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Do not trust Pakistan

Do not trust Pakistan

Author: Editorial
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: December 3, 2001

Though the vast paraphernalia of terror which the Taliban and its spiritual leader, Osama bin Laden, had gathered over the years is yet to be completely destroyed, there is no doubt any more that the US-led alliance would finish the task at hand. The total annihilation of the Talibans, al Qaida and bin Laden would automatically mean a big blow to Pakistan which was the surrogate father of all three. For sure, the fall of Kabul and other areas in Afghanistan was a great setback for Pakistan.

In the couple of weeks before the aerial campaign by the US jets bore fruit, armchair military strategists and ordinary Pakistanis had rushed to pooh-pooh the US strategy against terror. But following the fall of Kabul, the same critics are canvassing restraint by the western alliance in going after Mullah Omar and bin Laden.

Camouflaging their real concern for the well-being of the Talibans, these people couch their counsels in humanitarian terms, suggesting that a prolonged campaign to smash the last remaining fortress of the Taliban, that is, Kandhar, would result in needless bloodshed. Mercy is not what the harbourers of terrorists deserve and it is hoped that soon the unfinished business of flattening the forces of terror would be completed to the satisfaction of the free, and, dare we say, civilized, world.

However the elimination of Terrorist Inc. headed by Taliban and bin Laden will mark only half a victory for the US-led alliance. The other half of the problem being Pakistan-based, the Americans would have to deal sternly with the generals in Islamabad in order to ensure that it does not sponsor another terrorist outfit for furthering its geopolitical interests. For, the truth remains that under the Talibans Afghanistan had virtually become a client State of Pakistan.

It was a curious spectacle to witness General Musharraf paying lip service to the US cause in its on-going campaign against terror while his cloak and dagger agency, ISI, and Pakistani soldiers fought shoulder-to-shoulder against the Americans and the Northern Alliance. Such a dichotomy in official Pakistani policy would have been indefensible but for the fact that in the post-September 11 phase the Americans did not appear keen to ruffle too many feathers. But sooner than later they would have to come to terms with Pakistani duplicity and crack the whip against the two-timing Pak administration.

Indeed it is notable that despite swearing by the US-led alliance against the Taliban, Islamabad continued to be the sole nation in the world to have recognised the decrepit Mullah Omar regime. That the so-called Taliban Ambassador in Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, continued to address crowded press conferences till over a month into the military campaign against his country was in itself stark proof of Pakistani duplicity. Only when the Americans demonstrably gained an upper hand in their military campaign did Islamabad ask Zaeef to shut up shop and go home. And this was done clearly at the behest of the Americans who were fed up by the propaganda by Zaeef and his deputy at their daily press conference. Also, when it was clear that the Taliban were no longer in a position to hold on to Afghanistan, Pakistan asked them to close down their consulates in Quetta and Peshawar as well and simultaneously de-recognised the Taliban regime.

While, on record, the Americans continue to pat General Musharraf on his back for his alleged support to their war effort against terror, there is no denying the fact that in reality they are highly suspicious of the Pakistan Government. Their concerns also stem from the fact that a large number of Pakistani soldiers were killed in Afghanistan while fighting along with the Talibans.

The reported collusion between two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists and bin Laden too was a matter of grave concern for the Americans since they did not want the mad mullahs to have an access to a nuclear device whether crude or refined. Given the treacherous role of Pakistan in the war against terror, it is hoped that the Americans in particular and the world at large would turn their attention to that misbegotten country. Pakistan is in the grip of Islamic fundamentalists who identify openly with the Talibans.

The current campaign against terror in the neighbouring Afghanistan might have temporarily subdued the Pak Talibans and marginalised Islamabad but it would be a mistake to rely on Pakistan as a long-term ally of freedom and democracy. In sum, after settling Afghanistan, please turn your gaze to Pakistan because it is the real hub of Terror Inc.
 


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