An Embarrassment to Pakistan
By Ali Zaidi
Los Angeles, CA

A few years ago, US Senator Barak Obama in a campaign speech in Chicago said that if Musharraf was to ever lose power, the United States should look at the option of hitting Pakistan’s nuclear facilities. I promptly wrote a strong protest letter to the Senator and asked him to immediately take his words back as he could not talk about attacking a sovereign country. All this happened after we had gone out of our way to support the US war on terror!
My letter to the now Senator Obama was published in a couple of newspapers although I never received a reply from him or his office. The inference is obvious: The United States is still the greatest country of the world. Here you have freedom of speech or whatever is left of it. It is still a place where, if you are willing to work, you will not sleep hungry. It is a still a place where, if need be, a poor peasant can go to the courts and get justice against a powerful tyrant. It is still the land of opportunity. It is still the land of freedom. It is a land of live and let live. And yes, it is a land of tolerance. If 9/11 had happened anywhere else, say India, the Indian Muslims would have had no place to hide. Remember Gujrat (India) a few years ago where thousand were slaughtered in cold blood? In the US, we can still go to the mosque without the slightest threat of being shot by a religious extremist of a different faith.
In my letter to the Senator I had stated that it was the failure of our foreign policy which had necessitated a statement like that to be made. Our foreign policy is revolving around a military dictator instead of promoting the image of Pakistan as a country. Now Musharraf has proved me and everyone else right by publishing his memoir.
I asked for Mr. Cowasjee’s comments on this book. The well-known columnist asked me to read his article in Dawn. I read the article and although it does start by saying that Musharaf should not have written this book, I felt that he was a little soft on the General. I wrote to him, “Honestly Sir, with due respect to you and your writing skills, you could have written it much stronger...This dictator has embarrassed us overseas Pakistanis to the point where even our ‘gora’ friends are calling him Bush's stooge ... and you know that George W is not very popular these days here”. His reply was, “Embarrassed? Why? Are you a bunch of shrinking violets?”
I am writing this article to convey my feelings to him. This article should also serve to explain why we have been embarrassed by the General.
We are embarrassed because this man has openly written that we were told by the US that we would be bombed to stone-age if we did not help them ... Is this called negotiation or is this to be described as a threat? I think anyone would have done what he did, but, please, we could have done it with a little more dignity.
Embarrassed because this man was here on an official trip with an entourage of about 70 people, including ministers, spending Pakistani tax payers money. The General spent more time in promoting his book than doing official business.
Embarrassed because this man has the audacity to stand in the White House and say that he is "honor bound" to the publisher and can't talk about his book prompting President Bush to say, "What he means is buy the book." What about being "honor bound" to the 150 million people he so rules with an iron hand because he has the backing of the White House.
Let me refresh the readers’ memory about the promises he has made to the Pakistanis and broken them without the slightest call of compunction:
His promise: I will clean up the political system of Pakistan by fighting against the corrupt politicians.
His answer: Chaudry Shujat, Irfanullah Marwat, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Rao Sikandar, Sher Niazi … This list is too long and might not fit this column.
His promise: I will bring true democracy.
His answer: The LFO.
His promise: I will take off my uniform and be a civilian president.
His Answer: You can see for yourself.
His promise: I will not victimize my political opponents.
His answer: Akbar Bugti is dead and he congratulated the officers who killed him!
His promise: I will protect the constitution of Pakistan and will not reveal state secrets (this is all spelled out in the oath the President takes).
His answer: In the Line of Fire.
Embarrassed because 200,000 kids die every year in Pakistan due to water contamination while we are building a GHQ on a 2500-acre piece of land. Just for your information the Pentagon, the GHQ of the largest army of the world, covers 35 acres.
Embarrassed because even after we have bent backwards helping the US in its “war on terror”, our ministers are made to go through body searches at the US airports. (At least someone is doing what we should have done in the first place).
Embarrassed because the General has openly given away our state secrets with respect to our nuclear program - the only offensive defense we have. Whatever appears in the newspapers is nothing compared to what has been written by the sitting president of the country.
Need I say more?


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.