Me Thinks

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Over to Pakistan

I had to go to dawn's website to see what they think of Bush's visit. And I came across Ayaz Amir's article and as usual I liked reading it.

THE United States does something silly to Pakistan. In dealing with it, all our latent insecurities come to the surface, making us behave in a manner at once foolish and needlessly obsequious.

In more senses than one, George Bush is an embattled president, his invasion of Iraq, which was supposed to change the colour of the Middle East, gone irretrievably sour. There are not many places in the world where a visit by him would be sought out or particularly welcomed. Yet Pakistan’s military government, embattled in its own way, is rolling out the red carpet for him.

What Pakistan’s generals will get for their pains — and you don’t have to be a genius to figure this out — will be words of praise in public for the sentry duty they have been performing in aid of the US since September 11 but sharp words in private about not doing enough to seal the Pakistan-Afghan border and catch the top guns of Al Qaeda. As a sop to our feelings, we can also expect to hear double-edged words, meaning nothing, about Kashmir.

The US will do, can do, nothing about Kashmir. Why can’t we get this into our simple heads?

And why are we finding it so difficult to understand that Pakistan-American and Indo-American ties are on different levels altogether? The Cold War long over and the struggle against world communism having disappeared down some historical black hole, the terms of South Asian engagement have changed. It no longer makes sense for the US to view both countries through the same spectacles.

It looks at Pakistan through the mirror of ‘terrorism’ and what Pakistan can do to address American concerns regarding this single issue and India through the prism of a ‘strategic relationship’.

We can pout at this disparity or try to understand it. India is on the march economically and its democracy is an established fact. We are behind on both counts — our economy beholden to American largesse and our democracy under lock and key in a military guardroom.

Blow its trumpet as loudly as our military government may, facts are stubborn things and will not go away. We settled for sentry wages post-September 11 — about 700 million dollars a year, as part of a five-year package — and having done that, it is doubtful if the Americans think they owe us anything further by way of gratitude.

For those of you, who want the entire article, check it out here.