Monday, January 8, 2018
January 5, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
The first tweet posted in 2018 by President Trump from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida was against Pakistan. In that tweet he wrote that, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools, they give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”.
Close on the heels of that tweet The American administration has withheld the overdue instalment of 255 million dollars to Pakistan. An announcement to that effect was also made by The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley who accused Pakistan of playing "a double game for years". White House says to announce actions on Pakistan within days.
Interestingly his tweet of October 13, 2017 was in total contrast of his latest anti-Pakistan outburst. In that tweet he said that “Starting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders. I want to thank them for their cooperation on many fronts”.
After condemning and rather antagonizing the whole world, President Trump has released his ire on Pakistan which has been a long-time ally of the US in her war in Afghanistan. Its rather astonishing that President Trump is finding scapegoats for debacles in Afghanistan after almost two decades.
The war in Afghanistan (was sparked by America in retaliation to the Russian influence which began in 1979 and continued until 2001. after defeating the Russians with the help of Pakistan, Taliban, Usman Bin Laden and other similar groups USA entered into a new phase of fighting against the same Islamic militants who were allies of USA in her war against the Soviets. That war began in 2001 and still continues. During this phase Usama bin Laden was also killed.
Thus, Afghanistan went through two-phases of warfare: one to ward off Russian hegemony over Afghanistan and the other to flush out Taliban from Afghanistan.
That war is still continuing against Haqqani group and similar other factions. It is in this period that USA is accusing Pakistan of supporting the islamic militants. The withdrawal of financial support to Pakistan is a punitive step by the Trump administration. Not only the accusations of USA are false but it is a sheer betrayal towards an ally which has help America to end the soviet influence in Afghanistan and later of Usman bin Laden faction and Usama’s death also. This is how America treats her friends and allies and abandons them later.
Although militants have been considerably weakened yet their present activities are being heaped on Pakistan as their collaborator. This accusation is absolutely wrong and baseless as Pakistan herself is the target of those activities by these ragtag militants.
For the first time, the Pakistan government and both the houses of the parliament (Senate and National Assembly) and the opposition parties, have taken a united, right and courageous stand in response to Trump’s denunciation of Pakistan, withholding and refusal to pay the outstanding funds for Afghanistan war and terrorism. They have rejected the insinuation of President Trump and pledged not to be browbeaten by the American President’s false alarm bells.
The Pakistani government retaliated to Trumps tweeting by arguing that the recent comments from President Trump were completely incomprehensible and could damage the trust between the two allies.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday chaired the meeting of National Security Committee to deliberate upon the way forward in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recent anti-Pakistani remarks.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif argued that the US President’s quoted figure of $33billion given to Pakistan over last 15yrs are false. In this regard he suggested that Trump can hire a US based Audit firm on our expense to verify this figure and let the world know who is lying and deceiving.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif very rightly stated that “He(Trump) is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan. “Asif also pointed out that Pakistan did not need U.S. financial aid.
Responding to Trump’s tweet and withholding of $ 255, Dr Miftah Ismail, Adviser to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Miftah said in a statement that “President Trump often says things which turn out to be false. He pointed out that Pakistan emerged as the frontline state against terrorism to ensure global peace and faced a colossal damage of over $100 billion to its economy other than the loss of over 50,000 precious lives of troops, policemen and officials of other security agencies and civilians. About the impact of US threat, Miftah said Pakistan’s economic health was safe and bright on account of CPEC related activities. He said Islamabad no more sought the US financial assistance and there was no truth in President Trump’s claim of giving Pakistan $33 billion dollars.
If the relations between USA and Pakistan take a downturn, then this time it would be America which will be more at disadvantage than Pakistan. It should be understood that President Trumps’ threat to Pakistan and denunciation for harboring terrorism is not only unrealistic but a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. In that situation Pakistan would be free to form a regional alliance with Russia, China, Iran and other friendly countries in the region which would be much more useful than what it has been maintaining with the USA all these years.
China and Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and several other countries have negated Trump’s characterization of Pakistan harboring terrorist. They have eulogized Pakistan and acknowledged that Pakistan’s role and sacrifices in Afghanistan were colossal. Any effort to sideline Pakistan and bring it under pressure and branding it as a state sponsoring terrorism is negation of facts and history. Such an attitude towards Pakistan would boomerang against USA and might result in further chaos in Afghanistan. As already stated this time isolating Pakistan internationally and reigniting war in Afghanistan would not be favorable to the United States.
Pakistan is one state which helped America in fighting Taliban and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan for 15 years (2001-2016). If America reignites the same war now against the ISIS and some Taliban factions including the Haqqani Faction, then it will have to fight that war alone. It will have to use the territory of the Central Asian states for transportation of army and military hardware which Russia is not going to allow.
Is President Trump oblivious of the resounding fact that but for Pakistan’s support USA, could have been squarely defeated and indeed humiliated in Afghanistan. Is he aware that since the inception of the first civil war (1979-1989) in Afghanistan against Soviet Union, Pakistan is hosting four million refugees whose children have now also grown up and well settled in Pakistan? As a result, Pakistan immensely suffered economically and regionally due to the
military alliance with USA. Of late, it was with the help of Pakistan that the Navy Seals were able to reach Osama bin Laden and kill him.
It should be understood that the American sponsored war in Afghanistan (2001-2017) is different from the Mujahedeen’s war against the Soviet Union which lasted from December 1979 to February 1989. In the first war the Insurgent groups known as the Mujahideen fought against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In that bloody war around 562,000 to 2,000,000 civilians were killed and millions of Afghans fled the country as refugees mostly to Pakistan and Iran. Ever since Pakistan is hosting millions of Afghan refugees. The children of those Afghan refugees are now settled in Pakistan.
President Trump should understand that now is not the time which was there three decades ago when Pakistan was coerced to join the American military onslaught in Afghanistan to annihilate Taliban as well as root out Russian influence in that country. Later Russia again intervened in that war in 2007.
The uncalled-for anti-Pakistan statement and threat by President Trump perhaps has two motives. One is to detract the American people from his domestic failures and his diminishing image. He is reviving the Bush era adventurism and thus trying to win the support of the pro-war Americans. It is a sordid attempt of finding scape-goats by raising war cries and using tough language against an all-time friendly country Pakistan.
It is also possible that anti- Pakistan rhetoric of Trump is aimed at bolstering and pleasing India which is the irreconcilable foe of Pakistan. It is a known fact that President Trump has Indian business partners and they remain in contact with him. Trump has showered praise and plaudits on India which ostensibly is to belittle Pakistan.
Yet India cannot help USA to wage another war in Afghanistan and prevail. The driving reason is that India doesn’t have direct territorial contacts or routes with Afghanistan like Pakistan or Iran have. As such any alliance or understanding between India and America for war efforts against Taliban, ISIS or ISIL is not going to materialize.
USA wants to enter Afghanistan again and fight which the American President and defense secretary claim to win and prevail. It seems that now USA wants to have direct links with the incumbent Afghanistan administration and replace India with Pakistan for furthering anti- Taliban war. Befriending Afhnistan has another object of present American administration and that is exploit and utilize the precious minerals such as uranium which is plentiful in Afghnistan.
However, all those objectives cannot be attained. On the contrary the with absence of Pakistan from the anti-Taliban war coalition American ad her new allies may never be able to achieve their goals and remain stuck in the quagmire. Understandably America cannot succeed in driving Taliban, ISIS and other religious warriors out of Afghanistan without logistic and other support from Pakistan. Losing Pakistan’s friendship would be more counterproductive for USA as she would lose a trusted ally and friend which brought victory to America in Afghanistan. In that situation, Pakistan will not allow a hostile America to use her territory in order to enter Afghanistan. This would unfetter Pakistan from US over- lordship and move further closer to Russian and Chins which would more natural alignment that being maintained with USA.
Iran also, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t place her routes and land at the disposal of the American army to enter Afghanistan and restart a war against their perceived enemy. Besides America will have to open its financial coffers once again which might cause an adverse economic backlash in USA.
Let us remember that such threats have been issued by President Trump earlier against North Korea by using the slang of “Fire and Fury” which means bombing North Korean and destroying her missile installations. The retort from North Korean President Kim Jong Un was more sarcastic and defying in which he ignored President Trump’s ultimatum and utterances by describing those as a ‘load of nonsense’. Even thereafter, North Korea tested missiles, one of which has the capacity to reach American mainland. Guam Island being used as a military base by USA is just within the reach of North Korean range of missiles. Ludicrously, now Trump has announced to befriend Kim to bring about friendship between the two parts of Korea.
All said and done, this statement about Pakistan being a sponsor of terrorism and host to militants could be another stray outpouring of President Trump. He is in the habit of issuing tough and thoughtless ultimatums and statements but later leaves those in lurch. His announcement to exit from the G-20, erecting a wall between America and Mexico and showering fire and fury on North Korea are meaningless and counterproductive in fostering the American goodwill abroad.
President Trump has been at loggerheads with many countries. Domestically he is fighting a war through tweet against his domestic political opponents, be it the American press, the immigrants, the minority communities and all those who somehow oppose him politically from the Republican or the Democratic Party. It should be instructive for Trump to be sober, less reactive and instead be diplomatic than being ready to throw punches at friend and foes. Lately he has fallen out with his former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and unabashedly heaped innuendoes on him.
Keeping in view his mercurial temperament, knee jerk reactions, unguarded statements and unpredictable behavior, the Senate majority leader Mitch MacDonnell in a private conversation, had said that he was doubtful if President Trump could retain his presidency.
January 1, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan like most of the third world countries is civically tarnished and dirty. The People generally live almost in the same civically abysmal conditions that Pakistan inherited after attaining independent in 1947.
While there is a civic mess there is also an unremitting political chaos with parties fighting for power. The leaders enter the corridors of power by hook and crook and by making loud pledges and tall commitment.
Thereafter, they forget the pitiable plight of the people and try to hold on to their power grid by devious manners. As such the political environment and as well as the living conditions of the people are messy, chaotic and filthy. I wish a Messiah descends from the Heavens and sets the living conditions right for at least believers in Islam and for those who are truthful Muslims.
The religious zealots contend that Pakistan is a citadel of Islam, although most of the religious parties opposed the creation of Pakistan. Pseudo nationalists gloat that it is a nuclear power. It would be utterly impossible for Pakistan to use the atomic bomb under any circumstances as it would receive the same in return.
Which Pakistan are we speaking and proud of? The one with barricades and barriers all over the land as if the whole country is a jail or a concentration camp. Religious denominations and cults take pride and self-entertaining divine blessing for massacring each other. The more this nation is getting into the religious mindset the more barbaric, backward looking and intellectually marooned it is becoming.
In every locality or street, there are loudspeakers blurring sermons and Azan (summoning for prayer) five times a day causing a lethal sound pollution. People defecate in the open or in manual latrines by taking turns. The meagerly paid sweepers from scheduled caste carry away the heaps of human excretion on a weekly basis and dump it in an open filth depot or dumpster (I am not talking of Islamabad) where it rots for days till the rain washes it away. The municipality trucks come once in a blue moon.
In a sanitation and sewerage deficient country, if you find human refuse running into open drains outside the houses, don’t take it seriously. If swarms of mosquitoes and flees surround you all the way to your destination be it market, mosque and work place, take it as indifferently as part of a decadent civic order. Don’t panic if the worms and bacteria cause deadly epidemics and ailments.
Don’t mind, mind-boggling traffic jams on the narrow roads as we are destined to endure those and that by our faith we are goaded to thank God in every affliction.
The puzzling and ear-splitting sound of smoke-emitting rickshaws and run-down buses are not eye sores because that is how Pakistan is supposed to be. If the whole landscape, roads, footpaths, market places are littered with garbage and encroachments; such gory spectacles should not incense you as we have been living under these abominable conditions since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. And Islam ordains that cleanliness is half faith (Iman)
A culture of dishonesty and deliberate delinquency pervades and sprouts in every office, from presidency to make shift kiosks (khokhas). In offices burdened with red tape and inefficiency and nepotism, the five times praying Muslims prey upon the visitors and customers with full vengeance to pay for what they were doing for them as public servants. It is called bribe or graft is simple terminology.
The permits and licenses are for sale. If you need a connection for electricity or water or gas or phone, don’t go straight to the concerned department with only an application. Along the official fee also take a service fee exclusively for the official doing the needful. But still your name will be placed in the waiting list. A letter from a political heavyweight or powerful bureaucrat would be rather helpful. Be aware nothing is done on merit.
After 70 years, it takes 60-90 minutes to cover a distance of 10 miles to and from Islamabad and Rawalpindi: the so-called sister cities in the Potohar plateau. Lately there has been some improvement in that terrific paradigm. The police pickets, the road barriers, the para-military contingents stop you to find if you are a suicide bomber, carrier of narcotics or a bottle of hard drink. The social life in the most protected cities has come to such a dreadful pass. As a student I remember, it would take maximum 45 minutes to reach Rawalpindi from Wah cantonment by bus. Now this time is much longer and one has to pay toll tax at many places.
Go to the Bara or Landi Kotal (tribal enclave) to buy a 12-bore pistol for a pittance. Come back to your city, get into a house and rob the inmates and get rich overnight. The police would not know and would not like to probe who committed such a crime because this has become a commonplace daily occurrence. But if you want to indulge or watch a combined spree of robbing, killing, raping and extortion, go to Karachi. And take care you could also be hit.
Pakistan is the most ideal place to witness murders and massacres for reasons ranging from ethnic, sectarian, tribal, clannish and honor to land grabbing or just for show off in streets. The raped young poor girls have to produce four eyewitnesses to prove that they were raped. Is it possible? Law and order has become razor-thin and no one cares who is killing and who is being killed.
It is a tall order to explore who is raping whom, who is kidnapped and who kidnaps. These are the signs of doomsday but the prophesied doomsday has already descended on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Ironically Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace as it commands that killing one person is killing the whole humanity. Just imagine how many humanities have been killed and are being killed in Pakistan.
The new generations of Pakistan boys, girls, toddlers and adolescents, are living in an atmosphere of persistent fear, insecurity, bomb blasts, rape, arson, loot and plunder, in dark and dingy streets and in a nauseating environment of sound and filth pollution. They come out of the homes with a lurking fear of being blasted or kidnapped and targeted for unspeakable heinous crimes. Those from the rich families or who can afford get an IPad in order to diver their attentions to morbid sex scenes and activities.
The food is costly and generally adulterated. The drugs and medicines are spurious. The water is contaminated. The meat could be of a dog, a pig or mad cow. Who cares and scrutinizes for such infringements. How many young children both male and female are forced to work with sex maniacs at auto workshops, restaurants, hotels or in private homes as servants? How alarming the level of molestation of the underage males and females is: no one bothers nor wants to know.
The country is in the grip of Thana and Patwari culture, the despicable symbols of corruption. These obsolete and moribund institutions were started by Mughal emperor Akbar the great, or the British colonialist long time ago. Caring a fig for what the law or the religion obligates, invariably everyone from the president to a police constable seems to be obsessed with making money through fair and fouls alike. The whole nation has fallen into a morass of moral sleaze.
The contracts are given in wrong and delinquents hands. The newly laid out roads are washed away after a few showers of rain. The bridges dash to the ground not long after being commissioned. If rental power generation units are purchased from foreign sellers, it brings hefty commissions to buyers (Raja rental scandal) and crooks are elevated to the higher positions. Pitiably such leased power units do not produce a watt and are paid in advance to the tune of billions of rupees.
When poverty grinds and inflation ruins the household, the crimes and prostitution sprout and rob the people of modesty, honor and religious penchant. That is what is happening in Pakistan and that country created in the name of Islam is turning into another Thailand in due course. In such debilitating financial situation more, foreign loans are solicited putting more burden on the national economy and raising the cost of living
The army was there at the helm for half of Pakistan’s existence. A drunkard and lewd military president in collusion with a power-hungry politician held the first free elections and then equaled this good deed by truncating Pakistan. Cessation of East Pakistan and surrender of a Muslim army are those calumnies that cannot be washed ever unless Ganges turns flowing in the opposite direction and the sun starts rising from the west. And during those crippling moments (surrender) several generals, politicians and bureaucrats reported were drinking in five-star hotels with their concubines. This is the story of a nation that claims that it ruled the sub content for a thousand years.
Our army had been braced against its own people in roughest and the most dangerous terrain of the world. At the behest of the foreign powers led by the USA, they had been fighting and dying in a war that was purposeless for Pakistan. So, Pakistan an economically feeble and socially torn apart country has to put up two-pronged war: one with the enemy across the eastern border, the other against Islamic militants rampaging the length and breadth of Pakistan.
If there was no obscurantism until 1980 notwithstanding Bhutto turning Pakistan into another Saudi Arabia under pressure from PNA parties.it was primarily aimed at saving his his office of the prime minister of the left over West Pakistan. Why in 70 years, the sermons and preaching of Muslim pontiffs failed to turn Pakistan into a true Islamic state and its citizens good Muslims? Yet the dreary and ineffectual sermons continue to foster sectarian hatred, reinforcing warnings of hellfire. Alongside, the construction of new mosques remains apace uninhibited. If there could not be one single model Islamic dispensation in 1400 years, how one would hope for that in the present times when old taboos and gospels are losing their relevance. ………..
Which war is for Islam and which one to safeguard the territorial integrity of Pakistan and its people? Pakistan is doomed as the menace of Taliban abetted by external abettors would not die nor the perpetrators would surrender so soon. There is a noose of Islamic militancy around the neck of Pakistan that is tightening by way of proliferation of bomb blasts and violence.
Can one dream for the day when a true and patriotic leadership would take up the reins of Pakistan? Will that day dawn when the citizens would travel with a relief that their lives were safe and they won’t be molested, kidnapped or killed on the way? Can we visualize a society when law and order would prevail and dispensation of unhampered justice would be possible by nabbing the highest culprits in government, in aristocracy and from the elite classes? Would our judges be upright and strong to uphold the law and not selling the justice?
Can our institutions, government departments and bureaucracy function even by a fraction of other civil societies? Can Pakistan generate enough electricity that the word “load shedding” becomes obsolete? Can everyone have access to schooling, medical facilities’ drinking water and job? Can we integrate the Islamic teachings into the established curricula and syllabi and close the ghost schools imparting hatred and spurious Islam to the students who come to Islamic nurseries due to poverty or ignorance?
Can we limit the number of religious institutions and affiliate them with the national educational system from the primary to the university level? Can we bring about a national reconciliation? Can we eliminate the thugs, the crooks, the public enemies, briber takers, the goons, and all those who have turned Pakistan into one of the most dangerous and debased places to live?
Can our roads be widened, railways modernized, bridges built, hidden natural resources tapped and stalled projects such Kalabagh be undertaken? Can the whole country be washed of the glut of dirt and debris and trash? Can the cities be embraced with centralized sewerage system? Can we check the burgeoning population so that the resources can be better utilized?
Can we elect a leadership that is visionary, selfless, imbued with nationalistic spirit, progressive and dedicated to promote a democratic culture and liberalizing the society? Can a stable, democratic, economically prosperous, socially liberal, and civically a modern Pakistan be rebuilt? The list of challenges is endless. Primarily it depends upon the quality of the leadership that we choose.