By Dr Mubashir Hasan | From the Newspaper
THE current politico-economic-security situation in South and Southwest Asia presents a long-awaited opportunity for India and Pakistan to work towards establishing, on a long-term basis, peace and democracy in the region. The opportunity arises out of the global warlike situation.
In the ongoing global war, on the imperial side is the sole superpower along with its western allies and its client elites in other nations. Opposing them are the impoverished, dispersed and unorganised peoples in Third World countries, often alone but in some encounters along with their elites as in Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and other countries. Scattered groups in many countries are also involved in throwing bombs, igniting suicide jackets and IEDs against the imperialists and their allies.
The conflict between the haves and have-nots surfaces at all levels — international, national, ethnic, religious and sectarian. A hatred for America replacing the centuries-old hatred for imperial powers is the principal common factor among the have-nots.
On the imperialist side, terror is the principal weapon of this war. The alliances of terrorist-states and the terrorist`s states on their own are fighting all those struggling for the cause of the poor and deprived. Writing shortly after the September 2001 attack on the Twin Towers, New York, Noam Chomsky, the legendary intellectual of the present era, wrote: “We should not forget that the US itself is a leading terrorist state. What about the alliance between the US, Russia, China, Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, all of whom are delighted to see an international system develop sponsored by the US which would authorise them to carry out their own terrorist atrocities? Russia, for example would be very happy to have US backing for its murderous war in Chechnya … as would perhaps India, in Kashmir. Indonesia would be delighted to have support for its massacres in Aceh.”
Today, the nations of South Asia, the peoples with a thousands-of-years-old culture of peace and tolerance, having a rare record of imperial ventures outside the subcontinent are being called upon to take fateful decisions. Where do their long-term interests lie in the current war — with the imperialist or with the poor and wretched of the earth?
Why should the countries of South Asia be helping the imperialists in their war of terror in which the rules of war are not observed, the UN Charter is violated, the International Court of Justice is not recognised, human freedoms are suppressed? In which thousands are unlawfully detained and tortured and hundreds of thousands of innocent lives are lost? Again, why should the countries of South Asia help those who use terror tactics, identical to those used by the US and its allies?
The defeat of the US in 1975 in Southeast Asia followed by its humiliating exit from Vietnam, Kampuchea and South Vietnam shattered the myth of US invincibility and triggered a powerful awakening among the poor around the world. Since then, the imperial side is on the retreat. The nations of the world of the deprived and the oppressed are peacefully and successfully agitating against the ruling elites aligned with the imperialists. A small minority has chosen terror as its weapon. On the whole, the forces of the people are getting stronger leaving no way out for the imperialists except for the use of greater and greater violence, reprehensible tactics of shock and awe.
The number of American interventions is hugely on the rise. The instances of the use of the US armed forces outside America, according to the United States Congressional Research Service, were six in number in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the number of countries alleged by the US as a menace to its interests and requiring armed intervention jumped to 16. In the 1990s, US forces intervened in 34 countries. And now, after 9/11 the entire globe has become a theatre of war. No country of the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa is fully safe. The imperialists and pro-imperialist elites and their governments are under attack, by peacefully protesting mobs as well as by the militants using rockets, IEDs and suicide jackets. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan are theatres of hot war.
India and Pakistan should stay away from helping the US and its allies and also stay away from helping their opponents using terror as a weapon. Our states have also to shun the use of terror tactics against their own citizens. India and Pakistan and other countries of South Asia need to join hands in removing oppression, deprivation and poverty from their polities and wipe away the feelings of helplessness and frustration found in the overwhelming majority of their populations.
The current initiative by India to resume talks with Pakistan is a good omen. It might be indicative of the realisation on India`s part that a joint stand with Pakistan is a better way to deal with the serious internal and external problems the region is faced with. Pakistan will have to show exceptional understanding, fortitude and patience. The debris of 63 years of failures will take time to be cleared.
The writer is a politician and a former minister who has in recent years been active as a member of the Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Democracy.