When you are in the dominating position in which the United States finds itself vis-à-vis Pakistan the tendency is to look at only its side of the picture and ignore the rest. That does not mean that the other side does not have a point of view and interests of its own.
A military dictator was coerced into climbing the US bandwagon after 9/11 against the country’s best interest. The casualties that Pakistan suffered as a result of the war run into tens of thousands. It has cost her $ 150 billion so far. The army has lost more soldiers than all the NATO countries put together.
There had not been a single car explosion, IED or suicide bombing in Pakistan until the general’s misadventure. Now it has become almost a weekly event. To top it all, US agents have been running amok, killing innocent civilians in cities and the US military has attacked Pakistan army border posts killing soldiers with impunity for no apparent reason.
Yet it is Pakistan that is routinely labeled as deceitful, untrustworthy and ungrateful for not doing more in return for the $ 10 billion it received over ten years from the US —- eighty per cent of which was payment of bills for goods such as fuel, food, etc. and services provided to NATO forces.
It is claimed that the country is insolvent and cannot survive without financial aid from the US. A simple math would indicate that had she not joined the war she would be richer by $140 billion dollars and face none of the difficulties it finds itself in today.
It is also stated that Pakistan is unstable and in danger of breaking up. The terrorist groups that operate in the name of separation have little following within the country. Almost all of these operate out of safe havens inside Afghanistan which happens to be under US control. Many of their leaders have been provided sanctuary in the United Kingdom. What should Pakistanis make of this?
The United States has killed thousands of innocent Pakistanis and traumatized the entire region by drone attacks in the last four years. These are illegal under international law and crimes against humanity as per the Geneva Convention. To claim these target only the terrorists is preposterous. It may fool some westerners but people at the receiving end know the truth. By the same token, how acceptable would it be if Pakistan mounted a similar drone campaign against the terrorists ensconced in Britain for instance?
Speaking of terrorists, by what definition does an Afghan become a ‘terrorist’ if he is fighting to liberate his country from the US occupation —- a perfectly legitimate action under the UN rules? These people have done no harm to Pakistan. Why should she give in under pressure and make enemies of them for the sake of the US? If the latter chose to invade the country for whatever reason it is her war. She should fight it herself and not keep calling on Pakistan to do it for her.
What General Musharraf did was manifestly against Pakistan’s interest. Not wanting his rule to end, the US and Britain tried to prolong it by arranging an unholy alliance with some of the most disreputable and corrupt politicians. Among other things it involved withdrawal of thousands of criminal cases from the courts and casting of 37 million spurious votes, more than 40% of the total, in a blatantly fraudulent election. This was not exactly an act of endearment nor did it do any good service to the cause of democracy.
If Pakistanis are unhappy with the US it is not because they or the military have become radicalized as is often suggested —- unless the expression has now been redefined to mean for a Muslim to not follow US dictates. The religious parties to this day have not managed to get more than ten per cent of the vote. It is also wrong to blame the madrasas that house no more than two per cent of Pakistan’s student population. The sentiment against the US is widespread in all strata of the society. It was not always like this. The change has little to do with radicalization and everything to do with US actions around the globe, especially since the demise of the Soviet Union. For there to be enduring peace in the world the US has to rein in her excesses.
The writer is author of 'Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective' and 'Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis'.