Shireen M Mazari
It is sad to see how desperate we are to get any friendly vibes from the US! That is why there has been an inexplicable euphoria over Obama’s election – as if to say suddenly the US will become benevolent and humane towards Pakistan! Certainly, within the US internal dynamics Obama will alter things; certainly he is an intelligent and astute human being; and certainly the man has made history within the US. But we are neither a part of the US nor is there any particular reason for us to have a euphoric or even positive response to the US electoral results. While McCain would have been equally negative for Pakistan, Obama has shown no reason for us to hope the US would have a more sane approach towards its “ally” – or sacrificial lamb – in the so-called war on terror.
On the contrary, following the Pakistani parliament’s extraordinary resolution on terrorism, and despite the US electoral results, the US has upped the military ante against Pakistan in terms of predator attacks. Despite a weak refutal, there is a general belief that there was a secret deal between the present government and the Bush Administration allowing for the Predator attacks, apparently agreed to on Zardari’s visit to the US earlier in September, and the parliamentary resolution seems to have been simply a means of cathartic relief for the elected representatives! We have had no contrary voice from Obama on this issue either nor any other signal to make us see the US elections in a positive light – except that we along with the rest of the world, will be finally rid of a messianic killer in the White House.
As for Obama, the first signals coming from his camp are not very encouraging from the Muslim perspective. After all, the first appointment he made was of Rahm Emanuel, a die-hard Zionist who was an Israeli citizen till the age of eighteen and served in the Israeli Defence Forces. Worse still he is steeped in the history of Zionist terrorism with his father being a member of the British-declared terrorist group, Irgun, which carried out a reign of terror in Palestine before the creation of Zionist Israel – including the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Even from Obama’s own standpoint, the appointment is bizarre – unless a special message is being sent to the Muslim World in general and the Arab World in particular – since Emanuel backed Bush’s Iraq war unlike Obama. He is known to be abusive and there are many question marks over his wealth which seems to have accrued after he left the Clinton Administration in 1998.
Apart from the Emanuel appointment, Obama has also appointed an Indian American, Sonal Shah, as part of his transition team. Shah is known for his Hindu communal links with violent extremist groups like the Vishwa Hari Parishad (VHP) – which has been linked to the massacre of the Muslims in Gujarat and is now being linked to the massacre of Christians in Orissa. Shah has been the national coordinator for VHP-America and according to reports his organisation, IndiCorps is also linked to supporting a curricula in India which deliberately seeks to instil hatred along communal lines. One wonders where all the Pakistani Americans, who gave so much to the Obama campaign, now stand? In any event, given this trend even before Obama is formally sworn-in, there is nothing to alter the negative perception Pakistanis should have of the US and its agenda here despite the US electoral results.
However, there is a far greater threat emanating closer to home where the nation stands economically threatened, and psychologically undermined, by the shenanigans of its rulers. As we are facing an economic crunch, the government has decided to bloat the state bureaucracy rather than trimming it, by not only appointing a huge cabinet with all the stuffing that would require, but also by seeking to reemploy about 5000 people who had been appointed through nepotism in the first place and then dismissed by a rival party government. And we are told all this will not impose any financial burden on the nation! Do we really appear that foolish to the rulers? And what of the vehicles, guards, houses and numerous other costs that come with each appointment? Will they be taken care of privately as we are being made to believe the 220-member delegation’ visit to Saudi Arabia was? I suppose the rulers believe in the creed that if a lie is to be told it may as well be a big one, so that is takes time to counter it!
Equally insulting is the appointment of ministers who have shown an open hostility to women under the guise of upholding decadent traditions. One has to wonder what credentials Bijrani brings to education or Zehri brings to the especially created Postal Ministry? Will his postmen now deliver murderous summons to women as part of the “tribal tradition”? As if the cruel joke of the bloated cabinet was not bad enough in terms of the existing ministries and their subdivisions, we now also have a Ministry of Special Initiatives. What can this be, one wonders? Perhaps to discover yet new ways to milk the nation dry?
At the rate stories are coming to the fore, one may take pride in being accused of being a “Media Militant” – if that means exposing absurdities that continue to undermine this country. After all it was a lone media voice that exposed the killing and burying alive of Baloch women; and it was a lone media voice that informed the rest of the country of the Sindhi waderas having a young girl torn apart by dogs before being murdered. And it is the media that has kept alive the story of the missing persons in the public eye as Amina Janjua has carried out her lonely protests; and the US-Pakistan wheeling dealing has also come to public light through the media – both at home and abroad. And how else would we have discovered the land scam of Maulana Fazlur Rehman? Yet so much is still hidden just below the surface these days – be it the go-betweens that are filling up the guest houses of the capital as they offer their services of getting folks’ work done in the government, for a commission, or the hasty deals being meted out to private companies – the sky is the limit it would appear.
Given the way our cabinet appointments are being made and the manner in which state affairs are being run – and it begs the question where parliamentary accountability is in all this – it is perhaps not surprising to find such an acceptance of the Obama controversial appointments within Pakistan, especially among the ruling elite. Do they have time in any case to seriously study such developments or are they happy to leave it all to the main US spokesperson, our very own ambassador to the US, Mr Haqqani? After all, which of our leaders objected to the abuse being dished out to Pakistan and the Muslim World from the Bush Administration – both in deeds and words?
Despite the heavy dose of absurdities we should be used to, it still comes as a shock to find our democratic leaders now jaunting off to the US for an inter-faith dialogue also. So now our political leaders are taking over a religious role also! It is not just the president who is there for this event, but our foreign minister has also hopped off to the US again. Do so many of our leaders need to go for this event – especially if we remind ourselves that every leader has his/her own entourage also?
Finally, while our leaders are busy making life easier for themselves and harder for the nation, and while we are opening up everything to India, it is interesting to learn that presently Indian army officers are being investigated for links with Hindu terrorist groups responsible for the Malegaon bomb blasts near a mosque. This is the same Indian army against which the Kashmiris have once again risen and the same Indian army the US wants to bring into Afghanistan. Our leaders’ silence on this count is as telling as their overzealous jubilation over Obama.
The writer is a defence analyst. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org