By lex, on May 6th, 2011
Aatish Taseer * was born in Britain, son of a Pakistani businessman who turned to politics, his mother a high caste Indian woman. His father ended up as the governor of Punjab Province, Pakistan, and was murdered by his own bodyguard for criticizing that country’s blasphemy laws. Educated at Amherst, living in New Dehli and London, Taseer is very much a man of the world.
And he doesn’t like what he’s seeing from the Pakistani army:
The veil has been lifted. The truth revealed is so awful that one is tempted to look away, but we must not. For the first time since the war on terror began, we now have the clearest view of our enemy’s other face. And it is not that of a bearded jihadi but of a serving officer in the Pakistani army.
Let us be clear about what happened last week: Osama bin Laden ** was not just found living in Abbottabad, there out of some inverse logic of his own. He was found in this garrison town because he was the guest of the army. And now the charges against this army and its agencies are manifold.
They range from duplicity in Afghanistan, both aiding the Americans and their adversaries, to a rich trade in nuclear technology with the world’s worst countries, to – as senior members of the Indian establishment have claimed – helping to plan and execute the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Pakistan’s neighbours – India and Afghanistan – are hoarse in the throat from repeating that it is the Pakistani army that is the source of jihad in south Asia.
Yet for all these charges against it, this army has thrived in the ever-smaller gap between perception and reality. This is why bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad is significant: it represents the moment when perception and reality become one. And what a frightening reality it is: a vast and nuclear-armed military exposed for not just being the enemy of peace in south Asia but probably the ultimate sponsor and protector of terrorism against the west.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Colin Powell went to Islamabad to tell Pervez Musharraf’s military government that it was time to choose sides between Western civilization and violent Islamist extremism. The carrot was the promise of military and developmental aid, over $18 billion so far. The stick was the implicit threat that if Pakistan could not sort out its messy internal troubles, the US would find a way to do it for them.
Taseer further writes that the Pakistani army has become and end to itself, consuming 25% of the country’s GDP, undermining the civil government and entwining itself in the real economy. But armies need enemies to justify their existence, and the army’s illicit embrace of terrorist groups like Lashkar e-Toiba guaranteed that they would continue to find one in India.
Powell’s visit to Pakistan offered that country the choice between broader national prosperity and growth on the one hand, and continued national dominance on the other. The military tried to choose both. With the carefully constructed veil of alliance with the US in shreds and tatters, the army is waking up to the fact that they may have neither.
The dual realities of bin Laden’s revealed presence in the garrison city of Abbottabad and the military’s inability to defend its own sovereignty from American assault has left the nuclear armed force deeply humiliated.
It will be “interesting” to see what happens next.
* 10-23-2018 Link Gone; no replacements found – Ed.
** 10-23-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.