For a few lies more

In South Asia on 28. April 2013 at 18:53

Ostriches are portrayed as hiding their faces underground in order to avoid danger or challenge. That might not be true, but human being have this ability to ignore whatever may happening in the surroundings, just in order to preserve one’s own conviction. Denial surely is the first step when one faces challenge to ones opinions and they are likely to be the last things to change when all other factors for it being are changed.

The denial in this case is that the war on Pakistan’s western front is not ours. It is inevitable that we have to accept it as ours in order to resolve it. Yet the decade long Taliban led insurgency is portrayed as an American war, where Pakistan have no hand whatsoever in it.

Yes, it was American reaction which put a shift to security politics in the region following twin-towers attack. But USA was also part of the conflict in this region during the cold-war, from which it took a pause of a decade. While Pakistan, which was as much involved as all other actors, did not pause, it continued its interference in internal Afghan matters, and hence continued it being a foreign element trying to dictate who to rule Kabul. Pakistan thus has owned this war for far longer time than USA has done, both before the Soviet interference in Afghanistan and after their withdrawal.

Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan have been thorny from the start. Afghans sees Pakistan as a continuance of British aggression and expansion, while Pakistan feels its territory being put into question by Pashtun nationalism. Attitude towards Soviet and communists became no better after it supported India during the wars of 65 and 71.

Afghan communists wanted to get rid of the power of Khans who governed local fiefs, delivering welfare to their people and loyalty to the powerful in Kabul. And as communists wanted land reforms, equal rights for women and state as the guarantee for welfare, they surely threatened the Khans. And as these reforms were put to place, the conservative classes rallied with Khans as they felt their traditional values being tarnished. So unwise was the speed of reforms that even Soviet told Kabul not to become alienated from its people. Moscow did not wish to have conflict in an area it knew was difficult to hold. But things would speed up and conflict became inevitable.

Now consider this, Pakistan engaged in a war based on presumption that its survival was at stake. It was a wrong premise, Soviet was not interested in opening a new war theatre, and its interference in Kabul was reluctant and only to assist communist regime already present there. But when lies are told, they are told for a purpose. And as soviet did what it was best at, being brutal against civilians, it also attacked Pakistan’s territory as the latter was a part of the war. Pakistan’s religious and conservative groupings alongside Army tops would use this to justify their interference in Afghanistan. This reaction does not exist when extremists do the same on Pakistani territory today.

Taliban are American/Indian/Israeli agents would some say. Taliban are falsely blamed for these attacks others would say. And the famous, had USA not been in this region, Taliban would not have reacted like they do. At least the last narrative accepts the brutality of Taliban and these militants. Yet Taliban’s violence and reaction is rationalized, while Soviet aggression was met with anger and demand for reaction.

This all ends up in the simple fact that Taliban and the so called Mujahedeen’s ideology is preferred and adored by certain political groupings in Pakistan. First and foremost because strategically they would ensure no Indian or Soviet influence in Afghanistan, and secondly, they share the same narrow-minded and militaristic understanding of how faith should be implemented on society. Foremost are Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat-e-Ulema Islam, two groups which enjoyed great relations with Taliban during their fight to power in mid-90s.

All else is simple camouflage. The outrage over Pakistan’s sovereignty being breached by drone attacks from these groupings is because Taliban is targeted, not because of civilian casualties. Drone attacks do breach sovereignty, they target civilians, and intelligence gathering is murky. It is condemnable, as is the attacks of militants on civilians. But the latter part is not a condemnable act for the said groups. And this points lies are served.

While principal stance is against both US drones and Taliban suicide attacks, and while it is important to respect others sovereignty in order to have one’s own being respected, there seems to be a unbalanced approach to this among these sections of society.

There was no talks of Afghanistan sovereignty, its people’s right to have be a part of decision making. Pakistan wanted Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in Kabul and used all form of pressure in order to strengthen his claim in 90s. This decade would ensure warlords as powerbrokers, supported by their ideological and strategic supporters. Pakistan would though switch sides to Taliban, portraying them as Afghan people’s legitimate representatives and support them to power.

At this point it is ironic when those who supported these meddling today worry for Pakistan’s sovereignty. And more ironic when only US are addressed regarding sovereignty, neither China, nor Saudi Arabian meddling is a talking issue. Hence it is evident that the worry for sovereignty is merely a lie, not a principal stance and only a strategic concern in order to use anti-Americanism to support their counterpart the Taliban. Symbolic examples are the outrage over Osama bin Laden’s assassination and the denial of Taliban attack on Malala Yousufzai and her two class fellows.

While at it, the hypocrisy is evident. When Taliban performed their dozens reported massacres in Afghanistan, Pakistani media was still, its political groupings silent and the image of a brave warrior saving Afghanistan were upheld. But when the recent racial and anti-Muslim violence erupted in Burma, these same groupings cried out and even wept some tears. Little attention is given to Hazara mass-graves, Christian burnet colonies, forced conversion of Hindus, mass persecution of Ahmadis and general dissent in freedom of faith, thought and speech.

Humanity becomes selective and used in propaganda in order to prove one worldview – in this case, that Islam is in danger, that Islam is in war with non-Muslims and that Muslims are persecuted en mass. Burma atrocities needs attention, Rohingiya minority suffers from a silent world and aggressive Buddhist-Burmese nationalism, yet grossing up casualties for the mere purpose of effect and using pictures from massacres from other events is unethical and damaging the cause. Lies are served to reach some goals, and no shame is attached if human beings suffer, because the goal mends the means.

It is evident, the war Pakistan fights on its western front was a creation of its own. Back then the civilians of Afghanistan took the brunt, now our civilians too have to suffer. In the end, when we (Establishment) will realize whose war it is, then it will be too late. You can be as much patriot and die-hard nationalist as you want, brag of your army, agencies and atomic power, if a nation cannot secure its political rallies equal means to contest elections, its citizens the safety to be different in faith and culture, to uphold the law equal for all, then there is only hollow Army parades.

Enough of these half-hearted selective operations against ‘bad’ Taliban while safeguarding the ‘good’ Taliban. At this point, Saudi Arabia crushes militants on its soil. India blames for links with militants in Kashmir, an issue we used to brag about in 90s and even Iran and China are complaining about terrorist networks and camps. This cannot go on for too long – debt ensures that financial independence is lost and insecure borders results in sovereignty put at stake. Then we can cry all we want of our borders being breached, but there will be no one to listen.

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