There is something common between Pakistan and Israel. Both are surrounded by a number of hostile nations. There is one nuance though, which makes the two quite different. Israel has made enemies due to the aggressive execution of its barbarism for which the US acts as a conduit and an unconditional supporter. Pakistan is making enemies by acting as a conduit to the American barbarism in its own backyard. Pakistan should perhaps write the textbook on how to turn friends into enemies.
Al Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri was killed in Afghanistan by a US drone strike. The Taliban have denounced the attack as a violation of the peace deal that they had signed with the US. The Americans are also rightly claiming that the Taliban have violated the deal by allowing a foreign terrorist to be on their soil, which was the basic tenet of the peace deal. Regardless of which side is rationally and morally right, Pakistan has once again faced the problem it has always faced. It is once again the target of the accusing finger raised at its role in allowing violence to continue on the soil of Afghanistan.
Before 9/11, Pakistanis had not known about suicide terrorism. After 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan in which the Musharraf regime played the reluctant partner in allowing Pakistan to play the conduit to war. Once the war on terror was unleashed on the Afghan soil, Al Qaeda turned against the state of Pakistan. These were the very people who had been working out of Peshawar’s University Town area in executing the jihad against the Soviets. But now their target included Pakistan. In simple words, Pakistan’s willingness to facilitate American barbarism and hegemony earned the state of Pakistan a ferocious enemy, which has on its hands the blood of tens of thousands of innocent Pakistanis.
The Taliban had been Pakistan’s allies since 1996. This has never been a secret. Pakistan’s top brass rightly believed that the Americans would not be able to defeat these ferocious Pashtun nationalistic and Islamic fighters and they were also right that once the Americans leave, it would be the Taliban who would run the country. After 9/11 and before the invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan Army’s top brass had rightly warned the Americans against violence in Afghanistan. Well, history can’t be edited.
Those Taliban are now showing signs of rethinking their alliance with the state of Pakistan. Once again, the alleged and perhaps fictional Pakistani role in facilitating the drone attack that killed Zawahiri has convinced the Taliban to issue a strong rebuke of Pakistan’s role. Taliban Defence Minister Mohammad Yaqoob said, “But according to our information the drones are entering through Pakistan to Afghanistan, they use Pakistani airspace, we demand Pakistan stop the use of its airspace against us.”
Let that statement sink in. Almost the entire world, including the puppet regime in charge of Afghanistan, has always accused Pakistan of exactly this. It is Pakistan’s allies now that are saying the same thing.
I spent years reading American mainstream journalism where Pakistan was directly and indirectly pressurised to cut its ties with the Taliban. The bond between the two manifested its tangible reality when even the US sought Pakistan’s help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table in order to help end America’s and Afghanistan’s longest wars. What the US could not achieve through decades of financial and sanctions threats, pressure campaigns, secret channel threats, and so forth has been achieved with a fine sleight of hand.
This is exactly what Imran Khan’s ‘Absolutely Not’ was about. Not allowing Pakistan to become a party to someone else’s conflict to avoid any blowback. Khan famously reminded the Americans to be a willing facilitator of peace but not conflict. Well, that’s also history now.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2022.
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