By Dr Shireen M Mazari
As US vice president Cheney visits
Islamabad, we should remember this is merely a stopover
en route from Kabul for the opening of their new
parliament -- for which the US, as an occupying/liberating
power can rightfully claim credit. And, of course,
as we have never ceased to point out on so many
public fora, we are truly grateful for the help
provided for the earthquake relief by the US --
as we are to so many other countries and foreign
groups who perhaps do not seek so much public acknowledgement
but have done more in terms of their resources than
the more powerful members of the international community.
Also, their work in the field does not tie up our
security resources in terms of providing protection,
in contrast to US and NATO forces whose relief effort,
laudable as it is, involves tying up at least 7000
Pakistani soldiers simply for their protection!
Just as an aside, it was highly intriguing to discover
a NATO vehicle accompanied by their Pakistani safety
escort, patrolling Khayaban-e-Iqbal in Islamabad,
the other day. What could they have been doing?
Surveillance work of some sort perhaps?
Back to the issue at hand, we also need to remember
that Cheney’s …. stopover comes in the
wake of the viceroy-like pronouncements of the US
ambassador in Islamabad. Despite some sort of an
explanation put forward by our Foreign Office, the
fact of the matter is that if he had been misquoted,
his embassy would have put out a clarification.
Moreover, according to many journalists who were
present on the occasion, he did make the pronouncements
that were reported in the press. And we know that
US ambassadors in Islamabad do tend to bestow upon
themselves viceregal airs and go on to pontificate
on all manner of internal matters of the sovereign
state of Pakistan.
Why should Crocker be perturbed about jihadi groups
providing relief to their brethren in AJK? He talks
of them not having renounced violence, but obviously
he missed their early statements that they were
now involved in a different kind of jihad -- that
of providing succor to the traumatized Kashmiris.
Or perhaps Crocker finds the word 'jihad' itself
discomfiting just as we find the word 'crusade'
hard to digest. If that is the case, he needs to
deal with that issue because jihad is an integral
word of our Islamic faith and hence cannot be done
away with. Incidentally, given that the US is practicing
covert and overt violence, including using chemical
weapons and torture, in Iraq and elsewhere, it was
a trifle ironic to find Mr. Crocker wanting to see
a renunciation of violence.
Even more galling was the Ambassador's statement
on Pakistan's past experiences with democracy. Good
or bad, it is not for the US to dictate what kind
of democracy they would find acceptable in Pakistan.
Perhaps they have got carried away with their mapping
out of the political constructs in Iraq and Afghanistan!
In any case, Mr. Crocker did no service to the present
leadership of the country by this outburst.
In fact, there have been some disturbing developments
relating to the US that have converged publicly
around this time. There were the revelations of
secret prisons and torture by the US in the territory
of its allies in Europe; there was the continuing
saga of Guantanamo Bay; and, there was the announcement
that the Pentagon is to invest $400 million in psy-ops
targeting foreign populations and the media. We
know that this includes buying airtime on foreign
television channels, but does it also mean slipping
in texts into school textbooks? Was the poem found
in a Pakistani English text book there by design
-- and some uncooperative person discovered the
message before it could be disseminated? Anyhow,
clearly one should now look warily at all news stories
portraying something positive of the US in case
they are part of the Pentagon's psy-ops.
With all these revelations in the media, it has
been equally surprising to find that our media has
ignored a rather crucial piece of information regarding
nuclear and missile proliferation. Given how once
again Dr Khan is being pilloried and news of the
arrest of his Dutch 'friend' is in all the foreign
and Pakistani media, how has it escaped us that
a US federal court found US citizens guilty of violating
US export control laws in order to sell missile
technology components to India? This happened on
November 22 this year, when a US federal court found
two defense companies in New England and their top
executives guilty of selling technology to India
that helped it to improve the Agni missile. The
law-breakers had managed to export a control panel,
needed to operate a production size hot isostatic
press, to India's Defense Research Development Laboratory
in April 1988. According to the court, the defendants'
provided equipment to India which "may facilitate
nuclear weaponry and thereby threaten stability
in South Asia." We all know how India's nuclear
ambitions progressed up to 1998, but why should
this important news be of no interest to the media
as opposed to a story relating to Dr Khan's Dutch
The issue is important, because presently there
is a concerted effort to push under wraps Indo-Iranian
nuclear cooperation -- both at the level of the
two states, which continue to have a nuclear cooperation
treaty since neither has rescinded it, and at the
level of individual Indian scientists. Iran's efforts
to deflect its nuclear issue on to Pakistan are
unfortunate, but why is the rest of the international
community not prepared to examine the Indian connection
to Iran? Is there a more insidious long-term intent
discernable here, especially on the part of the
EU and US? After all, the US is undermining the
NPT itself with its nuclear agreement with India
and many European states are also moving to provide
India technology contrary to the Nuclear Supplier
Guidelines. Is this also part of the Pentagon's
plan to protect certain interests of its strategic
allies, especially those which may call into question
the efficacy of US agreements?
Unfortunately, Pakistan seems to be a choice target
to attack on all issues -- as if extremism, violent
religious cults, corruption and political inadequacies
are peculiar only to us! Perhaps we present an easy
target because we are highly critical of ourselves.
To read the press would be to believe that nothing
is right with us. This is certainly not the reality
on the ground, despite all our faults. We are allowing
ourselves to be overcome by a negative milieu in
which all and sundry feel they can lash out at will
and get away with it. Mr. Crocker certainly felt
that. Yet, there should be no room for a viceroy
in the sovereign state of Pakistan.
(The writer is director general of the Institute
of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The