The Pakistani-Consul-General Comes to Berkeley
By Geoffrey Cook, TMO
This meeting with the Pakistani Consul-General for the Western United States, Ms. Rafat Masoud, happened last spring here in Berkeley — although she is based in Los Angeles, but your reporter is just finding the chance to write up his report because of the overwhelming bulk of critical news that has arisen over the intervening months.
Ms. Masoud is now a career diplomat, and previously she has served her overwhelmingly Islamic country in both domestic and external affairs. By law Pakistan has opened up high positions for woman in Government, (but, at the same time, the South Asian-type of â€œfeudalismâ€ has mainly opened up these positions to the daughters of those very same â€œfeudalâ€ families). There has, simultaneously, been an opening for women in the private sector, too.
Originally, she did not envision a career in Islamabadâ€™s Foreign Service, but her husband encouraged her to do so.
She did not avoid the all-time low relationship between Rawalpindi (the Pakistani military cantonment) and the District of Columbian (D.C.) who traditionally have been the very best of military allies. (Along with Israel, curiously enough, Pakistan amongst others has been given the designation of a Major Non-NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] Ally [MNNA] to the U.S.)
The inherent depth of the American-Pakistani military axis has found its long-term basis in short-term objectives.
She stated that we have failed to generate long-term strategic relations even though our two militaries have been the closest of partners since the birth of that Islamic Republic closely following the Second World War.
In actuality, Pakistan is closer to China because of Beijingâ€™s mutual antagonism to India while D.C. has been at odds with the Han State (Empire). In repairing the long-term stability between the United States and the COAS (Commander of the Armed Forces) in Rawalpindi, and the civil State next door in Islamabad, the trust that has been broken, must be repaired.
Pakistan has suffered greatly for its alliance with the (former) American President George W. Bushâ€™s â€œWar on Terror –â€ especially economically, politically, and the large loss of their jawans (soldiers). Succinctly, â€œMy country has been on the frontline of this War.â€
(Former) President Pervez Musharraf tried to gain legitimacy for the Pakistani State through initiating an alliance with the United States. Ultimately, this has put the majority of their citizenry in disapproval of the foreign policy of their current and last Administrationsâ€™ decisions.
So far the U.S. has refused to take part in (direct) talks with the Taliban (although your author has reports of â€œsecretâ€ talks with those former Madrassa â€œStudentsâ€ through third parties). The Consul-General felt the Pakistani people will suffer more if the U.S.A. does not commit themselves to a partnership with policies that would primarily stabilize Pakistan (but, secondarily, Afghanistan) economically.
During the Soviet War (1979-1989), the Russian Empire was finally dissolved through the efforts of the Mujahidin in Afghanistan proper and the Pak ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) Agency with material help from D.C. (the District of Columbia) in tandem, curiously, with the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine. By the resulting lack of initiative by Washington to rebuild the Af-Pak (Afghanistan-Pakistan) region, the Arab mercenaries in the war in the Hindu Kush g garnered large-scale â€œmoralâ€ support for their attack upon New York among the more fringe groups within the Middle East and South Asia et al.
According to the Consul-General Masoud, the radicalization of Islam took part in her country over several years. Many of the leaders â€“ especially from the Northwest Provinces (N.W.P.) â€” desired radical Islam for the whole of Pakistan â€“ not just for the tribal areas. Strangely, (Violent) Jihadi literature was published initially in the American Heartland during the 1980s (as were neo-Nazi tracts for the German market) because of the U.S.â€™ Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing Freedom of (even hate) speech at that time.
Peculiarly, it was the American (i.e., the Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion) — and in most European countries which had a negative influence upon those who had a more â€œessentialist â€ vision of Islam, and, in reaction, encouraged the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan.
Education has to instruct the population of the counter-productive results of such draconian legislation. At the same time, â€œWe are living in a religiously radicalized society.â€
She made some very interesting comments here in Berkeley, â€œDemocracy is always on the brink of being derailed by the Military.â€
Militarization and the politicization â€“ especially of civil society — are moving to stabilize democracy because it is strengthening the Judiciary. This whole process, though, is not transparent in her judgment.
â€œDo not think â€˜Memo Gateâ€™ [a scandal earlier this year where a memo was leaked that seemed to imply American interference in the civilian/defense dynamic] is true.â€
Ultimately, though, the Supreme Court cannot become completely independent from the legislative and the Executive branches of Government â€“ even in the United States.
Addressing a another poignant question, the Consul-General stated that the popularity of the formerly high profile cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan, was healthy for her nationâ€™s democracy, for the people of Pakistan desired a third (political) option. It is noteworthy that the very establishment that he criticizes is totally behind him. Yet the foundation for his support is urban. (Pakistan is still largely a bucolic republic, and there is little support for his ideology there,) and the Pakistani peasant is largely influenced in their vote by their feudal-like landlords.
Again, ordinarily, the Pakistan Peopleâ€™s Party has been garnering the Subaltern (landed and landless peasantry and the rising petite bourgeois â€“such as small shop-keepers, etc.), but with the corruption at the top and the inability for the Government to spread the wealth to a larger segment of the population, the rise of the Muslim League or one of its off-shoots may find itself in ascendancy if the Military itself does not take things into its own hands in hopes they would be in a better position to help the State recover from national disasters such as the floods, etc.
On the other hand, this would hinder the advancement of democracy there.