Articles of the year 2005

The Brussels Caper
Published on April 25th, 2005

The incident at Brussels airport should be analyzed in depth, from different angles to ascertain the implications for the Federation of Pakistan, the Commercial interests of Pakistan, the sovereignity of the assembly, the insult to the person of Maulana Samiul Haq, the Government of Belguim and of the European Union.From newspaper reports it seems that a visa was issued to the Maulana, and he was allowed to become a part of an official delegation to Brussels to meet with a committee of the European Union parliament. After being refused entry at Brussels Airport for 90 minutes he was allowed to enter Brussels. The European Union Parliament immediately cancelled the talks with the Pakistani delegation for the reason that they did not want any discussions with a party that included Maulana Samiul Haq

Why was the European union Embassy in Islamabad not consulted and advised on the composition of the Pakistani team? If there was indeed a problem with the Maulana's presence, is Pakistan trying a march on Brussels? This shows an extremely naïve mind set in Islamabad, and the mood and intent of the West has obviously not been fully understood.. Does the Secretariat of the National Assembly really believe that its members are considered to be above the law in other countries as they are in Pakistan? As the Maulana is an elected representative of the people of Pakistan he has every right to be nominated on delegations visiting other countries but certainly not when his presence is likely to cause embarrassment to the host country or allow him to be insulted, as has occurred in this instance.

He is fortunate that it was not a US airport, otherwise the Homeland Security would have sped him on his way to Guantanamo, with no stops. The Americans are very touchy about anyone even remotely connected with the Al-Qaida, and probably would have relished the thought of getting their hands on an intellectual supporter. The stories of Pakistanis being taken away and forgotten are too horrific and numerous to repeat here. The Media is full of such reports. The Maulana is indeed very lucky.;

The other aspect is that Pakistan is trying desperately to get the Anti dumping duty on Pakistani goods that has been imposed by the EU removed. Does it make sense to enter into a diplomatic row with the EU especially at a time when we are trying to generate any and all goodwill to support us in this endeavour? The old adage of beggars cannot be choosers does apply here. Our Textile Exporters desperately need the removal of this duty which is indeed crippling the backbone of our exports which are textiles .The Prime Minister should order an enquiry, because this incident exposes a deliberate effort to destabilize the relationship that we have with the EU, a delicate and difficult relationship, given the diverse cultures and composition of the member states of the European Union. While the President and the Prime Minister are doing their best to increase our Exports and earn valuable foreign exchange the last thing we should be seen brandishing is a Maulana with an avowed anti-west stance. That too on an official basis. Is someone in Islamabad not really aware of the damage that can accrue to the Republic. The members of the National Assembly must realize that while they may have been voted into the House by the people, this does not give them the right to jeopardize the Commercial interests of the State by picking confrontations with other countries on behalf of individuals. The silver tongued S.M Zafar may have argued brilliantly on behalf of the Maulana on the human rights and principles etc, it seems he has overlooked the fact that the Europeans also have principles, and one of them is that they do not deal with persons who are opposed to their policies. It is time to decide whether we can afford the luxury of support to the minority at the cost of the already poor and struggling majority. The incident is taking a more serious turn. Now the Foreign office is getting in on the act, and a "director of the European desk has summoned the EU ambassador" to register the displeasure of the Foreign Ministry… Does Humayun Akhtar know that his efforts to have the Anti dumping duty waived have just been mortally wounded. Can somebody in the Ministry of Commerce please give us a figure on how much this is costing Pakistani exports and our Industry? Are Mushahid Husain and S.M.Zafar aware of the damage they are doing to the President's avowed policy of enlightened moderation? The effect on the Govt's Export Policy.--- and for what , and in support of whom? What possible benefit can the Govt derive from allowing such a serious situation to develop? Does Mushahid think that the EU is not totally aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Govt vis a vis the MMA?

The Govt must immediately send the Maulana back, and those officers in the National Assembly Secretariat who it seems have graduated from drunken groping into creating more seriously embarrassing situations, should be immediately retired. The Prime Minister should beware of the snakes in his midst, for this little caper shows sabotage at the highest level, and should not be condoned.