- UK should play a more emphatic role
By Azhar Azam
The diplomatic feud between China and the UK spiralled after hundreds of young protesters stormed into the office of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, wrecked it and marred its walls with graffiti. The violent demonstrators also hoisted the former colonial flag, British Union Jack.
In his misleading statement, the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt obliquely reproved the dissidents and at the same time, assured “unwavering UK support” for the Hongkongers. Earlier, Hunt refused to rule out sanctions on China and expelling its diplomats. The Tory leadership contender also urged China to honour the “one country, two systems” agreement, narrating the UK “principles” that precede its “commercial interests”.
Execrably, the UK’s proclamation about standing with the “principles” has a vile history. In fact, its “commercial interests” have supplanted its moral positions on numerous instances. Fearing the US tariff blows, the arrest and intended extradition of the whistleblower WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange, manifestly exposes the UK’s ability to stick by those values.
It was the “commercial interests” of the UK that exhilarated it to leave flee the subcontinent in 1947 without resolving the core Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. Resultantly, the two South Asian nations have so far fought four battles, as well as continue to go through skirmishes on borders and incessantly remain on the verge of atomic war. That is why Kashmir is dubbed as the nuclear flashpoint between the two countries.
Had Britain conformed to its professed moral standards, it would have not ignored the bawling cries of the millions of Kashmiri men, women, and children who are every day tortured, raped, and killed by Indian oppressive forces. But as the British “commercial interests” are tied with India, it is happy to concede the “principles”.
The UK has frequently shored up its support for the radical elements that pose significant threats to the national interests of Pakistan. It harbours and provides asylums to the terrorists involved in killing, ransom, and other activities in Pakistan’s most populated city of Karachi, and to those who have been engaged in emasculating the country’s fate-changer infrastructure project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Gwadar port in Balochistan.
Pakistan listed the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist organisation in April 2006, after the Baloch separatist group conducted terrorist attacks on Pakistan armed forces. Although Britain also proscribed BLA in July 2006, it is still housing Hyrbyair Marri, one of the most wanted terrorists in Pakistan. Under the leadership of Marri, the terrorist group has assumed the responsibility of copious terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
As the USA’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has now designated the BLA as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) and has also added it to Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, it is about the time for the UK to scratch the political asylum of Marri and handover the terrorist back to Islamabad. This would not only bridge the Pakistan-UK trust deficit in the area of terrorism but will also pragmatically rationalise British claim about standing for “principles”.
Unfortunately as of now, the UK is not showing any seriousness about ceasing the use of its soil for overseeing terrorist activities in other countries and impairing their interests. In the ongoing Cricket World Cup (CWC), the UK allowed an anti-Pakistan group’s supporters to raise banners that blemish the integrity and sovereignty of Islamabad. Pakistan again has conveyed its strong concerns to the UK over the use of sports for such propaganda campaigns.
Britain is even diffident to back its own politicians too. It is a national embarrassment for the UK and its people that a President of foreign country pans its London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, calling him a “disaster” and instead of patronising his native administrator, the foreign secretary of UK “150 per cent” supported Trump’s attack.
A country that cannot show solidarity with its citizens from external oratorical assaults, perhaps would not comprehend the Pakistani version. Delving into the past, the UK-ruled or Britain-administered British Empire ruled enormous regions. It mugged and ransacked the wealth and resources of a number of poor nations to develop the UK.
Eventually, British prestige started to decline after the second world war and in 1997, the transfer of Hong Kong to China, marked “the last nail in the coffin” of the British “Vampire” that enslaved and caused deaths of millions across many parts of the world.
The UK should learn from the past and must play an emphatic role in resolving the Kashmir issue as well as ought to prevent its land from becoming safe havens for the listed terrorists that destabilise peace and sovereignty of its partner nations.
It would only then, Foreign Secretary Hunt could be entitled to assert “If you are asking me about the trade-off between our trading relations and our principles, in the end this is a country that has always defended the values we believe in”.
The writer can be contacted at [email protected]