Public opinion is a strange beast. It tends to grow in a vacuum in multiple orders. It must find a trigger, and in the case of the US there are many that come into play. Lest we mistake the intent here, a certain American proclivity is on its own quite sufficient to instigate a hate-US syndrome: arrogance, imperial arrogance -- translate it at as you please and it is more than likely that each characterisation will stick in its various formulations. This needs treatment or else a great power in history would have been devoured by its own possessive disorder. Maybe China's rise and its importance as the US's banker is what the good doctor ordered for the US's long-term health. May China rise faster to cause the necessary cures in the US's compulsive possessive disorder, just as denial has become one describing Pakistani society.
The US raid to neutralise Osama has hurt every Pakistani in a special way, the scars of which will take a long time healing. Why Osama was found in Pakistan is and will remain a perpetual Pakistani albatross, difficult to shake off, but an inequitable treatment at the hand of a purported ally too is difficult to explain. It became and was used with effect by many vested interests to whip another round of anti-Americanism. Just as ideological battles are needed to wash away extremist sentiment from within our society, so is needed a longer term American commitment to sooth frayed sentiments within Pakistan. Neither the money nor the empty rhetoric of a façade of a strategic relationship is likely to work here but one of working together with the Pakistanis to steer them out of their current complications, real time. Perhaps, reining in Panetta's CIA and Petraeus' military might help. The Pakistanis too need to be wary, on the one hand counting their material losses and seeking compensation while on the other finding a transactional relationship revolting to their collective conscience. These are signs of a confused nation which has not yet sifted through the debris of its unfortunate melee. In whose hands is the stewardship, or is it a typical exposé of too many hands steering the stricken ship with no one in particular standing up to watch the deck? Problems abound, as the ship is rendered to the vagaries of uncertain storms.
It is interesting how the state has let itself be straitjacketed. It is usual for a state to never lose options but with classic ineptness the state has pushed itself against the wall. First, following Raymond Davis, and then with the Abbottabad raid, anti-Americanism was permitted to attain a frenzy. Even if the leadership recognises the reason, it has lost its space to pursue what is rational as a result. The same with the parliamentary resolutions: without comprehending the full extent of their implications, sensitivity to parliament's sovereignty has inappropriately replaced the poorly conceived substance with respect to the drones. The tardiness and haste in formulating a national response through parliamentary pronouncements has permitted the politico-military leadership an escape from the more important issues of neutralising the existential threats to the state. What is today the most burning issue is not how relations with the US shape-up -- though that too will impinge on the Pakistani state's ability to either compound its difficulties or resolve what is already on its plate -- or the all-consuming obsession of righting the skewed civil-military balance, but the direct attack that Mehran symbolises on our state's core abilities and strengths. What was intended to seek space for negotiating with an erring ally has come to hound the state with a perilous choice -- hide under the skirts of public opinion and let the state drift, or stand up and be counted in reformulating public opinion by explaining to them the hard choices that the nation must make if we wish to retain the state and the nation in the form that it was conceived. Hillary Clinton did what should have been primarily our own call to make.
As a nation we must have some clear answers: what will replace the drones -- the Pakistan Army, already stretched, or US boots on the ground? Or, is it that we are willing to push all Afghan groups that inhabit our lands into giving up the insurgency and negotiate with the US? We must make one of these three choices. That only will wean the US away from Afghanistan, relieving us from the exhausting embrace that a superpower's bear hug squeezes a smaller power into. What and how do we intend to deal with our own deviants? This menu can and should be all inclusive except that we have not yet initiated even the first step. Pakistan must remain a responsible member of the global community. It must fight isolation and avoid becoming a pariah. It is disingenuous to push a pragmatic China to take sides in a complicated situation when China itself is calling for common sense to guide Pakistani choices. We have stirred and hyped the public frenzy in all such matters to such ridiculous levels that we as the state are becoming unwitting accomplices to the process of irrationality.
Somewhere along the line, and the end of the tether is near, will come the moment when all political leaders will need to face the truth and make that all important choice to begin making the case for rationality to the people. Emotion is the currency of elections, but without the state there may not be a chance of holding one. There is a need for deep, deep introspection at all levels and some urgent action to right the wrongs that we have inflicted on our people; at the least in telling them the truth in the hard choices that stare us in the face. To begin with, disavow denial as a national trait and extricate this unknowing nation from the 'pitlands' of despair.