The original sin

“If one were to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) today, then all roads would intersect in Pakistan." Says a study entitled "World at Risk" by an American Congressional commission. Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright came up with the view that, "Pakistan has everything that gives you an international migraine. It has nuclear weapons; it has terrorism, extremists, corruption and is very poor". The report "World at risk" urged US president to take steps for securing Islamabad's biological and nuclear weapons. This is how some sections in the US view Pakistan: most dangerous country on the surface of earth, not only instable but having the potential to destabilize neighbouring region and its Generals with suicidal urge ever ready to go nuclear in the event of war with India. Especially in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks criticism of Pakistan has gained sharp edge. Such criticism and vilification of Pakistan has also become a sort of daily routine in the Western print and electronic media. India, on the other hand, in spite of its state sponsored terrorism and its unfair treatment of Muslims and Christians is being treated more sympathetically. It is rising gradually in Western estimation and is seen as a tragic victim of international terrorism being sponsored by Pakistan. It is true all is not well in Pakistan, its North Western tribal territories are on fire, virtually without government control, a section of its population has embraced Jihadist ideology and act independently of governmental control, waging war against American-led Western troops in Afghanistan or on Pakistani troops back home or going on suicidal mission to India. But constant mantra of Pakistan being a failed state, sponsor of global terrorism or as a "nation itself is a kind of WMD" is most unfair. Views like these don't take into account the core reasons leading to today's terrible mess of terrorism and instability in Pakistan. Instability and insecurity in Pakistan came as long-term consequence of Pakistan's association and partnership with the US for safeguarding and furthering America's own strategic interests in the region. If today forces of chaos, terrorism and instability are sending shock waves across the region then it is the US which committed the original sin of creating same forces. The word Jihad is nowadays associated with all the negative connotations in the West but the same Islamic injunction was systematically invoked by America to motivate and encourage the Muslims fight against the Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan. It became America's strategic objective to give the Soviets a bleeding nose in Afghanistan and the idea of Jihad against the infidel Soviets came handy in motivating Muslims fight against the Soviets. Guerilla warfare requires sufficient level of commitment and Americans realised very well that invoking Jihad against the godless Soviets could give the Afghan fighters the required level of commitment to engage the Soviets in a protracted war. This is how Jihad was launched with American and Western blessings and Mujahideen were launched into Afghanistan's killing fields from Pakistan's border areas. Today whole of the Western world is behind the US in demanding Pakistan to put a stop to cross border infiltration of Taliban into Afghanistan but the same trend of cross border raids was set with the active encouragements of US in the days of Soviet occupation. Today's Taliban are merely following a guerilla tradition of Islamic Jihadist kind of Soviet days sanctioned by the US. There are some telling historical parallels helping to better understand the idea discussed. Then Soviet-backed Afghan government headed by PDPA was internationally recognised and had itself requested Soviet military assistance or intervention in 1979 to fight rebels who had taken up arms against the government for its Soviet-styled reforms. Once the US began to aid and arm the Mujahideen, the Soviet Union and Afghan government raised the issue of cross border intervention by Pakistan and American-backed Mujahideen, very much in present day Karzai like manner. But such diplomatic protests went largely ignored at that time by the international community. Now with the benefit of hindsight we can see where America went wrong. It is America which didn't show farsightedness at that time, not realising that indoctrinating Muslims with heavy doses of jihad could become dangerous. Defeating the Soviets became America's obsession and the rest was postponed to the later day. The Mujahideen were wrongly credited for causing the Soviet Union to collapse, though they during the struggle couldn't capture a single town on Afghan soil. Puffed up with too high notions of themselves, the Afghan war veterans began to nourish dream of dismantling the remaining infidel super power. Again it was USA which left Afghanistan at its own after Soviet troops withdrawal. America didn't maintain a constructive engagement with Afghanistan, the country fell to civil war and Al Qaeda got a foothold in the area and this is how Taliban - Al Qaeda nexus came into being, destabilizing the entire world. It is Al Qaeda which through its subtle propaganda began to influence and infiltrate the Muslims in the entire world, even in the educated ones living in the Western countries. 9/11, 7/7, Madrid bombings, Bali bombing and all other acts of terrorism had been inspired by al Qaeda ideology. So if one were to apportion blame for present day acts of terrorism, then we should accuse America in the first place for committing this cardinal sin of creating this jinni. Now this jinni is out of the bottle troubling every one. America cultivated Jihad passion among the Muslims, recruited and trained Jihadi fighters from across the world and now the same Jihadis are every where from Morocco to Indonesia, from Britain to Australia. America aimed to teach Soviets a lesson in Afghanistan but it were the Muslim fighters who learnt the greatest lessons that super powers can be defeated through strong faith and jihad. The lesson of Afghan war have ever since been inspiring Jihadi fighters all over the world. But such bare facts are always ignored and spotlight always comes over Pakistan. It is suspected of wrong doing for variety of reasons. Firstly, because the big players of Jihadi ideology are well ensconced in Pakistan's tribal regions, threatening Western world with acts of terrorism and also because Pakistan army is suspected to still retain some closer links to some of the Jihadi outfits for having some sort of leverage in Afghanistan and Indian occupied Kashmir. Further complication comes with Pakistan's nuclear weapons and the relating fear that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal might fall into the hands of Jihadist or Islamic minded generals. This all is the stuff West's nightmares are made of and that is why some people in the West like to consider Pakistan a "suicidal state" or terrorist state or they talk of multiple threats emanating from Pakistan threatening the entire world. These major threats the world has yet to see, but in Pakistan these threats have seen their actual realisation. Pakistan's siding with the West in War on Terror triggered violent Taliban backlash, making Pakistan their legitimist target. For the Taliban America is far away, they indeed engage NATO troops in Afghanistan but Pakistan is their own country, have their sympathizers in every nook and corner and have far more easier targets in Pakistan than any where else in the world. Pakistan's support for the US in Afghanistan hasn't come at a cheap price. It has bled Pakistan white. It is better for the West to realise the crises Pakistan is passing through, a crises foisted on Pakistan due to West's lack of foresight. Half way across the world America came to Pakistan's tribal areas to give the Soviet Union its Vietnam War, and when it left Afghanistan lay in rubbles and second time it came to Afghanistan proper but its presence destabilized Pakistan. It is true America being a friend of Pakistan doesn't want to see anarchy and instability in Pakistan, but censure and condemnation of Pakistan by American and European think tanks and media leaves a bad taste in Pakistan. To understand how much anti-Pakistani bias Western media retains, readers should check ISI chief's interview to German news agency Spiegel and have it compared with Afghan spy chief's interview by the same news agency. Condemnation and criticism of Pakistan comes easy for Indians but Pakistanis get a rude shock if Westerners begin to speak the same Indian language and heap all sorts of blame and criticism over their country. Pakistan is passing rough and tumble time, dogged by crises and challenges. The need today is to help Pakistan get over the crises, not to criticise it for all that goes by the name of terrorism.

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