Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Friend or A Foe?

With regards to Pakistan's relationship with United States of America, former US President Richard Nixon quoted Ayub Khan:

“It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.”

In the present scenario, it's not an entirely new subject when you see things flying from the west, being directed towards Pakistan - be it drones, stealth helicopters or news reports. Over the years, post-9/11, Pakistan has definitely being a target of the West, but not in the way Iraq or Afghanistan have been. Pakistan has been a target in a very different way, where the Western Media, more so the US Media has leveled down scathing attacks on it. We all have seen, heard or read it.

So it certainly didn't come up as a surprise, when on 15th August another such attempt was made to demonize Pakistan, by Financial Times. The article featured in Financial Times talks, rather vaguely by Anna Fifield, that Pakistan, much to the displeasure of US, has allowed China to see the tail-wreckage that the US Navy Seals had left behind during the 2nd May OBL Operation. If one gets an opportunity to read the article in Financial Times, it is laid out in a typical manner where the reporter quotes her unnamed sources as “one person in intelligence circles” or “people close to White House or Central Intelligence Agency,” which actually renders all such sources useless.

The publication of such a report is to discredit Pakistan's ISI and embarrass the relationship between Pakistan and China in front of the world. Furthermore, this clearly is an unabashed attempt and holds Pakistan as their favourite scapegoat for all the failures and unabated mistakes made by US in the Afghan War. It was the US who made the blunder of not destroying the wreckage completely, though they were bound by sensitivity of the circumstances, thus the technology falling in to unwanted hands. Pakistan had never taken the killing of bin Laden, with in their territory unknowing to them, lightly because for Pakistan, the operation was an attack on its sovereignty. All the years of the war and the sacrifices that Pakistan has made for a war that was never theirs' in the first place, Pakistan expected the US to cooperate and inform prior to the OBL operation, which the US simply ignored. The Pakistan military and it's powerful intelligence, ISI, has time and again being discredited, demonized and scrutinized by the US media for reasons only known to them; even with more than 30000 civilians and over 3000 Pakistani soldiers having laid their lives. If those unnamed sources are telling the truth, then one wonders what is the point in not revealing the name. After all, it would only make the news more credible for the readers. And if there are no such sources leveling allegations against Pakistan, then again the question is why a newspaper of Financial Times stature would go on to publish such a story. Does leave a few questions in a common man's free-thinking mind!

The funny thing is that, part of the story lies in between the two scenarios that we have mentioned. The sources, over the years, have always remained anonymous and they have carried out their secret agenda against Pakistan at the behest of US intelligence services, if not the US government directly. The US electronic and print media alike over the 10 years into the war, have actually caused more damage and mistrust between the two countries than at the government level. The media has been used by CIA as a tool to cover up the disasters the US and NATO forces have made in their war in Afghanistan and hold Pakistan for all their follies and failures. It is also worth mentioning that like those unnamed sources, most if not all, the stories published or gone on air within US have been baseless to say the least – like the latest example which has been countered by both, Pakistan and China, strongly denying the report.

On the other side of the spectrum, talking about mistrust or trust, the Financial Times report mentions about China, which has increasingly become a thorn in the eye of the US, especially its close relationship with Pakistan.

Last year, when a US delegate expressed concerns about China's unconditional support for Pakistan, China gave a curt reply: "Pakistan is our Israel!”. It was a big statement to make, however, it also send out clear message to all the countries, even the US, that the relationship between the two countries are deep, strong and the partnership is for “all-weather.” Over the years, China's support for Pakistan has been more prominent as well as relentless than one would expect from the Arab-Muslim countries. It may well be a case that, China has left Arab-Muslim countries behind into middle of last week when it comes to Pakistan.

The case in Financial Times refers to the wreckage of the helicopter with stealth technology, and Pakistan letting their Chinese friends examine, take pictures and even take samples of the wreckage. If for the sake of argument one believes what is written in Financial Times, then to counter the claim the Pakistani side can easily put forward a comparison of the relationship Pakistan has with United States and China. After the 2nd May killing of bin Laden, the only country that came forward to support Pakistan, in fact going as far as asking US to respect Pakistan's sovereignty, was none other than China. The sharing of the wreckage and acquiring the stealth technology can be to the advantage of Pakistan and China also, with US brandishing the weapon of belligerence in the region and Pakistan and China, quite rightly, fearing a similar incursion from US or its allies. Moreover, US may claim Pakistan to be its strongest ally in the region, but the truth of the matter is that it has only been China that has come forward to give a helping hand in the times of adversary to Pakistan government, its military and the people of Pakistan. There are more cases of China's assistance to Pakistan in terms of arms supply, infrastructure-building or assistance during floods (2010) and earthquakes (2005 or 2008). However, there is little to suggest the claim of the United States, apart from a few billion dollars that is way less compared to what United States is paying to its own soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and that too is being paid with a tag of threat attached to Pakistan.

Within Pakistan, there is an overwhelming support for China which is very much to the contrary of what is felt among Pakistani for United States. "Perhaps, United States can take a leaf out of China's book of how to have good relationships with countries like Pakistan and North Korea without causing much distress to them. Or maybe, China has learned a thing or two from United States' uncompromising support for Israel, hence the statement, even if said sarcastically, by Chinese diplomat: “Pakistan is our Israel.”

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