Tuesday, December 9

Playing the victim again

It was a pleasure reading Asif Ali Zardari's piece in the NYT. He sympathizes with India. Says he understands the terror on a very personal level. He then calls upon the U.S. and India to join hands with Pakistan and help it, and (of course) give it money to cope with the situation. Nothing new about it really.

But I did think Zardari was being 'courageous' at certain times...

"These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic.

Pakistan continues to pay the price: the legacy of dictatorship, the fatigue of fanaticism, the dismemberment of civil society and the destruction of our democratic infrastructure. The resulting poverty continues to fuel the extremists and has created a culture of grievance and victimhood."

He conveniently shrugs off Pakistan's responsibility and shifts the blame completely to the U.S. While I agree that the U.S.' Cold War politics is to blame for the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Iran and Pakistan, it is not singularly at fault. Pakistan is equally, if not more to blame for its current condition. Zardari seems to be conveniently forgetting how Pakistan started its terrorist activities in Kashmir in the 1970's. It was Pakistan's independent India policy at the time, not some Cold War consequence.

Zardari further pleads, "Pakistan’s fledgling democracy needs help from the rest of the world...The world must act to strengthen Pakistan’s economy and democracy, help us build civil society and provide us with the law enforcement and counterterrorism capacities that will enable us to fight the terrorists effectively."

In short, 'look at us, we are so innocent, poor, victimized, wrongly targeted....' For God's sake! How long is Pakistan going to play the same cards? And how long is the world going to play along? Pakistan's civil government, as far as understand, is impotent when its comes to handling the army and militant activities in the country. It is highly symbolic, a mere facade for the Western world to be forced and even blackmailed into pumping money into a failing state. Afghanistan and Iraq were disastrous, and looking back at the last eight years I would not advocate raiding Pakistan. But stricter action is necessary. Maybe terming it a state-sponsor of terrorism would be a good start.

A state-sponsor of terrorism tag from the U.S. would bring strict sanctions including ban on arms-related exports, controls on exports of dual-use items, prohibitions on economic assistance and ban on Defense Department contracts of more than $100,000 among other things. In short a complete end to all U.S.-Pakistan cooperation since their relations are based precisely on such military and "economic" assistance.

It would have repercussions. The military would have greater reason to rule, claiming that the "democratically" elected government is incapable of governing the people. The militants/terrorists organizations would have a stronger argument for recruitment. Possibly greater backlash in Kashmir and Afghanistan. But at the same time it would cut off at least some supply lines. (I assume that the Pakistani army receiving arms is as good as militants receiving them.) The economy would most definitely collapse. And it would be a failed state in the true sense.

But Pakistan's transgressions are too big to be overlooked any more. There needs to be a punishment. There needs to be some accountability. If someone can come up with an efficient plan to punish the army and government without harming the common people, I would support them whole-heartedly. But till then we cannot afford to, and we should neither forgive nor forget.

Update: All terror roads lead to Pakistan, says US report.

Indian terrorism by the numbers.


Ashutosh said...

Good post. I always fear that Pakistan's Prime Minister is irrelevant. While his words may sound encouraging, the fact is that the line of command starting from him is so fractured and corrupted that it's hard to believe that he is in control. So what if he decides to take action? Will the rogue elements in the ISI and the military nod along? Scant chance. "What do you do about Pakistan"? is a very tough question.

Manasi said...

If only you could change neighbors!

The situation that Pakistan has led itself into is extremely pitiable. I have never understood how the people with similar is not same, genetic framework and culture and history, could produce such contradictory results. While we moved upwards, Pakistan's downward spiral doesn't seem to have an end.For all my sympathizes, I know that a failed Pakistan cannot do us any good. And it is anyone's guess when things might start looking better for them. I just hope they do.