Saving 'bad marriage' is best for all
PITTSFIELD - Since I came to the United States, most people I meet want to know my opinion about Americans. I always respond with a question, "Do you mean the Ameri can government or everyday Americans?"
Two weeks ago, I got a call from Dustin, who lives in the apartment above me. He asked if it was OK if they could hold a party in his apartment. I said, "Yes, you can." Through that, I came to know that he was worried about my peace and privacy. For me, his question re flected the high moral values of the people who live in this community.
Like any personal privacy, countries are always looking for sovereignty. But unfortunately, the American government didn't show this respect when it invaded Iraq, de stroyed infrastructure, but never found the weapons of mass destruction that it claimed were there.
During NATO's recent Chi cago Summit, everyday Amer icans were on the streets, demonstrating for peace, while the leaders of the United States were inside pushing the Pakistani rulers to "do more."
Most analysts use the phrase "bad marriage" to described the relationship between the United States and Pakistan -- where both partners are not happy with each other due to a lack of trust on both sides, but they are also making efforts to maintain their ties because the bad relationship can have negative consequences over the region and especially for Afghanistan.
An article published on the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding website by Imtiaz Ali referred to a comment by Washington-based Pakistani journalist Anwar Iqbal "the year 2011 was like 2001 -- a game changer," because it exposed the fragile nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. Iqbal compared the "two years by stating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks brought Paki stan back in to the game, events happening in 2011 are pushing [the country] out."
The death of Osama bin Laden and the air strike by American forces on a checkpost in Salala, Pakistan, on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers made the relationship more complicated. As a result, Paki stan suspended the NATO supply route for Afghanistan.
It was expected that Paki stani President Asif Zardari would announce the reopening of the NATO supply route at the Chicago Summit, but it didn't happen. However, Zar dari remained in the news be cause of the way he was treated by the U.S. administration. President Obama didn't meet him formally and didn't ac knowledge the role of Pakistan in the war on terror.
Since joining the war on terror, 3,500 Pakistani soldiers and more than 35,000 civilians have been killed and the country's economy badly disturbed due to the deteriorating law-and-order situation in the area.
After the suspension of the NATO supply route, suicide bombings dramatically de creased in Pakistan, but there is a chance of more attacks if the Pakistani government de cides to restore it.
Pakistani officials are ready to restore the supply route with these conditions: if America makes an apology for the at tack on Salala; if it gets prior permission from Paki stani officials to carry out drone attacks within its borders; and Paki stan wants to increase its road tax on NATO supply containers.
Steve Edwards, a broadcaster at Chicago Public Radio, says the Obama administration is avoiding the apology be cause it's an election year and Republicans would be critical. Obama's 2009 visit to the Middle East was already labeled the "Apology Tour" when he was trying to resettle relations in the region.
On the other hand in Paki stan, the ruling party is facing public pressure and it is not ready to take the responsibility of reopening the NATO supply route alone, which could affect their voter support in the upcoming election. Mean while, a new alliance of religious and political parties called the "Defense Council of Pakistan" is motivating locals against the restoration of the NATO supply.
For me, it seems that Paki stan is caught in the middle. America is not treating it as an ally, yet the enemies of America are hitting Pakistan through suicide attacks.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, there are various militant groups and they are trying to paralyze the countries, but they have a shared agenda: Anti-Americanism. These militants have already propagated that polio and other vaccinations are part of a hidden agenda of America and the West.
That may not be true at all, but Dr. Shakeel Afridi launched a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad, Paki stan, to locate Osama bin Laden. The government of Pakistan arrested him on May 22, 2011, and he recently was given 33 years in jail after being convicted in a tribal court; as a result, the American government deducted $33 million in aid to Pakistan.
It's a great debate in the media as to whether Dr. Afridi is a hero or a traitor, but I worry that militants will use this example of the fake vaccination campaign to certify their propaganda.
According to a BBC report about a recent -- and real -- polio vaccination campaign, 19,000 parents in Khyber, Pukhtoonkhwa Province, Paki stan, refused to vaccinate their children. Recently, 16 new polio cases have been identified in Pakistan. The World Health Organization already has declared an emergency to eliminate polio from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria; otherwise, it will threaten the rest of the world. Dr. Afridi's campaigns made this job more difficult and also created more threats for people providing vaccines in the conflict zone.
Every day, the taxpayers of America and the West are funding for real vaccinations in third world countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is always appreciated. But using a health campaign to carry out a secret mission will have negative consequences over the generations and possibly increase negative sentiments toward the U.S. Such questions are already raised in Pakistan.
Adnan Rashid lives in Swat, Pakistan. He is studying journalism at The Berkshire Eagle through the Alfred Friendly and Daniel Pearl fellowship program. To reach Adnan: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @adnanswat.
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