The lone voice of dissent that echoed at the All Parties Conference (APC), demanding a paradigm shift in the foreign and security policies of the country got no attention from the government or media.
Veteran left-wing politician and constitutional expert Abid Hassan Minto refused to sign the declaration as it did not accommodate the dissenting view the Worker Party Pakistan (WPP) president expressed at the APC.
He described the whole process as a cosmetic exercise and said, “We cannot become part of the status quo.”
Minto said that all stakeholders in the war against terror were playing a bluff game in order to gain more weight.
Addressing a party workers meeting in the federal capital after the APC, Minto said that dissenting opinions were not incorporated in the 13-point resolution, which was devoid of any substance and spirit as the majority of its proponents and authors represented the traditional mindset of hegemony and strategic depth.
“The conference was meant to seek proposals on the current situation, but the direction and policy was kept intact, which according to our point of view, is against the national interest. We and other likeminded parties tried our best to change the policy direction, but it seemed that many things were already decided before the APC,” the WPP leader said.
Minto called it ironic that the military establishment has primacy over the parliament in formulating foreign policy and its priorities. Despite continuous failures, strategic depth is still been offered as a panacea to all ills. This policy has proven to be a disaster and made the country isolated in the world while fragmenting society on sectarian lines.
He said that the time has come to devise a clear, unambiguous and transparent strategy with regard to the country’s sovereignty, domestic and foreign policies, and economy, and put an end to military intervention in politics and policymaking and make the parliament sovereign and give the army the same role as is being assigned in civilised countries. “No army in the world has corporate interests or runs private businesses. Our army is not answerable or accountable to any institution; even an elected parliament cannot question the army.”
He said that nuclear bombs cannot guarantee security, but foreign policy based on peaceful co-existence and good relations with neighbours can.
Manto said that the truth has to be faced for national security and prosperity. “The adventurist, cold war mindset has to change,” he added.
He proposed that a ‘regional cooperation forum’ should be effectively formed and to get rid of “imperialist forces” and get independence from the political and economic stranglehold of imperialism. “Without that, there can be no peace, stability and development in Afghanistan or Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2011.