Opening up of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims is turning out to be a major peace offensive of Imran Khan against India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has virtually been caught in a corner with little option to ignore. Though presently the Indian government has rejected all the peace moves initiated by Imran Khan but these are motivated by political exigencies staring at Narendra Modi’s face. The Indian Prime Minister is facing general election within a few months. Any move to make peace with Pakistan will not go well for him in the elections. Not that Indian people do not want peace with Pakistan but for the fact that Modi and his party has, of late, cultivated a support constituency squarely on Pakistan hysteria. Any climb down would mean the loss of this constituency.
As things stand, Modi and his men have little to showcase in the elections as ‘achievements’ to win favor of voters in the elections. The tall promises made by Modi in the last elections have come to haunt him as he has not been able to keep even one of them. Creation of five crore jobs, depositing Rs.15 lakh in each citizen bank account, bringing back black money and teaching Pakistan a lesson—none of them was kept. As against this, Modi government took some giant steps like demonetization, increase in petrol prices and GST which common people viewed as anti-people. If the reports emanating in national press are any guidance, the overall economy of the country has taken a downslide with prices of essential commodities sky rocketing. The even more horrifying is the condition of farmers. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the past four and a half year rule of Modi due unbearable burden of loans and other things. Over the past some time, farmers all across the country have been protesting against government’s anti farmer policies.
Recently thousands of farmers from all the country had gathered in Delhi to agitated their problems. At the elections, these are not good indicators for the sitting government. In this backdrop Modi and his party BJP are heavily depending on some emotional card to win back the voters. Pakistan and Muslims (in India) are the only two issues on which the BJP can get together the Hindu voter. The rejection of Imran Khan’s peace moves and frenzy created in the name of building Ram temple are the only issues that can whip up religious emotions. On Tuesday, India did not invite Pakistan to the Custom meeting of the 21-nation Asia Pacific to devise common strategy to counter organized crimes such narco-terrorism, money laundering and smuggling. Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier rejected Pakistan invitation to the inaugural function of Kartarpur corridor. Then, in response to Imran’s statement that Pakistan and India could make peace if traditional enemies like France and Germany can now be so friendly, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that there can be no peace until Pakistan becomes a secular state.
But much to the chagrin of the BJP and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Imran Khan, through his peace overtures, has created a constituency among Indian masses who favor good relations over acrimony between the two countries. A variety of media concerns, through editorial comments, have appreciated Imran Khan’s dialogue offers and are terming Imran Khan as the best bet India could ever have while dealing with Pakistan. What goes to the advantage of Imran Khan is that he has the army’s support. It would be in the best interests of the people in south Asia that Narendra Modi and his party rise above elections politics, and grab the opportunity to make peace a reality in the region.
Trump’s U-Turn on Pakistan
Former spy chief of Pakistan late Hameed Gull had all along stood for taking a strong position against America rather than toeing to its line on Afghanistan. However, different governments—right from Musharraf to Nawaz Sharief chose to ignore Gen Gull’s advice, and instead play only second fiddle to America. That cost Pakistan heavily in terms of men and material. The anti American militant groups inside Pakistan and Afghanistan got a readily available pro American target in the form of Pakistan to take revenge of American’s who attacked Kabul in the aftermath of 9/11 terror attacks in New York. The carpet bombing by US army killed civilians and destroyed vast swaths of Afghanistan instantly. The Americans targeted civilians, school children, marriage ceremonies, Taliban and everything that came their way.
Thousands of Afghans have got killed since the US invasion in 2001. The Afghans which are known for not accepting any foreign control fought back and brought the world’s super-most to the knees. But Pakistan, in the meantime, became hub of bloody attacks for being a partner in America’s so called war on terror. These elements later got monetary and arms assistance from the adversaries of Pakistan making it a battle of Pakistan Vs Pakistan. Pakistan, indeed, had to pay a huge price for being America’s partner in war on terrorism. Its areas bordering with Afghanistan became hub of anti Pakistan terrorists. It took almost 10 years of military operation to eliminate the terrorists and clear the area from them. Around 30,000 Pakistan soldiers are reported to have died in the operations against terrorists during this period. But it still proved a thankless task for Pakistan. America always wanted Pakistan to do more. The resurge of Taliban in Afghanistan caught America in blind alley. It found no way other than leaving from a country it had entered into with the aim of staying permanently there. America tried to conceal its failures by putting blame on Pakistan. The rise of Trump to the government in Washington was the most difficult period for Pakistan. Trump directly accused Pakistan of harbouring and sponsoring the terrorists, and wanted Pakistan to fight the America’s war in Afghanistan. Trump issued threat and warnings to Pakistan with the intention that like in the past it would succumb to such pressure. But as it saw Taliban capturing more and more areas, Trump stopped all military and economic aid to Pakistan to make Islamabad more pliable. America even threatened Pakistan of military action if it did not comply the US orders. But much to the chagrin of Trump, Pakistan saw the rise of Imran Khan on the power horizon of Pakistan. Imran Khan, in his very first statement on foreign policy said that his country would no more be a partner in war with America. He said that Pakistan would now on be partner in peace. This infuriated the American Trump further but the firmness with which Imran Khan meant it finally made the American’s feel their folly. Last week Imran Khan reminded the Americans that Islamabad was no more ready to become hired gun of any other country. It against this backdrop the American President Donald Trump has made a written plea to Imran Khan to help in resolving the Afghanistan issue and establishing peace in the decades old war torn country. It is unprecedented that Trump is seeking help from the same Pakistan which he accused of ‘lies and deceit’ in a New Year tweet. In fact, only recently he accused Pakistan of providing shelter to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden — something that led to a war of words between him and Prime Minister Imran Khan. So, what has really prompted Trump to take a U-turn and reach out to a country, which he earlier thought, only deceived the United States? The answer is the never-ending war in Afghanistan. American officials have now admitted that the Taliban control more than 60 per cent of the territory in Afghanistan. Hence, the Trump administration has finally come to the conclusion that there is no other option but to talk to the Taliban. The U-Turn by Donald Trump is a huge indicator that no country, howsoever powerful it could be is invincible. It needs the courage of saying no to get it on knees. Though belatedly, Gen Gull has proved right.
World human rights day and Kashmir
Each year, Human Rights Day is observed all over the world, especially by the oppressed nations on December 10, as on this very day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The day is also celebrated in Kashmir where protests, demonstrations, seminars and conferences usually mark it. But the people in power have always played as villains in curbing such activities. In contrast, the day—in the rest of the world—is observed to protect the rights of the people. That makes Kashmir quite differently exceptional. It is not going overboard to say that animals have more rights than humans in Kashmir. Last year former MLA Engineer Rasheed and his supporters led a march of animals-a mule, dog, goat and a cow with cards slung on their necks; animals have more rights than the people in Kashmir, he only but highlighted what was evident. Srinagar municipality, a few years back, came up with a plan to restrict the growing dog population—which had grown to disturbing proportions (reportedly 2 lakh), the animal ‘lovers’ all across India made hue and cry against the plan. Many of them including BJP leader Manika Gandhi barged into Srinagar to protect the dogs. One has never heard Manika Gandhi or any other animal lover ever raising voice against the rights violations of humans in Jammu and Kashmir. In the past 30 years, thousands of people have been killed, maimed and jailed by government forces. Around 10000 people are reported to have gone missing after their arrest by security forces, and nobody knows their whereabouts. The systematic killings continue unabated but discreet silence is maintained in the name of national interest. In 2008 and 2010 and 2016 around 300 persons, most of them young boys, were killed in disproportionate use of force by the police and CRPF to quell street protest. The brutality played in Kashmir streets was enjoyed like some action film. International human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Asia Watch besides some civil rights individual and groups within India have censured India for its decimal human rights record. Lately, United Nations too have come out with a damning report of anti human acts of security forces in Kashmir. The irony is that the violators of these rights have been given legal protection under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSA). It is very sad state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir that any demand for revocation of AFSPA is seen as ‘anti national’. Just a feeble mention of the demand gives belly bouts to the whole media, political and security establishments all across the country. On occasions it appears that some sections are deriving sadistic pleasure from the miseries of the people of jammu and Kashmir and they want to keep them under check for ever. Jammu and Kashmir is presently one of the most highly militarized regions in the world. The history of military violence—disappearances, shootings, extrajudicial killings, torture, arson, and rape—has touched virtually every home and family in Kashmir. The total number of those killed, maimed, and otherwise harmed will probably never be known. To date, no one has been held accountable for these atrocities. Personnel responsible for such crimes enjoy impunity under AFSPA.
Soldiers who commit violence against women get away with it by invoking the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. People live in permanent fear worrying every moment for their lives property and honour. The so called representative governments led by National Conference, Congress, PDP and BJP on different occasions are equally guilty of committing crimes against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. When out of power, these parties, barring BJP, would demand withdrawal of AFSPA but back in power they would plead for its continuation. This duplicity and hypocrisy by the NC and PDP is condemnable in every sense of term.
The Drabu drop scene
In politics, as said, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way. Dr Haseeb Drabu has finally bid adieu to the PDP. On Thursday, Drabu sent his resignation letter to the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti calling it a day with the PDP. It is not known whether Drabu has bid adieu to his political career as well but the way he was treated by the PDP over the past one year, it is not unreasonable for him to be feeling cynical about politics. Drabu may not be a political saint or sage but he definitely gave PDP a meaning, both, in terms of politics and governance. PDP, for all probabilities, was founded on vague and nebulous ideas with no clear direction and outlook. The slogan of so called Self Rule was simply a misnomer with no party leader, including Mufti and his daughter little knowing what it meant. The slogan was borrowed from Pakistan President Gen Parvaiz Musharraf’s four point formula but Drabu gave it the shape of ideological frame and document. Before it, PDP would cross all borders in search of identity. From extreme separatist position to ultra-nationalist stand, PDP leadership, more particularly Mehbooba Mufti, tried every trick in the book to invent a new identity, way away from her past baggage. She revealed it on the floor of the state assembly during previous NC-Congress rule that Haseeb Drabu (he was Chairman, J&K Bank then) had drafted the document of Self-Rule for PDP. Indeed, it provoked a serious reaction from NC legislators in the House. Many people believe that this became a drop scene for Drabu’s removal as J&K Bank Chairman. Mufti many a time told the press that Drabu was the author of all the election manifestos of PDP. What prompted Mehbooba Mufti then to throw Drabu out of the cabinet should be read and understood in the proper context. Nobody can deny this fact that Mehbooba Mufti was going through a serious crisis of self-image after the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The BJP’s aggressive positioning and posturing on key issues directly related with the sentiments of the state’s majority community had taken heavy toll on her image. No doubt PDP, in real, owes its popularity and rise mostly to Mehbooba Mufti. But this too is an undisputable fact that the fall of PDP has also begun with her. One had expected her to take advantage of the Chief Minister’s office and strengthen her position as a credible and dependable voice of Kashmir.
But she, for all probabilities, proved a disaster. She could not be even a pale shadow of her yester-year’s self. Embarrassment and humiliation had become core of BJP’s agenda of governance with PDP. Dropping Drabu from the cabinet was her desperate attempt to remake her image. It was Haseeb Drabu who wove the alliance with the BJP twice paving way for Muftis—first Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and now Mehbooba—to take control of the state. Mufti, known as a master planner with astute sense of politics, gave no leverage to BJP to dictate terms. However, his death on January 7, 2015, virtually dealt a severe blow to the PDP.A section of PDP leadership began to hobnob with the BJP to form the government bypassing Mehbooba caused added damage to whatever the remains of the PDP. Sensing coup, Mehbooba again fell back upon Drabu to save the day for her. However, the same section of the PDP leadership crafted a narrative of “Drabu being a ‘BJP-man, RSS-man, a Delhi-man’. Ironically, Mehbooba not only allowed this smear campaign against Drabu swell but also adopted those very people in her coterie who had engineered coup against her. Drabu negotiated power with BJP for Muftis, not for himself. He did not do it by himself. He had the party’s and leadership’s (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti) instructions and mandate. PDP, more particularly Mehbooba Mufti cannot be more dishonest and ungracious than seeing the man who brokered power for her out of the party.