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The Secret Deal With USA

Posted by yourpakistan on December 8, 2011

AHMED QURAISHI | The News International

Break The Secret Pak-US Deal

It killed a former prime minister and formalized a role for US in Pakistan’s governance. Get rid of the deal but ensure that failed politicians don’t become ‘democratic heroes’ again.

The removal of Mr. Husain Haqqani from his post and the withdrawal of key facilities given earlier to US military and NATO were sorely needed moves to amend a major flaw in Pak-US ties. That flaw includes the secret US-brokered deal that destabilized Pakistan and shaped the current political setup in the country. Question is: Is it time to revoke that deal? And how should it be done?

The secret deal of 2006-07 was a dangerous escalation in foreign meddling in Pakistan. It devised arrangements to shape how a future government in Pakistan looked and behaved. It turned the US into a decisionmaker in Islamabad, interfering in issues as diverse as deciding our national interest, how ISI should be run, whether India is a threat, and how much footprint CIA should have in our country.

Needless to say, the United States invaded and occupied other nations to do some of the things it was able to do here without direct military intervention. Direct ties between our political parties and foreign governments, and secret meetings between our officials and foreigners at neutral locations, like Abu Dhabi, were a byproduct of this flaw. Even our allies, like the Turks and the Chinese, were aghast at what we were doing. Selling ourselves cheap emboldened our foreign detractors. It is no coincidence that this period coincided with the worst campaign of demonization of Pakistan in world media. Interestingly the main culprit in this was the same country that we allowed to meddle in our affairs.

Sadly, few Pakistani citizens in powerful places played a key role in creating this deformity in Pak-US ties. It is our fault. But here I would like to focus on steps underway to roll back this flaw. Taking back a CIA-run airfield, expelling its agents and insisting on new terms of cooperation in America’s failed Afghan occupation are key steps in normalizing our relations and cleaning our American mess.But that’s not enough. The deal should be revoked. It has weakened the country. It forced a former prime minister to return home and get killed. Patrons of the deal ignored threats to her life and possibly pushed her to her death to destabilize Pakistan. Not to mention how the deal shattered the trust of Pakistanis who cringe at our slow transformation into a banana republic.

Yet this ultimate rollback is something that the country might not be ready for right now. Ending the deal means rolling back a failed political system. A premature wrapping up of the incumbent political setup will turn discredited politicians into heroes, allow them to revive foreign meddling, and will give our American detractors an opportunity to increase pressure.

So what’s the way out? It might be a good idea to let the incumbent setup, the bastard child of the secret deal, die a natural death by completing its term. After that, we need new thinking. That new thinking will not come through elections, certainly not under the country’s existing political leadership and flawed system that perpetuates linguistic and other divisions and protects corruption. At some point, we need a professional government working out of a plan. We need to distance ourselves from politics for some time in favor of business. We need to de-politicize our people enough to get them into making money and spending money, which is what growth is all about.

We need to redefine the rules of the internal political game. That’s a prerequisite for stability and strength. Ending foreign meddling is a good start.

A version of this op-ed appeared in today’s edition of The News International.


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