Posts tagged ‘USA’

July 15, 2012

Ali Dayan Hasan (HRW Pakistan) recants statement against ISI

by ravezjunejo

Ali Dayan Hasan at IPSMM2012

The newly appointed Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence may have attained an understated and unsung victory for his intelligence agency considering the recent and highly surprising statement by Human Rights Watch‘s Pakistan head Ali Dayan Hasan that the ISI may not be involved in the Saleem Shahzad murder AT ALL!

Mr Hasan made this statement at the recently concluded India-Pakistan Social Media Mela held at a local hotel in Karachi.  He was invited as a speaker for the session titled ‘Negotiating complexity: human rights and social media.’

Apart from his condemnation of ‘trolls’ (read his notoriously egotistical irritation on being questioned by critics in general and Twitter activist @Laibaah1 Marri in particular) on social media, Mr Hasan said “My position and HRW position is clear. We never say that he was killed by the ISI. Who killed him has to be determined by an independent probe.” Could we be correct in considering this latest statement by Mr Hasan a recanting of the previous allegations that HRW has made, all but implicating the ISI in carrying out the Saleem Shahzad murder?

July 12, 2012

Shamshad Junejo (1927-2012) – The Story of My Grandfather

by ravezjunejo

At London Bridge; July 1998.

Adapted from:  http://accordingtoraj.blogspot.com/2012/07/shamshad-junejo-1927-2012-story-of-my.html

My maternal grandfather (referred to as ‘Nana’ in South Asian languages) Shamshad Ahmed Junejo, Advocate, Sindh High Court, passed away on March 26 this year. Nana was survived by his three sons and two daughters, the youngest of whom is my mother. Both his wives died when he was still alive.

Since a very young age, I had learned that my Nana had lived a very interesting life. A member of a Sindhi freedom fighter’s organisation in his school days, he went on to become a successful lawyer and a local leader of the PPP at the invitation of its founding Chairperson himself, and many more interesting people in between! I shall now put down here all that I can remember about my Nana and his life that I learnt from him.

These rememberances have been reproduced chronologically.

 

December 15, 2011

Kalam-e-Kayani Ba-Zuban-e-Bilawal

by admin


Chairman Bilawal Bhutto asserts his authority
by Raja Riaz

LAHORE: Not many among us know that the decision of revisiting foreign policy vis-a- vis America by the PPP-led coalition government in the Centre is being done on the directions of Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Issuing his maiden order as party chairman he asked Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, the president of the country, and Senior Vice Chairman Yousaf Raza Gilani, holding the office of chief executive of the country, to “revisit the relations with America”.

“Chairman Bilawal was in Naudero on November 26, the day when NATO helicopters attacked the Salala check post,

December 15, 2011

Is there a Pakistan-Saudi nuclear alliance against Iran? – by Bruce Riedel

by admin

Pakistan army chief General Kayani with Saudi army chief General Saleh Al-Muhaya, (9-11-2008) – Photo ISPR

Enduring Allies: Pakistan’s Partnership with Saudi Arabia Runs Deeper
Bruce Riedel
9 December 2011

When Crown Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia died this fall, the first foreign head of state to announce he would attend the funeral was President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan. Accompanying him was the chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the real power in the country.

It was no surprise that Zardari and Kayani would rush to pay their respects to the House of Saud. Pakistan

January 24, 2011

Rise of the Dragon – by Abdul Samad

by admin


China’s epic rise as a military and an economic powerhouse over the last few decades is more like a fairy tale. This unprecedented metamorphosis has led to China’s pre-mature coronation as the next

December 23, 2010

A post on how to bring to end the conflict in Afghanistan – by TLW

by admin

Specially contributed to the LUBP, this post was first published at These Long Wars blog

Pakistan, Iran and Russia. The middle one completely hated by the US, the former and latter, sort of trusted. Russia must bring pressure to bear on it’s guys, remnants of the Northern Alliance, the Iranians have influence with the people who control Herat, and Pakistan has some very obvious links with the Taliban. All three agree, they don’t fight once the US leaves.

Chinese money is already in Afghanistan.

I don’t think they want to annex Afghanistan.

But the Chinese would like “stability” in Afghanistan.

India can continue to build roads, electricity poles,

Now there are a million things that could go wrong with a plan like this. The Order of Battle For Jihadi Islam Across the Durand Line covers the obvious suspects.

But as well as them, there are more people who can make things go off the rails.

1) The Pakistan military may either become expansionist (through it`s Taliban allies), the officers may be “swept along” by Taliban victories and want to let the Taliban move forward, or the Indian presence may be too provocative (prove to be an easy target), or the Indians may seem too powerful, and the Pakistanis just start attacking them wantonly, precipitating a Taliban drive for power.

2) Younger commanders on the ground start doing their own thing (killing opponents) whilst paying lip service to Mullah Umar (still in Pakistan). Sort of like how MQM sector commanders say they listen to their leaders at the top of the party, but kill local rivals nonetheless, physically strengthening the MQM’s position, whilst simultaneously threatening a larger war with either the government, the ANP or the PPP. The younger Taliban commanders could start killing off local rivals, threatening an escalation to a larger war.

3) The Americans may simply go apeshit at the prospect of peace at the hands of the Iranians and Russians. Although why they would scuttle this only as a matter of pride or irrationality is inexplicable, although expectable considering their past involving Iraq 2003.

4) There is also the fact that the success of the Taliban in Afghanistan was bought on the backs of regiments of Pakistani soldiers who were ordered to use their mechanised equipment, and provide close air support to the Taliban. It was this developed military approach that bought the Taliban success against the Northern Alliance. How easy or difficult would it be for the Pakistan Military to restart such a program, where they bought their equipment into Afghanistan and used it to pound the Afghan National Army until it collapsed?

There are possible answers to these troubling scenarios.

1) Pakistan has suffered multiple casualties at the hands of religious extremists; there may be little tolerance for more religious nutjobs to take the helm of Afghanistan, killing fellow Afghans AFTER the US withdraws.

2) The Afghan Taliban may keep themselves “together” (or as much together as a disparate guerrilla movement can) and the younger commanders may be reeled in by the now, very old, 90’s Taliban leadership, who *might* be feeling tired of war. That is a big *might*. Much of the senior leadership has fought in the Soviet-Afghan Jihad, the Afghan civil war, and now the US occupation of Afghanistan. They have faced down the Warsaw Pact, all manner of other Afghans and NATO. It just might be possible that they may be feeling tired of war. A wild card would be the question, would Pakistan provide the same sort of all around military support for a new drive by the Afghan Taliban? I will adress that as well.

3) The Americans cannot possibly be this stupid, as to toss away peace in Afghanistan, especially when they give the impression of being trapped there, and news leaking out constantly of them negotiating with the Taliban. Even fakers like the silly greedy “Mullah” Mansoor, of Quetta shopkeeping fame. Now the Americans are pounding the Afghan border and Khyber Agency in frustration, whilst the young commanders are quietly in hiding.

4) This is the hardest, would the Pakistan military bring in it’s artillery, tanks and close air support to aid the Afghan Taliban. You’re asking me to predict the future, and to be honest, maybe, one could hope that not this time around. The Pakistan military must be reminded of it’s mental limitations, it’s capacity for stupidity at every turn, and told to keep away from adventures in Afghanistan. For God’s sake, tell them to look at their casualty lists for just the last three years.

Peace in Afghanistan, and the regularisation of FATA’s status (possibly as a separate province, but also possibly as a place where regular law applies, that could join Pakhtunkhwa) must be made a serious, serious policy plank of the PML-N, the PPP, the ANP, the MQM and just about every Baloch political organisation that exists. Only together can they make the Pakistan military comply. I appeal to the PPP, the PML-N, the ANP, the MQM, and the electoral competitors of Balochistan to pressure and fight towards this. It is our future.

December 23, 2010

On Pak-China Friendship and CIA-ISI feud: The Pamir Knot and beyond – by Dr Mohammad Taqi

by admin

The relationship between the US and Pakistani intelligence agencies appears to be moving from playing uneasy footsie to a fairly sordid affair. The blowing of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief’s cover, allegedly at the behest of the host country’s spooks, has not gone down well with the US. That this happened on the eve of the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s much-trumpeted visit to Pakistan raises a question if Pakistan is using grandpa Wen to help fend off the ‘big bully’ US.

The Chinese leader’s visit, in turn, came on the heels of the US strategic review of the Afghan war chiding Pakistan and asking it to do more to fight the Islamist terrorists operating from within its borders. This review has not set any benchmarks — at least publicly — to gauge Pakistan’s success in what is being demanded of it. Additionally, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates have reiterated in separate statements their concern about Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war.

Wen Jiabao obviously did not disappoint his hosts, and speaking to the joint session of the Pakistani parliament said what they really wanted to hear: “Pakistan was at the front of the international fight against terrorism and made big sacrifices and important contributions, which were obvious to all. The international community should affirm that and give great support as well as respect the path of development chosen by Pakistan. The fight against terrorism should not focus on specific religions or ethnic groups, but rather on eradicating the root factors breeding terrorism.”

While appearing to be a shot in the arm for the Pakistani regional policy, Mr Jiabao’s speech reinforces what is already known about Sino-Pak relations and the Chinese ambitions in the second decade of the 21st century. The Pakistani policy planners, especially those directly or indirectly associated with its ruling establishment, take a vicarious pride in the strides China has made and tend to believe that in the coming decade it would surpass the US as a global power.

However, the Chinese quest to revive the land-based Silk Route and develop jumping boards to Africa like the Gwadar port, point to its significant handicap in overcoming its geographical limitations. Resource-hungry China might take more than 10 years to develop a navy to be competitive with South Korea and Japan, supported by the US, even in the Pacific Rim. It is therefore, imperative for China to develop cheap and relatively direct access to resources, especially fossil fuels, from Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and Africa.

There is nothing really ideological or fraternal about the Chinese investments in Pakistan, as some Pakistani newspapers would like us to believe. Interestingly, while the Pakistani media has a knack for comparing everything to India, it has really remained mum over premier Jiabao’s visit to Delhi. A right-wing contemporary in its editorial praising China for its ‘stellar words and deeds’ vis-à-vis Pakistan opted to black-out the fact that just days ago the Chinese leader was quoting from the Upanishads, eulogising Mahatma Gandhi and buoyantly claiming Manmohan Singh’s friendship. With about $ 60 billion in exports, China has become India’s largest trading partner. By 2015, this sum is expected to rise to around a whopping $ 100 billion. The $ 30 billion of Chinese investment in Pakistan over the next five years does not look that massive after all. The point remains that it is the confluence of economic and geo-strategic interests — not words from scriptures or leaders — that dictate the Chinese or any other nation’s interest in Pakistan and for that matter in India.

That China will expand manufacturing exchanges, develop the transport and (nuclear) energy sectors in Pakistan, and even do a currency swap agreement, is not moot. However, what it might not tolerate is very similar to the world demands about countering the terror networks operating in and out of Pakistan. For China to have viable, uninterrupted resource supply routes from Central Asia and through Pakistan, it has to have a western border free of the jihadist menace. To metamorphose from a global moneylender to a global power, China will be confronting the question of how to tackle jihadism sooner than later. It may have saved the skins of the likes of General Hamid Gul — even at the UN level — but doing business in the global economy would entail China actually policing such characters rather than encouraging or protecting them.

The Chinese global interests, therefore, are more congruent with the US, and perhaps even India, than a Pakistani establishment with a jihadist mindset fossilised in the past. Internally, China is extremely sensitive about any socio-political upheavals that could pitch its impoverished central and western provinces against the affluent coastal regions and potentially lead to the unrest prevalent on the eve of Chairman Mao’s revolution. Issues like Tibet and Uighur autonomy are thus taken quite seriously, and dealt with harshly, by the Chinese. Moreover, China’s status as the world’s ATM machine is hugely dependent on its trade with the US and western consumer societies. While it would love to see the Pamir Knot and northern Silk Road revived with economic vigour, China would not be interested in undoing the Gordian knot of Afghanistan with the tip of its sword and neither would it give Pakistan a free hand to do so — a fact not lost on the Pak-Afghan policy planners in the US.

The New York Times (NYT) report that the US military seeks to expand raids inside Pakistan appears to be part of this seemingly endless game of analysing the projection of power, perception of strength or weakness and posturing of the geo-strategic players. Speaking to this writer, a CENTCOM spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Lawhorn cited the International Security Assistant Force statement, which categorically rejects the NYT report and claims everything to be hunky dory between the US and Pakistan: “There is absolutely no truth to reporting in the NYT…Cross-border coordination has and continues to disrupt and dismantle insurgent networks in select areas, with significant operations on both sides of the border removing large numbers of insurgent leaders and fighters.”

The last part of the statement is ambiguous about who exactly is conducting those raids but seems to indicate that for now the US planners have opted to ignore grandpa Wen’s words and innuendo in Pakistan. They seem to be focused more on the great-grandpa Hu Jintao’s Washington, DC visit next month.(Source)

December 13, 2010

Beyond nation states: Union of South and Central Asia (USCA) – by Shiraz Paracha

by admin


The death and destruction in name of nation state has taught the West to discard the narrow concept of nation state, however, in some parts of the world, the West is encouraging separatist movements and ethnic groups which aspire to create new states driven by ethnicity.

The idea of ethnocentric nation states is a recipe for disaster in regions where ethnicity is a form of tribalism and societies are under developed in social and economic terms.

The institution of nation state emerged in Europe nearly 300 years ago and has been the cause of bloody conflicts. Millions of Europeans died in useless wars when narrow ethnic nationalism turned the continent into a sea of hatred.

Since the 1789 French Revolution, Europe went through many wars in which different European nations fought against each other for the ethnic and racial superiority of their states.

The French Republic gave a new and sacred place to the State in the lives of ordinary citizens and loyalty to the State became important than all other loyalties. Citizens and soldiers lived and died for the State.

Nationalism was at its peak in the 19th century newly industrialized Europe. European powers competed for influence and colonized vast areas of the world. In the first half of the 20th century two World Wars were fought, mostly among Europeans, to settle the issue of racial superiority and prestige of nation states.

The Second World War, however, weakened imperial Europe. Consequently, maintaining direct control of colonies became very costly. Nonetheless, before receding from the colonies, European masters sowed seeds of hatred in the occupied regions. The European nation state model was applied to colonies, which were pre-industrial societies with different historical and cultural experiences.


The nation state experiment divided cultural and ethnic communities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and led to conflicts around the world that exist till date.

After the end of the Second World War, several dozen newly independent states emerged on the foundations of mistrust, hatred and division. The creation of India and Pakistan is just one example.

Western colonial powers used religion as well as ethnicity to establish new states.

A new Jewish state should have been established in Europe as Christian Europe was guilty of crimes against Jews but with the American support, the British created the artificial state of Israel in the middle of the Arab world, using faith as a pretext. Since the birth of Israel the Middle East has been bleeding.

The British oversaw the creation of Israel and Pakistan, in both cases faith was the main motive behind the establishment of the new states, interestingly, the same United Kingdom denies rights of Catholics in the British occupied Northern Ireland.

The West applies different principles in different situations and regions. NATO separated Kosovo from Serbia by force but, paradoxically, Basque nationalists in Spain and France are denied the same right. Basques want a separate state but the French and the Spanish governments proscribe the Basque party, ETA, as a terrorist group. Western ‘terrorist lists’ are not objective. As long as an ethnic group serves Western interests it can be labelled as freedom fighters even if it is involved in violence and human rights violations.

Europe and the United States encourage and support the Chechens separatist in Russia, the Tamils of Sri Lanka and the Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Iraq in their struggles for separate states. The above mentioned ethnic groups use violent means to achieve their goal.

The West supports creation of new ethnic states but the institution of nation state is in crisis because much has changed since 1789. In the 20th century dozens of new states sprung up on the world map and older nation states remodelled themselves yet the ‘crisis of nation state’ continues. Despite modernization, nation state seems to be a redundant institution in its purist or classical form.

Globalization is the biggest threat to nation state as global markets have replaced national markets. Privatization has given immense power to corporations and now they transcend national borders. Capital knows no boundaries and can flow from one part of the world to another with one click. Instant and the free flow of capital and economic interdependence have reduced the power and prestige of nation states. Global trade and travel demand new structures and revision of social contracts.

Moreover, communication revolution that started in the second half the 20th century has changed the world and in many ways. The pace of the change is very fast and increasing number of people feel that they can simultaneously belong to global and local cultures.

The above factors have provoked a debate about the future of nation state. Nation states may not diminish completely but their power to control or influence national economies and governing systems will certainly decrease dramatically.

Against this backdrop, Europe has moved away from the strict concept of nation state by establishing a supranational body, the European Union (EU). Now European nationalism is culturally different from the political nationalism of the 19th century. The EU members showcase nationalism in cultural expressions but the key political decisions are made at international bodies and are not the sole prerogative of national state institutions. National boundaries and territorial issues no longer cause hysteria in Europe.

Ironically, though, in non-Western regions demands for new ethnocentric states are encouraged. Pakistan is an interesting example where some groups, including a section of the Taliban, are using religion and ethnicity to create a greater Pushtoon state comprising Pushtoon areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some reports suggest that NATO and the United States support the creation of Pushtoonistan or Pukhtunistan.

At the same time, struggle for the establishment of a new Baloch state that will be home to ethnic Balochs of Iran and Pakistan continues.

Separate Muslim identity had played a key role in the birth of Pakistan; however, the Pakistan movement was an expression of political nationalism as different ethnic groups from across the Indian Subcontinent had taken part in the Pakistan movement.

Nonetheless, areas included in Pakistan were also home to culturally homogeneous ethnic communities. In the following years, the Pakistani nationalism, which was political in nature, found itself at odds with the cultural nationalism that existed in Pakistan before the creation of the country.

During the most part of its 63 year turbulent history, Pakistan has been governed and controlled by the military. The Pakistani military believes in the centralization of power and has been playing the fear card to maintain its grip over power. The military has been trying to manufacture a common national identity using religion and suppressing cultural identities.

The policy of fear backfired and disenchanted ethnic groups revolted against coercion, and the centralization of power and resources. The Bengalis in East Pakistan took the lead and succeeded in establishing Bangladesh in 1971. It was a bitter lesson for the Pakistan Army.

During the Cold War, Pukhtunistan was a sensitive issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan claimed that the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan was part of Afghanistan as people on the both sides of the British drawn Durand Line were the same, Pushtoons.

Since the 1950s, the fear of Pushtoon and Baloch states has played a central role in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan has been seeking influence in Afghanistan to neutralize the demand for a Pushtoon state.

Since the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, suggestions of Pushtoon and Baloch states have resurfaced. This time the United States and NATO seem to be endorsing the plans for the new ethnic states. India, too, has obtained full access in the NATO-controlled Afghanistan. Islamabad obviously feels bewildered.

But redrawing political map in the parts of South and Central Asia with the help of foreign forces is an absurd idea. It will result in endless bloodshed and instability in the whole region. NATO which is looking for ways to escape Afghanistan could be stuck into ethnic conflicts for decades.

NATO and the US presence in the region is the root cause of tensions. If Western masters pushed an agenda that would divide Afghanistan and Pakistan along ethnic lines, it will be a grave mistake and will create problems that would be beyond anybody’s control.

Pushtoons are not a nation in political terms as they do not adhere to a single political ideology and values. For example, a large number of Pashtoons support the Taliban. Due to the mass support in the Pashtoon areas of Afghanistan, the Taliban are still key players in the Afghan politics. At the same time, secular and nationalist Pashtoons are another shade of the same ethnic group. Therefore like any other ethnic and cultural community, Pashtoons are a distinctive cultural group which exists for hundreds of years. They speak common language and have their own traditions.

Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the other hand, are political nations. An Afghan could be a Pushtoon, Uzbek or Tajik. And people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds are members of the Pakistani nation. The majority of Pakistanis follow the same faith and common languages of communication are Urdu and English. All regions of Pakistan are economically interdependent and there are other strong political and cultural bonds that make Pakistan a nation.

Pashtoon or Baloch states can be created either by the will of all Pashtoons and Baloch or by military means.
Many Pushtoons and Balochs are very proud Pakistanis and all of them may not support the creation of separate Pushtoon or Baloch states.

Former East Pakistan was geographically apart from the West Pakistan and Bengalis had strong political aspirations and yet the powerful and popular Awami League had contested the 1970 election on the slogans of more political autonomy rather than complete independence.

At the moment, no separatist or nationalist political party in the provinces of Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa or Balochistan enjoys popular support that would translate into the establishment of separate states.

On the other hand, if created with the help of foreign military support, the new ethnic states will be security states dependent on their foreign sponsors for a long time.

Similarly, the survival of the new landlocked Pushtoon state, for instance, will depend on Pakistan, but maintaining friendly relations with a foreign sponsored breakaway part will not be possible for the remaining Pakistani state.

Most important of all, future new and smaller states are unlikely to stand up to pressures of international monetary and trade systems and will be unable to defend their national interests unless they are part of strong groupings of states. To meet the challenges and pressures of globalization, nations and communities that share land and resources or other common grounds will have to form alliances to defend their interests in a globalized world.

The Scottish Nationalist Party, for example, hopes that Scotland will become an independent state very soon. Even so, the independence will not make a big difference for the citizens of the new Scottish state because being EU citizens, they will still be able to live and work in Scotland as well as in England. In future, EU member countries are likely to manage local affairs, including promotion of local cultures. Major decisions will be taken at international bodies and by supranational states.

In the 21st century, the South and Central Asian region can develop its own model of integration. Geography, natural and human resources as well as cultural and historical similarities offer opportunities to forge new economic, social and political bonds among the countries of the South and Central Asian region.

Europeans are strangers in the region but people of Central Asia share culture and history with South Asian people. There is a great potential of mutual trade and economic connectivity that would lead to social and cultural harmony in the region.

If South and Central Asian states could introduce internal reforms guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to different ethnic and cultural communities living within those states, it will be a move towards stability and bright future of the whole region.

On the external front, the South and Central Asian states can engage in a serious dialogue on the possibility of establishing a supranational body or alliance of South and Central states that could be a Union of South and Central Asia (USCA) or South and Central Asian Union (SCAU).

The proposed block can include the six Central Asian and the seven South Asian countries plus Iran. The Union can develop partnership with China and Russia and could be a sister organization of the Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO).

The new alliance should form a single trade zone with uniform custom duties and taxes, and flexible immigration rules for traders and labour.

Many countries in the region spend huge sum of their resources on defence but if the new alignment turns into a reality defence budgets can be heavily reduced and the money can be diverted to social and economic development of the people.

The West may consider the new block a threat to its strategic and economic interests because such a development could reduce Western influence in the region. The West could also be deprived from Central Asian natural resources as the energy would flow eastward to South Asia and China. Therefore the West is likely to oppose the creation of such a block and may use divide and rule tactics to stop it.

Besides, it would be naive to ignore the existence of serious clash of interests or conflicts among the countries of South and Central Asia. Also ethnic divisions and other misunderstandings in region are serious challenges but future economic and political benefits of establishing an alliance of South and Central Asian states outweighs such differences and divisions.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analysts. His email address is: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.com

December 9, 2010

U.S. aggression against North Korea and China – by Shiraz Paracha

by admin

The United States and its faithful allies within NATO would demand invoking the Article 5 of NATO’s charter if China had conducted joint military exercises with Cuba or Venezuela in the international waters near the U.S coast.

But the United States navy has concluded joint military drills with the South Korean navy in the exclusive economic zone of Chinese waters, a few hundred miles from the Chinese coast in the small Yellow Sea. The US-South Korean drills were followed by the biggest ever U.S-Japanese joint military exercises in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). And the United States is planning new military maneuvers with South Korea.

The U.S officials have dubbed the exercises as normal as if it is the ‘God given’ right and prerogative of the U.S navy’s formidable war ships to roam the world oceans unchecked and engage in aggressive and intimidating military maneuvers close to other countries’ coastlines.

The Yellow Sea is between China and the Korean Peninsula, east to west coastal distance between China and Koreas is a little more than 400 miles. The north-south length of the Yellow Sea is about 600 miles. The Pentagon sent the U.S aircraft carrier USS George Washington to the narrow Yellow Sea to participate in the military drills near North Korean and Chinese coasts.

The U.S military actions in the region are pure provocation. China has been extremely unhappy with the U.S aggressive policies in the region. A senior Chinese military figure has warned the U.S not to pour oil onto flames. Chinese commentators and military experts called the military exercises an insult to China.

But the bottom line seems to be might is right. The United States and Western countries are ‘civilized’ perhaps because they have bigger guns.

History tells us that the West applies different standards to similar situations. Nearly 48 years ago, the disclosure about the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba had caused war hysteria in the United States. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved only due to the wisdom of the then Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev.

In fact, the missile deployment in Cuba was the Soviet response to the placement of U.S missile system in Britain and Europe. Besides, the United States was bullying a close Soviet ally, Cuba.

Despite the spectacular failure of the CIA operation ‘Bay of Pigs’ that was launched to kill the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the U.S continued dirty tricks to destroy Cuba.

In 1962, Khrushchev agreed to withdraw missiles from Cuba only when the U.S President John F. Kennedy had assured him that the United States would not remove Fidel Castro from power by military means.

By using the missile threat, the Soviet leadership proved to the world that the United Sates understood the language of force.

Learned and ‘objective’ scholars of the ‘civilized’ West only accuse the Soviet Union for the 1962 Missile Crisis and give undue credit to President Kennedy for averting the Crisis, ignoring the fact that the same Kennedy had led the United States into the Vietnam quagmire.

North Korea is today’s Cuba. The so-called ‘independent and objective’ Western media have been engaged in relentless North Korea bashing. False and fabricated stories are published and broadcast about North Korea’s aims and actions. Such stories do not inform audience about the full background and never provide the proper context.

North Korea is presented as an evil state by the Western media and politicians. May be the country is like that but we must have the North Korean point of view and their side of the story told fairly and objectively. The audience must be provided with the real context of the conflict.

North Korea has been pushed against the wall and China is wrongly accused for supporting Pyongyang. North Korea is still a Socialist country and, in Western eyes, this seems to be the biggest crime of North Korea.

Secondly, Pyongyang challenges the continual presence of the U.S military in the region and the U.S does not like that. More than 28000 U.S troops are based in South Korea and nearly 50,000 are in Japan. The United States wants to keep its troops in those countries. In other words, the informal U.S occupation of South Korea and Japan should continue 65 years after the end of the Second World War.

Assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had received warnings of serious consequences from the United States before her visit to North Korea in 1994.

China does not have troops in North Korea and nor does Beijing directly interferes in the North Korean affairs, on the other hand, Tokyo and Soul both listen to the U.S dictates. However, only North Korea is blamed as a puppet regime.

Sea skirmishes between North Korea and South Korea often take place when North Korean territorial waters and maritime boundaries are violated by South Korea.

The U.S. and South Korea do not recognize North Korean sea borders. The international law says that a country can determine its maritime boundaries.

Every country has 12 nautical miles (14 miles) of territorial water and 200 nautical miles (230 miles) of exclusive economic zone area in the sea.

Countries can extend maritime boundaries in case of exclusive economic zones and continental shelf, but North Korea’s international sea water rights have been constantly violated by South Korea and its very powerful backer, the United States. And yet they blame North Korea to change belligerent behavior.

When North Korea reacts to the U.S led aggression and South Korean violations, the West condemns and threatens Pyongyang. The Western media never mention the actual culprits; journalists bluntly hold North Korea ‘responsible’ for escalating tensions.

North Korea does not have a perfect system but it is not the only state in the world. From Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Columbia many states treat their citizens brutally but they are not depicted as evil because they are on the U.S side.

The United States is wary of growing Chinese influence in East Asia. Washington is keeping a close eye on China, particularly on the Chinese navy. China has already declared the South China Sea as an area of core national interest and the Chinese navy is stretching its reach and operations.

Last year, the Pentagon estimated that China has more than 250 vessels and 60 submarines. Despite China’s denials the U.S continues to suspect Beijing and U.S military officials believe that China is developing new submarines that will be able to challenge foreign navies from invading Chinese strategic waters.

There are claims made by the U.S intelligence about Chinese new ballistic missiles that can destroy submarines.

However, in reality, there is a big gap between China and the United States’ naval capabilities. The U.S navy is much bigger and deadlier than the Chinese. But the U.S is using every excuse and opportunity to increase its military presence in the Pacific region.

The Pentagon has already transferred its nuclear submarines, air units and war ships to the Pacific.

Last month, the U.S President Barack Obama was in the region to shore up support against China but he failed to achieve the major goal of his visit.

Soon after the Obama’s inconclusive visit, exaggerated claims about the possibility of military conflict on the Korean Peninsula were made. Such claims and North Korean alleged aggression could be part of a psychological warfare that aims to put further pressure on China.

Sending of the USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan (East Sea) should be seen in that context as the United States is desperately asserting its presence in the Yellow Sea and the repeated military exercises are one expression of that desire.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. His email address is: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.

December 4, 2010

American diplomacy of contempt – by Shiraz Paracha

by admin


The mastermind as well as the motive behind the WikiLeaks release of US diplomats’ official correspondence with Washington is not known yet. However, the material released so far shows that George W. Bush was not the only mediocre with inferiority complexes. The whole State Department and policy makers in the United States have IQ problems.

Electronic letters and emails of U.S diplomats are symbols of bad taste and indicate that writers were carried away by prejudices and even anger.
Diplomats are supposed to be objective and measured in their assessments and analysis. But U.S ambassadors have been writing  low quality sloppy assessments of very crucial and sensitive international issues and situations.
Such information is supposed to be evaluated and written by serious and responsible professionals; however, U.S embassies emails confirm recklessness and irresponsible behaviour at the very heart of the U.S foreign policy. There is a pattern of ridicule of other cultures and an arrogance that exposes shallow U.S pride.

A much serious issue, however, is that information gathering processes are not very sophisticated and developed at the U.S State Department. A large volume of the so-called classified information is not well sourced and well evaluated. Most of the material is based on hearsay, rumours and careless personal opinions of the officials.

It is obvious that the depth required for dealing with delicacies and sophistications of diplomacy is lacking among the vast majority of the senior U.S foreign policy officials.

Another important point is that U.S ambassadors have been acting as spies. Spooks do use diplomatic cover but ambassadorial level positions are different. Ambassadors have access to places and information which spy agents do not have.

Ambassadors are symbols of trust between two nations. They cultivate friendship and goodwill on the behalf of their states. Some U.S ambassadors, however, have not been meeting the minimum standards of decent and professional behaviour.

Anne Patterson, a former U.S ambassador to Pakistan, for example, was involved in the wheeling and dealings of the Pakistani politics. She was engaged in activities that were beyond her scope and job as a neutral envoy.
And in the opinion of the U.S Ambassador to Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai is a weak person with personality disorders. Let us not that forget the U.S had imposed Mr. Karzai on Afghanistan after the removal of the Taliban.
The U.S diplomats see the Russian government as a mafia. The current Russian leadership is the most popular among the Russian public and the United Russia Party is in power since 2000 as the Russian voters have shown full confidence in the Party and its leadership but U.S diplomats see them as corrupt criminals. One can only feel pity for the low calibre of U.S diplomats. The U.S Ambassador to Kazakhstan is said to have communicated derogatory remarks about politicians of the host country and the same was done to people and leaders in other countries.

It is worrying to realize that the United States foreign policy and key strategic decisions are based on such childish assumption and analysis. It should not be surprising why the U.S is hated around the world. The United States uses military means to maintain control because of the inefficiency of its diplomatic corps and insensitivities of its political leadership.

Diplomacy means cultivating friendships and the truth is that United States has failed the test because the U.S believes in master-salve type of international relationships, while friendship is earned by treating others with equality and respect, not contempt.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. His email address is: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.com

December 4, 2010

Leaks disclose secrets of in-camera sessions; is Pakistan really playing double game?

by admin

“It’s a bombshell,” says the historian Timothy Garton-Ash in a Guardian video on the released of the cables. “It’s the most extraordinary window into how American diplomacy works.”

Founded by secretive Australian Julian Assange, Wikileaks was originally based in Sweden and garnered 1.2 million leaked documents in time for its launch in January 2007. It taps in to the world’s web users’ desire either for justice or revenge on former employers or acquaintances, but its most significant stories have been held up as largely in the public interest.

The leaks are actual transcripts of messages exchanged among various governments. The founder of WikiLeaks did not conceive, concoct or formulate them. WikiLeaks are based on actual facts and ground realities and we including our military and civilian leadership know this very well.

According to recent dispatches from WikiLeaks besides its diplomatic disclosures, has also disclosed the secrets of in-camera sessions of the parliament pertaining to Kashmir and extremist elements in Pakistan, Geo News reported on Saturday.

In its disclosure, WikiLeaks, citing an anonymous source, has stated that ISI informed the parliamentarians and senior officials of the government about some qualities of Taliban elements. The spy agency also informed them about real extremists.

In the briefing, it was stated that some elements in the extremists’ groups would be useful in Kashmir or operation at some other places. The source said that there was difference of opinion among the participants of the in-camera session over this.

Earlier Wikileaks reveals Pakistan’s support for Taliban and the videos and report’s findings accuse the Pakistani establishment for playing double game, now a question is whether the Pakistani Establishment is playing double game? Or we believe on state’s stance that Pakistan is not supporting Taliban and it is a wrong notion.Let’s see one video(Wikileaks on the Pakistani double game) and related reports and try to examine what Wikileaks and foreign media really suggest and claim?

The revelations by WikiLeaks emerged as Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of greater NATO casualties in Afghanistan as violence mounts over the summer.

It also came as the Taliban said they were holding captive one of two U.S. servicemen who strayed into insurgent territory, and that the other had been killed. The reported capture will further erode domestic support for America’s 9-year-old war.

Contained in more than 90,000 classified documents, the Wikileaks revelations could fuel growing doubts in Congress about U.S. President Barack Obama’s war strategy at a time when the U.S. death toll is soaring…

Pakistan was actively collaborating with the Taliban in Afghanistan while accepting U.S. aid, new U.S. military reports showed, a disclosure likely to increase the pressure on Washington’s embattled ally.

The US military has launched an inquiry to find the source of tens of thousands of classified American documents on the war in Afghanistan that were leaked to the media (they’re from the US military, duh!) .

Wikileaks reveals Afghan civilian deaths – Thousands of secret military documents have been leaked, revealing details of incidents when civilians were killed by coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The cache contains more than 90,000 US records giving a blow-by-blow account of fighting between January 2004 and December 2009.

Wikileaks documents show Pakistan and Taliban link , Afghanistan war logs: our selection of significant incidents
and Key findings from the WikiLeaks “Afghan War Diaries” -

•The C.I.A.’s paramilitary operations are expanding in Afghanistan
•The Taliban has used portable, heat-seeking missiles against Western aircraft
Americans suspect Pakistan’s spy service of guiding Afghan insurgency

Mapping US drone and Islamic militant attacks in Pakistan
Daily View: WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan war logs
Wikileaks Afghanistan files: every IED attack, with co-ordinates
Wikileaks founder defends war files leak

Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It

Obituary:Benazir Bhutto – Benazir Bhutto followed her father into politics, and both of them died because of it – he was executed in 1979, she fell victim to an apparent suicide bomb attack.
Her two brothers also suffered violent deaths. Like the Nehru-Gandhi family in India, the Bhuttos of Pakistan are one of the world’s most famous political dynasties. Benazir’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was prime minister of Pakistan in the early 1970s.
His government was one of the few in the 30 years following independence that was not run by the army.

Report: Bin Laden Already Dead and Who’s keeping the terror myth alive?

Guardian.co.uk – one of the titles that was given access to the files before publication and collaborated with WikiLeaks in interpreting them – has a wide range of text and video coverage, a comprehensive map and a snappy video of the Frontline press conference.

What Taliban leader could tell about ISI: Classified By: Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b) (d) Feb 26, 2010

American anxiety over the fate of Mullah Brader, a Taliban leader captured in Karachi in February 2010. A court decision preventing Brader’s extradition to Afghanistan comes amid renewed anti-American hostility in the media. The Americans speculate that the Pakistanis might swap Brader for a Baloch nationalist leader hiding in Kabul, but feel he ‘knows too much’.

The Beradar arrest was raised at a February 24 tripartite meeting of FBI Director Robert Mueller, Minister Rehman Malik of the Pakistan Ministry of Interior, and Minister Atmar Hanif of the Afghan Ministry of Interior in Islamabad. There was no agreement from either side about the transfer of “wanted persons.”

In the meeting, Malik provided a list of Pakistan’s Most Wanted to Atmar, and requested the same from Atmar. Malik named one of the Most Wanted, known Baloch separatist Bramdagh Bugti, and asked Atmar to assist in locating the individual and returning him to Pakistan. Malik also stated that both countries had expressed interest in passing prisoner lists naming the nationals of one country being detained by the other country. Atmar said his government did not know where the Baloch separatists were located and would need more information from the GOP (Government of Pakistan) to find them.

December 3, 2010

Show us some utility, Mr Shah Mahmood Qureshi

by admin


We appeal to the governments of the USA and Pakistan to use all possible means to find the missing son of legendary Pakistan TV actor Jamil Fakhri (”Jafar Hussain” of PTV Super Hit TV Drama “Andera Ujala”).

Ali Ayaz Fakhri was reported missing in New York in February 2009. The most tragic aspect of this story is that it still remains a secret as to what happened to him. No official word by any USA agency so far which offers little solace to his parents and family members.

Hats off to Dunya TV’s Hasb-e-Hal team for highlighting this issue.

Jameel Fakhri complained in the interview about the careless attitude of Pakistani foreign office; this should indeed include the name of our able diplomat in Washington D.C., Mr Hussain Haqqni.

It is high time that Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi (who has little authority to shape the country’s foreign policy independent of the GHQ’s dictates) should take special interest in this case to provide us with at least some utility of his role as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister.

December 1, 2010

General Kayani allowed US special forces to secretly operate in Pakistan

by admin

Related articles:

Wikileaks on General Kayani and his ‘democratic’ puppets

Wikileaks reconfirm the Taliban ISI Alliance (LUBP update 29 Nov 2010)

‘President’ Kayani is the most powerful man of Pakistan

Who is Gilani trying to please? by Omar Khattab

US embassy cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks reveal that teams of US special forces have been secretly working with Pakistan military in the tribal areas, the Guardian said on Wednesday.

Small US special forces teams helped hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and co-ordinate drone strikes, American cables revealed.

They pointed out that the number of soldiers involved were limited to just 16 in October 2009 – but the deployment is of immense political significance.

The first special forces team of four soldiers was deployed at an old British colonial fort in the northern half of the tribal belt in September 2009, so as to help Frontier Corps paramilitaries to carry out artillery strikes on a militant base, one of the leaked US cables revealed.

A month later, two more teams of six soldiers each were deployed at Pakistani army bases in North and South Waziristan, a lawless warren of mountains considered to be the global headquarters of al-Qaeda, it said.

Their job was to provide “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” support, “general operational advice” and to help set up a live satellite feed from American drones flying overhead.

American officials, who had long been pushing for such a deployment in the face of “adamant” Pakistani opposition, were jubilant, viewing it as a sign of growing trust in an often troubled relationship, the cable said.

“The developments of the past two months thus appear to represent a sea change in [the military's] thinking,” read one of the cables.
American special forces had been deployed in Pakistan since 2008 but were limited to a training role, it noted.

Permission for the active combat deployment “almost certainly” came with the personal consent of Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, another cable read.

“Patient relationship-building with the military is the key factor that has brought us to this point. The Pakistanis are increasingly confident that we do not have ulterior motives in assisting their operations,” according to the cable.

Participation of American soldiers in combat operations in the tribal campaign has never been publicly acknowledged due to its extreme political sensitivity in a country seething with anti-US sentiment, it further noted.

In the cables, Pakistan bureaucrats have been shown as supporting the drone attacks, viewing them as a solution to a problem. (Source)

’امریکی فوجی پاکستانی سرزمین پر‘

وکی لیکس کی جانب سے افشا کی جانے والی امریکی سفارتی دستاویزات کے مطابق پاکستان نے سنہ دو ہزار نو میں امریکی فوج کے خصوصی دستوں کو قبائلی علاقوں میں پاک فوج کی کارروائی میں شرکت کی اجازت دی تھی۔

وکی لیکس پر بدھ کو شائع ہونے والے ایک مراسلے میں جو نو اکتوبر سنہ دو ہزار نو کو امریکی وزارت خارجہ کو بھیجا گیا تھا، اس وقت پاکستان میں تعینات امریکی سفیر ڈبلیو این پیٹرسن نے کہا تھا کہ پاکستان فوج نے اجازت دے دی ہے کہ قبائلی علاقوں میں جاری فوجی کارروائی میں امریکی سپیشل فورس پاک فوج کا ساتھ دے۔

اس مراسلے میں کہا گیا ہے کہ یہ دوسری بار ہے کہ پاکستان فوج نے امریکی فورسز کو اپنے ساتھ کارروائی میں مدد کرنے کی اجازت دی ہے اور اس سے قبل سنہ دو ہزار نو ستمبر میں امریکی سپیشل سروسز کے چار اہلکاروں کو پاکستان کے قبائلی علاقوں میں فرنٹیئر کور کے ساتھ منسلک کیا گیا تھا اور یہ تعاون نہایت کامیاب رہا تھا۔

مراسلے کے مطابق جی ایچ کیو نے امریکی فورسز کو گیارہویں کور کے ساتھ کام کرنے اور پاک فوج کو انٹیلیجنس، نگرانی اور دیگر امور پر مشورے دینے کی اجازت دی۔ یہ فورسز پاک فوج کے ساتھ جنوبی اور شمالی وزیرستان میں تعینات کی گئیں۔

مراسلے میں کہا گیا ہے کہ امریکی سپیشل فورسز پاکستان میں چار سال سے موجود ہیں لیکن سنہ دو ہزار نو سے قبل ان کا کردار تربیتی شعبے میں تھا۔

امریکی سفیر کے مطابق جی ایچ کیو کی جانب سے امریکی سپیشل فورسز کو اجازت ملنے سے یہ ثابت ہوتا ہے کہ پاکستانی فوج میں امریکی فوج کے حوالے سے سوچ میں تبدیلی آئی ہے۔

امریکی سفیر نے اس مراسلے کے آخر میں لکھا ہے کہ امریکی فوج کی پاکستان فوج کے ساتھ ہونا سیاسی طور پر نہایت حساس ہے اور اگر یہ خبر پاکستانی میڈیا تک پہنچ گئی تو پاکستان فوج یہ اجازت نامہ منسوخ کر دے گی۔

Source

December 1, 2010

Don't you ever doubt my loyalty to the USA! – Nawaz Sharif

by admin

1. (C) Summary. During a meeting with Ambassador January 31, Nawaz Sharif confirmed…. As proof of his pro-Americanism, Nawaz reminded Ambassador that he had overruled his Chief of Staff to deploy Pakistani forces with the U.S. coalition in the first Gulf War.

2. (C) Ambassador and Polcouns met former Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif January 31 for an hour during Nawaz’s recent visit to Islamabad. PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also attended the meeting.

8. (C) The best thing America has done recently, said Nawaz, was arrange to have General Kayani named as Chief of Army Staff. This appointment is helping Army morale and raising the level of public respect for the Army. Noting that Musharraf met the UK equivalent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Khan said the U.S. and the UK need to stop treating Musharraf as if he still ran the military. CENTCOM Commander Admiral Fallon would have met with Musharaf if the President had not been travelling, asserted Khan. Ambassador replied that we had excellent relations with the Pakistani military and meet them all the time at various levels.

We are Pro-American
——————-

9. (C) Nawaz and Khan both repeatedly said that the PML-N was pro-American. Nawaz recounted his decision to override his Chief of Army Staff and deploy Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia in support of the U.S. coalition in the first Gulf War. Meanwhile, Khan noted, the PPP and its leaders were organizing street demonstrations against Pakistan joining with the U.S. coalition. Now, Nawaz said, he was hurt that the U.S. did not remember. Nawaz said he understood that 9/11 had changed things, but urged that the U.S. apply some balance to the relationship. In the past, the U.S. was known as the power that rejected dictatorships, that fought for independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. Why, he asked, did we continue to support a man who fired the Supreme Court, abrogated the constitution, and arrested civil society activists?

10. (C) Comment: The fact that a former Prime Minister believes the U.S. could control the appointment of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff speaks volumes about the myth of American influence here. Based on our understanding of the current situation, we believe Nawaz can and should take the threats to his life seriously. It comes as no surprise that Nawaz exaggerated his party’s election prospects; his willingness to deal with the PPP is, however, a good sign he is ready to cooperate on government formation.

PATTERSON

Friday, 01 February 2008, 13:41
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 000483
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
EO 12958 DECL: 02/01/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PK
SUBJECT: “THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN IN PAKISTAN”
REF: LAHORE 25 07 ISLAMABAD 5138
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/139676

December 1, 2010

Russia leads Eurasia – by Shiraz Paracha

by admin

The United States faces embracement as leaders from 56 countries, including head of states and governments gather for a two-day international summit in Central Asia.

After a gap of 11 years, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is holding its summit in Astana, a shiny but frosty capital of Kazakhstan, which is the rotating Chair of the OSCE for 2010.

The United States considered Kazakhstan ‘unfit’ to lead the OSCE. In the U.S eyes, Kazakhstan held a poor record in areas of governance, democratic reforms and human rights, a commonly applied charge sheet against non-Western countries and the so-called third basket of the OSCE agenda.

Kazakhstan, however, was determined to achieve the goal. There was a substantial support for Kazakhstani chairmanship among the European Union (EU) members. The EU is very keen to have broader and deeper ties with the resource-rich Central Asian state. In 2007, Kazakhstan assured its European partners in Madrid, Spain, that it would meet all the OSCE standards.

Julie Finley, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE from 2005 to 2009, however, continued to oppose the Kazakhstani ambition but eventually the United States had to accept Kazakhstan as the 2010 Chair of the OSCE. Several factors may have led Washington to budge and give a green signal for the ‘crowning’ of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is a vast country that borders China, Russia and Central Asian states. The U.S cannot afford to offend or ignore a state with a strategically important location and huge hydrocarbon reserves and precious mineral resources.

Secondly, in comparison to the West’s old rival Russia, it is easier for the United States and the West to deal with Kazakhstan.

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union had initiated an East-West dialogue that led to the creation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the predecessor of the OSCE. The Soviet proposed talks on economic cooperation in Europe were held at Dipoli in Helsinki in 1972. The outcome of the talks was “The Blue Book” and the 35-member CSCE in 1973 and later the Helsinki Final Act.

After the end of the Cold War, the CSCE was renamed into the OSCE; however, Russia became suspicious of the organization’s aims and viewed it as an anti-Russia body that was promoting Western interests.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been a staunch critic of the OSCE. He believed that the OSCE was ineffective and biased and an instrument to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries.

Nevertheless, recently the OSCE has been accommodating Russian concerns and Moscow, too, is less critical of the organization. Some Western commentators fear that the Russian influence in the OSCE has increased, particularly in the past two years. There are reasons for the change.

NATO and the United States are stuck in Afghanistan. Out of the 56 OSCE member states 43 are involved in Afghanistan. The Afghan factor, perhaps, has forced Washington and Brussels to adopt a soft approach towards Russia and Central Asia. NATO has been facing difficulties in Afghanistan due to insecure and unstable supply routes through Pakistan. Air supplies via Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan are not enough.

For the continuation of the NATO Afghan adventure, alternate land connectivity to Afghanistan through Russia and Central Asia is a vital goal. The United States and NATO have been courting Russia and Central Asian states for access to Afghanistan from the north. Kazakhstan is the leader of Central Asia and it can help NATO and the U.S in transit facility through Central Asia.

In this backdrop, a change of heart seems to have occurred in the United States. Now the ‘land of the free’ has a high opinion of Kazakhstan. Former U.S ambassador to the OSCE Julie Finley has recently praised Astana and said that the Kazakh Chairmanship of the OSCE has been successful. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is attending the OSCE Summit along with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and dozens of other world leaders.

As the OSCE Chair Kazakhstan has proved that the U.S was wrong in judging Astana. In fact, Kazakhstan as the first Muslim nation, the first Central Asian country and the first former Soviet republic has performed exceptionally well in providing leadership and guidance to the OSCE on several important issues and conflicts.

Afghanistan tops the agenda of the Astana Summit. Kazakhstan has a different perspective on Afghanistan, while attending the NATO summit in Lisbon, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan said: “Peace in Afghanistan is not possible only by military means.” Kazakhstan has been working closely with the Afghan government in non-military areas.

This year, the foreign minister of Kazakhstan Kanat Saudabayev visited Afghanistan three times. Kazakhstan is helping in infrastructure development in Afghanistan and Afghan medical and police officials are also receiving trainings in Kazakhstan.

Violent inter-ethnic clashes in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan earlier this year were another test of Kazakhstan’s leadership. Astana handled a sensitive and dangerous situation wisely and helped in controlling the violence.

President Nazarbayev and foreign minister Saudabayev turned the OSCE platform for the political dialogue on resolving the crisis in Kyrgyzstan. Special consultations were held with the other OSCE members such as Russia, Spain, Lithuania, Germany, France, Turkey as well as the United Nations.

Months later, mostly peaceful parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan demonstrated that Kazakhstan is an anchor of stability in Central Asia. Maintaining peace and stability in Kyrgyzstan will be discussed at the Summit, President Roza Otunbayeva of Kyrgyzstan is in Astana for the Summit.

Regional conflicts such as in Georgia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh are also expected to be on the table in Astana. Russia considers the former Soviet space as its ‘special sphere of influence’ and has been very sensitive about the West’s involvement in these conflicts. Azerbaijan is keen to find a settlement of its dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh and Turkey backs the Azeri position but a major breakthrough on this issue is unlikely at the Astana Summit.

Thirty five years ago at the peak of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had launched a sincere effort of a meaningful dialogue between the East and the West but it did not succeed because the other side’s aim was to wipe out the Soviet Union from the World map. The West achieved its aim in 1991 with the split of the Soviet Union and soon after that the OSCE, the brainchild of the Soviet leaders, was on the mission to export the Western brand of democracy into all former republics. The mission, however, has been a spectacular failure.

The OSCE Summit in Kazakhstan coincides with the anniversary of the 1975 Helsinki Act. It provides Russia and Central Asia an opportunity to have a bigger say in the Eurasian affairs and establish a much needed balance between the Western greed of more power and control and non-Western needs. Russia will push for the OSCE reform at the Summit that will give Russia more leverage in Eurasian affairs.

The West has been bogged down in Afghanistan and needs Russian and Kazakhstani help for a safe passage. Capitalist system is losing credibility very fast and the resulting economic crisis is a matter of grave concern for the West. Blinded by their oil and energy needs, arrogant Western countries are, now, somewhat pragmatic and realistic about the significance of emerging powers of Eurasia.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. He can be reached at: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.com

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