Maybe we should ask America to aim their drones towards minorities. If a few unmanned aerial vehicles began raining destruction down on Christians, Hindus and Shias, it might give us a reason to value their lives. Instead, we are wasting all our limited concern on a network of brutal terrorists. Being forced by America to act against the Haqqani network has gotten our hackles up as we boldly stand face to face with Uncle Sam and refuse to blink until we see his whites. It is an action that will probably result in a great deal of brinkmanship on the part of the armed forces and all sorts of opportunistic hypocrisy by the political parties. We civilians will sit here biting our nails as we wonder whether we are going to be the next Iraq or Afghanistan, while backdoor deals and last-minute manoeuvrings will result in continued drone attacks and increased credibility for the players involved.
What exactly are we making this bold stand against the US for anyway? To protect our sovereignty? Sovereignty requires us having an effective and independent government within our territories. According to that definition, prescribed to by the United Nations and all its members, we have no such claim to make. Our government is about as effective as a single mosquito coil being waved over all of Lahore to fight against dengue. Its independence is slightly more credible, once you take away the addictions to foreign investment, military dictate and fear of public opinion. Our territories are overrun with militant extremists who would massacre us all to prove a point of religious debate. It is for them that we are willing to invoke honour and dignity. Meanwhile, none of this will bring back the busloads of Shias massacred, nor will it save an innocent Christian girl who made a spelling mistake while writing about a religion that she never should have had to consider in the first place.
We lost our sovereignty ages ago. Traded it for short-term gain, with all the foresight of a Native American tribe handing over huge tracts of land for a few beads and snacks. Our dignity we lined up against a wall and shot. Our honour we are currently prosecuting for a spelling mistake.
If the only thing we can be united on is that America is evil and is probably breeding mosquitoes to kill us all with illness, then let us be bombed into nothing. We have lost the rights to sovereignty already. For centuries past, the idea that a state could be sovereign was always connected to its ability to guarantee the best interests of its own citizens. There is no evidence of any such ability.
Maybe the problem is the lack of honest dialogue. If we do indeed have links to the Haqqani network, then there is legitimate fear to be found in cutting those connections. Sleeping with a monster tends to leave your back exposed when you turn to walk away. A well-funded and resourceful militant organisation like that can wreak havoc on us if it feels betrayed. It’s asking for a re-run of most of the troubles of the previous decade. But to admit to that fear would mean admitting to having contact with the network. The fact that the Haqqanis have yet to take credit for any attacks in Pakistan, could be evidence of such. On the other hand, if we don’t have any contacts with them, then what is to be lost by allowing the drone attacks to continue? It’s not like the drones are landing in Islamabad and driving up Constitution Avenue. We have freely given them airspace before. The civilian casualties matter little to us as well. It saves us having to kill those people ourselves, once we get done with the minorities.
All we have learned is that our government is capable of taking a stand. Unfortunately, it’s not against anything that matters.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2011.
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