The Quest for Peace
February 01, 1999
As Pakistan readies itself to greet the high powered delegation from United States led by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot, its lack of a clear foreign policy vision comes into stark play.
Pakistan had an opportunity to take the initiative when India kicked the door and forced its entry into the Nuclear Club-the five permanent members of the Security Council on May 11,1998. There was much understanding of Pakistan’s response. For the first time after the lapse of more than thirty years the P-5 recognized that the Kashmir issue was the root cause that had led to the events of May 28.
The P-5 resolution at Geneva offered an opportunity for Pakistan to enter into a constructive engagement. Pakistan had everything to gain by making a unilateral gesture of signing the CTBT, which does not come into force in any event until India has signed it. As to the other issues raised in the P-5-the matching of the warhead with missiles, the export of nuclear technology, and the capping of production of fissile material,-these were issues which could have been addressed in the light of Pakistan’s policies in the past decade.
In order to make the task of the government easier the Opposition urged it to sign the CTBT as early as May28, 1998 in the national interest transcending party lines.
Most unfortunately the Nawaz regime did not take up this offer. The CTBT issue was briefly on the Agenda of Parliament but the government beat a disorderly retreat and withdrew the issue from the forum of the Parliament last autumn.
The government has just not done its homework. The CTBT and NPT were both mentioned in the same breath. During this December visit to Washington, the Prime Minister even made an attempt to wriggle out of the commitment made in the UN General Assembly to sign the CTBT but had to eat his own words.
Method in the Madness:
There is a method in this madness. The regime has two faces: a public persona and a thinly veiled hidden agenda. The real agenda of the regime is to establish a totalitarian one-party dictatorship under the banner of Islam. The mask has now been lifted in the imbroglio with the Jang Group of Newspapers.
The real model for Nawaz Sharif is the Taliban. Malakand has been
made the foothold of this experiment. It is the slippery slope.
Checks and Balances:
In the two years since the manipulated selection of February, 1997- the Nawaz Sharif regime has destroyed three pillars of checks and balances, stripped the Presidency of all powers, physically assaulted the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and attempted to politicise the Armed Forces. The President, the Chief Justice and the Chief of the Army Staff, who heralded Nawaz Sharif to power, have been forced to make premature and unceremonious exits from the stage. The position of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee has not been filled- a sword of Damocles that hangs over the Military High Command for the last eighteen months.
Having destroyed three pillars of the state, Nawaz Sharif has now made the Press its target. The audiocassettes, that have not been denied, reveal how Nawaz Sharif wants to purge the Jang of fourteen top journalists including three Editors and is using corruption as a tool to achieve collateral targets.
This is a regime driven by a lust for concentration of power, accumulation of wealth and elimination of the Opposition.
A Moderate Muslim Country:
Pakistan is a Muslim country belonging to the crescent of Moderation, which stretches from Indonesia in the South Pacific, through Malaysia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt ending in Morocco on the shores of the Atlantic. A single spark from Malakand can stretch like a Prairie fire across the Khunjrab Pass into Sinkiang in China. It will also divide the Country. The Taliban brand of practices have no adherence south of Raiwind. Any attempt to impose such a narrow minded and bigoted system will not be acceptable in a land where the message of Islam was spread by mystics a whose songs of love and brotherhood can be heard in the shrine of Hazrat Fareed of Shakergang, the citadel of Multan, Uch Sharif, and the shrines of Shah Abdul Lateef of Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh. Pakistan has a plural society unlike the monoliths of Afghanistan and Iran. Any attempt to impose a unilateral brand of bigotry will split the South of Pakistan from the North.
A Failed Regime:
This is a failed regime. Any Government worth its salt has to perform four essential tasks: protect the frontiers from illegal insurgencies, raise sufficient revenues to meet the expenditures necessary for defence and development, protect the life liberty and property of its citizens, and provide justice with equality before law. The presence of foreign sponsored militants in Pakistan, the deficit and debt trap, the extension of military Courts throughout Pakistan, the handing over of WAPDA to the Army are clear admissions of abdication of the civil Government from these essential tasks.
The Quest for Peace:
A new approach is necessary. The capability displayed by Pakistan in May 1998 calls for great responsibility. A nuclear deterrent is meant to prevent, and not wage, wars. This is a weapon never to be used. As nuclear powers, it would be suicidal for India or Pakistan to resort to the use of force. There cannot be another war between India and Pakistan.
It is time to cool the rhetoric. Pakistan must revise its foreign policy. The first and cardinal principle should be a good neighbour Policy. We must concentrate on putting our fragile economy in order. People who live in glass houses do not throw stones.
It is time that the political leadership in India should assess the high cost of the human right abuses as a result, which India has lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir. As a prelude to the self-determination, the demilitarization of the Valley would be a confidence building measure.
Pakistan has to convince the world including India and the West that its stability, strength and continued existence is in the global interest of world peace. The past has been a half-century of conflict and confrontation. Let us now be prepared to walk that extra mile in the quest for peace. Let India and Pakistan turn their sights to the common enemy of the poor masses of South Asia – the unfinished war against Poverty.