By Havi Zayed

Lord Zerab Salamat the supreme leader of the Pakistan Nationalist Association has released a statement saying that the Nationalists would rest at nothing less than the hanging of American agent Raymond Davis who was arrested for cold blooded murder of two Pakistanis on the streets of Lahore. Another car belonging to the American embassy mowed down a Pakistani motorcyclist while heading towards Davis.

Pakistani annoyance with America has been reaching its peak as the country continually blames Pakistan for its own mistakes and has been treating Pakistan as a pet dog rather than as an equal ally. After the American invasion of Afghanistan the insurgency the United States created to fight the Soviets has spilt into Pakistan. Yet Pakistan is being made the focus of International blame due to the American media despite both its losses and the fact that without the United States the country could not even have thought of facing the Soviets.

Pew Global Polls a US based research group shows that the image of the United States in the country is still highly negative and has fallen from 60% of the population holding negative views of USA in 2005 to 68%. At the same time positive views of the country have also fallen. The recent incident is sure to ensure that the trend continues or is perhaps excelled.

Zerab Salamats Speech

To a gathered crowd of about 300 young Pakistani men and women in Muqaddar Mansion, Zerab gave a fiery statement in regard to the brutal killings by Raymond Davis which the US government is trying to cover with the excuse of diplomatic immunity.

The speech which lasted about 12 minutes answered a number of questions present in the minds of many Nationalists about the movements regards to foreign interference.

It was also a lashing attack on American behaviour in the region. He said that Pakistan was important to the rest of the World and if the USA did not stop treating Pakistan as a colony the people of the country may get sick of the behaviour and rise up in revolt. At the same time he made it clear that terrorism was a major threat that had to be dealt with or without the presence of the USA. “It would be a great pleasure not to have allies that betray their friends but it is clear that the militants are a threat and are just waiting to be used (by foreign powers). They must be eliminated for daring to wage war against the country. They have shown their true face as the betrayers they are by blowing up their own people. If their war was against the US why are they attacking us and weakening our country?” This reiterated the point that the Taliban and USA’s hypocritical attitude towards Pakistan is equal in Nationalist eyes.

To a question concerning American links to Taliban activities in the region the veteran replied “there is no doubt about it that the Americans are hiding something and we know well that their embassies are hotspots for their secret operatives whom they cover as staff. We also know that the US has worked with the terrorists in the past and forced us on the path (Soviet Afghan War) and are now trying their best to pin the blame on our revered institutions. We understand someone is clearly supporting the Taliban both monetarily and with weapons as the findings of our commission reveal. Since we have limited access to the region we have been unable to find out who but it is clear that such a thing can be done by a traitorous ally who can use the traitorous Taliban as puppets for its gains (Referring to the Soviet era).”

Falshim Amerat another very famous leader of the Organization who was contacted also called for action against American mercenary groups. “Pakistan is not a tool for the west to use and abandon. This is our land and they will realize that even if they have bought the government they cannot challenge the might of Pakistani law or the entire country will rise up. Davis must be hanged. We often find ourselves at odds with the religious parties when it comes to how much of a role religion should have in the country’s rule but here we agree completely. A traitor is a traitor whether American, Indian or a separatist and there is no doubt in our minds how one of such breed should be treated. CIA must stop all activities in Pakistan.”

This is indeed a very important point in Pakistani American relations that will decide the countries future. Either the Americans back off and accept the will of the Pakistani people or understand that this government is about to fall and may be replaced by one much less accommodating to American demands.

Advertisements

Years of unrelenting terror and its local fallout

Despite the success of the army operations in Swat and Malakand there have been continual complaints from the local people over the fact that many militant commanders still remain at large. This is one of the many factors contributing to the fear that the militants will take control of the region when the army will leave. The fact that the militants are still capable of continually bombing their cities and attacking their elders is also contributing to this fear.

However the biggest issue is how the militant organizations have been able to survive time after time despite constant operations launched for the purpose of eradicating them seemingly coming out again and again to claim assassinations and bomb attacks. This has resulted in resentment locally and much speculation from neo liberal anchors and media persons very used to following the traditional US line who question whether the Pakistan Army is serious about eliminating the militants. Since the media has no hope to offer much of this frustration is carried on to the common man who is exasperated that the insurgency simply does not seem to end and the war that makes their lives so miserable goes on unrelenting.

As a result many people even within the areas where terrorists have made local lives difficult making military operations imminent blame the government or the army for many of their problems including the war on terror which many people feel their country has no reason to be in. There is a reason to this dissatisfaction. People within the areas where war is being waged are frustrated by constant curfews which hurt locals and the shelling and aerial bombardment that often lead to civilian causalities.

To make it worse many issues the people face are even turned a blind eye further aggravating the situation. This in turn puts the idea in their minds that the Pakistan Army is playing a double game to milk western aid and killing its own people to earn it rather than terrorists who are few in number and manage to escape. A theory that would be very plausible had Pakistan not suffered $48 Billion of damage in acts of terrorism till today with the army suffering at least $4 Billion of those losses.

In any case the local causalities are indeed giving the impression that is already common in most Pakistani minds that the government is fighting a war it has no stake in, killing its own people and selling the Nation just so that it can fill its own pockets with American Dollars.

The situation truly needs to be addressed and people need to feel the army is on their side but the question remains who gains from this situation where the trust between the army and certain segments of the public has been reduced to such an extent where some people are not willing to trust the same men whose principle is supposed to be to protect the very lives of Pakistan’s public?

Pakistan becomes a scapegoat

While the USA ups the ante and continues blaming Pakistan for an insurgency the United States own money helped fund and create many generals within the Pakistan Army themselves strongly believe that their so called ally has been supporting local terrorists in Pakistan through the supply of arms, ammunition and various forms of financial support. To the liberals this may sound far-fetched but in reality it’s not very hard to believe considering the United States has done so in the past funnelling over 4 Billion dollars which included lump sums to commanders, arms, ammunition and training to the many mujahedeen groups during the Afghan Soviet War.

Much of the aid naturally happened to reach the Taliban with the full support and blessing of the CIA according to now declassified CIA documents but the powerful American media flanked by its Indian cohorts has successfully made Pakistan the scapegoat. This isn’t a difficult task since Pakistan is the country that had been passing on the United States assistance to the Taliban as the intermediary throughout all this time. The fact that Pakistan has a weaker media that still finds it difficult to take a Nationalist stand and show the Pakistani side of the picture while American media such as The Times or Fox News continues to portray Pakistan as a country that is playing a double game does little to reduce this perception.

Learning Lessons from the Afghan/Soviet War

The result of years of living under a terrorist threat that does not seem to disappear but just bounces back with every action the country takes is clear. Certain small and frustrated segments of society have cropped up to put the entire blame squarely on the ISI and the Army without thought. However according to most of Pakistan’s elite and middle class the blame often goes to Zia Ul Haq for creating the kind of mindset organizations such as the Taliban thrive on but few seem to remember that it was the Americans who came to him promising their full cooperation and opening up the doors of military aid and economic assistance to Pakistan in return for support against the Soviets. If this was the case at that time how different was it after the 9/11 attacks when the Americans came to Pakistan again demanding us to fight the same people they funded and created. If we were used at that time taking all the losses and took the blame later isn’t that exactly what’s happening again and what guarantee do we have that we are not going to be abandoned when the war is over like we were in past?

Zia Ul Haq today is Pakistan’s scapegoat with much of the population blaming his Islamicization for the problems we face today. This is indeed true but we fail to realize that he was used by the Americans in their war and made the very same mistake we are making today. He trusted the Americans over their claims that they would support Pakistan both economically and militarily. The support as it turned out lasted until the Soviets withdrew.

Zia Ul Haq even in his dreams would not have thought of facing the Soviets in the 1980’s if not for the insistence of the greatest superpower in the World, a superpower that awarded his country’s dedication to supporting them with the Presler Amendment, arms embargoes and an end to economic aid when it was handling an influx of 3 Million Afghan refugees other than the fact that about 70% of its own population were living in difficult economic conditions.

The truth is it’s great to look within and accept the problems in our society. It is an undeniable truth that there is intolerance and bigotry in our society which needs to be eradicated. It is clear that whenever our army has taken part in an internal operation it has often left more grievances and only partially solved the problem. The formation of Bangladesh and the simmering resentment in Baluchistan are clear examples. It is also evident that Pakistan has no business physically interfering in the affairs of another country no matter how bad things may appear.

Finally it’s imminent for us to understand that we cannot let foreign Nations continue to interfere in our country and influence our policies for their own benefits. Zia Ul Haq got the push to support the insurgency in Afghanistan from the United States, an insurgency Pakistan should never have had a part in as it produced only radicalism and if it was senseless to join that war on American insistence, Pakistan should never have had a part in the war today.

The Taliban militants have been continually murdering the most educated and greatest intellectuals in the region. The brutal murder of Dr Mohammed Farooq Khan, an outspoken scholar and critic of Taliban terrorism and brutality has sent shockwaves in the region and has made it clear that the Taliban is unwilling to stop its tradition of murder and ruthlessness which has been passed on like a disease from the CIA during the Soviet invasion when they were trained in assassination and bombing tactics.

As a result of Taliban’s madness and treason a major operation has been launched in Mardan and curfew has been declared. The Nationalist media usually does not report such operations since there is always other news media to report it and traditionally the movement has concentrated on affairs within the organization and on a wider scale within the movement.

However this time our organization has a stake in the operation. Leaders of the Pakistan Nationalist Association and other influential members of our movement have severely protested the murder of the great thinker Mohammed Farooq Khan and at least one of our Officers is administering this operation in order to teach the militants a lesson.

As a result of the operation 10 terrorists have been slain and according to daily times over 800 people have been arrested and the operation is still continuing. However the FC has admitted that not all of them are terrorists and some of those arrested are just people who do not have identity cards or are illegally in the region and have the potential of being common criminals.

This action should make it clear that the Pakistan Nationalist Association is not asleep when the patriotic men and women of the country are slaughtered. This is most evident from the large number of members from our ranks who have joined the military almost only because of the Taliban’s war against the Pakistani people.

Through this operation in Mardan the terrorists have been told that for every single Nationalist Pakistani they kill over ten times as many of them will be killed and Pakistanis will continue to strive for prosperity no matter how much they want to keep them backwards.

A recent survey conducted by Pew Global Attitudes (a project of a research center in Washington) in Pakistan has proven that the 64% of the people of Pakistan despise the USA and see it as one of the greatest threats to Pakistan. On the other hand only about 9% believe that the US can ever be Pakistan’s allies. However 70% of the Pakistanis who were questioned are absolutely against the Taliban and seek their utter elimination. Another survey conducted for the international broadcaster Al Jazeera by Gallup Pakistan found that 59 percent of Pakistanis felt the greatest threat to the country was the United States rather than the Taliban.

As the report suggests Pakistanis despise the USA but do not side with the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Generally Pakistanis view them unfavourably but they see both of them as two sides of the same coin.

Unfortunately the Americans cannot come to understand why Pakistanis see them as their foremost enemy rather than the terrorists. On the other hand Pakistanis feel they have been constantly betrayed despite seeing the Americans as allies. They believe they have been used to accomplish USA’s strategic goals and interests in the region and then abandoned.

A look at history

The Taliban were formed, supported and funded by the USA in the 1980’s in order to drive away the Soviets from Afghanistan and offset the defeat they suffered to the Communists in the Vietnam War. According to newly opened CIA files USA wanted the Soviets to intervene in Afghanistan and aid was being transferred to Anti communist elements since July 1979 which was before the Soviets had officially invaded.

Pakistan was not always keen to join the war and did so upon USA’s insistence. Sources even claim that Zia Ul Haq did not want to get involved in the war but many promises of opening up military and economic assistance were offered to President Zia by American diplomats for joining the war. This and the promise of a long lasting relationship with the USA convinced Pakistanis.

However by directly interfering in neighbouring Afghanistan on the behest of American urging Pakistan suffered over 120 incidents of terrorism which killed many citizens. One such bombing was the Islamabad depot bombings were blamed on Najibullah’s government. USA suffered no losses as they had no troops on the ground and were too far away from the region.

Not surprisingly when the war was over Pakistan was not needed and the country was abandoned. In 1990 military and economic ties were cut off with Pakistan under the Presler Amendment which required proof that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapon.

Unfortunately the fact that America itself has one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the World and is the only Nation to have used them is ignored when talking about the nuclear aspirations of other Nations.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Tests

India conducted its first surprise nuclear test in 1974 known as the “Smiling Buddha.” USA turned a blind eye to the first test but India’s second test in 1998 which followed a similar test by Pakistan almost immediately received international condemnation. Initially sanctions were imposed on both India and Pakistan.

However after a few months the sanctions on India were removed while those on Pakistan remained. Certain military sanctions specially relating to nuclear technology continue till today however no such sanctions are being imposed on India. The differential treatment annoys Pakistanis as India has 10 times Pakistan’s population and is much larger than Pakistan. The military as well is larger than Pakistan’s own.

Furthermore Pakistanis can also not understand why USA signed a nuclear deal with India but is not willing to sign the exact same deal with Islamabad which has sent clear signals that it wants a peaceful nuclear deal with the USA for power generation purposes. Pakistan is facing crippling power shortages that are affecting the daily life of its citizens. In major cities people have to make do without 4-8 hours of electricity in a day.

The relationship today

Americans believe that the aid they are giving Pakistan in the War on Terror is more than enough and is a message to Pakistan to forget the past and move on. However what they don’t seem to understand is that the losses of Pakistan in the WOT have crossed $35.5 Billion in damages to Pakistan (These figures are from January 2009 and the figure may now be more than 48 Billion). The aid does not compensate Pakistan for the losses given that $11 Billion is not even a quarter of this figure.

To aggravate things further much of the aid given to Pakistan has still not been delivered and much of it will be eaten up by the administrative costs of the USA.

In addition the Americans have expressed no sympathy for the 8000 Pakistani civilians and 2000 soldiers killed in a highly unpopular war but have always pushed Pakistan to do more as if it were their colony.

Many Pakistanis as a result believe that USA is supporting terrorism in their country. The fact that the US has released several Taliban commanders from its custody such as Abdullah Mehsud who have attacked Pakistani Nationals soon after their release has further supported this belief. The latest addition to the long list of such commanders is Mehdi-Mohammed Ghazali who was captured in Pakistan recently and is a Swedish National released from Guantanamo Bay.

The American media has a way of aggravating the situation and pouring salt to the fresh wounds of the Nation. The baseless suggestion that Pakistani nukes may fall in the hands of terrorists only fuels rage and in turn is seen as a scheme to take possession of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. On the other hand the constant campaigns of accusations aimed at Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency the ISI and the military are seen as an attempt to isolate and destroy the military and ISI so that it cannot stop CIA’s designs in the region.

When it is stated that Pakistan is not serious in the War on Terror despite the death of thousands of its own people it also fuels Anti Americanism. The Pakistanis have now become even more suspicious of the USA because of these media campaigns.

Due to the American policies towards Pakistan in the past and those that still continue today many Pakistanis simply see the terrorist organizations as American agents. For the majority of Pakistanis the USA and Taliban are basically two sides of the same coin.

Can US-Pakistani ties ever develop?

The very attitude of the USA towards Pakistan leaves lingering resentment and rage amongst Pakistanis. It does nothing but make terrorist organizations more powerful.

Where yesterday only a section of the population believed no productive ties could ever develop between Pakistan and USA today this phenomenon is noticeable even amongst the moderates as they see the USA as their sworn enemy.

USA’s foreign policy is based on egotism and to protect their self interest the Americans are willing to cross any limit. For Pakistan it is the moment to take a tougher stance with the USA and design a policy that is in turn beneficial to the Nation.

Most Pakistanis are already suggesting that either the Pakistanis take a tougher stance towards the USA and demand to be treated with the respect they deserve or withdraw from the War completely declaring themselves neutral to both the USA and the Afghan Taliban.

Whatever the case it is high time for Pakistan to present itself on an equal footing as the USA otherwise it will continue to be taken for granted and will be used and abandoned as has been the case in the past. Pakistan cannot have a relationship with the USA where Pakistan’s sovereignty itself is lost. After all Pakistan is not a colony but an Independent Nation.