What is wrong with the assessment of many Pakistanis regarding the change of government in the United States?

After America has spoken for Obama

Pakistanis have been discussing Obama these past months with a lot of hope and some misgiving. This is in line with the general Muslim sentiment in the world, as expressed by some debates televised from the Middle East where America is judged every living moment. The vote was for Obama, barring some Arabs who thought the Democrats would lean more heavily in favour of Israel and not do much to stave off the danger of Iran in the region.

In Pakistan, the view that Mr Obama will initiate a policy of “engagement” rather than insist on unilateral “pre-emption” gave him full marks. Similarly, the hope is that he will positively “engage” with Iran instead of threatening it with attack. His selection of Joseph Biden as vice-president has also been well received. Mr Biden has introduced a bill in Congress that will triple the American annual aid to Pakistan. And Congress is expected to be “conquered” on both sides of the Hill by the Democrats.

Of course, raging anti-Americanism in Pakistan has filled some with misgivings over what he will do from across the Durand line. He has promised to target Al Qaeda inside Pakistan if Pakistan can’t manage to do it. He also has pledged to beef up the force in Afghanistan by transferring troops from Iraq. Will that mean that he will increase the “drone attacks” hurting Pakistan today as its army actually makes headway in its fight against the terrorists or “militants” in the Tribal Areas? The balanced view is that there are better chances of Mr Obama listening to the democratic government in Islamabad than was the case under Mr Bush.

But there is still something wrong with the assessment of many Pakistanis regarding the change of government in the United States. The main flaw is that we want the outside world to adjust to our feelings without first examining the validity of the way we feel and think. If we protest “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity” against the ISAF-NATO raids, why don’t we protest the terrorists who have violated our territory much more palpably and have shown to the world that our state is not capable of controlling its own territory? This unrealistic attitude also attaches to Mr Obama’s presumed reference to Kashmir. We are overjoyed at Mr Obama’s statement that he will work on normalising relations between Pakistan and India and helping us resolve our disputes. We “assume” that he will address himself to the Kashmir dispute because in our eyes that is the only obstacle on the road to peace with India. But it is clear that that is not how the coming diplomacy will proceed. America relates to India and Pakistan in accordance with the positions they occupy in the world. India belongs to the category of strong nations which don’t take external pressure for policy change. Pakistan belongs to the category of weak nations that have to adjust their policy to external developments. It suffers if it doesn’t conform to the rules of this category.

Luckily, Pakistan is adjusting much better under the current democratic government than it did under General Pervez Musharraf. Its security is threatened from within rather than from India. One can easily perceive this to be true if one takes off the old strategic goggles. The “proxy” war with India in Afghanistan, in Balochistan, and in the Tribal Areas is becoming a problem, and this is where Mr Obama will most probably concentrate. This is where Pakistan and India can both make adjustments without feeling cheated of their sovereignty.

All in all, a new era of global change seems to be in the offing. The question is: will Pakistan trim its sails in line with the changes as they occur, and in the light of its economic interest which should override all other “strategically” invented ones, or insist on behaving recklessly as it has done in the past? (Daily Times)

A prayer: May God save Pakistan from psuedo-intellectuals such as Hamid Gul, Roedad Khan, Irfan Siddiqi, and Mullah leaders such as Mullah Imran Khan and Mullah Qazi Hussain Ahmed.