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October 1, 2010

Alif

The complaint against India
Mukhtar Ahmed Butt’s piece on September 14, 2010 in Pakistan’s Daily Express talks about what he calls increasing “Indian terrorism” in Kashmir. Mr Butt alleges that while India tricked former president Musharraf into thinking that it would negotiate on important issues like Kashmir, water and Sir Creek; it instead increased its heavy-handedness in Kashmir.

The writer alleges that in an attempt to stall bilateral talks, India raked up the issue of “terrorism” as being the primary bilateral issue, when in fact the primary bilateral issues should have been Kashmir and water. Mr Butt praises the efforts of Amnesty International, which he believes, wrote a letter to President Obama to ask for his assistance in pressing India to desist from “human rights violations”.

Mr Butt accuses India of conducting a spurious survey in the state, wherein the results suggested that only 2 percent of Kashmiris wanted to join Pakistan. He challenges India, if it believed in the validity of its survey, that it should immediately call for a referendum in the status of the state.

The writer alleges that India has banned news media from reporting on Kashmir with the hope that the world remains ignorant of its crimes. Mr Butt is shocked that the West has refrained from raising its voice against “Indian atrocities” in Kashmir; and he suggests that China’s conduct bettered that of Pakistan, when Beijing refused a visa to an Indian army general serving in Kashmir.

A Sudanese partition?
Ahmed Amrabi asks in UAE’s al-Bayan if the United States has decided to separate southern Sudan from the North at all costs, despite the referendum to be held in January 2011.

He draws attention to comments made by Hillary Clinton, which he suggests urges all involved parties to continue implementing the terms of the peace agreement. Mr Amrabi analyses US intentions as not only being in favour of a separation between the north and the south, but to actively engage in the separation process, and promoting expansion of the borders of current southern Sudan to include the oil fields present in the north.

Mr Ambari says that Chinese investment in the oil fields in Sudan in the 1990s triggered an ISIS report, which called for a cessation of hostilities and a US-mandated peace process—recommendations later adopted by the George W. Bush administration. Mr Ambari believes that US hopes may not be easily achieved. He contends that Khartoum will reject any attempts at renegotiating the border with the south. However, he pins his hopes on a referendum which will result in the reunification of Sudan. He feels that a majority of Sundanese will not accept an independent state controlled by the People’s Liberation Army, which represents only one tribe.

Unaccountable in Iraq
In Egypt’s as-Sabah, Salim Mashkur says that the United States is trying to reassure the Iraqis that it is not planning to abandon Iraq, despite its military withdrawal; but these “reassurances” mean little to the citizens.

He argues that huge service contracts were awarded to US contractors, who in turn awarded these contracts to several sub-contractors, and while money changed hands, no work was ever completed. He points out examples of how money changed hands through sub-contracting work. The writer points out that American contractors were awarded a $30 million contract to renovate a large hotel adjacent to the Green Zone, and one contractor received $2 million just to change the carpet, wallpaper and door knobs. However, Mr Mashkur writes, the door knobs remained in poor condition despite claims by the contractor that work was done. This is just one of the many cases where billions of dollars worth of contracts—paid ultimately by Iraqis—were awarded to American companies, with little or no result or accountability.

While money is being drained out of war-ravaged Iraq, the writer says, people still do not have electricity or adequate hospital facilities. Mr Mashkur argues that instead of Washington’s over-enthusiastic approach to “building a democracy” in Iraq and in the process, bleeding the country off billions of dollars, it ought to focus on the development and provision of basic services to the people of Iraq, which might do more good to its battered reputation in the Middle East.


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