Alice Wells babbled the “do more” with a jalapeño this time. She said, “Increasingly I think it’s becoming simply unacceptable for the Taliban not to negotiate.” In 2001, Pakistan had strongly advised the Americans to negotiate with the Taliban instead of attacking. The tangy part is that now the US is telling Pakistan to “do more” to exert pressure on the Taliban to negotiate peace. It is like Trump starts calling CNN truthful and unbiased while CNN labels itself “fake news”.
The FATF “grey list” where Pakistan found itself is disturbing yet very thought provoking. It calls for soul searching but not in the sense of correcting the mistakes but rather questioning why do we even conduct elections and vie for democracy in the first place. Citizens yearn to bring a desired government for their desired policies through ballot. However, in reality governments are hardly responsive to and reflective of their citizens’ aspirations. Alice Wells can prove to be more Pakistani than all Pakistanis. She can change policies here by issuing threats that over 200 million Pakistanis cannot dream of doing.
Threats from foreign governments and foreign regimes compel the government in Pakistan to scramble to do whatever it takes to pacify them. There was a piece in the Sunday edition of a Pakistani newspaper, titled “With SC help, FIA saves Pakistan from American sanctions”. The author describes the quick chain of reactions in our otherwise lethargic government machinery with pride and joy. Every stakeholder came into action to legislate in order to save Pakistan from the wrath of the American sanctions. I do get the argument about IR realist school of thought and Game Theory but not a single word was dedicated to the mere fact that this flies in the face of democracy. Sovereignty is violated more by such actions rather than by a CIA drone.
The piece omits to say that for the sake of the hapless citizens of this country, such energy is never observed in these officials’ activities. I don’t know of an account where government officials have sacrificed on their sleep and comfort and worked tirelessly to rid the citizens of the scourge of electricity cuts in this scorching heat or maybe do something for the little kids selling pencils and candies at traffic signals. Those asking to respect the vote, respect the threats in reality.
At the end of the piece, the author laments that it would be great if other arms of the governments could do the same, meaning work under coercion and foreign threats. Why can’t respect be preferred to comfort, which poor people do not have anyway? Doesn’t every politician claim that this nation can eat grass in times of trouble? Not sure about the people, but I am confident some of our leading journalists, analysts, and politicians do eat grass.
On the other side, our people don’t have civic sense. They don’t want to pay taxes. Paying taxes should be a day of joy because it means we are buying the things and services we need every day. Security, street lights, water supply, and countless many services. Ensuring these basic facilities should see some participation from the people. But sadly, a nation where people run the traffic signals, do not stand in line, throw trash on the road, behave like a herd of cattle, say InshaAllah when they don’t want to keep the promise, then civic participation is too much to expect from them. Citizenship doesn’t only mean casting one’s vote. That is only a tiny fraction of it.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2018.