This is a guest note by General Asad Durrani, who previously served as the head of Pakistan’s ISI, or Inter-Services Intelligence. Durrani later served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Double or Quits
A soldier can do better than dying on the battlefield in pursuit of paradise — he can send his adversary to hell.
That at least was once the unofficial American doctrine. Diplomats too occasionally dispatch each other to hell; the British traditionally in a manner that the adversary looks forward to the journey. The subtlety was lost on Pakistan.
Though often persuaded to go to hell, at times all expenses paid, the country keeps turning back from the brink. The British Prime-Minister therefore decided that the time for diplomatic equivocation was past and this enfant terrible had to be told in no uncertain terms that it was playing a “double game”.
We were indeed not amused, but can now be blamed for “double standards”. Earlier we had applauded David Cameron when he fired the first shot from his double-barrel: blamed Israel for turning Gaza into a prison. It was more than a diplomatic gaffe. For him it could be politically fatal. We should make amends and encourage the young Prime-Minister to carry on catching the bulls from their horns.
It is not because I wish him more trouble with Israel or with his political opponents. I also must acknowledge that but for the diplomatic mambo-jumbo we may at times be in serious trouble. If you have to convey a piece of your real mind about your nemesis, it was better done with a preamble; like “how highly we admire him or her”. And just in case you had no idea about the status of a case in your charge, “it is under our active consideration” would save many a blush. I still believe we would be better served with some straight talk; Pakistan more than all the others.
If we, for example, were to wish the Afghan Taliban — our best bet to get the region rid of the US-led Alliance — all the luck, anyone believing in stating things “as they are” would be much impressed. If we could also add that since many of our troubles began with the arrival of the foreign forces, we were now willing to facilitate their departure, some of them would jump at the offer.
And just in case we did not have the courage to convey that a number of groups targeting us were sponsored by our so called allies, we could always leak an odd document to the Wikileaks. Indeed, it would be nice if countries like China, Russia and Iran also expressed their discomfiture with NATO’s meddling with the New Great Game.
The Brits too would be delighted. They would dump all the debris of the last decade on the senior partner, hang some of its poodles now under trial (like they used to execute generals and admirals who lost wars in faraway places), and make up with their old friends, the Afghan Tribesmen.
The Americans too could benefit. They will finally get a chance to get even with “Big Money” that has run the country to bankruptcy, mortgaged its future to China, and created the most expensive war machine in history that routinely loses to ragtag warriors in this postmodern warfare.
And who knows, India may also concede that the real reason it was dragging its feet on reconciliation with Pakistan was that the price for peace exceeded the cost of status quo.
On second thought, this conversion to the true faith does not seem to be a good idea. It would deprive us of all the fun in conducting international relations, of running with the hare and hunting with the hound, and in letting our emissaries run wild in pursuit of refining diplomatic doublespeak.
In due course, Mr Cameron too would give up his new found enthusiasm for calling a spade a spade; latest, when the former US Defense Secretary William Cohen reminds him of the lesson he learned from an illustrious British diplomat, Lord Robertson: “now that you have joined the circus, learn to ride on two horses”.
When the Prime-Minister was admonishing us for looking “both ways”, his Indian hosts should have recalled what their own “showman of the century” taught them about life: “it is a circus, in which one must move and look in all directions”.
— Asad Durrani