Birth of a new nation

South Sudan became the world’s newest independent state on July 9, 2011. South Sudan President Salva Kiir said it was “a dream that has come true”. “We have waited for more than 56 years for this…This land has seen untold suffering and death. We have been bombed, enslaved and treated worse than a refugee in our own country. We have to forgive, though we will not forget,” said President Kiir. South Sudan has indeed seen decades of brutality at the hands of the north. The movement in southern Sudan for autonomy transformed into a movement for independence when northern Sudan refused to accept it and decided to quell the movement by force. South Sudan fought a civil war for many years. Their leader, John Garang de Mabior, died in a helicopter crash during the struggle in 2005. He had led the Sudan People’s Liberation Army during the second civil war from 1983-2005.

The civil war in Sudan did not come properly into the limelight until the Darfur conflict focused the minds of the world on what was going on there. Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bashir’s regime is accused of being Islamist and shariah-oriented. Despite being indicted by the ICC, no country that Bashir visited has seen it fit to apprehend him and send him to The Hague. So far, Bashir has assured that the Republic of Sudan “stands side by side with this new nation. We assert that we are ready to support the institutions of the newly born state with our expertise, in any field they ask”. Whether he keeps his promise or not cannot be said with certainty. It is important that post-independence South Sudan’s dependence on the Republic of Sudan and vice versa should be handled amicably. Both countries need to realise that boundaries may have been demarcated but that does not mean their relations have ended. The UN and the world are hoping that the two sides will find solutions to their problems with the wisdom with which this independence came about. This would be in the interests of both sides.

The concatenation of pressure, international and domestic, finally produced a result: a peaceful separation of South Sudan as an independent country. What it also proved is that political problems cannot be resolved by military means and only political ones are the way forward. We have been saying this about Pakistan in the context of Balochistan. Let the example of South Sudan be a source of learning for our military establishment.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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