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Who “Meddles” in Pakistan ?

December 28, 2009

“Before we begin to upbraid the world for “meddling in our internal affairs,” it is vital for us to put our own house in order.”

Says a writer for Dawn News (Pakistan’s premier Newspaper). It’s an increasingly heard argument as cooperation between the United States and Pakistan deepens. In fact, it seems many Pakistani’s either fall into the category of calling for less meddling if not suggesting a total end to the alliance.

But shouldn’t we clarify what exactly “meddling” is? Does the author mean to encompass everything from drones, the Kerry Lugar Bill, Obama’s Troop Surge, and Secretary Clinton’s Pakistani media rounds / policy recommendations are equivalent to meddling?

Because the inherent problem with referring to any of those issues as “meddling” is that they all require the compliance of Pakistans government. Without the concession of Pakistani politicians, American interventions, assistance or policies could not be implemented.

Of course one might suggest realist theories on international relations wherein leaders, and ultimately states are subject to an international system actually dictate policymaking. In the case of current U.S. Pakistani relations some say cooperation, at any cost, is inevitable given American hegemony. It’s an argument echoing former President Musharraff’s description of why Pakistan didn’t remain neutral post 9/11:

‘Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age’,” is the threat Musharraf said Pakistan received if it didn’t cooperate in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001’s invasion of Afghanistan.

So why wasn’t neutrality an option? One might look back in history and cite an unremitting reliance on international assistance as the main cause of why Pakistani politics might seem inevitably subject to foreign interference.

During the Cold War, while countries like India declared themselves Non Aligned, Pakistan bandwagoned with the United States forming an alliance in desire to expand militarily. I won’t argue whether that military expansion was necessary or not, because there are fair arguments on either side. But military cooperation during the Cold War, and then the Soviet Afghan War set the stage for inevitable cooperation in today’s War on Terror.

Never forming viable democratic social and political infrastructure from the ground up may have fated Pakistan to rely on foreign assistance, or what some consider “meddling” for the sake of basic security and development.

The author is then correct to some extent: before whining about foreign interferences, Pakistan might consider constructing it’s own security first.

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4 comments

  1. Why is it with countries like PAKISTAN that someone is always meddling in their affairs.The answer is simple,our leadership never displayed the vision nor the capacity to give a precise direction to the country right at the outset. I need’nt go into the detailed analysis of our chequered history to prove my point. The successive leaderships displayed shortsightedness and lack of imagination to tackle the problems related to internal stability n to foreign relations.
    The comparison with the countries who won independence either along with us or little later shows that we were unable to follow a precise direction right at the outset.The first ten years of our history are enough of evidence of the political turmoil in which the country remained because of the immature approach of our leadership.
    It has been a sad story all along.Interference by India in the Eastern Province of the country which finally led to its secession,waiting for the sixth US fleet to avoid the inevitable are but a couple of examples of lack of our capacity and absence of the will to get rid of meddling by foreign countries.
    Unfortunately we failed time n again to learn our lessons.The way we handled the situation during Afghan war against the USSR was reflective of our utter lack of vision. The fallout from this war left permanent scars on our society. 9/11 resulted from our failure to see into the future. Earlier, we were unable to visualise that we lacked the capacity to fill the vacuum to be created by the collapse of the USSR, Resultantly we had to leave the field wide open for the US to become sole superpower of the world.
    Very briefly I would like to conclude that we need to put our house in order before blaming people right and left.A strong n self sustaining economy, corruption free political system,rule of law n undiluted writ of the state are the minimum prerequisites to attain a level where meddling by outside states n non state elements could be curtailed.

    become the sole superpower of the world.

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    • Abu,

      very well put. It’s a lack of vision as you say.

      It couldn’t have been said more succinctly.

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  2. There are so many forces pushing and pulling affairs in Pakistan – all only for their own good and help to stay and stick around. Many neighbouring countries are also taking advantage of the situation and making it difficult for Pakistan to cope with simultaneously.What we need is some true friends who could assist us in bringing peace – but there seems none.

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  3. Good point Jalal. Steadfast alliances are useful. The only problem is, alliances are inherently fickle in state to state affairs given everyone’s out to maximize their own interest.

    Hence the idea in my piece that Pakistan bring itself up by it’s bootstraps, end reliance on alliances.

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