Thursday, December 15, 2011

No war in our backyard

One can’t but thank the Americans and their Occupy Wall Street movement for giving the world three most ingenious ideas through their posters. ‘Unfuck the world”; “be nice to America , otherwise we will bring democracy to your country” and third, the most creative one - “we are 99%” that explained the complexity of class war through simple math and brought home the truth about how just one per cent of the elite appropriate the wealth and labour of the rest 99%. In some countries this rich class is either the oligarchs, corporate honchos or the feudal lords, as in Pakistan. Unfortunately, it is this miniscule percentage of our population that determines what the majority eats and goes to war for. Realism in the third world is often an euphemism for the expediency of the ruling elite - and this so-called realism of less than one per cent of the population has a short shelf life. This is exactly what the Pakistani elite are now discovering by inviting war to come to their country and letting the Americans kill their soldiers. Last month Nato helicopters and jet fighters killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, along the Afghan border. 

Much of strategic thought in Pakistan has been guided by feudal lords who have fooled Pakistani people - first, by creating a state for the sake of Islam and then hobnobbing with the crusaders, the enemies of Islam to sustain it. It is this inherent contradiction that is leading to a crisis in Pakistan. Islamabad chased Washington like a dog and it is being treated like one. The dawning of this reality is making many in Pakistan now acknowledge the flawed strategy of directing all their energy towards making India bleed through a thousand cuts. Many thought leaders in Pakistan are now urging India to accept their friendship. These altered perceptions augur well for the establishment of peace in the region, plagued by mistrust. We need to strive towards a world where the armed forces of India, China and Pakistan do not have to use the fig leaf of threat from the neighbourhood to demand extra budgets from their respective governments. Hope we reach a stage where policy makers ask one simple question before making war and peace - will their decision help the 99% or is it being dictated by the greed of the 1%.

This ideal situation would hardly have seemed far fetched had all three been independent to decide their destiny. Sadly, after the British left the region in 1950s, America came in and occupied the Pakistani minds and military. India’s professed non-alignment kept Uncle Sam at a distance - India’s estrangement hardly mattered to the Americans, who very busy courting the Chinese in the Cold War era. Beijing, in its adolescence, was smart enough to only flirt with the Americans, without promising them marriage.

Notwithstanding, the differences in the degree of closeness that the three countries permitted America to enjoy with them - the result was that the USA was able to establish an over arching presence in the region - dictating the levels of relationship that the trio enjoyed with each other. Now, for the first time history is offering the region an opportunity to throw the last vestiges of colonialism from our midst and tell America to pack their bags and go home. All our strategic thinking cannot be directed towards finding solutions on how best to adjust American interests in the region. Pakistan had done that unashamedly for the past six decades and now India is following the beaten track. It is high time that India and Pakistan jointly tell the world that along with Taliban, Pentagon and CIA too disturb peace in the region. The sooner the Americans go back home, the better it is for prospects of durable peace in the region. The strategic community must boldly begin to acknowledge that America is the problem and not a part of the solution. Its presence has made South Asia more dangerous. Those who fear that the American withdrawal from Afghanistan will leave a gaping hole in the security of the South Asia need to peep into recent history and ask - After all, what difference did the British disappearance make to us?

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