Trust and respect are mutual


Zaheer Bhatti
CAITLIN Coleman an American and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle were kidnapped while back-packing in Afghanistan in 2012 by Afghan Taliban, but on a tip off by the US that the Couple along with their three children born and raised in captivity, were being shifted to the Khyber Agency in Pakistan, were rescued by Pakistani troops in a swift and clinical operation. The rescued family thanked Pakistan Army, as did US President Trump who acknowledged and thanked Pakistan for the successful operation but bragged about Pakistan beginning to respect the US as if all it had been doing in the past was suspect, whereas having cleared Pakistan off terrorist outfits, actionable intelligence such as this one, was what Pakistan had always demanded from the US against any terrorist safe havens which allegedly still existed.
Pakistan paid the price as it lost the budding Army officer and his men who rescued the family while combing for the fleeing captors in a retaliatory revenge blast. And this is not the first time Pakistan has paid the price in the unending spate of terror which is not its creation. But much worse is the CIA Chief Mike Pompeo foul-mouthing a couple of weeks ago that the US-Canadian couple were held in Pakistan throughout their years of captivity, which though rubbished by the Afghan Taliban spokesperson to the media besides the released lady who contends to have been held in Pakistan for a year, both of which need to be further probed as to why, when and in whose protection the kidnapped family was shifted to Pakistan, and why did CIA if privy to the information, sleep over it for five years? But what is most disconcerting is the continued nosing in by the US into Pakistani affairs, when at the heels of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to countries in the region, a Trump Administration official had the cheek to advise Pakistan over mending its fences with India who they considered sincere about peace in the region, turning a blind eye over unveiled Indian spate of sabotage and incursions into Pakistan using the Afghan soil, besides the genocide and trampling of human rights in its occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir testified by International Human Rights Bodies.
The spokesperson appeared to remorselessly speak the Indian language when asserting that “India could not pursue peace with Pakistan in a way that cuts across its own security.” While the reverse is true, it is India which has always walked away from dialogue with Pakistan hedging behind this cock and bull to the US about its own security, since it has its own hands smeared with the blood of the innocent besides the acrimony it holds against Pakistan. It is India which the Americans need to address on the issue and not Pakistan.
Pakistan for a change appeared to have made the Pak-American equation of trust and reciprocation, the top Agenda Item during Tillerson’s visit and consciously did not allow separate meetings with himself and the Armed Forces Chief as done in the past which created misgivings. Having the American Secretary of State received at the Airport by a foreign office representative, one thought that much of the reviewed Pakistani policy came across quite forcefully in the formal face-to-face discourse as stated on the floor of the upper House by the Pakistani Foreign Minister the following day. It was made unambiguously clear that Pakistan will not be made a scapegoat for the failure of others in Afghanistan nor will it be anyone’s proxy in the region anymore, and that any future relationship will need to recognize this ground reality besides the fact as also stated by Pakistan’s Defense Minister that Pakistan cannot and will not accept any political Indian role in the Afghan quagmire because it was India which happened to be the main spoiler who aimed at keeping the region aflame. That the American Secretary of State changed mask immediately upon stepping on Indian soil is by now so familiar that it only deserves to be ignored with contempt.
Pakistan’s Senate Chairman had earlier rightly chided Rex Tillerson over his threatening tone and tanner in Afghanistan prior to arriving in Pakistan. In the normal course, the visit of the American Secretary of State should have been called off prior to setting foot in Pakistan, but considering the fact that Pakistan was making a last ditch effort to make Washington see reason to build on trust and reciprocation, a firm clarification from the State Department nevertheless ought to be sought by Pakistan’s Foreign Office, because the next time such indiscretion should not be ignored. One does not though endorse Shirin Mazari’s Trump-like rhetoric that the Secretary of State ought to have been met only by his counterpart in Pakistan as it would have been against the spirit of the agreed diplomatic visit for a structured meeting with the Prime Minister and his aides.
Pakistan will and can help bring peace in Afghanistan only if there is sincerity on the other side. But if American designs in the region are similar to seeking weapons of mass destruction as it did in Iraq, then Pakistan cannot be a party to any sinister agenda as it only aims at seeking peace in the region for the sake of its people. The US must recognize the dynamics and realities of the changing global scenario rather than continue the beaten track of profiting from self-designed chaos and instability. Please Uncle Sam! Do not lose sleep over your feared instability of government nor about the ground-breaking OBOR projects in Pakistan, because its national objective is to secure the State, and not governments which come and go.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.
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