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Darfur — Uncle Sam’s next war for oil
Sir: It has been reported in the Sudanese press that the US is intent upon waging war on it, not because of the gross human rights violations taking place there, but in order to capture the country’s oil wells. That is, that America’s sudden interest in Sudan is a cover for pursuing its own economic interests and profits.
So, it is once again ‘war for oil’ for Uncle Sam!
Wars and economic sanctions do not solve problems. It is only through intense negotiations and talks that the most complex issues are resolved.
The US should realise that it would do better to first try and resolve the problems of the countries it has already illegally invaded: Afghanistan and Iraq. In fighting these two wars, the US is not just incurring financial losses, but also human losses too.
Surely, the US does not need another war.
Sir: I agree completely with the tenor of Ishtiaq Ahmed’s article “Democracy and imperialism”, (Daily Times, September 21), and with its moral premises. However, I have come to the opposite conclusion about the future of imperialism. I think it’s back with a vengeance.
In spite of worldwide opposition to the war on Iraq, the United States invaded that country, just the way wars were waged by Rome and other imperialist powers in the past. What the UN secretary general has said now is what he should have said before the invasion. That could have spared the lives of thousands of people who have died and tens of thousands of others who have been injured. The UN Security Council should have declared the war illegal and imposed sanctions on the aggressor nation.
As Paul Kennedy observed a while ago in the British newspaper the Financial Times, the only thing that would stop this war (and the others that are sure to follow in its wake) is domestic resistance within the US. Currently, the American people are gripped by fear. This mood will most certainly result in the re-election of the rightwing Republican president Bush. These people are not too much concerned about the $200 billion that are being spent on the Iraq war or the rising US budget deficit, which has crossed the $400 billion.
American foreign policy has been taken over by the Pentagon, which is now spending about $450 billion a year on defence, or almost half of the world’s defence budget. No one has been able to successfully challenge the logic of buying supersonic aircraft, guided missile submarines and nuclear-power aircraft carriers that may have made sense during the Cold War but make no sense in today’s threat environment.
Pakistan culture and modernity
Sir: I write in response to Nadia Butt’s article “Pakistani culture and modernity”, (Daily Times, September 22).
Ms Butt claims hers is an enriched culture because it draws on both eastern and western values. She also says she is westernised in the sense of believing in her right as a woman to define herself the way she likes.
However, I must say I am surprised that a student of culture can hold such a myopic view of this subject. There is no such thing as an ‘enriched’ culture because no one culture can claim itself to be superior to another, however unique it may be.
I personally believe that a fusion of eastern and western values is not such a good thing. For example, if one mixes a bottle of mineral water with saline sea water the result is not very nice tasting ‘enriched’ water.
Moving on, I feel that Ms Butt has very conveniently linked western culture to freedom of thought. This again is a contradiction. I don’t think there is any bar on a Muslim woman to define herself the she wants to as long as she does so within the parameters of Islamic ideology and code of conduct.
Pakistan should support India at UNSC
Sir: I write in response to your editorial “Opposing India and UN Security Council”, (Daily Times, September 22), which cites as the main objection to India’s candidature Delhi’s unresolved disputes with its neighbours.
But if we look at the permanent members of the UNSC, we will find that all of them have had disputes with other countries. So, disputes with neighbours or other nations cannot be viewed as a barrier to permanent membership of the UNSC.
The US, in the past, sent hundreds of thousands of troops to Korea, Vietnam and other countries. The ensuing wars waged by the US resulted in the deaths of millions of people and the utter devastation of the countries it fought with.
France opposed the independence of both Vietnam and Algeria, causing the loss of nearly two million lives.
China had and still has unresolved territorial disputes with Russia, Manchuria, Formosa, Vietnam and India. These disputes too have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. The former Soviet Union also had disputes with Communist China.
Thus, in comparison, Indo-Pak disputes can be said to small-scale. Furthermore, the two countries are currently committed to resolving outstanding bilateral disputes.
India is home to the world’s third largest Muslim population. It is also home to a number of Muslim holy sites as well as schools of Islamic jurisprudence and tradition. And it must also be recognised that India has given place to Muslim personal laws in its constitution. Therefore, is it not time for Pakistanis to support a country with a strong Islamic heritage, culture and population?
If Pakistan can build strong ties with the current permanent members of the UNSC, then what is to stop it from supporting India’s candidature? After all, India is a country with which Pakistan shares historic and cultural ties.
Pakistan support of India’s candidature at this stage would pull at the heartstrings of India like no other action ever could. And the ensuing goodwill from India’s side would result in resolving the Kashmir dispute as soon as possible.
Sir: The increasing trend of suicide bombings poses a more serious threat to international peace and stability than war itself does. This is because the premise of wars, for the most part, can be understood. However, with regard to suicide bombings, it is often difficult to comprehend the underlying aim of such a practice, since the culprit cannot be apprehended and questioned.
The international community today equates the practice of suicide bombings with terrorism. However, we must not forget that it is usually feelings of injustice that incite such drastic actions.
This is not to say that I condone suicide bombings, much less deem it a legal practice. My point is that it is only by paying heed to feelings of injustice that we can hope to eliminate the practice of suicide bombings. For example, when taking up the fight against malaria, one can never allow stagnant ponds of water to nurture rampant brigades of mosquitoes. Rather, tackling such stagnant waters becomes the first priority. We have to nab the source in order to shackle the evil.
I include below my own poem on the issue of suicide bombings:
When bombs blast and no one hears
Then feelings shatter and Satan sneers
When worse to worse, the justice steers
Then ground whispers “Dear! Oh dear”
When blood stains the water clear
Then vicious smiles steal the cheers
When hope is smashed by apathy sheer
THEN terror is felt and worries appear
When suicides are volunteered
Now watch the bounce, with silence rear
A ball thrown to wall can how disappear?
Now lull your sympathy and soak thy tears
SUMAIRA SULTAN MINHAS
Not ‘Mir of Hunza’
Sir: I would like to draw attention to a term, ‘Mir of Hunza’, which is often misused in the Pakistani media.
‘Mir’ is a Persian word, which means leader of a group or tribe. In the tribal societies of the Indian subcontinent, many people used this word with their names to denote their position as leader of a tribe or group.
The rulers of Hunza used the word ‘Mir’ with their names during their 950 years of despotic rule. The ruler of Hunza was known as ‘Mir of Hunza’ until 1974, when the state was abolished and formally became part of the Northern Areas of Pakistan.
Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan (1912-76) was the last Mir of Hunza. Thus the title ‘Mir of Hunza’ is no more a legal title in Pakistan because Hunza is no more a separate state. It is a part of the sovereign state of Pakistan. Thus, anybody who uses this title can be charged, under the constitution, with treason and inciting mutiny. The sentences for both of these crimes is capital punishment.
Thus, many people find it shocking that some of our media still uses this term. The people of Hunza fought for many years to convince the Pakistani government to abolish the so-called state. I, therefore, hope that Pakistan’s media will be respectful of the sentiments of the majority of people from Gilgit and Baltistan, and especially those from Hunza.
RIFAT A KHAN (MRS)