Retaining our Sovereignty

Posted by Admin On Friday, 19 April 2013 0 comments

There is a saying: there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Relationships between unequal states are never just.
A deeper look at the so-called “strategic relationship” between Pakistan and the US raises the question that can such cooperation between a superpower and a middling power, as between Pakistan and the US in the war on terror, strictly be termed a strategic partnership? One is afraid it cannot always be described as such. There may be more than one interpretation but perhaps, it would be more accurate to describe the relationship as a temporary confluence of interest in a given scenario.
The US reacted to a terrorist attack and Pakistan became a victim of circumstances due to what we once prided ourselves on, that is, our strategic geopolitical location, which, incidentally, proved to be a double-edged sword. The US understandably over-reacted in the manner of all superpowers. We capitulated without having ensured a loophole for ourselves in case the going got too hot to handle. That was our first mistake!
Over the years, we have been sending the wrong signals to the US. We may have expressed our unhappiness at certain events but we never displayed the gumption to take a firm stand. The US unilaterally opted to move the goalposts several times in the course of the war on terror. Our feeble protestations left something to be desired and our ‘ally’ virtually got away with murder each time. Let us face it: one firm stand on principles is worth a hundred feeble protestations.
Now, as we move towards new elections, it is the right time to pause and introspect. We have to ask ourselves: how often has the sovereignty of the country been under threat since the start of the war on terror? There has, no doubt, been more than one occurrence that can be classed as a violation of sovereignty under international law and norms. Our react ion on these occasions has been more of acquiescence than protest.
The US has, over the past years, been constantly upping the ante, to use an Americanism. On our part, we have taken everything in our stride. Examples abound. The US administration has nurtured the habit of overriding our concerns. So, if they look askance at our taking a stand it should not be entirely surprising.
Now, to briefly touch on the way out of this crisis. We need to do what we should have done in the first place, before we plunged headlong into the war on terror. We should have given serious thought to our options, weighed them against our set of priorities and decided on red lines in terms of our national interest. It may still not be too late to, at least, partially save the situation.
If one has dug oneself into a hole, it is always a good policy to stop digging. So, it may be the time to work out the cost-benefit ratio of our adventure as the frontline state in the war on terror. If this ratio is adverse, we may have to rethink our options in the light of our national interest.
There is also the need to initiate a heart-to-heart talk with our American ally. There is no need at all for public posturing or of carrying out negotiations via the media. These things are best carried out in confidence. Red lines have to be mutually agreed upon. The threat of the cut off of assistance has to be faced maturely. There is no alternative to tightening our belts and reducing the chasms between our means and desires. We cannot hope to eat our cake and have it too.
Last but certainly not the least, it must be recognised that the order of our priorities has gone horribly awry. It is imperative that we reset our priorities to conform to our national interest, that is and must remain supreme.


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