Monday, October 11, 2010

Pakistan: Politics of a Humiliated Nation

Written by Fahad Ansari
Has the Pakistani tiger grown some teeth? Has it remembered its proud history of sacrifice and bloodshed? Has it recalled that it was created with a vision of it becoming a haven for Muslims? Has it finally awoken from its slumber and discovered the meaning of the word ‘sovereignty’?
So it would seem this week with across-the-board condemnations led by President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani against the increasing number of unmanned US drone attacks on Pakistani soil. For September saw the highest number of drone attacks in Pakistan in any single month, a total of 21, killing at least 90 people.  An estimated 658 people have been killed by drones in Pakistan since the beginning of the year, almost one third of the total people terminated in this way in the country since 2004. However, this week, whatever shred of sovereignty Pakistan still enjoyed was completely obliterated when NATO and ISAF helicopters, emboldened by almost a decade of Pakistani silence and complicity, flew across the border with Afghanistan and carried out murderous strikes on Pakistani soil. The official government reaction to the strikes was predictable. Uproar. Outrage. Condemnation. President Zardari criticized this violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty as counterproductive and unacceptable at a meeting with CIA Director Leon Panetta. Panetta responded that “Pakistan’s sovereignty will be fully respected by the US”. 
Within hours of these words being uttered by Panetta’s forked-tongue, NATO helicopters carried out another strike on Pakistani soil, this time executing three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers guarding a military checkpoint and wounding two others. A significant Mafioso-style strike to silence the government. A reminder to Zardari, Gilani and any other Pakistani official who dare open their mouth, about who calls the shots in this relationship. Quite literally. Such is the pitiful position of contempt with which Pakistan is viewed by its friends in high places today.
But are things now beginning to change? Following the killing of these soldiers, Pakistan blocked the main NATO supply route into Afghanistan, preventing dozens of NATO trucks from crossing the Torkham checkpost on the Khyber Pass. US military figures show that supplies pass though Pakistan at a rate of 580 truckloads per day. Interior Minister Rehman Malik stated that “we will have to see whether we are allies or enemies.” Former Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg demanded that the Pakistan Air Force should be tasked to shoot down the helicopters and drones involved in attacks on Pakistan’s territories. Incidentally, both the blocking of the NATO supply route and the shooting down of drones were tactics publicly encouraged by Cageprisoners patron Yvonne Ridley on a recent tour of Pakistan calling for the repatriation of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
Unfortunately, we have seen all this posturing before. In June 2008 US gunships attacked a Pakistani border post in Mohmand tribal agency, killing 11 soldiers. It caused an outcry in Pakistan, but the furore subsided and later that summer the drone campaign started in earnest. By next week, if not much earlier, the NATO supply routes will be open again, the drones will continue to murder and those calling for helicopters to be shot down will probably be detained.
Much has been reported this week about a forthcoming book, ‘Obama’s Wars’ by veteran Washington Post correspondent Bob Woodward, in which the author reveals how the CIA maintains a 3000 strong Afghan paramilitary force that conducts cross-border operations into Pakistan. This is old news for those who have been following this ill-fated escapade. For three years ago, it emerged that as early as 2004, the US military had given elite units broad authority to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance. Indeed, striking within Pakistan was exactly what Obama promised he would do three years ago when he was running for office. It is probably the one promise he has kept since becoming President.
For all its passionate calls for its sovereignty to be respected, the fact of the matter is that sovereignty is a long-forgotten concept in Pakistan. The same could be said for self-respect, dignity and courage. Noble principles abandoned during a decade of a foreign policy established on the basis of slavish obedience to the US in what ex-President Musharraf ironically described as a ‘Pakistan First’ policy.
Pakistan has surrendered its sovereignty inch by inch, city by city, province by province. In reality, it has no say in what occurs on its territory. It is a toothless tiger which lets out the occasional roar to remind itself that it exists but all that the world hears is the whimpering of a weak and miserable pussycat.
For those who don't have the time to read the whole thing, just read the last paragraph. :-( .. so veryyy true. 
And this is the Pakistan, we find ourselves in today. Major courtesy of this state of affairs, goes out to the person roaring the loudest today...


majworld said...

agreed with all u said..when things reach so worse nd low for an individual or nation...a change occurs which moves thing in positive direction.but dnt knw when dat change will come here :S..
nd u shud think sending such articles u write covering politics, religion some magazine or paper, so that more people can get benefit from them nd they have a wider reach..u cud turn in to a popular writer :)

Uni said...

Hey hey, this isn't written by me. The article mentions a source!

And yeah the change - but we need good change-bearers!

Thanks for the encouragement and for the comment!

majworld said...

Oh i didn't notice the source :) really seemed a well researched and thoughtful article..
but still i keep those words in last para :)..

Uni said...

Well thank you very much :)
And yea, that article was really nice - these things inspire/inform people so much, yet we are unable to do anything concrete about the stuff happening in this world.

Thanks for the comment.

Zohair said...

Correction: blame lies with each and every person who has been in power since the creation of Pakistan, and who did not judge according to Islam. Be that the president/prime minister/whatever-we're-calling-them-today or be it a lower level bureaucrat charged with power over a handful of people.

Uni said...

Very true. But I said major portion of the blame of the current problems

1. Lack of sovereignty
2. Drone attacks etc
3. Total lack of security
4. Suicide attacks on mosques etc

These are the major CURRENT problems which were not there (exceptions exist)before 9/11 and before Mush's tenure.

That's what I meant.

Thanks for the comment!

Zohair said...


When Allah wants something to happen, he creates the means for it. Yes, directly these issues are Musharraf's fault. But indirectly, our 60 year history (and perhaps beyond) has been slowly manipulated, orchestrated and subverted into allowing Musharraf to come into power and hand over the Ummah on a silver platter to its enemies.

The point is that we should not blame one or the other person for the state of the Ummah, but we should blame our having left the path of Islam which would never have suffered these kufr systems so rampant in Pakistan today.

Jazak Allah khair for the article tho. It was really touching.

Uni said...

I don't disagree with anything you've said.

I can't help blame him, though. How can I forgive the deeds he did - and have a very global view of blame now?

All I see around today, are the indirect result of his and all our institutions' subservience to the 'higher-authorities' ...:S.

It's hopeless, this situation. And unless we become politically aware and active (this has negative connotations, but I surely dont mean any violence!)... nothing is going to change.