Fighting for Pakistan

Mowahid Hussain Shah  –  The unilateral move by Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel exposes the collective failure of Muslim elites to forge unity of purpose.  It augments agenda-driven orchestration of hostility toward Muslims.  This accelerating climate of rancor spills over into US-Pakistan relations, wherein Washington is showing an increasing propensity to view Pakistan through Indian lenses. 

The question then centers on what can be done to counteract these challenges.  More specifically, is it through subcontracting and subletting the task to a high-priced lobbying firm – essentially overpaid mercenaries who have little passion, pride, or stake in Pakistan and whose principal motivating factor is when to collect the next fat paycheck – or self-reliance through self-empowerment? 

Dependency on hired guns and borrowed brains may provide a stopgap band-aid, but is hardly a durable panacea.  It hasn’t worked before and it is unlikely to work now.You are always prone to being outgunned.

Lest it be forgotten, the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill was drafted under the aegis of highly paid lobbyists for Pakistan, under the Zardari regime.  Ostensibly, the bill was to assist Pakistan, but it came loaded with intrusive sovereignty-breaching conditionalities.

Five important issues come to mind in the context of US-Pakistan relations:

(1) Nukes.  Here Pakistani policymakers fumbled, when in response to the illicit US-India deal of 2005, they beseechingly asked for the same deal, tantamount to validating it.  

(2) Kashmir.  The pivotal resolutions urging fair, free, and full plebiscite under UN auspices were coauthored and cosponsored by the US.  Because of inconsistent and negligent handling, they have been allowed to twist in the wind, in effect, rendering them moribund. 

(3) China. The US now views growing Pak-China ties through the threat perception of Delhi-tinted lenses.

(4) Islamophobia. State-sponsored Islamophobia under the Trump administration reinforces the existing negative perception of Pakistan in Washington circles.  Without comprehending and acknowledging this, it is difficult to grasp the evolving big strategic picture.

(5) Terror.  From the US standpoint, Pakistan allegedly has failed to rein in terrorism. Washington’s blind spots about the blowback consequences of its own original sin of launching and embracing groups, which now form a pernicious cloud hovering over the region and elsewhere, cripple the ability to have an honest meeting of minds.

Meanwhile, the pro-Israeli Lobby is working hand-in-glove with the Indian Lobby, which has successfully infiltrated policymaking organs of US state and society, and whose subtleanimus operates as a slow poison.

Fright has depleted fight.  A major hurdle has been a timid mindset. Self-doubt and low self-esteem (Iqbal’s Khudi) have contributed to a posture of self-indoctrinated defeatism. Consequently, Muslim weakness itself lends a helping hand to foes who want to overpower them.

20 years ago, it was a huge stigma to be gay in America.  Careers were destroyed, people were fired or not hired, and suicides took place among those who were ‘outed’.  Now fully empowered, they proudly flout their lifestyle.  And the once-formidable forces arrayed against them, of Church and society, now stand thoroughly tamed.  The lesson here is that politicians think twice before tackling someone who bites back. 

Passivity encourages bullying and escalating attacks.  Instructive here is a suppressed saga of the US Navy.  50 years ago, on June 8, 1967, one of the most decorated ships in US naval history, the USS Liberty, was relentlessly and deliberately attacked by Israeli aircraft.  The massacre of US naval servicemen was covered up and is now the subject of a new book, “Erasing the Liberty” by Phillip Tourney, which details the extent of the atrocity, followed by the unfathomable travesty of justice in the cover-up by Washington. 

The prime inspiring and teachable example is that of Muhammad Ali, who fought it out not only in the ring but outside it as well and today is proclaimed as “the most beloved athlete in American history” (vide Joyce Carol Oates, reviewing ‘Ali: A Life’ by Jonathan Eig, in New YorkTimes, December 3, 2017). 

The US-based Pakistani community in particular, and the larger Muslim community in general, despite jolting reminders, have yet to fully register that there are no shortcuts and no easy route to self-respect and empowerment. 

America under Trump has squandered considerable respect and leverage at home and abroad.  Moral deficit has shrunk the influence of the self-proclaimed “sole superpower” in the 21st century.  Therefore, to look to America for intellectual direction shows poor awareness of the current tide. In this connection, is a new well-received book (“Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World”) by Suzy Hansen, who moved to Istanbul and gained an eye-opening perspective of America’s toxic role in the Mideast as well as a realization of its domestic limitations. 

Trump’s Jerusalem move is a humiliating insult to Muslims worldwide, by desecrating what they hold dear.  It also insults the vibrant Palestinian Christian community, whose sufferings under Occupation have long been ignored by the Christian West.  But it, however, does give clarity in that America has disqualified itself as an honest broker for peace. 

Under the changing facts, the unavoidable task is to take up the cudgels to do what is morally right and politically sound.  Inaction is not an option.  Fighting for Pakistan requires one quintessential ingredient: a fighting spirit. 

“Let it not be said that we didn’t prove equal to the task” was Quaid’s admonition to his nation.  It remains pertinent today as ever.


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