Ali Ashraf Khan
THE Americans and the world are dreading US Presidential candidate Donald Trump and the possibility that he could be elected in the forthcoming US elections. But even worse India’s Donald Trump is already ruling. Good and efficient government depends on how the ruling party and its Prime Minister or President is acting in the national interest of his/her country and the region. A head of government disregarding, misinterpreting or even acting against national interest is not only bad politically, he is damaging the economy and all others facets of the country’s interests.
With US being a master of pursuing its own narrow national interest of dominating the world, no matter what, now those leaders in Africa and Asia are more dear and near who are fully prepared not only to compromise their nation and national interest for personal gains but are causing greatest threat to world peace in case it is not taken cognizance by emergence of Donald Trump on the driving seat of world control, the third war cannot be avoided by musical chair and gimmick of clash of religion or civilization only.
If the US can take a U-Turn on its previous stand of refusing visa to the then Indian Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr Modi on account of his responsibility for the massive killings of Muslims in Gujarat then what has forced US to accept him as a strategic partner now? Is it the requirement of political expediency in Afghanistan or it is the double-edged factor Israeli hatred for Pakistani nuclear assets that such a Prime Minister is ruling in India under the full patronage of the American establishment?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist party are clearly acting against the national interest of India, inside India and outside to the South Asian region which create a threat to world peace. That can be seen in Kashmir where they are alienating even those Kashmiris who have been ready to cooperate with Delhi before. Mahbooba Mufti’s party is fast losing hold among Kashmiri people for her alignment with the Hindu nationalists. The population is up in arms (again) and Kashmiris are killed by police and army on a daily basis.
In the foreign relations’ department, Modi’s policy is damaging the relations with his neighbouring countries as well. There is the row with neighbouring Nepal. In May, former Indian ambassador Bhadrakumar in a cutting political analysis was pointing out India’s ‘complete break-down of ties’ with Nepal on the occasion of the cancellation of the visit by the Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to India, Kathmandu’s decision to recall its ambassador in New Delhi and Nepal’s consequent orientation towards China. An equally problematic relationship is that which has been developing between India and Maldives since the take-over of power by Narendra Modi.
That is why it is no wonder that relations between India and Pakistan that always have been problematic, have reached a new low. And that seems to fit into the plans of the Hindu nationalists. When India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh decided to attend the SAARC moot in Pakistan, his decision was not welcomed at home but resulted in open protests of Shiv Sena activists and the public burning of the Minister’s photographs. In the past as well India has been launching a chain of border incidents and provocations at the Indo-Pakistani border that have cost the lives of several Pakistanis and have attributed to the deterioration of bilateral relations. Though the border issues seem to have been sorted out more or less, the civil war in Kashmir that is partly blamed on Pakistan by the Indian government, has created a situation where both sides have to say that ‘time is not conducive for talks’.
During the SAARC recent meeting where bilateral issues can’t be discussed according to the rules of the house Indian Interior Minister brought up the Kashmir issue and blamed Pakistan for highlighting the ongoing atrocities there internationally while Mr. Raj Nath thinks is an integral part of India, though he had to face a befitting response from the Pakistani Interior Minister. Raj Nath ignores conveniently that UN Secretary General has just two days back warned the Indian rulers to stop misuse of power in Kashmir and implement the UNSC resolutions for a just settlement of this issue, while he also pledged to oversee the UNMOGIP role in Kashmir on both sides of the border. What else is required to prove that the Indian stand on Kashmir is an after-thought of fundamentalist Hindus who want to usurp the Muslim majority Kashmir by hook or crook as they had successfully done when partition occurred by forcing Muslims in UP and CP Provinces of India to migrate to save their lives from RSS threat?
Given this situation, one wonders what the SAARC representatives will be doing in Islamabad. One thing that was discussed reportedly is the development of a security software to digitise the regional visa exemption scheme among all member states. Well, in the face of the almost break-down of relations between India and three of the seven SAARC members this is surely not a priority. A new game of describing Kashmir freedom movement with terrorism appears to every naked eye a white lie, since many years UN Secretary General a US citizen of Pakistan origin has been consistently explained the Secretary General’s concern for Kashmir atrocities while the damage control by UN secretariat to please India has been quick response.
Prime Minister has termed this issue as an un-finished agenda of UN resolutions while in fact it is the un-finished agenda of the partition plan of India assented by the British Parliament and the King. A Federal Minister of PML (N) was reported calling Pakistani Azad Kashmir as Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, which term was again heard after PML (N) victory in elections. We have to be a little more responsible in creating bad atmosphere due to repeated slips of tongue damaging the humanitarian issue of Kashmir for pleasing a particular gallery.
The failure to bring up meaningful topics in this situation is demonstrated by the scarce reporting and discussion the SAARC meeting creates in the media. One very important topic should have been the energy crisis in South Asia. During my brief association with SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 1997-2003, I had hoped that SAARC Electric Power Grid would if developed can certainly solve energy problems of countries in need, as chairman, energy group it was noticed that Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka were using less than 40% of its available water resources for a cheap and environment friendly electricity through hydel power generation.
A candid opinion emerged that minimum value consensus between the political parties on fundamental national issues in all SAARC countries, particularly in Bangladesh, and better political understandings between the governments of the region are the prerequisites to make the SAARC regional cooperation meaningful. The world movement for economic and social sector development through combining available natural resources and technology to build a viable infrastructure for future needs as European Union has made, South Asian countries were also serious to make progress through regional cooperation for the benefit of the poverty stricken masses in the region. Although some progress has been made during the last five decades in bridging the gap between energy supply and demand, without any access to low-cost, clean and reliable sources of energy is still prevalent in South Asia. This has implications for economic development and poverty alleviation efforts.
Different forums reviewed the energy market in South Asia taking into account resources, demand conditions, market reforms and potential for regional cooperation but so far have failed to deliver, a lone cry against a Shark in the SAARC could be a visible reason. It argues that regional cooperation can play a limited catalytic role in bringing diverse partners together and creating an environment suitable for negotiations, but it is not a sufficient condition for the optimal utilization of regional energy resources because of the world chess game and its requirement. But this time again the key issues remained un-discussed and unsolved because of the disarray in the relations due to Indian obstinacy. Allah Almighty bless Pakistan and humanity.
—The writer is a senior columnist based in Karachi.