Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Secretary
of State Clinton enjoy an extraordinarily light moment during a
press conference on Wednesday. The two announced a new
three-tier U.S.-Pakistan strategic partnership. The Frontier Post, Pakistan
No Reason for Pakistan’s ‘Bigwigs’ to Go ‘Gung-Ho’
"Americans, without remorse, have no inhibitions about ditching Pakistan the instant they’ve finished with it, even after exuberantly extolling it as their ‘most cherished ally in Asia.’"
March 26, 2010
Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani believes there has been a ‘major paradigm shift’ in Pakistan-U.S. relations. But it would appear that the ‘Pakistan street’ has yet to be convinced.
Official America and official Pakistan may have their own manifold reasons to be euphoric and whip up a noisy hype about their conclave in Washington, but this country’s elite have nothing to go gung-ho over.
America’s current prattle about a new chapter, a new start, a strategic dialogue or strategic partnership is nothing new. This is an all-too-familiar idiom for them. Pakistanis have heard it many times before. And we haven’t forgotten how horrendously things turned out every time before. Americans, without remorse, have no inhibitions about ditching Pakistan the instant they’ve finished with it, even after exuberantly extolling it as their “most cherished ally in Asia.” So it was when the Cold War was at its peak in the 1960s and they stood in need of Pakistan; and again in the 1980s when they badly needed it to fight their proxy war against the Soviet invaders of Afghanistan – and they eulogized Pakistan as a frontline state.
So bitter is our experience of persistent American betrayal, that it’s difficult to assuage us with the lilting sweet talk coming out of Washington. One wouldn’t want to recall that doleful past here, or it could leave a bad taste in the mouths of people like Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who came out crowing about what a satisfied man he was after the first round of the much-touted strategic dialogue. Qureshi may be satisfied, but Pakistan’s people certainly are not. American officialdom may have held this show of dialogue with much fanfare; they may have seated American and Pakistani delegates side by side; but such ostentation could hardly impress Pakistan’s hard-bitten people.
After all, wasn’t the dictator Pervez Musharraf a frequent houseguest at the Texas ranch of President George Bush? What came of it? The CIA colluded with India’s RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] and Afghanistan’s NDS [National Directorate of Security] and played a double game against Pakistan, cloning monstrosities like Nek Muhammad Wazir, Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah for the U.S. military to fight with. And yet, instead of confessing to these sins, even the people in the Obama Administration parade the bunk that a turnaround has taken place in the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] and the Pakistan military, whereas that is a shoe which fits squarely America’s foot.
If there has been a turnaround at all, it’s been on the American side and more specifically the CIA and its dirty shenanigans in Pakistan. In any case, what really matters to the people of Pakistan is substance – not symbolism. And in this regard, there is precious little about this dialogue to sing and dance over. American pledges are almost all in the future tense – without benefit of concrete plans or actions.
If the fate of the plan to establish reconstruction opportunity zones in our tribal areas announced by Bush in 2005 is any indicator, that future may take ages to become real. Five years later, the plan still gathers dust in some official Washington corridor, lacking even the required Congressional approval. Neither can anything definitive be said as to when the much-hyped U.S. aid under the Kerry-Lugar law will begin to flow to Pakistan. The $125 million that the Obama Administration has agreed to shell out for Pakistani energy development doesn’t even account for a fraction of the $39 billion in losses that Pakistan has suffered due to America’s spurious war on terror. That is to say nothing of the reimbursement of some $2 billion that Pakistan has spent from its own treasury to fight this war that remains unpaid, which is said to be stuck in the contrivance of U.S. "clearance."
On another level, the Obama Administration has also demonstrated that it’s not forthcoming on a nuclear deal for Pakistan similar to India’s, or of playing a critical role in resolving core issues between India and Pakistan, such as Kashmir. Even on the vital issue of water, the U.S. is unlikely to persuade India not to steal or cheat Pakistan out of its requisite river water. Indeed, the Obama Administration has yet to deliver anything that would justify such squawking by Islamabad’s bigwigs.
The charm offensive that Washington’s current crowd has unleashed against Islamabad is arguably motivated to enlist Pakistan’s full and unstinted military cooperation so that the U.S. and its NATO allies can quickly pull out of Afghanistan and declare victory. If common sense is any guide, only after America’s November mid-term elections will it be known with certainty whether the Obama Administration really stands for a long-term strategic partnership – and means what it says about helping Pakistan with nation building and economic rejuvenation.