Nawaz Sharif visits Obama, but the US is a ‘master’, not a ‘friend’
The title, as many would have noticed, is one inspired by Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s book, Friends not Masters. However, with the passage of time the Pak-US friendship has deteriorated and unfortunately, we are no more their equals.
A stark comparison can be seen between Ayub’s era and the present. In 1961, when the president of Pakistan landed in Washington, the US military forces were lined up to receive him. There was fanfare and the Pakistani flag waved in all its glory above them. The American public was present at the airport alongside the legendary President Kennedy and the First Lady to personally welcome President Ayub.
The two presidents then drove together in the presidential limousine waving to the sea of people who had lined up to see the two heads of state.
This was truly an honour bestowed on our country back then.
However, much has changed and we recently saw the bland arrival of Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, who landed in Washington late on Sunday night. I watched with dismay as the TV showed that only two or three US Army personnel, along with some less important US government officials were there to welcome the Premier of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan; while a mere foot-long red carpet was laid out for him to walk on.
President Obama did not receive our Head of State and this, in itself, says a lot about the importance Pakistan has to the US.
Even more shameful was the fact that there seemed to be more Pakistani officials than American ones to welcome Nawaz Sharif! My point is further reiterated by the fact that His Excellency President Obama has taken time out of his busy schedule for our PM only on on October 23, which will be the third day of his four-day visit.
In such circumstances, it is but natural for Pakistanis to be inquisitive and wonder why Nawaz Sharif is in Washington in the first place, especially when our own government says that there are no high expectations from the visit. However, this dilemma was resolved in a statement issued by the US government in which they announced give aid to Pakistan. This statement along with the insipid reception of our Premier, confirms that Pakistan is more of a slave to the US, rather than an important ally.
Coming back to the event at hand, one wonders as to what good this trip will yield for the country. What will it help our government accomplish? Will Uncle Sam make concessions and listen to us?
Honestly speaking, most of us, including myself, are very cynical about this visit and the reason for such cynicism is quite obvious. America simply does not need to make concessions because as they say, beggars cannot be choosers and Pakistan, unlike Russia, is not in a bargaining position. Moreover, the US aims to strengthen relations with India and making concessions to Pakistan will do nothing for that plan.
As far as drone strikes are concerned, they are another ‘gift’ bestowed on us by the US and despite severe protests, the US administration remains indifferent to the issue. When Obama did not listen to the Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the West’s sweetheart Malala, what makes us think he will listen to Nawaz Sharif? Therefore, one can safely assume – despite the Amnesty International report that declared the CIA-led campaign is tantamount to war crimes – that the meeting between US officials and PM Sharif will not be about drones strikes, but rather a discussion on post-NATO Afghanistan. Of course, drones will be mentioned and there will be a ceremonial protest against them, but that will be it.
I believe that the US will be eagerly seeking Pakistan’s aid in establishing a pro-American government in Kabul – the meeting has no significance to Pakistan and will not better any Pakistani’s life.
Thus, America is our colonial master and the reason we must see them as so is because the state of Pakistan has, to an extent, lost its sovereignty, especially after the infamous attacks on Salala and the Abbottabad operation. No matter what our government claims, it is not normal for a sovereign state to allow a violation of its airspace.
Terror-stricken as we are, it is imperative to tell America to stop the drone attacks which are counter-productive and obstruct peace talks. Since America solved its issue through dialogue in Afghanistan, Pakistan should be given a similar chance as well.
Hence, I would like to remind my people that it is not aid that we receive from America, it is compensation for fighting their war. Yet, since this compensation has sadly been termed as aid, we feel indebted to the US and the Us, in turn, feels entitled.
Such a relation in which the two parties do not meet as equals can never be termed as ‘friendship’ – it is nothing short of colonialism.
Thus, it would not be wrong to claim that the US is more of our master than our friend.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.