By Dr Shireen M Mazari
Lest we in Pakistan
saw the Musharraf-Singh Havana meeting as the start
of the stalled dialogue process between Pakistan
and India, the diatribes coming out from New Delhi
post this meeting should make it clear how wrong
we were -- yet again!
India is simply not interested in any serious conflict
resolution dialogue and continues to use the opportunity
for point scoring -- both internally and abroad.
In fact, there seems to be a new belligerency in
New Delhi's tone, with accusations against Pakistan
and its ISI coming out fast and furious.
With such an approach, it hardly seems likely that
there can be any rational dialogue with the Indians
-- unless we take dialogue to mean succumbing to
Indian demands on how to "resolve" the
outstanding conflicts. Perhaps that is what India
is seeking to do with its aggressive rhetoric and
Nor is India alone in this. It seems our conciliatory
tone has been mistaken for an inherent psychological
weakness, with all and sundry attacking the country
and its institutions. The British have had the temerity
to suggest we dismantle the ISI when it is their
intelligence setup that has been hand in glove with
internationally illegal activities such as aiding
and abetting renditions and secret CIA abduction
flights – to name just a few.
And what of the CIA itself? Surely if any agency
deserves to be dismantled it is this institution
which has had a consistent record of political murders
and instigation of regime changes abroad even much
before 9/11 -- and which now seems to have carte
blanche to do as it wishes across the globe.
This is not to write in defense of our intelligence
agency which is under fire, although it is only
fair to point out a simple fact that this agency
does not have an independent identity or structure
since it comprises serving officers from the three
services, who rotate through regular postings. So
it is an integral part of the military bureaucracy
and thus cannot function independently of this bureaucracy,
although it may be a powerful segment of that setup.
This may not fit the imagines of Pakistan's detractors
but this is the reality on the ground.
In any case, the purpose presently is primarily
to point out that the self-appointed guardians of
political morality -- that is, the US and UK have
a far worse record so they should lead by example
and dismantle their agencies guilty of all kinds
of illegal and often murderous activities. In fact,
the British officer who sought to write an "academic"
discourse should first have focused on his own country's
intelligence setups before having the gall to suggest
we dismantle ours. Perhaps he has forgotten that
British imperialism is a thing of the distant past
-- recollection of which requires sending British
troops as far away as the Malvinas (The Falklands
As for the British government's claims that their
officer was simply doing an academic exercise, this
seems to be a new approach to political interventionism
with British and American establishment people writing
"academic" discourses on how to restructure
Muslim states and societies (recall "Blood
Borders") and what institutions should be dismantled
in these countries. There is a pattern emerging
here that needs to be noted, especially since the
British government has now taken upon itself to
penalize even the thought processes of its Muslim
Coming back to the controversial work of Western
intelligence agencies, why even that consistently
high-moral-ground-adopting country, Canada, has
now been found guilty of sending its own citizen
to Syria to face imprisonment and torture for over
a year simply because he was a Muslim of Syrian
origin and suspected of having friends who had links
with some Al Qaeda suspects. But of course the Canadians
attempted to use the US to indulge in this mischief
hoping to remain untainted. But the truth does surface
eventually and this present Canadian government,
obsessively loyal to the US, is now under fire domestically.
That is why we should realize that detentions outside
of the purview of the law and forced disappearances
cause fear and eventually hatred within our own
After all, the state has a whole body of law within
which it can protect national interest and its citizens
also from terrorism and other crimes -- as well
as to bring the guilty to book.
Unfortunately, even as the state is tough on its
own citizens here, it seems to have allowed itself
to become the whipping boy for all the West's failures
in the war on terror. Clearly, the assumption that
the British would fare well in Afghanistan simply
because historically they had had experience in
that country, was an absurdity to begin with. Not
only had the British never fared particularly well
in that region unless they made deals, the new generations
in the British Army certainly have no experience
in that region to fall back on. Hence they are suffering
severe losses, which they should have anticipated.
Meanwhile, it is indeed an irony that after the
US and British media, as well as the US government,
subjected Pakistan to scathing criticism for its
"deal" with its own tribal citizens, the
British military has struck a deal with the Taliban
in Afghanistan, in the face of their military failures.
Let us wait and see if the US media and politicians
will be equally abusive of the British government
and its military for making a deal with the Taliban.
More rationally of course, this is a beginning which
Pakistan has been suggesting for a while -- that
is, there is a real need to distinguish between
the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Should we now tell the
British, "Told you so?"
Meanwhile, India continues to suffer from an "accuse
Pakistan" disease so their accusations have
almost no credibility here -- the anti-Pakistan
refrain is to be expected whenever something goes
wrong in India. But look at Hamid Karzai. With almost
no real power and a country which is still full
of foreign military forces who take no orders from
the Afghans, he has not only sustained an irrational
bellicosity towards Pakistan -- to which we are
showing too much tolerance -- he has also sought
to interfere in our internal affairs. This he has
done by declaring that he will restore the monthly
stipend to our nationals -- the FATA elders. This
is the "revival of the old Kabul policy".
Well, if he is going to be openly hostile towards
Pakistan, is it not time for us to make him aware
of the limitations of his political sphere of action?
We also need to begin fencing our international
border with Afghanistan, wherever physically possible.
Of course, given the US control over Afghanistan
presently, clearly Mr.Karzai cannot be making his
statements without support from the US.
All in all, it is time Pakistan adopted a more resolute
approach with clear red lines of what it will tolerate
from our allies and adversaries. The accommodation
and tolerance of abuse of the Pakistani state and
its institutions from outside should end even as
the state develops a more accommodative approach
to its own citizens. As for the foreign media and
political NGOs funded from abroad, on this count
let us follow the Indian example of zero access
and zero tolerance for these respectively. After
all, enough is enough.
(The writer is director general of the Institute
of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The