Joint session of parliament urged for strong rejoinder to Trump

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General Bajwa once again takes lead to defend country

Salahuddin Haider

Under normal circumstances, Donald Trump’s remarks should have been ignored, for he is still to familiarize himself with the complexities of statecraft, issues statements or order in the morning, to be withdrawn within or less than 24 hours. But his utterances against Pakistan does not and must not fall in that category. In his August 23 policy speech on Afghanistan and South Asia , he poured insults and humiliation against a sovereign country, forgetting that kingdom days have long been over. Such dictations or Royal commands, as these were called in olden days, have become history, detached and delinked with the working ways of yesteryears.
The threat from the US President to stop aid to Pakistan, hardly held ground, for Islamabad had enough of these already. Needless to go into detail about sanctions applied by United States, but just for record examples are being quoted here as tutorial for Trump. Despite being members of SEATO and Cento, Pakistan was treated as outcasts, examples of which can be traced back to signing of the Pak-China border agreement in 1962, the 1965 war against India, The Pressler Amendment, which Benazir as prime minister called “veto in India’s hands”, and the May 1998 sanctions when this country went nuclear as counter to similar tests from hostile Neighbour India.
The question that White House or the State Department in Washington must try to probe is whether these sanctions really mean anything in today’s world. They might come out with different answers, for policy synchronization or consensus among multi-faceted US administration, has invariably been found lacking, each one of these seeing a particular issue with its own coloured glasses. But such dichotomy exists in perhaps almost every country, big or small. Pakistan is no exception either. ISI, Prime Minister’s House, foreign office, interior minister, present different viewpoints in meetings on sensitive subjects. A harsh stand against Pakistan was nticipated since long before Trump made up his mind, but resort to threatening language was not only shocking but demanded instant rejoinder from the foreign office in Islamabad, which, as usual, was again found wanting.
Countrymen expecting a counter from prime minister of the foreign minister, appeared disappointed. They found relief in the person of army chief General Qamar Bajwa, who in a meeting with US ambassador David Hale, made it very clear that Pakistan required nothing, no aid, but simple goodwill and happier ties with America. The statement from army became instant, screaming headlines for television networks, engaged hectically for a counter from their government, which perhaps was in slumber, and newspapers next morning used as their main or in technical terms lead story, appreciating the army chief’s bold initiative.
The second person deserving credit for befitting reply to Donald Trump was senate chairman Raza Rabbani, who as true democrat, and parliamentarian par excellence, looked angry at the threats held out to Pakistan. The language used by Trump, crossed all limits of decency, norms, and protocols reserved for such occasions.
However Shahid Khaqan Abbasi must be credited for his hurried visit to Saudi Arabia in company with foreign and finance ministers and must have mobilized some support from prince Mohammad bin Salman, now foreign minister of the Holy Land.
Without losing any more time, Abbasi summoned urgent meeting of National Security Council (NSC), a powerful body having important ministers, and three service chiefs as members, chief ministers, etc. which, though belated, nevertheless came as a substantial relief to the countrymen.
Its outcome was heartening. Foreign minister Khawaja Asif was asked to put off his visit to America, and instead seek guidance from China and Russia, the two powerful emerging players in international arena, whose spokesperson and president Putin had rebutted Trump for taking shelter behind blame game, instead of accepting his own government failure to help restore peace in Afghanistan. Both China and Russia have stood solidly behind Pakistan, for which the nation is grateful to them. Their support to Islamabad in moment of crisis, will long be remembered and written in golden words by historians.
Trump, who faces criticism almost daily for wearing too many masks at the same time, is bringing bad bad name to his country and great American people. CNN even on Friday August 26, did a crash programme to ask questions as to which statement of Donald Trump, should be accepted, and whether he really understood the meaning of governance.
Media generally has been hostile to the new US president, and some of his own trusted lieutenants have deserted him sooner than later after being appointed to responsible positions. Trumps’ statement on Afghanistan was disowned not only by Pakistan, Russia and China, but also by President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.
How could such a policy, as spelled out by Trump, could be called saner in value, tone or content? This is a major poser, answers to which American people and their senate and congress have to find. The senate has already outvoted Trump’s attempt to outdo Barak Obama’s heath care plan. That defeat should have been eye opened for him, but why does he persevere with his dubious policies, on domestic issues, and in international relationship, is something that has baffled analysts.
Pakistan after thorough, five-hour consultations of National Security Council, conveyed to him in unambiguous terms that it was Pakistan which had wasted 120 billion dollars in war on terror. American financial assistance was a peanut for land and air routes allowed to NATO and US allied forces during war against Taliban.
Instead of blaming Pakistan, Trump should order American troops still in Afghanistan to take control of 40 percent land of that country, still in possession of Taliban and ISIS forces who are not only fomenting trouble within Afghanistan, but are also a constant threat to Pakistan’s security. Pakistan army has raised barriers on borders with Afghanistan to prevent Taliban and others from crossing over to Pakistan. The result has been heartening. Terorist attacks have subsided to a very great extent. Will Donald Trump now have a review of stance he has displayed so far, for there is method in madness also. He must display that now