Wednesday, March 11, 2015
After helping to ignite a firestorm over a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, is now sort of acknowledging his error. “Maybe that wasn’t exactly the best way to do that,” he said on Fox News on Tuesday. He was referring to the disgraceful and irresponsible letter that he and 46 Senate colleagues sent to Iran’s leaders this week that generated outrage from Democrats and even some conservatives. The letter was an attempt to scare the Iranians from making a deal that would limit their nuclear program for at least a decade by issuing a warning that the next president could simply reverse any agreement. It was a blatant, dangerous effort to undercut the president on a grave national security issue by communicating directly with a foreign government.
Maybe Mr. McCain, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, should have thought about the consequences before he signed the letter, which was drafted by Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas, a junior senator with no foreign policy credentials. Instead of trying to be leaders and statesmen, the Republicans in Congress seem to think their role is outside the American government, divorced from constitutional principles, tradition and the security interests of the American people.The letter was the latest shot to blow up the negotiations with Iran. Earlier this month, House Republicans invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to denounce a pact in a speech to Congress, and a group of senators is pushing legislation that could set new conditions on a deal and force a congressional vote.
Besides being willing to sabotage any deal with Iran (before they know the final details), these Republicans are perfectly willing to diminish America’s standing as a global power capable of crafting international commitments and adhering to them.Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. was blistering in his condemnation, saying, “This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that our commander in chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments — a message that is as false as it is dangerous.” But perhaps President Obama described this bizarre reality best. “It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” he said. “It’s an unusual coalition.”
So far, the Iranians have largely dismissed the bumbling threat, with their foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, describing the letter as “propaganda.” But there are fears it could embolden hard-liners in Iran who, like the Republicans and some of the Democrats in Congress, oppose any nuclear agreement between Iran, the United States and its major allies.The Republican efforts have so infuriated Democrats that even those who might have supported legislation that would have given Congress leverage over an Iranian pact are having second thoughts. Before this, the thinking was that the two bills most in play — one that would increase sanctions on Iran and another that would force the administration to bring any agreement to Congress for a review — might draw enough Democratic support to override a veto by President Obama. Both measures would surely scuttle a deal, but the Republicans’ actions may have set back their senseless cause. The best and only practical way to restrain Iran from developing a bomb is through negotiating a strict agreement with tough monitoring. In rejecting diplomacy, the Republicans make an Iranian bomb and military conflict more likely.
A U-turn in economic and social priorities is in order in Pakistan to prevent the nation from falling further behind its peers.
Pakistani diaspora in Britain is not conforming to the changing times.
BY MASOOD KHAN
The day Pakistan test fired the Shaheen-III ballistic missile, capable to carry nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 2750 KM, another news item caught my sight. 41 million people in Pakistan have no access to toilets and have to defecate in open spaces. Statistics from across the border are not much different: in India more than 630 million people face the same agony – no closed toilets. As both countries take pride in showing off their nuclear arsenal; I wonder what our political leadership’s real priorities are. As per infographic created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists; Pakistan has 120 nuclear weapons while its arch rival, India, is not far behind with 110 such weapons.
Why is it so that the people who vote and install their rulers in Islamabad and Delhi, are the one to be always at the receiving end without any hope of improvement in their lives? It doesn’t matter if it’s BJP, Congress, Peoples Party, Muslim League, or army (in Pakistan’s perspective) are at the helm of affairs in these countries, the end result remains the same – both the general public and its rulers live in separate worlds. What sort of harms and diseases are associated with public defecating need not much elaboration. Many rapes and sexual harassment related incidents were reported in India due to vulnerability of women folk while going out, especially in the rural areas. Democracy shall mean a governing system by the people, for the people but perhaps ruling class doesn’t fall under ‘people’ category.
What should our priorities be: increasing the stockpiles of already overflowing nuclear and conventional weapons and keep spending billions on motorways, or should we be providing health care, education, clean water, sanitation, food security, law and order? As in personal life rulers don’t have to worry about these ‘poor-public’ type issues, therefore, they enjoy doing big things which can make headlines.
Who says democracy is by the people, for the people?
There are several concerns, the foremost being the safety standards of the ACP-1000 type nuclear reactors being built; this indigenous Chinese design is not operational anywhere else in the world. Yet most objections based on this are little more than speculation, a fact the International Atomic Energy Commission’s Generic Reactor Safety Review (GRSR) endorses. The recently completed survey has cleared the reactor for construction, assuaging fears of a design flaw. Yet most industrial accidents are not caused by design flaw, but by human negligence and ill intent, both of which can be found in Karachi aplenty. The Taliban have shown an aptitude for mounting sophisticated attacks on sensitive installations, hijacking a naval vessel, infiltrating a naval airbase and later, the international airport. An attack, even a botched attack, could threaten the lives of Karachi’s residents, and the following shutdown of Karachi will shut down the rest of the country. The government’s desire to utilise the support structure of the existing, smaller power plant is understandable, as is the need for Karachi to have a power source in its proximity, but the worst case scenario – a distant possibility, for sure – is so catastrophic, it would be wise to relocate the power plant. The government will face large expenditure; relocation of the site, building infrastructure and support buildings, but the end result would be a disaster proof set-up, making sure that the plant will stop being an enticing target for extremists.