WHILE commenting on the closure of Nato supply by Pakistan after the Chicago summit, US President Barack Obama said: “The US does not want Pakistan to be consumed by its own extremism.”
He was, of course, referring to Pakistani society’s march towards the right and rampant anti-Americanism. Pakistan has been chastised in the local and international media for becoming an intolerant society and the increasing role of religion in the public space is considered as the sole reason for this growing phenomenon.
The issue of closure of the Nato supply route is also seen in this context where the public is considered ‘emotional’ and ‘idealistic’ in its demands for cutting Pakistan’s alliance with the US and Nato by continuing the blockade of the ground lines of communication for Nato forces fighting in Afghanistan.
It is believed that this is a direct consequence of sense of ‘honour’ and ‘dignity’ which has no place in the pragmatic world of international affairs. So the right-wing parties and right leaning intellectuals within the Pakistani intelligentsia are blamed for misleading the society and encouraging intolerant attitudes, something which Mr Obama arrogantly pointed out.
However, it is the attitude of the Pakistan government in tackling the issue of opposition to the resumption of Nato supply lines which really smacks of intolerance and intellectual bankruptcy. In collusion with the US administration, the government has created a ‘scare campaign’ within the local and international media to frighten the people in to reopening the Nato supply lines, suggesting that the government does not have any choice in this matter.
Cooperation with the US in the war on terror, when the masses are suffering from the disastrous economic repercussions of Pakistan’s participation in this war, only strengthens the perception that this government is continuing to safeguard the interests of the US rather than that of the masses.
MOEZ MOBEEN Islamabad
GROUND realities remain the same despite high-profile discussions and meetings. While the US troop withdrawal edges closer, the Taliban have maintained control over major strongholds, especially in Kunar and Nuristan regions where they operate without any fear.
The US is well aware that Afghanistan could drift into anarchy and civil war after the US/Nato troops pull out and the Afghan army takes the security in its juvenile hands. It will require assurance from regional neighbours to commit themselves to peace in Afghanistan.
This shows that we may be passing through a difficult time, but the ultimate test is yet to come after the 2014 troop drawdown.
Is Pakistan ready for it? What has the government done to safeguard itself against such an eventuality? Isn’t it time to think a little further than the present?
DR NIDA SHAMI Windsor, Canada