“The Friends of Democratic Pakistan” disappoint “the democracy haters in Pakistan”

‘Stable Pakistan’ and the world

Co-chairing, with the US President Barack Obama, the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) meeting on Thursday, President Asif Ali Zardari stated that “a stable and prosperous Pakistan is the world’s greatest hope against the spread of extremism and terrorism”. The basis for his claim on the attention of the “friends” was Pakistan army’s success in its war against the Taliban terrorists in the Malakand Division in the NWFP and the promising nature of the ongoing military action in other parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

President Zardari deployed effective rhetoric by claiming that Pakistan was fighting for the entire civilised world. The truth is that the entire civilised world wants Pakistan to save itself from the scourge of the Taliban and, at least in theory, is ready to compensate it in return. Because terrorism around the world spreads from the epicentre of violent creeds in this region, the world agrees that if Pakistan fights it, it would save its own soul and also help the world fight in Afghanistan. This cooperative fight, the world thinks, would be tantamount to defending the entire civilisation as it exists today. The FoDP is supposed to translate the world’s gratitude towards Pakistan into monetary assistance. And a bit of that happened on Thursday.

The US Senate passed the Kerry-Lugar Bill which will give Pakistan USD1.5 billion annually towards a total payment to Pakistan of USD10 billion in five years. Already the FoDP have made it possible for Pakistan to receive USD13 billion as assistance to its foreign reserves, leading immediately to an improved credit rating, following by a boom at the Karachi stock exchange. The IMF had virtually no funds and had loaned only USD1 billion in 2007 and was nearing closure; today, thanks to the global recession and the efforts by the world to get out of the slump it finds itself in because of free market excesses, the IMF has USD750 billion and has already loaned USD160 billion to troubled economies all over the world.

The fight against terrorism is a complex issue. While it is important for Pakistan to remain on the sympathetic radar of everyone and walk in lockstep with the community of nations worried about terrorism in this region, there is much that the US-led allies need to do in Afghanistan to make Pakistan’s work easy. That has not happened so far, as should be clear from General McChrystal’s initial assessment report that has been leaked to the media a couple of days ago. That report also mentions the role of India as a destabilising factor which must be addressed in order for Pakistan to begin to take care of groups that might be attacking the NATO-ISAF interests in Afghanistan. But more than that there is reason for one to be concerned about the failure so far of the US, NATO and ISAF troops to bring that country under effective control.

Meanwhile, if the FoDP meeting seems to praise President Zardari for his “achievements” after one year in office, the media in Pakistan is in the process of presenting him as a villain. The US, which spearheads the international movement supporting Pakistan, is being described as an enemy country which, together with India, is trying to enslave it and snatch its nuclear assets. The US, according to the TV channels, has landed its mercenary Blackwater soldiers in Islamabad and is buying up land to set up a military base in Islamabad.

The general opinion takes a very depressive view of the PPP government. All the economic indicators that compel the world to look at Pakistan with hope are ignored and in fact seen as doomsday signs. The sugar crisis, in great measure caused by a “targeted subsidy” gone wrong, has taken over the national mind to the exclusion of all objective indicators.

Pakistan has stabilised considerably. Suicide-bombings are at an end; people uprooted by war are settling down with prospects of international humanitarian aid. But the Pakistani opinion, haunted by dangerously brawling politicians and hostile media, continues to destabilise it. It paints the present as “extension of what went before”, if not “worse than ever before”, and sees no hope in the future. This trend must change and it can change if the politicians and the media become more objective. (Daily Times)

comment: Begging with dignity —Rafia Zakaria

In our sixty-second year, perhaps it’s time we came to terms with the reality that we are and have always been a nation of beggars. Ironically, it is only in embracing this grim reality that we can find the opportunity to change our future

If the recent summit in New York is a reliable gauge, then Pakistan, or rather “democratic” Pakistan is doing pretty well in the popularity contest otherwise known as the General Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

On Thursday, the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” met to discuss the promotion of stable governance and economic development in Pakistan. The group includes Australia, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, the United Nations and European Union. President Obama, who co-chaired the meeting, announced the passage of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which will provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion every year for the next five years.

The meeting and accompanying announcement of aid disbursement have provided much fodder for discussion in both the United States and Pakistan. The United States has expectedly tried to announce passage of the Kerry-Lugar Bill as well as the meeting itself as a major commitment that substantiates its long-term interest in Pakistan. Coming as it does, in the footsteps of an expected change in US policy toward the region, the announcements provide the Obama administration a means to deflect attention from its woes in Afghanistan by pointing to the potential of success in Pakistan.

For the Pakistani government, led by President Zardari, the task in New York is markedly more difficult. It must tread the delicate balance of being both gracious for the assistance while at the same time drawing attention to the holes in the Obama administration’s beneficence. One attempt to do just this was President Zardari’s demand, made a day before the meeting, that the United States reimburse the $1.6 million that Pakistan has spent fighting the War on Terror in the tribal belt. The demand was programmed ostensibly to emphasise the fact that aid disbursements to Pakistan are in exchange for services rendered in the US-led war against Al Qaeda rather than an act of magnanimity by the United States. In other words, the Pakistani delegation tried to paint as “payment” what the Americans would present simply as an act of generosity.

This delicate dance between grantors and receivers of aid is not in itself new. In the last few decades, as globalisation has become an economic and security challenge rather than an abstract theory, this dynamic has become a repeated accompaniment to most global summits. The rich nations controlling large chunks of the world economy have packaged their security interests as moralistic efforts to assist the poor without any strings attached. At the same time, poorer nations have sought to expose the security interests and consequent challenges to sovereignty that lie beneath the Global North’s commitments to economic and social development in the Global South.

The duelling narratives that emerge from the above dynamic mean that rich nations always have the task of presenting their aid as magnanimous while poorer ones always have an interest in presenting the aid amounts as emerging out of rich countries’ self-serving security interests.

In the current case, the challenge for the Pakistani government becomes more complex in light of ideological currents at home that present this dynamic as an inherent attack on the country’s sovereignty. Conservative commentators, especially those belonging to Islamist parties, present the need for aid as a failure by the current administration to safeguard the sovereignty of the nation. In doing so they disregard both the facts of Pakistan’s precarious economic existence in a world beset by financial crises but also the fact that whether we like it or not, the world market is controlled by countries like the United States.
In fomenting this attitude towards aid in general, these critics present the acceptance of aid as a choice rather than the necessity it has been for many governments past and present. Gullible Pakistanis are thus fed the myth that it is a particular government’s greed rather than the nation’s need that makes aid a requirement, and that the only thing keeping Pakistan from true self-sufficiency is the corruption of one or another administration.

The fact is that the acceptance or rejection of aid by Pakistan is not a facet peculiar to the Zardari administration. Governments past, present and future have been and are likely to remain tied to the disbursement of foreign assistance for many decades in the future. The scale of current security challenges and the inability of our weak state to respond to a growing insurgency necessitates that we accept any help that we get. The particular ravages of the global financial crisis on our economy and the mounting costs of a civil war that has led us to become a world leader in suicide bombings are recent precipitators of our hapless condition.

Idealistic notions of self-sufficiency that suggest that we deny how integral foreign assistance has been to our precarious existence these past sixty odd years indicate a blindness to both our local challenges and the place we hold in the international sphere. Pakistan is not and has never been a superpower, militarily, morally or economically. We do not have the infrastructure to create self-sufficiency in either our agricultural, industrial or manufacturing sectors. We do not have the natural resources to provide for all our energy needs or the capabilities to sell what we do have on the global market. Yet, instead of accepting these challenges and their consequent impact on our place in the world, we live imbued in nationalist myths and pretend that our current reliance on aid is solely a product of temporary mistakes or greedy politicians.

A novel argument for us as we poke fun at the unfortunate officials charged with the task of begging for this aid in New York would be to consider not the hokey notions of becoming the next global powerhouse fuelled by our un-availed (and largely imaginary) natural resources but rather a realistic assessment of what our capabilities and challenges really are. Not once in our sixty-two year existence have we survived without the assistance of foreign governments.

In our sixty-second year, perhaps it’s time we came to terms with the reality that we are and have always been a nation of beggars. Ironically, it is only in embracing this grim reality that we can find the opportunity to change our future.

Rafia Zakaria is an attorney living in the United States where she teaches courses on Constitutional Law and Political Philosophy. She can be contacted at rafia.zakaria@gmail.com (Daily Times)

Nazir Naji’s analysis:

پاکستان کی ’عیدی‘

حسن مجتبٰی

بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، نیو یارک

فرینڈز آف پاکستان‘ ہے کیا؟ اگرچہ کہا جاتا ہے کہ ’فرینڈز آف پاکستان‘ صدر آصف علی زرداری کی اپنی تخلیق ہے جو انہوں نے گذشتہ سال دو ہزار آٹھ میں پاکستان کا عہدہ صدارت سنبھالنے کے بعد پہلی بار جنرل اسمبلی کے اجلاس میں شرکت کے موقع پر ایک عرب دوست ملک (غالباً متحدہ عرب امارات) کی مدد سے قائم کیا تھا اور جس کا مقصد پاکستان کیلیے دوست ممالک کی طرف سے اقتصادی امداد اور سیاسی حمایت حاصل کرنا تھا۔

لیکن اصل میں ’فرینڈز آف پاکستان‘ دو ہزار آٹھ میں اس وقت معرض وجود میں آیا جب پاکستان میں سخت افراط زر آیا ہوا تھا اور پاکستان کے چین اور سعودی عرب جیسے دیرینہ دوستوں نے بھی ، ترتیب وار، کیش اور تیل دینے سے معذرت کر لی تھی۔ تو ایسے کڑکے میں صدر زرداری ’نگری نگری پھرا مسافر‘ کی مصداق ملکوں ملک دورے کرتے رہے لیکن کوئی بھی ملک پیسہ دینے کیلیے تیار نہ تھا جبکہ اوپر سے آئی ایم ایف کے قرضوں کے تقاضے بڑھتے جاتے تھے۔ چار بلین ڈالر کے پہلے ہی مقروض اور چھ بلین ڈالر کا قرضہ آئي ایم ایف اپنی شرطوں پر دینا چاہتا تھا۔ تو ایسے حالات میں پاکستان کے دوست چاہے ڈونر ممالک نے پاکستان کیلیے ایک ’بیل آؤٹ’ پروگرام‘ فرینڈز آف پاکستان کے نام پر قائم کیا جس کا مقصد پاکستان کو براہِ راست امداد نہیں پر ان ملکوں سے منصوبوں کے ذریعے دینا تھی۔

نیویارک میں منعقدہ اجلاس پلیجنگ اجلاس نہیں بلکہ زرداری حکومت کی سیاسی حمایت کے لیے تھا۔ مائنس ون فارمولے جیسی باتوں کے بیچ موجودہ حکومت کو یقیناً ’لیز آف لائف‘ مل گئي ہے لیکن پیسے نہیں ملے۔

لیکن پاکستانی حکومت اور ڈونر یا ’فرینڈز آف پاکستان‘ کو اصل مسئلہ ’ کریڈیبلٹی‘ کا ہے۔ یہ ایک ایسی صورتحال ہے جب مصیبت میں گھرے ہوئے مار کھاتے ہوئے شخص کی چیخ و پکار سن کر ’ آیا بھائي آيا‘ تو سب دوست کہتے ہیں لیکن حقیت میں مدد کو نہیں آتے۔

فرینڈز آف پاکستان کے نیویارک سے لے کر ابوظہبی، ترکی اور جاپان میں ہونیوالے اجلاسوں میں وعدے وعید تو پانچ بلین ڈالر تک کےہوئے لیکن اب تک ایک ڈالر بھی نہیں مل سکا۔ دوست ممالک اور عالمی برادری کی مشکل یہ ہے کہ انہیں زرداری حکومت کی کریڈبلٹی پر شک ہے جبکہ زرداری حکومت کا مسئلہ پاکستان کی مشکلات سے زیادہ ان کی حکومت کی مضبوطی یا معیاد حکومت کی گارنٹیز کی ضرورت ہے۔

اگر یہ امداد پاکستانی حکومت کی خواہشوں کے برعکس غیر سرکاری سیکٹر کے ذریعے دی بھی جائے بھی تو مسئلہ یہ ہے کہ ڈونر ایجنسیوں کو شاید یہ پتہ ہو کہ سرکاری شعبے کی طرح اب نوالہء تر غیر سرکاری سیکٹر بھی بنتا جا رہا ہے۔ اچھی بات ہے کہ پاکستان میں تعلیم یافتہ نوجوان جو اس سے پہلے سرکاری سروسز کے سیکٹر میں جاتے تھے اب پاکستان میں یو ایس ایڈ جیسے اداروں میں نوکریوں اور گرانٹوں کی دراخواستیں دے رکھی ہیں۔

اگر یہ امداد پاکستانی حکومت کی خواہشوں کے برعکس غیر سرکاری سیکٹر کے ذریعے دی بھی جائے بھی تو مسئلہ یہ ہے کہ ڈونر ایجنسیوں کو شاید یہ پتہ ہو کہ سرکاری شعبے کی طرح اب نوالہء تر غیر سرکاری سیکٹر بھی بنتا جا رہا ہے۔

اسی لیے تو کچھ دن پہلے واشنگٹن میں کیری لوگر بل پر کچھ ڈیموکریٹک چاہے ر پبلکلن پارٹی کے سینیٹرز نے دو طرفہ اعتراضات یہ کیے تھے کہ اس کی کیا گارنٹی ہے کہ امریکی ٹیکس دہندگان کے پیسے پاکستان میں ایسی قیادت کے ہاتھوں میں جائیں گے جن پر مسٹر دس فیصد ہونے کا الزام ہے اور اس کی کیا گارنٹی ہے کہ پیسے سوئس بنکوں میں ذاتی اکاؤنٹس میں نہیں جگہ پائیں گے۔ یہ ایسی باتیں ہیں جو امریکہ سمیت عالمی برداری کو امداد دینے سے پہلے دو دفعہ سوچنے پر مجبور کریں گی۔

فرینڈز آف پاکستان کے نیویارک اجلاس میں برطانیہ کے وزیراعظم گورڈن براؤن کی تجویز پر ’ملٹی نینشنز ٹرسٹ فنڈ‘ قائم کیا گيا ہے جو ایشیائی ترقیاتی بنک کے ذریعے فاٹا اور ديگر قبائلی علاقوں میں ترقی کے منصوبوں کی صورت میں جاری کیا جائے گا۔ برطانیہ نے اسی فنڈ کے لیے پچاس ملین اسٹرلنگ پونڈ کی رقم دینے کا وعدہ کیا ہے۔ روبن رافیل جیسی بیوروکریٹ کو اس فنڈ کا ’ کو آر ڈینیٹر‘ مقرر کیا گیا ہے۔ ایک سینئر تجزیہ نگار کے مطابق’اوورسیئر‘ کا مہذبانہ نام ’کوآرڈینیٹر‘ رکھا گیا ہے۔ یعنی کہ پیسے بہت کم جائیں گے لیکن پروجیکٹس کی صورت میں۔

’فرینڈز آف پاکستان‘ سے ’فرینڈز آف ڈیموکریٹک پاکستان‘ میں بدلنے کی ضرورت اس فورم کو موجودہ پی پی پی حکومت کی سیاسی حمایت حاصل کرنے کے لیے کیا گيا وگرنہ چین سعودی عرب اور متحدہ عرب امارات کا ’ڈیموکریسی‘ سے کیا لینا دینا۔ نیویارک میں منعقدہ اجلاس پلیجنگ اجلاس نہیں بلکہ زرداری حکومت کی سیاسی حمایت کے لیے تھا۔ مائنس ون فارمولے جیسی باتوں کے بیچ موجودہ حکومت کو یقیناً ’لیز آف لائف‘ مل گئي ہے لیکن پیسے نہیں ملے

Abdul Qadir Hassan’s Analysis:

Munno Bhai’s Analysis: