Sunday, September 25, 2011

US Foreign Policy

This is in response to Bruce Riedel’s opinion article ‘Is Al Qaeda on the ropes?’ (KT/Sept 21). What Mr. Riedel has addressed are the achievements attained in the US—led war on terror.
A weakened Al Qaeda setup can never be completely written off. The battle of arms has gotten too far along and could produce no better results than what has been achieved. Extending its use or even intensifying it will only fuel the resurgence process.
It is now time to evaluate the root-cause of the entire mayhem and address it diligently. The network has expanded itself and strengthened to work as independent chapters elsewhere within and outside the region. The western occupying forces in Afghanistan should demobilise as a result and leave the indigenous problems of the Taleban to the current Afghan government to tackle. Secondly, and most importantly, a review of the US foreign policy, especially in the case of the Middle East has to be carried out and readdressed.
It is the result of all such policies and actions that has led the entire world into a state of chaos and turmoil. These policies need to be dedicated to confidence building and gaining trust among those factions that are viewing the US and its allies as a cause of their grievances and miseries. Additionally, they should be directed towards enabling a change in the mindset and ideology.
Also, Pakistan should be acknowledged for its due share in terms of losses and achievements in the war-on-terror. Being forcefully dragged into a state of perpetual war in its backyard and parsimoniously aiding in a threatening fashion to recompense for its participation as a ‘key ally’ is not rewarding enough.
Moreover, the entire country has plunged into a socio-economic disaster primarily because of being sucked into the war. Words like ‘incompetent’ and ‘reliable’ just fade away the efforts of hundreds that have been put in to achieve what is there today.

This blog featured in KT letters to the editors, 23rd Sept, 2011

Palestian Statehood

Sept,23, 2011, will become a memorable day in history books as President Abbas sends in his proposal to seek UN membership of the Palestinian state. Though the eventuality to be vetoed by the US is quite certain yet the Palestinians have not stopped striving to seek independence. Moreover, it seems to gain not only momentum but strength as the US and Israel’s covert aims unfold. It is a shame when it comes to US policy pertaining to the Israel-Palestine conflict and even worse is the blatant show of unwarranted support towards Israel.
Israel has been at loggerheads with many states, Turkey being the latest, yet there seems to be little reprimand from its ally, the US. Parables can be drawn with two similar recent events in history; the accession of East Timor as a UN member on 27th Sept, 2002 and South Sudan on 14th July, 2011. Both newly born states had been victims of atrocities, violence and forceful occupation of lands by the larger and stronger entity.
The striking feature of these historic events was the active participation and solution-oriented resolutions by the United Nations and the effective interference of the US and other Western nations which made possible the creation of these states.
Had the UN and its driver US been equally result-oriented towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict we would have had an end to the conflict long ago. The partisan politics practiced by the US has instead aggravated the conflict. The Palestinian President is hoping to seek nine votes in favour of his plea, which even though eventually vetoed, will aid their drive in the General Assembly.

This blog featured in KT Letters to the Editor, 22nd Sept, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Justice Done

“Justice has been done”: these were the words that personified the US’s achievement in the war on terror with the killing of Osama bin Laden. Justice — with regards to avenging the deaths of nearly 3,000 people that were killed in the 9/11 attack. The entire world was shell shocked at seeing the epitome of US business and glory crumble down into dust. The entire US nation had mourned for their beloved ones for nearly a decade and finally they were served with JUSTICE — they sought their REVENGE.

But has the killing of Osama brought about any feeling of content or satisfaction among the bereaved? How has killing him redeemed the many who had lost their loved ones in such a dreadful attack? This is surely hard to answer.
However, perceiving the celebrations that erupted soon after President Obama’s announcement, there did seem a heightened sense of satisfaction and relief.

Bin Laden had wronged in killing the thousands of innocent people, not only in the US but the world over. His ideology of seeking ‘blood for blood’ was inhumane and outrageous. He justified his acts saying they were instigated as a result of the US policies, in particular Palestine. However, he voiced his concerns in a very different perspective and in an unusual way, to say the least. Probably because he realised that there were not many listeners and so he had to do something out of the ordinary to grab everyone’s attention. He thus transformed into one of the most feared terrorist in the world.

The US should have tried to capture Osama and put him on trial, just like they did with Saddam. Instead of shooting him in the head, they could have shot him in the arm or the leg or even immobilize him using one of their ingeniously created weapons.

Putting him on trail in a US court would certainly not have resulted in capital punishment. However, many elusive facts could have been revealed and even more conspiracy theories would have generated. I feel that the US feared losing Osama more than capturing him and putting him on trial.

Nevertheless, though there is a feeling of respite and relief among many who suffered at the hands of Osama, Martin Luther King Jr. said it best:
“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Security Breach!!!

FBI’s most wanted terrorist was killed in a covert raid by the US forces on Pakistan soil with no information or assistance from the Pakistani Military or Intelligence. Though the US vehemently claims that it had received no backing from the Pakistani authorities to conduct its raid there lacks credible evidence in support of it. The mere merchants of governance in the already fluttering regime of Pakistan have seconded their claim possibly to avoid any sort of backlash from the militants, which does seem as imminent as ever, and to void any connection in aiding Osama’s hiding or even knowing his whereabouts.

It is rather difficult to fathom how any operation on a foreign soil could have been conducted without any or little involvement of its authorities, especially in the mysterious region of Pakhtunkhuwa whose thick long mountainous belt has eluded everyone. Even the widely controversial and criticized Drone Attacks over the North Waziristan area have been possible only with the intel and support of Pakistan Military. It has been a long established fact that the US has always been weary and skeptical of the Pakistani Intelligence and its alliances with the Afghan Taleban especially after the 1998 incident when US intended to bomb and kill Osama and his elites in one the Al Qaeda Training camps in Afghanistan and miserably failed after, supposedly, being tipped off by Pakistani authorities as they had been notified of the cruise missiles flying over their airspace. Though, again, there has been lack of material evidence supporting this notion.

If one reasons it out, there is less to blame the Pakistani intelligence for its dual personality. The ingrained bond with the Afghan Taleban was seeded by the CIA during the Soviet Invasion. However, over the years it has strengthened primarily to secure much of Pakistan’s own sovereignty at home and importantly also to maintain a higher degree of influence in Afghanistan than from India. However, the duality had its price. Allying with the US in the war on terror and allowing its soil to be used against the Afghan Taleban shredded its sovereignty into pieces and shifted the balance of influence over to India.

The US has on countless times threatened, and many a times even harmed, Pakistan’s sovereignty. However, with this secretive raid in Abbottabad has the US breached Pakistan’s security? It has done so a million times, does this one make it any especial? It does only if the claimants are true. A cross border raid using stealth technology at a town not far from the capital is a dithering sight for Pakistan security and its intelligence. It is a direct assault and shame on the Pakistan Military and Intelligence whom we savior for our protection. Furthermore it is an embarrassment to our leaders who have gone so much into the lucrative US aid that they have foregone their country’s sovereignty and security for its sake.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Broken, not Shattered

PAKISTAN LOST, yet again. Yes it is not something new, not very fascinating and certainly not surprising. What it is, it is DISAPPOINTING!

The entire match can rightly be summarized with that one delivery from Wahab Riaz to Dhoni which found its outside edge and flew very comfortably to the right of our ONLY wicketkeeper (in a nation of 170 million people, having more than 45 official domestic cricket teams besides the regional teams and dozens cricketing clubs) Kamran Akmal who had to stretch, not only his arms (which were actually glued to his underarms), his legs (which were burried well deep in the ground) but his overweight and rigid body itself. Now, that is just too much of an asking from Kamran, who actually defied all odds and did manage to dive in and get his spongy slippery fingers to the ball yet barely leaving the comfort the ground and eventually DROPPING IT. It is not something new, not very fascinating and certainly not surprising. But indeed, very DISAPPOINTING.

Pakistan were certainly not the favorites entering into Mohali, it was India right from the point when they thrashed Australia in the quarters and Ponting commenting that "India will beat Pakistan in the semi finals". However, the Pakistan team had managed to instill a glimmer of hope within themselves and the overly supportive nation by their unified performances that they might actually pull this one off. But that glimmer was quickly squashed when the two of  their most experienced players (Younus and Misbah) succumbed to pressure and spilled out regulation catches of the highest run scorer in the world (which probably Mr. Gilani would have caught easily even if he was trying to run away from them).

That precisely was the difference between the two sides. India, a batting superpower, and Pakistan, a lordship of bowling, showcased their talents and strengths exuberantly and efficiently. What was going to count was not the dew factor rather the fielding. And unfortunately, it was Pakistan that displayed a poor show in that department. Certainly the Indian fielding was not very estatic and inspiring, it was the Pakistani fielders that could not really cling on to the occassion.

The last time Pakistan dropped two catches of a single batsmen early in the innings, they ended up chasing 302 (vs. Newzeland in WC 2011). Similarly, the way Mohali wicket started to absorb the bounce and grip the ball, chasing 261 was no less than chasing 300.

There have been many people critising Misbah's innings (56 runs off 76 balls) and that his slow approach early in the innings led to the eventual doom. Rather, it was his sloppy fielding that cost us the match. And to pile on the agony, Younus did nothing even close to Misbah's attempt to the least. Giving a chance to Sachin to go on and make his 100th 100, he did little to make anything of the Pakistan's chase

With everything said and all the fingers pointed and the guilty accused, we should not take any credit away from this distrauted team for rising through the ranks admist the ruins and the conspiracies. They have done sufficiently well, efficiently too, to play a WC semi final losing their two main strike bowlers (Asif and Aamir) and an openning batsmen (Salman Butt - though he's more of a BUTT(ocks)) and the possibility of playing that very semi final in Lahore. Our team has given us a reason to believe in them. They had not only the world's greatest batsmen fall four times in a single innings with ease but also the possible man-of-the-tournamnet (Yuvraj) bowled out on a GOLDEN DUCK infornt of his home crowd. That was sufficient for them to make a significant and quintessentail statement that we should never be ruled out of any competition even if we are stripped off of our spears and shields. This is Pakistan Cricket and lets believe in them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pakistan's Moment

Mr. Shahid Burki (KT Opinion “Pakistan’s Egypt Moment”) paints a very dismal yet quite realistic picture of Pakistan’s prevailing socio-economic crisis. The sordid and self-centered rulers of Pakistan since its creations and their inept governance today have pushed the country to the precipice of complete meltdown. Definitely a revolution seems imminent and could not be timed more perfectly. It has become more of a necessity than a mere possibility.

However, unlike the Egyptians or Tunisians, Pakistanis are much more diverse and divided when it comes to political ideology and democratic views. Much of this is credited to the ominous success of the various political parties, a dominant feudal system and poignantly regional and provincial differences. Differences are so strong that when it comes to safeguarding their identities and ideologies they leave no barrier broken and no limits crossed even disregarding humanity and sensibility. Also, unlike Egypt and Tunisia, a revolt against a military dictator seems much more plausible than against a complete political and democratic regime.

Nevertheless, UNITY was the core and essential element that drove a whole country to abrogate their decades of misery. Likewise, the only practical and possible element that could unify and combine the tragically diverse mindset of the people of Pakistan is ‘Religion’ and Faith. It is by far the only conjugational element left within each Pakistani that somehow links and bonds them together. This is no way a suggestion that an Islamic votary and his followers take up arms and start upon a killing spree. Nor is this to be confused or even fused with the idea of Islamic Militancy. These actions are in no way related to the basics of our religion. Those that do indulge in them are a mere manifestation of any other terrorist.

Though the experts do not predict such a revolt, however Pakistan being an Islamic Republic does have the will and history to rise with their religion and change the course of the waves.
This blog featured in KT Letters to the Editor, 22nd Feb, 2011

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stalled Mid East Talks

The Middle East peace talks have stalled, yet again. The Obama administration has blatantly accepted its failure in continuing the peace efforts it started twenty months back. It does not surprise since it was only a matter of time that another deadlock to the peace efforts came into place.

The Israeli government is hell bent on colonizing the shrinking patches of land left to the Palestinians, paying no heed to the international calls, and uses its military brute force to contain any resistance.

The US has been unable to counter it, either willingly or unwillingly. Will the US be able to crack the nut and restart a fresh series of talks? Will it be able to drag both parties to agree on common ground? The answers to such questions remain skeptical.
The Obama administration’s inability to contain the Israeli demographic clock - that had been waiting to start ticking - is yet another glimpse of ingrained bias in US politics, which remains the prime factor in discontinuing the peace process. The unwarranted political support towards Israel and US media that tends to be more pro-Israeli than pro-Arab makes it highly unlikely that US will ever be seen as an even-handed peace broker. Moreover, the plights of the 1.3 million Palestinians who are left in a virtual prison in the Gaza strip have been ignored in every aspect making matters even worse. Their refusal to negotiate with a democratically elected Palestinian government (Hamas - which was elected in the 2006 elections prompted by the US but later rejected it when it did not like the results) makes the peace efforts look half-hearted and half dealt. Though it is not hard to estimate the difficulty of the task Obama has in hand, one feels the US is trying to merely tackle the issue for the moment. Whether they succeed in developing yet another temporary solution or a lasting one remains to be seen. However, the current motives do not predict any changes in the Middle East peace process.

The above blog appeared in Khaleej Times Letters to the Editor on 18th Dec, 2010