Islamabad-Barack Obama must seriously consider moving to Pakistan and run for public office here. A thought that deserves his attention and careful consideration. Though I am certain of him not being elected to the coveted position of an MPA or an MNA from any rural constituency since he has no biradari, tribe, ethnic group, caste or extended family here neither is he a Chaudhry, Chatta, Cheema, Khichi, Tamman, Bhaba, Virk, Sanpal, Hiraj, Bodla. Not that I have anything against these surnames since I am myself a Chaudhry but in a society such as ours, these matters sway voters.

However, he may have an outside chance if he manages to secure himself the right party’s ticket and contest from an urban constituency. Islamabad, offering the brightest chances, since Barack Obama is trending among nuclear Pakistan’s next revolutionaries (the arm chair variety), sporting long hairs, faded jeans, branded eye wear roaming around in their parents’ imported limousines and whiling away time sipping coffee and smoking Dunhill’s at either Islamabad’s decaying Kohsar Market (Pakistan’s next MDG’s are set here) or at home in their salons sipping smuggled Finnish vodka or Scottish whiskey.

This is a constituency which can have him elected if they come out on voting day. The ultimate option might as well remain a party forging his domicile and birthplace to Gaggu Mandi, Moro, Kuchluk, Rashakai and a complaint returning officer. The affection and grief that Pakistanis are displaying towards the outgoing US President is curious, for an American President, who has been the most damaging to Pakistani interests than any US President in history. A few facts to clarify the argument: On assuming the office of the President, Obama undertook two key foreign policy initiatives. One aimed at reviving peace in the Middle East while the other was dedicated to trouble shooting in the Afghan-Pakistan theatre of conflict and came to be known as Afghan-Pak; nominating veteran US Senator George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke as his special envoys for the regions. Thus, Obama took strengthened what was an emerging tradition in American diplomacy by “de-hyphenating” India and Pakistan. We all know the failures that both the initiatives turned out to be, the on-going deepening acrimony in Pak-Afghan relations, the failure of the peace quartet on Afghanistan, the fiasco over the Taliban’s Doha office, repeated concessions by the US in the form of offering talks to the Taliban after years of fighting consolidated the group’s position and emboldened them to carry out even more audacious attacks.

The erroneous de-hyphenation in America’s South Asian paradigm was laid bare by suspension of the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan, regular disruptions in bilateral relations between both countries including rising tensions across their international frontiers and US failure to facilitate resumption towards normal talks. India’s ever expanding procurement of sophisticated US weapons and access to sensitive technology, the US-Indian defence agreement covering sharing of logistics, bases, intelligence resources and blocking of arms, notably the botched F-16 aircraft sales heightened Pakistani apprehensions and have increased strategic instability in the region. President Obama and his administration’s immoral silence over India’s brutal suppression of human rights in Kashmir including the use of pellet guns challenges and tarnishes his image of a Nobel laureate for peace and international goodwill.     

The raid to ostensibly capture Al Qaeda’s chief, Osama bin Laden, deep inside Pakistani territory and a US-NATO led attack on a Pakistani border outpost at Salala in November 2011, resulting in the killing of 28 Pakistani soldiers, caused immense damage to bilateral relations which were already fragile due to the Raymond Davis incident early that year. The delay it took President Obama’s administration to offer an official apology and his public declarations of Davis’ innocence deepened mistrust between both the countries and continue to cast a shadow over Pakistan’s bilateral relations with the United States.

The disputed issue of Kashmir, which remains a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and is central to the ideology of Pakistan, has long remained unresolved on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. The US under President Obama endorsed India’s UN aspirations, thus, using realpolitik before any moral or ideological considerations.

In one of his parting gifts to Pakistan, the outgoing US President intensified his country’s diplomatic energies to admit India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. A grouping which came about, ironically, due to India’s testing of the nuclear device in 1974. Such flagrant disregard for international laws has done much to imperil Pakistan’s strategic, geo political situation. Obama’s sustained pressure on Pakistan to curb its nuclear programme, deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in a theatre of conflict have been detrimental to vital Pakistani interests and objectives to maintain the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Pakistan’s testing of the Ababeel missile and cruise missiles in recent months is a harbinger to a renewed arms race in South Asia, a legacy of President Obama , which will continue to have strong negative repercussions in this dangerous region.

Needless to say, the relentless use of drones, instability and spilling of bloodshed in Libya, Syria, the rise of Daesh and worsening of relations with America’s Arab allies and Turkey must be stark reminders of Obama’s failures.

Donald Trump has been elected as the President of the United States by the people of the United States who voted for him in large numbers. His dominance of the electoral results might as well be translated in Punjabi parlance as “Two thirds majority.” It was neither an RO election, nor did he have to impress voters with a shiny Pajero or Prado with gun roving guards tailing behind to get votes, neither was Hillary Clinton, an unabashed symbol of the American establishment (the use of the term not meant  in its Pakistani variant)head over heels in love with Pakistan. Before we criticize President Trump or grieve over Obama, may we spare a moment, my countrymen, and put our own house in order?

–The writer may be contacted on m_nasir08@hotmail.com