Call to sovereignty


Imran Khan’s proposed two-day sit-in at Bagh-e-Naran near Peshawar to protest the US drone strikes inside Pakistan’s territory carries the unqualified and determined support of the entire nation. Barring the political parties’ leaderships, being either the direct products of dictatorships or their remnants, who have sold their souls in exchange for gaining the right to continue misruling an impoverished country, there has been a vigorous response from all other forces that believe in our inalienable right to assert our sovereignty. The belated effort on the part of some political forces to protest the drone strikes after staying silent for over three years is a bit too little, too late.

The history of the drone strikes makes a mockery of the integrity of the leaderships that have ruled this country. Starting with dictator Musharraf who, understandably, allowed the US to strike inside Pakistan’s territory to eliminate the strongholds of terrorists, these attacks have only multiplied in numbers during the tenure of the incumbent ‘democratic’ government that found its way into the corridors of power vide the (now) illegal and unconstitutional National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) – an unbelievable aberration pieced together and promoted by none other than the US and its erstwhile allies. In the process, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including children and women, have been mercilessly slaughtered without even a word of apology tendered. All this is passed as un-intended ‘collateral damage’.

Whether it be the Raymond Davis affair or the drone strikes, it is the government that is found incessantly trying to beat its drums of the law having followed its course or plain ‘ignorance’. This façade of innocence has also been unmasked by the WikiLeaks that quoted our person on the hill as urging the US to continue the drone strikes saying that the collateral damage may bother the Americans, but it would be no cause for worry for his government.

It is another matter that political leaderships across the divide seem to be colluding, quite openly, to follow an agenda that is patently in conflict with Pakistan’s inherent security and national interests. The drone strikes were not even a problem for them till the Army Chief reacted quite boldly to an excessively barbaric hit that killed over forty innocent people. That led to a temporary lull in the strikes which have since recommenced. In view of the gross insensitivity that has been shown repeatedly by the incumbent government in defending Pakistan’s security interests and guaranteeing the security and safety of its people which is its primary obligation, the question arises as to who is ruling the country and what are their relevant credentials?

The move to have the drone strikes halted is being apparently urged by the military leadership also. During the recent visit to the US by the ISI chief, the matter is reported to have been discussed extensively with the US showing a general reluctance to halt the strikes. Instead, it has boasted that it no longer needed the support of the ISI to launch such attacks because its own (illegal) CIA network, established courtesy our erstwhile ambassador in the US and his collaborators back home, was effective enough to take care of such operations.

The approach has been further highlighted by the vicious counter-attack that Admiral Michael Mullen, the visiting US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman, has launched against the ISI as being in cahoots with the Haqqani network which was unacceptable to the US: “The ISI has a rich history of how that operate in this part of the world, to protect their own country. I understand that some of the aspects of that we strongly disagree with and that is something that we continue to address”. He did not stop there: “This area, the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the epicentre of terrorism in the world…it (the terrorism in the region) breeds and breeds more in terms of capability over time”. This is a typical gung-ho approach the US has mastered over time: when you are called upon to explain a brutal and inhuman wrong that is being committed, the response would be completely detached from the accusation, almost at a tangent to it, not making an effort to even hide its evil intention to continue, nevertheless!

The problems with the US aside, there appears a vast divide between the working of various organs of the state: while some may be driven by the desire to safeguard the security interests of Pakistan, others are propelled by the lust to prolong their hold on power. Perpetuating the status-quo is the principal tool that the political leaderships, across the divide, are employing to further strengthen and prolong their rule. The forces that refuse to become part of this nefarious network are, indeed, few. Imran’s call for a sit-in is, therefore, both timely and critical. It would divide a clear line between those millions who are genuinely interested in re-asserting our right to sovereignty and those hordes that are aligned with the US to continue selling Pakistan’s interests.

There is no longer any time left to think which side you are on. There is only one side: the side of the right that is fighting the wrong. This side stands for protecting and promoting Pakistan’s un-compromising right to its sovereignty and freedom. Imran is fast emerging as the undisputed leader of this group of brave and bold Pakistanis that are willing to go the distance to re-assert their freedom and rid the country of leaderships that are out to dismantle the proud edifice of the state to build and consolidate their personal fiefdoms and criminal mafias.

The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at [email protected]