To The Desk of Barack Obama,
Allow me this opportunity to enlighten you of how my homeland, Pakistan, became part of a dual game where it is both right and wrong, criminal and victim, entrapped in the vicious cycle of blame game and counter accusations. Let me elucidate how an ally became an enemy, or rather how an enemy became an ally, blurring the lines between friendship and hostility and lending immense confusion to our mutual strategic relationship. Let me, in other words, reveal how Pakistan became the vital ally that you can neither trust nor abandon, embrace nor thrust aside.
You see, Mr. President, Pakistan was a land carved out of a once united India, whose bloody birth included the largest migration seen in the history of our race and the subsequent, systematic massacre of a million unsuspecting people. From the little history that I have retained from my school days, the American Revolution, as I recall, was largely a nonviolent and bloodless affair, in stark contrast to our own blood spattered conception. So, when I tell stories of how trains full of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs-all together- were burned and looted and the bodies left to rot, the terrible barbarity of these acts will strike you as appalling, even idiosyncratic of an uncivilized nation that celebrates anarchy and violence. But then, you would have to understand how our nation-compromising of the majority Hindus and the minority Muslims- was subjugated by the imperial British for over a century, during which our land was plundered, our rights trampled upon and our dignity mauled.
So much for the British being the guardians of morality, the redeemer of democracy, entrusted with the crucial task of civilizing an unruly world. But that made Independence- hard fought and blood-spattered- all the more sweet.
The years after independence were especially arduous for Pakistan, partly because of intense acrimony with India and largely because the new state, which lost its founder to tuberculosis shortly after conception, faced an acute shortage of funds and resources, in general. But lets not get into all that, for Pakistan did survive the early phase with a doggedness it maintains to this day, even when labels of a “failed state” or a “nation teetering on the edge of anarchy” are frequently linked to it by the international media.
Mr. President, I don’t mean this as an affront, but do hear me out for you may not, I am afraid, concur with what I have to say. The United States is often charged of- and not without merit, as I shall explain here- subverting the democratic institutions of Pakistan by establishing military to military relations with the Army ever since the first visit of Ayub Khan in 1951, where he was greeted with such an incredible official display of protocol, that the General, the perceptive man he was, implicitly recognized that he was the most powerful man in the country. And that self image transmuted into reality, and over the decades the most important post in our country has not been that of the President or the Prime Minister, but that of the Chief of the Army Staff.
Ayub Khan was a faithful friend of the United States, no doubt on that, and after the coming of the more bold and audacious Bhutoo- considered by many American officials as intractable and incorrigible-relations took a downside, especially on the question of the nuclear bomb, which Bhutto in his brazen style had declared that Pakistan would build even if had to eat grass. That, was not acceptable to the United States which tacitly sanctioned and approved the military coup, under the auspices of the sly General Zia, and the defiant Bhutoo after a protracted judicial trial, was sent to the gallows on trumped up murder charges. Yes, Mr. Obama, your country did have its share of culpability in the hanging of a democratically elected popular leader of our nation. Sad, isn’t it?
And then fate smiled on the alienated Zia, when the Soviets made the blunder of attacking Afghanistan, and almost overnight, the burly dictator became the harbinger of hope for the Free World, commander in chief of a Frontline state, imperative to the American bid to stem the flow of communism. And as billions flowed to strengthen the Pakistani army, the Jihadists, many of whom would later regroup to form the dreaded Taliban faction, fought against the infidels- the Russians who had violated the sanctity of a Muslim nation. Meanwhile, a dangerous double game was being played. The Pakistan army kept the Taliban as a strategic wild card against India, to be used as an insurance policy if relations with India deteriorated to the point of active conflict.
You folks left as swiftly as you entered the scene and once the Soviets retreated, you packed your bags, leaving the brittle country literally at the mercy of the extremist groups like the Taliban. Fast forward ten years and following the Sept 11 attacks- the first direct infringing of American sovereignty since the Pearl Harbor offensive- the United States, along with its allies, poured billions of dollars and committed thousand of troops in eradicating the same terrorist elements it had helped designing in the first place. And now, after a decade of anarchy and senseless slaughter of innocent civilians, Osama has been found right under the noses of the military establishment, hiding in a compound in a garrison town frighteningly close to the military headquarters, and Pakistan, the one country having to pay the price of collusion in blood, is being labeled as a traitor, as a participant in a dangerous double game with both the Taliban and the Americans. How ironic is that, and now relations between the two allies have entered suspicious terrain, with trust in short supply, and either side wary of the intentions of the other. As I promised, at the outset, I have explained, as best as I possibly could, how our countries, have come to their present stalemate. Any suggestions to break the ice, Mr. President?
Allow me to provide a few words of advice- for you don’t seem inclined to talk much- which, you may as you find befitting, embrace or discard. If the United States is resolute in its bid to root out extremism, it should educate, educate and educate. All too often, American aid is spent on the army, which does little to strengthen the democratic foundations of the state. And not to forget the civilian government which apart from being listless is corrupt to the bone. The little money that does filter through a defunct system is too little to make an impact. The ordinary man remains illiterate and impoverished, engaged in a perpetual battle for survival while his country descend into chaos.
Let me also clarify why anti- American sentiment finds such a ready home in Pakistan. Its not because the Pakistanis have an inherent disliking for the United States. Not because the Pakistanis are all militants bent on aggression. While most foreigners will relegate the average Pakistani to the status of an extremist, I refuse to accept this naïve and possibly fallacious explanation.
I know, as many others, that the average Pakistani is not a terrorist, does not receive training in heavy artillery and does not harbor ambitions of destroying the Western civilization in the quest for a greater Islamic empire.
Let me tell you what the average Pakistani wants. All he wants is a permanent job, a house that he can call his own and the protection that comes with being a citizen of a sovereign country. Give me that and you can safely live in your country while we in ours.
Good day, Mr. President.
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