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Time to resolve Kashmir conflict Voice of the People Iqbal Khan


HE Kashmir Valley on Sun day reeled under an unde clared curfew and shutdown on the first anniversary of the execution of parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru. There have been credible voices from within India that parliament attack was a false flag operation to portray the freedom struggle of Kashmiri people as a mosaic of terrorism. Presumably, the lone survivor who was also alleged as master mind of the event was hanged in an indecent haste to avoid embarrassment— indeed justice hurried is justice buried. As demonstrators clashed with the police in some places, over 500 people were detained on the first day of a three-day strike. More than 250 separatists were detained; an equal number of “stone-throwers” had already been taken into custody. Prominent leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Bilal Gani Lone and Maulvi Abbas Ansari were placed under house arrest, JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and MLA Abdul Rashid Sheikh were arrested; Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan were detained. Despite Indian hubris, it is reassuring that the UN continues to be available to mediate between Pakistan and India on the issue of Kashmir if the two request for such assistance. Coinciding with the Kashmir Solidarity day, a spokesperson for the UNSG Ban Ki-moon said, “On Kashmir, our good offices are available if both sides were to request that. And that remains the case today”. However, this approach by the UN is reflective of the overall passive attitude. Kashmir has been on the agenda of the world body for the last 65 years but it is regrettable that it has paid no worthwhile attention to resolve the matter. The position of playing any mediatory role if the two countries ask for it is fundamentally flawed and is an excuse to hide the partial attitude as it benefits only India. The UN needs to abandon its evasive posture on this issue and play

a proactive role. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 5 revived his offer of a meaningful dialogue to India to settle the lingering conflict. His emphasis that ‘he is open to any proposal on the Kashmir dispute’ is indicative of desire to find a solution earlier rather than later as per the aspirations of Kashmiri people. Pattern of one step forward and two backwards in bilateral diplomacy between Pakistan and India has perpetually trapped the people of Kashmir in their plight. There is a need to remove disappointment from the hearts of Kashmiri people. Now Nawaz Sharif has tried to get the ball moving by inviting the Indian leadership to resolve Kashmir dispute. The ultimate aim should be to present the people of Kashmir with a chance to determine their own fate. Nawaz Sharif has established his peace credentials by offering to India that Pakistan is willing to consider any proposal for the resolution of dispute. On Kashmir Solidarity day, people across Pakistan came out in large numbers to demonstrate their support for the right to self-determination for their brethren in Kashmir. Kashmiris in Azad Kashmir and around the world also held rallies and functions to highlight their just cause and draw the attention of the UN and international community to pay as much attention to their struggle as they did in South Sudan and East Timor. Now, 4th generation of Kashmiris is actively pursuing their struggle for self determination and they are committed to offer every sacrifice for their sacred mission. The peaceful, indigenous and wide spread uprisings of the Kashmiri people have clearly demonstrated that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be ignored. Thousands of Kashmiris have sacrificed their lives and many more have been languishing in Indian jails, yet they are steadfast and resolute. Kashmiris are under a perpetual siege, virtually living in an open prison. India needs to realize that in no way Kashmir issue can be put at the backburner. Pakistan’s domestic as well as foreign policy

has always been directed towards resolution of Kashmir issue. India has always denied the right of freedom to the innocent Kashmiri masses and tried to suppress their voice through arbitrary arrests and ruthless inhuman torture by using the instrument of Indian security forces. Periodic discovery of unidentified mass graves in Kashmir is also another dark chapter of Human Rights violations in IHK. Pakistan has always emphasized the necessity of a meaningful and constructive dialogue with India to resolve the Kashmir issue. On the eve of solidarity day, National Assembly of Pakistan expressed solidarity with Kashmiri people by unanimously passing a resolution: “The final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir should be in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiri people through an independent and fair plebiscite...Rights of Kashmiri people regarding selfdetermination‚ speech and movement from one place to another should be respected.” In the same stride, foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry held briefings for European Union, P-5 and the OIC ambassadors posted in Islamabad. He emphasized that resolution of the Kashmir dispute was pivotal for ensuring peace and security in the region. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s prophetic saying about Kashmir being jugular vein of Pakistan has proven true, as today Kashmir has become a matter of life and death for us, and the water of rivers coming from IHK side is a main source of survival for us. Without Kashmir, Pakistan is incomplete. A breakthrough may be possible on Kashmir issue in the Nawaz-Manmohan meeting during the latter’s expected visit to Pakistan. At this stage, it is essential that Kashmiri people should be taken into confidence regarding any dialogue between Pakistan and India over their fate. People of Kashmir consider themselves Pakistanis; they had moved a resolution in the state assembly of Kashmir in favour of accession to Pakistan on July 23, 1947,

22 days before independence. India violated that right of Kashmiri people by invading and occupying the sate in October 1947. People of Kashmir revolted and when thing became unmanageable, India referred the Kashmir case to UNO on January 1, 1948. UNSC immediately asked for the ceasefire and holding of plebiscite; both India and Pakistan accepted the resolutions. Ever since, Indian policy has been to gradually incorporate the state into its territory and erode the UN role for the resolution of Kashmir issue. Since 1990s, India has even disallowed the ‘United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to visit the Line of Control from the IHK side for monitoring of ceasefire violations. For the past two decades, India even tried to convince the UN members that, UN resolutions over Kashmir are no more valid, hence need deletion from its record. There is no country in the world, including India, that does not recognize Kashmir as a disputed territory; and there is no country in the world except India that does not want its resolution in line with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. The simplest way to resolve the issue is to ask the people of Kashmir to express their choice. This is the way decent people and states behave; and this is the spirit of democracy. Time is now ripe to reinvigorate the campaign for settlement of Kashmir dispute. Chances of India ceding any space are remote. Prime Minister of Pakistan may give or accept fresh proposals on the issue; but; these must remain within the frame work of UN resolutions. Time has also come to induct the people of Kashmir, from both sides of the LOC into negotiations. However, talks must be meaningful and result oriented. There is no point in having talks for the sake of talks till doomsday. This is possible only if such dialogue is time bound. Writer is Consultant Policy and Strategic Response, IPRI. —The writer is a Consultant Policy & Strategic Response at IPRI.

Views From Abroad

How to save starving Syrians? Danny Postel, Nader Hashemi


HE Syrian people are starv ing. According to the United Nations, about 800,000 civilians are currently under siege. In areas around the cities of Homs, Aleppo and Deir Ezzor and in parts of the capital, Damascus, no food, medical supplies or humanitarian aid can get in, and people can’t get out. Many have already died under these “starvation sieges” and hundreds of thousands teeter on the brink, subsisting on grass and weeds. In Damascus, a cleric has ruled that under these conditions, Muslims are permitted to eat normally forbidden animals like cats, dogs and donkeys. This is not a famine. Food is abundant just a few miles away from these besieged areas. Military forces — mainly the army of President Bashar al-Assad, but in some cases extremist anti-Assad militias — are preventing food and medicine from reaching trapped civilians. In addition to starving, many people in besieged areas have been stricken by diseases, including polio, but can’t get medical treatment because doctors can’t get through. This moral obscenity demands action by the international community. Any armed group that prevents humanitarian access — whether the Syrian regime’s forces or rebel militias — should be subject to coercive measures. France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, has denounced the international community’s fail-

ure to prevent starvation as “absolutely scandalous” and is now calling for “much stronger action.” The news that France may propose a strong Security Council resolution is welcome, but Mr. Fabius hasn’t made clear whether such a measure would invoke Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which allows the Security Council to enforce its directives through military action. If it doesn’t, the resolution will be inadequate. The recent attacks on the convoys attempting to deliver humanitarian aid into the besieged city of Homs are a case in point: The lifting of the sieges can’t be left to the warring factions on the ground. An external, international force must be introduced to guarantee the safe passage of food and medicine to starving Syrian civilians. The Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, remains a major obstacle. His government has vetoed three Security Council resolutions on Syria since October 2011 and Russia has said it would support measures on humanitarian issues only if Syria agrees to them. But Mr. Putin’s geostrategic calculations and Mr. Assad’s cold blooded recalcitrance cannot be allowed to stand in the way of thousands of Syrian civilians eating. If Russia blocks meaningful international action, and if the Assad regime or any rebel group refuses to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged areas, the sieges must be broken by any means necessary. We should invoke the Responsibility to Protect, the principle that if a state fails to protect its popula-

tions from mass atrocities — or is in fact the perpetrator of such crimes — the international community must step in to protect the victims, with the collective use of force authorized by the Security Council. And if a multinational force cannot be assembled, then at least some countries should step up and organize Syria’s democratically oriented rebel groups to provide the necessary force on the ground, with air cover from participating nations. There are precedents to follow. The American-led and United Nations-approved multinational effort in Somalia between December 1992 and May 1993 was authorized to use “all necessary measures” to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid. In retrospect, this all-butforgotten operation was largely successful in humanitarian terms. While public attention has focused on the “Black Hawk Down” battle of October 1993, a military failure, the strictly humanitarian goal of getting food to starving Somalis was in fact a success. Before any such operation begins, however, Mr. Assad and the rebel groups should be put on notice that they have 48 hours to lift the sieges. There are reasons to believe that the mere threat of coercive action would produce results. As we saw in September, the threat of force pushed the Assad regime to comply. Faced with President Obama’s threat of an imminent military strike last August, Mr. Assad, under Russian pressure, agreed to hand over his stockpile of chemical weapons (the same weapons he claimed he didn’t

have). A similar threat of force could once again compel both Mr. Assad’s government and extremist rebels to make a choice: Allow humanitarian aid to flow or be subject to attack. Invoking the responsibility to protect would also confront Russia with a choice: Convince Mr. Assad to lift the sieges or be left behind by an international community that is prepared to act. Humanitarian interventions typically occur when moral principles overlap with political interests. As we approach the third anniversary of the Syrian conflict, this alignment is taking shape. Growing global outrage over the humanitarian nightmare in Syria — replete with refugee flows, sarin gas, barrel bombs, and “industrial-scale” killings and torture, as revealed last month in a collection of 55,000 gut-wrenching photographs — has horrified the world. Using force to prevent starvation will not immediately resolve the crisis in Syria. It will, however, make a qualitative difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians. It will also send a clear message to the Syrian regime and the extremist militias: The international community, after three years of watching this moral and humanitarian catastrophe unfold from the sidelines, is finally prepared to act. The writers are associate director and director respectively of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. — Courtesy: The New York Times

It’s all up to you..!


scene that remains etched in my mind, is when as a child I had attended the funeral of a neighbor. An old man, who I had seen cycling everyday, working as a salesman. At the funeral, I suddenly saw his second son, a twenty five year old lad, taking a handful of earth and throwing it angrily at his fathers coffin which had been lowered into the grave, “Good riddance!” he mut-

tered under his breath. Later I accosted the man and asked him innocently why he had done something so crass and violent: “My father did nothing for us!” he shouted, “Otherwise I would not be where I am struggling without a degree!” “I saw your father working hard!” I said. “Not enough to give me a college degree!” he said. Now listen to another incident: His father abandoned the family when the child was an infant. His mother became a prostitute and the boy and his sister had to live with their grandmother. Early in life, he proved to be gifted for music and, with three other kids, he sang in the streets of New Orleans and his first gains were

the coins that were thrown to them. A Jewish family, who had immigrated from Lithuania to the USA, had pity for the 7-year-old boy and brought him into their home. Initially given ‘work’ in House, to feed this hungry child. Then he remained and slept in this Jewish family where, for the first time in his life, he was treated with kindness and tenderness. When he went to bed, lady sang him a Russian Lullaby that he would sing with her. Later, he learned to sing and play several Russian and Jewish songs. Over time, this boy worked hard. They gave him money to buy his first trumpet; as was the custom in the Jewish families, they sincerely admired his musical talent.

Later, when he became a professional musician and composer, he used these Jewish melodies in compositions, such as St. James Infirmary and Go Down, Moses. The little black boy grew up and wrote a book about his life, his determination to succeed and the family who had adopted him in 1907. He said, that it is in this family he had learned “how to live a real life of determination.’’ This little boy was Louis Armstrong, who sang the famous song, “What A Wonderful World!! He made the best use of his circumstances and did well. He did not blame fate. He realized it was all up to him..! —

Big three bashing ..! JAVAID BASHIR


e can bash the big three as much as we want, but the fact is that they have won. Now they will control the ICC and the game. Big bullies have scored the victory against the world of Cricket. It is a drone attack on the autonomy, sovereignty, integrity and independence of the ICC. We must say good bye to the gentle man’s game. It has changed everything. The image of the world body has been tarnished and a death-blow has been wielded to its supremacy and Power. It is the darkest day in the history of cricket. It is deplorable and outrageous incident. We strongly condemn it. Sri Nawassan has jubilantly claimed victory for Indian board. The loss of Pakistan is India’s gain. PCB and the present government failed to bloc the big three move. It is a big failure, and we must admit it. Pakistani cricket will suffer, due to the poor show of the management. This decision taken at the ICC meeting is death signal for the cricket fans and lovers of the game. It is a sad day, we can not shed tears over this bad loss. These big three will rule and benefit from it. South Africa betrayed Sri Lanka and Pakistan back stabbing at the last moment by changing its earlier position. The rest of the member nations will suffer at the hands of the biggies. They will no longer be the equal partners. The threesome will gain the lion’s share of the finances generated by the ICC. India would benefit the most from the ascendancy of the Big three on the ICC throne. We condemn this torrid affair, whish has torn asunder the world of cricket. —Karachi

Valentine’s Day MADIHA VIQUAR Valentine’s Day is round the corner and it can be observed that its preparations are in full swing. As usual gift shops are thronged with red balloons, teddy bears and chocolates, restaurants are offering special deals, and magazines are bringing out their exclusive Valentine issues. There would be a lot more to see when the day would actually arrive, especially on television and radio. Each year the media creates hype on this occasion and runs special Valentine’s transmissions all day long, which only spread vulgarity. I wonder why don’t we celebrate our own religious and cultural festivals with the same zeal as we do this Western feast, which is not even related to us? —Karachi

An elegy of Sindh Festival SALAR LATEEF I would like to let the nation know about the portrait of Sindh festival, which I came across while dreaming when Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced to celebrate the event for 15 days to promote culture of Sindh. Nay! It would not be an error to say that PPP is the ruling party in Sindh for last almost seven years and if the head of PPP announces to celebrate such festival; it would become the great opportunity for people not to slip through their figure. I was dreaming while sleeping. There was an inauguration ceremony of Sindh Festival at Garhi Khuda Bux Bhutto, the leadership of PPP was gathered and there was the book-launching of different books, written on Shaheed Benazir Bhutto by some of the PPP leaders. The leading writers of world wrote various books on BB. Well-known production houses prepared documentaries on the life of Shaheed BB. It was a great scenario when I was dreaming. The cultural activities were in full swing across Sindh. There was also painting exhibitions, theatres, traditional programmes and competitions of regional games everywhere. The tent-city was built in Tharparkar for visitors. There were hotels on the boats, floating in Keenjhar Lake. It was an endless queue of visitors from abroad to enjoy the delicious fried fish at Al Manzar restaurant at the bank of Indus near Jamshoro. The Dolphin show was also at its peak in Sukkur whereas the hotels were reserved for fifteen days on account of Sindh Fest at Gorakh hill station. The students from globally recognized universities were busy in research on the verses of Shah Abdul Lateef Bhittai. The potters of Hala, Kashmore and Nasarpur became billionaires due to export of their handmade stuff. On the other hand, there were information desks for visitors at the airports, railway stations and bus terminals. What I was dreaming while I was in deep sleep; heart-touching scenario in which there was a restaurant, situated between the trees beside a pond, where a number of people were staring at the screen, fixed before them. It seemed as there would be an important announcement within few moments. After sometime, Ban Ki Mun appeared on the television screen. He seemed enthusiastic while announcing “The UN declared Sindh a cultural village of the world”. It seemed that the leading magazines of world would publish it as feature story. Alas! The dream remained a dream. The scenario of Sindh Fest is different, where there was neither any Sindhi touch in the inauguration nor there allowed classical artists of Sindh to even enter in the territories of ceremony. One can easily judge the image of Sindh Fest from the Sufi night where the singer was amusing onlookers by singing “Puraani Jeans”. The festi-

val has become the cause of insult of customs and values of Sindhis. This is all strange… —Via email

Concealed sacrifices MAHRUKH IBRAHIM “Freedom is what you do and what’s been done to you”. In 66 years of independence, each day, each minute, each second we loss our defenders, our true patriots, and it is being done to the one who really endures all those excruciating situations. When a soldier embraces martyrdom, he is paid homage with honour, when he comes back with success we call him ‘Ghazi’ to give him with honour for the rest of his life. But here I want to accentuate your attention towards those sneak protectors about whom nobody knows, who present their selves whole heartedly and imperil their lives without any intensive desire of fame, wealth and worldly comforts. People of intelligence spy agencies opt for perilous life, but never fear death because those who are slain in the path of ALLAH are not dead, they are alive but you don’t have cognition. Those institutions for whom they devote their lives, disown them at their crucial time; they are left forlorn instead of having intimate adherences. It is their ceaseless passion that despite of knowing very laws and rules of this profession, they join the service and present their utmost output. Their eyes are fixed on the eternities, their lives are only for Allah!! My deep hearted encomium and prayers are for those faithful brothers who drip each drop of their blood for the people and leave their real mothers behind for their Motherland. —Abbottabad

Being hopeful on talks F Z KHAN Thank God, the talks have finally started, though the road is bumpy. Then so what? The determined Prime Minister is likely to make headway. Despite ‘pressure’ from a cross section of society, media and intelligentsia, the government has shown its determination and commitment to holding dialogue with the militant leadership. The Prime Minister on the floor of National Assembly pledged to give peace another chance, set up a four-member committee to get in touch with the other side, and refused to give up on talks’ option despite the two of the five Taliban nominees, Imran Khan and Mufti Kifayatullah, opted out – a decision which dismayed the parliamentarians and Taliban alike. However the PM expressed his “utmost desire” that the committees formed by the government and TTP make headway. “We opted for the dialogue option after the Taliban made offers for talks for three consecutive days. The talks are being initiated with sincerity and seriousness. We took all political parties into confidence and announced the decision in Parliament. The entire country is focused on the success of these talks. We hope they will yield positive results”, he told senior journalists in Lahore. While the PM is directly supervising this process, the move is being considered to have a chance of success, not because the militants have a change of heart but because they must have realized by now that the war remains unwinnable for them. And the mood of the general public this time is increasingly aggressive in the face of terror upsurge. That the TTP has not nominated its representatives from within its organization but from the general public and political parties, the move is though apparently dubbed as clever, yet it leads to believe that the next round would include their actual representatives. The TTP move might have been an attempt to put the debate back into the public in order to divide it

again, yet the other side seems to have been left with no better option than to meet and talk, because the government, military and civil society have understandably reached a point where it is to be left with no option but to launch an all out and all encompassing decisive operation. Why TTP is for dialogue has a few reasons. Non-availability of TTP chief who lives in Afghanistan poses a threat to TTP unity. The sympathy it enjoyed within Pakistan is now dwindling. The impression that they are the hired guns of foreign powers has grown further. They are running short of suicide-bombers and foot soldiers; many of them are suffering from war fatigue also. Most of its foreigners’ wing has been wiped out in the recent air strikes. It is fast losing links with world terrorist organizations. So the option is to accept the emerging reality. The government seems to be working in tandem with the security apparatus with the Opposition at its back. The four-member body is performing the role of a conduit; it has the reputation of being pro-right, yet independent and pragmatic. It is our hope that the nation would hear good news soon. How long it would take to go on or end, the utmost care must however be taken that the transitory period wouldn’t allow the ‘other side’ to reassemble or regroup. —Islamabad

Ms Fair’s unfair conclusion ESCHMALL SARDAR American educationist Ms Christine Fair’s “Ten Fictions” speak of the mindset of treating a front-line ally as its stooge with whom strategic dialogue can’t be held, but only a “transactional relationship” can be maintained. She pleads for putting more weight on India’s side that has “disappointed” Washington by not allowing itself to playing “containChina” tool as it has not readied itself to putting at stake its over $100m trade with China. That’s why Hegel is compelled to call the Far East Asia as America’s pivot – the new strategic doctrine that is aimed at strengthening Japan and South Korea against China. Ms Fair is not fair in drawing conclusions that the Haqqani network and allied militant groups were and still are being aided by Pakistan. Everyone knows that Islamabad has been in the forefront when Americans wanted to open an office of the Taliban in Doha, and subsequent efforts to hold US-Taliban dialogues. Former COAS Gen Kayani’s various presentations in Rawalpindi, Kabul and Brussels were convincing. Gen McChrystal’s dissenting note pointed to the fact that war was not going to be won. More than 6,000 attacks by the Afghan Taliban across Afghanistan in the last eight months, and frequent body bags landed at the US soil gradually grew hatred against war amongst the Americans. Had there been a support from Pakistan’s side, how could there have been an equal number of attacks and deaths at the hands of Pakistani Taliban across Pakistan? It is unfair rather an insult to the sacrifices of Pakistanis. In fact Pakistan is not only victim of TTP terrorism fuelled by drone strikes, but also target of diplomatic and propaganda terrorism, that too in the line of ‘friendship’, whose most of the benefits were cashed in by Pakistan’s adversary India that, on the sidelines, perpetrated insurgent war in Balochistan. —Hayatabad, Peshawar

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