Imtiaz Rafi Butt
THE year 2021 has set the stage for the unforeseen. There are both hopes and fears on the horizon. The previous year devastated the strong and the weak alike. The numbers of the dead continue to rise. Majority of the world is still trying to cope with the new normal, the life in the pandemic. The United States, the dominant nation of the world, is worst hit. Unable to devise a mechanism, void of unity, searching for that zest that made it the superpower of the world. Donald Trump is now the first President of the United States to be impeached twice. And his exit marks the storming of the most protected building in America, the house of democracy on Capitol Hill. Truly, no one could have foreseen what has come to pass. The wheels of fortune are in motion, and it is time for high and arrogant to go down and an opportunity for the down and out to come up. Change is inevitable, progress in optional.
Donald Trump has transformed the face of American politics forever. Both internally and externally, he has changed the entire perspective. The American people who presented themselves to the world through refined gentlemen like Barack Hussein Obama, were turned into a mockery. A man who refused to shake hands with heads of state. Trump stood for an arrogant, self-centred business aristocrat who won the support of the American people and used the White House as his personal fiefdom. He pulled America out of the Climate Dialogue. He backed out of the Iranian peace deal. He called back troops from Iraq and Afghanistan while assassinating important figures like General Soleimani of Iran. He let Syria fall to Assad and Russia and demolished the idea of a unified world where American and China could co-operate for a better world. He branded immigrants, Muslim, Hispanics and Black people as the enemy and divided the United States like never before.
He resorted to the worst form of dirty politics to get what he wanted. He demanded Ukraine Government to malign his political adversaries and he made friends with the worst leaders the world has seen like Narendra Modi and Bulsanaro. The damage is already done. American politics lost its values of Freedom, Liberty and Free Market with George Floyd and the ensuing violence. In January 2021, the whole of humanity watched in shock and awe as thugs disrupted the Capitol Hill Senate proceedings. It was like a lesson from history, “Rome is burning”. The most powerful among the powerful, losing control. Such an event is barely imaginable happening in Beijing. America is now an isolated country, spiraling into division and one disaster after another. The daily death count from Covid-19 fixed around three thousand deaths per day. Such a morbid rate of death was inconceivable even in the event of World War III.
For the United States, the work is cut out for Biden. But elsewhere, another upheaval is unfolding. Israel, partly due to interference of Donald Trump and his team, is making fast in roots in the Muslim world. Middle East is at the helm of another crises. Israel has broken the Muslim brotherhood through offerings of military, technological and commercial support. The UAE will go down in history as the first nation that gave in to personal gains versus collective well-being. Only one word is coming from Palestinians, “back stabbers”. The United Nations will have lesser voices in support of Palestine and their rights thanks to the US-led negotiations between Israel and smaller Arab states. Israel being one of the largest exporter of fighter aircraft and missile equipment, is an attractive offer for States seeking military dominance. In 1998, I wrote an article highlighting the nuclear capability of Israel and how it has been launched by Western powers, particularly by the United States, to safeguard its interests in the Middle East. After the failure of Abdul Nasser in Egypt in securing a nuclear arsenal from Russia, the cause of Palestinians and sovereignty of Muslim States in the region was permanently eliminated. After 23 years, the same equation holds true. Without the restoration of balance of power, there is no hope of mutual respect and coexistence. Donald Trump merely used this factor to his advantage, finding fertile soil in countries holding grudges against Iran and China. Actions of Benjamin Netanyahu have further divided the world and the Muslim States. Once again, the Zionist policies have prevailed, only to the detriment of the region.
The Palestinians are appalled at the actions of Arab nations lining up to resume diplomatic ties with Israel. But all is not lost. In parallel, Turkey and Pakistan are now set to assume the torch of hope and moral high-ground. Erdogan and Imran Khan are emerging as the new face of defiance. Pakistan, as I pointed out in 1998, is the bulwark of Islamic values. A country that was bullied under the shadow of a hostile neighbour, much larger in size and animosity. If only Pakistan could have realized its potential and had made way for a nuclear weapon before 1971, it would have been the dominant Muslim nation of the world. Under personalities like Bhutto and AQ Khan, Pakistan is the only nuclear powered Muslim nation.
And Pakistan as a country is staying true to its ideals set by father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Dialogue with the likes of Israel can only be made when Palestinians are given their due rights and independence. War, exploitation and genocide are not sustainable, if only the Israeli Government could comprehend. In the third week of January, 2021, the notable geo-political analyst firm Global Fire Power has ranked Pakistan Army as the 10th most effective Army in the world. At this position, Pakistan in terms of military capability is much higher than nations like Israel, Germany, Italy etc. The new world order is in full swing. Pakistan as a nuclear capable nation is as secure as can be and making the right moves. India is no longer an existential threat.
Pakistan is now in a position to not only defend itself but to assist Muslim brother countries like Azerbaijan in face of wars. In the United Nations, Pakistan is among the highest contributors of Peace Keeping UN Forces around the world. Perhaps Pakistan has not reached the heights it was destined for as yet, but it is assuredly on its way. The recent strides in commerce and trade are being felt as well. Pakistan has improved its Business Friendly Index by over 30 points in the previous year. The tide of power and progress is on the horizon and the threat of adversaries is eminent, it is up to the people of Pakistan and the youth in particular, to ensure that we make a great name of our beloved country, come what may.
—The writer is Chairman, Jinnah Rafi Foundation, based in Lahore.