As the Pakistani ship of state drifts on perilous seas, unaware of the fast approaching freak wave (yes, as in the film, The Poseidon Adventure) that is about to hit it amidships and sink the whole damned shoot, it was good to read Ahmad Rashid’s take on the actual reasons of the drift at the ‘Policy Discussion on Pak-US relations’ held at the Jinnah Institute recently.
He put his finger right on the problem itself: serious discord among the various institutions that have their fingers in the Am/Af pie: the powerful Deep State that arrogates to itself the right to have the final word; the Foreign Office that should be actually drafting and implementing foreign policy; and the democratic government, which should oversee the formulation of the policy after receiving input from all of the organs of the state.
In the citadel of Islam, of course, and as per usual, everything stands right on its respective head. The Deep State will not countenance a view contrary to its own oft-failed one on how this country should behave with its neighbours; the ISI reports principally to the army chief and perfunctorily to the prime minister; the elected government (and therefore, the Foreign Office) are too petrified of the next rabbit the Deep State will pull out of its magician’s top-hat, the government even meekly allowing parliament to be used as a fig-leaf by the brass hats whenever their chestnuts need to be pulled out of the fire (Osama, Salala, whatever!), just in case the ultra-right Ghairat Brigades are not unleashed on it in the name of ‘the national interest’.
Let us immediately add that the elected government is not really very much in control of the situation anyway, fighting a rearguard action for its very survival, trying to stay another one, no two, no three months (pretty please) in elected office.
Sounds pretty dire, what, reader? But is there a glimmer of hope that there is some little self-confidence seeping back into the body of a much-pummelled government? Does FM Hina Rabbani Khar’s statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs that Pakistan did drag its feet on re-opening the Nato truck routes (oh all right! GLOCS! Ground Lines of Communications!! See, I know my abbreviations!) mean that she is asserting herself as Pakistan’s rightful foreign affairs spokesperson and manager?
Does committee chairman Haji Adeel of the ANP asking why Pakistan did not accept the United States’ first apology in December, delivered by President Barack Obama using the word ‘regrets’ and condoling our soldiers’ deaths, mean that the Senate is henceforth going to show more spine?
Which, be as it may, we have to very quickly change our belligerent stance against Afghanistan to one that I have so often advised: that of the big brother who looks after and is solicitous towards his younger sibling. We must be big-hearted and help the Afghan government as best as we can to stop infiltration from our side into Afghanistan.
Otherwise, we will continue to get tit-for-tat responses as we got in Dir recently where the barbarian Maulana Fazlullah killed 17 and beheaded seven of our soldiers. We must remember, too, that allowed him to escape into Afghanistan for reasons known only to the ‘agencies’.
What was that adage again? If you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind? Well there it is, then.
So, what do we do about the very possible capsizing/whirlwind that is about to hit us? Let us all get together and put our shoulders to the rather heavy wheel we have to turn if we are to survive. Let no institution think that only to it belongs all wisdom. Let everyone understand that after the Almighty, sovereignty belongs only to the people of this country who elect their representatives and send them to parliament.
Let every institution understand that the much-hackneyed saying ‘United we Stand, Divided we Fall’ is staring every Pakistani right in the eye for we are a house bitterly divided. In which religious extremism, particularly against our minorities, both religious and ethnic, has scaled new heights of savagery and utter, cold, cruelty.
I have often told the story of how in my grandmother’s house in Wah village where there was not a single Shia house, we were not allowed to play the radio (and later the television) during Muharram. And now we get people off buses and shoot them dead in front of their own wives and children just because they have Shia sounding names? I mean my own daughter, may my life be hers, is Zainab. So?
Indeed, may I ask My Lords who sit on the Supreme Court with a wary eye out for any chance to take suo motu action, why none has been taken on the far too many Shia and Hazara cold-blooded and cruel massacres in Kohistan and Quetta?
May I also point out to Their Lordships that not content with their gory deeds, the beasts recorded and uploaded them on YouTube too. Surely if Mansur Ijaz’s BlackBerry could be found to have been forensically kosher long-distance, these murderers can also be found through IP addresses and so on?
And who are these monsters: the ‘assets’ of our great strategists, who will be used when our country expands its borders across Central Asia!
You know what, reader? Much as I advise the powers to do this or do that to improve our country, I find no reason to hope that things will change. I mean, who can reduce the ‘defence’ budget from Rs10 to Rs8, and increase the education budget from Paisas 4 to Paisas 6? That Mai ka Laal is not born yet.
P.S. Could the Pakistan Navy please clarify if the shaadi ghar abutting the Mehran airbase, and through which the terrorists gained ingress and destroyed most of our naval air-arm, is still in business?
P.P.S. I have mentioned this link to the SC in this space before. Here it is again: Sh. Rashid ‘Tully’ being rude about the CJ himself.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.