Pakistan: Friendless and Clueless?
Daily Times, August 15, 2007
Friends, close friends, the best friend, intimate friends, childhood friends. And, trusted friends. Who doesn’t need friends? Friends, between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, a hundred ninety-two to choose from. Friends, India on the east, Iran, Afghanistan on the west and China in the north. Four to choose from.
America was a friend once. We did things together, Cento, Seato and the rest. We let U-2s fly from Peshawar. Their elephants love our uniforms. Their Eisenhower, their Kansas Cyclone, did the thing with our Field Marshall. Their Nixon, their Mad Bomber, did the ‘Ping Pong’ with our Yahya. And, Kissinger flew to China via Lahore. We then set their embassy on fire. But, their Reagan, their Gipper, had his affair with our Zia.
Bush, shorter than his father, is The Shrub. The Shrub has been a ‘buddy’ for six years. The Leaker-in-Chief leaked our way ten, may be twenty billion big ones. We had fun, he didn’t. Secret Service calls him ‘The Tumbler’. Tumbler is a friend no more. He calls himself ‘The Commander Guy’. The Commander Guy now wants to command his bombs over us. Is our army no use to him, no more? Incurious George is a friend no more. He calls himself ‘The Decider’. The Decider-in-Chief is a friend no more.
Americans say we are the most anti of all the antis. We say you are in love with our uniforms. They say “do more”. We say you divorced us not once but twice. We say we are the 2nd largest Musalman country. You say you got no leverage anywhere. We are right and you are right. You need us for Iran and you need us for your GIs in Afghanistan. What’s next? You are all military, neither economic nor social. What’s in it for a hundred sixty million?
Mao Zedong’s first foreign friend, Pakistan. Among the first to say goodbye to Taiwan, Pakistan. Among the first to recognise China, Pakistan. In came F-7 Fighters, T-96 tanks, nuclear reactors and frigates for our Navy. We have done things together. Our Shaheen-I is your M-9. Our Saheen-II is your DF-15. JF-17 Thunder is yours as well as ours. Together we do Gwadar, Karakorum and Coastal Highway. You send us $4 billion worth of your goods and buy only $500 million of our goods. We give you an energy corridor and a military corridor. You give us a flabby, plump trade deficit.
China our ‘all-weather’ friend. No more. Islamabad kidnaps Chinese. Balochistan kills Chinese. Frontier welcomes Chinese no more. Their Uighurs, our students. Our students their ‘terrorists’. Our ‘all-weather’ friend is all-weather no more.
Iran was a pal. The Imperial Iranian Air Force our buddy in Balochistan. Then came Afghanistan. Our pals the Taliban fought their pals the Northern Alliance. A 10-year proxy war ensued. Pakistan became sectarian for all times to come. Iran financed her proxy warriors, the Saudis did theirs. They had fun. Pakistan the sectarian battlefield. The Shrub now wants fun in Iran at our cost. We accept. Iran is our friend no more.
Our pals the Taliban. Ran Afghanistan for five long years. No more. He calls himself President Hamid Karzai of the Popalzai clan. Of the Durrani tribe, resident of Gul Khana Palace. The Russians call him ‘Puppet Kulak Karzai’. Karzai is Pakistan’s friend no more; never been, never will be.
Everyone needs a friend or two. A friend who’ll accept us, listen to us. Tell us that we are not alone. But, we are alone. Alone, encircled by foes as neighbours. That’s everything foreign policy is not. Alone we cry. Alone we lay, friendless. Friendless and clueless.
Dr Farrukh Saleem is an Islamabad-based economist and analyst