Pakistani links with terror: A brave analysis from a former Pakistani army officer
Why only Pakistanis?
By Kamran Shafi
It may well be that the London bombings happened only because of Britain's pillion-rider" (according to the think-tank Chatham House) status in the US assault on Iraq. It may well be that Muslims are enraged at what is happening to their own across the world. But why is it that most of the terrorists who go about the world trying to bomb themselves and others to oblivion have the deepest linkages to Pakistan? From Reid the shoe-bomber to three of the four London bombers, all of them had their teachers and guides in Pakistani madrassas? Why?
I ask because it is not as if we stand out in any way amongst the Ummah: it is not as if we are the most aware among our co-religionists; it is not that we are the best 'Muslims' that we should so 'stand up' for the down-trodden Iraqis and Afghans; neither is it that we as a people are the most politically sensitized. So why are we in the forefront of terrorism across the world? For those who would make the point that the three London bombers were born, brought up and educated in Britain and so their being of Pakistani descent is neither here nor there, I would ask why there aren't any Lebanese or Syrians or Libyans or Moroccans or Tunisians born, brought up and educated in England among the suicide bombers? Indeed, why aren't there any Iraqis and Afghans among them? Why?
Simple: Pakistan is the hub of terrorism it is due to the thousands of un-regulated madrassas teaching the poison that we saw spewed in London. All due to the fact that clerics can do in Pakistan what they want, in blatant disregard of the law no matter how loud the talk and how visible the posturing. Just listen carefully to what the mullahs say in their Friday sermons in the mosques and you will know what I mean. Every single khutba is laden with hate and rancor.
As I suggested last week, the mullahs are cosseted by the Establishment which goes back a long way with them. Do we not remember well the fact that the Establishment quite shamelessly used these pet obscurant mullahs and clerics against its enemies whenever it felt at risk: even internally against democratically elected civilian governments?
Indeed, so deep is our Establishment's involvement with terror that all manner of desperado and yahoo has been allowed to breeze into and out of our country, on his journey towards some dastardly act or the other: witness the beauty of Something or other Reid, who tried to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic, and who visited the Land of the Pure three or four times within the space of a year or so. How come? Let me ask for the umpteenth time: how did this man get a visa to travel to Pakistan considering the fact that he was a no-good petty criminal, a dirty, filthy, bum who lived on the mean streets of London? I mean it takes sifarish to get my Brit friends Pakistani visas longer than one month's duration, so how come Reid walked into and out of the country at will?
If the Big General REALLY wants to sort out the supporters of terror within the corridors of power in Islamabad the Beautiful, he should order an immediate inquiry into the granting of visas to Reid. I'll bet he'll find the godfathers of most of the bad boys who go about giving our country a bad name.
As an aside shouldn't we be grateful to the British for granting at least some Pakistanis five-year multiple-entry visas when we allow their citizens, very respectable ones too, just one month single-entry visas? Somebody in the FO/Interior Ministry wake up please: our visa officers in London should turn cart-wheels at every application to visit the Islamic Republic, considering the 'soft-image' getting softer and all.
More posturing: The Big General is quoted thus in our press, saying to General Abizaid the C-in-C Central Command and lord of all he surveys from Iraq to Afghanistan: "Now, we want our borders to be respected in the war of terrorism and will not put up with future border breaches." Obviously as a reaction to the Americans crossing the border in pursuit of the Taliban and killing 20-something of them two weeks ago. Of course, this was an action against Taliban whom we said were not there in the first place, when our various spokesmen locked horns with Zalmay Khalilzad, the ill-selected US ambassador to Afghanistan now dispatched to Iraq.
How the General will enforce his warning to General Abizaid, a slightly BIGGER General than any of ours, commanding an Army a little more powerful than ours, we don't know. Could it be that our 'bum' gives him heart? Or the fact that he is a tight buddy of Dubya's? Neither will help I am afraid, which prompts me to say that this is yet another example of loud talk which can never be matched with action should the Americans decide to, say, cross the border another time or, say, bomb Parachinar tomorrow. Far better, is it not, that we try and keep our noses as clean as possible? And hope for the best?
(Kamran Shafi is a retired Pakistan army officer and freelance columnist. He writes regularly for The Daily Times and The News International, Pakistan)