Ideologies, mindsets and perspectives do not drop instantaneously like meteoroids from heaven. Their roots always lie in a series of consequences impinged together with many internal and external affairs. Such was the fate of the militancy in Pakistan. The chronicle dates back to 1979; when in an endeavor to overthrow the growing USSR shadow in Afghanistan, the US implanted the seeds of militancy to serve its purpose. Pakistan, the third world country in child like awe of the superpowers submitted to alliance with US and presented its ground for militancy enrichment. Saudi Arabia played its cards by providing financial backing to this madness for upholding her motives. Books containing sadistic interpretations of Jihad were fed to young vulnerable minds and they underwent carefully designed training schemes. The outcome, a savage army, was then handed weapons and all possible equipment to play on behalf of the big the powers in Afghanistan. All this was done with the label of Jihad. The chase ended a decade bowing victory to US; after which the royalties checked out, leaving Pakistan impregnated with an illegitimate monster. And following the universal trend, the mother had to bear the ignominy and penalties whereas the happy father strutted around indifferently.
So now when the monster grew up and dipped its fangs to spit out its venom, the daggers are pointed to Pakistan-alone. Ironically, the jury is US itself. The outcome of what initially was a wild fire play by more than one participant is now piled on Pakistan’s shoulders exclusively. The different facets of terrorism bred rapidly, and in every episode the verdict proclaimed Pakistan as the sole culprit. Trend wise, both Pakistan government and military are subject to extensive bashing in this respect these days. It is not to say that their part is impeccable in the counter terrorism efforts. But to say that all bungles were committed by one party is exaggeration.
While it is very convenient to arraign Pakistan for not containing the terror activities, what is casually forgotten is the fact that US did an even poorer job in doing the same in Afghanistan. The war that started on Oct 7, 2001 can hardly be termed as a decisive defeat to terrorists even after a decade. Even with the deployment of over 103,700 military personals in what is now in scripted in history as the longest war on US part, the terror networks could not be snubbed down. Their activities not only augmented but also penetrated its tentacles in Pakistan. So, where Pakistan got the daily arm twisting dose of “Do-More!”, the same wasn’t upholded much as a point in Afghanistan. True, militants are not some kind of back street boys who could be rounded up and stashed slickly. But if ten years of substantial crackdown couldn’t bring much happy news from Afghanistan, then putting Pakistan in the shame box for not yielding over night miracles also doesn’t equate the equation proficiently.
The militancy on both sides of the border plays twin role. For Pakistan, the prime nightmares are the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. Not only they are reported to serve as the hub of key terrorists like Maulana Fazlullah, Faqeer Muhammad, Adbul Wali and Hakeemullah but are the launch pad for conducting cross border attacks on Pakistan territory. In view of their momentous potential threat, Pakistan has deployed 147,000 troops at 900 posts along Pak-Afg border. But what now baffles Pakistan military is the new war strategy to pull back NATO and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops from these crucial regions. A detailed article in NY times confirming this news discusses the quizzical clauses of this withdrawal of US military from the grounds ‘it once insisted was central to the campaign against Taliban and Al-Qaeda’. The army pull back from Pech (a remote area in Kunar) raised serious debates and questions since Pech valley was initially referred as central to American campaign against Taliban. The NY article states:-
“The previous strategy emphasized denying sanctuaries to insurgents, blocking infiltration routes from Pakistan and trying to fight away from populated areas, where NATO’s superior firepower could be massed, in theory, with less risk to civilians. The Pech Valley effort was once a cornerstone of this thinking.
The new plan stands as a clear, if unstated, repudiation of earlier decisions. When Gen.Stanley A. McChrystal, the former NATO commander, overhauled the Afghan strategy two years ago, his staff designated 80 “key terrain districts” to concentrate on. The Pech Valley was not one of them.”
The senior military personals from Pakistan voiced their trepidation on this move when the troops started backing off starting from 15th Feb, 2011 stating this would enable the terrorist infiltration from Afghan border to Pakistan’s tribal areas. The apprehensions lay unanswered. This sudden shift of war strategy poses a vital question mark for US policies. Whether it is an insight to incompetency or strategic faults, in any case something just doesn’t add up. These loopholes in US strategic policies don’t get much media coverage. Somehow all media forums are interested in scrutinizing Pakistan government and army only.
Another important raw junction here is the contribution from Arab countries in this respect which always meets a muted silence from US. It remains an established fact that innumerable madrasaas in Pakistan are providing fodder to the terror factories in the form of brainwashed militants and provide safe heavens to terrorists. According to rough estimate, there are over 28, 000 madrasaas in Pakistan with only 8000 registered, with 260 in the capital Islamabad alone. A major portion of the extremist cult from these comes under the banner of Wifaq-ul-Madaris Arabia. Who finances Wifaq-ul-Madaris is an open secret: Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. According to a report in ‘The News’, 74% funding in Punjab to these seminaries was by supplied these foreign sources. Terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamat-Dawa are day light finance receivers from Arab countries. Somehow, this grave reality is always brushed under the carpet when it comes to US foreign policy. Where at one end Pakistan is screwed in a nut bolt for not checking terrorism, this deliberate policy of letting the other extremism contributors swing on loose strings makes quite an incomprehensible puzzle. In fact, not to forget that US itself is one of the key backers of this very dictatorship in Middle East.
The US war against terror from the beginning was not on target. Instead of addressing the palpable core factors, the labors were mostly dedicated to just short term ventures that failed to give much potential results. Endeavors like drones in whose case we are still scratching our head whether Ilyas Kashmiri is 98% dead or 98% alive.
The counter terrorism efforts by US have unequivocally met a let-down owing to flawed policies and bamboozling strategies. Pakistan’s role has now become more of a scape goat for buffering America’s failures in the war against terrorism. An effort that was supposed to save humanity is now more of a cat and mouse chase of saving reputations and such inconsiderate aspirations. And here, we all know that might will be unconditionally hailed as the only right. Humanity has yet to wait.
Disclaimer#1 : My title for this piece was ‘a futile blame game’. the changed one in published version owes to editors.
Disclaimer #2: The criticism is directed to US foreign policy not US. Note the difference.