Thursday, 29 May 2008

Anti Government or anti Pakistan

Anti Government or anti Pakistan
Dr Shabir Choudhry 05 February 2003

Some members of Pakistani establishment and especially those agencies, which have assumed the role of determining what is ‘national interest of Pakistan’, and who is loyal, and who is anti Pakistan, have perhaps done more damage to Pakistan than known enemies of Pakistan.

It is unfortunate that every blunder, be it at national level or in foreign affairs, is made in the name of ‘national interest of Pakistan’. People of Pakistan and people of Kashmir are perplexed as they fail to understand what is ’national interest of Pakistan.

People are further bewildered when some of these leaders, perceived and declared as ‘anti Pakistan’ or ‘security risk’ are sworn in to hold some kind of office in Pakistan. There are many examples where people declared as an ‘Indian agent’ or ‘traitor’ had taken high public office; even those who had no Pakistani nationality or rescinded it, had an opportunity to become Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Once these people have decided that something is in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’, they will pursue that agenda without having any system of check and balance and appraisal. If any one dares to criticise what they do in the name of ‘national interest of Pakistan’, he/she is declared as ‘anti Pakistan’, especially if the person concerned is a Kashmiri.

In this context the Kashmiri people are getting the same treatment by Pakistani agencies and some sections of the media what Muslims are getting at the international level. For example, if a non- Muslim person commits a violent action, he is not declared as a ‘Christian terrorist’, a ‘Hindu terrorist’ or a Jewish terrorist’, but if that person happens to be a Muslim then he is immediately labelled as a ‘Muslim terrorist’.

Similarly if a Pakistani person criticises Pakistan government, or holds demonstration against the government policy, he is anti government but if a Kashmiri person criticises a policy of a Pakistani government he is declared as ‘anti Pakistan’.

Either they don’t understand or they don’t want to understand that government and state are two different things. Governments come and go, and not all citizens of the state have duty to defend the incumbent government or its policies, whereas the state is there to stay and it is duty of every citizen to defend the state. In other words there must be loyalty to the state and respect for its integrity, but one doesn’t have to show loyalty to a government or an agency member in order to be loyal to the state.

Any criticism on one policy of any government is not a frontal attack on the existence of the state. A policy of any government could be criticised, opposed and challenged, and this action does not make anyone anti state. But some members of the Pakistani establishment think they have monopoly over wisdom and interpretation of what is ‘national interest of Pakistan’.

There is a long list of blunders which were made in the name of ‘national interest of Pakistan’. Governor General Ghulam Mohammed did all his ‘misdeeds’ in the name of ‘national interest of Pakistan’; and Iskandar Mirza and General Ayub Khan also kept this tradition alive. In the ‘national interest of Pakistan’ he successfully invaded his own country and abrogated the first constitution which was agreed and passed after nine years of hard work.

Pakistan joined SEATO and CENTO military alliances against Soviet Russia, provided bases to America near Peshawer that America could conduct spying operations against Russia, and invited Russia wrath against Pakistan. And when U2 spying aeroplane, which took off from Peshawer, was shot down, Russian leaders said we have made a red circle around Peshawer.

In 1956, Western countries including Israel attacked Egypt over the issue of Suez Canal, all Muslim countries and many other countries including India condemned this aggression, but Pakistani government supported it, and annoyed Muslim countries. Both incidents had far reaching consequences for Pakistan but those who made decision claimed that they did this in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’.

General Yayya Khan was also a ‘competent’ general, and in ‘national interest of Pakistan’ he also impose Martial Law and abrogated the constitution, refused to transfer power to the party with absolute majority in the parliament, ordered his army to attack Pakistani people in East Pakistan, which resulted in fall of Dhaka, and death of millions of innocent people and imprisonment of 93,000 armed personnel.

This decision not only resulted in break up of Pakistan, it also brought shame to Muslims, as it was the biggest surrender of the history. In this unfortunate situation, where people were denied their rights and right to form a government, and were forced to defend themselves against a military action, brothers fought each other and killed each other. But those who took these decisions claimed that it was done in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’, and they got away with it.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto dismissed democratically elected governments of Balochistan and North West Frontier in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’; Pakistan National Alliance started campaign against Bhutto’s government in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’, General Zia Ul Haq also had Pakistan’s national interest in his mind when he overthrew Bhutto’s government and imposed Martial law.

General Zia Ul Haq fought America’s proxy war against Russia in the
‘National interest of Pakistan’; and in return, ‘imported’ Kaleishenkof culture and heroin culture. As if this was not enough, he dismissed government of his own hand picked man Mohammed Khan Junejo while he was on an official visit abroad; and Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Farooq Leghari who became Pakistani Presidents after demise of General Zia Ul Haq, followed tradition and history of dismissing elected governments in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’.

In the ‘national interest of Pakistan’, Pakistani government allowed more than three million Afghani people into Pakistan, but respective governments have refused to allow 3 Lakh Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh since 1971. These unfortunate people twice sacrificed everything in the name of Pakistan, first in 1947, and second time in 1971.

These officials thought it was in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’ to
help, support and encourage Jihadi organisations in Pakistan which ultimately carried out Jihad in Kashmir, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Now it is in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’ to crush these Jihadi organisations.

It was a well - considered policy and surely a ‘national interest of Pakistan’ that Taliban movement succeeded in Afghanistan, all sorts of help and support was provided to them. Once they were in power it was in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’ to ensure that they remain in power, and for this respective Pakistani governments strained their relations with many friendly countries including Iran.

Once again Pakistani officials made a U turn and in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’ helped and supported down fall of the Taliban government. And not only that they ensured that those who tried to escape into Pakistan are captured and handed over to America; but against diplomatic norms even handed over Taliban diplomat to Islamabad Mullah Zaieef as well.

Pakistani officials have been very generous in handing over Afghanis and Muslims from other countries who were fleeing for their lives and were hiding in Pakistan, a country supposedly achieved for welfare and security of Muslims. And to rub salt in wounds of Pakistanis, some Pakistani nationals have also been handed over to FBI, and no one exactly knows how many unfortunate Pakistani citizens have been sacrificed this way on the altar of ‘national interest of Pakistan’.

It is not that Pakistan has its back against the wall after 9-11, and has to comply with ‘orders’. Pakistani governments have shown no hesitation in handing over their nationals to America even before this tragic incident. The present government is only following this tradition of its predecessors. Who ever is required by America, in the ‘national interest of Pakistan’, is handed over to them that he could languish in American prison, and this way there is no pressure on Pakistani prisons.

If the Americans decide to kill the person with a lethal injection as in the case of Amal Kansi, we are ready to receive a dead body and bury it with appropriate honour.

I have only pointed out very prominent events where Pakistani governments acted in self-interest but covered their deeds under the label of ‘national interest’, and those who raised objections were either put behind the bar or branded as ‘anti Pakistan’. I am sure many more such incidents could be added to this list.

For writing this I will be criticised by a group of people who think they have monopoly in wisdom and have right to issue ‘fatwa’ who is loyal and who is ‘anti Pakistan’. Some Pakistani writers have also written and highlighted some of these events, and some have even used harsher words than what I have used.

It would be best service to Pakistan if these people could distinguish between interest of a government and interest of the state. One has to be loyal to state not to a government; and we Kashmiris have every right to criticise wrong Kashmir policy of Pakistan, and my first loyalty is to the cause of united and independent Kashmir not to any governments of Kashmir’s neighbours. Pakistani officials need to understand that great Socrates said: one who criticise you is your best friend.

Writer is a Kashmiri leader based in London and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir.

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