Be it Barack Obama’s recognition of India being a world power or his graceful better half dancing her way into Indian hearts, it has been a tough week in newsrooms, at least for Pakistan.
The message was clear and it will resonate with Pakistanis for years to come as the US and India draw out plans for an ‘Amer-asian hegemony’.
Talk about a wake-up call for politicians, bureaucrats and all alike. After our own strategic talks with the US, a few weeks ago, ended in the usual pat and push for fighting the war on terror, the symbolism of the visit to India is bigger than the expansive trade deals and kind words of Barack Obama. The US president declared India a world power, and the India-US alliance “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century”.
On the other hand, Pakistan was snubbed when we were told to do more in the war against militancy during his visit. To make it all the worse, as if Pakistanis weren’t already neglected enough, Obama went further than any US president before by backing India’s pursuit for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. So much for the Kashmir dispute.
It begs the question why Obama didn’t stop by for a day, or even a few hours, to say hello to his allies in Islamabad who have been fighting their war, suffering the casualties, and not to mention recovering from the worst flood the country has ever seen.
The answer is simple. Money is time and time is money, and Pakistan and Pakistanis haven’t understood the value of either yet.
Our very existence has become India-centric; to be more precise we have spent more than half of a century in a military race against India. We discarded the precious gift every newly independent state is given of starting from scratch.
While we have officially become ‘a client state with the Taliban and al Qaeda presence plotting to kill US soldiers and fanning the war in Afghanistan’, India found a much more sustainable form of development and growth by India and for India. They have always been in the race for the long haul and instead of giving power to the military industrial complex or the landowning minority; they borrowed from western thought and civilisations and gave power to the people.
My father’s favourite mantra is that “there are no shortcuts in life”. I can’t help but think how true those words lie in respect to Pakistan. Our sole export seems to have become terror and while we beg for aid to cope with globalisation, the world recession, and not to mention the floods, India unveils deals worth $10 billion designed to create 50,000 American jobs in an ailing economy. That’s right; India is creating jobs in the US.
They sought to be the largest democracy in the world and they achieved it, and we sought to be the most dangerous country of the world and we certainly achieved it.
And Pakistanis ask where do we go from here?
For many in our ruling class, the answer is simple even if they don’t voice their thoughts — take shortcuts and survive another day till we reach a dead end.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2010.