By Farooq Sulehria
Hard to say who wooed who in the first place, but the Pak-US affair
is as old as Pakistan itself. The rulers in Pakistan have always
been ready to pay any price for this relationship. Pakistan's
writers and poets, often proving more visionary than its leaders,
however have had serious reservations about these relations. The
year Pakistan formalised its relationship by joining SEATO, Sadaat
Hassan Manto wrote his 'Third letter to Uncle Sam'. In this letter,
penned on March 15 1954, Manto tells Uncle Sam (excerpts):
"As for your military pact with us, it is remarkable and
should be maintained. You should sign something similar with India.
Sell all your old condemned arms to the two of us, the ones you
used in the last war. This junk will thus be off your hands and
your armament factories will no longer remain idle."
"The American topcoats are also excellent and without them
our Landa Bazar [second hand clothes market] would be quite barren.
But why don't you send us trousers as well? Don't you ever take
off your trousers? If you do, you probably ship them to India.
There has to be a strategy to it because you send us jackets but
no trousers, which you send to India. When there is a war, it
will be your jackets and your trousers. These two will fight each
other using arms supplied by you."
It is ironic, and tragic, that Uncle Sam's game plan to equip
Pakistan with F-16s and India with F-18s unfolds in the year of
Manto's 50th death anniversary. Uncle Sam's game plan will impose
an arms race on Indian sub-continent thus sabotaging an ongoing
process of mutual understanding, peace and friendship. Meanwhile,
millions will go hungry as Islamabad spends over $60 million per
F-16. And New Delhi will do the same, striking a blow against
the peace activists labouring hard for a thaw in Indo-Pak relations.
Meantime, Islamabad and Delhi will issue hypocritical, hollow
statements lacking any substance.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz states Pakistan has 'no aggressive
intentions against any country'. So who does he have in mind to
use the military hardware against -- the tenants at Okara military
farms? Wazirabad residents? Baloch nationalists?
Indian defence minister refutes Shaukat's claim with the statement
that "The previous track record had shown that Pakistan had
not fired a single shot towards any other direction, but against
India". However, New Delhi is as unconvincing in its own
assertions of wanting peace with its neighbours, given its own
ambitious plans for Mirage 2000s.
If both countries are as sincere in their peace efforts as they
claim, they should freeze their defence budgets. In this regard,
New Delhi bears the major responsibility. But the Indian ruling
class has dreams to become a regional, if not global, superpower.
It is seeking a permanent place at the Security Council by treading
a costly and dangerous path of militarisation.
But it seems a simple calculation is beyond New Delhi's comprehension.
If India hikes its defence budget by seven per cent, Islamabad
acquires F 16s. Agnis beget Ghouris. Pokharan leads to Chaghi.
Above all, Washington will continue equipping Pakistan as an irritant
for India. China will also slap Pakistan's back to encircle India
if the USA equips India to contain China.
It does not need an Einstein to understand that this is a lose-lose
situation in which when Pakistan gets the coat and India gets
the trousers. 'There has to be a strategy to it' as Manto points
A Washington Post report on March 26 explains the strategy. Under
the headline 'Pakistan's Order Lifts Lockheed F-16 Plant', WP
staff writers Charles R. Babcock and Renae Merle report: 'The
Bush administration's decision to sell F-16 fighter planes to
Pakistan is likely to be as warmly greeted in Fort Worth as it
is in Karachi. That's because Lockheed Martin Corp. has said it
needs new orders for the jet before this fall, or it will have
to take action to close the production line there that employs
about 5,000 workers'.
The report reminds one of Ustad Daman:
Wahgay naal Attari dee nai takar
Na Geeta naal Quran dee aay
Nai kufr Islam da koi jhagra
Sari gaal aay nafay nuksan dee aay
(There's no clash between Wagah and Attari/It's not a matter
of the Geeta or Quran/Nor is it a quarrel between Islam and paganism
/It's all about profit and loss, stupid)