Islamabad’s weakest link

Published: August 2, 2010

The writer is executive director news and current affairs at Aaj TV syed.talat@tribune.com.pk

On the face of it, the furore in Pakistan seems pointless. British Prime Minister David Cameron has not said anything new. All he has done is to repeat the standard script that the Washington-London-Delhi-Kabul Quartet has been releasing in fragments for a long time. The alleged duality of Islamabad in tackling internal sources of global terrorism has been a refrain with every single important dignitary who has spoken on the subject anywhere in the world. But what makes Mr Cameron’s utterances particularly galling is the choice of the platform for his attack. He stood next to his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, and openly laid into Pakistan accusing it of exporting terrorism. This has only proven the sceptics right that there is indeed an international diplomatic siege being laid on Islamabad. Also worrying from Islamabad’s point of view is the timing of Mr Cameron’s diplomatic callousness. His words sound unusually ominous against the backdrop of the bigger case that is being propagated against Pakistan. The case runs something like this: The army-ISI duo runs and backs global terrorists, who use this official sanction and sanctuary to not just aggravate international efforts to stabilise Afghanistan but also undermine democracies like India, besides threatening important financial hubs like the UK and Europe. At the same time, this deadly duo milks international capitals in the shape of aid and weapons by using Pakistan’s territorial status as a frontline state in the war against terror.

By all accounts, these are serious charges, which even if spurious in substance, are lethal in intent and diplomatic impact. It is a pity, however, that Islamabad has not been able to launch an effective counter to the Quartet’s blitzkrieg. The Gilani government has chosen to respond to this new phase of charges against Pakistan in a sadly disjointed fashion. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s audacious invitation to Nato and the US to take the war against terrorists inside Pakistan has been mostly swallowed. The reaction to David Cameron’s statement has been weak and now that President Asif Ali Zardari has kept his official tour to London intact, also hypocritical. That the ISI chief has called off his UK tour seemingly in response to the Cameron jibe is neither here nor there. It only shows Pakistan as a house divided. As for the US allegations, these have been overlooked and not been responded to — perhaps because the strategic dialogue is too important to be rocked by a verbal sparring round with Washington.

Similarly, pursuit of an “engagement” with Delhi and the desire to come across as a “reasonable” state has prevented Islamabad from forcefully reacting to India’s barrage of accusations. As a result the prevailing perception is that Islamabad is completely without option against its diplomatic encirclement by the Quartet and shall have to, sooner or later, fall in line. And when one sees the president’s itinerary as he travels to France and the UK, the perception looks very close to reality.

Another perception is that the current leadership including the opposition is incapable of effectively responding to the Quartet’s global propaganda against Pakistan. Their financial interest, their personal affiliation and the future of their children – in fact, their entire present and future life, as well as the life of their progeny – is outside Pakistan. London may not have much diplomatic clout against Islamabad but it does have enormous influence with the top leaders of almost all political parties. They would dare not speak against London and Washington or their riches shall be frozen.

This is the weakest link in Pakistan’s chain of diplomacy.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • ali khan
    Aug 2, 2010 - 11:13AM

    well said, your a jounalist,s journalist Recommend

  • irfan
    Aug 2, 2010 - 11:16AM

    Diplomacy is not about shouting the loudest but about achieving one’s objectives and preserving one’s core interests through sustained and deft manoeuvring.
    Besides, one has to look within also to identify whether a) we are indeed playing a double game or not; b) whether we are guilty of pushing elements/ forces into others territories, which we hate to flourish in our lands; and c) whether our military establishment is under the policy and operational control of civilian government or is it going haywire with its delusional geo-strategic intoxication at the expense of the whole nation!
    A great deal of introspection about the above issues must be the order of the day if we are to succeed on this diplomatic front. Recommend

  • Tippu
    Aug 2, 2010 - 11:50AM

    Well Said. Our smaless politicians are the weakest link and do not represent the will of the people.

    The irony ofcourse is that these very corrupt and non-representative leaders are entertained, encouraged and provided sanctuary by the UK while at the same time lecturing the world about democracy and its values. If that isnt two-faced, i dont knwo what is. And then to have the nerve to call pakistan a two faced nation! Recommend

  • A M Khan
    Aug 2, 2010 - 12:10PM

    As per UK Supreme Court recent judgment the UK Government can not freeze even the assets of terrorist unless approved by the Parliament(January 11,2010),so you are wrong once you say “They would dare not speak against London and Washington or their riches shall be frozen”.Pakistan has responded-:
    (a) Wajid Shams ul Hasan:It’s an immature reaction from an immature politician.”“He should choose his words more carefully.”
    (b)PM Gilani: “Such statements could affect the war against terrorism”
    (c)Foreign Minister:We take serious exception to any suggestion that falsifies facts and tends to put the entire onus of terrorism on Pakistan. This is totally unacceptable.
    (d) DG ISI has canceled his scheduled visit.
    What type of a response do you suggest?Should the Government declare war against UK?You want Zardari to cancel his visit,though you have not written it ,but that is your desire, like your other “Paratrooper”anchor colleagues.You failed to mention that Mr.Cameron made this statement to please the Indians with whom he was to sign defense deals worth more than 700 million Pounds.Recommend

  • talha
    Aug 2, 2010 - 12:12PM

    History speaks that after the Independence led by Jinnah; we are always weak on the negotiation table. It is often the negligence and incompetence on the part of political force that we lost most of our cases in the international forum. The current issue is one of the chain reactions by our weak diplomacy against the issue of war on terrorism. This issue is needed to be taken seriously and we have to take certain stand for the sake of future relationship with international community. Recommend

  • Aug 2, 2010 - 12:30PM

    I totally agree with Syed Talat Hussain.
    America and UK to achieve certain aims by playing a double game with Islamabad with the secret help of India, Afghanistan and Israel.Recommend

  • Realist
    Aug 2, 2010 - 12:38PM

    You Sir, are correct.Recommend

  • faraz
    Aug 2, 2010 - 1:31PM

    Although Cameron’s language is undiplomatic but he has said is absolutely correct. Our weakest link is a bunch of immature generals who dont know what a state is.

    The army is the main benificiary of its alliance with Washington and Londob, not the politicians. The ISI’s decision of not going to UK is a political stunt meant for domestic public consumption.

    We shouldnt worry about Cameron’s statements, he needs us to interrogate suspects through torture which is prohibited in his country.Recommend

  • Riaz
    Aug 2, 2010 - 2:13PM

    I endorse A M Khan comments.The UK ambassador has been summoned by the FM today.Please come out of this conspiracy theory mindset and write objectively.Recommend

  • Hassan Khan
    Aug 2, 2010 - 2:56PM

    Cancelling the tour would be stupid, there are other ways to handle things apart from protesting and we need to learn to handle it smartly, just like India is doing.

    Also, its more important to majorly clean up our own house and put things in order, and once that is done is when we can stand up to defend ourselves completely.Recommend

  • Tilsim
    Aug 2, 2010 - 3:16PM

    I agree with AM Khan, well said. These problems are of our making. Some introspection and change of direction are indeed required. It’s sad that we can’t seem to make a clean break with proxy war.Recommend

  • Aristo
    Aug 2, 2010 - 3:46PM

    Talat Sb, its time to not sweep the dirt under the carpet as usual rather the old filthy carpet should be thrown out. This should be the way forward.Recommend

  • zaheer Abbas
    Aug 2, 2010 - 3:51PM

    well sdaid,what kind of the colesuion what kind of we front line alley,did we ever think about this,what is our importance in the eyes of British & eaurpean ”rulars”
    Please thik about & what we can say about our adminstration ”Allah Allah ” may courage them to deliver their masses ‘s voice infront of these fate writers.Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Aug 2, 2010 - 3:55PM

    @ AMKhan – Sir, your comments reflect the contempt which many Pakistanis have towards reality. This reality is now filtering through many utterances world over. I do not understand that for what gain people in Pakistan are still in defiance.

    It is a fact that terrorism is emanating from Pakistan’s soil. You may call them by any name you desire. It may be state, non-state, in-state, out-state, over-state actors, establishments, enterprises, forces etc. Rather than being in denial mode, please wake up before its too late. There is no question of pleasing or displeasing anybody by Mr. Cameron. He still maintains what he said. Please read latest at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1299544/David-Cameron-say-sorry-Pakistan-terror-comments.htmlRecommend

  • Shah Khawar
    Aug 2, 2010 - 4:15PM

    Let us step back a little. Ignore for a second as to who is saying and let us concentrate only on what has been said.

    Is it not a fact that our security agencies have been in bed with the Taleban; a policy whose price is being paid by ordinary Pakistanis!

    Why do we not raise our voice against such harmful policies!Recommend

  • M.Atif
    Aug 2, 2010 - 4:30PM

    Mr. M A Khan thoughts are subjective rather objectives.
    I think he forget that how many times we call American Ambassador on drone attacks but did they stop, same Mr. Cameron is saying that he will not stop saying it again.
    If he don’t like Mr. Talat & his Paratrooper “anchor colleagues he should not read them.
    Mr.Talat is using these terms as a reference that they have their bank balance Saray Mahal, Switzerland accounts etc is not it ?) their children are studding their
    Will anyone else give more blood than us even they are insulting us and we cannot even postpone our visit rather cancel
    Mr. Cameron is pleasing to India on the cost of our insult.
    Can we say anything like this against Britain & will they behave like us?Recommend

  • Waqas Shabir
    Aug 2, 2010 - 4:58PM

    Bravo’Recommend

  • Nadia
    Aug 2, 2010 - 5:21PM

    I do see light at the end of the tunnel when I read comments in this newspaper which give free hand to real public opinion. Unfortunately, commentators and other anti-politician lobby do everything to hide the reality. It is heartening to read that many readers understand that we are actually exporting terrorism. There is no shortage of evidence. The statements of jihadi leaders in our own press since 1990s are sufficient proof of that. The investigative reports by journalists like Ahmad Rashid, Amir Mir, Arif Jamal, Aysha Siddiqa etc. The cancellation of the ISI chief’s visit to UK is only window dressing. If the army is serious, they should really break all military contacts with UK. Commentators like Talat should advise the army to do the same with other Western countries. They should tell tham to stop asking for military aid all the time from US in order to show national honour. Only then they can justify their hatred for politicians.Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza
    Aug 2, 2010 - 5:51PM

    Every political party has responded to the comments of Cameron, please identify one which has not. Recommend

  • AA
    Aug 2, 2010 - 6:35PM

    What Mr. Cameron has said is not much different than what many informed Pakistani columnists and politicians, in the opposition during Musharraf’s rule, have been saying for many years. So, what’s all this fuss about? And, I agree with Irafan, above, that diplomacy is not about shouting the loudest but achieving the desired results rather quietly.Recommend

  • shy
    Aug 2, 2010 - 7:08PM

    Well written.our govt is careless for respect and dignity.Recommend

  • Asfandyar Khan
    Aug 2, 2010 - 7:15PM

    We are a terror exporting nation, y is it so hard to digest. We trained the talibans (Afghanistan) and are still doing it. We send Jihadis to Kashmir so that more Kashmiris die. We send terrorists to India and they kill 200 people like slaughtering 200 chickens. We provide shelter to JUNDULLAH’s (IRAN) leaders. Even China has started to complain about the rise in radical islamists in Xingxhiang province. So in effect all our neighbors are sick of us and now the world is getting sick of us.

    And about the weakest link, if our politicians are the weakest link then i guess ur saying that the Army is the strongest. Recommend

  • KM
    Aug 2, 2010 - 7:20PM

    TRUE! Riches are more important to secure than the nation … Its a shame that despite the history known to each and every Pakistani, they yet fall prey to the same, and hence sell their souls (vote) so cheaply.Recommend

  • abid
    Aug 2, 2010 - 7:21PM

    Shah Khawar and Nadia’s comments sum it all up. Pity that people like you are in the absolute minority and seen as delusional.Recommend

  • Syed Nayyar Uddin Ahmad
    Aug 2, 2010 - 8:39PM

    In response to British PM’s statement in India, that Pakistan is an exporter of terrorism, Pakistan must ask the British H.C. to leave the country within 24 hrs. Remember, Shah Mahmood Qureshi Sahib, one can not be insulted, more than he allows his own humiliation.

    And here, it is sheer insult to all the Shaheeds and living Pakistanis, who are relentlessly fighting the menace of terrorism, to make Pakistan and the whole world, a safe place for everyone.Recommend

  • Riaz Ahmed
    Aug 2, 2010 - 9:38PM

    At the end of the day, Pakistan’s image remains tarnished. Our past will haunt us unless the state policy with regard to past involvement is completely shunned. A terrorist is a terrorist. There is no such thing as a good one. UK’s financial and economic interests in India have also a role play, I suspect UK just cant ignore India’s growing might as a global economic power.Recommend

  • shazia ahmad
    Aug 2, 2010 - 10:34PM

    cant read all..
    he also restance his statement…
    and we will welcome him at pakistan…Recommend

  • Parvez
    Aug 3, 2010 - 12:37AM

    Talat, you describe the situation very well. Nobody is talking about the damage Afghan war has done to Pakistan economy. If Cameron is unhappy, he can pick up his marbles and go home. It is part of the blame game and Pakistan is new Cambodia.Recommend

  • Asim
    Aug 3, 2010 - 1:21AM

    It was the Brits who, in the first place, sowed the seeds of mistrust between Pakistan and India; by leaving behind the incomplete partition of the Sub Continent; on purpose. Presently, Kashmir provides the root cause of all terrorism in Indo-Pak region. Today, Cameroon is teaching us about radicalism & terrorism. We ask him, WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE? Also, what does Cameroon have to say about all the Islamic extremism in the UK….!!!! People in glass houses should not throw stones, Mr Cameroon. Recommend

  • No BS
    Aug 3, 2010 - 12:03PM

    Once again u hit the nail on hits head. What is the parliament and opposition doing? Is there nobody in the current set up that has any backbone? Recommend

  • Aug 3, 2010 - 4:56PM

    talat:

    i agree when you say: British Prime Minister David Cameron has not said anything new.

    but disagree only with the conclusion drawn here: They would dare not speak against London and Washington or their riches shall be frozen.

    imho, there are other more plausible reasons for not speaking up, to wit, spine, guts, convictions, courage and perhaps most important the fear of (their stashed wealth) being exposed

    brits are smart, they do not freeze assets and give wrong signals to other third world tinpots who have parked their illicit moneyRecommend

  • Yusuf
    Aug 3, 2010 - 5:06PM

    What else could we expect as a client state fighting a proxy war and pretending to independent and sovereign nation? We have an option to review our involvement with US through a referendum and deal with the insurgents anyway we like. But it won’t happen anytime soon because our political elites and media owners have sold their souls to the west.Recommend

  • ArifQ
    Aug 3, 2010 - 8:18PM

    Talat Sahib shows consistency in style and loyalty to media anchorpersons in blaming the ‘weakest link’ whereas truth is that Pakistan army is running our foreign policy in addition to their other portfolio’s. Recommend

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