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Towards Understanding South Asia – A Comparative Study of Kashmir Conflict in Regional and Global Perspective

Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, peace activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, peace activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

By Nayyar Niaz Khan

The State of Jammu Kashmir has been at the vanguards in India-Pakistan relations since the abrupt withdrawal of Great Britain from sub-continent and formation of two States. Since 1947 Pakistan and India have gone to war thrice, Kashmir perceived to be the main dispute. In 1999 Kargil crisis again brought both newly nuclear rivals to brink of war. The then US administration led by President Clinton intervened promptly and timely negotiated to deescalate the overwrought situation when both were at fighting an impromptu war at the peaks of Kargil in Jammu Kashmir. After US led war against terrorism in Afghanistan (2001), the genre of global politics exclusively transformed and it also influenced the South Asia and anywhere else in the world. Due to the changing global political scenario and new fronts of confrontation after the end of cold war, both India and Pakistan advanced their bilateral relations during the Musharraf and Vajpayee’s regimes in their respective countries. Back door diplomacy led them to take some sort of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) including a direct bus service across the Line of Control (LOC) in the disputed State of Jammu Kashmir. South Asian politics of guns and arsenals was replaced by composite dialogues, negotiations, reconciliations, sports and exchanges of cultural, intellectual, academics and musicians. But all this could not last long due to absence of a democratic system in Pakistan and history of mistrust among the rivals. Musharraf regime, which was already fragile and lacking public support, became weaker due to his confrontation with judiciary in Pakistan in the first quarter of 2007. The unfortunate and untimely death of Benazir Bhutto was a blow in the forthcoming regional politics of South Asia. As a result of February 2008 general elections in Pakistan, Musharraf lost the power but successive governments of President Zardari and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not show mature judgments on various key issues regarding the future of South Asia including the resolution of Kashmir conflict. On the other hand victory of Hindu nationalist BJP led by Narindra Modi in 2014 general elections in India altered the corridor of Indian politics and secularism. Even the major party to the conflict could not stand for the “Ownership Building Measures” and trusted the CBMs which was a colossal error on behalf of Kashmiri leadership across the LOC.

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Bosnia rocked by third day of anti-government unrest

By Dado Ruvic, TUZLA, Bosnia

(Reuters) – Protesters set fire to a government building and clashed with riot police in Bosnia on Friday in a third day of unrest over high unemployment and two decades of political inertia since the country’s 1992-95 war.

Demonstrators smashed windows and set fire to the offices of the local government in the northern town of Tuzla, while in the capital, Sarajevo, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a crowd of several thousand.

Protests were called for Friday in towns and cities across Bosnia, in a sign of growing anger over the lack of economic and political progress since the country broke from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and descended into war. More than one in four of the country’s workforce were out of a job in 2013.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/07/us-bosnia-unrest-idUSBREA160UU20140207

Pakistan: A vanishing state

By Shabbir Ahmad Khan
Both empires and states fail or collapse. Examples include the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Mughal and British empires. From the recent past, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan are the best examples. Professor Norman Davies, in his book Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations recounts the history of 15 European states which disappeared. Professor Robert Rotberg, in his book When States fail: Causes and Consequences provides empirical description on a state’s failure. Similarly, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of failed states each year, on which Pakistan ranks 13. Pakistan’s score is just 13 points below that of the most failed state in the world, Somalia, and just five points below that of Afghanistan, which is at number seven on the list.Why do empires and states fail or fall? There are a number of factors for state decline, including social, economic and political. The most common factor is global; it includes intervention by external political agents or forces. In such situations, the empires or states first fail to cope with the new challenges and later collapse. There is a new challenge before Pakistan, which no state in history has ever faced. Today, the world community is unified against religious extremism of any kind and a nuclear Pakistan is heavily convulsed by internal violence linked to religious extremism. After World War II, colonial powers gave independence to many nations, including Pakistan, with a clear rationale or prime motive. At a very critical juncture in history, if states lose their rationale, they lose their right to survive. Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture of her history. If she loses her rationale, she loses her right to exist.Two questions are important to answer the above-mentioned query. Who creates states and what is their rationale — i.e., the cause of their birth? More than 140 states got independence after the two world wars. The winners of the wars designed the world map by decolonising nations. The process of giving self-rule to new states was intentional and purposeful. British rulers, in congruence with the US, wanted to split India for their long-term interests in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan — the same way as the state of Israel — was created as an independent state to guard Western interests in the region. In both times of war and peace in history, Pakistan proved herself as the guardian of vested interests of Western powers. In return, Pakistan also got the liberty to do a number of things, including attaining nuclear capability. Throughout history, Pakistan changed herself with the changing demands of the West to fulfill her utility and her indispensability.

Thus, a militant, extremist, rigid and nuclear Pakistan was in the larger interests of Western powers, particularly to contain the Soviets and its allies, i.e., India. Now, the Western world has changed its policy towards the region where Pakistan is located and has demonetised its political currency by putting immense pressure on the country to change her course accordingly. But Pakistan seems reluctant.

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New World Order – New Greater Pushtunistan & Balochistan

The New World

By FRANK JACOBS and PARAG KHANNA

IT has been just over 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the last great additions to the world’s list of independent nations. As Russia’s satellite republics staggered onto the global stage, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was it: the end of history, the final major release of static energy in a system now moving very close to equilibrium. A few have joined the club since — Eritrea, East Timor, the former Yugoslavian states, among others — but by the beginning of the 21st century, the world map seemed pretty much complete.

Now, though, we appear on the brink of yet another nation-state baby boom. This time, the new countries will not be the product of a single political change or conflict, as was the post-Soviet proliferation, nor will they be confined to a specific region. If anything, they are linked by a single, undeniable fact: history chews up borders with the same purposeless determination that geology does, as seaside villas slide off eroding coastal cliffs. Here is a map of what could possibly be the world’s newest international borders.

Pashtunistan and Baluchistan Take a Stand

To Iran’s east, the American withdrawal leaves the “Af-Pak” region in a state of disarray reminiscent of the early 1990s. With no cohesive figure in sight to lead Afghanistan after President Hamid Karzai, and with Pakistan mired in dysfunctional sectarianism and state weakness, a greater Pashtunistan could coagulate across the Durand Line, which divides the two countries. Meanwhile the gas-rich but politically alienated Baluchis could renew their independence drive, which peaked in the 1970s.

Courtesy: The New York Times (Sunday Review)

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/23/opinion/sunday/the-new-world.html?smid=fb-share

Justice Louise Arbour Concerned About Direction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court

Justice Louise Arbour has a distinguished career devoted to promoting the principles of justice. Currently serving as the President of the International Crisis Group, Justice Arbour is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario and a former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. As such, she knows a thing or two about the importance of an independent judiciary in developing countries and emerging democracies. That’s why, when Justice Arbour expresses concerns about the looming constitutional crisis in Pakistan, her concerns merit serious consideration.

An ardent supporter of Pakistan’s 2007 “Lawyer’s Movement” to restore judges deposed by Gen. Musharraf, Justice Arbour had hoped to see a new era for the Court, one that broke with its past of supporting military dictators and their mangling the Constitution and the rule of law. Today, she fears that those same justices have become “intoxicated with their own independence,” and that the current direction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Justices threatens to upend the very democratic order that restored them to the bench.

Speaking to a crowded auditorium at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, Justice Arbour noted that the current tension between Pakistan’s Supreme Court and its elected officials might seem like a political soap opera were it not for Court’s history of collusion with the military to suppress democracy. Judges “who took an oath to a military dictator are not well placed to make the decision” to remove democratically elected officials, she observed, referring to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s 1999 oath under Gen. Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). While not inevitable, Justice Arbour said, it is possible that Pakistan’s Supreme Court could end up dissolving the democratically elected government with the help of the military, putting in place an extended caretaker government in what would be, for all intents and purposes, another coup.

During her visit to Pakistan, she assured the room, she met with no government officials. Her interest was in the views of the legal community, whom she found deeply divided, seemingly on political lines. This troubled the former Justice, who worries that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has become increasingly politicized, threatening its credibility. She pointed to the memo commission, which she said “reflected very poorly on the judiciary,” and added to the appearance of growing politicization.

The present case, in which the Supreme Court has ordered the Prime Minister to write a letter to Swiss authorities requesting that criminal cases be reinstated against the President, adds to the appearance of an increasingly politicized judiciary. From a legal perspective, the issue centers on one of separation of powers. In fact, Pakistan’s Chief Justice has repeatedly stated recently that “parliament is not supreme.” In questions such as these, where the Supreme Court has a vested interest in the outcome, Justice Arbour suggests that it is all the more important that court show self-restraint and frame its decisions in a way that “advances the authority of all institutions,” not only its own.

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The real reason for the rot – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

There is absolutely no challenge to what the army does or has done in the past and this too is a natural corollary of the genesis of this state

Nations are products of long historical and evolutionary processes; most present nation states evolved thus. But when states are formed on an artificial basis of contrived nationhood or on the basis of religion, as was the case with Pakistan, Israel and Yugoslavia, they of necessity turn into fascist states, dominated by a militarist ideology. Serb-dominated Yugoslavia denied rights to other nationalities and eventually imploded. Pakistan by claiming to be the legatee of the glory of Islam burdened itself with heavy historical baggage, but then it could not have done otherwise as it was that claim that it wanted to justify its artificial existence with. Consequently, Pakistani rulers in keeping with its elite’s interests curtailed national rights of different nationalities, and forced them to rally under the banner of religion and to accept its ideology by upholding their brand of Pakistani nationalism.

The Baloch, Bengalis, Sindhis and to a certain extent, the Pashtuns resented and resisted this imposition in varying degrees. The Bengalis having had the advantage of distance and a sympathetic neighbour went their separate way in 1971, while the Baloch after an initial period of freedom have borne the brunt of military operations because of their refusal to accept the artificially imposed ideology of a Muslim nation and have so far thwarted the attempts to crush their determination for a separate entity status. The Sindhis, at first taken in by state-sponsored ideology, gradually realised that their interests did not coincide and have resisted it though erratically at best since.

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Failing the Baloch

By Basil Nabi Malik

THE mutilated bodies surface quietly in various parts of the province, and usually without any forewarning. The killings take place sporadically but surely, the bodies dumped on unforgiving mountains or on deserted, half-constructed roads. Perhaps they are meant to constitute a message for certain segments of society.

On some occasions, the arms and legs of these corpses are found to have been snapped; often, their faces are smashed in and swollen. At other times, the flesh shows that severe torture was inflicted on various parts of the body, the wounds indicating the use of knives, electric prods or drills that tore gaping holes into the body. The remains are often unrecognisable. And all of them have a gunshot wound in the head.

These aren’t scenes from a battlefield in Afghanistan, Iraq or even the former Yugoslavia. Instead, this is the situation in the largest province in Pakistan: Balochistan. According to assessments made by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), severe human rights violations have been taking place in Balochistan since the onset of the latest phase of the insurgency.

Of the many incidents of torture reported by the organisation, one is the case of Alam Pirkani Baloch who belonged to the Pirkani tribe. Apparently, he was arrested and placed in the custody of the Federal Intelligence Unit (FIU). During his incarceration, he was allegedly hung upside down with some sort of sharp-edged tool between his thighs and in his hands.

After his hands and legs had bled for a while, he was taken down. Then chillies and salt were rubbed into his wounds.

In another incident, Ali Beig of the Marri tribe was said to have been arrested by personnel of the City Police Station, Quetta, and handed over to the FIU. He was made to stand naked in freezing weather, electric shocks were administered to him and he was beaten with strips of rubber. After two months of being in the custody of the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) and the FIU, he was transferred to a jail where the FIU would, allegedly, take him away at night for further torture. After a year, he was once again transferred to the FIU camp where he was subjected to torture with heavy steel rollers.

In another example of the types of activities taking place in Balochistan, Eid Mohammad, son of Haji Wali Jan, was arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Act. He was kept in custody for three months. At the time of his arrest, Eid was a student of class 8 and was only 14 years old at the time. Although details of what that happened to him during his detention are sketchy, it is reported that Eid can no longer go to school. He regularly suffers nightmares, during the course of which he screams hysterically and pleads that he should not be tortured.

These are just a few of the various incidents of alleged torture recorded by the HRCP in its fact-finding missions over the years.

Furthermore — and shockingly — these incidents of torture are not considered separate to and distinct from the instances of disappearances that are taking place in Balochistan.

In fact, many reports pouring in nowadays indicate that most of those desolate and mutilated bodies discovered on the uninhabited mountains or empty roads were actually persons reported as missing. Additionally, suspicion is raised by the fact that many such bodies come to light after there has been an attack on paramilitary or government forces that is blamed on nationalist forces.

Despite the seriousness of the situation in Balochistan, which is indicated by the examples given above, these incidents seem to have raised little concern in other parts of the country. The media appears more concerned about the presence of CIA agents in Pakistan than the actual damage that is being caused apparently by state agents in Balochistan. Meanwhile, the government of Pakistan is more concerned about completing its tenure than actually trying to heal the wounds of the Baloch.

The Supreme Court, on the other hand, appears more interested in issuing contempt notices to certain PPP leaders as compared to ensuring the fundamental rights of all those tortured and maimed souls who happen to call Balochistan their home. As for the people of Pakistan, sadly, they appear more interested in scrounging for national pride on the fields of Mohali rather than resurrecting the same on the shamed mountains and empty roads of Balochistan.

However, whatever the motives behind such dismissive attitudes, and civil society and the state authorities’ lack of reaction to such incidents, it is clear that the said acts have served to perhaps irreparably harm any possibility of the Baloch placing their trust in the state of Pakistan and attempting at reconciliation.In fact, it has unfortunately now come to such a head that the hatred that certain Baloch tribal people have long held for the state of Pakistan is seeping into other segments of society.

The educated classes, students as well as other parts of the middle class are all growing increasingly militant.

As stated by Jamil Bugti, son of the late Nawab Akbar, Bugti, “The next generation is all in the mountains, and they’re not willing to talk to anyone. People like me, and others, like the different nationalist parties that are in parliament, they don’t have any role to play. They look very good on TV. That’s about it.”

The writer is a Fulbright scholar and a Karachi based lawyer. basil.nabi@gmail.com

Courtesy: DAWNhttp://www.dawn.com/2011/04/12/failing-the-baloch.html

Unfit for Democracy? – NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Is the Arab world unready for freedom? A crude stereotype lingers that some people — Arabs, Chinese and Africans — are incompatible with democracy. Many around the world fret that “people power” will likely result in Somalia-style chaos, Iraq-style civil war or Iran-style oppression.

That narrative has been nourished by Westerners and, more sadly, by some Arab, Chinese and African leaders. So with much of the Middle East in an uproar today, let’s tackle a politically incorrect question head-on: Are Arabs too politically immature to handle democracy?

This concern is the subtext for much anxiety today, from Washington to Riyadh. And there’s no question that there are perils: the overthrow of the shah in Iran, of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, of Tito in Yugoslavia, all led to new oppression and bloodshed. Congolese celebrated the eviction of their longtime dictator in 1997, but the civil war since has been the most lethal conflict since World War II. If Libya becomes another Congo, if Bahrain becomes an Iranian satellite, if Egypt becomes controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood — well, in those circumstances ordinary citizens might end up pining for former oppressors.

“Before the revolution, we were slaves, and now we are the slaves of former slaves,” Lu Xun, the great Chinese writer, declared after the toppling of the Qing dynasty. Is that the future of the Middle East?

I don’t think so. Moreover, this line of thinking seems to me insulting to the unfree world. In Egypt and Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve been humbled by the lionhearted men and women I’ve seen defying tear gas or bullets for freedom that we take for granted. How can we say that these people are unready for a democracy that they are prepared to die for?

We Americans spout bromides about freedom. Democracy campaigners in the Middle East have been enduring unimaginable tortures as the price of their struggle — at the hands of dictators who are our allies — yet they persist. In Bahrain, former political prisoners have said that their wives were taken into the jail in front of them. And then the men were told that unless they confessed, their wives would promptly be raped. That, or more conventional tortures, usually elicited temporary confessions, yet for years or decades those activists persisted in struggling for democracy. And we ask if they’re mature enough to handle it?

Read more : Wichaar

SOUTH ASIAN PERSPECTIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY

Toronto, Canada : International Center for Peace and Democracy (ICPD) is a Toronto based think tank advocating secular democracy and peace in South Asia . Executive Director of ICPD, Muhammad Mumtaz Khan, who comes from Pakistan, administered Kashmir (PAK), has a thirty-year experience in the field of rights’ advocacy. Currently, he also represents International Kashmir Alliance (IKA) and All Parties National Alliance (APNA) in the European Parliament, North America and the United Nations.

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Kosovo declares Independence

Review & Outlook : The Birth of Kosovo February 18, 2008

When Slovenia declared independence in 1991, Belgrade sent in tanks. When Croatia and Bosnia did the same, the Serbs started wars that left a quarter million dead. So Serbia’s resort to violent rhetoric in response to Kosovo’s declaration of independence yesterday counts as a kind of Balkan progress.

The newborn isn’t out of danger, with Serbia and Russia wishing Kosovo ill. But the presence of NATO troops, and expected swift recognition by the U.S. and major European powers, ought to calm nerves and end the last territorial dispute in the Balkans. By taking the lead during the 1999 aerial war that forced Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansers from Kosovo and now on independence, the U.S. is shepherding one more Muslim nation to freedom—not that it will get credit for it in the Islamic world.

The proliferation of small states since the fall of communism has made Europe more stable and democratic, from Estonia to Macedonia. A sovereign Kosovo, which follows the entry of even tinier Montenegro into the club of nations, can be a force for good in the region and in the wider Europe. Though lawyers may quibble, Kosovo differs in no way from the other stand-alone parts of Yugoslavia that won their freedom after 1991, and are now better off for it. Serbian lobbyists portray the Kosovars as Muslim terrorists, but that strains credulity, given their moderate and secular practice of Islam (and Christianity) and their stated commitment to democracy.

Kosovar leaders say they want their country to join the European Union and NATO, which would open their borders to free trade and bring them into European security structures. The Kosovar Albanians also seem aware that their new state will be judged on their protection of minority Serbs and willingness to make up with former enemies. International oversight and scrutiny can help ensure these promises are kept. Western chaperones will also have to watch the fragile multiethnic constructs in nearby Bosnia and Macedonia, where separatists may try to use Kosovo independence to push for a breakup.

Russia has called for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to revoke the independence declaration. With no troops or permanent interests on the ground, however, Moscow may be happy merely to score political points against the West—and then, as usual, abandon the Serbs to their fate… (Wall Street Journal)