Green Flag, Islamic Crescent
By Humayun Gauhar
“Be careful. Be very careful,” friends are warning. “It took much less for NATO to walk into Libya than what’s happening in Karachi. First, their bombs opened the door for the rebels. Now, continued bombing will make it safe for them to enter.” True, but Pakistan is not Libya. It’s much bigger, much more complex.
Gaddafi made some grave mistakes. Starting out as a revolutionary to overthrow western hegemony, monsieur became a horrible tyrant. He killed his own people; he killed innocent foreigners – the Lockerbie bombing and the cold-blooded murder of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher come to mind. The mushrooming of rebel groups became a natural consequence. It also provided the hegemon ‘justification’ to ‘help’ the rebels. By making up with the West he let the hegemon in through the door. While he won the release of odious Lockerbie bomber in return for an oil concession to a British oil exploration company, thereafter the most concessions he gave were to China and Russia. Big mistake. The hegemon was riled. Today Gaddafi is all but done, running for his life, hiding in warrens and rat holes.
We too have exploited our people endlessly and unleashed tyranny on them periodically. But unlike Libya, we let the hegemon in through our door from inception – in fact, we never let him out.
Libya’s oil, exploited and unexploited, is now virtually in American hands. Add Iraq and they’ve already got a huge reserve. Add Afghanistan and they also have gas pipeline routes. Add Afghanistan’s unexploited ‘rare earth minerals’ that China recently stopped exporting and they have great power. Next could be Saudi Arabia and Iran. The small fry would follow. Wars and control over global energy reserves are a sure way to kick start a bankrupt economy. America came out of the ‘Great Depression’ not because of Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ but because of the Second World War. But, “The times. They have a changed”. Attacking Iran is attacking an ideology. It could bring ‘Economogeddon’.
Why Pakistan? It has little oil and hardly any gas left. Five reasons: to establish an Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline; prevent an Iran-Pakistan-China gas pipeline; control Karachi’s ports and foil China in Gwadar; control Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal; reduce China’s influence. Won’t work. It would lead to global anarchy. America knows it.
If a ruthlessly dispassionate observer were to step back and look at Pakistan in its entirety – the wood from the trees, as it were – he would say, “It’s over.”
“Why?” one would ask.
“Because Pakistan suffers an acute common sense deficit. Wisdom lies buried deep.”
Sure outsiders will interfere if you stupidly create the conditions for interference. Since the return of ‘democracy’ political gangs have killed more than 6,000 people, more than 2,000 this year alone, excluding security personnel. People are so desperate that they want to somehow – anyhow – get the hell out of the hell that is Karachi.
Demand for a Karachi province (and for others) is already there. In the current mood, a new province by violence would be seen as victory and a stepping-stone to separation. All it needs is for a ‘leader’ of a ‘rebel group’ to unilaterally declare independence and ask for foreign ‘help’. If people come out on the streets to celebrate, you have had it. You can be sure that America’s formal and informal intelligence operatives have already set up such ‘sleeper’ rebel groups and prepared their ‘leaders’ – its new set of stooges and satraps. They only have to wind up their toys and let them loose when needed. Such scenarios always sound fanciful before they happen, but we should be used to unlikely scenarios unfolding, having suffered so many that once were regarded as fanciful.
It would be a mess. If India plays any sort of role – and it would be out of character for it not to – like ‘recognizing’ the ‘rebels’ as the ‘legitimate’ government, and China enters the fray, which inevitably it must with so much strategic investment at stake, it would be Armageddon. Sure there will be huge orders for America’s military-industrial complex, but there may be no military-industrial complex left to meet those orders. The hope is that the millennia old wisdom of these three great civilizations emerges and defeats the nefarious designs of a desperate hegemon without history and civilization. America knows the consequences too. Perhaps the only way to save Karachi might be to either make it a federal territory or to take the capital back there, however stupid and difficult it might seem – often only irrational solutions work in irrational situations.
It’s not just Karachi. Secular and religious maniacs in different garb chasing different agendas are on the rampage throughout Pakistan. Sure India is helping many of them. Considering we are the enemy, why wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t you?
America has been setting us up for long. We are accused of all sorts of things, from being two-faced to hiding Osama Bin Laden to helping the Taliban. After the Abbotabad caper tension between our army and the US ratcheted up so much that today they are hardly on talking terms. We threw out their ‘trainers’ and overt and covert intelligence operatives and placed restrictions on the movement of their diplomats. America not only stopped our funding but also reimbursement of our expenses. The temperature remains high.
If the Pakistan volcano erupts, the destruction would be great. The world map would change. Cartographers would become very busy. It would completely alter the Muslim world and South Asia, making new paradigms that the world might find difficult to cope with. America knows that. How to prevent it?
Find another way. Find horses for courses. What new breed of horse does America find for the Pakistani course? The hushed chatter has it that America has a new doctrine: “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em”. The task is to prevent a gaggle of crazed religious fanatics with different interpretations and agendas parceling the country out between them. If you can’t defeat them militarily, defeat them ideologically. Pull the rug out from under their feet. Hijacking their ideology by forging a modern and progressive ‘American Islamic Revolution’ with our military leading the way – a mixed breed by mating the new American Islamic mare and the old Pakistani military horse. Get the “guardians of Pakistan’s geographical and ideological frontiers” to play their hand, the Sabz Hilali Parcham – ‘Green Flag, Islamic Crescent’. Our generals at wits end may agree with alacrity. Islam is the only platform they could now possibly ride in on after the erosion of their credibility. If the majority of Pakistanis really are as moderate as we think, they should lap it up. If it works, it could be replicated elsewhere. Muslims scholars having failed, let the Islamic renaissance come from America. That this is precisely where the problem will lie: while Islamic is acceptable to our people, America is not. They love Islam; they hate America. A new Islamic doctrine forged by America doesn’t stand a chance. Don’t fool around with an ideology if you don’t quite understand it. End up aping western constructs in Islamic garb and it won’t work. Religion is ideology by another name. Ideology is secular religion. Don’t put you hand into a red-hot cauldron.
That it could be tried is not outside the realm of possibility. Nothing in this crazy situation is. Stupidity is also a democratic right. They could try and turn the joke that Pakistan functions on three, ‘As’ – Allah, America and the Army – into reality.