Obama’s rhetoric of ‘change’ during his campaign is coming to an end demonstrated by a sweeping decline in his popularity graph. In the context of Pakistan, he spoke of Kashmir as a troubled spot and burning issue between the two neighbouring countries. That too has withered away after he took over the powerful chair in the Oval Office. Similarly, the abandoned expression of ‘Do more’ repeatedly uttered by his predecessor to Gen Musharaf, has reappeared recently when he stepped foot on the soil of China. This utterance must have disappointed president Zardari, who up until now, seemed pretty pleased with himself, thinking that his counterpart in America understood him when he told him ‘no more, do more’. As part of the dwindling promise of ‘change’, the expression has surfaced again.
We know that the world became politically unipolar after the disintegration of the USSR leaving America as the only superpower. After the attacks of 9/11, this superpower drew a line, telling the rest of the world, ‘you are either with us or against us’. Unlike democratic or rational traditions there were no gray areas in its stance leaving three brotherly Muslim countries-Iran, Turkey and Pakistan- in a fix. The Iranian leaders decided not to cross the line, looked into the eyes of the American leadership and refused to accept their demands. The Turkish leadership also didn’t cross the line but they wanted to remain friends. The then Pakistani leader, who happened to be a military general, obediently crossed the line for fear of being punished.
As a result;
1. Iran became the enemy. Though it suffered economically, it stood steadfast on its principles and took part in global politics despite humiliating threats from neo-cons and its allies. Ten years later, sticking to a principled stand and not succumbing to undue pressure, the US opened the door of dialogue.
2. Turkey, remaining a friend, played a democratic game when its leadership took the matter to parliament and sought a blessing for not giving bases used against Afghanistan or opening a corridor to attack Iraq.
3. Pakistan, seeking to remain a friend, lost political vision ignoring the fact that as long as it remained nuclear, America would remain fearful of its friendship.
In the process, it lost its national dignity and public integrity. Instead, it found terrorism, a worsening law and order situation and increasing poverty because of poor governance and massive corruption. Oh yes, it got a few billion dollars which was peanuts against the enormous aid given to Turkey and Afghanistan.
In other words, Pakistan became a whipping boy. After each whip it was told by its American friends to ‘Do more’. The whipping carried on until the change of leadership both in America and Pakistan. The changed leadership in Pakistan having the mental setup of his military predecessor reportedly asked Obama not to use the expression. At some point, we are told, he also informed him Pakistan needed trade and not aid. Unfortunately, when Asif Ali Zardari was demanding trade in one meeting, he was holding a begging bowl for aid to the tune of 100 billion US Dollars in another meeting. This dichotomy surprised many donors. With this paradoxical attitude in the financial field, how could he tell the Americans ‘no more’ in response to their demand of ‘do more’ in the field of terrorism? It is beyond comprehension.
If the leadership of Pakistan is serious about the term ‘no more’ and wants to make his voice forceful and convincing; he has to merge his words with his actions. Secondly; he has to understand two systems and three players in the whole game.
The two systems are: western democracy and eastern ideology. Western democracy is based on individual freedom, equality, basic human rights, gender equity, one-man-one-vote, and capitalistic fiscal policy. After a thorough study, one comes to know that individual freedom is a farce, basic human rights is a misnomer, gender equity is specific, one-man-one-vote is illogical and capitalistic fiscal policy leads to failure. The eastern ideology is based on the religious leanings of theology, philosophy and spirituality. Islam being the constitutional religion of Pakistan has a beautiful combination of the three ingredients. Unfortunately, theology has been hijacked and stained by the mullah; philosophy has been sabotaged and twisted by the secularist, and spirituality is colonised and distorted by the pir. This has left Islam one of the most misunderstood religions in the eyes of non-Muslims in the west especially in America.
The three players are the American leadership, the government of Pakistan, and the Pakistani public. It happens that the first two players have closed their ears and shut their eyes to the realities on the ground, while the third one being unaware of its rights has been ignored. In such a circumstance where western democracy is poorly practiced by the westerners, Islam is not followed in its true essence by a sizable number of Muslims in Pakistan, the American leadership is unaware of Pak public psyche and sentiments, Pak government is not able to explain the needs of its people to the Americans and the vast majority of poor people in Pakistan have been persuaded by the traditionalist mullah, what else could one expect but chaos brought about by a total disconnect between the two systems and three players.
To make the situation worse, the country is headed by a leader who has minimum political exposure because his late spouse kept him away from grass root politics. And according to medical certification, prolonged incarceration has adversely affected his mental ability to differentiate between perception and reality. In the middle of such a chaotic state, we are left with no choice but to expect Americans telling our leader to ‘do more’ when he hasn’t reached the level where he could respond by saying ‘no more’ in real terms.