"In the face of failure, ego centric become myopic that further enhances the egoistic tendencies in them" Raja Mujtaba

By S. M. Hali

The latest biannual White House report to the US Congress about the performance of the Government of Pakistan and the counter-insurgency efforts of its army, states that Pakistan has made little progress in the past year in battling Islamist extremists and that there is "no clear path toward defeating the insurgency" in the country. Coming at the heels of the Raymond Davis affair and the lethal drone attack on a tribal jirga in North Waziristan killing 41 civilians and the subsequent Pakistan’s pulling out of the March 26 trilateral ministerial meeting with USA and Afghanistan, it smacks of doublespeak.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tehmina Janjua has rightly rejected US criticism of Pakistan’s war efforts. The latest démarche by the US depicts a myopic view of Pakistani nation as well as its Army. Pakistan’s economic and political problems notwithstanding, it has a professional Army, which has become battled hardened and well honed in the war against terror. Pakistan Army has not only assimilated the lessons in counter insurgency operations, but managed to score unprecedented success. Its complete routing of the miscreants in Swat and South Waziristan have been acknowledged as an achievement by all the major powers involved in combating terrorism. It is sad that whenever, the US faces tough opposition in Afghanistan, it finds an easy scapegoat in Pakistan and blames it for its woes. 

Here two recent publications merit attention; both focus on the same topic but are divergent in their views. The first is Professor Anatol Lieven’s “Pakistan: A Hard Country”, an assessment of Pakistan as a viable and coherent state. Equipped by nuclear weapons, threatened by the al-Qaeda, victim of several raging insurgencies and strife torn because of a chronically unstable political structure—most Western experts continue to view Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world. Thus this book by Anatol Lieven could hardly be timelier. Lucid and well informed, he deals carefully with all Pakistan’s well-known problems. Lieven rings hope, avoiding the hysteria and partial judgment that disfigure much contemporary writing on the subject. Above all, he emanates a deep affection bordering on love for unfortunate, beleaguered, magical Pakistan. Lieven’s research takes him to an army cantonment in Quetta, boar-hunting in the Punjab and to a stay in Taliban-dominated Mohmand Agency on the North West Frontier. Lieven, a former foreign correspondent who is now professor of terrorism studies at King's College, London, talks to relevant stakeholders: farmers, intelligence officers, judges, clerics, politicians, doctors, soldiers, jihadis. In the course of this journey he demolishes the neo-conservative narrative that Pakistan is dominated by a mortal struggle between virtuous modernity and rage-filled Islamist conservatism. He insists that Pakistan is not—as Western intelligence agencies, journalists and think tanks believe—a country on the brink; nor should anyone worry about its nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands. Pakistan is not about to be taken over by Islamists.

  Afghanistan: Alarm Bells Ring

The second publication is by Pakistan-baiter and staunch critic, Bruce Riedel. The former CIA operative, in his book ‘Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad’, depicts his usual love for India, and spews venom against Pakistan. Once again raising the spectre of the insecurity of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, Mr. Riedel uses the unfortunate assassination of Governor Salman Taseer to build his argument.  He snidely remarks that Pakistanis have been insisting that an intense vetting system makes sure that “fundos” do not make away with Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. He argues that a similar system, was supposed to assure that armed bodyguards are loyal to the government, and to the officials they are supposed to protect, alluding to Mr. Qadri, the security guard who killed Governor Taseer. He plays to the Indian gallery that for thoughtful Indians, the crisis in Pakistan is a nightmare on their border. They know Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. Thus far, India has held back from accelerating its own nuclear buildup, but that may change. A jihadist Pakistan is the globe’s worst nightmare of the 21st century.  For Americans it’s a nightmare on the other side of the planet.  For Indians it’s a nightmare next door.

Pakistan has paid high price in the war on terrorism (WoT). Unfortunately Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices have not been fully recognized by Western media, think tanks and other stake holders like USA/EU, instead anti Pakistan propaganda has been aired to tarnish the image of Pakistan, its armed forces and intelligence agencies. In Mao’s words, “wind blows against Pakistan from all sides” and now even the White House has jumped in the fray.