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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Pakistan - one way street to Talibanisation

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

The manner in which the Bush administration has cultivated Pakistan’s Gen Pervez Musharraf after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil makes it doubtful if the US is really serious about eliminating terrorism from the face of earth or if it really wants to be seen in better light by the outside world. The arrogant pursuance of neocon ambitions leaves the US with few genuine friends in the world. Washington does not believe in showing any deference to legitimate security and other concerns of even nations that it retains on the list of ‘friends’ when it recklessly arms its ‘frontline’ ally.

Take a recent New York Times report based on a research by the US-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies that says that Islamabad has received about $ 10 billion from the US in the last five years allegedly for fighting Al Qaeda. There have been other hidden and not so hidden payments to Pakistan. No less a person than the General himself had acknowledged (later retracted) that the US has been paying Pakistan for every Al Qaeda man it caught and handed over to the gleeful Americans. That quite a few of these so-called Al Qaeda types had nothing to do with that terrorist organisation but were victims of Pakistani regime’s vendetta has not bothered anyone in Washington.

In practice while some of the huge American money, as is the custom in Pakistan, has gone into the pockets of the people who rule the country, the rest has been spent on weapons that are ‘more useful in countering India’ than fighting the twin outfits, Al Qaeda and Taliban, for which Pakistan serves as the general headquarters. American profession of ‘friendship’ towards India must look very strange when all the time it has been arming Islamabad to match the Indian military strength.

Few in India are in doubt that despite the massive arms and cash aid from the US, Pakistan is not going to abandon the two terror outfits in the creation of at least one of them (Taliban) it had played a key role. Pakistan is not prepared to renounce its policy of ‘bleeding’ India with the help of its vast terror network. Only the US hears and sees no evil in Pakistani designs on India.

While hugging Musharraf, the US had imperiously refused to see that Pakistan was part of the problem. Ideologically, Pakistan would be the last country to wipe out terrorism because the philosophy of hate and intolerance, the very pillar on which the concept of Pakistan was built, continues to be preached all across the country. It is Pakistan’s stated policy that it will not normalise relations with India till it gets Kashmir. In other words, the Pakistani terror structure will not be dismantled by the ISI as long as Kashmir is with India. But then the US state department thinks India is not among the countries which are victims of terror—but Pakistan is!!

It is beyond comprehension that the US keeps propping up the General even as he has replaced George W. Bush as the most disliked person in Pakistan; maybe because of personal chemistry between Bush and Musharraf. What is baffling, however, is that Bush continues to eulogise Musharraf even though he has so palpably failed to deliver on any front. Quite apart from fighting terror, Musharraf was expected to steer Pakistan towards ‘enlightened moderation’, if not help swell the ranks of pro-American public figures. The American dollars showered on Musharraf’s Pakistan have only pushed Pakistan to the front ranks of rabidly anti-American nations.

From time to time, the Americans tease Musharraf to be more serious about ushering in full democracy in his country. How far the General has gone is clear from the present situation when civilian unrest, feel many commentators, might end in a state of emergency in Pakistan. Note the near silence of Washington over the manner in which Musharraf ‘sacked’ the chief justice of Pakistan even when the latter has become the symbol of opposition to the General. And America is still hopeful that Musharraf will promote democracy in Pakistan!

Musharraf perhaps does not feel the need to declare emergency formally because as a military ruler he can use his power to keep dissenters under leash—at least for some more time. Even if he stubs democracy more mercilessly the Bush administration is not going to make too much noise. After all since its creation in August 1947 Pakistan has seen only a few glimpses of democracy for short durations while American patronage has almost never faltered. The few exceptions were the occasions like the atomic test and military coup that led to some ‘cosmetic’ sanctions against Pakistan.

One of the many myths that Musharraf has been feeding the West is that Pakistan is a ‘moderate’ Islamic nation. If there was any ‘moderate’ truth behind that statement it died with the demise of the founder of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah who did not follow the strict Islamic code of living. Most rulers of Pakistan, certainly the military Generals, have always courted the orthodox clerics to spread their influence over the ‘awam’ (people). The Pakistani army is not a ‘secular’ force because ‘jihad’ is part of the curriculum for its men and officers.

Musharraf is no liberal secular though he now pretends that he finds the company of the Mullahs a bit too hot for his comfort. Does he mean that? It would appear not, because the religious fanatics have considerably spread their influence and very rapidly in Pakistan after they endorsed and legitimised Musharraf as president-cum-chief of army staff. If he is really cross with the clerics he would not have bowed before them so many times in recent months, be it the issue of empowering women or amending the blasphemy laws.

Right under his nose the Islamists have taken over the capital city of Islamabad. They have demanded that the strict Islamic laws be enforced all over Pakistan. By way of illustration of what they want, these elements have entered homes, dragged out women dubbing them whores, raided video and CD shops to burn the un-Islamic stuff they hawk and threatened women not to dress vulgarly or obscenely. Singing and dancing is out in Pakistan; those fond of either have been asked to go to India.

Not far from Islamabad, in the western borders of Pakistan barbers are being asked to shut shops so that men do not shave off beard. Many Pak commentators fear that under Musharraf, Pakistan may have entered the one-way street to Talibanization. Is this what Bush wanted from his ‘buddy’ Musharraf when he patted him in October 2001 for doing the U-turn on his country’s policy of promoting terrorism?

- Syndicate Features -

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