Sunday, May 17, 2009

Crisis of Confidence By I A Panshota

It perhaps may not be wrong to say that Pakistan is on the tenterhooks. A tenter is a framework used for stretching newly woven cloth and a tenterhook is one of the hooks, which holds the material fully taut. Thus, a country on tenterhooks is in a state of great tension or suspense, especially when the anxiety or curiosity is stretched to the extreme. There have been many hiccups about Pakistan confronting US demand of doing more or earning the discredit of `not doing enough' being coalition partner on the `War on Terror'. The current spate of statement is now becoming more demanding, with rhetoric alleging that Pakistan has a foot in both camps. The question, whether Pakistan is using any dilly-dallying tactics in its war on terror is disturbing both the Pakistanis as well as international community. Some people opine that Islamabad is in an acute shock, not fully knowing, how to overcome this crisis. A large segment of Pakistani society is apprehensive of something that any action, as prescribed by the friendly allies, may prove the `last straw to break the back of the camel'. Does this mean, the US or the European allies really want Pakistan to fall prey to any imprudent and improvident move? In its latest round of development, daily `The News' has published one of the famous US news-agency FOX' s report of April 30, 2009, referring Commander of US Central Command General David Petraeus's statement, telling US officials that next two weeks are critical to determining whether the Pakistan government will survive. The Pakistan has run out of excuses and are finally getting serious about combating the threat from Taliban and al-Qaeda extremists. His statement came in the wake of US propping up the Pakistan military with counter-insurgency training and foreign aid. The statement of the Gen. Patraeus came as a big blow to all the Pakistanis. Although State Department's spokesman Robert Wood has tried to neutralize its impact by saying "I do not know where this two weeks time frame came from" yet much remains to be done to heal the scars of his forecast. Both Pakistan and the US have a long history of inter-dependence. The roots of their relationship cannot be so easily exterminated, unless there is any radical departure from or reversal in bilateral relationship. For a number of reasons, Pakistan's reliance on Washington has become more pronounced during the last couple of years. Both Americans and Pakistanis, fully know how Washington remained committed, to provide political, economic and defence assistance during the most hilarious post independence days, to offset Indian domination. Then there was time, when the cold war brought the sub-continent under its foreboding shadows. It was SEATO and CENTO' "Shield" that provided Pakistan security umbrella. Then Afghan War provided yet another opportunity to Pakistan to become partners. According to famous US writer Dennis Kux, some of the US leaders termed this relationship as "marriage of convenience" and her administration soon tried to shift its gears after the Soviet pull out. Pakistan's dilemma was its failure to harvest the expected rewards of ensuing US goodwill. Granted that relations between the two countries followed strange "on-again-off-again" friendly and frosty patterns alternately, but seldom came across such a gloomy side of the American outlook.. Whatever the international media paints, is mostly disillusion. No doubts, Pakistanis are full of complaints but the level of their goodwill has not yet fully exhausted. During the last sixty years, America was always regarded as the custodian and savior of Pakistan and roots of past bonhomie are still alive in the memories of the old generation. Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its willingness to act promptly on any piece of actionable intelligence, the US ever tasked. In case, if anything goes wrong against the perceived results by default, Pakistan cannot be held responsible solely, for a number of reasons. In fact, Taliban are altogether independent entity, having their own political agenda. They do not react with the consent of Pakistan, but act, out of their own free will. Pakistan leadership suffers, when frequency of Taliban or al-Qaeda militancy gains moment and US is dismayed when it fails to achieve desired results. There is no discounting the fact that Pakistan has no magic spells or charm to mould their common enemy's opinion. It is psychological phenomenon and none of the two coalition partners are betraying each other, with prickly discontent. Pakistan continued to face similar dilemma in the past as well. During Bhutto's time, when Pakistan tried to buy nuclear plant from France, the relations with Carter administration considerably soured. Although Afghan war brought the two countries together again, yet Islamabad has to walk on tight rope during General (late) Zia's time when efforts to make nuclear bomb were in full swing. Again, in the words of Kux, the American assert that frequent wrong-headedness, twists and turns of Pakistani leaders was the underlying cause of major setbacks to Pakistan. The answer of US demands blaming Pakistan for `not doing enough' is not difficult to calculate yet same cliché is often repeated every now and then. Once again looking back into the past, Pakistan left no stone un-moved to come up to the US aspirations, providing transit routes, deploying its hundred thousand army and paramilitary troops, on the porous Pak-Afghan borders, targeting its own people on suspicious grounds, sharing intelligence, ignoring public calls or sympathy waves, bowing to the rulers disliked by the masses, allocating all financial resources for security purposes, suffering losses of trillions of rupee in business transactions, committing and mobilizing all civil forces against the extremists groups and sacrificing taboos, as part of `Please US' policy. But what did it earn, in return, is no mystery to the world. It is time for our `most allied ally' to heed to our calls and look into some of the inherent weaknesses, borne as a result of our, social, economical educational, religious, social and political background. Their ideologies baked during the last many centuries cannot be altered within so short span of time. As expecting a friendly smile from the wounded souls, a hearty laugh from a homeless displaced person and expecting good-will gestures after drone attack makes no sense. At the same time US critics should also give due credit to the Americans being considerate, extending their bowl of largesse and undertaking unfailing shuttle diplomacy to find some logical solution of the problem. Pakistan continues to bear the brunt of the Taliban wrath for taking a U-turn or our failures to fulfill their dreams. The hospitality and philanthropy demonstrated in the past, which resulted into massive influx of refugees with their high powered weaponry, in the past is today's yeast for anarchy and chaos, besides being a cause of concern for fuelling bitterness between two allies and coalition partners. In the absence of continuous congruence of security goals, the partnership is simmering with friendliness. Pakistan has never been at odds with the US in the past, nor can it afford any such proposition in future. It fully understands that all roads to peace and prosperity pass through Washington. The time now dictates to visualize the sensitivity of Gen Petraeus statement. The whole nation sincerely hopes that President Zardari and his team of advisors, currently visiting the US would be able to find some solution of the core issues through friendly dialogue process.

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