Wail Of A Client State II

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Sep 2017 08:45:05


 It is only futile to expect Pakistan to act tough on terror groups that have found a safe haven in that country. Yet, the US seems to have no alternative but to keep some aid-pipeline alive so that it would have some check on the absolutely wayward behaviour of the military, so that it would be able to exert some control on the Pakistanis and make them aware of their commitment to fighting terrorism.

 

Washington, Aug 31 (PTI): The Trump Administration has notified that it will give Pakistan USD 255 million worth of conditional military assistance if it takes more action against internal terror groups launching attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan, according to a media report. The announcement comes over a week after President Donald Trump hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups that kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. He also warned Pakistan that it had ‘much to lose’ by harbouring terrorists. ...

FOR Pakistan, eternally a client State, this so-called conditional aid of 255 million dollars comes as a much-needed booster dose that also speaks of the harsh imperatives of international realpolitik. This event demonstrates the mutual compulsions of the United States and Pakistan. For the US, keeping the tabs on Pakistan is a serious imperative. So this ‘conditional aid’. For Pakistan’s military, such an aid, howsoever ‘conditional’, is nothing but a life-saving drug on whose strength its military machine and its ruling elite have survived all these decades. In the process, the US expectation that Pakistan should mount attacks on Afghanistan’s terror groups, is nothing but of a cosmetic value. No one knows how serious US President Mr. Donald Trump is about the expectation. There is a reason to believe otherwise. For the US, Pakistan is not just a tool to fight terror but also an old ally that is tilting heavily towards an adversary like China. Hence the need to keep the tabs on. So, beyond the task of tackling terror, the United States also has a larger foreign policy objective to serve by offering the so-called conditional aid of USD 255 million.
Let alone the American foreign policy imperative, what is more critical to Pakistan is keeping its military machine alive and kicking through regular American spoon-feeding. As a shameless client State, Pakistan has no qualms about seeking such aid, either in any manner.

We must understand the internal compulsions of Pakistan’s ruling elite, civilian or military. The civilian ruling elite must make every effort to acquire continual aid from the US so that its military machine keeps thriving. Such is a vice-like grip of the military on Pakistan’s ruling system.  Pakistani scholar and researcher Ayesha Siddiqa has exposed this compulsion of her country’s ruling elite in a masterly book titled ‘Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy’ (Penguine Random House India, second edition, paperback, 2017). She contends that in Pakistan, the military is omnipresent -- not just in defence but also in commerce. She proves painstakingly that the Pakistani military’s top controllers also have their finger in the corporate pie, thus transforming the Pakistani society like nothing else has. The military has become an independent class in Pakistan and dominates national decisions in a manner that has proved to be the country’s nightmare. She stresses that the Pakistani military is entrenched in corporate sector and that a number of Pakistani companies and their main assets are in the hands of a tiny minority of senior Army officials.

Ayesha Siddiqa calls this process Milbus, “the military capital used for the personal benefit of the military fraternity, especially the officer cadre, but is neither recorded nor part of the defence budget ...”, in the Introduction of the book. She goes on detailing the whole process, and shares the high degree of difficulty she faced when she tried to publish the book and how Pakistani military dictator General Pervez Musharraf wanted to block the book totally from public domain.

It is not possible that the Americans do not know anything about this -- the Pakistani Milbus! Yet, they have allowed that thing to go on, thanks to their foreign policy compulsions. They seem to realise that when the Pakistani military’s ruling group conducts itself in such a corrupt manner, it is only handing itself over to the US as its collective stooge. That is what the Americans might be aiming at all along. For a global superpower like the US, it is always handy to have an ally that it can manipulate easily in its global games.

Of course, in Pakistan’s case, things seem to have moved a bit out of control. The US must never have expected the military’s top group in Pakistan to be so terribly corrupt financially and morally. It must have got a shock when they first realised that the aid they were giving to Pakistan was getting into personal pockets of a handful few of the military brass. The limits to which the Pak brass went must have made the Americans mad.

But then, this has always been so, for decades. It is precisely because of this reason that Pakistan has continued losing its grip on its own affairs, internal or external. It is being manipulated constantly by the Americans and now the Chinese. And the most disgusting part is that the Pakistani society has not even tried to revolt against such a brazenness on the part of the military brass.

The fresh ‘conditional aid’ to Pakistan should be viewed from this angle. Once the aid reaches Pakistan, its ruling elite -- civilian or military -- would create an outward impression that it is launching frontal attacks on the terror groups operating in Afghanistan. And once that impression gets created, they will withdraw a lot of that aid into personal coffers of a handful of the military brass.

So much for the fight against terror! So much for national interest! So much for the age-old friendship with the US!
But then, this is in tune with Pakistan’s character as a nation. As a client State, all it has done is to sell its own dignity so that it would keep attracting some aid from its ally of long standing, the United States of America.

In such a situation, it is only futile to expect Pakistan to act tough on terror groups that have found a safe haven in that country. Yet, the US seems to have no alternative but to keep some aid-pipeline alive so that it would have some check on the absolutely wayward behaviour of the military, so that it would be able to exert some control on the Pakistanis and make them aware of their commitment to fighting terrorism. Pakistan knows how to exploit the American compulsion. America, too, knows to what extent to travel along. This marriage of mutual convenience, thus, carries on, no matter the cantankerous atmosphere that raises its head time and again.

For India, this is going to be a permanent headache. India need not, therefore, feel elated that the Americans are chastising the Pakistanis. It is hardly so, as is proved by the latest ‘conditional aid’, which President Mr. Trump is reported to have agreed, in sharp contrast to his stated position only a week ago. India must decipher this internal dynamics between Pakistan and its strong ally the United States of America. For, understanding that would help India to have a clear head on the issue.