Sunday, November 14, 2010

Self Imposed War

Published in Pak Observer on 14-11-2010
Published in Frontier Post on 14-11-2010

Pakistan has been the subject of intense scrutiny among the international powers for its role in the so-called war on terror. While Balochistan is burning under the flag of liberation, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is under the fiercest war ever fought in this area. The collateral damage, as said by our Government, has also expanded to the other two provinces as was experienced in the Thursday’s blast on CID’s office in Karachi and many other attacks both in Karachi and Lahore.

It all changed after the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) debacle, when Pakistani troops ran over their own brothers on the behest of the then dictator Pervez Musharraf, Musharraf declared Lal Masjid people as defiant of writ of the state and rebellions but the irony is that after all the bloodshed of innocent kids and youngsters including girls (these girls were not ordinary ones, they had the Quran memorized in their hearts), Pakistani government released the Imam of the Masjid who started all this and even renovated the mosque. Only the name of mosque was changed but people still call it as Lal Masjid. One wonders why all this bloodshed was done when everything could have been settled so easily. Now it is the same Imam, once a rebellion and stockpiling weapons in his mosque and now delivers khutba (sermon) to a grand audience every Friday.

After this bloodshed, phenomenon of suicide blast on public places and general masses came on the horizon and wreaked havoc. Before that, these kinds of attacks were minimal and only targeted VVIP places or personalities. This provided a stimulus to the militants, fighting against Pakistan army on different fronts, and our enemies including our neighbors, with whom we have a hope for peace, took it as an advantage and took the insurgency to another level. We experienced attacks on almost every important place in this country from Marriott Hotel to ISI office in Peshawar, from Data Darbar and other Shrines to Cinema Houses.

Pakistani army is one of the best army in the world. There aren’t many armies who can control this king of insurgency, even the Russians, Americans and its allied forces are unable to control what is happening in Afghanistan, but when Pakistan Army put their foot on the gas, we secured Swat in a couple of weeks. Now Swat valley is open for general public and tourists but sadly the flood has closed the doors to Swat. The question is not about the strength of an army’s resolve to fight or to test its arsenal; it is about going to the war with a reason and having the whole country behind the armed forces. Our forces did secure Swat but the militants from Waziristan and other places have crept up and started to unfold their disappointment on the government in the form of suicide attacks.

One wonders, what was the reason we went to war? We never had any problem with tribal leaders. There was no issue of establishing the writ of the state in this area because we never had any writ in these areas since independence. They always had their own laws with a symbol of Pakistani Government in the form of political agents. Then what was the issue which made them hostile against their own state.

During the cold war, we bred them and taught them how to fight and armed them with all sorts of ammunition. We supported them for long enough and then we turned our backs on them and I can say that will full guarantee that if anyone would have been in their place would have done the same. Our alienation with them gave our arch rival a golden opportunity to disintegrate us and is still doing whatever she can.

Of course, our financial and ideological master United States compelled us to go to war against these people and how can we not adhere them. They have the supposed tendency to take us back to stone-age. Sometimes I feel that if we are so vulnerable that a state which is entangled with so many crises, stuck in two wars, can bomb us to stone-age then of what use is our military spending and budget? Why do we every year shine our tanks and missiles on 23rd March? Why do we broaden our chest when we say we are a nuclear state?

When we say that we had no other way to follow what US wanted us to then why do we call it our own war? Certainly this is not our war. What have we got in this war? A petty amount of cash from United States coupled with drone attacks? We are hired contractors who are fighting their own people and are highly underpaid and we don’t even have the audacity to ask them to increase our remuneration. The position, in which Pakistan is, if there was any other country with strong institutions and ideology, would have benefited a lot from this situation. Only the leverage of NATO supply trucks can easily end our disastrous economic run.

The old cliché of United States of winning the hearts and minds has proved to be counter-productive and it is their policies which are forcing the people to take up arms against their own countries. Even the students of Britain have started demonstrations against their own inhumane fee structure. The public disapproval of G-20 summit has said it all.

War on terror has spread so much terror around the world and will continue to spread if we don’t open our eyes. Our leaders and foreign policy makers have huge amounts of wealth and gigantic bungalows but there is no one to tell them that they are of no use if the state in which they live in is under insurgency. In this war OF terror, we have forgotten our brothers in Kashmir and have absolutely abandoned them. Pakistani army, which was born and bred to fight against India, has deviated from its objective. We have to realize the heavy price we are paying for this war. How much more casualties do we have to suffer for someone else’ war? We have to get rid of this self-imposed war and streamline our direction.

We have taken many u-turns but this u-turn of getting rid of this war could prove to be decisive for this country and the larger Muslim world.

(Writer is a student of international relations and a Government employee at Planning Commission)