A Difficult Ally and a Dangerous Enemy

Musharraf Goes Splat

By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, November 11, 2007; B07
Pakistan is an unusual country — a nation capable of looking into the abyss, pausing briefly to consider its options and then jumping headfirst into darkness. The willingness to go splat has been the backbone of Pakistan‘s national survival strategy for its 60-year history.
Whether rattling nuclear rockets at a much more powerful India or allowing terrorist networks to use Pakistani territory to mount plots against Afghan, American and British targets, the country’s leaders have raised political blackmail to a national and international art form. Oppose or ignore us at our — and your — peril is the unofficial national motto of Islamabad.
. . . Successive leaders, military and civilian, have encouraged or tolerated the world’s most damaging spread of nuclear technology and international terrorism from Pakistani territory. They have encouraged or tolerated massive corruption at home, some of it funded by foreign aid from the United States and other countries frightened of the consequences of not providing it. They have also preferred to see Afghanistan engulfed in suicide bombings rather than become a stable neighbor . . .
Can’t say that I always agree with Hoagland, but he seems spot-on with this analysis. I had to do a double-take on his “successive leaders” comment to know if he was talking about us or them–‘us’ certainly as neglectful as various Pakistani regimes.
I’ve worn out my keyboard ranting about our president’s fixation on nuclear ‘possibles’ such as North Korea and Iran, while nuclear reality Pakistan has always been the least stable of the bunch. America is a self-styled arbiter of the world’s morals, yet stunningly willing to snuggle up to the most vicious and tyrannical governments when it suits our short-term interest.
Maybe it’s Wall Street, the quarterly report, consumer advertising or our willingness to reduce all issues to sound-bites that encourages our national allegiance to the short term.
Whatever the reason, one wonders how often and through how many decades we need be bit in the ankle before we learn. Diplomacy, like life itself, is a long term project and resistant to presidential terms–ours or theirs.

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