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Friday, December 12, 2008

Ayaz Amir: Degrading… but do we have a choice?

And there is no leader in Pakistan, or indeed across the embattled world of Islam – a religion which we disgrace by our incompetence and cowardice – to match Hasan Nasrullah. So with what weapons in our armoury can we stand up to America and India?

And what makes us think that with our coffers empty, our begging bowl extended feverishly in every direction, the army stuck in the treacherous terrain of the tribal belt, when there is no grimmer joke than to call the seven tribal agencies 'Federally Administered' because any semblance of federal administration there has long since vanished, we have the gumption to tell America and India that while we are not for terrorism will they kindly stop pushing us around until all the evidence is in and the smoking gun linking the Lashkar to Mumbai is found?

So whether the Lashkar was involved in Mumbai or not is beside the point. General Headquarters (GHQ) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the twin fortresses which more often than not have produced disasters in the name of higher strategy and the national interest, may no longer be able to ignore the warning signs.

Pakistan thus faces a double task: exorcising the ghosts of 'jihad' and at the same time, while seeking American friendship, saying goodbye to the military alliance with the United States which sits like a yoke round our necks. Let America fight its own Afghan war and let the Taliban fight their own war of national resistance. Let us be an interested spectator but not a party to either enterprise. Thirty years of concentrated folly lie behind the present mess. It will take some pretty hard shovelling to clear it.

Distancing ourselves equally from the Taliban and the United States is not as great a contradiction as may appear at first. For us both the Yanks and the Black Turbans pose a mortal danger. We play with either and we burn our fingers. We play the 'jihad' card, or do not erase what's left of the traces of 'jihad', and we risk more pressures of the kind we presently face. The ISI should relearn the definition of 'asset'. Warriors of 'jihad' who may have been assets once upon a time are clear and present dangers. On the other hand, if we remain tied to America's war chariot we make internal fissures deeper because identification with America is a spur to extremism carried out in the name of Islam.


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