Sabotaging peace

Published: March 27, 2015
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

One has to raise one’s hat to the nerve, nay effrontery, of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu after seeing him operate in the United States and in his own country over the past few weeks. Not only did he openly challenge, indeed oppose, the United States talking to Iran along with the members of the P-5 countries regarding its nuclear programme, he went home and made not one but two incendiary and dangerous statements.

In the United States, he was invited by the Republican majority in Congress to address a joint session with nary a word to the executive branch in the White House, in which address he attempted to speak down to the President of the very same country that supports Israel to the hilt in the United Nations, and other world fora. He also made light of France, China, the United Kingdom and Russia by suggesting that the deal they were helping the United States make with Iran would somehow not be adequate.

‘No deal’ is what he was saying which would prompt one to ask, what then, Prime Minister? An all-out assault on Iran in an attempt to destroy its nuclear installations which have so far proved to be decades away from even nearing the capacity to build a nuclear weapon? Do you want another war in the Middle East which is already reeling with the effects of the last one, which mark, is still raging? Instead of making strenuous efforts to come to a peaceful, verifiable agreement that will open Iran’s nuclear programme to international inspectors, do you want another conflagration, in a country of 80 million people?

And in an area already in the grip of terrorism as the result of which tens of thousands of people have been killed and many more thousands horribly maimed in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Indeed, an all-out war right next to a country where 10,000 American troops will be stationed for the next two years, most probably longer? Indeed, does Mr Netanyahu really believe Israel would benefit in any way from an attack on Iran? Who will mount the attack anyway? Israel by its lonesome self? A coalition comprising which countries? Does the Israeli prime minister really think Iran is such a push-over?

It boggles the senses to see that no lessons have been learnt despite the spectacle that presents itself daily in the shape and form of what is happening in the so-called ‘failed’ states: Libya; Syria and Iraq, the first two of which experienced the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, and the third which was assaulted by the ‘allies’, principally the United States and the United Kingdom, on what can politely be called ‘unreliable information’. How well one remembers the embarrassed Colin Powell pointing to a container truck and calling it a mobile chemical weapons factory or some such.

But back to the Israeli/Republican Party’s collusion over the Iran deal. I will quote the venerated Israeli writer and former politician Uri Avnery in his The consequences of Netanyahu’s victory, Counterpunch March 23, 2015: ‘…. (then) there is Netanyahu (Bibi)’s obsession with the Iran question and US negotiations with that country. Bibi will no doubt feel emboldened by his electoral victory, and once he forms his coalition and consolidates power, the White House can expect him to resume his nagging and nay-saying ways on this issue. Once the deal with Iran is struck (and I think it will be), one can anticipate Netanyahu’s collusion with the Republicans to undermine and, if they can, ultimately sabotage President Obama’s one notable contribution to a more peaceful and stable world’.

Back home, Netanyahu, alarmed at polls just prior to the elections that he would lose the election to Isaac Herzog said two things, both of which he withdrew after winning. In the first instance he said, in so many words, that there would be no two-state solution for the Palestinians as long as he was prime minister, and in the second, that ‘droves of (Israeli) Arabs’ were voting and so putting fear into the hearts of ordinary Israelis to vote for his hard right Likud party.

In the words of Avnery again: ‘Netanyahu stoked this fear with warnings of a massive Arab Israeli turnout and other examples of racist-tinged propaganda, and this led many Israeli Jews to decide, in the privacy of the voting booth, that they were more afraid of Palestinians than of poverty. At the same time, most of these voters refused to face the fact that much of this fear is self-induced. Israel has evolved into one of the most racist countries on earth and at the heart of its racism is the ideologically driven desire for a state reserved primarily for Jews. To accomplish this, Israel as a nation has dispossessed and oppressed the Palestinians. This practice has prevailed for so long that 60 per cent of Israeli Jews cannot envision an end to the resulting struggle. So fear of Palestinian resistance, with its implied threat of destruction, or at least transformation, of the Jewish state has always been their ultimate security issue’.

As pointed out earlier, Netanyahu withdrew both of his statements, apologising to the Israeli Arabs, and saying that he was still for the two-state solution. Most commentators are putting both of these statements/retractions down to his usual cynical politicking.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch the former Indian Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, now Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, put both his feet into his mouth by tweeting #Disgust and #Duty after visiting the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. This was right after the extreme hard right television channels led by Times Now (which still owes me money for appearing on it several times many years ago!) and its fire-spitting Arnab Goswami criticised him for going to the function at all.

Many Indian ‘scholars’ (one in Washington, DC) made it worse by saying he probably meant he was ‘holding his nose’ while at our High Commission! As I tweeted, Singh retired as a Full General, not as a Subaltern! Shameful and unsoldierly, what V K Singh said. He has ‘offered’ to resign; he should be moved to Defence Procurement!

Published in The Express Tribune, March  27th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • sabi
    Mar 27, 2015 - 3:31AM

    Which Israeli government has shown flexibility in promoting peace in the region-The 70 years history of Jewish state is an open book for all of us.On every page of it is written in bold letters-conspire to the core of it you are known for thousands of years.Irony is it is backed by those forces whose own Messenger was crucified by the same race.Is this unity against Islamic world or a hidden revenge by western forces to make Israel vulnerable to the point of self destruction?. One thing look certain they (Jews ) are not going to learn any lesson in foreseeable future.Recommend

  • lancersboy
    Mar 27, 2015 - 3:51AM

    If Old Kamran Shafi has come to cut and paste job with no connections established between Netanyahu and Gen Singh(except that both are Islam haters per se) then he terribly needs some rest.Quoting Yuri Anvery to fill up this page,was also not of your mark.Major, tie your horse and play some golf,to keep the head at ease.We expect something substantive here,wobbling is for people in Barber Shop.Stay happy,Amen.Recommend

  • Mar 27, 2015 - 3:57AM

    VK Singh is the father in law of Suhagha Singh. [the current Indian COAS]
    Guess these COAS positions stay in the family or are handed down from
    father to son. Just like any other profession in Bharat. Tailor, shoemaker,
    leather worker, woodworker etc. Obviously COAS is not considered a very
    prestigious position. You can see the results. That explains the 3 defeats
    of the hands of Pak forces.
    The Bharati caste system also prevents ANYONE from being a soldier.

    ET moderators please print. Only explaining ‘WHY’ the rude toxic behavior
    of a Bharati Ex General.Recommend

  • wb
    Mar 27, 2015 - 8:14AM

    I agree with the author about Netanyahu’s aggression.

    While I believe that Netanyahu is the only one in the region who understands it well, he’s wrong regarding Iran.

    Iran is indeed a peaceful country in the entire region unlike Pakistan or Saudi. Iran is yearning for peace and it should be given an opportunity. The fool Ahmadinejad is gone and Iranians are looking forward for a better opportunity for a better future.

    USA should not listen to Netanyahu when dealing with Iran.Recommend

  • Author
    Mar 27, 2015 - 10:37AM

    @lancersboy: Really? Lancer’s ‘boy’! Boy, you DO have a problem! Perhaps we could have your REAL name? Do step out of the shadows ‘boy’, show us your face (like you know mine!) and let’s talk about things:)Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 27, 2015 - 3:07PM

    Of late my comments on your opinion pieces are going up in smoke….but here goes anyway :
    Bibi did what a lot of politicians do just before an election…..he pulled out all the stops and took the position that once elected he’ll deal with the consequences. Sort sighted but it worked for him. His other option was to ‘ steal the election ‘ …but even the Israeli’s have much to learn.
    There was really no need to slide the diplomatic faux pas of V.K.Singh into the article. It was done in ‘ bad taste ‘ and reflected poorly on him.Recommend

  • jagmohan
    Mar 28, 2015 - 4:21AM

    @Gopeet………your statement that Indian Forces were defeated three times at the hands
    of Pakistan is far from truth,please correct your information.Such loose statements are a
    show of bravado and injurious to both neighbours’ interest.Think positively there should never
    be any war among nations, all efforts to settle issues peacefully.Recommend

  • Avtar
    Mar 28, 2015 - 4:14PM

    I usually enjoy your style but this one is hodge podge of ideas.

    Israel is based on faith but at least the minorities live safely. Almost all its neighbours, and Pakistan are based on faith. The minorities, including the Muslims, have no safety. The minorities have to flee for safety in droves.
    Had it not been for Obama administration we will be into another war in the Middle East!
    With regards to Bibi, which Pakistani politician is better – they all try to do whatever they do to get elected. Be realistic. In the days gone by, force was used to settle differences at least it is better to use words.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 28, 2015 - 7:25PM

    One has to raise one’s hat to the nerve, nay effrontery, of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu after seeing him operate in the United States and in his own country over the past few weeks..
    Notwithstanding what voltaire said in the 16th century or Gönter Grass said in the 21st century, Nathan posture has caused the rise of anti-semite to 30 percent in Europe, forcing young jews to leave for Israel.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Mar 28, 2015 - 11:17PM

    With all due respect, did you THINK before you wrote
    your comment? No, you did not. See, the ex general
    connected to the Foreign Office AND to the Bharati govt.
    said…he was ‘disgusted’ to attend the Pak celebration of
    their Pakistan Day. You think that was a loose comment?
    Is that in the interest of peace? Does it help anything? An
    uncouth ex general talking like that !
    And truth, is always painful. If the Indians had won, they
    would be in control of large swathes of Pak territory. And
    refuse to give it back. Let it fester in the UN forever..
    [This is before, both. invented nuclear arms].

    ET mods, please print. Man need to be walked thru.Recommend

  • Wilfredo
    Mar 29, 2015 - 11:36AM

    These Jews take their precedence from Egyptians, and Jordainians, who occupied Palestine for twenty fears and never gave Palestinians a state, why then should Netanyahu give them one? The messenger, where death you attribute to a “race” was in fact a settler- that is- he was a Jew living on Palestinian land.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 29, 2015 - 11:55PM

    You need a bit of history lessons sir, the map of the middle east was drawn by the colonialists sir, both Egypt and jordan terrain was occupied by the Brits. The jeish people are waiting for Moses to take them out of the orient and return them to the promised land from where they were driven out during the 3rd reich Government. Admittedly, the jewish people as such have always enjoyed security in muslim countries. .

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Apr 24, 2015 - 2:50AM

    Dear Mr Kamran Shafi,
    ‘P5’ are the permanent members of UN Security Council (US, Russia, UK, France & China) & ‘+1’ is Germany (the only non-member of UN Security Council). Your statement ‘P5 + United States’ is not correct.Recommend

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