Some recent actions of the government and military make it seem as if the biggest problem facing Pakistan is the sheer number of CIA spies overrunning the country. The commission tasked with investigating the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has shown far greater interest in investigating how many visas then ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani gave to Americans than figuring out how the world’s most notorious terrorist found refuge on our soil. So far, the only person to face punishment for Bin Laden’s presence in the country is Shakil Afridi, a doctor who assisted the US in finding the al Qaeda leader. Keeping all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the new target is the respected NGO Save the Children, six of whose foreign workers have been told to leave Pakistan after being accused of introducing Afridi to the CIA.
Granted, it should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the CIA’s history that the intelligence agency would seek to recruit both local and foreign NGO workers. But there is a difference between noticing this possibility in general terms and making very specific accusations against individuals. By singling out the workers of Save the Children, the government has made all of its 2,000 members prime targets for militants. That this has been done without providing any proof is even worse. Now, every foreigner working in Pakistan will be viewed suspiciously and will find it even harder to work here.
The state is operating on a double standard. Our problem does not seem to be foreigners whose loyalty lies to an outside entity so much as it is a specific type of foreigner. Those accused of serving the interests of US intelligence are forced out of the country. Those who we know serve at the pleasure of the transnational al Qaeda get to operate with impunity. From these two groups, only one is actively involved in murdering Pakistanis. Yet, it seems that we our saving our wrath for the other of the two groups.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2012.
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