Thursday, October 8, 2009

US Kerry - Lugar Bill is Challenging Sovereingty, Democracy, Honor and US - Pakistan Relations

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JUST IN 26 minutes ago: Reuters Pakistan begins debate on Kerry-Lugar

Why controversy in Pakistan over U.S. aid bill? (Belittling of Pakistani Sovereignty for just one huge issue!) Go here Thu Oct 8, 2009 5:50am ED

JUST IN at DAWN dot com
Opposing Kerry-Lugar Dawn Editorial Thursday, 08 Oct, 2009 here

These Two Ed's strikingly of the moment JUST IN approximately 11 hours ago as of 6 am EST:

FIRST EDITORIAL: Brawling over Kerry-Lugar Bill\10\08\story_8-10-2009_pg3_1
or Click: here

After a motion by the PMLN, the National Assembly is going to debate the Kerry-Lugar Bill which gives Pakistan $1.5 billion annually as an American grant for five years. The session is going to be stormy with most members primed with “facts” already made public by the media. It is going to be difficult to tell whether the “rejectionists” will toe the party line or participate in fair debate. Finally, democracy’s only effective principle — a majority in the house — will win.

Discussion is good for democracy in all circumstances, even if the Constitution of Pakistan, like the Indian constitution, doesn’t bind the government to pass any international agreements in parliament. But the pre-debate atmosphere in the country tells us how much the incumbent government is under siege. There is the big opposition party, the PMLN, which has decided to go for the jugular on the issue. The smaller parties are in fact goading it along to engage in some kind of final showdown with the PPP. And then there are a couple of parties with big leaders but minimal post-2008 elections following who have a high-profile presence on the TV channels.

A part of the media is campaigning for mid-term elections. But as long as the PPP has a majority in parliament there is no genuinely constitutional way to bring about a mid-term change. That is why everyone seems to be looking for any telltale signs from the army taking offence at the language of the Kerry-Lugar Bill. A meeting between Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, has taken place which the chief minister has admitted after his party spokesman first denied it, probably in order to load the dice in favour of the “rejectionists” of the Bill in the National Assembly.

In Pakistan everyone wishing to form a political strategy has an ear cocked to sounds coming from the army. Until this meeting, there was none. But now the media is bound to spread the word that the army is planning to scrutinize the aid Bill in its corps commanders’ meeting. An added observation says the army will probably focus on the “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty” implied in the “conditionalities” in the Bill and certain demands that specifically relate to “the security matrix”. We hope that the army knows very well through its own contacts with the American army what the Bill aims to achieve since its proposed text was made public many months ago.

The discussion in the reported yet-to-convened corps commanders’ meeting is pre-empted by another news that the Pakistan army has already communicated its objections to the Bill to the commander of the international forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. The report says the army is “greatly angered” by the “degrading” language used in the Bill about Pakistan’s military and security agencies. General Kayani is supposed to have told the American general that the military officers, like the rest of Pakistan, were “furious”. General Kayani is supposed to have conveyed this also to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Sunday.

But Prime Minister Gilani is proclaiming the Bill a “big success” of his “democratic government” and is ready to defend Pakistan’s acceptance of the American aid in parliament. His strong points are: the Bill is not addressed to Pakistan but to the Obama administration; the money it allows to Pakistan is not a loan but a grant; the conditionalities do not apply to social sector aid; and that Pakistan needs the money because it can’t get it from elsewhere. On the question of whether nearly half the money will go back to America through contractors, there is yet some lack of clarity as Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin thinks the Americans have made no decision in this regard.

India went through the same agony over “violation of sovereignty” in the text of the Hyde Act 2006 when it signed the nuclear deal with the US. Challenged with a no-confidence move in Lok Sabha, the Manmohan Singh government won the day on the basis of the “majority principle”. India will spend $100 billion buying technology from the US; Pakistan is getting $7.5 billion, and its stock exchange is already responding to prospects of economic stability as seen by foreign capital after the Kerry-Lugar Bill. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: Honour versus wisdom

The father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, Dr AQ Khan, who writes a weekly column in a Pakistani English-language newspaper, chose a “relevant” subject for discussion on Wednesday. He says: “We are now universally looked down upon as beggars. We are now totally devoid of that golden trend we used to be famous for.” His lament is that Pakistan has lost its ghairat (translated as honour in English) and that most of “social and other maladies are due to the disappearance of ghairat”.

Perhaps not so accidentally, he has joined the debate on the Kerry-Lugar Bill from the point of view of “national honour”. He links it to Islamic history too, narrating how a poet once beheaded a Muslim King to save his honour. He writes: “Ghairat is an Arabic word that has no equivalent in any other language. It has been adopted in both Persian and Urdu. In Urdu we use this word in a much narrower sense than its original meaning. In Arabic it embraces the sense of self-esteem, courage, chivalry, honour, bravery and loyalty to one’s highest values, and readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of these values”.

It should be meaningful to point out that “wisdom” too is a value of Islamic civilization as all others. In fact humanity has experienced the consequences of both these apparently opposed principles. Honour is inflexible and aspires to martyrdom; wisdom is flexible and aspires to survival. Honour strives to change the world by force to fulfil its promise; wisdom seeks to mould human society to suit its changing circumstances.

Honour is the value of the warrior. He is brave but when he goes to war half the odds are that he would be defeated. Wisdom is the value of the peace-loving person. Because he never goes to war, there are no chances of his getting defeated. The only dishonour in today’s world is being poor. The duty of the state is to avoid that at all cost. *

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