Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan-US’

Sadiq Saleem: Transparency, corruption and perceptions

November 18, 2009

This article appeared in The News on November 18, 2009

Transparency International’s new Annual Corruption Perceptions Report and Pakistan’s position on its index is once again the topic of discussion on all TV channels and most newspaper columns, courtesy right wing anchors and columnists. Instead of focusing on the terrorist threat to the Pakistani way of life, the corruption issue is once again being used to create hatred for the political class and to dislodge or weaken an elected government.

 

One can sense a replay of the past, as those who know Pakistan’s history of the 1990s would testify. In Pakistan between 1988 and 1999 no elected civilian government was allowed to complete its term because of alleged corruption. The 1999 military coup that brought General Pervez Musharraf to power was also justified on grounds that Pakistan’s generals were better suited to wage the war against corruption.

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Sadiq Saleem: The World’s Reality and Ours

November 7, 2009

This article by Sadiq Saleem appeared in The News on November 7, 2009

In repeated opinion poll surveys in Pakistan over the last one year, there has been one thing constant – the rising anti-Americanism in the country. According to the Pew Research Centre, only 16 per cent of Pakistanis surveyed have a favourable view of the United States and 13 per cent have confidence in President Barack Obama.

 

Though there are many reasons for this anti-Americanism, what we cannot deny is that it has a great deal with how the discourse has been shaped by the views and agendas of our political leaders, media personalities, journalists, academics and security establishment.

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Sadiq Saleem: Lagay Raho, Media Bhai

November 4, 2009

This article by Sadiq Saleem appeared in The News on November 4, 2009

On Monday, November 2, thirty-five innocent Pakistanis lost their lives to a terrorist attack. These were ordinary people, standing in line at a bank to receive their monthly salary. They must have gone there with plans of spending that money on their parents, wives, children, brothers and sisters. But for the Pakistani media, especially the TV anchors who have now become the arbiters of what is important and what is not, the death of these poor people was not important. With their usual cast of characters from —Jamaat-e-Islami to Imran Khan to the two Muslim Leagues— the electronic media that day was exclusively focused on the so-called NRO issue.

 

Although the PPP has defused the matter by withdrawing the ordinance from Parliament, there is something artificial about the manner in which the matter of the NRO was made the primary focus of national discussion. The NRO issue took over from debate over the Kerry Lugar Bill, which also died its natural death. Those in the media who considered the Kerry-Lugar Bill a matter of national sovereignty have not even asked the PML-N or PML-Q to bring their own resolutions in the National Assembly on the matter.

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Sadiq Saleem – Blame it On America

November 3, 2009

This article by Sadiq Saleem appeared in The News on November 3, 2009

Watching American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interact with university students in Lahore was a sad spectacle. Sadder still was to see our most influential TV anchors and columnists betray their limited knowledge of facts while trying to impress their audience with their solid nationalist credentials.

 

In the aftermath of Hillary’s straight talk, Pakistanis must seriously examine how we discuss international relations on the basis of sentiment and without knowing or examining basic facts. The most glaring error of fact by a Pakistani came during Ms Clinton’s interview with Pakistani TV anchors. One gentleman tried to make the point that the US does not provide enough assistance to Pakistan and that Pakistan’s leaders sell the country cheap. He said that the US paid Kyrgyzstan $700 million in rent for just one airbase. Hillary tried to correct him and said the actual amount of rent was around $50 million. Our anchor-columnist was unfazed and insisted that must be the figure per month. But anyone with access to the internet can find out that as of June this year the US pays Kyrgyzstan $60 million per year as rent for the Manas air force base. Until June the rent was only $17 million.

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Sadiq Saleem: Delusions of Strategic Defiance

November 1, 2009

This article by Sadiq Saleem appeared in The News on November 1, 2009

Pakistan Army is fighting a tough adversary in South Waziristan, who may have been propped up to pose a mortal threat to our country by our traditional enemy. But some politicians, right-wing TV anchors and columnists are doing little to mobilise public support for our troops in the middle of a war. Instead, they remain focused on attacking the elected government, fomenting civil military disagreements, exacerbating anti-Americanism and raising issues that divide the nation instead of uniting it.

 

The events of the last few days are similar to the circumstances created between 1988 and 1990 when Ziaul Haq era Generals Aslam Beg and Hamid Gul plotted what they considered to be a new strategy for an Islamist ideological Pakistani nationalism. During that period, Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) was born with covert funds meant for national security; Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was called a national security risk and accused of being pro-American; Interior Minister Aitzaz Ahsan was alleged to have given the names of Sikh separatists in India to the Indian government; Foreign Minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan was described by General Beg as lacking spine to stand up to America; the Pakistani Ambassador to the United States was charged with protecting American rather than Pakistani interests.

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U.S.-Pakistan Relations: Two-Way Street or “We Want our Cake and Will Eat it too?”

October 30, 2009

By Wasiq Ali

For the last one month so many Pakistani journalists, media commentators and politicians have been screaming at the top of their lungs that “Pakistan should stand up to US”, “Pakistan should say No.” But there is a need to carefully parse what they are saying. Are they saying – we should refuse the entire $7.5 billion in aid from the US? No, what they want is to accept the money but not have to accept any conditions attached to the aid.

 

Maybe I am a bit naïve but if I were giving – not loaning because I know the money will not come back to me ever – a huge amount of money to even my closest friend I would like to know what that person is going to do with that money. So why wouldn’t one country ask the same of another.

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Never Ending KL Controversy

October 28, 2009

By Wasiq Ali

I just read an interesting take on the ‘KLB Controversy’ in an Indian newspaper. According to The Hindu Islamabad correspondent “Pakistan’s costly controversy” has little to do with the actual contents of the Kerry-Lugar bill and more to do with the tussle between the civilian and military branches of the government to assert who is number one. “The entire one-month hysteria in Pakistan over the Bill, after it was already passed by the U.S. Congress, resulted in drastically altering the civil-military balance in favor of the military. It left the democratically elected Pakistan People’s Party-led government considerably weaker than it was. It served to isolate President Asif Ali Zardari, and shattered the nerves of the government. It confirmed the Pakistan Army as numero uno.”

 

And as has been argued by me and others the KL debate also showed “Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) in clearer light. Despite his thunder about the need to keep the military subservient to civilian rule, his party chose to oppose a U.S. Bill that wants exactly this.” The article attacks the Pakistani media’s pro-military bias as well stating that “With some exceptions, the Pakistani media too, despite their pride in opposing military rule, made no bones about which side they were on over this issue, saying the government’s “stupidity” in allowing the U.S. to impose such conditions left them with no choice.”

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Sadiq Saleem: The Real Mystery of the KLB debate

October 24, 2009

By Sadiq Saleem
This article appeared in The News on October 24, 2009

Now that the orchestrated furore over the KLB aid package for Pakistan is diminishing, it is important to analyze how the country was driven into a frenzy and US-Pakistan relations put at risk by Pakistan’s “Ghairat lobby” and those whose hatred for President Zardari and the current government exceeds their love for Pakistan.

 The real mystery of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill is not its conditions or who may originally have proposed or recommended them. The conditions that have been the cause of much shouting and screaming were included in the House of Representatives’ version of the bill that was passed on June 11, 2009. That bill was widely reported in the domestic and international media. If the reporting requirements in the bill were insulting, or if they infringed upon Pakistan’s national sovereignty, why did not the assorted columnists, politicians and right-wing TV anchor persons make the same noise about these conditions in June that they have been making of late?

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Sadiq Saleem – What is behind the Ghairat debate?

October 14, 2009

By Sadiq Saleem
This article was published in The News on October 14, 2009

Every few years Pakistanis go through angry phases of self-righteous indignation over the country’s dependence on foreign aid. The ‘Ghairat’ (national honour) lobby, led by Islamist political parties, retired generals and the newly empowered right wing conspiracy theorists serving as television anchors have worked up the nation once again in the “honour is more important than aid” slogan mongering.

Now that the controversy relating to the Kerry-Lugar Bill is de-escalating, it is time to understand the economic and security compulsions that have made us a dependent nation. Since 1947, when soon after independence the father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself appealed for US aid, each one of Pakistan’s budgets has depended on external flows mainly because our own resources are limited and over-stretched.

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Gul Bukhari: The Sovererignty Hysteria

October 10, 2009

By Gul Bukhari
This article appeared in Dawn on October 10, 2009

Critics of the Kerry-Lugar bill must answer a humiliating question: the preservation of whose sovereignty are they referring to? Is it of a country that has accepted drone attacks in the tribal areas? The hysterical reaction to the Kerry-Lugar bill by formerly rational TV anchors, analysts and politicians is painful to watch. True, one does not expect any better from those who only oppose and criticise for the sake of doing so, but to hear saner voices in the mad din is distressing.

 In Shakespeare’s words,

[They] have no spur

To prick the sides of [their] intent, but only

Vaulting [patriotism] ambition, which o’erleaps itself,

And falls on th’other…

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