Of Pakistani bondage
By Ayaz Amir
There is no end to the ironies which afflict our increasingly caught-in-a-bind republic. George Bush, sure to be commemorated as one of the greatest disasters to reside in the White House, may be about to depart into the pages of history or into well-deserved oblivion. But in one country on the face of the earth his policies will live on: Pakistan which in the 61 years of its existence has yet to learn to think for itself.There may be second thoughts in the United States itself about the way the Washington-led coalition circus is stuck in Afghanistan and making no headway there despite seven years of toil, effort, sweat and money. The commander of British forces in Afghanistan may have brought himself to say that military means alone could not solve the Afghan problem. But among what passes for the Pakistani leadership there is nothing resembling second thoughts.

President Asif Zardari, democracy’s ultimate gift to this confused and now increasingly demoralized land, lets no opportunity go by without insisting that the so-called war on terror – a nomenclature we have adopted with a zeal not even to be found in Washington – is not just America’s war but ours too. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani parrots much the same theme. The army too is sold on the same song.

Each act of terrorism – and such are the wages of this conflict that after seven years of being hooked to Washington’s war chariot terrorism instead of being licked is on the rise in Pakistan—is used to bolster the contention that this is now our war. No questions are asked as to how we got into this mess in the first place.

If this is our war then General Pervez Musharraf should still be president of Pakistan. There should be no reason to hate him because his outstanding legacy, the thing for which he will always be remembered, was how he jumped into America’s lap post-Sep 11, giving birth to the legend – to which Pakistan’s confused English-speaking liberati still subscribe – that Pakistan was saved. That if Pakistan had hesitated and not swung so decisively to America’s side it would have been made a Tora Bora of, and bombed into the stone age. It was this mental cowardice – and the ambition of benefiting from America’s largesse – which set Pakistan on the path leading eventually to the nightmare our army and people now face in the tribal areas.

This is brilliant firefighting. First set things on fire, create conditions which give rise to extremism and militancy, and then announce that extremism represents the greatest threat to national security and must be eliminated.

Most Pakistanis have no taste for the Taliban brand of Islam: the Sharia, or somebody’s mutilated understanding of Sharia, imposed at gunpoint. Why is it then that among ordinary Pakistanis (as opposed to the English-spouting liberati) there is not much support for the ‘war on terror’? Because most Pakistanis, despite revulsion against the Kalashnikov, consider this to be America’s war, and consider the Pakistani leadership and the Pakistan army as playing America’s game.


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