Dr. Umar Khan
Dr. Khan belongs to a Lahore based Think Tank.
Trump’s tweet, victim of his own success
"I think the greatest single enemy is the misuse of information, the perversion of truth in the hands of terribly skillful people.” John le Carré
In the early hours of first January 2018 after a lavish new year party US President Donald Trump tweeted,
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
He has been conducting foreign policy through Tweets for quite some time but this was unique in his peculiar ways too. Although American officials have been criticizing and blaming Pakistan for the setbacks in the Afghan war this was a very hard worded message diplomatically that also coming from the very top, from the person sitting on the most lethal arsenal world has ever known.
This Tweet naturally caused commotions in Pakistan and tumults in the US establishment too.
This message conveys three messages,
- US has paid a lot to Pakistan.
- Pakistan has cheated and harmed the US interests.
- US state apparatus is simple to the extent of naiveté falling into the Pakistani trap.
This appears to be the prevalent narrative in the US carefully built up by the enormous media power it controls but it is far from truth and reality. Such propagandas are for the consumption of ordinary people while those at the helm of affairs are well aware of the reality but the nonpolitical background and superficial knowledge of Trump made him believe it and fall in the pit his men dug.
Let’s see the complete picture of Pakistan and USs transactional relations since its creation,
Immediately after independence a tirade against communists was launched and leftists like Sahir Ludhianvi were harassed to the extent that they left the country. It was done on American pressure.
In the fifties Pakistan joined SEATO and CENTO against Soviet Union on American advise.
Pakistan gave bases to US and earned the wrath of the second superpower the USSR which caused its dismemberment a decade later.
Pakistan helped build Sino US relations in early seventies, a major diplomatic victory for US that put its rival USSR under tremendous pressure.
In eighties Pakistan played a major role in the Afghan war which helped end the cold war with US becoming the sole superpower. World saw a miracle where a war between superpowers was won without a single casualty of the victor costing less than $ 6 Billion.
After 2001 Pakistan gave bases to US, allowed it to use its infra-structure and fought with people fighting the occupation.
The cost of this lackeyism shown by Pakistan has been enormous. It has affected financial, social and political fabric of the country. Let’s enumerate a few,
From the very beginning Pakistan became a target for the USSR and Premier Khrushchev categorically said that he has marked it with red.
It became center of undercover activities of different intelligence agencies.
Democracy got derailed and Pakistan suffered repeated martial laws, all supported by US.
A peaceful country became hotbed of extremism.
Arms and ammunitions reached in large numbers.
Narcotics and drugs entered the society and Pakistan had one of the highest numbers of addicts.
Tolerance in society became a casualty and violence prevailed.
More than 85000 people died in these wars.
As no economy can flourish in war and uncertainty, Pakistan suffered badly economically. While the world was focusing on economy and growth we were discussing wars.
According to most economists Pakistan’s economic loss has been of over $100 Billion for supporting the US in its latest war in Afghanistan not to mention the previous ventures.
In return what has US done for Pakistan?
According to Pres. Trump it paid 33 Billion in the last 15 years. Since creation of Pakistan it received $ 67 Billion in today’s terms which for the immense services is not only a good deal for US but a steal deal; a fabulous bargain at the expense of hapless Pakistanis. Considering that US has spent over 700 B in Afghan war and over 2 Trillion in the banking crises, that amount starts appearing as peanuts especially when you consider the cost incurred on Pakistan.
Media has attained the status in international power politics what armies had enjoyed earlier and the near monopoly of US on opinion can be a major cause of national delusions. Premier Khrushchev once told Pres. Kennedy that US has nothing to worry while it has Hollywood, referring to the power of media and American dominance. Although apparently the media is independent but actually very tightly controlled through different subtle means. False rhetoric repeated enough becomes reality. According to Gore Vidal, "The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity - much less dissent." Only a misguided thankless President could blame Pakistan for ingratitude.
It was this power over the narrative that created the world’s most callous storyline over nuclear bombings, “US saved lives by dropping nuclear bombs”. If dropping nuclear bombs over civilians was a crime this explanation was also one.
One side of story is always unfair and with the hold on media only American side of story is known making look Americans meek and simpletons. It is this euphemistic narrative that apart from fooling the common man has fooled even the President who gave this statement while fully using Pakistan’s meager resources viciously.
The reality is that the US has always used Pakistan ruthlessly for a pittance and later dumped it shamelessly forcing it to deal with its complications. Pakistan was expected to deal with the violent forces created by US alone after 1990, something whole world with enormous resources is finding challenging.
It’s not all America’s fault as they always get accomplices who for the privilege of getting in power can harm their own country. Despite availability of criminal collaborators US can’t shed all blame because leaving a door open might be foolish but still doesn’t justify a break-in.
US has taken unfair and callous advantage of Pakistan for too long and it is time it accepts reality and starts correcting the problems bred by its actions. Fortunately there are decent people in US who openly acknowledge it but somehow get sidelined.
Let’s stop calling these transactions as aid and call them what they are, Pakistan’s fee for help and make them reasonable.
Finally let’s stop aids and encourage trade which creates a much healthier and productive society whereas mostly aids create cheats in third world who take the money back to donor countries.
History has shown that whenever a superpower is unable to get the desired results in a war it looks for scapegoats. Brutal bombings of Cambodia and Laos are testament to the ruthlessness world powers are capable of. Let’s hope it’s not Pakistan this time.
I would like to end it with a piece of advice by Harold Pinter in his Nobel lecture of 2005,
"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."