’s realm. They have killed twice as many suspected Taliban and Al Qaida members as were ever imprisoned in Guantanamo.... America has decided that conventional wars of uncertain outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan that may, according to a Brown University study, end up costing at least $3.7 trillion are a bad way to fight terrorism and that far cheaper more precise tools for eliminating enemies are preferable – even if the legality of those killings is debatable.... political choices often have to be made between two unappealing options. Obama has done just that. He has gone covert – and made the right call. So why am I uneasy? Because those legally borderline under cover options – cyber war, drone killing, executions and strange explosions at military bases – invite repayment in kind, undermine the American commitment to the rule of law and make allies uneasy.... the American case for legality rests on the 2001 Authorisation for Use of Military Force Act, which allows the President to use ‘all necessary and appropriate force’ against persons, organisations or nations linked to the 9/11 attack and on various interpretations right to self-defence under international law. But killing an American citizen raises particular constitutional concerns, just how legal the drone attacks are remains a vexed question. And Iran had no part in 9/11.”
The United States is like a drunken elephant in a glass house. Nobody knows what the animal would spare or what would be smashed, and why? The United States pokes its too-small or too-long nose into every country’s internal affairs. Totally unrelated to domestic or international concerns, earlier, after World War II, the United States unwarrantedly tried to intervene in Taiwan, Korea, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. And the point to be noted is wherever it goes it does not return with glory. Did it return with glory from Vietnam; did it return with glory from Iraq or is it now likely to return with glory from Afghanistan?
As far as the childish question posed above, we feel, the prized possession of an individual, or a party or a state is self-esteem, self-respect, and dignity. By receiving massive doses of aid from the United States, Islamabad has developed cracks into its moral, political and diplomatic structure. Tight rope dancing is not likely to help. It must sincerely try to pay back the huge amount that it has received during the past. Otherwise its equation with the United States would remain unequal, a peg down. For standing tall, with its chin up, it is a must for Pakistan to pay back what it has received as the so-called aid to fight terror. Then and then only Islamabad would be in a position to have an eye contact with Washington. Let Pakistan announce it wants to pay its debt to America.
Each and every self-respecting Pakistani living in the country or abroad would, and should, contribute massively to that fund so that their and their country’s stature is redeemed in the comity of Islamic States.
As regards the unhinging question, the between-the-lines meaning that emerged at Bonn is: the West as a whole is likely to help the US build military bases in and around Afghanistan. The US dream of establishing permanent presence around the globe has not, till date, vanished. With a view to containing China and Iran, the United States is determined to solidify its presence not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan also. The additional reason justifying the unwelcome US presence is gas and mineral deposits in the region. Washington cannot afford to take chances as far as the atomic energy in the possession of Pakistan and Bharat is concerned.
Any doubt? Any questions?