Our burden of lies - Ayaz Wazir - Monday, March 28, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=38605&Cat=9

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” We seem to have followed, in letter and spirit, those “golden” words of an infamous Nazi leader. However, Germany was lucky to have sincere and farsighted leaders after World War II. In spite of stiff opposition from the US, West German leaders like Willy Brandt followed a policy of “Realpolitik,” with the aim of an eventual reunification of the two halves of Germany. We in Pakistan have been extremely unlucky in terms of our leaderships all along. Even after having lost East Pakistan, our leaders, instead of learning any lessons from the loss of half the country, continue to tell blatant lies to us, as if nothing had happened and keep acting against the interests of the country and the people’s aspirations.

In 1971, the nation was lied to as others were blamed for our problems in East Pakistan. We were in a state of war with our own people there, whose province we were treating as our colony, thereby opening the door to outside interference. The nation was not entirely naive, so many persons knew where the fault actually lay. But those who spoke up were penalised for being truthful. Obviously, without local popular support, the armed forces alone could not defend the eastern wing. The rest is unpleasant history which does not bear repetition.

The nation was lied to in 1977. When the elected government was removed, the man who dismissed it swore publicly that it was only a “90-days operation.” Instead, the most charismatic and popular leader of the overthrown government was sent to the gallows. The nation is still paying for the many misdeeds of the dictator who did all this.

We were lied to during the 40 years of turmoil in Afghanistan. Our leaders kept our policies secret from the public and vehemently denied that Pakistan was playing any role in the conflict. After the Soviet invasion we tried to make everyone believe that we were not a party to the war, whereas we were extending all help and assistance to the Mujahideen across the border against Afgnaistan. Our western border hardly existed. It was thrown open to adventurers of many nations who wanted to come over for jihad. CIA agents must have crisscrossed that border more frequently than their Pakistani counterparts.

We were lied to again in 1999 when a popularly elected government was dismissed on flimsy charges. The country was run like a fiefdom and the armed forces were used for the prolongation of one man’s rule. It was with great difficulty that the trust deficit that so widely existed between the people and the armed forces somewhat narrowed after the last dictator’s removal.

We were lied to yet again in 2001. The government took a U-turn on our Afghan policy after one telephone call from Washington. Contrary to public sentiment, it provided facilities all over the country to the US for use against Afghanistan. We thereby became a frontline ally and owned a war which was not ours, and are paying the price for that ever since.

The leadership lied in 2003 to deploy troops in Fata against the wishes of the people of that area. The troops are now deeply entrenched and are finding it difficult to get out of that area even if they want to do so.

Our leaders continued with their lies and kept denouncing our own people as militants when they were killed in drone attacks – until recently when the army chief reacted, though not so strongly, against the killing of more than 50 members of a peace jirga in North Waziristan. Was it a shift in policy or a face-saving device for handling the Davis affairs is yet to be seen, but the general perception is that he should not have stopped at that but demanded a complete halt to drone attacks. Does it mean that the 50 who died in Waziristan were not as much Pakistani as the two young men shot by Raymond Davis in Lahore?

We lied for decades about the developments of Fata. Each government promised to bring it at par with the rest of the country. To say nothing of development, no one even bothered to remember the people of Fata when the new constitution for the country was framed in 1973 or when the 18th Amendment bill was drafted. The Frontier Crimes Regulations still hang like a sword over the heads of Fata’s residents, with the result that, with every passing day, the area is turning into a fertile ground for militancy.

The present elected government that followed the dictator did not do any better. It followed his policies and gave nothing to the public except empty promises. It may have enabled some to fatten their accounts but the public in general is faced with hunger and starvation.

We cannot blame others for the mess that we made of this great country of ours. We are responsible for its dismemberment, we ruined the economy only to strengthen personal accounts. Today we are living on borrowed money and cannot survive without foreign assistance. Who was responsible for this? Who was ruling the country all this time? Who created all this mess? Was it a mullah, a peasant, a tribesman or the military-bureaucratic axis ruling the country?

A large number of downtrodden people have approached religious seminaries for fatwas justifying thefts and robberies to enable them to feed their families. Islam, they argue, permits eating haram when that becomes unavoidable. And for them it is a similar situation, because they are not able to look after their families in their meagre resources. This is a very alarming situation. Fear the day when such fatwas are issued indiscriminately.

We need to revisit the aims and objectives for which this country of ours was created by our forefathers. We need to make a fresh start by creating an egalitarian society and providing equal opportunities for all citizens. We have carried the burden of lies and deceit for too long and paid too heavily. We have sold our nationals for too long and for too little.

Let us wake up and guard the interest of the nation ourselves. Let us not leave it to outsiders to tell us how to steer the country out of this mess. We have enough talent at home to put the country on the right track. We do not lack talent, nor do we have dearth of willing workers to set the course right. Our young people are talented, capable and confident of taking the country to new heights provided they have an honest and sincere leader who can simply translate the collective wisdom of this nation into action, rather than imposing his personal wishes on us.

The writer is a former ambassador who hails from Fata. Email: waziruk@hotmail.com

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