Only if…


Zaheer Bhatti
THERE is a plethora of ‘Only ifs’ in the Pakistan’s body whole which calls for catching the bull by the horns in more than many ways. But for purposes of this piece only if the constituents of this State stand fast on national self-respect commonly termed as sovereignty and hold it atop their national goals, Pakistan would begin to promise its generations a better future.
On the International front only if the US would cast off its superpower cult and genuinely wished peace in this hemisphere, all it needed was to be realistic for a change, pull India the actual spoiler physically out of Afghanistan rather than embroil it further, and the world would see dramatic results with the Afghans sorting out their issues by themselves. India being pepped into a greater role with a clever ask by the US to invest more out of its vast export earnings into the bottomless pit in Afghanistan, would soon feel the pinch and discover why it was pushed into it. Far from expecting India to contain China, Washington asking it to fund a campaign the US was finding increasingly hard to support was clearly indicative of its own crumbling edifice under stress by a 600 trillion dollar debt burden from its emerging rival the People’s Republic of China.
Besides the fact that Donald Trump already hit by yet another resignation this time by a former US State Department official Daniel Kammen after Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacist Virginia march, followed now by his myopic South Asian policy declaration, was far closer to being impeached having come under scathing criticism from American think-tanks and political opponents expounding on his fault lines which were further obviated by his Hussain Haqqani-inspired tantrums against Pakistan over its alleged intent in Afghanistan, and eulogy for India the US proxy urging it to entrench deeper in the war-torn Country eying its massive mineral wealth, and India by design using its assignment as a smokescreen to keep Pakistan engaged on its eastern and western borders distracting it and the world from India’s persecution and genocide in occupied Kashmir while keeping the pot boiling in Afghanistan.
American diatribe against Pakistan also obliquely reflects its frustration with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor fast coming to fruition which is hurting both India and the US. And Washington baselessly blaming Pakistan for not doing enough and harbouring terrorists, is negation of worldwide acknowledgement of Pakistan’s unparalleled sacrifices against terrorism and an attempt to scapegoat Pakistan for its own dismal failure to harness Afghanistan in 16 long years with all its might and resources.
Pakistan must not only consolidate its position after the Chinese-Russian voluntary response and support, and take on board Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan as well as Central Asian States neighbouring Afghanistan who have direct stakes in its stability unlike India with no borders or proximity to Afghanistan, and stakes only in keeping it destabilized. Countries bordering Afghanistan must expose the US hypocrisy to the world which knowingly turns a blind eye to declared Indian naked ingresses in Pakistan, along the line of Control in Kashmir as well as into the mainland through its Consulates in Afghanistan proven by New Delhi’s open threats corroborated by its key operative Kulbhushan Yadav under Islamabad custody facing death penalty. It must also expose American duplicity in accusing Pakistan of maintaining safe havens for the Afghan Taliban’s Haqqani network cleared long ago, whereas it makes no mention of the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan operating against Pakistan directly under Indian cover and tutelage of which the US is completely privy.
Pakistan’s Army Chief has already set the tempo losing no time in issuing a sharp rejoinder to Trump’s diatribe demanding acknowledgement of Pakistan’s unparalleled sacrifices having conducted voluntary visits by US delegations to the Tribal Areas to testify themselves about areas cleared of terrorists by Pakistani Operations. The Army Chief has gone out of his way making open-ended offer to the visitors to go to any area in Pakistan it suspects of terrorists and point them out to Pakistan for action. But it seems that Washington cannot escape harping on the RAW and Hussain Haqqani-fed disinformation and will continue to ask Pakistan for more. It is time therefore to tell Uncle Sam that it was now its turn to do more as has been aptly done by former Interior Minister Rehman Malik in an open letter to the US President.
It is befitting as an interim measure for the Government to have deferred Pakistani Foreign Minister’s scheduled visit to the US after its National Security Committee meeting, while it mulls over a measured diplomatic response to US threats. Within hours of the Yankee declaration Pakistan’s all-weather friend the People’s Republic of China reacted sharply on its side deriding the US for failing to acknowledge Pakistan’s leading role and sacrifices against the war on terror. It is heartening that Russia has also castigated Trump’s threatening posture against Pakistan whom it considers pivotal to the Afghan Resolution. Rather than waste its breath offering explanations, Pakistan ought to straight-away demand reimbursement from Washington over US $ 150 billion on account of opportunity loss alone suffered thus far by its economy as a fall-out of hosting the American campaign in Afghanistan.
Bartering away its self-respect and sovereignty is what has thus far stood between the political leadership, the people of Pakistan and the country’s Armed Forces whose sacrifices in blood have continually been allowed to be dishonoured in the past. While the Chairman Senate as well as leaders in the opposition have rightly called for an urgent joint session of Parliament for a debate over Trump’s irresponsible threats in order to evolve a unified response, it was lamentable that characters like Afrasiab Khattak over the media termed Trump’s speech as balanced, while none among Pakistan’s political leadership questioned him.
Facelessness of the political leadership is writ large, when a ruling coalition partner Mahmood Khan Achakzai on the floor of the House asks Pakistan to abandon its lifelong stance over the UN-mandated plebiscite and urges it to initiate proposal for an Independent Kashmir, while on another occasion he opposes fencing the Pak-Afghan border for better cross-border management and advocates opening it up to the Afghans he considers equal owners of the frontier regions in Pakistan, and the whole House keeps mum.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

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