December 2005 News

Recent UN Resolution And Kashmir

20 December 2005
The Nation
Dr. Suhrab Aslam Khan

Lahore: The recently adopted UNSC resolution 1624 called upon all of the UN member states to 'Prohibit by law incitement to commit a terrorist act or acts'. In addition, it expected from the members to 'deny safe haven' to anyone suspected of incitement to terrorism. For the Islamic World in particular there are two serious shortcomings in the Resolution. First, the UN has not yet accorded acceptance to specific definition of terrorism. With this in view, incitement to 'terrorist' act is a phrase that lends itself to the possibility of self-serving & subjective - that is, devoid of objective standards __ interpretation, leading to conflicts. And, secondly, the demand of prohibition 'by law' on the part of all member states harbors within it a duality. Because, due to the relative non-specificity of the term terrorism, in circumstances of the divergence of viewpoints between states regarding 'incitement' to terrorism clause, some state (s) may arrogate to itself the prerogative to enforce the prohibition of terrorism. Of course, such a measure may include the threat or use of military force, and perhaps violation of international borders. And such an approach on the part of latter states could be deemed to dispense with the need to secure any sanction from the UN. It is due to the reason, and as a matter of far-reaching significance for the Muslim states especially, the preposition 'by' concerning law, present in the Resolution, could be constructed to imply 'according to law'. In the current era noted for 'anti-terrorism campaign', the Treaty of Westphalia 1648 no longer provides an adequate basis for international relations. For the recognised principles subsequent to the Treaty pertaining to modern state system are plainly not sufficient anymore as a central assumption in international law. And a nuanced interpretation of the Resolution as a collective approach by the states with vested interests, deemed lawful, therefore is open to utilisation in service of the objectives of realpolitik __ i.e., power politics, or national interests superseding over considerations of international law. Therefore, the UN resolution allows the possibility for such a unilateral action against another state to be deemed to have the sanction of law, with the evident consequences. This critical aspect of the Resolution has not been accorded attention in the commentaries and analyses appearing in the print and electronic media, both national and international, so far. Within the compass of historical experience, the undermined legitimacy of the idea and fact of nation-state was a central characteristic of colonialism. And the colonial rule involved the subjugation of the interests of colonies to those of the imperial power. In various authored studies, including The Birth of the Modern World, national independence has been recognised as the condition for the development of former colonies. In addition, independent nation-state remains the most important means by which people can exercise control over their own destiny. In the present period, with the 1648 Treaty almost in abeyance, the UN Resolution should not be allowed to further strengthen this emerging international political trend to undermine the basis of nation-state in order to fortify the idea of imperialism. It is of note, the arguments to justify the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq - the introduction of democracy in the ME, etc - serve to compromise seriously the nation state as an established entity in international relations. The UN Resolution bears direct relevance to the struggle for self-determination being waged in Kashmir. The British Prime Minister, Mr Blair during his proximately recent visit to India commented that 'the world had been reluctant to recognise the insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir as terrorism'. As an irony of history, Kashmir is a problem created by the colonial Britain in 1947, without any serious efforts on its part to resolve it subsequent to the relevant UN Resolutions. And now it has the moral temerity to label the freedom straggle in Kashmir as terrorism, encouraging India for recalcitrance towards its solution, imperiling peace and security in the region and the world. Mr Blair should be asked to characterise the demise of half million infants in Iraq subsequent to the US & UN economic sanctions against that country during the 90s, the 'first blooding' due to the sending of UK air force during 1998 to Iraq in his own words as recorded recently in The Spin Doctor's Diary by Lance Price, and the undergoing war in Iraq since 03 without justification while not discovering any WMD. Foreign policy pursued by Pakistan regarding Kashmir has been a spectacle of vacillation lately. Even a former prime minister of Azad Kashmir, during his recent visit to New Delhi (Sept. 24, 05), also misidentified the freedom struggle in Kashmir as terrorism. Such utterances do expose the glaring lacuna that no regard was held for those who have shouldered the burden, borne the brunt, and offered untold sacrifices during the past sixteen years of the ongoing freedom fight in the occupied territory. In addition, it is also implicit in the noted utterance, that contradicts the fact of Pakistan movement being not of past, but it is being lived in the present through the freedom struggle in Kashmir. However, as a matter of priority, Islamabad should adopt specific measures in earnest for the acceptance of a definition of terrorism by the UN, in addition to the OIC, NAM and AU. As a necessary preceding step, formulation of a correct definition is indispensable and in this respect a reference should be made to the monthly Current Affairs Digest, January 03. Such a definition should subscribe to the notion that targeting of non-combatant civilians is wholly unjustifiable, however, as an effect or symptom, its cause should logically be eliminated as a prior condition. Instances of Kashmir, Palestine, Chechneya and more recently Iraq are illustrative of the repressive political injustice as the underline cause of the indigenous uprising which, in accordance with the manifestations of realpolitik, is dubbed and projected simply as terrorism. The writer is Chairman, Pakistan Ideological Forum, Lahore


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