Ever More Farcical
By Dr Shireen M. Mazari
Post-9/11 one has had to witness
a strange decline of national self-confidence, despite
our innate national strengths, to a level where
we are now being subjected to all manner of abuse,
by all and sundry. For instance, despite our unstinting
support in the war on terrorism, the nation had
to face an outright insult by President Bush when
he declared that the purpose of his visit was to
see whether President was "as serious"
on the war against terror as he had been in the
immediate aftermath of 9/11. Nor was that all. Mr
Bush also declared that he wanted to see "fair,
free and honest" elections in Pakistan in 2007.
While one can concede to the "fair" and
"free" -- although coming practically
in the form of a command did nothing to bolster
the issue -- what did Bush mean by the use of the
term "honest". Was he remembering his
own deceit in Florida which led to his first electoral
victory, or was he casting yet another aspersion
on our leadership? In any event, despite the cricket,
and my admiration for the young bowler who defeated
Mr Bush at the batting crease, Mr Bush followed
true to Clinton's form even though the admonitions
may have been less aggressive at first glance.
The US interaction has become ever more farcical.
Following the Bush visit, we have now had to hear
more absurdities from representatives of the US
Administration -- this time in the form of the visit
to Islamabad by US Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman.
While we still continue with our dream of getting
US nuclear cooperation similar to what has been
promised to India, the US once again has sent a
clear message that that will not be the case. As
Bodman stated: "Let me make it clear to you
that nuclear energy is not part of our agenda."
This, despite the very rational Pakistani proposal
of safeguarded nuclear parks for energy generation.
So what is part of the US energy agenda for Pakistan?
After seeing the text of Bodman's press conference,
clearly the primary agenda item is to undermine
the Iran gas pipeline project and push us towards
gas projects "with Turkmenistan or Qatar."
In addition, we have been told we must meet our
requirements of energy from coal and solar power!
Given our technical capabilities in the nuclear
field and the support of China, under IAEA safeguards,
in the field of nuclear power generation, there
is little to be gained from pursuing the energy
dialogue with the US.
But that would be a strong, nationalist message
being sent to the US, and we seem to have been reduced
to a state of uncertainty psychologically in terms
of our own strengths. So many dollars will be wasted
in sending teams to continue a fairly meaningless
energy dialogue in Washington which will only increase
the pressure for abandonment of the Iran pipeline
project. Despite no technical or material help in
the nuclear field, Bodman has declared that the
US "will also send a delegation of scientists
to Pakistan". One really needs to know what
the purpose would be for such a visit.
Ironically, the US insistence that civil nuclear
assistance is not for Pakistan comes at a time when
more revelations are being made about India's proliferation
deals. We already know, although the US Administration
has chosen to turn a blind eye to this reality that
India has had nuclear deals with Iran and the Saddam
regime and that Indian nuclear scientists worked
in both these countries. Now a former UN weapons
inspector, David Albright, who heads the Institute
for Science and International Security has revealed
how India circumvented other countries' export controls
and leaked sensitive technology in order to procure
materials for its nuclear programme. How long will
the US State Department deny India's faulty proliferation
Interestingly, for Pakistan even the promised US
investment is not going to be forthcoming. That
is the other message Bodman has brought in the wake
of the Bush visit. As Bodman put it: "There
is a potential security issue in Balochistan and
unless there is a substantial reduction in that
risk, it is hard to think that there would be any
substantive American investment there."
Of course, given that India is one source of the
security problems in Balochistan, perhaps the US
could talk to its strategic partner to desist from
aiding terrorism in that part of Pakistan. More
critically, we should now realiZe how critical our
economic cooperation with China is becoming for
the future and give it topmost priority in terms
of investment opportunities and joint production
So at the end of the day, clearly given the US intent
vis-a-vis Pakistan in terms of security and economic
investment, the so-called joint statement signed
during the Bush visit to Islamabad, to launch the
Pakistan-US "Strategic Partnership" has
been reduced to a farce with the US simply telling
us what we should and should not do -- and what
it will and will not do with us. Basically, they
want us to fight the anti-terrorist war along the
international border with Afghanistan because they
are increasingly unable to control the situation
within that country despite all the high tech military
arsenal and despite the highly equipped US soldiers.
But the Afghan leaders are also getting cocky vis-a-vis
Pakistan, especially in the wake of the Bush visit.
President Karzai, who has only US support to keep
him in power, has now made his hostility to Pakistan
clear. But he keeps contradicting himself because
he wants us to stop "cross border infiltration"
but opposes our fencing of the international border.
Now we have the totally absurd situation where every
puny little Afghan leader feels he can abuse Pakistan
ad nauseum as that will garner him local and US
support. So we have had the ridiculous statement
coming from Sebghatullah Mujaddedi that Pakistan
was behind the attack on his person. Given the intricacies
of in-fighting amongst all the former Mujahideen
leaders, Mujaddedi would be closer to the truth
if he looked closer to himself for his enemies.
After all, why would Pakistan bother with him?
Like Karzai, whom Pakistan sheltered for many years,
Mujaddedi was the first Mujahideen leader to be
installed as President after the fall of Najibullah.
As a reporter, who witnessed the event recalled,
Mujaddedi had to be forced to go to Kabul from Peshawar
since he was in a state of total fear. So scared
was he that he even feigned a stomach ailment till
a doctor was summoned and he was told he was perfectly
fit to travel to Kabul!
As for our so-called interference in Afghanistan
-– which is what we are constantly being accused
of even now -– we can hardly feign complete
indifference when we still continue to host Afghan
refugees and when we are seeing the Karzai regime
allowing India space for low intensity operations
within Pakistan. President Musharraf's rejoinder
to Karzai's accusations was timely, but this tough
stance has to be sustained. It is time to restore
a nationalist assertiveness. Else we are in danger
of being reduced to an absurd farce as a nation.
(The writer is director general of the Institute
of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The