DAWN - Features; October 24, 2001

October 24, 2001

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UN — the bitter realities

By Saeed Malik


THE United Nations is supposed to be an association of independent nation-states. It was formed by the victorious nations of World War II to keep the peace their efforts had won. Its supreme goal was set to be to end war. It was expected that the Great Powers would work together to keep the peace in all continents of the world. Instead, differences of opinion and disagreements between the Soviet Union and the West created international tension soon after its coming into being, which spawned Cold War.

The Soviet Union vigorously pursued its policy of spreading Communist system of governance throughout the world. The Western nations, led by the United States of America, joined together, ostensibly to resist Communist expansion, but in fact charted out their own spheres of influence, specially in the countries of the Third World, so that they could exploit their human and natural resources. Both sides manufactured and stockpiled lethal armaments, including atomic weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, to hit deep inside the territories of their adversaries.

Ever since its inception in October 1945, the United Nations has been manipulated, first by the Big Five, which enjoy the right to veto a resolution passed by the UN Security Council. With the attainment of the superpower status by the United States and the Soviet Union, the UN was commandeered by these two countries till the end of Cold War in 1990. After the collapse of Soviet Union in 1990, it has solely been exploited by the US, which, by its pressure tactics, has turned UN into a powerless but glorified debating society, or a powerful platform for rewarding the guilty.

The preamble of UN Charter sets forth the aims of the organization. The charter itself states the basic principles and purposes and defines the membership, and establishes its six principal organs. Beginning with an original membership of 51, it has now 186 nations on its roll. All member -states are represented in the General Assembly, but the membership of the Security Council is restricted to 15 states, including five permanent members enjoying the right of a veto. The remaining 10 are elected for a two-year term on a rotating system of representation from different regions of the world.

The United States, the UN’s largest single donor, accounts for 25 per cent of the budget of the world body, followed by Japan, which foots its bill up to 20 per cent. Germany pays 9.8 per cent, France 6.5 per cent, Italy 5.4 per cent and Britain 5.1 per cent. The remaining 30 per cent of UN budget is shared by 182 member-states.

Commensurate with the sizes of their contributions to UN budget, these countries grab top jobs in UN agencies, thereby influencing its decision-making process. Being the largest donor to UN budget, the United States has attempted and succeeded in making the world body subservient to its national and global interests. During the last 55 years, the United States has used UN to further its foreign policy objectives, and also to enforce its will on other states, whether it could be justified legally and morally.

Whether it is the freedom struggle launched by the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation or the war of independence waged against the occupation of their land by the Kashmiri freedom-fighters, the UN will take action only if the United States will so desire. In the Korean War of the 1950s and the Vietnam War of the 1970s, the United Nations manoeuvred the UN to swing into action and support the American policy of waging wars in these Asian countries. In 1991, the United States again manipulated UN support to declare war against Iraq. It has once again pressured the UNSC to pass a resolution supporting American war against international terrorism.

The rules of the game have been laid out clear and simple. The United States can afford taking a moral stand only when its one Arab allies is pitched against another Arab country, like in the Gulf War, with both having enough resources to pay the bill. It can allow UN to become relevant but only as long as the UN did not overstep its authority and actually tried doing what was in consonance with the policies of the US or Israel.

The human rights considerations of the US are overwhelming when it comes to dealing with countries with small economies, but when it comes to a multi-billion market like India, human rights is no longer an issue for the US. And the list of hypocrisy reads on.

It is about time Muslim countries realized that the US is not a part of the solution of their problems, but an effective and contributing source in their growing problems. The US has over and over again demonstrated its bias for Israel when it comes to the solving the Palestine problem. The highly biased manner by which it has vetoed countless UN Council resolutions in the past 50 years, which censured Israel, speaks volumes for America’s unstinted but illogical support to Israel. Thus the state of Israel was encouraged to perpetrate untold miseries and atrocities on the unarmed Palestinians, a majority of whom has been driven out of their motherland.

For several years in the recent past, the US did not pay its dues to the UN, which reached a record high of $2.3 billion as of July 31, 2001, a UN spokesman disclosed at a press briefing in the last week of August. About $1.8 billion of the total was for peace-keeping missions in 2001 and in past years. The balance was Washington’s share of the UN’s regular $1.1 billion annual administrative budget. Even the amount of $582 million, which the US Senate promised to pay this year, had been held up by the US House of Representatives. Conservative Congressmen were seeking to attach the funds to a bill that barred American cooperation with a new International Criminal Court, which most US allies supported.

Quite dramatically and quietly, the US paid its dues to the UN shortly after the suicidal bombings in New York and Washington on Sept 11 as a prelude to seeking UN support for its military action in Afghanistan. A defaulter US would have found it very difficult to get the UN on its side. The Americans once again used the aegis of the UN, when they were in dire need of its help.

The American logic seems to be plain: if a country is economically and militarily strong and has political clout, it becomes immune to all bindings of morality and need not pay any heed to the wishes of the rest of the world expressed at the UN forum. It explains the preferential treatment being given to Israel and India with their unbeaten record of the flouting of UN resolutions and open indulgence in human rights violations. The UN will not be activated if doing so would clash with the strategic political and economic interests of the United States.

For the poor and weak countries of the world the United Nations is a powerless body, which cannot take independent decisions for solving problems faced by the people in the Third World countries. It has now become subservient to the global policies of the only superpower, they allege.

At best, the UN has been exploited as an accessory for serving US foreign policy objectives and protecting its commercial interests. For a nation that takes pride in being the champion of human rights and the moral conscience of the world, the Americans need to take a closer look at the moral credentials of their government. They must do so, because as far the American government is concerned, its foreign policy appears to have been based on doublespeak, ever-changing moral standards and one tailored to the total exclusion of all respect for ‘trivialities’ like human rights, justice and fair play, and the upholding of truth. It is evident that moral compulsions are out, material propulsions are in.

The frequent use of veto in the Security Council in killing UN resolutions condemning Israel’s settlement expansion plans, the not hidden attempt at getting a human rights violator like India, a permanent seat in the Security Council, equating the aggressor with the aggressed in the Palestine dispute are but the latest glaring examples of the darker side of US foreign policy, which hampered UN efforts in recent years.

The Urdu-Hindi controversy

IT has fallen to the lot of Munshi Premchand’s family to protest against excessive Sanskritization of Hindi. The scholar who has raised his voice is Alok Rai, grandson of Premchand, father of modern Urdu fiction. Premchand had also brought out a Hindi periodical, Hans, and employed the Devnagri script as a vehicle of expression in the twilight zone of his chequered career.

I wonder what made Alok Rai come out with his book titled Hindi Nationalism. Ever since the establishment of Fort William College in Kolkata as a mark celebration of the East India Company’s victory over Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1799, the language policy of the British was quite clear. Urdu, with its Persian script, was the territory for Mir Amman and his colleagues; and Hindi, with the Devnagri script, belonged to Lalloo Lalji and Sadal Mishr. Mir Amman came out with his Bagh-o-Bahar and Lalloo Lalji with Prem Sagar.

Gilchrist, the first principal, had been given the brief to create a Devnagri-script Hindustani on the Surseni Apbharansh Prakrit the same way the Persian-script Hindustani was in vogue. This called for the supplanting of Maithli, Bhojpuri and Avadhi in the east and Brij and Haryanvi in the west.

The British knew that Urdu poets were using different names for their language: Urdu, Rekhta and Hindi. It was Taslim’s Nau Tarz-i- Murassa which had used Urdu for the first time, even before Mir Amman; and the language riots of Banaras (Varansi) in 1867 had sown the seeds of discord. The majority of Hindus had begun to regard Urdu as the language of the Muslims and the newly-created, Devnagri Hindi, had become the darling of Hindus.

The movement for Hindi was so intense that Bhartendu Harishchandra, born in 1850, became a zealous campaigner for the Devnagri script. They knew that they were doing away with Bhojpuri, Maithli, Brij, Avadhi and Haryanvi in the process as these dialects were not based on Khadi Boli, and Bhartendu did not want to deviate a wee bit from Urdu’s Khadi Boli origin.

Even in hostility there was in evidence a race for having a common origin and phonetic system. The lovers of the Devnagri script until the introduction of the present-day Hindi had Surdas and Tulsi Das as the greatest exponents of Brij and Avadhi, but the prejudiced minds of the Hindiphiles regarded Brij and Avadhi as obstacles in the way of the progress of Hindi.

Dr Abdul Wadood’s book Urdu Se Hindi Tak sheds ample light on how modern-day Hindi and Urdu differ only in the Sanskrit and Perso-Arabic bedrocks of technical or specialized vocabulary. If we have to accept Insha’s Rani Kaitki’s language as the common yardstick and avoid Sanskrit, then there is not much of a difference between Hindi and Urdu of the present era. This similarity is so striking that a good number of the enthusiasts of Brij, Avadhi, Maithli and Bhojpuri are accusing the present-day exponents of Hindi of steamrolling their dialects into conformity and depriving India of a very rich linguistic culture from Bihar to Haryana and Balochi.

The leading role in this steamrolling was played by Grierson of the Linguistic Survey of India who devised the theory of the eastern and western Hindi. The eastern stood for the Avadhi and the dialects of Bihar, and the western for Brij, Haryanvi and Rajasthani. Grierson also accepts that the newest language in the armoury of India is the present-day Hindi. He thinks that about 1900 the present Hindi’s poetry was not even 50-year-old and the Hindi prose was hardly 100-year-old compared to hundreds of years of histories of Urdu prose and poetry if we have to count the time from Amir Khusro and Khwaja Banda Nawaz Gaisu Daraz’s works.

It is being intensely realized in India that Hindi has been cruel towards Brij, Avadhi, Maithli, Bhojpuri and Haryanvi and the writings in these languages are not accepted for publication in Hindi-language journals on the ground that these dialects are not standardized Hindi. Grierson and before him Bhartendu regarded Urdu as the language of the Moorish and Bamni languages, respectively. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee and Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwedi lent their weight to the voice that Hindi is the latest creation in the family of languages and what differentiates it from Urdu is the script. However, this Hindi has killed a number of languages of the Bhakti Movement.

Alok Rai’s book Hindi Nationalism represents the first wave of protest against Sanskritized vocabulary of the modern Hindi. Sanskrit, being a dead language and not spoken by more than 50,000 people, as the language of common parlance, could only kill the modern Hindi.

Feelings against over-Sanskritization is gaining ground and the day is not far when the language of Rani Kaitki or Munshi Premchand’s Kafan will be regarded as the standard language.

Players need protection from accusers

By Omar Kureishi


JUST as well that there was no ICC Anti-corruption Unit in the times of David and Goliath. Almost certainly, doubts would be raised and there would be suspicions. Someone like Ali Bacher might even have come forward to charge that the ‘encounter’ was fixed. Kenya beat India at Port Elizabeth. It was a bigger upset than Bangladesh beating Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup or Zimbabwe beating South African in the same tournament.

I saw the Kenya-India match on television and Kenya played out of their skins and a depleted Indian team lost to what was the better team on that day. Kenya were without their captain Maurice Odumbe who had been handed a two-game suspension, an unusually harsh punishment. The team was fired up because of this and its resolve showed in the body-language of its players. To insinuate that there was some hanky-panky is to take credit away from a great team effort and in the bargain cast aspersions on the integrity of the Indian players.

I think the time has come for cricket to be saved from its redeemers. I also feel that the players need to get some protection from those who make accusations and then fail to come up with any proof.

Justice Karamat is carrying out a judicial inquiry to determine if the Pakistan-Bangladesh match was fixed in the World Cup. The man who made the accusation was Dr Bacher. He was no ordinary, Tom, Dick or Harry. He was the chief executive of the South African Cricket Board. He had no proof and admitted as much, saying that Majid Khan had told him. What he was doing was retailing the suspicions of someone else who in turn said that he had no evidence.

While members of the Pakistan team have appeared before Justice Karamat Bhandari, Bacher has not done so. He represents the main accuser. Bacher should have himself volunteered to do so. It would have been an honourable thing to have done so.

The life ban on Hansie Cronje has been re-affirmed and since he had pleaded guilty and had been caught with the goods, as it were, the life-ban seems justified. Though whether the punishment fits the crime is a matter of some doubt in my mind. His name had been dragged through the mud and he will carry the stigma for the rest of his life and there was no chance of his ever playing for South Africa again, I feel a case existed for tempering mercy with justice.

Punishment is meant to act as a deterrent and not be an act of vengeance on its own. I may be mistaken but I do not recall any of the book-makers who became household names being sent to jail.

Thus we have the anomaly of one party being banned or fined for accepting money from another party but this ‘another party’ getting off scot-free. The bribe-taker is to be punished. Not the bribe-giver. This is, what I would call, half justice, like the curate’s egg, good in parts.

In 1974, when I was manager of the Pakistan team on its tour of England, we had twice evacuated our hotels because of bomb scares. The IRA were then on the rampage and bomb blasts were fairly routine. Not for a moment did we consider calling off the tour. We did not even discuss it the following mornings at breakfast.

There was no satellite television in those days and to the best of my recollection, nothing appeared in the print media about the bomb scares in the hotels where the Pakistan team was lodged.

I write this in the context of the security concerns of the England players due to tour India. As I wrote last week, New Zealand and Sri Lanka could have easily toured Pakistan and with absolute safety. I don’t think that the England players will be in any kind of danger because of the events in Afghanistan.

If one was to go entirely by what one sees on BBC and CNN, one would get the impression that the whole region is in turmoil. The pictures we are seeing are selective and angled. There should be no doubts about the tour and the only fears should be about Sachin Tendulkar regaining his form. No such fears have been expressed about the tournament in Sharjah and Pakistan is just as concerned about the safety of its players.

I think England flatter themselves that they constitute a high-profile target. A One-day International was being played in Sri Lanka when Columbo airport was being attacked. Pakistan toured India even when the Shiv Sena had vowed not to let the tour proceed. Though the security was tight, the Pakistan players tell me that they enjoyed the tour.

The ECB will incur a heavy financial loss if the India tour is cancelled. So too will the Indian Cricket Board. Should England’s tour be cancelled, the Indian Cricket Board will get an idea of how we felt when India cancelled its tour of Pakistan and then refused to play in the Asian Test Championship, though the reason was not security.

Pakistan had taken quite a financial knock. Although I am in agreement with the ICC plan for neutral venues, there should be compelling reasons for the cancellation of tours and I don’t think it should be left to the players. With due respects to them, they are not best informed on all political matters in most cases, they are not informed at all. These decisions should be arrived at on a government to government level.