“Pakistanis have little faith in Obama’s change,” was the title of a NBC report about the reaction of Pakistanis to the historic victory of Barak Obama in November 4 presidential election.
The NBC quoted Zohra Aslam, 26, a lecturer of political science at Government College in Kohat, near the Afghan border, as saying: "As a Pakistani, I am not hopeful (Barack Obama’s) election will bring any positive change for Pakistan."
The question is why the Pakistanis are not amused by Obama’s message of CHANGE.
Most of the Pakistanis view “the war on terror” as America's war and cross border air and land attacks on targets inside the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghan border as a violation of their country’s sovereignty. In the latest US air attack at least 12 people were killed when four guided missiles were fired on Friday November 14 at a house in a North Waziristan village.
Friday’s missile attack was the 38th since a pro-Washington government was installed in Islamabad through February 2008 election. A total of 36 such attacks took place during the tenure of the previous government of General Pervez Musharraf.
There can be hardly two opinions on the fact that the US operations are a continuous source of provocation in the tribal belt while Pakistan military operations are causing alienation among the population. Not surprisingly, civilians are being killed in these operations while the US and Pakistani officials are claiming targeting the militants without showing a single body of local or foreign militant.
The Baluchistan Provincial Assembly Friday denounced the latest attacks on tribal territories. Tellingly, speakers dubbed the missile attacks as international terrorism violating the borders of an independent state. They were of the view that the US was eyeing raw materials and resources in the Central Asian States and the war on terror was simply a ploy to get access to the region.
The government says that the “war on terror” is our war but this does not resonate with the people who see innocent civilians killed in US air attacks and Pakistan military’s operations. Pakistan’s tribal areas were peaceful before the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The region was peaceful even during the long war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In a bid to broaden consensus on the eluding “war on terror” Pakistan government held a two week in-camera session of parliament last month that produced a 14-point resolution. The crux of the Resolution has been presented in Article 6: “Dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution.”
A the ruling Pakistan People's Party celebrated the vote as a national backing of the government's approach to militancy, the opposition lawmakers, such as Jamaat Islami Senator Professor Kurshid Ahmad, argued that the vote was a repudiation of the government's policies and a call to abandon the ongoing military campaign.
"In fact the parliament has said that, enough is enough, we want to change now. And the message has been given not only to Pakistan's leadership but also to America," said Prof. Kurshid Ahmad.
A Lawmaker from another leading political party, Pakistan Muslim League-N, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, said Pakistan's allies must understand that military force is not the answer.
In the final analysis, for Pakistanis the litmus test of the next American administration will be whether it is prepared to treat Pakistan with respect.
Recent comments by a number of Pakistani columnists provide deep insight into the skepticism of Pakistanis about Obama’s message of change:
Some think that strikes in FATA by US drones are due to lack of credible intelligence. It's a misconception. The truth is that missile strikes are meant to harass and annihilate the local population to compel it to vacate its ancestral dwellings to create a corridor of US domination. The US plans to lay oil pipelines through Afghanistan, FATA, Balochistan and Gwadar. The wanton killing in the FATA is part of its grand design to exploit oil and gas resources of the Central Asian States. (Next 9/11-type attack by Iftekhar Khan – The Nation)
There is enough evidence in Pakistan that policies of "war on terror" have increased militancy. They have not decreased it. Pakistan did not have suicide bombings prior to the September 11 attacks, yet now they are a norm. Similarly, the recruitment of fighters for resistance in the tribal belt has continued despite all the military operations. (Change in the US Dissenting note By Dr Masooda Bano – The News)