Monday, October 5, 2009

The Fuss over Kerry-Lugar Bill

The Fuss over Kerry-Lugar Bill
By Saeed Qureshi
Why there is so much fuss over Kerry-Lugar Bill? In media and elsewhere, the dark and damning ramifications of this bill are being weighed against the sovereignty and national honor of Pakistan. Ironically, if the bill had not been approved, there would have been a horrendous outcry and this would have been interpreted as a failure of an unpopular government. So the people are never happy: one way or the other. There was a long wait with prying eyes for this bill to see the light of day and when finally it has been processed, an adverse backlash is unleashed against it.
There is nothing wrong with Kerry Lugar. Rather it is a timely help and a blessing in disguise. It’s an aid package that is essentially different from all such previous aid baskets. It is drastically toned down in its language and contents. The periodic certification by the Secretary of State about the satisfactory performance of Pakistan is not a big deal. If America is giving so much of money to Pakistan, doesn’t she have a right to ask how this money was being spent and was it expended on the stipulated targets?
Suppose what could have been Pakistan’s plight, if it was under attack by the radical religious outfits and there was no one around to help? Without enough financial resources the whole of Pakistan would have come under the murderous sway of Taliban. Like Swat or Afghanistan under Taliban, in the Islamic state of Pakistan too, the hands of the thieves would be chopped off and the women folk s to be whipped in public. The schools of the girls would be closed, the modern information and music gadgets smashed, the shop owners beheaded and the traders of such businesses hanged in squares or deprived of one of their body limbs.
This is not an imaginary fearsome scenario or a mere macabre fantasy. It would have been a sordid fact of life as we have seen, in not too distant past, such gory situations, prevailing in Afghanistan and a part of Pakistan. The unrelenting armed clashes between the frenzied religious militants and the Pakistan army would be a foregone outcome. The army has its limits of fighting. It would be worn down by interminable skirmishes with the hit and run shooters, spread all over Pakistan.
Jamat-e-Islami and other religio-political parties that oppose cooperation between United States cooperation are deceitful and backdoor friends of America. When, at the behest of the West, they were mobilizing the whole Islamic world to fight, against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, they had no such hiccups for Islam and integrity of Pakistan. Now when they are out of that mercenary and henchman’s game, they see a smelling rat in Pakistan’s collaboration with the United States.
Pakistan all along, has never been, in an unenviable position. Thanks to the lack of visionary, courage and patriotic leadership, Pakistan never rose above the flak of being a corny of the United States. Unfortunately, the impression of subservience and toadyism that remained tagged with Pakistan in relation to America has seldom been erased. The mutual relations between the two countries have generally remained clouded by suspicion and love-hate syndrome.
But viewing the current mode and tenure of relationship between America and Pakistan, it is safer to infer that, of late, United States seems to be treating Pakistan as a trusted ally and the misconceptions of the past appear to be evaporating. This is not to say that the future relations would also remain cast in the same mold. With the stunning victory that Pakistan has scored against the Taliban in northern valleys, the level of American trust with regard to Pakistan has risen.
The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse with the time passage. The casualties of the NATO forces and those of American troops are on the rise. If Pakistan can rein in or check the Taliban and Al-Qaida’s insurgency in the tribal belt bordering on Afghanistan then Pakistan would further conclusively establish its credibility as an effective counter-poise against the radical militants. If areas such as North and South Waziristan are cleared of Taliban and other similar fanatics then America would be left with no tenable reason to blame Pakistan for duplicity or charade against Taliban and their protégé Al-Qaida. That was an accusation against former president Mushrraf for running with the hare and hunting with the hound.
There is an amazing development for a possible thaw between Pakistan and belligerent Taliban. Maulana Fazalur Rehman the chief of JUI, a religio-political political party has made an offer to make peace between Taliban and Pakistan. If that happens and if a process of pacification between Taliban and Pakistan is set in motion, Pakistan as well as United States would be utterly redeemed and spared from a calamity.
Those elements in Pakistan who plead antagonizing America forget the case of Libya. Libya under revolutionary Qaddafi had to pay a very heavy price for posing herself as a bulwark against the western imperialism. It was declared as a pariah state and remained cut off with the rest of the world for pretty two decades. Iraq is another example. Pakistan could have become another example of devastation and pillage by ruthless imperialist onslaught. The fundamental stark reality to comprehend is that the current times are in favor the technologically advanced and economically prosperous nations. Going against them is like going against the strong current in a stormy ocean.
The appeasement strategy of Zardari towards the friendly and hostile nations alike is rewarding both in the long and short terms. If we cannot act as the new-born revolutionaries nor have we the means to stand our ground, then the most prudent policy is to draw maximum benefit out of an intractable situation as the one Pakistan is currently faced with. Pakistan’s pressing problems are all internal. Poverty, illiteracy, lawlessness, unemployment, the upsurge of religious militancy, health, water, a downgraded social and civic life, the ineffectual governance, the institutional breakdown, the mediocrity of the politicians and lack of or slow economic development are the major issues that have to be addressed post haste.
If we want to prove ourselves as honorable and independent people then we have to first put our own house in order. The world is moving towards universal understanding. The ideological differences and divisions are the legacies of the past. Pakistan has to be peaceful and embark upon a rapid economic development revolutionary course. Only then can Pakistan unfetter itself from the bonds of external aid and concomitant condionalities attached to foreign largesse.

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