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The Power of Restraint : American Neutrality in Pakistan

December 21, 2009

American Neutrality is Boston Globe’s recommendation for U.S. policymakers as political uncertainty looms over Pakistan with last weeks repeal of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, effectively revoking Amnesty from corruption charges on thousands of government officials. Although political transition appears imminent in 2010 and comes as President Obama commits to an Af-Pak troop surge, effectively stepping up our engagement with Islamabad, the Boston Globe’s call for neutrality is wise given the current pool of potential leaders to choose from:

  • Nawaaz Sharif:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Quite simply:After two terms as prime minister, he’s remembered for rampant corruption, nuclear proliferation, and his penchant for cozying up to Islamist militants
  • Pervez Musharraf or Asif Zardari:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Well: “at the behest of Washington, General Pervez Musharraf, who was president at the time, arranged the amnesty that allowed Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, to return from exile so she could lead her Pakistan Peoples Party in elections. Bhutto was assassinated, and her husband became prime minister. Not without reason, many Pakistanis who are angry about Zardari’s corruption and ineffectiveness hold the United States responsible for imposing him on their country”
  • Pakistan Military:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Perpetuating rampant blame that one too many American backed military dictators have prevented democracy from ever taking root in Pakistan can’t help growing weariness of cooperation with our government.
      • Noteworthy example – Backing General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980’s with his leadership key to training the Mujahideen (now known as Al Qaeda) to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. Not coincidentally, Zia’s regime is remembered as the time Pakistan shifted from being a socially progressive, and moderate Islamic state, to imposing severe, fundamentalist religious policy reforms.
  • Chief Justice Iftekhar Chaudhry:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral: Under a sugar-coated banner of “democracy”, the Chief Justice is too blatantly partisan for us to support. His recent decision to repeal the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which set wheels in motion for regime change is widely understood as nothing short of a ploy for power and done in the politics of retribution.

This leaves neutrality as not only our most wise option, but also perhaps our most ethical route. Restraint in supporting any particular regime could mean history points one less finger in our direction should anything go less than perfect as we deepen involvement in Af-Pak. Simultaneously, neutrality assures Pakistani masses who are increasingly skeptical of cooperation with the United States that they have 100% autonomy in political processes.

Well publicized neutrality on a looming regime change could be a valuable opportunity to demonstrate a genuine interest in Pakistan as they transform politically and we require their support in the War on Terror.

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2 comments

  1. Nice post zainab, u have mentioned all the role players very accurately, on the other in my opinion US also should realized that to win the hearts and minds of Pakistani people, do more, drone attacks and US interference in political matter of Pakistan will make the situation worse among Pakistani’s minds.

    Your post deserved to be rated five star, keep it up 🙂

    Like


  2. Although I agree that US should remain neutral, in fact I’ll go a little further and say DO NOT interfere, in the pak-state matters, I can’t bring myself to agree with what you’ve written about Pakistan Supreme Courts’ decision to repeal NRO.

    This decision is about holding accountable individuals who have swindled public resources — mind you, they were over 150 billion Pakistani rupees, an amount more than Kerry-lugar bill is going to offer. We are an extremely poor country, with no health insurances for people, no education, no funds for jobless, no help for homeless ( Swat, and now Wazirastan ), etc…

    In such dire straits, if Supreme Court doesn’t put the people who’ve cheated on public’s money to task, there’s no hope for the poor and no deterrent for rulers to avoid from commiting such misconducts again.

    We need a start. If current Supreme Court can give that, nobody would mind other than the one’s who were benefited or still are being benefitted.

    Like



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