By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
Pakistan is looked upon as an ill-mannered, ill-tempered, untrustworthy, double-dealing, terror exporting and dishonest alms-seeker whose primary interest is to empty donors’ pockets.
A severely hen-pecked husband, envious of his ‘wife-dominating’ friend, was ready to give a leg and an arm to become what his friend was. He asked his friend about the secret and was told that it was all very simple. He narrated that his wife had a cat. He told her to keep it away from him. The wife obliged but as the cat persisted, he sliced the unfortunate cat into two with a sword and that was that - she then obeyed unquestioningly.
The poor hen-pecked husband saw hope because his wife too had a cat. Returning home, he gravely told his wife to keep the cat away. Though mildly surprised by this sudden change of tenor from his previously obsequious attitude, she ignored it. When the cat came near him, he killed it. She then gave him a punishing dose of physical overwork, his newfound ego and morale bruised and battered.
A few days later, he went to his friend and complained that the stratagem had backfired badly and that the situation now was worse than before. The friend laughed out loud and long and said, “Gurba kushtan roz-e-awal”, meaning kill the cat on the first day to show you will not tolerate any nonsense because that determines the future relationship, not after you have abjectly submitted.
The Pakistani objection to the drone attacks is similar to the objection to the cat’s presence by the hen-pecked husband. The US is certainly not the wife in this relationship. Now as vociferously and emotively as Imran Khan, Shahbaz Sharif or the brass hats may object to the drone attacks, there will be no ending of these until of course the US, in its own wisdom and according to its policy aims, puts an end to them.
The drone attacks began in 2004 and, till 2007, there were only nine strikes. In 2008, there were 34 and 53 in 2009; after Obama assumed office, drone attacks increased drastically. Incidentally, during 2008, there were 175 civilian deaths and only 126 militant deaths but no one protested and all was hunky dory. To date, over 230 drone attacks with total casualties of about 2,000 have taken place. All along there have been civilian deaths and no one has really cared so why, all of a sudden, is there now concern about them? Something other than concern for civilians and sovereignty is at the bottom of this.
The present tension between the mentor and Pakistani army has been generated by their opposing interests in Afghanistan where Pakistan thinks it has strategic interests and would like see those served even if that means undermining NATO efforts. It also wants more payment for the services done. Now, who is going to blink in this standoff does not need much expertise to predict. The dependent will have to naturally back off, rhetoric notwithstanding.
Pakistan is certainly not looked upon benevolently or even sympathetically in the West, especially by the US, which has by far been the largest contributor to its coffers and arsenals. It is looked upon as an ill-mannered, ill-tempered, untrustworthy, double-dealing, terror exporting and dishonest alms-seeker whose primary interest is to empty donors’ pockets so that its rulers and establishment can have a wonderful time and a very secure future.
Pakistan went to the West with a begging bowl in its hand from day one and that bowl, with the passage of time, has grown considerably larger and the begging more insistent and strident. Moreover, increasingly the alms are being embezzled and used for personal ends. Naturally, no one is impressed by the present show of anger and outrage. Pakistan did not kill the cat on the first day. Now Pakistan has been gauged, measured, estimated and judged - first impressions die hard.
Regardless of Pakistan’s behaviour and attitude, the drone attacks are undoubtedly extra-judicial killing tactics, albeit used from the air and similar in illegality to the abductions, killings and dumping of dead bodies in Balochistan or the ‘dirty wars’ in Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
It should be emphasised that if any power or state can get away with blatantly illegal acts of drone attacks or the ‘dirty war’ going on in Balochistan now, where only a few days back the bodies of two more activists, Siddiq Eido and Yousaf Nazar, were found, that does not make it either legal or justified.
The US government is guilty of drone attacks and the Pakistani authorities of a ‘dirty war’ and should answer for these, but because they are strong they continue to have their way. If this is to be the norm for all the powerful ones then why not do away with judicial systems everywhere? The Chilean and Argentinean generals have been tried and some sentenced; the victims of the state in Balochistan and of the drones and Taliban in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also hope for justice one day.
Drone attacks or operations with catchy names will not solve the Afghanistan conundrum. Having spent a long time in Afghanistan, I can say that the US and NATO are nowhere near winning the war there; the Russians took Marjah thrice but eventually had to depart. The only solution for Afghanistan is to include all parties in talks; this though is easier said than done.
Pakistan, hard as it may try, can never become an important player there. It seems Pakistan does not learn from past lessons for, regardless of the group they support, that group is never going to serve their interests. For one they do not have the wherewithal of other countries and secondly are too crude in their dealings.
The Taliban are Taliban but somehow the Pakistan Army thinks there are good ones and bad ones. The policies adopted since 1947 have strengthened the fundamentalists who now have become powerful and efficient enough to attack naval personnel buses thrice in two days in Karachi and that too only days after General Kayani claimed that the back of the Taliban had been broken.
The mending of ties between these allies may not be smooth because the US is alarmed by the Pakistani state’s attitudes and policies. Mullen’s recent speech about the ISI exposes those fears. In my view, the US’s anxiety about our nuclear arsenal is not because they fear a Taliban takeover. It seems they have concluded that the institution in charge of the arsenal is as fundamentalist in its world outlook as the Taliban are and this bothers them no end.
Source: Daily Times, Pakistan