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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2709

Pakistan Continues To See A Foreign Hand Behind Terror Attacks

By Tushar Charan - Syndicate Features

Within a day of the attack on Lahore police academy Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the Pakistani Taleban, had claimed responsibility for the audacious act. While it was a tragic incident, it must have also caused some ‘disappointment’ to the Pakistani officials including the gentleman known as the Czar of the country’s interior ministry, Rehman Malik. All of them were probably getting ready to expose and provide ‘solid proof’ of the ‘foreign hand’ they had detected so deftly minutes after the Lahore attack on March 31. The Pakistani Taleban usually keeps mum or owns responsibility several months later—never within a day or so.

The ‘disappointment’ must have been greater in the Pakistani army and its intelligence wing, the notorious ISI. Recall the days after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last November. India had reacted angrily and came out with enough credible evidence to implicate the ISI in the incident. In Pakistan, in addition to the usual sabre rattling, all the ‘patriotic’ forces were rallying behind the government, attacking India for making ‘baseless’ allegations against the ISI.

One of these ‘patriotic’ forces is represented by the Pakistani Taleban that Mehsud commands. A person no less than the chief of the ISI, one Lt-Gen Shuja, was lauding Mehsud for his show of ‘patriotism’ and solidarity with the country after the Mumbai attacks. Shuja is one ISI chief, appointed by the present army chief, who is acceptable to the US because he is supposed to be allergic to terrorist outfits.

Shuja’s testimonial to Mehsud must have reassured the ordinary Pakistanis that the likes of Mehsud pose no threat to their safety and security. The official message was that the army and the ‘patriotic’ forces formed a formidable combination that was capable of taking on any ‘enemy’.

The ‘patriotic’ forces in Pakistan who also produce ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘martyrs’ for the cause have in the past frequently come to the rescue of the nation. They gave the land of the pure ‘strategic depth’ on the west and saw the ‘enemy’ on the east ‘bleeding’ with ‘thousands wounds’. The official policy in Pakistan is obviously to make the ‘awam’ (people) believe that the ISI and the ‘patriotic’ forces that it trains are the country’s guardian angels and only the ‘enemy’ hurls ‘misleading’ accusations against them.

The unexpected and quick admission by Mehsud about the Lahore attack might have created an awkward moment for the establishment in that country. But be sure that the last word on the ‘foreign hand’ in the Lahore attack has not been heard. Afghanistan has already been implicated as the lone militant caught after the attack has been described as an Afghan national and the conspiracy is alleged to have been hatched in Afghanistan. The spin masters in Islamabad must be working overtime to establish a link between Afghanistan and India that resulted in the Lahore attack.

The Pakistanis are welcome to their petty little games but the world outside has become only too aware of the danger that the country faces from within. President Barack Obama has said that the ‘cancer’ of terrorism will devour Pakistan if it is not eliminated soon. It is said about cancer that the disease can be cured by timely detection.

The trouble is that the disease was detected in Pakistan many years ago and neither Pakistan nor its patrons bothered to pay any heed to it and let it grow to menacing proportions. The reason was that the detection was made by an ‘enemy’ doctor who is routinely accused of maligning the ‘martyrs’ and ‘freedom fighters’ because they seek to ‘liberate’ two separate territories, Afghanistan from Soviet ‘occupation’ and Kashmir from Indian ‘occupation.’

It is doubtful if even today Pakistan and its chief patron, the US, are really sincere in eliminating this ‘cancer’ in Pakistan. A part of Pakistan is now officially and legally under Taleban occupation—the Swat valley. It is no secret in Pakistan that the ‘peace’ terms under which Swat was handed over to the Taleban, were prepared under guidance from Baitullah Mehsud.

Earlier, it was again Mehsud who had set the terms for a ‘peace deal’ in one of the tribal areas, called Bajaur. The army was said to be close to running over the militants in that tribal agency but after the ‘peace deal’ the army retreated to its barracks.

Some more ‘peace deals’ are in the offing in other tribal areas of Pakistan where a distinction is made between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taleban. The US fully backs this distinction, refusing to believe that the basic philosophy that fuels terrorism is identical. It is to take the world back to the middle ages.

The tribal Waziristan region in Pakistan has been virtually declared out of bounds for the Pakistani army, as a result of which the American drones have been pounding those areas. The Waziristan region is widely believed to be THE ‘safe haven’ for Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership. The steep mountains and intricate valleys, it is said, make it difficult for any ground operation against the armed men holed up there. Hence, the air attacks by unmanned American aircraft.

Forget the fact that the American air attacks have swelled anti-Americanism in entire Pakistan. The question is: is it possible to see the end of terrorism as long as their safe havens remain intact in Pakistan? No.

When Pakistan eulogises the ‘good’ Taleban it obviously suggests that the country is not prepared to give up its old policy of encouraging these dark forces because they are a ‘strategic asset’. That is also why Pakistan continues to look for ‘foreign hands’ behind militancy and terrorism within its own territories and refuses to address the problem. It will appear that Pakistan fears the imaginary ‘foreign hand’ so much that it refuses to do anything to rid itself of cancer that has now started to eat its entrails.

- Asian Tribune -

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