Blessed are the Wik­iLeaks rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Babar Ayaz

It is ironic that the Saudis have la­belled Zar­dari as a "rot­ten head", while their whole body polity is rot­ten. This com­ment is like the pot call­ing the ket­tle black. Pak­istan has much more re­spect for hu­man rights and free­dom to crit­i­cise the govern­ment, while Saudi Ara­bia is po­lit­i­cally far be­hind

Blessed are the peo­ple who live in post-Sec­ond World War times, when hu­mankind has pro­gressed more than it has ever done be­fore. Blessed are the peo­ple who live in the times of in­for­ma­tion technology. Blessed are the peo­ple who live in the times of democrati­sa­tion of in­for­ma­tion. Blessed are the peo­ple who are us­ing this tech­no­log­i­cal revo­lu­tion to bring out in the open what our rulers do be­hind closed doors. Through­out hu­man his­tory, in­for­ma­tion has been the key to progress. It was al­ways jeal­ously guarded by the priv­i­leged classes to fur­ther their per­sonal and class in­ter­ests. But now in­for­ma­tion is fly­ing in cy­berspace and is easy to ac­cess at very lit­tle cost. The Wik­iLeaks cre­ator and his un­known sol­diers are thus the rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies of cy­berspace, bring­ing cur­rent in­for­ma­tion to the peo­ple that in the past was found only in the re­searched his­tory of pol­i­tics. I re­mem­ber when I came across the first book based on diplo­matic pa­pers de­clas­si­fied by the US State Depart­ment in 1982. The book - The Amer­i­can Role in Pak­istan, 1947-1958 - was writ­ten by Pro­fes­sor M Venkataramani. As the book was not avail­able in Pak­istan, it was with great dif­fi­culty that I man­aged to get a pho­to­copied ver­sion (par­don me for copy­right vi­o­la­tion). The book is not just a col­lec­tion of de­clas­si­fied pa­pers, but Venkataramani has used the in­for­ma­tion to trace the his­tory of the US's role in Pak­istan.

Those who are now cry­ing wolf and loss of sovereignty to the US should read this book to get the right his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. Un­for­tu­nately, ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist friends for­get that the Amer­i­cans were in­vited to din­ner by the founder of Pak­istan: "On May 1, 1947, Mo­ham­mad Ali Jin­nah, leader of the Mus­lim League, re­ceived two Amer­i­can vis­i­tors at his Bom­bay res­i­dence. They were Ray­mond A Hare, Head of the Di­vi­sion of South Asian Af­fairs, Depart­ment of State, and Thomas E Weil, Sec­ond Sec­re­tary of the US Em­bassy in In­dia...he sought to im­press on his vis­i­tors that the emer­gence of an in­de­pen­dent, sov­er­eign Pak­istan would be in con­so­nance with the Amer­i­can in­ter­ests. Pak­istan would be a Mus­lim coun­try. Mus­lim coun­tries would stand to­gether against Rus­sian ag­gres­sion. In that they would look to­wards the United States for as­sis­tance." The meet­ing was re­ported by the US Charge de Af­fairs in Delhi, Ge­orge E Mer­ril, on May 2, 1947.

This is not the only in­ci­dent that shows how Pak­istan of­fered to play a strate­gic role to de­fend the re­gion from 'Rus­sian ag­gres­sion', i.e. com­mu­nism, and the spread of 'In­dian im­pe­ri­al­ism' in the re­gion. Right from day one, Pak­istan has been ask­ing for US arms to pro­tect it­self from the 'In­dian threat'. Li­aquat Ali Khan fol­lowed this pol­icy and, in his trip to the US in early May 1950, stressed: "Pak­istan there­fore po­lit­i­cally, ide­o­log­i­cally and strate­gi­cally, holds the po­si­tion of great re­spon­si­bil­ity...In ad­di­tion to this, Pak­istan is re­solved to throw all its weights to help the main­te­nance of sta­bil­ity in Asia." In 1999, Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity Press pub­lished a book, The Amer­i­can Pa­pers - Se­cret and Con­fi­den­tial, In­dia, Pak­istan, Bangladesh Doc­u­ments, 1965-1973, com­piled and se­lected by Roedad Khan, a for­mer se­nior Pak­istani bu­reau­crat. These pa­pers give an in­sight into be­hind-the-doors Amer­i­can diplo­macy dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle of Bangladesh and the hap­pen­ings be­fore and af­ter the Pak­istanIn­dia 1965 war. As it does not in­clude all the pa­pers and the se­lec­tion was done by Roedad Khan, one won­ders what the cri­te­rion for this se­lec­tion was. But, un­like Wik­iLeaks, the com­pi­la­tion is from the archives that had been de­clas­si­fied of­fi­cially. Even in the case of Wik­iLeaks, one does not know whether some doc­u­ments were held back by its editors as not much can be found on the as­sas­si­na­tion of Ms Be­nazir Bhutto. Al­though on the very next day of her killing, one finds that Amer­i­can Am­bas­sador Anne Pat­ter­son wrote a rather long as­sess­ment of Ch Per­vaiz Elahi, who she thought could be the next prime min­is­ter. The as­sess­ment is quite favourable. In this memo, she has men­tioned Be­nazir Bhutto as "late". In­ter­est­ingly, in the same memo she has dealt in de­tail with the per­sonal en­mity be­tween Elahi and the Bhutto fam­ily be­cause of Chaudhry Za­hoor Elahi's as­sas­si­na­tion by Al Zul­fikar (a mil­i­tant group of PPP headed by Murtaza Bhutto).

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