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جمعرات، 12 مئی، 2011

Can America be a trusted friend of Pakistan?


By Ali Ashraf Khan

The history of US-Pakistani relations is a story of betrayals and lies. Right from the beginning in the 1950ies they were built upon expediency rather than on converging values, ideologies or even interests. While on the Pakistani side the first and foremost expectation was that of keeping in place an outside support for an instable and wavering government and political system which was western, post-colonial and had no roots in the soil of the land of Pakistan, the US on the other hand from the very beginning had its own eggs to grind, while never caring for Pakistani interests, used our strategically situated country as a launching pad for espionage and extending their influence into Middle, South and Southeast Asia in an effort to take the place of a super power vacated by Great Britain after WW II and as a stronghold against the evolving rival super power Soviet Union.

This constellation of mismatching ideas, interests and expectations can be traced throughout the following decades. Pakistani governments under General Ayub Khan and later under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did make an effort although not successful or sustained- to define what the national interest of Pakistan would have been; Ayub Khan tried to avoid US base at Badebair close to Peshawer in Khyber Pakhtonkhwa, in complete negligence of the national interest of Pakistan on the orders of Ghulam Mohammad, when the so-called Communication Agreement was signed in 50ies with the Americans ceding away territory where they could install their spying station, during one of his trip to Peshawar Mr. Bhutto as foreign minister wished to visit this base, he was told he can not enter the compound for inspection however he was welcome to their cafeteria for taking coffee and sandwiches. When American U2 was shot down by Russians. Pakistan was given an ultimatum by USSR Premier Niktia Khuroshev to revoke this agreement within 3 days or be prepared to face the consequences. It is one remarkable achievement of President Ayub Khan that he in a bid to safeguard our national interest revoked this agreement unilaterally and resisted all pressure and blackmailing from US to review his decision, even President Johnson had to fall on his knees to send a letter to Pakistan President but he stood by his decision, and tried to cultivate new era of going forward and founded a lasting relationship and even friendship with China based on common interests and values, which was followed by arranging a secret tour for US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to China, which Americans have forgotten now, and the same Mr. Kissinger, 88, had cheek to tell Fox News that Pakistan was thus in a bind while some time later Mr. Bhutto sought an alternative alignment for his country with the Islamic countries and in developing nukes in order to be able to sustain an independent course. The same Mr. Kissinger was also the man who threatened Mr. Bhutto of dire consequences of developing nukes.

The death knell for all this came with a Western propaganda of Renaissance of Islam, linked to the Islamic revolution in neighbouring Iran a little difficult in the beginning to digest for a Sunni majority country like Pakistan under a pseudo fundamentalist Ziaul Haq - and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which threatened the power equation of the cold war world and initiated a fierce anti-communist war in Afghanistan based on Jihadi ideology for which the US conveniently used blackmailed and manipulated the neighbouring Pakistan which by that time had not been able to evolve into a self-confident nation aware of its own worth and national interests, when Osama was launched by US and Zia had to facilitate Israel in transporting their supplies to these Islami Mujahideens in Afghanistan. The reason for this inferiority complex was and is in the unsolved problem of Kashmir state according to agreed formula of British partition plan and the resulting rivalry with India, Pakistan’s nemesis. As a result of new US-Pakistani partnership in the war in Afghanistan the Pakistani state and political system was militarized, the jihadi ideology took hold of large parts of the Pakistani society and the uncontrolled spread of weapons in Pakistan resulted in the militarization of the population, which then suited very well to the American plan. One great disadvantage Pakistan received to its anyway unevenly developed economy, which was upset by an uncontrolled influx of up to three million Afghan refugees who had to be fed and adjusted without any external help. When after the Soviets had left Afghanistan the US declared mission accomplished and went away.

The following history of democratic elections and governments was nothing more than a farce and it took only 11 years until the army was taking over what was a basically corrupt, incompetent government with so-called Islamist leanings. But it was not in the interest of and beyond the comprehension of the West and the US that democracy in Pakistan should fail because in their understanding a western democracy, which is Off the people, Far from the people to Buy the people is the only viable and acceptable way towards what they perceive as progress. That is why the latest military rule under Gen. Musharraf was shunned internationally until 9/11 when Pakistan became an important partner again in the so-called war on terror. Military rule did not matter any more; on the contrary, it came in handy because there was only one single person to be pressurized and bribed instead of several which made the US overtures much handier. Pakistan’s soil, infrastructure and its population was ruthlessly used for the US proxy war effort regardless of any damage involved. When as a result of ruthless bombing and warfare the war and its Islamist fighters together with their ideology spilt over into Pakistan through a long and porous border which had never been an obstacle to cross-border movements the regime in Islamabad was unable to deal with this situation of growing militancy inside Pakistan and growing demands for democracy from the outside. The need to take on a democratic image was the death knell to this phase of Pak-US relations and the US shifted its support to a seemingly democratic party never caring about the fact that they would install a corrupt regime and sanction corruption by installing and supporting it.

The war on terror now in its tenth year has from the very beginning deeply divided Pakistani society. The catch for the Musharraf regime to go into it was gaining legitimacy for a formerly pariah government, getting an edge over the intimate enemy India and US and Western money for modernizing the Pakistan army with modern technology and the lingering economy. That model worked for a while militarily and economically under the previous government but the new democratically elected dispensation installed with an infamous NRO, could never make it work. The reasons may be several, among them first and foremost the unpopular and corrupt posture of the ruling elite, but partly the economic crisis and of course the fact that this government went back to the IMF and World Bank with the begging bowl in their both hands, in order to get hold of more money to be misappropriated and the mistaken policies of IMF have deepened if not caused another economic crisis in Pakistan. The US-Pakistani relationship under a corrupt, incompetent government which above all other was in place because of the good offices of the US was from the very beginning a one-sided and from the Pakistani side subservient one. Mistaking personal interests for national ones this regime’s first and foremost aim was to stay in power in order to plunder and make up for the long time they had been out of power before. In order to achieve this they allowed Pakistani sovereignty to be compromised by drone attacks, frequents incursions of foreign aircrafts into Pakistani territory and by allowing US uncontrolled access to Pakistan by issuing visas in bulk that allowed the CIA to come in droves and move around as if at home and build up an independent CIA spy network without the Pakistani authorities knowing or caring. We know what the outcome was with the Raymond Davis and the Osama Bin Laden gimmick not far away. One is surprised to see the pictures of two august ladies witnessing the live video at the situation room, showing utter shock and displeasure, were got removed as an after thought. Why?

Only one day after US special forces had again violated Pakistan’s sovereignty-without of course any Pakistani institution to know about it or being able or willing to do anything about it- now Senior US Congressional leaders urged the Obama administration to reconsider America’s relationship with Pakistan and also threatened to suspend $1.3 billion of annual aid to the country if it’s established that Pakistani intelligence officials helped lodge Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. This is a typical and expected reaction from an ally who is acting according to the here described principles of using a country for its own interests and throwing it away after there is no more need for that. We have been arguing many a time that there is no and can be no friendship or partnership between US and Pakistan because our values, ideas and national interests are different if not antipodal. We do not need foreign money if not to foster corruption in our country, to build our economy we have to do what is needed ourselves without foreign aid. In any case there has been no aid coming in from the US, maximum what has been coming is money for reimbursement of 15 to 20 per cent of our unavoidable expenses while fighting their proxy war not to talk even about the damage done to our non-military infrastructure like roads and others. US presence in Pakistan is detrimental to whatever interests we may have. It is therefore high time to disband this unholy relationship and do away with any illusions about American designs or capacities to aid us leading to bondage.
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