A Pakistani woman reads
the headlines and a boy demonstrates
Getting Too Hot for the Generals to Handle
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
August 2: Following 9/11 many had believed that the world would
never be the same again and that it had crash-landed into a century
of terror. Retrospectively from now to 9/11, there has been no
light at the end of the tunnel. Rather, invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan
has changed the entire global scenario making it more complex.
universally accepted concept of state sovereignty has been shredded
into pieces by those very powers that had accepted it as a sine
quo non for a peaceful world order at Breton Wood when they established
the United Nations in 1945, an institution that has now become
of Iraq without the UN resolution and on the basis of sexed up
dossiers based on piles of lies, reasserting might as right have
plunged it into a situation where it has to face causes emanating
from socio-economic and political injustices as weapons in the
hands of terrorists.
standards practiced by world leaders who describe the thousands
of innocent people they kill as 'co-lateral damage' while those
fighting for their freedom from foreign occupation are called
'barbaric terrorists'. Their justification of evil on the ground
of expediency has converted God's little earth into a cesspool
of intrigue, machinations and chicanery now even beyond their
Pakistan being one of the pawns in the great evil game continues
to sink in a quagmire of unmanageable internal problems and ominous
external developments. It is facing such Herculean difficulties
that its military establishment needs to open its eyes and read
the writing on the wall.
boldly spells doom and disaster at each and every moment that
goes by. A situation where even angels will fear to tread is being
handled by Praetorian bravado. Dark clouds shrouding its future,
its ruling military oligarchy needs to wake up from its suicidal
inertia and surrender to the fact that Pakistan's increasing domestic
and external problems are much too big and much too serious to
be left solely in the hands of its generals.
Only a total national effort, mobilization of the masses and the
best political brains can only steer it out of the stormy ocean
to the safe shores least scathed.
doubt General Pervez Musharraf has survived long enough on the
reputation of him being the only Knight Templar in the service
of war against global terror, his gilded veneer as irreplaceable
is fast wearing of, his claim to be perennially useful is becoming
more of a façade then reality and the truth is getting
home that he is part of the problem of global terrorism rather
than the solution.
bombings of July 7 followed by a repeat performance on July 21
and more lethal than the previous at the Egyptian tourist resort
at Sharm al Shaikh, have brought Pakistan once again in international
glare as the epicenter of global terrorism. It goes to the credit
of British authorities, especially its Metropolitan police, to
have worked out painstakingly to nab those accused terrorists
who abortively tried to cause more death and destruction in the
otherwise most peaceful capital of the world. This is notwithstanding
the controversy as a consequence of the shooting of one innocent
Brazilian to death as a case of mistaken identity.
it is in terrorism in London, Afghanistan, Iraq, Occupied Kashmir,
India or Sharm al Sheikh, accusing fingers are instantly raised
towards Pakistan while it was already at the receiving end due
to Al-Qaeda's dastardly bombing of New York's Twin Towers in 2001.
The growing distress among the peaceful and law-abiding Pakistanis
in Britain is, therefore, understandable.
While they are whole-heartedly with the British authorities to
destroy terrorism at its roots, their growing concern of backlash
from the racist elements is also not misplaced. Like the bunch
of terrorists who had their evil ways of doing things, racists
too do get away with their ulterior motives when the society needs
utmost peace and inter-communal harmony.
could refer to a few incidents where the racists have targeted
Pakistanis igniting a fear in a by and large peaceful community
to the extent that a media survey conducted in Muslim areas indicates
a growing desire among the Pakistanis to go back home. What has
made their position more embarrassing and vulnerable is General
Musharraf's quixotic swipe at Prime Minister Tony Blair asking
him to put his own house in order. His assertion that it is more
of an internal British problem while under his very nose continue
to thrive terrorist training camps, amounts adding insult to injury.
ignoring the fact and latest investigative stories by some daring
Pakistani journalists (especially Amir Mir's "General
Musharraf's Commitment to Wipe Out Jihadis Badly Exposed,"
SAT July 31) unveiling thriving new terrorist training
camps and that most of the British origin Pakistani suspect terrorists
had been to some of these, Islamabad seems to abdicate its responsibility
by just issuing orders of clamp downs "as usual".
announcement that he would not allow terrorists any room in Pakistan,
his decision for the registration of religious seminaries many
of which are alleged to be training camps for both foreign and
indigenous terrorists and his latest decision to throw out "foreign
students" is much more of the same that has become a pet
reaction from Islamabad whenever suicidal bombing incidents have
taken place since 9/11.
time after such announcements follows a clamp down, hundreds of
militants are also arrested only be to rested to be freed again
when pressure on Pakistan eases. These operations are much similar
to the one ordered by Musharraf in 2001 for de-weaponisation of
these pronouncements have proved to be much a do about nothing
especially when authorities in Islamabad know that over a hundred
thousand foreigners comprising Afghans, Yemenis, Saudis, Algerians,
Libyans, people from Gulf States, Chechens, Bosnians, Central
Asians and many others recruited for the American Jihad against
the Soviet's occupation of Afghanistan were issued Pakistani passports
and National Identity Cards by Pakistan's military government
under General Zia and even after and they continue to operate
freely from Pakistani soil even now. If the Egyptian authorities
discover Pakistani passports in Sharm al Sheikh it is not necessary
that those belonged to genuine Pakistanis. They could have belonged
to those Egyptian nationals-turned-Pakistanis either recruited
by CIA or Ayman Al-Zawahiri for the Afghan Jihad.
this context the British authorities will do well to also probe
the real causes of terrorism including how Muslim and other masses
feel about war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They must lend their ears
to saner voices like that of Tony Benn, Robin Cook, London Mayor
Ken Livingstone, journalist Robert Fisk and MP George Galloway.
Vast majority of such eminent personages and others believe in
the conclusive words of Tony Benn that it was not about clash
of civilizations or fight between religions but a conflict to
control the resources of Middle East.
we need to find out what went wrong locally as well that has given
birth to suicide bombers on a soil that gives equal freedom to
all without discrimination and where the British have shown great
generosity in accepting, with open arms, people of other cultures,
religions and ethnic bearings in their compassionate fold dominated
by the spirit to share the good that they have.
are the words of warning in the current situation in the United
Kingdom where Muslims especially Pakistanis fear a severe backlash,
by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales,
the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
The Archbishop has expressed his opposition to the proposed drastic
measures that the government is planning to introduce to combat
terrorism. He believes that the people must not allow themselves
to "surrender to logic of fear" when faced with threats.
The British people also need to understand that one of the main
causes of terrorism that it is related to Muslims lies in the
policies pursued by the United States and its allies since the
demise of the Soviet Union and end of Cold War. Sudden about turn
soon after their arch rival stood buried in the debris of history,
turning their faces away from those who they had used as fodders
for their guns in the Afghan Jihad and switching off their funding
pipelines to them --converted whole lot of their friends into
terrorists -- Osama Bin Laden included.
the chicken are coming home to roost. Had they come up with a
socio-economic development scheme for Afghanistan, on the pattern
of Marshall Plan that turned a war-struck West Europe around and
ushered in democracy, soon after the end of Soviet occupation,
by now Afghanistan would have had its own democracy and its people
would not have been carrying bombs round their waists but would
have been involved in profitable economic activity to usher in
peace and prosperity.
Pakistan remains the epicenter of terrorism and the menace is
a much bigger problem and more complex then it is conceived by
leaders in Washington, London and Islamabad, it requires to be
addressed in a manner that cures the disease and does not kill
the patient. Both Washington and London must get down to tell
Musharraf point blank that he cannot combat terrorism by isolating
the great majority of the people in his country by denying it
its democratic right to vote in a government of its choice. The
enormous magnitude of the terrorism requires a national effort
to combat it.
By keeping former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif
out of the mainstream politics, he has given an open field to
the religious parties and extremists to call the shots. The recently
passed Hasba Bill by the North Western Frontier Provincial Assembly
and the evils it will unleash in the country should be nipped
in the bud before it acquires the magnitude of a death-knell for
the liberal and democratic forces in Pakistan. Hasba is yet another
step towards Talibanisation of Pakistan and a powerful manifestation
of Mulla-Military alliance.
this context Washington would do well to listen to American experts
like Stephen P. Cohen. In a paper read at a recent 'Crescent
of Crisis' workshop, Cohen rightly pointed out that Pakistani
population's "growing alienation from the State feeds into
support for extremism." And this obviously is due to absence
of democracy and a level playing field for popular leaders like
Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif.
has urged upon Washington to ensure that Musharraf moves beyond
"rhetoric" to give content to his notion of "Enlightened
Moderation" by supporting liberal and moderate trends in
Pakistani society." Cohen's description of Pakistan as a
State "chronically teetering on the edge of failure"
should not be dismissed lightly.
his paper deals with various issues related to Pakistan's role
in nuclear proliferation into Middle East, cross-border terrorism
in Indian-occupied Kashmir, need to resolve Kashmir issue, lopsided
economy, need for fostering democracy and strengthening of liberal
and secular forces, he has highlighted the fact that despite Pakistan
being a major recipient of US financial aid and arms since 1954,
"Anti-Americanism is endemic".
his view, Pakistan can be considered one of the most anti-American
states in the world, which poses a threat to US interests in the
region and beyond. He believes that Islamic extremism has flourished
in Pakistan because of decades of support from foreign sources
and Pakistan's intelligence services. This extremism has a strong
component of anti-Americanism, has become widespread because of
encouragement from Islamic extremists, perceived and actual American
actions and intentions, and governmental inaction.
however, does not mention that one of the major factors for majority
of Pakistanis to be anti-American is Washington's sustained preference
and support to military dictators and intolerance of popular and
democratic leaders who could take an independent position on vital
national issues. In this context one would refer to the example
of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who was made a horrible example
for pursuing a nuclear goal opposed tooth and nail by Washington.
Or for that matter, his daughter was taught a lesson for defying
them by making Pakistan a missile-armed country.
accepts that the Islamist parties are far weaker than the centrist
mainstream parties, and their victory in two provinces in 2002
did not represent a national trend, except to the degree that
they were strengthened by anti-American feelings that are prevalent
throughout Pakistan. He, perhaps inadvertently, ignored to state
that the MMA was tacitly, overtly and covertly supported by the
military establishment to be used as a trump card to blackmail
Washington, that if Musharraf's power base is toppled, it would
be the mad mullahs who would take over from him and Pakistan's
nuclear assets would fall into their hands.
professor believes that it would be difficult to persuade General
Musharraf to democratize since the military is afraid that a return
to complete civilian government means a return to policies inimical
to the army's conception of "the national interest."
Nevertheless, he wants Washington to insist that Musharraf allow
the mainstream political parties - Ms Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan
People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N to function freely
and be provided an even playing field.
Cohen has also overlooked the American factor that has helped
sustain long military rules in Pakistan because Washington felt
more comfortable in dealing with a military dictator rather than
with an elected democratic government.
would, however, agree with Cohen's conclusion that the Pakistan Army needs the radical Islamists as the 'threat' to hold up to
its Western supporters, the Islamists are biding their time, burrowing
into many Pakistani institutions while building their own infrastructure
in the form of chains of madrassas throughout the country. Unless
Pakistan democratizes, what is likely to emerge is a coalition
of the army and Islamist forces and the potential radicalization