The much awaited recommendations for resetting Pak-US relations, prepared by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, were presented in the National Assembly last week for debate. These recommendations were drafted before the Quran-burning episode and the Kandahar massacre by US troops stationed in Afghanistan, and do not take into account the rapidly changing situation in the occupied country. But that is not the only problem with the long list of recommendations.
As he has rightly pointed out, unanimous resolutions of Parliament as well as the All Parties Conference, passed after earlier incidents of US transgressions, had also called for an end to drone strikes, but the attacks have continued killing innocent Pakistanis on a regular basis. He would like to know what steps were taken by the government to stop them. In fact, he says that the main opposition party would cooperate in the review exercise only if the government informs the house about the concrete steps it intends to take for the implementation of this and other recommendations.
Though the US government has decided to hold back its official response to the recommendations, voices from the Congress and its security and intelligence establishment are already groaning and grunting about being asked to stop the illegal and inhuman drone attacks. We are being told that the drones are an indispensible component of their war strategy. So is the government willing to take the next logical step of shooting them down if the CIA does not rein them in? Or will we continue to just register our meek protest?
Actually, the problem goes much deeper than implementation. Though the list contains a number of useful recommendations vis-à-vis the Pak-US relations, but they are couched within a framework that cannot be expected to provide the basis of an independent foreign policy. Taxing the Nato supplies and legalising intelligence operatives and private security contractors are dead give-aways that clearly show the subservience of Pakistan's ruling elite to the US objectives in the region. The recommendations only hope to get a better deal from the US for doing its dirty work with no inkling of what our priorities are or should be.
Is it too much to expect from our government to come up with a foreign policy that is truly independent, a policy that views our country and our region with our own eyes, that defines goals according to our national interest and creates strategies to push things towards them? Or are we doomed to carry out orders to achieve the goals of the US? What are the recommendations basically saying? Use our territory for transporting supplies for your troops occupying our neighbour, weapons to kill innocent civilians, but please pay us money so that we can repair the roads you use. Fly your planes from our airbases for your imperialist war, send in your spies and mercenary killers for subversive activities, but please get it approved by our Parliament. Recognise our services, pay us for them on time, but please don't send in your troops and drones. Attack our military checkposts, kill our soldiers, but please say sorry afterwards. Is the concept of our sovereignty a prisoner of US objectives?
Tokens of independence thrown in the list like building stronger relations with China and Russia and building the pipeline with Iran are all very well, but they mean nothing unless we create an independent perspective on the US occupation of Afghanistan and our role in it, a perspective that sees the US war against the Afghan people for what it is instead of adjusting our options to fit into the barbaric US game plan with a view to limiting the damage we suffer as a consequence. Doesn't it make more sense to work more closely with other countries in the region for an early and complete withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan?
After all, Afghanistan is not the first and only country to be invaded, occupied and destroyed by the US. Hasn't the champion of human rights and democracy killed millions of innocent civilians in its imperialist wars around the world, changing regimes that do not bow to it and appropriating resources under fictitious pretexts? Don't we know about the dangerous games that the CIA plays all over the world, funding and arming dissident groups, fomenting coups and instability, playing havoc in the countries it targets? Isn't it a bit naive for the Parliamentary Committee to ask the US for transparency regarding its intelligence operatives and private security contractors? Do they think that the CIA is a philanthropic organisation distributing milk and books to children, and it would be willing to share the information that it often hides from its own government?
The US government is only a face for the greedy and brutal nexus of unscrupulous corporations and equally unscrupulous big daddies of international finance, and it employs its intelligence and war machinery to serve their goals of enslaving the world and controlling its resources. And this is why it is here. On the pretext of fighting terrorism, it has terrorised the entire population of Afghanistan for more than a decade, created more terrorists, and used the chaos to further its agenda of destabilising and eventually controlling the region. This is the perspective we must keep in mind while fashioning a policy to deal with the monster at our doorstep.
Beating about the bush won't do. We must tell the global badmash that we will not assist it in any way in its war against the Afghan people. That our roads are only one-way for Nato supplies, from Afghanistan to where the supplies came from. That any trespass of our territory through drones or troops will be considered an attack on the country and countered. That no spies or private security contractors will be allowed in the country. And until the last Nato troops leave Afghanistan, we are closing down all American consulates and limiting the diplomatic staff at their Embassy in Islamabad to the bare minimum.
n The writer is a freelance columnist.