Certain brands define the love-hate relationship that Pakistan has had with the United States of America over the past 60 years. America has been the biggest and most advanced ‘Superpower’ of the world. American technology, capital markets and economy is the biggest in the world. Pakistan as a third world country needs investment and technology for development.
Pakistan needed allies and military hardware after its traumatic birth and found a willing patron in United States of America. I will not try and re-write Tariq Ali’s critically acclaimed book ‘Pakistan on the flight path of American Power’. Now the American and Pakistani right-wingers are having an acrimonious divorce over ‘Black Water’ and ‘Predator’ drones, ‘never wash your dirty laundry in public’ is the sane advice. Pakistani right-wingers love to hate Americans and the American right-wingers love to assume that all Pakistanis are ‘terrorists’.
The cotton export quotas in the Korean War helped Pakistan’s financial situation in 1950. 1960s were the ‘decade of controlled democracy and development’ under America’s beloved dictator ‘Friends, not masters’ famed Field Marshal Ayub Khan.1970s started with the disillusionment of American’s ‘Seventh fleet’ failing to show up in bay of Bengal to save East Pakistani Imperialism. In 1979 Henry Kissinger made ‘an example’ of elected prime minister for pursuing nuclear technology.
Pakistani and Arab ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists’ were enjoying dinners and dollars on the lawns of White House and Pentagon in 1980s for their holy war against the ‘Godless’ Soviets. As a child of Vietnam ‘torch-bearing’ demonstrations, my first memory is a Red Flag of Labour Movement and a Painting which depicted a barbed wire, American flag and a pair of handcuffs. I had no doubts (unlike the bitter sweet ‘bed fellows’ Pakistan’s Jamaat Islami and American CIA) who my enemies were, needless to repeat the names of aforementioned entities.
The Pakistan America love affair, according to author Muhammad Hanif, exploded with the C-130 of Islamist dictator Zia-ul-Haq. By this time the civil and military elites and their children were well accustomed to the military and financial aid as well as ‘Second Homes’ and dubious ‘Scholarship’ grants from the great USA.
Not surprisingly, this love affair had an adverse effect on working and lower-middle class Pakistanis. Ever since the Ayub Khan’s ‘yellow and low grade’ Corn assistance by USA, the masses regarded USA as a donkey(symbol of disrespect and stupidity in Pakistan, not the symbol of American Democrat Party).
1990s were the wake up call for ‘romantic and confused’ Jamaat Islami student cadre when the grants dried up and their brand of ‘pan Islamic militancy’ was declared ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ by USA. The feudal and industrial elite were busy playing see-saw games with Bhutto’s Peoples Party and Mr Sharif’s Muslim League.
The kids were listening to Michael Jackson and Madonna and counting days to the official launch of American McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Pakistan. ‘Friends’, the promiscuous flatmates, is best watched English language Sit-com in Pakistan. The American ‘Green Card’ is considered a ‘Status Symbol’ in Pakistan.
Mid 90s saw the ‘American Visa Lottery’ become the biggest cultural craze in Pakistan and even the free application forms were sold for 200 rupees a piece on the streets of Pakistan. Pakistan has since 2001, been taken off the list of ‘Lottery Countries’.The Visa queues continue to get longer day by day while the Islamist ‘flag burning’ anti American demonstrations also continue to grow bigger.
The biggest terrorist attack on the American soil was carried out, by ‘Bin Laden Boys’ who were on student visas in USA, on 9/11 2001.These Arab volunteer were veterans Bin-Laden(former friend of Bush and Saud dynasties of America and Arabia) training camps in Afghanistan.
This cultural schizophrenia is widespread in Arab muslim world, where ‘Great Satan’ America is blamed for every evil yet every young man dreams of a American Visa.I say this on the basis of evidence and observations as management consultant in a oil rich Arab country, where friends who would normally be carrying copies of Koran and recite it undertone at every given opportunity, would curse and swear at their ‘impotent’ King ‘who is only interested in wealth of Royal family’ and ‘America is a heaven compared to these Arab countries’. unquote Some were patiently waiting for three years for Canadian immigration or any possibility of relocation to Dearborn Michigan(little Jeddah).
For Pakistan 9/11, in a perverted way, proved to be beneficial for military and financial aid of Pakistani elite and Pakistani dictator Musharraf became the ‘Darling’ of American elite. Think-tank and university scholarships were reopened for the ‘right’ candidates and the dictator admitted (in his autobiography) taking 5000 dollar a piece for head-hunting the terrorists. An estimated 40 billion dollars flowed into the pockets of elites in form of both direct aid and ex-pat remittances.
Now the new government of President Zardari is willing to submit its ‘Begging Bowl’ to the strict conditionalities of Kerry-Lugar financial package. The Islamists, Nationalist, Socialists are raising their voices on the sensationalist News talk shows against the supposed ‘anti state’ activities of American private security contractors working under the name of ‘Black Water’ or ‘XE’ in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These security contractors need a ‘safe playground’ for rest and recreation in Pakistan after hard and dangerous tours of Afghanistan.
The impression in general public on both sides is that, ‘We can’t live them but we can’t live without them’. Pakistan, Israel and Saudi Arabia are the three states based on religious ideology and can be described as the perfect examples of ‘Client States’ of USA.
Black Water is yet another brand is the long saga of Pakistani American Love (and hate) Story. How long this disposable relationship lasts depends on the needs of American ‘House Boy’ President and his rightwing handler Bob Gates, in the Afghanistani theatre of war. America will not be able to win the war (like other Imperial powers) in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future and Pakistan can hope to cash-in the long term financial aid packages, provided it ignores the human rights abuses(like in Iraq) by Black Water Security Contractors.