By Abid Mustafa
“They believe they have been let down by the leadership across the board, that they do not believe that the government is a truly independent government”—Tariq Pirzada
Recently, two decisions have come to epitomize the corruption and the inaptitude of the Pakistani elite to lead their people away from the precipice of crisis and chaos that has engulfed the country. Both the civil and military leaderships bear equal responsibility in putting the country on the path of self-destruction and ignominy.
Firstly, President Asif Ali Zardari’s decision to nominate Raja Pervez Ashraf – popularly known as ‘Raja Rental’—as Prime Minister underscores the determination of the civilian leadership to continue with the rampant corruption and incompetence that has become the mainstay of his government. Raja Rental was famously derided by both his peers and the Pakistani public for his miserable record as the Minister of Water and Power. During his tenure Pakistan suffered incessant power shortages and black outs. Rather than reprimanding him and banishing him from the government, Zardari rewarded Raja by officially appointing him as the Minster of Information Technology.
However, allegations of misuse of power and sleaze never left his side, and most probably elevated his importance to Zardari, so much so, that Raja Rental eventually landed the top job and became Prime Minister Gilani’s successor. Mr. Gilani you will recall, was unceremoniously dismissed by the Supreme Court for refusing to entertain corruption allegations against Zardari.
Thus the never ending saga of rampant corruption is not only set to continue, but was given a huge boost when Raja Rental created the unnecessary position of the Deputy Prime Minister and gave it to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi — the grand daddy of political sleaze. The position was created as part of a power sharing deal brokered between Zardari of PPP and the Chaudhry brothers of PML (Q). Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was once an arch nemesis of Zardari, but now they are bedfellows in a hideous corruption team that includes ‘Mr 10%’, Raja Rental and the Chaudhry of sleaze.
Secondly, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Kayani, anxious not to be left behind, mounted his own campaign to go down in the history books as Pakistan’s most corrupt and subservient general. After putting up with eight months of nominal resistance to American demands to reopen NATO supply lines, the COAS all of a sudden capitulated. In return, Pakistan received an apology from Clinton— which was not meant to be an apology but a mere expression of regret—for killing Pakistani troops and no extra cash for the delivery of supplies to NATO forces as initially demanded. This incident was touted as a diplomatic victory for Pakistan, but people were truly left bewildered by the development and wondered why had Kayani provided the means for NATO to accelerate the sharpening of knives to dismember Pakistan?
As for America, she was quick to shower praise on her stooges and hoped for greater subservience to her interests. On July 1st 2012, US Secretary of State called Prime Minister Raja Rental and said that she hoped US-Pak relations would improve further during his tenure. A week later, Clinton hoped for better relations with the military. She said, “We want to use the positive momentum generated by our recent agreement to take tangible steps on our many shared, core interests.” Obviously, this means more drone strikes, greater incursions by US troops and an escalation of Pakistani military operations against militants opposed to America’s occupation of Afghanistan. Many Pakistanis are now wondering how all of this is going to help them after looking at what the last 10 years of forced marriage with America has brought, apart from and Washington’s relentless war against Islam!
With America showcasing and supporting Pakistan’s corrupt and incapable civil and military leaders, the Pakistani public is becoming increasingly anti-American. According to a new poll released a few weeks ago by the Pew Research Center, about 75% of Pakistanis regard the U.S. as an enemy. Three years ago, 64% of Pakistanis surveyed said they viewed America as an enemy. A growing number of Pakistanis also feel that improving relations with Washington isn’t a major priority, the poll found. Furthermore, around 40% of Pakistanis surveyed said that they thought that U.S. economic and military assistance actually had a negative effect on their country. Only 12% said they believe that economic assistance from Washington helps solve Pakistan’s problems. The same poll found that Muslims in Pakistan wanted a greater role for Islam in political life. Pakistanis turning towards Islam to adopt alternative solutions to the current milieu is an ominous sign for America and Pakistan’s leadership.
America on her part is either oblivious to this trend due to her arrogance, or somehow thinks that she can carry on calling the shots despite the apparent Pakistani wavering of her primacy. There is no doubt that the present model is unsustainable, even if Pakistan somehow managed to divorce America. It is only a matter of time before the Pakistani people opt for an Islamic state, and America along with her surrogates will be banished from the country.
Abid Mustafa is a political commentator who specialises in Muslim issues and global affairs.