Pakistan: America's Frankenstein
Christopher Hitchens wrote recently in Vanity Fair that "if Pakistan were a character, it would resemble the one described by Alexander Pope in his Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot:
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike.
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike:
Alike reserved to blame, or to commend,
A timorous foe, and a suspicious friend …
So well-bred Spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
It’s become an open secret the world over that Pakistan is playing the United States and has long done so, smiling and nodding as they accept billions in aid from their western patron, while they either actively collude with American enemies or at best, turn a blind eye to the angry turbaned men with kohl-rimmed eyes playing in the sandbox they dug up next door in Afghanistan. Yet the US + company carry on along the same course, accepting Pakistan's behaviour as a fact of life. The money continues to pour in; the Pakistani ISI and army snort and connive, and their government’s executive bashfully shrugs as if to say, what can we do? This is how the game is played.
The US seems trapped in a static psychosis, resolved to the idea that the only way to work with Pakistan is to grin and bear their indiscretions, occasionally berating them publicly and privately so that things don’t fall over the edge completely.
But the stream of bad news spilling out of Pakistan over the last month should put it into sharp relief that things are so far over the edge already that the country so often said to be a tinder box waiting to explode is in fact ablaze.
Only three weeks after Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad was tortured to death, with all signs pointing to the ISI as responsible, another journalist, Waqar Kiani, was picked up by what appeared to be government officials, who detained and beat him. It was his second such experience, as reported by The Guardian, which also noted,
With 16 journalists killed in the past 18 months, Pakistan is the world's most dangerous country for journalists. Reporters die in suicide bombs, political violence and assassination, targeted by both Islamist militants and government agents.
Last week, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Pakistani terrorist organization, reportedly published an open letter addressed to Quetta's Hazara community, a religious and ethnic minority belonging to the Shia sect. Here is an excerpt from the English translation of the letter:
All Shias are wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of killing). We will rid Pakistan of [this] unclean people. Pakistan means land of the pure, and the Shias have no right to be here. We have the fatwa and signatures of the revered ulema in which the Shias have been declared kaafir [infidel]. Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shia-Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia-Hazaras, from every city, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue [in the future]. We will make Pakistan their graveyard — their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. We will only rest when we fly the flag of true Islam on this land.
Given the recent violent attacks against Hazaras in Pakistan (which earned barely any mention in media coverage outside of the region), the prevalence and impact of hate speech like the above should be garnering more alarm. It's yet one more indicator of the rising heat in the tinder box, like the pogroms againt Jews that grew successfully closer together and more violent in the years leading up to the Holocaust. Then, like now, the outside world brushed it off, until the xenophobia and violence became earth shattering.
On top of the country's rogue security sector agencies, its war against free expression, the blistering racism and bigotry, there is the disaster of public education in Pakistan. This is perhaps the country's greatest failure, and the deepest cause of the extremism spreading through Pakistan like a cancer.
Between 2002 and 2008, of some $11 billion in US aid, Pakistan spent $8 billion on its military. A piddly $100 million was spent on education in the same period. Into the void have come the poorly regulated madrassahs, opening their doors to the country's millions of poor families. Parents handover their boys who get food and shelter at the sacrifice of their conscience. The indoctrination promptly begins as children are turned into the fodder for Islamo-fascism, all under the guise of "school". Recent western media coverage has only just started venturing towards digging up how deeply the problem lies and how causally linked it is to the steady stream of killers flowing into Afghanistan, who take Afghan, American and Coalition lives. The media reports have shed some light onto the systematic militant training machine that the madrassahs effectively function as, such as the story of Arshad Khan detailed by the Christian Science Monitor on June 16, or Newsweek's excellent April 24 feature, The Jihadi High School which investigates the schools serving as insurgent recruitment centres in the Afghan refugee camps in and around Peshawar.
If you follow events in Pakistan closely, you can't miss the rising stench of rot, the markers everywhere of a nation hellbent on annihilation for itself and its neighbours. Foreign aid has not contained Pakistani lunacy, it's enboldened it. America's insistence that Pakistan is a well-meaning ally is farcical at this point. Like indulgent parents whose spoiled children turn into sordid, ignominious adults, the policy of appeasement and hoping for better behaviour is yielding little in the way of results, but reassures Pakistan that it's two-facedness will continue to be bankrolled.
The status quo simply can't continue. The prevalence of hostility towards minorities that often manifests into violent attacks, the blight of the madrassahs and the hateful extremism they breed so efficiently, and the aggressive assault against the few people trying to tell the truth about their government should speak louder to the US than the winking politicians who say, we're your friends. It's time to pay attention to the alarm bells ringing everywhere and confront Pakistan's malevolence head on.
Lauryn Oates is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist.