Thursday, 18 June 2009

Contradictions in a war against terrorism

Contradictions in a war against terrorism
Dr Shabir Choudhry 18 June 2009

Summary of Dr Shabir Choudhry’s speech made in a seminar organised by Interfaith International during eleventh session of the UN Human Rights Council on 10 June 2009.

It is good to note that government of Pakistan has expressed its determination to root out terrorism and extremism. They have shown their determination by conducting a military operation in Swat and other parts of Malakand Division. No one is sure how many terrorists have been killed in this operation; however one thing is sure that it has killed thousands of innocent people, and uprooted more than three millions from their homes.

The operation was started in hurry and without appropriate preparations; and as a result of that more than three million of people are languishing in camps without appropriate help and support. The hurriedly started operation helped the authorities to win support of the concerned quarters that Pakistan was serious in its resolve to fight against terrorism, but I am not convinced if it will help to defeat terrorism and extremism.

I disagree with those who claim that Pakistan will not get anything out of this war. The government is getting plenty of dollars to fight this war; just like the previous government did. The present government could not have got new funds for doing the same job for which the previous government already received the funds and did not complete the tasks.

This government had to go out in force and show that it meant business; and for that if innocent Pakistanis lose lives it doesn’t bother the ruling elite, as long as they are appropriately rewarded for this. To make things better for the ruling elite, millions of people languishing in camps will help them to attract more foreign funds, hence more embezzlement.

I respectfully disagree with those who say that the uprooted people should be settled in areas of Gilgit and Baltistan. True these areas are beautiful, weather is cold and are adjacent to the Malakand Division, but let me make it clear that we don’t want any of these people, as we already have too many Pakistanis illegally settled in our homeland. These Pakistanis are settled there in clear violation of State Subject Laws. These outsiders not only dominate economy of Gilgit and Baltistan, but also meddle in social, cultural and politics of the area.

Apart from that problems of Pakistan, be it related to violence, extremism or uprooting of people are created by the ruling elite of Pakistan; and they should resolve these issues without being burden on others. Uprooted people are Pakistanis, we feel sorry for their miseries, but they should be housed inside the territory of Pakistan. If they are housed inside the Kashmiri territory – Gilgit and Baltistan, then that will add to our problems; and might lead to more communalism, violence and extremism.

In my view internally displaced people, uprooted from cold and beautiful areas of Pakistan shall stay for long time in these camps, as there presence will help the ruling elite to beg for more money. We note with regret that people who were uprooted because of the earthquake some years ago still have not been housed, and they are also still languishing in camps in various parts of Pakistani Administered Kashmir.

No doubt junior and middle ranking officers of the Pakistan army are serious in this war; and they are suffering causalities. People are getting killed on both sides. But many Pakistanis still think it was never their war; and Pakistani authorities had to work really hard to make it their own war.

Despite all the killings and suffering, I believe Pakistan cannot win this war, as there are clear contradictions in their policy. On one hand Pakistan appears to be actively engaged in the fight against terrorism, but on the other hand leaders with history of terrorism and violence are enjoying their freedom. Moreover Lashker E Tayeba, a banned terrorist group has purchased a land of 200 kanals in district Muzaffarabad in Pakistani Administered Kashmir.

This land transaction could only be done with the help of Pakistani establishment, as legally no Pakistani individual or organisation could purchase land in any part of the State. It is clear that Lashker E Tayeba is known for its terrorism and violence and could not be expected to run courses on peace studies, conflict resolution or human rights.

I met the journalist who broke the news about this land purchase and interviewed him during my recent visit to Muzaffarabad and Neelam Valley. He was threatened with sever consequences by different secret agencies of Pakistan if he did not keep his mouth shut. Apart from that the local people I met in the Neelam Valley confirmed that militants were still crossing the LOC. Of course these people were not infiltrating with intention of promoting peace and goodwill.

My concern and concern of other true nationalists of Kashmir is that because of this infiltration and land transfer people of Jammu and Kashmir will suffer on both sides of the LOC; therefore it must be stopped immediately.

This clearly shows that the Pakistani government still has two conflicting policies on terrorism and violence. Apart from that children and other relatives of those killed in this operation will resort to violence and extremism. There is also danger that terrorists or Taliban might have taken refuge in these camps and might spread to other towns and cities to promote their cause. Moreover this policy of arming people in name of ‘lashkers to fight Taliban’ is another policy to create more terrorists. End

The Seminar was also addressed by Sardar Shaukat Kashmiri, Chairman UKPNP, Hamid Khan, Chairman BNF, Suraiya Makhdoom from Sind, Munawer Laghari, from Sind and Dr Sekhlon Singh from Canada. Dr Charles Graves, Secretary General Interfaith Chaired the session and Nasir Aziz moderated it.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

To view other articles see my blog:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One thing I like about your articles and analysis is that all them are honest and integral,

There is never a conflict between the complex picture that you try to present, in which you neither support or reject any side fully and still you are very truthful (as per your understanding) in your presentation.

But atleast once I will like to read an article from you for a situation when India leaves the area without Kashmir having its independence.
(In other words pakistan gets a total victory in Kashmir by defeating India militarily and/or diplomatically.)


Your well wisher.