''Pakistan and US furtive relationship needs to comes out of the closet. Insulting each other in the press and to mainstream masses while making passionate love to one another is not a healthy partnership.'' Rehan Latif
Much derision and joking references seem to be heaped on Pakistan’s role, or lack thereof, on bin Laden’s whereabouts, whether it was instrumental in harbouring him for 6 years, or just plain incompetent. Let me yield on the onset; Pakistan leadership attitude towards 'Abbotabad fiasco' is a sum total of gross incompetence, instinctive impotence and superfluous belligerence in face of what is a ferocious endeavour to guard national sovereignty on paper if not on ground.
Recently, Rehan Latif came back from Dubai and made tongue-in-cheek ripostes on Pakistan and Abbotabad when sharing benign personal chitchat with his friends:
“No joke, was away for a week, and could not find my credit card, got back to London and this morning realised it was in the back pocket of my jeans, the same one I was wearing for that entire time! Wife thinks I knew but was hiding it, but I genuinely did not know! Or did I? Pakistan, did you?”
“Hearing Kate and Wills need somewhere safe and discreet for honeymoon where nobody can find them... Ermmm Abbotabad.”
It saddens me to see a country being 'jokingly bastardised' and ridiculed after suffering so much in this post 911 era, a nation that is equally detested by bin Laden cohorts and liberal press like 'NYT' and 'The Economist' alike. No love lost if Pakistan suffers any pain.
I do not want to defend anyone, but let’s be realistic and less prejudicial. Before writing off Pakistan and making an Iraq out of it, let’s look at the recent past. Exerting a little pressure on the mind will take us to the distant past, a journey necessary to know about these regions before shooting straight from the hip. To treat regions that carry millennia of historical background and tribal vendettas, confused ideological underpinnings and immense self destructive result with disdain results in nothing more archaic reaction, greater medievalism, more devastation and associated antiquity. It is these pockets of the distant past of tribal areas where OBL grew his tentacles!
Greek myths come to breathe here; Perses the Titan god of destruction and Enyo the goddess of war walk tall in the name of Holy Jihad and Allah. There is curse of nature in the air as if retribution for betrayal of knowledge on the Northern region for more than two millenniums. Outdated ideological preoccupation cuts into its valour and fertile mind making it a inhospitable surroundings of brutality. Self awareness and human conscience still cast in stone in what is a strange marriage of Najdi and Pashtunwali thousand year old traditions. Even violence at this level is designed to kill to perfection, killing becomes a fervour and a designed mania and gun making a full time vocation of the majority or else opium growing and trading.
When an untutored mind is Talebinised, I overlook it but when I see an educated mind acting like an intellectual slum dog it is not acceptable to me. From 12th Sept 2001 I have written more articles on the curse of OBL than anything else and I have tried to arm myself with reason, logic and rationalism.
Today I see one-eyed people armed with hatred and incoherence looking for another war, another Iraq. What a shame! History grinds fine and hard. Today $3 trillion is the price of that arrogance of power and destruction; a great enlightened nation should be humble and humbler in victory. But humility is an art only Churchillian and Rooseveltian characters can display, not gun slinging cowboys. Don't venture into lands where even man has forgotten to intertwine all the tales of blood and slaughter; these are the lands where North of Pakistan is located – at the confluence of 3 billion people on earth; it is for a reason so sensitive, so prone to carnage and disgust, being the gateway of the plunderers of India for centuries. OBL in one form or another looted and pillaged the sub-continent for thousand years. The people know to live with these kinds of plunderers day in day out. They sell them Pepsi and Coke, they know that walls need to be high to keep them out; there are 10,000 forts like these where the neighbours have no idea who lives inside.
Sometime Fiction and myths are best tutors, I thought today the argument in defense of 'incompetence and impotence' should be fortified by the stories of Hollywood. I want those who condemn Pakistan to watch 'Charlie Wilson's War.' A drama film recounting the true story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson(D-TX) who partnered with "bare knuckle attitude" CIA operative Gust Avrakotos to launch Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen in their resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Charlie befriends the maverick CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his understaffed Afghanistan group to find a better strategy, especially including a means to counter the Soviets' formidable Mi-24 helicopter gunship. This group was composed in part of members of the CIA's elite Special Activities Division, including a young paramilitary officer named Michael Vickers (Christopher Denham). As a result, Charlie's deft political bargaining for the necessary funding and Avrakotos' group's careful planning using those resources, such as supplying the guerrillas with FIM-92 Stinger missile launchers, turns the Soviet occupation into a deadly quagmire with their heavy fighting vehicles being destroyed at a crippling rate.
The CIA's anti-communism budget evolves from $5 million to over $500 million (with the same amount matched by Saudi Arabia), startling several congressmen. This effort by Charlie ultimately evolves into a major portion of the U.S. foreign policy known as the Reagan Doctrine, under which the U.S. expanded assistance beyond just the mujahideen and began also supporting other anti-communist resistance movements around the world. Charlie states that senior Pentagon official Michael Pillsbury persuaded President Ronald Reagan to provide the Stingers to the Afghans: "Ironically, neither Gust nor Charlie was directly involved in the decision and claims any credit."
Charlie follows Gust's guidance to seek support for post-Soviet occupation Afghanistan, but finds almost no enthusiasm in the U.S. government for even the modest measures he proposes. The film ends with Charlie receiving a major commendation for the support of the U.S. clandestine services, but his pride is tempered by his fears of what unintended consequences his secret efforts could yield in the future and the implications of U.S. disengagement from Afghanistan.
History and culture along with reason are cruel arbitrators of nations. The course of a nation’s attitude is determined by lessons it learns from history, otherwise the curse of history leaves deep scars. Today, with US$ 3 trillion down and one OBL in the asset category, depicts the deepest of those sad scars and we absorbedly ignored the obvious. Vietnam, Afghanistan USSR war are those scars, and OBL is the product of those deep involvements. Instead of putting the blame on others why can't we expect the lesson that Black Hawk Down so glaringly suggested, the last scene? Ambitious, sumptuously-framed and frenetic, ''Black Hawk Down is nonetheless a rare find of a war movie which dares to turn genre convention on its head."
Taking all the credit is not rare. If you don’t know, let me educate you: filmmakers did not credit the work done by the Pakistani soldiers in President Musharraf’s autobiography In the Line of Fire: A Memoir:
“The outstanding performance of the Pakistani troops under adverse conditions is very well known at the UN. Regrettably, the film Black Hawk Down ignores the role of Pakistan in Somalia. When U.S. troops were trapped in the thickly populated Madina Bazaar area of Mogadishu, it was the Seventh Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army that reached out and extricated them. The bravery of the U.S. troops notwithstanding, we deserved equal, if not more, credit; but the filmmakers depicted the incident as involving only Americans.' Malaysian military officials whose troops were involved in the fighting also raised complaints regarding the film's accuracy. Retired Brigadier-General Abdul Latif-Ahmed, who at the time commanded Malaysian forces in Mogadishu, told the AFP news agency that Malaysian moviegoers would be under the wrong impression that the real battle was fought by the Americans alone, while Malaysian troops were "mere bus drivers to ferry them out".
Islam is in decline because of that ossification; sad to see same happening to multitudes of those in enlightened societies carried away by lightning of the naked power and Rambo-mania, beyond skills of Rambo's, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chucknorrises-of-the-day-nations need strategies to clear up the mess they create. USSR Afghan invasion and destruction of Communist threat had a nemesis, we got the peace dividend but forget in throes of instant gratification that the mess needs to be addressed by education and engagement. That is what the lesson of Charlie Wilson's War was. I highly recommend one watches it to better understand the purpose and logic of this piece.
Today this politically fragile and victimized region is embroiled in a war for survival; it is a far cry from the days of General Zia and Brezinski who showed the very same Pakistan Army the Oxus of antiquity (boundary with Central Asia, 1,100 kilometres in Afghanistan) and the concept of strategic depth. In new dispensation we need to understand that Pakistan is at a crossroads of history; it is a product of sensitive geography and tragic history of confrontation and violence. Let's bring some sense to them, enlighten them, by being understanding and give them knowledge to comprehend that preoccupation with twisted ideology only leads to self-destruction, whereas knowledge leads to eternal peace.