Much has been written about ideological and intellectual polarity between Pakistan’s Urdu and English journalism. That’s right. But there is an exception here. If you flip through Pakistan’s Urdu and English language newspapers and magazines of the past one year, you will find that a monolithic consensus exists on Pakistan’s becoming United States’ target in the latter’s so-called war on terrorism. That is, after using Pakistan against Islamic countries, Pakistan will end up in the American line of fire. One English language journalist who never tires of lambasting the Urdu press for being reactionary, divisive, and jingoistic has joined ranks with it and believes that Pakistan will fall prey to the American war on terrorism. He has gone to the extent of advising Pakistan’s policy-makers to think “laterally”, an unfair demand on those who cannot think even literally.
All claims and fears about Pakistan’s becoming an American target are bogus. The United States will target a country that does not bow down to her demands, as she did, for example, when Saddam refused to step down. To those losing sleep thinking that the United States will turn her guns on Pakistan, the following might be some help:
In its nascent phase, Pakistan willingly sodded off itself by playing second fiddle to the United States. Liaqat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first prime minister, refused the Soviet invitation, and instead paid a visit to the White House. That palled Pakistan-Soviet relations permanently.
Pakistan became a member of the Baghdad Pact, though it did not belong to the geographical entity of the Pact. Pakistan did so to please the Americans.
From 1979 to 1988 Pakistan fought American war against the Soviet Union. Knowing that the Afghan crisis could have destructive consequences for Pakistan, its rulers became willing instruments of the Americans. That resulted in Pakistan’s becoming a centre of mercenaries, illegal arms, and heroin.
Pakistan was the mainstay of the Taliban with a nod from the Americans. But when the Americans decided to destroy them, Pakistan bent over backwards to please them.
Only Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan’s history stood up to the Americans on the issue of Pakistan’s going nuclear. He was threatened by Henry Kissinger of “horrible” consequences for pursuing nuclear program. Soon he was deposed and executed by the Pakistan Army.
The Americans cannot find a more well-equipped army than Pakistan’s, an outfit that is willing to serve their interests without asking a question, raising an eyebrow. Collin Powell’s one telephonic call to General Musharraf transmuted an Islamic, pro-Taliban Army into a band of American-led terror-busters. The United States has insulted and undermined Pakistan again and again: refusing to deliver the F16s for which Pakistan paid the money long time ago, stopping aid by claming that Pakistan had not made progress on democracy/terrorism, supporting constitution-flouting generals, ditching Pakistan after using it like tissue paper, threatening from time to time to cut off aid. Look at Richard Armitage’s pre-9/11 statements pouring scorn and ridicule on Pakistan: Pakistan-US relations haven’t had substance; Pakistan should forget about taking US support for granted. And still we have been proudly and shamelessly claiming to be America’s “most allied ally”. When Pakistan is willing to do everything, even undermine the integrity of its own polity and society, to please the Americans, why will they put us on their terrorist list? How will—and how can—they raise an army of hundreds of thousands that is willing to do anything for them for a negligible price? Sailors might protest or ridicule the state of affairs of a brothel that they visit when onshore, but they do not bring it down. Why will the Americans attack an Islamic country that is so cool even in 50+ C summers and warming in freezing winters?
Abbas Zaidi writes for The Nation, Lahore (Pakistan). His writings have appeared, amongst others, in Exquisite Corpse, The Salisbury Review, and Southern Oceanic Review. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Pakistan.