By SHAHID AZIZ, The Nation, September 13, 2008
Current US strategy for the War On Terror, adopted by Pakistan, has produced devastating results for the country. It has increased extremism, violence and terrorism in Pakistan and the government has lost credibility since it is playing the US game in the region. Besides the focus on the use of military instrument, other steps like education, economic development and measures adopted under the 'visionary enlightened moderation' are long-term and cannot influence the current situation. Our strategic alignment with the US war in Afghanistan has no support within the country, other than in elite drawing rooms. US meddling in our internal affairs has further disillusioned the people from the government. Frontier Province is almost out of hand, Balochistan is simmering to explode, and Karachi has been taken hostage by Altaf Hussain and Baitullah Mehsud, who are jointly prompting a great massacre. Is a 'foreign hand' goading them on? Or do we simply explain it by saying that we are in habit of externalising our problems?
By deliberately spreading extremism and terrorism in Pakistan and through intense exhortations on the media, we are trying to rally the people behind War On Terror. Given the social, political and economic milieu, as well as the state of governance in Pakistan, the government's support for this war cannot last very long. It is time to drop the pretentious.
The Bush administration's new policy of denying sanctuary in Pakistan to Taliban, not constrained by concerns regarding Pakistan's stability, is already unfolding and showing the strains it is causing on our polity. Entry of US troops in Pakistan is an attack on our national sovereignty, or whatever is left of it. The consequences could be horrendous, both for Pakistan and the US. Militants would multiply by the thousands. Pakistan Army would not be able to support US operations, or else its command structure would collapse.
Financial crisis and street unrest would create chaos in the country. Extremists would be pushed deeper into Pakistan and war will spread, making the US far more vulnerable. Pakistan would be destabilised, presenting the US with the final challenge, or perhaps the opportunity, to tackle Pakistan and attempt to denuclearise it by having our nuclear arsenal declared dangerous under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and ordered to be placed under safe custody of the IAEA. When the Army is fully committed on internal security duties, will the Indian Army be, then, deployed on our borders to complete the scenario for dismembering the country? One wonders if an implosion is being engineered.
There is no War On Terror going on in the region. US presence is creating more hatred and more 'terrorists'. There is no solution to be found on this road. The solution lies only in search for peace, but that has been forbidden by the US.
War On Terror has come to mean defeating and destroying the concept of political Islam as an ideology. The more the Muslims are cornered, the more political will Islam become. You cannot kill this idea with guns. Religions cannot be destroyed through force, not even brute force.
There is no search for Osama going on here. Osama will be found only when the US has created another greater threat to be presented to the world. Then Osama will not be needed any more, as an alibi. Then, a new drama of terror will unfold.
The writer is a former Chief of the General Staff.
The War in Pakistan: U.S. attacks on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets are risky -- and necessary: Editorial, Washington Post, September 14, 2008