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'With us or without'

03 October, 2011

By Amjad Malik


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When George W Bush threatened Gen Musharraf to coerce him in joining the US led war on terror in Afghanistan, warning either you are with us or against and to take Pakistan to the age of stones if the answer is 'no', fortunately Turkey saved its nation from the wrath of war, and Unfortunately our military leader meagerly caved in. Since then, we are ensnared by the 'aid' lolly pop whether its war bill or Kerry Lugar fund and are running in circles in search of a direction. Alas, we did not have a civilian leader like Quaid-e-Azam, ZA Bhutto, or even Nawaz Sharif at the time of crunch and had to bear with a weaker sword who bent down when the time came to stand.

After 10 years Pakistani nation after losing all the chances of growing as a nation is confronted with severe allegations of mistrust, aiding and abetting anti-US network, and is at the verge of an attack all out or of a smaller scale is yet to be determined by superpower, and who is standing with us is questionable?. United States earlier announced its victory and gave time line to leave the turf, but is still mindful to appoint its 'goons' to handle Afghanistan in its absence.

Pakistan's worry is, rightly so, that it does not leave a situation where its anti-state element creeps in Afghanistan and it keeps on fighting the remainder years on back and front. Haqqani and TTP are but two sides of the same coin. USA, mindful of the fact, wishes to toe its policy ignoring geo-political situation at the ground, the same ground which he intends to leave starting some in 2012. He is eyeing on its future interest and thinks it's done with the business with Pakistan. Pakistan knows that it will have to live here as a neighbour and will have to pick pieces, if it remains silent.

Ignoring Pakistan's bleak economy due to its participation in the war on terror, and loss of thousands of lives military and civilian and the wave of terrorism it felt across the country in the form unknown suicide attacks as a result of being an ally, the country does not deserve to be internationally branded as an anti-US ally to the Haqqanis.

I think its callous exposure of the end of one's interest as an ally, but the end can be congenial. International community must sit together and try to preach commonsense as any skirmish against Pakistani state and troops on its soil will be against the will of its people, Government and its armed forces and it will not remain confined to a small scale experiment, as it will have repercussions in Pakistan, Afghanistan, region and the world, and will have psychological knock out effect. It will aggravate anti US feelings in Pakistan and Muslim territories which is already labelled as the country's master since 1947, but it never came to help when Pakistan was in trouble especially in 1971 (fall of Dhaka & post Russian withdrawal in 1985).

Pakistan too had its General Headquarters attacked in Rawalpindi. Munawan police training academy attack and Sri Lankan cricket team ambush were a few example of the scale of terrorism the state felt across and Mehran Naval Air base attack where two of its finest Orion planes were destroyed were epitome of the horrific devastation it faced, but none was blamed and enquiry commission are still adjudicating the lapses.

However, Security failures of NATO and United States are blamed as negligence and coercive proxy of weaker Pakistan, though they sealed their lips on Raymond Davis release, OBL one-sided mission and Dr Aafia Siddiqui's 86-year imprisonment in United States. But the reward is insulting.

People with high tech intel and weapons are manoeuvring here and there, but war is not the solution. Both sides need to sit down together, exchange notes and understand each other's problems and come up with a strategy and plan where they can satisfy both the people of their respective countries. It does not suit yesterday's allies to enter into a war zone without concrete evidential exchange and or any international forum's oversight (NSC). It's not like India/Pakistan where you do not need arguments and concrete reasons, as inherited hatred is enough to ignite the fire.

Pakistanis has nothing to do with United States as far as military gains are concerned in the region and a foreign visiting dignitary in the area must also reciprocate similar feelings that he is a guest in the town so that food and water supply remains intact. Pakistani Government must see eye to eye with the problem too and must not blink. If it wishes to avoid situation like May 2, 2011, where US forces entered, hit and run after achieving its desired target, then it must remain vigilant otherwise there will be no use crying over spilt milk. Our problem is that the job which the political leadership must do is being carried out by officers.

I think, they must rally the military support behind the political leadership if not current but a national leadership. Government must ensure to widen its departmental advisory, and take political leadership in full confidence whether allies or opposing parties. Parliament through its collective wisdom must come with the line of action (A,B,C). It must give a message to the world that all the nation is one whether it is military, or civil when it comes to aggression against the state. It must also in all unanimity suggest ways to defuse the deadlock, and put forward committees or representatives who work on diplomatic, defence, deterrent and dialogue fronts. Leaders must contact the nations to avoid any uncalled for attack and seek reconciliation in an honourable fashion as fighting United States will be insanity without any cause. It's time to fly our birds too.

Finally, its a time of turmoil in Pakistan. Half of the province is drowned in floods in Sindh, and half in dengue virus and other side of the country in KP and Balochistan is still picking pieces of the results of the Afghan war and Army is too stretched due to operation(s) in Swat, and South Waziristan. Several thousand soldiers have laid their lives with many a thousand civilians too as a collateral damage in order to come up to the expectations of the world community.

After losing over 67 billion dollar to the economy, Pakistanis are still graded 'D' as far as the trust is concerned, which will be unacceptable, and untenable to its people and they will easily say that though no war with USA but 'enough is enough', Pakistan may be a weaker state, but this difficulty may turn out to be an opportunity for the state of Pakistan who religiously believes in prosperity in the worst of hopelessness and there is nothing to lose from ground 'zero' where they already are.

It may be a new beginning and a new dawn for Pakistan and its leadership must come up with the challenge to turn Pakistan into the state its Quaid wanted it to be, a modern, prosperous, independent and progressive. So Pakistan is rightly questing to learn the acknowledgement of its role in this war on terror by international community, and its people are asking that if the international world is mindful of the sacrifices the country has made, then they should make up with their decision once for all whether they wish to fight this war 'With us or without'.

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