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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

Dire need for a unified stand to confront multiple challenges

By Asif Haroon Raja

The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on 9/11 gave a readymade excuse to George W. Bush led neo-cons and the Jews to pick up cudgels against the Muslim world. Terrorism was bloated into a Frankenstein monster and propagated that if not bottled up it would devour the whole world. They forgot that they had nurtured the monster of terrorism themselves in the 1980s and had left it unbridled once their objectives were achieved. As long as this monster killed Soviet troops, the Americans were mighty pleased with its performance and kept feeding it. They didn’t bother about it even when after pushing out Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989 it started to suck the blood of people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the whole region got radicalized and traumatized.

They woke up when the monster struck them in their homeland. The world leaders were taken on board on the understanding that to make the world peaceful it was essential to annihilate all the radical Islamists. In actuality they wanted to eliminate all those opposing American and Israeli policies. After devastating Afghanistan on a false pretext that Osama led Al-Qaeda was headquartered there, Bush declared Iran, Iraq and North Korea as axes of evil. Later on, Syria, Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia figured in this axis unofficially.

However, Pakistan under Gen Musharraf felt at ease since it had been made part of the US led coalition tasked to fight global war on terror and had been made the frontline state against Afghanistan. By following the US dictates faithfully Musharraf had become the blue-eyed boy of Bush. All and sundry in Pakistan acclaimed his wise policies asserting that by ditching the Taliban and agreeing to the unreasonable demands of USA, he had saved Pakistan from sure ruination. The steady improvement of economy further bolstered his popularity and his illegal and myopic acts were ignored.

Our exaggerated US centric policies emboldened the Americans to an extent that they meddled in our domestic affairs excessively and impinged upon our sovereignty through covert operations without any inhibitions. After forcing Pakistan to pitch its army against its own people in FATA and to hand over al-Qaeda and its own nationals for their interrogation in infamous Gitmo, the US began to change its colors slowly and gradually from 2005 onwards. The army and the ISI in particular became the target of western propaganda. After ‘do more mantra’ and never getting satisfied, the US in concert with India has now succeeded in tightening the noose around Pakistan through most malicious psychological warfare. By mid 2008, a full-fledged story was manufactured in which Pakistan was made the villain of peace. After pasting all sorts of charges on Pakistan, most of which were applicable to USA, Israel and India, it has been made into the most dangerous place on earth. The mobile Al-Qaeda has been shifted to Pakistan and nuclear Pakistan declared as the epicenter of terrorism and a threat to the security of world.. Nuclear Pakistan of 170 million people is being projected as a house of cards that may collapse within months. While Kilcullen gave six months, Gen Petraeus recently said that the US had two weeks to save Pakistan.

The much trumpeted new Af-Pak policy envisages continuation of drone attacks, joint Pak-US operations in FATA, assigning key role to India, Pakistan to give up India fixation and to focus wholly towards the western threat posed by the Taliban. When the time came to put into operation this policy, the framers of so-called new policy found PM Gilani, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lt Gen Shuja Pasha adopting a principled stance against US unmerited meddlesome role. The new policy was out rightly harmful for Pakistan. They drew a redline telling the visitors that no further intrusion at the cost of national interests would be acceptable.

Feeling miffed at being snubbed, the US apart from making hue and cry over Taliban threat and propagating that Pakistan was sinking, directed Britain to exert pressure on Pakistan. It promptly obliged by concocting a terrorism drama and taking into custody 12 Pakistani students undergoing studies in UK. The detained students had to be released since the mala fide act was politically motivated. Manmohan Singh joined in to maximize pressure by raising a false alarm alleging Pakistan based terror threat during Indian elections. No information was provided to substantiate the charge. Within the same timeframe, Balochistan front was suddenly heated up and so was Karachi. These multiple pressures were built to get the Swat deal scrapped and to make Pakistan tow US line on war on terror.

Military operations in Lower Dir, Buner and Swat have helped in changing the tone of US leaders and their lackeys in Pakistan. Their barrage of diatribe has for the time being got transformed to applauses and $1.9 billion assistance has been promptly sanctioned. Zardari, who till recent was getting his ears pulled is now being feted in USA and western capitals and showered with promises of assistance to the displaced persons. However, this phase of pats and rewards will be for a very short period. Very soon the army will again be criticized for using excessive force or for not doing enough and Washington saying it should do better. Already grumblings can be heard from among the quarters which were souring their throats for a full bloodied military operation. They have now started to shed tears of sympathy for the displaced persons. The coalition partners have begun to squabble. The ANP and MQM are at loggerheads both seeking military operation against each other.

The MQM accuses ANP for supporting Taliban and land mafia in Karachi while the latter accuse MQM of pursuing fascist policies and hold it responsible for killing its 38 political activists on 12 May 2007 in Karachi. Maulana Fazlur Rehman led JUI has expressed his resentment over the military operation saying that he was not taken into confidence. Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehrik-e-Insaf are also highly critical of military operation. PML-N, which was going the middle way, is now seeking an end to military action. All political and military leaders must realize that the challenges faced by the country are too grave and no single party or the military are in a position to tackle them. There is a dire need for a unified stand to collectively confront the internal and external threats that are fast sinking the country. It is high time that home grown foreign policy is formulated and implemented in letter and spirit without any tutoring from abroad.

Military operations should not make the rulers complacent that they can now maintain status quo and continue with their orgy of wanton plunder and resort to all sorts of injustices and malpractices safely. Use of force may treat the headache temporarily but cannot cure the disease. Force has never resolved issues but has helped to the extent of creating conditions conducive for undertaking socio-politico-economic measures for removing the deprivations of the underprivileged. Militants can be flushed out from troubled spots but cannot be eliminated since Islamic fervor has spread throughout the country and has permeated into the psyche of have-nots. They will keep enrolling new recruits and creating new battlefronts. The over one million internally displaced persons living in miserable conditions can become future recruits of the Taliban. While there is a segment which is hell-bent on eliminating the Taliban, there is a considerable segment that supports Taliban ideology. Instead of disciplining the illiterate militants, the inefficient rulers backed by insensitive and morally corrupt elites need to disciple themselves and should play a role in bridging the ideological divide and keeping the perverse American influence at bay.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst.

- Asian Tribune -

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