On July 6, 1808, King Joseph of Spain unveiled a constitution. It allowed peasants to keep their crops, an independent judiciary, and the abolition of church privileges. The Spanish peasantry chose to ignore these much-needed offerings. Instead, they chose to fight against what they saw as the manipulative innovations of a foreign power. Indeed, Joseph was the brother of Napoleon, placed on the throne of Spain by the French troops. This was what mattered to the Spaniards, not the ideal condition to improve their impoverished life, but the reasons and, above all, the person behind it.
During her time here, US Ambassador Anne Patterson once remarked that “the depth of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, especially among the middle class” surprised her. She was wrong on two counts – it’s not just the middle class but an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis. Second, it is not directed at the American people. This is the consequence of Washington’s policy for decades towards Pakistan. In pure Langley terms, it’s a blowback; fallout from Washington’s covert and overt actions.
Like military interventions and occupations, the elimination of heinous governments by covert means has remained a prime tool of American foreign policy. Used with ruthless impunity since 1898, Woodrow Wilson describes it as a duty to “teach them how to elect good men”. It is also a fact that these men come from the political elite and are supported by Washington. Having the loyalty of a tied up ruler, the relationship is totally devoid of an honorable and honest relationship with the people of these countries. This equation found an echo in the words of Lord Cromer on the influence of the British Empire on Egypt: “We do not govern Egypt; we govern the governors of Egypt”.
Any leader who dares to pursue independent policies is immediately targeted and sets an example. The late Zulfikar Bhutto was one such person. Declassified documents show that President Nixon ordered the CIA to “scream Chile’s economy to prevent Salvador Allende from coming to power”. Allende came to power, Washington staged a coup. Allende is said to have “committed suicide” in the presidential palace with an AK 47 that Fidel Castro had presented to him. What symbolism could have been a scarier deterrent to “misguided” leaders? Castro, who avoided several attempts on his own life, once joked, “If surviving the (Washington’s) assassination attempts was an Olympic event, I’d win the gold medal.”
The macabre scale of these coups and assassinations forced a US Senate investigation. This resulted in an “assassination ban” with the release of the church committee’s interim report of 1975. President Ford issued an executive order which stated: “No employee of the United States government shall engage in political assassination”. Despite this, the killings continued unabated. In November 1984, under the Reagan administration, there was an assassination attempt against Mohammed Fadlallah in Lebanon. He survived, 80 passers-by perished.
Donald Trump, who ordered the assassination of General Qasim Sulaimani, boasted on Fox & Friends that: In September 2020, “I would have gotten him out (President Assad), I had him all set up” . Joseph Biden recently called Vladimir Putin a “butcher”, adding that “this man cannot stay in power”. While this is not a justification for invading Ukraine, the fact remains that, by those standards, all American presidents were butchers who should never have been at the power in the first place.
During our decades of enslavement, false realism, crude demands, and moral callousness have characterized Washington’s policy toward Pakistan. It requires a conforming government setup that bows to their dictates intoning that you are king, lord and god.
We have the example of how the infamous NRO that gave a free kick to those accused of murder and looting was brokered by foreign capital. This paved the way for many of them to rise to the highest seats of power once again. We are all witness to the fact that the personal coffers of these still ruling elites have swelled and been overseen with zealous management. Conversely, Pakistan has sunk to unimaginable depths. It was a grotesque contrast of elite grandeur and citizen misery, of dazzling wealth and utter poverty, the props of Washington and the people a beggar-wasted entity.
The author is an independent contributor. He can be reached at: [email protected]