The charade

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Time to address the larger problem

The manner in which the parliament has been reduced to becoming a shield for advancing the Machiavellian cause of the ruling mafia is indeed reprehensible. The whole thing coming by way of a unanimous resolution at the joint session casts serious aspersions on both the level of understanding of the issue by those associated with the task and their intentions.

Claiming that taking the onerous task of defining the contours of the US-Pakistan relations to the parliament is, in any manner, a democratic undertaking reflects a continuation of the policy of using an artificial apparel to promote a self-serving agenda that is rooted in accepting foreign patronage to define Pakistan’s policies. Instead of wasting precious months in debating the way the NATO supply routes could be re-opened, the question that should have been placed before the Parliamentary Committee for National Security (PCNS) was Pakistan’s continued participation in the so-called war-on-terror – whether it was to Pakistan’s advantage or detriment? The parliament should have debated the matter in the overall context of the massive human loss and the grave economic cost that Pakistan has incurred in the last ten years as a consequence of it being a frontline state in promoting the US agenda in this region. Of course neither the government nor its allies have the gall to stand up for Pakistan’s cause. Instead, they are conspiring to exploit Pakistan’s so-called democratic institutions to blur its interests.

Over the last few months, innumerable instances of the US citizens showing scant respect to the law of the land have been displayed on the print on the electronic media. When stopped to prove their identity, these haughty individuals refuse even to talk to the law-enforcement officials and keep sitting in their SUVs insisting that they be allowed to move on. And, on practically all such occasions, that is exactly the way it has ended up. So, how can a government that has abjectly failed in forcing the ordinary US citizens, most of whom may have entered the country illegally, masquerading as diplomats, to submit before the rule of law ensure that it could force the US to abide by the stringent conditions contained in the resolution that may pave the way for the re-opening of the NATO supply route through Pakistan? And what is the mechanism that would be followed in ensuring that all the conditions are being met as prescribed? Also, given the government’s woeful credentials, who would be willing to repose trust that, this time around, it would do things in any different manner? Obviously, the initial euphoria will soon drown in the juices of its grandiose pronouncements but, by then, much damage would have been inflicted on Pakistan’s tottering stature and the credibility of its so-called ‘democratic’ institutions.

The incumbent rulers, at the centre and in all the provinces, never tire of blaming the despotic interludes for all that ails Pakistan including General Musharraf’s capitulation before a telephone call and plunging the country into the US-led war-on-terror. Well, they have been there for over four years now. What have they done to undo this grievous wrong? What steps have been initiated to pull the country out of a mess that has brought nothing but destruction to the national infrastructure and intense pain to its people who have not only lost their dear ones, but whose futures and those of their coming generations have been shattered? The economy lies in tatters, the state institutions demonised and its industry and homes plunged into darkness. Conditions or no conditions, the key question that Pakistan needs to address today is whether it should remain part of the continuing US-led drama in the region. But the NRO-tainted government and its allies do not have the courage to re-define national policy in line with national interests. Using the crutches of the parliament, they are only trying to ‘legitimise’ Pakistan’s continued subjugation.

This, in no way, should be construed that Pakistan does not need to fight extremism and address all its root causes. But, this is a fight that Pakistan needs to launch in earnest for its own survival and advancement in the comity of nations, and not to further any external agenda.

What is feared is that now that the cocktail of conditions is on the table which, understandably, would constitute the agenda for initiating a comprehensive dialogue with the US, the government would proceed, ever so stealthily, to re-open the NATO supply routes using the parliament as a leverage and stating that negotiations are continuing for implementing the entire repertoire of recommendations. This process would prolong to perpetuity while the cardinal purpose for which the drama was so elaborately enacted by the government would be effectively served. Don’t forget that it has less than twelve months left to complete its constitutional tenure.

National leaderships measure their words before they speak. But once spoken, they don’t renege. Understandably, the NATO supply route was closed in the wake of the dastardly attack on the Salala check-post that resulted in the death of 24 soldiers. Thereafter, Pakistan has been insisting on an unconditional US apology for the unprovoked massacre which has still not come. Instead, the US, after conducting two internal enquiries into the incident, has refused to pin blame on its side. Add to this the massive damage that the transportation of heavy equipment has caused to the national infrastructure and the billions that may be required to make it operational again. What then was the need for enacting such high-profile drama to circumvent the original demand and create a new set of conditions for allowing the supply route to the US and its allies in Afghanistan to continue fighting a war that is only feeding the extremist germs of hatred leading to further destabilisation of the country? Will the charade ever end?

The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]