The Antisemitism Behind the Defense Minister’s Faux Pas

Source: Daily Pakistan

Source: Daily Pakistan

Some people need no reason to hate the Jewish people. For some, it’s almost an instinctive reaction, to others, it is a religious obligation, and for even more people, because Israel.

However, our honorable Defense Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who became the laughing stock of the world when he reacted to a fake news about Israel offered us a unique insight into how he thinks. And believe me, it is pretty anti-Semitic.

First of all, let me commend our Defense Minister’s support for the Syrian people expressed in the same twitter feed. Now, I am not sure if he tweets himself or has a communications professional doing it for him, but it is certainly the work of someone very emotional.

And why the hell not? After all, it is an emotional medium. But not sure if one fit for the communication of a public official, especially one serving in the role of a national statesman whose voice is heard around the world. Especially when they don’t bother to fact check.

Well, the honorable Minister reminded the Israelis that “Pakistan, too, is a nuclear state” when the Israeli Defense Minister supposedly threatened Pakistan with a nuclear attack for sending troops to Syria to fight ISIS. All based on a fake news story. And what is worse, he did not even bother to respond to the clarification from the Israeli Defense Ministry.

I don’t want to see such stories about a Pakistani Minister, for who I have great respect, in the New York Times.

Am I the only one who sees a problem with a high ranking official of such an important country entertaining a conspiracy theory?

Citizens can only hope that some day, Pakistan would give up its anti-Semitic foreign policy. And now we have some evidence that it is fueled by anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. I wonder what is going on in the mind of other government, bureaucratic, and military officials.

The Pakistani Defense Minister believed this obviously fake news, that anybody with a little common sense could have figured out, because he is taking this lie for granted that Israel and similar powers are behind the Islamic State. It is as embarrassing as having a 9/11 truther as a foreign minister.

By that logic, he thinks that the Israeli Defense Minister is supposed to be upset at Pakistan acting against the Islamic State, when in reality anyone would welcome it.

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

The conspiracy theory is the favorite of anti-Semites. Israel created ISIS. Though, often in the next breath, they would wish an Islamic State terrorist attack on Israel. Just like Israel created so many other evils in the world. You know, like countless scientific innovations. Though I take such inventions to be the common progress of humanity and not belonging to any one country.

Israel might possibly be having some schadenfreude at the expense of its immediate rival, but by no means is the Israeli government or the people supportive of the plight of the innocent people in Syria. Only days ago, Tel Aviv saw one of the more prominent protests in the region against the atrocities committed in Aleppo. Israeli hospitals have admitted several injured Syrian refugees.

Now let me remind you, the Satanic Jews that Pakistanis love to hate so much were not out on the streets because they wanted to see the children of Muslims bleed. But because they are good hearted, decent people who feel for the carnage underway in Aleppo by the ruthless forces of President Assad and by the Russians to some degree.

The only such protests in Pakistan were perhaps held by the Jamaat-e-Islami, thanks to Aleppo being off-limits to the outrage of our progressive liberals. That’s the only common ground that I have ever found with the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Also, Israel is by no means safe from the Islamic State. And if you think it is, then you are suffering from a special kind of delusion. For people who like to cite the lack of threats as evidence of the Islamic State being a product of Israel, they have already threatened Israel several times. And God forbid, they would follow up on their threats if and when they are able to and we must fear that day. As we are in fear and mourning now for the beautiful people of Iraq and Syria.

If a few terrorists from West Bank can devastate Israel with arson crimes, surely the Islamic State can do great damage if it infiltrates even the West Bank settlements. So, you can bet Israel is vigilantly aware of this security threat. And no, Israel is not safe. Despite the allegations that “Jews rule the world.”

Israel has also taken limited action against Islamic State assets when inevitable, but not in as larger scale as they would have. They should have perhaps, as a responsible nation. But then again, the tiny state can hardly defend itself against home-made rockets in Gaza, you cannot expect them to invite a new, much larger, more ferocious enemy to its gates without the much-needed support of more powerful allies.

Where are President Obama’s forces, someone who would go down as the most complacent President to Islamist terrorism in history? Where are the French and German forces? I say President-elect Donald Trump is right to criticize the lack of responsibility of Western Europe for their part in NATO. Where is the Arab coalition against the Islamic State?

Shame on the world. Not just Israel, but the entire civilized world. Shame on all of us.

But most of all, shame on our honorable Defense Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

The Pakistani idiot of the year 2016, in my books.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.

 

Farewell Tribute To Cameron Munter

Source: US State Department

While it sounds rather ridiculous for commoners to be interested in the office of diplomats, I mean what and who comes and goes, there are certain individuals that come across in this profession every now and then which are hard to ignore. One such person has been Ambassador Cameron Munter who has served in Islamabad from October 6, 2010 until he announced his early resignation on May 7, 2012 and left for the United States on July 24, 2012. Charge d’ affaires Richard Hoagland is performing stand-in duties for him.

Now I write this as a Pakistani national and someone who at least aspires to be if not is a citizen of the world. But even regardless of these viewpoints, I see the term of Ambassador Munter, a Californian who loves desi food, in Pakistan rather charming. I know it has been a while since he gave up his position, which happened in July 2012 actually, and this post has been overdue as I have been looking to write about it ever since.

I have observed Ambassador Munter to be by far the most interactive, publicly outreaching and friendly American ambassador in my living memory. The rest of them were either too dull or too cruel or too quiet in public. Of course, they all must have been heard loud and clear in the offices of Pakistani decision makers. Even if there were other ambassadors who had been as much active, certainly no one would have been so much outspoken and accessible to the media.

This is important because his term in Islamabad was marked by one of the most turbulent events in the history of Pakistan-US relations, especially due to the US Navy SEALs raid on Abottabad to assassinate Osama Bin Laden, the secret memo affair, the Raymond Davis killings and the continued drone strikes in the tribal areas, which have become a trademark of the Obama administration warfare.

Not to mention the NATO attack on Pakistan Army Salala checkpost on the Afghan border on November 26, 2011. I recall Munter appearing frequently in popular Pakistani talk shows and expressing his regret over the unfortunate incident while still not using the word “apologize”, which was clearly deliberate, with great emphasis. Tough job. We witnessed that thin line between being sorry and apologizing. Such is the nature of US-Pakistan diplomatic relations.

As a matter of fact, he handled affairs in one of the toughest conditions that a diplomat could ask for, when anti-American sentiment in Pakistan was on the rise. Similar difficulties were faced by his Pakistani counterpart Hussain Haqqani. Here is Munter’s last appearance on Pakistani TV.

Pakistani media had actually been hailing Munter for leaving his office for being disturbed at the continued drone strikes and avoiding an apology for Salala despite the public outrage in Pakistan, which is denied by the US Embassy in Islamabad as he is said to have stepped down for personal reasons, but there has been consistent rumor about that in the media throughout the latter part of his term. Even foreign media reported it, which really makes you wonder about its validity because usually you can safely consider what the State Department is telling you to be lies unless it is about attacking some country.

I am not sure how much a diplomat should be involved with his assignment emotionally, especially when it comes to the military objectives of a campaign, and we are not even sure if Munter was, but I can acknowledge that Munter was apparently more human and more humane of any of the US ambassadors that I have noticed. His public relations were at least, and that is what matters at the end of the day. The general public is least bothered about what goes on behind closed doors.

However, I am not sure if it is necessarily a good thing for a diplomat. I guess in the ruthless and Machiavellian world of diplomacy, you need to focus on your interests and objectives and get the cold hearted kill and go on your own way. I do not doubt Munter’s abilities as a diplomat a bit, but then again there is no reason to believe that he succumbed to his emotions at any time.

But he was certainly sincere in making an attempt to reach out to the people of Pakistan, and to improve bilateral relations.

That is important.

I don’t care if he was fine with the drone strikes or not. I also don’t care if he agrees with Obama’s warfare or not.

But what I care about is his gestures of friendship and I think that must be reciprocated.

Ambassador Cameron Munter, you will be remembered.

I am sure you won’t forget Pakistan.

The World Needs a New Warsaw Pact

Original File Source: Wikipedia

Contrary to popular and prevalent beliefs, it seems that it is not the terrorist groups which are the greatest threat to the World Peace, but the very powers which claim to be its guardians themselves. This notion which has always been covered with the ice of the label of being a conspiracy theory is fast being exposed as it melts with the events that unfold everyday in front of our eyes. Although it hardly needs any elaboration that the post WW-II history of the world is full of neo-Imperialistic adventures with loss of life roughly reaching, if not greater to, the numbers of deaths in the Second Great War, but still we conveniently tend to forget those lessons as Islam(ism) emerges as the new enemy, replacing the Communist Soviet Union, as Communism is not completely dead, but the Soviet Union is.

The NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed shortly after the Second World War partly in response to the Berlin Blockade from the Soviet Union, after which the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States only went downhill. The NATO was created in 1949 after the Treaty of Brussels in which the Western European countries such as Britain, France, Holland and Belgium saw the need to counter the rising Soviet threat to the balance of power in Europe and it led to the suggestion of a military alliance with the United States, the only power in the world that could challenge the Soviet military might. In response, the Soviets just did not sit idle. The Soviet Union concluded the Warsaw Pact in 1955 with the Eastern European countries with Soviet influence on “Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance”, which was concentrated on mutual defense against the NATO, later taking the shape of CSTO or Collective Security Treaty Organization after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The situation of the world politics is not the same as it was right after the Second World War. While that is a blessing but it has its disadvantages as well. Right now, we have the NATO protecting its members from any external threat but there is no substantial international military alliance to counter it, if any at all. The NATO does fight the Islamist groups across the Middle East and occasionally takes action against dictators here and there, but is there any substantial entity that can possibly challenge its authority? Now, don’t tell me that we have the United Nations Security Council to avoid the abuse of any such power. The opposite of that is precisely what we have been witnessing since the creation of the Security Council and of late the United States has been manipulating the international forum for carrying out its military and strategic ambitions.

While there is no doubt that most of the threats that the NATO is concerned about are justified and serious, such as Islamist terrorists operating from Nigeria to Yemen and from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Indonesia, we have witnessed incidents in which the authorities have admitted mistakes and errors of judgment, read misguiding fabrication, when it comes to presenting the rationale for starting new wars. The Iraq War started in 2003 has been the greatest shock for people all around the world. The US Secretary of State at the time stated at the United Nations Security Council that Iraq had possessed weapons of mass destruction that could prove dangerous for the peace of the region. After the American invasion, it was admitted that no evidence was found to support that notion and it was dismissed as an intelligence error later on.

While there is always the possibility of an intelligence error, such audacious estimates could prove really costly when it comes to the damage and loss of human lives. The actual purpose of the invasion of Iraq is another story though. Iraq War has just been declared as officially over by the US government and human rights groups are crying out for the great loss of civilian lives and incidents of abuse that took place in the eight year long period. The question is when there was such poor evidence for the basis of an invasion on Iraq, why did the major world powers like China, Russia, France and Germany allow it to happen? Many opposed the idea of an invasion as the powers unanimously agreed on continued weapon inspections but no practical steps were taken to block the military operation.

This is the willingness that the world is lacking which is encouraging the United States to go ahead with attacking almost any state that it considers a threat, or for attaining its regional security interests. This really makes the NATO and the United States the greatest threat to the World Peace. I am not implying that the NATO is not recognizing the threats correctly, but the point that I want to make here is that it is simply too free and unchecked to pursue any military campaigns around the world that it considers necessary. This has resulted into disastrous events such as the Iraq War and even the currently on-going Afghanistan War has proved to be largely inconclusive even after a decade. While the NATO itself, or at least the United States, has paid dearly for such campaigns, these wars could easily have been avoided had the powers of the world intended to do so.

If we consider the possibility of the United States and Israel putting pressure on the world powers to gather support for attacking Iran out of the fear that the Islamic Republic has developed nuclear weapons, then those world powers should be alarmed by the elimination of probably the greatest resistance to the American interests in the Middle East. It is not just that powers like Russia and even China, which enjoy considerable influence in Iran thanks to its unpopularity with the United States and the West, will be concerned about another market or strategic partner lost, but it would also mean war, further escalation of oil prices before things are stabilized again (which will be pretty unlikely for quite some time), destruction and a lot of complications if any one of other nations choose to jump into the conflict.

It would be incorrect to say that the major world powers other than the United States and the European Union have not been diplomatically active to counter the almost unilateral and uncompromising action of the NATO, but it would not be wrong to assert that those half-hearted efforts have not been good enough at all. As far as the required military alliance is concerned, some people may point out that the CSTO exists for the purpose. The problem is far beyond the reach of the CSTO and it is hardly something that comes even close to the diplomatic alliance required for a mutual defense strategy against the NATO. The SCO or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is one organization that comes close to the required strategic alliance to curtail the American influence in Asia Pacific, but it largely deals with economic affairs instead of military and strategic ones.

What the world really needs is that the members of both the CSTO and the SCO, extended to NATO members which could develop genuine differences with the organization, such as Turkey, to form a serious military alliance to curtail the influence of the NATO. Another Warsaw Pact, if you will. The alliance could include nations from Russia and China to the willing former-Soviet Central Asian and East European Republics and from Pakistan to Iran. Even North Korea could be a part of this alliance, at least unofficially. The exact specification of the member states for such an alliance does not really matter as long as there is an agreement to block the growth of US interests in the Middle East, as the fall of Iran and Pakistan would mean the absolute domination of the United States in the region and this is going to be the front in the future.

While countries like Turkey, India, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan could at least be convinced to work for maintaining the balance of power in the region, India would not really find joining such a defensive alliance in its interests. The strategic interests of India are aligned with the United States at the moment and the last thing it would want to do is joining a defensive alliance against the NATO. Even Turkey would not enter such an alliance being a member of the NATO itself, but at least these are the countries which can prove to be valuable diplomatic assets to such a treaty and with the diplomatic and strategic alliance of such a nature, the elements in the European Union skeptical of the US foreign policy could be convinced to block the fulfilment of US ambitions through the NATO forces.

While calling for such a military alliance sounds like inviting World War III, but it would at least be a deterrent for the powers in the world which usually have no hesitation in going ahead with any military campaigns they have in mind, whatever the purpose may be. While it may not prevent violence and wars altogether, it would reduce the possibility of many wars that could otherwise result as the aftermath of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars of the first decade of the 21st century. It is up to the major powers of the world that are concerned about the growing influence of the United States in the Middle East to come out of their shells and to take solid measures of blocking any more unnecessary military conflicts that the world can do without.

At least for maintaining the balance of power, if not for peace.

Lessons From Gaddafi

Source: The Daily Telegraph

So the reign of the old Colonel, Moammer Gaddafi, has come to an end. Finally.

All things must pass away, they say. A man, for example. Nothing lasts forever. But perhaps these taken for granted facts were something the illustrious dictator of Libya forgot. I would not go into the political echoes of the event, but just human lessons you could extract out of it and what the historian could tell you about it. Still politics is as related to the matter as the eye is related to sight.

Everyone has a loathing for Gaddafi for being brutal and cold-hearted and cruel for bombing his very own people. But at the same time, I could also imagine what would be going through his mind and in his heart. A falling dictator is the most desperate man in the world. So while I despised him for being cruel to his own people who paid for his luxuries, I also had a bit of sympathy for him and his family. Like I had for Hosni Mobarek of Egypt and his family.

I don’t want them to flourish on the luxuries they do not deserve but I want them to live. For those who want them dead because they were responsible for the death of their loved ones is a different story. I can’t fully understand death for justice so I would leave the subject to those who do and be thankful as long as I am not the one facing the shooting squad. But I still think their families are innocent and deserve to live.

Establishing this point, let us move forward. Royalty. which need not be hereditary and let me integrate it to the modern times despite the general despise of monarchies and the popularity of republics, bears the burden of the sins attached to its name. This is what the history tells us. Think of the Romanovs, murdered in cold blood in some oblivious house and picture the young Alexei and Anastasia and their other sisters dying, simply because they were the children of Czar Nicholas II. Cruel from a human viewpoint, but just the right thing to do maybe from the Bolshevik perspective. Maybe it was necessary because an Anastasia appeared in Germany several years later.

In the modern times, families of government figures may be allowed to live in peace if they remain quiet, just like the son of the exiled Shah of Iran. Gaddafi had a choice of fleeing Libya much earlier than he did. He could have read the writing on the wall. Even a child watching TV could. But maybe Gaddafi wasn’t watching TV or he would have known. Instead, he was hoping to cling on to the throne he had been clinging on to for nearly four decades. It is was too dear to him, maybe more than his family, which is why he lost his sons and grandsons in the battle for it.

It is not a question of right and wrong or good and evil here. It is a question of being a victor or a loser. The rebels were backed by the NATO and Gaddafi could not have expected to resist them for long, so in the end his rule was limited to his palace in Tripoli. So he retreated too late. I was keenly waiting for the news of his escape to another country, but the more it was delayed, the more I became convinced of his delusions, erratic thought process and messed up priorities. He was stuck somewhere in the middle of being a man who never wanted to give up and who was too afraid to die.

A spectator and a historian would never be able to make up their minds about whether to hate the man or whether to have respect for him. Most of them would comfortably eliminate the latter option, as you cannot really have a lot of respect, if at all, for a man who cannot really make up his mind between his family and his throne, and not sure of what was more prized to him. But maybe anyone else in his place would be torn apart in the same dilemma. Being as resourceful as he was, it is easy to say that he could have easily found his way to a safe country with his family.

For a moment, I thought Gaddafi was fighting for his pride and his glory. That he would fight to the last bullet in the barrel and the last drop of blood in his veins. The kind of dictators who would rather commit suicide than be overpowered by the enemy and captured and humiliated, like Adolf Hitler of the Third Reich or the great warrior kings of Rajputana. But no, he even wasn’t that type. A confused man or one who was caught in the whirlwind of circumstances. Who can tell but himself. But we can see where he was wrong and what he could have done to minimize the damage. The throne was already lost and there was no other way to it.

Had family been the first priority of Gaddafi, he could have left Libya with them way too early than when he really did. I heard the news that his daughter gave birth to a child when he reached with his family in Algeria. This is what the difference can mean. Life and death. I guess one of his sons died in the action, fighting against the rebels, or in a NATO bombing. Maybe they did not have to do that. Maybe he did not have to be so brutal to the public. Maybe he could have had enough foresight to realize that his end was near. He could have run away way before the Bastille was overrun. He did just that but he also assigned the task of guarding it to his loved ones, if that is the right term to use here.

Not all dictators give their power away so violently. There was Pervez Musharraf of  Pakistan, for example. Not all are too smart, recall the way Saddam Hussein ended up. Maybe he didn’t have many friends. A huge mistake for a dictator. Gaddafi was made to give up his power just like every other dictator, but he seemed more like a child separated from his toy, if you ignore the innocence part. But still you would expect him to foresee it.

I think it could be a completely seperate and dedicated area of research, how dictators should escape their impending doom. Survival can make man do crazy things and the things that Gaddafi did would go down in the history as among the craziest. So if you are a dictator and love your family a bit more than Gaddafi did or love your throne a bit less and if you are fighting against the NATO, it is better to make an early, safe and pleasant escape to a country like Algeria if Saudi Arabia refuses to accept your entry.

It remains to be seen if he will be tried for crimes against humanity. That also depends on how many friends you have, and how many you run out of. I just happened to glance past a New York Times photo feature based on the family pictures of Gaddafi found in his palace, which now lay in ruins. I have no idea why the American publication felt the need to publish it, maybe to emphasize the humiliation faced by the man and his family, but I leave you with it.

In the end, you have to come to the point when you need to decide whether you are a dictator or a human.