On April 17, the defence committee of the cabinet (with a little unrevealed nudging from those whose business is the defence of Pakistan?) apparently concluded that the current stand-off with the mighty US is drawing to its close. “Negotiations on new terms and conditions for resumption of the ground lines of communication (more commonly referred to as Nato supply routes), joint counterterrorism cooperation, greater inter-agency coordination, transparency in US diplomatic and intelligence footprints in Pakistan, strengthening of border security and non-use of Pakistan’s territory for attacks on other countries and expulsion of all foreign fighters from Pakistan’s territory are our fundamental policy parameters.”
Thus, stated the mouthpiece of the co-chairman of the party in power, the non-letter writing prime minister. Obviously eminently sensible, for one has to be the same height as an opponent to be able to face-off — all a bit stupid if one must bend backwards to be able to look the other in the eye. And a self-recognition of strength and size is a safe course to adopt. The question of need also arises.
Without US support where stands the Pakistan military? And, let’s face it, without the US how would the co-chairman of the ruling party doubling as head of state, fare? He’d be more terrified out of his wits about his safety than he is said to be right now.
Self-preservation is the name of the game when it comes to individuals who now, through a twist of fate, wield power. And it follows that the preservation of the country is in their interests, though they have made a complete mess on that score, what with Balochistan out of their control and the same is the case with the wild and woolly north-western borderlands. Their ineptitude stretches a long way — all the way down from Khyber to Karachi.
Honour and sovereignty are all very well, when they exist. The latter is a myth, perpetrated by a string of rulers who have come and gone and those still with us. The word is used to cover up what is bowing and scraping, such is the condition of this country in which economic and political institutions stand eroded. As for honour, of all who now have a say, does one truly honourable individual spring to mind? All one has to do is switch on the television and click one’s way through the channels to gain first-hand experience of ‘honour’ — it does not even exist amongst thieves in this land said to be of the pure. ‘Honour killings’, oh yes, they come aplenty.
Ok, ok, the US ‘needs’ Pakistan, at the moment. But is Pakistan’s need of the US not somewhat of a greater nature? Should Pakistan be a friend or an enemy of the US? If it is the latter option, would that serve what we take as our much-vaunted though sadly inadequate national sovereignty, to which we so loosely lay claim to without bothering to ponder as to whether we are right now in any position to approach true sovereignty?
For sure, Pakistan, or for that matter any country, needs to be wary of one sole factor when it comes to friendship or any sort of relationship with the mighty US, and that is the historical instability of a relationship, friendship, call it what you may. Over the years, it has had its highs and lows, as is the norm, for America is far more preoccupied with its ‘national interest’ on the international front than is this country.
From the days of its first president, the US has unequivocally maintained that it can afford neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. So when our leaderships moan and groan about being left in the lurch, they should contemplate about this.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.
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