Archive for Political Commentary

Liberation of soul from sense perception

Darwin attributes the development of human species to the natural process of evolution. Darwin does not question the existence of God but simply tries to explain the formation of living organisms on earth. He does not sufficiently address the development of superior intellect in human species while all other lacked far behind. In many of its verses Qoran narrates that God created man from a combination of clay, water and fire. But the most significant aspect of creation is the empowerment of this new creature with the knowledge of the universe. It is then that God asked all the angels to bow down to his new creation. The angels responded that they have been praising the God without question then why they should bow down to a lesser being. God instructed its creation to recite what it has been taught. It is also mentioned in this story that Iblis or Satan refused to bow down objecting that Men is made of clay while he is made of fire which is purer than clay.

There is a lot of symbolism in this story of creation and many points to ponder upon. First that God presented the Men in its physical form with all its physiological limitations. Second God gave knowledge to Men that imply that all of us are born with it but its hidden deep down in our soul. One purpose of life for us could be to strive throughout our lives to unlock that wisdom already encoded into our beings. There are two ways this hidden knowledge can be activated. One is through sense perceptions and the other reflection within the soul.

One innate problem in our sensory organs is that they register an effect rather than a cause. To understand the cause would require a separate inquiry. For instance touch tells us that the effect of iron is solid but the string theory suggests that iron is nothing but a string of energy. Adopting a scientific method that could rely on sensory perception to define a phenomenon could only produce a faulty or limited reality. Ironically the measurement instruments designed for scientific exploration are modeled on the principles of sensory perception. This gulf between the perception and the absolute reality is probably the reason for side effects in medicine and environmental damage from machines. In the spiritual context the five senses combined can be defined as nafs. If a soul relies heavily on its nafs for interpretation of absolute reality then the probability of its contamination with wrong knowledge is very high. This might be the reason that all man of wisdom including prophets relied heavily on meditation to find one true God.

This limitation of sensory perception also dictates that they can not be solely used for unlocking the hidden knowledge endowed upon us. Let us take an example to illustrate this point. Assume that a person does not possess the five sensory perceptions i.e. sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. How will this person interpret the existence of universe around him? In the absence of senses the only other alternative available to this person is reflection or thought. Through this thought he creates a universe which is hard to image for people like us who rely heavily on their senses. The reality of heaven is probably that the soul will not be required to rely on senses to perceive pleasure, desire and knowledge.

The other question is whether the purpose of this knowledge was passive or active. In the passive state it is not required by the possessor to utilize the knowledge. It seems from the teachings of Qoran that the purpose was active which means that men are required to seek knowledge and then act upon it. If the scope of the action is defined by the knowledge acquired then it is important that the methods used for this acquisition are free of faults and limitation. Reliance on sensory perception alone will tend to produce actions that will be contaminated as the knowledge acquired through them are limited and far from reality.

No one knows for sure the true path to the absolute reality but if God built it inside the soul then the most probable place to find it is in ones own self. Knowing true nature of the soul is a quest on which many has embarked before us whether it was Mansur al Haj who declared “I am God” or meditations of Mohammad PBUH who went to a dark cave (Ghar-e-Hira) for 15 years to find the truth. This path is never easy to take but it is the only path that can provide salvation for the soul and please the creator God.

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After math of Mumbai attacks?

Foreign policy is an imperfect social science with as many views and opinions as there are writers. But formulation of different scenarios helps in devising strategies for the long term and channeling the public opinion to enable policy makers to take actions. Any foreign policy expert that does not include the history and culture of the region can not come up with a realistic scenario. Today’s volatile diplomatic environment is an aftermath of the events of 911 that destroyed the balance of power achieved after Second World War. US policy makers decided to use that incident to ignore long established state relationships and create a new world order with itself at the center as the sole super power. The first victim of this approach was United Nations which was made totally irrelevant when USA made it clear that they will take unilateral action if the world body did not agree to its wishes. The second victim was its relationship with Europe which realized that they can not tag along with US foreign policy if they want to protect their interest. Since then they have been making efforts to create their own foreign policy institution. The third victim was South Asia which experienced deployment of foreign forces by NATO and USA without any resistance offered by regional powers India, Russia and China.

During this time US decided that India can play a significant role as an equal partner in the region. A look at India’s foreign policy since independence shows that India has relied on major powers to gain influence in the region. After its independence from British rule in 1947, the ruling Congress party with its socialist leader Jawahar Lal Nehru aligned itself with communist USSR. The break-up of USSR in early 1990s forced India to rethink its strategy to either become a power in its own right or align itself with USA or China. China, a neighboring country, was a difficult option considering their conflicting interest in access to energy resources, regional dominance and economic competition. USA on the other hand was a better option because it had a large Indian immigrant community that could influence the policy makers; it was market for outsourcing of Indian skilled labor and it was located far off so would always rely on the local power for the protection of its interest.

The key question to ask in this equation is where the interest of these two countries meets to form a common strategy for the region. The answer probably is that India feels insecure from the presence of a nuclear Pakistan at its borders. The writings of their intellectuals suggest they would prefer Pakistan divided into smaller pieces that would rely on India for their economic and security needs. USA on the hand is nervous about a Muslim nuclear power that could be a threat to its strongest ally Israel as well as the possibility of Islamic extremist laying their hands on the nuclear weapons. USA also needs a foothold in the region to keep its check on rising Russia and China.

If this theory of Indo-USA interest in the division of Pakistan is considered to be real then how would the region look like? One scenario was published by the New York Times in which Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) region of Pakistan was merged with Afghanistan, Balochistan was converted into an independent state including some parts of Iran as well and the remaining provinces of Punjab & Sindh forming the new Pakistan.

India seems to forget the 1000 year history of the region. Enlargement of Afhganistan would mean that there will be a nation of 65 million on its borders that has been the source of attacks on its land throughout history. The establishment of 750 years of Mughal rule emerged from the lands of Afghanistan. Afghanistan with no natural, agricultural and industrial resources of its own would be a nation of starving, battle hardened and ambitious people. These Aghfan’s will resume their attacks on rich lands of India for wealth and establishment of another Muslim rule on India. Recreation of this force would be much more dangerous for India to contain than the multiethnic country of the present Pakistan.

The other unknown in this emerging scenario is the apparent complacency of China and Russia who have substantial strategic interest in the region. It is surprising to note that Russia makes a big diplomatic noise whenever America signs any kind of security deal with a nation in Europe but it remains mute when US announces a large force deployment in South Asia.. The presence of US army is a direct threat to the interest of China and Russia but they have not made any diplomatic efforts to object to it.

There could be many explanations for Russia and China’s complacent behavior. One could be that the lesson learned by Russia in Afghanistan was that it is a place where an army dies from thousand small wounds inflicted by the people who have a long history of gorilla fights. It is also possible that China and Russia both feels US involvement in Afghanistan strains its capability to respond to aggression anywhere else. This scenario was played out recently during Russo-Georgian conflict when US could not provide any support to its ally Georgia despite past promises. The third explanation could be that both Russia and China understands that the real source of American influence is their economic might and consumer markets. A major military operation would require substantial financial commitment from USA which could further undermine the already ailing economy. This will result in higher fiscal deficit that has been traditionally funded by Japan, China and other Asian countries.

This will create an opportunity for these two powers to promote a new multi polar world order. The incidents in India points to the continuing emerging scenario where Russia and China could be playing a silent hand to punish India for its alignment with USA and strike at its economy to prevent it to become a regional power. It will be naïve to believe that India’s close association with USA through nuclear, security and economic deals is unnoticed in Moscow and Beijing.

The balance between the nations can not be achieved until all members of the global community decide that only diplomatic channels will be used to resolved conflicts. Presence of foreign forces in South Asia will continue to result in insurgencies, terrorist attacks and extremism. Russia and China should come forward to pressure USA to rely on international platforms to solve their homeland security concerns. USA should focus more on improving the lives of their people by creating new job opportunities and improving their economic depth. India should understand that living in peace with its neighbors is the only long term solution for a stable economy and unity of the country. Muslim countries should liberalize their societies to be more open with equal opportunity for all and freedom of speech without apprehension.

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Congratulations President Elect Barack Obama

On behalf of Pakistani-American community, I would like to congratulate you, Senator Obama, on your historic win in the recent presidential elections. The results of your elections were eagerly awaited around the world but particularly in the down trodden parts of Africa and Asia. In the last two years these regions have been hit hard by many natural and man made disasters. But the most severe crisis is the steep rise in world food prices which is the outcome of a deep sense of insecurity felt by the global community. This insecurity arise from the intense wars fought in Middle East and South East Asia. This sense of insecurity forces people to buy more food than they would normally need creating a pressure on supplies of food. A mere 10% rise in food demand could adversely affect the supply demand situation that result in higher prices making it out of reach for the poor. These poor people hope that your election would bring the much needed peace and prosperity around the world.

Pakistan is a country founded on ideals of equal rights, democracy and equal opportunity for all. Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was convinced that the non-cooperation movement promoted by Mohatama Gandhi could produce acts of violence. He was proven right when riots broke out in many parts of united India and the British government refused to allow Gandhi to travel around the country. Quaid-e-Azam believed that independence could be achieved through a constitutional movement founded on democratic principles. Creation of Pakistan is the living proof of the power of the ballot box rather than struggle on the street. These are the same principles on which foundation of United States was laid by its founding fathers almost 220 years ago.

Since its independence people of Pakistan have felt a natural affinity towards USA because of shared values. Pakistan was member of CENTO and SEATO promoted by USA in 1950s. In the US cold war with USSR, Pakistan risked its non-aligned status by allowing U-2 spy plane flights from its air bases in Peshawar. Pakistan was also instrumental in opening the doors of diplomacy between communist China and USA.

People of Pakistan have always looked towards USA to provide an inspiration and guidance in the creation of solid democratic institutions in the country. But unfortunately US policy makers throughout last 60 years have preferred autocratic military rulers over democratically elected leaders. In the last 8 years US has given over US$ 9 billion dollars of military aid to Pakistan while over 40% of Pakistani nation live under the poverty line. These shinning armors can not win the fight against extremism unless forces of moderation are strengthened through education, sustainable economic development and strengthening social order.

President Obama your desire to speak to unfriendly nations should be matched with a long term commitment to your friends in the region. Your comments to send bombs chasing extremism will not be as productive as your funds creating schools in the tribal region. Loss of innocent lives of children and women are more important to preserve. A person losing a family member to an unmanned drone becomes a potential recruit for the extremist.

We pray for your success and hope that you will listen to the history which has proven time and again that wars don’t win hearts. You should also remember the message of peace brought to the world by Jesus Christ who sacrificed his own life for the sake of humanity.

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What should be Pakistan’s foreign policy?

One of the important challenges facing the government is devising a foreign policy that meets its short, near and long term objectives. But the first step in devising a policy is to review current priorities and the national interest of Pakistan. The edifice of a foreign policy is built on three pillars economic interest, security interest and geopolitical power struggle.

Pakistan is an agrarian economy with over 67% of its population engaged in farming. The three largest foreign currency contributors to the exchequer are textiles, leather and rice export. The predominance of agriculture should be good news for the country as the rising population of the world is increasing demand for food products. Pakistan’s proximity to resource rich but sterile Middle East and sub Saharan Africa could provide important export markets. One foreign policy approach could be to sign bilateral agreements with oil rich Middle Eastern countries to provide food security in return for energy security.

US predominance as the provider of economic aid and market for Pakistani merchandize can be reduced by exploring new markets in European Union, South America and Africa. Pakistan can explore manufacturing of light engineering products to diversify its export item list. All foreign agreements should incorporate transfer of technology to attain greater self reliance. For economic independence the budget deficits and balance of payments can only be maintained if productivity of the labor and value addition is achieved at a faster pace.

It is fool hardy to think that a country can remain safe among hostile neighbors on all sides. India is a growing economy with large population to feed which brings with it social issues to occupy its leaders. India is widely believed around the world as one of the potential candidate to play a role in the fast emerging multi-polar world. Pakistan is not willing to accept India’s dominance and continually projects itself as an alternative in the region. India expects Pakistan to accept its leadership and become an ally as other countries in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has done.

In the historical perspective, Pakistani leaders should realize that during the struggle for independence All India Congress understood that a large Muslim minority will be difficult to manage as is evident from the frequent Hindu/Muslim riots. They made it impossible for Muslim League leaders to expect a fair share in the Indian Union as proposed by them, which ultimately resulted in the creation of a separate state Pakistan. In this perspective, Indian leaders would prefer a denuclearized Pakistan probably broken into smaller manageable pieces. This divergent view among the leaders of the two countries makes it difficult to form some kind of a shared alliance. India’s continued violation of human rights in Kashmir and their growing influence in Afghanistan creates further tensions. It is in the interest of Pakistan that its leaders take a long term view on India and form a strategy to reduce tension between the two countries. The first step in such direction could be increased trade on the path to form a free trade agreement while at the same time promoting cultural ties.

Afghanistan has traditionally sided with India on all international forums before and after Russian invasion. Even Taliban’s were eager to maintain good relations with India despite the support given to them by Pakistan. The foundation of this behavior lay in disputed Durand line and slogans of Pashtoonistan among Pakistani tribesman time and again. Afghanistan has always been eager to become part of a conspiracy against Pakistan with or without NATO presence. Pakistan can not afford to have less than friendly countries on both its Eastern and Western borders. A regional trade pact between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian states will open up new trade opportunities for all parties. Land locked central Asia will get access to warm waters while Pakistan and Afghanistan can earn millions in transit trade.

Pakistan has repeatedly rebuked Iran in regional affairs by former President Musharraf. One such step was calling a regional conference without inviting Iran which ultimately resulted in total failure. Pakistan is ideally suited to play the role of a bridge between US and Iran to break the stalemate in relations between these two countries. We have played the same role in 1971 by arranging a secret visit of Henry Kissinger to meet with Chinese leadership. European Union, Russia and China might have economic interest with Iran but Pakistan shares a common border, religion and culture. Pakistan has enjoyed good relations with Iran over decades specially signing an RCD agreement in early 1970s along with Turkey. Iran, which has a border with Afghanistan, can be a partner with Pakistan to control the instability in the region through security and economic agreements.

Pakistan and China enjoy a long history of mutual friendship since its independence. The lynch pin of this friendship has been containment of India. But in last 10 years the dynamics of the region has changed since India and China resolved their border disputes and formed a trade relationship that is growing in leaps and bounds. For Pakistan to assume that China will help them at the cost of losing relationship with India will be a novice idea. China would like to help Pakistan economically and in security terms but that can only happen if Pakistan assumes the stance of neutrality it maintained during the cold war years. The trade agreements signed for the development of Sandak copper gold project and Gawadar port are significant. China can be a substantial export market for Pakistani food, textile and light engineering products. Pakistan can also be a transit point for Chinese industrial regions that are closer to Gawadar than Shanghai. The two countries can also cooperate on the production of defense products. China can also provide a security cover that Pakistan needs against its hostile eastern and western neighbors.

Russia is not USSR so old taboos about cold temperature between the two countries should be reconsidered. Russia is increasingly asserting its influence in the region which it lost after the break up of USSR in early 1990s. This means that central Asian states with their large natural resources will feel the pressure to align their interests with Russia. An agreement between Russia and Central Asian states to provide security for energy transit through Afghanistan and Pakistan would be a welcome idea. Pakistan should re-establish its long lost ties with Russia and find mutual grounds for cooperation especially in the areas of mining, oil & gas and hydal power. Russia on the other hand will get an ally in the region after losing their old friend India to US through their nuclear deal.

In the foreseeable future US will continue to be a close ally of Pakistan but not at all costs. All US intellectuals in their television interview maintain that US wants Pakistan to be a strong country while at the same time they support military dictators and provide military aid instead of economic uplift. US-Pakistan relations should change from cash based to broad based by incorporating cooperation in science, technology, education, culture and foreign direct investment. The countries have natural affinity to be close but the foundations are not broad enough to make the relationship grow.

Pakistan faces serious challenges but the most important challenge is to regain its friends in the neighborhood and maintain sovereignty in the face of growing western pressure to fight terrorism.

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What should be the US foreign policy in the new administration?

New US president will be elected on November 4th when American voters will elect their 44th president for next four years. Other than economic recession the challenge faced by the new administration will be realignment of foreign policy with war in Iraq at the center of the debate. US foreign policy is largely driven by three main interests. First, US believe that ideals of human liberty and freedom should be promoted around the world in the form of democracy and free markets. Second, US want to maintain the economic life style of its people by ensuring access to markets, supply of energy and natural resources from around the world. Third, US believe that the security of its people and homeland is important by engaging in preemptive actions around the world including non-state organizations like Al Qaida.

Ideals of human liberty and freedom are not political objectives but rather values that are promoted by all religions including Christianity and Islam. This means that these noble ideas are the basic premise of creation and makes it a mainstay of human society. This could mean that societies around the world should be eager to participate and join hands with USA. But this can only be achieved if US is able to attain the respect of a true leader without strong bias in its own favor or favorites. Accepting Palestinian right of return and abandoning the support of autocratic rulers would be two important steps in this direction. Similarly, bringing change within a society requires patience and perseverance rather than adoption quick fix through military intervention to introduce abrupt change by removing an autocratic regime at the cost of innocent lives as collateral damage. It would be wise for US to adopt the policy of engagement and negotiation to promote ideals and resolve issues. This will earn it the respect it deserves as bastion of liberty, freedom and equal rights.

The exponential rise of oil prices and its negative impact on the US society has driven the point home that energy security is extremely important for US economy. Sending militaries in Middle East to ensure steady supply of oil can not solve this issue in the long run especially when most of these countries are run by autocratic rulers. China and India with close proximity to Middle Eastern countries are as eager to out bid USA for this resource. On the other hand Russia is playing this card to its advantage by exerting influence on energy rich central Asian states. US should realize that they can solve their energy problem by adjusting their lives giving up on gas guzzling SUVs for smaller cars while at the same time making investment in research and development of alternate greener energy source.

The most important element of US foreign policy for the last eight years has been the security of American lives and property from the terrorist threats. US have natural barriers in the form of Atlantic and Pacific Ocean to prevent any direct military threat to its home land. To further augment this natural barrier US formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with its Western allies. This cold war era edifice could also become a new flash point with reemerging Russia if US is too eager to allow Soviet states of Ukraine and Georgia to become members. Russia which still feels insecure after its break up in 1991 needs a neutral buffer between its bounders and Western Europe with which it fought many wars over centuries. The expansion of NATO should be reconsidered by the new administration if they would want to avoid another cold war with Russia. This NATO expansion would force Russia to reinvigorate their long forgotten WARSAW pact with some new friends and allies.

The other important corner stone of the new US administration should be to reestablish credibility of international platforms like United Nations to resolve issues. It has become apparent that ignoring UN to pressure Saddam regime was a foreign policy mistake resulting in tremendous loss of goodwill, treasure and lives. US should redouble its efforts to help reform UN so that it becomes an effective organization in solving international issues. One such step would be reconstitution of the Security Council, to represent the new world realities, by awarding an observer status to Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and adding more permanent members to the council.

US also need to redefine its meaning of a terrorist by removing the emphasis that somehow Islamic faith has religious support for inhuman acts. A faith can not attain a global acceptance if it is not driven by truth and human values. A terrorist is a criminal with no real understanding of Islam or any other faith. The recent monk movement in Burma shows that it is not the religion but political injustice that forces peaceful people to take an extreme position. Redefining terrorist will not only help US regain its lost respect in the Muslim world but will also inspire governments around the world to cooperate in this fight without fearing a backlash from masses. By labeling terrorists as Islamic terrorist implicate the whole Muslim world as suspects until proven guilty. Any bomb going off anywhere in the world is immediately labeled as Islamic terrorism without carefully considering the evidence. This negative perception of a large innocent majority creates a moral dilemma for people which ultimately results in sympathizing with an underdog that is looking for a popular support. A terrorist in most situations is a product of poor governance and bad politics.

Resolution of Arab-Israel conflict, Kashmir struggle, Iraq war and removal of NATO forces from Afghanistan would help improve the US image and contribute towards world peace. US strategy to send military forces around the world creates an impression of imperialism that turns the popular opinion against them. US is probably the only country with military presence around the world including Germany, Korea, Japan, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Use of soft power through economic, cultural and political relations would go a long way in ensuring security for US people.

If the prime reason for a governments existence is to provide a good life for its community then US government is failing miserably. The economic meltdown can be partly blamed on foreign policy. It is now apparent that US could have avoided invasion of Iraq as it took away valuable resources from the local economy. It will be a mistake for the new president to change the label of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan. Instead objectives of eradicating terrorist could be achieved by supporting local governments to fight through indigenous efforts.

US is the last best hope for humanity to achieve peace. The stakes are too high for the world. We can all hope that sensibility will overcome emotion and a new approach will be adopted. Comedian Jon Stewart said it all when he commented on one of his programs that America will always have 19 people, referring to 911 hijackers, who want to commit harm but in eradicating those 19 it can not have an unfavorable opinion among the rest of the world.

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Rise of Russia on the corpse of United Nations?

A league of nations was created after First World War to prevent violent power struggles between imperial Western powers that controlled large part of the world as colonies. The objectives of the organization included prevention of war and improving quality of life. Within fifteen years of its creation the league failed miserably to prevent Second World War in the face of a Nazi regime that considered its national interest to acquire more landmass more important than the eminent loss of human lives. When the war ended in 1945, at the US President Franklin D Roosevelt initiated efforts to convert the league of nation into a more global United Nations organization with membership offered to most countries of the world. Regardless of the sincerity of intent of the founding members the organization was raised on a faulty foundation when it created dual set of membership for its Security Council by awarding permanent status to five countries. Ironically three of the five permanent members were colonial powers namely France, Britain, Russia, China and USA. These permanent members have veto powers to reject any proposal brought to the council for consideration regardless even if it has majority vote from the twelve council members.

Since its inception in 1945 UN has proved to be totally ineffective in preventing major world conflicts including Israel/Arab war, India/Pakistan Kashmir dispute, US involvement in Vietnam war, Russian invasion of Afghanistan, US invasion of Iraq, Russian engagement in Georgia and deteriorating situation in Afghanistan after the deployment of NATO forces in response to 911. Permanent members have voted on UN resolutions whenever it suited their national interest and rejected UN altogether when it was not possible to get a resolution in their favor. US brought its case against Iraq before UN to seek cooperation and authorize war to replace the autocratic ruler Saddam. To make its case for the war US demonstrated the proofs of existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). US made it clear to UN that they will engage in a war with or without the approval of the world body which was mandated to prevent such wars. The members of the general assembly and Security Council expressed serious concerns about existence of WMD and refrained from extending any cooperation. Former General Secretary Kofi Annan tried to prevent Iraq war by emphasizing importance of diplomatic isolation for Saddam and by supporting forces of opposition in Iraq, but he was ridiculed and embroiled in corruption charges which later proved baseless. He has been redeemed when US accepted their failure to locate any WMD in Iraq and accepting failure of the military operations in the aftermath of fall of Baghdad. After 4 years of war it is now clear that if US had listened to the world we might still have to deal with an Iraqi dictator but the destruction of one of the oldest civilization might have been prevented with tremendous loss of human lives as collateral damage.

US invasion of Iraq have provided diplomatic precedence for other nations to ignore UN in persuasion of their national interest without brining them to the floor of Security Council. Recent Russian actions in Georgia are a clear indication that in the new world order UN is totally ineffective. We have two options available to reinstate the lost credibility of this organization. The first option is to change the structure of the Security Council to remove the special powers of permanent members. The second option is more radical which is to disband the organization into smaller regional entities with cooperation agreements in place between them.

The changing dynamics of the world has made it clear that we are moving clearly towards a multi-polar world in which US, Russia, China, Brazil, India and Iran will play a significant role. These competing world powers will need a client organization to exercise their powers on the satellites. US already have NATO in place to use their influence on Western European countries. In the light of Georgian situation and US security agreement with Poland, Russia can reinstate its long forgotten WARSAW pact with a new name allowing membership to former USSR states. China will use ASEAN and other regional arrangements to create its sphere of influence while India will rely on SAARC as their client. Middle Eastern and Muslim countries can restructure the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to create a platform for negotiating their concerns. Brazil can change the scope of trade agreement Mercosur among South American nations to include foreign policy with strong backing from Argentina. African Union with strong leadership from South Africa and support from Ethopia can form their own block.

Emergence of these regional organizations can make it possible for the world to negotiate peace. Globalization of politics has proved to be wrong as regional interests based on culture, language, religion and borders are stronger. It is not possible for a North American leader to fully understand and appreciate the concerns of South Americans as Brazil can do. Each organization with a strong economic and military sponsor can make it possible to negotiate fair agreements backed by a genuine interest to implement it. It is always better to have a cold war with fine balance rather than an actual war with tremendous loss of innocent lives as collateral damage. The events of 911 have disturbed the world balance of power and it is very important to achieve a new balance which might be possible when the whole world is engaged through organizations promoting their regional interests.

United Nations is costing global humanity close to US$5billion every year without much progress to show. UN has not bee able to prevent famine in Ethiopia or genocide in Rawanda & Darfur by acting too slowly because of the competing interest of permanent members. We need to all come together and form a new world order that gives much weight to regional interest rather than making the world hostage to the veto powers of five countries.

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President Zardari: what it means for Pakistan?

The year 2008 is proving to be an eventful year for Pakistan, first in February the nation elected new parliament through an election that are largely considered free and fair. The election produced a fractured parliament which needs cooperation among various parties to ensure continuity of democracy. The election also forced President Musharraf to resign and give way to a new president. PPP then decided to nominate Mr. Zardari as their candidate for the office of the President of Pakistan. Is it a surprise pick or it was on the horizon throughout this political turmoil? The answer lies in the history of Mr. Zardari and the organizational structure of PPP. Before Benazir Bhutto decided to return to Pakistan, Wall Street Journal ran a full page story on Asif Ali Zardari, when he came to US immediately after his release from prison. The story outlined that Mr. Zardari feels it is the birth right of Bhutto family to rule Pakistan and no other option is acceptable to him. It is no secret to any of his associates that he savors power and likes to accumulate it at any expense. All political parties in Pakistan, including PPP, are ran by influential individuals rather than an elaborate democratic process where leaders of the party are elected through a process of voting by members. It was in the interest of these leaders to accept Zardari as heir to Benazir Bhutto instead of allowing other senior leaders to compete for the chairmanship of the party.

The symbolism used in PPP press conferences gives insight into the thinking of the party leadership. When Senator Raza Rabbani announced the candidature of Mr. Zardari the back drop was pictures of Mr. Bilawal Zardari in middle while Mohtarma Benazir and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on each side of it. It means that anyone sitting in front of these pictures are accepting the patronage of Bhutto family to announce a key decision without much regard to the country and its ideals. It is only a matter of time when the formalities are completed and Mr. Zardari becomes the next President of Pakistan. What will be the role of power brokers in the country on this election?

During his 2 years stay in USA, Mr. Zardari held many meetings with US policy makers and leaders, brokered by current ambassador to USA Mr. Haqqani, to form his power base in the US. The concerned showed by US was the tarnished reputation of Mr. Zardari and its effect on US image if they supported his accession. But the turn of events in Pakistan after the assassination of Benazir, Mr. Zardari’s successful hold on PPP leadership and dwindling popularity of Musharraf forced US to look for a new partner. Mr. Zardari has to balance between the competing interest of US, military and Saudi Arabia. It will be unlikely that he stopped cooperating in US war on terror in the foreseeable future. All he can hope for is that Democratic Presidential Nominee Barak Obama wins elections and changes his war policy to include dialogue.The military on the other hand may not welcome this appointment and undermine the rule of PPP. Saudi Arabia historically supports Muslim Leaque, JUI(F) and military rulers in Pakistan. This means that they could play a positive role by forcing PPP to have a working relationship with PML (N) to complete the term of this assembly. PML (N) can not afford to jeopardize their relationship with Saudi Arabia by opposing them to an extreme position.

What would be the effect of President Zardari on Pakistani nation? The supreme court judges will be restored after oath of presidents office  as it will ensure that Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry will not be able to indict Mr. Zardari as he will have presidential immunity during his presidential term while repeal of NRO can be used to twist arms of his opponents. The separatist movements in Balochistan and NWFP will continue to gain strength as PPP does not have the moral authority to solve these issues as Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the first political leader to authorize military operation in Balochistan. PPP has never been popular as a business friendly party. Their socialist views are quite apparent from the current budget presented by them. The economy of Pakistan will continue to rely on oil subsidies from Saudi Arabia and economic aid from USA.

Considering Mr. Zardari’s desire to have absolute powers the repeal of 58 (2) (b) will also not happen under his watch as it will take away an important element of his presidential powers. Zardari is guardian of a party founded by Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who himself was a creation of a military ruler General Ayub Khan when he was appointed as a foreign minister in the marshal law administration. Mr. Zardari fully understands the political cycles in Pakistan which oscillates between civil and military rulers. It is the civilian cycle and if he does not gain control of the presidency it will be difficult to create foundation for the next generation of Bhutto family, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. We can hope that he will remember that without Pakistan there can not be a parliament or a prime minister.

To resolve Pakistan’s problems, she needs a leader of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s stature. Unfortunately the current leadership of all major political parties come with a baggage which cracks their resolve to stand up to vested interest in the country. The people of Pakistan have demonstrated time and again that they want to live together as one nation but the decisions of their leaders have worked against these feelings of unity. It seems that the leaders want to have their will imposed on the nation without much regard for the integrity of Pakistan. We need fresh ideas and a new start from our leadership at all levels. Unless we are ready to change, the situation will not improve and we will not gain dignity in the comity of nations.

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