By Dr. Haider Mehdi
“And then I remembered a story I heard, about a man who found a snake half dead and nursed it back to life. He fed it, took care of it. And then he let it go. And the next time they met it bit him. And this was a very poisonous snake, he…knew he was going to die. And with his last gasp, he said, “But why? I saved you, I fed you I nursed you. Why did you bite me?” And the snake said, “But you knew I was a snake.”
– Pat Barker, antiwar novelist
In the troubled, anguished, tormented and grievously disturbing America-Pakistan relationship, since the US engineered its first military coup in Pakistan in 1958 to fight its fabricated demon of communism, the questions arise: Who is the snake? Who has bitten whom?
Is it the US who has drawn Pakistan into endless battles for devious American capitalist national global objectives? Or is it Pakistan and its military-political elite who has endlessly fed itself on American dollars, and in the process, brought their nation to an absolute political abyss?
A far more important question now is: Who will administer the final kiss of death, the snake’s bite, to put an end to this agonizing five-decade old US-Pak relationship? One thing is obviously clear: this love-hate relationship has reached the end of its natural life.
Analysis of this relationship will depend on whose side one is, emotionally and compulsively. Personally, I am on the side of rationality – a principled moral approach to the management of global politics based on equality among nations, fairness and justice, conflict-resolution in international affairs by diplomacy and political means, a conceptual moral faith in humanity’s universalism, a global doctrine to disallow the use of military force in conducting international relations, and a complete break with the past’s mindset of colonialism, military-political expansions and neo-imperialism (the driving forces in the power-centered nations in the West, and most specifically in the conduct of US global politics in modern times).
Pakistan, in comparison to the US, is a small country, though its strategic location has given it substantive geo-political importance. It has limited military-political power to alter or influence world events to any great extent or to control in any way the balance of power in the conducting of global politics. And then there is the massive threatening India losing no opportunity to undo Pakistan’s nationhood, as its main adversary. These are not misguided perceptions; these are the ground realities of Pakistan’s existence. And given these factual determinants, the Pakistani military-political elite has exploited US financial assistance. But on the whole, it has been an entirely mismanaged affair. Historically, the US has knowingly and deliberately assisted the military-political elite in Pakistan to pitch itself against the greater and fundamental interests of its masses – and it continues to do so with far more determination now.
Indeed, Pakistan’s military-political elite’s collaboration with the US in the so-called “jihadi war” against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was not in the interest of the masses. It radicalized the nation, promoted a violent culture, created a massive humanitarian crisis in the shape of the refugee influx from Afghanistan, disrupted socio-community life and put the country’s economic growth into a downward spiral. And yet, US objectives vis-à-vis the USSR were accomplished and hailed as a victory for the so-called free world. All of this at the expense of the Pakistani masses and with tragic consequences for the nation.
The killings of innocent people have been going on since then. Now the US and its Nato allies want Pakistan to “do more” – turn the entire country as well as Afghanistan into massive killing fields to complete the US-West’s agenda of capitalistic expansion and military-political control of Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Apathy to universal humanitarianism and a historical obsession with the pleasure in killing, conflict resolution by application of brutal overt military force and by covert means, coercive political methods and manipulative management of indigenous military-political elite are the fundamentals of the US-West’s global doctrine of conducting international politics. History is replete with evidence to support this thesis: the Vietnam war, bombings in Laos and Cambodia, brutal political-military oppression all over Latin America, military-political interventions in Africa and the Far East, massive military bases all over the world, naval armadas in every corner of the globe…In pre-modern history, the genocide of natives in America and colonial atrocities against indigenous populations speak volumes about the implicit brutalization of international politics by imperial America and the West. And we cannot overlook the atomic holocaust in Japan and the immolation of Palestinians on their own homeland at the end of WWII.
The point is that the American political establishment is so obsessed with the “pleasure in killing” dogma (the doctrine of application of lethal force against adversaries) that it has conveniently forgotten that there is a commonality of humanity all over the world: cut an American and he/she bleeds the same way as a Pakistani, Afghani or Palestinian, and it creates similar reactions of self-preservation and retaliation. Violence and violent reactions to oppression is not only an American/Western exclusive phenomenon; it is a universal creed. People all over the world react the same way against foreign occupation and oppression without exception: the violent reaction is subject to the proportion of violence inflicted on a nation or people. That is what history has taught humankind. It would be instructive for the US and Nato to understand that the Afghan resistance (called violent insurgency) is a prime example of the aforementioned universal consciousness. And it will not go away by brutal-oppressive strategic management of the conflict.
The snake that was once saved and nourished (indeed wrongly and immorally) by Pakistan has come to bite it. The US/Nato mantra of “do more” is reflective of the same “pleasure of killing” dogma that has been an implicit ingredient of their historical conduct in global politics. And the Pakistani political elite, the US/UK-propped up incumbent PPP so-called democratic regime, is all too eager to be a willing partner in the US/Nato strategy. It serves their interests as much as it promotes American/West’s corporate interests of capitalism. All at the expense of the Pakistani masses.
The US Secretary of State’s recent visit to Pakistan and her open threats, accusations, and demands are all a disgrace to political diplomacy and an affront to Pakistan’s sovereignty and the dignity of the masses. But the fact of the matter is that the US and the Western powers have never been credible actors in the conducting of “moral” global politics. They have never recognized the commonality of universal humanity. They have been apathetic to universal humanitarianism.
No wonder, then, that the political “snake’s” mentality remains intact – even in an age when all of humanity has undergone a transformation in political consciousness!
What the US and Nato are doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan is attempting to convey the sense of a great deceptive passion for democracy, peace and solidarity constricted, poisoned, denied any possible legitimate channel, but nonetheless forced to surface, expressed as destruction and cruelty. Such is the nature of this political beast… the “snake” protecting the global interests of corporate capitalism worldwide.
Watch out Pakistan!
Your leadership is wholeheartedly involved in this global-political scam!
The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert. Dr Mehdi is a regular contributor toOpinion Maker besides some other newspapers etc.