West’s Double Standards

West’s Double Standards: An Unending threat for the World?



When the Syrian regime was accused of using chemical weapons in Syria in April this year, US President Trump immediately issued a tweet describing the Syrian President Basharul Asad as “an animal” who gassed his own people.

And when anti-government demonstrations erupted in several Iranian cities earlier this year, the US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley was quick to embrace their cause. “The Iranian regime’s contempt for the rights of its people has been widely documented for many years,” she told the UN Security Council session.

However, the US, conversely, has been keeping mum over human rights violations perpetrated by its allies; Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt. The US, instead, supported them with money, weapons and deals despite their anti-democracy agendas and ruthless suppression of political opponents. The United States even continues to assist Saudi Arabia in its atrocity-ridden military intervention in Yemen.

As Israel’s biggest ally, the US has used its UN Security Council veto dozens of times to protect the Jewish state from resolutions condemning illegal settlements to violence against Palestinians.

Most of the big powers take pains to portray themselves as humane, lovers and protectors of rights and democracy, yet the reality is quite different. They often indulge themselves in double standards and selective morality, unmatched with their known commitments to justice and liberties.

Read more: Syrian imbroglio

The United States, particularly, has been supporting extremely repressive regimes like the Shah of Iran, Nicaragua’s Somoza family, Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and military dictators like Egypt’s Abdul Fatah Alsisi and Pakistan’s Zia-ul-haq. The discriminatory US policy on intended Indian and Pakistani membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is another classic case of double standard.

Pakistan and India applied for NSG membership in 2016. Though the signing of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a prerequisite for entry and India is yet to sign it, the US is spearheading efforts to waiver the NPT- signing exemption for India. And the United States has added seven Pakistani companies to a list of foreign entities that are subject to stringent export control measures, a move that could hamper Pakistan’s bid to join NSG.

The US has also signed nuclear deal with India but Pakistan has been denied the same deal. The pact between the US and India exempts military facilities and stockpiles of nuclear fuel from scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy agency which has enabled India to sign nuclear cooperation agreements with Japan, Russia, France, Britain, South Korea, Canada, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Namibia.

India rejects this line, insisting Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between the two countries.

The abuse of Veto power

The constitution of the UN Security Council is anything but justice. There is no equality of opportunity to every member state. Veto power given to big powers, therein gives undue leverage to them in getting things done as against the smaller ones. Which means that if any P-5 member or its ally is the aggressor or wrongdoer, no adverse action is possible against it as the P-5 member vetoes any such move. As Israel’s biggest ally, the US has used its UN Security Council veto dozens of times to protect the Jewish state from resolutions condemning illegal settlements to violence against Palestinians.

Read more: Germany’s Syria Strategy

While Israel is allowed to stockpile loads of nuclear arms and no hostile military action is initiated against it even if it blatantly and arrogantly rejects UN resolutions on halt of extension in settlements, Iraq is attacked and its cities turned into heaps of debris under the false pretext that it’s preparing/piling weapons of mass destruction despite report to the contrary by UN inspectors who had been deputed there.

And while there is continuous silence on blatant heinous human violations by “allies” such as Israel, there is a strong reaction to similar incidents perpetrated by “others” such as Saddam Hussain’s era Iraq.

Selective morality and double standards

And it is nothing but double standard and selective morality if Israel that openly violates/rejects international laws, UN resolutions and any serious effort for peaceful solution of its issues with Palestinians is equated with/ preferred over Palestinians whose lands have been usurped and who are being displaced and denied human rights.

Veto power given to big powers, therein gives undue leverage to them in getting things done as against the smaller ones.

Catalonia’s recent example, where Spain arrested an elected leader Carles Puidgemont for holding a separatist referendum, is ironic how the western world, across Europe, has united to extradite an elected Spanish leader, with popular mandate, yet is often seen providing asylums (and perhaps other help) to violent insurgent leaders from Baloch insurgency in Pakistan.

Read more: Wrath for separatists in Spain but sympathy for Baloch insurgents from Pakistan: Europe’s Double Standards?

Another example is their take on Pak- India relations. With both being nuclear powers, a war between the two can have dangerous repercussions for global peace. But the US and  Britain famously urge Pakistan and India to resolve their issues through mutual negotiations.

As India is not ready to talk to Pakistan, accusing Pakistan of state terrorism, Pakistan rightly urges major powers for mediation on Kashmir. India rejects this line, insisting Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between the two countries.

When the US and Britain insist India and Pakistan should resolve their dispute through mutual dialogue and refuse to mediate or condemn India for its atrocities in Kashmir, they are actually toeing Indian lines.

An extremist Hindu fundamentalist party, is voted to power with a clear majority in the 2014 Indian General Elections

It is but injustice if India which is clearly the wrongdoer being violator of several UN resolutions on Kashmir and whose leaders openly admit helping breaking up Pakistan in 1971 and vowing to drying up Pakistan against all international norms – is treated at par with Pakistan -which is trying its level best to bring India to the negotiation table for resolution of its disputes with it though unsuccessfully so far.

Read more: Russia, Turkey, Iran to hold Syria talks

One fails to understand how can Pakistan and India resolve their disputes peacefully and through mutual discussions when India is not ready to talk to Pakistan and powerful nations are silent spectators lest any offer for mediation or any criticism of perpetrated state-violence by India in Kashmir displease India – a big economic market.

The US and Britain say they are perturbed over violence in Kashmir and urge patience. It is welcome but what is objectionable is when the oppressor is not asked to refrain from using brute force against the peaceful demonstrators and the unarmed oppressed Kashmiri civilians are not openly supported in their fight for self-determination allowed and promised to them by UN resolutions in 1948, 1949 and by the Indian leadership till 1957 before Kashmir was made an integral part of Indian federation.

Stereotyping Muslim Nations

Another example of this double standard is the stereotype mindset that eyes all Muslim nation/states as extremists. Never has any extremist political or religious group obtained absolute majority in any Muslim country in any general elections. Such groups either don’t have the courage to take part and if they do, they have the lowest popular support base, often standing at less than one percent.

Iraq is attacked and its cities turned into heaps of debris under the false pretext that it’s preparing/piling weapons of mass destruction despite report to the contrary by UN inspectors who had been deputed there.

While Pakistan is considered an intolerant and extremist society, no  extremist group ever has obtained absolute majority here. For example, the Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan, an Islamic fundamentalist party, obtained only 0.4 percent of the total polled 46 million votes in the 2013 elections while Pakistan Muslim League-N, Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf having tolerant, democratic and anti-extremism credentials jointly polled around 30 million of the total votes.

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But India is considered one of the biggest democratic and liberal society in the world despite the fact that Prime Minister Narendara Modi’s Bharatia Janata Party, an extremist Hindu fundamentalist party, is voted to power with a clear majority in the 2014 Indian General Elections –it contested on 437 seats of the total 543 seats in the LoK Sabha and grabbed 282 seats, polling over 31 percent of the total polled votes.

The US and other states may have plausible arguments and reasons for persisting in such double standards. But they need to be candid and acknowledge that their decisions are based on cold calculations of national interest, not ethical considerations. They should at least spare us the pretense that they care about human rights and liberties.

Tahir Ali Khan is an academic with over 28 years experience and blogger. He has written over 700 articles. He blogs at http://www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahirkatlang039@gmail.com


Pak-US ties: A tale of one-sided love

Pak-US relations: A tale of one-sided love
By Tahir Ali Khan


Pakistan is an ally of the US in the War on Terror (WoT). Despite having done more than any other ally in the WoT, it is accused of not having done enough to wipe out terrorism.
Feeling neglected, Pakistan has responded with its improved relations and alliance with China and Russia. And it now says it has done enough and it is the US that has to do more now on that front.
A comparative study of what Pakistan and the USA have been doing for each other show the relationship has been a sad story of one-sided love.
Ignoring the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)’s invitation for a visit in 1951, Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan flew to the USA. In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower requested Pakistani Prime Minister Mr Suhrawardy to lease Peshawar Air Station to the American Army for keeping an eye on the USSR and its ballistic missile programme. Pakistan accepted. All this annoyed the Communist regime. It threw its entire weight later in India’s favour, armed it tooth and nail and supported it abundantly.
Pakistan opted for the US and the “Free World” but had been left to tackle eventualities on its own. It joined the SEATO and CENTO thinking that the US/West would come to its rescue but it did quite the opposite. In 1965, when India attacked Pakistan, the USA, instead of supporting it militarily or financially being an ally, slapped sanctions on supply of military equipments to Pakistan. And in 1971, USA’s Seventh Fleet “couldn’t arrive in time” to defend it against USSR supported Indian aggression leading to its dismemberment.
Pakistan had successfully negotiated a deal between USA and China in 70’s. A Chinese leader during these parleys had reportedly told the US envoy not to neglect Pakistan but the US quickly abandoned its ally and silently allowing India to dismember it with the support of the USSR.
In April 1979, the US administration that had whole-heartedly supported the Israeli atomic programme and the “Jewish” Bomb, accusing Pakistan of trying to have an “Islamic” Bomb and citing military dictatorship, imposed sanctions on Pakistan.
However a few months later, when it needed Pakistan’s help against the Red forces in Afghanistan, the US changed course, forgot about dictatorship and the “Islamic Bomb” and sent Dr. Berznisky with a package to Pakistan. Pakistan fought for the West. But when their interests were safeguarded with the defeat and withdrawal of USSR from there, the US/the west left it to bear the sinister aftermath of the militancy alone. Agonisingly, the threat of Pakistan’s nuclear programme surfaced again. And in 1990, as the country by then had lost its strategic importance, the US, under the Pressler amendment, imposed sanctions on Pakistan, whereby every kind of military assistance was banned again to Pakistan. During those years, it did everything to deprive Pakistan of its indigenous nuclear and missile development programme.
This US indifference and double standards with Pakistan continued until the tragedy of 9/11 again made vital Pakistan’s help. Musharraf, the very man who was not entitled to a Photo-session with the US President for being a dictator, became their ‘friend’ overnight. All sanctions were lifted against Pakistan. Pakistan jumped into the WoT. But even then it was made just Non-NATO ally. While Pakistan was denied any atomic energy, with India a civilian nuclear deal was finalised.
The US administration was so selfish vis-à-vis Pakistan that though Pakistan had paid for F16s aircrafts, it neither handed over the F16s to it nor returned the money it had paid for them. Instead, it took from it the maintenance expenditures for these F16s which were held back by the US for sanctions.
Pakistan has come to help/rescue the US twice in Afghanistan. In 1980s, it joined hands with it to defeat the invaders –the USSR. In 2001, it supported it though the US was itself an invader. Then it fought the puppet regime in Kabul; now it supports their ‘puppet regime’ there. Then, they dubbed ‘Mujahideen’ as freedom fighters and Pakistan accepted. Now they dub them terrorists and it accepts even now. Pakistan allowed American army to use its military bases for launching attacks on Afghan soil.
Pakistan even killed its citizens the US considered as its enemies. The US said Dr. Abdul Qadeer is “guilty” of nuclear proliferation and he was immediately put under house arrest. Pakistan even arrested Mulla Zaeef- Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan- for the US for the first time ever in world’s history. It had arrested more than 500 top Alqaeda associates and handed them over to it. Alqaeda since then has attacked Pakistani leaders frequently. Alqaeda had done no harm to Pakistan till then. Pakistan became their enemy when it supported the US in WoT.
The WoT and the resultant militancy and terrorism have badly impacted Pakistan’s economy. Careful estimates put the overall loss at around $120bn. It has resulted into the deaths of thousands of its valiant security personnel and civilians in terrorist acts. But despite all this, it openly questions Pakistan’s commitment to WoT and is still far from being satisfied.
Pakistan arrests and kills the enemies of the US –like Alqaeda, Daesh and Afghan Taliban –considering them its own enemies. But the US openly befriends Pakistan’s enemies and renders them every diplomatic, military, scientific and financial help. It has had ignored and didn’t target the militants fighting against Pakistan until recently. It attacks its territory (the Silala attack), meddles in its internal affairs and thus creates problems for its leaders.
Pakistan needs to be dealt fairly and respectfully as an ally. The policy of doubting its intentions and demanding more from Pakistan will hardly do the US any favour. It only will push Pakistan away towards more reliable allies in China and Russia.

Tahir Ali Khan is an academic and researcher. He blogs at http://www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahirkatlang039@gmail.com

Curbing livestock smuggling

Curbing livestock smuggling

By Tahir Ali


TO curb smuggling and regulate export of animals to Afghanistan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government plans to set up multi-departmental check-posts equipped with vigilance cameras, computers and digital permit readers at the entry points of the province and the tribal belt.

“To be manned by officials from livestock, police and other relevant departments and supervised by area commissioners, the check-posts will record data about movement of animals to and from the province which will be shared with the home department” says Director General of Livestock, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Sher Muhammad.

“Export of livestock will be allowed only via Torkham border in the Khyber Agency. The cattle for export from Punjab will be registered at the Attock Bridge, and issued a certificate. From there, the animals will be escorted by police in the settled area, and then by the political administration in the tribal belt, up to the Pakistan-Afghan border.

“This elaborate monitoring will check smuggling and facilitate legal exporters, preventing misuse of permits for export of animals and meat to Afghanistan,” says Dr Sher.

“The meat/animal permits for Fata will be issued on a daily basis by the livestock department on the recommendations of the relevant political administration. The permitted quota will have to be lifted the same day or else it will expire. Security forces will inform the livestock department of their meat or animal requirements to guard against misuse of their names,” he added.

Special cattle yards will be established to keep the impounded animals which will be subsequently auctioned. To ensure public cooperation, the government will reward those giving information about movement of animals through illegal routes, keeping their names confidential.

The DG said standard operation procedures with clear-cut definition of responsibilities have been issued to the concerned departments, and hopefully the check-posts would start functioning shortly.

Lack of a centralised export permit issuance system in Islamabad, weak coordination among stakeholders and lack of centrally-controlled computerised monitoring of the trade have made it difficult to check smuggling of animals and meat.

Export is a federal subject and its regulation requires close coordination between provincial and federal governments.

However, KP, despite being badly affected by animal exports and smuggling, is not taken on board on the issue of how many animals are to be exported and by which routes.

The installation of digital permit readers is a good decision, but it will not be possible to implement it unless the federal government issues machine readable export permits. Moreover, it requires huge funds and technical support from Nadra which at present is engaged in digitalisation of passports and arms licenses.

The provincial livestock department has submitted legislation on the technology which is likely to be taken up by the provincial assembly shortly.

Prices of animals and meat have surged by 30 to 50 per cent since last year with mutton selling at Rs500-600 and beef at Rs240-300.

A farmer said it was criminal that for the last few years, when the country itself faced shortage of animals and meat was being imported from India, the government had allowed export and smuggling of animals.

“The government has miserably failed to safeguard the interests of the poor consumers. Rather than exporting live animals to other countries, the government should export value-added products like meat, meat products and finished leather goods. The current temporary ban on exports of meat and animals should be extended for at least 10 years to augment the local livestock pool,” he said.

The federal commerce ministry had recently imposed ban on export of meat and live animals for three months, which still continues.

The government usually issues permits for around 0.25 million animals but around thrice the number are taken across the border due to loopholes in the existing system. While officials man the roads, smugglers use the unfrequented routes for smuggling animals.

The phenomenon not only brings about dearth of animals and raise meat prices locally, the leather industry also suffers as the availability of skins comes down.

The Pakistan Tanners Association has called for ban on export and strict control over smuggling of live animals. The leather industry, second largest value-added and export-oriented industry of the country after textiles, got over 17 million skins in 2006 but only eight million in 2010. Consequently, export of leather products has come down to $867 million in 2009 from 1.22 billion in 2007-08.

Apart from smuggling and export and death of around 2 million animals in the floods of this and last year, other factors responsible for the dearth of animals are: the failure to improve the reproductive efficiency, the lack of beef breeds and affordable livestock feed/ fodder and the insufficient curative and preventive facilities and the like.

To increase the livestock population in the country, provision of fodder and feed to farmers on affordable rates, expansion of animal health care system and beef breed development, animal-flattening programme and provision of soft loans to livestock farmers are needed. Cross-breeding of local and foreign cattle could also increase the weight of animals for upto 15-20 per cent.

Meeting meat shortage

Meeting meat shortage

Consumers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa demand for a strict check on livestock smuggling

By Tahir Ali (The News 17-04-11)

The issue of livestock smuggling to Afghanistan and Iran and the resultant sharp increase in the prices of meat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has come into the limelight once again. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti told the Provincial Assembly recently he had received reports that animals were being smuggled to Afghanistan.

Conceding the issue of smuggling in the Provincial Assembly recently, Provincial Information Minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, informs that smugglers had set up a network to smuggle cattle to Afghanistan. “Cattle smugglers pay money to militants to help them in illegal transportation of cattle,” he discloses. “The matter has been taken up with federal government and the ministry has been asked to change mechanism for exporting cattle to Afghanistan as it was being misused,” he adds.

Meat and mutton prices have gone up to Rs200-250 and Rs350-500 respectively in different parts of the province as against Rs150 and Rs300 a few months ago. Prices of cattle and buffaloes have also risen by about 30-40 percent against last year for shortage of animals resulting from animal/meat export and smuggling to neighbouring countries, besides some other reasons.

Livestock farmers and dealers say the permission to export and the failure to check smuggling of animals and meat can trigger a crisis of meat across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan in coming months. Mehmood Ali Khan, a livestock dealer, says the federal government should check export licenses. “Adequate supply of animals is imperative to stabilise and control prices. As animal exporters are exploiting the facility, it should be banned until the government makes full arrangements to stop illegal transportation of animals,” he argues. Another livestock farmer and dealer, Bashir Ahmad, says illegal smuggling of animals could be stopped through efficient checking.

Director General Livestock Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Sher Muhammad, says the federal government had issued export licenses for 0.25 million animals and 25000 of these were to pass through the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham. “The government has made elaborate arrangements. Check posts have been established both in settled and tribal areas to allow only legal export of animals and to check smuggling. Proper record is being kept of all the animals that pass through the route,” he informs, adding “But one must remember that all animals going to federally administered tribal areas are not smuggled. The meat needs of the tribal belt have also to be met. Exporters of animals are also issued licences to export livestock to other foreign countries,” he adds.

“As far as our departments are concerned, we facilitate legal export and see that unnecessary hurdles are removed while sick, pregnant and breed-endangered animals are not exported or sent to Fata,” he informs. According to reports in the media, around a million animals are smuggled to Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asian States yearly. This has to be stopped or regulated.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for livestock, Hidayatullah Khan, says the government is working to stop illegal smuggling of animals to Afghanistan and Iran. But an official, who does not want to be identified, admits that the long and mountainous border and poor law and order situation in the militant-infested tribal belt makes the task difficult. Afghanistan shares around 2000 km border with Pakistan that spreads over seven tribal agencies and district of Chitral.

But smuggling is not the only reason behind shortage of animals and meat. Livestock losses in floods, high breeding/nourishing costs, increased transportation charges, the role of middlemen in the sale and supply of animals, and increased government/contractor levies are affecting livestock farmers as well as the common men. Last year, floods had killed 0.15 million animals, causing a loss of around Rs7 billion to the sector in the province.

The problem has been aggravated further by the absence of beef-breeds of cattle in the country. Pakistan has 25, 26, 25 and 57 million buffalo, sheep, and goat respectively. These animals belong to various breeds but none of those has been bred on a mass-scale to produce genetically superior beef and mutton breeds.

Meat production has remained mostly the same. No worthwhile investment has been made in beef and mutton production. Genetic improvement of local livestock species, fattening farms and reproductive efficiency of animals are some of the ways to meet the demand of mutton and beef in the country.

Hidayatullah Khan says one model beef farm would be established in every district of the province. But there is still no development on this count. The Policy Document Livestock Vision-2020 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says the province is deficient in meat production. The average availability of red meat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 31 grams/person/day (GPD) whereas the requirement is 56 GPD. So there is a gap of about 25GPD.

Dr Sher Mohammad says since there are no beef breeds of cattle in the country, working cattle, cows and buffaloes that are no longer able to work or produce milk are slaughtered and consumed as beef. “Beef cattle farms produce more than double the beef and mutton produced through common ways. By establishing beef farms, the gap between demand and availability can be bridged. These will improve the socio-economic status of the farmers through increasing meat production. It will also bring self sufficiency in meat and check spiraling meat prices,” he argues.

Sajjad Haider, another farmer, says the government should start a crash plan for the uplift of livestock farming. “It should import and use latest reproductive technology and breeding techniques to increase livestock population in the country. Steps to be taken include provision of fodder and feed to farmers on affordable rates, expansion of animal healthcare system, and improvement in breed and animal-fattening programmes. It should also provide soft loans for at least one year to help improve animal health and production,” he says.

“Cross-breeding of local and foreign cattle, buffalos, goat and sheep will help improve local low-productive breeds into highly producing ones. For example, weight at the time of maturity of local cattle is 300kg whereas in case of cross-bred it is 350kg or even more,” Sher adds.

But it also requires availability of semen for artificial insemination services. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, however, has only two semen production units, as many nitrogen-production plants at Peshawar that are vital to keep the semen safe and 361 artificial insemination centres (AICs). More such facilities are needed. Animal breeding and genetics experts should be involved in a campaign to increase meat production.

Ban on Gur export

Farmers to resist ban on gur export

By Tahir Ali
Dawn Monday, 29, 2010 // <!–[CDATA[// –>

FARMERS in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa particularly in the gur-producing Peshawar valley are angry over the ban imposed on the export of gur to Afghanistan and its supply to the tribal belt.

The ban on movement of gur to federally and provincially-administered tribal areas (Fata and Pata), according to them, would not only affect adversely the farmers but also expose the poor consumers in these areas to price-hike and create a sense of deprivation among them.

Both Murad Ali Khan, president of the Kissan Board, and Haji Nimat Shah, senior vice-president of the Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran KP, said it would worsen the plight of the majority of the growers in the province.

Khan said over 60 per cent farmers in KP who hoped to earn modest income from gur making has been denied the opportunity. “Farmers would never allow such unrealistic measures being taken at the behest of the powerful sugar mafia and resist it tooth and nail. We are in touch with gur dealers and commission agents to organise protests. We will first give the government a deadline to withdraw this decision and if it is not, then we will start agitation against the move,” he said.

According to him, the sugar mill owners with their power and clout in parliament and government have got the export of gur banned. “This conspiracy has been continuing since long but the previous regimes had rejected the mafia’s demand for the ban. This time round, the mafia has succeeded in its designs by threatening the government to close their mills if the export of gur was not banned. Their next target is to get moratorium on gur production for good,” he added.

“But we won’t allow them to do so because a large number of people and farmers depend on gur incomes. We will force the government to take the decision back,” he added.

Through such measures, people in the tribal areas, who are facing the worst effects of terrorism and extremism, are being exposed to price hike,” Shah said. “The government should restore sale and movement of gur to the tribal belt. By banning entry of gur to Fata and Pata, the government is bent upon pushing the people to extreme poverty,” he argued.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has limited acreage while most of the growers are subsistence farmers living on the income earned from selling their yields or by-products. There are limited cash crops with sugarcane being the major one,” Shah added.

Gur is the main sweetener for the 60 per cent people in KP and Fata and Pata. It is exported to Afghanistan, Middle East and the Central Asian states where it is used as sweetener and for producing wine.

Estimated cane production in KP is around 1.3 million tons. Over half of the produce is used in making gur.

Though the government has banned gur export, allegedly a huge quantity of the commodity along with sugar is being smuggled to Afghan, Iran and other regional markets.

“It is surprising that the government has banned gur but has shut its eyes to the rampant smuggling of fertiliser, wheat flour, timber and live animals to Afghanistan and Iran, he alleged. Instead of banning gur export, the government should stop its smuggling,” Khan added.

A pur (80kg) of gur was being traded at Rs7,000-8,000 before the ban but now it has declined by around Rs2,000 per pur after the ban.

“Around 2,000 sacks of gur were being sent to the tribal belt daily which has been banned now. The prices are coming down, affecting a large number of farmers especially in the Peshawar valley where making gur is preferred,” he added.

Farmers say millers wanted ban on gur export so that they were left with no option but to take their crop to the mills, but this may not happen.

“The ban is uncalled for. If the millers start giving competitive returns to farmers for their crops, farmers would swarm at mills. The millers may not benefit much from the ban as farmers will certainly avoid sowing the crop in future as it becomes less rewarding,” said Khan.

According to a sugar industry source, gur manufacturing was causing a loss of about $70 million to sugar production and Rs500 million to revenue annually.

Taliban-US talks

Is US-Taliban dialogue likely?

Tahir Ali

Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants to win over the moderate Taliban insurgents and leaders by offering them money, jobs, protection, and amnesty. But the million dollar question is: will his plan succeed. I think it won’t for various reasons. The strategy was used in Iraq with significant results. However it is either unlikely to happen at all or may not succeed in the war-torn Afghanistan though it probably will generate considerable debate in the media. The coalition obviously aims to divide and weaken the Taliban-led struggle. British foreign secretary David Miliband has also publicly stated that the aim of the Western countries was to divide the Taliban and overcome their resistance.

The coalition only wishes a respite in attacks against the coalition forces there and wants peace but on the basis of its own terms and desires. Will the Taliban or Hikmatyar, rather Afghans, agree to it? They, as we all know, have their preconditions to enter into a meaningful dialogue. Both Taliban and Hikmatyar –the two biggest forces that matter there –have made their support to a negotiated settlement of the Afghan imbroglio conditional with the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. And you know there is no such thing on the agenda. Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujiahid said Taliban could not be bought by money and bounties. The only political solution is that the foreign forces and the Afghan government surrender to them, he said. Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, former Afghan premier and chief of the Hezb-e-Islami, the biggest party after Taliban in Afghanistan, said that talks could be held but after withdrawal of foreign troops or assurances thereof. Karzai and other Afghan leaders have demanded that the Taliban forswear militancy before talks start. For their part, the Taliban have demanded that the Americans and other foreign forces leave the country first. Both are poles apart, how could negotiations succeed in this situation.

The plan is based on the premise that Taliban fighters are given higher salaries than the Afghanistan can afford to pay its forces. This is unproven and what is proven is that most of them live in miserable conditions. If considered in this backdrop, the whole premise of buying off the Taliban is unsound and doomed to fail. The size of the Nato-led force in Afghanistan will rise to 150,000 by year-end. But the surge alone will not ensure victory for them there. A political strategy will be needed but for that the huge gap between the opposing views of Taliban and US will have to be reconciled. It necessitates a mediator or arbiter between the two. But an arbiter usually starts work on the mutual request or consent of the parties concerned. Again, an arbiter should be a neutral and respected person or body of people and has to be given authority. This is called “Waak” in Pushto. Has any Waak been given to a third party or arbitrator? Karzai also hopes Saudi Arabia and Pakistan will play a role and support his peace and reconciliation endeavours. But it may not happen as well for some reasons. Saudi Arabia has been asked for help for its respect in Muslims. But its foreign minister Saud al-Faisal says his country will take part in Afghan peace efforts only if the Taliban denies sanctuary to al Qaeda and cuts ties with it. Will Taliban promise for that? The United States, Britain, Canada, Germany and Japan have voiced support for the plan and a negotiated peace with the Taliban. But the offer of dialogue has been restricted to the Taliban who would be ready to shun militancy. This selective application won’t work. General amnesty won’t be given so it is unlikely that militants will lay down arms and come home.

The presence of Alqaeda and American occupation of Afghanistan are the principal causes of the problem. With both showing no signs of imminent withdrawal, any hope for peace there tantamount to running after illusions. As long as Alqaeda is there, American occupation won’t leave and until its occupation continues, resistance to it will invariably go on. But the plan doesn’t address this core issue altogether. Any hope for peace and the success of this mechanism may only be just a wishful thinking. America and NATO countries always seek to divert attention from their occupation to the resultant resistance and “terrorism”. According to Richard Holbrook, the overwhelming majority of these people are not ideological supporters of Mullah Omar and al-Qaida. But that majority of fighters are not ideological fighters doesn’t mean that they are supporters of Hamid Karzai and the US occupation forces. History bears proof that Afghans have always detested foreign occupation forces. Though Karzai believes Pakistan can bring the Taliban to the negotiation table but there are indications that Pakistan’s influence and credibility in the Afghan Taliban have been on the decline ever since it joined the US war on terror. They didn’t accept its request to hand over Osama to the US; they rejected its persuasion to avoid the Bamiyan debacle; they didn’t deliver wanted Pakistanis hiding there and the like.

It is for this reason that I am strongly opposed to the claims on part of our successive governments that had Pakistan not come to the rescue of the US-led coalition in the war, it would lost the war. When our leaders boastfully say that Pakistan’s support is vital for them, they, by default, mean that it can still ensure peace in Afghanistan which I fear it’s not.

The US and Taliban would have to show restraint and avoid dangerous actions that can make negotiations impossible or halt the process if it started at all.

The latest action, operation Mushtarak in Hilmand province of Afghanistan, may further alienate the insurgents who are for dialogue with the occupation forces or Afghan government. Are they ready to do that?

(Pakistan Observer)

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