CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

March 29, 2008

Pull the other one, Sam

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:23 pm

THE NEWS

MARCH 29, 2008


Accounts of the origin of the phrase ‘You’re pulling my leg’ differ, with one authority saying it comes from the criminal underworld of London in the 18th and 19th centuries. Street robbers, working in pairs, would trip a victim (‘pull his leg’) and then relieve him or her of cash and valuables. Another authority places it in Scotland in the 19th century when it was commonly understood to mean that pulling a person’s leg was to make a fool of them. A third authority puts things rather more graphically saying that ‘to pull a man’s leg’ was to do him the favour of helping him to die a little more quickly than would otherwise be the case once he had been hung. Whatever the roots, all sources agree that having your leg pulled is equivalent to being told less than the truth–or to remove it from the realms of diplomatic language — being lied to.

A certain Mr Negroponte has been indulging in a little leg-pulling of late, and we are neither amused nor fooled. His recent visit ‘…planned six or eight weeks in advance’… (Doesn’t he know? Six? Eight? Has the US State Departments abacus malfunctioned?) — was not only an exercise in leg-pulling but equally obviously a chance to do a bit of arm-twisting as well. The new cabinet has yet to be sworn in, the government is not yet formed, yet here was Uncle Sam’s premier freelance thug oiling his way through the corridors of soon-to-be-power to make sure everybody was singing from the same song sheets, ducks were lined up and the euphemistic world of geopolitics as understood by America could continue unimpeded by anything as inconsequential as a democratically elected parliament that clearly has a mind of its own in matters of foreign policy. A mind that is of a different set to its predecessor.

Are we to believe Mr Negroponte when he says that America is not trying to dictate anti-terrorism policy to the incoming government? Or give credibility to his assertion that Washington has no hidden agenda or desire to interfere in any way with the sovereign rights of Pakistan? We think not, and if you think we are daft enough to believe you Mr. Negroponte then you are yourself a bigger fool than you took us to be. Uncle Sam is up against one of those discomforts of democracy that now trouble him across the world — populations vote to power parliaments that do not sing from Sam’s song sheet, whose ducks do not line up on his order and who get distinctly peeved at having their legs pulled.

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