How can we restore our lost honor albeit partially?
A hard hitting and heart hitting piece by Ayaz Amir. 😢 😢 😢
Pakistan wasn’t humiliated at the Riyadh summit. Its humiliation was completed well before this event when Gen Raheel Sharif accepted the offer of commanding the phantom military alliance---which exists only on paper and which has no role or purpose except to put up a front against Iran---being promoted by the Saudi royal family.
Here, arguably, was the most celebrated army chief in Pakistan’s history and he was willing to throw away all the accolades and honour that came his way when he led the successful fight against Taliban terrorism by taking service under the Saudi flag. For this is what his appointment amounts to: service under the Saudi royal family. This was Pakistan’s real humiliation. It showed the country in a bad light and confirmed the view current about Pakistan in Arab countries that this is a nation always ready to perform such services for the right consideration.
Sadly, this is the reputation we have and our leaders don’t make it any easier for the country because their behaviour in office only strengthens this impression. Gen Zia was bag-carrier for both the Americans and the Saudis. Gen Musharraf was bag-carrier for the Americans and was not above receiving a gift of money---with which he bought his London property---from the hands of the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was different. He was no one’s bag-carrier and had a fierce sense of national pride. That is why he was respected in the Arab world and he dealt with everyone on an equal footing---Sadat, Gaddafi, Boumediene, Arafat, Sheikh Zayed, Hafez Al-Asad, the Shah of Iran, et al. When the 1973 Arab-Israeli war broke out he was quick to offer Pakistan’s help. Syria will not easily forget that Pakistani pilots went into combat on its side against the Israeli air force.
If Bhutto or his ghost had been at Riyadh would he have kept silent when Trump was lecturing the great representatives of the Arab and Muslim world and telling them that Iran should be isolated? He would have spoken up on Iran’s side or he would have walked out of that hall.
Even under Ayub Khan and Gen Yahya Pakistan was taken seriously in the councils of the Arab world because its standing was much better than what it is today.
From Nawaz Sharif what can anyone expect? He is personally beholden to the Saudi royal house because King Abdullah intervened with Gen Musharraf on his behalf and helped get him out of prison and into comfortable exile in Saudi Arabia. When he became prime minister this time the Saudis gave Pakistan a gift of 1.5 billion dollars. So when he was invited to Riyadh there is no way that he of all people could have refused.
But what were we expecting? Were N League loyalists really thinking that he would get some kind of special treatment there? The Saudis wanted Nawaz Sharif’s participation. That was it…beyond that Pakistan did not matter. So Pakistan and its prime minister were treated accordingly, strictly in line with Saudi requirements. Why should we be surprised by this? Nawaz Sharif may be a lion to his party acolytes. He is no lion outside Pakistan.
But if there was nothing much to expect from Nawaz Sharif, the same does not hold true for Raheel Sharif. His acceptance of the Saudi position therefore is a letdown for Pakistan. Whether Raheel Sharif in personal terms gains something from this appointment is beside the point. It makes Pakistan look small, and it virtually negates and nullifies all Gen Raheel’s contribution as army chief. This is the sad part.
What is wrong with us? Why can’t our people in authority, those who rise to high positions, set an example for their countrymen? Why can’t they hold to higher standards of conduct? It has become commonplace to say that our political elites are corrupt. But if we look around us we find no exceptions and no heroes anywhere. To varying degrees the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of which we speak affects every quarter and every circle…as if it were a contagion.
This is Pakistan’s severest problem, more acute than load-shedding or debt accumulation, or bad governance…the fact that we have a poor leadership class, on both the political and military sides.
Our soldiers and young officers have rendered huge sacrifices since the start of operations against the Pakistani Taliban and the other outfits waging war against the Pakistani state. Picture the state of mind of the young officer deployed in forward positions in Fata and elsewhere, ever on the alert for the stray bullet, ever on the lookout for the sudden ambush, when he hears stories of the loot and plunder of our elite classes. Isn’t he entitled to ask for whom and for whose sake is he doing all this? Wouldn’t he be tempted to think sometimes that this is an ungrateful nation?
The Riyadh summit was no Pakistani humiliation. It was a collective humiliation of the assembled monarchs and potentates of the Muslim world as they virtually genuflected before the American president and sang his praises…all in a bid to secure the United States to Saudi Arabia’s side in its confrontation against Iran.
This is our collective worth. Smaller nations have more self-respect. Cuba had self-respect and stood up to the United States for all these years. North Korea, we may call it anything we like, has self-respect and it is in pursuit of its own notion of defiance that it is not above needling the US and testing its missiles when the urge gets it.
Our prime minister flies to Saudi Arabia and, as reports suggest, throughout his flight rehearses the speech he never gets to make. On his return he faces the ongoing probe by the Joint Investigation Team into the corruption allegations against him and his family contained in the Panama Papers.
From newspaper accounts it is becoming clear that the Sharif family has decided to make the task of the JIT as difficult as possible. Objections have been raised to two members of the JIT for their alleged bias against the Sharif family. And a cousin being investigated, Tariq Shafi, has written a long letter to the investigating authorities complaining of harsh treatment. Questions they find hard to answer are their idea of harsh treatment.
They’ve always been used to friendly judges, like the exemplary Malik Qayyum who in his time was happy to be in their pocket. Now that they face an independent investigation they don’t like it and have begun objecting to everything.
The larger question remains: how can a prime minister being investigated for corrupt practices and money-laundering live up adequately to the duties of his office? Someone who is under a cloud himself, can he be the best defender of a nation’s dignity and honour?