Time to float new regional grouping
President Obama paid huge tributes to India, offering US 10 billion agreement for economic progress and trade developments, throwing the bait of India’s seat as the permanent member of the Security Council. Naturally Indian media was delighted over it, the south block, New Delhi’s foreign office centre in the secretariat, looked overjoyed for pulling a great diplomatic victory for the country. An editorial in the influential Hindu newspaper with over a 100 years of history, was remarkably cautious, and least enthusiastic about Obama’s speeches during his just ending visit to India. The newspaper, often considered authority on a number of issues, warns both Pakistan and India about the efficacy of the4 US President’s proposals.
But quite apart from whether the Indians feel delighted and whether the Pakistanis have been slightly disillusioned by the remarks from Obama, his entire career, as a lawyer, as senator(only for two years) and as head of today’s mightiest power of the world, has been nothing but disappointments. He, being a debator, excels in speeches, his remarks and addresses ,whether before world fora, or in the Indian parliament, do attract attention for being forceful in tone and content, but his record to get things moving has been a dismal failure.
He made tremendous speeches during electioneering in 2007 and 2008, giving new ideas to American people, and to the world, but he failed to get any of his proposals implemented, and now faced with humiliating defeat of his party in the mid-term elections for the parliament, his authority to get things moving either at home or abroad, indeed has suffered further damage.
Islamabad may draw some satisfaction of him not saying anything against Pakistan, much to the chagrin of Indian media and image sellers of that country, but his remarks were not entirely favourable for us. There were warnings in guarded and clearly carefully selected phrases, which should be a source of uneasiness for our foreign office. Unfortunately, since taking over a little over than two years, this PPP government, has done nothing to sell the country abroad. The prime minister and his foreign minister, went into their shells, parliament was treated as some sort of game instrument, and never debated anything seriously so far. Obama’s visit should have been thoroughly debated by the parliamentarians so that the nation’s collective voice, could have been relayed to the world.But alas, this was not to be.
The government, is yet to recover from its paralysis, and powers are continued to be wielded by the President, instead of being exercised by the premier. Even in foreign policy , it is the President who sometimes, not very regularly either, takes the initiative and talks of defending the country from the criticism avalanche or the missiles of being corrupt and misgoverned State, fired on us from all over the world. The prime minister does not know ABCD of foreign policy and prefers to either remain quite or when he is really forced to speak on issues by the media, comments rather meekly, as if we are nothing but a client state of a super power. The premier as the chief executive of the country, must wrest initiative on domestic and external issues, and be a little aggressive in commenting on foreign affairs, when nothing but criticism is heaped on us. With India too peace should be our motto, but if an offensive is launched from Delhi, we should not be reluctant or apologetic in replying it with equal vehemence. After all we are a nation of 180 million souls and can not allow ourselves to be taken for a ride
People must have been glad to hear the demand from interior minister Rehman Malik at the Pakistan Development Forum meeting of November 14 that US should write off US $ 50 billion loan liability like it did in the case of Egypt at the time of Camp David agreement.Rehman Malik, the trouble shooter for the administration, talks too much but sometime his remarks against drone attacks, against perverted logic against our security and stability, do reflect the sentiments of the people. Shah Mahmood Qureshi has learnt some tricks of the trade and much bolder than before in his rebuttal of accusations against Pakistan, but he still has to learn as to how to market Pakistan abroad. Islamabad does not have lobbies abroad .It never cared for that it is apparent now.Yet it is never too late.The foreign minister must not sit in Pakistan. He must draw a strategy to sell Pakistan before the world, and tour various countries and regions to let them know what we want and what we stand for. Unfortunately the government has been lying about IMF pressures on Pakistan to levy new taxes or raise electricity prices. The IM country representative in Islamabad, laid things bare before the Pakistanis by telling a press conference that the International Monetary Fund never proposed such levies, neither it did ever ask to raise power rates.
With such grave problems, and India being allowed to buy anything of its choice about its nuclear programme, Pakistan must turn to Russia and convince them about a regional groupings with Iran, China, and India also. Development projects can be undertaken even if political issues need time to resolve or likely to be shelves. Let us not be emotional about everything and try to put the cart before the horse. China is upcoming power, and so is India. They have wonders in economic and corporate fields, with their growth rates of over 10 and 8 percent respectively. Pakistan should join hands with Iran and India despite problems to build an edifice of peace, which in times to come, may help solve political problems too.
Russia has remained untouched by us literally. A visit here and a visit there does not mean much. Russian helicopters and Ukraine tanks are being used in Pakistan. Moscow is also willing to rebuild the Steel Mill, the mother of all industries. The Pakistan steel is in total mess, production grinding to a halt, and we may face problems of serious nature very soon. Russians had submitted a plan to modernize it and raise its capacity to 3 million tons, Their services should be utilized without delay. Time is not going for us and we have to utilize and encapsulate the time for our benefit. Let the foreign minister tour these countries and sell this idea to them. Who knows it may work earlier than anticipated.No harm in trying.