Ardeshir Cowasjee: Hypocrites to the Core


Ardeshir Cowasjee

THE local outrage over the WikiLeaks exposure is as hypocritical as is the hypocrisy of our civil and military so-called leaders who cosy up to the Americans in private whilst expediently criticising them publicly.

For far too long, Pakistanis have abused the Americans while simultaneously seeking help from them. Those who have attempted to acknowledge our dependence on the US have been slammed by the ridiculous ` ghairat ` lobby. Why the unwillingness to recognise that our military needs US-made hardware and our economy needs US aid and investment? Does ghairat demand that we publicly abuse the US and those who openly acknowledge Pakistan`s dependence on Uncle Sam?

We all know how Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan pursued the US seeking aid, as have done all their successors. Let us look at the response to the country`s fifth prime minister, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, who tried to be honest and explain the realities of the world to the ghairat -obsessed. S.M. Burke, one of Pakistan`s earliest diplomats, who died recently aged 94, in his book, Pakistan`s Foreign Policy: An Historical Analysis describes truth telling thus:

“Suhrawardy frequently defended his pro-US foreign policy in public with a frankness unheard of in Pakistan till then. In one such extempore performance he faced a large gathering of East Pakistani students in the Salimullah Muslim Hall at Dhaka and decried the fact `that if we say anything in favour of America or the UK we are called “stooges of imperialism” and if we say anything in favour of Russia we are called “independent”`. He would try to compare the differences between various Muslim countries but it must be remembered that all the existing Muslim governments were weak. `The question is asked: why don`t we get together rather than be tied to a big power like the UK or America? My answer to that is that zero plus zero plus zero plus zero is after all equal to zero. We have, therefore, to go farther afield rather than get all the zeros together`.”

Nationwide protests ensued against the prime minister`s insult to the ummah. His resignation was demanded, and the Muslim League and religious parties dubbed him an imperialist agent.

WikiLeaks on Pakistan are merely premature. Most State Department cables become available after a few years following declassification. Access to old cables aptly illustrate the hypocrisy of Pakistanis towards the US.

Ayub Khan publicly spoke of wanting Friends not Masters. But what did he say to the Americans in private? In 1953, “Ayub Khan visited Washington `at his own volition,` ahead of a visit by Pakistan`s civilian head of state and foreign minister. He sought a `deal whereby Pakistan could — for the right price — serve as the West`s eastern anchor in an Asian alliance structure.” State Department declassified cable quoted in Shirin Tahir-Kheli`s book The United States and Pakistan : Evolution of an Influence Relationship.

“In the quest for US support, Ayub Khan went so far as to tell a US official, `Our army can be your army if you want.” Dennis Kux . United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made a career out of being anti-American. He even wrote a book titled The Myth of Independence after leaving the Ayub government to score the point that whilst others compromised sovereignty, he would not. But let`s look at the text of Department of State Telegram from American Embassy Islamabad to Secretary of State, Secret Cable No 861 dated 22 December 1971. ( Also included in Roedad Khan`s book, The American Papers Secret and Confidential, India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Documents 1965-1973) . It talks of Bhutto`s visit to the US ambassador two days after he took over. “Surprisingly and quite independently, I received a phone call late afternoon of Wednesday, Dec 22, from the president`s office asking if I would receive the president at my residence in the evening. President Bhutto arrived at 2130 hours local and conversed with me for 35 minutes. He was accompanied by Mustafa Khar, recently announced governor and martial law administrator of Punjab. Khar took virtually no part in the conversation which ensued.

“After exchange of social amenities, and after noting that his call upon me was most unusual from the standpoint of protocol, Bhutto said that he was so acting to signal strongly his reaffirmation of a whole new period of close and effective relations with the United States. He said whatever criticism the United States may have had regarding his past posture, he now hoped that it would be forgotten as our two countries `with mutual interests` came closer together in common cause. He said that he again wished to express his appreciation for the assistance which the United States had extended to Pakistan during its greatest crisis, and added that it would not be forgotten.” There is much more but space is short.

Things haven`t changed since 1956, when Suhrawardy made his remark. Pakistan`s present often reviled ambassador the US, Husain Haqqani, has read and learned a lot since his birth in 1956. He attempted to do as did Suhrawardy.

Soon after becoming ambassador in a June 2008 in a TV interview with one of the ghairat champions Haqqani was asked, “Why don`t we look the US in the eye?” He responded, accurately, “To look someone in the eye, you have to be approximately the same height.” Haqqani`s name has not yet cropped up in any embarrassing WikiLeaks cables but he is still unreasonably abused for seeking what Pakistan has always sought from the US — military and economic aid.

Originally published by Dawn on 19 December 2010.