Elections in America and Pakistan

Bilal Qureshi

Pakistani community in America is watching the mid-term elections in America with fascination as for some of them; it is a great exercise in human freedom.

For this community, this election is also the source of anxiety because of its impact on Washington’s relationship with Islamabad.  Some argue that it will further complicate a very tense relationship, some worry that a change in balance of power will drive both parties to take a very hard line towards Pakistan for domestic political reasons. Few of the Pakistanis hope that ‘drone attacks will end’ and many in the community believe that Pakistan will be forgotten as the divided Congress will focus on winning the next election in 2012.

Perhaps, all of these views have some risk of becoming a reality. Still, it should be remembered that this election is more about ‘voter’s perceived’ towards Obama and nobody seems to particularly talking about radically altering America’s policy towards any country, except Iran.

However, as I have argued in the past, America’s foreign policy is not as fragile and isolated as some believe it to be. America’s role in the world will continue to remain dominant regardless of who is in-charge in Washington. More importantly, contrary to the prevailing narrative that Washington’s focus is narrow and short term, Americans policy makers always take a very long view of history before taking sides on any issues. And with very few exceptions, the Americans have always stuck to their position, even if the evidence suggests that it is not working. Vietnam is a classic example of America’s long term commitment to a strategy despite overwhelming evidence that it is failing.

Therefore, the Pakistani community must not expect, or fear anything dramatic. And, even if there is big change towards Islamabad, Pakistan is fortunate to have a very capable ambassador who, just like his predecessors, is working hard to protect and promote Pakistan’s interest in Washington in a professional and persuasive manner.

Furthermore, if Pakistani community believes that one party is more sympathetic towards Pakistan compared to the other side, then the community should do whatever they can to help their side win because elections have consequences. Complaining, especially without doing anything to advance their cause or support their candidates favorable to Pakistan is not going to yield anything constructive for Pakistan or the Pakistani community in America.

Luckily, Pakistan does have good sons and daughters in America voluntarily working to secure assistance for Pakistan.  One of these proud supporters is Dr. Mohammad Abdullah Khalid in Silver Spring, MD. Regretfully, it is not possible to name everyone who is working to help Pakistan, but there are a great many of people who are working tirelessly to assist develop better relationship between Islamabad and Washington. Dr. Khalid is just one of these committed individuals who work towards stabilizing Pakistan.

Regardless of the outcome after today’s very tough election in America, Washington’s policy towards Pakistan is gong to remain pretty much the same. So, people in Pakistan must not worry too much about who is running the Congress in Washington as Washington’s policy is determined by America’s long term national interest and, believe it or not, it is in America’s interest to have a secure, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. So far, America has been doing its part. Perhaps after today’s election, Pakistan will be expected to do its share more visible.



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