By Sobia Hanif
Since its inception, Pakistan has continuously been facing perilous circumstances, some of which were coincidental while others were the result of the nefarious actions of forces which intended to destabilize and eventually disintegrate the country. In order to sustain its existence, Pakistan has had to endure tormenting times with brief respites of peace and stability. The haunting news flashing on television screens and glaring in local tabloids that ‘Pakistan is facing its most critical time in history’ has become a recurring theme which has been resounding in our ears for as long as we can remember now. While Pakistan has been plagued with the menace of terrorism, religious fanaticism, political instability, poverty, corruption and unemployment, not to mention long hours of power outages, the sheer fact that it continues to exhibit a sense of collectiveness, is the result of the resilience of its people.
However, it has become an annoying habit of some states to trash their garbage at Pakistan’s front door. It is always convenient to point a finger at Pakistan and hold it responsible for the mess back at home. This is usually done on account of two reasons. Firstly, to shroud off responsibility for failures in their own respective domains. This is precisely why some analysts refer to Pakistan as the ‘scapegoat’ which the United States and its allies are using as a deliberate distraction for their miserable failure in Afghanistan. This becomes even more pertinent when understood in context of the upcoming US exit strategy from Afghanistan. Secondly, it is always convenient to express umbrage at a state whose machinery is more than willing to accept its own fault, even before the finger is raised. We, as a nation have become apologetic in our behavior for the actions and wrong doings of others. We need not always be ready to take upon ourselves the blame of responsibility.
There is a long list of accusations against Pakistan. Whether it be India accusing Pakistan of sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Kashmir or within the Indian union itself, or whether it is the United States levying accusations against Pakistan of harboring terrorists and not being sincere in its commitment of apprehending Al Qaeda and Taliban members. There is almost no end to it. Afghanistan, too feels that it can cast instigations at Pakistan and lay the devil to rest.
More recently, the spokesman of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security was heard accusing Pakistan’s intelligence agencies of working in collaboration with insurgents to organize and execute attacks on Afghan soil. As such the United Kingdom feels that it has no reason to lag behind in ‘passing the parcel’ onto Pakistan. The British Prime minister’s proclivity from day one has clearly been in favor of India, realizing its importance as a potential market for UK’s exports. After the Abbottabad showdown, almost all the world, except China was seen scowling at Pakistan for having been equivocal in its efforts to terminate Al Qaeda and Taliban masterminds from its territory. And while the nation and the entire world waited in awe for Pakistan’s response to these accusations, the outcome was motley of an utter state of confusion, a delayed reaction, a defensive posture, and complete incoherence of the state machinery.
Due to the infantile reactions of our leaders, the world was led to believe that Pakistan had chiseled the United States and the west for billions of dollars in the war on terror while protecting high profile targets in its garrison city. Our leaders and policymakers need to realize that while we are a troubled nation in many respects, our strengths clearly outnumber our weaknesses. We are a nation of a hundred and eighty million people who are better known around the world for their ability to raise themselves from abysmal depths and attain the heights of success in the most unpredictable manner. We are the first Muslim state to be a declared nuclear power and our weapon delivery systems are unmatched within the region. Our armed forces are renowned world over for their ability to deal with compounded issues with immense courage, skill and dexterity. Above all our geo-strategic positioning is of vital importance.
Taking its geostrategic position to its advantage, Pakistan serves as an important link between energy rich Iran on the west and the energy ravenous India in the east and China in the north east. Central Asia in the North also looks for its oil exports through Pakistan. It has Afghanistan on its northwest border and the Arabian Sea to its south. This in turn translates into its political importance also. It is indispensible to the United States and its western allies in succeeding in the war on terror in Afghanistan.
It shares not only a 523 km border with China but a deep history of mutual trust and cooperation. China’s economic boom is fast gaining momentum and it is ready to over take the United States as the world’s largest economy. While the US looks towards India for the containment of China, it should not forget the role played by Pakistan in bridging the gap between the two states in the 1970’s.
Furthermore, Pakistan is a declared nuclear state and is situated in a region where it is directly bordered by two other nuclear states. However, due to political instability and owing to the lack of a coherent, consistent and well thought out foreign policy, Pakistan has never really been able to take full advantage of its geo-strategic location. On the contrary, other powerful states have manipulated the situation by using Pakistan according to their whims on one hand and levying allegations of duplicity against it on the other.
It is high time that Pakistan set its own house in order and responds to these allegations in an assertive and convincing manner. The appointment of Hina Rabbani Khar as Pakistan’s new foreign minister comes at a time when Pakistan is not at the best of relations with the great powers, Muslim countries and its immediate neighbors. At such a crucial time, we do not require pretty faces to present our image as a moderate and civilized state to the outer world. The need of the day is to be represented by people of substance who possess the skill and charisma to present Pakistan’s perspective to the world in its true sense.
We will be judged in history on account of our successes and failures, not on the basis of the loud rhetoric of our leaders. We need to realize the necessity for a positive change within ourselves in order to ensure a prosperous future for the posterity of Pakistan.