Fighting Terror versus using it

Discussion in 'China' started by ajtr, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Subscription article in the friday times.........

    "Fighting Terror versus using it"

    Khaled Ahmed
    The war against terrorism is not supposed to be Pakistan’s war but of the US which is thrusting it on Pakistan in return for dollars and continues to insult Pakistanis by asking them to “do more”. This is by and large the popular Pakistani view. But this diagnosis goes on to complicate matters for Pakistan instead of making them easy. Facts on the ground say the terrorists are killing Pakistani security personnel. Normally, Pakistani opinion should be aroused against the terrorists but it is not. The Pakistani mind then performs two somersaults: 1) that the terrorists are helpless in eliminating troops fighting the wrong war against them; 2) that the killers are not really Pakistani terrorists but ‘agents’, sent in by states hostile to Pakistan: the US, India and Israel.

    The state of Pakistan had to develop ‘handlers’ for these non state actors. More importantly it had to ‘handle’ foreign warriors including Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan. The ‘agreement’ between the non state actors, the foreign warriors and the Pakistani establishment was perceived as Pakistan-driven and therefore the task of ‘handling’ was not analysed for fear of appearing to see these friendly warriors as the origin of some future mischief. Public opinion in Pakistan was favourable, which further precluded the need to analyse the consequences of a policy of using terrorism in foreign policy. Most retired and serving military officers subordinate such concerns to the over-arching task of countering India in its projection of power in the region and prosecuting the revisionist Pakistani nationalism of changing the status of national frontiers.

    In the last debate that took place on a Pakistani TV channel between experts in the US and Pakistani intellectuals – read retired military officers – it was clear that the latter did not know what was happening on the ground in Pakistan. One American scholar referred to Al Zawahiri’s ‘constitution’ – which is actually a critique and correction of the 1973 Pakistani Constitution – being widely circulated in Pakistan. (The document has been painstakingly removed from the Internet.) The Pakistani intellectuals were not aware of this document but if one focuses on the enthusiastic welcome it has received from the madrassa network in Pakistan, there remains little doubt that with his latest book (‘The Lamp and the Morning’) Al Zawahiri is preparing the ground for the acceptance of a ‘truly Islamic state’ in lieu of the current malfunctioning democratic system in Pakistan.

    Pakistan as a revisionist state embraced the strategy of non state actors long ago. The idea is deeply ingrained in the army and its thinking has been dominant enough to indoctrinate the population of Pakistan in favour of its India-centric strategy. Islamisation has taken root in Pakistan, but among the military officers it has given rise to a very radical mindset aiming at a reordering of the global order through jihad. Many view Al Qaeda as a legitimate Islamic reaction to ‘anti-Muslim’ American policy in the Middle East in particular and in the world in general. This thinking is also ‘revolutionary’ as it disagrees with the current trend among Muslim rulers to cooperate with the US as a global hegemon.

    ‘Reverse-indoctrination’ caused by decades of handling of non state actors and Al Qaeda have complicated military opinion. As the army fights the Taliban terrorists and pretends to act against Al Qaeda, many in its ranks don’t really believe that fighting the terrorists is the right policy. One very public demonstration of ‘reverse-indoctrination’ was the conversion of an air force officer Khalid Khwaja to the thinking of Al Qaeda, resulting in his split allegiance while serving in the ISI. (Khwaja was killed in the Tribal Areas with a telephone call from Islamabad just as Benazir Bhutto was assassinated before him.) Journalists are picked up and thrashed by the ISI – as alleged in October by the law minister of the PMLN government in Punjab – if found to be reporting too close to the perceived ISI nexus with the non state actors and the Taliban.

    Journalist Umar Cheema was thrashed months after he reported on an FIR registered in Jhang that ‘Taliban are in Punjab now officially’ (The News, 17 May 2010) writing: ‘Though the provincial government is in a state of denial, the Punjab Police have officially admitted for the first time the movement of the Taliban, their network in district Jhang and southern Punjab and their fund-raising and recruitment drive in the province’. The beating he got was punishment for his naming of a terrorist organisation whose leader was sprung from an Indian jail after a plane hijack in 1999. Banned groups affiliated with Al Qaeda continue to hold threatening rallies in Lahore and Islamabad against India as a ‘message’ to India about the reversal of the policy of ‘dialogue’ started by Musharraf.

    Is the army itself united? Or is it acting under pressure from strong groups within it persuaded that jihad is the only way to go? There could be many reasons for Pakistan army not attacking North Waziristan. It is definitely not because the Taliban of North Waziristan have not attacked Pakistan and have kept to attacking only the Americans across the Durand Line. Commander of Brigade 313 Ilyas Kashmiri is said to be an ex-army commando who has become a terrorist. This was revealed by journalist Hamid Mir in his article ‘Ilyas Kashmiri ex army commando became terrorist’ (The News 20 September 2009) but is generally believed to be an adjunct of Al Qaeda, at times called the ‘New bin Laden’. The man has caused kidnappings inside Pakistan to make money for Al Qaeda and has killed a retired army commando officer in Islamabad. (Normally that would have caused a military invasion of North Waziristan where he is ensconced.) He is said to have a lot of influence in Pakistan through his killers and could be linked to ‘jihadi’ officers opposed to the policy of cooperating with the US.

    For the first time, the army may be threatened from within and its present contradictions could be owed to the dominant jihadi mindset which is revisionist, not so much against India, as against Pakistan’s ‘pagan’ democratic system. It is not rare to hear opinion-makers talking in private about ‘a divided army’. After a divided civilian polity this would pose a much more palpable danger to the state and should worry the international community assisting Pakistan in its reluctant war against terrorism.

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