Putting Oneself in the Other’s Shoes
Pakistan’s indignation over the killing of 26 soldiers on the night of November 25/ 26 by American aircraft and gunships at the border posts in the Salala area of Mohmand Agency is understandable. It is sad to see any innocent person getting killed and it becomes more tragic when it is done by an ally.
Was the American attack intentional? Many in the military believe this to be the case. The delay of the Obama administration in making the inquiry findings public is making matters worse for all concerned; this however should not be surprising considering that the same authorities, including the American Ambassador in Islamabad, had promised an inquiry against Raymond Davis when they all were clamoring for his release. Nothing of the sort appears to have taken place and Davis is walking free; he was not detained for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore but was swiftly taken into custody when he punched a person in a shopping mall parking lot in America. We all expect a better standard of justice from the Americans than this.
America, despite its materialism and consumerism, is an extremely patriotic and generous nation. Its patriotism is obviously at the expense of the rest of the world but its generosity is appreciated by all. However, it is a country that lives in its own world. It has not suffered a direct military attack in recent history except when the Japanese made the mistake of attacking Pearl Harbor in December 1941. However, it has sacrificed millions of its soldiers to defend its allies mostly during the two world wars in Europe and then in Vietnam and Korea.
Despite such a large number of soldiers getting killed in these wars, each death is recounted by the public, the media and the White House as a national loss. The problem is that the country fails to put itself in the shoes of the other nations. The number of people killed in the 9/11 attack is mentioned ad nauseam but the millions killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are never cited. President Truman had no qualms while dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945 when he easily could have done this on a military target; in fact, he dropped another one on Nagasaki within weeks of dropping the first one showing his callousness. The American people rewarded him by reelecting his presidency.
Twenty eight Pakistani troops were killed by the Americans by mistake or to send a message to the GHQ while President Obama is unwilling to even apologize for these deaths, offering only condolences to President Zardari. What would be our nation’s fate if the Pakistan Air Force had mistakenly killed 28 American troops in Afghanistan?
This is the bottom-line and we must appreciate it. We have chosen this on our own and it has not been thrust upon us. We allied with the Americans in the fifties against the Soviet Union by joining CENTO and SEATO when there was no need to do so; we provided bases to the Americans then and even now. We waged a war in Afghanistan on America’s behalf starting in 1980 and siding with it now against our former Taliban allies. We have shown no spine and our past conduct goes to show that we are on sale; our price may be billions of dollars but it remains `peanuts’ for the Americans.
If we desire to stand-up to the Americans then it cannot be done by mere rhetoric. We have to decide our own national interest and stick to it. This does not at all mean regarding ourselves as enemy of the United States; it simply implies taking a national stand, just like the French, and sticking to it.