Reply to Hilary Clinton was befitting
The fact of the matter is that, Pakistan’s prestige in the outside world had kept plummeting because of the inept governments at home and policies pursued by them. Some people had come to power after begging it from America, but the image of the country, until mid-70s enjoyed envious reputation and its passport holders, were treated at par with most of the respectable, and civilized communities around the globe. The dip towards depression was initiated by our own embassies abroad, who instead of protecting the interest and rights of their citizens, started to advise the foreign office in Islamabad to enforce visa restrictions for Pakistani passport holders, going to Europe etc. They took shelter behind the excuse that Pakistanis coming to Germany and other western Europe states, took asylum and became a source of discomfort for the embassy staff.
This was criminal on their part. But as the military dictators kept coming to power, one after the other, they preferred to live under American shield of protection against their own people. But that was normal. Almost dictators around the world did the same. Ayub, Zia, or Musharraf, were no exemptions. In came the successive Afghan wars, first the Soviet invasion of the neighbouring country, and then after a respite, United States, came heavily to crush the so-called Islamists, or Taliban and Al-Qaeda etc. Both Zia and Musharraf were guilty of playing into their hands. Zia had a price tag, dismissing President Carter’s initial offer of 400 million US dollars “peanuts, and then settling it for economic-cum-military aif 3.2 US dollars to fight the American war from Islamabad. Afghan leaders were greeted and garlanded in Pakistan, and given VIP treatment to live in former NWFP, and those with black money of drugs, and US doles, picked Karachi as their centre to buy real estate and transport. Musharraf did not even bother to take his own handpicked parliament into confidence, and churned out a story that in 2001 when Americans moved troops to crush islamists, that he had been given little choice either to accept American terms to fight with them their war on terror, or be ready to be sent to stone age.
This was a blatant lie. Americans never used such undiplomatic language. Even hypothetically, had they really used such an unusual threat, Musharraf could have easily sought time of 24 to 48 hours to consult his colleagues in the parliament or the cabinet or seek public opinion through a radio and TV address. That these weaknesses of our own, emboldened Washington, is not the latter’s fault, It was our own mistake. Under Zardari, the PPP regime, looked totally oblivious and clueless of how to handle the domestic or the external policies. The country kept dipping in the abyss of internal disorder, poor economic and financial health, and complete loss of external image. A series of incidents lately in on year’s time, shook the government from deep slumber, and luckily Hina Khar took charge of the foreign ministry, and gave tongue to an otherwise dead and dumb government. She spoke brilliantly, articulating the nation’s sentiments in Delhi, Washington, London, European Union. Pakistan’s marketing was done with grace and honour.
That within 24 hours of Hilary Clinton’s threats of sanctions to Pakistan for partnering with Iran on gas pipeline and buying oil for our energy-starved economy, was rebutted with equally forceful words. US was reminded that as a sovereign country, we can not be told of how to behave or what to do. We are members of the UN and Security Council, apart from being a responsible nuclear state. We can not be dictated terms of who to deal with, and who to trade with. Credit also goes to President Zardari, and the army chief General Kayani who actually backed the present government. While the US government is keenly awaiting the outcome of a parliamentary review of the kind of ties Islamabad should have with Washington, the State Department was quick to comprehend the anger in the tone and tenor of Hina Kha’s rejoinder to Hilary’s words which clearly spoke of concern on Pak-Iran gas pipeline, and a consequential sanction on Pakistan’s trade and financial pursuits for a better future.
The American government statement, more of a clarification issued later on Wednesday night, was an after thought .Quickly the American administration, retraced steps to prevent an already tense relationship becoming worse.