Qunfayakoon

It’s Complicated

In South Asia on 22. May 2011 at 23:42

USA celebrated the news of Osama bin Laden’s death with joy. Still it is important to notice that a segment of the American society did not celebrate the death. Not because they sympathized with his views or acts, but because there is no joy in death, be it the death of a friend or enemy. Such was the case when many Muslims celebrated 9/11 attacks (in terms of a symbolic blow to a superpower), still there was some among them who could not find any justification in their faith for such a brutal act. In such moments which come most unwanted, it is important to reflect on the following verses written by the Kashmiri Sufi poet Mian Mohammad Baksh:

Dushman maray, tay khushi na kariye, Sajna bhi mar jana
Deegar tay din hoya Muhammad / Oudak nu dub jana
Do not rejoice at the death of your enemy, because your friends too have to die
I were born at sunrise, I will too perish at sunset

But the Bush-administration had successfully embraced symbolic politics with the so called axis of evil, french fries renamed freedom fries and the face of terror in the person Osama bin Laden. The War on terror was simply just a symbolic manhunt and nothing more. The American solidarity for the repressed Afghan woman or the Iraqi Kurd and Shia was blatantly propaganda and nothing else. There is no doubt that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was justified by USA on wrong grounds. But there is no justification in terror where civilian causalities are the prime target either. Taliban, the then de-facto rulers of Afghanistan had the responsibility not to let its grounds be used to attack other nations. USA retaliated as a superpower in its prime and arrogance. Taliban was at home ground clearly with advantage of guerilla warfare and mobile units. Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden got their wishes come true; American troopers within the sight of the well used AK-47. Dubya took the bait and was caught in the trap.

One is free to choose the perpetrators behind the 9/11 attacks, this article chooses to use the most logical and obvious view that Al-Qaida with Osama bin Laden’s consensus gave permission to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad to organize such an attack. The result is all known; A world completely changed, increased intolerance, increase in inflow of members for radical groupings in the Muslim world, increased support for rightwing political parties in the west, huge spending on security firms and increased amount of innocent civilians dead. We can choose sides, but then the fight will be newer ending. Or we can choose to defy the terror and injustice which have dominated our global village the last decade, be it established aggressive democracies or invincible terror networks.

With Osama’s assassination the War on terror (Now officially: Overseas Contingency Operation) has entered a new era. What effects the symbolic death will have on the further political situation is unknown. In such environments conspiracy theories does not makes it easier to analyze the future either. What is for sure is that Osama bin Laden, the top leader of Al-Qaida, once American ally against the fight against Soviet Union and since an arch enemy is dead. His wife, family and even Al-Qaida and Taliban is confirming his death. Even though dead his ideas remain at large, flourishing in these tense times with economic uncertainty. It is these ideas which should be targeted and buried.

In Pakistan, the anti-US political groupings are now telling the US to get out of the region as they got their target. Some naive politicians, with good reform agendas, but bad political realism too join this bandwagon. This is simply direct or indirect support for a Taliban insurgency in the region. But there should be limits for how naive one can be. Terror networks and Taliban leaders have declared war on Pakistan, they have created sovereign states within the Pakistani territory and they have legitimized the death of Pakistani security personnel and innocent civilians. But all you hear on news channels is the US-Israel-India led conspiracy to destroy Pakistan. Ignorance is certainly bliss. Such has Pakistan pushed its faults on others and ignored the realities at home, and such has the once so potential nation ended up, back broken and full of terrorists killing at home and cross the border. It is not hard to oppose those drone attacks which leads to civilian causalities and the terrorist attacks which cause even more death. Yet in Pakistan, one has to rant at the big “Satan” in order to get attention. The smaller, less influential activist, who protests against any type of violence are of zero interest for the mainstream newspapers and TV-channels.

Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) ordered foot cadres and madrassah students to roll onto the streets right after the announcement of Osama’s death. With pro-Taliban and anti-American slogans these religious parties clearly showed where their allegiance lies; with those who declare war on Islamabad. These are the same politicians who told the nation that the slain governor of Punjab Salman Taseer had it coming because of his opposition to the “blasphemy laws”. Such was the calls when Jamaat-e-Islami, Imran Khans Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (Achronym of the banned Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) and Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League –N (PML-N) recently organized a rally in Lahore against the May 2 operation. The rally was silent about ISIs failure, but was loud in praising Osama as a “martyr of Islam” and pointing fingers at the Government. None of them condemned Taliban’s killing spree following Osama’s death. The Army got free from attention this time as well.

The Pakistani Military, a key player in the national politics is trying its best these days to avert public anger away from their berets. How could its radars fail when stealth evading Black Hawks and radar vulnerable Chinooks flew through the hilly terrain? How could the US forces manage to be 90 minutes inside Pakistani territory 45 of them on ground and yet the F-16 fighter jets could not manage to tail them? And how could, the famous tenth corps command not assemble its many battalions in Abbotabad to react to the gunfight between Osama loyalists and Navy SEALs? But most of all, how could Osama bin Laden, his wives and multiple children live in a barbed and walled compound just stone throws from the Pakistan Military Academy the last five to six years? The last question is of most importance but gets the least attention in Pakistani media. And the answers given can be understood as knee-jerk reactions with bizarre scenarios. Like for example the Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman’s comment that the radar system was shut down at that moment, later to be replaced by another excuse, that radars was faced eastwards towards India and could not detect the incoming fleet from Jalalabad. How stupid do the uniformed gentlemen think the people actually are?

Interestingly, the mysterious all-knowing all-seeing character Inter Services Intelligence (ISI- Pakistan’s most powerful intelligence agency) had built up during the years was all torn down with the intelligence failure to capture Osama in their own backyard. The Director General of ISI, Lt. Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha briefed the parliament and asked for forgiveness due to its failure. Pasha also told the parliament that he would resign if the lawmakers wished for so. Such is rare in Pakistan, normally it is the military and the “deep-state” as ISI is known who are considered kingmakers. But that was the limit, Pasha and the staff chiefs said that the fiasco was partly due to the Police department’s lack of action. So delicately putting responsibility away from their own shoulders to a starved and already defamed institution the military got away with it once again. The government could put more pressure on the security forces, like the need for a transparent economic oversight for the lawmakers and that their meddling in foreign policy should be limited. In addition the time-to-time media stunts against government should stop as it is undermining the democratically elected parliament. Put President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani let the kaki gentlemen go scot free. Clearly a favor has been done, like many others before. Zardari can be assured that an Army coup will not take place under his tenure. Probably even get the support of GHQ under the next election as well. Such support is of high value. Nawaz Sharif knows that, he became Prime Minister during his first stint with the blessings of ISI. Nice deal for the elected, bad deal for electors.

Adm Mike Mullen CJCS, Gen Ashfaq Kayani COAS, Lt.Gen Ahmed Pasha DG ISI

Pakistani intelligence support for terrorist organizations in proxy-wars in neighboring India and Afghanistan are well known. At home it is also notorious for its extra-judicial kidnappings without being answerable to the judiciary. It has also been led by people like Lt. Gen Hamid Gul in the early 90s who back then and even today is an ardent supporter of Taliban. Gul is the man who told the Taliban to burn Kabul during the power struggle after the Soviet defeat, clearly forgetting his hypocrisy when he criticizes USA for collateral damage these days. Hamid Gul uses his retirement to share theories of a CIA-Mossad-RAW (Indian intelligence) nexus to destroy Pakistan on TV shows and is also leading a militant banned network called Ummah Tammer-e-Nau (UTN) which enjoys close links with Afghan Taliban. It is due to people like Gul that Pakistani intelligence today lack trust from international organizations. General Pervez Musharraf tried to rid the ISI of Gul legacy in 2001-02, but those who left still enjoy access through their networks. The top brass do not always know what their subordinates do, especially not in cases where intelligence is involved. Such can be the case that some individuals in the Pakistani intelligence may have had the knowledge of Osama’s hideout along with retired servicemen with their own agenda, while the official leadership was completely uninformed.

There should be no doubt that the Government and military did its best to catch Osama and his fellows. India recently caught Wazhul Kamar Khan who was involved in the terrorist attack on a train in Mumbai in 2003. The Indian government had presented his name on a list of 41 wanted persons to Pakistan, but had to admit failure and embarrassment when Khan was found at his home living with family for the last 8 years in Mumbai. Sometimes things can be rights under your nose, and you will not even notice. But Pakistan’s case is extraordinary, because Khan will be put to trial, as was done with other terrorists in India, among them Hindus and members of the security forces. In Pakistan, chief of the banned Lashkar-e-Tayyaba is roaming like a free man. This organization is behind several terrorist attacks on Indian soil and enjoys close relations with the ISI. Several hundred other caught terrorists by the security forces are freed after a short trial because of lack of evidence. The security forces are frustrated as they put their life at risk to catch these criminals just to meet them again at the next corner with explosives. Pakistan simply has not managed to make examples of insurgent leaders in their courts. Therefore, there is no worry for those who take up weapons against the state.

Pakistan military have a good and well disciplined officer training (Kakul). It is professional and built around the framework of British Indian (Dehra Dun) British (Sandhurst) and American (West Point) academies. Their professionalism on the other hand, extends only to their own institution. Democratic institutions are looked upon with suspicious and foreign policy is subject to Army involvement. Such has it been that Pakistan Army have wished for long to have a government of liking in Afghanistan to counter arch enemy India’s influence there. This is one of the main reasons why the Army supported Taliban to power during the 90s, and this is the reason why they still enjoy relations with Afghan Taliban, along with the Haqqani network which have a base in the tribal agency North Waziristan, the Afghan Taliban mobilize, gather recourses and launch attacks at Afghan and ISAF security forces, not to forget the thousands of innocent civilians cross the border. Pakistan Army does not find trouble with it as long as they themselves are not targeted.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the now largely defeated Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) made targets of Pakistan security forces and the government itself. So did Al-Qaida with a fatwa from Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri which validated the killing of Muslims as long as the objective is reached. Targeting the soldier camps, headquarters, civilian institutions and even several failed attempts to assassinate the former army dictator General Pervez Musharraf, these organizations were subject to Pakistan Army wrath. The trend is clear; Mess with our neighbors, we will not be bothered, mess with us, we will get you.

On the other hand, Pakistani forces have not even now managed to put up a professional counterinsurgency strategy to cope with the invincible enemy, despite US cooperation on this field for long. At present there are two fronts, one in Swat valley while the other in South Waziristan against insurgencies. Several other tribal agencies are also under fire and now possible also against Haqqani network in North Waziristan (if US successfully persuades the Army chief to do so). In addition the urban cities as Karachi, Quetta and regions as South Punjab are a safe haven for Taliban cadres and leaders to mobilize and be in hiding. South Punjab is also becoming the hub for what is termed as Punjabi Taliban. Funded by rich supporters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait the madrassahs in Southern Punjab indoctrinate children to fight so called Jihad. The Generals in Rawalpindi on the other hand are obsessed with India just as taught to them through their career. The aggressive part, each time a major war broke out between India and Pakistan was the latter one. Former Air Marshal Asghar Khan has since the 65-war debacle criticized the forces paranoia of a Hindu army ready to digest this land of the pure. Such have made the army bigger and budget slots to education and health smaller. And such have led to a focus on the eastern border, while the western border is open for Taliban and US Commandos to cross at will.

Looking at the complexity of Pakistan’s situation the solo run to get Osama was the most optimal solution for US, and the way it was conducted was the only way possible to get the target. US could not risk an almost year old warm track by informing its Pakistani counterparts. But let it be no surprise, such an attack was foretold and agreed upon by previous regime and the current government, including the current top brass in the army leadership. Pakistan has admitted several times its lack of resources and technology when it comes to counterinsurgency tactics. Some might have noticed the immediate ISI remark that the operation was a joint one and that Pakistani intelligence was involved in it. There is a reason why such was said right after even though it was a lie. Since 2009 and most likely even before, American and Pakistani forces have conducted joint operations both by shared intelligence and by action on the battlefield. The trail which led to Osama’s location was partly because of ISIs delivery of some evidence which were further investigated on by the CIA. But most of all, it was investigated in all majority by CIA operatives who were on Pakistani soil by the consensus of Pakistan government and military (7.000 visas granted for CIA and other mercenaries).

The public reaction to the American operation was dominated by sovereignty being compromised. But then one can ask what sovereignty? The US Commandos were inside Pakistani territory for 90 minutes. Taliban’s various factions have declared statehood in tribal areas and in the northern Swat valley. Foreign “jihadists” have been on Pakistani soil for over 40 years without granted visas, and yet no one scream sovereignty. This is in reality not a case of sovereignty, rather the will of some groupings to reduce the crackdown on Taliban. For where are these same folks when Pakistan breaches the sovereignty of ALL its neighbors including China and Iran by harboring terrorists (by will or not) who use the soil to launch counterattacks on other sovereign states? And where are those bearded noises when Fauji and Behria Foundation advertise for private mercenaries on behalf of the Bahraini king who wants to crack down on pro-democracy largely Shia protesters? There are reports of organized gangsters who seek out Shias in their homes and under protests to beat and even kill them. And there is an awkward silence when Taliban kills over 80 civilians in Shabqabad as a revenge for Osama’s death while the Raymond Davis saga got maulvis losing their halwa platters. Make noise folks. Where is the sovereignty and Ghairat now?!

Pakistan have lost over 5.000 security officials and 30.000 civilian men, women and children during the last decade due to our double play and not firmness in fighting this cancer once and for all. Not to forget the millions of internally displaced people who suffer because of insurgency. The sepoys, jawaans and privates have done their best in order to fight the bearded thugs, despite the lack of recourses and a complicated diplomatic web.  Therefore it is really a shame, that 35.000 individuals, whose demise brought suffering and sorrow to their families and friends, are now being undermined by fable stories of an imaginary enemy lurking behind the scenes. Taliban and their allies are for the record an organized mafia who use religious rhetoric in order to legitimize murder and violence. Look at Saudi Arabia, the home of Laden family, from where terrorists were direly funded both financially and by propaganda during the 80s. The country has broken the back of Al-Qaida since 9/11. They took responsibility when it was known that majority of those behind the twin tower attack were Saudi citizens. Their firmness and resolve to eradicate such problem have succeeded. When their clerics, one of the most hardliners can change public opinion against terrorists, why cannot our Jamaats who runs these tens of thousands of madrassahs do the same? It is not enough to issue fatwas, the religious organizations should gather mammoth rallies to defy terror and the misuse of the religion Islam.

Two things should be the point of focus from this moment and onwards. Yet there is little hope that such will happen.

One, the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s demands for a transparent military and intelligence should be echoed by all political parties. The army should know its place where it belongs, under the will of the sovereign parliament. In such a situation, Sharif’s party PML-N should seek to join alliances with the governmental PPP and its coalition partners. Only a consensus democratic unity can handle the important crippling of Soldiers powers in governance. Right now the top officers are playing their cards right, not making too much attention, even capturing one high ranking Al-Qaida operative, Abu Shoaib Al-Makki in this process. Just to let the fingers pointed at their khaki uniforms averted. Heads should not roll, double play should be decapitated.

Secondly, Pakistan should realize that this war is its own. If not now, then it would inevitable have come somewhere in the near future. We have to admit our mistakes. Creating this Frankenstein monster to harm others, we are now attacked by the same monster. Many layers of our society will not accept such a reality, while whole the world does so. Recently one Saudi diplomat was gunned down by alleged militants, now even Saudis point fingers at Pakistan. Let the early may incident be a wakeup call for this. A murderer is a murderer, bearded or not.

And just for the reminder a quote by Mohammad Ali Jinnah:

“Our object should be peace within, and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial friendly relations with our immediate neighbors and with the world at large.”

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