Stealing a Life …

Paris attacks are harrowing. Brings a shiver down my spine. I am not exaggerating my state of mind. Whenever innocents die I am forced to recall the words from my favourite book “The Kite Runner”:

“…there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft…when you kill a man, you steal a life…you steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness…there is no act more wretched than stealing…a man who takes what’s not his to take, be it a life or a loaf of naan…I spit on such a man. And if I ever cross paths with him, God help him…”

A horde of Muslims have been concerned about how the horrendous attacks in Paris will bring a bad name to Muslims, again. I am not sure how to answer this. More or less the same number of people are concerned about how western media is actively reporting the Paris carnage and how Facebook is sympathising with the French community by rolling out an application that can merge your profile picture with the French flag to become a unique profile picture on your profile. They are arguing that such a sympathising gesture is only bestowed on the western people and the terrorism affectees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and others are always snubbed and which is a discrimination and selective-sympathy. It is true. But I guess it is more true that Muslim states are so feeble and incompetent today that their internal differences owing to sectarianism and weakness owing to corruption have led them to this situation and because of that Muslim community is given little or no significance in a world dominated by western democracy, culture and economy. Nature has it that only the strong survives. Justice is subjective and the mighty rules.

I find it sound to put a French flag (even though I haven’t put one on my profile yet but I support those who have) on the Facebook profile and sympathise with the French community ignoring any ifs and buts here. I mourn on the loss of innocent lives in Paris and my heart bleeds for every single soul lost in Paris attacks and all such terrorist attacks anywhere in the world.

Power comes with the responsibility and responsibility requires courage to befit the position you are responsible for. It would take courage for Muslim community to enjoy the pinnacle of the same power western world is enjoying today without being irresponsible.

I don’t know if this terrorism anywhere in the world will ever stop. It unfortunately doesn’t seem to end. I though certainly hope for the terrorism to be dealt with at least more responsibility!

Is Afghanistan the Drug’istan for Nato?

Afghanistan's yearly opium output accounts for more than 90 per cent of the global supply. Photo Courtesy: Express Tribune

Afghanistan's yearly opium output accounts for more than 90 per cent of the global supply. Photo Courtesy: Express Tribune

Published at Express Tribune Blog

The heavy cultivation of opium in Afghanistan is known to all of us. The pertinent question then is: why has Nato been unable to control this opium cultivation in the nine years of its occupation?

According to a recent article on TIME titled “Is NATO to Blame for Russia’s Afghan Heroin Problem?” Russia has lambasted the US and NATO for not doing more to stop little baggies of heroin from getting into the hands of Russia’s youth.

Russia further alleged that “NATO has fueled drug production by refusing to destroy Afghan poppy fields, which it stopped doing last year in the hope of winning the support of opium farmers.”

“In its way, Russia is making an important point. Between 2005 and 2009, Afghanistan’s yearly opium output jumped from 4,000 to 7,000 tons, and it now accounts for more than 90% of global supply, according to the United Nations. Russian state statistics say that opiates such as heroin and morphine kill around 30,000 Russians every year, three times more than the total number of Soviets killed during their 10-year war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.”

But the question stays the same: who will control this illicit drug cultivation and its trafficking and how will it be coped? Will the US led Nato forces and CIA will slash down the opium cultivation? Seriously?

Hordes of news reports regarding the Afghan opium cultivation have been highlighted on the media lately. Nearly all of them blame US led Nato for not doing enough to undermine the opium cultivation. Of late, a report in the New York Times surfaced. It said:

“Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Ahmed Karzai, however, denied this news, saying that “he cooperated with American civilian and military officials, but did not engage in the drug trade and did not receive payments from the CIA.”

Simultaneously, American officials also acknowledge that the relationship between Mr Karzai and the CIA is wide ranging.

Whatever the case maybe, one’s doubt on the role of Nato in dealing the opium cultivation is valid.

Nato believes that the March offensive in Marjah redoubled the crackdown on drug traffickers with the aim of cutting the Taliban off from their main source of funding. Meanwhile, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): “a mystery disease infecting opium poppies in Afghanistan could cut this year’s illicit crop in some areas by up to 70 percent. The disease has led authorities to expect a ‘significant’ reduction in opium production this year.”

UNODC further said that the output of opium could fall by up to 25 percent.

According to the above explanations, the Marjah operation as well as the disease infecting opium poppies, the natural inducement, must bring a significant reduction in opium cultivation this year. Stats on it will be cleared up in the near future.

The solution to reduce the illegal opium cultivation is quite simple in my view. The impoverished people of Afghanistan cultivate opium not because they enjoy doing it or they consider it some sort of a redemptive act. They cultivate it to get money to buy food to feed their families. Opium is cheaper than the food many Afghan families consume. According to a blog at New York Times: “The poverty in the region (Badakhshan) is so consuming that parents blow opium smoke into their children’s noses to soothe the pangs of hunger.” The solution to end all of this is to overhaul the country’s infrastructure. Instead of spending billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan, the United States must spend richly on humanitarian work. Humanitarian work, it seems, has nowadays become a sole job of NGO’s and private humanitarian organizations rather than the respective governments.

In Pakistan, a horde of people die each year due to the drug abuse. During the time of former President Musharraf regime, the then Health Minister stated that Afghanistan’s opium trade is sabotaging the efforts of Pakistan in controlling the spread of HIV in the country, particularly amongst the injection drug users. To be sure, drug trafficking and drug abuse directly affects

Pakistan’s internal security as well as its social stability. It ought to be dealt with iron hands.

Being a Pakistani, I’d also like to ask the government of Pakistan as to what role it is playing to limit the Afghan drug cultivation and its trafficking? According to some analysts, around a quarter of Afghanistan’s opium production is shipped through Pakistan from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan region. Pakistan government has all the right to question the ability and legitimacy of Nato in regards to the Afghan opium cultivation and trafficking.

Despite the fact that the government of Pakistan has taken some measures to cope with the drug trafficking issue, the trafficking is still prospering in Pakistan and feeding problems of drug addiction and the prevalence of HIV.

Does this not substantiate the fact that the government should do “a lot more” and not just “more” in this regards?

$1 Trillion Worth Mineral Deposits In Afghanistan

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan. According to senior American officialdom, the mineral deposits are enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself.

An internal Pentagon memo states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.”

In the words of one of my American friend after she read this news:

Why they (American officialdom) even bother telling this to us is a mystery. It’s not like they need our approval anymore. They’ve made that abundantly clear.

From the same purview, it could be a justification for us, American, to stay there in Afghanistan, forever to “protect” these resources.

It seems that United States will hardly be leaving Afghanistan now, not until the time deposits are completely dug and transported — maybe partially — out of Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the news is perhaps not so shocking. According to Huffington Post:

Just visit the public web site of the U.S. Geological Survey and read the press release “Significant Potential for Undiscovered Resources in Afghanistan Released: 11/13/2007 10:00:00 AM” and you will find the following: “Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2007 assessment . . . Estimates for copper and iron ore resources were found to have the most potential for extraction in Afghanistan. Scientists also found indications of abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby, sapphire, garnet, lapis, kunzite, spinel, tourmaline and peridot. Other examples of mineral resources available for extraction in Afghanistan include gold, mercury, sulfur, chromite, talc-magnesite, potash, graphite and sand and gravel.”

To be sure, Afghan Talibans will take a keen interest after the final revelation of these massive deposits. This remains unclear what will come next. Maybe the Afghan Talibans will show more resistance than ever before, and maybe they’ll tilt towards some sort of peace deal. The latter one seems highly unlikely to transpire. In any case, the deposits solely belong to the people of Afghanistan. It’s the prerogative of people of Afghanistan to benefit from the $1 trillion worth mineral deposits. It sure will help to overhaul the war-torn country’s infrastructure. US has no right to “steal” the mineral deposits. If anything, “steal” is a better word in the case of United States of America.

My personal message to POTUS Mr. Obama is:

Please spend a little more time in nipping off the poppy etc. drug crops in Afghanistan, and a little less time looking for minerals. Thank you.

To The Government Of Israel

Israel has announced that it’d investigate the deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla on its own. Israel has rejected a UN proposal for an international probe.

This is a laconic note for the Government of Israel:

If you’ve nothing to hide from the world, then allow an international investigation. It’s that simple.

Pakistan & UK General Elections

David Cameron buying fish and chips in Longtown, Carlisle at the start of his 24 hour election campaign for change. 5 May 2010 -- Guardian

David Cameron buying fish and chips in Longtown, Carlisle at the start of his 24 hour election campaign for change. 5 May 2010 -- Guardian

The above picture speaks a thousand words. I’m not going to debate on what these elected leaders of Britain do and don’t — since I’ve been writing to the last extremity of it earlier, or what much evil they create after being elected either with absolute majority or through the process of making coalition government. All I’m going to express is on the mode of elections held in Britain — and must I compare it with Pakistan in regards with our national champions of democracy and honesty.

So nice and peaceful the campaigning and voting are that I always feel why are we left out with such peace during this particular occasion in our country? The good thing during the elections is the “debates” that take place between the top potential candidates running for premiership. Although, and as usual, their incessant ways of giving hope to the public is a phenomenal political card in the politics, but they must live through stern opposition if they avert to address the problems which they had promised during the election campaigns. In Pakistan, promises of political parties are improvised and breached customarily after winning the seats. Besides, the straightforward question of fact is that how good the role of opposition parties is in Pakistan?

At one of the polling booth, two pranksters climbed on to the roof of the polling station and unfurled a banner drawing attention to Cameron’s education at the elite fee-paying Eton College, which has produced 18 British premiers. The banner read: “Britons know your place. Vote Eton — vote Tory. Vote the 19th premier from the Eton College.”

This was a nice attractive message that must have grabbed the attention of many voters, and maybe a number of voters had changed their mind and had voted Conservatives in order that to see the 19th British premier from the same institute. Let’s just compare it with Pakistan. What should a banner read when it’s waved during an election campaign in Pakistan? I’ve an urge to say that it should read: “please vote ABC party because it has got the maximum number of people and leader who have spent maximum time in Adiala Jail; it has got the maximum number of people and leader charged with maximum number of corruption and criminal cases. Vote for the best criminal!”

I was watching Gordon Brown’s brief submissive speech broadcasted live from the 10 Downing Street. Despite that he knows his party hasn’t fared well in the elections the way it should have and the Conservatives have won more seats than his Labour party — but he made a soft speech saying if the Liberal Democrats are failed to negotiate with the Conservatives in a power-sharing deal, they can, then, always come to have talk with us for power-sharing. This means that Gordon Brown understands it’s, at first, the prerogative of Conservatives to make an attempt for a coalition deal with Lib Dems. If it fails to make a coalition, only then he’d look forward for a coalition deal of Labours with Lib Dems. The current position of UK General Elections is bewildered because none of the party — not even Conservative — is able to get hold of the absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons. This has lead to a “hung parliament” situation in UK. It’s that the party has to win 326 seats out of 650 seats in order that to form a government. Having said that, none of the party has achieved this mark, though Conservatives are a bit close to the mark of 326 as they’ve won 306 seats whereas Labour party occupies 258 seats and the Lib Dems have secured 57 seats in total.

The question of concern during all this event is that the Gordon Brown could easily make a government if he approaches the Liberal Democrats and successfully pacify them to join Labours to form a coalition government. But Gordon Brown simply didn’t do it because — and despite that the past practice under Britain’s unwritten constitution involves the sitting premier in a hung Parliament having the right to make the first attempt at forming a ruling coalition which means Labours can make coalition with Lib Dems — people think if such a government is formed, then it’d be the “government of defeated”. If anything, it seems that the Gordon Brown thinks if he steps to the fore and obstruct the deal of Conservatives with Lib Dems, it’d be something unprincipled and despicable. Good thing is appreciated and I wish people in our country also participate in learning to this slice of principles while disregarding the despicable fashion of hunting the power wherever it lurks and wherever it’s felt. Personally, I too find that it’s the prerogative of Conservatives to approach to anyone for power-sharing deal because they’ve got the maximum seats. And right now the Lib Dems are the kingmakers — that only they’re in a position to bring into government one of either, Labours or Conservatives.

The last question of fact is: how much the political parties in Pakistan spend for election campaigning? Hundreds of thousands of posters and banners and overspending can be seen well from even a biased eye. Why to spend millions, if not billions, during election campaigning while all of the political parties simultaneously talk about the betterment of impoverished and downtrodden; whereas the millions, from the personal bank accounts, aren’t spent on the same poverty-stricken people which they generously spend on election campaigns. I don’t see extravagant spending of money during the election campaigns in the UK, which is good.

All in all, ‘mode’ of Elections in UK is a rule of thumb for our democratic champions as well as their democratic supporters.