Saturday, December 8, 2007

Other Pakistan and Project USA

Other Pakistan has been busy fighting Musharraf’s martial law by moving the US Senate and Congress to put pressure on Musharraf. Its founder Wasim Arif has contacted every Senator in the US Senate and selected members of the US Congress with the following email:

Dear Senator

This is an appeal from Other Pakistan to ask for the support of the great American people as well as our American friends in the US Senate and Congress in saving Pakistan from the brink of disaster. I urge you to follow the lead given by the American Bar Association (ABA) who have announced a solidarity march to the US Supreme Court this week. The ABA has chosen to stand tall with the lawyers and judiciary of Pakistan, its President William Neukom reminding us all that ‘when a nation’s constitution is suspended, and its Supreme Court is shut down, that is a blow to the rule of law everywhere’. American leaders should not and cannot and remain oblivious to this fact.

Another great American Reverend Martin Luther King spoke in a similar vein when he said that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. America has a long tradition of freedom, it lives and breathes freedom; it is her staple diet and the basis of her constitution. Today Pakistan ’s freedom is under attack and all freedom loving Americans will expect the US to stand up against the tyranny of General Musharraf and condemn his actions in muzzling the media, the sacking and house arrest of senior judges, the suspension of fundamental human rights and liberties and his suspending of the constitution. These are tantamount to war crimes against Pakistan and her people and the rubicon has been crossed, the Pakistani people have chosen to free themselves from the evil of military rule so today America must decide whether it stands with Pakistan or its khaki kings, it cannot be a friend with both.

So we appeal to the respected members of the US Senate and Congress to champion liberty and justice in Pakistan by moving the Senate and Congress against General Musharraf’s vile and illegal act of imposing an emergency in Pakistan. We urge you to pressure the Bush Administration to force the General to concede all of the following:

The end of the emergency and the restoration of the constitution.
The reinstatement of the Chief Justice and all other judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
The freeing of all human rights activists, lawyers, judges and political workers in jail or under house arrest at once.
The announcement of a neutral caretaker government to conduct free and fair elections conducted under the supervision of a newly constituted Election Commission by January 2008.
The suspension of military aid until General Musharraf retires from the army with it being the first step in a new US Pakistan policy that is people-centric with a ‘ Pakistan policy’ replacing a failed ‘Musharraf policy’.

The recent proposals of Senator Joe Biden in this regard are useful food for thought and a move in the right direction and such moves from the US will be received positively by the Pakistani people. Yet US officials have indicated that the Bush administration has no plans to cut American financial support to Pakistan so it seems the US is once again hell-bent on repeating past US foreign policy mistakes in Pakistan. General Musharraf is a spent force after his latest power grab, he has been reduced to a poor shadow of his past glories, and he cannot deliver success in the war on terror. Thus it is make or break time for all Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and Senate, for the Pakistani nation wants them to support Pakistan and not her khaki-men. The policy shift advocated by Senator Joe Biden of developing an US foreign policy based on Pakistan as a whole and not a ‘Musharraf policy’ is a positive sign that opinion leaders in the US are re-examining their past decisions.

Senator Biden’s four central points are worth repeating here, they are:

Tripling non-security aid to $1.5 billion annually for at least a decade with the aid to be unconditional and would be the US ’s pledge to the Pakistani people. Instead of funding military hardware, it would build schools, clinics, and roads.
The US must condition security aid on performance. US should base security aid on clear results. Washington is now spending well over $1 billion annually, and “it’s not clear we’re getting our money’s worth”.
The US must help Pakistan enjoy a “democracy dividend.” The first year of democratic rule should bring an additional $1 billion - above the $1.5 billion non-security aid baseline. Biden said he supports tying future non-security aid - above the guaranteed baseline - to Pakistan ’s progress in developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms.
The US must engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers, which will involve everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people’s lives.

Intransigence and apathy in the corridors of power disguised as quiet diplomacy from the US will be criminal at this juncture. This is a time to stand tall or stay silent forever, a new Pakistan is taking shape and its allies like the US must help shape it according to the ideals of liberty and justice. The words of the great President Abraham Lincoln must be heeded when he said ‘stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong’. Pakistan has chose to do or die, there is no middle way for dictatorships and military-led governments in Pakistan, they are a dying species soon to become extinct, the hands of history are upon us and this is one battle General Musharraf is sure to lose.

The response from US senators has been very positive none more so than Senator Joseph Lieberman a former US Vice-President Candidate and his email to Wasim Arif is reproduced below:

Dear Mr. Arif:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the situation in Pakistan.

As you know, on November 3, 2007, General Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan's constitution and assumed emergency powers in his role both as president and army chief. Since then, his security forces have arrested more than 1,500 lawyers and judges, human rights activists, and political leaders. Almost all independent television stations remain off the air, and large rallies have been banned.

General Musharraf's extra-constitutional actions represent a disappointing and dangerous setback to democracy in Pakistan, as well as United States-Pakistani relations. Although General Musharraf has sought to justify the imposition of martial law to protect Pakistan from Islamist extremism, his security forces have, in fact, targeted the moderate forces of civil society and constitutional government - the very people who provide the best bulwark against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Pakistan remains a pivotal state in the war on terror. Since September 11, 2001, the government of Pakistan has provided critical assistance that has led to the capture of over 500 al Qaeda operatives and thwarted several terrorist attacks that were planned against the United States and its allies. At the same time, the Pakistani government has failed to dislodge al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country's northern provinces, where these Islamist extremist groups today enjoy safe haven. Rather than uniting moderate Pakistanis against these terrorists, General Musharraf's actions instead threaten to make it even more difficult to end this unacceptable threat to our security.

I am pleased that General Musharraf has announced that Pakistan will hold parliamentary elections before January 9, 2008. He must be held to this pledge. In addition, for the good of his country, General Musharraf must also promise to remove himself as head of the Pakistani Army and stipulate a specific date for the end of martial law. In the event that diplomatic pressure alone fails to convince General Musharraf to do these things, the United States may be forced to consider cutting some of the aid we provide to the Pakistani government.

I will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan closely. I deeply hope that General Musharraf will act responsibly and peaceably to resolve the crisis that his actions have created. It is of paramount importance to the national security of the United States that Pakistan is led by an effective, democratically-elected leader who is willing to work with us in the struggle against Islamist extremism.

In recent weeks, I have written twice to President Musharraf, to express my concerns about the political situation in Pakistan. In October 2007, following the suicide bombing in Karachi that killed 140 innocent people, I wrote - together with Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Appropriations - to urge General Musharraf to conduct a full investigation of the attack and not to use security concerns as a pretext for a political crackdown.

In early November 2007, I again wrote to President Musharraf along with several of my colleagues, urging him to release Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, a highly distinguished attorney and political leader in Pakistan who was arrested after the imposition of emergency rule. Mr. Ahsan has represented a variety of high profile political figures in Pakistan, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister Naas Sharif, and Chief Justice Chaudhry of the Pakistani Supreme Court.

Wasim concludes by pointing out the spelling of Nawaz Sharif as Naas by Senator Lieberman. For Wasim the fight continues ….. until as he says the pursuit of principles defeats the pursuit of profit. Success will come comrades for we can only but prevail.

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