The decline is steep and remedies extinct
The word governance in Pakistan has become synonymous with everything degenerate. While the hapless people are pounded with grandiose proclamations of stands taken to defend the honour and integrity of the country, under-hand deals are being continually struck with the very same powers that are the target of multiple public pronouncements.
The confession did not come from the prime minister or any of his voluble ministers. It did not come from any government official privy to the matter. It also did not come from any political leader from either side of the divide. It is the US ambassador to Pakistan who disclosed that, during the time the NATO supply route has been blocked as a consequence of the Salala check-post attack, the air route has remained open and operational. Ahmad Mukhtar, the defence minister, while acknowledging the veracity of the statement contended that the air route had been allowed “on humanitarian grounds to carry food items to Afghanistan which would rot if their carriage were delayed”. I acknowledge my inability to put in words my instinctive response to this queer logic.
This is not the only duplicity that the government has been guilty of in recent times. It has also been reported that the prime minister, during a recent visit to Qatar, met the CIA chief General David Petraeus and sought his help in the government’s standoff with the army over the memo controversy. The revelations come at a time when, according to reports emanating from multiple sources including the prime minister, various ministers, the foreign office and the US State Department, Pakistan is going through a comprehensive review of its relations with the US in an effort to re-formulate them in conformity with Pakistan’s strategic interests and objectives. In the midst of these damaging revelations, how would Pakistan look and what are the prospects for it to genuinely re-evaluate its relations with the US – an exercise that it has been pursuing for over a couple of months now with no emerging signs of a result yet?
There is more to this sordid tale. While Pakistan is apparently bogged down in this meaningless endeavour, the US Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Oversight and Investigation, in an unusual and aggressive move pregnant with far-reaching repercussions, discussed the situation in Balochistan and accused the Pakistani government of broad human rights abuses against the Baloch. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who chaired the hearing had earlier drafted a policy paper condemning the Obama administration and urging the US to pursue an independent Baloch state ‘carved out of Pakistan’ to defeat the Taliban. During the course of presentations, Pakistan was dubbed as a state that supported terrorism and there were calls to apply Leahy Amendment without waivers to all Pakistani units in Balochistan. (Leahy prohibits US assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.) This hearing comes in the wake of reports that the gulf between the Pakistani civil and military leaderships was widening over the issue of Balochistan with the military leadership blaming the civilian government for its blunders that had complicated the problem of the restive province. It also blamed foreign intervention from various quarters, including India, as the cause that has further aggravated the problem.
In a related development, the US ambassador in Pakistan has termed the human rights violations in Balochistan as a major issue that needed to be addressed urgently. He emphasised that it was an issue that should be discussed openly and tackled seriously. He, however, contended that there was nothing sinister in the discussion before the US Foreign Affairs Sub-committee. The US ambassador further said that the possible change of command in the ISI could impact the ongoing intelligence cooperation between the two countries.
The drone strikes, after a short lull, have commenced again eliciting silence from the authorities. While people are being generally fed with lollipops of honour and integrity, the clandestine and contentious cooperation with the US to further their interests in the region (in lieu of the NRO) continues unabated. The May 2 attack near Abbottabad and the memo case designed to undermine the working of the military and the premier intelligence agency and facilitate the US boots on Pakistani soil are two of the most recent manifestations of the government’s complicity with the US in compromising Pakistan’s strategic interests and to weaken the state and its institutions.
The reports regarding the US pressure on Mansoor Ijaz not to come to Pakistan to testify before the SC-appointed Commission investigating the memo affair lend further credence to the understanding between the two governments to accomplish the mutually agreed broad objectives. In the face of dubious intentions being crudely and blatantly flaunted, how can the legitimate state interests of Pakistan be secured? With a judiciary that appears woefully over-extended, a military bogged down in fighting a US-imposed war and with governance having been abdicated at the altar of corruption and cronyism, there is little left by way of a strategy, structure or mechanism to arrest the steep fall that Pakistan has been jettisoned into.
One got a whiff of the gruesome manifestations of this decline in the treatment meted out to Wajahat Khan post his interview of a jihad celebrity. He and his family were threatened in no uncertain terms of dire consequences if he dared continue his approach. With a government busy digging in its tentacles and a complicit opposition securing its pound of flesh, the symptoms of anarchy and emergence of tiny fiefdoms and criminal mafias can hardly be countered.
The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]