An enigma even unto itself

Pakistan needs to put on its collective thinking cap and cogitate about the our place in the global scheme of things.

Amina Jilani November 05, 2010

Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of, as a nation – both the leaders and the led – needs to put on its collective thinking cap (assuming it has any) and cogitate about the country’s place in the global scheme of things.

Contrary to popular belief, the world does not awaken every morning, scratch its head and say to itself, “well, I wonder how Pakistan is doing today.” It has other matters that concern it. But yes, it does remember Pakistan frequently but not particularly fondly. It is somewhat terrified of what may emanate from the Islamic Republic — laden with terrorists, nuclear weapons and overcome by the observance of religion in which ritual far overrides spiritual.

The nation harps upon ‘honour’, quite forgetting that it fled long ago and is now firmly rooted in dishonour, the difference between right and wrong, the moral and amoral having been firmly put aside. The other mania is ‘sovereignty,’ the use of which has become a joke, as it has been forgotten that from Day One the country has not been independent in any true sense, it has been totally dependent on handouts to keep itself running and vaguely afloat, and to acquire its nuclear arsenal which takes priority over its people.

There is nothing wrong in accepting monies and other forms of aid and assistance — there are many other trouble-ridden Third World type countries which do so. But at least this should be admitted and recognised, there should be some signs of humility and acceptance of a certain type of failure.

Beset with internal conspiracies, the nation is convinced that there are external conspiracies galore being regularly hatched to do it down. Common belief is that India and Israel, both of which seems to be managing their own business fairly well, spend most of their time finding ways and means to get at Pakistan. Of course, the favorite whipping post is the mighty US of A, the major benefactor and yes, the country which does actually control the mess that is Pakistan.

Where would Pakistan be without the US, where would it have been since the early days when Mohammad Ali Jinnah sought succour and funds from his American ‘friends’? Would China have filled the breach? Many moons ago a Chinese diplomat, when on the subject of China’s unstinting support for Pakistan, is said to have sarcastically remarked that Pakistan is China’s Israel. But it would seem too risky to bank on this — China is not America, China is astute and looks centuries ahead rather than years (or days as is done here).

Pakistan is Pakistan, America is America, and this nation should come to grips with the truth and accept its own size and strength for exactly what it is. US President Barack Obama is visiting India — and as an afterthought and a sop declared that a visit to Pakistan would be on the cards some time next year. (He is to be followed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and then by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The heads of state of Russia, Germany and Italy are also due. All are focused on trade and the Indian market. India’s concern about Pakistan is regarding the export of terrorism.)

The US, right now, needs Pakistan. That is a fact. But despite its public declarations the US has a tough time figuring it out. To quote from a recent Tom Engelhardt (of TomDispatch fame) blog: “For Washington, Pakistan is an enigma curled in a conundrum wrapped in a roti and sprinkled with hot pepper...Pakistan is the greatest unknown of the Greater Middle East (even if it is in South Asia). If it’s on the cusp of hell, then, like it or not, Washington will be, too.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2010.


Ali Sina | 10 years ago | Reply Regardless of what the Chinese diplomat may have remarked sarcastically, Pakistan isn't China’s Israel by any measure. Here's a simple comparison. There are almost as many American Jews in the US as the population of Israel, with many of them in prominent positions both in American business and politics. Even if Israel faces territorial problems, it is a developed country, Pakistan isn't. China is a homogeneous nation with an opaque authoritarian government. Pakistan has no cultural, religious, political, or ethnic ties with China, in contrast to Israel's deep ties with the US. I wouldn't expect China to get so generous and give away handouts like the US. IMHO, a well-orchestrated construction of a negative "not Indian" identity over the last six decades has led to an identity crisis, with hatred and suspicion as byproducts. Exacerbating it further by promoting some other delusional concepts, for lack of an alternative, can be even more damaging, if not inconsequential. A rough analogy can be drawn between today's world powers with a pre world war II scenario: China = Germany USA+EU = USA+UK Russia = Soviet Union India = France Pakistan = Italy Mediterranean sea = Arabian sea You are right -- this nation should come to grips with the truth and accept its own size and strength for exactly what it is. Neither should it forget itself for what it is.
vikas ranjan | 10 years ago | Reply Madam, very well said. The quote from the Chinese mandarin "Pakistan is China’s Israel " was specially revealing. @@Faraz Even today, the Pakistani Taliban and such groups are controlled by the CIA. Go slow Brother, Gen Hamid Gul (exDG ISI) is on record praising Baitullah Mehsud and TTP as 'patriots'. And 'Alim On Line' was all praise for the 'groups' doing 'wajib' deeds.
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