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The army narrative: fiction

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The fallacious super-religious-patriotic narrative has been created by the army to preserve its superiority in the Pakistani state for perks that are not available to any other armed forces in the whole wide world.

Once again it has been proved that no one can beat Pakistan’s army in turning a military defeat into a propaganda conquest for the people of Pakistan. After the 1965 debacle and 1971 surrender in East Bengal, the Pakistan Army has concentrated less on defending Pakistan and more on refining and perfecting the Machiavellian politics and techniques of propaganda to confuse and mislead the unsuspecting masses of the country.

The US’s Abbottabad operation was a colossal failure of the Pakistan Army because first it did not know if Osama bin Laden was living next door to an elite military academy — if one accepts their claim — and then who took his dead body away unless President Obama called President Zardari. Instead of explaining its incompetence on both accounts, the military took the propaganda offensive while seeking refuge behind the civilian leaders just like the 1971 defeat and Kargil disaster. Not only that, the army chided the poor elected politicians through General Shuja Pasha, Director General (DG) Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Parliament was forced to pass an army-pleasing resolution, which had no mention of terrorism eating up the country.

The Pakistan Army, with the help of gravely uniformed and corporate media, has created a narrative for all ills in Pakistan as a consequence of the US intervention in Afghanistan. The narrative claims that the US is forcing the country to fight its war on terror while Pakistan is offering huge sacrifices for nothing. The entire narrative is constructed to provide political cover to the army’s misplaced policy goals as well as to the Taliban, al Qaeda and jihadi groups. The fact is that Pakistan has neither helped the US’s war on terror nor has it done anything more than inflicting wounds to its own body that it categorises as ‘sacrifices’. The narrative is based on fallacies that need to be examined closely.

First, Pakistan has not been dragged into the war on terror by the US only. Pakistan had become a nursery of terrorists that led to international bombings, including the dramatic incidents of 9/11, which dragged the US into the war on terror. Of course, the US was the main producer of Islamic jihadis with Pakistani collaboration, but the seeds of Islamic extremism had been put in place by General Ziaul Haq much before the American participation. As a matter of fact, seeds of religious intolerance and extremism were sown in the early 1950s by passing ‘Qarardaad-e-Maqaasid’ (the Objectives Resolution).

Second, suicide bombings in Pakistan are not only due to Pakistan’s so-called cooperation with the US. Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other jihadis had no need to use violence in Pakistan because the state was not only accommodating them but was helping them to conquer Afghanistan by all means. The religious extremist forces were going to use violent means the day the Pakistani state stood in their way. The incident of the Red Mosque is cited as a trigger for the suicide attacks and that proves the point that armed Islamist forces were going to hit Pakistan if the state put any hurdle in their way. The process was accelerated because, under US pressure, it became difficult for the Pakistani state to accommodate the religious terrorists and hence suicide bombings were unleashed on Pakistan.

Third, Pakistan has not done more to stop religious terrorism than other countries because its doings are just partial remedies for its self-inflicted wounds. According to this part of the narrative, Pakistan has done more by catching and handing over more religious terrorists to the world community than any other country. But, why were all such terrorists found in Pakistan and not in any other country in the first place? Should other countries produce more religious terrorists and then hand them over to the US to compete with Pakistan? Naturally, more terrorists will be nabbed in a country where they are found. Therefore, this part of the establishment narrative is absolutely ridiculous.

Four, Pakistan will not become a safer place if it cuts its ties with the US. However, Pakistan can become a dreadfully silent place if Islamisation and Talibanisation is given a free hand to turn it into a primitive theocratic state. If the state or the other sections of society resist Islamisation in the country, violence will accelerate, destroying every institution of the state even after Pakistan distances itself from the US. Therefore, the US or no US, religious extremism is a reality in Pakistan and has to be recognised as such.

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