Whither Goes Pakistan?


In the past one week or so – after the operation to eliminate Osama Bin Laden – a strange response, belligerant and one removed from reality has come forth from Pakistani analysts and the estbalishment.  DItto from most common people as well.

The response is a combination of denial of Osama’s death (and the reiteration that US simply played a hoax) and belligerence against US for having violated its airspace.  The parliament of the country also adopted a resolution against the US action to kill Osama.

Pakistan’s parliament threatened Saturday to cut off access to a facility used by NATO forces to ferry troops into Afghanistan, signaling a growing rift that began when U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on a Pakistani compound.
A resolution adopted during a joint session of parliament condemned the U.S. action. It also called for a review of its working agreement with the U.S., demanded an independent investigation and ordered the immediate end of drone attacks along its border region.
Failure to end unilateral U.S. raids and drone attacks will force Pakistan to “to consider taking necessary steps, including withdrawal of (the) transit facility” used by the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, according to the resolution.

On the other hand, the US Senators are giving warnings of a different direction for the relationships between the two countries:

Some US lawmakers believe Osama bin Laden presence in Pakistan may have frayed ties with the United States beyond repair, US Senator John Kerry told Islamabad on Monday, but added that their strategic relationship was too important to let go. Washington’s already fragile ties with ally Islamabad to ok a beating after US special forces flew in from Afghanistan on a secret operation to find and kill bin Laden on May 2, nearly 10 years after he orchestrated the Sept 11 attacks on the United States.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan, who some say has ties with the extremist groups within Pakistan (or at least is a sympathiser) is singing the Jehadi tune as well.  According to him, the money coming from the US is hurting Pakistan and it should be stopped.  He is sure that this is hurting his country in the way of undue influence of the US.  However, the rhetoric doesn’t seem to square up well against the reality of the situation.

The exports from Pakistan in 2009 were $17.87 billion, while the imports were $28.31 billion.  The highest export earner is the Textile industry and even that is declining.  The largest import partner for Pak is China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and the US.  While the Export partners are US, UAE, Afghanistan, UK and China – in that order.

These figures ostensibly do not factor in the Arms purchases and the impact or the order of the Aid from US.  When you bring in the expenses on the Arms and the Army, the situation for Pakistan economy becomes very precarious.

In such a scenario – depending on China – which itself is in middle of its own economic crises: HIgh Inflation and increasing unemployment – then things become really bad for the economy.

Therefore, in this sort of economy talking tough with a power like US may keep the ego stroked, but isn’t necessarily a prudent act.

Violation of Sovereignity?

In the last few days, two bomb blasts occured where 80 people died.  Apart from that a Saudi diplomat was gunned down by some extremists in Karachi – probably from the Shiite group.

These two acts show that Pakistan is reeling under a dire situation perpetrated by extremist elements fired up with various Islamic religious mindsets – Sunni and Shia – and in many ways this violence has its origin in Middle East.  At least the inspiration for the extremists is surely in the Middle East Religious rhetoric and foundational Wahabism.

While the common man is perturbed about the US “violating” the air space of Pakistan to kill Osama, s/he has no issue with Osama Bin Laden, his cronies and sympathizers violating the sovereignity of the country for past several years.  Osama’s stay and of those who abide by him has come with a price for Pakistan.  It is strange that this price is invisible to everyone in Pakistan.

What is visible is the obvious.  Ironically, the common man is singing the song and lyrics of the very forces which are out to destroy him.  At this moment, it is important that the leaders in Pakistan look at the very foundation of all that is going wrong, and without passing the blame on the outsiders … own up to mis-steps and set the things right.

They have a beautiful country and intelligent and talented people who can achieve a lot.  But if things keep going the way they are going.. then, Pakistan could end up as another Iraq or Afghanistan in the coming years.

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