Pakistan, in the form of its head of state, with alacrity accepted a last-minute summons and trotted off to Chicago to attend the Nato summit. However, matters remain stuck in a messy groove. How Pakistan’s presence there has helped any relevant issue is not glaringly perceptible. Ghairat, misplaced as usual, coupled with ‘demands,’ was the overriding theme.
However, heaven be praised, sanity does exist. The gung-ho ghairat-wallahs who urge on the Rawalpindi-Islamabad duo to stand up and try to be counted do have some competition in the nonsense stakes. Sanity was there in a down-to-earth editorial in this publication on May 22, accompanied in the same issue by an equally down-to-earth column by Shahzad Chaudhry the same day and a follow-up editorial the next day. The gung-ho ghairat-wallahs, together with RWP-ISL, at this stage of the game need to take a breath and do a little bit of thinking and ponder upon reality (if they can, that is).
Pakistan, for too long, has taken itself to be what it is not, relying initially upon its geographical situation, its mighty military and since the end of the 1990s, its fearsome nuclear arsenal which it feels gives it an edge but which terrifies the world because of the country’s flirtation with militant extremism. Its mighty military has been much of the cause of its adopted superiority complex which has not stood it in good stead as history has proven. But then, Pakistan has never learnt from its past; history to its leaderships has for ever been irrelevant.
Conveniently, 1965 and 1971 are put aside when it comes to military might, as is Kargil. And as far as Nawaz Sharif is concerned, in 1999, when he had to ‘rush’ to Washington on America’s Independence Day to be bailed out after Kargil, is an incident that seems to have totally escaped his attention span. Geography did not come to Pakistan’s rescue after the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, nor in 1998, when it exploded its much-vaunted ‘bum.’ It sporadically moans and groans about how it was abandoned by the US and its allies when it is expedient to do so. And as for standing up and flexing its muscles, well September 2001, and the bombing back to the Stone Age is now scoffed at, as a Musharraf aberration — as is the National Reconciliation Ordinance.
What happened at Chicago? The US was firm on its reaction to the ‘demands’ made (why must our politicians of all hues always insist on ‘demanding’?). For the head of state, two “brief pull-asides” (as the US press termed it), or “brief encounters” as the unfortunate presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar has it, with US President Barack Obama were probably unavoidable and certainly unfruitful.
For sure, Pakistan knows that at some stage it will have to climb down from its precarious perch. ‘Demanding’ an apology is a no-go, it will not happen. Drones will continue to ply the skies; the sole hope is money (ah, money, how beloved it is by all!). That will be negotiated and somewhere in between the $250 and $5,000 a bargain will be struck.
Our army chief on April 30 told us all that “others will have to keep in mind our sovereignty, pride and honour”. There’s no getting away from honour, disputed as it may be, and “others” are unlikely to keep it in mind. Post-Chicago, the ambassador to the US said that Pakistan cannot ignore its national interest to win goodwill. What at the moment is its national interest? Easy to answer — elections, coupled with the Difa-e-Pakistan Council and its companions, who relentlessly pursue xenophobia and illusions of ‘honour’.
The PPP, Nawaz Sharif and even Imran Khan should ask themselves that in the event of triumph in the elections, which one of them will be happy to preside over a bankrupt friendless country which, unless it changes its tune, is likely to be down on its knees come election time. And how about armaments for the army?
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.
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