Muhammad Ali

There have been patches when one would believe Imran Khan has taken the point of stopping drone strikes a bit too far by blocking Nato supply. Particularly when the PML-N government would itself express the desire to have the drones stopped; when Ch Nisar, the federal interior minister, would blame the US for sabotaging the talks initiative with militants; and when Nawaz Sharif, the PM, would reiterate his commitment to Taliban talks. However, as the time has progressed, the truth has started making its way, as it always does.

Though there should be no doubt that Taliban talks alone are no solution, neither is the fight alone; it has to be a set of steps overly discussed by several writers by now, including this one. Furthermore, militancy and drones aren’t the only two problems afflicting us. The fact is that the beautiful country of ours is enslaved. And this slavery is not like the one the people suffered by the British Raj. It is far too worse, as the invasion is not physical – it’s cognitive, paralysing us in all spheres of life. The control over and aggression against us has been in place for almost all along; but lately the façade has started to crumble. People have started to realise the reality of being slaves – the modern-day slavery which makes a state a satellite one. And the panacea also lies in having a modern day freedom fighter. Now some may not digest the laxical choice of ‘freedom fighting’ or ‘freedom fighter’, yet all will agree we need to be liberated.

About the moves of Imran Khan, initially when he floated the idea of engaging the Taliban in talks, many were skeptical. Some even rejected it outrightly. Some called for amends and attaching some strings to the talks offer. Some others even went farther to call Imran one of the Taliban. At least it appeared so. However, the PTI leader has remained steadfast all along. His party gave the federal government a deadline to stop Nato supply, and when the federal government failed to do anything, the PTI went ahead and blocked the supply itself. While lately, the party also named the CIA station chief in Islamabad in the FIR of Hangu drone attack. The words are also taking rounds that it has forced the CIA station chief to either quit Pakistan, or the US government is planning to do so soon. Meanwhile, the PML-N government has done almost everything to lay bare the fact that it is playing a double game. If not, why would Sartaj Aziz, the PM’s Adviser on National Security reassure that the US has now assured it would not interrupt the dialogue initiative. While Sartaj will state it one day, drones will cut deep into the sovereignty the other day and strike Hangu, a settled KPK area; beyond FATA. It was the same kind of circumstances under which the then TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed – a day after the PML-N had announced sending emissaries to the Taliban for talks. Well, if things had settled here, people would still have continued believing that the “US doesn’t listen to no one”. But if the government knew it to be so, what was the need for Sartaj to make such an announcement. And if the US really doesn’t listen, who will make it do so? The US must listen as the common Pakistanis are fed up with the politics of militancy.

When Imran tells the US that the point is not being anti-American, it is being pro-Pakistan, pro-peace, he sounds logical. For the US to have created the Taliban and al-Qaeda and then orphaning them post-Cold War to create trouble for the whole region, is something the world must question, and the US must answer. If it is unsafe, we are so more than it. What is wrong if the Pakistanis question. Oh! we cannot…. because we take dollars. But someone needs to tell the US President that the dollars never reach the people of Pakistan in any substantial way; in the shape of real development or education. They are believed to have ended up in the coffers of the rulers of the time – Ayub, Zia, Nawaz (thrice), Benazir (twice), Musharraf, Zardari, and the cronies and the likes of them. It is sad that they have always sold this precious nation quite cheaply. Our foreign policy-makers have to learn something from the latest developments in the world. Being hand-maiden to “any friend” after a tranche of dollars, is a cheap bargain. It’s akin to selling people’s dignity without consent. Don’t call it diplomacy.

Coming back to the modern-day slavery, let’s see what happens to the enslaved people. They are deprived of the right to make their own decisions. They can’t claim the right price for their produce, or the right value for their money. They can’t say what they must. They become so profoundly shackled in their heads and hands that their masters could frequently subject them to maltreatment, harassment, cruelty so much so that they could ordain their death for no reason. Now see do we, the Pakistanis, make our own decisions? (IMF-dictated utility bills and taxing). Do we get the value for our money? (recent rupee devaluation). Do we speak our minds? (the slur of fundamentalists). Do we live a free life, free from the fear of subjugation or harm from anyone? (frequent bombs and drone strikes amid the usual blather of condemnation). If the answer to some or all of it is no, we surely are slaves of the current times. Then we do need freedom. And we do need a freedom fighter. There ought to be one.