Hamid Mir and his Ridiculous Benchmarks for Success

Oct 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Uncategorized

Sana A’s point-by-point rebuttal of Hamid Mir’s latest piece…an excellent read!

If anyone needed more proof of the media being overrun by the disgracefully uninformed, here it is. In
this preposterous piece, Hamid Mir makes outlandish demands of United States’ policy whilst having the nerve to wonder at the mistrust between the US and Pakistan. The fact that this man is executive editor of Geo TV in Islamabad is troubling.

Taking a deep breath, I feel the only way to tackle this monstrosity of distorted facts and hysteria is to go through it, point by point.

At the end of his first paragraph, Mir brings up the favorite punching bag of Pakistan’s obsessed media, the Kerry-Lugar bill. One has to wonder: now that the Pakistani public seems to be embracing the aid package, will the pseudo-journalists go through withdrawal symptoms once this this is no longer a relevant topic?

Mir writes: “Very few people in Washington realise that tension between Pakistan Army and President Zardari were actually created by Kerry-Lugar Bill.”

Quite off the mark, the statement goes to illustrate Mir’s love for simplified truths. The Kerry-Lugar bill was up for debate for many months. The writing, drafting, research and of course, floor debate and vote process was very much an open process. Throughout this sequence, there was no outcry to be heard, no fear of losing sovereignty to be felt. If anything, Pakistanis should be aware that tougher, far more intrusive clauses were actually not approved and the bill was full of immense respect and recognition for Pakistan at the time it was signed into law. Mir misses the point that tensions between the Pakistani Army and President Zardari’s administration are mainly over the new role the army must now play: to serve the federal government. We have in Pakistan a fledging democracy, and we absolutely must give it a chance to flourish. The Army has the noble task of protecting the people from danger, and it must work with President Zardari’s government to meet that goal. Tensions are natural when the role of one entity changes, and as Kerry-Lugar also notes, the Army is on its way to becoming a powerful, professional force in place of a political one.

Mir’s next paragraph launches into a recap of a conference on US-Pakistan relations that took place at Harvard University. Mir cites Ambassador Haqqani’s declaration that democracy is the only way forward for Pakistan. Indeed, Ambassador Haqqani has said as much from Day One, and worked tirelessly towards that end. Mir laments that his question, “Why the US is not listening to the voice of democracy in Pakistan coming through an elected parliament?” went unanswered. The answer, boys and girls, is taught in International Relations 101: diplomatic relations between nations are between the federal executive branches. President Zardari will not be setting up meetings with elected members of American state and city governments, as his work directly leads him to President Obama and the State Department. Realizing that Mir is unaware of this plain fact (and also knowing this is only the second point in his article) makes one uneasy about the rest of Mir’s piece.

Does Mir advocate American involvement with the Parliament? Does Mir forget that he just mentioned the rift between Zardari and the army and that too, over American involvement? The United States most unequivocally supports democracy in Pakistan, any question of that at this point is beyond ludicrous.

His third paragraph states, “No doubt that the US is the most controversial country in Pakistan and Pakistan is the most misunderstood country in the US. There is a huge mistrust on both sides but even then both countries need cooperation of each other because they are facing some common threats. Pakistan lies in one of the world’s most important geopolitical regions surrounded by Afghanistan, Iran, China and India.”

The fact is, the US should not be hated by Pakistanis but rather identified as a true ally. The anti-terror, pro-democracy goals of both nations are so neatly aligned, it just does not make sense for conspiracy-minded Pakistanis to break up this valuable bond. There are many in Pakistan who acknowledge the US’s extended hand and are grateful for it, because they understand a stable future for their country depends on it. Others will, however, continue to blast away at the US and the West in general in visceral, illogical ways. That is why the US is controversial in Pakistan. As to why Pakistan is misunderstood…it’s simple! American taxpayers are sending over an incredibly generous, well-thought out $7.5 billion in non-military aid alone, and all across their papers and televisions are reports of Pakistanis caught up in a fury. Of course this leads to confusion, how can they be anything but confused and frustrated? Any cooperation must come with respect, and if Mir believes in the spirit of partnership, he must lead the charge and do his best to bolster US-Pakistan efforts.

In ill-structured form, Mir abruptly cuts off topic and discusses the US drone attacks. If the US is so worried about the border, he asks, “Why is there no fencing and no proper border check posts? There are more than 350 illegal entry points on the Pak-Afghan border. Every day more than 20,000 vehicles and 45,000 people cross the border without proper documents.” Once again…how can we go from hearing “The US is intruding and will soon take over the country” to “Why isn’t the US building a proper border fence?” This is absurd and baffling.

Pulling another 180, Mir begins demands for a timeline for troop removal from Afghanistan, going so far as to say the replacement of American troops with UN peacekeeping forces would be better for the nation. There are a myriad of reasons as to why all this is utterly useless. The United States has a solid interest in Afghanistan, and will do its best to stabilize the country. The entire world in invested in Afghanistan, with billions in aid coming from Afghanistan’s neighbors, the EU, USAID as well as individual donations. Mir’s recommendation exposes he clearly does not know President Obama’s administration is working on a new strategy for military operations, and are contemplating a troop increase. UN peacekeeping forces would not be able to accomplish as much, nor have equal clout as, American troops.

Towards the end of his piece, Mir must have challenged himself to spit out the most bizarre statement he could muster. And he rose to the challenge.

Nobody can deny the fact that Pakistan and Afghanistan have become unsafe after the arrival of US troops in the region.

Is one to assume Afghanis were “safe” under the tyrannical, murderous Taliban regime? That the quality of life, civil liberties, access to education were readily available to all people? Is one also to forget all she knows about Pakistani history and pretend Pakistan through the 90s up until the attacks of 9/11 was a perfectly safe country? Hamid Mir, you should be ashamed of yourself. The horrors that took place should never be forgotten, and you have some absolute nerve as you try to rewrite history.

There is one thing all people need to understand at some point, and that is that the United States of America is not interested in taking over another country. We are all living in the era of globalization, our successes and failures are tangled up. It is disingenuous and immoral to lie when you are in the media, in the name of a noble profession — journalism. Perhaps Mir and others like him will slowly come around. If not, we can all be grateful cooler heads seem to be prevailing. As Pakistan is rocked with tragedy after tragedy at the hands of the extremists, the public is slowly realizing the importance of a partnership with the US.

The goal, for all of us, is a stable, prosperous and modernized Pakistan.

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