The Situation Today: Lessons from History for Pakistan

October 25, 2010

Years of unrelenting terror and its local fallout

Despite the success of the army operations in Swat and Malakand there have been continual complaints from the local people over the fact that many militant commanders still remain at large. This is one of the many factors contributing to the fear that the militants will take control of the region when the army will leave. The fact that the militants are still capable of continually bombing their cities and attacking their elders is also contributing to this fear.

However the biggest issue is how the militant organizations have been able to survive time after time despite constant operations launched for the purpose of eradicating them seemingly coming out again and again to claim assassinations and bomb attacks. This has resulted in resentment locally and much speculation from neo liberal anchors and media persons very used to following the traditional US line who question whether the Pakistan Army is serious about eliminating the militants. Since the media has no hope to offer much of this frustration is carried on to the common man who is exasperated that the insurgency simply does not seem to end and the war that makes their lives so miserable goes on unrelenting.

As a result many people even within the areas where terrorists have made local lives difficult making military operations imminent blame the government or the army for many of their problems including the war on terror which many people feel their country has no reason to be in. There is a reason to this dissatisfaction. People within the areas where war is being waged are frustrated by constant curfews which hurt locals and the shelling and aerial bombardment that often lead to civilian causalities.

To make it worse many issues the people face are even turned a blind eye further aggravating the situation. This in turn puts the idea in their minds that the Pakistan Army is playing a double game to milk western aid and killing its own people to earn it rather than terrorists who are few in number and manage to escape. A theory that would be very plausible had Pakistan not suffered $48 Billion of damage in acts of terrorism till today with the army suffering at least $4 Billion of those losses.

In any case the local causalities are indeed giving the impression that is already common in most Pakistani minds that the government is fighting a war it has no stake in, killing its own people and selling the Nation just so that it can fill its own pockets with American Dollars.

The situation truly needs to be addressed and people need to feel the army is on their side but the question remains who gains from this situation where the trust between the army and certain segments of the public has been reduced to such an extent where some people are not willing to trust the same men whose principle is supposed to be to protect the very lives of Pakistan’s public?

Pakistan becomes a scapegoat

While the USA ups the ante and continues blaming Pakistan for an insurgency the United States own money helped fund and create many generals within the Pakistan Army themselves strongly believe that their so called ally has been supporting local terrorists in Pakistan through the supply of arms, ammunition and various forms of financial support. To the liberals this may sound far-fetched but in reality it’s not very hard to believe considering the United States has done so in the past funnelling over 4 Billion dollars which included lump sums to commanders, arms, ammunition and training to the many mujahedeen groups during the Afghan Soviet War.

Much of the aid naturally happened to reach the Taliban with the full support and blessing of the CIA according to now declassified CIA documents but the powerful American media flanked by its Indian cohorts has successfully made Pakistan the scapegoat. This isn’t a difficult task since Pakistan is the country that had been passing on the United States assistance to the Taliban as the intermediary throughout all this time. The fact that Pakistan has a weaker media that still finds it difficult to take a Nationalist stand and show the Pakistani side of the picture while American media such as The Times or Fox News continues to portray Pakistan as a country that is playing a double game does little to reduce this perception.

Learning Lessons from the Afghan/Soviet War

The result of years of living under a terrorist threat that does not seem to disappear but just bounces back with every action the country takes is clear. Certain small and frustrated segments of society have cropped up to put the entire blame squarely on the ISI and the Army without thought. However according to most of Pakistan’s elite and middle class the blame often goes to Zia Ul Haq for creating the kind of mindset organizations such as the Taliban thrive on but few seem to remember that it was the Americans who came to him promising their full cooperation and opening up the doors of military aid and economic assistance to Pakistan in return for support against the Soviets. If this was the case at that time how different was it after the 9/11 attacks when the Americans came to Pakistan again demanding us to fight the same people they funded and created. If we were used at that time taking all the losses and took the blame later isn’t that exactly what’s happening again and what guarantee do we have that we are not going to be abandoned when the war is over like we were in past?

Zia Ul Haq today is Pakistan’s scapegoat with much of the population blaming his Islamicization for the problems we face today. This is indeed true but we fail to realize that he was used by the Americans in their war and made the very same mistake we are making today. He trusted the Americans over their claims that they would support Pakistan both economically and militarily. The support as it turned out lasted until the Soviets withdrew.

Zia Ul Haq even in his dreams would not have thought of facing the Soviets in the 1980’s if not for the insistence of the greatest superpower in the World, a superpower that awarded his country’s dedication to supporting them with the Presler Amendment, arms embargoes and an end to economic aid when it was handling an influx of 3 Million Afghan refugees other than the fact that about 70% of its own population were living in difficult economic conditions.

The truth is it’s great to look within and accept the problems in our society. It is an undeniable truth that there is intolerance and bigotry in our society which needs to be eradicated. It is clear that whenever our army has taken part in an internal operation it has often left more grievances and only partially solved the problem. The formation of Bangladesh and the simmering resentment in Baluchistan are clear examples. It is also evident that Pakistan has no business physically interfering in the affairs of another country no matter how bad things may appear.

Finally it’s imminent for us to understand that we cannot let foreign Nations continue to interfere in our country and influence our policies for their own benefits. Zia Ul Haq got the push to support the insurgency in Afghanistan from the United States, an insurgency Pakistan should never have had a part in as it produced only radicalism and if it was senseless to join that war on American insistence, Pakistan should never have had a part in the war today.

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