KARACHI: Shuja Nawaz’s talk in Karachi on Sunday forced the 100 or so audience to be introspective.
He clearly pointed out Pakistan’s and the United States’ mistakes which have resulted in the convoluted terrorism spate we are in today.
As the director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Centre, he aptly described US-Pakistan relations by quoting Ambassador Jamsheed Marker, “Being friends with the US is like being at the bank of a high-tide river. Every four years when the tide changes, you know that you’re either going to be flooded or you’ll be left dry.”
Nawaz analysed all aspects pertaining to US-Pak relations: the trust deficit, Pakistan government’s credibility gap, Indophobia and the ‘myth’ of lobbyists.
Shuja Nawaz, who hails from a family of army men, author of the book Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within, a political and strategic analyst spoke of USPak relations from a historical, economic, political and social perspective.
Nawaz, during his discussion, did reveal some shocking statistics. “Only $300 million actually reached the army, Pervez Kiyani told me. The rest were absorbed by the government,” he said.
The US aid and securityrelated assistance given to Pakistan in from FY02 to FY11 was $11.6 billion, out of which $7.2 billion was Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF), he reported. So the net flow of actual aid to Pakistan for War Against Terrorism was $4.4 billion. “Compared to the $30 billion they spend on Afghanistan each year, one can see the disproportion.”
HISTORY OF US-PAK RELATIONS
He lead the audience to a historical account of US-Pak relations, of how they began and developed, with the US sharing a special bond with Pakistan’s military. However politically, there were some serious gaps. “They always knew what the other side wanted, but they both chose to pretend not to know,” he said.
He claimed that former president Pervez Musharraf’s U-turn in Pakistan’s Afghan policy after the historical and world-altering September 11 attacks was unilateral and detrimental for the country in the long run. “We had a parliament which was not considered. Even the corp commanders were told about the policy after the decision was made,” he explained.
He cited the example of when the US had asked Turkey to let them use their airspace to send its troops to Northern Iraq, Turkey’s parliament said ‘no’.
According to Nawaz, both the countries are to blame for the trust deficit, whether it is a political or economic matter. “The problem is that whenever the US says ‘waivers’, we hear ‘sanctions’”, he said with a smirk, adding that it is not our fault as the waivers in the past have been close to sanctions. The Americans keep demanding results from Pakistan, doubting the efficacy of every Pakistan operation. When the American’s say, “do more”, Pakistanis say, “you mean, do it all”.
The US wants Pakistan to do more, but they do not provide Pakistan with the tools, he said. “But the other side is that we have never asked for the tools either. We just do what they tell us to do without asking any questions.” Another factor contributing to the trust deficit is Pakistan’s Indophobia. “When we fear that India will take Pakistan’s place as the key ally in the region, we forget that India does not have a border with Afghanistan,” he said.
He admitted that the Indian lobby is very powerful in Washington D.C. but he clarified that their aim is not political or strategic. To suggestions that Pakistan need good lobbyists at Capitol Hill and the Congress, he replied, “A good lobbyist is as good as the country he comes from. The reality is what the American delegations see when they come here and it’s not good.”