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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ikram Sehgal, Ikram Sehgal and Reassessing the Objectives Resolution

Believe it or not, there was a time when Americans and Pakistanis were actually allies in letter and in spirit. It was the time when Gitmo and suicide bombers were not part of the lexicon. It was the time when the Cold War was at its height and Pakistan and the US were both members of SEATO and CENTO. The stage was Calcutta and the year was 1971. That's when a young US marine sergeant saved the life of a young Pakistan army captain on the run for his life. On July 16, 1971, he had just escaped from an undeclared Indian Prisoner of War (PoW) Concentration Camp at Panagarh, about 100 km west of Calcutta. It turns out that he was the first ever PoW to have escaped from Indian PoW camp. If it wasn't because of the marine sergeant, the hunted Pakistani would have been shot at sight 38 years ago today. An American and a Pakistani - Adnan Gill

President Obama on Monday ordered US security officials to look into allegations that the Bush administration resisted efforts to investigate a CIA-backed Afghan warlord over the killings of hundreds of pro-Taliban prisoners in 2001. The prisoners were in the custody of Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum, a prominent warlord who served as chief of staff of Afghanistan's post-Taliban army and remains a prominent member of the Karzai government. The killings of hundreds of Pakistani citizens contributed to the emergence of Maulana Fazlullah as a militant leader in Swat. Obama told CNN's Anderson Cooper that "the indication that this had not been properly investigated was just recently brought to my attention."On Dec 8, 2001, I had written, "Rashid Dostum, who is a law unto himself in his Uzbek home base of Mazar-i-Sharif, sees others as interlopers. The foreign fighters in Konduz who were tricked into surrendering to Rashid Dostum were dead men walking, given his track record there was no way they would ever walk out of Qila-i-Janghi alive. However one cannot for a moment believe or accept that civilised nations like the USA and UK will countenance such a massacre of prisoners in cold blood, whatever the circumstances." For eight years till Obama came along, the atrocity was ignored. Maybe there is hope for justice in this world after all. Dostum, Shebergan and Swat - Ikram Sehgal

The pre-amble to the Constitution says that the minorities are to be allowed freely to profess and practice their religions. However, in the annexure inserted by Zia-ul-Haq’s Order 14 of 1985 the word ‘freely’ is missing. Was this a deliberate or accidental omission?Would the Quaid have supported the Objectives Resolution had he been alive in 1949 or was it a departure from his vision of Pakistan?Those who hold the latter view refer to his August 11, 1947 speech. It appears to me, with respect to those who hold a contrary opinion, that there is nothing in the Objectives Resolution that runs counter to the Quaid’s speech which, in any case, is not to be read in isolation but together with his many other speeches before and after the creation of Pakistan. It is high time, however, that the omission of the word ‘freely’ in the Annexure to the Constitution be made good. CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE AND CONTINUITY: Reassessing the Objectives Resolution —Shahid Hamid


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