Up until last year no one would have thought that a social media platform like twitter will shake up the ruling power houses in Pakistan. This was until the morning of Monday January 1st 2018, 7:12 am. The President of United States of America either woke up on the wrong side of his bed, or may be this time he was thinking straight and someone else was on the wrong side of the fence.
When Trump tweeted about the amount the US had spent on Pakistan to curb extremism he didn’t mean to get an account of that money in financial terms. He meant serious action that was handed out as a job description with that money, but we thought, who’s looking. The world is not blindsided like the corrupt media in Pakistan.
Images of a smiling a uniformed General sympathizing with Mullah’s supporters, displaying sympathy was a clear indication that the money spent to change the political landscape and mind-set has completely gone down the drain. But smart mathematicians and financial experts in the political fraternity immediately jumped to justify their income and expenditure expense statements.
Meanwhile, some so called political and defence analysts, went to extreme lengths and started inventing creative ways to come up with $ 33 billion to slap it back on Donald Trump and shut him up.
A T-20 Peace Cup cricket match in North Waziristan by the Pakistan Army may be a good sign of their efforts but someone devastated it by orchestrating another fixed match in Faizabad lead by Mullah Khadim Rizvi and some other goons. Those images will remain embedded in the hearts and minds of the majority of liberal and secular patriotic citizens of Pakistan and especially residents of Islamabad who were held hostage for many days in their own city and there was broad ‘supervised’ lawlessness.
Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why we are supporting these elements? Do we still consider Hafiz Saeed an ‘asset’ when he is surely a liability?
As a responsible nation we cannot just deny the world’s demands to curb this mindset, instead we continue to demonstrate that Hafiz Saeed is an innocent man freed by our judicial system for not having enough evidence. Who is going to believe this argument? Isn’t’ very institution in Pakistan is hostage in some form or shape? This is what Trump meant for not doing enough or asking to ‘do-more’ that we need to understand. It’s not about the money, it’s the performance for that money.
Yes, we sacrificed thousands of men and women in uniform and civilians, but shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why are we supporting these elements? Do we still consider Hafiz Saeed an ‘asset’ when he surely is a liability? Shouldn’t we be proud of our fallen heroes and stop this managed ‘assets’ handling tactics that we use as a tool when needed.
On this issue, when I asked for a reaction on Trumps tweet and its repercussions, the ex-senator, seasoned politician and current High Commissioner in Ottawa, Ambassador Tariq Azim Khan also had his response wrapped around billion-dollar financial aid and its breakdown summary. He too sounded like a broken record to me as he started giving me statics and an account ledger of invoices and expenses of $33 billion mentioned in President Trump’s tweet. At that time, everyone with this approach including him appeared more like a year-end tax accountant found in every nook and corner of Toronto. I wondered whether he would have a serious and well-articulated answer for the media I think that it’s time that we all should realize that we are facing a crisis, a serious one, and yet we are not prepared to deal with it.
To get a different perspective, I approached Major (r) Adnan Qaiser who has a military background and currently associated with an eminent national defence think-tank in Ottawa.
According to him, America’s sudden change in tone comes from two factors: one, the US needs a face-saving in its yet another lost war. Secondly, America wants long-term presence in this region. He firmly believes that the US never had intentions of dialogue, the reason being they need a “sustained enemy and managed chaos” in this region to rationalise its long-term military existence.
When asked what’s next? Major Adnan speculated the US choices to penalise Pakistan, which he said could be catastrophic: 1) US may carry-out cross-border strikes, hot pursuit operations, cruise missile strikes or drone attacks inside Pakistani settled areas, causing enormous collateral damage 2) America can economically arm twist Pakistan by imposing economic sanctions – which would not be new to Pakistan, as Pakistan had survived them after its nuclear tests of 1998; 3) US may also exert its pressure on IMF and World Bank.
Is it really happening? An intervention into a sovereign nation, boots marching, drone flying? It is hard to believe all this has been initiated by few words on twitter by a President learning on the job? as we all know, Mr. Donald Trump can be handful at times and his tweets do give his administration quite a run, the majority of world leadership blatantly differ from his opinions and I too have my own reservations, often in my TV analysis I have defended Pakistan’s narrative and have said that although the USI is a strong ally of Pakistan, but in Trump’s twitter la-la-land, America should also act like a responsible nation or at least social media responsible. Maybe it’s time for twitter to block Donald Trumps’ account as there is enough material and evidence of hate-speech, bad-mouthing and above all ‘threatening to harm’ not just individuals but to nations as well. Can someone tell him that though his nuclear button can be a big one but so should the be level of responsibility that comes with the job. I strongly believe that Twitter’s narrative is all about freedom of speech but surely not hate-speech, so dear twitter “Do-More”. That’s some food for thought.
The writer is a social and civil right activist and very vocal on Human Right violations across the globe. He works as Host/Producer (Current Affairs) at a leading news channel of North America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @anis_farooqui
Published in Daily Times, January 6th 2018.