Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(Updated with Related Commentary) Raymond Davis Does Not Enjoy Blanket Immunity

See Article and Videos here This link includes comments made at the Qureshi Press Conference

Paraphrased comments from observer(s) present at the above press conference:
The following view presented anon. by blogger here are freely paraphrased yet stand as points perhaps not made clearly enough by the above official. (Or perhaps not made at all.) Yet these represent a large and loud outcry in Pakistan according to any number of journalists and exponents for the common people:

Comments on Shah Mehmood Qureshi press conference

Former foreign minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi's press conference was live broadcasted on all the private television channels. The issue was Pakistan foreign policy and Ramond Davis case

To some the comments represented the usual kind from certain leaders toward these issues. Perhaps this included a political effort by a recently removed foreign minister? Was he not full of contradiction at least on many points?
Perhaps his praise of current leaders in office was too apparent and with ulterior motives?

Yet, why was he praising those who have refused to take him back as foreign minister in the new cabinet? Maybe he wants to become a hero to Pakistan so was allowing/playing with anti-imperialist feelings of the people?

Could it be that this was the purpose for the story of a meeting on 31st January
where foreign and interior ministry alongside with a third institution (he
didn't name the third one - which could be the ISI or any other army division? Thus the agreement that the people and officials are clear that Ramond Davis has no full immunity.

He did not present anything new nor his persuasion on the killings of the three Pakistanis by Ramond Davis. He also praised Senator John Kerry and also the American
help in Pakistan and the strongest criticism he spoke was to indicate that Pakistanis need more respect from the US.

He also said that Pakistan has signed on different international treaties. And that we should follow those treaties.

When a journalist asked him "what are these respectable treatments?" he refused to answer - saying only in essence that when the concerned institutions will ask, I will reply. This raises the big question: why mention a respectable
solution when no details are made? This appears to be another bargaining strategy used by western-oriented capitalist politicians.

The position of the people in general across Pakistan and especially among the workers and those who support their labor for greater rights is as follows:

(And this includes and is directly related to the killing of the Pakistanis in Lahore by American national Ramond Davis)

American imperialism is killing Pakistanis every day in drone attacks in Tribal areas and in different parts of Khaiber Puktoonkhawa with the excuse of curbing terrorism.

Recently, a naked brutal killing took place in Lahore. We condemn this killing and challenge sharply those killed by Drone attacks.

The religious fanatics and the extreme right wing forces are exploiting these
incidents and other grave imperialist acts to promote their political agenda. In response they encourage bombing, killings, destruction of girl’s schools, suicidal attacks and an intolerant society. We condemn these bombings and killings by the religious fanatics as well.

This is not just anti-imperialism. We are not just anti-American (especially as current practices indicate disregard for the least powerful among us). We are against both and also those who side with them for any justification.

We have all the sympathy with the families of three Pakistanis killed in Lahore and condemn this brutal action. We believe that even a diplomatic immunity for the killers is a wrong treaty. No one has such a blanket right to kill anyone else.

David Ramond who killed three Pakistanis should be tried in a Pakistani court and all the facts should be brought to the public clearly and with transparency. (This stands even should Ramond Davis be proven to have diplomatic immunity. There is no justification for killings.

No killer should walk free nor be freely released to a nation who has harmed our good faith because because of this or any other treaty.

I am also adding the following piece which would appear to relate to the above issue. (This may be found on several opinion lists/blogs online.)

Imperialism in our age
by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

Of course we should not pander to the right-wing xenophobia that criminalizes anything that is of the ‘West’, but this does not mean we should avoid invoking imperialism at all.

It is difficult to put into words just how significant a feature of the modern world imperialism has been. It continues to condition economic, political and cultural development in most countries, yet it remains a mystical notion, in many cases existing in ordinary people’s minds only as a slogan. In progressive circles in Pakistan today – as in many other societies of the South – a great deal of confusion persists with regards to the American Empire, its machinations in the current conjuncture, and other competing and complementary imperialisms. Indeed, there is a considerable body of opinion which insists that the idea of imperialism itself should be confined to the dustbin of history.

Clearly those who make this argument have unwittingly internalized the (in)famous ‘End of History’ thesis of the American social scientist Francis Fukuyama. When the Soviet Union collapsed twenty years ago, Fukuyama and others of his ilk asserted that the epic social and political struggle that defined the modern industrial era – that between capital and labour – had reached its logical culmination, and that the subsequent development of human societies would take place on the back of a broad consensus over the universal ideals of free enterprise and liberal democracy.

Those who suggest that the word imperialism – or the parallel notion of Empire – no longer has any descriptive or analytical value, are de facto conceding that ‘progress’ is nothing more than the quest to extend the twin gifts of free enterprise and liberal democracy to the world outside North America and Western Europe. To put it more succinctly, this constituency is effectively giving license to the rapacious pillage of working people and the resources that sustain them by the bourgeoisie and states around the globe.

To be sure, Empires throughout history – ancient, medieval and modern – have extolled the virtues of the ‘progressive’ vision that motivates their conquest of ‘backward’ peoples. All dominant states have developed a reasonably sophisticated ideology to justify domination in paternalistic terms. History’s unfolding has always been about dominant yet tenuous ideologies and the exploitative social relations which these ideologies underpin. As surely as Empires have risen, they have also fallen. The ideological battle that rages in today’s Pakistan is indicative both of the power of American imperialism and the fact that its time is almost up.

While none with a genuine commitment to an emancipatory politics would argue that the only defining conflict in modern human society is that between the propertied and propertyless – as some of the more stultifying forms of Marxism did in the twentieth century – imperialist knowledge systems have succeeded in de-politicising class to such an extent over the past few decades that the very notion of class conflict is now considered something of an anachronism.

It is thus that the confusions reign within progressive circles about the dividing lines in societies such as ours. It appears perfectly consistent to be a committed democrat yet make no mention of the tremendous class divisions that run through society. Is it not an oddity that a disproportionate number of those who proclaim themselves to be progressive – in the sense of being opposed to obscurantism – live in big houses, drive big cars and generally occupy dominant class positions? On the other hand, a wide cross-section of those who are decried as the flagbearers of bigotry and intolerance hail from the subordinate classes. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Without doubt, imperialism in today’s world depicts itself as the defender of the individual liberties par excellence. A brief perusal at some of the polemic flying around the Raymond Davis affair proves this clearly. And individual liberties are clearly extremely important to all progressives, as is the plight of religious minorities and women in a religiously exclusive and patriarchal society. But it appears that the political position being adopted by too many progressives completely neglects the broader structural context, namely that property relations are extremely exploitative, our state institutions are little more than coercive apparatuses, and the so-called ‘international community’ is effectively a catchphrase for multilateral imperialism.

Another rather banal example might help illustrate the point. The vast majority of Pakistan’s enfeebled Christian population lives in katchi abadis. Yes blasphemy laws and other such institutional injustices are a blot on their daily existence. But why is it that the Christian katchi abadi resident’s basic right to shelter figures nowhere on our strategic organizing map? Surely freedom from legal apartheid and freedom from want are not mutually exclusive goals? In much the same way, surely an emancipatory politics for poor women must confront class exploitation as much as patriarchy (both in the home and as practiced through the institutions of state).

It is possible that I am just being daft, and that Empire is as committed to tempering the unbridled profit-making impulse of global capitalism as it is to liberal democracy (although the missionary zeal with which imperialist states and multilateral organizations support the spread of ‘free enterprise’ would suggest otherwise). Of course liberal democracy is hardly turning out to be a roaring success. The way democracy is practiced in the ‘free world’ has made a mockery of the notion of people’s power (ask non-whites, women and informal labour), and there is no question of things improving anytime soon.

Another way of thinking about the present quandary is to recognize that imperialism is a holistic form of domination. It is neither exclusively cultural – as the mullahs would have it – nor purely economic or political. It appears that some progressives are mirroring the mullahs in thinking about progress in a fragmentary way. And while it is true that mindless idealism does not help progressive politics, it is also true that any transformative politics must be premised upon a holistic idea of progress. If in fact an argument is being propagated by some progressives – perhaps unknowingly – that progress in today’s world is to be seen only in cultural or political terms, and that economic inequality is to be taken as an unavoidable reality of the (post?) modern condition, then we will be forced to admit that progressives are irretrievably divided.

In related vein I wish to respond to the many progressives who argue that invoking imperialism is an excuse to avoid looking inwards and accepting that our society is riddled with its own contradictions that need to be addressed. Recognising that we live in a world that has been shaped by capitalist imperialism is to recognize the dialectic of internal-external that has made Pakistani society – and others like it – what it is today, replete with the numerous contradictions that define it. Of course we should not pander to the right-wing xenophobia that criminalizes anything that is of the ‘West’, but this does not mean we should avoid invoking imperialism at all.

All this having been said, it is imperative to avoid, as some of our avowed leftists have been doing in recent times, eulogizing the biggest single competitor to the western imperialist countries that have shaped the world in their own image over the past two hundred years – China. Once upon a time not so long ago it might have been correct to depict China as anti-imperialist – although some would argue even with this claim – but it is now far too implicated in the global capitalist order to be considered anything other than a competing imperialist power. It is true that China appears to stand apart on account of its cultural distinctness, but in many ways Chinese capitalism is more predatory than anything that has preceded it. The financial oligarchies that cast their shadow over the globe are still firmly anchored in western countries, but China has not yet suggested that it seeks to dismantle these oligarchies and fashion a new global order that is based on genuinely egalitarian and ecologically sound principles.

I also agree with those that argue that Arab imperialism is playing as insidious a role in fragmenting our body-politic as any other contemporary global power. The Gulf states, and Saudi Arabia in particular, look at Pakistan as a staging ground for their supremacist agenda that is economic, political and cultural. As with the Chinese, the Arab imperialist project is both in tension with, and complementary to, the American Empire which remains, at least for the time being, in the ascendancy.

Finally it is also necessary to pay attention to the by now resounding assertion of the oppressed nations within Pakistan – the Baloch in particular – that their primary contradiction is with ‘Punjabi’ imperialism. Given what happened in 1971, it would be foolish to argue against the claim that the Pakistani centre has treated the peripheries of the state as virtual colonies. The only gripe that I have with the current brand of Baloch freedom fighters is that any genuine national liberation must be premised on the equality of all nations and the rejection of all forms of imperialism – expecting the United States to ‘assist’ the Baloch cause is both strategically and ethically untenable.

Imperialism will morph in the future into a newer form, as it has done in the past. These epochal changes notwithstanding, it will remain domination of the most insidious kind. In many ways coming to terms with imperialism in today’s world requires clarity on how we understand the notion of progress. Science, reason and all the other values of the European Enlightenment are at stake here. The challenge, as ever, is to recognize that even the terms of debate remain wound up within their ethnocentric origins, and then to evolve newer terms and political practices that take forward the emancipatory vision to which we all lay claim.

Asim Sajjad Akhtar is Assistant Professor of Political Economy at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.


connie nash said...

IJN Releases New Evidence in Case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui
Calls for Repatriation (in exchange for Raymond Davis)

IJN Press Release

February 14, 2011, New York, NY. Early Monday morning, International Justice Network published a report regarding the highly controversial case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Representing the Siddiqui Family in the United States, IJN has spent the past 14 months researching the circumstances surrounding the unusual arrest and custody of the Pakistani mother of three. Supported with previously unreleased evidence, IJN has uncovered direct involvement by Pakistan agencies in the disappearance of Dr. Aafia and her three young children in March 2003 -- five years before the US government claims she was first arrested in Afghanistan in July 2008.

The report, Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts, reveals shocking new evidence that contradicts official statements from governments of both Pakistan and the United States that Dr. Siddiqui was not detained in their custody prior to her arrest in 2008. IJN has obtained a secret audio recording of a senior Pakistani police official who admits he was personally involved in the arrest of Dr. Siddiqui and her children eight years ago. This account is corroborated by substantial documentary evidence and witness testimony, which all points to the same conclusion—that Dr. Siddiqui and her three children were initially arrested in March 2003 with the knowledge and cooperation of local authorities in Karachi, Pakistan, and subsequently interrogated by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) as well as U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

This shameful new revelation will not only establish a stage for holding specific political actors accountable for the grave injustice done to Dr. Siddiqui and her family, but should serve as a keystone for repairing the severed diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the United States. In a letter to Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, last week, IJN Executive Director, Tina M. Foster, urged the government of Pakistan to take immediate action to demand Dr. Siddiqui's repatriation, while the U.S. government is seeking the return of the Lahore shooter. In it, Ms. Foster stated:

"The safety and security of all Pakistani citizens is compromised when U.S. government agents can kill civilians on Pakistani soil with impunity, while the daughter of the nation (who has never caused harm or injury to anyone) languishes in a Texas prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Justice demands that Raymond Davis not be repatriated to the United States without securing the return of Dr. Siddiqui to Pakistan. The path is now clear. The only question that remains is whether the government of Pakistan is willing to take it."

Also see the posts earlier on this oneheartforpeace blogsite

Connie L. Nash said... is one source for the above article on Imperialism.