By Yasser Latif Hamdani
The conspiracy-monger brigade of Pakistan is up in arms against the Kerry Lugar Bill. Hysterical shrieks are being heard from all corners against it. Those who had struggled for rule of law and democracy only a few months prior ago are now hailing the top brass of the Pakistan Army for taking a stand against this “anti-national faustian bargain”. All and sundry have denounced it as the worst compromise in Pakistan’s history.
May I ask the gentlemen who have taken upon themselves to create this false national frenzy over this issue of immense national importance what it is in the bill that they feel “violates” national sovereignty? How can a legislative act of another country determining the terms and conditions on which they will help us be a violation of our national sovereignty? There are some points that need to be reiterated as they haven’t been mentioned enough times by those who matter:
1. This Bill/Act to be is a US Legislation and not an agreement between Pakistan and the US.
2. The certification clauses in the Agreement provide a way out for Pakistan whereby the US President and Secretary of State can effectively turn a blind eye to Pakistan’s failings if they please. There is no other way of looking at it.
3. In the event that Pakistan does not fulfill any of the conditions, only military assistance may be halted, not developmental assistance.
4. Nobody is forcing Pakistan to do anything that it doesn’t want to but let us consider what it is that is being asked of us?
a. That there should be civilian control over the military. How is this against Pakistan’s interest or national sovereignty? Didn’t Mr. Jinnah say the same thing again and again? Don’t we as a people want the military to stay out of politics? If not what was Qazi Hussain Ahmad of Fitna Maududiat jumping about against Musharraf? Or is it that they want a military of their choice to itnervene? We have long asked the US to stop aiding military dictators. Now that they legally undertake it we are whining about it. How ironic!
b. That Pakistan should not proliferate nuclear technology. How is that against our interest? The very concept of nuclear doctrine is based upon us having it and others not having it. How has our “national sovereignty” violated if we are asked that in order to get military assistance we ought to adhere to a code of conduct vis a vis nuclear weapons? Don’t we wish to be a responsible nuclear state?
c. That Pakistan should not allow its soil to be used for terrorist activities against any other country. Do we not want Pakistan to be free of terrorism? Don’t we proclaim to be a peaceful member of the comity of nations? So long as we try our best, our friends in Washington will ensure presidential certification.
Cheap and petty politics is being played on a non-issue. In the process the bogus “National Security” argument is being utilized to undermine Pakistan’s civilian democratic structure. It is therefore imperative that all civilian democratic parties realize that this false frenzy and conspiracy theory constitutes a grave threat to our existence as a democratic nation state.
It may also be remembered that Pakistan has sought American aid from day one. Even the father of our country, Mr. Jinnah, was of the view that the Americans would gain from helping Pakistan but his vision was of collaboration of two democracies working for the peace and security of the world and in defence of democracy itself. Today the US is finally aligned with that vision because instead of helping military rulers, it has extended a hand of friendship to the people of Pakistan. Let us not shun this hand. Let us take as equals and let us refuse to be misled by rabble rousers who are making a mockery of our nation state.