Looking at the unfolding situation vis-a-vis the Afghanistan-Pakistan imbroglio; watching with trepidation bordering on fear, the ‘perceptions’ of the ‘foreign policy elite’ and therefore of the Establishment of this luckless country (not, God forbid, to be confused with the elected government); and having some little idea of what goes on in the great minds of our brilliant Rommels and Guderians one can safely say that our country, indeed our region, is in for a time of greater tribulation and more strife. For, if they have their way, everything is going to be, as our NCO and JCO instructors at the PMA used to say, “Aj you were” (Well, ‘As you were’ actually, but that is how they said it).
This word of command was shouted when you did not execute a drill movement right smartly, and had to do it all over again. What was very amusing, however, was when our JCO/NCO instructors, teaching the theory of, say, the functioning of the gas-port on a semi-automatic rifle went wrong on some datail, and would say to themselves “Aj you were”! And then start the lesson again. I can almost hear our Deep State say out loud, “Aj you were” as the American withdrawal nears.
But, whilst our JCO and NCO instructors would restart the lesson after the ‘Aj you were’, what pray will our tin-hats ‘Aj you were’ us to? The destruction of Kabul one more time at the hands of the likes of Haqqani, Hekmatyar and Co., not forgetting the ferocious Taliban?
Seriously, considering the storm of criticism on what this country’s ‘Foreign Policy Elite’ had to say in the report “Pakistan, the United States and the Endgame in Afghanistan” jointly prepared by the Jinnah Institute (JI), in Pakistan, and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) we must look at some aspects of it this week. Since we are talking army language, let us see what it says on the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
“Pakistani policy elite remain wary of the future role of the ANSF. Participants perceived the bloated size of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to be unsustainable and a threat to Pakistan’s interests. In terms of ANA’s ethnic composition, the presence of non-Pashtun officers in key positions was highlighted to suggest that the makeup is more likely to fuel ethnic hostility than to maintain peace in Afghanistan.”
What the size of Afghanistan’s very new, very nascent army, or its ethnic make-up has to do with us Pakistanis escapes me most completely. Unless, of course the ‘elites’ think Afghanistan is Pakistan’s fief. Have the Afghans e.g., complained about our half-million man army? Have they complained to the world about our not one, not two, but many bums and the missiles to deliver them? Have they objected to the preponderance of Punjabi officers and other ranks in Pakistan’s armed forces?
Here is a jewel: “Even though the ethnic Pashtun ties at the people-to-people level have remained strong, Pakistani experts and political leaders we talked to were acutely aware of the fact that their country is widely reviled and mistrusted in Kabul while countries like India are viewed positively. Some policy elite however argued that the anti-Pakistan sentiment is confined to the northern, non-Pashtun parts of Afghanistan and that the international media has been unnecessarily hyper-sensitive to this concern.”
So then, the international media has been ‘unnecessarily hyper-sensitive’ about anti-Pakistani sentiment in the non-Pashtun areas, eh? Well, I should have thought that given Afghanistan’s critical importance, we Pakistanis should have been more than ‘hyper-sensitive’ to Afghan feelings than the foreign media. As to Pakistan’s popularity in the rest of Afghanistan, one of the great experts on that country and who was part of the ‘foreign policy elites’, told me at a peace conference in Kabul, not more than a year ago, that to tell the truth the Afghan Pashtuns hated us (official Pakistanis) almost as much as the non-Pashtun Afghans did! Will we never get real, my friends? Will we always defer to the false, destructive narratives of the Deep State?
The stupidity does not end there ... here is a pearl: “Between now and 2014, Islamabad’s positioning in the Afghan reconciliation efforts will be dictated by the country’s security establishment.” Ah so! ‘Between now and 2014’? The security establishment has not run the Afghan Cell in the FO for decades now? For the ‘elites’ to ignore the role of the security establishment in ‘Afghan Policy’ over the past disastrous decades is disingenuous to say the least, for some of them were important players in government and should have known perfectly well just who was pulling their strings. Some of the ‘elite’ have taken umbrage at the critics not duly acknowledging or even knowing what their stance was when such destructive policies were being put into practice on their watch. The question is, did anyone resign a cushy posting, lodge a protest or even write a dissenting note? Let us hear it. For what happens in the near future is going to be a matter of life and death for our country.
The most priceless, of course: “And despite the criticism of a security-centric approach, there is a firm belief among the policy elite that Pakistan has strong interests and concerns in Afghanistan which the international community — read the United States — has often ignored over the past decade.” I see: the United States that has been brought to the brink of failure in Afghanistan due mainly to the terrorists of the Taliban and the Haqqani Group being provided shelter and sanctuary in Pakistan should have been more sensitive to Pakistan’s “strong interests and concerns in Afghanistan”? The hypocrisy and the grandstanding is breathtaking to say the least.
And we have not yet factored in Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad Cantonment; nor the Quetta Shura’s in Quetta Cantonment. And yet the Americans must pull our Deep State’s chestnuts out of the fire? By golly, the arrogance is astonishing.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2011.