Or shall we say NOT a very merry merry-go-round. For there we go again: halos around our heads, shock and hurt on our faces, and anger in our protestations against the newest American accusations that not only is Pakistan providing ‘a launching pad’ to terrorists, the terrorist chief Ayman al Zawahiri is hiding somewhere in this country. Exact same statements are coming out of the government as came out at the time that allegations were made about the presence of Osama bin Laden and the Quetta Shura of the Taliban in our country some years ago, variously: “If you have proof show it to us”; “Quetta Shura? What Quetta Shura?” “Osama? Osama who?”
The Commando and his spin quacks went several better, thinking it was a boy’s game in the park. “Give us the addresses and telephone numbers of Mullah Omar and his Shura in Quetta and we will go after them, snigger, snigger.”
We were soon sniggering on the other side of our faces for, in the event, the Quetta Shura was not only shown to have been present in Quetta over many, many years through statements on record by respected Baloch parliamentarians (who actually gave their exact locations in the city), none other than Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar actually said that military action had “degraded” the Shura.
As for Bin Laden, May 2, 2011 when that terrorist was taken out, is too recent; the layers of egg spread all over the arrogant faces of the senior commanders of our Deep State too thick to have been washed away; the indignant screams and squeals of the TV anchors of the Ghairat Brigades too loud for us to forget in just one year. Yes, the Americans (and the Afghans let us not forget them!) were spot-on, and yes we got our just deserts.
Let me here repeat something I always say when writing about the shenanigans/the ineptness and the incompetence of our Deep State: even though, I and lay people like I, have nothing whatever to do with what it does or does not do, going its mad way despite our protestations; and even though any Pakistani with an iota of sense would be appalled at its antics, I have to, sadly, use the collective pronouns ‘we’ and ‘us’ for we are all Pakistanis. Would that the Deep State cease and desist immediately if not sooner.
There is no hope of that anytime soon as Pakistan sinks deeper into the mire engineered by the boys: witness the mounting acrimoniousness in the relationship between our country and the United States upon which we depend for all of our sophisticated weapons, and money to oil the wheels of our military, and which quite literally keeps our skewed economy, in which the major part of our budget is allocated to defence and to debt-servicing, afloat.
As evidence, even a cursory glance at the Salala incident in which American helicopter gunships attacked the outpost and killed 24 Pakistani servicemen, and its aftermath, will tell you just who calls the shots and how clumsily. I was in Washington DC at the time and remember well the first Pakistani reaction in which we admitted in so many words that it was possible the Americans were fired on first from a position lower than Salala but abutting it, by terrorists/insurgents/whoever.
Witness: On PBS’s flagship programme, Judy Woodruff asks questions of the well-known author Shuja Nawaz who is considered ‘close’ to Pakistan’s security establishment: “Shuja Nawaz, to you first: There is a late report, late this afternoon the Associated Press reported that — quoting defence officials as saying perhaps, this was a case of mistaken identity. What is known at this point?
“Shuja Nawaz, The Atlantic Council: At this point, all that we know is that there was a firefight, perhaps in the border region, and that the Afghan forces asked for support. And it was US air support that came in and went and hit the targets, two of them. Both were Pakistan military posts.” For details please go to:
Then the Ghairat Brigades and their handmaidens barged in and took over what was a delicate situation at a most fraught time. From the then shooting-from-the-hip ‘spymaster’ (why, oh why do we call these people ‘masters’ of anything at all when all they can do is stomp into a situation that requires delicate and gentle and diplomatic handling?), to the paid propagandists of the Deep State, Paknationalists and their ill-read ilk who feed on people’s fears, we were regaled to much self-righteous indignation and Ghairat-laden diatribes.
Which deteriorated into the present most serious stand-off, not only with the United States but also with Nato and soon with the United Nations itself. Despite which, I have to add, we don’t know whether we are coming or going, our great strategists saying one thing one moment and then contradicting themselves and falling over themselves the very next.
Consider the most recent statement of the Peshawar corps commander as printed in this newspaper of record: “Why do they raise their fingers toward Pakistan? It is shifting the blame on to others”, talking about the United States project in Afghanistan. He then defends “the government’s dealings with North Waziristan-based militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur who has signed a nonaggression pact with the government”, and in the very next breath says: “Something has to be done, and it’s in the offing, North Waziristan is the only region we haven’t cleared. It should be done as early as possible”. Leaves you cross-eyed and gasping for breath, doesn’t it reader?
Mark my words: If the Secretary of State has herself signalled that Zawahiri is in Pakistan the Americans have a bead on him already, and they will take him out whenever it is politically expedient. Remember, this is an election year.
Let us accept that our country is now caught in a most serious, almost existential crisis. Let us accept that we are virtually the pariahs of the world, our country known as the ‘Ground Zero’ of terrorism; let us accept that we are some of the most hated people in the world. Let me, therefore, make a call I have often made to all the stakeholders: the people; politicians; the Deep State and its commanders; to each and every Pakistani, that there is no way but one.
And that is that we cleanse ourselves of the poison that is terrorism; of the cruelty that is religious and ethnic intolerance, and of the abomination that is covetousness of another’s territory. More than anything, let us rid ourselves of jingoism.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.