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Politics & Policy

CE visits UN

He made good use of the opportunity to press the major issue of concern

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI
Islamabad
Nov 19 - 25, 2001

President Musharraf's last week visit to United States his address to 56th session of the General Assembly and his meeting with US President Bush has been an event of historic importance for Pakistan. The General presented his country's point of views on the burning world issues including the US led coalition war against terrorism and attack on Afghanistan in a forceful, forthright and an impressive manner leaving good image of Pakistan on the august gathering including presidents of 48 countries and 114 foreign ministers of different countries of the world.

His first meeting with President Bush, spread over two sessions of 2 hours each, beside a special dinner hosted by the US President in honour of his Pakistani counterpart will go a long way in determining the countours of future Pak-US ties. An spokesman described the meeting as crucial as it entailed revival of an old relationship and the beginning of a new era of trust and more lasting friendship. "Convergence of views on the current military campaign and a future dispensation in Afghanistan, a US pledge of increased economic assistance and agreement on diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue marked the first meeting between the two Presidents".

When Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf addressed the UN General Assembly session on Saturday, he could be sure that as head of a front-line state in the on-going US-led campaign against terrorism, he would have a sizable captive audience worldwide. He made good use of the opportunity to press the major issue of concern to the people of his country as also the Muslim nations in general as he strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington but also urged the international community to understand the real causes that lead to such extreme acts. He made an impressive presentation of the strongly held view in this country that the unresolved political disputes are at the root of the problem of terrorism. And that, sadly, Muslims happen to be the victims in these situations, a fact which "tends to give a religious tings to the otherwise political disputes". The lack of progress in the resolution of these disputes, he rightly pointed out, had created a sense of deprivation, helplessness and powerlessness.

These, in this part of the world, are the well-known causes of the Muslim unrest, which at times results in acts of violence against countries such as the US, for being perceived as the backers of those perpetuating political injustices. However, some in the Western countries including US President George Bush, would have their people believe that it was some kind of a war between the good and the evil, and that religious extremists from the Islamic world wished to destroy the civilised world's freedom' and 'prosperity' out of sheer intolerance. Generally being an inward looking people, most Americans buy such contorted explanations as they seek answers to the persistent question 'Why do the Muslims hate us.' Hence, it is important that whenever an opportunity arises, the people in the Western countries are shown the other side of the picture as well which tells them of the unfair and uncivilized policies pursued by their governments in the aid of aggressor states in the Middle East, South Asia and other parts of the world, where Muslims have to face unending occupation of their lands and usurpation of their political rights.

President Musharraf used the UN forum effectively to draw the attention of his audiences which included a large number of heads of government from all over the world to the gloomy reality that "the frustration gets even worse when disputes like Kashmir and Palestine remain unsettled for decades despite UN Security Council resolutions". The least the so-called civilised countries can do, but have refused to do, is to simply exert their influence for the implementation of the UN resolutions concerning the world's two most volatile disputes, Palestine and Kashmir. The President reflected the views of the Muslim peoples so well when he observed, "The question then is whether it is the people asking for their rights in accordance with UN resolutions who are to be called terrorists or whether it is the countries refusing to implement UN resolutions, who are perpetrators of state terrorism. "That indeed is a crucial question to ponder for the US and all its 'civilized' allies who have allowed Israel as well as India to continue to flout the UNSC resolutions that urge the Zionist state to vacate all territories it occupied during the 1967 war, and require, New Delhi to hold a plebiscite in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir to determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people about the future of their land.

There is no doubt that the protracted political disputes are the major cause of extremism in today's world. Kashmir and Palestine are the two major issues, which are still unresolved even after half a century, despite UN Security Council resolutions, articulating methodology for their settlement. It is imperative that India and Israel, which are subjugating the people of Kashmir and Palestine illegally and immorally should be made to end their State terrorism and to implement the UNSC resolutions to end extremism. Let there be no illusion that extremism generates extremism. If Kashmiris and Palestinians will be brutalised, oppressed and repressed unabatedly, New Delhi and Tel Aviv cannot escape retaliation and the vicious cycle of violence and terrorism will not end. The sooner India and Israel realise this reality the better would it be for them as well as for the world at large. The UN Security Council ought to come forward and play its due role in resolving these two issues urgently. The permanent members of the UNSC must ensure implementation of its resolutions.

President General Musharraf and President George W. Bush held two-hour long meeting in New York on Saturday night discussing wide spectrum of issues including Afghan situation with particular reference to the post-Taliban dispensation and Northern Alliance's military successes. The impact of Afghan crisis on Pakistan's economy was also discussed. Both leaders shared the perception that the post-Taliban set-up should be broad-based and multie-thnic and that Northern Alliance should not take over Kabul to avoid recurrence of post-Soviet campaign of death and destruction. President Bush announced one billion dollars of aid and a pledge of debt relief for Pakistan.

Despite the fact that Pakistan has a bitter experience of having been left in the lurch by the United States after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, one cannot ignore the flattery of the world's only superpower. The Bush-Musharraf meeting was certainly crucial in view of many misgivings and misconceptions between the two countries. It is, however, a matter of satisfaction that President Bush has recognized the need of the broad-based and multi-ethnic set-up for the post-Taliban Afghanistan. People in this region are convinced that is the only way to ensure unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, which cannot afford any more infighting among the Afghan warlords. It is also encouraging that the US President shared Gen Musharraf's viewpoint that the Northern Alliance should be restrained from taking over Kabul for the safety of ethnic Pushtoons from genocide at the hands of the Northern Alliance warlords belonging to Uzbek, Hazara and Tajik tribes. It is necessary in view of the genocide that was carried out in Kabul in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.