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Web Desk
February 3, 2011

Last visa of Raymond Davis issued in Islamabad not Washington


Web Desk
February 3, 2011

It is now a familiar pattern. After every few months religious party leaders, backed by some retired civil and military officers create an anti-American frenzy. This frenzy is amplified by the ever-expanding ‘ghairat’ brigade within our newly independent media. But after a few days, the frenzy dies down. If Pakistan can live without America, why don’t we just do that? If we cannot live without the US, why must we create so much havoc in our relations when in the end we all intend to just carry on business as always?
As WikiLeaks have amply demonstrated, none of Pakistan’s leaders, including those who regularly make anti-American statements, really believe that Pakistan can function successfully without cooperative relations with and aid from the US. The anti-American noise is only meant to score points with an ill-informed public. Over the years, poor Pakistanis have even been killed in anti-US riots but while our elite feeds the anti-American emotions it does little to distance itself from the US. The reality is that we need America and America is more powerful than us, notwithstanding the slogans in rallies and the shouting out loud on television talk shows.
Quite clearly, some functionaries at different levels within the government also believe that occasional outbursts of anti-American sentiments somehow increase Pakistan’s leverage in its otherwise unequal relationship with the US. It is these functionaries who leak partial or colored information that enables the media ‘ghairat’ brigade to whip up anti-American emotions. We saw this during the artificial debate over the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill. After two weeks of noise, we accepted the aid and the conditions that everyone claimed compromised Pakistan’s sovereignty.
There have been no reports of the PML-N Punjab government refusing US aid under Kerry-Lugar-Berman on grounds that the Bill’s terms were unacceptable. No journalist who vociferously spoke against the Bill has refused to

accept any favours from the Americans because of the “insult” the US allegedly inflicted on us. It was just grandstanding. We are seeing grandstanding again in the case of Raymond Davis.
Amidst of the noise about national honour and law of the land taking precedence over international law (which of course is not correct) the old bogie of “too many” American officials and diplomats coming to Pakistan has been resuscitated. Even if all the numbers that are being quoted are correct and the democratic government has authorized 1,400 or 1,500 American officials to come through Pakistan, the question must be asked: Is that really a threat to Pakistan’s security? Will 1,400 American diplomatic or official visa holders overpower our one million strong military and para- military forces and ‘conquer’ Pakistan?
Has the US, or for that matter any other country, ever taken over another country by enlarging its diplomatic presence? These fundamental questions are neither asked nor answered because the ‘ghairat’ brigade and its ‘Jihadi- apologist supporters are not interested in facts. They are only interested in whipping up sentiments and emotions. It just like the continuing demonstrations against amendments to the blasphemy long after it has been made clear that there is no amendment about to take place.
There are almost one million Pakistanis or US citizens of Pakistani origin in the US If airline figures are to be believed, 150,000 Pakistani passport holders travel to the US every year. Thousands of Pakistanis line up every day outside the American Embassy to get American visas. Hundred of Pakistani officials go to the US on diplomatic and official visas. Should the US start worrying about a Pakistani plan to take over their country? When will Pakistanis find the equilibrium between being a proud nuclear state and having the confidence to deal with the world as it is instead of living in artificial and whipped up fears?
We have seen Raymond Davis’ passport and visa on national TV. His last visa valid until 2012 was issued in Islamabad and not by our embassy in Washington, DC. Yet the tragic case involving him is being used as an excuse to create misgivings about our ambassador and our embassy and to restrict the very idea of an expanded US diplomatic presence in Pakistan.
It is time for Pakistan’s political and media elite to shed their hypocrisy towards the US. Every major Pakistani political figure including many America-bashers have US passports, green cards or visas. If they do not pose a threat to US security and also want their socks and shoes not to be taken off during their visits to the US then they must stop banging the drums about Americans in Pakistan. A few hundred American diplomats and officials in Pakistan, subject to national and international law, are not a threat to Pakistan. The real threat to Pakistan comes from the frenzy and madness of the ‘ghairat’ brigade that does not allow reasonable, rational and unemotional debate about most matters including relations with the US.
If all PPP leaders, the Sharifs, Imran Khan, the JI and JUI parliamentarians with families and business or fund-raising interests in the US want Pakistan to confront the US, they should begin by giving up their own privileged relations with America.
If they are not willing to do that, then they should stop thumping their chests and making noise that earns them cheap popularity but gets Pakistan nothing. Leaking false stories in the media about some sinister conspiracy of flooding Pakistan with US diplomats and officials is not going to advance US-Pakistan relations. It will only misinform an already misinformed public and create anger where thinking and reason are required.

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