Date: 11 Dec 2008







                                                                                                                                                     Facing the truth

 by Irfan Husain

Even in my remote bit of paradise, news of distant disasters filters through: above the steady sound of waves breaking on the sandy beach in Sri Lanka, I was informed by several news channels about the sickening attacks on Mumbai. My Internet connection is erratic and slow, but nevertheless, I have been bombarded with emails, asking me for my take on this latest atrocity.


Over the last few years, I have travelled to several countries across four continents. Everywhere I go, I am asked why Pakistan is now the focal point of Islamic extremism and terrorism, and why successive governments have allowed this cancer to fester and grow. As a Pakistani, it is obviously embarrassing to be put on the spot, but I can see why people everywhere are concerned. In virtually every Islamic terrorist plot, whether it is successful or not, there is a Pakistani angle. Often, foreign terrorists have trained at camps in the tribal areas; others have been brainwashed in madressahs; and many more have been radicalised by the poisonous teachings of so-called religious leaders.


Madeline Albright, the ex-US secretary of state, has called Pakistan 'an international migraine', saying it was a cause for global concern as it had nuclear weapons, terrorism, religious extremists, corruption, extreme poverty, and was located in a very important part of the world. While none of this makes pleasant reading for a Pakistani, Ms Albright's summation is hard to refute. Often, the truth is painful, but most Pakistanis refuse to see it. Instead of confronting reality, we are in a permanent state of denial. This ostrich-like posture has made things even worse.


Most Pakistanis, when presented with the fact that our country is now the breeding ground for the most violent ideologies, and the most vicious gangs of thugs who kill in the name of religion, go back in history to explain and justify their presence in our country. They refer to the Afghan war, and the creation of an army of holy warriors to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Then they go on to complain that the Americans quit the region soon after the Soviets did, leaving us saddled with the problem of jihadi fighters from all over the Muslim world camped on our soil.


What we conveniently forget is that for most of the last two decades, the army and the ISI used these very jihadis to further their agenda in Kashmir and Afghanistan. This long official link has given various terror groups legitimacy and a domestic base that has now come to haunt us. Another aspect to this problem is the support these extremists enjoy among conservative Pakistani and Arab donors. Claiming they are fighting for Islamic causes, they attract significant amounts from Muslim businessmen here and abroad. And almost certainly, they also benefited from official Saudi largesse until 9/11.


Now that government policy is to distance itself from these jihadis, we find that many retired army officers have continued to train them in camps being run in many parts of Pakistan. A few weeks ago, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a prominent (and very loud) minister under both Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf, openly boasted on TV of running a camp for Kashmiri fighters on his own land just outside Rawalpindi a few years ago. If such camps can be set up a few miles from army headquarters, what's to stop them from operating in remote areas?

Many foreign and local journalists have exposed aspects of the terror network that has long flourished in Pakistan. Names, dates and addresses have been published and broadcast. But each allegation has been met with a brazen denial from every level of officialdom. Just as we denied the existence of our nuclear weapons programme for years, so too do we refuse to accept the presence of extremist terrorists.


For years, it suited the army and the ISI to secretly harbour and support these groups in Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan. While officially denying that they had anything to do with these jihadis, money and arms from secret sources would reach them regularly. Despite our spooks maintaining plausible deniability, enough information about this covert support for jihadis has emerged for the fig-leaf to slip. And even if the intelligence community has now cut its links with these terrorists, the genie is out of the bottle.


Each time an atrocity like Mumbai occurs, and Pakistan is accused of being involved, the defensive mantra chanted by the chorus of official spokesmen is: "Show us the proof." The reality is that in terrorist operations planned in secret, there is not much of a paper trail left behind. Nine times out of ten, the perpetrators do not survive to give evidence before a court. But in this case, one terrorist did survive, and Ajmal Amir Kamal's story points to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. The sophistication of the attack is testimony to careful planning and rigorous training.

This was no hit-and-run operation, but was intended to cause the maximum loss of life.

Pakistan's foreign minister said that Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism. While this is certainly true, the rest of the world wants to know whey we aren't doing more to root out the training camps, and lock up those involved. Given the vast un-audited amounts from the exchequer sundry intelligence agencies lay claim to, their failure to be more effective against internal terrorism is either a sign of incompetence, or of criminal collusion. Benazir Bhutto's murder, after an earlier attempt and many warnings, is a reminder of how poorly we are served by our intelligence agencies.


And while the diplomatic fallout from the Mumbai attack spreads and threatens to escalate into an armed confrontation, the biggest winners are those who carried out the butchery of so many innocent people. It is to their advantage to prevent India and Pakistan from coordinating their fight against terrorism. Tension between the two neighbours suits them, while peace and cooperation threatens their very existence.


The world is naturally concerned about the danger posed by these terror groups to other countries. However, the biggest threat they pose is to Pakistan itself. Until Pakistanis grasp this brutal reality and muster up the resolve necessary to crush them, these killers will tear the country apart.

Original article at:



 Essay From Pakistan





Let some sense creep in some time...  can't fool all the people all the time !


The 'Indian' threat' : The notion that everything wrong with Pakistan was India's fault was the most popular perception of the 90s and its now creeping back in 

By Ammar Ali Jan


As a child of the nineties, I remember how India was the number one whipping boy with our establishment and the government-controll ed media. Every night, on PTV Khabarnama, we would hear about the atrocities being committed by the Indian army against the 'freedom fighters' in Jammu and Kashmir. Not only was there an outright condemnation of everything Indian, there was also a plethora of songs and TV serials (my childhood favourite being Alpha Bravo Charlie) in favour of the jawans. At the same time, we were told that everything wrong that happened in Pakistan was somehow a 'Hindu' conspiracy. Like many other kids my age, I believed the only way to be patriotic was to hate India and to love the Pakistani military.

This depiction of India as enemy number one has been the main reason for the army's enormous influence in all the decision-making in Islamabad .This concerted effort to glorify the army was being carried out when the establishment was also busy vilifying all politicians as corrupt and 'national security threats'. This perception ensured the smooth takeover by the military on Oct 12, 1999. The fact that Musharraf could not act as strongly as he promised vis-a-vis India not only meant that public attention was diverted from the 'Indian' threat, it also undermined the rais'on d'etre for a powerful national security state.

However, with the return to civilian rule, we are witnessing another attempt by the establishment to demonise the Indian state and to portray the civilian government as 'weak' on national security. Unfortunately, people like Ansar Abbasi and Shireen Mazari, who otherwise supported the democratic movement against the generals, have started taking an extraordinarily hawkish line on India in their recent articles. From the Balochistan insurgency to suicide bombings to the trouble in the tribal regions, everything is being blamed on the Indians. Knowing the disastrous consequences (read military takeover) of a view that depicts civilians as weak on national security, it is important to demonstrate the problems with this hypothesis and also to show how no one but our own national security apparatus has to be blamed for the mess we find ourselves in today.

To begin with, we must review the history of our India policy. Immediately after partition, Pakistan went to war with India in 1948 over the disputed territory of Kashmir. This resulted in the formulation of India as an existentialist threat for the new state, at least in the minds of our establishment. Pakistan moved closer to the US with the signing of the Baghdad pact in 1954 in order to counter India's strategic partnership with the Soviet Union. Relying on our friend Uncle Sam, our establishment tried to 'liberate' Kashmir by launching operation Gibraltar in 1965. In this operation, the Pakistan army sent in fighters and arms into Kashmir in order to ignite a rebellion in the State. This adventure was a terrible failure and lead to the 'surprise' attack on Lahore by the Indians.

Colonel SG Mehdi, who was heading the SSG just before the 1965 war, wrote a fascinating article in 1998 that demonstrated how childish the entire plan was and why he opposed this needless provocation on part of the Pakistani military high command. He also states in the same article that if a thorough inquiry had been conducted into the failures of the 1965 war, we could have avoided the 1971 debacle. However, our official historians celebrate the 6th of Sept as Defence day by narrating the heroics of the Pakistan army in saving Pakistan from a disaster. They never explain how the army high command created that disaster to begin with.

During this time, our establishment played the India card to quell any opposition to the state. Wali Khan, leader of the National Awami Party (NAP), was declared an Indian agent and hence incarcerated. Nationalist leaders in Balochistan, Sindh and East Pakistan met the same fate. In fact, a military operation was launched against the people of East Pakistan on charges that they had joined 'Hindu' India in a conspiracy to break the 'Muslim' Pakistan.

This nonsensical conspiracy theory for the 1971 war is endlessly repeated in our history books. What this analysis ignores is the treatment meted out to the Bengalis by the Pakistani state. They were denied provincial autonomy and control over their resources, their leadership was jailed, their demands were rejected and on top of all that, a brutal military operation (termed genocide by the Bengalis) was launched against the eastern wing resulting in thousands of casualties.

Keeping in mind the track record of the establishment in dealing with its subjects, is it fair to put the entire blame of this defeat on the shoulders of a foreign player?
Those who thought the '71 defeat would instill some sense into our establishment were to be disappointed. Rather than attempting to improve the relationship between the two countries, ZA Bhutto's government devised the 'strategic depth' policy in which Afghanistan was supposed to give strategic depth to Pakistan in case of a war with India. Islamabad needed a friendly government in Kabul and for this purpose Rabbani's men were trained in Pakistan to set-up a friendly regime in Afghanistan. During General Zia's time, this theory was implemented by added intensity, especially after the Soviet invasion. The Pakistani state, in collaboration with the US, set-up a network of training camps inside Pakistan to wage the Afghan 'Jihad'. Thousands of youngsters were trained and sent to 'liberate' Afghanistan from the Soviet occupation. madrassahs mushroomed all over the country, giving 'strategic depth' to the Mullahs in our society. Anyone who opposed this made in Washington policy was thrown into Zia's notorious jails as a communist sympathiser or an Indian/Hindu agent.
After a victory in a shattered Afghanistan, our establishment now took upon its shoulders the task of liberating its Kashmiri brethren. The boys from the Afghan Jihad were redirected to Kashmir in 1989 and for the next 13 years, our state gave full support to the Kashmiri 'freedom fighters'. This, of course, changed in 2002 when General Musharraf declared these groups as terrorists and rounded up its cadres. Many remain missing even today.
Today, we are witnessing the blowback effect of an incredibly short-sighted policy by our establishment. The tribal areas are in a complete rebellion, the list of suicide bombings is increasing at an alarming rate and a security threat is posed by the madrassahs as demonstrated by the Lal Masjid crisis. Those jihadis nurtured by the state for the past thirty years, supposedly to protect us from the Indian threat, have been a threat to the very survival of the Pakistani state.

In such circumstances, those who are blaming India for all the security problems being faced by Pakistan are delusional at best. We can't be sure what role India is playing in escalating these tensions, but we should have a consensus that the role played by our security apparatus, the agencies that are suppose to protect us, has been terrible to say the least. While those in charge of the security apparatus have made a fortune for themselves, as shown by Ayesha Siddiqui in her book Military Inc., they failed miserably in their real job of protecting Pakistanis by adopting policies without a clear vision.
Even if we take the hawkish line that some journalists and political parties are taking these days, have the army generals fared any better than the civilians even on that account when they were in power? Ayub Khan conceded defeat at Tashkent in 1966, General Niazi surrendered his ninety thousand soldiers to the Indian army at Dhaka, General Zia conceded defeat on Siachin and General Musharraf banned all those groups whom he use to refer to as freedom fighters. Not a heroic record by any stretch of the word!

This does not mean that the Indian security apparatus is any better. They have consistently pointed their fingers at Pakistan whenever something goes wrong. The Indian establishment, much like ours, has failed to recognise its own mistakes, especially in Kashmir where the Indian army has been particularly brutal.

Khalil Jibran in his play Satan makes the point that the priest needs Satan if he wants to remain in business. The same is true for the establishments of India and Pakistan. They need to create fear of the other in order to justify their own existence. What we need is a genuine, people's peace movement in both these countries that can challenge this concept of a national security state. Especially in Pakistan, we need to stop blaming India for the current mess we find ourselves in. Identifying the real culprits will facilitate true accountability, weaken the grip of the army on our state and consequently, will help the democratisation of our State and society.