By Peter Chamberlin
“When asked what he aspires to become in the future, Wasifullah replies ‘God willing, I will join the Taliban.’
This quote, from two boys from the Kachegori IDP (internally displaced persons) Camp in Peshawar reveals perfectly the awesome split, running down the middle of Pakistani society, much more clearly than any attempted explanation that could be given. The Pakistani people are of two minds, both of them extremely patriotic, one school of thought blames the local terrorists for all their grief, the other side insists that it is the military which has killed their loved ones. Outside forces, which are hostile to Pakistan’s survival, have every intention of aggravating those divisions to the point of civil war.
The Christian Bible has a teaching: “A house divided against itself shall not stand.” This is the reality that the people of Pakistan today; in order to avoid the bottomless pit of civil war they must find ways to work through those differences of opinion.
The greatest threat to Pakistan’s survival is not the Taliban, or the Americans, or even those sneaky Indians—the most deadly force you face is your willingness to see everything in black and white. In an environment where so many people seem so certain about the source of their common misery, even though half of the country disagrees with them, there is no such thing as “benefit of the doubt.” You are right and the other guy is absolutely wrong. Something has to give—there has to be room for another possible explanation to be discussed. Until then, you face grave danger from certain dark quarters. Someone has to tear-down the barricades which divide the two camps.
From our experience in our own Civil War, Americans can tell you the truth about the power of differences of opinions, differences so great, that one side feels compelled to take-up arms to force submission from the other side over the primary issues, while the other side is eager to do the same. Soon, you too, will hear the tanks and jackboots marching through your streets, pretending that they are defending your free Republic from subversion. Americans will soon hear the same sounds in our own streets, as the avoidable issue of martial law becomes an inevitable consequence of our reactionary avoidance of the dark forces rising amongst us.
Like you, we too, have to gird ourselves for our own patriotic battlefield of opinions, as we, who refuse to submit to the omniscient State, must defend American ideals from those who believe in the lies of he State, and stand ready to fight against our own ideas as a form of subversion. The world is caught between those who believe that war is the answer to everything and those like myself who believe that war is the answer to nothing.
The schizophrenic nature of Pakistani public discourse (or public discourse in any of the frontline countries) is quickly revealed by a quick perusal of articles and comments to them in Pakistani papers. Comments from the people are sharply divided by a line of false “patriotism,” with people on one side clearly defending the Army as Pakistan’s great patriotic hope against either the terrorists or the Americans, and folks on the other side see the Army violating the basic human rights of thousands of Pakistani citizens instead of protecting them, making the Army the greatest threat to the Nation.
With the Army in virtual control of all of society, it is no small thing to publicly accuse the Army of killing Pakistanis. To do so will quickly get you “disappeared.” The same can be said about publicly speaking-out against the Taliban—it will also get you killed. Why look to blame either America or India for the killing of ordinary Pakistanis, when you can stand in the middle of the street and slander both India and the United States at the top of your lungs and no bullets will fly at you—but you might just get a few handshakes or hugs.
While it is certainly true that both India and the United States have been hiring lots of people to wage war inside Pakistan, those people were all Pakistanis—Pakistanis waging war against their fellow Pakistanis. The point is, hundreds, or thousands of Pakistanis have been willing to kill their countrymen for a few bucks, all for a cause that most of them probably felt no kinship for. How easy would it then be for the Imperial powers to pay these mercenaries just a little bit more to ignite open civil war?
The greatest danger to Pakistan’s pressure-cooker national scenario is not so much from the dangerous differences in opinion, the real, impending danger is from those who would pay enormous sums to push a few provocateurs across that dangerous dividing line.
It is against this great provocative danger that the real patriots of Pakistan must organize and find ways to heal the great rifts which have been created and amplified. Take away the magnifying glass which the great powers use to amplify the natural divisions occurring among you. Stop the fight over who is to blame for the terrorism afflicting the Pakistani people, whether it is the Army or the Taliban and recognize the American influence in each organization. Stop teaching your children your own prejudices. Learn to see beyond the divisive labels. You need to organize to stop the violence—all of the violence, all kinds of political or religious violence.
The war on terrorism must take a new turn in Pakistan, onto a road of peace. You must fight the spirit of war with the desire to wage peace. Waging peace isn’t just an old hippie phrase dusted-off for our era; it is a meaningful life change. Waging peace has nothing to do with armaments; it is a struggle to change human behavior itself. It is a concept found in the Christian Bible, just as it is in the life-altering teachings of the Quran. It is the personal jihad, “the ijtihad,” or struggle against the self. It is our selfless better nature waging war against the primal reactions of the primitive “self.”
We must fight the urge against violent reactions to our own opinions that are so alien to our own that they drive us to madness. Everyone understands this urge, to silence those “ignorant” fools who encourage opinions that we consider to be harmful to our own causes. In any election season, we are all certain to encounter loud, obnoxious, ”talking-heads,” who we would like to shut-up. It is the urge to react in the face of obvious, even dangerous, ignorance, that we all must struggle against.
We must follow the civilizing urge, instead of the emotions of the inner cave man. Only in this way can we wage peace against those who have their rifles ready at hand. What Pakistan needs is a peaceful agitation, an arousal of the patriotic urge to defend Pakistan against all adversaries, even from the State itself.
In a normal article or essay of this type, it would be unavoidable, at this point, to go off in a tangent, producing a stream of facts to support my position, but that is not what is needed here.
Those who find themselves caught-up in the argument to either defend the Pak Army, or to castigate it, must break free from the swift currents of national debate over this, a very large side issue. The real issue here, the ONLY issue here, is the survival of Pakistan as a cohesive state. The Army is NOT the issue, unless it surrenders Pakistan itself to the tender mercies of the controlling, interfering powers. If Kayani has surrendered to an American invasion, then he will have made himself the greatest obstacle to your self-preservation as a free people. In which case, the people would be correct to turn against the Army.
Whether or not the normally inscrutable general has surrendered to Petraeus’ demands and opened a new war front in North Waziristan and accepted widening the NATO offensive into the Tribal Regions, remains to be seen. That is your problem to figure-out, only you must do it before it actually plays-out. Such is the nature of subversive patriotism—Who really defends the homeland and who works for the Empire?
“How do we save the Islamic Republic from the war against Islam?” This is the vital issue that all sides must begin to see in the stark light of blinding reality. If you activate the citizen democracy over saving the state, then you can attend to first issues first, followed later by efforts to resolve the many side issues which are now being used by the hostile powers to blind you. Democratic action will have given birth to a flowering Islamic democracy—an impossible contradiction, according to many knowledgeable experts.
The Empire wants your minds. It is on that mental battlefield where your greatest struggles await.
Peter Chamberlin has been actively opposing all non-defensive war most of his life. Peter’s first petition (as a teenager) was a success in his local community, raising several hundred signatures protesting Nixon’s scapegoating of Lt. Calley for the My Lai incident. He has been very active since 1982 writing letters to newspapers and magazines, as well as recalcitrant national leaders, speaking-out against war, nuclear war, and the impending violent collapse of the Western empire (that is now at hand). Chamberlin has been writing for the Internet since 2005. Started There Are No Sunglasses in 2008.
He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.