Beggars are not choosers

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Zaheer Bhatti

Rahimullah Yousazai, the most credible and modest analyst of all times in terms of the geo-political situation in the North West of Pakistan and beyond, concluded in his piece the other day that in killing the Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Mansoor, the US had killed the peace process in Afghanistan. While Rahimullah might have in his conclusion hinted at a political blunder by the West, I would hasten to rejoin by saying that they have done so on purpose because peace in Afghanistan or for that matter in the region is not the American objective.
Had it been so, it would in the first place not have assaulted Afghanistan despite Mullah Omer finally agreeing to hand Osama Bin Laden over to a third Muslim country in the aftermath of Nine Eleven, blamed without evidence upon Osama their one-time blue eyed during the Russian invasion of that Country. Afghanistan and Pakistan at that time were enjoying exemplary peace and terrorism was then a phenomenon unheard. Had peace been the imperial objective and not oil, they would not have gone after Iraq blamed for possessing non-existent and imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction; followed later by their meddling in Egypt, Libya and Syria. But little do the Americans realize that in taking out the Afghan Taliban Chief, they are in for tougher times as the Afghan Taliban resistance will become even more resolute and peace a far cry not only in the region but also in its own backyard.
Vanda Felbab-Brown’s piece in the New York Times goes on to confirm my inference as it says that “the American killing by drone strike of Mulla Akhtar Mansour the leader of the Afghan Taliban may seem like a fillip for the US ally the embattled Government of President Ashraf Ghani, but it is unlikely to improve Kabul’s immediate National Security problems, and may create more difficulties than it solves”.
There indeed is a lot more than meets the eye in this madness as the US instead of asking all players to act in unison in the war on terror selectively targets Pakistan to keep it complying under pressure, not realizing that no matter what ploys it employs through its sly partner India, it will neither deter nor dent the CPEC initiative between China and Pakistan which is on course as a true game-changer in the region and shall be accomplished at all cost. Pakistan unlike India does not envision the Chahbahar port in Iran as any threat to Gwadar but has in fact welcomed the development for the collective good of humanity at large and brotherly Iran in particular, since it has even offered to connect the two corridors.
Washington continuing to violate state sovereignty riding its wish horse will not learn its lesson from history nor feel irked by any kind of morality be it over dropping of nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its reversals in Vietnam and now humiliation in Afghanistan. The US will understand and be forced to respect only those who could look them in the eye as did the Chinese once when the US committed the folly of violating their air space and the Chinese scrambled to force-land the intruding kite and put it to shreds despite Americans yelling ‘Hands off’.
Iran has been recent example of a self-respecting nation which at first held out warning and forced a US drone to flee, while on repeating the intransigence they shot it down. The Americans have since not dared and in fact been forced to lift sanctions over Iran. But as recently as less than a fortnight back, none other than the Afghan Taliban with no technology but sheer self-belief, brought down a dreaded US drone in Nangarhar on the 13th of May 2016, which Obama and Co. did not have  the guts to admit. As latest Afghan collusion with its adversaries comes to light with the arrest of the Afghan Refugee operatives confessing serving Afghan intelligence in sabotage and killings in Balochistan, there is little doubt that it was happening without American knowledge. The so-called Quetta Shura or for that matter Mulla Mansur were all part of the Refugee baggage Pakistan has been loaded with after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. But the way Pakistan has been paid back for its hospitality it was time this excess baggage was off-loaded lock stock and barrel.
The US having to pull an embarrassing retreat from Afghanistan despite the collective muscle of the Allied Force has been suffering the paranoia of expecting Pakistan to rein in the Haqqani Group which it perceives as operating from the Pakistani soil and ‘potentially’ endangering US interests and personnel in Afghanistan. But might one ask as to what precisely were US interests in this region several thousand kilometers away from their home except a vain desire to contain the rising power of China?
And why should Pakistan continue to do the dirty job for the Americans blindfolded and be still blamed despite unparalleled sacrifices in men and materials as if Pakistanis were children of a lesser god? What was the American wisdom in waiting to take out the Taliban Chief after he entered Pakistan territory and why not where he existed weeks earlier? And what has prevented them from taking out Pakistan’s wanted fugitive TTP’s Fazlullah safely housed and operating against Pakistan from Afghanistan courtesy Indian Consulates and Afghan NDS in full view of Washington? These are only a few questions the Americans need answer. Who is playing a double game; Pakistan or the US?  As for the potential threat to its personnel at the hands of the Taliban, why don’t the endangered species quit to save themselves? This is precisely what the Afghan Taliban the sons of the soil presently commanding over 70% of their country’s territory, have been asking the invaders to do ever since the start of this unholy campaign against their motherland.
But Pakistan’s embarrassing posture over the current US indiscretion clearly owes itself to lying prostrate to American diktats particularly after Musharraf’s spineless capitulation post 9/11; ever since, doing more and more except once in the case of the Salala check-post American incursion when Pakistan blocked American transit hardware into Afghanistan. The Government instead of ordering shooting down the drone or at least recalling its Ambassador from the US, has only paid customary lip service merely condemning the intrusion and ‘educating’ the nation on how the incursion qualified to be in violation of International Law and State Sovereignty. For whose consumption is all this crap from the rulers when the intruders have squarely told them that they will do so again. Before Pakistan eminently qualifies to be a banana republic it better call it a day and respectfully tell the US that it can no longer serve its stable and that it shall do more, no more.
Pakistan needs to realize and stand on its own instead of relying on foreign crutches. It has endured sanctions several times in the past and survived gracefully. It must say thanks to the American peanuts Support Fund along with its subsidized F-16s. Say thanks also to the ungrateful Afghans and send back the 4 million of them still enjoying Pakistani hospitality, and yet back-stabbing their hosts who have been tendering them for decades. And last of all, realign, as countries do all over in self-interest, or else beggars will continue not to be choosers.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran former Director of programmes.

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