Assad’s Guilt: What’s Wrong With This Picture

Perhaps the first question that ought to be addressed is:  Who occupies Idlib province?   Idlib province contains the largest populated area controlled by anti-Assad rebels – both nationalist Free Syrian Army groups and powerful Islamist factions including the former al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
 
These are the people the United States government, through covert CIA programs and through Saudi, Turk and other allies, have been supporting.  Those are the groups that are not only holding Idlib but have been trained in the use of chemical weapons by U.S. contractors. 
 
This classic “atrocity porn,” as it is called, the horrific images and eyewitness testimony that have come from Idlib in the wake of the attack, did not come from ABC or CNN. Western journalists wouldn’t dare set foot in Idlib because they would be abducted and killed immediately.  
 
Video and other images released came from a notorious pro-opposition outlet based in the UK, known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and picked up by Reuters,  The SOHR is run by a Syrian Sunni Muslim who owns a clothes shop in Coventry. Born Osama Suleiman, Rami Abdul Rahman adopted a pseudonym during his years of activism in Syria, and is pro-opposition and anti-Assad.  Other false flag operations have been sourced to his publicity.  
 
Before investigations could be conducted and for evidence to emerge, Federica Mogherini, the Italian politician High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, condemned the Syrian government and said that “Assad regime bears responsibility for ‘awful’ Syria ‘chemical’ attack.” Numerous other officials, including Netanyahu, joined the chorus.
 

In Seymour Hersh’s “The Red Line or the Rat Line,” Hersh makes clear that the accusation that Assad had been responsible for the notorious chemical attack in a Damascus suburb in 2013 was false because lab testing of a sample taken did not match up with known characteristics of chemicals possessed by Assad.  The rush to judgment in that case could have led to a major world conflict if Obama had not backed off his “red line” ultimatum..  

Hersh goes on to point out, “The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’

 
It is probably no coincidence that, in coordination with intelligence obtained from U.S. sources, and taking advantage of the US missile strike on the Syrian airbase, Al-Nusra Front terrorists launched a major offensive to gain control of strategic oil areas near Palmyra, but failed.  The Syrian armed forces had some difficulty crushing the offensive because their air cover would normally have come from the Shayrat airbase which operates as a hub for anti-ISIS activity in the region.
 
Another factor which points the finger at rebel forces is that local sources have claimed that many of those dead from the chemical weapons were from Majdal and Khattab, where about 250 people were kidnapped by al Qaeda last week.
 
1-24-696x463
As seen in the above picture, the al Qaeda-linked White Helmets are handling the corpses of people without sufficient safety gear.  No gloves are used, and sarin penetrates the skin immediately.  
 
Jim Jatras, a former US diplomat, foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership, and lobbyist, interviewed  by Ed Schultz, says, “Here is Assad winning the war, going into peace talks in a very strong position, seeing the beginning of Russian and American cooperation, not only against ISIS but also against Al Qaeda, which is the group that is holding Idlib, and suddenly Assad and Putin would up-turn all of that, use chemical weapons which they deny having, thereby revealing that they have them, just for the sheer evil joy of killing people — doesn’t something seem wrong here?”
 
As John Wright so aptly said, “Regarding the attack in Idlib, what we can say with certainty is that a time when pro-government forces in Syria were in the ascendancy on the ground, and when the Syrian government was making significant progress on the diplomatic front, it would have constituted an act of ineffable self-harm to launch a chemical weapons attack of any kind, much less one of this magnitude. In fact it would have conformed to the actions of a government that was intent on bringing about its own demise. “
 
The Russian Defense Ministry says the US missile strike on a Syrian airfield wasn’t very effective, with only 23 out of 59 Tomahawk missiles reaching their target. The locations of the remaining 36 missiles’ impact is now unknown, the ministry added.
 
The runway, taxiways and the Syrian aircraft on the parking apron remained undamaged, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said in a statement.
The ministry described the combat efficiency of the strike as “quite poor.”
 
It’s really sad, but perhaps Donald Trump couldn’t resist his inner Hillary Clinton from firing up, or that he has been pulling the wool over the public’s eyes for some time about his intentions.   It’s certainly disappointing to all his supporters who fervently believed that he was anti-war and would resist the efforts of the war machine to consume him.   He is now considering the option of Assad’s removal — an option he dismissed as no longer on the table just days ago — and is investigating the involvement of Russia in the chemical attack — an interesting development, since no investigation of the attack itself has ever taken place.     
 
What also must be taken into consideration is the fact that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an organization supported by the US, confirmed back in June 2014 that the process to destroy Syria’s entire stock of chemical weapons had been completed.  If any investigation of the use of chemical weapons had been made, they would have been involved.  

Kashmir:  A Road to Peace or Disaster?

ghulamnabifai.jpgDr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

February 23, 2017

India and Pakistan have had more than 150 official rounds of talks in the last seven decades to discuss conflicts and differences between them. The by-product of every round of talk was an agreement to meet again to talk. In consequence, the peace process between India and Pakistan has always remained an illusion. Talks have always proved barren because both India and Pakistan have never defined the parameters of talks. The talks were never meant to be time bound with specific benchmarks that would define and characterize progress. What was the common goal of talks?  What are the objectives? To settle differences? What are the differences?  How will they be resolved?  When?  Should we identify steps to resolving differences? Who are the important actors involved in those differences?  How are those differences being revealed?

Nevertheless, the world knows that the central bone of contention regarding tensions between India and Pakistan is the ongoing 70-year conflict over Kashmir.  The two countries are both nuclear armed and they continue to have re-occurring border clashes and cross-border raids that threaten the safety and stability of both. People are getting killed on both sides.  More than 100 people were killed this past summer with many thousand injured by pellets.  But while this violence occurred due to the refusal of India to foster peaceful relations with Kashmir and acknowledge its interests, the focus of the press, egged on by India, was on the relationship between India and Pakistan and the responsibility of Pakistan in allegedly stirring up trouble in Kashmir with false propaganda.  It is as though there is nothing to discuss. The whole nation of Kashmir rose up in resistance, but no one could talk about anything but Pakistan and the militancy across the border. Kashmir has never been a focal item of the talks but just one of the eight points agreed to by both India and Pakistan in talks which they called the ‘Comprehensive Dialogue Process.’

Curiously, the primary party pertinent to the issue, the Kashmiri leadership, has never been included in the talks.  Why not?  Are they not the principal representatives of the people, the true stakeholders who may claim the greatest interest in what happens to Kashmir?  Doesn’t it matter what they think?  Are they mere spectators or the real actors in the theater?

Why are the youth in the streets throwing stones at the authorities instead of engaging in some sport at a local recreational field?  Why are people with graduate degrees, doctors, lawyers and engineers, joining the resistance and sacrificing their lives and lucrative careers?  Why are the mothers of the young people picking up rocks and joining them?  Do their desires matter?  What has Pakistan to do with that?

India cannot sweep all this under the galicha. The truth is too painfully obvious.  Isn’t it time that world powers ask the people what they really want?  Perhaps that would force the parties to actually deal with what is at the heart of their differences, the aspirations of the people.

Kashmir is the only nation in the world, which shares its borders with three nuclear powers of the world. Kashmir still remains the nuclear flash point, as the tensions between the BJP-lead government in India has suspended the so called’ peace talks’ between New Delhi and Islamabad. The potential of nuclear war has always been there between these two nuclear rivals, but because of the suspension of the talks, that potential is now real.

In an article in Foreign Affairs entitled “Rising Tensions in Kashmir: A Growing Nuclear Danger on the Subcontinent,” Michael Krepon, author and editor of 21 books and cofounder of the Washington DC-based think tank, the Stimson Center, who heads up programming on nuclear and space issues, wrote:  “As Pakistan’s sense of isolation grows and as the conventional military balance shifts even further in India’s favor, Islamabad is relying increasingly on Chinese military help and on nuclear weapons for deterrence. Its nuclear arsenal is growing faster than India’s, with a capacity to produce 15 or more warheads a year, adding more nuclear weapons every year than North Korea has accumulated to date. While India is moving to close this gap, Pakistan is planning to compete even harder with longer-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles to be delivered in the air, on the ground and at sea, as well as with tactical nuclear weapons. Since testing nuclear devices in 1998, India and Pakistan have together flight-tested on average one new type of missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon every year.”

During a meeting held at the Stimson Center last October, Dr. Shezra Mansab, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, made very clear that attention is clearly focused on this problem. “Our core issue this time is Kashmir.  It is an international dispute. It is not an internal problem. The stakes are very high now, we are nuclear neighbours so we need to have peace on the issue of Kashmir and then rest of the things can be solved,” she said.  She was referring to the relationship peace in Kashmir has with the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan. “No peace can prevail in the region, if this issue is not solved,” Dr. Mansab said.

The uncertainty over Kashmir will lead not only India and Pakistan to disaster but it will also destroy any possibility of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Any resolution of the Kashmir conflict will directly impact the stability of Afghanistan as many experts have started realizing that the key to peace in Afghanistan lies in Kashmir. As Dr. Mansab’s colleague, special envoy on Kashmir Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said at that same conference, “The Road to peace in Kabul lies in Kashmir in the sense that when you talk of peace, you cannot compartmentalise peace, you can’t segregate a section… ok you can have peace in Kabul and let Kashmir burn. That is not going to happen.” “So you talk of a comprehensive peace settlement,” Senator Mushahid Hussain added.  “Let the people of South Asia not be hostage to the hostility of the past. Let them move forward.”

The world powers need to understand very clearly that it is their primary responsibility to make sure that both India and Pakistan realize that their inability to resolve the Kashmir dispute for the last 70 years has led to a growing international nuclear crisis. World peace is a stake.

Real and tangible strategy needs to be initiated with the firm support of the P5, in particular the United States. There is not a slightest possibility of resolving Kashmir dispute without the involvement of the world powers. The lack of resolution after 70 years demands the intervention of a third party.

As Michael Krepon of the Stimson Center notes, “Washington’s ties with New Delhi continue to improve, thanks to the attractiveness of the Indian market and a desire to help India counter China’s military buildup” and economic influence in the region. On the other hand,  “Pakistan’s sense of unease has grown with Donald Trump’s habit of painting Islamic terrorism in broad-brush strokes.”  But President Trump has shown his willingness to mediate between the parties to resolve that “very, very hot, tinderbox“ of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Now is the time to get started. Washington’s influence in New Delhi and Islamabad can be artfully used by Trump to make a deal that suits all sides and brings the Kashmir leadership into the picture.

All parties need to understand that ultimately the Kashmir issue will only be resolved across the table through tripartite negotiations between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership.  And if that is true, then why wait? Any delay will cause more death and destruction in the region.

Any dialogue process demands compromises for the sake of greater good. All parties including India, Pakistan and Kashmir need to show some flexibility in order to reach a final settlement. The contours of compromises should be discussed at the table and not beyond it.

It is time for the war of words between two capitals to stop. The reckless statements by Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister of India who lusts for Azad Kashmir and seems inclined to grab it by force, will not pave the way for a better understanding. Such rhetoric needs to end on all sides.

The leadership of both India and Pakistan must show their statesmanship for the sake of peace and stability in the region of South Asia and beyond.

 Dr. Fai can be reached at 1-202-607-6435  OR   gnfai2003@yahoo.com

The Enemy Within

Many protests these days are efforts to squelch or suppress an opposing point view. Freedom of speech is not considered universal or permitted to those who use it to advocate discriminatory policies or the limitations on the freedoms of others. We say that such freedoms are available to just anyone, but in practice, it seems that they are not.  In other words, the tactics of fascism, or a police state, are used by large groups of people to enforce their will upon others with whom they disagree. Political correctness has become a tool of fascism.  It’s like not ever being able to question the holocaust.  Fascism is used to fight fascism. We have people advocating love, compassion and tolerance while throwing Molotov cocktails and destroying store fronts. There’s a t-shirt being promoted on Facebook right now that says, ‘Fuck racism. Nazis get punched.” People make the pretense of being on the left are advocating violence. The use of violence is becoming more and more popular on the left, not to achieve anything in particular beyond the need to vent. People are shouted down if they promote an idea or ideology that others disapprove of. It’s like killing people because they advocate murder.

There are serious contradictions in social philosophy in terms of who may kill, who may discriminate, who may inhibit the freedoms of others. If you belong to MoveOn or work for George Soros, you can shut down anyone who supports Trump.  The end justifies the means. But whatever value is advocated is unfortunately defeated by such tactics, because those who stand in the middle can see what is going on. In the war of propaganda, little is won and much is lost. The values don’t stand up, because the underlying principles are not adhered to.

I’m very troubled by this movement. I see much of it as a personal exhibition of anger and dissent, perhaps cathartic but rarely accomplishing more than that. Those who should be persuaded are not, and the fear and distrust created among establishment figures creates an impulse to use even greater force to come down hard on those who protest. One step forward, two steps back. Does anyone seriously believe that there are any constructive gains made by such actions?  What values are truly being championed?  Polarization in society simply grows as each side sees the behavior of the other and distrust increases. Those who see the need to use force to restore “order” seem more justified in doing so.

Perhaps another civil war is what we are looking for.  It’s no longer a war between Left and Right, because these labels don’t mean anything anymore.  We just have two sides hating each other, and willing to stoop to any level of corruption or violence in order to win.  What went on with the DNC is a perfect example.   There is no attempt to find solutions to these divisions. Can Trump seriously be stopped? What is the purpose of protest when the outcome of the opposition and its success is pre-determined and guaranteed? Trump will win his travel ban. There’s no question about that. It may require a re-write of the executive order, but it’s going to get done. The problem is that in the end, his winning creates impetus and justifications that weren’t there in the beginning.

The Left needs an entirely new strategy that goes far beyond this so-called “Resist” philosophy. If you know that the other side is going to win, even if you resist, then when the other side does win, it weakens you and empowers them even further.  The Left is just blowing smoke.  Everything I see being done is a waste of time and extremely foolish.  Congress has become even more divisive since Trump took office, and these efforts, these useless attempts to block nominations with all-night filibusters have done nothing but make the Democrats look as powerless as they really are.  Obama institutionalized the use of executive orders in order to bypass Congress, so now we have them being used by a Republican President to achieve ends liberals oppose.

it’s time that the Left look to the courts more and less to the streets. If there is no legal argument to protect your interests, you have nothing. Human rights and civil rights all have a Constitutional basis. It needs to be sought and defended. If it isn’t there, then whining is a waste of time.  Go home, wait for the next election and SFU.

The Quest for Peace In South Asia

ghulamnabifai_thumb.jpg

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

December 31, 2016

“Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable.” John F. Kennedy

Peace has eluded Kashmir for more than 69 years, every since British sovereignty lapsed on August 15, 1947. The Government of India holds the decisive cards to end Kashmir’s convulsions and carnage on a genocidal scale. No peace formula worth its salt, however, depends on altruism or unselfishness sentiments to succeed. India will accede to the steps necessary for peace, i.e., permitting Kashmir’s sovereignty to be determined by the voice of its 20 million people (13 million in IOK), only if it perceives that such a bow to self-determination and international law and morality will strengthen its national and economic security.  That advocacy task is not fanciful, but can prevail if pursued with deftness and soft diplomacy.

Kashmir has been plagued by conflict since 1947 for a simple reason:  the denial of self-determination that has been enjoyed by countless other peoples in comparable circumstances, most recently in East Timor, Eritrea, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Southern Sudan.

In the meantime, life for Kashmiris has oscillated between grisly and gruesome.  Approximately 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces occupy Kashmir and de facto impose martial law as it has been now under curfew for more  than five months.

A free and fair plebiscite would show a commanding majority of the Kashmiri people in favor of independence. No impartial observer disputes that fact. In fact it was confirmed by a survey that was conducted by London-based Chatham House in May 2010.  If India believed its rule in Kashmir was by consent rather than by coercion, it would hold a plebiscite with alacrity, just as the United States routinely permits the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to vote for independence. In the latter case, independence has never garnered more than 4% of the ballots.  The converse would be true in Kashmir.  Accession to India would capture at most 4% of a plebiscite vote in the Vale of Kashmir.

Kashmir’s legal and moral case for self-determination is equal or greater than that of the United States when it declared independence in 1776 with a population of but 3 – 4 million. The American grievances against King George III were but trifles compared to the human rights inferno which afflicts Kashmir. The Declaration of Independence protests the maintenance of standing armies, the obstruction of beneficent laws, the denial of trial by jury, and for making the military superior to the civil power.  Kashmiris, in contrast, suffer from those same grievances, plus the gruesome human rights violations amplified above. In sum, every American who defends the Revolutionary War against Great Britain is compelled by legal and human rights principles to champion self-determination in Kashmir.

Peace in Kashmir rides on two seemingly conflicting realities. Kashmir will be chronically convulsed until its sovereignty is determined in accord with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. A plebiscite conducted by the United Nations is one option on that score. Indeed, United Nations Security Council resolutions contemplate that method of self-determination. Contrary to what some have said, Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between Pakistan and India. And it is not a dispute provoked by foreign infiltrators or extremists.  It is not a struggle between theocracy and secularism. Kashmir is every bit as much about self-determination as was East Timor or Southern Sudan in 1999 and 2011 respectively.

The second reality is that India holds 99% or more of the political and military cards in Kashmir.  No outside influence has exerted more than trivial direct influence over India’s Kashmir rule or diplomacy. For more than 69 years, the United Nations Security Council has not lifted a finger to enforce its plebiscite resolutions concerning Kashmir. Neither the United States nor NATO would risk a single soldier for Kashmiri self-determination.  Pakistan is no military match for India. Its alluring economy, nuclear arsenal, and importance in the war against international terrorism deter moral or other sanctions for India’s aggression and misrule of Kashmir. India’s superpower status in South Asia and global stature explains why progress towards peace in Kashmir has been zero for more than 69 years. All the periodic dancing and jousting between India and Pakistan have been at best sound and fury signifying nothing.

India will never budge from its intransigence over Kashmir, say some experts, until it perceives that its national and economic security would be strengthened, not weakened, by acceding to self-determination. That task of persuasion is no fool’s errand. An independent Kashmir would not create military or terrorist vulnerabilities for India. The Kashmir’s constitution might contain a no-war clause as in Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. It might prohibit a Kashmiri army, as in Costa Rica.  It could prohibit any foreign military bases or alliances, i.e., insist on permanent neutrality, as in the 1955 Austrian State Treaty. It could require Kashmir’s adherence to all international counterterrorism conventions, including a corresponding extradition treaty with both India and Pakistan. These safeguards would make India more, not less secure from Kashmir dangers.

More important, Kashmir self-determination would eliminate the chief cause of India’s national security vulnerability. War with Pakistan would become fanciful and its military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir could be redeployed to the northeast or elsewhere to confront local secession. An independent Kashmir would not create a cascading dismembering of India. Its legal history is unique. And it speaks volumes that self-determination in East Timor, Eritrea, and Czechoslovakia did not occasion a spiraling disintegration of Indonesia, Ethiopia, or the Czech and Slovak republics.

India’s economy would also be uplifted by self-determination for Kashmir. Investment would climb because of greater political stability. India would save billions in slashed military expense. A free trade accord could be fashioned between India and an independent Kashmir to spur growth.

India would also be a candidate for permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council if it acceded to a free and fair plebiscite on Kashmir. Its international stature would rise, like that of the United States after yielding the Panama Canal back to Panama. And Pakistan could offer a non-aggression guarantee if India permitted self-determination 13 million of Kashmir, a speck among India’s population of more than 1 billion.

In sum, a strong case can be made and should be made to India by the President-elect Trump that its security and stature would jump rather than fall by accepting a Kashmir plebiscite with reasonable constitutional safeguards. As President-elect has said that he would be honored to play a mediating role in addressing a ‘very, very hot tinderbox’ of Kashmir. It cannot be expected that India would act against its own perceived self-interests in Kashmir since no other country in the world has ever done so.

During the time needed to persuade India of its enormous benefits from Kashmir self-determination, it should embrace measures calculated to alleviate the misery of Kashmiris and to diminish extremism. India should slash the number of its military and security personnel posted in Kashmir. Forces should be withdrawn completely from civilian inhabited areas, and bunkers there should be dismantled.  A seething siege mentality must be lifted from Kashmir to reduce bitterness and conflict.

Emergency legislation that places the civilian Kashmiri population at the disposal of India’s staggering military and paramilitary personnel should be repealed.  Illustrative are the Jammu & Kashmir Disturbed Area Act of 1990 and the Armed Forces Jammu & Kashmir Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1990.

All torture and extrajudicial killings by Indian forces should be unswervingly denounced and punished. All political prisoners should be released. As suggested by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights on September 13, 2016, a UN fact finding mission should be granted access to Jammu and Kashmir to monitor and document the human rights landscape. All restrictions on peaceful political dissent or protest should be lifted.

Kashmiri leadership who disavow violence in favor of a negotiated settlement should be permitted to travel abroad without hindrance. The Diaspora Kashmiri leadership should enjoy access and visas to visit Jammu and Kashmir.  Further, direct talks over the future of Kashmir should be commenced with all parties concerned – India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership – with a pledge that the final status of the territory will not diverge from the wishes of the Kashmiri people and an exploration of what dispensation in the territory would scrupulously honor India’s national security and economic needs. And India should renounce any intent to build a Berlin-like wall along the Cease-fire Line.

These unilateral gestures would not represent appeasement, but an enlightened understanding of India’s best interests in Kashmir. They would give heart to the peaceful forces in Kashmir, who believe that Kashmir is a political issue and needs to be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

The time for delusions over peace in Kashmir has long since expired.  All advocacy and intellectual energies must be directed towards showing India that its self-interests are allied to self-determination in Kashmir; and, that India’s acceding to self-determination would enable India to play its rightful role in the international diplomacy.

Dr. Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness. He can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435   or   gnfai2003@yahoo.com

The Simla Agreement: Help or Hindrance

ghulamnabifai_thumb.jpg

By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

December 2, 2016

The mass uprising of the people of Kashmir against Indian military occupation has evoked two reactions from the Government of India. One is extreme repression and the second is the threat of war. On September 24, 2016, Mr. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India made a formal statement with full authority: “Pakistan’s ‘awam’ (people), I want to say to you, India is ready to fight you.” He added, “We will isolate you. I will work for that.”

The world powers, including the U.S. has exerted no influence in restraining this belligerent rhetoric. There is also not the slightest sign yet of even a beginning being made towards a meaningful peace process, eliminating the danger of war between these two nuclear countries. The present situation has made it abundantly clear that the status quo in Kashmir is both unjust and untenable. It has thus thrown into sharp relief the urgent need for India and Pakistan to settle the 69-year old Kashmir dispute on a just and lasting basis.

The question arises: what should be the point of departure for determining a just and lasting basis? The answer obviously is (a) the Charter of the United Nations which, in its very first article, speaks of “respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” and (b) the international agreements between the parties to the dispute.

India and Pakistan have concluded multiple agreements which fall in this context.  The first is embodied in the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) on 13 August 1948 and second on 5 January 1949. These resolutions constitute an agreement because, unlike most  resolutions of the Security Council, their provisions were first negotiated with the parties and, in  written statements, explicitly accepted by them.

The first resolution is written out in detail and is self-explanatory. Since it binds both India and Pakistan to respect the verdict of the people of Kashmir to be obtained through a free vote under the impartial supervision of the United Nations. India seeks to propagate the impression that it has been superseded by the Simla Agreement. That the implication is false can be readily seen from a comparison of the two texts. But even if it were true, it would run counter to a standing principle of international relations which is set out in Article 103 of the Charter of the United Nations (accepted by every Member of the United Nations, including India). The Article says:

“In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.”

What, then, is the relevance of the Simla Agreement as far as instituting a peace process between India and Pakistan, fully recognizing Kashmiri’s inherent right of self-determination, is concerned?

The pertinent facts about the Simla Agreement are:

i.  It was concluded in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan war of 1971 over what is now Bangladesh. Pakistan had suffered a decisive military defeat and 93,000 Pakistani prisoners-of-war were in Indian captivity. The factor of duress in thus obvious.

ii.  Despite this circumstance, the Agreement nowhere precludes a settlement of the Kashmir dispute along the lines laid down by the United Nations with the consent of both India and Pakistan. Nor does it require that the United Nations be by-passed in the effort towards a settlement. On the contrary, it expressly says that the relations between the two countries shall be governed by the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. One of the basic principles of the Charter (Article 33) is to seek a solution of any dispute by negotiation, enquiry, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements or other peaceful means. The linked principle (Article 34) is that the Security Council may investigate any dispute and (Article 36) at any stage recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment. The Simla Agreement thus reinforces the obligations of both parties to achieve a settlement in accordance with the resolutions endorsed by the Security Council and, if their bilateral efforts fail, to turn to the United Nations for assistance. Nothing would be more contrary to the Charter — and, therefore, to the Simla Agreement itself — than to bar recourse to the United Nations.

iii.  The Simla Agreement makes mention of “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir” as one of the objectives of the two parties.

iv.  It provides that, pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation. This obviously is not a license for leaving problem unresolved. If anything, it implies a commitment to making efforts towards a final settlement.

v.  The Simla Agreement says that “in Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of 17 December 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side”. To ” respect” the line means not to cross it militarily; it dose not convert the line to a legally accepted international frontier. This is clear from the words that the “respect” will be “without prejudice to the recognized position of either side”.

vi.  The position consistently maintained by Pakistan that the status of  Kashmir shall be decided by an impartial plebiscite has been recognized by the United Nations and, as it is identical with the position which India itself originally assumed at the world body, it is reflected in more than dozen substantive resolutions of the Security Council. A position safeguarded by the phrase “without prejudice to” can hardly be deemed to have been abandoned.

vii.  In its preamble, the agreement states the resolve of the two governments to establish durable peace in the subcontinent. Durable peace results from setting the outstanding disputes, not from denying its existence.

It is thus a misconception that the Simla Agreement has in any way superseded the resolutions of the United Nations accepted by both parties. Nor can it be supposed to have narrowed the gulf between them and, to that extent, simplified the task of evolving a settlement. Even if it has done so, its impact on the Kashmir situation would have been open to question. Nothing in international law confers on two parties the authority to make decisions or conclude agreements which adversely affect the rights of a third. The third party here is the people of Kashmir.

Why is the Simla Agreement put in the forefront rather than the resolutions of the United Nations? There can be several explanations. One is deference to India because of its superior might. If this motivates the current diplomatic stance of the world powers, including the United States, it is, to say the least, undignified and contrary to the enduring principles of U.S. policy towards all situations which involve inalienable human rights. Another reason can be the impression that the Simla Agreement, being of more recent origin than the resolutions of the United Nations, might be more effective in activating the process. This is wrong in view of the fact that, for 44 years, the Agreement has signally failed to shake India out of its obdurate refusal to negotiate a settlement of the Kashmir problem. The current Indian position is that India is prepared to talk but there is nothing to talk about except how to crush the popular resistance in Kashmir and perpetuate the status quo.

If non-implementation were to render an agreement defunct, then the Simla Agreement is in no better state than the earlier, far more concrete and comprehensive resolution painstakingly worked out by the United Nations and concluded under its auspices in 1948-49. If passage of time were allowed to extinguish solemn international agreements, then the Simla Agreement has already suffered the same fate as the resolutions of the United Nations. If agreements are to be revived, then why one and not the other?

It may also be that the Simla Agreement is being invoked because of lack of knowledge about its actual terms and the circumstances in which it was signed. India is taking full advantage of this factor to spread the misinformation that the Simla Agreement sanctions the perpetuation of the status quo in Kashmir and absolves her from the responsibility of striving for a settlement of the dispute. By citing the Simla Agreement at this stage, or encouraging others to do so, India obviously seeks to prevent those basic issues of the dispute being addressed that were fully taken into account by the United Nations. The Simla Agreement is pressed into service as a formula for evasion.

A sincere and serious effort towards a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute  must squarely deal with the realities of the situation and fully respond to the people’s rights involved in it. The Simla Agreement does neither. Indeed, it was not intended to do so; at best, it is reticent on the issues that need to be grappled with. A peace process mounted on its fragile platform is bound to collapse. Indeed, any process that ignores the wishes of the people of Kashmir and is designed to sidetrack the United Nations will not only prove

to be an exercise in futility but can also cause incalculable human and political damage.

Dr. Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness and can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435   or   gnfai2003@yahoo.com

Trump Like Me

There was a time in my life many years ago when I would loved to have stood in Donald Trump’s shoes. I wanted nice things. I wanted to live in a castle.  I would have loved to own a Rolls Royce.  I would have loved to travel the world and see everything and enjoy good wine and have the most beautiful wife. 

It wasn’t because of greed.  It was because all these things are attractive. To call it greed is to make a case that I wanted to do it at the expense of others, by taking advantage of the poor, and and crowding out the many with whom life presents as competition for such things.  I thought that I could remain a good person and still do all these things.  Perhaps, more to the point, I never quite realized what road I would have to travel in order to achieve, to live the dream.  . 

I became a stock broker and worked in the industry until I discovered that the men I worked with were corrupt and willing to lie to make a transaction. It was disgusting to me, and it wasn’t long before I began looking for work in another field. 

I then hooked up with a multimillionaire who had designed the NASDAQ computer system and owned a capital holding company.  He was a mergers and acquisitions specialist who bought floundering companies for pennies on the dollar and converted them into profitable companies.  I thought that was a good thing.

I then began flying gamblers to Las Vegas, an idea he financed when I took it to him as a business venture,  He was greatly attracted by the idea.  I made a deal with Caesar’s Palace in which they would provide swank hotel accommodations and the cost of flying wealthy people in a Learjet to Sin City if these gamblers would put up a stake that was attractive to the house.  And it worked for awhile. . Until, that is, my wonderful partner made an effort to get it all for himself.  I think that’s when I began realizing that living the good life came with a price.  That’s also when greed really made an impact upon me and started entering the picture in a very personal way. 

Many ventures later and the crushing blows that came with them put me on the street, homeless in Beverly Hills, California.  I I had just walked away from a business that was doing well over six figures a year.  I left everything—cars, trucks, equipment, along with a contract to purchase a home in Bel Air—and began wandering the beach, looking for some truth within myself that answered many deep questions about what I wanted from life.  It was then that I came to face the real truth about who I was, and what all this meant to me.  How corrupt did I have to become in order to succeed with my dream of being rich? Who would I have to cheat?  How many lies would I have to tell? What ugly games would I have to play?  And who were these men whom I had chosen as my business partners, my companions, my world?  Did I really want to live in such a world?

What began creeping up on me was that self respect based upon good moral values was much more valuable to me than all these “good things” that I had wanted. 

Certainly, today, if someone offered me a million dollars with no strings attached, I’d take it.  I’m not sure I’d buy a Rolls or use it up on fancy Learjets, because I can think of many other ways to spend that money that would mean a lot more to a 72-year-old coot like me.  I’ve discovered that having friends who respect you for being genuine and compassionate by itself is worth more than all the money in the world. But it is self-respect more than anything else that is the true life-giver.  Being whole within oneself by being true to oneself is the only path to happiness. 

When I weigh the path of a man like Donald Trump, a man who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, and had a freeway paved ahead of him for the kind of success he has known, I really can’t hate him.  It’s very difficult to find any truth in all the propaganda I read about him, so I have great difficulty judging him.  I know that, had I been given his opportunities, I would be a much different man.  I wouldn’t have the moral sense that I do now.  I came from a very middle class background, but I have known deep poverty in my struggle against the bricks, because I was thrown to the wolves like most people are who live in this capitalist world where the rich have all the advantages and the poor just have to suck it up and try to compete on very evil terms. 

I don’t hate capitalism, but I hate what it does to people.  I don’t hate Trump, but I hate what it has done to him.  I feel fortunate that I didn’t get caught in that same trap, because, with slightly different opportunities, that would be me as well. 

With Trump as President elect, I know what we are headed for.  I know well his state of mind.  It doesn’t frighten me, because he lives in a world of men who are not much different from him.  Power and money has its rightful competitors.

The Democrats lost, and their fortune was cast when they sold out to the very principles that Donald Trump lives by.  And they got beat by a man who knows that game much better than they do. You can’t play the image of being for the downtrodden and forsaken while doing dirty deeds behind the scenes.  It’s a cutthroat business,a fuck you man kind of business, and good old Donald was right out front with it.  He proved to be better at being honest about it than these lefty fools who tried to play both sides of the fence.

He faces great odds in pulling off as President what he has done in the business world.  In many ways we are helpless in changing what’s coming for us, the “little people,” the deplorables.  He’s going to do great damage to many of our progressive causes.  But he will not change those of us, who, like me, have come to value more than wealth and power.  We will survive. We can do so without the fine clothes and the diamond rings.  And we will win, because it is a greater power that lives inside us.  .   

Trump, it’s Time to Clean House

Most of my lefty friends are not going to agree with me, but that doesn’t deter me from saying what I believe.  To start with, I do not believe 99% of the allegations I’ve read about Trump. I didn’t vote for him, but I believe that the left has so demonized him that the extremists on the far right actually believe such nonsense. The KKK and David Duke and people who hate blacks, Hispanics and other non-whites have been inspired and emboldened by all the lies the left has perpetrated. We don’t do justice to American politics with lies. We don’t encourage people to lean left with their views by propagating bullshit that anyone with common sense will not believe. I don’t believe that I ever came across an article in the mainstream press that ever gave him a fair shake.  They have done nothing but write their own epitaph.   The calculated raids on his campaign appearances by the left have fueled the violence and hate. George Soros and MoveOn.org have never been reputable guides to political solutions.  The left has said things about Melania that are far worse than anything Trump himself has ever said about women. I’m frankly deeply ashamed of where the left stands as a movement.  Now they want Sanders to run again?  What a joke.   

I don’t for a minute believe that Trump is a saint, but I don’t believe that he is much different from most businessmen. I know a number of millionaires and they are all self-centered egotists. That’s a natural human flaw that accompanies financial success. He is no doubt a womanizer to some degree, he’s probably very guilty of  misogyny, but what about Bill Clinton?  That’s again a flaw that comes with being a successful man in American society. It should not be accepted, but that’s quite different from singling him out for being some kind of icon of male perfidy.  His family has never criticized him, so how bad is it really?   Does it make him unqualified to be President?  What were our choices?  He has probably abused his employees as most wealthy men do. They get wealthy by taking advantage of the weaknesses of others. Trump is a capitalist, but no more evil than the capitalism of a woman who makes millions off her speeches to Wall Street or seeks to enrich herself through corporate graft. The machinations and manipulations of the DNC in order to rig the primaries and the election are about as evil as anything I can imagine in a country that calls itself a democracy.

His domestic policies are not based on racism. I think that they are misguided, but way overblown in terms of what they suggest to others. Trump ought to be spending a billion on helping Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia and other South American countries with jobs programs so that people don’t have to come here in order to survive. But I didn’t see the left proposing such solutions it was more important to them to demonize him. They said he was a racist because he wants to build a wall. Yes, a stupid idea, but it wasn’t racist.  it was simply a proposal to win over people who have a problem with illegal immigration.   it got him votes.  What else can you say about it?  We need firm policies regarding illegal immigration. There’s no question about it.  But hate obviously didn’t convince the voters. Lies are lies, and they can sooner or later be understood as lies.

The issue of Muslims immigrating to this country was nothing more than a proposal about security. If I held a party and thought about inviting Muslims, but I knew that there were some who wanted to hurt me, but didn’t know who, I’d probably want to think about that twice and try to establish some kind of screening mechanism as well. I might even cancel the party.   That isn’t racist. That’s good sense. Trump has done a lot of business in Muslim countries. I don’t believe that he has an attitude about Islam and I don’t believe that he hates Muslims.

All our time has been wasted on Trump’s personality instead of exploring his policies.  No wonder he is such a mystery to people. 

What is worth considering, however unpredictable he may be, is that Trump represents — hopefully — a revolution in how government works. What’s good is that he is an outsider. He will bring a revolution in policies that haven’t worked and will never work. I’d like to see an end to the huge deficit spending on military adventurism and regime change. Trump will work with Syria and Russia to defeat the Islamic State. He’s got NATO scrambling to try to figure out how it’s going to survive, since it’s purpose of taking down governments and installing new ones friendly to the US is all that it knows. What is NATO going to do, now that war with Russia is no longer on the drawing boards? What about that huge military buildup on Russia’s border?

Trump has been noted in the past for being to the left politically. It seems clear to me that he went right in order to get elected. And he sunk the ship of fools Hillary was steering with all her neoliberal friends. May God bless him for that. We need fresh blood in government, and despite the pain it may cause to some liberal institutions and causes, a little suffering for that revolution is worth it. It’s time to clean house.