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Pakistan: Double Dealing on Virtually Every Issue

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Editorial Daily Times *

The national security paradigm that the military establishment has clung to for the last 66 years has made Pakistan the most insecure country in the world, where no one is willing to make investment, where people do not want to come as tourists, where its own people are hard put to find opportunities to grow and prosper. It is a country considered the bedrock and breeding ground of terrorism. Branded even more dangerous than Afghanistan, Pakistan has a few happy occasions to share with its people and many more to shed tears on for the wrong policies of its leaders (especially military rulers).

Pakistan's reliance on proxies for projecting power in the region, especially against Afghanistan and India, has come back to haunt it in the shape of jihadi terrorism. The manufacturing of jihadi extremists through a network of madrassas established with Saudi money has by now reaped a deadly crop. The irony is that this adventure with Islamic extremism has resulted in severe fallouts, shaking the very foundation of Pakistan’s existence through internal terrorism and mayhem.

We have been double dealing on virtually every issue. On the one hand we are churning out human bombs (suicide bombers) and on the other have been complicit in US drone attacks. We shook hands with India way back in 1999 and invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to Pakistan on a friendship bus. Even before the euphoria of the Lahore Declaration was fully absorbed, the Kargil adventure was staged. We allied ourselves with the US to hunt down the most wanted man of the world, Osama bin Laden, took money for our services, but were unable to trace him to the garrison city of Abottabad. We installed our favoured government of the Taliban in Afghanistan and later ostensibly helped the US against them while providing them safe havens on Pakistani soil. We want friendship with India yet spare no chance to infiltrate jihadists into Kashmir. This double dealing has now become the hallmark of our reputation, with the result that countries like the US and even our all-weather friend China have developed mistrust for us.

While internally the country is bleeding to death because of the failing institutions that date back to the British era, we continue with our adventures in the neighbourhood, undeterred by their deadly blowback. Arguably, crises such as energy and the economy reflect our crumbling state institutions, structure and capabilities. We continue to give a free hand in Balochistan to groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to conduct a sectarian genocide. The nationalists in the province have been long terrorized through the kidnapping and kill and dump policies of the military. A man with Rs 10 million on his head and implicated in the Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed, is given right in the heart of Lahore at Gaddafi stadium an open space to deliver explosive Eid sermons on jihad, focusing on Kashmir. Meantime the pantomime of exchange of fire, casualties, accusations has flared up again on the LoC.

The days are numbered for a continuation of these adventurist jihadi policies. Either we are heading for an internal collapse, or into isolation as a pariah state. Before any of these happen, it is time to recollect Jinnah’s vision on this Independence Day to create a tolerant, liberal and progressive state that works for the welfare of its people. For that we have to shed the proxy syndrome that has crippled the country in every respect.

* This appeared as Editorial titled Independence Day and is republished with permission.

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