Solution is internal: Stop blaming the US
Pakistan, it seems, is divided between those who glorify and those who demonise America. Some will construct elaborate theories to prove how America is hell bent upon destroying Pakistan while others would be willing to ignore the most strategic blunders of American administrations.
Truth, I believe, lies somewhere in the middle.
I don’t know how Brigadier (retired) Shaukat Qadir can state with mathematical certitude that “the US establishment (Pentagon/CIA) is compelled to destabilise Pakistan,” but reading similar analyses from Islamabad, I get a feeling that some within Pakistan’s ruling elite want to shift their servile alignment from the USA to China.
“Why does the US want to destabilise Pakistan?”
In order to continue enrichment of the top brass through military and its businesses, some try to construct realities that are at best, outlandish. This question leads us to nothing more than conspiracy theories.
A better question would have been:
“How Pakistan became such a dysfunctional state so easy to destabilise?”
If Pakistan had not violently crushed Baloch nationalists for four decades, would there still be an opportunity for foreign hands to take advantage of this Achilles heel? Had Pakistan not used terrorist networks as a cost effective extension of its armed forces for so many years, would it be in this predicament?
Trade instead of aid
I would argue that instead of crafting grand anti-imperialist narratives, we should reflect on how we got here in order to undo some of the damage. No foreign power can destabilise a country if the state has the support of its people and its neighbours. Had Pakistan developed an independent economy instead of relying on the aid it received as a proxy state, would it be in the quandary it is in today?
It is useless to blame America for all that has failed in Pakistan. Each country looks after its own interest (RealPolitik). To expect altruism from America is nonsensical. China is no exception. China is getting a free ride in Afghanistan; it does not contribute combat troops, but has won the bid for developing the Aynak copper mine in Afghanistan’s Logar province. Aynak is one of the world’s largest copper deposits, and China stands to benefit a great deal from the project when the mine is up and running.
But, to suggest that natural resources of Central Asia are inaccessible to the US-European companies is preposterous. They are already lugging the resources to the Arabian Sea and distribution within the region can benefit local governments and people. But, some within Pakistan’s ruling elite pretend that they could keep trade in limbo and continue extortion. Business is a peaceful activity that has the potential to provide sustenance and prosperity to people, but Brigadier Qadir portrays it as a conspiracy to commit crime.
Some within Pakistan’s ruling elite think that China will feed their anti-India edifice. From their anti-Soviet cold war position to offering themselves as pawns in the regional rivalry, Pakistan’s rulers have shown complete disregard for the country and its people. North Korea’s dictators have accomplished something similar under China’s patronage. Both North Korea and Pakistan’s declines have occurred because military has been the countries’ top business priority.
I believe stability and strength comes from within and Pakistan must look inward for a solution and reflect how it became such a mocked and maligned nation. Pakistan can become a fiscally viable state by reducing defense expenditure. But, Pakistan’s spoon-fed elite cannot adopt this clear path towards salvation. Parasitic dependence on international predators to enrich the military and its business is such an addiction that 180 million Pakistanis could be starved for the fix.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.