Worst case scenario
08 July, 2010
By Dr. Ghayur Ayub
Whenever the leadership of Pakistan starts tightening its belt of courage to take strong steps vis-a-vis Pak-centred realistic policies towards its neighbours; the Americans jump in and un wind it. This happened before during Musharafâ€™s regime and it is happening today in Zardariâ€™s time. For example, Richard Holbrook landed in Islamabad just as Pakistan signed the Gas Pipe Line Treaty with Iran. He warned our leaders against the deal on the basis of the recent UNSC resolution against Iran on nuclear issue. Gilani was quick to respond by announcing that Pakistan would comply with the sanctions.
Although the next day, he attempted to water down his previous announcement to please the Pak audience, in reality he meant what he said in the first place. Against such a rubbery approach, a week after the UNSC Declaration, President Sarkozy of France told the president of Russia Medvedev that France was ready to start talks with Iran over its nuclear program at IAEA, Geneva. This was on the face of it, a strong stand Iran has taken on the subject. Its leader, Ahmadinejad, portrayed the feelings of the Iranian public by saying; â€œThe imperialists know that the Iranian nation does not just talk. It will choose silence, it will endure, and consider [the situation] but when it announces a position it will stick to it until realizing [that position]..."
Recently, in a social gathering at a friendâ€™s place in London, the ex-foreign minister, Mr. Khurshid Kasuri, gave the distinct impression that Pakistan cannot survive without American help. He, obviously, was speaking Musharafâ€™s mind and as things are Zardari is not far behind. Barring one or two, most other top politicians think the same.
What is the worst case scenario if America withdraws its help? Let us consider it against the two major menaces eating away at our society; corruption and terrorism. These two are the main hurdles to Pak societal uplift; Corruption, as the root-cause of ills at all levels; Terrorism, as the main cause of absent law & order and so declining trade and economic growth. Sporadic corruption had started in early 1950s. It,gradually got stronger in the sixties, speeded up in the seventies and eighties, and was institutionalised in the nineties and the present decade. It touched all aspects of our society, tarnishing the moral fabric and becoming a need-based requirement for the poor and greed-based luxury for the rich. As a result; the gap between the poor and rich as seen on the streets has increased although rather mysteriously, it has decreased on the tax return papers.
Today, honesty is considered a weakness which was displayed when a minister was caught on camera saying that corruption was his â€˜rightâ€™. Has this un holy mess got links with American help? On terrorism; the available reports mention that the menace started as aconsequence of the brutal regime of the Taliban in the 1990s in Afghanistan and spread into our tribal areas well before the 9/11incident.
According to news items, 45 terrorist attacks were recorded in mainland Pakistan, between January 2001 and August 2001. Having said that; it is also true that unwise action by Gen Musharaf, sped up terrorism in Pakistan adding suicide bombings into its fold since 2003. Today, it is spread all over the country getting stronger in south Punjab and Karachi. Should we blame only the religious seminaries for its spread is the 64 thousand dollar question.
In my last article, `Making of suicide bombers`,I tried to explain how a terrorist can be brain washed through tools such as religion, drugs, acoustics, visuals and other hypnotic means. I also mentioned how, in 1992, the scientific tools were patented by private security firms. So there is a strong possibility that in addition toreligious seminaries, some foreign private security firms, with thebacking of foreign agencies, might be involved in terrorist activities. The question is how these two major menaces are going to be affected, if America withdrew its support as a result of sanctions. It is a test case (may be the final) for Zaradari, especially now that the influential American news media (which is considered the hidden eyes and ears of the White House) and LSE have started accusing him of playing a double game.
Similar charges were raised against Musharaf in 2007. Is it rehearsal of the game played before and is Zardari prepared for it? It doesnâ€™t look like it because instead of learning from history and talking about the strategic depth of Pakistan, he is inducing himself in aspiritual slumber giving public messages which make no sense.
Lately, he claimed that Benazirâ€™s Spirit has taken over his body making him, her â€˜Ameenâ€™ and follower of her vision. His coteries followed suit and started labelling him a â€˜visionaryâ€™. He hasnâ€™t shown any vision in his words except whenever he speaks he reflects an image described in medical certificates presented in his defence in London courts.
Strategic depth in third world countries gets strength when it is neighbour-centric. In ourcase it points at China, India, Afghanistan and Iran. Such strategy becomes realistic if it is based on economy, trade, social sector, moral values, religious tolerance, historical background and defence.
For Pakistan, such a strategy can be considered realistic if it rides on irrefutable relation with China, Afghanistan (through it with centralAsian states), and Iran (linking it with Turkey). Bearing in mind the dwindling attitude of India towards Pakistan, the status quo should be maintained with that country until such time as its intention towards Pakistan becomes genuinely sincere.
In the post 9/11 era, the Americans want us to keep India happy and deal with Afghanistan according to their (American) interests and stay away from Iran. As far as relations with China are concerned they objected to Pak-China relation on civilian nuclear understanding. Under such circumstance; what would be the worst case scenario if as aresult of UNSC resolution, America applies sanctions on Pakistan? Would corruption increase or decrease? Would terrorism get worse or subside? How would it affect us economically? Most importantly, would it adversely affect our strategic depth towards China, Afghanistan and Iran?
The knowledgeable people tell us that nations can only rise when their people are challenged by foreign powers denting their pride, traditions and faith. In Pakistan the vast majority of the people believe foreign powers are poking them in places where it hurts by denouncing their beliefs, demeaning their values, and downgrading their esteem.
According to a study over 80% of the public is tired of gross interference by the Americans. The same study revealed that the present leadership along with its coteries do not share these feelings with the public. History tells us that in the last days of the Shah of Iran, when the public were resenting American interference, his cronies kept on advising him that Iran would perish as a nation if America withdrew its support. Did it perish or turn out to be a stronger nation?