February Issue 2003

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 21 years ago

As the American juggernaut moves closer to yet another war, there are fears of a clear and present danger that Pakistan might be next on the US hit-list.

Post September 11, the world seems to have shrunk for Pakistanis, with more and more being subjected to tooth-comb checks at immigration counters around the world — and less and less being issued visas. The inclusion of Pakistan among those countries whose nationals have to register with the INS has caused much heartburn and outrage at the treatment meted out to a country that has served as a frontline state in the US war against terrorism.

The question that needs to be answered is: Does being a frontline state automatically guarantee diplomatic immunity and VIP treatment? Not really, as the world now stands. Pakistan appears increasingly isolated, never mind the official high-powered trips to the Middle East, Russia etcetera etcetera, never mind the claims of friendship with the Muslim world. At the end of the day there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests. The blame for Pakistan’s isolation in the comity of nations rests fairly and squarely on the shoulders of those who have steered this country into uncharted courses.

There has been no sense of direction, no clear-cut foreign policy that takes into account our national interests. Only knee-jerk responses to situations as and when they confront us, or swift policy turnarounds when pushed into a corner.

In our search for ‘strategic depth,’ in Afghanistan, we have produced Frankensteins that refuse to go away and are tearing away at the fabric of the nation.

There seems to be little political will to deal with these elements. Our policy, on that score, is one of ambivalence. The only constant in our foreign policy is our India-centric vision that has created a situation where we are constantly under threat, constantly in the throes of an imminent war.

We are given to flaunting our nuclear weapon almost as if it were a toy gun — and viewing it as a safeguard against all invading armies.

The irony of ironies is that we have no weapon to fight the enemy within. Bombs rip through Karachi yet again and there are no accused. Gas pipelines are blown up and the government is unable to nab the culprits.

Are we destined to live in a perpetual state of uncertainty, of lawlessness, of terror? Overnight we turned into a frontline state, but who will fight the forces of terrorism that are destroying Pakistan?

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.