Is this the problem?
be in terminal decline.
No one would quarrel with the writer’s analysis, however bitter the truth may be. The fact is that we have failed miserably in producing leadership that can pull the country out of its present morass. This is basically our job.
But will we be left alone to do it? Mr Hathaway’s observation betrays a lack of historical perspective. The fact of the matter is that Pakistanis have not been allowed a free hand in exercising their political choices. We have ourselves to blame for inviting foreign meddling. But that does not absolve the US of its responsibility either in helping us create a mess.
Hathaway aptly describes decay as a “cumulative process”. It is also a longdrawn process. He observes, “America’s influence in Pakistan, for reasons good and bad, is vastly exaggerated. As Pakistan confronts its challenges, foreigners can make a difference only at the margins.”
However, a look at the history of USPakistan relations tells us another story. It is replete with instances of how America has used its power to influence Pakistan’s ‘establishment’ to its own advantage. This first became manifest in foreign policy matters. But as has been inevitable such control has penetrated domestic affairs. This trend began in the 1950s and it was not just a coincidence that governments that came into power after their predecessors had failed to toe the American line, proved to be more pliable vis-à-vis Washington.
How we joined the military pacts and became recipients of economic aid which came with strings attached and destroyed Pakistanis’ — both the rulers and the ruled — spirit of self-reliance is a long story. Foreign technology inducted indiscriminately into the national economy destroyed the strength of our indigenous systems. The emphasis was on aid and not trade, as the former helped the aid-givers control those they aided. The role of the military in our politics is a continuing saga — at times overt and at other times covert — and this has enjoyed America’s blessings. How foreign policy issues seep into the everyday life of a people is best illustrated in the case of the rise of religious extremism and militancy in Pakistan.
No one would deny that elements with a fundamentalist approach have always operated in our society. But they remained on the fringes while the majority displayed more rationality. Afghanistan, especially the ‘jihad’ fought by the Mujahideen with