Between US and Local Masters By Malik Rashid

US LocalBetween US and local masters, Pakistanis are experiencing a plurality of sovereign. Trust me, it is a relief to go from one man’s rule into democracy. With bi-polarity at the top, the process becomes interesting. According to stories, the almighty power of Pakistan’s military over its people is being curtailed and shared by the US because the two had a fall-out on Afghanistan, or the US has decided to enhance its participation in the region. Whatever the truth may be, the people of Pakistan watch the powers curiously and wait for relief from the misery of food and electricity shortage.

Hurt national ego is expressed loudly, blaming US influence, corrupt politicians and military dominance. People exercise serenity while excited elements throw flares of passion at an imagined glory. In matters of survival and extinction, ego does not decide for the fittest.

US indulgence in the region could be motivated by their desire to complete the monopoly of the world but Pakistanis find the unraveling of the military grip over the country, a freeing experience. Pakistani military beating the villagers to occupy their land is no better than the international imperialist exploiting our resources. The diluting of the absolute powers of those who consider ruling us their inherent right, combined with a functioning democracy and strong judiciary, could become the first step to peace and prosperity.

The ruling elite keep asking for US and international aid but they continue mumbling condemnation for the drone attacks. Territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country they say, is being violated. They do not offer US forces to conduct operations inside Pakistan but they allow thousands of US-military contractors into the country. Double-speak and hypocrisy is the hallmark of politicians but this magic-show is being run with the consent of Pakistan army.

Americans are raising concern that Pakistan is protecting the Afghan Taliban who attack US and NATO forces in Afghanistan through their command and control in Quetta. They laud Pakistan army for successful operation in Swat. Pakistan’s interior minister said US will not be allowed to carry-out drone-attacks in Quetta. Why does Pakistan government allow US contractors in Islamabad, drone attacks in NWFP and FATA but they pretend to decline ‘permission’ on drone-attacks in Baluchistan?

Could this war be over sooner if the two mighty armies of Pakistan and US conduct joint operations in the area against the mountain-thugs? If the answer is yes, then get it over with. If the answer is no, I say these gun-toting armies are a burden on their country and they should be abandoned.

Washington legislators worry over the lengthening war and suggest that democracy cannot be imposed from outside. Some Americans expressing opinions against involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan contend that the oppressive political systems are indigenous to these under-developed societies and fit them well. Effort to establish democracy in these countries is now projected as futile and counter-productive.

Those who waged war against tyranny and religious extremism may not mind the extremists and tyrants  because war takes a long time and costs money. Tell the dead, wounded and displaced during these wars that their suffering is everyday occurrence which did not qualify for a military intervention. “Sorry, we are running out of time and money!”

The military elite consisting of retired Generals like Aslam Baig, Musharraf and Hamid Gul are playing politics from all sides to disrepute democracy and politicians. Recent visit of Af-Pak ambassador Holbrooke to the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Liaquat Baloch and Jamiat-e-Ulama’s Fazlur Rahman has revitalized the mullas. General Musharraf sabotaged recent effort for securing aid and support from ‘Friends of Pakistan’ by declaring that the military assistance provided to Pakistan for fighting terrorism could be used against India.

Traditional rivalry comes into play as the US elevates India to the joint-venture imperialist club. Accepting the dictates of US is normal but the associate-imperialist India is perceived as sworn enemy. Those who perpetrated the oppressive military rule for the longest, incite people with their anti-imperialist political rhetoric.

The US imperial influence that delivered us out of military oppression balances the lust of Pakistan army to rule over the country. It is not only democracy that they could help us keep but the strengthening of judiciary and rule of law is another necessary requirement for existence and growth. Pakistanis have never been dealt fairly by their ruling classes in matters of land and resources. The spectre of imperialist exploitation of resources does not scare the people who suffer death and brutality at the hands of local exploiters.

The leasing of farms to foreigners and competing plans for oil and gas pipelines are quoted as imperialist dominance. In an ideal situation people should be the sovereign of their land and its resources but they were denied participation. The reality of present economic condition dictates that they become employed. This degradation in natural rights of the citizens of Pakistan was committed by the local rulers.

Democracy and rule of law could deliver the necessary stability for growth. Reduction in military spending is another vital issue that could be negotiated in favor of strengthening economy and reducing poverty. Continuance of democracy could make people participate in governance, and their interests could become paramount in determining the rights of workers employed by the foreign operators of business in Pakistan. How long America and its allies could stand for the support of democracy is another question.

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