If only words could do the trick: A column by Ayaz Amir

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by qsaark, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. qsaark

    qsaark Regular Member

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    Friday, April 10, 2009
    By Ayaz Amir

    From Amit Kumar somewhere across the planet comes this somewhat puckish email: "Dear Sir, Would you kindly clarify as to which flavour of Taliban - the freedom fighters in Afghanistan or the Pakistani Taliban - was responsible for the blast at the Shia shrine in Chakwal? Since you always take pains to shed light on the delicate difference between the two, I thought you would be the best authority on this rather abstruse subject. It leaves everyone confused, including, I must add, the Taliban."

    Touche. Whatever the holy fervour of the Taliban - for I guess those were the elements behind the Chakwal attack - what quarrel do they have with the Shia faithful of Chakwal? And how does killing and maiming the innocent advance any cause, just or unjust? These questions anyone will ask. And they will be wholly relevant. There is too much killing going on, killing that is random and mindless, almost as if killing was an end in itself.

    The Americans are targeting the Taliban. And the Americans are in occupation of Afghanistan. If the Taliban retaliate against them, or make them their target, there is a grim military logic to this. In combat, and this on both sides is merciless combat, no quarter is given. But attacking the poor and innocent…this is perverted and unholy. You can exhaust all the adjectives in the dictionary and yet fall short of the outrage you wish to express. And, in our circumstances, targeting a Shia place of worship is especially unholy as it reveals the sectarian and denominational bias of those whom we call the Taliban.

    There is another dimension to this as well. The use of near-illiterate, brainwashed young men, in many cases teenagers, to carry out suicide missions is a form of perversion that leaves all others behind. Japanese pilots, many of them ace pilots, going on kamikaze missions, was one thing. Those were conscious, educated adults - maybe highly intelligent adults - who knew what they were doing. Viet Cong fighters hurling themselves against superior American forces, in missions that given the odds were almost akin to suicide attacks, or lightly-armed 'mujahideen' battling the Soviet army in Afghanistan, or Hezbollah fighters standing up to the might of the Israeli army: all these are examples of hard-to-deny valour.

    But the usual cannon fodder employed for suicide attacks in Pakistan is a different thing altogether. What we are witnessing is the exploitation and brainwashing of the under-privileged, in the name of religion; youths with half-formed or ill-formed minds sacrificed at the altar of a twisted interpretation of religion. Blowing oneself up is no easy undertaking. Merely to imagine the indoctrination which leads to the making of a suicide bomber sends a chill down one's spine.

    But these are just words. And since when did words stop drone attacks or defeat insurgents like the Taliban? We fulminate against the Americans but are they impressed? There is no shortage of raw anger against the Taliban, especially in our English language press, but does that have any effect on such grim custodians of the faith as the Taliban's Swat spokesman, Muslim Khan? Being in American custody in Guantanamo Bay or in Taliban custody in Swat or Waziristan…not much of a choice, is there?

    The Americans are trying to win Afghanistan on the cheap, heaping blame on Pakistan and expecting the Pakistan army to do that in FATA which they are reluctant to do themselves in Afghanistan. An insurgency like the Taliban's can be broken only by sustained will and capacity. What the Americans are deploying is rhetoric and tough talk…and pressure on Pakistan to 'do more'. Their rhetoric is also self-contradictory because when they talk of defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban, in the same breath they talk of an 'exit strategy'- the very thing which scares the hell out of Pakistani generals who are reminded of America's quick exit strategy from Afghanistan in 1989 after the Soviet army left, leaving Pakistan with all the unwashed dishes.

    There is very little new about the Obama strategy for Afghanistan. It is very much the old Bush policy dressed up in a fancy wardrobe. Much in the same manner that President Zardari's alacrity in toeing the American line is little different from the diligence with which President Musharraf went along the same path. The more things chang, the more they remind you of the human capacity for repetition.

    It's not as if the Afghans have never been defeated or subjugated. This is a myth (a theme briefly explored in a recent New York Times write-up by one Karl Bergen). Afghanistan is one of the oldest crossroads of history, where foreign hosts have come and gone. Alexander passed through Afghanistan, as did Genghis Khan and Amir Taimur. Babar was from Central Asia but when expelled from there he turned south and captured Kabul, which remained part of the Mughal empire until its disintegration 200 years later. Maharaja Ranjit Singh defeated the Afghans and captured Peshawar which is how it came into British hands when Punjab was annexed to the British empire.

    The Americans can turn Afghanistan around but only with the kind of commitment for which they have no stomach, and for which there will be less and less domestic support as time passes. This is Obama's predicament. He is working against a deadline. From the American point of view things must improve in Afghanistan over the next two to three years if Afghanistan is not to become an election liability for the Democratic Party by the end of Obama's first term. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are up against no such constraint. Their timescale is biblical, their reward not a presidential term won but the fruits of paradise. The two paradigms are completely different.

    In both Afghanistan and Iraq the Americans thought they were going in for quick fixes. They became wars of attrition. From Iraq the Americans are getting out. But Afghanistan, already a quagmire, looks set to become a nightmare. And it's Pakistan's luck that being next to Afghanistan it is expected to work the miracle that America itself has not the will or ability to perform.

    Just as the Taliban brainwash their suicide bombers, indoctrinating them to carry out impossible missions, the Americans are engaged fulltime in brainwashing the Pakistani elite, military and civil, into believing that this is not America's folly but Pakistan's war, into the raging flames of which Pakistan must jump unthinkingly, regardless of the cost.

    Baitullah Mehsud, Maulana Fazlullah, the incomparable Muslim Khan and their ilk are our problems. No doubt about it. Their militancy and rabid fanaticism threaten Pakistan from within. But even if we disregard the fact that these genii are direct products of America's misconceived adventure in Afghanistan, the realisation should sink in sooner rather than later that these elements will not be defeated by chocolate methods.

    Putin crushed the Chechens by being more brutal than the Chechens. The Indians used torture and rape and murder on a mass scale to crush the uprising in occupied Kashmir from 1989 onwards (they haven't completely succeeded but there is no letup in their methods). The Sri Lankan army is on the verge of crushing the Tamil Tigers after a ruthless campaign of annihilation. The Algerian army crushed Algeria's Islamist forces but at a price in terms of human suffering which we in Pakistan can't even begin to imagine.

    In military terms Swat and Waziristan are not unconquerable but that will require brutality and ruthlessness on a scale for which the Pakistan army, given its antecedents, can never be ready. It is a sad fact that the brutal tactics which the army could employ in East Pakistan in 1971 are scarcely an option in Waziristan and Swat. To use them here would tear Pakistan apart and allow prophets of doom to delve deeper into the meaning of the word 'Balkanization'.

    The next 2-3 years, as the US sinks deeper into the Afghan quagmire and as a result becomes more touchy and desperate, are going to be tough for Pakistan. The anger that the Americans will not be able to take out on Al Qaeda and the Taliban they will direct towards Pakistan - and our rulers, being weak at heart, will keep rolling out the red carpet for unwelcome envoys.

    During this time there will be more crazed young men carrying out more suicide missions for what in their minds doubtless will be the greater glory of Islam. And there will be more frightening videos out of Swat and we will have to put up with more lectures on Islamic jurisprudence from the likes of Muslim Khan.

    Can we weather the storms that lie ahead? For all its faults and shortcomings, the Pakistani nation has the grit and resilience to do so. But we could do with a better cast of pilots on deck, whose incompetence is scarcely less frightening than anything conjured up by the Taliban.

    Source: If only words could do the trick
     
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  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    So, what's new point is he trying to raise?. These are same old facts regurgitated again and again with no effect. Nothing new in this column as well.
     
  4. qsaark

    qsaark Regular Member

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    Why the books like Grey’s Anatomy and Guyton’s Physiology are still printed and sold in the Bookstores? There is nothing new in these books, same old facts! But there still are people who have not read them. These books serve as references both for the new readers and for those who need to refresh their basic knowledge.

    So maybe there is nothing new in the column for you as you are more knowledgeable than many of us. However, there are members on this forum who would find some new things in this column, maybe some concepts get clearer after reading this.
     
  5. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    Mr. Ayaz Amir has a weak memory. He forgets 1971, the biggest genocide after WW-2, committed by his very own PA, which did "come at a price in terms of human suffering which we in Pakistan can't even begin to imagine"!

    Who is he trying to fool? The PA regularly uses its air force and other weapons of war against its own citizens in Balochistan and other places, they care a damn about human life, never have.
     
  6. qsaark

    qsaark Regular Member

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    I think in the very next paragraph he mentioned about East Pakistan.

    "It is a sad fact that the brutal tactics which the army could employ in East Pakistan in 1971 are scarcely an option in Waziristan and Swat. To use them here would tear Pakistan apart and allow prophets of doom to delve deeper into the meaning of the word 'Balkanization'."
     
  7. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    Thx. But again I am not sure why it is a "sad fact"! Because it can't be repeated or why it happened in the first place.

    A look at the article suggests the first option which is really sad.
     
  8. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    typical of Ayaz Amir. ranting half truths and ignoring pakistan's policy of infiltrating terror into j&k. how safely he avoids POK?
     
  9. qsaark

    qsaark Regular Member

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    Ayaz Amir is one of the most respected columnists who have always openly talked against the ills of all sorts. He is one of the very few Pakistani journalists who have relentlessly opposed the Marital Laws and the supremacy of the Pakistani Military establishment. I am reading his columns since my boyhood and I have yet to find what you have described as the ‘typical of him of ranting half truths’. Clearly you have not read his columns otherwise you would know his stand on the Pakistani Policy of supporting the so-called Jihadists and what not.
     
  10. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    my rant observation was wrt to his comments about j&k. i have heard him(tv) and read him(his columns). i do respect his journalistic ability and his openness when he deals with pakistan's internal matters. but when it comes to india he is completely a different man and takes off disregarding facts and history while safely ignoring pakistan's role in all that.
     
  11. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Its pertinent to note why many of Pakistan's intelligentsia,not just strategic experts,cannot visualize a return to peace in the NWFP unless America and its western allies pull out of Afghanistan.What they don't mention is why that would be the case.

    Pakistanis are not fighting a ruthless political organization in the NWFP region,far from it they are fighting a way of life,which has existed there for decades and centuries,which today the rest of the world has merely come face to face.Taliban is merely a political avatar of this social system.

    The Pashtuns have always been a touch more conservative than any Muslim communities in the region.The inability to reconcile their social system with the Punjabi/Sindhi elements was one reason why Jinnah and his successor were happy to let the Pathans be by themselves.Pakistan was happy to retain strategic sovereignty even if it was mostly a fiction and Pathan tribal leaders were equally happy to humor them along.Zahir Shah's hasty and eventually disastrous attempt to drag the Pathan society into the modern world(even by Islamic standards)on the other side of the Durand line,made for an excellent reference material for the pak establishment.

    The 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan by the US upset this decades old equation.When Pakistanis trained and mobilized the Taliban movement,it was not something they pulled out of a proverbial hat.Taliban and the Mujaheddin did not differ that much on the ideological plane,Taliban was only better armed and more grounded on the politico-religious front.

    So why do the Pakistanis want the US out of Afghanistan,because that would allow Pakistanis to pack off their own army camps from these tribal areas and leave them as they have been for decades,women living their invisible lives,sharia based law enforcement,pretty much the medieval existence that we come to associate with the Taliban,only less headlines grabbing and more obscure.

    The only question to be answered is can the things ever return to how they were.
     
  12. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    Actually, he was the first Pakistani writer that I read regularly in dawn online. He used to make good commentary and seemed a straight speaking person. Then something happened and he was not the same person again. I think I am not alone to say that he changes his opinion several times in a day.

    I saw him flip-flop several times over Pakistan's support to the WOT. He supported it, then opposed it, then supported again and opposed again. I think the final piece I read talked about supporting but with more "keemat" from the USA!

    In the meanwhile I found that Pakistan has better writers in the form of Irfan Hussain and Farukh Saleem who are much more objective.

    This guy flip flops too much for a reader's comfort. Also he is no longer objective to the same extent.

    I don't mind Pakistani writers being anti-India (in fact that is expected), just that they write objectively and with facts. I think Mr. Ayaz Amir no longer meets the bar.
     
  13. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    i too like irfan hussain, a very balanced journalist.
    agree with you vinod.
     
  14. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    Ayaz Amir was called by an Indian channel was for his comment on the AQ Khan's penfriend's revelation that the real father-of-nuclear-prolifiration was not AQ but PA. Ayaz Amir said that he did not believe it, he said it was an old story( for which the host of the channel agreed, but reminded that the evidence was new and quite solid), he said that AQ has already accepted the charges that he had prolifirated on his own. In short, he tried every trick to obfuscate the matter. That to me was the proof that this man was not honest about things.

    As for his article, it containts lot of distortions, half-truths and irrelevant stuff. But to summarize, he seems to be blaming Americans and in a way, comparing taliban and americans. Also, there is not a word about the role of PA or ISI. Their shadow dealings with terrorists. And as Vinod has pointed out, he seems to forget bengali genocide carried on by Punjabi dominated PA(of course, headed at that time by a Pashtun) in 1971. PA even today carries out a genocide against Balochis. Recently, we saw a video which showcased the brutality of PA. Ayaz Amir's entire article is trash because it does not say anything about the principle player of the drama being played in Pakistan: PA.
     

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