By Brig Samson S Sharaf
For Pakistan, the images being flashed are ominous. While the economy continues to melt into a spiral, the society rapidly deteriorates and the writ of law becomes a fantasy, the rulers seem infatuated with a Waltz played by the angles of death. It appears that the henchmen are tightening the noose around a country that has thus far refused to succumb. No one but USA appears in control of the complete narrative. It is time for Pakistanis to take over the situation before it becomes irreversible.
It was in April this year that Selig Harrison declared that the US was ready to recognize an independent Balochistan. With least respect to the sensitivities of a so called ally he qualified his argument saying that it serves American interests; that Balochistan’s accession to Pakistan was illegitimate: that Pakistan army was an occupying force; that the Zardari regime has emboldened separatism; and that the independence movement is an aspiration of the people of Balochistan. These views were backed by Marvin Weinbaum of Middle East Institute. The seminar was initially planned to be held in Quetta but was declined by the Pakistani embassy in Washington.
Selig Harrison is a political economist and no stranger to Pakistan. He specialises in locating and analysing Pakistan’s vulnerabilities through the cracks that keep appearing in the forms of ethnicity, parochialism, sectarianism, militancy, missing persons and treatment of minorities. His writing skills are capable of creating a black hole out of a pin prick. The most subtle part of his subversion of Pakistan is the readiness of Pakistani or Pakistani origin writers or Baloch dissidents to chip in with their own apologist research papers. To Selig, Balochistan appears the easiest nut to crack.
Marvin G. Weinbaum has served as a political economist on Pakistan and Afghanistan in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Much that happens in the region through covert operations could not have been possible without his research and analytical skills. Now, as a scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, it is customary for him to take shots at Pakistan.
Though the embassy of Pakistan apparently declined to allow the seminar in Quetta, it appears that the government reached some compromise towards Balochistan to facilitate the US objectives in the region with spinoff benefits for the Zardari regime. A UN team to investigate the missing persons arrived in Pakistan this month under mysterious circumstances. Though the foreign office may have been consulted in the visa process, the Ministry of Interior was the obvious host this time. The body language of the officials in the foreign office indicated that they were not happy with the development. This adds credence to the perception that for Zardari to become a credible US underling it was imperative to have a weak and pliant foreign minister and therefore ridding the strong headed Shah Mehmood Quraishi who has now joined Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf. It appears that everyone who matters is eager to meet this team except the Chief Justice of Pakistan in whose jurisdiction, the issue is already sub judice. It is obvious that his fiery remarks on the constitutional failure in Balochistan will be fully exploited by this commission and likes.
Usman Khalid a UK based researcher lumps different events like the NRO, deliberate economic meltdown and collapse of state run enterprises of Pakistan, deprivation of energy to Punjab, Raymond Davis, memo and the UN Commission’s visit to Pakistan as a conspiracy to dismantle Pakistan and ultimately declare Balochistan an independent state. He also alleges that through carefully crafted issues, the judiciary is already on the defensive while the military now sidelined is undermined. He opines that the results of the next elections if fair and transparent will never be in the interests of the USA. Hence USA would strive to extend the tenure of this government to use the time to disintegrate Pakistan. He goes on to write,
“As long as Pakistan is a nuclear power with a credible deterrent, and the military in Pakistan is seen by the people to be on its side, it is well nigh impossible to hurt Pakistan in any waysignificant. The USA is quite content with an effective campaign in Pakistan to demonize the military on TV screens by some pompous ‘idiots’ and some who have ‘sold out’…. The USA is also content with President AZ undermining the economy and destroying the infrastructure of Pakistan. The Press and the President, they hope, would deliver the conditions that resulted in the breakup of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia”.
Usman Khalid’s opinions are not without reason. They coincide with my thesis and series of essays since 2002 on how Pakistan could be cut to size including devolution of Punjab. On a timeline spanning the past decade, my assessments have proved to be accurate and unfortunately vindicated. Pakistan has butchers staring down its throat. The biggest advantage of such opinions is that the enemies now stand exposed and need to be checkmated.
The meteoric rise of the television media in tandem with these developments cannot be ignored as coincidence. Pictures of anchors merry making with foreigners are splashed all across the electronic media. Alleged induction of foreign funding, media trading, buying off anchors and the merry go round they play hopping from one to another, propagation of half baked ideas, distortion of facts and naives acting as king makers all seem to fit into the instability scenario. Disappointments expressed by Talat Hussain over this plight should awaken patriotic Pakistanis to the gravity of the situation.
The manner in which this game unfolds in Pakistan gives us reasons to be optimistic. The eagerness of President Zardari to gel with the US designs and pronounce democracy as the best revenge has met repeated obstacles and hence an indirect and circumventing approach. Missing containers, visa scandals, memogate, Abbotabad raid, Salala, slurring of judiciary and now the UN Mission on Human Rights successively prove the bypassing of conventional channels through indirect interventions. The optimism is the reality that there are institutions and large segments of civil society to resist and ward off such evil designs.
As I have written earlier, given the obtaining situation, the issues are beyond the next elections to resolve. Moreover the US interests in the region and its plans in AFPAK are tied to the behaviour of a future political set up in Pakistan. Having invested heavily in the past ten years, USA will go lock stock and barrel in pursuit of a US Policy pliant regime to ensure that the cart is not upset. If the matrix is otherwise, Balochistan will be in the crosshairs.
The present rulers of Pakistan owe their power to the NRO and are therefore a part rather than a solution to the problems. With his ability to inspire people and lead them from the front, the onus of Pakistan’s stability and development now rests on Imran Khan. The change has to come through the aspirations of the people rather than the ballot that is endemically manipulated. It is time for Imran Khan in concert with all patriotic elements of Pakistan to rise to the occasion and swarm the streets of with patriotic fervour, themes and slogans. There will be a red over green but given the environment, this is the only way out. Reclaim Pakistan for Pakistanis.