The U.S. and NATO should withdraw from Afghanistan.
Dear President Obama,
Your extraordinary ascent to the U.S. Presidency is, to a large part, a reflection of your remarkable ability to mobilize society, particularly the youth, with the message of “change.” Indeed, change is what the world is yearning for after eight long and almost endless years of carnage let loose by a group of neo-cons that occupied the White House.
Understandably, your overarching policy focus would be the security and welfare of all U.S. citizens and so it should be. Similarly, our first and foremost concern is the protection of Pakistani lives and the prosperity of our society. We may have different social and cultural values, but we share the fundamental values of peace, harmony, justice and equality before law.
No people desire change more than the people of Pakistan, as we have suffered the most since 9/11, despite the fact that none of the perpetrators of the acts of terrorism unleashed on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, were Pakistani. Our entire social, political and economic fabric is in a state of meltdown. Our sovereignty, dignity and self-respect have been trampled upon. The previous U.S. administration invested in dictators and corrupt politicians by providing them power crutches in return for total compliance to pursue its misconceived war on terror.
There are many threats confronting our society today, including the threat of extremism. In a society where the majority is without fundamental rights, without education, without economic opportunities, without health care, the use of sheer force and loss of innocent lives continues to expand the extremist fringe and contract the space for the moderate majority.
Without peace and internal security, the notion of investing in development in the war zones is a pipe dream, as the anticipated benefits would never reach the people. So the first and foremost policy objective should be to restore the peace. This can only be achieved through a serious and sustained dialogue with the militants and mitigation of their genuine grievances under the ambit of our constitution and law. Since Pakistan’s founding leader signed a treaty in 1948 with the people of the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and withdrew Pakistani troops, they had remained the most peaceful and trouble-free part of Pakistan up until the post-9/11 situation, when we were asked to deploy our troops in FATA.
Even a cursory knowledge of Pushtun history shows that for reasons of religious, cultural and social affinity, the Pushtuns on both sides of the Durand Line (which marks the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan) cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of their brethren on either side. The Pushtuns are proud of their history of resisting every invader from Alexander onwards, to the Persians, Moghuls, British and the Russians (all superpowers of their times) who were all bogged down in the Pushtun quagmire. So, no government, Pakistani or foreign, will ever be able to stop Pushtuns crossing over the 1,500-kilometer border to support their brethren in distress on either side, even if it means fighting the modern-day superpower in Afghanistan. Recent history shows how the mighty Soviet Union had to retreat from Afghanistan with its army defeated even though it had killed over a million Afghans.
To an average Pushtun, notwithstanding the U.N. Security Council sanction, the U.S. is an occupying power in Afghanistan that must be resisted. It is as simple as that. Therefore, the greatest challenge confronting U.S. policy in Afghanistan is how to change its status from an occupier to a partner. The new U.S. administration should have no doubt that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. As more innocent Pushtuns are killed, more space is created for new Taliban and even Al-Qaida recruits–revenge being an integral part of the Pushtun character. So, as with Iraq, the U.S. should give a time table for withdrawal from Afghanistan and replace NATO and U.S. forces with U.N. troops during the interim period.
The Pushtuns then should be involved in a dialogue process where they should be given a stake in the peace. As the majority’s stake in peace grows, proportionately the breeding ground for extremists shrinks.
The crucial lesson the U.S. needs to learn–and learn quickly–is that you can only win against terrorists if the majority in a community considers them terrorists. Once they become freedom fighters and heroes amongst their people, history tells us that the battle is lost.
Terrorism worldwide is an age-old phenomenon and cannot be eliminated by rampaging armies, no matter how powerful. It can only be contained by a strategy of building democratic societies and addressing the root causes of political conflicts. The democratization part of this strategy demands a strategic partnership between the West and the people of the Islamic world, who are basically demanding dignity, self-respect and the same fundamental rights as the ordinary citizen in the West enjoys. However, this partnership can only be forged if the U.S. and its close Western allies are prepared to accept and coexist with credible democratic governments in the Islamic world that may not support all U.S. policies as wholeheartedly as dictators and discredited politicians do in order to remain in power.
The roots of terror and violence lie in politics–and so does the solution. We urge the new administration to conduct a major strategic review of the U.S.-led war on terror, including the nature and kind of support that should realistically be expected of Pakistan keeping in mind its internal security interests. Linking economic assistance to sealing of its western frontier will only force the hand of a shaky and unstable government in Pakistan to use more indiscriminate force in FATA, a perfect recipe for disaster.
The stability of the region hinges on a stable Pakistan. Any assistance to improve governance and social indicators must not be conditional. For the simple reason that any improvement in the overall quality of life of ordinary citizens and more effective writ of the state would only make mainstream society less susceptible to extremism. However, if the new U.S. administration continues the Bush administration’s mantra of “do more,” to which our inept leadership is likely to respond to by using more force, Pakistan could become even more accessible to forces of extremism leading to further instability that would spread across the region, especially into India, which already faces problems of extremism and secessionist movements. Such a scenario would benefit no one–certainly not Pakistan and certainly not the U.S. That is why your message of meaningful change, Mr. President, must guide your policies in this region also.
Imran Khan is chairman and founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice), and served as an elected member of Pakistan’s parliament from 2002-08. The captain of the Pakistan team that won the cricket World Cup in 1992, he founded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center, the biggest charitable institution in Pakistan. He is chancellor of the University of Bradford, in the U.K.
Justice denied to 529 Missing Persons of Pakistan–>An open letter by Mrs. Amina Masood to General Kiyani
The following email was sent to General Kayani’s son so that he could forward it to his father.
This is a follow up on the Open Letter to General Kayani by Mrs. Amina Masood Janjua, from Defence of Human Rights asking for an official statement on the missing people with their charges and tried before the independent pre-Nov 3rd Judiciary. The ultimatum was 15th March, which has passed, and now cases for release of these people will be registered in international courts since Pakistan is unable to provide them justice.
To journalists and bloggers: While I understand the news piece may have some difficulty in getting published, please try your best to spread the word for the innocent missing people and their affected family members. This is the least we can do to condemn this heinous crime of the current regime.
Ryzwan Ullah Shaikh
Email message from Mrs. Amina Masoor (From Emergency mailing list)
From: Amina Masood
Date: Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 1:12 AM
Subject: Justice denied to 529 Missing Persons of Pakistan
To: Dear Sarosh, AOA Please forward it to your respectable father because there is other way I can access him.I will be truly greatful to you. You may be or may be not aware of the
most tortureing and painful issue of our Nation , It is the fundamental human rights concern
of those honorable citizens of Pakistan who have been picked up by our agencies ,later on
either sold to USA or Rienditioned to unknown locations held by CIA detentions.Few lucky
ones are with our own agencies ,they either die within the custody not able to bear the
torture or being released when they are mentally collpsed and good for nothing.Their
numbers with me are 529 today,but International Human rights groups say they are thousands more.Here is a chance for you to prove you care for you poor aggrieved Nation. Please play your role in this hour of need and turmoil for your Pakistani bretheren. Warm regards
Amina Masood Janjua
Open Letter to Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Gen. Kayani
The International Campaign to Restore Democracy in Pakistan (crdpnow.org) and partnering organizations demand that Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Gen. Kayani submit a list of all the held detainees kept illegally by the intelligence and military forces under his jurisdiction. A majority of Pakistan’s judiciary was dismissed on November 3rd when President Musharraf imposed martial law in the guise of “emergency.” On November 13th, Pakistan’s Supreme Court was due to hear the cases of 485 victims of enforced disappearance over the past six years. Many of these had returned with horror stories from detainment centers around the world, including the one in Guantanamo Bay. The campaign demands the release of all those who are innocent and so that their missing status can be changed and family contact can be established. The families of victims of enforced disappearances demand that the COAS’s office issue a list of the names and charges of all Pakistanis held under extrajudicial detainment on account of actions taken by the army and intelligence forces under his command. In the weeks before March 15th, the deadline announced for the release of the names and charges of all detainees, this joint effort by Defense of Human Rights (DHR) and the International Campaign to Restore Democracy in Pakistan (CRDP) will investigate the evidence against all individuals associated with the government of Pakistan who may have authorized and carried out these abductions. The campaign will also consult with its partners in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan to develop a strategy to take immediate legal action against all parties responsible for these disappearances if no response is received from General Kayani’s office by March 15th. The Defense of Human Rights welcomes the campaign’s statement. Since September, 2001, thousands of valuable citizens are picked and kept in illegal detention where they are being tortured and interrogated, beyond the pale of the Rule of Law. Defense of Human Rights invites General Kayani to bring all such detainees to justice, release them all and submit a list of names of all those which are kept with Army or its Intelligence Agencies. We demand that those accused should be tried in open Courts, let their families contact them and have legal aid of their choice according to rule of Law. The Army Act Amendment implemented retroactively to justify illegal activities of intelligence agencies and try civilians in Army Courts will not be acceptable. In the absence of any acceptable response from your office before the proposed deadline of March 15th, 2008 the families of the victims of enforced disappearance have pledged to observe the following course of action:
- We will launch our struggle abroad where 520 cases of Enforced disappearances would be refiled for Justice.
- In the absence of an independent judiciary prepared to hear our cases,” the Defence of Human Rights will seek justice in international tribunals of justice.
- We will mobilize students to spearhead a Pakistan-wide campaign on behalf of the victims.
- The families of victims will travel all over Pakistan in all the major cities and launch a massive series of protests demonstrations.
Amina Masood JanjuaAnchor PersonDefence of Human RightsCell: 0301-5240550
Office No: 051-5511686
Note:The letter above refers to the case which became the main cause of differences between the Musharraf administration and the Supreme Court of Pakistan(which took notice of the missing persons situation and was trying to give them justice).
By Shireen M Mazari
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has given them bases and logistic
support as well as intelligence sharing but what the
US is now demanding from Islamabad has shocked the
Defence and Foreign Ministries and the initial
reaction has been a rejection of what are highly
intrusive demands for the US military and auxiliary
personnel in Pakistan.
This scribe has learnt of the latest set of 11 demands
the US has put to the Government of Pakistan through
the Ministry of Defence. As one goes down the list of
the demands, they become increasingly untenable.
The first demand is for granting of a status that is
accorded to the technical and administrative staff of
the US embassy. The second demand is that these
personnel be allowed to enter and exit Pakistan on
mere National Identification (for example a driving
licence) that is without any visas.
Next, the US is demanding that Pakistan accept the
legality of all US licences, which would include arms
licences. This is followed by the demand that all
these personnel be allowed to carry arms and wear
uniforms as they wish, across the whole of Pakistan.
Then comes a demand that directly undermines our
sovereignty – that the US criminal jurisdiction be
applicable in Pakistan to US nationals. In other
words, these personnel would not be subject to
In territories of US allies like Japan, this condition
exists in areas where there are US bases and has
become a source of major resentment in Japan,
especially because there are frequent cases of US
soldiers raping Japanese women and getting away with
it. In the context of Pakistan, the demand to make the
US personnel above the Pakistani law would not be
limited to any one part of the country! So the
Pakistani citizens will become fair game for US
military personnel as well as other auxiliary staff
like military contractors.
The next demand is for exemption from all taxes,
including indirect taxes like excise duty, etc. The
seventh demand is for inspection-free import and
export of all goods and materials. So we would not
know what they are bringing in or taking out of our
country – including Gandhara art as well as sensitive
At number eight is the demand for free movement of
vehicles, vessels including aircraft, without landing
or parking fees! Then, at number nine, there is a
specific demand that selected US contractors should
also be exempted from tax payments.
At number ten there is the demand for free of cost use
of US telecommunication systems and using all
necessary radio spectrum. The final demand is the most
dangerous and is linked to the demand for
non-applicability of Pakistani law for US personnel.
Demand number eleven is for a waiver of all claims to
damage to loss or destruction of others’ property, or
death to personnel or armed forces or civilians. The
US has tried to be smart by not using the word “other”
for death but, given the context, clearly it implies
that US personnel can maim and kill Pakistanis and
destroy our infrastructure and weaponry with impunity.
Effectively, if accepted, these demands would give the
US personnel complete freedom to do as they please in
Pakistan – in fact, they would take control of events
in areas of their interest.
It is no wonder then that Pakistan’s Defence Ministry,
the Foreign Office and the Law Ministry have reacted
with complete rejection. But, as one official source
feared, “This is just the opening salvo of demands and
the US can be expected to bargain in order to seek the
most critical of these demands.”
As he put it, “Any hesitation or weakness that the US
senses on part of Pakistan will put us on a fatal
slippery slope to total submission. This would result
in increasing instability in the country.”
So, for those who feel there is bonhomie and complete
understanding between the Pakistan military and the US
military, and the trouble only exists at the political
level, it is time to do a serious rethink. The first
step in dealing rationally with our indigenous
terrorist problem holistically and credibly is to
create space between ourselves and the US. As the US
adage goes: “There is no free lunch”. For Pakistan
lunching with the US has become unacceptably costly.
When US embassy in Islamabad was approached for
reaction to this report, Elizabeth Colton, US Embassy
Spokesperson, said, “We will not dignify this attack
with a comment.”