By Dr Shahid Qureshi : —
I always admired William Hague the British Foreign secretary not because he has close Welsh connections like me but his fine articulation of argument and clarity in response. I still remember his speech at the Tory Party Conference. Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher chose him and than groomed too. It is always refreshing and he must be appreciated for raising voices for the voiceless.
At a press briefing on 28th June 2011, in the Foreign and Common Wealth Office, I did congratulated him for his excellent speech on 4th May 2011, at Lord Mayor’s banquet in which he said;
“The changes taking place in the Middle East and North Africa reflect global trends that are shaping the world around the United Kingdom . We need to adapt our foreign policy to the networked world of the 21st century in which economic might and influence is moving away from the handful of states that were dominant after the Cold War to a range of nations large and small; and in which no one nation can solve any global problem alone, from climate change to nuclear proliferation – with what the Deputy Prime Minister has called “the globalisation of many of our problems”.
He said, “Alongside our indispensable relationship with the United States and our role in Europe, we now have to work more closely with countries like Brazil, which now has more diplomats in more countries in Africa than we do, and Turkey, which is Europe’s fastest growing economy and is a crucial partner for us in the Balkans, the Middle East and further afield”.
After his visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan he said at the briefing: “ Pakistan had a major role to play for peace in Afghanistan and Britain recognisees the sacrifices of Pakistan in the war against terror and extremism”.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague added that the UK has always welcomed dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan as friendly relations between the two neighbours would yield positive impact on the regional peace and environment. In response to a question Mr Hague said, ‘discussion with the Taliban were in the preliminary stages and acknowledged the role of UAE in this regard.
Mr Hague mentioned that Pakistan was actively participating in Trilateral Core Group meetings comprising Afghanistan , Pakistan and the United States . He pointed out that the UK and Pakistan enjoy very friendly and cordial relations and have deep ties on issues relating to trade, commerce, education, cultural and defence.
William Hague stated United Kingdom’s development assistance to Pakistan and GBP 650 million funds that are to be spent in the next three years to help as many as four million children in age group of five to nine years enrol in primary schools and distribution of six million text books.
In response to a question about the drone attacks inside Pakistan , Mr Hague said this issue needed to be resolved between two states Pakistan and the United States .
I asked British Foreign Secretary William Hague about the presence of the 2.5 million Afghan refugees since 1979 after the Soviet Invasion. That is an on going issue for Pakistan for over 30 years and as in the past 10 years as a result of War in Afghanistan there are approximately 2 million internally displaced people in Pakistan . That is too much of a burden for poor and developing state like Pakistan ?
A recent article published in The Economist titled – ‘Refugees’ on 23rd June 2011, states:
“ America ’s wars continue to account for many of the world’s refugees: 4.7m originate from Iraq and Afghanistan , almost half the world’s total, according to the UNHCR’s annual report. America also accepts more refugees for permanent settlement than any other country (71,400 in 2010). Most refugees, however, end up as temporary residents in neighbouring countries. If a conflict or natural disaster is regional, states of origin may also be host states. Hundreds of thousands have fled civil wars in Congo and Sudan , but many seek refuge in both countries too. Tibetans may flee China , but the People’s Republic hosts more refugees than it produces—mostly accounted for by 300,000 Vietnamese long settled in China ”.
When it comes to the reality of US aid to Pakistan and losses caused by US policies it has actually proven to be a ‘rip off and fraud’ or one can say financial terrorism by the US . Most part of that US aid actually never arrived in Pakistan as it was paid to defence and military complexes back in the USA .
Breakdown of US aid as reported:
Total US Aid
1950-2010: $22.87 billion in 60 years & losses to Pakistan: $60+ billion
1950-1964 $2.5bn economic and 500 m military aid
1965-1979 $2.55 billion economic and 26 million military
1980-1990 $5 billion military and economic aid
1991-2000 $429 million economic and $5.2 million military
2001-2009 $3.6 billion economic and 9 billion military
2009-2015 $7.5 billion approved under Kerry Lugar Bill aid mostly non military ($1.5 billion per year)
Pakistan has suffered approximately $60+ billion economic, human losses, structural damages to roads and bridges deployed more than 147,800 troops conducting combat operations in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. The Pakistan armed forces has lost more than 3,200 soldiers, with another 6,400 injured. They sustain an average of 10 casualties each day, and approximately 30,000 Pakistani civilians killed by suicide bombers and terrorism.
There is no doubt that problems in Pakistan are due to the US policies and occupation of Afghanistan and not the other way around. US is in habit of blaming others for the failures of its policies as it was in the case of Vietnam i.e. blaming the neighbours, shifting the blame and not taking responsibility. I have discussed following issues on various occasions in the past years as how US policies affected Pakistan as well as the region. These policies are not only harming other countries including Britain but causing big losses to US itself.
(1) $7 Billion per month cost to US tax payers in Afghanistan
“ U.S. expenditures on Afghanistan are now nearly $7 billion per month. This course would not make sense because U.S. interests in Afghanistan are not high enough to justify such an investment. The United States now deploys about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan , yet according to the CIA; there are now only 50 to 100 al-Qaeda fighters there. That is between 1000 and 2000 soldiers and perhaps a billion dollars per terrorist each year — far beyond any reasonable expenditure of U.S. resources given the stakes involved. The original U.S. military objective in Afghanistan was to destroy al Qaeda, not to fight the Afghan Taliban, and that goal has largely been accomplished”, according to ‘Foreign Affairs’ report January/February 2011, Plan B in Afghanistan – Why a De Facto Partition Is the Least Bad Option’ by Robert D. Blackwill
(2) UN and US ignore Indian Army’s Genocide in Kashmir
The so called international community was too quick to pass UNSC resolution against Libya, holding referendum in Sudan and East Timor but UN and US have forgotten about the sufferings and miseries of the people in Indian occupied Kashmir. UN and US have ignored 92685 killings, 115877 arrests, 15665 home demolitions, by Indian Security Forces, and 22675 widows and 107218 orphans? Kashmir is not a matter of land dispute or real estate. If Indians solve this long standing issue both countries can live like US and Canada . India should not worry too much about over inflated trickle down affect as historically links among the people are much stronger and will further improve. It will leave lot of money to spend on poverty elevation in both countries.
(3) Find a way out and no Plan ‘B’ in Afghanistan
it is time for the US , UK and others to find and seriously work on an exit plan honourably. Any plan B in Afghanistan would make the exit hard, even difficult for US and allies. Now they have one Qandhar ‘Pushtuns’ with plan B they will have three Qandhars of Uzbeks and Tajiks in Afghanistan . There is only one way to solve the problems in Afghanistan and that is way out of Afghanistan without defeated. Shifting the blame on Pakistan would make things worse for US and allies as it would be like ‘blaming the pope and living in Rome ’. Afghan venture is costing too much to the UK and US tax payers?
No doubt the relationship between Pakistan and Britain are special but there is always room for development and improvement. The relationship between the two countries must be independent from the US hallmarks as relations with the US and its perception in Pakistan is different. British relationship with Pakistan and Muslim world were/are always complimentary and should remain so. The reaching out policy of Britain should continue and William Hague statement: Pakistan ’s enemy is Britain ’s enemy’, should be welcomed’.
On the other hand the problem with the Americans is that they don’t learn from the past mistakes and good thing about the Brits is that they always keep the records.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi senior analyst with the BBC, writer on foreign policy based in London)