Pakistan blocks action against Sudanese genocidaires

Hypocrisy or deeper motives?

After the body count exceeded the American government’s definition of genocide, the US government decided to get tough with Sudan’s Islamist dictatorship, once a beneficiary of Osama bin Laden’s largesse, but now an ally in the war on terror, like Pakistan, its friend in the UN Security Council.

But having friends in high places helps, and Pakistan has again joined Algeria and China in blocking sterner measures against Sudan. Strange behaviour coming from America’s non-NATO ally, and strange behaviour for a country that is always ready to call for UN intervention in Kashmir. The hypocrisy is obvious – state-sponsored genocide in Sudan, conducted by Arab Muslims against black Africans is not quite as serious as ‘atrocities’ committed by Indian security forces against Islamic terrorists.

What is not quite obvious is why Pakistan is standing up for Sudan? There are similarities between the two countries apart from the ally-in-the-war-on-terror bit, they are both run by military dictators and both played host to Osama bin Laden. And both are close allies of Saudi Arabia.

Throwing in the bogey of geopolitics of oil is exceptionally curmudgeonly when the death toll is in the millions. But with US President Bush personally getting serious about Darfur, the Pakistan dog may not remain in the manger much longer. What Pakistan would gain from backing the genocidaires against the wishes of its current benefactor is anyone’s guess.

Update

The Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations, Munir Akram, told reporters that the 15-member Security Council would have supported the US resolution before the statement issued by US Secretary of State Colin Powell saying that a genocide was taking place in Sudan.

“If you’ve already branded it as genocide before you begin the inquiry, it makes it look as if you’re prejudging the result,” Mr Akram said[Dawn]

2 thoughts on “Pakistan blocks action against Sudanese genocidaires”

  1. Whoa, Nitin. Strong language, I see. (:-)

    Pakistan’s contradictions and pretzel like twisting to suit diametrically opposed positions would put yoga gurus to shame. Let’ssit back and watch the tamasha.

    I’m sure the world is inexorably moving towards a flash point. Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Chechenya, Indonesia… are all moving towards outright, explicit hostiltity towards westerners in non-muslims in general and westerners in particular.

    China is the biggest wildcard in this mix. China is unprincipled enough to officially convert to islam if it suitstheir interest and shameless enough to push it through its cowed populace. All other non-muslim nations (exceptions like NK exist though) will certainly side with the anti0-jihadi forces when push comes to shove.

  2. After the body count exceeded the American government’s definition of genocide, the US government decided to get tough with Sudan’s Islamist dictatorship, once a beneficiary of Osama bin Laden’s largesse, but now an ally in the war on terror, like Pakistan, its friend in the UN Security Council.

    My interpretation is slightly different here; the US wasn’t influenced by the body count, which although high is not anywhere near the upper levels of casualties seen in the region (ie 3 million dead in the DRC over 100,000 in Algeria, several million in Rwanda/Burundi) but because it is realtively easy to locate a distinct actor – almost always in these cases a coherent state authority, as the main perpetrator and because the Sudanese state has not yet collapsed internally but the Darfur conflict shows signs of spreading to other troubled regions such as the East in Sudan and the upper Nile. Ironically as observers of Sudanese politics have made clear where there was an actual genocidal programme within Sudan carried out against the population of the Nuba mountains in the early 1990s this met with virtually no reaction from the US and other major powers.

    But having friends in high places helps, and Pakistan has again joined Algeria and China in blocking sterner measures against Sudan. Strange behaviour coming from America’s non-NATO ally, and strange behaviour for a country that is always ready to call for UN intervention in Kashmir.

    Well, before we get on our high horses remember that our President went on an official state visit and was feted in Khartoum earlier this year. Part of the NDA’s attempt to show that they want to maintain good relations with Muslim-majority countries I assume. More worryingly ONGC has also a stake and Indian oil companies are also now involved both the prospecting and extraction/transportation stages of obtaining oil from the Southern oilfields. Given the close relationship between oil and conflict here (which has killed over 2 million people since outbreak of war in 1983) as well as the documented ethnic cleansing that accompanied the presence of the oil industry in the region, this raises some uncomfortable questions for our potential future involvement. Moreover, can we continue to pretend to condemn the Khartoum regime while benefiting from the very actions it is criticised for?

    The hypocrisy is obvious – state-sponsored genocide in Sudan, conducted by Arab Muslims against black Africans is not quite as serious as ‘atrocities’ committed by Indian security forces against Islamic terrorists.

    Well, Pakistan doesn’t really complain about Indian atrocities against jiahdists or muhajeddin as I suppose Pakistani hardliner would call them; it is the civilian population in Kashmir that is the focus of attention here. And quite rightly too, it is striking that in the list of the ten worst dictators drawn up by Parade magazine, it was noted that the same excuses were used to defend their behaviour:

    Most dictators marshal various arguments to justify their repressive actions to their people and the world, Wallechinsky notes. The most common are: 1) “The human-rights situation in my country is better than it used to be.” 2) “Western versions of democracy and human rights are not compatible with my nation’s traditions.” 3) “Strict measures are necessary because an outside force is threatening our society.”

    Full link here: http://archive.parade.com/2004/0222/0222_dictators.html

    These are familiar since in one guise or another, I have heard similar sentiments in debates on South Asian states as well, including of course our own. I would feel strongly that any really self-critical and probing look can’t seriously downgrade the treatment of civilians by the state they live in. I have no doubt that many of the African Darfurians sympathise with the JEM or the SLA and support them to varying degrees – going by the logic of some, this itself is enough to condemn them to brutal treatment. And of course Khartoum can wheel out the old excuse that the SLA/JEM are terrorist organisations trying to overthrow the govt. etc etc So I don’t think we can use this as an excuse to deflect attention from our own record – which we should instead concentrate on improving. Of course, Pakistan’s analogy falls flat when one remembers that even the more inflated estimates of fatalities in Kashmir indicate that the majority of people killed are those who have been killed by the militants and not the security forces. If this ratio is reversed it is a dangerous sign that a downward spiral is starting.

    What is also missed is that this conflict is one between Muslims, albeit from different ethnic groups; so this should temper the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ crowd that always gets excited when there is a prospect of their shaky thesis being confirmed. Always worth remembering that the closest we have come to seeing a genocide in our own region was the military repression carried out by Pakistan in its eastern wing which lead to several hundred thousand killed, if not several million in 1971. The US response then, was not exactly condemnatory of this kind of genocidal violence. But again it was a primarily inter-religious conflict based on ethnic and nationalist divisions.

    Throwing in the bogey of geopolitics of oil is exceptionally curmudgeonly when the death toll is in the millions.

    I don’t think oil has a direct link with Darfur – it plays more of a role in the South, where the US has been accused of supporting the SPLA; but really oilpolitik is quite flexible, as the US backed Niemieri’s regime and disbursed large amounts of aid to Sudan then (highest per capita after Israel and Egypt) since it saw Khartoum as a bulwark against Ghaddafi’s expansionary ambitions and Niemieri was supportive of Egypt’s position on the Camp David accords and peace process. Support swung away from Khartoum when Niemieri was replaced by less amenable regimes and the victory in the Chadian civil war ended Libyan ventures across the Sahelian belt. Also with respect to Darfur, the death toll is nowhere near the millions, it is in the tens of thousands and most of the well-respected HR organisations like Amnesty International and HRW have avoided using the term genocide, not because they are reluctant to (these organisations are not exactly shy about criticising state regimes, no matter what some might think) but because there isn’t enough evidence to make this clear; while there is evidence of ethnic cleansing, mass rapes, arbitrary killings and other war crimes. Why the US Congress has been so eager to declare a genocide in this case, when both the US and the UK went to great lengths to deny actual irrefutable occurrences of genocide as in Rwanda, so as to avoid doing anything about it then, remains a point of debate.

    But with US President Bush personally getting serious about Darfur, the Pakistan dog may not remain in the manger much longer. What Pakistan would gain from backing the genocidaires against the wishes of its current benefactor is anyone’s guess.

    My guess is that like all other Islamic countries they don’t want to see another ‘intervention’ in another Islamic state led by the US. Few of these regimes are representative democracies and so, they can’t manage the act of posing as guardians of the so-called Islamic interest while at the same time of being allied with the US-coalition. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have tried to square this circle but it has caused them endless problems. I also remain sceptical about anything that Bush can do, the US is bogged down in Iraq and has virtually zero capability amongst most of its traditional allies and friendly states as well as the international multilateral institutions at large. Even other African states horrified at what is going in Darfur, are lukewarm about a direct US response. Having expended the bulk of his political capital and squandered it on dubious arguments and rationales for the war on Iraq, as well as double-standards in the so-called war on terror; the Bush admin is in a weak position to do anything much about Darfur.

Comments are closed.