SPEAKING FREELY In search of new life for Pakistan
By Mahboob A Khawaja
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click hereif you are interested in contributing.
After the retirement of daily newsmaker Chief Justice Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudry, the swearing in of another favorite general to replace army chief Ashfaq Kiani, and the expiry of Asif Zardari's fraudulent presidency, intriguing news stunts appear to have subsided in Pakistan. Nothing has changed over the years except that Pakistan is stagnating in a bubble of political, social, economic and strategic entanglement.
Pakistanis who believe that the crime-riddled, corrupt politics of the few can rescue them from catastrophic consequences are
allowing themselves to sink into a world of fantasy. Pakistan is at a great loss because it has nothing by way of a morally and intellectually enriched leadership with the power to define national interests effectively and to assume a role of influence to gain a favorable standing in global affairs.
Over half of century or more, Pakistanis have failed to produce any credible leaders to represent national interests in a challenging and competitive world. There is no scarcity of informed, well-educated and intelligent people to take up the challenging role of a new age of leadership, but most are not part of the corrupt "no system" of politics; they have not earned wealth through bribes and backdoor deals, so their chances to any meaningful participation in national politics are non-existent.
Institutionalized corruption is itself an operating powerful system of governance and it denies receptive opportunities to outsiders - the honest and educated people of the new generation to enter into politics and make the difference. None in the mafia of the feudal landlords and boxed-in family-based politicians would feel the pinch if Pakistan is dismembered again.
John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004) knows too well how international economic development projects are planned and carried out by the World Bank and other international corporations affiliated to this paradigm. Pakistan is no exception as it owes some US$70 billion of unpayable debt to the International Monetary Fund. According to the columnist Charley Reese, the mafia-like game works like this:
People like Perkins work for consulting firms, and their job is to entice a foreign head of state to go deeply in debt. They do this by greatly exaggerating the economic returns on big projects such as dams and electrification systems.
The payoff comes in two ways. The foreign country hires American contractors to build the systems, and they make big profits. Then, mired in debt, the head of state will do what the United States government tells him to do. If he proves too independent or too honest to accept bribes, then he will be removed from power, either in a coup or in an accident. ... On the other hand, the ruthless and corrupt killers who play the game our way get rewarded with more loans and more aid. I know this sounds leftist and even, God forbid, liberal, but the more you get to know our government, the less you will think it's all sweetness and light. People fear the US with good reason. We talk about spreading democracy, but what we do is extend empire and make war.
Pakistani bureaucrats managing the official governance continue to sign IOU notes without tangible productivity or effort to earn foreign exchange. The country's national reserve assets (held by the State Bank of Pakistan) are said to be now at $3.5 billion, down from $12 billion a decade earlier - sparking speculation of a near-future of financial bankruptcy. Where did all the national assets go?
Most educated and conscientious Pakistanis feel pain that their homeland is a victim of planned political cruelty and futuristic disasters of untold consequences to their sense of freedom and national integrity. Overseas Pakistanis earning US dollars and other negotiable hard currencies are not allowed to vote in Pakistani system of politics or to offer inputs to change the strangulated politics.
Ostensibly, if educated and honest Pakistanis were be able to join politics, who would care about the Bhuttos, Zardaris, Sharifs and the generals - the dark and corrupt junk-history of the Muslim nation. They all had their time, and all of them betrayed the trust and expectations of the masses. Despite this odd and evil-mongering, they still rule the country under one or another fraudulent context of democracy.
Pakistan is not just tarnished inside and outside but incapacitated by the American-paid and sponsored family-based political monsters and their accomplices in the military. They did not build what they have been destroying over the years, so they have no feelings for the oppressed nation.
In 2011, a CIA operative named Raymond Davis killed two Pakistani civilians at Lahore. US President Barack Obama and his then secretary of state Hillary Clinton identified Davis as US "diplomat". This could not have been further from the truth. The loyal Pakistani politician president Asif Zaradri - "our man in Islambad" as the US administration used to call him - and General Kiani intervened to stop his legal prosecution and set him free from the prison. None of these figures had any sense of accountability to justice in Pakistan. When Osama bin Laden was attacked and killed for political reasons in Abbotabad, they repeated the same token of absolute loyalty to their master.
Davis was a CIA contractor involved in subversive and illegal activities across the land of the poor and deprived, managed by US aid dollars and the Pakistan's thug-operated government and army generals. We now call that diplomacy.
Gordon Duff, staff writer and senior editor of Veterans Today, has thrown a spotlight on the Raymond Davis episode. Duff explains the true life of the thug-diplomats:
We can only imagine what they do. We have seen their parties, gay sex orgies in Kabul. We have seen the photos from Abu Ghraib. We have seen the bodies, children, women, the aged, anyone unable to duck gunfire from the window of a Humvee or black Chevy Tahoe. ... What is Raymond Davis? ... Raymond Davis has supplied the answer. His training? Davis is "black ops." ... "Black ops" is the friendly term for terrorism, [that is] usually reserved for our enemies. ... What Davis is accused of isn't new. Americans have been arrested for driving around Afghanistan, shooting people at random, throwing hand grenades into crowds. Americans haven't been arrested for breaking into homes, dozens of them, murdering entire families "by mistake".
Americans haven't been arrested for drone attacks that seem to leave rows of corpses, always so many children among them, burned and dismembered, just like the photos of the "precision attacks" on Gaza. ... Is America telling Pakistan that Davis and his friends were on "official business?" Have they explained exactly what that business is? I can't wait to hear this one. Hey, what does it matter. Pakistan is notoriously corrupt. Wait a couple of weeks, slip a few hundred thousand bucks into the right pockets and it will all be forgotten.
American foreign policy makers view the Pakistani politicians-generals as beggars; bootlickers who will perform all kinds of superficial acts to please a master who calls them an ally when needed but will stab Pakistanis in the back when they become a liability. Emotionally charged protesters competed in shouting matches on streets when US-led international forces killed 24 Pakistani troops but never took time to think about holding the domestic traitors accountable and to plan how to change their enslavement.
After military defeats in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is keen to see its troops and hardware get safe passage from Afghan hell via a land route through Pakistan - the only logistically operational outlet from landlocked Afghanistan. In a ripple-affect conflict situation, the US continues to launch drone attacks on innocent civilians in Pakistan. The impartial news media put the figure at 1,521 people killed by the US aggression in the past few years. The newly installed government of Nawaz Sharif is playing with the data on civilian casualties just to resume American aid for the political recipients.
It is a shame Pakistani can never overcome leaders who have already sold-out to American strategic interests. If there were men of moral and intellectual conscience to represent the national interests, Pakistan could have worked out a fair and equitable agreement with the US to compensate for the civilians killed by drone attacks and to smooth relations based on non-interference in its internal affairs.
Prime Minister Sharif is no stranger to the institutionalized corrupt system of politics. Twice dismissed on corruption charges and originally brought in by General Zia ul-Haq as a cheer-leader politician, Sharif has made many millions from the pain and suffering of the masses, transferring wealth overseas, just like the Bhuttos and Zardaris. Recently, the reputable journalist Raja G Mujtaba asked Sharif in an open letter to explain the amount of wealth transferred from Pakistan to the UK and money that he borrowed but never returned to banks in Pakistan. Others have expressed similar concerns about the suitability of Nawaz Sharif as a politician and a prime minister.
Progressive nations encourage politicians of vision and integrity to make headway in political standing, but not so in the filthy politics of Pakistan, where political actors deceive the masses with illusions of change but change nothing on the ground once they get into power.
Sharif waited a long time to return to power. He had been ousted by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999 and tried in a court of terrorism for refusing to land an incoming flight from Sri Lanka with 300 or so passengers on board. Sharif ordered the flight to go to India and to have General Musharraf arrested by the enemy of Pakistan but the captain of the flight refused to obey. The abrupt military coup that followed also aborted Sharif's plan to install another army chief replacing Musharraf at the time. Sharif should not have been sworn in as prime minister this year unless he had first cleared the previous corruption charges. Sharif simply replaced a corrupt monster and nothing else.
The current trial of Musharraf is a convenient escape from pertinent facts of political history and the pressing problems facing Pakistan. Musharraf made major political blunders in governance and violated the constitution, but he is not a traitor and should be set free.
Nawaz Sharif should look in the mirror. Time will pass but political shame will never disappear from the image of Pakistan. No Pakistani politicians in the government or in the National Assembly seem to have the individual conscience of honesty and intelligent credibility to be leaders at the national stage.
This is what stalls opportunities for change and development. The nation's priority is restoration of normalcy in society, trade and commerce, and a sense of political security out of the chaotic and destructive sectarian killings and Taliban's daily atrocities. Any responsible politicians should address these issues. Instead, they appear active in dehumanizing the nation and its moral, spiritual and intellectual heritage.
Pakistan needs a new beginning, free of the obsolete politics of the few historical figures of dead conscience. Pakistan is deliberately fractured and susceptible to all kinds of foreign influence while under the heavy load of international debt.
One rational and workable remedy that Pakistani masses should consider as a national priority is to demand that the National Assembly sack Sharif and set up a non-partisan government of national unity under an able and intelligent leader to focus on systematic political capacity-building and to initiate work on a new constitution, new public institutions and encouragement for educated and intelligent younger people to participate in the political development of the country.
Their efforts would be aimed at sustainable future-building to create functional capacity, instead of it being continuously shattered by a few crime-riddled politicians.
Imagine if, in 1971, the known conspirators - Z A Bhutto and General Yahya Khan - were arrested and tried for their crimes against the integrity of the nation, and political power was peacefully transferred to Sheikh Mujib ur-Rehma, the majority political leader after the elections in One Pakistan. The nation could have been saved from the humiliation of surrender to India and its further dismemberment.
History offers lessons to all those who are willing to learn from the past. Is Nawaz Sharif offering anything different to the treacherous and shameful acts of Z A Bhutto and Yahya Khan? Are there any proactive and intelligent people able to think critically and honestly about the present and future of the Pakistani nation? The ability to think of a new political beginning is the essence of Pakistan's current time and is an urgent need to build a better future.
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.
Dr Mahboob A Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest, Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking, (Lambert Publishing, Germany, 2012.