Trump has trumpeted the “do more” rhetoric with his signature style of making hubris more pronounced. The “do more” is not new and neither is it going to be old anytime soon. But there is something very interesting about this “do more” mantra: One, it is a testament to the privilege of powerful nations to define things as they please and for the rest to follow. Two, with repeated loud noise almost nobody questions the character of the noise-makers. More disturbingly, the only counter-argument or the reply given is that Pakistan has lost so many lives, so much of the infrastructure, so much money, and so forth.
David Cameron, the first world leader to have met Nawaz Sharif when the latter was elected prime minister in 2013, had advocated stopping Pakistan from exporting terror to India, Afghanistan or anywhere else. The UK, the junior partner of the American empire, usually repeats its master’s rhetoric. As for the Pakistani leadership, claiming victimhood from terror is fine but it is not enough. The honour of 200 million people is at stake. When faced with accusations on one’s character and credibility, one doesn’t bend backwards to prove oneself as the victim. That is a very lowly manner of conducting the business of politics. Pakistan should start making noise about some issues that have already been pushed down the Orwellian hole. Let me highlight some of them.
Pakistan is criticised for supporting the Haqqani Network, the people America and its junior partner supported in the ’80s. The same nefarious individuals were supported militarily and financially during the Kosovo war. Bases were set up in Albania and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was backed along with al Qaeda to provoke the Serbs and trigger a military response from Nato. The biggest purpose was to make Nato relevant. All this support was given to the KLA and al Qaeda while Bin Laden had declared a holy war against America. But changing the definitions of enemies and negotiating with terrorists when it is convenient is the privilege of strong nations.
Keeping Bin Laden in Abbottabad, protecting his capture by the US is always there if nothing else works. Al Qaeda was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. British intelligence despite knowing this, tolerated the Advice and Reformation Committee — Bin Laden’s London base — to operate on British soil. This too was after 1996, the year when Bin Laden declared a holy war against the United States.
Why would the British tolerate Bin Laden’s base to operate on its soil? The British had tried to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi in 1986 but the plan failed and instead Qaddafi’s adopted daughter was killed in the attack. Ten years later, another opportunity presented itself when a Libyan military intelligence officer approached the MI6 with a plan to kill Qaddafi. The Libyan who was codenamed ‘Tunworth’ advised the MI6 to support the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to kill Qaddafi. This group was formed in Afghanistan in 1990. Noman Benotman, the former head of the LIFG, who travelled to Afghanistan as a 22-year-old in 1989, said that he worked under the command of Jalaluddin Haqqani and received extensive support and training from British training programme. He was trained by the elite units of Mujahideen who were trained by Pakistan Special Forces, the CIA, and the SAS.
Britain allowed the LIFG to operate on its soil and do fundraising. The LIFG believed the Qaddafi government was “an apostate regime that has blasphemed against the faith of God Almighty” and that its overthrow was the “foremost duty after the faith in God”. These calls were issued in London. Several Afghan war Jihadist LIFG members were enjoying political asylum in England. So, an extremist organisation is allowed to operate on its soil in planning and executing assassination attempts on the leader of another sovereign nation, in this case Libya. Pakistan is criticised for something similar in terms of the Haqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Pakistan’s support for terror is wrong but criticising Pakistan by bigger sponsors of terror is textbook hypocrisy. Furthermore, Afghanistan is a neighbour and security issue of Pakistan. Libya was neither for British. But if oil and profits are factored into, one can easily connect the dots.
After the fall of the Third Reich, many Nazi officers were given American immigration. These Nazis worked for the CIA as spies in the Cold War against the Soviet Union despite the fact that the CIA knew of their serious war crimes.
There are numerous similar accounts, which the limited space does not permit me to write about. But you get the idea. The key is noise. In the business world, the simplest brand name with the simplest logo remains in memory, as Steve Jobs believed. However, in the complicated arena of global politics, the one who is the loudest and the most skillful in repeating the noise wins the day. It’s a crime when Pakistan supports the Haqqani Network, it’s a crime when Pakistan doesn’t “do more”. It’s a crime when Pakistan gives sanctuary to Bin Laden and on and on. However, the above-mentioned dirty realities and many more not mentioned above are not crimes because no noise is made about them. Those criticising Pakistan are good terrorism hating nations because they say so and that is enough for it to be true. My message to the Pakistani leadership is this: In politics, words speak louder than actions.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.