A couple of insightful pieces appeared recently. Both, in different ways, challenge the mainstream narrative being bandied about in Washington D.C. and being stenographed by individuals pretending to be reporters but in fact are really acting as government/official stenographers out of Pakistan and the USA.
The first piece is by Mohammad Ahmad Idress, founder of Pulse Media, and appeared in the recent issue of Le Monde Diplomatique. Title Pakistan Creates Its Own Enemies, if offers us some valuable background and some excellent insights. I will quote a few here, but I recommend that you read the entire piece to help cut past what can only be described as willful lies and obfuscations (these editors and journalists are not stupid, just cowards or ‘professionals’, which these days means the same thing really!) being sold to us by our press here in the USA.
Helping us understand how we got ourselves into this mess, Idress reminds us (and we do need to be reminded that):
This war began in 2002 under intense US pressure, with piecemeal military action in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a semi-autonomous region of seven agencies along Pakistan’s north-western border. The Afghan Taliban were using the region to regroup after their earlier rout: veteran anti-Soviet commander Jalaluddin Haqqani headquartered his network in North Waziristan; Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami had a presence in Bajaur. However, the military, reluctant to take on pro-Pakistan Afghans, whom the government sees as assets against growing Indian influence in Afghanistan, instead marched into South Waziristan to apprehend “foreigners” (mainly Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs). Following the regional code of honour, the tribes refused to surrender the guests and were subjected to collective punishment that soon united them against the government.
Another piece that caught my eye was by Manan Ahmad called Start A War where he too reminds us of some ground realities:
The 3.5 million or more inhabitants of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, of which Waziristan is a component, only received the adult franchise in 1997 – 50 years after the creation of Pakistan. This area, with the highest poverty and lowest literacy rates in Pakistan, is still governed according to the brutal British colonial legal code: a family or even a village can be punished for the crime of a single individual, there is no protection from multiple sentences for the same offence, and most damnably, the state has no obligation to show cause for imprisonment. Most damaging is the utter lack of a judicial system that can adjudicate civil disputes – one reason for the persistent calls to impose Sharia within the region. The Pakistani state has yet to resolve these issues and, in the meantime, segments of the discontented population have resorted to armed aggression against the centre – which has taken both secular and religious forms. Decades of frustration allowed the Taliban a foothold in Swat, and the same conditions exist in Baluchistan.
and as if to shake us out of our intellectual stupor, he ends with this warning:
The true crisis facing Pakistan is not the Taliban: it is the rupture between the federal state and its constituent parts, and Islamabad’s refusal to accede to the legitimate needs and demands of its citizens in places like Swat and Baluchistan. It is a rupture, indeed, that is written into the very fabric of the state, and the reason why Bangladesh seceded from West Pakistan in 1971, after it was denied political legitimacy by the military regime and then brutalised by an oppressive army operation aimed at quashing any opposition.
But the Pakistan Army learnt exactly the wrong lesson from Bangladesh: since 1971 it has been determined to move as rapidly and violently as possible against any sub-nationalist movement elsewhere in Pakistan. The spectre of Taliban conquering Islamabad and the state’s American-backed resolve to press on in a series of wars against its own people have effectively ended any chance for political consideration of the Baluchistan issue. Instead Baluchistan will be, once again, merely an empty badland where Taliban are hiding, waiting, plotting. It awaits yet another military operation. And we await another declaration of success.
For those of you interested in Ahmed Rashid, Tariq Ali has recently penned a strong criticism of Mr. Rashid’s fear-mongering, in a piece called Ahmed Rashid’s War , pointing out that:
The main people who consult Rashid, apart from Robert Silvers at the New York Review of Books, are US policy-makers in favor of a continuous occupation of Afghanistan. Rashid provides them with many a spurious argument to send more troops and wipe out the Pashtuns opposing the occupation. Within Afghanistan, Rashid’s principal backer and friend is Hamid Karzai who has now managed to antagonize even the tamest US liberals such as Peter Galbraith, recently sacked as a UN honcho in Kabul because he suggested that Karzai had rigged the elections. Rashid the journalist has no time for people who suggest that Karzai is a corrupt rogue, whose family is now the richest in the country, or that he manipulates US public opinion with the aid of PR companies, friends in Washington and, of course, Ahmed Rashid himself.
As more and more Pakistani’s are killed to appease American domestic policy needs, and the insatiable greed of the venal individuals who have grabbed hold of Pakistan’s government, we would do well to at least understand how this situation has emerged. Perhaps we care not for some poor Pushtun and his pointless family being cut to pieces by tax-payer funded, but oh-so-sexy pilot-less drones, but maybe we can speak honestly about it and go to bed at night without fear or guilt. After all, international human rights laws, the Geneva Conventions, and even Pakistan’s own constitutional laws to protect the lives and rights of its citizens, were not really written for a bunch of baggy pant barbarians living in barren hills? Or were they, in fact, actually written for precisely such dehumanized, ignored, and invisibly erased people?