Silence of democrat Biden over anti-democratic explosive stance of Pak government against TLP is intriguing, unfortunate and dangerous: By Hem Raj Jain
28 Oct 2021
For the last over one week ‘Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan” (the TLP, a political party registered with Election Commission of Pakistan which contests election all across Pakistan with considerable number of votes in elections and with member of State legislature) has been agitating and marching towards Pak capital Islamabad demanding the implementation of November 2020 agreement which Government of Pakistan did with TLP in which mainly the expulsion of French ambassador was demanded. Against this democratic protest of TLP the Government of Pakistan has taken explosive anti-democratic stance but what is intriguing is that President Biden a democrat has kept silence on it which is unfortunate and dangerous as mentioned below:-
(1)- In the developing world (also in this region of Asia) the ‘authoritarian Chinese democracy’ is already gaining respect and acceptability because China (a border sharing country) has made spectacular economic progress whereas democracies including Pakistan and India have not. Therefore if the leader of ‘liberal Western democracy’ the USA doesn’t take special interest in ensuring the success of democracy in this region of Asia then Chinese democracy is bound to win and prevail in Asia too and it will be dangerous to the overall interest of the West too led by the USA and the USA should make no mistake about it.
(2)- At the same time if the USA thinks that without protecting the democratic rights of the people (about demonstrations, protest, marches, sit-ins etc) a democracy can succeed or even survive then it is living in its make believe world. In this regard recent examples of India and Pakistan are quite educational:-
(i)- Two third of India is fully or partly dependent on farm income and farmers were committing suicide in hundreds of thousand due to non-remunerative prices of farm produce hence they are agitating for their livelihood (mainly through ‘Legally Enforceable Minimum Support Price’) including by Dharnas (sit-ins) at Delhi borders since November 2020. But the government of India (GoI) is not providing proper place, arrangement and order for Dharna and demonstrations to agitating farmers with the result it has resulted in recent avoidable loss of lives & blood at Lakhimpur (U.P.) and at Singhu Delhi border. Even Supreme Court of India (SCI) didn't act in a legally expected manner rather criticized the agitating farmers (as reported at https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/farmers-strangulated-delhi-supreme-court-slams-protesters-1859477-2021-10-01 ). The SCI is legally expected to direct the GoI to provide a suitable place in Delhi for sit-in and if farmers refuse to sit over there (and insist on sitting at other places) then they can be arrested and put in prison as per law.
(ii)- In Pakistan the government unnecessarily placed hurdles in on-going demonstrations / marches by the TLP which resulted in avoidable loss of lives and blood of the demonstrators / marchers and security forces. Even now (after talks between TLP and government failed on October 26 which constrained the TLP to resume their march towards Islamabad) the Pak government is neither allowing the TLP marchers to reach peacefully at Islamabad nor has given assurance about providing a proper place to agitating TLP in Islamabad with proper place, arrangement and order at the site of demonstration & sit-in.
(3)- The government of Pakistan doesn’t understand that the TLP has every right to mobilize the people of Pakistan for influencing State policies of Pakistan in the interest of promoting / protecting the religion (which its members and supporters follow), of-course without resorting to terrorism, violence and excesses and without harming the similar interests of other religions commensurate with the principle of “Sarv Dharm Sam-bhaav” (equal respect to all religions) which is being professed (though not practiced satisfactorily) even in constitutionally secular India. Certainly there are some sensitive religious issues even in constitutionally secular countries (in Asia), as is the case in India where cow (considered sacred by the majority community, the Hindus) slaughter is not allowed and the people (mainly the Muslims and ‘Dalits’ the so-called oppressed castes of Hindu order) are lynched if suspected of cow-slaughter or of eating beef (though India, unlike Pakistan, doesn’t expect people in other countries to honor it).
(4)- Expulsion of the French Ambassador is a highly explosive issue for the simple reason that in the November 2020 agreement it is not said that the government will merely ensure a bill in the Parliament. On the contrary as per the first point of this agreement - “The government within 2 or 3 months will expel the French Ambassador through Parliamentary resolution (‘Faisala-sazi’)" as reported at https://voicepk.net/2020/11/tlp-calls-off-protest-after-another-pact-with-govt/ - [This agreement is between government (including Home Minister of Pakistan) and the leaders of TLP led by its founder-chief Late Khadim Hussain Rizvi (who ‘died’ on November 19, 2020 within 3 days of this agreement which raised suspicion as reported at https://thepakistandaily.com/ex-dg-isis-son-raises-suspicions-about-khadim-hussain-rizvis-death/ ) hence makes this agreement sacred and highly emotive issue for TLP].
(5)- The government enjoys majority in Parliament (which makes passing of the resolution bill certain) hence if TLP expects the Imran government to expel the French Ambassador through Parliamentary mandate then TLP is neither demanding anything against the law nor against the letter & spirit of the said November 2020 agreement. The TLP, a religion based political party has main influence in Punjab and Sindh provinces whereas another religion based party the JUI-F has main influence in KPK, Sindh and Balochistan. Now the JUI-F has also given support to the TLP about the demand of the expulsion of the French Ambassador for allegedly protecting the honor of Prophet Mohammad (as reported at https://news360.tv/en/latest/maulana-fazl-tlp-support-put-partners-in-a-tight-spot/ ). This makes this TLP protest / march doubly explosive especially in view of the ascendancy of Taliban in power in Afghanistan which has emboldened the Jihadi elements not only in this region but all across Muslim world.
(6)- As per government of Pakistan about 220 million Pakistanis will suffer immensely due to sanctions by the West in the given difficult situation, if French Ambassador is expelled (as reported at https://www.dawn.com/news/1654179/no-reservations-on-any-of-tlps-demands-except-shutting-down-french-embassy-sheikh-rashid ). The members and electoral supporters of the TLP (and even of the JUI-F) are a small part of Pakistan’s population and such a matter of vital national interest about the French Ambassador shouldn’t be left even to the National Assembly which may decide the matter out of political expediency or under political pressure. Pakistan, a country of about 220 million (in an already difficult economic situation) will suffer further & intense economic hardship if the European Union & others inflict sanctions on Pakistan due to said expulsion of the French Ambassador. Hence the government of Pakistan should go for REFERENDUM by all its voters on this extremely important matter of expulsion of the French Ambassador.
(7)- It goes without saying that if people of Pakistan in this referendum are prepared to immensely suffer economically by majority votes in referendum to expel the French Ambassador then the Prez Biden a democrat should have no objection to it [notwithstanding France and even the members of European Union / Europe and others (who will support France on this matter) are members of NATO]. In established democracies which have people's representatives (in Parliament etc) the issues of utmost public interest are referred to people through referendums as was done in the UK too on the issue of BREXIT. Hence in Pakistan too such a matter of great importance (the expulsion of the French Ambassador) should be decided by referendum.
In view of the lack of concern of the USA towards protecting democracy in developing world, it can only be hoped that Prez Biden especially being a democrat will constrain the government of Pakistan through the UN or otherwise (i)- To provide safe passage to marching TLP to Islamabad and a proper demonstration / sit-in place at Islamabad and (ii)- To conduct referendum on the issue of expulsion of French ambassador (the expulsion which was promised by the government of Pakistan as per November 2020 agreement with the TLP).