If you want to know what happens to a Third World country when it enters Uncle Sam’s embrace, don’t visit Africa or Latin America. Look at Pakistan. Like millions of my countrymen, I feel a deep antipathy toward the “Yankees” who, with the help of power-hungry generals and corrupt politicians, have turned independent, sovereign Pakistan into a “rentier state.”
Pakistan has lost its independence and is now virtually an American satellite, with no honour, dignity and sense of self-respect. If you want to know what happens to an ill-led and ill-governed, poor country which attaches itself to an all-powerful country like the United States, Pakistan is the perfect example.
In his Farewell Address, George Washington cautioned that “an attachment of a small or weak nation towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter. The strong might have interests and objectives that could be of little real importance to the weak; but once the latter submitted to acting the role of a satellite, it would find it no easy task to avoid being used as a tool by the strong.”
Washington highlighted the dangers inherent in an unequal relationship between a very strong nation and a weak nation and the folly of a weak nation succumbing to the belief that “real favours” would flow to it from the strong partner. It is folly in one nation, Washington observed, to look for disinterested favours from another...it must pay with a portion of its independence for what ever it may accept under that character. No truer words have been spoken on the subject.
The month of May was a disaster for Pakistan. May 2 will go down in our history as a day of infamy. When challenged, all our intelligence agencies were caught napping. All security institutions charged with protecting the country were shamed. Defeat is one thing. Disgrace is another. The country has been humiliated. But it is business as usual in the corridors of power, as if nothing has happened.
In December 1982, Gen Ziaul Haq told Secretary of State George Shultz that the United States and Pakistan formed a union of unequals. Zia was right. The lesson of history is that there can be no friendship between the strong and the weak. There can be no friendship between unequals, in private life or public life.
This is the bleakest era in the history of Pakistan since 1971. Today Pakistan is dotted with American fortresses, which seriously compromises our sovereignty. People don’t feel safe in their own country because any citizen can be picked up by CIA agents in collusion with our government and smuggled out of the country.
Think about where we Pakistanis stand today. Zardari is presiding over a lousy economy and spending like an inebriated sailor. Terror is the order of the day. Pakistan is experiencing the tremors of an impending political and economic earthquake. This is a particularly perilous time for Pakistan to have a president who is facing corruption charges at home and abroad and whose moral authority is in shreds. At a time when the country is at war, President Zardari, the Supreme Commander, spends almost his entire existence in the confines of a bunker – which he seldom leaves these days. He is more concerned about protecting himself and his wealth than protecting the country or the people of Pakistan. Today we have a deeper hole than ever to dig out of, thanks to our corrupt rulers, and have less political authority than ever to make the hard decisions needed to get out of the hole.
“The single greatest threat (to Pakistan),” Obama said recently, “comes from Al-Qaeda and their extremist allies.” This is not true. All our major problems, including terrorism, stem from the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. It has turned our tribal area into a protracted ulcer, a quagmire – a place where Pakistan is spending blood and treasure to protect American interests.
“The United States has great respect for the Pakistani people,” He said. Invading our territory, carrying out military operations on our soil, bombing our villages and killing innocent men, women and children, Mr President, is no way of showing respect to our people.
Today the United States is conducting a virtual crusade against the Islamic world to steal its oil and capture its resources. Libya is under attack. Iran, Syria and Pakistan are next on the hit list. It is now abundantly clear that Pakistan, the only nuclear power in the Islamic world, will soon be denuclearised and emasculated.
The alienation between the people of Pakistan and the United States has never been more intense. Relations between Pakistan and the United States have never been as stormy as they are today. The Obama administration does not seem to be aware of the tectonic shift that is well underway. One thing is clear: the United States has lost Pakistan forever.
In the aftermath of the May 2 debacle and the cold-blooded murder of the innocent, unarmed youth by paramilitary personnel in Karachi, there had been hopes that the shock could motivate the nation to find a way out of its morass. Sadly, the people appear to be increasingly disappointed with the response of their national leadership. As I look around, I witness a proliferation of excuses for inaction, a grotesque abdication of responsibility. The political paralysis that has gripped Pakistan for years continues.
As we approach the endgame, one thing is clear: In the death throes of the regime, Zardari will take Pakistan down with him. When power and leadership come to people incapable of handling either, the result can be disastrous. Isn’t it a great tragedy that at a time when statesmanship of a very high order is the need of the hour, the fate of 180 million Pakistanis is in the hands of Zardari and hordes of weak-kneed triflers, mountebanks and charlatans begrimed with corruption? Were politics in our country burdened with such notions as shame, integrity, accountability, rule of law and, last but not least, inviolability and supremacy of the Constitution, all of them would be in jail today.
Today we stand alone. Such are the harsh realities inherent in an unequal relationship. It is time to wake up. At this time all those among us who love this country and see the perils of the future must draw together and take resolute measures to put Pakistan back on the democratic path. Failing that, a long polar night will descend on Pakistan.
If you want to know how a people can survive despite their corrupt government, well, take a deep look at Pakistan. Today it is a political and moral imperative for all Pakistanis to fight for our independence, sovereignty and liberties and be prepared to face all consequences. “Liberty once lost is perhaps lost forever,” John Adams told his countrymen. It is, therefore, going to be an uphill task. Let there be no doubt about it.
The writer is a former federal secretary. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.roedadkhan.com