A state determined to kill – itself
By Khaled Ahmed
By creating just one point of view, Pakistan may entrench itself in dangerous isolation, and may find it difficult to do course-correction to save its already crippled economy from collapsing
A revisionist state called Pakistan is taking all measures possible to immolate itself. The Army finally ran is rival Husain Haqqani to the ground and was helped in this by internecine party politics with everyone mindlessly baying for each other’s blood as the only politics they know. The national economy is gradually crumbling, its infrastructure run down and people willing to attack and burn because the state is unable to run itself. On top of it all, the most fatal hubris of a weak state – ghairat or honour – rules the collective mind.
The Pakistan Army is the only popular institution in the country with processions now carrying portraits of General Kayani because he carries in him the promise of a war of honour, in other words, an honourable death, because living without honour is not living at all. On 26 November 2011, the NATO forces attacked a checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border and killed 24 Pak troops. No one knows what happened except Pakistan that says it was a pre-planned attack. Pakistan significantly got its TV cable operators to ban the BBC for showing its two-hour documentary Secret Pakistan whose facts cannot be denied or at least no one outside Pakistan will reject them. Pakistan should pause and reflect on these facts and then understand the November 26 attack in their light.
BBC said on its website: ‘Filmed largely in Pakistan and Afghanistan, this documentary explored how a supposed ally stands accused by top CIA officers and Western diplomats of causing the deaths of thousands of coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. It is a charge denied by Pakistan’s military establishment, but the documentary makers meet serving Taliban commanders who describe the support they get from Pakistan in terms of weapons, training and a place to hide’.
Pak Army is not willing to look at the non state actors despoiling the country from the inside. It defies the world asking that they be banned and brought to account and feels itself totally blameless for what happened in Mumbai in 2008 while it focuses on what has happened at Salala in 2011. If you kill others or get them killed by your non state actors, they are prone to make the kind of mistake that was made at Salala. But Pakistan welcomes war even though it has never won one and has been defeated again and again fighting India, the last one being the battle of Kargil. General Kayani has familiarly thrown the gauntlet to the US: do it again and see what happens. The world knows that nothing will happen, except that Pakistan, already in dire economic straits, will be crushed.
Nawaz Sharif has gone to the Supreme Court as the one forum where the PPP government can be pulled down as a corollary to defeating the United States. (Get the traitor for joining enemy America!) He wants to get at the root of the Memogate scandal and is sure that the PPP leader Zardari was trying to double-cross the Pak Army which Nawaz Sharif now wants to stand up for. He wants the PPP government gone in short order before its tenure is up.
It appears that the PMLN, with fresh warpaint on its face, the maximalist Supreme Court, intent on getting Zardari to commit hara-kiri in Switzerland, and a revengeful Army aspiring to defeat the US, are on the same page: Suspend efforts to free-trade with India, defeat the US as an obstacle to Pakistan getting its fair share of leverage in Afghanistan, and stop fighting the war against terrorists because it was never Pakistan’s war, slyly hoping that the Taliban will be on Pakistan’s side in the war against the US.
Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has pledged a crushing retaliation if the US-ISAF forces attacked inside Pakistani territory again, ‘regardless of consequences’ (sic!). He told his troops, ‘Be assured that we will not let the aggressor walk away easily; I have clearly directed that any act of aggression will be responded to with full force, regardless of the cost and consequences’. He wants the troops on the border with Afghanistan to take their own on-the-spot decision against any future NATO attacks without waiting for orders from the GHQ. Now they will fight the US-ISAF forces instead of the Taliban terrorists.
This is a very rash approach to the situation triggered by the November 26 incident, even if it is directed as a morale-booster at the troops and meant to be interpreted differently as strategy for civil society which is obviously not prepared for war on the western front. The Americans are offering regrets even before their formal inquiry into the Salala incident is completed on 21 December. President Obama too has expressed sorrow at the death of Pakistani troops while a formal apology pends till the inquiry reveals NATO’s guilt. There are however statements issuing from Washington saying the attack was unintended and that some fire had come from around the Salala checkpost.
The nation is of one mind, a kind of pre-war symptom that Pakistan experienced in 1965 and 1971 when the Army painted the country into a corner through the hubris of isolationism. It is not natural that the entire nation be of uniform thinking in favour of conflict, especially if this conflict is against an immeasurably stronger adversary. If after the anger felt in the GHQ subsides and more realistic decisions are required to be taken, the disappointment among the public will take the shape of an emotional boomerang of self-disgust. We have seen that happen in the Raymond Davis case after the CIA agent was let off on diyat instead of being publicly hanged. If the common man has succumbed to an attack of ‘ghairat’ and is spoiling for a fight with the US, the state cannot afford to indulge in the bravado of an unequal war.
If the pro-war mind is presuming that the Taliban will fight the NATO-US forces side by side with the Pak Army, putting an end to the problem of law and order in Pakistan, it is sadly deceived. It will in fact be a two-front war, one front being at the back of the Pakistani troops. The Taliban and their master al Qaeda have an agenda that will be fulfilled only by removing our brave Army Chief from his post and then using the Army to take over the country and its nuclear assets. Wisdom demands that we challenge the US realistically rather than rashly, compelling it to make amends for the Salala incident to the benefit of Pakistan.
A consensus of national self-damage can occur even in democracies and it has recently taken place in the US too but in Pakistan one institution of the state dominates all decision-making functions, and those who should be ruling and not allowing this domination are busy in a lethal war of self-diminution.
The fact is that there are two versions of the truth. Unfortunately the American version is what is credited at the international level while the Pakistani version can only hold if the news channels are prevented from puncturing it. Our asymmetric proxy war against India was rejected by the world while the Pakistanis were force-fed with justifiable jihad by non state actors. Its fallout was experienced by Pakistan’s neighbours whose fear of what Pakistan may do next has isolated Pakistan in the region too. ….
Read more » The Friday Times