London, 5 March 2012 – According to the press Release issued by Samad Baloch, General Secretary, Baloch Human Rights Council (UK); A Baloch solidarity protest rally was held in front of US embassy in London on Sunday 4 March 2012. Rally was organised by Baloch Human Rights Council (UK), Balochistan Raaji Zrombesh, Balochistan Libration Organisation and World Sindhi Congress. A large number of the Baloch and Sindhis despite of cold and severe rainy weather attended the rally.
Rally was organized to express gratefulness of the Baloch to congressional representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Louie Gohmert and Steve king and the US government for their support for human rights of the Baloch and the right of self-determination of Balochistan ie Free Balochistan. Speakers requested the congressional representatives to continue their efforts in this respect in order to save the Baloch from the brutalities of Iran and Pakistan. They requested the US government to support the bill asking for the right of self-determination of the Baloch including free sovereign Balochistan.
Participants of the rally expressed their solidarity with the Baloch and Sindhi national struggles. They condemned the state crimes against humanity being committed against the Baloch and Sindhi people.
Speakers condemned disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings of innocent Baloch and Sindhi people by Pakistani security agencies. They termed this as a systematic genocide of Baloch nation. They requested the international community, the USA and the UK to intervene in Balochistan. They urged UN to put stringent sanctions on Pakistan … and pressurize these governments to end heinous crimes against Baloch and Sindhi people.
Rahim Bandovi, Mir Ghulam Hussain (Mir of UK), Mustafa Baloch, Faiz Baloch, Hassan Hamdam, Abdullah Baloch, Mir Ometan Baloch and Samad Baloch were among those who spoke on the occasion.
Attitudes are hardening in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province against the government, but the state is now belatedly reaching out to the Baloch separatists. Writer Ahmed Rashid considers whether after years of civil war, talks could end the bloodshed.
It took an obscure United States congressman holding a controversial hearing in Washington on the civil war in Balochistan to awaken the conscience of the Pakistani government, military and public.
For years the civil war in Balochistan has either been forgotten by most Pakistanis or depicted as the forces of law and order battling Baloch tribesmen, who are described as “Indian agents”.
Just a few weeks ago, Interior Minister Rehman Malik even hinted that Israel and the US were supporting the Baloch separatists, while the army had totally ”Indianised” the Baloch problem.
On 23 February, Mr Malik did an about-face, saying that the government was withdrawing all cases against Baloch leaders living in exile and asking them to return home for talks. ”I will receive them in person,” he told journalists.
Don’t expect Baloch leaders to turn the other cheek at Mr Malik’s sudden shift – the Baloch have seen too many such U-turns before.
Brahamdagh Bugti, head of the separatist Baloch Republican Party and living in exile in Geneva, remains sceptical.
His grandfather Sardar Akbar Bugti, the head of the Bugti tribe, was killed in 2006 on the orders of former President Pervez Musharraf in a massive aerial bombardment, while his sister Zamur Domki and her 12-year old daughter were gunned down in Karachi in broad daylight just in late January – allegedly by government agents.
He told journalists last week: ”I have seen this all before… I am not an optimist.” Nevertheless, for the first time in years his face appeared on every Pakistani TV channel as he and other Baloch leaders gave interviews.
Balochistan has been fighting a War of Independence since its colonisation by an illegitimate occupation by the deep state in 1947. After tremendous sacrifices and having lost thousands of brave sons and daughters, Balochistan is on its way to becoming a Free Nation.
Today, that struggle for Free Balochistan, fought with the indefatigable and inexhaustible strength of the entire Baloch Nation. And, “when the Baloch nation began its struggle for national independence, its basis was national enslavement,” says a Baloch freedom fighter, Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch. “Whenever, if there is a nation that has a homeland, has a language, has a culture, that has been stolen, its national history is being wiped out, then that nation begins its struggle for national independence, he so aptly and rightly explains. “War is not necessarily to be fought with the gun. However, the gun is the means for that war, is the means for that politics,” he adds.
As Sindhis, we are your brothers, we love you, Oh Baloch Nation! Sindh, too, is struggling for its national rights from the dark forces of the security establishment. Very soon, together, hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder we shall bury these evil dark forces of deep state in the ignominious graveyard of history!
Although the youth of Sindhi Nation is well-awake and well-aware of the extinction of Sindhi language, culture, heritage, values, history and freedom – the feudal lords of Sindh are shamelessly licking the feet of the ‘colonisers’ and not all but most of the fake leadership of so-called Sindhi Nationalists is still roaming for their self interests and self-preservation.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, February 28, 2012.
We don’t know how it happened but it did. Somehow our generation became a faceless generation. But before that we lost our faith. Or perhaps, we lost our identity first and then we lost our faith. Does it matter now what we lost first? We know we have lost both.
Like other people we too had names; names that showed we had parents who cared for us. Our names reflected our bound to a family, a community and above all to humanity. But first we adopted new idols, those that sipped blood and spat fire and brimstone.
Those were fearsome deities that loved suicide-bombings, beheadings, and firing-squads.
And all of this was not done in the name of religion alone. We had many idols, each named after a sect, an ethnic group, or a political cult. They had one common trait, an insatiable lust for power.
Soon after we adopted those new idols, we lost our identity, or we may have lost our identity first and then we took these new symbols of worship, abandoning the loving, merciful and benevolent God.
Yes, we still lived in cities, towns and villages. But living was our only distinction. We had nothing to be proud of. There was no bond, no love among us. We did not trust each other. But did it only happen to those living in our city? No. People in cities around us stopped trusting each other too. It was a strange disease that spread across the region and affected everybody.
82 missing from Balochistan, 69 from Sindh in recent years: National Crisis Management Cell
The National Crisis Management Cell of the Interior Ministry holds a list of 468 persons who went missing in recent years and, of them 82 are from Balochistan and 69 from Sindh. The figures which have come before the higher judiciary are however different and higher too. A cell in Sindh High Court (SHC) puts the figure over 200 in Sindh.
“… what is important is to say that in Balochistan, like in all other parts of Pakistan, international standards of human rights and fundamental democratic principles must be adhered to…. Trying to provide a democratic framework would ensure more stability and cohesion and would reduce conflict. This is essential anywhere in the world be it Balochistan, Sindh or anywhere else” — Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark of the European Union
KARACHI – Taking strength from the Baloch freedom movement, the Sindhi separatists have also started their own struggle for the eventual separation of Sindh province from Pakistan, starting off by planting several bombs along the railway tracks in the province.
Railway tracks at around 14 different locations across Sindh were damaged in a series of bomb blasts in the wee hours of Saturday by presumably politically motivated miscreants.
When a team of Pakistan Railways engineering department arrived at the Bin Qasim Railway Station to repair the tracks damaged by two minor blasts, they found a pamphlet from the site.
The paper printed on both sides, carried the name of “Sindhu Desh Liberation Army (SDLA)” at the top. The pamphlet was later forwarded to the Pakistan Railways Karachi Division SSP Muzzaffar Sheikh.
Talking with Pakistan Today, Sheikh said the pamphlet was issued by SDLA Chief Commander Darya Khan Marri. …..
….. “Marri claims that the Centre was exploiting the natural resources of Sindh against a very low royalty to facilitate Punjab,” the SSP said, adding that the government’s pro-Punjab policies have also been criticised.
“Terming the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) as ‘opportunists’, the SDLA blamed the party for using the Sindh card for attaining power, trying to impress upon the nationalists that Sindh is the country’s most poor province,” Sheikh said. “In the pamphlet, the SDLA has requested the Sindhis to stand up against the government, Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence.”…..
Sindhi Victims of Enforced Disappearances It looks like the powers that fully or partially control Pakistan have found a new target to vent their anger – the Sindhi nationalists! With Baloch nationalists continuing to win more and more public relations battles against those who are bent upon enforced control of Balochistan, these forces have now unleashed their fury on Sindhis. Not a single day goes by without a story about a Sindhi nationalist disappearing or a bullet-riddled body of a Sindhi young man being found. The federal and provincial governments that won largely because of support of Sindhi masses are pre-occupied with looting more and more and/or saving their government from another group of looters and dictators. They seldom find courage to come to the rescue of Sindhis whether they are victims of severe floods or victims of enforced disappearances. Sindhis must realize that they cannot solely rely on international human rights’ organizations to fight for their human rights and the time has come for them to get involved and demand justice for Sindhi victims of Enforced Disappearances. A partial list of missing persons who are presumed to have fallen victims of enforced disappearances include:
In a recent press statement, Dr. Rubina Greenwood, Vice Chairperson of World Sindhi Congress (WSC) said that a number of prominent political leaders and activists have been killed. Those who lost their lives in 2011 include:
1. Zulfiqar Kolachi
2. Aijaz Solangi
3. Sirai Qurban Khuhawr
4. Roplo Choliani
5. Nadir Bugti
6. Noorullah Tunio
7. Haji Abubakar
8. Abdul Ganai Mirbahar Abduction Details about some Sindhi victims
…. Dana Rohrabacher’s resolution in the US Congress states that the Baloch people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country”. Expectedly, this unleashed a torrent of anger in Pakistan’s government and media which overwhelmingly saw this as a conspiracy to break up the country. Pakistan-US relations have descended another notch; attempts by the US State Department, as well as the currently visiting group of Congressmen, to distance themselves from the resolution have not worked. …
…. The official Pakistani response to Rohrabacher is still more flawed. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar termed the tabling of his bill “a violation of UN charter” and of Pakistan’s sovereignty. But this line of defence could forfeit Pakistan’s moral right to criticise other states, Syria and India included.
Consider the fact that on February 17 Pakistan voted for an Arab League-sponsored resolution in the UN General Assembly which calls upon Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down. This surely constitutes interference in the internal matter of a sovereign country. But Pakistan did well. In a civilised world national sovereignty must come second, and human rights first.
Pakistan has also long criticised India — and justly so — for its human rights abuses. But more people are dying in Balochistan today than in Kashmir. For all their brutality against stone-throwing Kashmiri boys, the Indians have not yet used helicopter gunships and fighter jets against Kashmiris. Pakistan, on the other hand, uses airpower as a matter of course in Balochistan and Fata. ….
After US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s sudden attention to Balochistan, the Pakistani media went bonkers to protect the proverbial ‘sovereignty’ of our country — a cause championed by the security establishment and most of its mouthpieces in the media as well as political circles and civil society. Emerging from the fathoms of near oblivion to almost a dozen Op-Eds in the mainstream press daily, Balochistan is now the darling of the prime time TV cupola as well.
If the anchors and columnists want to sound more profound, and if they run out of words to express the imperiousness of the US Congress for interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters, they would endlessly repeat almost clichéd references to 1971 with emphasis on giving ‘due importance to the Baloch problem’. The umpteen ‘political analysts’ and ‘Balochistan experts’ religiously recount the current government’s failure to address the issue despite the latter’s trumpeted mantra of ‘democracy, the greatest revenge’. Such talk would be garnished with admonishing the ‘irresponsibility’ of the Baloch nationalists in attacking innocent citizens of ethnicities other than the Baloch.
What goes completely missing from this narrative is the origins of the conflict, the response of the state to the centrifugal nature of Baloch nationalism and the ever deteriorating civil-military relations in Balochistan, which now seem to have reached the point of no return. The way Balochistan was made to accede to Pakistan goes missing from the textbooks alongside any reference to the military operations carried out in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-68, 1973-77 and the current surge starting from 2002 to date. The result is a general apathy towards Balochistan in the rest of the country with almost no understanding of the surges in historically seeded ethno-nationalism in Balochistan, described as ‘Baloch insurgencies’ in the mainstream media. The same media gives prime space to opinion makers who describe Taliban insurgents as ‘freedom fighters’. No wonder one finds so many people in upper Punjab and Islamabad who take Baloch nationalists as ‘traitors’, while the Taliban militants as flag bearers of Muslim nationalism. ….
To know how the security agencies of the deep state operates in Pakistan and silences all. Please read the sad and frightening story [the will] of the reporting journalist on a missing persons of Sindh and the atrocities of Holy ISI, written by Hasan Mujtaba “Mama Don’t Cry If I Die” at BBC urdu website.
Suppose one were to break a rule of a lifetime and take Rehman Malik seriously when he announced his intention of granting amnesty to Baloch nationalist leaders and went so far as saying that he will personally receive them on arrival. It is hard to miss the condescension and arrogance of the statement since it evidently fails to recognise the very basics of the conflict and treat this as a petty quarrel which can be muffled with assurances to a few individuals and attempts to rectify it with what comes across as some cheap pillow talk. More significantly, there is a clear implication in the statement which I am not sure Mr Malik completely grasps. To guarantee the end of violence and hostilities in future, has embedded in it the assumption that the guarantor would perhaps have a semblance of control over them. So, Rehman Malik has with one statement, used as a desperate measure, has attempted to take the blood and the guilt of decades of murder upon his hands. Hence, Rehman Malik cannot be taken seriously in this case, even if one does not mention Nauroz Khan Zehri.
‘Security establishment’ is becoming too hazy a term to ascribe direct culpability. It has become an oblique way of saying that the Pakistan armed forces and their subordinate agencies are using intense, non-stop and lethal violence upon the Baloch. Remaining on imprecise terms, ‘missing person’ is a case in point. It is a seemingly innocuous term summoning to mind the image of somebody absent from dinner or someone forgetting to pick someone up. Quite to the contrary, somebody did pick them up with the intention of torture and probably murder; it is abduction or kidnapping at the very least.
The apology and the assurance will have to come from the Army Chief, the DG ISI and the IG FC. And for it to mean anything, those kidnapped have to return ……
Rehman Malik has announced the withdrawal of cases against the Baloch militant leaders driven to the mountains or forced into exile by what they call the brutality of the security forces. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani wants to convene an All Parties Conference on Balochistan.
Had these cases been withdrawn four years back and a genuine reconciliation process initiated, this could have led to talks and arrested the situation from reaching a point of no return.
There was enough goodwill in Balochistan for the PPP-led government when it took over in 2008. There were also hopes that parliament would act forcefully and the courts would exert their authority to end the atrocities initiated by the Musharraf regime.
The PPP government simply failed to pursue the peace process meaningfully. Instead, it willingly agreed to follow the policy being pursued under Musharraf. This meant continuing the military-cum-FC operations in Balochistan that displaced thousands of people, allowing forced disappearances and the torture, killing and dumping of the disfigured corpses on roadside.
In June 2008, Senator Sanauallah Baloch who had returned from exile after the restoration of democracy resigned from the House after a speech that moved the entire Senate. Soon after Baloch leaders rejected the move by the government for an All Parties Conference. They instead demanded direct talks on issues highlighted by leaders like Akhtar Mengal that included end to operations in the province, tracing persons forcibly taken away and the ownership of Balochistabn’s resources by the Balochis.
Month after month, there were peaceful protests all over Balochistan to press for their demands. There were calls by nationalist parties for shutter down closures, hunger strikes, and hoisting of black flags. Baloch representatives in parliament underlined the dangers if no measures were taken to improve the situation. Year after year, the government continued to look the other way.
Raisani complained of being powerless and accused FC of running a parallel government that was harming the process of reconciliation. Gilani, however, failed to take any notice as the federal government had decided to follow the policy formulated under Musharraf. It was willing, as before, to bribe the tribal leaders in the provincial assembly and offer crumbs to the population. It was not willing to concede what Baloch considered their rights.
After Pakistan was condemned by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee last week for human rights violations in Balochistan province, Pakistan’s security forces responded ruthlessly, outraged the Baloch would dare seek external help to escape a nightmarish existence.
According to Malik Siraj Akbar, editor of The Baloch Hal, on Feb. 13 the bullet-riddled body of a prominent Baloch leader was discovered who had been missing for over two years. The gruesome operation is called “kill and dump” and is the calling card of Pakistan’s spy agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The victim was Sangat Sana Baloch, leader of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) …
Baloch secessionist leader Brahmdagh Bugti says he wants political engagement with Pakistan — but that its military wants war.
Late last month, Zamur Domki and her 12-year-old daughter were driving back to their home in an upmarket Karachi neighbourhood when a black car swerved across the road, blocking their route. Thinking she was a target of an armed robbery, Ms Domki offered the masked men who surrounded the car her jewellery and mobile phone — but the attackers weren’t interested.
An eyewitness recalls that Ms Domki watched in horror as the assassins repeatedly shot her daughter in the chest and neck. Then, it was her turn to die.
Baloch politicians allege the murders, for which no one has been held, were carried out by Pakistan’s intelligence services to send a message to Ms Domki’s brother, Brahmdagh Bugti — a soft-spoken 31-year-old father of three who, from exile in Geneva, leads the region’s largest secessionist party.
Concern over assassinations
In recent months, assassinations of Baloch nationalist politicians and their kin have provoked growing concern. Last year alone, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has reported, there were at least 107 new cases of enforced disappearances. The missing, the commission’s chairperson Zohra Yusuf said, “were increasingly turning up dead.” The United States’ State Department has voiced concern, and political leaders have called for action.
By: Dr. S. Akhtar Ehtisham, Tausif K. Kamal, Attorney at Law and Moid Alam
(Desk News) – After the 1960’s or so Pakistan establishment’s colonial policy in Balochistan has been to accelerate the settlement of imported Pashtuns (also Panjabis) to offset the rebellious Baloch people, a bit similar to what Israel did in Palestinian lands …
Pak policy of settlement of Pashtuns and also Panjabis in Balochistan to counter the freedom seeking rebellious local Balochis was a deliberate policy that started in the 1960s from Ayub period onwards… the goal of this policy was to change the ethnic demographics of Balochistan and thus suppress their right of self determination.
From post 47 Kashmir invasion to Balochistan invasion to Afghan Jihad, the Paskiatni security state has abused and exploited Pashtuns as their volunteer warriors for a long long time. Pashtun nationalist forces have failed miserably in all these decades.
Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups, Feb 22, 2012.
LAHORE: Condemning the Pakistani government for accusing India of creating unrest in Balochistan, Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) provincial president Shahzain Bugti said it was Pakistani intelligence agencies who were responsible for killings and kidnappings in the province. He said the government should name the Indians involved if it have any solid proof and if it had no proof it should stop “repeating India’s name like a parrot”.
WHAT is a human life worth in Pakistan? Guessing from the impunity with which the intelligence agencies engage in the alleged torture and extrajudicial murder of its own people, apparently not much.
The gruesome deaths of four terror suspects in ISI custody, and the visibly brutal treatment of seven others, has belatedly caught the attention of the Supreme Court, which otherwise seemed to many observers to be obsessed with serving instant ‘justice’ to the ruling PPP leadership.
How far the SC is willing to pursue this and other missing persons’ cases will be a litmus test for the rule of law in Pakistan which is under constant attack from a security establishment hiding behind the armour of national security.
The renowned sociologist Charles Tilly once compared modern states to organised crime rackets. For Tilly, states essentially function as protection rackets because they foment danger and then offer protection against it, usually for a high price. ….
Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti living in exile claimed Wednesday Baloch movement did not enjoy any foreign support, saying but they would welcome it, be it from the US, NATO or the India.
‘We know foreign powers have their own interests; we think of our own greater interests”, he said in a telephonic press conference at Quetta Press Club.
Mr. Bugti said Baloch women, leaders, activists, students, writers, poets, and intellectuals were being picked up and eventually being disappeared and eventually turning up dead. Under such circumstances, we would welcome the support of foreign countries for independence, he said.
Bugti backed the US resolution on Balochistan and justified it was not against the sovereignty of Pakistan as every country possessed right to intervene in another country’s affairs if that state was involved in human rights violations ….
On August 15, 1947, the New York Times carried a front page story on what it called “Two Indian States emerge on the World Scene.” The map clearly showed Balochisatn as an independent state while the caption read, “Pakistan recognized Independence of Kalat, on the Arabian Sea.”
On Nov 16, 2011 and Jan 13 this year respectively, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner, and chief spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed U.S. concern about the human rights situation in Balochistan. On Feb. 8 Congressman Brad Sherman spoke at a subcommittee of Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives of the marginalization of the Baloch and Sindhi (speaking people) and the disappearances, torture and killing of their activists by Pakistan’s security forces.
Sherman went to say that the Baloch and Sindhis, being secular and moderate-minded, shared American values and that the US should reach out to them. Feb 18 saw the introduction of a resolution in the House stating that the people of Balochistan, currently divided between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have the right to self-determination and their own sovereign country and should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.
A fuller argument openly calling for support of the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan because the latter was acting against American and western interests, appeared in the Globe and Mail – a key mouthpiece of big capital and imperialism in Canada – in an op-ed piece on Dec 21, 2011, titled ‘Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map’ by Chris Mason, a retired US diplomat now at the Center for Advanced Defence Studies in Washington.
Without a doubt the Sindhi people have suffered grievous injustices in Pakistan. Many times greater has been the pain inflicted by the state on Balochistan which, in addition to severe cultural, economic and political deprivation, has been on the receiving end of almost half-a-dozen prolonged and brutal military attacks which began in 1948 and continue to this day. Frustrated and angry beyond measure – and justifiably so – at their appalling treatment by the Pakistani state, the above developments in the U.S. have been widely welcomed by the Baloch.
…. The Sindh govt had allotted a piece of land for the construction of Balochistan House, but later the Balochistan government sold it to the province for Rs35million. “Keeping in view the prevailing law and order situation, the Balochistan government has now requested the Sindh govt to resale it the same building or allot a piece of land on reasonable prices so that dignitaries, officers and lawmakers from Balochistan could be provided accommodation during their visits to Karachi,” added the minister.
The Cabinet approved the request, giving two options, either to resale the same building or allot land for the purpose. “A two-member committee of Revenue Minister Jam Mahtab Dahar and Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani will talk to the Balochistan government about its request,” she added.
“Members of the Cabinet expressed concerns over the present situation in Balochistan and underlined the need for giving it equal rights. ….
On February 8, representatives of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International testified before the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations at the US Congress against grave human rights abuses committed by Pakistan’s security forces in the restive province of Balochistan. Since then, Islamabadhas used as many as 10 different channels to strongly protest against what it calls America’s “blatant interference” in its “internal affairs”.The issue has flared up further following the introduction of a House Concurrent Resolution by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seeking the right of self-determination for the native Balochs. Pakistan has summoned the acting US ambassador to Islamabad twice in a single week at the foreign office, passed a parliamentary resolution and protested through its ambassadors in Washington DC and at the UN. Wasim Sajjad, a former Pakistan Senate chairman, while referring to HRW, has called for “immediately taking action against those NGOs or persons who are accepting dollars from the US and are pursuing their agenda on the lands of Pakistan and destabilising Balochistan.”
Although the congressional hearing and subsequent resolutions were not sponsored by the Obama administration, American diplomats still face the wrath of Pakistani officials due to utter ignorance of the American poli-tical system. Anti-Americanism is not unfamiliar in Pakistan, but bashing the Obama administration for a ‘crime’ it has not committed simply means there is something fishy in Islamabad’s cupboard. Continue reading Pakistan’s festering wound – TOI→
London: The barbarism of Pakistani security agencies in Balochistan continues to infuriate the Baloch people. A Human Rights Watch report titled “We can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan” exposes the fact that Pakistani agencies are responsible for widespread disappearances of Baloch political activists. The 32-page report slams Pakistan authorities for taking people into custody and then denying all responsibility or knowledge of their fate or whereabouts. The rights group investigated several cases in which uniformed personnel of the Frontier Corps, an Interior Ministry paramilitary force, and the police were involved in abducting Baloch nationalists.
As the Islamist nightmare envelops Pakistan, the Obama administration ponders what the United States should do. But the bitter reality is that the United States is already doing too much in Pakistan. It is the American shadow everywhere, the Pakistani feeling of being smothered by the U.S. embrace, that gives the Islamists their principal rallying cry.
Evidence is everywhere of what the Economist calls “a rising tide of anti-American passion.” The leading spokesman of traditional Muslim theology, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), opposes the “war on terror” because “it is an American war” and blames a U.S. plot for the recent assassination of the moderate Punjab governor, Salman Taseer.
The endless procession of U.S. leaders paying goodwill visits to Islamabad, most recently Vice President Joe Biden, evokes sneers and ridicule in the Urdu-language press, accompanied by cartoons showing Pakistanis scratching fleas crawling over their bodies. The late special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, liked free-swinging encounters with Pakistani journalists that left a trail of bitterness expressed in the Urdu media, but this did not deter Holbrooke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from return visits.
To calm the situation down, the United States should start by phasing out drone attacks in the Pashtun border areas with their massive civilian casualties and should end the $1 billion plus in annual subsidies to the armed forces that make them look like American puppets. At the same time, less visible education and development aid provided by the Kerry-Lugar bill should be continued, together with the International Monetary Fund credits that keep the Pakistani state afloat, and access to U.S. markets for Pakistani textile exports should be increased.
Instead of publicly prodding the Punjabi-dominated armed forces to step up their offensive against Pashtun tribal militants in the Afghan border areas, the United States should recognize that Islamabad is afraid of stirring up Pashtun ethnic sentiment there that could break up the fragile multi ethnic Pakistani federation.
The Pashtuns of the former–Northwest Frontier Province (now called Kyber Pakhtunkhwa) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have an ancient history of resisting Punjabi incursions, but the Army did not come into direct conflict with the Pashtuns following the creation of Pakistan until July 2002, when, at the behest of the United States, it sent a division into FATA to attack al-Qaeda and Taliban forces at key transit points on the Afghan border. Heavy casualties resulted, displacing some fifty thousand people. This was a historic break with the autonomy agreements negotiated by the British with FATA tribes and honored until then by Pakistan. As the “war on terror” has proceeded, the FATA Pashtuns have been politicized and radicalized as never before.
The underlying reason that Pakistan’s U.S. links are so unpopular and make such a tempting target for the Islamists is that America is perceived as anti-Muslim.
The Islamists focus not only on Muslim casualties in next door Afghanistan, but above all on U.S. support for Israel and on the American military presence throughout the Arabian Sea , the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf in areas near Pakistan.
Why does the United States keep pouring aid into Pakistan despite its active support for the Taliban in Afghanistan at the expense of U.S.-NATO forces and its inability or unwillingness to help the United States root out al-Qaeda from its mountain sanctuaries?
American officials point to its arsenal of seventy to ninety nuclear weapons, arguing that a tight U.S. embrace of the Pakistani military and intelligence elite is necessary to make sure that another nuclear-proliferation racket does not emerge like the one organized by nuclear czar A. Q. Khan.
This is an understandable concern because many of the same generals who colluded with Khan are still in high places. But the larger danger to the United States is that the nuclear arsenal will fall into the hands of the Islamist sympathizers inside the nuclear establishment, or that the Islamists will completely take over the armed forces, branding current military leaders as U.S. stooges.