Guest post by Hasan:
In this article, Farhat Taj argues that most Pushtoons see through the army’s inaction in the NWFP, specifically in the Swat Valley. It’s a question all Pakistanis should be asking these days. Why is the army not moving out of its bunkers to at least make it’s presence felt in the Valley? The much discussed concept of “strategic depth” is discussed by Ms Taj. It’s hard to understand how the army/ISI could actually still think that the jihadis are controllable. Never in Pakistan’s long involvement with these groups has it ever been able to extend direct control over them. I for one would much rather have an Afghanistan that has closer ties to India, but doesn’t spew Islamic militancy across the border at us. Obviously those in the corridors of military power in our country would beg to differ. The fact that such a “strategy” exists in military circles should be enough to convince Pakistanis that far from being the “only functioning institution” in the country or “the glue that holds Pakistan together” (phrases I am sick of hearing from my compatriots), the army is and has always been the source of most of our society’s ills. I, for one, have been struck by how difficult it still is to suggest this idea to other Pakistanis. Most will look at me as if I am mad, and some will even fire back a belligerent reply and suggest that such suggestions against the army amount to being unpatriotic. Until Pakistanis realize what our army is really all about, we can’t even begin to recover. As a nation of ostriches, most Pakistanis will even refuse to accept the obvious when it comes to 1971. Instead of condemning the atrocities the army and aligned groups such as the JI committed in East Pakistan, most Pakistanis will insist that the East and West should never have been one country and that if India hadn’t fomented unrest and supported the Mukti Bahini all would have been hunky dory in the Islamic republic. It has always amazed me as to how misdirected the anger in our society is. Blame the Americans, Zionists and Indians for everything that happens in Pakistan. It’s about time we saw the writing on the wall. The true enemy lies within.
Note: Hasan also sent me a link to this review of Ahmed Rashid’s Descent Into Chaos