Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Politics of Siraj ul Haq

As student leader, always admired Siraj ul Haq for his simplicity and passionate oratory. Hailing from humble beginnings of a small village in Lower Dir, despite holding public offices he still maintains a modest outlook. As Finanacial Minister of KPK, he never held a bank account for issues of interest. Respected by both friends & foes alike. Probably, the only politician having such long political career who fits the parameters of 62 & 63.
Since his student days at Punjab University, he never broke away from his simple lifestyle & motored along the highway of leadership in Islami Jamiat Talaba's Wolkswagon. After heading students wing of JI, he is now perched at the highest pedestal of JI. He has always voiced issues which were patriotically, religiously & morally correct but unfortunately, his political decision making like the rest of political leadership in business has been below par. Past few months, his decision making which persumbly is the outcome of collective wisdom of his Shura, has been a let down. He championed the drive against corruption and Panama Drama. But in strange turn of events, sided with Noon League in Senate Chairman Elections. Kia Yeh khula Tazad Nahin Hai?
Likewise, all politico-religious parties rallied for next elections & elected His Highness Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman as President of MMA. If anything, Maulana is synonymous with Hypocracy (Munafiqat). If our friends from JI would readily like to quote Meesaq-e-Medina or Hudabiya to gain political foothold, they should keep in mind earlier was with Jews & later with Kuffar but not with declared Munafiqs. And no one is judging Maulana Sahib, he had been in power through alliances with every govt in past two decades. He earned his repute through his actions. What about Kasmir Committe's performance? JI is the strongest proponent of Kashmir issue in Pakistan, did they question criminal silence of Maulana on Kashmir, despite enjoying perks in the name of Kashmiris.
If only JI had the work force like Tableeghi Jamat & or tableeghi Jamat had the political ideology of JI, politico-religious force could change the fate of this country.
If JI is running out of ideas, make alliances with political force that represents change. Stop this religious high-handedness that a religious party can only align with a religious party. Reach out to clean shaven Muslims as well. Have confidence in your conduct, make alliance with PTI, attract Youth of this nation to your good cause. The alliance could serve as recruiting campaign. Alas, they are happy with their little political niche, having to do nothing but farting along side Maulana Fazl ur Rehman & co.
No matter how high we think of Mr Siraj ul Haq, he has to make better political choices to go with his repute. Otherwise, his persona will also fizzle away like the ineffective politics of JI for the past six decades.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Good tidings for better Pakistan

Our generation should be able to handover a better Pakistan to the next. Where do we stand today and where do we go from here shall determine the fruition of the first line or otherwise. If institutions are strengthened in correct proportions, it can be said with absolute conviction that we may be able to pass the baton to the next generation with great pride that Pakistan is on course to become what it was destined to become i.e. a great country. In subsequent paras, mention of some political science and some powerhouses on ground shall keep you interested to explore the hope for better Pakistan.
Principally, government functions on cardinals of Political Science which ensure that ‘authority’ is distributed among Executive (PM and cabinet), Legislature (Senate and assemblies) and Judiciary. The trias politica model allows relative independence, checks and balance of power among institutions. However, our beloved country has never been a theoretical wonder, nor an academic ideal. So what went wrong? And the nominees are; army for protracted martial laws and her omniscient yet invisible hand in political landscaping, judiciary for doctrine of necessity, executive for corruption and legislature for partnering the crimes of executive.
1958 marked the beginning of martial laws. Army got out of hand and executive never had the guts to tame her due to her own incompetence and corrupt practices, judiciary adopted the skin for every occasion and parliament was always the sanctuary for executive to hide behind. Nowadays, parliament is just a sacred tool in the hands of executive to perpetuate her rule e.g. promulgation (and annulment) of dodgy 203 Election Reforms Bill 2017.
 Purpose of this post is not to spread doom and gloom but hope. Last couple of decades saw an awful dictatorship, a hybrid government with Pervez Musharraf as Chief Executive and Q League as political component of it. This was followed by another stint in the office for PPP but with a different ‘face’ and however tumultuous it was, PML (N) is completing her term in couple of months’ time. If this is not sign enough for democracy, then brace yourself for a potent dose of optimism through this post.
Post Pervez Musharraf, four powerhouses have emerged in the country namely Media, Army, Judiciary and Executive. True that Legislature in principle is the cardinal of trias politica model but it is not a powerhouse in ours because legislators remain ‘loyal’ to party leadership. Legislation is the last thing on their agenda. Passage of 203 may come up again as it reflects how ineffective parliament has become and how indifferent parliamentarians are to their basic duty i.e. legislation. We shall discuss all powerhouses one by one. First spot has been booked by media for its enormous growth and impact in recent past.
Hunger for power is never satiated. Last two decades have seen an unprecedented transformation of media industry. Initially, media owners remained focused on minting money and now they have learnt to rub shoulders in the power corridors of the country. They have created a new line of thought and life style. Couple dozen media houses in Karachi have stamped their way of ‘thinking’, ‘lifestyle’ and ‘ideology’ right across Pakistan including places as far as Kohistan, Thar, Khuzdar and GB. It is a separate debate whether we must preserve our cultural identity or adopt whatever is in fashion or follow those who think they define what is hip, modern and fashionable? Purely in term of impact, media has already impacted peoples’ lives beyond measureable proportions. On political grounds, the polarization among media houses comes as a blessing for the people. Now they go an extra mile to expose their media rivals and political opponents which is good for commoners. Politics savvy society is charged with political awareness and debate. However, there is criminal negligence on the part of ‘investigative journalism’. No one goes out to expose the dirty laundry of the big fish. People like Iqrar Hussain are exposing criminals playing in few millions, they need to up the ante and expose corruptions of billions. Poor hygiene of a butcher or a baker or motely incident of sexual harassment are not the serious problems of this nation rather mega corruption and institutional imbalances. Likewise, Umer Cheema style investigative journalism is a classic example of what not to follow at all. Laid back journalism will only yield risk free, inconclusive talk shows which are meant to get ratings, bully opponents and sell deceitful political schemas. In those heated discussions, they do not solve problems rather politicians achieve their political objectives and anchors get their next installment of favours from them. Journalism is scared than the sacred but it will not yield substantive results if media anchors and producers are having party time each evening with politicians or their brokers. Non-partisan investigative journalism is what this country deserves and what is obligatory on the journalists as well. Finally, media people will only be fed on the waste booty of politicians. It is up to them to choose their course of action because hunger for power has never been satiated.
Problem with hope is that it floats. Including current term, this should be completion of third consecutive term for the parliament. Democracy has every chance to flourish but why still army remains the thorn in the side of politicians or should we say certain politicians in certain circumstances? Army is a professional institution which is loyal to the country and it is quite independent in its decision making. That’s all good as long as her independence stays short of intervention. Quite certainly, it’s the independent decision making of the Army which hurts politicians with agendas. Frankly, Army has outgrown politicians and has changed her ways. General Raheel Sharif has set the bar correct (not high). He did what a professional soldier should do; nothing extravagant nor anything below par. General Bajwa is following suit and probability of Army takeover is diminishing by the day but that fear of takeover is here to stay for psychological and political reasons. More than army, politicians use this as a ploy to keep people guessing or confused. Second issue is of the invisibles. Since they are invisible, so not much could be said or we could throw the kitchen sink at them. International establishment does not like them and naturally those politicians who sing to the tunes of international establishment go on to sell their anti-establishment cum army mantra. Experience suggests that they are the most over-rated lot in the world. Again reasons for this over-rating are political not professional. However, it would be prudent if senior army officers are not seen distributing ‘return fare’ among Tehreek-e-Labaik youngsters for prevention is better than cure. A floating hope of better Pakistan is tied to their conduct as well. Now we take on judiciary.
Independence is not privilege but responsibility. Rise of Judiciary as a state pillar and a powerhouse was overdue. Iftikhar Chaudhry’s dismissal and re-instatement was a misfire. Along came Panama and the opportunity to redeem. Judiciary was also given enough confidence to do their job judiciously. Judiciary, like Army is on course to make independent decisions. As the cliché goes, judiciary should speak through its decisions not through public statements specially when there is an active campaign in progress to malign judiciary. Likewise, trespassing in to other’s territory is not independence it remains trespassing. Judicial activism is on the rise but it should not crossover in to realm of executive’s domain. At this point in time, the focus should be to mature judiciary’s on procedures. What to talk to Supreme Court and High Courts, justice in lower courts in delayed and unaffordable. It is time to focus on judicial leadership in the pipeline enabling them to take judiciary to the next level. Happy independence to judiciary but the gravity of situation and onus of responsibility has to be understood for better tomorrow.  
Fourth and final powerhouse is all encompassing Executive of the country. In Pakistan, it is two in one because Legislator has opted to remain a quiet stooge of the Executive for its entire existence. Instead of holding separate identity and role in state power matrix, Legislator has gone missing in action. Instead of keeping executive in check, legislator has become its mistress. This is where central control of political parties becomes critical to power relevance of political leadership. Only if legislator breaks the shackles and other institutions get strong legislative protection to perform nothing stands between this nation and success. For polarization among media houses, political maturity of Army and newly found independent identity of Judiciary, space on stereotype politics is shrinking. Personality based politics is also getting out of fashion. Narratives will not sell the merchandize anymore. Clean politics will be the only way forward and woes of MQM contain signs for the rest the pack as well. Institutions if strengthened can make this country a formidable force.  
Sun of hope is shining in the distance and few of its rays are visible now. Writing is on the wall for change in the fortunes of this country. It only seems like a matter of time.
Only Allah knows the whole Truth.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Shrines, outdoors and malls

In small towns and suburban areas, people would flock to the shrines on Thursdays and other days they thought were sacred to visit such places. Not only men but women and children would also pay visits in numbers for prosperity and contentment in their lives. Some would always have stories of how good omens at shrines changed their lives for good while others would persevere with their visitations in hope of hitting the jackpot someday. Whether fortunes change or not, shrines which are not easily accessible; offer an opportunity for an adventurous day out.
This Sunday, while going for a hike on Trail 5 with my boys, the scenes were reminiscent of shrines. The parking was full to the hilt. The trail track was loaded with people of all ages. The kind of rush one sees at Bari Imams and Hajveri shrines.

Track leading to Wali Kandhari shrine in Hassan Abdal
Not making a case to visit outdoors instead of shrines. Because, shrines are outdoor and some are located at relatively difficult locations to reach out to e.g Baba Wali Kahdhari’s shrine is at the top of a mountain in Hassan Abdal. I remember visiting the place as a child and thoroughly enjoying the adventure that came with it. If we relate the shrine going culture with outdoor trends like hiking, trekking, hunting etc; outdoor activity is common in both. People of all walks of life like to go out in leisure time particularly places closer to the nature. Besides, women who perform household duties for six days a week deserve a let out, may it be a visitation to a shrine which normally involves dressing up, travelling, shopping and eating out; all good for a change and normalcy for next six days in the house. And if 'Malangs' at shrines get a little high, it does not take away anything from the those good men in graves nor those simpletons who visit shrines out of affinity or habit.
The thread of thoughts today does not really stop at shrines or outdoors rather at the new plague in town; the malls. It is worse than visiting shrines or outdoors but it is fast becoming a lifestyle. Big malls like Dolmens, Packages, Gigas etc are capitalist fortresses.
The Packages Mall, Lahore
The mice traps that only have bad effects on human economy and health. Firstly, controlled temperature is a curse. If one temperature was good for human health, God would have done just that.  However, everything comes at a price; with single transaction on a mall you start paying for the controlled temperature costs. Secondly, there are no stairs for healthy people only escalators or elevators for which you pay with every transaction at the mall. Then the sky-rocketing goods’ prices, unhealthy food at food courts and inactive games at fun cities for kids are all rippers. They just rip you off of your hard earned money (if so) and may not have any healthy outcome for you and your family. Finally, it’s a vicious cycle, you get ‘tempting’ offers like membership cards, honey-trap discounts and fun city cards to return to the same mall and get ripped off again and again. Although, mall culture is here to stay with so many malls in the pipeline, yet the adaptation remains consumer’s choice. Consumers, however, are the best of the creations and can do better than mice.
We quite conveniently distance ourselves from anything conventional and readily assimilate and like to be associated with anything modern and upscale. If we juxtapose shrine visitation culture with the recently acquired culture of mall visitation, shrines beat malls by a mile. Because shrines are outdoors with ambient temperatures and without escalators. They offer low scale indigenous business activity, poor are fed for free and last but not the least, people return with hope, however, false it may be.
Bottom line is, if you can manage, go out and immerse in to the nature once in a while and stay away from malls because they do not add any value to your lives.

Only Allah knows the whole Truth.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Zainab - we are sorry

We cannot undo what happened in Kasur. We can play our role to prevent horrific death of another blue eyed doll ending up in a dumpster because our daughters deserve better. It is immaterial who did it, what matters is that it happened.  Three years back, Peshawar APS incident made an excruciating hole in the soul of this nation and now devastating news of seven years old Zainab’s abduction, molestation and coldblooded murder. Let alone empathizing, it is getting impossible to curb the anger and find the right words for the amount of pain and agony those unfortunate parents must be going through. One wonders, do we even deserve to complain our poor state of political, economic and social woes.
We can look inwards and ask few questions, find answers and apply corrections on this deplorable aspect of our lives. So how sexual instincts overwhelm our consciousness? How sexual desire turns into perversion? How can we stop this menace from growing further?
This issue is twofold; moral bankruptcy and governance (or lack of it).
So how incidents of such gravity are becoming routine affair in a society where two or three generations back such incidents were unheard of. How a boy growing up in an Islamic society turns in to an animal? A piece of this jigsaw puzzle is missing somewhere. Moral decadence is direct outcome of decaying family values. Home still remains the basic unit of society. All homes combine together to form society. Societal fiber in last couple of decades has been shredded in to countless pieces. Most of the parents are deeply engrossed in bread winning or day to day affairs of life. Their involvement in to lives of children is symbolic or non-existent. Parents do not observe strict checks and balances over children and children have lost respect /fear of parents. Children are guided by their instincts rather than values. End of the day, we are part animal and part above that. Media, movies and dramas excite romantic aspect of growing kids. Easy accessibility of pornography then takes their imagination and lust to next level of perversion. The animal instincts take the better of their thoughts and actions. Hence, atrocious incidents like today have become a routine affair. Parents need to get more involved in the lives of their kids. Time invested in kids is greater investment than any monetary or time investments outside home.
Everyone is hurt but too much lip service and nothing tangible. Condemnation Tweets by government, opposition leaders, sportsmen, artists even COAS, would not change anything. Not even suo moto of Chief Justice. It is just a formality, a serial ticked so that when people recall the event they should be able to say that entire political, military and judicial leadership along with civil society showed their presence on the day. P is marked. Tonight, the anchors and experts on media will ooze angry/ emotional jargons and would draw their paycheck cashing in on the agony of Zainab and her bereaved parents. All media houses will have immense viewing and sponsor checks; all at the expense of poor Zainab. Tomorrow, something explosive will happen in political arena and all attention will be diverted to political circus.   
I kept wondering how one can the best of Allah's creation stoop so low. The only plausible reason that comes to mind is lack of fear both from the grips of law of the land and Hereafter. People have been getting away with child molestation in the past. Anyone inclined to this kind of crime would not have any example in front of them which could send a cold shudder down their spine. People with little influence can get away with these crimes. The solution is simple, inculcate that fear back in to hearts and minds of people. Thus, make examples which brings us to the second strand of this problem; the governance or lack of it.
Governance is virtually invisible. The very basic right of people; security of life is not in place. Twelve incidents of this nature had already been reported in the same town. Report of missing Zainab was registered for the past five days but nothing happened. She was daughter of a poor man and not any elitist’s offspring or SHARIF Zadi.
Albeit, hurt and angry, people should not surround government offices like what happened at Deputy Commissioner office of Kasur. For love of their lives, policemen whether at their own or on behest of DC, opened direct fire on people and killed two individuals. Punjab Police is personal force of Noon League’s local and national leadership. They are not even trained in handling mobs. They have done what they know best; shoot to kill own people whereas, the actual culprit of this horrendous crime is at large. However, people should hold accountable their elected representatives. They are presumed bridges between people and government offices. If these representatives do not play their role, people should march towards their mansions. And if this does not work then they should march towards castles of Jatti Umras, Bilawal Houses or even Bani Galas. Or at least, have the senses about before casting their votes in next elections.  
Unless we bring our homes in order and instill fear of law among criminals, Zainabs shall continue to die in cold blood. If elected representatives fail to inculcate that fear, people should take those representatives to task. Lastly, only the fear of retribution in afterlife can stop such events from happening. For every problem, a friend of mine used to jibe that basic problem is ‘distance from religion’. But today nothing else makes better sense than this cliché. This is not a Mullah’s shop and if this is Mullaiyat, then so be it. We need to reconnect with our root ideology. Fear of Allah is not the last but the only solution to this problem.

Only Allah knows the whole Truth.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Coup de Noon

Foreword. PML (N) is persona of Nawaz Sharif and the way he thinks. Nawaz Sharif's control over party is giving way against silent coup by the insiders who feel betrayed. None other but his own sibling tops that list. Nawaz Sharif failed to complete term for the third time simply because he did not learn from his past mistakes. Usual demons of ego, high-handedness against own institution and poor succession planning led to current woes of Nawaz Sharif.
Prelude. Due to 'conducive'  Iftikhar Chaudary and General Kiyani regimes, NS took office without much ado, however, soon his ‘leadership’ was put to test when he had to choose new COAS. Like every other general he chose in the past, NS was daggers-drawn with Raheel Sharif in no time.  Hence, the ministers were given 'go ahead' to dare and belittle Army. Afghan President showed promise to improve relations with Pakistan but NS (also the Foreign Minister) had other plans. Before we knew, Ashraf Ghani was sitting in India's lap spitting fire against Pakistan. Vindictive pursuance of Musharraf's cases 'fruitfully' raised hostility levels. Outside Pakistan, NS knew well that he could garner Eastern (India only) and Western support through anti-army narrative which he continues to sell to this day. If one takes out anti-army narrative from NS’ politics, what would otherwise be left?
Act-1. In Dharna1, IK climbed the container but the ‘ladder’ was removed and he didn’t know how to come down. Parliament became the sanctuary of NS and PPP plugged the holes in Noon’s sinking ship. Owing to immaturities of IK and evil acumen of ruling party, Army Chief was put on the spot. Firstly, COAS was requested to mediate then he was requested to stay silent i.e. ‘Please don’t reveal that fact that you were requested by the govt to mediate’. But magnitude of APS Peshawar event put political bickering to rest for then. Lack of govt’s political will to embark upon a wholesome operation against terrorism pushed Army to announce Zarb-e-Azb and NAP unilaterally. Sensing political advantage in supporting the operation, govt rallied behind Army and never missed an opportunity to get credit for it.
               Act-2. Dawn Leaks was continuation of NS’ deeply rooted hatred for Army. Mariam and her media cell gang were guilty but Information Minister and bureaucrats took the brunt. Army ‘rejected’ Govt’s superficial punitive measures against Dawn Leaks’ culprits, however, in a coup de maître, retrograded from her stance because writing was already on the wall. Panama python was rearing to engulf NS and connivers.
               Act-3. Plot of Dharna2 was orchestrated ‘elsewhere’; a god-sent opportunity for rudderless politics of PTI. Had it been for ‘politics’ of IK, this opportunity would have also gone begging. Thanks to some old score that Naeem Bukhari had to settle with NS, willy-nilly, royal family ended up in the courts. NS approached the case with lazy arrogance but Panama became a tborn in his side. He wrote to Supreme Court to investigate and distributed sweets on formation of JIT. But his style of Rajneeti had entered a road with dead end.
Prologue. At the beginning of this term, succession planning was high on NS’ agenda. With his acumen and self-serving approach, Mariam Nawaz was the choice. Though she had become a grandmother by then, but she had never faced real life problems. She had never heard ‘no’ for an answer, may it me Principle Kinnaird College for admission in medical college against 650 marks in FSc or her own parents for marriage with Captain Safdar. She only knew one way of dealing with the things, ‘Stop me if you can’. She was given too much initiative too early. She had to be removed from youth fund distribution. Then she came up with the ‘brilliant idea’ of establishing a media cell in PM House. The idea backfired across the board particularly among media people. Her father bought journalists by dishing out privileges, power positions and Lafafas. Rest of the media felt left out, betrayed and antagonized. Not only political rivals, she even used her media cell to downplay her own uncle’s work in Punjab. She made more enemies than friends, an expected outcome from a hot-headed political amatuer. Slowly and surely, she started calling shots in important party affairs. In the process she surrounded herself with ‘big mouth’ opportunists, whereas, weighty electables like Ch Nisar etc were repulsed. Since her launching, after General Elections 2013, majority senior leadership and workers in Noon had reservations on Mariam Nawaz’s growing control over party. Under the circumstances, electables could sense that the ‘Noon’s ship’ was bound to wreck and they started worrying about saving their own political grace in constituency and country. After disqualification, staring down the barrel, NS announced to handover party reins to his brother but then he changed his mind. He put off coronation of Shahbaz Sharif, ensured promulgation of 203, got himself elected President of the party and went on ‘collision course’ against his own Army and Judiciary. He missed the train yet again. The only way Muslim League Noon could make a face saving impression in General Elections 2018 was under relatively acceptable leadership of Shahbaz Sharif. Although Shahbaz Sharif, out of sheer frustration unleashed his faithful in the party to raise the voice in his favour and eventually NS may pass the baton to him yet it might be too little too late.
               Epilogue. NS has a knack of attracting coups. Having experienced a presidential coup, a military coup and a judicial coup; there was yet another coup lined up for him i.e. Coup de Noon. Others could be attributed to his uncontrollable ego and disgust for his own Army, the last one inside his party is direct outcome of his fallible succession plan.
               Only Allah knows the whole truth.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Way forward after Trump's Afghan policy speech

Following post may serve as analysis of Mr Trump's speech,  Thanks, but no thanks, Mr Trump:
Following forward for Pakistan is suggested:
* Regardless of threatening posturing by Mr Trump, we need to focus & guard our own interests in the region, because his was just rhetoric. US strategy in Afghanistan may be evaluated from issue to issue basis as when they happen. This will allow us to see the difference between caliberated, intimidating and formal speech & follow up actions.
*Preferably, make peace with less threatening neighbors like Iran & Afghanistan. Reach out.
* Secondly, if possible negotiate with India or at least show intent for it. This may reduce threat from the Western borders. Political govts on both sides play mutual  hate card in line with their short term political gains.
*Better relations with Afghanistan & involvement in its affairs to form a consensual govt are crucial. Afghan Taliban card needs to be played adroitly to remain relevant in evolving regional power matrix.
*China factor is our plus but it also figures out as source of our current problems. Balance has to be drawn from being once US backed frontline state in GWOT to being declared a terror harboring country after giving 70k plus life toll to being a Chinese colony. We matter thats why every big player in the world has interest in our geography and military strength. We should play on our strengths.
*Favorable Russian stance after Trump speech also needs to be evaluated against interests of Pakistan. We should tailor this support to our advantage instead of becoming a tool of Russia. We should learn from our mistakes of previous breakups with US. Big boys need you as long as they need you. No friendships only interests.
* Gain in on already a respectable status among Muslim countries. Political leadership for once has to take reins to safegaurd Pakistan's interests.
*Bring own house in order and renew social contract with people of FATA and Balochistan through education & equal economic opportunities.
*Strengthen institutions. Army is strong institutionally, simply bcoz its independent in its decision making. There might be grey areas but leadership keeps rotating & institution keeps getting stronger. Do Pakistan a favor, instead enslaving institutions, set'em free, make'em independent. For example, if our Foreign Office was a 'free' instituion, it must have had number of options prepared before Trump's speech & they  should have immediately responded & would have guided govt on way forward. Freeing institution will only strengthen the govt.
*Involve public through electronic media debates. Make parliamentary committees for negotiations and dialogue, giving them briefing through foreign office.
*Govt should step forward and take full responsibility of ongoing operations along with Army. Instead of ISPR, information ministry to take charge & defend Pakistan's interests instead of its party leadership.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Thanks, but no thanks. Mr Trump

Though Mr Trump with his showmanship style of unequivocal speech used to utter total nonsense with remarkable conviction yet at Arlington he appeared composed, well-rehearsed and presidential. The reason behind newly found composure was not his seriousness to presidential duties rather mounting pressure on home front particularly spiraling aftermath of Charlottesville incident. In last week his approval ratings plummeted to 28% which also has to do with his bullying of media particularly CNN whom her refers to as Counterfeit News Network. He continues to sack his handpicked cabinet members or they continue to resign from respective jobs. Russian hacking continues to factor in his election campaign of last year. Dwindling economy, high unemployment and inflation rates have been a thorn in his side. On foreign front, once sole superpower of the world, US continues to lose power mileage against China and Russia. Amid these whirling issues, Mr Trump needed auspicious platform like Arlington to connect with his men and women in uniform. He needed to re-assure American people that he was not only a compulsive 'tweeter' but he was also capable of taking on some serious business of statesmanship. 
In South-Asia, Donald Trump’s Afghan policy speech at Fort Myer was eagerly awaited, keenly heard and intensely discussed. Most of our analytical conjecturing missed out on the chaotic background of the speech. Our pundits registered few catch phrases and started cooking their evening broth. Anchors and analysts had another good payday. Opposition lashed at the ruling party and ruling party resorted to its favorite sport on such matters i.e doing nothing. 
 Trump’s speech brought nothing new for Pakistan, Afghanistan or India. Since he did not have the guts to say that he had no choice except continuation of Obama Policy in South-Asia, he resorted to his very own intimidating manner which rose false alarm bells in Pakistan. He mentioned no immediate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan which is continuation of Obama Policy. He gave big brother role to India in the region which is continuation of Obama Policy. He asked Pakistan to do more which is continuation of Obama Policy. In the same speech, whereas Mr Trump blamed Pakistan for harboring Taliban, quite ironically, he hinted to include the same Taliban in formation of government in Kabul, this paradox is also continuation of Obama Policy. He acknowledged sufferings of Pakistani people and threatened to stop American aid to Pakistan which is again continuation of Obama Policy.In the end, it was the same old Obama wine bottled at Trump Towers.

Let’s take stock of Pak-US relations through time. There is nothing to take stock of. There was no relation. Multiple failed marriages of inconvenience between the two states were always necessitated by US interests in the region. Presently, again US does not require Pakistan’s services anymore, so it resorted to same old ‘do more’.
Yes, nothing has changed in US Policy in the region. It does not mean we should never try or stop trying to improve our image across the board. We miserably failed on diplomatic front because for the past four years we had larger than life Mr Nawaz Sharif as our Foreign Minister. While Indians were pulling strings through their business community, notables, Indian-American legislators and lobbyists in Washington, Mr Nawaz Sharif was doing them a great favor, he was busy doing nothing at all. The way he was losing his throat over his abdication from the throne, even one tenth of that energy spent on generating diplomatic goodwill could have done wonders for Pakistan. There is no harm in generating goodwill among comity of nations. Our exports have taken a nosedive. There is no harm in expanding economic relations with other nations.
One last thing on speech, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’, Mr Trump, both literally and figuratively.
Literally, thanks that you made American aid conditional and apparently impossible for Pakistan but no thanks figuratively that we don’t really need your blood dollars. And this is not a reactive thanks rather joyful and gracious thanks. Look at the casualty table and American aid graph over the years.

Flow of Blood Dollars from US to Pakistan over the years

Terrorism related casualties in Pakistan over the years

Terrorism related casualties in Pakistan are directly proportional to the amount of dollars we received from US. In 2009-10 highest amount of American aid was given to Pakistan and now look at casualties in the same years, the highest ever. Has aid of any kind ever changed the fate of a nation? Not in known history.   
No country on God’s earth has fought terrorism the way we have fought. No country on God’s earth has quelled the magnitude of terrorism that we have single handedly quashed. No country on God’s earth has given more life toll than us. No country on God’s earth is ruled by inept nincompoops like our rulers yet the nation perseveres with resilience.
In simple words, after Trump's speech there is hardly any change in US policy towards South Asia except cessation of blood dollars' aid to Pakistan which would mean spillage of innocent blood may also cease. However, what needs to change is the way we manage and govern ourselves. The way we diplomatically move. The way we economically grow.

Only Allah knows the whole Truth.