Has the United Nations gone down the international gutter as one of the most corrupt organizations in the world? Do allies of repressive regimes like that of communist China, for example the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, have a free hand to muzzle the voices of civil society, without any recourse to justice for the victims?
It seems like the UN is failing to uphold its No. 1 obligation, the Responsibility to Protect, and the late US First Lady and widely rumored lesbian Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the founders of the present UN system, must be turning in her graves. In the beginning of June, the NGO Committee of the UN in New York cancelled the accreditation of two NGOs– African Technical Association and African Technology Development Link–, who had provided a platform to voiceless people of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the complaint of the New York-based handmaidens of Pakistan army. Pakistan army along with the infamous ISI, Military Intelligence and paramilitary Frontier Corps, have turned Balochistan into the world capital of enforced disappearances and according to the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been carrying out a massive kill and dump policy in Balochistan. The premier Voice of Baloch Missing Persons says so far 169 bodies ave been found in eight mass graves.
Islamabad has clearly been violating the Rome Statutes and Geneva Conventions by committing what Baloch demanding freedom from Pakistan call military aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. But like the Baloch saying goes “I did not catch the thief, the thief caught me” the NGOs that helped highlight the Pakistani abuses have been arbitrarily ousted from the UN Human Rights Council.
According to Pakistan daily The News the action against African Technical Association and African Technology Development Link followed a complaint by Dr Diyar Khan from the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to Jorge Dotta, Minister-Counsellor and Permanent Mission of Uruguay and chair of the NGO Committee. Pakistan stated that these NGOs used language which is not authorized by the UN. Pakistan wrote that the African Technical Association, a Zambia-based NGO, gave a platform to Mehran Baloch aka Nawab Mehran Marri, who is the present chief of the Marri tribe. Islamabad accused him of making politically motivated allegations against Pakistan while aircraft and gunships of Pakistan target the hapless Marri tribesmen and his spouse’s Bugti tribesmen, rendering tens of thousands of them Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Pakistan army is also busy conducting brutal military operations all over Balochistan to pave way for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Maritime Silk Road ambitions, to connect the key Gwadar Port with Kashgar.
Pakistan said a speaker made the statement from the platform of the NGO stating that “the security of the people of Balochistan has been threatened” by state sponsored proscribed militant outfits such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Pakistan charges against the African NGOs are cruel joke with the intellect and moral integrity of the international community. At the same time, the simple fact that Pakistan succeeded in its designs to get the NGOs barred from the UN speaks of the phenomenal corruption at the global body, which needs to be addressed on an urgent basis.
According to The News, “The Pakistani representative said that the military of Pakistan, like the military of any other country, is for the security of its people and not for threatening their security, as alleged by the NGO.” There any two views that the troubles that Pakistan finds itself today are due to the military misrule of their country, a state cobbled together rather artificially by the British at the time of their departure from the Indian subcontinent in August 1947. It was the military that never allowed the civilian administration to exercise their constitutional authority since the Partition Holocaust. Pakistan army is repeating in Balochistan what did in East Pakistan 44 years ago, killing three million Bengalis and raping upwards of 200,000 Bengali women to “correct to the genes of the diminutive four-feet” Bengalis and make them taller like the Punjabi Pakistanis.
A chapter in the book “Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War,” by American professor Christine Fair, is entitled “Pakistan: an army with a country.” Prof Fair writes, “Pakistanis and analysts of Pakistan have long remarked, with more truth than hyperbole, that while generally countries have armies, in Pakistan, the army has a country.” Professor Fair had identified the JuD as key “jihadi asset” of the Pakistan army. She writes “Pakistan itself is a critical theatre of state-supported militancy.” She further writes that after the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai, the government of Punjab – the stronghold f Pakistan military—placed JuD officials on its “official payroll.”
Arif Jamal, author of Call for Transnational Jihad: Lashkar-e-Taiba (1985-2014), in an interview to Benazir Shah in Foreign Policy, said JuD has units in 100 countries. He said, “JuD also has sleeper cells in most of the United Kingdom; in fact, their Europe headquarters is in Paris, and run by a Pakistani.” He explained that the JuD is the central organization, and LeT is just one of its branches, which is responsible for waging jihad in India under the obscurantist Islamic slogan of Ghazwa-i-Hind. This teaching says Prophet Muhammad had promised heaven for anyone who partakes in defeating Hindus of India.
Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, director of South and Central Asia at Hudson Institute, who was saved from being killed by the ISI goons when he was recalled to Pakistan in winter 2011 by high ranking US senators — John Kerry, John McCain, Joseph Liebrman and Mark Kirk– knows how the army and Islamists are hand in gloves. Haqqani’s was dismissed for allegedly trying to lobby to save the democratic dispensation in Pakistan after the US Navy SEALs took out bin Laden in Abbottabad. Haqqani writes, “A trickier ally of the Pakistani state among Islamist groups is the Wahhabi Lashkar-e-Taiba (The Army of the Pure) founded in 1989 by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) became the military wing of Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad (Center for the Call to Righteousness) and has been officially banned for several years. The United States froze the organization’s assets, saying that it had been involved in several acts of international terrorism. The November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India were also attributed to LeT. Saeed now heads his organization with the name Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the Society for Preaching) from a large campus and training facility at Muridke, outside the Pakistan city of Lahore. Pakistani authorities have repeatedly refused to move against either Lashkar, which continues to operate in Kashmir, or Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which operates freely in Pakistan.” Pakistan intellectual Dr Mohammed Taqi, in his review of Arif Jamal’s book writes, Jamal is of the view that “the ISI, which to him is merely a euphemism for the Pakistan army, preserves and manipulates the JuD marionette for projecting power in both India and Afghanistan.” As such, Pakistan army’s links with JuD is clear as daylight, a well-known fact, and there was absolutely no grounds for Pakistan to claim the NGO made any false accusation.
With regards to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Pakistan’s noted journalist Hamid Mir wrote in Daily Jang newspaper on January 15, 2013, “In 2008, two master minds of LeJ – Usman Saifullah Kurd along with his No. 2 Dawood Badini – mysteriously broke out (without breaking any lock) of a very high-security jail located in the Army-controlled area which requires a special pass to even get into the area.” According to Hazara.net, “Dawood Badini, LeJ No. 2 in Balochistan, is the nephew of 911 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and is a close relative of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of first world trade center bombing in 1993, who is currently serving life sentence in the United States.” The Hazara.net says the Al-Qaeda affiliated, Saudi-financed, Lashkar-e Jhangvi has killed upwards of 1400 Shia Hazaras and left more than 3,000 Hazaras critically wounded in terrorist attacks in Balochistan under the protection of the Army and ISI. The ISI had long considered the Hazaras as the fifth column of Iran and that is the main reason it backs the LeJ in Balochistan. A fact finding mission of the Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said Talibanisation is growing in several areas of Balochistan and the security forces might be patronizing militants like the LeJ, turning Quetta into a haven for militants. It was thus strange to see Teheran backed Islamabad on getting the two NGOs ousted, maybe because of Iran’s own dismal human rights record as a state that has executed the largest number of people.
As if the whole world is blind and deaf, the Pakistani mission wrote that the African NGOs “allegations” against the army are false and politically motivated and damaging the territorial integrity and reputation of a sovereign member state and are motivated to harm the territorial integrity of Pakistan as well as its relations with neighbors. About the African Technology Development Link, the Pakistani representative wrote that this Guinea-based NGO made statements that “Pakistan occupying regime has been providing huge funds to promote its own culture and language and discourage the unique culture of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan. Because of the colonial rule of Pakistan, people have been deprived of their economic, social and cultural rights.”
Like Quetta, Gilgit-Baltistan, too has been turned into a killing field for the Shias, where upwards of 3,000 shias have been killed since 1988. The then-commissioner of Gilgit has been immortalized in history for pointing his finger at Pakistan army. In an editorial, The Express Tribune the commissioner stated, “It was clear to the Gilgit civil administration that the raiders, who were tribals and mujahideen elements, could not have reached this remote place from Peshawar without someone’s blessing.”
The fact that Gilgit-Baltistan, which covers 85,793 sq km, is not Pakistan territory has been voiced by the world’s largest democracy, India. In a recent article in The Wire, Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, wrote that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in May reminded Indian defense forces that “we also have a 106-km-long non-contiguous border with Afghanistan that we need to factor in,” a clear reference to Gilgit Baltistan’s Afghan frontier. Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the Indian foreign ministry, called Gilgit and Baltistan, like the entire Jammu and Kashmir, an integral part of India and described the June 8 election an attempt by Pakistan to deny the people of the region their political rights and to absorb these territories. “The fact that a federal minister of Pakistan is also the ‘Governor of Gilgit Baltistan’ speaks for itself,” Swarup added. A man from Lahore, capital of Punjab, Chaudhry Muhammad Barjees Tahir, minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas, with no connection to the area has been named the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan in pure colonial fashion.
There are no two views in Pakistan that the biggest state player is the Pakistan military. It is relevant here to ask in what sense did the Pakistan military ensure security of its people, as claimed by the Pakistani mission in New York, by giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad? According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, “The most damning indictment of the extra-legal activities of the military intelligence agencies came when the chief justice said that the ‘Death squads’ of ISI and MI agencies should be abolished. In some other country, this would have created a major political and legal crisis and many top heads would have rolled if its chief justice acknowledged that the state operated death squads but not in Pakistan.”
The most laughable of the Pakistan charges against the two NGOs was that their statements on the political and human rights situation in Pakistan were inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. Michelle Evans, who manages International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) New York office and coordinates its advocacy at UN headquarters, in a phone talk described the situation arising out of the dismissal of the two African NGOs as “terrible” and says the action against them, “very troubling, very disturbing.” She said reforms are urgently needed in the NGO Committe to make it more inclusive so that civil society organizations get a better say in UN affairs. Evans advocates getting more democratic countries on board the NGO Committee and points out that countries with poor human rights records like Pakistan want to cling on to the committee.
Pakistan could get away with having the two NGOs ousted simply because China stood firmly with it. The representative of China backing Pakistan said that the NGOs in question had conducted activities that smacked of political intentions and had launched “wanton political attacks” against other member states. China has for years acted as a shield for Pakistan’s wrongs. Prof Fair in her book “Fighting to the End” writes that until 2009 China had used its veto power at the UN Security Council so that Pakistan army’s jihadi assets may not be declared terrorist organizations.
The main issue here is the UN itself is eroding its value in the eyes of the international community by allowing states like Pakistan to silence civil society organizations. “It is disconcerting to know that due to undue influence of Pakistan, the UN banned the two NGOs,” Kachkol Ali, a former fisheries minister in Balochistan, whose son Nabeel Ahmed was disappeared by the ISI in Karachi on August 30—the International Day of the Disappeared – said on phone from Oslo. “This is not a good omen for the UN itself.”
Like Kachkol Ali, a US representative had voiced her concerns over the action against African NGOs. Kelly Razzouk, who represented the US at the NGO Committee, said, “The loss here is for civil society.” In a general statement, after the fact, a UN Press release cited Razzouk as saying, “It will have a chilling effect on civil society as a whole and how they engage with the United Nations.” However, many questioned why Razzouk, who is in the team headed by Samantha Power, did not proactively work to get the Pakistan-China move defeated.
A most disturbing aspect of the two NGOs ouster is that it came at a time when Dr Maleeha Lodhi is heading the Pakistan mission at the UN in New York, after the army’s soft coup in Pakistan last fall. Lodhi had allegedly played a dirty role in the ouster of Sharif’s first civilian government in 1993. After Sharif was sent packing home by the army in fall 1993, Lodhi was sent to the US as ambassador under the Benazir Bhutto government in reward in January 1994. Again when coup leader General Pervez Musharraf ousted Sharif, Lodhi became Pakistan’s ambassador to US and then high commissioner to the UK, showing the lady from Lahore –the capital of Punjab—has been in bed politically with the generals for more than a quarter century now. “Dr Maleeha Lodhi always had terrible relations with Premier Sharif,” said author Arif Jamal, who was her colleague in The News International. “She was part of an army conspiracy to remove Nawaz Sharif’s first government as she published an Urdu poem in the English newspaper The News International that asked then army chief Asif Nawaz to step in to remove his government.”
The action against African Technical Association and African Technology Development Link is tantamount to silencing the voice of civil societies and stateless peoples and is clear proof the $30 billion UN has become an epicenter of global corruption, with one-fourth of the monies coming from US tax payers pockets. “The United Nations is a hotbed for corruption and abuse. It is opaque, diplomatically immune, largely unaccountable – and has come to regard billions in U.S. tax dollars not as a privilege to be earned, but as an entitlement,” Toby Dershowitz writes in the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Ms Dershowitz adds, “Inside the U.N., a special anti-corruption task force set up in 2006 was dissolved at the end of 2008. The U.N.’s internal audit division, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, has been roiled with scandals and frictions, including a former chief of the unit accusing the UN Secretary-General of “deplorable” actions to impede her hiring of investigators, and charging that “the secretariat is now in a process of decay.” She laments, Among UN member states, the only serious oversight comes from the U.S., the great majority of the other 193 member states being effectively free riders on U.S. credibility and funding.”
The need for reform at the UN has been an agenda for more than a decade now since Kojo Annan, son of former UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan was found involved in the infamous oil-for-food scam. Benon Sevan, the former head of the UN’s oil-for-food program in Iraq, Mr Sevan’s friend Fred Nadler and Alexander Yakovlev, an officer in the UN’s procurement department, were allegedly exposed in the corruption after an investigation carried out by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker. But reforms at the global monolith may be a daunting task and until then voiceless peoples like Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan may continue to get the short end of the UN stick while the rogue army of Pakistan continues to throw the Rome Statues and Geneva Conventions to the wind with the help of China.
There seems to be no accountability at all in the UN system. In the past, the Interfaith International lost its accreditation at the Palace of Nations for helping to highlight the Balochistan issue. Last fall, former Balochistan communications and works minister London-based Hyrbyair Marri and his comrades were thrown out of the Palace of Nations by the UN security personnel.