How much more?

By: Shyema Sajjad

After weeks and weeks of harping on the ‘do more’ note, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally shed his rhetoric for about an hour on Thursday and acknowledged (at least for the cameras) that the international community is ‘impressed with Pakistan’s effort to fight terror.’ About time, don’t you think?

But the magnanimity was short-lived:

‘People are going to ask why, eight years after 2001, Osama bin Laden has never been near to being caught … and what can the Pakistan authorities do that is far more effective,’ Brown told Sky news.

Where’s bin Laden they ask? When will the Afghan war end, we ask? It has been eight years and US President Barack Obama just decided to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan – the war continues. So what miracles is the international community looking for over here?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington will continue to press Islamabad to fight harder against the militants threatening the United States. How does this community fail to realise that most Pakistanis themselves want that too, and are sacrificing their lives day after day to fight this menace.

They say ‘we will support Pakistan but it needs to do more’: yes, sugar-coat the pressure a bit more, why don’t you? Asking the international community to sit back and silently watch is not an option, agreed. But reminding us every day that we need to do more, while we juggle with suicide blasts, pressure from India, and political instability is not the most effective approach either.

Speaking of India, that’s another member of the ‘Daily Reminders to Pakistan Organisation.’ Our neighbour refuses to resume talks but has no problem with mentioning the terms ‘precision strikes’ and ‘limited war’. How is any of this going to help Pakistan focus on the task at hand? And will Pakistan sit helplessly while they aim their weapons for a ‘limited war’? Certainly not.

Yes, the thought of our nuclear weapons falling in the wrong hands is a scary one for the neighbours (and others), but it doesn’t sit well with us either. If India is worried about another 26/11, it is not alone – Pakistan is too. In fact, just on Friday, gunmen (I’d rather call them barbarians), opened fire and attacked a mosque in Rawalpindi, killing over 40 people. Do Pakistanis want this to continue? Of course not! The violence and terror may be happening in India’s neighbourhood, but for us, it’s happening inside our very homes, mosques, and schools.

Negotiations between Pakistan and India need to continue in order for tensions to simmer and for progress and trust to grow. Cooperation and communication would help relations far more than suspension of dialogues. If Pakistan was not fighting militancy, India would have had all the right to continue flaring its nostrils, but Pakistan is fighting and India needs to acknowledge that.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday, talking to Indian channel NDTV in London said that India must stop being negative. Rightly stated by him, if India keeps refusing to talk with Pakistan, Islamabad too will lose interest in taking the dialogue process forward.

We are saying yes, we are facing a challenge but we cannot face it alone. We need a regional approach. India is an important regional player and it has to act responsibly. Now if you’re negative, you’re not helping your case. India says we will not talk. There will come a stage when Pakistan says so be it. If you continue to harp on the same thing you will merely vitiate the atmosphere.

Where our government has provided the country with a lot of opportunities to criticise it, finally here we have one of our minister’s publically acknowledging that the challenge is Pakistan’s and we need help. But is India listening? Or anyone else for that matter?

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