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Critical review of Musharraf Visit to USA

(a modified version is published in the daily News on 24 July, 2003)

Nadeem Yousaf


Many newspaper analysts consider that Musharraf's visit to the United States has marked a new era of our relationship with USA. They seem to be highly satisfied with the meeting at Camp David and Musharraf exposure to the American media; they are pleased that President Bush had never let go an opportunity to laud the efforts of President Musharraf in pursuing the terrorists and discouraging religious extremism in Pakistan.  According to them, it demonstrates blossoming of new relationship. They are of the opinion that the 3 billion dollar aid package was not a small amount and we should be more than satisfied. In addition, nation should be glad on signing two agreements, which would facilitate us to market our goods in USA and open up opportunities for new learning in the field of information technology. They give credit to Musharraf that Pakistan, due to his statesmanship, carries no more danger to be declared as a terrorist state; or a state that supports terrorism. These analysts criticize those critics who do not view his visit to USA as very successful. Those analysts who are writing favorable notes on Musharraf visit have only taken into account superficial facts and ignored the history. Such analysis are not new to us - whenever any Pakistani head of state or/and government visit America, we used to read such analysis, which claim that we have entered in the new era of friendship with USA; but we come to know, after some time, a different story. Let us take a short review of his visit if we have really entered in a new era of friendship with USA.

First and foremost, the reception that Musharraf got in USA is no big feat that we feel proud and develop big hopes for the future; our other leaders had enjoyed the same feats in the past but had not played a significant role in development of Pakistan. Keeping in view the history, the crucial question is how these so-called personal warm relationships affect Pakistan. Had Gen. Ayub and Gen. Yaya not enjoyed warm receptions in USA? Unfortunately, these warm relationships did not save the country from breaking. The fact is that these warm receptions for Gen. Zia in USA spoiled political culture of the country, introduced culture of aggression and political injustice. As a nation, we must understand whether or not  warm receptions save a country from calamity depends upon intentions behind those high profile reception. 

We should remember that ties of friendship should be between countries and not between individuals. This is very important point to remember that we are a collectivist society; collectivist tendencies are part of our disposition so we could do any thing for personal relationship. On the contrary, USA is an individualistic society where individuals do not cross their authority for personal relationships as individuals do in collectivist societies. Instead of jubilating, it is, in fact, more alarming that President Bush has told Musharraf that he was a trusted friend of USA than praising Pakistan as a state. Americans are not crazy about spending money only in science and technology but they also spend huge amount on social sciences and cross-cultural research so they understand our psyche; therefore, they prefer to praise individuals than the nation; they praise a person to that extent that a person feels very high and ready to take any step to keep in the good books of American administration. Is it not time for us to ponder as to why they have been praising an army general while they always speak very high of civilian rule? We all know that Saddam Hussain was darling of USA administration till the time he served interests of the USA and we must take lesson from this incident that has shaken the world. As a nation, we should not close our eyes from this hard fact because we have been promised a few bucks in future.   

Many analysts get pleased to hear about the promised financial aid and readily took it as a symbol of good relationship without appreciating other facts. First of all, we must remember what Dr. Farrukh Saleem’s has highlighted in his article (the News 06.07.2003) that this promise will be fulfilled in 2005 subject to the approval of the USA Congress. We cannot be sure which way our relationship will turn by that period; if USA can stop F-16 in the past, so this aid package could also be denied.  The jubilant of the aid package must have taken some lesson from the recent news which tell us that cat is coming out of the bag. The government now admitting that it has to fulfill certain conditions such as policy of on non-proliferation, including conventional and non-conventional weapons to qualify for this package. It is also expected that Pakistan will send her troops to Iraq to support the occupied forces. As a matter of fact, it seems that government has principally agreed to send the troops to Iraq. Musharraf himself announced on 02.07.2003 that two brigades would be sent to Iraq, and if, anything is stopping him to implement the decision is India’s latest position on the issue.  It is still a question as to why we should send our army men to aid the occupying forces of Iraq. No need to mention, USA subjugated Iraq against the will of the world and without the consent of UNO. Sending troops to Iraq means that we are supporting her aggressive action against the sovereign state. We must remember that if we send Pakistani troops they will not go under the umbrella of UNO and will be directly under the command of USA army. Without a doubt, Musharraf must have taken the consent of parliament before making the announcement. What are the other hidden strings attached to the aid will be revealed as the time passes. In addition, we must keep in mind three billion dollar is not a huge grant that we cheer so much about it. Those who are taking it as a big success, they should keep it mind that it does not even recover the loss that we had faced during USA-Afghanistan war.

Another point that we should take into account before jubilating on this aid package that Pakistan is a poor country where poor people are facing hardships; thus, we need greater amount to address their problem. Instead of addressing financial problems of poor people, the USA government reserved half of the grant for defense purposes to satisfy senior officials of army. Moreover, this amount will circulate in economies of USA, Germany and France and does not play a role in boosting Pakistan’s economy. There was a time when Iraqi political analysts were also felt very happy on such deals but what happened to Iraq at the later stage, we all have witnessed - the arms did not save Iraq in anyway. We must remember that weapons are not enough to win or lose wars. Japan and Germany have almost no defense but still no one dares to attack on them. Reviewing our own history shows that we have lost our East wing because of inadequate political policies instead of weaponry. Dr. Farrukh Saleem (the news 06.07.2003) pointed out a very important fact regarding rest of the aid, “of the $1.5 billion Economic Support Fund a billion dollars - if and when approved by Congress - will go back to the American treasury for debt relief.” In short, we receive only peanuts in reality. 

It is true that we were on the verge of declaring terrorist state but the crucial issue is who sponsored aggressive activities in the country. There was no terrorism in the country in 70’s. Gen. Zia promoted aggression in the country on the name of Jihad with the help of ISI, army and USA. Is it not true that Kargil adventurism was initiative of the army which has given us nothing but a bad name at the international level? Can Musharraf deny that he was not behind this adventurism? If Musharraf is successful in changing the image of the country, he has taken u-turn on several old (though useless) policies, which civilian leaders could not do it due to army pressure. Our negative image might have changed long time ago if army had not influenced political decisions of the country.

This is also important to consider what affect Musharraf will have on the internal politics after getting support of USA. This is very evident that USA is not very much concerned about whether or not real democracy establishes in Pakistan – rather, it appears that USA is supporting Musharraf’s authoritarian rule, for it is more beneficial to USA at this point of time. It is unfortunate that our military as well as civilian rulers feel more obligated to satisfy USA than their own people – therefore, nation pay the price for their actions. After getting blessing of USA, it is very likely that Musharraf might deal opposition with swift hand. The current apparent softness and willingness to talk with opposition can be a bluff to the opposition as well as to the nation to prove that the government is taking decision without external pressure or to divert attention of the nation from the settled and hidden points of the Camp David. If this hypothesis is correct, it is not good for the national interest. In conclusion, Musharraf visit to USA will be declared successful if he strengthens democracy and let the parliament decide the fate of LFO and other matters according to the accepted constitution of 1973; it is unsuccessful if he went there to be in the good books of America to strengthen his rule.


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