Bush started shooting into Pakistan in 2004, and Obama has continued this bloody practice, culminating recently in the massacre of 24 Pakistani soldiers, with 13 more wounded. The attack lasted for hours, yet afterward, the US claimed it was all an accident. Hillary Clinton expressed regrets, Obama offered condolences, but no American official apologized, since the US doesn’t do apologies. Accusing Pakistan of supporting terrorists who are killing Americans, McCain threatened to cut back aids. As for those Pakistani soldiers, they were regrettably killed in “the fog of war.”
Let’s try to clear up this fogged up situation by examining who’s killing whom, and why. The US has been butchering Pashtuns on both sides of the Afghan/Pakistani border, and the Pashtuns are fighting back because that’s their homeland. The Pashtuns have been living between the Hindu Kush and the Indus River since at least the 3rd Century, so one can reasonably say that they belong there, at least much more so than some guy from Intercourse, PA, or Walla Walla, Washington.
Go to most borders worldwide and, surprise, surprise, you’ll find more or less the same people living on both sides, often speaking the same language. This is also true in the US. In 2006, I drove 100 miles on route Farm to Market 170 in Texas, hugging the Rio Grande, and I didn’t see a single Anglo face in three hours. (Granted, there weren’t that many faces to be seen.) At Candelaria, population 75, I crossed a brief footbridge into Mexico, then returned. Everybody else was doing it. Here, Rio Bravo was barely a trickle, so people on either side saw each other as neighbors, with the border an irrelevant fiction. To a Pashtun, then, the Durand Line, named after a British Foreign Secretary, is even more absurd.
Of course, I’m not advocating the abolishment of international borders, since large and subtle differences between populations require that they organize their societies differently, with demarcations between them, but it is ironic that the United States is chafing at the Pashtuns for crossing an arbitrary line, when America is the world’s most persistent and violent violator of international borders. As in many other cases, the only one who doesn’t belong on the map is you, Uncle Sam! Uncle Sam doesn’t know how to spell or pronounce sovereignty, at least when not talking about Israel. Sovranty. Sofarenty. Sufferenty.
Any Pashtun killed by American bombs or drones is a Pashtun wrongly murdered, be him a “militant,” as the Pentagon consistently charge, or more likely just a farmer or even a child. Imagine drones hovering over your hometown and zapping people at will, with the murdered victims being branded “insurgents.” If a Pashtun fights back, it’s because he has too. Wouldn’t you? If he dies fighting, at least he dies with honor, fighting for a just cause. The same cannot be said for American soldiers in Afghanistan. Pat Tillman realized this, but one of his own wasted him before he could tell the world about his awakening.
As a client state of America, Pakistan is being asked to kill its own citizens, Pashtuns and others, as a contribution to the petroleum fueled, natural gaseous, opium hazy and totally fogged up War on Terror. Doing Washington’s bidding, Pakistan has lost nearly 4,000 soldiers, but these needless deaths aren’t enough to appease the Washington masters of war. For brownnosing, Pakistan gets no pat on the head, but is being demonized as an “ally from hell,” to quote from the Atlantic.
With the notable exceptions of Israel and England, American allies are often betrayed. Pakistan’s being blamed for America’s ongoing troubles in Afghanistan, and for harboring Bin Laden until that much ballyhooed yet substanceless assassination, but all of the acrimonies and needless deaths could have been avoided had America never planted its XXXL rump on that corner of the world.
Using Bin Laden as a pretext, America invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and nearly a decade later, it is still there, though its bogeyman is long gone. America never runs out of enemies, however, for it can always generate them anew, with either its bombs and guns, or through its jingoistic media. Along with Iran and Syria, Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has become a target.
Washington will always find new wars to fight and more people to kill, since that is the only task it is good at anymore. It does not know how to do anything else. Peace is not in its vocabulary, since war is how Washington and Wall Street make their money.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.