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With friends like these ...

Published Sep 30, 2010 03:42pm

As reports emerged of Nato’s fourth helicopter strike in Pakistan in recent days, news articles began stating that “Pakistan has expressed outrage at the violation of its airspace by Nato helicopters in Afghanistan.” Who exactly expressed this outrage and where? On Wednesday Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that no one is allowed to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. What sovereignty? The one we sell bit by bit everyday? Mr. Malik is right – no one but Pakistan itself is allowed to infringe upon this country’s sovereignty.

There was a bit of an uproar when the earlier three strikes took place, but a tiny consolation given was that Nato’s targets were the militants from the Haqqani network – sadly this is not the case in Thursday’s strike. If reports prove true, Nato helicopters crossed 5km inside Pakistan’s territory and struck a border post in the Kurram Agency, killing three Pakistani soldiers – that’s security forces, not militants.

What does Pakistan do in return? Well we start with blocking Nato supply trucks to Afghanistan for starters and then we decide to take up this issue in the National Assembly and then I’m not so sure. Mr. Malik also just stated that “we will have to see whether we are allies or enemies.” On one hand we are receiving so much funding and aid and on the other hand, our sovereignty is being ridiculed by daily drone strikes and now the chopper violations. Mr. Malik, with friends like these, who…., well you know how the saying goes.

We highlight the active and brave role our security forces are playing in this war on terror – yet obviously it isn’t enough since we are allowing our ‘friends’ to come and constantly gate crash our mission. Or wait, this isn’t just Pakistan’s war they say – if not, why pretend to have an issue with the drone strikes? There may not be a black and white solution to the militancy but the establishment does need to decide, is it happy with the assistance (read: violation of sovereignty) or not? Once that is decided, it can take a firm stance on what is happening today. But can it? How can one forget all the billions of dollars this friendship has given us – the billions of dollars which have ended up making this friendship a very taxing one.

Our masses may be uneducated but this is not a country full of fools. Whichever socio-economic group you decide to look at – they all stopped believing in public statements and government promises a long time ago. Half the time our leaders are busy defending various corruption cases against themselves – the only time they are upholding this country’s sovereignty is in their well-rehearsed statements made to the media.

The poverty stricken group knows it is not going to get its’ promised ‘roti, kapra and makaan’ and the middle-class masses know that they are far from the democratic nation they are made to believe they are – and personally allowing this government to complete its five-year term in its current state isn’t going to bring about any magic either. Still, we hope… and we hope.

The government may publicly condemn the drone strikes to pacify the masses, but it does not realise that this is not an oblivious nation. If drone strikes are to continue in Pakistan, then instead of further discrediting itself and mocking the intelligence of the nation, the government should boldly say so. However, if the establishment actually believes that Pakistani security forces can handle the military operations inside the country then Pakistan needs to gain some healthy distance from its ‘friend’ – and resist all the crispy dollars come with the friendship.  You cannot condemn something yet condone it at the same time. And that is exactly what is happening right now. Militants may not recognise borders but security forces should.

Shyema Sajjad is the Deputy Editor at Dawn.com

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.