November 2004 News

With India In UNSC, What Will Become Of Kashmir?

22 November 2004
The Dawn
Jawed Naqvi

Karachi: For all practical purposes most of Jammu and Kashmir is part of India or, to be politically correct, it is a disputed part of India. As things stand little is likely to change on this front in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, India is keen to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, preferably with veto powers. In other words it wants to become a member of the body whose resolutions, such as the one on Kashmir, it considers effete and useless. Moreover, its insistence on not signing the NPT will, if it is allowed into the apex club, make India the only nuclear power in that august body which hasn't accepted the nuclear doctrine of the Big Five. While these are major issues to ponder, there are other bigger factors that have come into play that could determine the way ahead not just for India for the world community at large. Suppose India is admitted as a permanent member in a recast Security Council, with or without veto powers. What would be its role in the new world architecture? According to Professor Perry Anderson, renowned British historian and Marxist scholar, who was in Delhi earlier this month, India would very likely do what the other countries that deal with the United States do: fall in line. His reasoning: 'India is engaged in military operations in Nepal as part of America's campaign to crush a Maoist rebellion against an unpopular monarch. This is not dissimilar to what the US did in Guatemala earlier.' To be sure, Prof. Anderson was not picking on India. In fact, he described the country as one of the two major Asian powers that had the potential to challenge American hegemony in the region, the other being China. However, given the exigencies of real politik, this was most unlikely to happen, according to the good professor. 'The fact is that the United Nations is united around the United States. Check it out for yourselves,' he urged the audience at the packed convocation hall of Delhi University. To help them understand what he was driving at, Prof. Anderson listed the 15 countries that were members of the Security Council when they endorsed Resolution 8117 on June 6, 2004, which legitimized the US- installed government of Iyad Allawi in Iraq. The UK, France, Algeria, Pakistan, China, Germany, the Russian Federation, Chile, Spain, Brazil, Romania, Angola and Benin spoke in unison with the United States. The representative of the Philippines, council president for the month, spoke in his national capacity. The list of the nations endorsing the US writ was a stark statement rooted in the simple fact of their complicity with the world's most powerful country. The anti-war movement of Europe thus melted away, so what if millions of people came out on the streets to oppose their governments' support for the US-led war. They suddenly stood neutralized by the complicity in the resolution of Germany and France, who had once seemed to offer at least a notional resistance to the Anglo-Saxon way wardness in the Middle East. Even Spain, which threw up a left-leaning liberal government in an election that surprised everyone, mainly because of its promise to oppose the occupation of Iraq, voted in unison with the rest. Brazil and Chile that formed the backbone of a popular Latin American movement against American hegemony at home and abroad were silenced into submission. China, Russia and, of course, Pakistan, despite a raging anti-American sentiment across the country, were co-opted. So here is a scary picture of helplessness of the people and collusion of their governments with American wilfulness. There were strong voices raised at the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January against the American war plans in Iraq. But WSF is scarcely equipped to carry the battle forward. Ideologically, the WSF opposes the neo-liberal policies of the Bush administration and yet, somehow, it has failed to grasp the need for a campaign against neo-imperialism, says the Prof Anderson. Indeed, on reflection it does look quite obvious that many of the WSF peace activists who had gathered in Mumbai were so riveted to their Iraq campaign that they seemed quite willing to overlook the excesses of the Clinton administration in Yugoslavia. However, as Prof. Anderson argued, there was little to choose between collective bombing by Nato in Yugoslavia and a very nearly solo campaign of unacceptable destruction of a sovereign country like Iraq. Another professorial insight concerned the issue of human rights as a malleable idea that usually serves the interest of the strong against the weak. For example, while most juridical systems acknowledge the right to inheritance as a fundamental right, the same is not true for the right to employment. He said that it was time now to replace the discourse of human rights with that of human needs. According to Prof Anderson, it is this notion of human rights, which was used by the Nato war machinery to override national sovereignty in the Balkans, and by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, to perpetuate their socio-political and economic dominance. This 'military humanism', a phrase used previously by Professor Noam Chomsky to deride the Bush doctrine, signifies nothing but the quest for global hegemony. And yet the ideas were formulated during the tenure of Democratic President Jimmy Carter, and aggressively pursued by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and settled into a seemingly routine fact of politics during the Clinton years. Now if this is the big picture, and American hegemony is indeed complete and solid over large areas of the globe, as Prof. Anderson indicates it does, then what are we discussing in and about Kashmir? It was Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed who had concluded in his direct, abrasive way during his visit to New Delhi. 'Now even you are a blue- eyed boy of the United States,' he told the Indian interlocutors. 'So why don't we become friends?' An answer to that question is overdue, but perhaps too embarrassing for anyone to attempt it honestly. Iftikhar Geelani's woes never seem to abate. The respected journalist, an expert on Kashmir and Pakistan affairs, was offloaded last week from a plane by Indian immigration officials when he was about to leave for Colombo. Geelani, who was incarcerated by the previous government for nine months on false charges of espionage, was told this time by officials of the supposedly new administration that he could not travel for the peace conference in Colombo because his passport was slightly damaged. Just as he was beginning to believe the officials, a bigger surprise was coming. After the plane had left, he was told that he was offloaded because of a miscommunication, and that he was now free to travel - on the same supposedly damaged passport.


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