Whither Pakistan and does anyone care where we are going today?
In his latest piece, veteran journalist Irfan Hussain tries to answer the question about “Our Missing Mojo.”
According to Hussain, “Older readers will recall that there was a time when Pakistan punched above its weight, and was taken seriously in international forums. Now, our green passport is listed at fifth from the bottom by the Henley Passport Index that ranks the acceptability of passports by other countries that permit their holders entry on arrival. Thus, Japanese passports, at the top of the index, are accepted at the airports of 190 countries, while 33 nations extend a similar courtesy to Pakistani passports. Even this number seems a bit high, considering the hoops Pakistanis are made to jump through when applying for a visa to most countries.”
Hussain traces the “slide to the bottom” to a number of factors: “So why have things got so bad? Wars have consequences, and this is something past generals did not manage to grasp. The 1965 war over Kashmir under Ayub Khan, the 1971 war under Yahya Khan, and the absurd Kargil conflict unleashed by Musharraf all had one thing in common: they were led by generals who had seized power through coups. Out of the three wars, the 1971 conflict with India has left the deepest scars, and not just because we lost on the battlefield. The bloody civil war and the widespread killing of Bengalis tarnished Pakistan’s image around the globe.”
Further, 1971 “was followed by decades of increasing levels of extremism that led to terrorism on a huge scale. Minorities and foreigners have been targeted, and the state and security personnel challenged as never before. As a result, the abiding image of Pakistan abroad has been that of a breeding and training centre for jihadis. Although the security environment has improved considerably over the last year, many still see the country as ground zero for the global jihad. Every now and then, televised images of ferocious, bearded men holding the country to ransom are beamed around the world.”
Also, “Constant political upheavals have not helped in changing this perception. Elected governments have either been turfed out by the military establishment, or destabilised by ambitious rivals. A hyperactive judiciary has added to the political uncertainty.”
Also, according to Hussain, “the rest of the world is tired of the 70-year-old Kashmir problem, and even our closest friends no longer talk about implementing the old UN resolutions on the Valley. This may seem unfair, but who said life was fair? The reality is that India is a huge market, and its soft power gives it a clout few countries can match. And our two-faced posture towards the Taliban in Afghanistan has served to lose us friends in the West, with Nato soldiers being killed and wounded by fighters who allegedly found shelter in our tribal areas. Small wonder our stock in Washington is the lowest it has been in decades.”