David Cameron had an unsual visitor over the weekend.
I say unusual because he says that he is the democratically elected President of Pakistan, and yet I have still to find a single Pakistani who says that he ever voted for Asif Ali Zardari.
When Pakistan is mentioned in the press, and that is by no means just in the western press, the words ‘troubled’, ‘on the brink’ and ‘descent’ are often accompanied as usual descriptions. Pakistani national identity is not very strong, it is claimed, by no less a person than the former Balouchistani rebel, Ahmed Rashid, who has really come of his own since the events of that dark Tuesday in the year 2001.
Yet, a casual conversation with any Pakistani wil tell you other wise.
It is widely believed that the root cause of terrorism in Pakistan is America and India. Ametica’s standing as a friend is belied by the CIA-sponsored drone attacks that continue to this day and by the fact they appear to have carte blanche when it comes to their dealings with Islamabad. Go further, to the north west – to the so called tribal areas, a name that was out of date when it was first used by the colonial power of Great Britain – and those people, a thousand of whom were killed by drone strikes last year, will tell you that the Great Power that says that it is their country’s friend is aiming break up their nation, so that they can seize the atom bomb with the long term aim of a war with first Iran and then finally with that emerging Great Power that is China.
Listening to this, reminds me of the time when The Ottoman Empire – which Pakistan does bear some resemblance to – was making its mind up with regards to which was its real friend, the emerging power of Germany or that of Great Britain. Then, there were many warnings from their former allies of the dangers of allying itself with the dreaded Kaiser.
Pakistan’s relationship with China is solid, however America believes that there is always a price to be paid for such closeness to the much feared People’s Republic.
That may be the case, but for the moment, the people of Pakistan – a large proportion of whom are below the age of 25 – have to live through the everyday cycle of violence, bombings, whilst having watch to politicians of the calibre of President Asif Ali Zardari jet around the world to meet democratically-elected politicians like David Cameron.