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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clearing Some Obvious Confusion

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: October 25, 2012
Original link: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C10%5C25%5Cstory_25-10-2012_pg3_4



So when the Soviets moved into Afghanistan in the late 1970s, was it ‘America’s war’? Perhaps not, but we all know why the US had to get involved; and yes, Pakistan was used as a conduit to supply the arms and assistance to the Mujahideen. Then did we show two thumbs to the mighty US and said it was not ‘our war’, please seek another country for your Central and South Asian strategy. One of the distinct possibilities was that the Soviets would have reached our borders too had there been no resistance in Afghanistan. The bigger question is: was Pakistan in a position to tell the mighty US that it was not up for the task?

To some of our ‘boiling youth’ all this may come as a surprise but this is undeniable history. When the late Saddam Hussein moved into Kuwait in the early 1990s, was it America’s war, may I ask again? But our dear friend Saudi Arabia sought the assistance of the Yankees to liberate the neighbouring Kuwait. For that matter, was it Saudi Arabia’s war? Perhaps not. Had Iraq not pushed back, it was going to pose an existential threat to our ‘brotherly nation’. On the surface, Pakistan remained neutral but it opted to provide humanitarian assistance to Kuwait in that conflict.

The world and its geo-politics is always in an ever-changing state, but some facts remain constant. Even my second grader knows that he is not supposed to pick a fight with someone twice his strength. This is called common sense. The basic instinct of survival kicks in. The Mujahideen of yesterday were miffed for a whole sleuth of reasons with their previous benefactors. Hence, the shift in their policy towards their benefactors of yesterday created another conflict now widely known as 9/11.

Let me remind our zestful and ultra-patriotic youth that Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the only countries that recognised the regime of the former Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Therefore, before they get all excited about why we jumped into America’s war, I would urge them to get a few lessons in regional history and politics. But I am afraid this is the crowd who is fed that 9/11 was all planned to get to the riches and minerals of Afghanistan. Hmm...if conspiracy theories could sell on astock exchange, every single Pakistani would have been a billionaire.

Thus, when the US decided to take action against its former allies and present foes in Afghanistan, it knew the significance of our country. When it sent a clear and unambiguous signal to us, what was expected of our patriotic crowd? People who tend to mislead often disregard the intimate involvement of Pakistan in the affairs of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. For the sake of respect, I will not expand on this particular aspect, as it will offend a lot of them. Hence, when the infamous call of Mr Armitage came to Pakistan, what other choice did Mr Musharraf have? I guess he felt just like my second grader and decided to opt for survival.

Then our newly found political idol and his overly high on patriotic fervour followers have the audacity to call it America’s war. They make it sound like we should have opted for the conflict with the mighty US. No matter how high you may be on an ideal or a chemical substance, there is something called the ground reality. Slogans are good; one-liners and zingers make you feel great, but at the end of the day it is the same mirror you end up facing. Again, we were hand and fist involved in the affairs of our neighbouring country; how were we supposed to play dumb to the US? Can someone please enlighten all of us?

Hence, when the charged leader often misleads by stating that once the US leaves Afghanistan, the terrorism that engulfs Pakistan will evaporate, one has to dismiss that completely as untrue and here are the reasons. The US will exit from Afghanistan in 2014 but it will not repeat the mistakes of the 1980s. It will remain committed to the region. Whatever that means still remains to be seen, but Pakistan will not be taking a U-turn on its policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan either.

The menace of terrorism plaguing Pakistan will not go away with the US pullout from Afghanistan. It is quite naïve and simplistic of our former cricket champion to derive this wishful conclusion. The border between the two countries is quite porous and culturally both are quite intertwined. Therefore as a country Pakistan has to make some significant decisions regarding its future. If we continue to obfuscate and remain indifferent towards the deteriorating condition, then I am afraid that Pakistan we know as of today will be extinct.

Lastly, it is equally childish of that leader to propose that he will be able to communicate with the tribals of Pakistan. According to him, he is familiar with their culture and mindset. I will respectfully beg to differ with him on this one. If he has such a pull with the tribals, then why is he not pleading to them to hand over the culprits to our law enforcement agencies right now? If wishes could be traded on a stock exchange, we would definitely not look towards the US for the much needed economic aid. Say what you like, but things in real life are not so black and white. Ask my second grader and he will give you a few examples in a minute.

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