Isolation – Shireen M Mazari

It is amusing, albeit a trifle irritating too, to see commentators – as opposed to analysts – giving out half truths to try and prove something that is factually incorrect. Farrukh Saleem is a master of using selective data to put forward his subjective views as actual facts.

Ever since Imran Khan and the PTI began implementing their manifesto promises, especially opposition to US drones and their sabotaging of the nascent dialogue process to peace in Pakistan, Saleem has been targeting the PTI with a vengeance. Setting aside what could be construed as a subjective analysis of Saleem’s motivation, let me simply point out some of his inaccurate to blatantly false assumptions in his article “Isolation” (The News, December 8, 2013).

To begin with, the PTI’s politics is not divisive but reflects the national consensus as reflected in the APC resolution. After giving the government time to fulfil the APC mandate and realising that drone attacks were the single impediment to commencement of dialogue, the PTI made a decision to block Nato supplies through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Now how does that pit KP against the other provinces? Absurd. Just as it does not pit KP against the federal government especially since the KP government is not participating in the blockage of Nati supplies and is arresting protestors who may be violating the law. So Saleem is spreading falsehoods that deliberately seek to divide the country on a provincial basis – and he is actually guilty of doing what he accuses the PTI of.

As for national interest versus party interest, while Saleem may feel he alone knows what is in Pakistan’s national interest, the fact is that opposing drones and military ‘solutions’ is in the national interest far more than paying homage to the US, its debilitating war on terror and the mirage of dollars pouring in! The PTI, unlike other political parties, is implementing its commitment to the electorate and the APC mandate.

Incidentally, the PTI has operationalised its manifesto commitments on education, health, anti-corruption, RTI, Ehtesab, depoliticisation of the police, etc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so Saleem should not worry about the PTI only focusing on drones. Also, it is not how many times a word is used but the devastating impact of the action that word signifies on peace – because without peace you cannot have development.

The biggest falsehood presented by Saleem is his argument on Nato and Pakistan’s commitment to UNSC Resolution 1386 relating to Isaf and logistical support. Yes Pakistan is bound to obey that and Farrukh Saleem has listed all the Isaf members without pointing out that Nato is not Isaf and to date the UNSC resolutions extend the mandate of Isaf not Nato, which is why Nato always tags the word ‘Isaf’ when trying to justify anything!

In fact, Nato as a collective defence organisation in terms of its legitimacy in the context of the UN system derives this from Article 51 (Chapter VII) and Articles 52 and 53 (Chapter VIII) of the UN Charter. It is a collective defence organisation, and regional collective defence organisations need to operate in the specific region of their membership. It cannot attribute to itself a collective security role which lies only with the UNSC. There is no legitimacy for any collective security organisation other than the UN.

Article 51 of the UN Charter provides a very clear and limited framework for collective defence organisations. Article 52 of the charter relates to regional arrangements in connection with maintenance of peace and security and talks in terms of these organisations coming into being “as are appropriate for regional action.” Also, under Article 53, there can be no action without authorisation of the Security Council except against an enemy state as defined in Article 53:2.

Even within the context of regional organisations, actions have to have a UN mandate and this is where the case of Afghanistan is unclear. Post-9/11, the UN Security Council, through Resolution 1386 (December 2001), sanctioned the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) for Afghanistan. As stipulated in the Bonn Agreement of December 2001, the progressive expansion of the Isaf to other urban centres and other areas beyond Kabul was duly approved through follow-on UNSC resolutions.

So where did Nato get into Isaf? Did the UNSC initiate Nato’s involvement or did Nato present a fait accompli to the UN secretary general. Clearly, it was not any UNSC resolution that sought Nato involvement. Instead, what is available on record is that Nato informed the UN secretary general, through a letter dated October 2, 2003 from its secretary general that on August 11, 2003 Nato had assumed “strategic command, control and coordination of the International Security Assistance Force – UN Document S/2003/970 Annex I”.

This was followed by another letter from the Nato secretary general to the UN SG informing the latter of the North Atlantic Council’s agreement on a “longer-term strategy for Nato in its International Assistance Force (Isaf) role in Afghanistan. Both these letters were sent to the president of the UNSC by the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on October 7, 2003 with the request that they be brought to the attention of the UNSC. So effectively Nato presented the UNSC with a fait accompli.

It was in the face of these developments that the UNSC passed Resolution 1510 on October 13, 2003 in which it acknowledged the October 6 Nato SG’s letter as well as communication from the Afghan minister for foreign affairs and authorised the expansion of the Isaf mandate. But nowhere is there any reference to Nato’s role in Afghanistan. So Pakistan and its citizens are not violating any UNSC resolution by blocking Nato supplies.

Saleem should maintain at least a modicum of rationality even when venting his personal anger against the PTI. As for the falling value of the rupee, this is a result of the continuing corruption and lack of tax collection by successive governments – not a result of the imagined isolation of Pakistan. How conveniently Saleem suffers amnesia on this!