Self-deception

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On April 14, newspapers carried important news reports filed by The Associated Press (AP) covering two events, one in Pakistan and the other in the US.

These news reports exposed yet again the conflicting views of the US administration about Pakistan.

The first report was about the Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Rajiv Shah inaugurating, in Islamabad, an exhibition of photographs depicting six decades of Pak-US relations, and the other about unflinching US determination to continue drone strikes inside Pakistan.According to Shah, since October 2009, ie in two and a half years, USAID spent $2.6bn on 140 projects (annual average outlay on each $7.43 million) in Pakistan, but will cut the number of projects to 35 to focus on five key areas: energy, economic growth, health, education and stabilisation of the Afghan border areas.According to him, and logically, if the US tried to do 140 different things, it was unlikely to do them at scale that a country of 185 million could see, value and appreciate.

But he also said things that were reflective of the mindset of the US administration, not the cherished American values.

He said "Our logo and our tagline say 'From the American People,' but in reality this work is very much 'for the American people'....We are safer and more secure when countries are prosperous and...

trade with us instead of representing a militant threat."Although his utterances partly reflected a positive change - a realisation that threats to the US could go down with the poverty-ridden becoming less stressed - they divulged the 'real' intent behind the "From the American People" logo, which was tactless because it diluted the goodwill aspect of the USAID.In the context of improving policy-making and its execution, he said "You [the US] can only be effective at direct engagement with Pakistani leaders if you [the US] say, 'Look we are 'big enough' and 'important enough', because this would ensure that Pakistan implements tough reforms.The other news, that reminded Pakistanis more bluntly about the US being "big enough" and "important enough" was that senior US officials (speaking on condition of anonymity) told AP that the White House has no intentions of ending drone strikes against [US determined] militant targets on Pakistani soil.This stand reflects two possible mindsets: the US doesn't respect the unanimous stand of the parliament of the world's seventh largest democracy, or it believes that Pakistan's parliament is a (US hand-picked?) showpiece that doesn't deserve being taken seriously.

Sadly, in Pakistan it is the second view that is gaining ground.For the fifth time beginning 2009, Pakistan's parliament agreed on more or less the same terms for re-orienting Pakistan's relations with the US but all these years the US kept violating Pakistan's airspace, continued interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs, and thus kept violating Pakistan's sovereignty.Assuming that such poorly staged dramas will dilute the view about its being a pro-US regime, the regime tried to deceive the people into believing that it stands for upholding Pakistan's sovereignty.

If the US thinks that the latest PCNS resolution will bolster the image of this pro-US regime, it is making a grave error.Despite the previous four parliamentary resolutions, US spies like Raymond Davis kept roaming the streets in Pakistan, the US attacked Abbottabad and Salala and continued its drone attacks on Pakistan, but the regime didn't take any retaliatory steps.

Doing so, the regime caused mortal damaged to its image.For the US to believe that it could go on availing tactical advantages by helping the present regime stay in power is a mistake - the same mistake that it committed in every Muslim ally state.

It would be a blunder to assume that this regime is not seen as a protégé of the US, which has rendered it unacceptable.What damages the image of the regime much more is that, in spite of its being close to the US, it has to literally beg for reimbursement of the massive expenses it incurs (escalating its fiscal deficit) on behalf of the coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.

Worse still, this begging exercise leads to nothing.

The impression gathering ground is that the regime can't get anything from the US for the country and its people; only the regime members are showered with personal favours.

Had the regime succeeded in getting visible benefits for the country, it wouldn't have been as unpopular as it now is.Pakistani observers can be blamed for being biased but, surely, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is not.

ADB's latest assessment of Pakistan's economy leaves no doubt about how recklessly was Pakistan's economy managed in the last four years (by a pro-US regime in Pakistan).Even if the US doesn't believe the ADB, the US-based Centre for Global Development too published a report in June (filed by its aid mission in Pakistan) recommending a freeze on US assistance until Pakistan's regime reforms its dysfunctional policies on energy generation, taxation and various other areas.Labelling critics as biased or demented is a self-deceptive pastime that successive US administrations appear to have specialised in.

Not surprisingly, by supporting the in-power regime, the US hasn't rebuilt its image in Pakistan that its ambassador tries hard to do, without much success.The long-running tragedy of the world and the Americans is that, although it has been proved beyond doubt that this mindset was self-destructive (look at the US economy and the crippling indebtedness caused by pointless wars), the US leadership (not the ordinary Americans) is still not prepared to mend its suicidal ways.

Reason: just as the escalating miseries that ordinary Pakistanis live with don't cast even a shadow on President Asif Zardari, the miseries of the ordinary Americans don't even remotely impact the US President and the members of his powerful administration.

Why then change the warrior mindset of the US?The biggest tragedy that engulfs the world is that its leadership is in the hands of those who suffer from self-deception; they believe they can make humanity see exactly what 'they' want, which only confirms the leaders' tendency for ego-driven self-destruction.Even though the media has been penetrated by these leaders (remember the Rupert Murdoch affair?), the fact is that many in the media still expose harsh governance realities across the globe.

It is time clever-by-half politicians to realise that their time is running out, and prospects of pervasive anarchy becoming brighter.The "invasion" of Bannu's Central Jail, that freed hundreds of criminals, was an inkling of the rapid descent of anarchy.

Replying to a TV reporter's query about how could this happen, a minister of the KPK province said "wasn't the Army Head Quarter also attacked?" Three cheers for the in-power regime's style of governance!

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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