To be or not to be?

By: Ameer Bhutto   Pakistan is trapped in a pincer movement: On the one hand we are under pressure from the US to fight its war against religious extremism and suffer brazen violations of our national sovereignty in the form of drone attacks and now even ground military operations, while bearing intolerable loss of lives and material damage. On the other hand we are under fierce attack from religious extremists for our complicity with the Americans and have to suffer terrorist attacks by them in which thousands of innocent citizens have died and the already beleaguered economy has ground to a halt. We find ourselves hopelessly unable to perform adequately on either front; there appears to be nothing our law enforcement agencies can do to stop terrorist attacks and there is nothing our government wants to do to stop drone attacks and breach of national sovereignty by our foreign masters before whom they have prostrated themselves for the sake of hanging on to power.

The origins of this fateful conundrum for Pakistan lie in former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s ‘are you with us or against us?’ ultimatum to Musharraf, in response to which he readily heaved Pakistan onto someone else’s funeral pyre. The Musharraf administration was in serious trouble at that time. It stood isolated and shunted by the international community for having illegally seized power by usurping the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif in a military coup.

But just as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan threw open the flood gates of western, particularly American, largesse for Zia-ul-Haq and made him their blue-eyed boy, worthy of adorning the cover of Times Magazine despite having murdered an elected prime minister and subverted the constitution, the 9-11 attacks too pushed the Americans into instantaneously forgiving Musharraf his sins against democracy to use him as an instrument in their war on terror. But in time, Musharraf proved unable or unwilling to comply with the US wish-list in toto and was unceremoniously dumped.

Our foreign overlords needed to find a replacement in whose vocabulary the word ‘no’ did not exist. Enter Zardari. Drone attacks? Military operations against extremists? Resolving the Raymond Davis issue? Killing Osama bin Laden? No problem! Wikileaks has already revealed that Zardari made it very clear to the US authorities that they had carte blanche to do as they pleased in Pakistan and that they felt more concern for the loss of innocent lives in Pakistan in drone attacks than he did. It is because our so-called leaders are so eager to bend far before their foreign masters and invite them to breach our national sovereignty in order to secure their own hold on power with their support that Pakistan stands today between the devil and the deep blue sea.

But the ride is about to get rougher. Given the incompetence of our law enforcement agencies because of which our towns and cities are easy targets for terrorists, the nation is already bracing itself for reprisals in reaction to the killing of OBL. How many more hundreds or thousands will die in the coming days in such attacks just because our rulers’ lust for power propped up by foreign masters knows no bounds?

The cakewalk this government has enjoyed for three years, during which time it has represented the interests of its foreign benefactors more than those of the people of Pakistan, might not last very long. Even before the November 2010 US Congressional elections in which the Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives and their majority in the Senate was slashed, President Obama, and to a lesser extent Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, were Pakistan’s only friends in Washington DC. But if a trust deficit existed between Pakistan and the Pentagon, CIA and Congress before the US Navy SEALS raid in Abbottabad, it has now grown to full blown hostility. The Republicans are missing no opportunity to flex their muscle in Congress to make the going heavy for the Obama administration. Obama should be flying high after taking down America’s enemy No. 1, but the Republicans already have him on the back foot, forcing him to answer awkward questions about the advantages accruing to the US after pumping tens of billions of dollars into Pakistan to fight extremists, only to find the most wanted man in the world hiding in plain sight, living in peace and comfort as a neighbour of the military establishment in Abbottabad for the last five years (according to his wife). They have tabled a bill in the House to suspend aid to Pakistan. The Obama administration is looking distinctly shaky in the run up to next year’s presidential elections. If he goes, the incumbent dispensation in Pakistan will lose its only friend in Washington and will be in for the high jump. It is likely to dawn upon the next occupant of the White House that there is no need to deal with the useless monkey when you can deal directly with the organ grinder.

Where are our leaders when the nation needs leadership and direction? Why do they not step forward and use their much heralded ‘genius’ to pull us out of this mess? Another country invaded our air space and carried out a military operation on our soil and our rulers are acting like nothing has happened. Not only did the foreign secretary rule out any inquiry or action, but our government actually congratulated the US authorities on a successful military strike within our borders! As I write this, more than a week after the event, our rulers have yet to directly address the nation or give any explanation or reassurance to the people. The onslaught of accusations and slurs Pakistan is facing goes virtually unanswered as the prime minister continued his sojourn in a luxury hotel in France, as did Zardari when the country was drowning in the worst floods in almost a century last year.

They have left it to civil servants to provide the answers the whole nation and the whole world crave. Military dictators use civil servants to deal with prickly issues, but people expect better from their elected government. But, having been caught with their pants down after an intelligence and administrative failure of gargantuan magnitude and having shamed the nation yet again, what can they possibly say to the people? Hiding behind Benazir Bhutto’s portrait will not help this time.

We have hit rock bottom and stand disgraced before the world. But providence has brought us to a fork in the road and given us a choice for the future; one path is that of least resistance and leads to further prostration before foreign vested interests and their indigenous stooges to seek salvation by trying to ingratiate ourselves with them, leading to even greater oppression and servitude. If we choose to follow this path, we can say goodbye to Pakistan as we know it. The other path leads to the restoration of national honour and pride and rebuilding of our country by cutting the fetters of slavery that bind us to foreign overlords and their shameless agents and wielding the reins of destiny in our own hands. This path leads to a brighter tomorrow.

To be or not to be? Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of debasing servitude forever, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and to break free through struggle and sacrifice? But freedom comes at a price. Do we have the mettle to struggle and endure hardship for it, or are we a slave nation by nature, destined to live and die in chains in shameful silence? The hour has come for us to do some soul searching and take action as our conscience dictates.

(The writer is vice-chairman of the Sindh National Front and a former MPA from Ratodero. He has degrees from the University of Buckingham and Cambridge University).

NOTE:This is a cross post from THE NEWS.

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  • siddiqui my  On May 11, 2011 at 2:54 am

    A very fine piece of writing from a young man………..but please say who are “WE” ? the starving and oppressed masses or the fat cats in their SUVS?
    Leaders lead from the front and not from airconditioned plush drawing rooms…..
    Mr Ameer Bhutto is certainly a highly intelligent person; he has all the requsites to take up the lead but we are all arm chair worriars……………….we want poor starving masses to cheer us and we just take all the cake !!
    Dear Mr Ameer….where are the leaders? who are the leaders ??
    Just now i am hearing your father’s interview….he is lamenting the “sacrifices” of the Bhutto clan…….In our living memory we have the example of Jinnah, Gandhi and Mandela………..does any one know much about their families ? But the whole world KNOWS THEM !!
    You have a name; you have the means and endowed with intelligence; blame game is easy…with all the talent and means and advantage of your age…are you willing and
    prepared to take the lead ?
    Masses are like herd of cattle/sheep; they are to be led and guided to the water and grass……They are simple,honest and trusting people…….but we all desire and want a plum million dollar office….
    That is our tragedy and yes you are dead right we have been slaves for generations after generations…………………habits die hard !!

  • Intellectus Motiva  On May 11, 2011 at 5:18 am

    No matter how flowery the words, no matter how high minded the talk, NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER _NEVER_ accept anything from a BHUTTO…, whether it is an Ameer, or a Fatimah… or a George Clooney. It only leads to destruction

  • Munir  On May 11, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Mr.Ameer Bhutto,

    I would have preferred that you closed your article with a saying of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai or Bhulle Shah to make your point when the addressee is Pakistani. Shakespeare phrases should be used when you want to convey your message to the English speaking audience.

    Lets get down to this Shakespearean style ending of your address to the People of Pakistan, from the vice-chairman of the Sindh National Front and a former MPA from Ratodero.
    (He has degrees from the University of Buckingham and Cambridge University. How is this part linked to what you are writing in your article? Let us get out of this mind set of adding these “tags” or “crutches” to prop oneself up. )

    Now I quote your ending para:

    “To be or not to be? Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of debasing servitude forever, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and to break free through struggle and sacrifice? But freedom comes at a price. Do we have the mettle to struggle and endure hardship for it, or are we a slave nation by nature, destined to live and die in chains in shameful silence? The hour has come for us to do some soul searching and take action as our conscience dictates.

    Not that I disagree with you on some remarks on Pakistan’s rulers, but when you use the word “WE” whom are you addressing; the rulers or the “Pakistani”.

    Apparently, this “WE” includes 180 million Pakistanis- who, I can assure you have that “mettle” of which you are worried about. And I include in this the civil and military bureaucracy, the politicians and the farmers in the fields and the workers in the factories and all our mothers and sisters in every field.

    And then you say:

    “Where are our leaders when the nation needs leadership and direction? Why do they not step forward and use their much heralded ‘genius’ to pull us out of this mess?”

    This question should not be coming from the Vice Chairman of a political party (Sind National Front) and an MPA.

    Those nations which are not put through trials cannot achieve greatness. That is the lesson which we learn from history. This is another trial and knowing our people, we come out much stronger.


  • Bajwa  On May 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    US will be developing Afghanistan and India as its two partners . Afghanistan alone will have more value than Pakistan. We should start thinking about it before it is too late.

  • Amir Rana  On May 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

    A good article after a long time from someone in politics. Self-recognition, self-respect and self-reliance with undoubted faith in Allah is the only way out for us. There is more than a chance that we will emerge as winners out of this battlefield if we choose to take a stand and go foe it.

    By the way this is what so called “terrorists” seem to be doing since last few years. Most of the movements in Arab world are directly associated with this struggle. Its up to us to decide which side we are with. A lot has happened in recent past for people to open their eyes and revisit the image of global scenario media is painting since Musharaf regime. The term “terrorist”, as established by US and NATO during last decade needs to be put to test. We have to decide who is in fact TERRORIST and who is trying to RESIST it.

    May Allah show us the right path.

  • A Malik  On May 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    While the most effective agency – CIA failed to track Bin laden for the previous 6 years or so they are trying to put the load of debris on Pakistan to cover thier own in – competence. There was no one to ask The CIA as to how Osama with his terrain of wives and children melt from tora bora when all the sattelites were beaming down to track him , with all their air surveillance with the night vision capability and the net work of people on their pay roll?? Is that not the incompetence to the core.
    And we also do not have the gal to tell them that the Baluchi terrorists are astride their laps in Afghanisstan being bolstered by their bumchum – India –
    Not with standing this why Mr Rehman malik is hiding to speak out for the failure of IB which is mean to keep an eye on the foriegners? He is tight lipped enjoying the onslaught on ISI. But wait a moment. Do u think this could have been hiddenfrom the SHO of the area. I will bet my soul that this is well nigh impossible. And I have a niggardly feeling that the info leak may have to do more with Mr Rehman Malik than the tommies of CIA

  • Faisal Imam  On May 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    It is good to see the youngsters talking National issues.
    It is true we are in a mess.But it is of our own doing.We have reached a stage of lack of character that we have destroyed the fibre of our Nation.
    We borrow and take pride in it;we steal and lord it over the world(our atomic programme);we beg from whoever gets close to us(he is our best friend).
    We hunt with the hounds and run with the hares.Who backs the terrorists and the Taliban;they are given safe havens,we try and protect the people who are being attacked.we used to publish lists in the newspapers of the assigned targets.The sickness does not stop there.When and if captured by the law agencies,all of them were acquitted by the courts and if any judges defied,they were threatened directly;some had their automobiles blown up.
    We do not respect our people,their rights,their will.Why should outsiders?
    The XYZ COMBINATION (X=?,Y=yusuf gilani,Z=zardari) runs the G.O.P.. The guy in the setup who calls the shots is the guy who holds the gun. it is obvious to everyone.Y is the bird who sings the tune assigned to him by the other two since the beginning of his career;he along with his family are happy with the crumbs and some freedom of movement.Z sits where the alphabet ends and the buck (According to Truman) is supposed to stop there.But does it?!
    Initially an announcement was made that Agencies operated under the Interior Minister and promptly retracted.Kerry-Lugar bill was torn apart because something was being given to civilians directly.How dare it happen that the beneficiaries are the citizens.The hierarchy of exploitation was being defied.So many retractions happened that eventually the powers that be talked to the U.S. President directly.They are treated seperately from the people and do their own queueing for living,perks,and enforcement of the law.
    only a small minority saw the fall of Dacca and the events which led up to it.Hope we do not show the same drama to this generation.

  • Freda Shah  On May 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

    He states “we are under pressure from the US to fight its war against religious extremism and suffer brazen violations of our national sovereignty”. I assume that by “we” he means the perrenial ruling elite which has allowed the country’s interests to be compromised in return for its own political longevity.
    The ruling elite is not only “under fierce attack from religious extremists” as he states, but also from the educated middle class. The difference is that while the extremists resort to blind brute force, the educated people lash out with their tongues and fight with their minds and their pens.
    US is a conditional ally. In many important areas its national interests clearly run counter to ours. US clears its path towards its international politico-economic goals by handing out bribes and aid to pliable rulers in other countries. We have to guard our own short and long-term interests with more maturity and self-respect.

  • Rizwan  On May 12, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Tis better to die on your feet than to live your life on your knees..

    • Shaheen  On May 12, 2011 at 1:36 am

      Agree with Rizwan…

      2. Fasial…you should also write in the newspapers, younster’s look up to you !

  • Amir Rana  On May 12, 2011 at 1:18 am

    My dear folks….. I hope all of us remember our early years story of a LAMB and a WOLF on the bank of a stream. You see, if one has developed himself into a LAMB, he has in fact lost all his rights to question whatever logic the WOLF uses to justify killing the LAMB. Our intellectuals keep on pointing the savage acts of US and NATO in recent history. One may corroborate this whole scenario from whatever part of history, results are the same.

    So the situation for LAMB is to take a quick decision in one of following directions

    1.He may run very fast and then get into a cave short enough to block the access to WOLF.

    2.Try to get transformed into a wolf (or even a lion).

    3.To immediately attack the wolf with whatever force he has and then hope to hit at some sensitive area in order to at least temporarily stun the wolf or ideally cause some fatal damage to make him go on defensive.

    For us, the first choice is no more there or in fact it never was there since we don’t have a place to hide for safety. Second choice needs a very long term planning and execution timeframe which wolf would never allow. This makes the third option as only practicable alternate for the lamb. Yes, it is difficult but there are a number of examples available in history in which lambs have defeated wolves. Decisive factor here is self belief with undoubted faith in Allah. Once the wolf is forced to back off, the lamb can start working to develop itself fro becoming a wolf. This sometimes also results in formation of a lion.

    It is not that difficult to understand what is going on around us if we keep it simple. On the other hand, complex analysis involving countless variables can also be performed with no practicable outcome. We will keep on complaining the injust treatment we get from the rest of the world. We will keep on cursing our past leaders. We will keep on blaming corruption and low literacy level. We will keep on digging the ditch deeper we have already been thrown into. When someone is in a ditch, the only way out is to look UPWARD and use all the force to come out UPWARD. Digging deeper and hoping to come out from the other side of globe is also theoretically possible but only an insane would go for that option. THE MOST UNFORTUNATE PART OF THIS STORY IS THE FACT THAT A MAJORITY OF OUR INTELLECTUALS KEEP ON SUGGESTING TO DIG FURTHER.

    Please try to LOOK UPWARDS and strive to RAISE YOUR LEVEL. Start thinking out of the box. Try to analyze the situation from level zero (without any biases). What US is telling us and what our army+intelligence+govt is trying to portray is same side of the picture but in a rotated manner. Other side of the picture seems to be altogether SOMETHING ELSE.

    • S. Cadri  On May 12, 2011 at 1:19 am

      Please for God’s sake forget what happened with Binladen. He is dead. He is gone although not his ideology. US had repeatedly warned us “either you get him or we will”. We did not and they got them. Period.
      Now just ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Now catch hold of Aiman Al Zawahiri before US does and correct our image. They are not going to trust us before action lest we tip off the accused. This is their genuine concern.
      And the way media is creating a frenzy and fomenting hatred against US which is our donor and helper in so many different ways is very dangerous. Beggars are no choosers Sir. This hatred will do nothing good for Pakistan and Muslims of the world. Do not pander to the demands of the terrorists in whatever they guise they may appear in.
      The Urdu media and the Electronic media is just not doing the right thing by making a hero out of a villain. Terrorism will fetch us nothing. One bit of policy will not change. Palestine is not the issue for Pakistan but Kashmir is.
      So let the world know of Kashmir and how they are suffering at the hands of Indian Army and also let the world know how Muslims suffer at the hands of Government of India. Those are our issues. Not Binladen.
      Binladen challenged our sovereignty by being here without our consent and US did because quite unawares we were harboring an accused terrorist. Now for God’s sake go and get the other desired foreign nationals – Arabs and Afghanis.
      Come clean and let the world know that we do not aid or abet terrorism by silence and inaction. Otherwise be prepared for more Abbottabads.
      – Show quoted text –

      “Do not read to contradict and refute,
      nor to believe and take it for granted,
      but to weigh and consider.”

  • Javed Chaudhry  On May 12, 2011 at 1:20 am

    What we are looking at is a conspiracy by the US and certain individuals among the Pakistani ruling elite to make ISI and other Pakistani intelligence agencies look bad. There was no bin Laden in Abbottabad. He had died years ago – false flag operation is America’s hall mark. Only those who are Pakistan’s enemies can go along with the American claims of killing laden and dropping him into the sea while they do not have a shred of evidence to support their claims. Its all hogwash and people should know better about American lies all around. The US has entrapped Pakistan with the help of those who have sold their souls to the Devil. Pakistan needs to distance itself from the US and get rid of NRO installed rulers.


    • Sajjad Akbar  On May 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

      100 % Agree with javed

  • Qazi Obaid  On May 12, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Javed Sb .. too impressive. What I last remember are you died in a road accident and you funeral was held at Tariq Road Mosque and buried in the adjacent graveyard.

    I think message is conveyed.. stop imagining things, if you have proof mail us. Otherwise blanket pakar aur sooja

  • Sajjad Meer  On May 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Qazi sahb kia baat hai..kon sa app na mesg.convey kiya hai
    Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone provided by mobily

  • Javed Chaudhry  On May 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    The burden of proof would be on the Americans. After all they are the one’s who are claiming that bin Laden was in Abbottabad on May 2. They must show the evidence that they found him there and killed him, them flew 1000 miles to dump his body into the sea.

    It’s the same situation as created by Bush in 2002 demanding from Saddam Hussain to prove that he did not have weapons of mass destruction (WMD). How could he prove the absence of them? One can only prove the possession of some thing.

    Similarly, if the US makes the claim about finding bin Laden in Abbottabad, they must be in the possession of such proof which they must show to the world. But how can they show some thing that they do not have. Obviously it is a fraud and a hoax, just like the war on terror itself.

    It seems that the Americans are preparing grounds to create excuse to harm Pakistan in a big way. They always do things like that before attacking a country. The most unfortunate thing is that there are certain ruling elite in Pakistan who are complicit with the US to harm Pakistan. The Americans, are getting ready to take it on Pakistan for their failure in Afghanistan. At a minimum, this could be a tactic to force Pakistan army to take action in North Wazeristan to add to the existing level of terrorism that was created because of Pak army action in the south as well as the on-going drone attacks which are carried out with Pakistani government’s duplicity.


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