Looks like Huma Yusuf and Moeed Yusuf team has been terribly busy for some time, composing their articles ‘The bigger picture’ and ‘Eternal wait for review’ which finally appeared in Dawn of March 5. As usual, the main thrust of their articles, as the headings suggest, is towards convincing us that we should not engage in the tomfoolery of testing the patience of our benevolent friend, the United States of America, and that by delaying the process of formulating new terms of engagement, we are committing collective suicide.

It is suggested in one of the articles that having taken a few months, which the writer considers ‘eternal’ wait, we are overplaying our hand and that continuing this approach, we might make ourselves irrelevant. To prove his point, the writer points out that by diversifying its supply routes, NATO and ISAF forces managed quite well while the land route through Pakistan remained closed. This assessment is contradicted by the briefing given by Gen. William Fraser, commander of the US Transport Command that the Northern Distribution Network, which passes through Central Asia, was unable to handle the large number of shipments of all types of cargo and that the failure to reopen the Pakistan route could delay the withdrawal schedule. Moeed quoted the ability of NATO and ISAF forces to continue their operations even with the stoppage of the supplies going through Pakistan as a proof of the fact that Pakistani land route is not all that indispensable. He ignored the fact that the invaders would not be operating just on a week’s rations and must have built up huge stockpiles of non-perishables which they would have been digging in during this time, and the stocks would now have reached dangerously low levels, hence the desperation. Also, the recent hints about the reimbursement of held-up coalition support funds, plus the request for over $ 2 billion in aid for Pakistan in the fiscal year beginning October, must have come about, not through the ‘inherent goodness’ of the Americans but through the pressure of not being able to have essential supplies to replenish reduced stocks. I hope the parliamentarians wait for the actual reimbursement of the coalition support funds and not just restore the facility on the mere promise of reimbursement of CSF.

It is stated that Pakistan could not stand by if Iran blocks Strait of Hormuz. Now, why should US or Israel invade Iran? Iran claims it wants nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes and even the US agencies have confirmed that Iran has discontinued nuclear weapons programme? The US does not seem to be interested in attacking Iran at present but it could do better than that and dissuade Israel from doing so, for which is has sufficient leverage, being Israel’s biggest donor and supporter. However, for a few decades now, the US Presidents have been acting as subservient, junior assistants of Israeli prime ministers. See how, in order to escape rebuke from pro-Israel lobbies for not cooperating with Israel in invading Iran, Barack Obama had to announce highest civilian award for the Israeli President Shimon Peres, who supports Israeli inhuman policies about Palestinians as well as the invasion of Iran. It is surprising that in the whole world, Obama could find no person more eligible for the honour than Shimon Peres.

The writer also mentioned Difa-e-Pakistan Council’s anti-US and anti-India stance.  However, resistance-free Abottabad operation, militarily unchallenged killing of our soldiers at Salalah post, and continuation of drone attacks despite unanimous parliamentary resolution show lack of will on the part of our civilian and military leaders to take a firm stand, which is only encouraging Americans to take more liberty with us. Some people suspect that even the present apparent defiance of America could be for show only, with private messages having been sent already to the Americans that this is to pacify public anger. In these circumstances, Difa-e-Pakistan Council is within its right to take up a stand.

I think our past as well as present experience shows clearly that we can have at best a transactional relationship with the US. Americans miss no chance to threaten and blackmail us so there is no reason why we should not use our bargaining chips to maximum advantage, and one of those is delaying resumption of NATO and ISAF supplies going through Pakistan land route, notwithstanding threats, pleas and inducements by, or on behalf of, Americans.

S.R.H. Hashmi,

Karachi, March 6.