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Maleeha Lodhi accuses West of `double standards'

By Hasan Suroor

LONDON, JAN. 21. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's High Commissioner in London, has accused the Western powers of "double standards," saying that they constantly talked about people's right to "self-determination" but ignored it in the case of Kashmir.

She used a lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE) to highlight what she called the "sense of injury" felt by Muslims around the world over the West's approach to Muslim-related issues such as Kashmir and Palestine.

Dr. Lodhi, speaking on `Islam and the West: Perception and Reality,' repeatedly mentioned Kashmir and Palestine in the same breath arguing that "international disputes" such as these were at the heart of the way Muslims perceived Western policies.

Their hostile perception of the West was shaped by the policies of leading Western nations over these issues.

"Freedom struggles"

Replying to questions from the audience, she insisted that "legitimate freedom struggles" should not be portrayed as "terrorism."

In relation to Kashmir, she said that it was important to remember that militancy was not the cause of the dispute. The issue arose out of the "denial of self-determination to the people of Kashmir ... and militancy arose out of it. We must remember the sequence," she told a questioner.

Dr. Lodhi said that though India and Pakistan were engaged in a peace process, "substance" was more important than the "process."

"Those who have turned to violence should see some light at the end of the tunnel," she said. Violence was likely to come down automatically if the peace process was "seen to be going somewhere."

She condemned terrorism saying, "Eliminating terrorism is in our own national interest," but added that it was important to address issues that gave rise to terror. "We keep telling this to everyone — internationally and in the region."

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