Putting One­self in the Other’s Shoes

Southasia - - The last Stop - By Anees Jil­lani The writer is an ad­vo­cate of the Supreme Court and a mem­ber of the Washington, DC Bar. He has been writ­ing for var­i­ous publi­ca­tions for more than 20 years and has au­thored sev­eral books.

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.

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