Pakistan’s Ghairat Lobby and The Indian PM’s Visit To The US

By Sadiq Saleem

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official visit to the United States should have been the major story in Pakistan’s media. But our right-wing anchors and columnists and “get-Zardari” editors are far more focused on the domestic power struggles to realize that the nightmare of Pakistan’s strategic encirclement may already be on the brink of becoming reality.

The less attention Pakistanis pay to fighting terrorism and figuring out a way of dealing with the world, the more likely it is that India — the country with which Pakistan has fought four wars in 62 years — will continue to gain ground. India already has better relations with the governments of Afghanistan and Iran, our western neighbours. The more we demonstrate hatred towards the United States, the more we contribute to making the India-US relationship into an anti-Pakistan alliance, which need not be. We could complain and get angry with the US, as the Jamaatis and the Ghairat lobby advocate, or we could analyse the rising Indian influence and figure out ways of combating it.

It is interesting to note that in the ongoing Pakistani debate about US-Pakistan ties, India is seldom mentioned. Our jihad sympathizers relate their anti-Americanism to US actions against Muslims around the world, without realistically examining whether shouting slogans for our Arab brothers gains us any advantage in defending Pakistan against India. Pakistan has traditionally sought American help in order to stand up to India. If Pakistani anti-Americanism is not managed in a way that the Americans do not see Pakistanis as enemies, India’s strategic advantage will continue to increase.

The US would become a force-multiplier for India in our region instead of being a potential balancer that keeps India’s anti-Pakistan moves in check. We would be left holding anti-American demonstrations and publishing anti-American diatribes while India will be the beneficiary of US investment, defence deals and civil nuclear deal. Do we really want that to happen? Or is it already too late to stop the very strong ties, which have been built between India and the US? Let us take a look.

In the Bush administration 18 Indian-Americans served in various positions over the course of eight years compared with one Pakistani-American. In the Obama administration 22 Indian-Americans are already serving in senior positions (Assistant Secretary and above) and there is one Governor (out of fifty US states) of Indian descent. Almost 200 Indian-Americans serve as Congressional staffers compared with 12 Pakistani-American, three of whom work for the same Congresswoman. There are numerous State Department and Pentagon officials and at least one the US Ambassador of Indian origin.

More than 100,000 Indian students are enrolled in US universities compared with less than seven thousand Pakistanis. The number of professors of Indian origin in the US is at least one hundred times more than professors from Pakistan-totally disproportionate to the 1 to 7 population ratio.

The Indian Congressional caucus is three times as large as Pakistan’s and even the Chairwoman of the Pakistan caucus in the House of Representatives is simultaneously a member of the India caucus. There is hardly a US media organisation where Indian names are not prominent whereas Pakistani journalists only make their noisy presence felt in our own introverted media and that too only on domestic issues. Any Pakistani who manages to earn respect of the Americans is immediately denigrated as an American agent in Pakistan. The Indians, on the other hand, see their countrymen as spreading Indian influence in America.

Ironically, India was historically never an American ally and did not have the same level of aid (especially military assistance) from the United States, as did Pakistan. So how did India transform itself into a close partner after the cold war and Pakistan manage to become the unhappy semi-ally? The question is relevant today because of what we Pakistanis have become and what we have achieved over the years. Pakistan is America’s oldest ally in the region but Pakistan and the US are more estranged today than they were at any time in history. India was a Soviet ally till 1989 and yet India and the US have strong economic and strategic ties.

The Indians appear to have realised early on that even if they did not have security ties with the US building close ties at other levels was important for the long-term. Pakistan did the reverse. While we were recipients of large amounts of military aid, we did little to build a presence in US academia or media. Our community remains focused on getting attention in Pakistan and few Pakistani-Americans have earned the stature in mainstream American intellectual or political life that could translate into serious influence. Over time, US-based Indian organizations have helped build close cultural and educational ties between the two countries. Bollywood is now penetrating Hollywood while there is little comparable Pakistani ingress.

The India-US nuclear deal is considered a defining moment for the India-US relationship. Let us look at the reactions in India over the Indo-US nuclear deal. The Congress-led government was in favour of the nuclear deal but the Communist parties who were allied to the Congress government at that time did not ideologically support the deal. There was debate and discussion in the Parliament and in the Indian electronic and print media for nine months. In the end when the left parties and BJP decided to vote against the bill, the Congress obtained the support of other smaller parties.

The government secured 275 votes in the 541 member Lok Sabha for the India-US civil nuclear deal and their opponents secured 256 votes. The left parties targeted the government for changing the traditional policy of non-alignment and becoming too close to the United States but it was through discussion and debate, not street demonstrations, rubbishing America in the media or calling influential Indian-Americans as CIA agents.

Also, the political leaders faced fire, not the Indian ambassador in Washington and other officials who were following orders and doing their job. Also during the entire controversy the Indian military did not openly involve itself or say anything about the deal. And throughout the entire period the Indian-American community was very strongly behind the bill, they lobbied hard in the US for the passage of the bill and they lobbied hard back home for the passage of the bill in Parliament.

On the other side let us look at the Kerry-Lugar Bill controversy and the way it played out both in Pakistan and amongst the Pakistani-American community abroad. The strong anti-Americanism in Pakistan led the initially pro-Kerry-Lugar Pakistani American community to become silent. The debate in the Pakistani media was less a debate on Pakistani policy options and more a hate campaign against the US. Politicians attacked their own government; the army spoke out publicly against the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill’s contents; and once it became clear that the US Congress would not change its views, the whole thing subsided like foam at home even though offense had unnecessarily been caused to American Congressmen.

Why is it that despite 54 years of close ties with the US Pakistan has not been able to help build a relationship of influence in the US? Our problem is that unfortunately we don’t know how to influence others – we only know how to abuse them. The Quaid dreamt of Pakistan being a global power with influence all over the world. How does one build Pakistan’s global influence?

Pakistan’s ability to change minds of global powers will be a source of Pakistani influence; Not jihadis who will keep getting arrested and keep Pakistan under watchful eye of major powers. And yet over the decades every Pakistani who has tried to build close ties with the US, like Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, Najmuddin Sheikh, Jehangir Karamat, Mahmud Ali Durrani and Husain Haqqani, has been labeled as an American agent rather than being seen as Pakistanis who can better communicate with Americans in Pakistan’s interest.

If India is about to win huge contracts and get heaped with praise during the Manmohan Singh visit to Washington, Pakistanis need to review how we have played our cards wrong for decades. And then, let us work on a plan to change the relationship if for no other reason than to deny our adversary the advantage of being the world’s sole superpower’s sole South Asian partner.

Sadiq Saleem is a businessman and analyst based in Toronto, Canada.

38 Comments

Filed under India, Pakistan

38 responses to “Pakistan’s Ghairat Lobby and The Indian PM’s Visit To The US

  1. Milind Kher

    India being the world’s largest democracy, the US is a natural ally. That has now been appreciated and realized. Also, during the existence of USSR, India’s close ties to Soviet Russia were a sore point.

    Iran will always have better ties with India than Pakistan because the Shias are still extensively traumatized in Pakistan. The doings of LeJ and SeS have caused a lot of damage.

    The Government of Afghanistan is as fiercely anti militant as India is. So, there is a common ground there.

    As far as education and business is concerned, a stable democracy is far more conducive to the development of these.

    However, I discern in the entire article a mentality of lack rather than abundance, a kind of a two person zero sum game. If Europe could unite (commercially, not politically), there is no reason why the subcontnent cannot.

    If Pakistan looked on India as a facilitator and a partner, there would be a metamorphosis in the way we relate to each other.

    Sounds a little idealistic, I agree, but each one of us can make the difference.

  2. Hayyer

    That is an impressive bit of research. Are there agencies devoted to researching Indian vs Pakistani statistics re. the US.
    I am however concerned that Saleem’s focus continues to be getting even with the adversary, India. Is it at all possible to stop thinking in those terms.
    In a report on the Corruption Index world wide one Indian paper had a head line saying ‘Pakistan more corrupt than India’, though both were at the lower end along with China.

  3. Milind Kher

    All the energies that are used for assessing Pakistani performance vis a vis Indian performance needs to be channelised properly with an intention to build that nation rather than envy the Indian achievements.

    Of course, if the zeal to be better than India translates into genuine progress for Pakistan – good! The whole region will prosper.

  4. yasserlatifhamdani

    I am not sure what you mean always… you do know that Iran aided Pakistan militarily, economically and politically in both 1965 and 1971 wars?

    Pakistan is the second largest Shia country in the world… and has had more Shia heads of state and/or government than Sunni ones… including the founding father who was a Shia.

    However as Iran and Pakistan assumed a more religious color in the late 70s and the early 80s… a cleavage was created… and the Mullahs of Iran are consequently closer to India.

    The Sipah Sahaba etc are a temporary phenomena and will pass by soon.

  5. Milind Kher

    @YLH,

    I am aware of what you are stating and agree with you completely.

    However, what I am referring to is of precisely the same vintage that you are referring to – early 80 s onwards.

    If the Shias are treated well in Pakistan, then Pakistan will positively have good relations with Iran by virtue of the high Shia population.

    And if the Sipah Sahaba are a temporary phase – super! The Shias will truly be able to flourish and bring out the wealth of their theology and culture once these hurdles are crossed.

    Let us hope that happens soon..

  6. yasserlatifhamdani

    On the contrary… Shias dominate arts, culture and media in Pakistan.

    It has kept Pakistan sane… but it also means that 10 days of Moharram become hell for the whole country.

  7. Milind Kher

    Good to know that about arts, culture and media.

    The 10 days of Muharram is something which is so unique to the Shias that only they can understand what they go through during those days.

    I agree, though, that people from other persuasions may not quite feel the same way and would land up feeling the way you are.

  8. Majumdar

    Yasser,

    but it also means that 10 days of Moharram become hell for the whole country.

    You shud try travelling from Delhi to Haridwar/Mussorie in the whole month of Sawan!!!

    Regards

  9. Majumdar

    Shias dominate arts, culture and media in Pakistan.

    Incidentally the three richest Muslims in India- Premji, Hamid and Khorakiwalas (of Wockhardt) are all Shiites- of the Dawoodi Bohra sect.

    MF Hussain is a Sulaimani Bohra and so I presume are Tyeb Mehta and SH Raza.

    Lucknavi Tehzeeb is also of course Shiite.

    Incidentally we have in India a sect of Punjoo Brahmins who call themselves Hussainis- they say that their ancestors fought for Imam Hussain (RA) at Karbala- Sunil Dutt belonged to the sect. Many still worship images of Imam Hussain at home.

    Regards

  10. Milind Kher

    @Majumdar Saheb,

    Yes, the Mohiyals are called Hussaini Brahmins. Their ancestor Rahab Dutt was said to have fought alongside Imam Hussain (a.s.)

    The Ziyarate Nahia lists all the matrtyrs of Karbala, but does not have that name. It is possible that they may have fought alongside Mukhtar when he avenged himself on the Umayyads.

  11. mohammad

    American and indian relations are economic necessity rather than an achievement for the yankees. There is no doubt pakistanis should look for american protection given american help in 1971 and trade and military sanctions once there strategic objectives were achieved in afghanistan, there is a definite co-relation between american policies of last decades and militancy we are dealing today. I have a question, where were americans when pakistanis were murdered and bombed on almost daily basis before 2001? On the question of expat communities and their relative success, I think they can not change american policies if there is not american financial gains in one form or another.

  12. Majumdar

    Mohd bhai,

    when pakistanis were murdered and bombed on almost daily basis before 2001?

    That is untrue. Bombings in Pak, on a large scale that is, started only after July 2007.

    Regards

  13. Milind Kher

    This all stems from a major anti American sentiment that is on the rise in Pakistan.

    However, what needs to be understood is that without American support, it will be very difficult to take on the terrorists. Although Raahe nijaat has been undertaken in all sincerity, it does not yet seem to have yielded any substantial results.

    American support can positively accelerate the process.

  14. mohammad

    Just read about SS and lashkars.

  15. Milind Kher

    SeS and LeJ have been active for at least 2 decades before 2001.

    However, TTP does not target only a particular sect, but the populace at large. Therefore, their scale of operations is larger and the impact is also felt in a larger way.

    I understand that with the onset of winter, Waziristan becomes increasingly difficult to access. That is all the more reason for the army to move in faster.

  16. Luqmaan

    How wise🙂 to see everything through an india colored glass…..

    Now go on one more step and tell me why Indians are where they are in your opinion and if Pakistanis will do better (if they are not already) and when.

    Luq

  17. Majumdar

    Sadiq sb,

    Why bother? Why not dump the US, a faltering superpower anyway and tie your bandwagon firmly to PRC, the rising superpower. PRC has a lot more (both ability and willingness) to supply both by way of cash and arms.

    There is a precedent. India tied itself to the wrong superpower USSR and it collapsed. Pak tied itself to the right superpower. India is again tying itself to an aging superpower Pak can again right guess .

    Regards

  18. Ali Abbas

    @ YLH

    you wrote:”The Sipah Sahaba etc are a temporary phenomena and will pass by soon.”

    When??? Before they were SS, they were Suad-e-Azzam and have been active since getting State patronage from Zia’s time. Thats 30 years now or roughly half of Pakistan’s existence. Given the connection between the security establishment’s use of Islamist Jihad as foreign policy conducted by these various Islamist groups, I disagree with your assesment. Like the media, the judiciary also has a bias in favour of these Islamist facist murderers. Check out how this independant judiciary treats sectarian murderers from the SS: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200987\story_7-8-2009_pg1_7

    Given the close ideological affinity between the lawyer’s “movement” and the Jamaat Islami/Lal Masjid (a hub of Sipah Sahaba)/Al Qaeeda, it is unlikely that this menace will be curtailed and shias continue to be slaughtered in Pakistan.

    The media and “independant” judiciary” are all proxies of the security establishment. Instead of meddling directly, it is these proxies that will jointly take down an elected Govt. on trumped up charges whilst advocating (media) and releasing (judiciary) jihadi Islamists who promote hate and violence

  19. Milind Kher

    @Majumdar Saheb,

    The US may not be aging so fast and PRC may not really be that powerful.

    Evidence of the US muscle came through in the Iraq invasion and bombardments in Afghanistan and Waziristan. It is a different matter that the ground troops were unable to sustain the advantages

    And whether you talk of tanks, airplanes or any other military vehicle US made vehicles/aircraft/guns are decidedly superior.

    And now, the economy has also recovered substantially. A $ 12+ trillion economy is not something to be sneezed at.

  20. Mustafa Shaban

    Good analysis….but I think there is much more to it than that….also just wanted to ask:

    1. Is Iran being Shia and shia persecution in Pakistan the only reason why they are closer to India?? Are there any other factors?

    2. What role did Iran play in the wars of 65 and 71??

    3. What are some examples of Shia domination of culture media and arts in Pakistan?

    4.YLH: What do you mean when you say this has kept Pakistan sane??

    I seriously hope Sipah e Sahaba is temporary…we really need to get rid of such groups. Pakistan also should build strong ties with Iran. They can be really good allies.

    @Milind Kher: I disagree with your opinion of the US economy. The US economy is in massive debt and in big trouble. I think Majumdar states correctly that PRC is out true ally and can really help us.

  21. Ummi

    So Mr sadiq is confessing that all seculars of Pakistan belong to Baigharat Lobby? I do agree with this after reading YLH’s infinite posts .😉

  22. Milind Kher

    @Mustafa Shaban,

    I based this on the fact that a lot of people who do business with the US have found a resurgence of orders coming in to a substantial extent.

    However, my opinion may be based on my perspective, and you may be right.

  23. Mustafa Shaban

    @Milind Kher: I understand what you are saying….thing is in order to judge whether an economy is healthy and whether we can benefit from it depends on a lot of factors, and also since i am not an economic expert I usually base my opinion on other experts like Webstar Tarpley, Michel Chussodovsky, Ellen Brown, Richard C Cook and others.

  24. Bloody Civilian

    Luq

    How wise to see everything through an india colored glass…..

    this glass is magic. you must try it sometime. it makes afghanistan a country with no name, no history, no people, no dynamics of its own. it allows the shia-sluaghtering taliban to be sponsored and installed oblivious to iranian concerns invisible and then premits surprise at iran doing more than just hedging her bets when it comes to her view of pakistan. it even allows for the people of kashmir to be treated no different than those of afghanistan… but i better stop at these more trivial tricks that this glass is capable of.

    if i were to go on, then one would have to expose the little concealed secret that this glass itself is a mere creation of the real magical glass that is never allowed outside of its not so secret location. it’s the glass of dictatorship, of course, but…

  25. Milind Kher

    Since it came up in the thread, one small point about Sipahe Sahaba being a temporary phenomenon.

    It is believed that Sipahe Sahaba has 500 offices and some 100,000 cadres. Destroying an organization of that size is going to take some doing.

  26. Bloody Civilian

    @YLH

    However as Iran and Pakistan assumed a more religious color in the late 70s and the early 80s… a cleavage was created… and the Mullahs of Iran are consequently closer to India.

    zia-ism aside, pak had to support america on afghanistan (that pak went about it completely the wrong way, is another matter). similarly, regardless of mullah-ism (and the despicable act of taking hostage diplomats), with the US supporting Iraq, what choice did Iran have but to move closer to india. still, if rafsanjani is to be believed, zia spurned them on more than one occasion.

    BB had a choice to change things. of course rafsanjani, again, claims he suggested as much to her. agreed she was not at liberty to even have her own foreign minister. i believe she should have refused to accept PM-ship under such conditions. after all, you volunteer to be a politician. she wasn’t doing it in order to make a living. the purpose behind the volunteering has to be bigger than to just swallow such huge compromises. and, in her second stint, she went and sponsored the taliban. how badly can you want to be accepted by the establishment!

  27. Milind Kher

    Also, whenever senior functionaries of Sipahe Sahaba and similar organizations have been killed, Iranians in Pakistan have been killed in reprisal.

    When Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi was killed, the Iranian consul general in Lahore was assassinated shortly thereafter.

    These kind of things have alienated Iran from Pakistan

  28. Punjabi

    The ebb and flow of international partnerships in the subcontinent have never altered the indo-pak dynamic. The US has been pro Pakistan, pro India, pro both, anti both, and through it all, the balance of power between India and Pakistan has not shifted. Furthermore, that’s how it will remain in the future. At the most, in the idea future, there may be a grand international bargain that leaves everybody feeling like a winner, but even in that scenario what Pakistan wins will not depend on which friends it brings to the table and how strongly behind it they are. That’s true for India as well.

    So what is this competitive obsession to be in America’s good graces? Its strange that both Pakistan and India should feel insecure about the state of their and others’ alliances with the US when the US never has and never will interject strongly enough to overturn the strategic balance.

    Maybe its just about feeling good when the sahib looks upon you more favorably than he does upon the neighbor you spite.

  29. Milind Kher

    India has realized that “non alignment will take it nowhere, and that in a unipolar world, it makes sense to align with the US.

    Pakistan earlier used to be the favored one, and would have continued to be that had it not allowed itself to become a safe haven for terrorists

  30. Alethia

    One big reason India has successful in diplomacy is because it nurtures ties to many diverse countries and groups.

    Pakistan should diversify its relations also. It should have interactions with the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan. It should have much better relations with Russia. It should have had better relations with the USA, but not formal alliances (as in the past). It should be equi-distant between Iran and Saudi Arabia and not favor one over the other. For example, a Pakistani military contigent should have immediately been dispatched to the area of Balochistan where some Iranians were recently murdered. Pakistan’s inaction, or perceived inaction, have soured relations with a formerly friendly country.

    And last, but not least, there should have been an immediate dispatch of Pakistan’s intelligence chief to India right after the Mumbai massacre. No equivocation.

    Not only India, but the whole world, would have taken positive notice of that development and given Pakistan credit for it. It also would have put a better taste in the USA’s mouth to help diplomatically support Pakistan in last year’s (and the continuing) crisis.

    In short, Pakistan should use more imagination in its diplomacy yet not tie itself too closely to one power. Whether we are talking about the USA or Saudi Arabia or any others.

  31. Milind Kher

    What upset everybody about 26/11 was that the handlers operated so freely from Pakistan, and that the terrorists were sent from Pakistan.

    Zaid Hamid and his outlandish theories did nothing to up Pakistan’s ratings either.

    Pakistan has leaned totally towards KSA and has neglected Iran, never taking any action even when Iranians were killed on its soil.

    The sins of the government are being visited on the people. Very sad.

  32. Bloody Civilian

    never taking any action even when Iranians were killed on its soil

    for the sake of correcting facts only, is that true? i remember seeing about murderers and accomplices being booked, convicted and perhaps even sentences carried out in one or two cases at least. will check when/if havee time later.

  33. Milind Kher

    @BC,

    In 1990 and 1997, major incidents took place.

    In Dec 1990, the Iranian Consul General in Lahore Sadeq Ganji was killed.

    In 1997, the Culture House of Iran was attacked in Lahore and set on fire. Iranian diplomat Muhammad Ali Rahimi was killed. 5 Iranian trainee soldiers in Pakistan were also killed.

    These were sore points in Iran. If you have any news about these killers being convicted, do let me know. I have not come across it.

  34. Punjabi

    Except for a few we-are-the-world hippy liberals and the indian-americans who are trying to reconcile their Indian-ness with their Obamania, few people will deny that Obama is far less friendly to the India than GWB was and this trip was mostly an affirmation of that.

    GWB inflated the egos of the Indians by filling their heads with bumf about the great 21st century partnership of the two biggest democracies and took them from feeling like they lived in the world’s asshole to the table of the world elites. Along comes Obama convinced that GWB was a silly fool and soon enough the Indians found out that they are no practical use to Obama since they can’t help him with the economic crisis nor with afpak, and that they can’t even be a counterweight to china because there isn’t any way for them to be that even with all the US help.

    For quite a while the Indians had red hot cheeks under all the egg that was on their faces.

    Given the vital importance of China lending money to the US, and given the total lack of cooperation the US has gotten from India, why should Obama be pro India? GWB was pro-India because he has ideological convictions about democracy on one side and communism and islamism on the other. Obama has no such convictions, quite the opposite it would seem. With him, it feels cheerleading for democracy has gone out of fashion. So Given that India has nothing practical and/or strategically useful to offer Obama, the latter can hardly be expected to be pro-India.

    Furthermore, it should be clear to indians now that it is as much up to them as it is up to american presidents to build the relationship. It is upto for India to filter out the effect of excessively pro India or excessively anti India presidents, i.e. filter out the tendency to have relationship with specific individuals and their cabinets, and instead work to become build importance to the US that has fundamental interest to america, without regard to the political winds in the country.

    The Indians will have to realize that ideological jawjaw about secular democracy or obtuse notions of strategic value aren’t enough to earn reliable stable relationships.

    Well, perhaps thats too harsh. India’s relationship with the US is warm, just not critical, and its appropriate considering India’s clout on the world stage, its importance to US economic and security concerns, and also to the degree to which it is interested in showing maturity on issues like Kashmir, and the limits imposed on its flexibility by Pakistan and China’s pursuit of anti-indian agendas.

    At the end of the day, India needs strong, broad based, sustained economic growth for some decades. as long as its able to do that able to prevent internal and external factors from derailing that, it will be in good shape.

  35. Milind Kher

    What kind of stability and economic growth can be expected when you have a right wing fundamentalist opposition that is bent on undermining every achievement of the Government?

    They need to realize that Mandir politics and minority bashing is not going to endear India in any mature and sober international forum.

  36. fahad ikram

    ya i think that despite all the missconception against indians in pakistan. i think all the credit goes to indian who maintains their STRONG POSTION in less than a decade and
    the our foooools countrymens who are in usa just for receration and entertainment with their familes
    but never realise the fact that usa is the centre of gravity of power in the world and the nationals from all countries are trying to make the influence stronger and stronger in us government and society but very sad that pakistanis are sleeping their and dont realise that the strong indian lobby in usa is going to prove the biggest source of tension in comming years
    like the strongest jewish lobby which is the strongest country in defence and the main power in the middle east despite all oil rich resourses of ARABS

  37. andy

    Cant beat them? Join them guys!

  38. paatchu

    Time reached to end Anti-India centric policies in Pakistan!.
    Not all policies in india is based on Anti-Pakistan centric..but Pakistan have all those policies being circulated in the periphereal of India-centric(Anti-India ofcourse!)…

    Time has reached to understand that war s will not solve even a single problem…

    Come let’s stand together..let’s make this mother Earth a far more safer place to live..

    just look at Aisam-Bopanna Tennis pair doing…
    The Indo-Pak pair has reached to US- doubles finals…and creating history in other tournaments as well…

    Why don’t we stupids come together?..eh!!