Psst, Pass this on to Candidate Obama (…and Hillary): A Foreign Policy Road Map

If these candidates want to score some Bush-bashing points on the foreign policy front, there is excellent fodder coming out of Pakistani politics these days.  How better to make the case stronger that Bush’s foreign policy agenda: supporting a dictator, not actual democratic institutions, has continued to fail, as has been illustrated in the more recent aftermath of the post-dictatorship under the freshly minted (and freely elected) new leadership.  A new day has dawned in Pakistan, with some hope for the future (again).

As the new leadership, primarily comprised of a coalition between two political parties – the PPP (Benazir Bhutto’s Party, now led by Asif Zardari) and PML-N (Nawaz Sharif’s Party) has quickly and deftly shown, that they are working hard to promote the idea of what a ‘democratically’ elected parliament can do.  The new PM and this parliament have released the judges, foremost among them, the chairman of the Bar Association (Aitzaz Ahsan) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Iftikhar Chaudhury) from the house arrest they had been illegally put under: by Bush’s foremost ally, Pervez Musharraf.  The new Speaker of the House is the nation’s first female speaker, Dr. Fehmida Mirza. Fahmida MirzaFahmida MirzaFahmida MirzaFahmida Mirza

 The new coalition government, headed by Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani, with the legal community and members of parliament sent a clear message to the US through their envoy’s (Negroponte’s) ill-timed arrival in Pakistan: “It is no longer a one-man-show”.  If the US wants to subvert terrorism and extremism, then the institutions of democracy: an independant judiciary, constitutional order, a free media, rule of law, equal opportunity and access to medical care, education, social services and economic mobility – must be supported and nurtured.  Without these basic musts in a society (which Pakistanis are working harder than ever to develop, maintain and build), the extremist elements will continue to be fueled in their absence.  Essentially, this is the argument which Senator Joseph Biden (US, Democrat, Delaware) has been vociferously making.  He has been, as they say, ‘spot on’, from the start. He gets the political nuances and also understands what is at stake for the United States.  A possible cabinet post, Secretary of State?  Here is a brief glimpse of his ‘new approach for Pakistan’:

BIDEN:  “With this election, the moderate majority has regained its voice.  The United States should seize the moment to move from a policy focused on a personality – Mr. Musharraf – to one based on an entire country – Pakistan.”
BIDEN:  “We must:  1) Triple non-military assistance and sustain it for a decade; 2) Give the new government – if it is formed consistent with democratic principles – a democracy dividend of $1 billion above this annual assistance to jump start progress; 3) Demand transparency and accountability in the military aid we continue to provide; and 4) Engage with Pakistanis on issues important to them, rather than just on those topics of interest to us.”

The war against terror must be fought significantly differently than how it has been so badly mishandled by the Bush Administration.  Surprisingly, the western and US press is finally getting it.  We need our current Presidential Candidates to jump onto this bandwagon.  It can only help them!

Two articles on the topic appeared in two publications (Huffington Post, and a Canadian source MWC).  Do read.

  1. U.S. Must Quit Bush’s Chicken Little Politics in Pakistan, Cold Turkey
  2. Pakistan Demonstrates the Wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers
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