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One who pays the Piper calls the tune

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Any outcome other than the release and departure of Raymond Davis would have absolutely surprised me because you cannot expect the piper to play any tunes of his choice when not only is he paid to play but even the pipe he has belongs to the provider

If size really mattered, Singapore, which is hard even to find on the map, would be a non-entity, an easy to bully and trample upon place. Its total area is a tiny 274.2 square miles making it about three-and-a-half times the size of Washington DC. It has a population of five million only but it is the world’s fourth leading financial centre. Its death rate is only 4.9/1,000, infant mortality rate is 2.32/1,000 live births and life expectancy stands at 82.14 years, ranking it seventh in the world. Literacy is at 92.5 percent and expenditure on education is 3.2 percent of the GDP while the GDP is $ 292.4 billion. Its GDP growth rate is 14.7 percent and per capita is a phenomenal 57,000 dollars. It has foreign exchange and gold reserves of $ 225.8 billion. Money really matters in all relationships, especially international.

Michael Peter Fay was born to George and Randy Fay in St Louis, Missouri on May 30, 1975. When eight years old, his parents divorced; Randy married Marco Chan and they moved to Singapore where Michael enrolled in the Singapore American School, a $10,000-a-year exclusive private institution for children of Singapore based expatriates.

In 1993, Singapore’s The Strait Times ran stories about the serial vandalising of cars. On October 7, 1993, its front page ran a vandalism story titled, ‘Nine foreign students held for vandalism’. A 16-year-old Andy Shiu Chi Ho of Hong Kong confessed to vandalism after arrest and named expatriate students from the Singapore American School, including Michael Fay. Police charged them with more than 50 counts of vandalism.

Fay pleaded guilty to vandalising the cars in addition to stealing road signs. He later maintained that his confession was false, that he never vandalised any cars and that the only crime he had committed was stealing signs. Under the 1966 Vandalism Act, he was sentenced on March 3, 1994 to four months in jail, a fine of 3,500 Singapore dollars and six strokes of the rattan cane.

The then US President, Bill Clinton, under domestic pressure, made several public announcements critical of Singapore and wrote directly to the then Singaporean President, Ong Teng Cheong, calling the punishment extreme and mistaken, and put pressure on the Singaporean government to grant Fay clemency from caning. The Singaporean government pointed out that Singaporean lawbreakers faced the same punishments as Fay and so would he. Fay was not pardoned but his sentence was reduced to four strokes of the cane, which he received on May 5, 1994. Sovereignty is the prerogative of proud, hard-working prosperous countries.

Pakistan, including Balochistan’s 134,051 square miles, is 307, 373.99,791 square miles, about twice the size of California. With an estimated population of 187,342,721, it ranks as sixth most populated in the world. Its death rate is 6.92 deaths/1,000 but a mind boggling 24.81/1,000 birth rate. The infant mortality rate is 63.26 deaths/1,000 live births and life expectancy is 65.99 years. The highly inflated literacy rate is 49.9 percent with males at 63 percent and females at 36 percent. Expenditure on education was 2.9 percent of the GDP in 2008 but is even lower now.

The GDP is $ 451.2 billion and the GDP growth rate is 2.7 percent while the per capita is a pathetic $ 2,400. The unemployment rate is 15 percent and more than 24 percent of the people live below the poverty line. Revenue stands at $ 25.33 billion and expenditure at $ 36.24 billion and, therefore, public debt stands at 49.9 percent of the GDP. External debt and liabilities stood at $ 40.3 billion at the end of June, 2007 but surged to $ 54.2 billion by the end of March 2010 — an increase of almost $ 14 billion in less than three years. Similarly, public debt increased from Rs 4,814 billion to Rs 8,922 billion and counting. Military expenditure officially stands at three percent of the GDP.

The debt burden mounts as the rupee depreciates, making survival impossible without the begging bowl, and therein lays the problem. We have to seek favours, which have to be repaid with humiliating services. Nuclear arsenals neither add to strength nor to stature.

On January 27, 2011, Raymond Davis — an American — claiming self-defence, shot two youths, Faheem and Faizan, at Mozang Chowk in Lahore. The ‘ghairat brigade’ found an excellent opportunity to let off hot air and did so to the extent that future scientific records may show that they contributed considerably to global warming in February-March 2011! They believed that now they had the US cornered and would get their pound of flesh. Questions of diplomatic immunity charged the atmosphere and Shah Mehmood Qureshi tried to capitalise on the affair, not realising that the almighty dollar has unchallengeable and indisputable immunity, which would be duly respected.

The fact that Singaporean President Ong Teng Cheong resisted the immense US pressure was solely because there were no strings for the renowned puppet master to pull though schoolyard rumours surfaced in Singapore that the US Marines would land, as they had in Grenada in 1983, to rescue American students to cow Singapore into compliance. The Singaporeans had nothing to worry about; the US with all its might could not dare to bully this proud, small, prosperous island into submission. Principles and prosperity make countries invincible.

Any outcome other than the release and departure of Raymond Davis would have absolutely surprised me because you cannot expect the piper to play any tunes of his choice when not only is he paid to play but even the pipe he has belongs to the provider. Pressure and $ 2.3 million made the piper change the tune to US satisfaction.

This talk about sovereignty is to befool the people because I do not think that even Imran Khan and others really believe that the US cares a whit for their sham outrage. Their sham and futile protests will only result in the vandalism of the property of innocents. Sovereignty is an unaffordable luxury for countries that seem to have adapted the begging bowl as a permanent evolutionary adjunct to their physique.

The expression of outrage at the Datta Khel drone attack from the highest luminaries is another attempt to hoodwink the people into believing that countries living on dole outs also have a right to sovereignty because Raymond Davises in cars or in drones will keep doing what they want with impunity as long as they like. It is the Faiz Mohammad Marris, the Ali Sher Kurds, the Qamber Chakars, the Asim Tariqs, the Mehboob Wadhelas and the Zaman Khan Marris on whom state anger is easily vented as they become the victims of state terrorism.

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com


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