Posted on 22-06-2011
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

These are difficult times for Pakistan and its citizens. Since the 1980’s Pakistan’s military rulers have ridden the tiger of Islamic radicalism to bleed arch-rival India and install pliant regimes in Afghanistan.  However, Pakistan is now discovering how hard it is get off the tiger.  In recent years jihadists have slaughtered innocents in Pakistan’s cities, countryside, mosques, schools and even military bases.  Then came the national humiliation of the American military attack that killed Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani cantonment town of Abbotabad, a stone’s throw from its national military academy.

The raid that eliminated Bin Laden was a double humiliation: First, because the most wanted man in the world was found ensconced comfortably in the heart of Pakistan (leading to suspicions he was protected by Pakistan’s secret service agency the ISI).  Second, because the Americans launched a military raid deep into Pakistan without the Pakistani army’s knowledge or without them being able to do anything about it.

Not given to deep introspection, the military establishment has focused on the latter and has made ham handed to warn the Americans about future Pakistani cooperation against the Taliban by playing the China card.  Unfortunately for the generals, more humiliation was to come.  The Bin Laden raid was followed by a daring terrorist attack on a naval base, possibly with inside involvement.

All of this has severely dented the credibility of the Pakistani military establishment, previously immune from domestic criticism.  Yet criticism of the military can be fatal.  Shortly after writing about Al-Qaeda infiltration of the Pakistani navy, journalist Saleem Shahzad was found beaten to death – allegedly in ISI custody.  Which brings us to the indomitable Asma Jahangir.

Along with her sister Hina Jalani, Jahangir has been one of Pakistan’s foremost human rights advocates who bravely stands up for women’s right in the face of fundamentalist neanderthals.  In the clip below she boldly eviscerates the Pakistani military for sheer incompetence, impotence and venality.

For those of you who do n0t understand Urdu a rough translation from the blogger Beena Sarwar is provided below:

I don’t need to get a medal for patriotism especially from those who belong to the establishment. We must talk harshly and realistically. I remember during the Bangladesh war, we heard the same discourse. People said that those who criticised the army action in Bangladesh were not patriots. My father was imprisoned; many people we know called me the child of a traitor. But I know that the army’s policy – they are duffers, political duffers (idiots). If you go along with their policy the way we have been doing, Pakistan will not progress. I don’t care what people in America or Africa think. I want our people to be saved from the army. They have put us in a situation where terrorism is cropping up at every corner and neighbourhood. They encourage and support it, detract from debate. They’ve got a whole propaganda machinery going. I am not saying that this goes for all soldiers, but for these generals who play golf and laugh, and keep an eye out for plots. What happened in Karachi – there was a wedding hall at that sensitive place. They’ve made us their slaves. It is time to say please, with folded hands, go back to your barracks, let our children live here. We don’t want bloodshed. If you want acclaim, go and fight – and win — a war. You fought Kargil, killed the Light Infantry soldiers. You’ve become used to making young boys into human shields. You can’t fight, or run the country, or make policy. You are the ‘qabza group’ (land grabbers) of this country. Politicians and everyone should say this clearly. If you ask me, I can give several examples of their stupidity. We need to take out a procession on Mall Road, with folded hands, to say please go home, you ‘eating drinking’ party.”

 

Brave words against a military establishment whose raison d’être has been anti-India hostility, towards which end it leeches off a quarter of impoverished Pakistan’s budget in a unwinnable military race with its far larger and stronger neighbor.  In the process the army lost Pakistan its eastern wing in 1971.  And 3 out of its remaining 4 provinces (not counting the so-called Azad Kashmir) are seething with discontent at domination by the Punjabi majority.  It is a pity that Pakistan’s venal civilian politicians are incapable of fulfilling the promise of its brave human rights activists like Asma Jahangir.  Until a competent civilian leadership emerges, Pakistan will continue to be dominated by its incompetent uniformed thugs.

 

 

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