FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

“Get Us Bin Laden” Order from Bush Could Spark Pakistani Army Mutiny

by Tariq Ali

On a trip to Pakistan a few years ago I was talking to an ex-General about the militant Islamist groups in the region. I asked him why these people, who had happily accepted funds and weapons from the United States throughout the Cold War, had become violently anti-American overnight. He explained that they were not alone. Many Pakistan officers who had served the US loyally from 1951 onwards felt humiliated by Washington’s indifference.

‘Pakistan was the condom the Americans needed to enter Afghanistan’, he said. ‘We’ve served our purpose and they think we can be just flushed down the toilet.’ The old condom is being fished out for use once again, but will it work? The new ‘coalition against terrorism’ needs the services of the Pakistan Army, but General Musharraf will have to be extremely cautious. An over-commitment to Washington could lead to a civil war in Pakistan and split the Armed Forces. A great deal has changed over the last two decades, but the ironies of history continue to multiply.

In Pakistan itself, Islamism derived its strength from state patronage rather than popular support. The ascendancy of religious fundamentalism is the legacy of a previous military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq who received solid backing from Washington and London throughout his 11 years as dictator.

It was during his rule (1977-89) that a network of madrassahs (religious boarding schools), funded by the Saudi regime, were created.

The children, who were later sent to fight as Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, were taught to banish all doubt. The only truth was divine truth. Anyone who rebelled against the imam rebelled against Allah. The madrassahs had only one aim: the production of deracinated fanatics in the name of a bleak Islamic cosmpolitanism. The primers taught that the Urdu letter jeem stood for ‘jihad’; tay for ‘tope'(cannon), kaaf for Kalashnikov and khay for khoon (blood).

2500 madrassahs produced a crop of 225,000 fanatics ready to kill and die for their faith when asked to do so by their religious leadersDespatched across the border by the Pakistan Army, they were hurled into battle against other Muslims they were told were not true Muslims. The Taliban creed is an ultra-sectarian strain, inspired by the Wahhabi sect that rules Saudi Arabia. The severity of the Afghan mullahs has been denounced by Sunni clerics at al-Azhar in Cairo and Shi-ite theologians in Qom as a disgrace to the Prophet.

The Taliban could not, however, have captured Kabul on their own via an excess of religious zeal. They were armed and commanded by ‘volunteers’ from the Pakistan Army. If Islamabad decided to pull the plug, the Taliban could be dislodged, but not without serious problems. The victory in Kabul counts as the Pakistani Army’s only triumph. . To this day,the former US Secretary of State, Zbigniew Brezinski remains recalcitrant: ‘What was more important in the world view of history?’ he asks with more than a touch of irritation, ‘the Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?’

If Holywood rules necessitate a short, sharp war against the new enemy, the American Caesar would be best-advised not to insist on Pakistani legions. The consequences could be dire: a brutal and vicious civil war creating more bitterness and encouraging more acts of individual terrorism. Islamabad will do everything to prevent a military expedition to Afghanistan. For one thing there are Pakistani soldiers, pilots and officers present in Kabul, Bagram and other bases. What will be their orders this time and will they obey them? Much more likely is that Ossama Bin Laden will be sacrificed in the interests of the greater cause and his body dead or alive will be handed over to his former employers in Washington. But will that be enough?

The only real solution is a political one. It requires removing the causes that create the discontent. It is despair that feeds fanaticism and it is a result of Washington’s policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. The orthodox casuistry among loyal factotums, columnists and courtiers of the Washington regime is symbolised by Tony Blair’s Personal Assistant for Foreign Affairs, ex-diplomat Robert Cooper, who writes quite openly: ‘We need to get used to the idea of double standards’.

The underlying maxim of this cynicism is: we will punish the crimes of our enemies and reward the crimes of our friends. Isn’t that at least preferable to universal impunity? To this the answer is simple: ‘punishment’ along these lines does not reduce but breeds criminality, by those who wield it. The Gulf and Balkan Wars were copy-book examples of the moral blank cheque of a selective vigilantism. Israel can defy UN resolutions with impunity, India can tyrannise Kashmir, Russia can destroy Groszny, but it is Iraq which has to be punished and it is the Palestinians who continue to suffer.

Cooper continues: ‘Advice to post-modern states: accept that intervention in the pre-modern is going to be a fact of life. Such interventions may not solve problems, but they may salve the conscience. And they are not necessarily the worse for that’ Try explaining that to the survivors in New York and Washington.

The United States is whipping itself into a frenzy. Its ideologues talk of this as an attack on ‘civilization’, but what kind of civilization is it that thinks in terms of blood-revenge. For the last sixty years and more the United States has toppled democrat leaders, bombed countries in three continents, used nuclear weapons against Japanese civilians, but never knew what it felt like to have your own cities under attack. Now they know.

To the victims of the attack and their relatives one can offer our deep sympathy as one does to people who the US government has victimised. But to accept that somehow an American life is worth more than that of a Rwandan, a Yugoslav, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Japanese, a Palestinian…that is unacceptable. CP

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail