Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Darfur Is Real, Not Fake...

I know. I know. Fisking a Pakistan Observer editorial is like shooting fish in a barrel and a total waste of time, but this editorial is so wrong on almost every count, it deserves a response. Since the editorial is brief, confirming the childish thought process of its writer, I present it in full below

IN an ominous development, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has filed genocide charges against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The charges filed Monday include masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation.

The Western powers, led by the United States, have been raising pressure against Sudan in the context of Darfur region, where a conflict is raging for the control of local resources. Situation in Darfur has been exaggerated to a great extent to portray the Christian population as the most oppressed section of the society with a view to building a case for foreign intervention and creation of a separate homeland for them. It is because of this that tons of propaganda material is being churned out daily against ‘oppressive’ policies of the Sudanese Government and activities of the Janjawid militia. There are also reasons to believe that another factor behind the Western interests in Sudan and this particular region is reports about huge oil and gas deposits in the country and the United States and its coteries have their eyes on this natural wealth of the poor country.
The first paragraph is probably the only correct item in the whole editorial. The rest I dismiss as a product of intellectual laziness.
  • Though there are Christians in Darfur, the majority of the population is Muslim. The Pakistan Observer is trying to spin this affair strictly as a Christian-Muslim conflict - a clash of civilizations, so to speak - when in reality it is an African-Arab conflict; and if you are a Marxist, even a class conflict.

  • The residents of Darfur do not want a separate homeland. This is a lie set forth by the Sudan government to sanction their actions in Darfur. What the residents of Darfur want is to share in the prosperity of Sudan and its oil wealth. If there is oil in Darfur, Sudan wants it all for itself.

  • And is the testimony of thousands of refugees mired in camps in neighboring Chad propaganda? The thousands of images broadcast all over the world of dying refugees propaganda? Even the United Nations, not the quickest of actors, condemned the actions of the Sudanese government? If what I'm hearing and seeing is propaganda, I want to know what the truth is.

  • Naturally, the West is behind all this because they want to exploit Darfur's natural resources. This is typical post-colonial analysis used by critics from the developing world to frame all actions and policies taken by the West against oppressive regimes. It plays well enough, I suppose, but in the end it rings hollow. Darfur is already being exploited, not by the West but by Sudan, the Arab world and China, who are shamelessly supported Sudan to the hilt because it needs Sudan's vast energy reserves to fuel its booming economy. But even China cannot ignore public opinion, so it has voted with the U.N. Security Council to let the ICC prosecute Sudan for war crimes. Does this still sound like a Western conspiracy? Anyone familiar with functioning of the ICC, which The Pakistan Observer clearly does not, knows that the process is a lengthy and tedious one, with checks and balances to ensure that prosecutions are not politically motivated or capricious.
For The Pakistan Observer, whose standards are already low, to publish this tripe as an editorial is just outright irresponsible.