S. Asif Alam
President and Founder of Association of Pakistani Professionals
There are no easy answers to the current chaos in Pakistan. Being a country in crisis, it now demands the application of principles rather than just politics.
The principles are these: The promotion of democracy, the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the press. They are the ideals upon which great nations are made.
Images of Pakistani's fighting for these principles in their country leaves us without a doubt as to what the people of Pakistan want. Democratic ideals are indigenous to the people of Pakistan. After all, this was a nation founded upon the ideals of democracy by a lawyer, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
Today, polls have consistently shown very little support for extremism and terrorism by the Pakistani people. A recent poll from the International Republican Institute finds 74% of Pakistani's being concerned about extremism. Much like the United States, economic issues are the first priority in Pakistan.
Pakistan still stands at one of the most critical junctures of her history. Down one path is a progressive and developed Islamic country that delivers on being a "promised land" for 170 million Pakistanis. Down another path is the unfortunate fate of becoming a failed state – Pakistan is not only among the countries with the highest incidence of terrorism but it also tops the list of suicide bombings, even more than Afghanistan and Iraq during the first three months of 2008.
The U.S. and world powers must clearly define their expectations and objectives from an alliance with Pakistan. The Pakistani government needs to support these objectives and remain engaged in the war against terrorism.
Pakistan has consistently proven itself to be a friend of the United States, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. But there is a perception on the ground that the U.S. is a friend of the Pakistani Army but has little engagement with the Pakistani people. It is time for the U.S. to engage with the People of Pakistan.
Pakistan's strategic location is important for U.S. interests. Pakistan is located between Iran, Afghanistan, China and India – a vast region experiencing rapid change. A stable Pakistan, a moderate Muslim country with strong institutions and a promising economy, would help stabilize this potentially volatile region. Turmoil and lawlessness, on the other hand, can send shock waves through the whole region.
Let’s move forward with a hope: A hope that the change in Pakistan brings a better and stable tomorrow.
Filed under: Global 360°
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