Feb 18, 2009

What about America's responsibility?

By Ahmed Quraishi
If Pakistan is supporting proxies in Afghanistan using religion and is not ready to understand that 'terrorism' is a threat to its existence, why can't we create our own Islamic proxies and push them inside Pakistan, creating enough mayhem to make Pakistan 'understand' our point?That's the question two Indian security analysts asked in a paper submitted to the Indian security establishment nine years ago. We don't know if someone paid attention to the bright new idea. But last year, our security forces did arrest fighters in the ranks of the so-called 'Pakistani Taliban' sneaking in from Afghanistan who, let's just say, appeared to have been professionally trained in sabotage and who were pretending to be Islamic extremists. This does not mean that we should accuse India of mischief. After all, Afghanistan is US-controlled territory. The Pakistani government for some strange reason is not willing to make such disturbing incidents pubic in the misplaced hope that sharing this information with our American allies will resolve the problem. What Islamabad forgets is that there are 'non-state actors' in Washington too. They might have interests that may or may not be in the knowledge of those couple of US bureaucrats whom our elected government appears to trust so much that it has decorated them with Pakistan's highest civilian honours. One of them, US deputy secretary of state John Negroponte, is a veteran of America's proxy wars in Latin America and might know a thing or two about this. There is a reason why a report in this newspaper on Aug. 5, 2008, revealed that the Pakistani leadership warned the highest U.S. military and intelligence officials about a "strong evidence and circumstantial evidence of American acquiescence to terrorism inside Pakistan." After all, the new American obsession with redrawing borders to suit U.S. interests is no longer something that we can agree on with the CIA station in the Pakistani capital. This is not about shifting the blame. We have our own problems. But you can't ignore the situation when someone pumps in millions of dollars in cash and in weapons inside your country to effect change.The mayhem in Pakistan, which surprisingly did not exist prior to the year 2005, follows the same geographic pattern as the US interest. For example, the transport route from Karachi to Torkham is essential for a prolonged US presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Today this city is in the grip of a manufactured Talibanization scare and a potential ethnic conflict between the supporters of two Pakistani political parties that maintain close ties with Washington. Some of the bitterest US news reporting focused on Gwadar as an extension of China, and Quetta was accused of hosting the Afghan Taliban leadership, facilitated by the untrustworthy ISI. So Balochistan became the first target. An insurgency erupted all of a sudden in January 2005 targeting Pakistan's control over the province. When the insurgency was weakened, the focus shifted to NWFP. We have no laws in Pakistan that bar political parties and their 'owners' from conducting their own private 'foreign policies'. That's why few Pakistanis know how the United States conducted its own private business with senior politicians who were secretly flown to Washington and to the military Central Command in Florida throughout 2007, the year that saw the worst internal destabilization in the history of Pakistan. It was also a year in which many analysts saw signs of a 'coloured revolution' that normally precedes the ascent to power of staunch pro-US governments. If some of our politicians have it their way, a time is coming when Pakistanis won't be welcome in one part of their country. But no one in our liberal elite is ready to listen to the signs of danger. In their enthusiasm for opposing religious extremism, which is valid, Pakistan's liberal elite is making a historical mistake of ignoring an evil of equal proportion. Foreign interference in Pakistan is exacting a toll on our country that, if left unchecked, might come at the cost of Pakistan's existence as a nation.

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