The following article appeared in Jang 26 April 2011. Original article is in Urdu but has been translated to English.
WHAT IS THE REAL DEAL?
by Nazir Naji
The day Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kyani, protesting the martyrdom of 35 innocent people, denounced the Drone attack on the jury (jirga) of tribesmen and demanded to stop these attacks, there has been a series of anti-American jingle. Whoever matters is issuing statements against the Drone attacks, columns are being written and headlines posted. Before the statement of the General, it was only rarely that an isolated voice was raised against the Drone attacks but the uproar going on now suggests that, perhaps, America Drone-attacked the Pakistani soil for the first time the day Gen Kyani denounced it. The anti-American feelings rose further when the news trickled that some love lost had begun between ISI and CIA. The first victim of this tension was our Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He raised his voice against the power, within Pakistan, which was asking to go soft on Raymond Davis. However, our former Exterior Minister, despite his claim to have thrown away his high profile office, could not talk openly against America nor could he point his finger directly to the ISI by name. At the most, it can be said that in his quest to oppose America he has managed to go only as far as nine-zero.
Drone attacks are a blatant violation of the sovereignty and independence of Pakistan. It is an aggression and no justification can be cited from any international law for such a US action. But do the statements being issued are enough to stop America from continuing this combat mission. Will the sit-ins have a bearing on the well-being of America? Are those, who are raging on these attacks and their fury knows no bounds, helping the victims of these attacks in any way? One of the leaders, opposing the Drone attacks, asked Pakistan Government to let media go to North Waziristan. This area is not located in an enemy country. Pakistanis need not ask permission to go there. So, why then Peshawar was chosen for the sit-in? Why don’t they proceed in the direction of North Waziristan? Attacks are being made there and sit-ins are arranged in Peshawar. Why don’t they admit that we cannot enter into North Waziristan? Our army is not finding a way in there either. If army can establish its control on North Waziristan, there will be no need for demands and sit-ins to stop the Drone attacks – the attacks will automatically cease. Why these Drone attacks are not taking place on the areas which are in the control of Pakistan army? If a specific spot has been chosen for the Drone attacks, the reasons for such an action must be found. Until we do not figure out our contradictions, we shall not be able to get to the root of our problems. The root cause of Drone attacks is our Afghan policy and the base of this policy is the US policies in Afghanistan. America, despite losing the lives of thousands of its combat troops and its allies, has not been able to decide what it must do in Afghanistan? When US gives an inkling for withdrawal, all the stakeholders are compelled to ponder over what steps will they have to take after the return of the allied forces? Hamid Karzai, and his henchmen start thinking about their future. The northern alliance starts seeking a way-out and Taliban begin making preparations. Pakistan cannot remain aloof from this scenario because there are forces which, if they come into power, can pose a threat to the security of Pakistan, especially, the Karzai clique and the northern alliance are not only known for their pro-India stance – they are actively involved. We have been experiencing this phenomenon for long. To guard our interests and security, we need assistance of the people who could face the anti-Pakistan forces in the Afghanistan abandoned by our ally. Who will side with us under these circumstances? Only those who will expect us to help them in their difficult times! It is no secret that some factions of the Mujahideen, including Haqqani group, will rely on us for help in their struggle against the foreign forces occupying their homeland. America wants us not to help them and, instead, begin fighting all its opponents. Our dilemma is why should we side with a power, at the cost of the animosity of local forces, which has to eventually vacate Afghanistan? After the withdrawal of Americans, we shall have to account for everything alone. Once before, also, Americans had deserted us after the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan. We believe even now that US will do it again and for its sake how many enemies will we have to make in this area? There should be a force in Afghanistan, which could impact the anti-Pakistan policies of Afghanistan. Americans do not understand our difficult position. They insist only on one thing that we should facilitate their exit from Afghanistan and incur the animosity of those who are at war with them. If we narrate our difficulties, US looks the other way.
Whoever understands the strategic position, and the difficulties of Pakistan, takes an interest to find a way out of this difficult situation because he knows the defence network of Pakistan is passing through a difficult phase. We are not strong enough to declare a war on America otherwise we could have told the Americans to get out of Afghanistan and we will drive out the Haqqani group. Americans want us to chase out the Haqqani group or finish it off but we are not in a position to tell them to vacate Afghanistan so that the bitterness subsides. We do not even know that if America pulls out from Afghanistan, what will happen afterwards? Today only Drone attacks are taking place, what kind of situation will emerge in the coming Afghanistan, only God knows? A civil strife cannot be ruled out and, in such a situation, how man immigrants will traverse to Pakistan? Is not it a fact that Afghan immigrants have caused more devastation in Pakistan than Drone attacks? If an additional 8-10,000 Afghans migrate to Pakistan they will be more damaging than a joint attack of 1000 Drones. No one knows how the India and Russia will play their cards to profit from such a situation? Drone attacks relate to Afghan war and Afghan war relates to our security. It is not so simple that by downing the Drones we will stop these attacks – we will in fact invite even more attacks. In such a sensitive situation, we should not play politics. There are other courses available to take for political fighting. To denounce the Drone attacks is a national duty and no one can dissociate himself from this. Nonetheless, to base politics on Drone attacks alone will tantamount to what Zia ul Haq had said on his referendum “The destination of every political movement is not what it is said to be”. When PNA rose in the name of Islam against Bhutto, somebody had said “Not Islam, they are the lovers of Islamabad”. What did we hear the other day after the sit-in “If Drone attacks are not stopped in a month, we will march towards Islamabad”. This is the real deal.