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Pakistan Press (04 Jul 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Terror in Dhaka: New Age Islam’s Selection, 04 July 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

04 July 2016

Terror in Dhaka

By Syed Talat Hussain

Lessons for Dhaka

By Kamal Siddiqi

Eliminating the Terrorist Scourge?

By Lal Khan

Salmaan Taseer: A Remembrance, a Reflection

By Javed Jabbar

Overcoming Negativity

By Juggun Kazim

Global Battlefield

By Sikander Ahmed Shah

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Terror in Dhaka

By Syed Talat Hussain

July 04, 2016

As these lines are being written, Dhaka’s siege and terror attack is unfolding. By the time the article appears in cold print, the picture will have become clearer with regard to who is behind the audacious assault that saw many dead and several taken hostage.

So far Isis or Daesh has claimed ownership but it cannot be confirmed. The context of the attack, however, is already set and needs no further information to be debated and to learn lessons from.

First, the nature of attack – explosives, grenades, suicide shooters aiming for foreigners in the capital – resembles hits in Istanbul, Yemen and Lebanon. These are either by Daesh or Daesh-inspired groups who may not have been directed by Daesh leadership in Raqqa, Syria but rely on local resources to carry out their plans.

These Muslim countries, and others like them, are the new focus of groups that are either displaced from their strongholds in the Middle East, say Iraq and also in Syria and Libya, and are now expanding the footprint of their brand in more vulnerable places. Africa, South East Asia and South Asia provide a fairly hospitable environment to them.

Second, countries that are either struggling with internal disorders – political, economic or institutional – or have vulnerabilities on the border offer ideological and physical ingress to these groups. Messages fall on receptive ears if local grievances are large and dysfunctionality of the governing system hinges on paralysis.

Bangladesh has been in the throes of an endless political battle between its political begums. The Hasina government has added to the country’s woes by unleashing its political vendetta by hanging and jailing its opponents – sometimes in the name of history, sometimes in the name of nationalism. It has deployed state resources towards political oppression sidestepping clear warnings from terror cells that hacked bloggers and attacked writers and poets. Its alignment with India to the point of becoming a satellite government has been a red rag to radicalised groups that require just a push to cross the line from extremism to terrorism.

In Bangladesh, counterterrorism as a strategy does not exist: its government has spent more time bloodying its hands killing its own citizens than tackling in a systematic way organised terror. In fact it has been denying that terrorism of the Daesh kind even exists in the country.

In case of Turkey, Ankara’s handling of the Syrian issue and its concurrent engagement with the Kurds in the north has provided an explosive mix that is now being denoted by organised terrorists with depressing regularity. The airport attack, Turkish officials have confirmed, was meant to take hostages alongside creating mayhem and large-scale destruction.

Unlike Bangladesh, Turkey has a robust counterterrorism strategy – so robust that many European countries have objected to its vast scope. However, Erdogan has been deeply involved in stabilising his domestic support base that relies heavily on his personal politics. So his push against terrorism is more an individual effort than a national strategy that has a buy-in from different groups. Besides, the inevitable blowback of the policy of keeping borders open and projecting foreign policy objectives into a troubled zone is inescapable.

Third, it is obvious that in terms of efficacy Turkey as a state is far more advanced than Bangladesh, but this has not meant greater control over the operations of terror groups: the border and refugee situation has twined to neutralise whatever advantages effective policy and planning – missing in case of Bangladesh – may have given Ankara in its fight against terrorists. Monitoring funding, screening movement of individuals and ensuring a check on arms shipment and smuggling become difficult, nay impossible, when you play host or act as a transition camp to hundreds of thousands of refugees. It becomes doubly impossible when politics takes precedence over cogent planning based on long-term threat assessment – the real failure in Bangladesh.

Fourth, this attack – and others elsewhere – indicates that the distinction between native, regional and international terror groups and their messages has become pointless. A disenchanted or deviant group at home can suddenly cross the seven oceans and kill in the name of a leader they have not seen from a country they cannot even locate on the map. New media provides the virtual link; local issues can be given a global casing of a super ideological battle; and it takes one trainer to prepare a full brigade of attackers. This is how easy perpetrating internationally-sanctioned terrorism has become for home-grown groups in nearby neighbourhoods.

Fifth, the transnational nature of this new breed of terrorism requires deep cooperation among clusters of countries that are affected by this disease. The absence of experience sharing, intelligence cooperation and regional planning grids that pick out hugely mobile and intelligent planners of terrorism by concerted communication among different capitals is a recipe for terrorism expansion. In case of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, there is zero collaboration in analysing new trends of terrorism. Mutual blame game has soured relations to the point of a practical break-down in diplomatic ties.

The four capitals most affected by terrorism are not on talking terms with each other. This situation is tailor-made for trans-regional groups to make inroads and expand their influence in different countries that try to combat them on their own without any help and support from their neighbours.

In Africa Boko Haram’s operations have been hugely successful because, initially, no two countries could agree to create a joint front against them. And by the time Nigeria agreed with Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Beni to create a regional force it was too late. Islamic State or Daesh flourished in the Middle East as the Arabs, Iranians and Turks all dissipated their energies against each other carving, in utter vain, individual paths to tackle the same challenge.

This divisiveness of regional reaction is mirrored at a much larger scale between Russia and the US on the one hand and Europe and Russia on the other. For years all three agreed to disagree on how to stem the rising bloody tide of Isis terror – whose origins interestingly lay in Washington’s policy of upending the Middle Eastern region through mindless wars and regimes changes. As world powers battled on the diplomatic tables, Isis rampaged taking over city after city.

This makes the task for South Asian countries very clear: collaborate or be ready to be shaken by unprecedented attacks such as the one in Dhaka. India is sitting on a powder keg but is too arrogant to recognise it and is spending all its energies trying to play Kabul and Dhaka against Islamabad. Pakistan’s huge successes against organised networks are still far from becoming a job totally done. There are very strong reasons for South Asian countries to mount a united effort towards this common menace.

This does not have to be done on the back of the impractical romance of the South Asian region becoming one borderless unit: Brexit has shown us the hapless end such dreams meet. Regional cooperation should be fast-tracked purely out the compulsion of fast-changing circumstances heralded by the Dhaka attack. Governments have to talk to each other to weave a common front against these groups in order to secure their own land. No one state can manage the threat, nor can it fool itself into thinking that what is happening in the neighbourhood will not reach and cross its doorstep.

Alongside regional cooperation, countries will have to close governance gaps at home. Politically-split and domestically fragmented systems respond either too slowly or not at all to highly active and motivated groups that would not care if it is a holy month or Eid while planning and executing their agendas. International terrorism fuels domestic terrorism and domestic turbulence is the staple diet of local groups who easily connect with distant but deadly motivators.

This is a lesson that applies as much to Turkey as it does to Bangladesh India and Pakistan. This is a lesson the Middle East did not learn and the world has paid heavily for that. We cannot have that repeated in this region.

Syed Talat Hussain is former executive editor of The News and a senior journalist with Geo TV.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/132706-Terror-in-Dhaka


Lessons for Dhaka

By Kamal Siddiqi

July 3, 2016

The attack on a bakery-restaurant in Dhaka suggests that Bangladesh is now facing a challenge that we in Pakistan have been fighting for the past decade. Religious extremism is gradually gaining ground.

In her address following the attack, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid appealed: “Please stop tarnishing our noble religion … I implore you to come back to the rightful path and uphold the pride of Islam.”

While these may be sensible words, the problem is much deeper rooted. What we know about Bangladesh is that religious extremist groups have gained ground and that IS has taken a foothold in what was once one of the most secular environments of South Asia. To remove any doubt that this was their handiwork, the IS-linked Amaq news agency said that the IS was behind the attack.

This is not the first such attack. Bangladesh has been reeling from a wave of murders of religious minorities and secular activists by extremists. But those murders generally involved a handful of assailants. The latest attack appears to have been on a much bigger scale and the first time that people were held hostage. It is by far the deadliest of a recent wave of killings claimed by IS or a local al Qaeda offshoot. What most fear is that such attacks will now continue?

Sheikh Hasina’s government needs to wake up to the problem it is now facing. As a Pakistani, one can only sit on the sidelines and give advice based on our own experience. Owing to our shared history, we are possibly the last people Bangladesh will take any advice from. Ironically, what we have gone through over the past decade suggests that we are in the best position to not only give advice but also try and assist.

But as we have seen in the case of Pakistan-India relations, politics overtakes common sense. At a time when as a region we should be jointly fighting the rise in terrorism, we are all playing our little games.

When I visited Bangladesh late last year, what I saw was a thriving country where foreigners could walk freely on the roads. Keeping aside Dhaka’s chaotic traffic, the city was abuzz with activity and commerce. There was great optimism. One could make out from cars on the roads and the buildings that were springing up all over Dhaka, that the country was moving at a fast pace.

But the little games continue to be played. Every day when I opened the daily newspaper, my heart sank. Front page venom against Pakistan. This despite the fact that Bangladesh has been independent for over 40 years The hanging of the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and the predictable reaction that Pakistan gave to this had only added fuel to the fire.

But Pakistan was only one of many fronts opened by the government. The opposition has been virtually silenced. A visit to the beautiful Dhaka Press Club confirmed my worst fears. The press is under siege. I heard stories of editors being harassed. Of papers being shut down. Of criticism being stifled. At the time of my visit, social media had been blocked.

In the past, Sheikh Hasina’s government had blamed a string of deadly attacks against religious minorities and foreigners on domestic opponents. The government blamed the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Last month authorities launched a nationwide crackdown on local militant groups, arresting more than 11,000 people, under pressure to act on the spate of killings. But many rights groups allege the arrests were arbitrary or were a way to silence political opponents of the government.

Experts now say a government crackdown on opponents, including a ban on the country’s largest militant party following a protracted political crisis, has pushed many towards extremism.

Announcing the end of the siege, officials said 13 hostages had been rescued after members of a special force took control of the cafe. But while Hasina called the outcome a “success” the security forces later revealed that 20 of those taken captive were killed.

It is time for Shaikh Hasina to take the country into confidence. Neither the opposition nor the media is the enemy. Extremism can only be rooted out if all these forces are on one side, not fighting each other.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1135541/lessons-for-dhaka/


Eliminating the Terrorist Scourge?

By Lal Khan


From Afghanistan to Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan, to Bangladesh, almost the entire so-called Muslim world is being ravaged by a ferocious wave of fundamentalist terror during the last few days of the Ramazan, and before Eid-ul-Fitr, a festival to celebrate culmination of fasting. For the last few decades, ordinary souls instead of celebration have been inflicted with vicious terror and mayhem. Governments and their repressive state and security apparatus have shown to be incapable of predicting or stopping terrorist acts, and life has become more agonising for the ordinary folk during this holy month. In whole of the Middle East this situation has exacerbated with the temporary derailing and retreat of the revolutionary upheaval of 2011. In the case of Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, collapse of these states at varying degrees is leading to genocide by warring factions.

This religious terrorism has inflicted insult upon injury upon the teeming millions of the inhabitants of these so-called Islamic countries that have been already suffering from misery, poverty, disease and deprivation under the rule of these “democratic,” dictatorial and monarchical/theocratic regimes, whose main aim has been to perpetuate the rule of rotten capitalism that is imposed upon these societies in various designs and pretences. These ongoing acts of terrorism show that the situation is worsening with instability and turmoil and economic ramifications that come with this menace for the already deprived populace.

On Thursday, June 30, a massive Taliban-detonated bomb on the police academy near the capital Kabul took at least 27 lives, wounding 40. Mousa Rahmati, the district governor of Paghman, told the Associated Press that Thursday’s attack took place about 20 kilometre to the west of Kabul. He said the trainee police officers were returning from a training centre in Wardak province and were heading to the capital on leave for Eid holidays. Former Afghan parliamentarian Daoud Sultanzoy told Al-Jazeera, “This attacker and the group had enough information to conduct this atrocity in a well planned manner...The Taliban, will increase their attacks…”

This attack is the latest major assault by the group, and comes just nine days after 14 Nepali security guards were killed in a suicide bomb attack on their minibus, also in the city. In the last few months the various groups of the Taliban have enhanced their acts of terror in the wake of the withdrawal of the imperialist forces, and their rush to attain more and more control of the areas under their rule in Afghanistan. On one hand, it is the internecine war between various groups of the religious and not-so-religious warlords to expand their fiefdoms for plunder, while on the other, a large number of these terrorist outfits are the proxies of various imperialist states in the region and internationally.

In Turkey, as the “moderate” Islamic regime of Tayyip Erdogan lurches towards despotism with severe press censorship, attacks on gay activists, the oppression of Kurds, attacks on trade unions and left youth movements. However, its secret dealings with the Daesh are coming home to roost in the form of increasing terrorism. As we have been witnessing in Pakistan, Turkish state repression and military operations have failed to weed out terrorist groups or their vicious acts of bloodshed and mayhem. Again, it’s the ordinary people who suffer the most from this state and non-state terrorism.

On Tuesday, June 28, three suicide bombers opened fire, and then blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main international airport, killing at least 42 people and wounding another 239, in what Turkey’s prime minister said appeared to have been an attack by the militant Islamic State (IS).

However, this is the latest in a string of attacks that have struck Turkey in recent months. On June 7, at least seven police officers and four civilians died when a bomb ripped through a police vehicle near the historic centre of Istanbul. On March 19, three Israelis and an Iranian were killed, and dozens injured in a suicide bombing blamed on IS militants targeting an Istanbul shopping thoroughfare, the Istiklal Caddesi. On March 13, 34 people were killed, and dozens wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in Ankara. On February 17, 29 people were killed in a car bomb targeting the Turkish military in Ankara. On January 12, an attack that was targeted on Germany and the EU, 11 German tourists were killed, and another 16 people wounded in a suicide attack in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, the ancient tourist heart of the city and home of the Blue Mosque.

On the question of the involvement of the IS in these attacks is dubious. The IS so far has claimed only one relatively minor attack in the last year. On the other hand, Erdogan’s relationship with the ISIS is dubious. It’s much like his counterparts in Pakistan who “run with the hare and hunt with the hounds” since the 1978 Saur revolution in Afghanistan, and are now facing the music of their own Frankenstein monsters. Even a mainstream bourgeois editorial in Pakistan exposed this duplicity of the Erdoðan regime and the Turkish state, “In this vortex of military, diplomatic and humanitarian crises, Turkey has to decide which side it is on. The Syrian war is a multilateral conflict, but it often appears President Erdogan’s government looks at it through its Kurdish prism and believes in a ‘get Assad first’ philosophy... Also, Ankara is grossly mistaken if it thinks IS could help it sort the Kurds out; it should know that IS does not believe in any alliances; it believes in a kill-all philosophy, which considers death and destruction an end in themselves. It is time Ankara clarified its thinking and made the right choice.”

In the midst of the relentless crisis their systems are inflicted with, they cannot ever resolve or find a way out. They play these double games, and often use these non-state actors as allies or proxies to enforce the writ of their eroding and corrupt bourgeois states. The ruling classes and their states have connived with and sponsored this religious fanaticism to drive a wedge for splintering the movements of emancipation of the workers and the youth that erupt time and again in these societies.

 This reactionary bourgeois unleashes and props up these intransigent bigots to carry out these atrocities to perpetuate their rulership. But these policies have often backfired on them. This mayhem exposes the fact that like fascism this fundamentalist terror is in the distilled essence of capitalism in terminal decay. Ultimately, the elimination of terrorism in linked to the obliteration of the capitalist system itself. Any other solution is nothing but deceptive and impotent verbosity. The oppressed workers and youth in these lands have arisen in revolutionary movements in the past, and they shall have to carryout a socialist revolution to emancipate society from this scourge.

Lal Khan is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and international secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/03-Jul-16/eliminating-the-terrorist-scourge


Salmaan Taseer: A Remembrance, a Reflection

By Javed Jabbar


In Salmaan Taseer’s brutal assassination, Pakistan has lost an exceptional public figure who possessed a modernist intellect, bold candour, physical courage, professional acumen, entrepreneurial capacity and political grit. Though occasionally he was a difficult person to relate to, he was always a refreshingly distinct, inimitable individual.

I knew him as a personal friend, a family friend, a neighbour in Karachi (1969-1971), a professional consultant and a political colleague. Some or all aspects of this multi-dimensional relationship spanned over 40 years even as the ties intensified or weakened. When I was critically ill in January 1972, and doctors apprehended that a blood transfusion may be needed urgently, it was Salmaan who was most forthcoming amongst my friends and instantly donated 500 cc of his blood. Though eventually the transfusion was not required as I miraculously recovered, Salmaan’s selfless gesture and his blood helped other persons in urgent need to recover their normal health. That spontaneous, unforgettable act by Salmaan symbolised his generosity and compassion.

About 38 years later, and exactly 24 hours after he was gunned down, I went to the site of his death to join a civil society rally in Islamabad convened to honour his memory. The spot still stained by his blood was like a piece of mother earth frozen by the horror of what ignorant hate can do to sacred life.

My last sustained interaction with Salmaan was unusually cool and intense. He had only recently become a minister in the caretaker cabinet appointed by President Musharraf in the last quarter of 2007. An emergency was imposed and the constitution held in abeyance. We met at a large mehndi celebration. We drew aside for about 20 minutes of a one-to-one encounter. It was also, for the most part, a one-sided harangue from me, lecturing him on the demerits of endorsing a gross violation of the constitution because of President Musharraf’s action in the capacity of a simultaneously serving chief of army staff (COAS). I knew there was only a limited right to sermonise because eight years earlier, I myself had joined General Musharraf’s cabinet upon his unconstitutional seizure of power. But to his credit, and most unusual for an irrepressible person like Salmaan, he heard me out in virtual silence, attempting only one or two mild responses. He both surprised and encouraged me into thinking that perhaps, at heart, he agreed with all or some of my hectoring.

In the 1970 elections, the first ever polls in the country’s history, we had the privilege of working together as supporters of a new party called the PPP. With other mutual friends like his professional partner, the respected chartered accountant Khurshid Hadi and budding lawyer, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, later to become a chief minister of Sindh and Speaker of the Sindh Assembly, we went door-to-door in PECHS and other localities to canvass support for Kamal Azfar, PPP candidate for the National Assembly. Despite our candidate’s defeat, the political baptism that occurred in the historic election proved to be a binding element for our lives.

A few years later, on more than one occasion, he wanted me to open an office of my advertising agency in Dubai where he was already on his way to making millions. I declined but remained enthused about his political interests. His highly readable book, Bhutto: A Political Biography, released within months of the leader’s execution, aptly attempted to capture the subject’s paradoxes. Perhaps reflecting the inherent candour that characterised Salmaan’s personality, parts of that book did not please Benazir Bhutto.

Written shortly after Mr Bhutto’s callous execution, in the book’s preface, Salmaan praised the positive contributions the leader made. But he also bluntly referred to Z A Bhutto’s negative, self-destructive tendencies. For example, in chapter 16 titled ‘The Bhutto conundrum’, Salmaan wrote: “...he hated criticism with violent intemperance, and could be ruthless with those who voiced it...Bhutto saw enemies where none existed...he treated his political opponents as dangerous subversives, and succeeded in making them so...he weakened the judiciary, the industrial community, the bureaucracy and in the end, even his own party. He could not bear equals and ensured that even within the PPP, an alternative leadership never emerged.”

Such views notwithstanding, Salmaan also opposed the tyranny of General Ziaul Haq and martial law. With exceptional courage and fortitude he suffered torture and solitary confinement in the dungeons of the Lahore Fort.

During his days of being politically persecuted, soon after my election to the Senate in March 1985, he addressed a detailed, hand-written letter that helped me move appeals and motions, both outside and inside the Senate demanding justice for political prisoners. Our political paths converged again after the polls in November 1988. He soon became leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly and withstood the Sharif brothers’ wrath while I became the first member of the Senate to formally join the PPP at Benazir’s invitation and then joined her first federal cabinet as Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting.

In the 1990s, in our own respective ways, we drifted apart from the PPP leadership. He retained an ambivalent relationship while I formally resigned in mid-1996 during BB’s second term of government as the misuse of executive power and the digression from the party’s original mission had become unacceptable.

Salmaan did not die in vain. His tragic loss poses major new challenges to politics and civil society in Pakistan, a subject that requires separate attention shortly.

Javed Jabbaris a former Senator and federal minister

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/03-Jul-16/salmaan-taseer-a-remembrance-a-reflection


Overcoming Negativity

By Juggun Kazim

July 3, 2016

The state of this country in general is sometimes so frightening and depressing that worrying about it is perfectly natural. The recent murder of the world-renowned Qawwal, Shaheed Amjad Sabri, is a classic example of why Pakistanis are in a constant state of negativity. It feels as if there is no sense of physical or economic security out there — no beacon of hope.

The point to remember is that when we look at things from an individual perspective, no matter who one is, life is stressful and it may even appear to be hopeless. No one lives in a utopian world. Everybody’s life has issues — whether financial, health-related or psychological. The question is what do you do about it? Do you become negative and bitter? Obsess about your current predicament? Perpetually remain in a filthy mood and treat the people around you like emotional punching bags? The trick is to snap out of the negative space in one’s mind and focus on the good in your life. But that, we all know, is much easier said than done.

Training yourself to recognise negative thought patterns is one way of dealing with this problem. This requires you to actually watch and be aware of your thoughts. You need to stop your mind from wandering off by focusing on something that requires your full attention like cooking or driving a car or a work project. This breaks the cycle of anxiousness and criticism even before it begins. Fortunately, the human mind can only really focus on one thing at a time.

Negative thoughts are a habit of one’s brain that has to be broken. The problem is that the second you consciously try not to think about something, that’s all you can think about. It’s like when I say don’t think about the colour red. Now, all you will see is red. That’s just how the human brain is programmed.

Learning to recognise that your mind is about to veer into an unpleasant space is half the battle won. As Michel de Montaigne said, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened”. You see it is the ‘what ifs’ of life that drive us to madness, not so much the ‘what is’. Worrying about the future and feeling low about the past stands in the way of the joy of the here and now. Stressing about larger issues leads us to ignore the simple pleasures in life like reading a book or listening to music. We need to learn to live in the moment and appreciate it.

Avoiding stressful situations and people is always a good plan. If you find that you are prone to negativity then make a conscious effort to avoid people who put further unnecessary stress on you. If going to weddings reminds you of how you are still single, then don’t go. If meeting your aunt who constantly comments on your weight depresses you, then keep your communications with her short and sweet. Or better yet, avoid her altogether. These are all choices that we make. Is going to a wedding or meeting the aunt more important that your sanity and peace of mind?

Acceptance is also crucial to remaining sane. There are some things that are totally in our control and others that are not. I have a friend who has been waiting for a pay raise for two years. Every single time I meet her or speak to her she finds a way to bring it up. I know she is so obsessed with the fact that she is stuck in a rut at work that she has done nothing to change it. Instead, she has become ever more bitter and unproductive at work. Had she accepted that she is in a dead end job she would have applied for a new job a year and a half ago like everyone advised her.

Finally, learn to give yourself a pat on the back. When was the last time you congratulated yourself on your achievements? When we give ourselves positive reinforcement it pushes negative thoughts farther away. So every time you feel low, pull out a map. Stare at it until you realise what a great adventure life is and how there is so much left to do and so much left to see. Don’t let yourself get in the way of your own happiness.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1135542/overcoming-negativity/


Global Battlefield

By Sikander Ahmed Shah

July 3rd, 2016

RECENTLY, Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan. In response, Pakistan expressed deep concern, terming the attack as “crossing a red line” because it was the first time that a drone strike had been conducted outside Fata, hundreds of miles away from any region in Pakistan, currently experiencing internal conflict.

It should be stated at the outset that US drone attacks in Pakistan cannot produce an international armed conflict, nor can a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) exist in Pakistan in which the US is a legitimate warring party under international law. The former kind of conflict cannot exist between the two states as they are not engaged in any hostilities against each other and, in fact, project themselves as allies. Similarly, an NIAC between the US and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) cannot exist because under the laws of war only a host state can enter into such a conflict with domestic armed groups.

US drone strikes in Pakistan are in fact one-way attacks, where there is no exchange of fire between US forces and TTP. An armed conflict can only exist if there are sustained or protracted attacks and counterattacks between warring parties. Combatants are required to be actively engaged in hostilities with each other, with the intensity of violence passing a particular threshold. However, because TTP cannot fight back against UAVs and because there are no US armed personnel stationed in Pakistan that TTP can target, such requirements of engagement are not met.

A zone of conflict is the territory within which there are active and sustained hostilities and where the laws of war are fully operationalised. In addition to exchange of attacks and intensity and duration of assaults, armed conflicts also possess a spatial dimension. Thus, war in one country does not translate into a global war between all states or between citizens of hostile states residing abroad.

The law of war is being directly challenged.

Thus a ‘red line’ was indeed crossed when Mullah Mansour was killed near Quetta, one of Pakistan’s biggest urban centres. There is complete absence of any form of armed conflict in Quetta. It is true that Quetta, like Pakistan’s other urban centres, has witnessed acts of local terrorism. But such sporadic violations of domestic criminal law do not by themselves produce an armed conflict, which requires a far higher threshold for the exchange of force, the intensity and duration of violence, and the organisation of armed groups that qualifies them as fighters engaged in an armed conflict.

In the same vein, these sites of attacks are hundreds of miles away from any active conflict zones. In summary, the law of war is inapplicable in such parts of Pakistan; to hold otherwise would be to take a position unsupported by international law, and one which will lead to future violations of the Constitution — not to mention the law of armed conflict.

Today, the law of war is being directly challenged by terrorists and hegemonic states alike. While terrorists don’t see themselves as bound by this corpus of law, powerful states like the US are also trying to contort it for military expediency.

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) recognises that war is a reality, but seeks to limit its adverse effects on civilians and combatants alike by incorporating important legal standards and parameters that warring parties have to abide by. The existence and delimitation of a spatial dimension of a conflict zone is one such powerful constraint built into IHL to protect against unnecessary escalation of violence and the use of unnecessary, disproportionate force, especially in areas far removed from the conflict zone, and to prevent the supplanting of the human rights regime and its protections unless absolutely required.

By making a mockery of the requirement of a conflict zone, the US government — by arguing it can target anyone, anywhere because the whole world is a global battlefield — challenges IHL in the most fundamental way. In a sense, the US is arguing that it can create an armed conflict and a conflict zone at any location where it conducts a drone strike. In other words, the location is determined by who is targeted in its view, and not the nature of hostilities in the region.

If this contorted and asymmetrical version of IHL is adopted, it would displace human rights law and the domestic laws of a state wherever the US conducts drones strikes at whim. This would end up depriving the people of targeted states of fundamental procedural and substantive due process protections — inclusive of all essential civil and political rights — that guarantee life, liberty and property and which are considered non-derogable under the US constitution.

Sikander Ahmed Shah is the author of International Law and Drone Strikes in Pakistan: The Legal and Socio-political Aspects.

Source: dawn.com/news/1268795/global-battlefield

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/terror-in-dhaka--new-age-islam’s-selection,-04-july-2016/d/107844


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