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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friends "In Deed"

If anything British PM, David Cameron has proven one thing for sure with his recent visit to Islamabad, he is an astute politician. He has shown very brilliantly how to keep both "Raam and Raheem" happy, when visiting their respective domains. A few months back, he had ruffled many feathers here, by singing the anti Pakistan tune from New Dehli with special emphasis on the "T" word. The "T" word of course stands for very sadly, what Pakistan has been associated with lately, you guessed it "Terrorism. "

Reversing course in Islamabad and what is labeled as "succumbing to galleries", back in UK, Mr. Cameron, eluded to certain wrongs, committed by the Great Britain in the past. Needless to say, it did not bode well with his countrymen back home.

The uproar in the UK was focused on why revisit the past and apologize for something that’s history. There are plenty of wrongs committed by everyone including the "British Raj." The world should move on, much like the Brits have. To some extent, the Brits may be right, but those who were offended by Cameron’s comments conveniently forgot that a career Politician never misses a chance to secure an applause. They thrive on it, whether they are at home or abroad.

The Brits really had an opportunity to fix a lot of their wrongs in Sub Continent, at least at the time, when they finally decided to leave India and granted independence to India and Pakistan. The concept of partition was well and good in theory, but in practice without proper monitoring it turned out to be the one of the worst blood baths in the history of mankind. The process of migration of people from both sides, should have been monitored with certain conditions. The sheer haste, that Brits demonstrated to leave India and subsequent chaos, which ensued in the aftermath is shameful. The inequitable division which led to the formation of two very hostile neighbors, is no secret.

Cameron’s U turn in Pakistan is based upon the harsh realization that how significant Pakistan is, in terms of Global War on Terror. Pakistan has taken a huge toll internally and externally by becoming the foot soldier for its Western allies. The fact is, with or without the wrongfully dubbed, “America’s War”, Pakistan is fully involved in Afghanistan, to maintain its infamous “strategic depth.” The show of such depth is integral for Pakistan’s survival, in order to counter any major move of its arch rival in neighboring Afghanistan. Even if US were to leave the Afghanistan tomorrow, the net effect on Pakistan will probably remain the same. Those who think by reversing the course and readopting the Talibans would be the best strategy for Pakistan, are really mistaken.

When Mr. Cameron was busy “pleasing the galleries” here in Pakistan, there was a congressional panel in Washington, recommending President Obama to abandon Pakistan and embrace India. According to some of the panelist, Pakistan is on “life support”, so to speak. It would be prudent for the US to align itself with the emerging and somewhat rightly labeled, “Shining India.”

The strategy of abandoning Pakistan in the midst of all this, will perhaps back fire, much like it did for US back in the early 80’s, when it left Afghanistan in shambles, upon Soviet retreat. The world witnessed its horrible repercussions and still trying to struggle with the aftermath of such ill conceived strategy.

There are certain conflicts where force is not the most effective solution. At least not in a uniquely placed country like Afghanistan, where conflict is the other name for survival. The country has a long history of such conflicts and survival of the “strongest” seems to be the over arching principle. In this scenario, the best course of action is to play a constructive role in bringing an ideological paradigm shift both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The US, UK and other Western allies should concentrate on the end game in Afghanistan. All military conflicts have to come to an eventual end. This particular one has been quite taxing on the economies of their respective countries. If anything, the conclusion of this game depends on political maturity in both countries along with a vigilant security, which prevents any questionable threat to materialize.

The "cut and run theory" did not work in the past for Brits and for the Americans in their respective venues. The real change is witnessed by all, when their is a stable government, thriving economy, freedom of religion and opportunities. If US, UK and other western allies, really want to see a good return on their investment, so to speak, then they should be focusing on these initiatives. If they are our true friends indeed then, they have to demonstrate such measures. The empty stomachs and lack of hope is what gives people reasons to deviate. The Af-Pak region has seen too much of a downhill flight for too long, its time to alter its trajectory.

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