Politicians react to non-NATO ally status
By Zakir Hassnain
PESHAWAR: Leaders of mainstream political parties reacted differently on Friday to the US declaration it would designate Pakistan a major non-NATO ally.
Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, provincial secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) told Daily Times that it would have a negative impact on Pakistan’s friendly ties with China and the move could certainly worry China.
He said that America wanted to come to the region to control powers like China and Iran. Mr Jhagra said that the US move would make China drift towards India. The PML-N leader said that the US would use Pakistan against Iran, the next US target.
Mr Jhagra, also the secretary general of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), said that the US would make all-out efforts to dent Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries in the region. He said that Pakistan cooperated with the US in the Afghan war but got nothing in return. Similarly, Mr Jhagra said that ‘non-NATO ally status’ would not benefit Pakistan. “We should make friends in the region since the Seventh Fleet might never come to our rescue,” he said.
Commenting on US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to Pakistan, Mr Jhagra said that he was here to try to implement American policies in the region. He said that Americans were trying to bribe Pakistan to fight their war against terror.
He said that America was using Pakistan against its friends of the past. Today the same friends were classed as terrorists because America didn’t need them anymore. It was a dangerous game since Pakistani soldiers were dying in the Wana operation. Pakistan was only pleasing its masters, he said.
NWFP Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) President Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti also said that a ‘non-NATO ally status’ would affect relations with China. The PPPP leader said that if Pakistan got defence equipment and other facilities as a result of the move, then it would be all right and made sense. However, Mr Hoti said that he could not say any more than that, since the outcome was not clear yet.
Mr Hoti said that the Wana operation should have been conducted after taking the tribesmen into confidence. He said that the Wana issue should be solved through dialogue. “What the government is doing in Wana is not right at all, since innocent people are also dying,” he said. Mr Hoti said that civil war could erupt in that particular tribal area.
Commenting on the non-NATO ally status, Haji Muhammad Adeel, central vice president of the Awami National Party (ANP), said that Pakistan had already lost dependable friends like Iran and Turkey due to its past policies. Nor did it have any status in other Islamic countries. Its Commonwealth membership was also suspended.
Mr Adeel said that Pakistan had also been a Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) ally in the past, against communism, but had gained nothing. The ANP leader said that the government was doing exactly what the US was asking it to do. The US would use Pakistan against the Taliban and Osama, he said.
“We would only know if the non-NATO ally status were useful or not if a genuine democratic government were present in the country,” he said. Mr Adeel said that it was “a one-man show” in the country and thus the US move could be dangerous since President Musharraf could make mistakes.