"Brain Damage from our American connection"!

Daily Times, April 28, 2006

SECOND OPINION: Brain damage from our American connection — Khaled Ahmed’s Review of the Urdu press

Pakistan has been aligned with the United States right from the start. Also right from the start, it began having pangs of conscience about being America’s ally. This relationship was never properly digested and Pakistanis could only live with it through a kind of split personality. Outsiders may think Pakistan has acted wisely, given its anti-India nationalism, but Pakistanis are too brain-damaged from it to accept that.

Reported in Khabrain (March 5, 2006) former ISI chief Hameed Gul said that President George Bush’s March tour of India had pushed Pakistan into a corner while making India into a regional hegemon. He said Pakistan was put under pressure to vote against Iran at the IAEA and to get rid of its nuclear programme.

In these circumstances Pakistan’s friendship with China had become more crucial and the Mekran Coast had become strategic. He said Manmohan’s remark about “failed states” was important. To get Pakistan to do its bidding, the US may get Pakistan to hold elections in 2006.

The oracle has spoken and may again be proved wrong about the election. Gul grew up in the army as the anti-American firebrand in the mess-room. Most senior officers have been anti-American because America “let us down” in 1965 and afterwards. No one acknowledges that we reneged on our pledge not to use weapons supplied to us under the CENTO and SEATO umbrella against India. America had global interests; Pakistan had only regional concerns.

The policies meshed only periodically, but it is remarkable how anti-American Pakistan has benefited again and again from American largesse and preserved its myth of force-parity with India. The Bush visit hurt because it finally “normalised” the myth of this parity. Now this reality is forever.

Historian Dr Safdar Mehmood wrote in Jang (March 6, 2006) that no Pakistani ruler was legitimate unless he travelled to the United States and took a certificate from Washington. Like all rulers Muhammad Khan Junejo after becoming prime minister of Pakistan in 1985 insisted that he must visit Washington. He finally went and got his certificate of legitimacy from the US. But such visits also turned the rulers’ head. General Zia expressed his fear publicly when he said that Junejo’s head had been turned by Washington. Predictably Junejo rebelled and Zia removed him.

Dr Safdar Mehmood has reduced a Pakistani prime minister of stature to nothing by bringing in the American factor. Will that mean that a prime minister who hates America or is hated by it will be loved by Dr Safdar Mehmood? Is the only criterion of honour a hatred of America? Not even the clerical fire-breathers are willing to play this game of hating India, hating America and loving only China.

Dr Safdar Mehmood quotes General Zia as if he was another Mullah Umar. It is not true at all. As a historian Dr Sahib has to develop a more sophisticated mind. Perhaps a study of our inscrutable friend China is needed.

Columnist Masud Ashar wrote in Jang (March 7, 2006) that famous Pakistani intellectual Fateh Muhammad Malik spoke at a seminar at GC University in Lahore and warned the audience that the idea of enlightenment in Pakistan was nothing but a revival of a strategy followed by Henry Kissinger. Prof Manzur Ahmad said that Pakistan needed an intellectual paradigm shift to cope with the modern world.

Standing in GC, Fateh Muhammad Malik should have gone back to the GC motto courage to know which is taken from the presiding philosopher of enlightenment, Kant, whom Allama Iqbal called the Imam Ghazali of the West. Just because you hate Musharraf you shouldn’t abuse the legacy of GC University and Allama Iqbal. The GC motto has come directly from an essay of Kant where he put it in Latin, Sapere Aude! It had nothing to do with Kissinger. Faiz translated it as Jur’at-e-Tehqeeq. It is no use politicising enlightenment as this de-intellectualises the critic (Fateh) without debasing the user (Musharraf).

Columnist Irfan Siddiqi wrote in Nawa-e-Waqt (March 4, 2006) that his request to Bush was that he should not insult us in front of others. Indoors (andar-khanay) he could treat us roughly as he wished but in public he should pat us on the back so that our habit of slavery (khu-e-ghulami) and natural inclination to worship (fitrat-e-bandagi) could be satisfied. Whenever Bush passes through the region to do a big deal with some state or visit one of his colonies he should also call on us so that we can show off (thoon-tthan) too.

What Siddiqi wants is honour in foreign policy; what the state wants is not honour but fulfilment of its self-interest mostly linked to its survival. The high point of honour is martyrdom. If Pakistan dies fighting the US, it would suit Siddiqi’s sense of living honourably. Mullah Umar is subliminally the model.

Everybody seems to be saying give me a chance to rule and I will show you how to die honourably rather than live with the shame of being America’s slave. That is not how states think. They are selfish in the extreme and they are amoral because the international system is amoral and the only vital principle is survival.

According to Nawa-e-Waqt (March 4, 2006) a new prophet after “Imam Mehdi” made his appearance in Bhai Pheru near Lahore when Abdul Hamid declared that he was sent by God. He soon set up a “Kaaba” and started doing “hajj” around it while introducing his own name into the “kalima”. He also started doing his tabligh in the area.

The people of Bhai Pheru became greatly incensed and attacked him before the police took him and locked him up. The people then stood outside the jail and wanted him to be handed over. Then the people started breaking public property to express their love for Islam, after which the police threw teargas shells at them. This caused bhagdar (stampede) and people gathered to do some sincere property damage were greatly offended with the police.

The following day the city of Kasur remained closed due to hartal by the shopkeepers and more police force was called from surrounding districts in anticipation of widespread vandalism on the part of the pious Muslims. The false prophet was taken to Lahore in a cavalcade of six cars.

Our tragedy is that we are waiting for the Mehdi but will simply not tolerate anyone claiming to be one. The prophets who announce their arrival are nurtured only by our insistence that Imam Mehdi and Jesus Christ are going to arrive any moment. Some clerics say Imam Mehdi has already been born. Why kill the claimants? *

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