The KLB is part of a new political paradigm and it needs a new pro-active and positive approach to be understood properly. It is people-oriented, and anti-elite. It is anti-Taliban who are intent upon rewinding the whole world back to a past of their own liking. Also, it is imperative that we give due weight to the new realities of the world which provide us with opportunities to change ourselves to co-exist peacefully and live a better life in harmony with other nations, peoples and countries. The KLB may help us take the next step in that direction!
By Dr. Khalil Ahmad
1. The furore against the Kerry-Lugar Bill in Pakistan is politically-motivated. Among other things which include opposition to the US government and to the Pakistan Peoples Party especially its present leadership, it has its roots in the mindset that has been nurtured through the last six decades by the Pakistani establishment. One of the most important characteristics of this mindset is its concept of charismatic sovereignty of Pakistan which gets hurt just by any hint of ‘bilateral relations’ of any type with any country. It may be termed as upholding an isolated sovereignty or an all-dominant sovereignty in a world populated with a large number of sovereign countries.
2. That we are unable to see the merits of the KLB in its proper context is both cause and effect of this fuss persisting from the highest military ranks to the lower intellectual strata of our society.
3. A number of things are conspicuous by their glaring contrast: first, how cliché-ridden talk against the KLB has blinded us from noting the momentous change in the US policy towards Pakistan; and second, how we have once again transformed ourselves into the eternal advocates of the Pakistani establishment which we were opposing tooth and nail a while ago during the rule of law movement.
4. It is surprising that in its first days the KLB had not that sort of ill repute in Pakistan which it has now got associated with. So, it is worth-researching how it got a bad name and on whose instance. Apart from that, it’s a fact that most of us have been relentless critics of US governments’ policy towards Pakistan especially because of and because it had a long history of supporting military coups, military dictatorships, military’s interference in civil and political affairs, and anti-constitutional, anti-fundamental rights, and anti-people policies of both civilian rulers and military dictators in Pakistan. Now that the KLB has made $ 1.5 billion annual economic and development assistance conditional to the certification that “the security forces of Pakistan are not materially and substantially subverting the political or judicial processes of Pakistan,” it is just unintelligible why we can’t feel happy.
5. Aren’t we playing the game of the Pakistani establishment, then? Do we want this or other future US governments continue supporting the subversion of political or judicial processes whether materially or substantially? Isn’t if fortunate that finally we have a new US policy which considers us to be ruled by our constitution and the people of Pakistan its rightful owners? Do we again want a US always siding with the anti-constitutional forces in Pakistan? We ought to stop and give a thought to it.
6. Another significant change in the US policy towards Pakistan makes the people of Pakistan to be the beneficiaries of this five year package. It may have been so in the past that such packages would be carrying a tag of this rhetoric, but this time it is overseeing, monitoring and certification by the US officials that makes it mean what it says. It may not be unjust a conjecture if we see it as excluding the elites of Pakistan from this aid’s benefits. Who would deny the fact that how in the past US aid was misused, expropriated, and pilfered by all the elites of Pakistan! They must oppose it now when this anti-elite KLB means no crumb for them!
7. Also, if this package helps Pakistan get rid of the inhuman terrorism of the hard-core Taliban as it aims at, what else the ordinary people of Pakistan would need to live in peace in their own country! Isn’t it reason enough for the soft-core Taliban to reject the KLB with their full force? Thus, the KLB opposition is disguising itself in ever newer garbs to mislead us. We ought to be beware of it!
8. Thanks to the KLB, a recent myth broke itself to pieces pre-maturely. It was believed that the present COAS had brought the Pakistan Army back to the barracks; that now on its part there was no interference in the civil and political affairs, etc. Then, how come the corps commanders meeting express their ‘serious concern’ on the KLB! Does it come under their purview to show their pleasure or displeasure what the civil government aims at doing? Only individuals spoke against that; no political party is up to that.
9. What on earth Pakistan Muslim League (N) is doing when it doesn’t take note of this unconstitutional ‘serious concern!’ But again it is a self-contradiction that Mr. Nawaz Sharif speaks against the KLB and at the same time he wants Charter of Democracy to act as the light-house for the future political course, and he puts the demand for General Musharraf’s trial on the back burner, and still he wants Pakistan back to constitutional rule. Actually, at this time PML (N) rhetoric is hiding its true motives (!) behind a meaningless chatter. Its anti-establishment posturing is fast disappearing!
10. It needs to be mentioned here that denouncing the KLB should not be taken as denouncing the PPP and its government, or otherwise. Though it does mean that if the present civilian government of Pakistan is forced to reject the KLB, we will deprive Pakistan and its people from the gains that the KLB may be helping us with especially in our fight against the terrorists for which we need as many partners as would join forces with us.
11. Lastly, it’s never a matter of begging or related themes like ‘’Beggars can’t be choosers,’ when we have mutual relations based on give-and-take, and till we mutually satisfy each others’ interests. The begging cliché is actually a derivative of the same mindset that believes in complete isolation or in absolute domination of the world. That is simply psychotic!
12. The KLB is part of a new political paradigm and it needs a new pro-active and positive approach to be understood properly. It is people-oriented, and anti-elite. It is anti-Taliban who are intent upon rewinding the whole world back to a past of their own liking. Also, it is imperative that we give due weight to the new realities of the world which provide us with opportunities to change ourselves to co-exist peacefully and live a better life in harmony with other nations, peoples and countries. The KLB may help us take the next step in that direction!
[The writer is founder/head of the Alternate Solutions Institute, first free market think tank of Pakistan.]