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Pashtun lawmakers and PTM leaders released after months in prison for a crime they had not committed

 

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On the left side of the above image we see Ali Wazir, and Mohsin Dawar on the right.

Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, the elected representatives of ethnic Pashtuns from Pakistan’s tribal areas and two of the central leaders of the rights-based Pashtun Tahafuz Movement or PTM, were released after four months from Haripur Prison on bail yesterday. The charges of terrorism against the two lawmakers were unsubstantiated and could not be proven in the court.  

During the four months in prison, the lawmakers were treated like terrorists. In a tweet, Mr. Dawar said, “From May to Sep we were kept first at Peshawar jail & then at Haripur. During this transition the State decided to further increase its pressure as in Haripur we were kept in cells marked for terrorists. There was no mobility in jail, we had no access to news & other facilities.”

Mr. Dawar also said, “The most hurtful in all of this was the allegation of violence against us preachers of non-violence. But all of this will not deter us from our goal, which is to win peace & equal rights for our ppl & it will also not deter us from our path, which is the path of non-violence.”

In late May 2019, the State’s security forces arrested Ali Wazir, along with eight other PTM supporters for “assaulting” soldiers at a security checkpoint. Mohsin Dawar surrendered himself to the authorities after he was hounded in the area. Mr. Dawar, in a video message, said that he will surrender because he did not want to put the lives of those who protected him, in danger. 

The truth according to PTM leaders was that on May 26, 2019, during an attempt to provoke PTM on violence in the Kharqamar area of North Waziristan, the soldiers opened fire on unarmed PTM protestors, leaving 13 dead and many injured. The incident came to be known as the Kharqamar Massacre.

Ali and Mohsin are the two outspoken critics of Pakistani military establishment’s deadly policies in the Pashtun populated tribal areas, which have destroyed the region’s peace. In an essay, Why Pashtuns in Pakistan are Rising Upin April this year in The Washington Post, Mr. Dawar wrote:

“The residents of North Waziristan, whom I have represented in Parliament since July 2018, are perhaps the worst victims of the games that our military plays. But the more than 200 million Pakistani citizens stand helplessly by as our democracy, Parliament, judiciary and media outlets are manipulated by a powerful security establishment.”

He further said that the security establishment’s “policy of supporting militants and conducting proxy wars over the past four decades has resulted in death, destruction and economic disaster for Pakistan.”

Ali Wazir in an article, What Does the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement Want?, in The Diplomat wrote, “Amid the volcano of violence, thousands of civilians have disappeared, and thousands have fallen victim to extrajudicial killings. We are profiled as suspected terrorists across the country, face humiliation at security check posts, and our innocent civilians face violence during security sweeps and operations. As the world’s largest tribal society, the Pashtuns are known for their hospitality, commitment, and valor, yet we were falsely reduced to terrorist sympathizers despite the fact that we are their worst victims.”

In the same article, Ali wrote, “I am aware that since the beginning of the PTM’s campaign, our criticism is blunt and direct. We name names and are not shy to address powers that the rest of society, the media, and politicians are too scared to identify, let alone criticize.”

Afraid of the two leaders’ ability to speak truth to power and their capacity to mobilize their people, the State concocted a conspiracy to put them behind bars, to slow down the movement’s activity and eventually quell it. Pakistan’s powerful security establishment, including its notorious secret service, has used fear, intimidation, kidnapping and arbitrary arrests to discourage Pashtun rights activists from supporting PTM. 

Although the State’s oppression has made it difficult for PTM to mobilize and speak freely, it has certainly not altered the spirit of its leadership. After release, both Ali and Mohsin have said that their struggle for the equal rights of Pashtuns will continue undeterred.

In a tweet, the lawmaker Mr. Dawar said, “Salam, we are back with same zeal and enthusiasm, the tragedy of #KharQamarMassacre will be known in history as an example of a State’s brutal response to peaceful protest. In its aftermath, this State piled up even more violations of human rights & decency in its treatment of Ali & myself.”

He also said, “We are willing to lay our lives for our people, jails are a very small price…”

 

 

On the absurdity of being

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Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

One moment, there is excitement. One feels elated and on top of the world. Full of passion, energy and hope. But then a single text message or a call about the death or tragedy of close someone changes everything. It blows up one’s hope and elation and creates fear and despair in the mind, at least for a while.

In such moments, one wonders why is life so absurd and fickle. Why can’t one refuse to suffer? Why is it that one can’t be in grief on their terms? Where is free will or one’s agency to erect a wall of safety against things that hurt us emotionally? One can understand that there are biological, physiological or psychological reasons for emotional dread but these explanations don’t justify its very existence.

The questions that haunt the mind the most in moments of extreme distress is why is suffering necessary. Why is it an essential condition for one’s inner peace and happiness, as most claim it to be? They give the examples of the opposites of day and night, hot and cold and so on, to show that just as these pairs of opposites are necessary for each other’s existence, so are happiness or peace and suffering.

I am not a scientist and hence ignorant about the natural makeup and processes of the phenomena of day and night and other pairs of opposites as to why one can not exist without the other. But that still does not prevent one from questioning the teleological logic of suffering. In other words, what purpose does it serve?

Sages across the millennia have pondered on this existential dread and have offered thoughts, but pain or suffering’s teleology remains a mystery. However, a deeper reflection on suffering has brought to the surface ideas that relieve many from its imperiousness. Epicurus (341-270 BC), the Greek philosopher, said, “Pain is neither unbearable nor unending, as long as you keep in mind its limits and don’t magnify them in your imagination.”

Marcus Aurelius (121-80), the Roman emperor and philosopher, said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

No one is an exception to the experience of pain and grief. For the psychologically normal being, it may be less severe than for the one who is oversensitive/over-empathetic about their own and the pains of others. The nature of being is essentially such that each one of us, like Sisyphus in Greek mythology, have a boulder of grief and pain to roll up a hill. Some have to, sadly, do it more frequently than others. This inherent lack of justice and inequality is itself absurd.

However, lucky is the one who has a lighter boulder. But, given the absurdity of being, lucky is also the one who gets a heavier boulder to roll up, for if they succeed in doing so, rolling the lighter ones becomes a routine. In the end, life, in moments of distress, is really about how well one trains their mind to deal with suffering, as it is intrinsic to the unreasonable nature of being.

There is no escape from experiencing grief and pain, no matter how much one wishes. Philosophers and psychologists advise one possible escape is in accepting it and becoming one with it. In other words, letting the grief and pain be. Fighting it, they guide, only makes it worse. Pain comes and goes on its time, and while it does all one can do in such a moment is hope and trust that they will be ok.

Unlike suffering, hope is reasonable, because it is the hope of a better tomorrow that we survive a difficult today. As the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel in Homo Viator said, “I am inclined to believe that hope is for the soul what breathing is for the living organism.”

 

Notes from the train station

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I have been to the New Brunswick train station in New Jersey State, where I live, hundreds of times in the past four years. For the past three years, I have boarded the train from here to work and school at least twice a week. During this time, it never occurred to me to sit and observe the place, people and their activities while waiting for the train, although I am generally curious about things around me.

Today I went there and sat on a bench at a distance from people in the waiting room. I wanted to observe the waiting behaviors of the people. As I sat down and began to observe, I thought about my behavior, as to why I sat where I did— aloof and distanced. But soon I shifted my attention towards the people and the big room, which had seven benches— one of which was very long. It had two huge round pendant lights hanging from a high ceiling, six ventilators and eight windows— one of the windows was of giant size. The room had two doors exiting towards the station’s platform. It had a stairway for exiting the station.

Six people were waiting for the train when I entered the waiting room. Four of them were sitting at quite a distance from each other. The remaining two were sitting relatively close. Within a minute or two, the train arrived and the room emptied. Then within the next two to three minutes after the train left, more people began to come into the room. Again, they sat at a distance from each other. This time a cop also came in. He stood close to one of the corners in front of the bathroom.

As I was observing the room, I felt being observed by the cop. As a brown man with a thick black beard and a mix of Afghan, Arab and Iranian facial features (although I am ethnically Afghan/Pashtun), I feel seen with suspicion every time I face a white cop. Then another train arrived and people left the room. Again, more people arrived. This time, two more cops showed up with the crowd into the room. Usually, these cops wait in Dunkin Donuts on the floor below the waiting room. While waiting there, they chat, drink coffee and eat donuts. As many New Jersyians would agree, Dunkin Donuts is a favorite spot for cops in the State. They seem to spend more time in coffee shops than on duty outside.

To my left, a man and a woman, most probably a couple, were leaning against one of the windows. They were quiet and expressionless for the most part except when the man spoke over the phone for a few minutes. In the corner to my left, a black woman seemed lost in her thoughts as her gaze was fixated on the plain wall and at the same time engaged in nose-picking for about a minute. The rest of the people, the young and the aged, were busy on their phones— listening to music or surfing the Internet. At one point, eight people including two cops, out of fourteen people, were busy on their phones. Others were quiet. The only people talking were the three cops and the two aged white women sitting side by side.

As the number of people changed with the trains arriving and leaving, at one point, there were 27 people in the waiting room. About ten of them were white and the rest were people of color. To my right, a man in about his forties sat and began to read the book, Consciousness and the Absolute, as I spotted the name on the front cover. Out of curiosity later, I searched the book and found that it is written by Nisargadatta Maharaj. Nisargadatta “was a Hindu guru of nondualism, belonging to the Inchagiri Sampradaya, a lineage of teachers from the Navnath Sampradaya and Lingayat Shaivism.” The man with the book was the only one in the room, who was reading. Then the next train came. The room emptied again. The bookman left. And I left too.

While exiting the station and strolling the streets of the city, I thought the most remarkable and strange thing about my observation was that people rarely sat close to others and rarely did they talk to each other. They hardly acknowledged the presence of others, let alone looking at them and saying ‘hi’ to them. Most people kept to themselves. There was an aura of coldness and lack of human warmth. I feel behavior such as this generates certain cultural expectations of “appropriateness.” This socially constructed appropriateness, in turn, dictates the interactions of people in public spaces like waiting rooms.

 

P.S. This observation is part of an assignment I completed for an online Qualitative Methods course with the University of Amsterdam. The assignment was to find and describe a place where people are waiting (e.g. in queues at stores, at public transport stations etc.). I thought it would be nice to share my observation with readers here. 

Against Pakistan’s fake, selective moral outrage  

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Image by Amber Clay from Pixabay

The Modi government’s recent revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir caused a moral uproar in Pakistan. Both the government and the people felt outraged at the revocation and Indian government’s continued atrocities against Kashmiris.

No one with a sane mind and a little empathy in their heart would deny that condemning India’s atrocities in Kashmir is the right thing to do, morally.

However, when moral outrage becomes selective, such as outrage over atrocities in Kashmir and deafening silence over egregious crimes against minorities inside the country, it should also be condemned.

Why? What is wrong with selective moral outrage? Spencer Case, Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado Boulder, says, “To be selectively outraged is to be guilty – of irrationality at least, and probably of moral hypocrisy as well.”

A counterargument to this claim, as Case explains, is that a moral human being, especially a psychologically normal human being, can not be evenly morally outraged in a world so full of outrages.

This is true, as our moral outrage and empathy have limitations, but there is also a counterargument to this view the support for which is found in theology and moral philosophy.

In Islam, your neighbor and your community have the utmost right over your solidarity and support. For example, Zakat (obligatory alms-giving) should be given to the deserving in the community first. Once this responsibility is fulfilled, then one can support the economically deserving elsewhere.

Similarly, if the members of your own community or nation are in some kind of suffering, they are the first deserving of your solidarity. The rest of the people come later. In moral philosophy too, you have the utmost responsibility and solidarity to show with those who are the closest to you geographically and in other ways.

Again, you can counterargue that moral outrage at the fate of others and your own are not morally competing interests. That is true. They are not and should not be, but only if you have your responsibility to those in need and close to you fulfilled first.

In Pakistan, the ethnic and religious minorities have suffered for decades, but the government and the majority of the people have been silent.

Religious minorities such as the Hindus, Christians, Ahmedis and Shia Muslims have been persecuted by Islamists for decades, but one sees from little to no moral outrage in the country.

Similarly, ethnic minorities such as the Baloch, Pashtuns and Mohajirs have been persecuted by the state, yet again the moral outrage at the atrocious acts from the successive elected governments and the people is from little to non-existent.

Moreover, elected parliamentarians are in jail. Thousands of activists are missing and as many killed extra-judicially. A large number of bodies of political activists have been found in mass graves.

There have been curfews in Waziristan. When people speak about their rights, they are silenced, detained and even killed. The state’s secret service harasses and surveils activists even outside the country.

The Baloch have been calling on the UN for help for decades. The Pashtuns after the emergence of the rights-based Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement and state repression, marched on UNO in Geneva for their constitutional rights last month.

Most people are silent on these atrocities against their own people but outraged against India’s atrocities in Kashmir. This is a fake and selective moral outrage. I am enraged at this selective outrage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Nietzsche thought about the State?

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

What is the state? Why do we obey it? Should we obey even when it oppresses us? And what can we do for our freedom against its tyranny? These questions come to mind every time I see the appalling treatment of governments of their subjects. In quest for insights, I have read extensively, but nothing has struck me so profoundly as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883).

The book covers a multitude of themes but in one of the sections, “Of the New Idol” in Part I, Nietzsche talks about the state: “The state? What is that? Well then! Now open your ears, for now I shall speak to you of the death of peoples.” He says, “State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it tells lies too; and this lie crawls out of its mouth: “I, the state, am the people.”

“Zarathustra as character in the treatise,” Richard Falk notes, “is presented as a prophetic voice of Nietzsche, the person who stands outside and in solitude so as to understand better what is taking place inside, a voice that is shrill with anger, impassioned by conviction, and dedicated to truth-telling, however heretical.” Falk contends that it is important to remember that “Nietzsche was experiencing a young German state that was seeking unity by promoting an intense cult of nationalism that would eventuate in self-destructive major wars twice in the 20th century.”

In Nietzsche and the State, David Gordon says that although Nietzsche was in politics far from an authoritarian, in his youth he supported the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, whose militaristic politics he then rejected in later years. Most probably, it was the political situation of the time that influenced Nietzsche to write one of his most famous and great works.

Nietzsche’s depiction fits the character of all modern states but of some more so than others. While reading “Of the New Idol”, I kept thinking about my country of origin, Pakistan, and what it has been doing to its people, particularly the oppressed groups. For far too long, innocent people have gotten killed in bomb blasts, target killing and numerous other mysterious ways. Many have gone and keep going missing for raising their voice against this cruelty.

However, rarely has the state caught these criminals and terrorists. The perpetrators turn out either suicide bombers found in shreds on blast sites or “unknown” assailants, who are so adept at escaping that the entire security machinery is “clueless” as to where they come from and where they go back in hiding. The state does not feel responsible at all for the safety of the people.

But, for the thinking man of this merciless polity, these are all cold lies, as Nietzsche would put. Where it serves its interest, the state would find law breakers out from the bowels of cities and the highs of mountains. But when upholding the law goes against the state’s interest, it would turn a blind eye and look the other way.

In Pakistan, the conscience-stricken citizens among all the many obedient subjects, who have challenged the state, are silenced, harassed, detained and even killed. These great souls have, in Falk’s words, risked “a life-threatening response by challenging the authority of the repressive regime in power.” No one listens to them because the monster roars, “On earth, there is nothing greater than I: the ordering finger of God am I.”

The cold monster whispers dark lies about its god-ness and greatness to all and sundry. The ways in which technology has facilitated the spread of the propaganda of the modern state would be unthinkable for Nietzsche, but the good news is that it has also almost equally empowered the people. The passage maintains that this cold monster would surround itself with “heroes and honorable men” and “bask in the sunshine of good consciences.”

These are usually normal men with normal roles as fathers, brothers and uncles in the family, but when it comes to the relation between the people and the state, they become uncontrollable and evil monsters. Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Bashar al-Assad and others have shown this cold monstrosity. I have wondered how are these men capable of such extraordinary coldness. Sometimes, the answer is nationalism. Sometimes power. Or greed, sociopathy, pleasure and wealth. Or a combination of all of the above.

Nietzsche maintains that this new idol will give you everything if you worship it. In this way, “It buys the splendor of your virtues and the look of your proud eyes. It would use you as a bait for the all-too-many.” But if you oppose it, even for the most righteous of reasons, you risk irking the monster, hence inviting its ire upon yourself. That is why most subjects choose complacent ignorance over conscientious dissidence. But if pushed too hard, the subjects, like in Tunisia and elsewhere, do rise to challenge the coldest of all cold monsters’ authority. In Pakistan, the 26-year old Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, challenged Pakistan’s mighty army at the beginning of last year.

Surprisingly, 139 years after publishing his book, Nietzsche’s words are relevant and invigorating even today. Most states, even liberal democracies like the United States, violate the rights of their citizens. African Americans are routinely killed by the police and incarceration rates are the highest in their community. Myanmar, India, Israel, Turkey, and on and one, most states violate the rights and dignity of their people.

What should be done when the state violates its citizens’ rights but demand compliance? This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions that some of the greatest thinkers/philosophers of all time have tried to explore. Anarchist philosophers reject unjust hierarchies of power in favor of ” self-managedself-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions.” Philosophical anarchism is the view that citizens don’t have obligation to obey the law, although they have good reasons to comply with it. Philosophical anarchists believe that the state lacks moral legitimacy: However, they don’t advocate violence to eliminate it.

Liberal philosophers believe “that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.”  The English-born American political activist and philosopher Thomas Paine expressed in Common Sense (1776), “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one…”

According to liberals, the solution is to devise a rules-based system that not only gives government the power necessary to protect individual liberty, but also prevents those who govern from abusing that power. Libertarians, like liberals, strongly value the protections of individual freedoms. But unlike liberals, “Libertarians usually see the kind of large-scale, coercive wealth redistribution in which contemporary welfare states engage as involving unjustified coercion.” In other words, the libertarians advocate the minimalist state.

To conclude, one should listen carefully to Nietzsche for his depiction of the nature of the state helps us understand the gross violations of rights by almost all states in varying degrees. But one should also remember that without the state, the regulation of human behaviour and the protection of individual rights would remain a pressing challenge for society. Moreover, would a stateless society or societies, as some anarchists advocate, be ever realizable? It is especially difficult to imagine so, as the modern state has brought most tribal and indigenous communities in its fold.

In the end, in Falk’s words, “To remove the blindfold, and see the state as the coldest of monsters is a necessary wakeup call for which we should thank Nietzsche for, even now, 139 years after Zarathustra was published. And yet we also need to resist the temptation to fall into a deeper sleep by adopting a posture of unrealizable and unacceptable negation of this strange political creature called the state. In the end, the state is not a monster, but a work in progress.”

 

 

Empathy: When is it a force of good and when not?

 

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Yesterday, a friend and I talked about the violence against peaceful protestors in Sudan. She said she can’t believe what is happening to innocent people. What is worse, she said, is no one cares about them. No one is helping.

I said I share your sentiments. But the problem is not that no one cares; it is just that such conflicts are quite complex. Yemen, Syria, Libya and other cases are before our eyes. Intervention or no intervention. People have been dying.

She said but why can’t we do something. Why can’t we be with them, so they don’t feel alone and scared? Why can’t we share their fear and pain, she said.

Again, I said I share your kind thoughts. But one also has to feel mentally and emotionally safe themselves to be able to help others.

It is sad that they are trapped but we can’t do much if we get trapped with them. One can’t help their crying child by starting crying with them. One has to feel ok and take action.

I said I love how empathetic you are but you need to separate emotional empathy from cognitive empathy

The Yale psychologist, Paul Bloom says emotional empathy means feeling the pain and suffering of people. Emotional empathy does not always help and it is not healthy. In work of peace or in life in general, one needs to make sure first they are ok.

Cognitive empathy, he says, refers to understanding other people’s problems and empathizing with them. Cognitive empathy is mentally appreciating the pain of other people and not necessarily feeling their pain emotionally.

Bloom says, another limitation of empathy is that we don’t empathize with strangers as much as we do with people we know. Therefore, individual actions and governments’ policies should base on rational calculation rather than purely on empathy.

As an activist, I follow the news of conflict in my country, Pakistan, and across the world closely. The events in the past year in Pakistan and in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Sudan affected me emotionally.

At one point, I could not watch the videos of Pakistani security forces’ oppression of the protestors of the rights-based Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement or the PTM.

This was one reason why I took a break for four months from social media. I have read and have realized that it is ok to share the pain of fellow human beings. But it is not necessary to feel the way other people feel.

I agree with Bloom that emotional empathy is not good for one’s health. Hope this helps the readers and activists in the field.

 

 

America is unlikely to pressure the Pakistan Army, but PTM should knock on all doors for justice 

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Since the onset of the rights-based Pashtun Protection Movement or PTM in February last year in Pakistan, its supporters have hopes from America to pressure the Pakistan military establishment to accept their demands. The PTM is a nonviolent movement that is demanding justice for war crimes committed against Pakistan’s largest ethnic minority— Pashtuns. The PTM supporters have protested in various cities of the U.S., including in front of the White House in the federal capital, Washington DC. The Trump administration has not issued a single condemnatory statement on the issue. From such a lack of interest, it is clear that the Americans are not interested in the Pashtun problem in Pakistan. There are a number of possible reasons. Some are general. Others are specific to PTM and Pakistan.

Generally, America has a negative historical track record of supporting regressive forces over democratic forces in numerous parts of the world. In the Spanish–American War in 1898, America supported the “independence” of Cuba and the Philippines against Spanish imperialism, but soon after the Spanish withdrawal it dominated the governments and peoples in these countries. When the local people resisted, America went to war against them. The Philippines did not become independent until 1946, almost half a century after dethroning the Spanish Empire with America’s help in 1898. America’s imperial project goes all the way back to the subjugation of the Natives in first few decades of the 19th century, the occupation of Hawaii in 1898 and subsequent exploits in Latin America and in the Middle East in the 20th century.

More recently, in 1986, the United States drew up sanctions on the white-dominated apartheid regime of South Africa, ending constraints from international sanctions on state repression of the anti-apartheid movement. Around the same time, the Reagan administration and Pentagon supported President Marcos of Philippines despite his government’s indiscriminate repression of the democratic opposition. It was because Marcos was America’s ally against Communism in the Philippines. However, Reagan withdrew his support of Marcos when the military-backed civilian uprising against Marcos transpired. There was also a growing wedge between the State Department and Congress and the Reagan administration and Pentagon. For details on the two cases, you can read chapter two of Kurt Schock’s book, Unarmed Insurrection: People Power Movements in Nondemocracies.

There are other cases of America’s support to dictators against democrats, but the question is will America support the PTM in Pakistan. The answer I am afraid is in negative. I may be wrong, but here is why I think so. First, America has more to gain from cooperation with the Pakistan army, especially for the endgame in Afghanistan, than hapless Pashtuns. This is despite the fact that America and the Pashtuns of Pakistan seem to have a common objective: The end of terrorist proxies allegedly backed by Pakistan army and used in Afghanistan. America is also preoccupied at the moment with the peace process with the Taliban in Afghanistan. A senior American expert on the region also confirmed this in a private conversation.

Second, America has supported generals over civilian leaders in Pakistan in the past. That realpolitik equation has not changed yet. With the Trump administration it has become more robust than ever, although he put pressure on Pakistan at the begging. My fear is that just like America and other powerful Western countries left East Timorese to the butchery by the Indonesian military, they will leave Pashtuns to their fate in Pakistan. It behooves these countries to avoid antagonizing Pakistan’s dominant military while it is blatantly denying rights to the Pashtun victims of war.

Third, one of the PTM demands is the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate possible crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity by the Pakistan army. America will not get itself involved in this, because its own leaders and armed forces are guilty of committing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) received 1.7 million cases of war crimes allegedly committed by the NATO and U.S. forces, Afghan secret service and security forces and the Taliban, combined. Since America is not a party to the ICC, the Trump administration cautioned the ICC Prosecutor not get involved. The Prosecutor responded that Afghanistan is a party to the ICC and crimes committed on its soil will have to be investigated. The point is that America will not support PTM in this regard.

Noam Chomsky says America has supported democracy where it has served its interests and opposed it when democracy would threaten American interests. This is true in the light of history. The PTM may stand a chance with the European Union subtracting the United Kingdom, which is the main historical culprit behind the past and current woes of the Pashtuns. Having said that, PTM should knock on all doors for justice, including that of the Americans. It is those who strive for justice, get it someday. The Polish Jew and lawyer Raphael Lemkin got the international community to adopt the Genocide Convention of 1948 after years of campaigning. Don’t forget that Jews were not the favorite of the West at the time and endured conscience-shocking atrocities at Hitler’s hands.

PTM should plead its case and keep telling its story to the world. As my favorite Native American proverb puts, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

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