OPINION: Discredited West ought to keep shut on Kashmir

NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - With such a miserable track record, politicians of the Western world should have been examining their own failures, rather than advising a nation which has an excellent human rights record.

In recent times, a few American Senators, members of the UK Labour party and some political leaders from other Western nations have advised India to lift restrictions in Kashmir. They say they are monitoring Kashmir and have at times even accused the Indian government of violating human rights. On the contrary, West and South Asia have been in turmoil mainly due to misadventures of the Western world. These nations consider themselves to be guardians of the world but have caused more damage than good, wherever they have ventured.

The fallout of their actions has begun impacting their own way of life, as refugees seeking to avoid conflict caused by their actions, try and push their way into Europe. Yet they continue to interfere in internal affairs of other nations. Countries like Iraq and Libya, comprising a multitude of ethnicities needed strong individuals to control them. Saddam Hussein’s foray into Kuwait was illegal and thus the Western coalition led by the US did push the Iraqis out and restore order. Subsequently, the same US-led coalition, claiming Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, launched operations to remove Saddam from power.

While they did succeed, they left behind a nation whose oil resources were exploited, economy broken and its population in abject poverty. This created conditions for the rise of ISIS which then claimed thousands of lives. The coalition then decided to withdraw in haste adding to confusion. Iraq has never regained stability and peace. The current violent protests, which have claimed hundreds of lives and left thousands injured, is a fallout of Western misadventures based on fake intelligence inputs and a desire to control Iraq’s oil supply. Libya is another example. Muammar Gaddafi had handed over his nuclear weapon designs obtained from Pakistan and hence could never produce a nuclear weapon.

Yet, solely because he was a powerful leader of a major oil producing country, the Western world openly backed the Arab Spring which attempted to remove him from power. A multinational coalition led by NATO entered the country, ostensibly to protect civilians but mainly to oust Gaddafi. Since then the country has witnessed two major civil wars, with the second ongoing since 2014 and it has claimed thousands of lives. Barrack Obama admitted in public that supporting the removal of Gaddafi was amongst the biggest errors of his government. Syria is a third example of Western interference.

The West’s initial desire to remove Bashar al-Asaad proved to be a failure. Subsequently, the US created and employed the Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIS. Their presence and support enabled these forces to tackle the ISIS. In a sudden decision, Trump has now opted to withdraw, leaving those who fought alongside the US to face the might of the Turkish forces, which have launched operations to create a buffer zone. Pressure on Turkey will never work as Erdogan, the Turkish President, has threatened to push the three million Syrian refugees in his country into Europe, if they object to his actions.

This could reopen doors for the rise of ISIS. Western support to Saudi Arabia and UAE has resulted in their interference in the crisis in Yemen, leading to a face-off with Iran and making Yemen the worst human catastrophe in recent times. The turmoil in Afghanistan exists because US-led NATO forces neither adopted the correct strategy of hitting the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, nor deploying the necessary quantum of forces essential to win the battle. After taking over the country, with the help of the Northern Alliance, they sought to control the region, not eliminate their enemy.

Had recent US-Taliban talks succeeded, it would have been another example of the Western world ditching their local allies and leaving them at the mercy of rebels, in this case, the Taliban. US-led air and drone strikes have killed hundreds of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, for which no action has been taken against those who erred. This is because the West believes that they possess immunity for their actions. The US’s maltreatment of Afghan prisoners is well documented. Uncertainty still exists in Afghanistan, where US strategy and end goals have regularly changed. No one is certain when Trump will pull another Syria in Afghanistan and withdraw all forces, leaving the country to its own fate.

All this shows that wherever Western nations have ventured, they have left behind chaos and confusion. The result has been thousands of innocent casualties which would never have occurred if they had acted in good faith and not for their narrow national interests. The large-scale migrations into western Europe is a result of their follies and actions of interfering in regions where they neither comprehend realities nor stay on till they achieve desired objectives. They walk in and walk out, leaving chaos behind. Despite their failures everywhere, they still possess the gall to advice India which has kept Kashmir under control, despite changing its status.

These Western politicians have never bothered to understand the reasons why India acted and the intention behind continuing with restrictions. Their biased notions are based on a few write-ups in Western media. They comment without comprehending realities and Indian responsibility to protect lives. Their only belief remains that they consider themselves to be guardians of human rights, whereas everywhere that they have interfered, human rights have been ignored, if not extinguished.

With such a miserable track record, politicians of the Western world should have been examining their own failures, rather than advising a nation which has an excellent human rights record. The day India seeks to openly criticise these nations for the damage they have caused to the world on the pretext of rectifying a wrong, they would have no answers. India as a policy should ignore their criticism or in case they do not desist, remind them of their debacles.

(The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army)

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