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21 May 2015

India must change attitude towards Pskistan

India & Pakistan  have hurt each other incessantly through the past several decades and vested interests have formed, inevitably. A new beginning is needed. Modi should not allow himself to be taken in by the seductive cloak-and-dagger tales of the great game in the Hindu Kush, lest it became an entrapment of the mind and precluded new thinking. The AfPak buck stops at Modi’s desk, finally.
The Af-Pak buck stops at Modi’s desk:
By M K Bhadrakumar
Strange reports are filtering in from Kabul to the effect that the Afghan spy agency National Directorate of Security [NDS] and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly fight terrorism. Some reports even suggested that the agreement envisaged that the ISI would train the NDS personnel equip them as well. (TOLO)

The reports as such have not been denied so far by Kabul or Islamabad, although the bit news about ISI training the Afghan spooks may be premature. At any rate, this becomes a momentous development in the politics of the region and in the tumultuous fraternal relationship between the two countries.

Looking back, the visit by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this month to Kabul, accompanied by army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, has been a turning point in regional security. While in Kabul, Sharif had condemned in no uncertain terms, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani standing by and listening in, the Taliban’s spring offensive, calling it in plain terms as terrorism, which was unprecedented.

Pakistan seldom, if ever, criticizes the Afghan Taliban publicly and Sharif did it in full view of the Afghan bazaar. For Ghani, any decision to engage the ISI directly would be a very pragmatic decision. He’d see three main advantages in doing so.

One, he will be conclusively addressing Pakistan’s number one concern, namely, the demand to shut down the Afghan-Indian intelligence tie-up. There is also a regional dimension to it, since Kabul is institutionalizing the cooperation with the the ISI at a time when Pakistan’s heightened sensitivities are bordering on paranoia lately.

Two, Ghani will be making Pakistan a “stakeholder” in Afghanistan’s counterterrorist capability. Cynics might say this is something like having the fox guarding the chicken coop, but then, the NDS also gets an opportunity to make the ISI accountable.

Three, in political terms, Ghani will be putting a ring of goodwill around Pakistan that the latter will be hard-pressed not to reciprocate — a benign version (in reverse) of Dritarashtra’s deadly embrace in the Indian epic of Mahabharata.

But what highlights the “upgrade” of the Afghan-Pakistan security cooperation is that it also happens to coincide with the first-ever visit by the Afghan Minister of Interior Noorulhaq Olomi to Beijing. Olomi disclosed in Beijing on Sunday that his visit related to the signing of an agreement between the Afghan and Chinese intelligence to expand their cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Indeed, these developments in rapid succession within the space of a few weeks follow Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan last month. Xi had announced $46 billion worth Chinese investment to build an Economic Corridor across the Karakoram connecting Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan understands that China has thrown in its direction a vital lifeline, which it must clasp gratefully with both hands. Pakistan is getting the opportunity of a lifetime to become a thriving economy and to emerge as the economic hub of the region, which would enhance its status manifold as a major regional power in South, West and Central Asia.

But then, China has added the caveat that Pakistan needs to get its act together first and cleanse the region of the terrorist groups so that the Silk Road projects involving the deployment of hundreds (or thousands) of Chinese personnel can get implemented. Sharif’s visit to Kabul must be seen in this context.

And the Pakistani army chief accompanying Sharif was intended to underline that the civilian and military leaderships in Islamabad are jointly committed to dispersing the strategic distrust that blocked any genuine security cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Having said that, China also knows that Pakistan cannot handle this cleanup alone and it will have to be a coordinated Afghan-Pakistani effort. Of course, China has some self-interest here too insofar as it also hopes to be a direct beneficiary of the decimation of the terrorist groups based in the Af-Pak region. To be sure, China would have encouraged Olomi to strengthen the cooperation between the Afghan and Pakistani intelligence.

It i s also useful to recall that China participated in the recent Track II in Qatar where the representatives of the Kabul government and the Taliban held discussions. There is reason to believe that China is acting as a moderating influence on Pakistan and nudging it to get the Taliban to the peace talks. (See a Xinhua commentary here.)

The fact that Olomi was received by none other than Meng Jianzhu, member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party and the head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee underscores that Beijing attaches the highest importance to the security of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is of course linked to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. (Meng is China’s intelligence czar, successor to Zhou Yongkang and a rising star in Chinese politics.)

It doesn’t need much ingenuity to figure out that a tripartite entente is appearing on the strategic landscape to India’s north, involving China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the sphere of regional security and stability. It stems from a remarkable congruence of interests on the part of the three protagonists.

Russia and Iran would only encourage such a regional process aimed at stabilizing the Afghan situation. (By the way, Moscow announced on Monday the closure of the NATO’s transport corridor through Russian territory for delivering supplies to Afghanistan.)

Of course, all this comes as a severe blow to the Indian foreign and security policy establishment. The Indian intelligence had enjoyed until recently very close ties with the Afghan intelligence, which in turn provided much “strategic depth” to us vis-à-vis Pakistan.

But India has been summarily left in the lurch and Kabul is gearing up to do business with the newfound Pakistani (and Chinese) partners. Without doubt, Pakistan’s bottom line for cooperation with the Kabul government regarding peace talks with the Taliban has been the latter’s willingness to guarantee that the Indian intelligence presence is eliminated from Afghan soil.

The NDS-ISI tie-up rankles, as it is happening within a month of Ghani’s visit to Delhi. No doubt, there has been a colossal breakdown of India’s Af-Pak policies. There is no other way to put across the bitter truth.

Hopefully, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who reportedly places emphasis on making the bureaucracy accountable, will want to know why such a policy failure could have taken place right under his nose, relating to a core area of India’s regional policies.

How does India propose to dig its way out of this fox hole? Whispering to China not to trust Pakistan is not going to take us very far. Nor is our hubris that India can afford to “ignore” Pakistan helping matters.

Truly, the intellectual bankruptcy on the foreign policy front is surging to the surface. India should see the writing on the wall – Sino-Pak relationship has transformed and is no longer “India-centric”; Pakistan’s approach to terrorist groups has changed.

Our rejectionist stance vis-à-vis China’s Belt and Road Initiatives becomes increasingly untenable and will only prove counterproductive in the long run. There are things that are beyond India’s capabilities. Zero sum mindset is doomed to fail in a globalized world.

The root problem is that India doesn’t have a “big picture” as regards the regional politics. A good beginning will be to decide on a Pakistan policy without further delay — a policy that is viable, forward-looking and sustainable. The right-wing pundits are whistling in the dark when they claim that India should “ignore” Pakistan. The recent developments in regional politics amply testify that Pakistan is far too important a regional power to be “ignored”.

Secondly, more importantly, the time has come to ask some fundamental questions regarding the wisdom of remaining fixated on Dawood Ibrahim or Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. The history of India-Pakistan rivalry didn’t begin with these two personalities.

The two countries have hurt each other incessantly through the past several decades and vested interests have formed, inevitably. A new beginning is needed. Modi should not allow himself to be taken in by the seductive cloak-and-dagger tales of the great game in the Hindu Kush, lest it became an entrapment of the mind and precluded new thinking. The AfPak buck stops at Modi’s desk, finally.

15 May 2015

The many problems with Seymour Hersh's Osama bin Laden conspiracy theory

Recently the legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh finally released a story that he has been rumored to have been working on for years: the truth about the killing of Osama bin Laden. According to Hersh's 10,000-word story in the London Review of Books, the official history of bin Laden's death — in which the US tracked him to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan; killed him in a secret raid that infuriated Pakistan; and then buried him at sea — is a lie.

Hersh's story is amazing to read, alleging a vast American-Pakistani conspiracy to stage the raid and even to fake high-level diplomatic incidents as a sort of cover. But his allegations are largely supported only by two sources, neither of whom has direct knowledge of what happened, both of whom are retired, and one of whom is anonymous. The story is riven with internal contradictions and inconsistencies.

Related Every movie rewrites history. What American Sniper did is much, much worse.
The story simply does not hold up to scrutiny — and, sadly, is in line with Hersh's recent turn away from the investigative reporting that made him famous into unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

A decade ago, Hersh was one of the most respected investigative journalists on the planet, having broken major stories from the My Lai massacre in 1969 to the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004. But more recently, his reports have become less and less credible. He's claimed that much of the US special forces is controlled by secret members of Opus Dei, that the US military flew Iranian terrorists to Nevada for training, and that the 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria was a "false flag" staged by the government of Turkey. Those reports have had little proof and, rather than being borne out by subsequent investigations, have been either unsubstantiated or outright debunked. A close reading of Hersh's bin Laden story suggests it is likely to suffer the same fate.

What Seymour Hersh says really happened to Osama bin Laden

The truth, Hersh says, is that Pakistani intelligence services captured bin Laden in 2006 and kept him locked up with support from Saudi Arabia, using him as leverage against al-Qaeda. In 2010, Pakistan agreed to sell bin Laden to the US for increased military aid and a "freer hand in Afghanistan." Rather than kill him or hand him over discreetly, Hersh says the Pakistanis insisted on staging an elaborate American "raid" with Pakistani support.

According to Hersh's story, Navy SEALs met no resistance at Abbottabad and were escorted by a Pakistani intelligence officer to bin Laden's bedroom, where they killed him. Bin Laden's body was "torn apart with rifle fire" and pieces of the corpse "tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains" by Navy SEALs during the flight home (no reason is given for this action). There was no burial at sea because "there wouldn’t have been much left of bin Laden to put into the sea in any case."

In this telling, the yearslong breakdown in US-Pakistan relations, which had enormous ramifications for both Pakistan and the war in Afghanistan, was all staged to divert attention from the truth of bin Laden's killing. The treasure trove of intelligence secured from bin Laden's compound, Hersh adds, was manufactured to provide evidence after the fact.

What is the proof?
The evidence for all this is Hersh's conversations with two people: Asad Durrani, who ran Pakistan's military intelligence service from 1990 to 1992, and "a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad." Read that line again: knowledgeable about the initial intelligence. Not exactly a key player in this drama, and anonymous at that.

Hersh produces no supporting documents or proof, nor is the authority of either source established. We are given no reason to believe that either Durrani or the "knowledgeable official" would have even second- or thirdhand knowledge of what occurred, yet their word is treated as gospel. His other two sources are anonymous "consultants" who are vaguely described as insiders.

Beyond that, Hersh's proof is that he finds the official story of the Osama bin Laden raid to be unconvincing. And he points out that in the first days after the raid, the administration released details that cast bin Laden in a negative light — saying he tried to use one of his wives as a shield, for example — that it later walked back. But raising questions about the official story is not the same as proving a spectacular international conspiracy.

If that seems like worryingly little evidence for a story that accuses hundreds of people across three governments of staging a massive international hoax that has gone on for years, then you are not alone.

On Sunday night, national security journalists and analysts on Twitter picked through the story, expressing dismay at its tissue-thin sourcing, its leaps of logic, and its internal contradictions.

Some of the problems with Hersh's history of Abbottabad

Perhaps the most concerning problem with Hersh's story is not the sourcing but rather the internal contradictions in the narrative he constructs.

Most blatant, Hersh's entire narrative turns on a secret deal, in which the US promised Pakistan increased military aid and a "freer hand in Afghanistan." In fact, the exact opposite of this occurred, with US military aid dropping and US-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan plummeting as both sides feuded bitterly for years after the raid.

Hersh explains this seemingly fatal contradiction by suggesting the deal fell apart due to miscommunication between the Americans and Pakistanis. But it's strange to argue that the dozens of officials on both sides would be competent enough to secretly plan and execute a massive international ruse, and then to uphold their conspiracy for years after the fact, but would not be competent enough to get on the same page about aid delivery.

And there are more contradictions. Why, for example, would the Pakistanis insist on a fake raid that would humiliate their country and the very military and intelligence leaders who supposedly instigated it?

A simpler question: why would Pakistan bother with the ostentatious fake raid at all, when anyone can imagine a dozen simpler, lower-risk, lower-cost ways to do this?

Why not just kill bin Laden, drive his body across the border into Afghanistan, and drop him off with the Americans? Or why not put him in a hut somewhere in Waziristan, blow it up with an F-16, pretend it was a US drone strike, and tell the Americans to go collect the body? (Indeed, when I first heard about Hersh's bin Laden story a few years ago from a New Yorker editor — the magazine, the editor said, had rejected it repeatedly, to the point of creating bad blood between Hersh and editor-in-chief David Remnick — this was the version Hersh was said to favor.)

"helping Obama boost US-Pakistan relations seems like an unusual hobby for an al-Qaeda leader"

If Pakistan's goal is increased US aid, why do something that will virtually force the US to cut aid, as it indeed did? For that matter, why retaliate against the US for the raid that you asked them to conduct? Pakistan's own actions against the US, after all, ensured that it had less influence in Afghanistan.

By the same token, why would the US cut a secret deal with Pakistan to allow that country a "freer hand" in Afghanistan — essentially surrendering a yearslong effort to reduce Pakistani influence there — rather than just taking out bin Laden without Pakistan's permission?

There are smaller but still troubling inconsistencies. Why, for example, would the US need to construct a massive double of the Abbottabad compound for special forces to train in, if the real compound were going to be totally unguarded and there would be no firefight?

See also, for example, the intelligence material that the US brought back from bin Laden's compound and then displayed to the world. Hersh says that, in fact, bin Laden had spent the previous five years a hostage of Pakistani intelligence rather than an active member of al-Qaeda. The intelligence "treasure trove" was thus a fabrication, cooked up by the CIA after the raid to back up the American-Pakistani conspiracy.

This is a strange thing to argue, as Carnegie Endowment Syria research Aron Lund points out, because al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri subsequently said the intelligence materials were real, and had quoted from them himself. So either Hersh is wrong or, Lund writes, "Zawahiri is helping Obama forge evidence to boost US-Pakistan relations, which seems like an unusual hobby for an [al-Qaeda] leader."

when facts seem to contradict his claims, his answer is that this only shows how deep the rabbit hole goes

In other words, for Hersh to be correct that the intelligence material was faked, and thus that bin Laden was a secret prisoner of Pakistani intelligence, and thus that the raid to kill him was a staged American-Pakistani ruse, then al-Qaeda would have had to be in on it — even though al-Qaeda was also the supposed victim of Pakistan's plot.

As for Hersh's story of what really happened to bin Laden's body — "torn to pieces with rifle fire" and thrown bit by bit out the door of the escaping helicopter, until there was not enough left to bury — it is difficult to know where to begin. It is outlandish to imagine small arms fire reducing a 6-foot-4 man "to pieces," not to mention the sheer quantity of time and bullets this would take. Are we really to believe that special forces would spend who knows how long gleefully carving up bin Laden like horror movie villains, and then later reaching into the body bag to chuck pieces of him out of a helicopter, for no reason at all? On the most sensitive and important operation of their careers?

When Hersh acknowledge the vast evidence against his theory, he typically dismisses it out of hand, at times arguing that it is in fact proof that the Pakistani-American-Saudi architects of this plan were so brilliant that they spent years meticulously engineering their actions at every level so as to appear to be doing the opposite of what Hersh suggests.

For example, Hersh says the CIA station chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Bank, was a key player in helping the Pakistanis stage the bin Laden raid. But the year before the raid, a Pakistani journalist publicly named Bank (many suspect, and Hersh agrees, that this was done at Pakistani intelligence's behest), thus imperiling his life, forcing him to flee the country and sparking a diplomatic incident that set back US-Pakistan relations. Hersh says this entire monthslong incident was staged, a "cover in case their co-operation with the Americans in getting rid of bin Laden became known."

Hersh's story is littered with such justifications: when facts seem to squarely contradict his claims, his answer is that this only goes to show how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Seymour Hersh's slide off the rails

In early 2004, Hersh reported one of the most important stories of the Iraq War: the torture of detainees at the American-run prison complex in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. In a series of articles for the New Yorker, Hersh revealed horrific and systemic American torture, as well as its authorization at the highest levels of the Bush administration. While earlier investigations by the Associated Press and Amnesty International had uncovered aspects of this story, the depth of Hersh's reports proved both damning and shocking, contributing to a public backlash against both Abu Ghraib and the war itself.

The Abu Ghraib stories were in line with Hersh's reputation as one of the most respected investigative reporters alive. That reputation goes back to 1969, when Hersh uncovered the My Lai massacre, in which American troops killed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians. He later broke elements of the Watergate story while working for the New York Times.

In recent years, however, Hersh has appeared increasingly to have gone off the rails. His stories, often alleging vast and shadowy conspiracies, have made startling — and often internally inconsistent — accusations, based on little or no proof beyond a handful of anonymous "officials."

Supporters of Hersh will often point to his earlier stories in defense of his more recent work, saying that we should trust his sources and not dismiss his reporting so easily. Fair enough. But Hersh's stories on Abu Ghraib or My Lai or Watergate were sourced with documented evidence (in the case of Abu Ghraib, a damning internal military report) and interviews with firsthand participants.

For his bin Laden story, however, he has no documented evidence, and his sources are limited to a couple of "consultants," one "retired official with knowledge," and a Pakistani spymaster who left that world 23 years ago. If Hersh still has his once-famous connections in the American intelligence world, they do not show up here.

Similarly, Hersh's earlier blockbusters were all quickly confirmed by dozens of independent reports and mountains of physical proof. That's how such exposés typically work: the first glint of sunshine brings a rush of attention, which uncovers more evidence and encourages more sources to come forward, until the truth is incontrovertible.

That is not how things have gone with Hersh's newer and more conspiratorial stories. Rather, they have tended to remain all alone in their claims, and at times have been debunked. This is not, in other words, the first time.

The growing list of conspiracy theories
The first hints came in the latter years of the Bush administration, when Hersh reported repeatedly that the US was on the verging of striking Iran. These included reports stating that the US might even bomb Iran with a nuclear warhead, and later that the administration had considered using US special forces disguised as Iranians to launch a "false flag" attack as a premise for war.

These reports seemed a bit far-fetched, particularly since Hersh kept predicting a strike that never came. And, troublingly, they were often sourced to perhaps one or two anonymous "consultants" or "former officials" who were said to "have knowledge" of high-level discussions.

The Iran stories were difficult to accept on anything much more than faith. How do you prove that Dick Cheney never had a meeting in his office during which someone verbally proposed pinning a false flag attack on Iran? You can't. In any case, Hersh had a long record of excellence, and who was going to doubt Cheney's capacity for hawkishness?

The moment when a lot of journalists started to question whether Hersh had veered from investigative reporting into something else came in January 2011. That month, he spoke at Georgetown University's branch campus in Qatar, where he gave a bizarre and rambling address alleging that top military and special forces leaders "are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta ... many of them are members of Opus Dei." He suggested that they belong to a network first formed by former Vice President Dick Cheney that is steering US foreign policy toward an agenda of bringing Christianity to the Middle East.

They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.

... That’s the attitude. "We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals." That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.

As Blake Hounshell pointed out at the time, there is no evidence for any of this — many of the US military leaders that Hersh named are known as personally liberal and not outwardly religious, and in any case both Opus Dei and Knights of Malta are Catholic service organizations very different from the shadowy forces portrayed in Dan Brown novels.

The next year, in 2012, Hersh reported in the New Yorker that the Bush administration had secretly armed and funded an Iranian terrorist group known as the MEK in 2005. Two sources, neither with direct knowledge, told Hersh that American special forces had flown the Iranians all the way to Nevada to train at a base there. This detail was both spectacular and puzzling: the US has bases throughout the world, including several in the Middle East; why bring terrorists to Nevada?

To be clear, the story was never specifically discredited, but neither has it ever been confirmed by any subsequent investigations into Bush-era national security policy, of which there have been many. Hersh's story was greeted skeptically by many reporters and analysts. Hersh is still employed by the New Yorker, but he has not written an investigative piece for the magazine since.

The Syria chemical weapons story

Since the 2012 MEK story, Hersh has published his primary investigative work in the London Review of Books.

Two of these articles have focused at great length on the August 2013 chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, Syria, that killed hundreds of civilians. An extensive UN report, while barred from formally assigning responsibility, pointed out that the chemical weapons were delivered by munitions only used by the Syrian military, and had been fired from an area entirely controlled by Syrian military forces. Independent investigations by human rights groups pointed the finger at forces loyal to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. So did the US government.

Hersh, in his two articles, states that this is all false. In December 2013, he claimed that the Obama administration, seeking to justify its threat to strike Syria in retaliation, had willingly downplayed or ignored evidence that the chemical weapons had in fact been launched by the al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat al-Nusra. He cited a handful of anonymous (and, strangely, often retired) "officials" who warned of a "deliberate manipulation of intelligence" and compared Ghouta to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident used to justify the US escalation in Vietnam.

Then, in April 2014, Hersh came out with a different story: the government of Turkey, he stated, had orchestrated the Ghouta chemical weapons attack with Jabhat al-Nusra as a false flag operation. Assad was innocent. Turkey and the al-Qaeda branch had cooked up the plan, intending that the attack would be blamed on the Syrian government, thus leading the United States to attack Syria. (You will notice, again, Hersh's preoccupation with false flag operations.)

The accusation of a Turkish-jihadist conspiracy to lure the US into war with Syria seemed stunning — and, to many, outlandish. Could it be true? No independent investigation has yet confirmed it, and the story has been exhaustively and repeatedly debunked, including by Eliot Higgins and Dan Kaszeta, two respected analysts who focus on small arms and chemical weapons in Syria.

As time goes on, Hersh's stories seem to become more spectacular, more thinly sourced, and more difficult to square with reality as we know it. Perhaps one day they will all be vindicated: the Opus Dei special forces cabal, the terrorist training in Nevada, the American plan to nuke Iran, the Turkish false flag in Syria, even the American-Pakistani bin Laden ruse.

Maybe there really is a vast shadow world of complex and diabolical conspiracies, executed brilliantly by international networks of government masterminds. And maybe Hersh and his handful of anonymous former senior officials really are alone in glimpsing this world and its terrifying secrets. Or maybe there's a simpler explanation.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article at one point referenced the My Lai massacre and Ghouta chemical weapons attack as occurring in 1969 and 2014, respectively, when in fact those were the years when Hersh's stories on the incidents were published. Other references to those events in the story described their timing accurately. The article has been corrected.
The many problems with Seymour Hersh's Osama bin Laden conspiracy theory
by Max Fisher,


Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden 2013 HD (HBO Full Documentary)

YouTube app
Sep 28, 2013

02 May 2015

No free Chinese lunch by Irfan Husain

:THAT loud slurping you have been hearing this last fortnight is the sound of politicians, pundits and punters drooling over the prospect of $46 billion in Chinese investment coming to Pakistan.

Obviously, an impoverished country like ours can’t afford to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially if the horse in question is Chinese, and happens to be the only ride in town. ‘Game-changer’ is the expression most commonly being bandied about to describe the windfall. If we were to believe the TV anchors and their chat show guests, it’s as though we had hit the jackpot, and could all retire to Dubai.

For a dose of reality, just look what has happened in (and to) Sri Lanka with its spate of Chinese deals. The new government of Presi­dent Sirisena is struggling to cope with the Chinese-financed and built projects it has inherited from the Rajapaksa administration.

The most contentious of these is the Colombo Port City with an investment of $1.35bn coming from the China Communi­cations Construction Company, a huge government-controlled entity. This ambitious project — halted since the new government came to power earlier this year — is spread over 575 acres, part of which is to be reclaimed from the sea off Colombo’s shore.

Aimed at developing residential, entertainment and business spaces and facilities, the venture was designed to make Colombo a popular destination for tourists as well as a vehicle for investment in real estate. The problem is that the sponsors took many short cuts, ignoring important environmental requirements. Now if Sri Lanka cancels the deal, it stands to lose millions of dollars in penalties.

Several other public-sector projects funded and built by the Chinese are now lying virtually abandoned. Hambontota Port in the south is a case study in how to invest in useless infrastructure projects. When the new port was declared open about four years ago, a huge boulder was discovered in the channel that made navigation impossible. This obstruction was dynamited over months, but even now, it took a government directive to force car-carrying ships to dock there. Cars then have to be transported 250km to Colombo by road.

Who said China has got to where it is by handing out freebies?
Other Chinese-financed projects in the area include an international airport and a cricket stadium. Both are unused. A huge conference centre, financed by South Korea, is virtually derelict. The major users of the motorway around Hambantota are water buffaloes. One reason for all this ill-considered construction activity is that it happens to be in the ex-president’s constituency.

But to his credit, Rajapaksa focused on road-building, and there is now an excellent network in place. However, the huge difference in construction cost has raised many questions about transparency, especially about roads built with Chinese funding and by Chinese contractors.

For instance, the Southern Expressway connecting Colombo to Galle, financed by the Asian Development Bank and Japan, cost $7 million per kilometre. By contrast, the Outer Circular Highway connecting the airport to the Galle Expressway, financed by a Chinese loan and awarded without competition to a Chinese firm, is going to cost $72m per kilometre.

Of course, no two highways are identical and construction costs will vary depending on the soil conditions as well as the quality. But in an article in Colombo’s Sunday Times, Professor Kumarage, an experienced civil engineer, writing about these projects, informs us that:

“The common denominator of all these projects is that they were funded with Chinese borrowings and contracts have all been awarded in 2014 without calling for competitive bids. The loss arising from these four projects is estimated at 200 billion rupees [around $1.5bn].”

Fortunately, the $30bn dollar Chinese investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not in the shape of loans as the project is designed for China’s benefit. By connecting Gwadar Port to western China, it will save millions every year in transport costs. It is not clear, however, if we will charge the Chinese transit fees for trucks and trains carrying their goods across our territory as we have been charging Nato.

The remaining $16bn are intended for the power sector in solar, wind and coal-fired projects whose total output will be 10,400MW, a welcome addition to our present installed capa­city. However, this investment is subject to a 20pc matching investment from the private sector in Pakistan. But given the favourable conditions written into this tranche, I can see Pakistani businessmen queuing up to invest.

Consider: there is a guaranteed internal rate of return (IRR) of 18pc, and this is pegged to the dollar. So if the greenback is trading for Rs110 a couple of years down the road, we will be paying an extra 10pc in rupees. And presumably, Chinese contractors will be appointed without competition, so much of the investment will be recovered early if the contracts are front-loaded.

But hey, who said China has got to where it is by handing out freebies?

No free Chinese lunch
by Irfan Husain,

چینی لنچ فری نہیں ہوگا!
گزشتہ دوہفتوںسے آپ سیاست دانوں ، سیاسی پنڈتوں اورمنصوبہ سازوں کو مزے سے چائے یا کسی اور مشروب کی چسکیاں لیتے ہوئے چینی سرمایہ کاری کی مد میں پاکستان آنے والے چھیالیس بلین ڈالر مالیت کے منصوبوں کے دل خوش کن تصور سے جی بہلاتے دیکھ رہے ہوں گے۔ پسندیدہ مشروب سامنے میز پر رکھ کر نیم وا آنکھوں سے سنہرے تصورات کی دنیا میں غوطہ لگانے میں کوئی حرج نہیں اور پھر پاکستان جیسے غریب ممالک تحفے میں ملنے والے گھوڑے کے دانت نہیں دیکھتے( انگریزی محاورے کے مطابق) اور اگر وہ مذکورہ گھوڑا چینی ہو اور اس کے سوا کوئی اور سواری بھی میسر آنے کا امکان نہ ہو تو پھر گھوڑے کے نقص کون تلاش کرسکتا ہے۔ دنیا کے ہمارے حصے میں زبانِ زدِ خاص و عام ایک ہی اصطلاح ہے۔۔۔''گیم چینجر‘‘، گویا اس سرمایہ کاری نے ہمارے لیے خوش بختی کے دروازے وا کر دیے۔ اگر ٹی وی کے پُرجوش اینکرز اور مزید پُرجوش مہمانوں کی چہکار سنیں تو لگتا ہے کہ ہم راتوں رات دولت میں کھیلنے لگے ہیں، چنانچہ ہمیں سب کام کاج چھوڑ کر دوبئی سدھارنا چاہیے تاکہ اس بے پناہ دولت کو کہیں تو خرچ کیا جاسکے۔
التباسات کی سنہری سرزمین اتنی خوشنما ہے کہ حقیقت کی سنگلاخ دنیا میں کھلنے والی کھڑکی بند ہی رہنے دیں‘ مبادا مخمل میں ٹاٹ کا پیوند لگانے کا مرتکب قرار پائوں، لیکن سری لنکا کے حالات پر ایک نگاہ ڈالنا ہمیں بہت کچھ سمجھا سکتا ہے۔صدر سری سیناکی قیادت میں اس کی نئی حکومت چینی سرمایہ کاری سے وجود میں آنے والے میگا پروجیکٹس، جو سابق صدر راجا پاکسی کے دور میں بنے، سے لگنے والے گھائو کو سہارنے کی کوشش میں ہے۔ ان منصوبوں میں سب سے متنازع 1.35 بلین ڈالر سے بننے والی کولمبو سٹی پورٹ ہے ۔اس کا ٹھیکہ ایک ایسی چینی کمپنی کے پاس ہے‘ جسے بڑی حد تک چینی حکومت ہی کنٹرول کرتی ہے۔ جب سے نئی حکومت نے اقتدار سنبھالا ہے، 575 ایکٹر پر محیط یہ عظیم منصوبہ التوا کا شکارہے۔ اس کے لیے زیادہ تر زمین سمند رسے حاصل کی جانی تھی۔رہائشی ، تفریحی اور کاروباری سہولیات رکھنے والے اس مقام کے بارے میں اندازہ لگایاگیا تھا کہ یہ دنیا بھر سے سیاحوں اورسرمایہ کاروں کو اپنی طرف کھینچے گا، لیکن مسئلہ یہ ہوا کہ سرمایہ کار نے جلد بازی کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے اس کے ماحول پر اثرات کا جائزہ لینے کی زحمت نہیں کی۔ اس منصوبے کے ماحولیاتی پہلو کو اب دیکھا جارہا ہے، تاہم مسئلہ یہ ہے کہ اگر سری لنکا اس موقع پر اس ڈیل کو منسو خ کرتا ہے تو اسے کئی ملین ڈالر جرمانہ ادا کرنا پڑے گا۔
اسی طرح پبلک سیکٹر میں بننے والے کئی ایک منصوبے ، جن پر چینی کمپنیوں نے سرمایہ کاری کی اور تعمیر بھی خود ہی کی، اب بے کار پڑے ہوئے ہیں۔ ان میں جنوب میں واقع Hambontota Port کا جائزہ لینا بے حد چشم کشاہوگا کہ بے کار انفراسٹرکچر میں کس طرح بھاری سرمایہ کاری کی جاتی ہے اور کس طرح کمپنیاں فائدہ اٹھاتی ہیں جبکہ میزبان ملک کو اس کا حتمی بوجھ اٹھانا پڑتا ہے۔ جب چار سال پہلے اس نئی بندرگاہ کو کھولنے کا اعلان کیا گیا تو اچانک پتہ چلا کہ آبی گزرگاہ میں پانی کے نیچے ایک بھاری چٹان ہے جس کی وجہ سے جہازوں کی آمدورفت ممکن نہیں۔ کئی ماہ کی کوششوں کے بعد اُس چٹان کو ڈائنامائیٹس لگا کر تباہ کردیا گیا لیکن ابھی بھی کوئی جہاز ادھر کا رخ نہیں کرتا۔ اس پر حکومت نے کاریں لانے والے جہازوں کو یہاں لنگر انداز ہونے پر مجبور کیا تاکہ اس کے فعال ہونے کا تاثر مل سکے۔ تاہم کاروں کو یہاں اتارنے کے بعد بذریعہ سڑک 250 کلومیٹر دور کولمبو لے جایا جاتا ہے۔ علاقے میں موجود دیگر چینی منصوبوں میں ایک انٹر نیشنل ایئرپورٹ اور ایک کرکٹ اسٹیڈیم دکھائی دیتے ہیں، تاہم یہ دونوں تاحال استعمال میں نہیں۔ جنوبی کوریا کے تعاون سے بننے والے ایک عظیم الشان کانفرنس سنٹر میں الوبولتے ہیں۔ Hambantota کے گرد بننے والی موٹر وے البتہ ویران نہیں ، اُس پربڑی تعداد میں کیچڑ میں لت پت بھینسیں مٹر گشت کرتی دکھائی دیتی ہیں ۔ ان کے گزرنے کے نشانات وہاں تادیر ثبت رہتے ہیں یہاں تک کہ بارش اُنہیں بہا کر لے جاتی ہے۔ اتنی دیر میں ایک اور غول وہاںسے گزرتا دکھائی دیتا ہے۔ یہاں اتنی مہنگی موٹر وے بنانے کی واحد وجہ یہ تھی کہ علاقہ سابق صدر کے حلقہ ٔ انتخاب میں آتا تھا۔ اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ سری لنکا کے سابق صدر کو سڑکیں بنانے کا جنون تھا۔ یقینا یہاں بہت شاندار سڑکیں تعمیر کی گئیں تاہم ماہرین کا کہنا ہے کہ بعض وجوہ (ہم پاکستانیوں کے لیے ان وجوہ کی تفہیم مشکل نہیں) کی بنا پران کی تعمیراتی لاگت بہت زیادہ ہے۔ ان میں زیادہ ترسڑکیں وہ ہیں جو چینی کمپنیوں اور ٹھیکیداروںنے تعمیر کیں۔۔۔مثال کے طور پرکولمبو کو گیل سے ملانے والی سادرن ایکسپریس پر ایشین ڈویلپمنٹ بینک اور جاپان نے سرمایہ کاری کی اور اس پر سات ملین ڈالر فی کلومیٹر لاگت آئی ۔ دوسری طرف گیل ایکسپریس پر چینی کمپنی نے سرمایہ کاری کی مگر یہاں فی کلومیٹر 72 ملین ڈالر لاگت آئی ہے۔ اہم بات یہ ہے کہ چینی کمپنی کو یہ ٹھیکہ بغیر کسی مسابقت کے مل گیا تھا۔ یقیناکوئی دو سڑکیں ایک جیسی نہیں ہوتیں اور ان کی تعمیر اور اخراجات بھی یکساں نہیںہوتے‘ تاہم کولمبو کے اخبار ''Sunday Times‘‘ میں شائع ہونے والے مضمون میں ایک تجربہ کار سول انجینئر ، پروفیسر کماراج ان منصوبوں کے بارے میں لکھتے ہیں۔۔۔''ان تمام منصوبوں میں قدر ِ مشترک یہ تھی کہ ان میں سرمایہ کاری چین نے کی اور ان کے ٹھیکے بھی چینی فرموں کو دیے گئے۔ ایسا کرتے ہوئے کوئی اشتہار دیا گیا نہ کسی کو مسابقت کی دعوت دی گئی۔ ان منصوبوںسے ہونے والا نقصان 1.5 بلین ڈالر کے قریب ہے۔ ‘‘
خوش قسمتی سے پاکستان میں ہونے والی مجوزہ چینی سرمایہ کاری میں تیس بلین ڈالر سرمایہ کاری قرضہ نہ ہوگی۔ یہ سرمایہ کاری پاک چین اقتصادی راہداری پر ہوگی؛ تاہم تاثر ہے کہ اس منصوبے کا پاکستان کی نسبت چین کو زیادہ فائدہ ہوگا۔ گوادر پورٹ کو مغربی چین کے ساتھ منسلک کرتے ہوئے چین ہر سال کئی ملین ڈالر کی بچت کرلے گا۔ ابھی یہ بات واضح نہیں کہ کیا ہم بھی چین کی طرف رواں دواں ٹرکوںسے کوئی فیس، جیسے ہم نیٹو ٹرکوںسے لیا کرتے تھے، وصول کریںگے یا نہیں؟باقی 16 بلین ڈالر توانائی پیدا کرنے والے شعبے پر خرچ ہوںگے۔ ان میں سولر، ونڈ اور کول پاور پروجیکٹس شامل ہیںجن سے 10,400 میگا واٹ بجلی پیدا ہونے کی توقع کی جارہی ہے۔ ہمیں اس پیش رفت کو خوش آمدید کہنا چاہیے کیونکہ ہمیں بجلی کی شدید قلت کا سامنا ہے؛ تاہم اس سرمایہ کاری کے لیے بیس فیصد سرمایہ کاری پاکستان کے نجی شعبے نے کرنی ہے۔یقینا منافع کی بھاری شرح دیکھتے ہوئے پاکستانی سرمایہ کار قطاریں باندھے سرمایہ کاری کرتے دکھائی دیں گے۔ لیکن ٹھہریں، واپسی کی شرح (IRR) اٹھارہ فیصد ہے اور یہ واپسی ڈالروںمیںہوگی۔ اس کامطلب ہے کہ چینی سرمایہ کاربہت جلد اپنی رقم واپس لے لیں گے۔ ویسے یہ کس نے کہا تھا کہ چینی لنچ فری ہوتا ہے؟
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25 April 2015

Freedom at risk ! آزادی خطرے میں ہے

One of the abiding myths of the last half of the 20th century was that democracy, combined with free trade, would lead to liberal societies and peace between nations.

The leading example of this notion was the United States. And indeed, in the 1950s and 1960s, it did seem to be the Promised Land. To the rest of us, Hollywood films depicted a nation where large cars and suburban homes were every American’s birthright.

During the Vietnam War, some of this image lost its gloss, but the American Dream continued to draw millions to the United States. The rest of the world was told that if we attained democracy and applied the capitalist model, we, too, could aspire to a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot.

And when the Soviet Union went into meltdown a quarter century ago, this was taken as the final victory of the American model over communism. History, as Francis Fukuyama famously announced, was dead. For a brief, euphoric moment, we thought the end of the Cold War would usher in an era of peace and prosperity.

Welcome, then, to the bloody new world of resurgent nationalism and religious extremism. Once suppressed by autocratic rulers allied to either of the two superpowers, these forces are now threatening to tear the world apart.

And yet there are more functioning democracies than ever before, and all of them are part of the global economy.

Take Russia as an example. Here we have a very popular, iron-fisted leader who has presided over a freewheeling capitalist system that has brought Russians an unprecedented level of prosperity. Granted, much of this was due to rising oil prices, and the Russian standard of living is now dropping with falling prices of oil. However, Putin remains personally popular, despite being as autocratic as ever.

Leaders with dictatorial tendencies continue to win elections.
Turkey provides us with another example of a democracy with a flourishing capitalist economy that is being increasingly run like an autocracy by its president, Recep Erdogan. Despite his growing despotic tendencies, Erdogan remains hugely popular, and continues to win elections with healthy majorities.

Finally, Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa is yet another example of an authoritarian ruler who spurns democratic values, and yet remains personally popular. Although he lost the last presidential election in January, this was due more to miscalculation and misplaced faith in his stars than a fall in his appeal.

A call for early polls encouraged the formation of a rare opposition alliance — allegedly backed by India — that defeated the president. But Rajapaksa remains popular with the majority Sinhalese voters, and managed to win 47pc of the popular vote despite the hatred he aroused among the Tamil and Muslim minorities. Now there is a real possibility of the ex-president bouncing back to power in the next general elections.

So how do we explain this popularity of leaders with dictatorial tendencies? Despite trampling over human rights and personal freedoms, they continue to win elections, and enjoy wide public approval. Could it be that their supporters want strong men to maintain order, even by using unconstitutional means? Another reason could be that the majority distrusts the educated, liberal elites who clamour for human rights.

John Grey, in an article published in Harper’s Magazine titled ‘Under Western Eyes’ writes: “That democracy can be a vehicle for tyranny was well understood by earlier generations of liberal thinkers. From Benjamin Constant, Alexis de Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill through to Isaiah Berlin, it was recognised that demo­­cracy does not necessarily protect individual free­doms…

“Legal and constitutional protections have little force when majorities are indifferent or hostile to liberal values… Most hu­­man beings, most of the time, care about other things more than they care about being free. Many will vote for an illiberal government if it promises security against hardship, protects a way of life to which they are attached, and denies freedom to people they hate.”

Now, of course, few liberals concede that in certain circumstances, democracy can be used as an instrument of oppression against certain sections of the population. In the United States, that flag bearer of democracy, we have seen individual rights steadily circumscribed by the Patriot Act. The fear of Islamic terrorism has been used since 9/11 to curtail liberties, and to impose draconian laws that would not be out of place in a police state.

In Turkey, a conservative Anatolian majority supports Erdogan as he chips away at secular laws, marginalising the Westernised elites who ruled Turkey for decades. If some heads have to be broken, and secular newspapers have to be shut down, so be it.

But secularism by itself is no guarantee of human rights, either. The worst atrocities of the last century occurred under Nazi and communist rule, both entirely secular ideologies. So clearly, there are no certainties, no magic wand to ensure our freedom. What is needed is constant vigilance and a strong resolve.

Freedom at risk
by Irfan Husain,

آزادی خطرے میں ہے!

بیسویںصدی کے دوسرے نصف میں جس تصور نے دنیا کو اپنی گرفت میں لے لیا وہ یہ تھا کہ جمہوریت اور اس کے ساتھ جڑی ہوئی آزاد تجارت لبرل معاشروں اور اقوام کے درمیان امن قائم کر دے گی۔ اس تصور کی اہم ترین مثال امریکہ تھی۔ اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ پچاس اور ساٹھ کی دہائی میں ایسا لگتا تھا کہ امریکہ ہی وہ مثالی دنیا ہے جس کے لیے ''Promised Land‘‘ کی اصطلاح استعمال کی گئی۔ باقی دنیا کے لیے ہالی وڈ فلموں نے امریکی سرزمین کے بارے میں ایسی منظر کشی کی جیسے بڑی بڑی گاڑیاںچلانا اور کھلے گھروں میں رہنا ہر امریکی شہری کا پیدائشی حق ہو‘ لیکن ویت نام جنگ کے دوران یہ چمک قدرے ماند پڑ گئی۔ امریکی ڈریم نے بیرونی دنیا کے لاکھوں افراد کے تصوارت پر گرفت جمائے رکھی اور وہ امریکہ کی طرف ہجرت کرتے دکھائی دیے۔ باقی دنیا کو بتایا گیا کہ اگر ہم بھی جمہوریت اور سرمایہ دارانہ نظام اپنا لیں تو ہر گیراج میں کار اور ہر پلیٹ میں چکن ہو گا۔ جب ربع صدی پہلے سوویت یونین کا شیرازہ بکھرا تو اسے کمیونزم پر امریکہ کی حتمی فتح قرار دیا گیا۔ فرانسس فیکویاما (Francis Fukuyama)... بیسویں صدی کا مشہور امریکی سیاسی مدبر... نے واشگاف انداز میں تاریخ کے اختتامی سفر کی نوید سنا دی تھی۔ خوشی اور جوش کے مختصر سے دورانیے میں ہم نے سوچا کہ سرد جنگ کے اختتام کے بعد امن اور خوشحالی کا نہ ختم ہونے والا دور شروع ہونے والا ہے‘ لیکن جب پردہ اٹھا تو نئی دنیا بڑھتی ہوئی قوم پرستی، مذہبی انتہا پسندی اور دہشت گردی کے کانٹوں سے لہولہان تھی۔ اس انتہا پسندی کو کبھی آمر حکمرانوں، جن کا جھکائو دو سپر پاورز (امریکہ یا سوویت یونین) میں کسی ایک کی طرف ہوتا تھا، نے دبا کر رکھا ہوا تھا‘ لیکن اُن کے منظر سے ہٹتے ہی یہ جن بوتل سے آزاد ہو گیا۔ اب یہ ایک آزاد کردہ خون آشام درندے کی طرح دنیا کو بے رحمی سے بھنبھوڑ رہا ہے۔ خدشہ ہے کہ اس کے پنجے دنیا کے حصے بخرے کر دیں گے۔ 
آج کی دنیا میں پہلے سے کہیں زیادہ فعال جمہوریتیں ہیں اور یہ سب کی سب عالمی معیشت کا حصہ ہیں۔ روس کی مثال لے لیں۔ اس کے آہنی رہنما، مسٹر پیوٹن، نے فری مارکیٹ اور سرمایہ دارانہ نظام کو اپنا کر روسیوں کو غیر معمولی خوشحالی سے مستفید کیا‘ اگرچہ اس میں تیل کی بڑھتی ہوئی قیمت کا بھی ہاتھ تھا اور آج کل تیل کی قیمت کم ہونے کی وجہ سے روسیوں کو پھر مشکلات کا سامنا ہے، لیکن سخت گیر آمر ہونے کے باوجود پیوٹن ابھی تک ایک مقبول رہنما ہیں۔ جمہوریت کی دوسری مثال ترکی ہے‘ جو فروغ پاتی ہوئی آزاد معیشت رکھتا ہے؛ تاہم اس پر ایک آمرانہ مزاج کے صدر، مسٹر اردوان، کی حکومت ہے۔ آمرانہ رویوں کے باوجود وہ ملک میں بہت مقبول ہیں اور طویل عرصے سے انتخابات میں بھاری کامیابی حاصل کر رہے ہیں۔ 
سری لنکا کے مہندا راجا پاکسی ایک اور مثال ہیں‘ جنہوں نے جمہوری قدروں کو بالائے طاق رکھتے ہوئے آمرانہ طرز حکومت اختیار کیا اور بہت مقبول ہوئے۔ اگرچہ وہ گزشتہ انتخابات میں شکست سے دوچار ہوئے، لیکن اس شکست میں ان کی طرف سے اندازے کی غلطی، ستاروں پر ضرورت سے زیادہ بھروسہ اور کچھ غیر ضروری اعتماد کا عمل دخل تھا۔ ان کی مقبولیت اپنی جگہ پر برقرار ہے۔ دراصل اُنہوں نے قبل از وقت انتخابات کا اعلان کر دیا اور ان کے خلاف بھارتی پشت پناہی سے بننے والا اتحاد غیر معمولی طور پر فعال ہو گیا، اس سے سری لنکن صدر کو شکست سے دوچار ہونا پڑا۔ اس کے باوجود راجا پاکسی سنہالی آبادی میں بہت مقبول ہیں۔ تامل اور مسلمان اقلیتوں نے ان کے مخالف امیدواروں کو ووٹ دیے لیکن راجا پاکسی مقبول ووٹ کا 47 فیصد حاصل کرنے میں کامیاب رہے۔ اگلے عام انتخابات میں سابق صدر کے پاس دوبارہ اقتدار حاصل کرنے کا موقع ہے۔ 
اب سوال پیدا ہوتا ہے کہ ان آمرانہ رویوں کے حامل رہنمائوں کی مقبولیت کی کس طرح وضاحت کی جائے؟ انسانی حقوق اور شخصی آزادی کی پامالی کے باوجود وہ بدستور انتخابات میںکامیابی حاصل کرتے رہے ہیں۔ کہیں ایسا تو نہیں کہ ان کے ووٹرز اقتدار پر کسی طاقتور شخص کو دیکھنا چاہتے تھے جو امن و امان قائم کرے‘ چاہے اس کے لیے غیر آئینی طریقے ہی کیوں نہ استعمال کرنا پڑیں؟ ایک اور وجہ یہ ہے کہ عوام کی اکثریت تعلیم یافتہ، لبرل اور انسانی حقوق کے علم برداروں کو دل سے پسند نہیں کرتی۔ ''ہارپرز میگزین‘‘ میں شائع ہونے والے اپنے مضمون، ''Under Western Eyes‘‘ میں جان گرے لکھتے ہیں: ''ابتدائی نسل کے لبرل مفکرین کا خیال تھا کہ جمہوریت بھی جبر کا ہی ایک ذریعہ ہو سکتی ہے۔ بنجمن کونسٹنٹ (Benjamin Constant) سے لے کر الیکسز ڈی ٹوکیویل (Alexis de Tocqueville)اور جان سٹیورٹ ملز سے لے کر ایسائیہ برلن (Isaiah Berlin) تک، سب مفکرین کا خیال تھا کہ ضروری نہیں کہ جمہوریت شخصی آزادی کا تحفظ کرے۔ جب معاشرے کے اکثریتی دھڑے لبرل اقدار کے خلاف ہو جائیں یا اُنہیں ان سے کوئی سروکار نہ رہے تو آئینی اور قانونی تحفظ کے پاس کوئی طاقت نہیں رہتی۔ زیادہ تر انسان، اکثر اوقات آزادی سے زیادہ دیگر چیزوں کی پروا کرتے ہیں۔ اگر کوئی آمر بھی ان چیزوں کی فراہمی کا وعدہ کرے، جان و مال کو تحفظ دے تو لوگ اُسے ووٹ دیں گے۔ ایسا کرتے ہوئے وہ اپنی آزادی کو ترجیح نہیں دیں گے۔ ‘‘
ہو سکتا ہے کہ کچھ لبرل افراد یہ تسلیم کر لیں کہ مخصوص طبقوں کے خلاف مخصوص حالات میں جمہوریت کو جبر کے آلے کے طور پر بھی استعمال کیا جا سکتا ہے۔ امریکہ میں جمہوریت کے علمبرداروں نے Patriot Act بنا کر شخصی حقوق کو معطل کر دیا۔ نائن الیون کے بعد سے اسلامی انتہا پسندی کا ہوّا کھڑا کر کے شہری آزادیوں کو سلب کیا گیا اور ایسے سخت قوانین بنائے گئے جن کا تصور صرف ایک پولیس سٹیٹ میں ہی کیا جا سکتا ہے۔ ترکی میں اناطولیہ کا ایک قدامت پسند باشندہ مسٹر اردوان کی اس لیے حمایت کرتا ہے کہ انہوں نے سیکولر قوانین کا خاتمہ کرتے ہوئے مغربی ذہنیت رکھنے والی اُس اشرافیہ کو سائیڈ لائن کر دیا‘ جو کئی عشروں سے ترکی پر حکومت کر رہی تھی۔ سیکولر اخبار نہایت صفائی سے بند کر دیے گئے؛ یہ الگ بات ہے کہ سیکولرازم بھی انسانی حقوق کی مطلق ضمانت نہیں دیتا۔ گزشتہ صدی کا بدترین تشدد نازی اور کمیونسٹ حکومتوں کی طرف سے دیکھنے میں آیا اور یہ دونوں نظریات کے اعتبار سے سیکولر تھیں؛ چنانچہ اس وقت شخصی آزادی کی ضمانت دینے والی کوئی جادو کی چھڑی موجود نہیں۔ ہمیں اس کا تحفظ کرنے کے لیے مضبوط عزم اور پختہ ارادے کی ضرورت ہے۔

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