Sunday, April 22, 2007

31st Meeting Of Cairns Group in Lahore

Australian Trade Minister, Warren Truss chaired the 31st meeting of Cairns Group in Lahore. He was too busy in pretending as the champion of poor farmers. Meanwhile his government was spending billions of dollars on agricultural subsidies in shape of drought relief, fuel subsidies, and lower taxes for the Australian farmers. He belongs to a party, which is extremely conservative and advocates the protectionism. It is ironic that such a person is regarded as a supporter of poor peasants of developing countries.

Australian Wheat Board (AWB) was involved in one of the biggest corruption scandals of agricultural history while Truss was serving as Minister of Agriculture. Western Australian grain producer, Trevor Flugge was appointed as Chairman of AWB by the then Agricultural Minister Warren Truss. Flugge's appointment was publicly criticized by American wheat industry and the aid community. Flugge was allegedly involved in AWB kickback scandal.

A corrupt Pakistani agent was paid $12 million as secret commission by AWB to secure wheat contracts for Australia. However, the inquiry into the AWB bribery scandal, headed by Terence Cole, QC refused to name the Pakistani agent who was given a code name P2. The refusal to name the Pakistani agent highlights the double standards of the West. The Australian government has refused to name the agent so that the same person can be used to secure favourable trade deals in the future. The other reason behind the refusal is to send a message to the corrupt officials of the developing countries that the Australian government will never disclose their names. Hence, these corrupt officials can continue to support corrupt practices of Australian businesses in return for bribes.

Truss believes that Pakistanis are gullible. It is better that he keeps his focus on agricultural subsidies. He said, "Cricket is a passion which binds Pakistan and Australia" The former Australian cricketer, Dean Jones called the South African Muslim cricketer Hashim Amla "the terrorist". However, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard refused to call Dean Jones a "racist" and said, "you cannot be too careful in relation to links between one particular racial or religious group and terrorism". Pakistanis do not want to be bound with a country which’s Prime Ministers refuses to condemn racism.

Its time that the Western politicians stop treating people of developing countries with contempt and show some respect for them. If the Western politicians do not change their hypocritical stance then the people of the developing world will take matters in their own hands by forging new alliances to save their economic interests.