Most of our politicians and media persons thrive on their love to hate America. But Imran Khan takes the cake, with the JI and the JUI-F not far behind, in what is now being generally seen as a game of US bashing. And the PML-N, like its predecessors in office in Islamabad, seems to be indulging in what is called doublespeak. Chaudhry Nisar of the ruling party, it seems, has been assigned the task of clobbering the US while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seems to have decided to maintain a posture of neutrality. He does not denounce the US, for what is being perceived by those who love to hate America as Washington’s anti-Pakistan policies, nor does he publicly endorse these policies. The PPP and the ANP seem to have retired hurt from this game while the MQM does not miss a single opportunity to bash the US bashers. Except for a couple of famous names, very few among the media practitioners would like to be known as anti-US bashers. Most of us tend to hedge our positions on this issue.
But then, it is not a new game. Ayub Khan wrote a book — Friends, Not Masters — to express his love for the hatred he had nursed against his masters following the stoppage of the almost free-of-cost US military assistance after the 1965 war.
Following the Geneva accords that brought the first Afghan war to an abrupt end — an end not to the liking of the then president, Ziaul Haq, too, must have felt like writing a book on these lines. He did not but he did, however, publicly express his disappointment with the US for not allowing his Mujahideen to snatch Kabul from the Soviet troops after defeating the Red Army in a fair and square war; out of pique, he dismissed his own hand-picked government of Mohammad Khan Junejo for endorsing the US peace plans. General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has been too busy rediscovering himself in exile and has been in and out of jail since his ouster from power, thanks to the US sponsored NRO, to write a similar book.
ZA Bhutto in his book, The Myth of Independence, though did not express his feelings in similar vein but by the time he was ousted in a military coup, he was blaming the US for all his political predicaments.
During the Cold War, the Right in Pakistan, led by the JI, was in the US camp perhaps, because the Jamaat viewed it as a godly country struggling against the godless Soviet Union while the Left, led mostly by trade and students’ unions, was opposed to Washington’s global policies, including its pro-Israel stance.
During the Vietnam war, and also when we played the front-line state in a CIA-sponsored war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, the Pakistani Left was on the wrong side of the fence while the Jamaat and its like-minded fellow travelers were seen actively supporting the US.
ZA Bhutto’s political popularity in West Pakistan in the late 1960s can also be attributed partly to his anti-US posturing which attracted the then Left in a state of surge in Pakistan in a big way to his party whose foundation papers were based on left-of-centre policies. It was during the last days of Mr Bhutto that the Left coined a very catchy slogan — America ka jo yaar hai wo Ghaddar Hai, Ghaddar Hai. Peoples Party workers used to shout this slogan all through the 11 years of Zia’s rule. Benazir Bhutto, on her return in 1986 from her first exile, put a ban on the frequent burning of the US flag and shouting of this slogan by protesting PPP workers.
It is only since the advent of Imran Khan’s PTI on Pakistan’s political horizon, especially since the party’s October 30, 2011 mammoth public meeting in Lahore, that the anti-American sentiments in Pakistan have once again been given a ringing voice. This has won Imran a government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and his daily outings in Punjab with strident anti-American narratives seem to have caused sleepless nights to the PML-N leadership.
Perhaps, that is the reason why Nisar has been assigned the job of neutralising Imran with his own anti-American outbursts.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2013.