Feb 3, 2011

The new world order

Mir Adnan Aziz
Embassies of yore were designed to enhance interaction with the people of the country where they were based. Diplomats visited the workplaces of officials, shopped at local marketplaces, socialised with community leaders and mixed with the general public. Diplomacy was an art loath to aggression and domination by remote-control.

These missions acted within the limits permitted by international and local law. The American embassy was pretty much a cultural centre, with a theatre, library and lots of open events to promote American values and culture. Today’s American embassies are citadels that proclaim US power to the world. These impregnable fortresses completely isolate those inside from the country hosting them.

The 104-acre new US embassy in Baghdad is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York. The International Crisis Group termed it as a symbol of “who called the shots in Iraq.”

“Technical adviser” Raymond Davis, the Mozang Rambo who murdered two men in Lahore, portrays the mindset and modus operandi of the United States. His being armed and driving a car with a fake number plate was reason enough for the police to detain him. That he murdered two people is shocking. He has taken the plea of self-defence. Their post-mortem reports show that the two motorcyclists he killed, Fiazan and Fahim, were shot in the back. The bullets used were of a special category that destroys the bones. One of the murdered men is reported to have been shot ten times.

The consulate vehicle sent to retrieve him wounded others while speeding to him the wrong way on a one-way road. It killed the third motorcyclist, Ubaidur Rehman, who died of head injuries due to the collision. Seemingly the consular- status contractors have started here what they have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The joke doing the rounds in Washington is that these private contractors are licensed to shoot anything that breathes but looks Arab or South Asian.

There have been numerous cases of foreigners roaming around in vehicles with weapons in all the major cities. They have been apprehended many times, only to be let off – surely with an apology too. Contractors or guards do not come under the cover of US State Department employees in Pakistan. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has repeatedly denied the presence of these private contractors.

These private contractors have become a backbone of US policy. Col Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, said this about Blackwater’s role in Pakistan: “It wouldn’t surprise me because we’ve outsourced nearly everything.” Reports suggest the presence of about 1,000 US contractors in Pakistan. They have rented houses in posh areas of Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi.

Assassination is the focus of the covert, illegal and ugly aspect of this cruel war. Drone strikes in Pakistan and numerous civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are carried out by American Special Operations Forces. In recent years most of this has been outsourced to private contractors. The US government is complicit in civilian deaths for having contracted and assisted them.

In 2006, Pakistan allowed the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to operate in Pakistan. The stated goal at that time was to hunt Osama bin Laden. The understanding was that Pakistan publicly would deny giving any such permission. The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration has given the green light for “things that the previous administration did not.” It has also “let JSOC off the leash...JSOC has been empowered more under this administration than any other in recent history. No question.”

The Mozang murders serve as a reminder of where and how we stand today. Numerous civilian deaths ignored by the state in FATA, which is beyond the state’s conscience radar, has led to human “drones” roaming the urban centres as well.

The deputy ambassador of the Republic of Georgia to the United States, Gueorgui Makharadze, caused an accident in January 1997 that injured four people and killed a 16-year-old girl. He was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 per cent, but was released from custody because he was a diplomat. The US government asked the Georgian government to waive his immunity, which they did. Makharadze was tried and convicted of manslaughter by the US and sentenced to 7-21 years in prison.

On what many say were cooked-up charges, Dr Aafia Siddique was incarcerated for years in Afghan prisons, with male inmates, and then whisked away to Washington. Her release is termed impossible by our American ambassador in Washington and the US regent here saying US law will take its course. Beholden to the US, they probably are right. After all this is the new world order. Laws, rules and conventions are to be implemented and violated by Uncle Sam alone.

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