March 26, 2012

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

I've just finished reading Irfan Hussain's article in today's Dawn. Normally I hold great respect for the man, but on certain fundamental points (like Pakistan's sovereignty for instance) I disagree with him to the extent of no reconciliation. His musings in today's newspaper fall in the latter category for me.

Irfan Hussain has benignly accused the government of being incapable of growing a pair when its required. Instead he accuses the government of hiding behind a facade, a mummer's farce if you will, so that it doesn't have to deal with the ugly realities of life. But on what points one may ask? Well on the point of the USA and its demonic stance of droning over Pakistan. Now I am all for these drone attacks because as we've seen they were an excellent way of killing Behtullah Mehsud and several others of his ilk. Unfortunately after this point is where I begin to differ significantly with Irfan Hussain. While he believes the government shouldn't have put the matter of the NATO supply routes before the parliament, I believe that's one of the democratic things this government has done.

Let me explain. Irfan Hussain says that because the government has decided to take this matter to the Parliament, it will be unable to maneuver around and show flexibility when the need arises to take some drastic measures as the people, and everybody in the Parliament will cause an uproar about how the will of the people wasn't taken into account. Essentially, Irfan Hussain is advocating that the government behave in a totally autocratic manner and take unilateral decisions which in essence amounts to licking the US of A's ass. Now I don't know from where he's getting these notions because if I remember correctly, he used to take very strong objection when this government or the previous government used to by pass Parliament in taking foreign policy level decision. Isn't this why he was always on Musharraf's case all the time? Well to really hit the nail on the head, isn't this extremely hypocritical?

While the thought of Pakistan licking USA's ass might get Irfan Hussain off, other self respecting Pakistani citizens such as myself realize that while it may be next to impossible to break the shackles of slavery vis-a-vis the USA, there needs to be a starting point.  The government's decision to involve the Parliament in the decision making process is 100% correct. The Parliament symbolizes the will of the people. Unfortunately for Irfan Hussain that will currently states that the USA can go to hell (but he needn't worry; our government isn't yet strong enough to say that to the USA, and probably never will be). In addition, by involving the Parliament the government is doing the legitimate and right thing. It is standing by its institutions. This also sets a precedent where all future significant foreign policy designs and ventures will be executed by the majority of the elected representatives leading up to across the board accountability.

Now Irfan Hussain can shimmy up to the USA all that he wants but let's get one thing clear. In a democracy, the majority needs to agree and be on board so that if God forbid things start to unravel, they can be patched up quickly. If the government does take a unilateral action, it will simply lose all credibility with the masses and then we would be forced to ask the question, why did we ever kick Musharraf out of the picture anyway because as I recall, he was really good at this doing-things-my-own-damn-way thing?