Articles of the year 2010

Let Us Talk Peace
Published on July 28th, 2010

With the American Dream Team in place in, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, to oversee the American policy in Pakistan, the US can now draw comfort that their policies will not only be followed in letter and spirit but the US Ambassador has also been given an extension, so that even the exit strategy shall be overseen at every step, and nothing should be left to chance –or without the careful eye of a trusted guardian.

To witness the signing ceremony of the Afghan Trade Accord between the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, under the watchful gaze of the second most powerful figure of the United States, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who had flown twenty thousand miles to add her importance to the occasion, one wondered at the manner in which the Pakistani Government was being coerced (gently?) towards prioritizing – certainly not in our best interest.

In this entire exercise no one has considered the effect on Pakistan, not in the cost in men, or to the social fabric. The millions of people displaced, and the money required to feed them, as dependents on an already poor Government, whereas earlier they were eking, a living-however meager, but now were wholly dependent on handouts. This then, is the material cost which has not been addressed.

The traffic flow to Afghanistan is approximately 500 trucks a day. This huge number of trucks has destroyed whatever primitive road system we had, and no steps have been taken to address this crucial aspect. Our Government should have insisted on the building of our infrastructure, such as roads and power stations. For without these important components no country can function, and we shall be in a truly sorry state when the Americans do leave, with our war ravaged roads in their present pathetic state.

The Americans are treating us as if we are habitual borrowers, given to begging. When in fact we are being used by people for their own ends. The Sunnis and Shias fight their wars on our turf, backed by the Saudis and the Iranis, the question should be asked why not on their own turf? The leaders of these two sects should be deported to the lands of their beliefs. Now the US has launched its war on Afghanistan through Pakistan attracting the ire of the entire Islamic world, and the remaining warriors of the Taliban.

The American people have visibly tired of this unwanted and purposeless war, while the poor Afghans and the Pakistanis seem to have no choice. This foot dragging over the Kerry Lugar Bill must stop in fact the Pakistani leadership should tell the US that they must now reimburse to Pakistan all the cost that has been incurred by us in this war patently not of our making. We must simultaneously start a peace dialogue and start a road building strategy expanding and upgrading the facilities that do exist. And if the area passes through Taliban territory all the better, for the Taliban will be that much more appreciative.

The Pathan dislikes fighting , and only fights if paid. So the source of the Pathan funding should be stopped, or alternate incomes sources should be encouraged other than heroin. The Pathan has managed over the years to develop a highly sophisticated trucking system, and he has replaced his rifle with by truck, and is doing a remarkable job. The entire Passenger and cargo movement throughout Pakistan is under Pathan control, and they are managing it very efficiently, at the lowest possible cost. They have also replaced the NLC trucks which were imported by an affiliate of the Army at ridiculously expensive costs. Today by their inefficiency they are virtually out of business leaving the Pathans to provide this vital service Industry to Pakistan. From the American treatment to the Pakistani Government, we should encourage a separate initiative without the American strangle hold, and talk to other Governments maybe even India to break the corruption that seems to have brought the Pakistan Railways to a grinding halt. Without an efficient Railway system we will keep struggling with using more expensive modes of transport. Perhaps the Railways should be privatized, and let somebody else be given the chance.

It is now time to shut down the Afghan war, and if the US do not come to terms by compensating Pakistan then this spiral of poverty that already has a strangle hold on us, will see an increase in attacks on the US convoys, draining the US economy even more. The US position is unwinnable, and the costs will increase dramatically—dream team or not. We the people of Pakistan have suffered for too long and are at a war watching buckets of good money being thrown without purpose, while our children have to do without water, or education, or electricity. Let us talk Peace --- That may bring the Americans to their senses.