The current statements emanating from Washington remind us of a little story that we learned in the 3rd grade-”Well, he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and huffed; but he could not get the house down. When he found that he could not, with all his huffing and puffing, blow the house down…
“Pakistan was once called the most allied ally of the United States. We are now the most non-allied.”Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (As quoted in The New York Times(6 July 1973).
The current threats are all about the US defeat in Afghanistan and a face saving exit out of Kabul-and very little to do with Pakistan. The same sort of threats were doled out to Cambodia and Laos when the American General faced imminent eviction from Saigon.
The first time the US threatened Pakistan was in the Sixties when Ayub Khan shut down the US Badabare Air Force base near Peashawar (
). Johns also threatened Ayub Khan and asked him to throw Bhutto out of his cabinet. More threats came from Nixon, Carter and then Bush’s famous “We will bomb you to the stone age”.
President Musharraf “agreed” to the seven demands but was always criticized for not living up to the promises. Since then there have been accusations and counter-accusations between Islamabad and Washington.
Mountbatten, Nehru, Mohandas Gandhi, Indira, Kruschev, Johnson, Carter, Kissinger (Nixon), Gorbachev, Clinton, Armitage, Vajpayee, Singh, Petraeus, Obama have all threatened Pakistan: The Pakistanis are used to it…so what else is new?
Khrushchev had red-lined Peshawar and threatened to obliterate Peshawar and Pakistan. The old story goes that on 17th December 1971 during the bleakest period of Islamabad’s history, the Kremlin sent a viscous telegram informing the Pakistanis that those who mess with the Soviets face a horrid end. The story also gos that on 17th December 1991, the day the USSR collapsed, the Pakistanis sent a mirror image of the old telegram back to Moscow, informing them that those who mess with Pakistan face an ignominious end-the Soviet Empire disintegrated after the USSR was defeated in Afghanistan.
A month ago a US drone strike killed 40 innocent tribal leaders who were discussing a domestic issues. That attack came one day after “Raymond Davis” was released. The dip in relations is palpable. Some think that “U.S.- Pakistan ties are entering an even more dangerous phase”. The rhetoric on both sides has increased and much of the “smoke and mirrors and some of it could be bluff and bluster” has been in public.
Foreign Policy magazine makes the explosive revelation that “Pakistani leaders want the United States to ‘bleed a little like the Soviets’ in Afghanistan”. According to “FP”, if the US continues the indiscriminate drone strikes unofficial Pakistanis are planning to disrupt NATO supply lines to Afghanistan.
As America prepares to withdraw from the country, the Pakistanis know that Washington will abandon the region once again. It therefore prepares for the future, a tighter relationship with China, closer ties with the Central Asian states, and deeper economic links with Turkey and Iran.
“The capacity of Pakistan to sustain some fifteen major disarticulations in polity, power, and structure and still preserve a national identity is a phenomenon one is tempted to explain by recourse to the supernatural Pakistan which has been pummelled by external events (three wars with India, (Bharati supported) secession of Bangladesh, 3.5 million Afghan refugees) and disrupted by (foreign instigated) fissures…to a degree which no other state established since 1945 has suffered. In this respect it stands as an exemplar of a nation whose adversities “common sense” might suggest make its viability impossible. Yet its continued existence defies the reality induced by such speculation. The enormity and persistence of these difficulties and the resilience of the nation in absorbing and somehow surviving them must be regarded with awe if not admiration.” Ralph Brainbanti. Add to this 30 years of US imposed war in Afghanistan, one of the biggest earthquakes in South Asia history, the 2009 floods, one of the worst natural calamity in human history, and bordered by a hegemony seeking country called India. All this makes Pakistani resilience the strongest on the planet-which Newsweek magazine called “The bravest Nation on Earth”.
The Wall Street Journal editorial wants Washington to give Pakistan another “Ultimatum” similar to the one Richard Armitage doled out in the aftermath of Sept. 11 attacks. The newspaper known for its right wing hawkish views as enunciated by the Rupert Murdock network has rankled feather in Islamabad. Its editorial titled “The Pakistan Ultimatum” is seen as the epitome of the “Yankee hubris” as represented in “The Ugly American”.
A dose of humility is in order-”I remember the atmosphere. It was: Well, here we are on top of the world, and we have arrived at this peak to stay there forever. There is, of course, a thing called history, but history is something unpleasant that happens to other people. We are comfortably outside all of that I am sure.” Arnold Toynbee, recounting his feelings at the age of eight when he was watching a parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the British throne.
In typical imperialist fashion the WSJ “Pakistan Ultimatum” goes something like this “Pakistan can choose to cooperate in that fight and reap the benefits of an American alliance. Or it can oppose the U.S. and reap the consequences, including the loss of military aid, special-ops and drone incursions into their frontier areas, and in particular a more robust U.S. military alliance with India.” It continues like this “In the wake of 9/11, the Bush Administration famously sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to Islamabad to explain that the U.S. was going to act forcefully to protect itself, and that Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again. With that kind of mood in Washington, it’s hard to see the allies burying the feud anytime soon.”
President Obama’s rhetoric in Delhi had no substance except to rile the Pakistanis. The Delhi card didn’t quite work. The Chinese Premier visited Islamabad and pledged $20 billion in investment in Pakistan during the next five years. How about them apples? The Pakistani retort is what it has always been we need “Friends Not Masters”.
Britain as a colonial power practiced “Divide and rule” pitting religious and ethnic differences in the Middle East to rule continents. Bhutto famously theorized that the post-colonial powers were working on a “unite and rule” strategy forcing Pakistan to work with India against China.
“The idea of becoming subservient to India is abhorrent and that of cooperation with India, with the object of promoting tension with China, equally repugnant.” Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Speaking to the West in Christian terms. Grandfather Bhutto does this eloquently.
“For Christians, the teaching and directives of Christ are more Sacred than those of a Messenger of God. According to the Christians, those teaching and directives are of God Himself. Most of the problems of the Third World would be solved if the Christian West implemented in letter and spirit only one directive of Jesus Christ.
The directive to “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and to God that which belongs to God”.
The Third World only want what belongs to it and nothing more. For over two hundred years, the Christian civilization of the West has been mercilessly violating this directive of Jesus Christ. The West has been taking everything belonging to Ceasar and everything belonging to God. The West is not dividing the share equitably. It is not rendering to us what belongs to us. This division relates to the economic, social, racial and political rights of the Third World.” Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto A letter from the Death Cell (2007) p. 72
Washington is free to play the Delhi card whenever it desires-however it should be able to face the Tehran, Moscow an Beijing card which Pakistan holds near to its chest. Perhaps Bernard Lewis was right-maybe the Muslim alliance with the Confucian power is the future of the world. Rupert Murdock and the Neocons are more than most welcome to test it.
After all the huffing and puffing, the big bad wolf continue to threaten-and this is how the story ends.. “Then the wolf was very angry indeed, and declared he would eat up the little one, and that he would get down the chimney after him. When the little one saw what he was about, he hung on the pot full of water, and made up a blazing fire, and, just as the wolf was coming down, took off the cover, and in fell the wolf; so the little pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happy ever afterwards.”
Most Pakistanis don’t want closer relations with Washington-they want to build closer relations with Beijing, and work on creating the Muslim Union (similar to the European Union) in Central Asia. Links with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey are key to the future of Pakistan.
Islamabad is moving ever closer to China, both militarily and economically- and that’s a fact Jack.
Books by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto:
Peace-Keeping by the United Nations. Pakistan Publishing House, Karachi. – 1967
Political Situation in Pakistan, Veshasher Prakashan, New Dehli. – 1968
The Myth of Independence, Oxford University Press, Karachi and Lahore. – 1969
The Great Tragedy, Pakistan People’s Party, Karachi. – 1971
Politics of the People (speeches, statements and articles),edited by Hamid Jalal and Khalid Hasan: Pakistan Publications, Rawalpindi. – 1948-1971
Speeches and Statements, Government of Pakistan, Karachi. – 1971-75
Bilateralism: New Directions. Government of Pakistan, Islamabad – 1976
The Third World: New Directions. Quartet Books, London. – 1977
My Pakistan.Biswin Sadi Publications, New Dehli. – 1979
If I am Assassinated,Vikas, New Dehli. – 1979
My Execution.Musawaat Weekly International, London – 1980
New Directions.Narmara Publishers, London. – 1980