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ہفتہ، 5 مارچ، 2011

Future of US-Pakistan relations

It is time to review this so-called strategic partnership. Yes, economically it is said that Pakistan deppends on the US and USA dominated agencies like IMF, WB and others. But this dependency is anyway rather a curse and should not be perpetuated and the Pakistanis must work their plans themselves and try to stand on their own two legs commanding some respect in the comity of nations. That means the future of US-Pakistani relations is rather bleak and the sooner the Pakistani realize and draw the consequences, the better it would be for Pakistan.

Relations between Pakistan and the US have hit the lowest-ever level following the murder in broad daylight of two Pakistani nationals by CIA regional chief, Raymond Davis in Lahore and his nabbing and imprisonment by the police. The people of Pakistan are calling for execution of this criminal whom the US claims has diplomatic immunity, which claim the Pakistani judiciary refutes, while the media and the political parties point out that even if this secret agent happens to be a diplomat, his killing of two Pakistanis in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses, automatically cancels any such diplomatic status. Washington, with its mischief including the frequent drone attacks that continue to kill innocent men, women, and children, fully exposed, has now resorted to threats of targeting Pakistani diplomats in the US. The Pakistani government, which over the years has been meek and submissive to the US and on US orders has dismissed Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, is now unable to hand over Davis to the US because of public resentment which could ultimately boil over and possibly sweep away the government in Islamabad, as has been the fate of several Arab clients of the US in the region. In view of the situation, the Pakistani media and the people are demanding steadfastness against US pressures for the sake of preserving the sovereignty and independence of the country. The press and people cite the steadfastness of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past 32 years against US domineering, and say Islamabad should follow the example of Tehran which recently shot down two US drones in the Persian Gulf. The Pakistanis advocate firming up Islamabad's ties with Tehran in order build a strong regional bloc. In this regard, on February 26, the daily "Pakistan Observer" published an interesting analysis written by Ali Ashraf Khan and titled Future of US-Pakistan relations. Please stay with us for listening to his analysis
Ten years down the road we have to realize that Pakistan’s ‘partnership’ in the US war against terror has cost us dearly. During the Pervez Musharraf regime it was a one sided affair, still Americans were pressurizing for “Do More” which ultimately resulted in the Lal Masjid episode and bulldozing the constitution by imposing emergency as Army Chief – by the President – to topple the Chief Justice of Pakistan unlawfully. One wonders if CIA operatives like Raymond Davis had any role in creating such chaotic conditions.
The country is on the fringe of economic collapse and the military action of the Pakistani army in Fata, Balochistan and elsewhere has resulted partly in spreading terrorist attacks and violence throughout the country, and may be some of these CIA contractors also have a hand in worsening our domestic political situation and creating hopelessness. Now that missing link to US support to the Tehrik-e Taliban-e Pakistan has come to surface – after disclosure of Davis' frequent visits to Waziristan – we should be rather bold in dealing with the US. Those who want to compromise will meet their doom soon, and we should say no to the North Waziristan operation, which will create unrest in our internal administration. In the wake of this war against our own population, millions of citizens have been dislocated and are suffering a miserable life in camps and as displaced guests in the homes of their relatives.
The so-called partnership in the war on terror had been a lonely decision made by the then military dictator Musharraf who had pledged unconditional support to the US war in Afghanistan. This decision had not been popular at that time and it is becoming even more unpopular these days. Nevertheless, this false and unpopular decision has been upheld by the current PPP or Pakistan People's Party's government during the recent three years of their rule for their own, selfish reasons. Without US help and launching of an infamous NRO they would not be ruling Pakistan today. That is why they are bound by their pledges to the US and are upholding their acceptance for US drone attacks on Pakistani territory killing hundreds or even thousands of Pakistanis in the tribal areas. Ruthless mercenaries of the PPP regime like Hussain Haqqani have opened a new chapter in this so-called ‘partnership’ by issuing hundreds of Pakistani visas to American CIA agents and security personal with unclear and doubtful agenda so much so that today our Foreign Office has no clue as to who is moving around in Pakistan and doing what.
The most recent expression of this situation is the Davis affair where one of those CIA agents went on rampage in Lahore in broad daylight killing two Pakistanis. That he was a CIA agent was visible from day one on account of the amount of equipment which was found in his car comprising of cameras containing pictures of sensitive places, a whole weapon arsenal with ammunition for a small war and satellite GPS communication system. The fact of Davis' connections to the CIA and his assignments has been since confirmed by the western media and the CIA itself. Now the interesting part of the discussion is that still the US is claiming diplomatic status for a CIA agent of theirs. Has this become a diplomatic mission these days? Should Pakistani envoys abroad be equipped from now onwards like Davis has been equipped? The question is in the court and we will hear the verdict soon. However a lot of pressure is being used on the families of the victims to get Davis out of Pakistan by short circuiting the process of law. Mohammad Sarwar, a maternal uncle of Shumaila Kanwal, who committed suicide two weeks after her young husband, Fahim, was murdered by Davis, has been threatened of dire consequences if he continues to pursue her case in the court against Davis. When he refused to back down, some people forcibly entered his house late in the night and administered a heavy dose of poisoned pills to kill Sarwar. He was rushed to local hospital where stomach wash was carried out to save his life.
A question arises here. The government is busy for nearly a month in finding an excuse for Murderer Davis to be sent back while no effort is visible to save and protect the life & property of its citizens. It has further been reported regarding Dr. Aafia Siddiqi’ – the Pakistani lady kidnapped by US agents and languishing in US jails on absurd charges – that her mother’s house in Gulshan-e Iqbal was broken in by unidentified men looking for Dr. Aafia’s Pakistani passport, which her mother had revealed to be in her custody a few days earlier in the TV programme Capital Talk. It was surprising that the police guards posted for security of the house were conspicuously missing on that night. These incidents indicate the depth of US pressures and meddling in Pakistan's affairs. However, this does not mean that the Pakistani public is going to accept a 'dictated' verdict confirming the diplomatic status of the murderer, Davis. As is clear by the case of the Punjab governor, Suleman Taseer, who was shot by his own bodyguard for supporting changes to the blasphemy law, religious emotions awakened through the war on terror are running high and any such manipulated decision to facilitate Raymond Davis may trigger a public uprising and violence of unprecedented order. And that would not only be the religious parties and organizations but the broad public who will merge their other economic and personal problems with one another against the US and go wild. That is how and why the US-Pakistani relations have hit an all-time low and peace in this country has become fragile in the wake of this crisis. Therefore, the court verdict will have a distinct political dimension.
It appears that the Zardari-led PPP is still trying to defend and rescue the government by supporting the US demand for diplomatic immunity, oblivious to the fact that the number of defecting sections of Pakistanis is growing. Even in their own PPP rows, people with a consciousness intact are defecting like Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi did. Another defecting section is the ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence, whose relations with the US and CIA are anyway strained and this affair will surely not bring any relaxation. The Pakistani army which is bearing the brunt of the war against terror in our country will also be surely thinking about its stand. While the army has traditionally good relations with the US and depends for weapon supplies on Washington, it also has a heightened realization of Pakistan’s national interest which is clearly at stake in this case. Now remains the so-called ‘civil society’ of Pakistan, the two per cent westernized Pakistanis who throw their lot with the US where they park their money and whose passport they might be carrying. The curse of this strategic partnership, which has not only heavily burdened Pakistan financially because of war on terror but has resulted in squeezing the purchasing power of the lower income groups who are also forced to commit suicides. This is a rather thin basis for the strategic partnership and even that might break any time.
Therefore, it is time to review this so-called strategic partnership. Yes, economically it is said that Pakistan depends on the US and US dominated agencies like IMF, WB and others. But this dependency is anyway rather a curse and should not be perpetuated and the Pakistanis must work their plans themselves and try to stand on their own two legs commanding some respect in the comity of nations. That means the future of US-Pakistani relations is rather bleak and the sooner the Pakistanis realize and draw the consequences, the better it would be for Pakistan.
Pakistan has many other options but the problem is that it has visionless leaders. If Pakistan had leaders like the team working in foreign office under Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, Islamabad's foreign allies would not dare to poke their nose in the country's domestic affairs. Pakistan's economic and financial managers also would not have dared to tear the national fabric to suit their foreign masters and multiply the number of people living below poverty line because of their borrowed plans. Pakistan's only survival lies in strengthening ties with China and Iran, but as a student of history and International relations I feel that time is running against Pakistan on that option also, since these time- tested friends have national interests of their own, and might demand otherwise. So why delay any further and why not come with a crystal clear policy to change Pakistan's alignment with its immediate neighbours, who may also need Islamabad at this point. Strengthening relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Council will certainly make things change for better and Pakistan can live and enjoy respect as an independent country and not as a banana republic. The choice is ours.
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