sábado, 30 de março de 2013

haverá alguma solução pacífica para o Paquistão?

Editorial que escrevi no sétimo número da revista Think South Asia:

In this edition we will put the focus on Pakistan, a country with more than 180 million people, being the 6th most populous country in the world. We could roughly say that the story of Pakistan was marked by two partitions: the partition of India in 1947 and its own partition in 1971. But as History is more complex than that, we are dedicating this edition of Think South Asia magazine to Pakistan.

In the case of this country, etymology says a lot of its early history. The word “Pakistan” did not exist before 1933, when it was coined by the Muslim nationalist Mr Choudhry Rahmat Ali who, with other intellectuals, wanted to create a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia. According to scholars, the name has its origins in the acronym PAKSTAN, which results from Punjab + Afghani territories + Kashmir + Sindh + Baluchistan. An “i” was introduced amidst for reasons of pronunciation and the word resulting from this mix, “Pakistan”, was given to the new country in 1947. This very same word has also a meaning in Urdu and Persian languages: “land of the pure” or “land of the clean”.

So the country was founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1947, at the same time as India was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru. Both were influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and the 3 of them were fundamental for the independence of South Asian countries from the British. I write this raw background because after speaking with dozens of people about Pakistan, I saw literally everybody, both Islamists and Secularists quoting Jinnah for their advantage. Part of the problem is this: Jinnah had probably a clear vision about Pakistan, but he expressed it in such an ambiguous manner that this brought many consequences and questions until today. It is hard to find what the founder really meant for Pakistan, if a Muslim State or a State for Muslims.

The partition of India had serious problems because the idea was to give to Pakistan the Muslim-majority territories. Nevertheless, the borders were not clear at all and issues like Kashmir are yet today to be solved, with loss to the India/Pakistan relations.

Another problem was the creation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), which had a different culture and language from West Pakistan (the actual Pakistan). This generated many problems related to national identity and, in 1971, East Pakistan became independent with the help of India, and it is now the country known as Bangladesh. As a result of severe crimes against humanity, Bangladesh is now committed to punish the genocide criminals of 1971 through the International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka. This is generating nowadays something we never saw in history: the Shahbag movement consists in the biggest set of protests against Muslim extremism in a Muslim-majority country. We should be interested in following these manifestations closely.

Internally, Pakistan also faces some important challenges. The way the “land of the clean” authorities’ deal with religious and ethnical minorities is far from being the most appropriate. You can find an article by Mr Wilson Chowdhry from the British Pakistani Christian Association where he points out clear cases of Minority Rights abuses and Human Rights violations that currently occur in Pakistan. This article is just the summary of a 500 pages report he recently launched in the House of Commons (Westminster, London), named “The Targeting of ‘Minority Others’ in Pakistan”. If you are interested in more details, I strongly advise you to search and read it.

The Blasphemy Law is perhaps the most symbolic issue for the Christians in Pakistan and Mrs Asia Bibi, who still is in jail and sentenced to death, is with no doubts their emblem. To see the importance of this issue, the Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti (Christian) and the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer (Muslim) were both killed because they supported Asia Bibi and were against the Blasphemy Law. Another issue of concern is Education, as we saw by what happened to the young Malala Yousafzai, or by analysing the hate-oriented official textbooks promoted by the government. Other cases exist, but Asia Bibi and Malala are perhaps the most well-known to the international community.

Concerning terrorism, the position of Pakistan is not better. In the beginning, Pakistan seemed to be an ally of the West against the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. But soon we discovered they were not serious allies in the “war on terror”, when the Pakistani intelligence agencies kept the support to the Taliban, protected terrorist groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-i-Islam, or even when the authorities harboured the criminal Osama Bin Laden near a military complex in the city of Abbottabad. Regarding this, no one was jailed for helping Bin Laden to hide; the only person in prison is the physician Mr Shakil Afridi, who was accused of treason for cooperating with the CIA in finding Osama Bin Laden, and therefore tortured and sentenced to 33 years of imprisonment.

This problematic attitude of Pakistan towards terrorism is reflected in the most recent position of Afghanistan in its peace process. The Afghani Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin said on the 27th of March 2013 that “Afghanistan is shocked by Pakistan's complacency in the nascent Afghan peace process and is ready to work without Islamabad's help on reconciliation”. Yet regarding Afghanistan, we publish in this edition a very strong message from the former Afghani Minister of Women’s Affairs Doctor Massouda Jalal, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.

Well Afghanistan controls territories which in the past belonged to Baluchistan, a nation nowadays divided by Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. The majority of the Baluchi people are in the Pakistani controlled side of the nation and they never gave up their struggle for freedom. The response from the Pakistani authorities is vehement and is becoming more violent, being now known as the Pakistani “kill and dump policy”.

In Baluchistan the Chinese are building and exploring the port of Gwadar, which is geopolitically important for several reasons Dr Siegfried Wolf from the Heidelberg University explains in his interesting article. Because of its rivalry and disputes with India, China is a natural ally of Pakistan. The Chinese are active in the whole of South Asia, investing not only in Gwadar, but also in Tricomalee in Sri Lanka, funding the Maoists in Nepal, illegally occupying lands in northern Bhutan, supporting the coup d’état in the Maldives... so we cannot exclude China from the South Asian equation.

The official response of the Pakistani authorities to Human Rights complaints is that the government “supports the minorities”, agrees and condemns the Human Rights abuses, and finally promises to take action “against culprits” and “external forces”. Contrastingly, the victims usually say the government is in “state of denial”.

In fact, it seems that government’s role in the country is limited. All the testimonies and experts on the country say that the Military and the Intelligence Agencies (the most famous is ISI, but there are several others) are the ones truly ruling the country, and governments are almost meaningless. The Islamic extremism is transversal to all these institutions. No one answered me so long who is ultimately controlling the country. No one knows. Perhaps at the end it is not one person controlling it, but several Islamists and not necessarily only in the top of the hierarchy. This is worrying when we think that Pakistan is a nuclear State.

One must think if the aid money we (the USA and the EU) continuously give to Pakistan to fight terrorism and promote Human Rights, Women’s Rights, Education, Civil Society Empowerment and many other development goals is being really well spent. We must be sure that these funds are helping those who really need and not being spent in the destabilisation of this already sensible region.

Regional cooperation in South Asia is not possible while these issues of terrorism, extremist education (in some madrasas and in public schools) and Human Rights abuses are not seriously tackled. Pakistan is a very important country in the region and the implementation of the rule of law and granted respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will benefit everybody regionally, beginning in Pakistan itself.

A critic should also propose solutions; nevertheless, I must leave here a simpler desire. I firmly hope that the Pakistani people could find in themselves the ability and strength enough to draw their own path of peace and respect for the Human Right of every single person.

These are some personal notes on Pakistan, but to know more about this fascinating country, nothing is better than taking a look to our country profile wonderfully written by Mst Sabikun Naher from the University of Dhaka.

Finally, I believe it is crucial to address two big issues in South Asia in general: water and corruption. Regarding water, we welcome the perspective of Mr João Moreira Pires, expert from Less Means More, writing on waste-water management as a development indicator. On the problem of corruption, the best is to return to the classics and read “Arthashastra” from Kautilya (also known as Chanakya or Vishnu Gupta). He says:

Just as fish moving under water cannot possibly be found out either as drinking or not drinking water, so government servants employed in the government work cannot be found out (while) taking money (for themselves).

These words written in the 4th century b.C. during the Mauryan Empire could not be more valid today.

With special thanks to Manuel C.C.V.C., who helped me with the photos, this edition is dedicated to the Pakistani Christians and other minorities who suffer in life what we usually remember in this Lent and Easter season. Enjoy the readings and please do not hesitate to send your suggestions to the email antonio@sadf.eu

Publicado no site do South Asia Democratic Forum: www.sadf.eu

Sem comentários: