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DAWN - Features; November 14, 2005

November 14, 2005

Meet Dr Manmohan Fukuyama Bush

By Jawed Naqvi

THERE have been traditionally two kinds of Indians living in India and abroad. There were Indians who joined the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela to fight the white man’s apartheid in South Africa and there were the Indians who became eager members of Pick Botha’s Tricameral Parliament. These two categories easily represent the microcosm of Indians elsewhere in the diaspora and at home too.

Although the racist Tricameral Parliament of 1984 did not last long because of widespread and determined domestic opposition, it did become a forerunner to a global model that is being today regarded as the most likely arrangement for a revamped UN Security Council. Mr Botha’s parliamentary model had sought to recast the ‘white’s only’ rule to placate hostile world opinion by co-opting the coloured people and the Indian immigrants into a three-tiered system of race-based governance. Such a system would still keep the black majority disenfranchised while leaving a few crumbs of racial privileges to be savoured by those Indians and the coloured leaders who accepted the idea.

By seeking to create an intermediate caste of nations in the form of new permanent members of a revamped Security Council who would not be granted veto powers (that would be reserved to be enjoyed only by its five recognized connoisseurs) the world is about to witness the arrival of a Pik Botha model for the United Nations.

An even more devious form of the Pik Botha model of governance is sought to be applied to a bizarre new nuclear doctrine being assiduously promoted by the United States. In this case the world is segregated between a few rogue states and the good ones led of course by the United States. India, Pakistan and Israel may have violated all the rule books of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; they may not even subscribe to it, but they can keep their illegally acquired nuclear weapons because the United States likes them. No further discussions are needed, no questions need be asked.

On the other hand, Iran, a signatory to the NPT, unlike the other three, is a rogue state according to the new doctrine. Thus even if Iran denies harbouring any nuclear weapons ambitions it cannot be trusted with nuclear technology. No further discussions needed here.

One can understand the way Pik Botha’s mind worked. He was a racist and you can’t argue with the nature of the beast. For the same reason, we can also understand the compulsions for the United States to deny Iran, North Korea and a few others the right to have the same nuclear technology that is found acceptable in the case of India, Pakistan and Israel.

But India is not the United States. And so it rankles when a country, which once cited the unfair nature of the NPT and slammed the inequality inherent in it, finds itself admonishing Iran, that too in the tone and tenor of the big powers. In moving closer to a veritable tricameral system of nuclear racism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is only taking a leaf from the Indians in South Africa who subscribed to Pik Botha’s doctrine.

The question to ask is this: Does Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regard Iran as a rogue state as the Americans do? If not then does he have any business to deny a Third World country the sovereign right to acquire nuclear energy, or even nuclear weapons if it so chooses?

Even if India under the command of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not explicitly endorse the US definition of rogue states, it does so implicitly by its behaviour towards Iran on the nuclear standoff. Why should Iran not have the technology that India surreptitiously acquired in the teeth of global opposition?

The doctrine of rogue states and the doctrine of failed states have a common author. And Dr Singh’s recently expressed fear of failed states in South Asia echoes an American idea and little else.

“America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones...We must defeat these threats to our nation, allies, and friends,” declared the US National Security Strategy in September 2002.

“[We will] leverage Canada’s experience in building peace, order and good government to help developing, failed and failing states,” said Canada’s National Security Policy, tabled in April last year.

Francis Fukuyama, a former US State Department policy planner, had worried about how ‘weak or failed states’ create internal humanitarian crises (Kosovo, Somalia) and ‘failed governance can create intolerable security threats in the form of terrorists wielding WMD’.

One of the original Clinton-era signatories, along with Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and others, of the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, Fukuyama also signed his name to a September 20, 2001, policy letter from PNAC to President Bush urging that ‘even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power’.

Was Iraq a failed state? Was Yugoslavia a failed state? Was Afghanistan a failed state, and if so when did India discover that to be so?

Offended by the inclination of a few Indians to join Botha’s tricameral parliament, a black South African composer had written a song which portrayed the country’s Indian population as abusing black people and being more racist than whites.

A barrage of criticism had led to Mbongeni Ngema’s song AmaNdiya — Zulu for ‘Indians’ — being banned by some radio stations and record shops. But it took a while before Nelson Mandela got Ngema to apologize for the lyrics. In the days ahead, Dr Singh will show us what category of Indians he fancies himself as. As for us, we don’t want an Iranian Ngema to compose a new song.

* * * * *

THE Hindu newspaper carried the following news item on November 11 in its daily column ‘50 years ago’:

“The Pakistan Government has lodged a strong protest with the Afghan Government for ‘massing troops along the Pakistan border’. The note, which was handed over to the Afghan Charge d’ Affaires, Mr Yunisi, in Karachi on November 9, warned the Afghan Government that Pakistan would be compelled to take such measures as they might feel necessary and that the responsibility for the consequences would be that of Afghanistan. It accused Afghanistan of violation of the gentleman’s understanding in which both countries agreed not to create hatred and incite violence against each other, in an overall settlement of the flag dispute. The note said that broadcasts from Radio Kabul violated this agreement reached two months ago. If the broadcasts continued, it added, it was likely to endanger the lives and property of the Pakistani nationals in Afghanistan. The broadcasts are reported to have demanded a plebiscite for the Pushtu-speaking people, east of the Durand Line, to enable them to decide their own form of government. Authoritative sources in Karachi said Pakistan might ask Afghanistan to close her consulates and trade offices in Pakistan and Pakistan might close her own in Afghanistan.”

Visitors’ Log: Clergyman’s plea for working together

KARACHI: A clergyman based in Toba Tek Singh who has just received an award for promoting communal harmony wants the governments of India and Pakistan to make joint efforts for the rehabilitation of the victims of the Oct 8 earthquake.

Father Bonnie Mendes was in Karachi last week on his way back from the USA after receiving the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) Star Award and talked to Dawn on the need for love and peace among the masses of South Asia.

The septuagenarian priest said inspiration could be taken from Europe, where various countries like Germany, France and Britain had fought many bloody wars with each other in which millions of people lost their lives, but now they had put the bitter past behind them and were cooperating in European development.

Fr Mendes, who had joined the church in 1962, wishes people could consider themselves as Pakistanis first rather than working in separate compartments and communities.

Pointing out that the minorities affairs ministry was usually given to a minority community member, he suggested that the portfolio should be allotted to a member of the majority community and some other ministry could be given to a minority community member. Members or the minority communities should be also sent as diplomats to other countries as it would help create a soft image for Pakistan.

Talking about Toba Tek Singh, Fr Mendes said that the community had been mobilized to construct the first farm-to- market road in the country in 1974 that connected Chak 424JB with the Jhang-Gojra road at a cost of Rs 1 million. The community share was Rs 250,000, and the church gave Rs 50,000. The rest of the money was provided by USAID.

The priest, who has a doctorate in social sciences from the Philippines, said that he had also formed peace committees with Muslims and Christians as members at the village, tehsil and district level in Toba Tek Singh, Faisalabad and Jhang. Women committees were also formed at the village level. Street theatre groups had been organized and had staged plays based on issues like water scarcity, communal harmony, the Okara farms problem, etc.

He said that he, along with civil society organizations, had been struggling for joint electorates, repeal of the Hudood Ordinances, the blasphemy law and an end to honour killings. Some success had been achieved, but the struggle continued.

Fr Mendes is the second Pakistani after Dr A. H. Nayyer of the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute to receive this the ACHA award. Dr Nayyar was recognized for his work in the field of reviewing old curriculum and designing new syllabuses. —Bhagwandas

COMMENT: Need to re-order priorities

By Omar R. Quraishi

ON November 7 it was reported in various newspapers that Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghauri along with Karachi Port Trust Chairman Admiral (retd.) Ahmed Hayat visited ‘Oyster Rocks’ just off Karachi’s coastline not far from the Seaview beach area. The two functionaries were apparently visiting the site where a ‘fountain jet’ is being built by the KPT.

The cost of the fountain jet, which KPT claims will be the world’s highest, sending water up to a height of 500 feet into the sky, is Rs 225 million. Work on this fountain jet was begun last year and it is said to be 75 per cent complete and it is scheduled to be opened next month by the president himself. Some newspapers also quoted the minister as saying that this fountain jet, being built by a British company, was a “gift to the people of Karachi”.

This is the umpteenth time that a senior government or city official has said that a completed infrastructure or amenity project is a “gift” to the people of the city. One was a few months ago when the Sabzi Mandi park was opened by the army and deemed a “gift” to the city. Before that, the former Karachi nazim liberally sprinkled ‘gifts’ for the city. Clearly, the fact that the land on which such projects are built is government- owned and hence, at least in principle, belongs to the citizens of this country, is probably lost on those who make such statements.

It is unclear who is exactly paying the Rs 225 million for the fountain jet – transparency in government projects not being exactly a forte in Pakistan – but since the organization is part of the ministry of ports and shipping it would be fair to assume that taxpayers are funding at least part of the fountain jet.

Even without the aftermath of the massive Oct. 8 earthquake, to be tackled, such a project would seem to be a monstrous waste of precious funds. But now that the country has been hit by a calamity that has taken the lives of over 86,000 people, injured an almost equal number and made two to three million homeless, spending Rs 225 million on the world’s “highest water fountain” seems a complete waste of resources. The KPT’s defence will be that the project was undertaken well before the quake and is nearing completion. Besides, according to published reports, it has donated Rs 14 million to the President’s Relief Fund and its employees have donated money worth three days of their individual salaries. It also sent a team of six doctors and four paramedics with a container full of medicines and other relief items.

Nevertheless, the fountain jet project, something that Karachi port could completely do without, shows the disregard government organizations and ministries tend to display towards a more careful use of taxpayers’ money and of their own responsibilities as service providers. For example, even if there wasn’t an earthquake, it would have been far better for the KPT to have spent the money on setting up a disaster management plan to deal with situations like an oil tanker running aground and causing an oil spill. After all, the devastating effects of what happened when the Tasman Spirit ran aground in July 2003 should not be forgotten. Only the government knows what became of its much-publicized lawsuit against the owners of that vessel claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Bizarre trip of a lifetime to N. Korea

By Bruce Wallace

PYONGYANG: Monty Anderson got word that the trip was on two weeks after rushing home to California from Ukraine for emergency open-heart surgery. He didn’t ask his doctor if it was OK to take another trip so soon. He told him he was going.

Eighty-year-old Joan Youmans heard about it when she picked up her phone messages after a trip to Indonesia. She cancelled a few doctors’ appointments and booked immediately.

When Joe Walker learned the trip was a go, he said he ‘just gave them my credit card number and told them to fill in the amount’. Cost him $7,000, he figures.

Such is the allure of North Korea to the “extreme traveler”.

Opportunities for American tourists to visit the secretive state that makes no secret of its loathing for the US are mighty tough to come by. A North Korean visa for an American is like round-the-clock electricity here in the North Korean capital: not impossible, but rare enough to be appreciated when it unexpectedly arrives.

“It’s the hardest place to get to,” said Bill Altaffer, who should know.

Altaffer is the world’s most travelled man, according to a website — “others look it up, we’ve been there,” says the recorded message on his home phone. The website doesn’t just rank by number of countries visited. It counts territories, autonomous regions, enclaves and provinces too, from Abkhazia to Zhejiang. Altaffer, a retired schoolteacher, has hit more of them than anyone. But not North Korea. It was the only place on the globe that had thwarted his attempts to visit — “except for Wake Island, maybe,” he said, referring to the US Pacific territory that is a restricted military installation. “But I can live without Wake Island. North Korea was the big one.”

Like the other Americans, Altaffer had a standing order with the Santa Monica, California-based Travellers’ Century Club to go should the chance ever arise. So this fall, when the North Korean regime decided to issue a handful of visas to Americans for reasons it typically never bothered to explain, Altaffer, Anderson, Youmans, Walker and globe-trotter Don Parrish found themselves on a rare adventure for Americans.

North Korea is not everyone’s idea of a holiday destination. But these are not your stereotypical Americans abroad, looking for the nearest McDonald’s. They long ago gave up bringing home souvenirs. Nor are they interested in just touching a toe to an airport tarmac to tick a destination off the list. They want to experience the place. They’re the travellers who show up in Afghanistan with war still smouldering, who can tell you where Tuva is (the dead centre of Asia) or who would buy a personalized license plate that says “Socotra,” in honour of once landing on the tiny archipelago of islands off Somalia that is Yemeni territory.

They’ve visited places you’ve probably never heard of, and covered far more miles than Ferdinand Magellan or James Cook ever did.

That desire to poke their noses into unusual spots drove them to board an Air Koryo flight from Beijing to Pyongyang, buckling up on a creaky, Soviet-made Ilyushin 62 for the 90-minute trip. The airliner has averaged a crash every two years since coming into service in the early 1960s, a safety record that might explain the exclamation mark on the glowing red “Fasten Your Belts!” light above the seats.

—Dawn/LAT-WP News Service

© DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2005