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Where to with anti-Americanism?

Published Apr 06, 2012 12:05pm


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Just who is the non-starter Parliamentary Committee for National Security (PCNS) trying to fool, you may well ask. Certainly not the US, whose patience is being put to a test? The people of Pakistan? Perhaps. Comprising elected representatives from the treasury and the opposition, the committee cuts a sorry figure as it struggles to come to a consensus on redefining Pakistan-US relations.

What are the credentials and therefore worth of the members of the committee which does not have a single foreign policy expert on it? Has the PCNS bothered to consult such experts in the academia, the think tanks, career diplomats or anyone having any expertise in the field? The answer is a resounding ‘no’.

It’s only a boys club fighting over randomly proposed disparate views. They seem to have little understanding that foreign policy is no child’s play; it cannot be based on the political wishes or one or the other party, which are being equated with national interest.

Pray tell what is national interest? Words like sovereignty, national honour and integrity ring as hollow as they are because they are not injected with any defined meaning. Let’s see what these words and terms have in effect meant to Pakistanis in recent years.

First, take sovereignty. It has variously meant Pakistan’s leaders’ will, or lack thereof, to let the country suspend itself in free fall; let us kill our Benazirs, Salman Taseers and Shahbaz Bhattis, practise hate and violence in the name of Islam, let the Taliban and the like run amok, turn a blind eye to the bin Ladens and the like who perpetrate atrocities such as those in Mumbai, and cry murder when the world questions us on such issues.

National honour has meant locking up women, denying justice to rape victims, forced conversions of Hindu girls and securing the ‘ideological’ frontiers. The last mentioned translates into insisting that we have our own value systems and a worldview shaped by these, and of which we are very proud, regardless of whether or not they conform to globally accepted norms of decency and human rights. We started a whole new country to nurture this ideology of isolationism and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved as a result, the nukes being a shining example, which bring us much national honour and pride.

National integrity has meant suppressing the many indigenous, living cultures, denial of ethnic and religious diversity of our people and attempts at imposing a medieval, tribal Bedouin code. This was a code that Arabs themselves had discarded as soon as Islam grew beyond the Arabian peninsula in less than 30 years of the great faith’s proclamation, and reached the Fertile Crescent, the cradle of human civilisation.

From there and beyond, Caliphate transformed itself into dynastic, secular rule, embracing modern learning and patronising knowledge, the arts and science. In the heyday of Islamic civilisation, spread over Arab and non-Arab lands, no attempts were made to suppress indigenous cultures, languages or faiths; Arabic progressed just as much as did Persian or Turkish, for instance. This was left to be done in today’s Pakistan in the name of national integrity.

Religion was never the defining feature of nationhood. The Ummah under Muslim rule had comprised Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Christians and Jews lived alongside Muslims in harmony without endangering the so-called nation of Islam — from the early state established at Madina to Islam reaching the shores of the Mediterranean, from Palestine to Spain. Today in Pakistan we want the world to leave us to our own devices in the name of national integrity, to be free to suppress the Baloch, for instance.

The question is: do we want such sovereignty, national honour and integrity as we have been practising to define our march forward in a world that is increasingly interdependent? It is in the pursuance of such isolationist internal and external policies that we have wreaked havoc at home and lost many friends, including China, of late. Depending heavily on the US and its regional allies economically, especially the Gulf Sheikhs and international market mechanisms, can Pakistan base its foreign policy on the mere wishes of its politicians to score brownie points with the generals and the electorate in an election year?

We will be deceiving ourselves by focusing on the half truth that the US needs Pakistan; we also need the US and its allies for our own sanity and a chance at survival. The lunatic fringe sympathetic to the Taliban and the like is only a fringe. The politicians and the generals are doing Pakistanis a disservice by mainstreaming their ruinous agenda in foreign policy considerations. Let the think tanks, foreign policy academics and economic managers guide the PCNS in its deliberations.

The debate on what is national interest should be taken up by the media and the experts invited to deliberate on the issue. It is they who must be given the forum to guide the parliamentary committee and parliament.

The writer is a member of the staff at Dawn Newspaper.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (69) Closed

cautious Apr 12, 2012 03:31am
Interesting article. Your leaders have spend many years blaming the USA for Pakistan's problems and I can't recall the last time one of your political or military leaders actually said anything positive about the USA or even expressing gratitude for anything. You even took the USA labels off of the relief packages - something that really shows the depth of animosity. You don't have the time to change public opinion and any deal you make with the USA is going to reinforce your poor image as duplicitous govt. It's unfortunate but you might as well reconcile yourselves to losing the USA as an ally - your looking for a transactional relationship but you don't have much to trade. If your lucky the USA won't end up as your enemy - but to be blunt Pakistan hasn't been very lucky these days.
NASAH (USA) Apr 07, 2012 01:12am
It reminds me of of the famous poet Kalidasa during his carpenter days -- sawing off the same branch of the tree on which he was sitting. Friendship with the USA is quintessential for English-speaking British emulating Pakistan's entry into the 21 century world -- especially for the two countries that have been real friends despite trying times for so long and so close.
Sameer Ishtiaq Apr 07, 2012 12:35am
I do not think you have any idea about Bedoiun culture. Pakistani culture does not in any way resembles tribal culture. Tribal culture is limited to KP and Balochistan. Secondly, most of people did not support murder of BB Thirdly, Pakistan does not need USA. US aid has actually worsened situation of Pakistan. In fact Pakistan has got addicted to US aid; so it is high time we get rid of US Aid. Stoppage of US aid would only have a effect on Pakistan elite.
Roger Rao Apr 06, 2012 11:27pm
Every now and then, there is a beacon of hope that also in Pakistan still roam, remnants of human decency. Opinions expressed in this above article is but one such evidence. It is indeed with no glee nor triumphalism, but mere gratitude, that I observe these opinions to be organically Pakistani - my similar expressions in the past having been deliberately bruised by misplaced and even more organically Pakistani 'E Brigades'. As Jinnah turns yet again, he must feel comforted by this audaciously humble beacon of hope which wears no Islamic reference on it's sleeves. Occasionally, it must make no difference that I am not a Pakistani contributor but more Indian -because such is the truth of decency: global and human with no monopoly of ownership. Roger
Muslim Names Apr 08, 2012 12:58am
Very touching great post. Its so true. Thanks much.
pathanoo Apr 06, 2012 10:32pm
BRAVO!!!! Murtza. I am a regular reader and an admirer of your columns for their clarity, honesty, boldness and daring to tell the unpalatable truth. Couldn't have said it any better myself. I pray that the Pakistani people and, more so, the politicians will read this and be shamed in to doing their duty for Pakistan. It may yet pull back from precipice because of people like you, Irfan Husain, Cyreil Almeda, NFP et el and few more like you. Seems like you are the only sane people left in Pakistan.
Faiza Ghulam Rasool Apr 06, 2012 10:25pm
`Lafafa` journalism (safeguarding foreign interests in this case) at best.
fazal elahi awan Apr 06, 2012 10:20pm
Yes Pakistan facing huge number of problems today,but has any one some courage to say that to whom these problems belong ? who transfer foreign aids in to his own account and his family enjoys royal living standards ? obviously Pakistan needs relations to all countries over the globe but should not be as a slave or watchdog of any one.s stakes. Note, as an economist i says that we need internal purity and transparency instead of foreign aid. some sort of technical help may be imported but continuously increasing debt is not the solution of our problem.
Godaveri Apr 06, 2012 10:13pm
Well written article, It is not who needs more than who, if Pakistan thinks they are more needed by USA in this context of supply routes, they need to demand more economic benefits from US. As far as Pakistan is concerned for their commerce and aid they need West and US more than they need Pakistan. Pakistan has to make wise decisions by give and take. If they want to isolate themselves from the mainstream it is their choice to make .
Indian Apr 06, 2012 10:12pm
You are very right Mr. Bajwa. Nothing like living in harmony and peace. Live and Let Live !!! Other wise what is get is what you give, it;s nature's law !!!
razi mallick Apr 06, 2012 08:14pm
I could not find any sense of direction after reading this article. It lacks an objective analysis and suggestions on foreign policy. Foreign policy of Pakistan should be seen in the perspective of national interest and the changing global scenario. Collapse the Russian Empire in the last decade of the twentienth century gave rise to globalization under the flagship of the lone superwar. However, with the passage of time it appeared that China was the main beneficiary of globalization. Its national inome increased at a rate unparalled in the recent history of economic growth. Some of the China Watchers are of the opinion that China may ovetake USA in the near future, in terms of GDP . Rise of China has brought many significan shifts in foreign plocy spheres. I request management of the Dawn to initiate a serious foregin policy debate in the light of fast changing global landscape. We all should avoid to fall into the traps created by our own dogmatic thinking. Only objective analysis taking into account all dimensions of the changing global situation can help us in framing a good foreign policy.
Gulshan Apr 06, 2012 08:15pm
Does Pakistan have even 5% people who have the brain to understand what the author is trying to convey? I am sure there are lot more than 5%. The problem is that they are too scared to open their mouth. " All that is necessary for the evil to triumph is that enough good people do nothing." We, who understand what the author is trying to convey, have a duty to ourselves, our society, our nation and the mankind, to educate and give courage to other to speak up. The slogans full of hatred are the means for these corrupt politicians to be elected and re-elected again and again to rape the nation.
Fida Khan Apr 06, 2012 08:51pm
About the integrity question, ask the Pukhtoon. The security establishment created Taliban and various fundamentalist on the Pukhtoon territory. They paralysed the integrated and cultural life in the name of new definition of “integration”. In future this question will arise and Hameed Gul and Deffa e Pakistan council will be not to answer.
Lee Apr 06, 2012 10:01pm
Excellent article; Have never read so much truth & honesty from a Pakistani newspaper; Whilst the rest of the world in that region progresses, Pakistan is living in denial and digging it's own grave. Time the academics get involved in govt & policy setting...rather than beard touting mullahs and generals protecting their version of sovereignity !
Gulshan Apr 07, 2012 07:35pm
Very True.
shaikhimaduddin Apr 06, 2012 09:32pm
why do we talk of integration and adoption rather than research, contemplation and design? can any imported culture suit our ground realities?
Tariq Apr 06, 2012 08:38pm
Absolutely agree with every word! However, in a nation with a population with effectively ZERO literacy, will it make any difference?
Local Apr 06, 2012 08:27pm
Wow..!! tough words to swallow . But swallow we will ..! One way or the other .
Syed a Haq Apr 06, 2012 08:24pm
A most craven and pathetic column I have ever read. Why do you think Jews established an Israel. If you want to maintain your identity as a South Asian Muslim you need an idealogy and a country. Jinnah gave you a country ( which obviously you do not deserve ). As far as idealogy is concerned,you have the same as AbulKalam Azad and other Indian Congress Sarkari Muslims.
A.Bajwa Apr 06, 2012 06:02pm
We detached ourselves from the British as well as Indian culture, even the Mughal culture. What remains is a crude primitive tribal and feudal culture. We need to integrate with West otherwise we will go down and down.
Silajit Apr 06, 2012 06:33pm
Very impressive article, Murtaza. I always look forward to your writings..
Agha Ata Apr 06, 2012 07:21pm
We label anything west as American. When we say we don’t need Americans, we are saying we don’t need West. Now lets see who do we need. Certainly not Middle East, they have nothing to offer, no education, no technologies, no new arms, planes, no nothing. They do not even give citizenship for us or let millions of Pakistanis go and spend our old age in peace. Now, let’s see which country in the world would provide us all these things? China? Or Russia? or may be any country in Africa?
Shahid Apr 06, 2012 07:34pm
Very well said. We can not afford to mess up.
MG Apr 06, 2012 07:57pm
Excellent piece: Simple and to the point Where are the rest of us who feel this way? Why are we so quiet and continue to elect representatives that do not represent our "national interest"?
Gulshan Apr 07, 2012 07:49pm
And hats off to the Dawn Management to allow it to be printed.
Jawwad Apr 06, 2012 07:06pm
Very thought provoking article. Our downfall started with the inclination toward Arab roots which is total farce and in process de attached from the Indian culture which is the basis of our roots. Some serious change is needed at the text book level to reverse some trends which I am afraid will not be possible. The ignorant are now too many in numbers.
Gulshan Apr 07, 2012 07:58pm
It could easily be translated to Urdu. But the question is , will the Urdu papers publish it.?
miramshah Apr 06, 2012 07:14pm
Libertarian baloney. Vehement generalization and inability to provide a forthright, intellectual response to the issue. Give in, give in more, seems to be the authors mantra. Because of people like you sir, pandering to the west for your illegitimate needs, being unable to wean off of the delicious milk from western udder, you, a Pakistani is loathed and despised the world over. Have you ever learnt to say no to the cash cows, noose of perpetual debt. Have you tried to, even once, introspect? Please dont even try to to talk about Indian culture, where a girl child is disowned in favor of a boy. Mughals brought about luxury and hedonism ( read Tuzk e Babari ) at the cost of poverty for the millions. Just because you dont have a past, doesnt mean we all have to change for you. I am not a tribal or a feudal, and you are way off the mark.
noneed Apr 07, 2012 04:05am
I always read your articles, but first time in 11 years writing a comment. Great article, true if you can open your eyes and heart beyond religion. I always admire you for your brave columns in such a dangerous and scary country for a secular and independent journalist, i hope if at least 10% of pakistanis read you and understand what you are trying to say, that will be a great help not only for pakistan and humankind too. Just be safe, an infidal
Salman Apr 07, 2012 02:17pm
The writer is pretty emotional. 90% today's writers have either sarcastic tone or emotional...
malik100 Apr 07, 2012 05:42am
Well said. Unfortunately Pakistani people (and to the most extent our leaders) are too myopic and just want to live in their own world. A world in which sovereignty, national honor and integrity means exactly what you said. Thanks again.
SDas Apr 07, 2012 03:41pm
I wish this is translated into Urdu for the general population. We, the English language readers, are lucky to read articles of such meaning !
puri - Ludhiana ( In Apr 07, 2012 03:53pm
Earlier, your army used to decide foreign affairs and related policies with politicians and civil think tanks had minor or no role.Now, it seems that the army has either withdrawn from framing such policies or has become too smart and firing from other's shoulders or has become a minor partner having burnt its fingers in the past.That is why there is confusion.
Shahjahan Bhatti Apr 07, 2012 08:00am
Wonderful analysis. A good piece of writing after a long time. I doubt if it will make a difference but telling truth is true Islam. My vision of Pakistan has always been a modern state; model for all Muslim world. Unfortunately tribal Mullahs who know very little about science impose their version on uneducated masses. We are only a laughing stock in today's world.
Gopal Patel Apr 07, 2012 08:36am
Mr Bajwa , you and the author are both hundred percent right. But who listens to you?
Sakthi Apr 07, 2012 09:33am
Very good article. Pakistanis should think about thier national interest first rather than strategic assets and other unwanted fundamentalist attitude.
MANGAT Apr 07, 2012 06:27pm
An excellent piece of truth-journalism. Hats off to the writer for daring to express the views of the silent majority !
navjyot Apr 07, 2012 08:13pm
journalists like you are the reason why we believe Pakistan is not all that general perception about it may suggest.the hafiz saeeds, ladens, zaid hameeds have caricatured Islam to suit their own interests..its pity many in Pakistan are being influenced by weird and ultimately disastrous preachers and fantastical hate mongers ,and reducing Pakistan to a mere pawn in their game of a pursuit of a medieval type emirate or caliphate where all non muslims are its arch enemies..kudos to you sir
Mustafa Apr 07, 2012 10:47am
Well-said Murtaza . Your article is like a bomb to wake up Pakistani leaders as well as its people to face the reality. Have you read the latest joke "Hafiz Saeed helping de-radicalise militants, says official". Why the Pakistani officials did not tell America, “We had Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan to de-radicalise him but you guys came without telling us and killed him”? . No one thought about it.
Bidanda Chengappa Apr 07, 2012 11:00am
Great article which I enjoyed immensely because it was extremely enlightening and insightful. Bidanda Chengappa
Nahas Basir Apr 07, 2012 11:19am
I fully agree with the main article which is extremely well researched and written as well as the comment by A Bajwa.
Gulshan Apr 07, 2012 09:12pm
As a graduate of Madarsa Lashkar University Of Pakistan, your conclusion should not be disputed.
rahmat Apr 10, 2012 01:48am
excellent thats all i can say ....god bless you ..we need people like you ,,,,pakistan will be a better country than what is today ...
Mustafa Apr 09, 2012 11:53pm
Dear Shez, you said "I hope we can all rise and get rid of corrupt rulers and bring in leaders who have a clear vision for a prosperous Pakistan which can be built on the vision of our founder." You may be disappointed to hear that you will never get the right leaders even if you live 1,000 years, unless you pass on messages such as written by NFP or other progressive people to all people you know to educate Pakistanis at large. Leaders do not drop from sky. They are within the population of Pakistan. Illiterate people will pick the same kind of leaders that we have, no better. So the emphasis should be to start educate young people, and then say after 10 or 20 years there will be better leaders.
Shez Apr 09, 2012 02:38pm
An excellent article. This is what I believe the silent majority want to say but remain silent. You have spoken the language of truty for all of us. I hope we can all rise and get rid of corrupt rulers and bring in leaders who have a clear vision for a prosperous Pakistan which can be built on the vision of our founder. A country which is not only economically strong but a role model of a progressive Islamic country without prejudice regardless of religion, race or color.
Mustafa Apr 09, 2012 08:16am
Excellent article that exposes weaknesses of government that should be addressed to immediately. Normally in America, Britain, France and all major countries the Executive Branch decides “Foreign Policy”. It is only lately that Pakistan has decided to let the Parliament decide “Foreign Policy”. There is great danger because members of Parliament have no expertise in foreign policy, as such their deliberations will reflect what their electorate wants and the choice of electorate will be more based on impulse and least on reasoning and needs. They cannot go against the wishes of their constituency because they want to be re-elected. Therefore their own interest comes first before the interest of Pakistan. .
Nahas Apr 09, 2012 05:13pm
This has been very well stated by Mustafa. Foreign policy is a serious business which cannot be left to the whims of the unfamiliar and irresponsible!
Tariq Apr 10, 2012 07:37am
Alas, what do you know about Maulana Azad.Have you ever read any of his writings.Please go and dig out old editions of Al-Hilal or even his interview to Aga Soorish Kashmiri in April 1946. He was the greatest visionary of his time. Regretfully Muslims are too emotional to listen to voise of wisdom and reason.
Cyrus Howell Apr 11, 2012 02:05am
You won't see the Pakistan national flag being desicratied or burned by Americans. Pakistanis are often in the grip of frenzied insanity. Very simply Americans have lost trust in both the Pakistan government and the Pakistan military. I dare say the reverse is true of the Pakistan people about America. Pakistan can go it's separate way. The American people do not have a prblem with that. A wise Saudi has said that Muslims have become a burden on the West.
Anil Apr 11, 2012 02:13pm
Zulfi Rash Apr 21, 2012 12:18am
I happened to read few articles of Razvi recently, bright, sensible, intelligent human being, aleasys expressing truth and real facts in Pakistan. I was rather afraid for him.
ashutoshprayag Apr 19, 2012 08:51pm
RIP Mr Murtaza Razvi.I read this article a few days earlier Sir.One man of integrity lost to barbarians. Ashutosh Mishra
ashutoshprayag Apr 19, 2012 08:53pm
Aur hum log bhi zyaada bure nahin hain.Beshak try kar leejiye.
Tanvir Apr 19, 2012 11:39pm
Wrong. The US Congress and senate have foreign relations committees who can make recommendation to the whole house and senate regarding foreign matters & issues. The congress represents the people and the senate represents the states to ponder and pass their judgement on national and international matters. The weight of their judgements is considered by the executive branch when making policy decisions.
Srini (Chennai) Apr 20, 2012 12:35am
Murtaza, Now you have been murdered for blogs/opinion pieces like these. You tried from within, but unfortunately didn't work. The monster is growing too big now. I don't agree with one line in the post. You have mentioned that there is a "silent majority" of Pakistanis who are liberals without extremist views. I don't think it is correct. All Pakistanis who have gone through your school system has been brainwashed with a "make-believe" history and superiority over other countries and other religions. Many don't even believe that Pakistan did not exist before 1947. Such is the thoroughness of the brain washing. It will take several decades and generations before this "Islamic" experiment can be reversed/erased. I hope you find peace whereever you are!
Hassan Apr 20, 2012 06:49am
RIP Murtaza Razvi. Your articles were truely inspiring.
NS Apr 20, 2012 10:18am
rip.. cant believe yesterday the same person was writing and people were saying its great someone like him is within us.. no more..? :(
sri1ram Apr 20, 2012 03:23pm
Noneed, your "just be safe" advise seems so prescient now. Alas, a smart, plain-speaking, honest, integral writer is no more today. This is yet another warning to reporters to confine themselves carefully within the boundaries of journalistic freedom or be snuffed out.
mike rauf Apr 20, 2012 05:00pm
Murtaza, NFP. IA Rehman & the like, sureal but who is listening......
Zubair Apr 20, 2012 05:10pm
Rest in peace. If Pakistan continues loosing people like you, there isn't much hope!
Shankar Apr 20, 2012 05:11pm
Shocked and extremely saddened! Killing of Mr. Razvi proves his point. Extremists will try put down any voice that questions their insanity!
MG Apr 20, 2012 07:05pm
Yet another immeasurable loss to the nation. It is absolutely appalling to see and realize that we, yet again could not take care of our own citizens, especially from institutions within. It is indeed, yet another dark day in the history of my country - a "democratic" nation. Tragic, tragic loss. Rest in peace Mr. Razvi.
Kdspirited Apr 20, 2012 07:37pm
Your generalization is inaccurate Srini. Murtaza's death is living proof that these people exist and will continue to exist. I am one such person and in a population of 180 million there are many more like us. They cant silence us all.
Naveed Lotia Apr 20, 2012 07:41pm
Shocking and extremely sad.. RIP Murtaza Sahib. I pray for your family and hope that your killer(s) are brought to soon as possible
Venkata Appa Rao Apr 20, 2012 08:33pm
It is said that when god closes one door he opens seven more. It is also said that god calls unto him those who are close to him. Mr Murtaja though with your work you became close to God almighty, and you are with him, your work is unfinished ,it only just begun. may many more Murtajas flourish in this world and spread your legacy. They have silenced your voice. they can not silence all those whom you have inspired. Long live your memory and you are a martyr for the cause of the Pakisthan which was the dream of Quaid E Azam.
rashid Apr 21, 2012 03:04am
Good work Murtaza, wish god will give a good punishment who is against your ideology.Pakistan should take measures in saving journalists who always concern for the good of the nation. these days whoever raises voices they are being killed. I think his inspiration will inspire whole people at one day everyone will stirve for better nation and living instead of struggling for survivial and ruled by anti socialist and terriost organization
voyageswithin Apr 21, 2012 10:22am
And may your tribe grow, Kdspirited. Here's hoping that for every voice they silence, a million more come up.
sri1ram Apr 21, 2012 12:26pm
Well said Tanvir, naive or purposely fudging posts from people like Mustafa need to be answered with facts, so that others can verify those statements!
sri1ram Apr 21, 2012 12:29pm
You mean all civilian governments in most countries are unfamiliar and irresponsible? Foreign policy is in tatters today due to short-sighted, knee-jerk, policies that one sole agency has been handling since the fifties, enough!