Change the rotten narrative and attitude

AFP photo

 

By

Imad Zafar

 

Donald Trump’s tweet regarding Pakistan’s dubious role in the war against terror created an atmosphere of hostility between Pakistan and the United States. If this was not enough the Trump administration also announced that military aid to Pakistan will be stopped.

One can criticize Donald Trump for using harsh language in his tweet but is in fact against diplomatic norms and gives India a diplomatic edge over Pakistan. Pakistan also responded but the majority of the anti American statements and those not caring about US aid were given to satisfy the ego of the nation.

As usual the US has used Pakistan for its own interests and after almost 16 years of war against terrorism in Afghanistan finally decided to ditch Pakistan and align with India to not only give them space in Afghanistan but also in China. Whatever US policy makers think or what Trump decides is their own internal matter and the truth is that every country in the world always serves its interests. On the global stage there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies.

The allegation from Trump that 33 billion US dollars were not used fairly by Pakistan to counter terrorism is a serious one and the authorities in Pakistan who took this money should prepare an audit report and make it public so the world and the citizens of Pakistan know the truth.

 

This hostility from the US, even after fighting their war, is eye opening for Pakistan. Since its inception Pakistan aligned with the US as its ally and during the Cold War period supported them against the USSR. The Dollar sponsored the Afghan Jihad which eventually proved instrumental in the fall of USSR, actually laying the foundations of extremism and terrorism in Pakistani Society.

It was our rulers who for their and US interests fought a proxy war in Afghanistan against the then USSR and used religion as a tool. The Jihad culture was then given birth to, the text books filled with the importance of Jihad and to wage war against the world that somehow had enough time to keep conspiring against a third world state.

Extremists and terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and Hekmatyar were supported by the US and Pakistan to win the war in Afghanistan at that time. During that time and further into the mid nineties, the US, in response to Pakistan’s co-operation, turned a blind eye towards extremists like Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and others, launching them against India to liberate Kashmir by waging a proxy war there and in other areas. Of course in reply India launched a proxy war in Baluchistan and other areas of Pakistan too.

So now, when the world has changed and the new alliances have been made, the US has decided to get rid of the extremists and terrorists it created in the past to conquer USSR and serve its interests globally. The ongoing Afghan war is more about occupying the trillion dollars of opium than ending terrorism. The Iraq war was not about weapons of mass destruction, it was in fact a war to get control of the oil reserves.

 

Pakistan should have learnt long ago that by becoming a proxy for US wars it will eventually destroy its future. The extremism that was spread in the name of Jihad and the civilians and military personnel killed during the war against terrorism is a cost too great to bear. The policy makers in Pakistan have actually played a key role in bringing the status of Pakistan as a state that fights wars for dollars. The terrorists who were nurtured by the state as strategic assets proved to be a huge burden.

Now even with all the efforts our policy makers are not able to finish the mindset of extremism, the reason being that it takes a lot less time to brainwash society but takes decades of effort to make them think rationally and make them recognize reality. Once you nurture the mindset and narrative that revolves around aging Jihad and conquering enemies by the use of force then it is impossible to eliminate this mindset with the use of force within a few years.

So, in the recent crisis where the US has turned hostile towards us and the civilized world considers us as a haven for terrorists, it is only ourselves who are to blame for this. We could have decided to stay neutral during the Afghan invasion of USSR and could have swiftly rejected the US for becoming a front line state in the war against terror. Instead of investing money and resources on extremists, we could have invested in education, health and eliminating poverty, the world then knowning us as a progressive state with a lot to contribute in science, technology and research.

If there was any reality in the wish of liberating Kashmir from India with the help of extremists like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar or controlling Afghanistan by the factions of the Taliban and other militant organizations, we should have been an undisputed king of the region and our flag would have been raised on all these territories. But it was and never will be possible.

Anyone with common sense can tell that neither the Kashmir dispute can be resolved by waging proxy wars nor Afghanistan controlled by picking and choosing a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. Had this been possible then the whole world, instead of spending on science, technology or industrial growth, would have spent on producing terrorists and extremists like Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and the Taliban. Sadly the ruling elite made us an experimental lab for the US and Saudi monarchs thinking that it would somehow strengthen us, which has proven wrong.

 

Now the need of the hour is to change our narrative and attitude towards extremism and militancy and to reshape them by focusing on science, technology and industrial growth.

The buildings built with solid foundations, quality concrete and cement always survive the storms or jolts. The same also applies with societies. Unfortunately our decision makers, while laying the foundations of narratives to shape society and the nation, never used the cement of truth and concrete of realism. That is why we have not been able to grow like the vision and expectations of our founding father Jinnah.

It is high time we get rid of the extremists and fundamentalists whom we consider our strategic assets. These narratives and attitudes have always kept us in the headlines around the globe as a state that is not willing to get rid of the narratives and ideologies of the stone age. Instead of making headlines due to extremism related news, if we can do so for the contribution to peace, technology, education, industrial growth and human values, it will certainly force the world to change their perspective towards us. It will then surely also stop people like Trump from humiliating us by ignoring the sacrifices common men have given to the wars which were never even ours in the first place.

The assassins hired by the mafia to kill enemies are mostly killed after the assignment is finished, the same also applying to the state. We have to stop fighting wars, be it a direct or proxy war, and need to say no to the countries that use us to wage wars by giving money, be it the US or Saudi Arabia. It is an opportunity to reshape the future of our generations to come.

If we continue this attitude of fighting wars for money and creating narratives to nurture extremism and violence then we will always listen to the orders of ‘Do more’ or ‘No more’. We are free to make choices but the consequences will be faced by our generations to come, just as we faced the consequences of General Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf‘s decisions, throwing us into the US wars. Let’s hope that sanity prevails this time and our policy makers change the rotten narrative and attitude.

 

 

 

 

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist based in Lahore. He is a regular Columnist/Commentator in newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policies and media related think tanks.

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