Suffering Abuse Ad Nauseam
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 accusations.
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 to imperialists).
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 citizens.
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 societies.
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 News)


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.