By RAJEEV SRINIVASAN
The 9/11 Report was candid in its evaluation of Pakistan’s role as the fulcrum of Islamist terrorism worldwide. It agreed with neutral observers that the axis of evil is really Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and China. However, the report then indulged in pretzel logic on why America should continue to shower money and affection on Pakistan: as though a delinquent would mend his ways if his crimes were rewarded with a pat on the back.
In a larger context, this is not surprising. The State Department has long viewed Pakistan as their imperial Gurkha mercenary army that acts on their instructions. Pakistani army troops were instrumental in defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, thus contributing to the unraveling of the Soviet Union itself.
There is reason to believe that the State Department views India as another Soviet Union, and would like to unravel India into a number of small, easily managed splinter nations. In the medium run, India is a genuine competitor. Therefore, the United States supports Pakistan in its irredentist jihad against India. It also ignores the Sino-Islamist axis in illegal nuclear and missile trade.
Clearly, the Mush-and-Bush show is predicated on an “October surprise,” with the delivery of Osama bin Laden, and an assured Bush re-election. That is a tactical win but a strategic disaster.
The Americans are making a fundamental mistake, no pun intended. Old Gurkhas retire and fade away into the sunset. However, old Islamists, for instance retired ISI supremo Hamid Gul, do not just walk off. They are implacably opposed to American (read Christian) culture. They are only looking for a tactical alliance with the Americans.
Playing with fundamentalists can burn you, for they have other agendas. Marxists in various places have allied themselves with Islamists, only to discover that a) the Islamists really didn’t need them, and merely humored them into believing they were allies, b) as soon as their common enemy was vanquished, the Islamists lined up and shot the godless Marxists next. Ask yourself, Bengalis are so often Marxists, why aren’t there any Marxists in Bangladesh?
The Americans think of Pakistan as the “international condom,” in the words of Tariq Ali, a Pakistani-British writer, “to be used and then flushed down the toilet.” While the generals find it profitable to be a condom, the average Pakistani does not. No wonder every act of Islamist terrorism in the world, including 9/11, is likely to have a Pakistani connection.
The Americans, ostrich-like, can pretend that they are managing the Pakistanis, but the reality is the opposite. Pakistanis will not stop trying to Islamize the entire world; America is their mortal enemy, their Great Satan.
Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this from Singapore.
No, it is moderating Pakistan’s militancy
By S. GOPIKRISHNA
Are mild words synonymous with little or no action?
Given the traditional derision towards those whose “bark is worse than the bite,” one learns to fear people whose mild words camouflage harsh action. The above is particularly true of bureaucrats and jurists who have refined the arts of obfuscation and understatement. An air of detachment and confusion is mandatory; nebulousness is a must.
Creating such poor “insights” is however not synonymous with a lack of action, especially in the case of the United States. Slow to catch on to culprits, the United States has traditionally compensated for its lack of early action through wholesale annihilation of the putative enemy. Bill Clinton’s attempts to “address” Sudanese help to al-Qaeda resulted in the destruction of the country’s main pharmaceutical plant. The decision to “terminate relationships” with Manuel Noriega of Panama resulted in the termination of his regime.
The 9/11 Report reflects the above elements in its extensive, exhaustive, and literally exhausting account of the events and the parties responsible. It suggests, with a confused air that fools no one, that al-Qaeda is to blame. It also concludes that al-Qaeda was aided and abetted by a host of elements possibly linked to the Pakistani military.
The true significance of the report emerges when we examine the volte-face in perspective on the Taliban and the Pakistani army. It admits that the loathsome Taliban were, in effect, the Pakistani army in disguise.
Thus, when the 9/11 Report acknowledges the U.S. government’s myopia in fostering the latter and ending up supporting the former, with the result that America had to go to war in Afghanistan, the American establishment has conceded that it shot itself in the foot.
It is this U-turn in official thinking that makes the report a landmark. The anger at becoming the victim of one’s own machinations has propelled the United States into a hitherto unknown “no-nonsense” attitude vis-a-vis Pakistan.
The consequences are already apparent; Musharraf’s reduction to a glorified (albeit resentful) errand boy for the White House has tempered his posturing on Kashmir. With ex-Wall Street banker Shaukat Aziz being anointed prime minister, Pakistan is reduced to an instrument executing Washington’s instructions.
Is keeping Pakistan happy a priority for America? Not really. Read between the lines in the report, and the storm signals for the Pakistani establishment are there for all to see.
Of course, it is apparent that nabbing bin Laden is important for Dubya’s re-election campaign. But beyond that, Pakistan is getting no great kudos in the eyes of the American establishment.
Therefore, Indians should receive the 9/11 Report with bouquets, not brickbats.
Toronto-based S. Gopikrishna writes on issues pertinent to India and Indians.