An Indian in every Pakistani?
Shireen M Mazari
The writer is a defence analyst
Lack of formal education and sheer ignorance does not by definition imply an innate sense of stupidity. On the other hand, formal education in itself is no guarantee of an intelligent and rational human being – just look at the American leaders over the years! As for mental stability, that has little to do with formal education or education of any sort whatsoever. What is true is that leaders who are intelligent and not overwhelmed by a sense of their own greatness and the autocratic "I", realise their limitations and seek guidance. That is why while many commentators attribute President Zardari's bizarre pronouncements very charitably to a lack of information or knowledge, the reality is that there is an ominous design in it all. After all, he is surrounded by not only his sycophants but also the whole state machinery with its bureaucrats, intelligence networks and so on. So why do statements that damage the nation in the long run continue to pour forth from the present leadership? Does no one dare to advise the president, or does he see himself as all-knowing even as he is all-powerful? Or is the reality that his advice is actually linked to a US agenda targeting Pakistan? Whatever the case, let us see if a pattern can be traced in all his shenanigans, at least in the realm of foreign and security policies where he has managed to reduce us to a collective absurdity and a vile joke.
First, there is suddenly a furore over a truncated map of Pakistan that is only now being examined by a wider Pakistani audience. But the reality is that the map first appeared in the US Armed Forces Journal in July 2006, written by a retired US intelligence officer, Ralph Peters and entitled, "Blood Borders". Some of us had pointed out at that time that this was now part of the US agenda for the so-called "Greater or Broader Middle East Project", but at that time few paid notice. This has been part of the problem here in Pakistan – we never see far enough ahead and now the US design is in the midst of being operationalised and we have a leadership that has come with a seeming commitment to aid this nefarious US design of destabilising Pakistan through increasing military incursions through the tribal belt and moving beyond – and we have already had that with the US attacks on Bannu – and multiple efforts to eventually roll back our nuclear capability.
Now let us look at our own leadership's antics. No one from the presidency has forcefully refuted US media claims that in September this year President Zardari gave the US a nod to continue predator attacks against Pakistan. Meanwhile, we had the "absurdity" of the president claiming that the US had not violated Pakistan's sovereignty since only aerial attacks were being conducted! Then we had the farce of the parliamentary consensus resolution on terrorism which demanded the government take action against the predator attacks. The government has so far not moved an iota on any of the substantive demands of this resolution. Instead, to make us look even more ridiculous than we already were looking, our leadership hopes that Obama will stop the attacks. Have they looked up Obama's statements and his potential secretary of state's viewpoints?
From any rational perspective, given the manner in which the US is behaving it is now a hostile if not an enemy state for us, but we have that strange minister of defence continuing to state that if the US stays here for three decades it will be good for Pakistan! Does he think we will survive in any viable form after three decades of bombings by the US and the retaliatory lethal and non-discriminatory suicide attacks against this nation? But then so many of the present leadership, in keeping with past tradition, have homes and rich setups abroad. So what do they care?
Parallel to our continuous conceding of ground to the US, we are also now complying with the US agenda of establishing India as the regional hegemon. If we see no threat from India and we want a nuclear-free zone in South Asia, eventually we may have a declaration by this president that he hates nukes and we will renounce ours unilaterally – that is unless the US has created enough instability to seek a UN Security Council intervention regarding control of our nuclear assets! Yes, it may seen far-fetched to some, but look how so many unthinkable developments have hit us in a short space of time – beginning right from the present occupant of the presidency itself.
So when President Zardari offers a "no-first use" (NFU) of nuclear weapons to India, there is a design behind it – a US design. The problem is we have short memories and have forgotten that India has actually reneged on its limited NFU declaration it had made earlier in its overt nuclear life! When India declared its strategic doctrine and stated its intent of using nuclear strikes against any WMD threat from anywhere, it effectively adopted a "first use" doctrine similar to that of the US.
As for Pakistan, given our limited conventional capability, we cannot afford to remove the ambivalence we are maintaining regarding NFU. In this we are no different from the much mightier NATO. Is it not time for our security managers and strategists to inform the president that one does not bandy about NFU offers whimsically or because one hates the idea of nuclear weapons. No one loves nukes and no one loves war – apart from Mr Bush and the neocons – but there are realities that need to be considered; and one does not bandy about strategic doctrines simply as appeasement tools. Our declared posture of nuclear weapons as weapons of last resort and a deliberate ambivalence on NFU must not be compromised.
As for the idea of a South Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ), it is the Indians who have always rejected the idea, just as they rejected the zero missile idea and now with India acquiring Missile Defence from the US, we cannot continue to support notions that we floated before May 1998. Of course, if the Indians had conceded to a NWFZ and renounced their grandiose nuclear weapon programmes, their fears regarding China (or so their pretext goes) could easily have been handled in a protocol attached to the treaty similar to the protocols attached to and an integral part of the Latin American NWFZ treaty – the Tlatelolco Treaty. But all that was in the past – as was the no-war pact which Pakistan kept pushing for with India. Now all that is truly feasible in the nuclear domain with India is joint nuclear power generation and an ongoing strategic dialogue to maintain the nuclear balance. But then that is not part of the nuclear agenda of the US. The US continues to seek a rollback of Pakistan's nuclear programme as part of its long-term negative agenda towards Pakistan.
As for the new, more so-called informed US media on Pakistan, it is high time they realised that our suspicions and hostility towards the US have nothing to do with illiteracy or Talibanisation – Jane Perlez's analysis notwithstanding. Instead, it has everything to do with US policies towards Pakistan. It is that simple. But our greater issue is with our leadership that seems to be hand in glove with the US. After all, we can certainly counter the predator or the impending grim "Reaper" attacks now on the cards. When will our missiles prove their worth? Or, if our military feels insecure with a direct military response, how about more simple actions easier to accomplish? Here are some suggestions: halt the transit logistic supplies; suspend high-level diplomatic relations; opt out of the trilateral commission; reduce the number of US personnel in Pakistan; take back all the bases. That should be enough to send a resolute message of Pakistani intent to the US and its NATO allies.
Finally, Mr President, I have searched intensely within myself to discover a little Indian within my Baloch, Punjabi, Seraiki and Pathan heritage, but all I see is an intense Pakistani, born in the sovereign state of Pakistan. For me India is as foreign a country as any other. Sorry Mr President, but you are wrong on this count too.