Friday, October 30, 2009

A younger, smarter wife secret to a happy marriage

Guess what's the secret to a happy marriage? Find a smart woman at least five years younger who has not been hitched before, says a new study.

Researchers at Bath University have found that couples with the best chance of a happy marriage are those in which a woman with a superior education marries a man who is five or more years older than herself.

In their study, the researchers analysed interviews with 1,534 Swiss couples who were either married or in a very serious relationship. Five years later they followed up 1,074 of the couples to see which had separated.

From this analysis, the researchers were able to tease out the factors that create a dream marriage -- and those that doom a romance to failure.

With age, they found that if the wife is five or more years older than her husband, they are more than three times as likely to divorce than if they were the same age. Couples in which the husband is the elder by at least five years are least likely to part.

A good education boosts a couple's chances of staying together, and the future is particularly bright if the wife has the most studying under her belt. Analysis of the data also showed the most stable couples were those who have never divorced, the 'Daily Mail' reported.




Courtesy Zee
MAHTAB BASHIR
0333 53 63 248

Thursday, October 29, 2009

BREAKTHROUGH: They came, they dined & they left...



When asked to sum up the dialogue and its outcome, one of the participants said, “We only raped the talks, producing nothing. We met, dined and left,” he said.
One of the leading newspaper quoted this in its issue published Wed, October 28, 2009





MAHTAB BASHIR
0333 53 63 248

Thursday, October 22, 2009

BAYAZID BISTAMI (RA) & THE 500 HERMITS

By Dr A Q Khan

God has created us in different tribes with different shapes, colours culture, taste and habits. Even our preference for literature varies from person to person. Personally, I have always been fond of reading books on Islamic history, Urdu literature, (auto)biographies and scientific books. I read, with great interest, books on Urdu poetry, Nasim Hijazi, Al-Farooq, Road to Mecca, Ghubar-e-Khatir, Urdu ki Aakhri Kitab, Ibn Batuta's Travelogue, Tazkiratul Aoulia, etc. The latter is extremely interesting, with detailed biographies of 96 auliya with special emphasis on their spiritual powers.

Tazkiratul Aulia was compiled by Hazrat Fariduddin Attar who himself was recognised as a sage. The book was written almost 800 years ago. Attar was born in 513 Hijra at Neshapur and was martyred there in 627 Hijra by a Tatar soldier.

The book contains the biography of Hazrat Bayazid Bastami (RA) who was recognised as a great sage (wali) of his time. One important story about Bastami (RA) which is not mentioned in Attar's book is given in that of Ruhaniat-e-Islam written by Maulana Alhaj Captain Wahid Baksh Sayyal (Al-Faisal Publishers/Traders, Lahore). I am reproducing the said story from the book because I am convinced many readers will find it interesting and informative. Since I did not have any contact details of Captain Wahid, I could not contact him about this, but I sincerely hope he has no objections to this. I would like to express my gratitude to Prof Ghazali for his assistance and translation."

Once on a journey, while enjoying the solitude and deeply immersed in reflection and remembrance of Allah, he heard a voice in his heart saying: 'O Bayazid! Go to Dayr Saman and join the Christians in their festivity and worship; a spectacular event will take place'. He recited aa'uzubillah and told himself: 'I will not let this suggestion cross my mind again.' That night he heard the same inner voice. When he woke, he was shivering. He started wondering whether or not he should obey this command. He then heard the inner voice saying: 'Don't be afraid! You are among the best auliya and your name is written in the scroll of the virtuous ones. Put on the dress of the hermits and there will be no blame or sin on you.'"

Early the next morning he put on the Christian hermit's dress and went to Dayr Saman. It was the day of their festivity and hermits were congregating from all over to listen to the sermon of their chief. He took a seat among them. When the chief took the pulpit, everyone was silent. He tried to speak but the pulpit started shaking and he could not say anything. The hermits asked him what prevented him from speaking. He told them that a 'Mohammadan' had come in their midst to test their faith and this had prevented him from speaking. 'Show us that person and we will kill him instantly', they responded to which he said 'don't kill him'. 'I will test him by putting some questions about theology to him. If he answers them all correctly, we will spare him. Otherwise we will kill him'. 'As you wish; we are all your followers', they replied. Thereupon the chief called out from the pulpit: 'O Mohammadan, I give you oath by Mohammad to stand up so that everyone could recognise you'. Bastami stood up. 'Ask whatever you want of rational or traditional matters', he replied. 'Allah is a witness between us'."

The chief then went on to ask: 'Tell us who is the one who has no second; what are the two that have no third; what are the three that have no fourth… what are the thirteen that have no fourteenth? Tell us who are the people who tell lies and enter paradise and the people who tell the truth and enter hell? Tell us which part of your body is the resting place of your name? What are the winds that scatter dust, the clouds that bear heavy weights of water, the ships that float with ease and the angels that distribute provisions by Allah's command? What is that which is dead and yet it breathes? Who are the fourteen who spoke with the Lord of the Worlds? Which was the grave that moved with the buried one? Which is the water that neither fell from the sky nor gushed out from the earth? Who are the four who were born without parents? Whose is the first blood that was shed on earth? What is it that was created by God; then purchased by him? What was created by God and then disliked by him? What was it God created and then expressed its gravity? What was it God created and then asked Himself what it was? Who are the best women in the world? Which rivers are the best in the world; the best mountain; the best animal; the best month of the year; the best night? What is the catastrophe (Tammah)? Which tree has twelve branches with each of them having thirty leaves; each leaf having five flowers, two of which are in the sun and three in the shade? What is it that performed the Pilgrimage of Baitullah (House of Allah) and performed Tawaf, but it has neither life nor is pilgrimage obligatory upon it? How many prophets were created by Allah and how many of them are fully-fledged messengers? What are the four things with different tastes and colours having one root? What is naqeer, qitmeer, fateel, sabad, labad, Tam and Ram? What does the dog say when it barks; the donkey when it brays? What do an ox, a horse, a camel, a peacock, a nightingale and a frog say? When the bell rings, what does it say? Who are the people to whom Allah sent a revelation, but they are neither jinn nor men nor angels? When the day dawns, where does the night go and when the night falls, where does the day go?'"

After this Bastami said: 'If you have any more questions, ask them now'. The chief replied: 'No more questions". Bastami then asked the chief: 'If I answer all these questions to your satisfaction, will you believe in Allah and His Messenger (PBUH)'. 'Yes, indeed', all of them replied. He then said: 'O Allah! You are witness to this statement of theirs'. "

Thereafter Bastami replied as follows: 'The one who has no second is Allah, the only One who is all-powerful. The two that have no third are the day and the night, for Allah says: 'We have appointed the night and the day as two signs'. (17:12)

The three that have no fourth are the throne (arsh), chair (kursi) and pen (qalam). The four that have no fifth are the four major Divine Books – the Torah, the Bible, the Zabur and the Holy Quran. The five that have no sixth are the five obligatory prayers.

The six that have no seventh are the six days in which Allah created the heavens and the earth, for Allah says: 'Indeed we created the heavens and the earth and all between them in six days'. (50:38) The seven that have no eighth are the seven heavens, for Allah says: '… seven heavens, one above the other'. (67:3)

The eight that have no ninth are the eight angels who are the bearers of the Divine Throne, for Allah says: '… and eight angels will, that day, bear the Throne of Your Lord'. (69:17)"

The nine that have no tenth are the nine mischief-makers of Bani Israel, for Allah says: "….and there were in the city nine men who made mischief in the land and would not reform" (27:48).

The ten that have no eleventh are the ten days of fasting prescribed for one who is performing the Pilgrimage of Tamatu (one of the three procedures of pilgrimage), but who cannot afford to sacrifice an animal, for Allah says: "...(but if he cannot afford it), he should fast for three days during the pilgrimage and seven days after his return, making ten days in all." (2:196)

The eleven that have no twelfth are the Prophet Yusuf and his brothers, for Allah says: "…indeed I saw eleven stars." (12:4)The twelve that have no thirteenth are the twelve months of the years, for Allah says: "Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve; so was ordained by Allah." (9:36)

The thirteen that have no fourteenth are what is mentioned in Yusuf's dream, for Allah says: "...verily I saw eleven starts and the sun and the moon prostrating themselves to me." (12:4)The people who lied but went to heaven were the brothers of Yusuf who said: "O our father! We went racing with one another and left Yusuf by our belongings and a wolf devoured him." (12:17) Yet Allah forgave them their sins.

The people who told the truth, yet they will go to hell are the Jews and the Christians, as Allah says: "The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing." (2:113) Each is right in rejecting the authenticity of the other's religion, yet both will go to hell.My ears are the true resting place of my name.The winds that scatter dust are the winds that blow from the north, south, east and west. (51:1)

Hamelaat-e-wiqra are the clouds that bear heavy weights of water. (51:2) The ships that float with ease are those ships that sail the high seas. (51:3) The angels who distribute by Allah's command are those who distribute provisions from the fifteenth of Shaaban to the next fifteenth of Shaaban. (51:4)

That which is dead and yet breathes is the morning, for Allah says: "…and by the dawn as it breaths." (81:18)The fourteen who spoke with the Lord of the Worlds are seven heavens and seven earths, for Allah says: "...and said to them and to the earth: 'Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.' They both said: 'We come willingly." (41:11). The grave that moved with the buried one was the whale that swallowed Prophet Yunus.

The water that neither fell from the sky nor gushed from the earth is the sweat of the horses that was sent by Bilqees to the Prophet Sulaiman to test him.

The four born without parents are the sheep slaughtered in place of Prophet Ismail, the female camel of Prophet Salim, and Prophet Adam and his wife, Hawwa (Eve).

The first bloodshed on earth was that of Habeel (Abel) who was killed by his brother Qabeel (Cain). The thing created by Allah and then purchased by Him is the life of a true believer, for Allah says: "Indeed, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and properties for the price that theirs shall be Paradise." (9:111).

The thing created by Allah and then disliked by Him is the braying of a donkey, for Allah says: "Indeed, the most unpleasant of all voices is the braying of asses." (31:19)The thing Allah created and then expressed its gravity is that plotted by women, for Allah says: "…certainly mighty is your plot." (12:28)

The thing Allah created and then asked Himself what it was is the staff of Prophet Musa, for Allah says: "…and what is that in your right hand?" (20:17)

The best women in the world are Hawwa, the mother of mankind, Khadija, Ayesha, Aasia and Maryam. May Allah be pleased with them all.

The best rivers in the world are the Oxus, Tigris, Euphrates and Nile; the best mountain is Tur; the best animal is the horse; the best month is Ramazan, for Allah says: "….the month of Ramazan in which was revealed the Quran" (2:185); the best night is Lailatul-Qadr, for Allah says: "...the night of Al-Qadr is better than one thousand months." (97:3).

The catastrophe (Tammah) is Doomsday.The tree with the twelve branches is the year; twelve branches for the months; thirty leaves for the days of every month; five flowers for the five daily prayers, two of which are offered in daylight and three while it is dark.

The lifeless thing that performed the Pilgrimage is the ship of Prophet Nuh.The total number of prophets is one hundred and twenty-four thousand, out of whom three hundred and thirteen are Messengers. The rest are non-messengers.

The four things with different tastes and colours but with a common root are the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Their root is the brain. The water from the eyes is saltish; that of the mouth is sweet; that of the nose is sour and that of the eyes is bitter.

Naqeer is the speck on the back of a date stone as mentioned in the Quran (4:124). Qitmeer is the thin membrane covering the date stone. (35:13)

Fateel is the thin white layer inside the date stone. (17:71). Sabad and labad are the names of the wool on the body of sheep.

Tam and Ram are the names of creations before the creation of the Prophet Adam.

When the dog barks it says: "Woe to the inmates of fire by the wrath of the All Powerful.

"When the donkey brays it looks at satan and says: "Curse be upon the devil that misguides."

The ox says: "Allah be glorified above all imperfections, and praise be for Him."The horse says: "Glorified be the One who protects me when brave men fight and men are engaged in fierce battle."The camel says: "Allah is enough for me and Allah is sufficient as my Protector."The peacock says: "The most gracious rose over the mighty throne." (20:5)

The nightingale says: "Glorify Allah when you come up to the evening and when you enter the morning." (30:17)

The frog says: "Glorified be the Lord who is worshipped in the populated as well as the deserted places and glorified be the All Powerful King."

When the bell rings it says: "Glorified be Allah; truly, truly observe, O son of Adam; in this world westwards and eastwards, you will not find anyone surviving here."

Allah sent revelation to the bees, for He says: "Take you habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect." (16.68)

When the day dawns, the night goes to the other side of the Earth (due to the earth's rotation on its axis) and when the night falls, day goes to the other side, which cannot be altered by any prophet or angel (save by His own will).

After having said all this, Hazrat Bayazid asked them: "Are any of your questions still unanswered?" To which they replied: "No, you have correctly answered all the questions."

Then Bastami asked the Chief to answer only one question: "What is the key to Paradise?" The Chief declared that the key is: "La IlahaIllallah, Muhammad'ur-Rasulullah."

The rest of them repeated the Kalimah in unison. They immediately took off their hermit's robes and embraced Islam.

Courtsy The News
Mahtab Bashir- 0333-5363248

THE BOSTON BRAHMIN

By Anjum Niaz

Since all the worthy columnists have exhausted the KLB, the new name for the Kerry-Lugar Bill, I have nothing remarkable to add to their sound and fury. Let's instead turn to a small housekeeping matter like: is Foreign Minister Qureshi's son working for Senator Kerry? Zain H Qureshi's (ZHQ) business card is circulating the cyberspace these days. It says that he is a legislative fellow in Kerry's Washington DC office. When I called up Kerry's office and asked for Qureshi, the voice at the other end immediately said, "He does not work for us". The woman appeared primed for such a question. She said she had received a similar query earlier that day. Incidentally the cell number on ZHQ's call card has been disconnected; while the mail box belonging to "Zain Qureshi" was "full!" So, I couldn't get to him.

After a number of phone calls to Senator Kerry's office, I finally found out from one of Kerry's male staffers that ZHQ did indeed work for Kerry but had now left. Why has ZHQ gone into hiding? Did he do something wrong? Yes. And the Foreign Office finds itself between a rock and a hard place. How can it condone its boss's act of getting his son a job with Kerry when the KLB talks were at a critical stage? Even if fate smiles upon ZHQ because he's the favoured son of our foreign minister and the doors of the high and mighty in Washington open up for him, we have the right to know whenever the son's job compromises his dad's position. More importantly if it is in direct conflict with Pakistan's interests.

Would you not call this a conflict of interest? Should the foreign minister resign? And if Zardari cannot afford to let him go, then the FM must seek a public apology.

The Boston Brahmin, Senator Kerry is complicit in this act. Boston Brahmins are New England's aristocracy like the Makhdooms of Multan, i.e. Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his tribe. These guys claim to fame is blue-blooded ancestry, wealth, influence and the right to rule. He said the following during his 2004 presidential campaign: "There's a great passage in the Bible that says, 'What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead.' And I think everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith . That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith."

Senator Kerry must practice what he preaches. Would he have given ZHQ the time of the day had the young man not been the son of Pakistan's foreign minister?

Why do the good folks fighting Pakistan's case in Washington DC become the usual suspects? In Musharraf's time it was Dr Nasim Ashraf. One wondered whether the Maryland-based millionaire doctor's heart bled for Pakistan or for Musharraf or for himself. Today, Ambassador Husain Haqqani is under fire from certain Pakistani quarters who accuse him of working for Washington and not Islamabad. Haqqani is hitting back via email messages to anyone wondering what's cooking in Washington. Yours truly is one of the unlucky recipients. Surely our ambassador must have known that his boss's son was working for Kerry. Good counselling from Haqqani to Qureshi would perhaps have saved the latter the embarrassment he is facing today?

Another glaring example of how the Democrats are enticing the Pakistani leaders is the recent banner headline: "Zardari far ahead in popularity." According to Democracy International, an affiliate of the Democratic Party of America, Zardari is ahead of Nawaz Sharif in the popularity contest. To anyone with an iota of intelligence, the timing of this screamer is suspect. What has Zardari achieved in recent days for "51 per cent" of Pakistanis to suddenly fall in love with him? His jiyalas, one fears, would declare October 1, the day the survey was announced, as the President's Day – the day of the great revelation. Declaring it a public holiday perhaps?

And when the polls go against the sitting president, these foreign busybodies are kicked out of Pakistan. Gen Musharraf asked IRI (the International Republican Institute), an affiliate of the Republican Party to wind up their office in Pakistan and leave when he got bad ratings from them. Not sure if indeed it was IRI that offended Musharraf, I called up their office in Washington. "What is your column about?" asked Lisa (I couldn't catch her last name) from the press section. I told her politely that it was not possible for me to provide her details of my column. "If you can't tell me what your column is about then I can't help you," she replied sternly. This is just a small example of how Masonic these polling outfits are. They think they have the writ to go around Pakistan poking their noses into our affairs, but when it comes to asking a simple question like if Musharraf asked them to wind up their office in 2008, they get so cagey.

Sadly, the epicentre of our knowledge is the received wisdom from such dodgy polls conducted by Democracy International and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Hey, where's Gallup Pakistan? Have we become so incompetent or doped that we can't even conduct popularity polls in our own country and must therefore rely on America?

We are the opium-eaters. We swallow whatever comes from Washington. While the Democrats tell us that Pakistanis love Zardari because of KLB, the Republicans via their polling affiliate the IRI sing a different tune. Their August polls conclude that "Pakistanis continue to hold onto the opinion that conditions in the country are problematic and President Zardari is perceived as being responsible." If this does not sound confusing enough to an ordinary Pakistani trying to work out the popularity ratings of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, have another go. According to September 9 report in the Christian Science Monitor, "Zardari's popularity sags - will it undermine Pakistan's fight with Taliban?"

Here's another twister from the Los Angeles Times. The headline reads: "Zardari at fault for low rating?" This gem was published on August 31. "Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is aware that his popularity has sunk to new lows at a time when his arch rival Nawaz Sharif -- who heads the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) -- is boasting high popularity, a media report said. He is widely viewed in Pakistani society not as a helmsman, but a bystander. It's an image that is largely of Zardari's own making, say analysts who contend that he has failed to forge any kind of connection with the Pakistani public.Last but not the least is the recent poll by the Pew Research Centre, a Washington-based institute, which says that "less than a third of Pakistanis have a favourable opinion of Mr Zardari. The president was widely reviled after being accused of demanding kickbacks while he served in Benazir Bhutto's Cabinet in the late 1980s and again starting in 1993."

Give us a break! If by now we don't get it that the US is using these polls as a weapon for manipulation of third world dictators (Gen Musharraf) and corrupt rulers then Pakistan, I'm afraid to say, is going down the tube fast.

Conflict of interest, eh? Here's yet one more example. Do you know how many Pakistani parliamentarians and cabinet ministers hold foreign nationalities, including our president?

The writer is a freelance journalist with over twenty years of experience in national and international reporting

Courtesy The News
MAHTAB BASHIR
0333 5363248

FORGOTTEN LESSON OF HISTORY

By Roedad Khan

On Saturday last, the army launched an operation, code-named Rah-i-Nijat against Mehsud strongholds in South Waziristan. "Both air and ground troops are taking part", Major General Athar Abbas, Chief of the Inter-Services Public Relation told the journalists. Earlier Army Chief General Kayani briefed the political leadership on the "imperative" of the operation against the Mehsuds. The die is cast. An invisible Rubicon crossed.

With this operation Pakistan is launched on the path to a protracted, inconclusive war in the mountains of Waziristan. The decision to commit our forces to such a war is, in my view, a tragic error. Waziristan may not be Vietnam but it has its own river of history that General Kayani is now stepping into.

Once again, there is a dry wind blowing throughout Waziristan and parched grasses wait the spark. Now that the match is lit, the blaze may spread like wildfire throughout the tribal area. Talking about Waziristan, a Mehsud tribesman told a missionary doctor at Bannu: "When God created the world there were a lot of stones and rocks and other lumber left over which were all dumped down on this frontier".

In the early 1900s, a crusty British general, Andrew Skeen, wrote a guide to military operation in Waziristan. His first piece of advice: "When planning a military expedition into Pashtun tribal areas, the first thing you must plan is your retreat. All expeditions into this area sooner or later end in retreat under fire".

The British decision to send troops into the Khaisora valley in November 1936 which transformed Ipi's agitation into a full scale uprising almost over night and set Waziristan on fire which lasted until after 1947. The British failed to capture Ipi and the campaign had to be called off. The judgment displayed by the British and the poor intelligence upon which they based their decisions were chiefly to blame for the disasters that followed. This was the last major rebellion in Waziristan which stemmed from an abrupt change of policy.

The tribesmen's unrivalled fighting record, their ability to intervene in Afghan affairs and to involve Afghans in their own affairs, were factors ignored by the British that made Waziristan different from other Frontier areas. This disastrous attempt to "pacify" Waziristan was the last of several major incursions into tribal territory during the hundred years of Britain's presence in Northwest India. On each occasion the tribes and the mountains won a strategic victory, despite local tactical reverses, and the bulk of the Indian troops were forced to withdraw back into the plains of the Indus valley. The British soon learned that you can annex land but not people.

When the British left, Pakistan had reason to be glad that it had inherited a secure North West Frontier. In September 1947, Mr. Jinnah took a bold decision to reverse the "pacification" policy, withdrew regular troops from Waziristan and entered into new agreements with the tribes. Cunningham, the new governor of NWFP, appointed by Mr Jinnah was a Frontier expert. His disillusion with the "pacification" policy was complete. "I think that we must now face a complete change of policy. Razmak has been occupied by regular troops for nearly 25 years. Wana for a few years less. The occupation of Waziristan has been a failure. It has not achieved peace or any appreciable economic development. It ties up an unreasonably large number of troops, and for the last 10 years there have been frequent major and minor offenses against the troops." The change in policy produced dramatic results and paid rich dividends.

All this has now changed. Mr Jinnah's Waziristan policy which had stood the test of time has been reversed. Our troops are back in Waziristan. Some time back, the commander of the US led troops in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General David Borno, let the cat out of the bag when he said that US and Pakistani forces were working together like "hammer and anvil" to trap Osama and Al Qaeda forces along the border".

Those who know the Frontier are deeply concerned. The Pakistan government is playing with fire. By reversing Mr Jinnah's Waziristan policy, at the behest of Americans, it has alienated powerful tribes in Waziristan and unsettled our western border which had remained peaceful for 62 years since the birth of Pakistan.

The nation is beginning to see the rapidly unfurling consequences of General Musharraf's fateful decision to join the "coalition of the coerced". America's dreaded war on terror has indisputably arrived on Pakistan's soil. Pakistan is slipping into anarchy and stands on the brink of civil war. A perfect storm is looming on the horizon.

We have stumbled into a war that we cannot fight and win for the simple reason that we don't seem to realize what guerrilla war is like. We are sending conventional troops to do an unconventional job. I can foresee a perilous voyage. The war in Waziristan cannot be won because it is perceived as the white man's war. It could be won only if perceived by the powerful tribes as Pakistan's own war. That, unfortunately, is not how they perceive this war. The conflict will, no doubt, be long and protracted. We will suffer more because not even a great power can beat guerrillas. The enemy cannot be seen: he is indigenous to the country. My fear is that we will get bogged down.

War against our own people is too terrible a thing to resort to. Many questions spring to mind. Was the decision to go to war determined by the absence of other viable options? Why was it not debated in parliament? Why deploy military means in pursuit of an indeterminate and primarily political end? Was there a geopolitical imperative to resort to war in Waziristan? Aren't we Pakistanising the American war on our soil? We must also recognize the limitations of modern, high technology, military equipment in confronting highly motivated guerrilla movement in a treacherous terrain.

We must also recognize that the consequences of large-scale military operations – against our own people – particularly in this age of highly sophisticated and destructive weapons – are inherently difficult to predict and control. Therefore, they must be avoided, excepting only when our nation's security is clearly and directly threatened. These are the lessons of history. Pray God we learn them. But as George Bernard Shaw said: "We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."

The writer is a former federal secretary.

Courtesy The News
MAHTAB BASHIR
0333 53 63 248

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kerry-Lugar Bill: Can It Bridge the Trust Deficit?

The debate over the US $7.5 billion (over five years) Kerry-Lugar Bill - The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act - passed by the U.S. Senate late September seems to have have generated great confusion, bemusement, anger and frustration. Sometimes, all at the same time.

Pakistan Army considers the Bill to be an “insult,” that Pakistan’s Prime Minister sees it as a “big success for democracy,” that India is “upset” about it, and that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is chiding the Bill’s critics to “read the Bill first.” Even as the entrepreneurial classes in both Washington and Islamabad dream up big plans and salivate at impending windfalls, it is difficult to tell whether it is the political pundits in Washington who feel more insulted or the political pundits in Islamabad. Suffice to say, both are seething with anger, even when it is not at all clear why.

The Kerry-Lugar Bill is a five year commitment for up to US $7.5 Billion for developmental assistance, with up to US $ 1.5 Billion available each of the next five years, which amounts to a tripling of the U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan. Responding to what has been a call of many Pakistanis over many years, it directs this assistance towards civilian, and especially infrastructure, uses and not towards military aid. It also tries to respond to the fears about corruption by the bureaucracy and politicians by asking for strong oversight over use and effectiveness.

So, what is there not to like about the Kerry-Lugar Bill? Speak to the Bill’s proponents in Washington and they will ask you: “Isn’t this exactly what you guys have been asking for all along? More money. Money for civilian development projects. Money that will be accounted for and used properly. So, why aren’t you all dancing in the streets and hugging us in gratitude?” Many Americans are clearly feeling insulted because what they see as a case of their generosity not being appreciated.

For its critics the answer is straight-forward and can be summarized in one word: conditionality. The critic’s wrath is not really about what the Kerry-Lugar Bill promises; it is about what the Kerry-Lugar Bill demands. Call it concerns about sovereignty, about imperialism, about national pride, or whatever else, but many Pakistanis are clearly feeling insulted because they think they have been presented with a ‘bill of demands’ and being asked to sell out cheap.

One can dissect things deep in search of hidden meanings and clues. Too many people are already doing that and it really does not help. The problem is deep. But it is not hidden.

The debate we are now seeing is one more manifestation of the deep deficits of trust that have marked all US-Pakistan relations. In the absence of trust, Pakistanis - even those who might otherwise support this Bill - simply refuse to accept that America could possibly be interested in Pakistan’s interests. For the very same reasons, Americans - even those who strongly wish to see a stronger Pakistan - simply refuse to acknowledge the intensity with which Pakistan has always sought “friends, not masters.”

The fact of the matter is that if the U.S. had any trust whatsoever in the Pakistani state or the Pakistani people, this Bill would not have been crafted in the language it is. By the same token, if Pakistanis had any trust whatsoever in the United States their reaction would not have been what it is even if the Bill were written as it is. The US-Pakistan relationship is a most reluctant international relationship. The Kerry-Lugar Bill is a good example of this. Here is support that the Americans would much rather never have been ‘made’ to give to Pakistan. Here is support that Pakistanis would much rather never have been ‘made’ to accept.

And herein lies the real problem of Pakistan-US relations. Neither trusts the other. Each can give many reasons - and some of them, in each case, are very valid - why, but that matters little. The result is a tainted and reluctant relationship.

When I visit Pakistan, I am often asked: “What do Americans think of Pakistan?” In USA, I am often asked “What do Pakistanis think of America?” The answer to both questions is exactly the same: “They think of you exactly what you think of them. They don’t really like you, they certainly don’t trust you, but right now they think they need you.”

It is no surprise, then, that there is no US-Pakistan ‘relationship’; there are only US-Pakistan transactions.

Here is a Bill that should have been, and still could be, used as a means to build that trust. The trust without which this relationship will forever be tainted, reluctant and prone to constant frustration. If the two sides (and it really is about what both sides do) continue to look at this as a transactional episode - of services provided and paid for - then five years from now Americans will find themselves asking what the point of spending (’wasting’) all this money was, and Pakistanis would be heard questioning whether they would have been better off never having accepted this largess. Both have been there before and both are likely to end up being there again.

On the other hand, if - and this is as big an ‘if’ as you will ever find in international relations - the two sides really do get past the ugliness in the discourse right now and use this opportunity to move from transactions to a relationship then, as Humphery Bogart said in the movie Casablanca, this could well become “the start of a beautiful friendship.”

But for that to happen, too many things would first have to change in both Islamabad and Washington. At this point, unfortunately, it is not clear at all that either is interested, or capable, of those changes.


Courtesy Adil Najam