By Marjan Akhtar
The article, “The Alley from Hell” published by the Atlantic magazine is reflecting the typical nature of the Americans. The same old concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons getting into the hands of non-state actors, the volatile political state of the government, the imbalanced civil-military relations and the ambiguous alliance of the ISI with terrorist networks, all make up the perfect recipe of a failed state.
Since the United States intrusion into Pakistan on 2nd May, 2011, a raid which supposedly killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad, the world has labeled our country as the most dangerous place on the globe. The U.S has been worried about our nuclear program and made plans to get hold of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons if need be. In the Western view, the possible threats could be; the theft of a nuclear weapon or fissile material from one of the facilities, infiltration within the official personnel, an attack similar to the 2008 Mumbai attack on India which can escalate into a nuclear war and the recent development of tactical nuclear weapons in Pakistan.
I wonder why the United States and her media are so concerned about Pakistan’s issues. We are a sovereign state with weak yet fully functional government. We don’t need a baby sitter to watch us. The United States should focus more on her domestic issues. The American nation is not very happy with the Obama Administration. Take the economic crisis for instance. The war on terror in Afghanistan has drained the U.S economy striking the nation with unemployment, crimes and at times unstable law and order situation in the deprived and natural disaster struck states of the country.
No doubt that Pakistan has been on a fiery roller coaster since 9/11, becoming victim of a cancer like terrorism, strained economy, and political upheaval, our nation has still sustained and survived all the way. As far as the economy is concerned, so until and unless the United Sates and ISAF stop investing in Afghanistan, our economic condition will hang by a thread. Unless the United States stop pressurizing Pakistan to do more by killing alleged militants in North Waziristan and other FATA areas, our financial budget would remain tilted in favor of military. So calling our military incapable is totally out of context because no army anywhere in the world is securing their country against Eastern, Western and domestic threats at the same time.
Secondly, our nuclear command and control is robust enough to deny access to non-actors or foreign forces into our nuclear facilities. The framework of our nuclear command and control was commended by the IAEA and considered as a precedent for other nuclear states to follow. The introduction of tactical nuclear weapons in our nuclear arsenal should not be anybody’s business because it only benefits Pakistan by strengthening her nuclear deterrent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that our command and control would go delegative. It has been assertive and under the NCA and will remain so until the security situation becomes grave like the Kargil conflict of 1999.
The United States threats of cutting aid on Pakistan are naïve. She should not forget that inspite of international sanctions back in the 70s; we created our nuclear program indigenously so we won’t die if we get another leader like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Even if we don’t, the country won’t fall apart. Besides, cutting aid would be their loss. No oil tankers for NATO aircrafts will be transported to Afghanistan. In fact, she will get to taste her own medicine. So instead of threatening us directly and indirectly time and again, the United States should come up with a more mature and comprehensive approach and stop criticizing Pakistan in her media. As far as the ISI’s actions are concerned, so this should not be forgotten that it’s an intelligence agency and is supposed to have an ambiguous and clandestine nature. Even the CIA has never shown its true colors and has been involved in many classified missions.
Pak-U.S relations are very critical at this point when our airspace has been violated by foreign forces, when our economy is on the brink of collapse as a result of war on terror in Afghanistan, when India is gaining pace in its offensive strategies, when the government has failed to satisfy the nation and when non-state actors have ripped the very being of our country. The United States should bear this in mind that the Pakistani nation is not enjoying the current state they are in. We have been suffering and paying the cost of the decade long war. So nobody has the right to criticize the efforts of our military and civilian leadership. Instead, they should adopt a cooperative approach and refrain from giving Pakistani perspectives from their warm cozy chairs in the “white shrine”. One has to be in our shoes to give a narrative on Pakistan.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, Islamabad.