Beyond diplomatic niceties | By Zaheer Bhatti


Beyond diplomatic niceties

IT is heartening to note that of late, Pakistan has acted beyond diplomatic niceties in calling a spade a spade; and somewhat redeemed its national honour and sovereignty in its own eyes in the process if not the ventriloquist world which has made Pakistan pay a price; a price which was worth paying but not without vindicating its stance.

Even though only once, the current Foreign Minister of Pakistan gave out Pakistan’s piece of mind in shaking the Saudi Government to give up its muffled and apathetic stance over Kashmir and its lukewarm and ineffective leadership of the OIC in matters of concern for the Muslim world which might force likeminded among the Ummah to regroup for an effective voice; defiance by the new Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen of IMF diktats aimed at further strangulating the poor masses, plucking courage to reject IMF suggestions and giving out his own road map despite dire need for economic assistance for the national economy; the Prime Minister the other day, mildly but discretely pointing to the liberal minority over ignoring the edicts of the Holy Quran in matters of social and cultural practices which were among the reasons of moral degradation of the society; and his forthright reasoned rejection of serving anymore as a proxy for American interests including cooling off relations with the Chinese, or allowing use of Pakistani soil and territory by the US for operations inside Afghanistan.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s criticism of the Saudi Government was paid back with the Kingdom requiring Pakistan to instantly return a couple of billion dollars of its deferred loan.

Pakistan did not beg reconsideration and paid back; courtesy its time tested friend and ally the People’s Republic of China, proving yet again the proverb right that a friend in need was the friend indeed.

Even though things have since apparently normalized between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan with resumption of economic assistance by the former, one reckons that the equation once dented, will never be the same.

Pakistan must nevertheless pursue like-minded among the OIC of which it is a founder member, to create a pressure group at the forum if not a separate entity, and must continue more vigorously with actualizing measures like launching a media channel in an increasingly biased and hostile media configuration worldwide against the Ummah, in order to give an effective voice to the Muslim world, as proposed jointly by Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan.

Shaukat Tareen emerged amid dark clouds surrounding Pakistan’s dwindling economy, to give hope and a workable road map for achieving IMF targets for which the lending agency has only temporarily agreed to a grace period with a pinch of salt.

The only way to get out of the world donor web would be for every individual Pakistani to help the Prime Minister and Shaukat Tareen’s vision of standing on one’s own feet through productivity, and paying tax honestly.

The Finance Minister must, on the other hand, ensure a people-friendly FBR by making tax slabs affordable so that everyone is encouraged to voluntarily become a filer and pay rather than look to finding ways to avoid or pay less. You have data of a hundred thousand defaulters. Reach them gently and intelligently.

One must vehemently trash and condemn the so-called liberal segment of the Pakistani society which dared find fault with the Prime Minister’s remarks in the context of increasing incidents of moral turpitude in the country owing to our perpetual distancing from the code of conduct and ethics which includes the dress code in an Islamic polity; unambiguously described in the Holy Quran.

While the PM is dart right in his observation, it is time that this minority segment in the Pakistani society which is being allowed to become vocal by the day, was given a shut up call against any liberties with the edicts of the Holy Book. This segment must be made to realize that their liberties end where someone’s nose begins.

Imran Khan’s categorical rejection of American demands of some air bases or an air corridor yet again for its possible operations inside Afghanistan; quite clearly aimed against the increasingly surging Afghan Taliban, is not just bold but logically reasoned as Pakistan can ill-afford another backlash and an influx of refugees delivering another blow of instability to Pakistan.

While Pakistan has made it clear time and again that it favours no sides but an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and that it would close its borders in case the Afghan Taliban tried to seize power by force, why must the US not read honesty of intent in the Pakistani declaration and why must it insist on checking Afghan Taliban advances by drone strikes and precipitate matters?
The Afghan Taliban and the Ashraf Ghani’s minority government on the other hand must seize the opportunity and blunt any possibilities of a civil war in Afghanistan being mongered by those regional spoilers seeking perpetual instability in order to further their own clandestine agenda in the region through Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister has also told the US that Pakistan would partner the US for peace and not conflict, and certainly not at the cost of its time-tested friend, ally and partner the People’s Republic of China.

What the Prime Minister has not said yet and must do so not much later, is that continuing to be placed on the FATF grey list and being given additional six points to ponder, Pakistan having gone out of its way, realizes clearly now that FATF is nothing but another imperial political pressure ploy, and that henceforth whatever steps Pakistan takes in curbing money laundering will be in its own interest, and not so much to satisfy the watchdog.

As to terror financing, there has been none from Pakistan, as it does not see any assistance to the cause of freedom of oppressed nations including Kashmir and Palestine as financing terror.

Ironically, Israel and India have blatantly terrorized not just Palestine and Kashmir but also actively sponsored terrorism inside Pakistan with tacit support of the United States with immunity! Save your sermons dear sirs.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

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