Mohammad Amjad Hossain
Relations between Pakistan and the United States of America now appear to be at lowest ebb when America is having very hard time in Afghanistan, a close door neighbor of Pakistan. The tense situation between the two countries has further been complicated following the announcement of $ 10 million bounty on the head of Muhammed Saeed, who is reported to be the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed by India for 2008 attacks in Tajmal hotel in Mumbai. In Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba has been declared banned after receiving complaint from India. Saeed was under house arrest for six months, but Pakistan Supreme court ordered him released citing a lack of evidence. He now lives in Lahore and even speaks on TV talk shows. Muhammed Saeed addressed a big public gathering on April 6 and criticized American government for being trapped in Indian propaganda machinery. He is reportedly said that he was cleared of the allegation made by India by the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Although American administration gave an explanation that Mohammad Saeed is reportedly become anti- American activist who sponsored series of rallies against any move to reopen the supply line from Pakistan to Afghanistan to help operation of NATO troops. The supply line in fact has closed down almost 5 months back when US air strikes killed 24 Pakistan soldiers in November last year. As a follow-up of retaliation Pakistan suspended diplomatic contacts and blocked vital supply line for NATO troops in Afghanistan. This has caused serious dislocation for the troops stationed in Afghanistan. The US drone strike in Pakistan also came under severe criticism following killing of innocent people on 11 September last year. Anti-Americanism trend in Pakistan has vitiated friendly climate. Opposition lawmakers are against opening supply line, but only concur the decision if US administration gives undertaking of stopping drone strikes in Pakistan and sought unconditional apology.
Some commentators in America in fact expressed surprise about the announcement of $ 10 million bounty on Muhammed Saeed when there was no such anti-American incident. In the region, which is infested with poverty, illiteracy, shortage of infrastructures, a concrete planning need to be done by western countries to build a congenial society instead of killing one or two Al-Quaid or Taliban elements here and there? There is a need to address the social issues in the region comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan and tribal belts, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Western governments in fact have made wrong calculation in providing financial assistance to defense sector in the region, including India which in fact made the region vulnerable. In other words, western governments are responsible to create Al-Quaid or Taliban type of people whose scanty and distorted knowledge of religious sermon or ritual make them to behave irresponsible way. I agree with the comments by Najmuddin A.Sheikh,former Foreign secretary of Pakistan that "Pashtuns, who are branded as extremists, are the principal victims of the extremists. They in fact become paranoid as the authorities are using them as pawns to carry forward an agenda that has little to do with genuine aspirations of the moderate Pashtuns". Majority of them either in Pakistan or Afghanistan are known as Taliban.
Over a period of years Pakistan is made dependent on foreign aid. In the process Pakistan is relying on foreign doles, so to say. Peace remains a dream in the region since the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979.
Historically, Pakistan has developed relations with the United States of America from the very beginning of its birth in 1951.the Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan in fact before his assassination in 1951 undertook a trip to the United States to lay the foundation of building relations with America and relations with America consolidated successfully during short period of premiership of Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardhy. In fact, two significant agreements with America to protect the interests of Pakistan are worth taking note of. One such agreement was signed in 1959 which was a security guarantee against attack by communist forces while secret agreement of 1962 guarantees Pakistan's protection from Indian aggression. Pakistan's willingness to join South East Asia Treaty Organization in 1954 and CENTRAL Treaty Organization in 1955, both military alliances, placed historically in western alliances during cold war era. During the rule of first military dictator Ayub Khan America has had the privilege to have secret military base in Pakistan.
The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979 reactivated America's relations with Pakistan. The determination of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administration of America to back Afghan resistances forces through the courtesy of Pakistan paid off following the defeat of the Soviet Union. American administration of Richard Nixon also got benefit in normalizing relations with China through the good office of Pakistan. In his memoire Henry Kissinger, Assistant to President Nixon on National Security admitted that Pakistan was main channel to establish relations with China.
Pakistan's another military dictator Gen.Musharaff jumped on bandwagon of war on terror of President George W.Bush in 2001 without knowing its implication. Pakistan was declared as major non-NATO ally in 2004 by Bush administration as a reward for joining on war on terror. President Bush also paid a visit to Pakistan in 2006. This is one side of the story.
On the other hand, political turmoil in Pakistan and non-functional democracy, so to say, has caused chaos and indiscipline in the country. Terror acts has become unbearable factor in Pakistan these days. Government whoever comes to power through impartial and free general elections should take steps to develop the country economically and expand agricultural products to avoid importation. Pakistan should reduce dependence on foreign aid. Instead it should make all-out effort to diversify exportable trade and improve economic condition.
Pakistan's arch rival India had made equidistance policy from America while Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India. On the other hand, India did maintained non-aligned foreign policy. However, India sided with the Soviet Union during war of liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 and signed friendship and cooperation treaty in August of 1971 with the Soviet Union. Economy of India is on strong footing which is aspiring to become economy power house of Asia in a couple of years.
Obama administration should lay emphasis to build democracy in Pakistan on strong footing. The administration should consider stopping military aid to both Pakistan and India immediately. Instead concentrate on investing in building infrastructures in Pakistan and Afghanistan like non-military aid of $ 1.5 billion for 5 years to Pakistan from 2009. A letter of intent was signed by Obama administration with Pakistan for development of road communication in North-West Pakistan. Somehow or other, Obamaadministration remains unapologetic about killing of Pakistani soldiers and did not as yet deviate from throwing drones in Pakistan. President Obama also avoided discussion with Pakistan President Asif zardari while he