Washington DC: April 13, 2017. (By Ahmar Mustikhan PCP Washington DC Bureau Chief) The John Hopkins University, a liberal school in the US capital, is continuously drawing flak as its School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), has invited former dictator and coup leader Gen Pervez to speak at an event related to framing US policy towards Pakistan.
The Foreign Policy Institute, which is part of the SAIS, invited the former dictator to be the keynote speaker at the launch of “Pakistan Today: The Case for U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” a new policy study by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli and Shahid Javed Burki, which has been published by the SAIS.
Another Pakistani retired general Mahmud A. Durrani has also been invited by the JHU to talk on the topic: “Pakistan Army Today: Institutional Change and Continuity,” baring the penchant of academics on Massachusetts Avenue to engage with army generals from despotic nations.
The FPI’s invite to Musharraf has, however, irked many Americans, Afghans, Indians and Baloch, alike.
Katherine Cameron Porter, president and founder of the Leadership Council for Human Rights sent protest missive titled “War Criminal at Johns Hopkins” sent to Nate Thompson, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications of the school. She requested “anyone with decency at Johns Hopkins” to cancel the invite to Gen. Musharraf.” She said, “He (the general) is known for his crimes against humanity. His war against the peoples of Balochistan and Sind are well documented and atrocious. Human rights organizations are appalled at the audacity of your university to invite such a murderer to your hallowed halls.” Pointing out to the scorched earth policy of Pakistan army in Balochistan, she urged, “Please stop this insanity. Please speak up for the innocents who continue to be decimated by his ill-conceived brutality.”
The Afghan community in Washington DC area was extremely angry as the dictator two years ago publicly admitted that the army junta under him had used the Taliban against the people of Afghanistan. Noorullah Ahmadzai, a student of the American University who is highly active in the community, said, “The Taliban that Musharraf openly said he supported assassinated more than 3,000 Afghan tribal leaders in the past couple of years to crush the voice of Afghan people and damage Afghanistan’s political fabric.” He said to this day Pakistan-backed Taliban on a regular basis attack schools and hospitals. “That makes us so sad as we will be facing to deal generational issues that will arise because of no schools or hospitals for our youth,” the 33-year-old Afghan said.
Ahmadzai said the traditional highly hospitable culture of Afghanistan has been turned into a culture of violence and bloodshed by the Taliban. He said peace was a basic human right but this has been denied to the Afghan people by the Taliban. He explained, “This is all because of the shelter ISI gives to Taliban and other terrorist groups to use them for its political agenda to inflict sufferings and oppress the people of Afghanistan.” He wondered what US academics will possibly learn from such a sponsor of terrorism.
Krishna Gudipati, an Indian American who supports a free Balochistan, was dismayed by the introductory content of the SAIS about the Musharraf event. He said the invite to the event cites Pakistan’s location and military as strengths that Islamabad can offer to America. “That’s insane.” Gudipati said I hope no country comes to such a flawed position in international politics to say that.
Soumya Sundar Chowdhury, who works for the World Hindu Council and supports an independent Balochistan, also expressed his disdain over the invite to Musharraf, called for cancelling the invite to Musharraf and instead invited Nate Thompson to to join “Candle Light Vigil for Baloch Victims of Pakistan War Crimes” on Thursday April 13, 2017 at 6 PM – 8:30 PM at the Dupont Circle.
“As you already know, Pakistan is responsible for one of the worst war crimes on the Balochistan natives,” Chowdhury wrote to Thompson. “The media is prohibited in that region. Asian giant China is backing Pakistan in lieu of economic advantage it can draw.” The young civil engineer from Calcutta deplored that Balochistan’s most precious Gwadar Port and natural resources of Balochistan are being utilized by Chinese companies that provide no financial or social security to the native Baloch people.
Chowdhury said Pakistan in 1948 forcefully occupied Balocistan and subjugated Baloch aspirations for freedom for the last 70 years. “It is about time we all stand up against this inhuman oppression,” he said.
Both Chowdhury and Gudipati are Hindus, who have always upheld the banner of justice for all as part of their faith.
Zafar Azam, another young member of the Afghans Living in DC Area Facebook group said, “Giving a venue to such people (Pakistan generals) is a slap in the face of not only Afghans, but the American servicemen and women who have died as a result of the Musharraf government and their support for the Taliban.”
One Afghan youth Menh Had Aimal Haideri, who appeared incensed over Taliban terrorism in Afghanistan, said, “Why don’t some Afghans go to the event to challenge them or worse disrupt their Satanic event.”
Two weeks ago Afghan feminist Habiba Ashna, who is called the Nightingale of Afghanistan by her friends, and Panjsher youth Massoud Ahmady, who is associated with the Afghan Green Trend (AGT) of Amrullah Saleh, former chief of the National Directorate of Security spy service, put the new Pakistan ambassador to the US Aizaz Chaudhry on the mat at the United States Institute of Peace over Islamabad’s support to Taliban.
Nabi Baloch, a founding member of the American Friends of Balochistan, which is organizing a vigil at Dupont Circle Thursday, in his email to Nate Thompson said, Musharraf “should not be allowed to speak at this event because of his jihadi background and starting a war in Kargil with India.” Thompson initially said he will share Baloch’s concerns “with the event organizers and request they follow up with you directly about these concerns.” However, later he neither returned the calls nor any event organizer gave any explanation about the wisdom of inviting a military dictator, who plunged Balochistan into bloodshed.
As self-styled president, dictator Gen. Musharraf and his right hand Syed Mushahid Husain intervened to get the US visa of former Balochistan senator, Sana Baloch, after he was selected as fellow at the prestigious National Endowment of Democracy.