Widening the perimeter of reconciliation


By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Reconciliation is the heritage of the slain leader Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan People’s Party. For years Pakistan People’s Party has challenged the Pakistani establishment but eventually Bibi came to the point to resort to reconciliation with the establishment as well as political parties of Pakistan.

She extracted this notion of reconciliation from the early history of Islam where our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), even some companions opposed the idea, compromised with the Quresh of Mecca just to create an environment for the spread of Islam. Bibi as well as the present leadership of Pakistan People’s Party are of the view that only democratic culture is the sole solution of our problems. That is the reason that PPP always try to avoid to create an environment of blames and controversies. Sheikh Rashid rightly said “it is not the People’s Party of the Past”.

After the elections of 2008 Asfandyar Wali Khan of Awami National Party while all the leaders of alliance including Nawaz Sharif were present at that occasion, said that there is a little difference between reconciliation and brazenness. But in spite of his reservations Awami National Party is cohered to reconciliation and by and large cooperated with People’s Party on all major issues while other parties of the alliance at different occasions forged other ways. However as a whole the reconciliation of Benazir Bhutto has found a strong footing in Pakistan because up till now there is no real opposition for the government that can result in decline of the government. It is a fact that government is also not stubborn and welcomes the criticism of opposition and media and many times amended its policies.

President Zardari is fully implementing the concept of reconciliation but from some corners the voice is raised that it not the party of Benazir. Zardari is blamed of bringing changes in the top leadership of the party. Instead of justifying or blaming Zardari one must see the history. Benazir Bhutto also brought changes in the leadership of the party when she reorganized the party after the death of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Those who know the complexities of management can understand the compulsions of Zardari. The top leadership of people’s party will have to understand one thing that if they want to expect reconciliation from other political parties and establishment then they will have to establish reconciliation within the party.

President Zardari has widen the perimeter of reconciliation and as opposed to the common Pakistani mentality, extended his hand of friendship towards the regional countries. After coming into power he tried to resolve the difference with India and his some statements annoyed the establishment too but today Pakistan is at the juncture that it wishes to declare India as a favorite trading nation. Still there are hurdles in this peace process but now the process has begun in the right direction. Similarly could someone imagine a decade ago that Pakistani president will go to Russia seeking its support for construction of gas pipeline and for curbing terrorism?  Today President Zardari has visited Russia several times and there is hope that might now Russia will start trusting us.

In the past Iran’s relations with Pakistan were partially under the shadows of fears and mistrust however now the gap is bridged by establishing economic ties and intelligence sharing. The agreement between Pakistan and Iran to open a branch of Iranian Bank in Pakistan is a step that will surely irritate the West. But here the real test of Pakistan People’s Party as well as Pakistani establishment will start. Distancing ourselves from US is the demand of the common Pakistani but our this wish is again an indication of our extremism. Once we opted to go together with the US and ignored the importance of having friendly relations with USSR. Our this approach led us towards Afghan Jihad and the consequences are in front of us.  Now again coming closer to regional powers and ignoring US will be the real manifestation of the quotation “history repeats itself”.

Pakistan regional inclination may produce problems for it. Even few months back US pressurized Pakistan for North Waziristan operation but US also showed leniency by allowing Pakistan to start the operation at its own will. But since President Zardari had visited Russia and Prime Minister Gillani had visited Tehran, Americans have again started using pressurizing tactics. Last week US statement of conducting unilateral operation in North Waziristan was an indication of US annoyance. Now the death of former president Burhan ud Din Rabbani and attack on US embassy in Kabul may accelerate this process. US has accused Pakistan of promoting proxy war in Afghanistan. I don’t deny this blame but if US is pointing one finger towards us, its four fingers are pointing in the back direction – towards US.

I don’t want to promote blame game but now it is the real test of People’s Party reconciliation. Pakistani establishment will have to support PPP in widening the perimeter of reconciliation. At present Pakistan will have to go together with US otherwise it must be very clear to Pakistan that western powers are despotic in diplomatic relations. The snobbish Qadafi is running to save his life. The orthodox Taliban – heroes in religious circles – are no more in power. Sadam claims were incinerated. These examples of Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan are in front of us. No one had the courage to stop US and its allies from this aggression. Qadafi loved his kingdom, Taliban loved Usama and Sadam claimed to be invincible. But their fate is in front of us. Today world has objections on Quetta Shura and Haqani network. Holding them in our arms may result in the same consequences which I mentioned earlier. I always supported the idea of regionalism but here regional powers may not support us. Instead of rejecting US objections we must try to fill all those holes from where some one can creep in to destabilize us.

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