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|October 10, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/Brigadier Shaukat Qadir
Brigadier Shaukat Qadir is a retired Pakistani soldier who has also served as vice-president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute. At present he is an independent analyst. Involved in Track II diplomacy between India and Pakistan, the brigadier has been a close observer of the developments in the subcontinent. In an exclusive interview with Abdul Mohi Shah in Islamabad, he examines the recent events in the region. Excerpts:
What kind of future do you foresee in Afghanistan?
I think that despite the initial (and understandably so) 'gung-ho' response of the US, they became conscious of the political and military complications as well as the horrendous outcome of an indiscriminate response. They have therefore decided to target only the guilty, ensuring minimal 'collateral damage'. Neither they nor the rest of the world wants to see more unsuccessful operations by the US (the failure too will have a horrific fallout for the entire world).
After this kind of operation, I see Afghanistan being helped to build itself up. It is essential to understand that peace must be 'sustainable'. There is no point in creating peace which cannot last. If Afghanistan is in the state of chaos that it is in today, the US most of all, as well as the rest of the Western world, shares the responsibility of creating the situation and leaving it to fester.
Your question obviously, however, relates to the political future. I see the emergence of a broad-based government, but one that is not lopsided. It would be only democratic to have representation according to the percentage of population. If the Pashtuns are greater in number than the other tribes, their representation must be accordingly.
Zahir Shah appears a distinct possibility, but he will remain a figurehead. The very nature of Afghan society is fragmented. It has never been held together by a strong centre, but for the period of the Taleban, but that merits a separate analysis.
What should be Pakistan's role in the next government in Afghanistan?
No country has a role in another sovereign country. If circumstances forced Pakistan to play a role earlier, it should not need to do so again. However, Pakistan has interests in Afghanistan, which it must seek to safeguard. Those should be attended to, in the period of the formation of a broad-based government in Afghanistan.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed the attack in Srinagar on October 1. How much influence does President Pervez Musharraf have over these and other such organisations?
Firstly, they have since denied having claimed the attack. Secondly, the timing of the attack was singularly wrong for Pervez Musharraf. Obviously therefore, somebody was trying to embarrass him. It could be one of those organisations supporting the Taleban from our soil, or it could be the Indian security forces. Take your choice. The Chattisinghpura massacre is not too far in the distant past.
Thirdly (I seem to be quoting these almost hourly these days), there are UN resolutions that determine some of these acts. UN General Assembly Resolution 2625, titled the Declaration on the Principles of Self-determination, states: 'In their actions against and resistance to such forcible action in pursuit of their right to self-determination, such people are entitled to seek and to receive support.' UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 defining aggression included attack by armed forces, invasion, sending armed bands or mercenaries, and even allowing third states the use of territory for such purposes, as acts of aggression. But it adds: "Nothing in this definition ... could in any way prejudice the right to self-determination, freedom, and independence ... nor the right of these people to struggle to that end."
Fourthly, the International Law Commission has drawn up draft articles on state responsibility to the support of militancy in another state. Article 11 states: "The conduct of a person or group of persons, not acting on behalf of the state, shall not be considered an act of the state under international law." Article 14 reads: "The conduct of an insurrectional movement which is established in the territory of a state or in any other territory under its administration shall not be considered an act of that state under international law." Consequently the implicit accusation of Pakistan in your question has been dealt with by international law. It was on this basis that the International Court of Justice, when finally approached by the Nicaraguan government against the blatant support to the Contras, found the US guilty, but did not find evidence to consider these as acts of that state.
Finally, the extent of government influence over these militant organisations in Pakistan ranges from little to considerable. In my opinion, they should be brought under greater control, just like the Shiv Sena should in India. I think Musharraf is conscious of it and plans to.
Your comments on the rumour that Osama bin Laden has been receiving funding from Saudi sources, the royal family or the opposition.
I do not know. However, I am virtually certain that he and other organisations receive funds from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. The international community will need to decide how far they wish to go in this war against terrorism. Maybe those funding such ventures need to be made culpable. I have a feeling that some 'responsible' states may be uncomfortable with striking too close to home, and this does not exclude the West.
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