Whenever Power in Pakistan was seized by the Army, the politicians accused it of compromising State sovereignty under a one-window access to forces inimical to the country in the absence of a democratically elected Parliament which would otherwise act as a roadblock against undue pressure, and stand guarantee against any unsavory compromises. The myth was exploded with the last democratic Government lying haplessly prostrate against US diktats, far worse than most dictators did, followed by an equally spineless present Government allowing Pakistan to be encircled by its detractors with a next to nothing Foreign Policy team.
Rewind eight years; Asif Zardari who steamrolled himself to power donning the mantle of the President of Pakistan, for most of his time hung on to more than his legitimate share of power in what is styled as a Parliamentary set-up and only nominally transferred authority to a supposed Prime Minister who remained as ineffective as an installed puppet. Wielding all conceivable powers Zardari thought he could prosper for at least as long as Musharraf did, little realizing that he could no more count on his political constituency which he himself fragmented at very outset by creating fissures in Party ranks to which he had delivered nothing but frustration, and at the national level failed to have a plan to alleviate suffering of masses, prohibitive prices, strife and insecurity, while rank corruption ruled the roost.
After he waived his slain wife’s supposed Will and prematurely ushered in his son Bilawal into the position of the Party Chairman, he in a vain bid to present the lad as heir apparent to the Bhutto dynasty compromised his own traditional parental identity by prefixing ‘Bhutto’ ahead of his own title to Bilawals name. Unprecedented in history but the son came to be styled as Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whereas if preservation of the dynasty was imperative it should have been the far more promising Fatima Bhutto talented daughter of the controversially eliminated elder son of ZAB who deserved the honour and could have truly made an impact. That the Party silently acquiesced to the arrangement bespeaks of the level of principled leadership left in it.
Instead of putting in practice their rhetoric of forging national unity to face the ominous threat and conspiracy against Nuclear Pakistan under the smokescreen of terrorism, the rulers were succumbing to safeguard their personal entities under the so-called charter of self-styled democracy. As they evidenced lack of capacity to prioritize their national goals, another premature change in the ruling set-up started to brew, and the US Administration as in the past readied itself to put into operation its plan to select a horse they would like to bet on next. One had hoped they would find none this time.
The then Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crawley, in conveying Obama Administration’s stance over the developments and brewing stand off between the Judiciary and the Executive in Pakistan at that time, signaled pulling back its patronage of the Zardari regime saying that it was a matter between the Government and the people of Pakistan. It did so to Musharraf whom they had supported throughout but backed off when they sensed he had outlived his utility and was on a weak wicket with the rejuvenated judiciary, an emerging media, and a people who were beginning to count the costs. As for the Pakistani people they marvel momentarily over showing the door to an ineffective and exploitative lot, but when it comes to making their next choice they are unable to throw up spotless leadership which would stand up and deliver, and thus continue getting the wrong end of handle.
Government haplessness during the Zardari Government was further testified by a sudden and mysterious spread in operations of American private security contractors masquerading across the length and breadth of the country obliquely confirmed by Hilary Clinton during her visit to Pakistan and not denied by Admiral Molen who asserted over a Pakistani TV Channel that the American and Pakistani authorities, (without specifying civil or military) were operating in tandem and complete harmony.
The Pakistani Government as usual lacked the courage to admit as it continued to deny any such activity on Pakistani soil. The people were ashamed of such pretensions but the Government was not as much worse followed with the Salala, Abbotabad and the infamous Memogate inroads, besides now the drone strike deliberately taking out the Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Mansoor when he had just crossed over into Pakistan from Iran thus pre-empting and disrupting the four-nation peace initiative in Afghanistan.
It is also Pakistan’s myopic leadership which does not learn from its past blunders and is mindlessly embroiled in petty non-issues instead of grasping the ominous consequences of Imperial intentions in the region. Instead of unitedly building on opportunities like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and blunting the enemy designs to frustrate the project which is an eyesore for Pakistan’s adversaries and seen by them as an enigma rather than a collective opportunity for the good of mankind, the Pakistani leadership continues to waste precious time in internal squabbles and regional preferences over gelling with one voice to achieve the national objective.
Things had somewhat changed with the change of guard in the Armed forces of Pakistan but little on the civilian front as it failed to find diplomatic momentum in exposing the red-handed capture of Indian and Afghan Intelligence sleuths on Pakistani soil and busting of their network, with the United States pretending they saw nothing wrong in Indian operations against Pakistan in tandem with Afghan puppet regime from its multiple Consulates in Afghanistan or its reign of terror and killings in Occupied Kashmir over which the whole world is now alive.
But since the US had planned to eventually shift the war epicenter to Pakistan aiming to destabilize the Nuclear State seen as a road-block against China containment, it has chosen to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to these developments. In support of the agenda as evidenced now, even the Afghan puppet regime leave alone India is beginning to sing the common refrain blaming Pakistan for fuelling terrorism instead of acknowledging its universally acclaimed Zarb-e-Azab Operation, sacrifices by the day against Terrorism and decades long hospitality to millions of Afghan refugees; ungrateful would be an under-statement to describe the pay-back.
The writing had very much been on the wall ever since Musharraf allowed the Pakistani neck into the imperial noose whose game-plan soon unfolded, but who cared. Might one at this point of time ask those political pundits to comment who dismissed General Hameed Gul’s premonition of the US intentions and plans in the region as mere conjectures and hallucinations? The late ISI Chief who invariably summarized the imperialist Agenda saying, “9/11 was a bahana, Afghanistan their thikana and Pakistan their Nishana”. For the consumption of the English reader it would though not as effective as in the vernacular, translate something like “Nine Eleven was a mere excuse, whereas Afghanistan was to be the base and Pakistan the actual target.”
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran former Director of programmes.