Articles of the year 2010

Whose Interests?
Published on December 07th, 2010

We may never know the number of Pakistanis handed over to the Americans or the bounty received. Musharraf and our army have a lot to answer for on this score

The WikiLeaks come as no surprise to Pakistanis, for we as a people are quite accustomed to grovelling as an established form when dealing with foreigners, regardless of their rank. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, when asked to leave a message as the US ambassador was busy, dutifully wrote that he had come to request the ambassador to support his case for the prime ministership of Pakistan and that he had a certain number of parliamentarians on offer at a certain price. He already has the title of Maulana Diesel, so the terms are well known, only the price had to be negotiated. These are established facts, and that the route to power is via Washington is also known. However, the contempt that the US officials have for Pakistanis, as highlighted in the leaks, is surprising. Except for Imran Khan, all the others were on offer, and were held in the contempt they deserved.

The Americans decided on Zardari, as he suited their 'interests' best. As for Prime Minister Gilani, he agreed to allow the drone attacks, but continued to rage against them on the floor of the house. Pakistani blood was shed with the blessings of the Pakistani government. Possibly as shameful as the surrender at Dhaka. We may never know the number of Pakistanis handed over to the Americans or the bounty received. Musharraf and our army have a lot to answer for on this score. It seems that the government of Pakistan (GoP) does not care for the people nor the bloodshed of innocent civilians. This also applies to the politicians who insist on bulletproof cars for their own safety.

The statement of the Saudi monarch, saying that Zardari is the biggest impediment in the way of Pakistan's progress is probably most damaging, and shows that far from trying to assist Pakistan in its economic progress, they would like to keep Pakistan in its pitiful state of chaos.

The GoP is dutifully parroting, "It is our war." How is it our war? Taking a cue from the Americans, we should clearly state that we will not only stop shooting the Taliban, but we will also not allow our land routes to be used for the transport of men and munitions for attacks on the Taliban. Put simply, it may be in the American interest but is not in ours. Therefore, our borders should be closed, and if the Americans wish to continue their war in Afghanistan, they should set up their own lines of supply. We are too poor a country, getting poorer by the day; our people have landed in a mess not of their own creation. Our industries have shut down and our roads system has been devastated by the 1,000 heavy containers moving daily across Pakistan. There seems to be no end in sight. There also seems to be no reason for us to be in this fight. In any war, there is an economic spin-off, an industry that supplies munitions, etc. In this case, all the goods are brought from the US. Even rations such as McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and mineral water are shipped from the US. Hence the only contribution from Pakistan is our highway system, which has been reduced to rubble, while our people starve and our education and health facilities' levels drop to amongst the lowest in the world. This is the cost of the American war for us Pakistanis, apart from the suicide attacks that we face regularly, killing and maiming our men, women and children. Why?

We have no conflict with the Afghan people. This is purely an American war, and we have been unnecessarily dragged into this quagmire. The Americans are already talking about a 'safe exit'. This will be underway soon, and when they will move, hopefully they will take the 'protectors' of their interests — the politicians — with them. These politicians have destroyed any semblance of the rule of law, and have set new benchmarks for corruption, from siphoning earthquake funds to flood rehabilitation aid. Everywhere a crony sits. It is all to protect the US interests, while Pakistan bleeds and Pakistanis continue to suffer. The Zardari government should realise that the Americans have a history of cutting and running when they see fit. They leave nothing for their erstwhile allies. Have the memories of the Americans scrambling to board the last helicopter on the American embassy roof in Saigon faded? The Taliban peace will also not be cheap. The Afghans are better negotiators than the Vietnamese.