US bills $2 billion as ‘aid’, $60 billion as a ‘sale’, $5 billion as an opportunity!

October 24, 2010

A few presidents get the opportunity to bring lasting change. With a thumping majority in the House and a razor thin advantage in the Senate, President Obama could have taken the moment to use the mandate of the people to transform the world. He did not.

From Germany to Bangladesh, the world thought that Barack Obama represented a prophet of change that would base his decisions on his campaign promises. Barack Obama had the opportunity to play the role of President Carter in the Middle East and South Asia. He made some campaign promises on Kashmir on which he failed to live up to. Mr. Obama made the right noises, and started with a bang–but ended up with a whimper.

The spin doctors in Washington bills a $2 billion contract to Pakistan as ‘aid’. In the same breath the $60 billion proposition for Saudi Arabia is classified as a hum dum ‘sale’ while the $5 billion sale of stripped down US arms is sold as a colossal opportunity for American business interests!

Today he is as beholden to vested interests as ever before. While Saudi Arabia is buying $60 billion worth of arms from the USA, he is peddling $5 Billion or ammunition to Bharat–by doing them a great favor.

$2 billion of essential sale of arms to the Pakistani Army is billed as “aid” to Islamabad. Why can’t is be classified for what it is–a sale of arms. The $5 billion in arms sales to Delhi is propagated as a great sales opportunity for the America Inc. The Bharatis feel good that the US president is bringing a team of American CEOs. No such blitz was needed to pawn off $60 billion worth of US equipment to Riyadh, and VPs of major US corporations were not flown in to Arabia. Kuwat and Qatar also are buying billions of Dollars of US merchandise, and continue to do so on an annual basis. Mr. Obama’s commerce secretary is absent in the Middle East.

Shireen Mazari has written another prodigious article on Mr. Obama and his false commitment on Kashmir. She correctly points out that correct diplomacy would have brought about a tsunami of change in the land of the five rivers. Mr. Obama didin’t do the right thing.

If Pakistan had urged the US Administration at the recently concluded Strategic Dialogue at Washington to use its clout, as India’s friend and the solitary superpower, to compel India to honour its long-standing commitments on the Kashmir issue, it would have been quite a justified move. Seeking a solution in line with the relevant UN resolutions would place the US in a strong moral position that would also enable it to meet the wishes of the people of Kashmir and Pakistan. It would turn back the presently rising tide of hatred of the US in this part of the world, and its pledges of abiding friendship with Pakistan would be readily taken at face value. Not only that. In the eyes of the international community and the oppressed people everywhere, it would raise the stature of the US as a country that could be expected to use the strength of its being the reigning superpower in pursuit of justice and fair play, two of the prerequisite to durable peace in the world. And didn’t Candidate Obama, trying to project his image as a genuine peacemaker, promise the US voters, who had become sick of the wars his predecessor had led the country into, that he would chalk out policies that would bring for them a breath of fresh air. And hasn’t President Obama for some time, at least till well after he had addressed the Muslim World at Cairo, given this impression?

However, if Foreign Minster Qureshi’s reportedly formal call on the last day of Strategic Dialogue stipulated a mediation effort by President Obama, it is totally devoid of foresight. Two years into the presidency and facing midterm elections barely two weeks away that are widely predicted to make for a Republican comeback into the Congress, Obama, sadly, is a changed man, broken into pursuing the murky considerations of US national interests and the imperialist desire to keep the world under American sway. Sacrificing his ideals, he has launched himself into the vain exercise of containing China. And rightly judging Pakistan an unhelpful ally in this misadventure, he has gone all-out befriending India, showering it with favours even in violatation of its cherished international treaties.

Human rights abuses the Indian security forces are perpetrating on the Kashmiris, who are demanding an end to New Delhi’s stranglehold on their homeland, are of little concern to it. Washington’s mediation, if ever undertaken, would go to the advantage of India, whatever the people of Kashmir, Pakistan and the rest might say. The best course is for Pakistan to steadfastly adhere to its principled stand that should force the US and other influential powers to pressurise New Delhi into falling in line with the aspiration of the Kashmiris. Otherwise, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or any other Indian leader would keep changing his stance, as Prime Minister Gilani has complained. Islamabad must openly and defiantly lend moral and diplomatic support to the freedom struggle in the occupied Kashmir.

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