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February 9, 2016

Carlotta needs a history lesson


February 9, 2016

 Carlotta Gall’s latest wobbles appeared on the same day as the third quadrilateral meeting in Islamabad kicked off to push forward the Afghan peace process.

The timing of this article may be significant as it was none but the New York Times’ own Carlotta Gall taking pains to remind the powers that be that Pakistan was the epicentre of international jihad and that all ills surrounding Afghanistan were a product of the Pakistani establishment and intelligence agencies.

Gall had the cheek to implicate Pakistan in the rise of Isis. Unfortunately, the NYT did not check the historical details of the article and joined those who leave no stone unturned to exploit Pakistan’s status as the whipping boy of the West.

Back to some history lessons. Not a very long time ago, there were states of Iraq, Syria and Libya – which, though dictatorships, were definitely much better than the cauldron of human tragedy that we witness today. The Bush-Rice doctrine of the Greater Middle East and social engineering experiment of democratisation of the region through a creative chaos strategy destroyed the livelihood of millions, displaced millions more from their homes and created a tsunami of refugees now entering the uncontrollable shores of Europe.

Iraq was a test lab, where US occupation and induction of secret organisations like Blackwater paved the way for a sectarian conflict, something which laid the foundation of Isis. It is also not a coincidence that Blackwater came into being before 9/11 and was ready to be unleashed in the ungovernable areas of the Middle East after the governing structures and military machines of Iraq and Syria were dismantled by the mighty US.

Gall has probably forgotten that the Taliban are a by-product of the anti-Soviet hihad whose syllabus was prepared in Florida; that CIA-led campaign created thousands of madressahs across Pakistan to feed the engines of this asymmetric war (if in doubt you can watch ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’).

Pakistan, with its establishment and intelligence agencies, has been always been made a scapegoat when things don’t go the West’s way. Carlotta Gall’s latest mudslinging against Pakistan is reflection of this frustration. In her piece published in the New York Times on February 6, titled ‘Pakistan’s Hand in the Rise of International Jihad’ she writes: “Pakistan is intervening in a number of foreign conflicts. Its intelligence service has long acted as the manager of international mujahedeen forces, many of them Sunni extremists, and there is even speculation that it may have been involved in the rise of the Islamic State”.

Unfortunately, such attitudes have not helped the peace process, whether it be the Middle East or Afghanistan. Pakistan has tried hard to calm tensions between KSA and Iran and the latest sojourn of our politico-military leadership to Riyadh and Tehran is a case in point. In case of Afghanistan, Pakistan’s efforts to build a case for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process are clearly manifested in the diplomatic initiatives undertaken by the Pakistani leadership.

Here it may be pertinent to count the visits of General Raheel Sharif, the DGMO and even the DG ISI to Kabul in the last six months to highlight the seriousness of the military leadership in helping Afghanistan finding a peaceful solution.

Why is Afghanistan is so important to Pakistan? Here are some facts for Ms Gall. With almost 1,680,000 Afghan refugees, Pakistan tops the list of refugee hosts in the world. Pakistan is the main supplier of strategic food materials and supplies for Afghanistan. Afghan transit trade is the only viable option available to Afghanistan; Karachi serves as the main conduit for commerce and trade.

Also: Pakistan has suffered the most in the long war on terror launched by Uncle Sam in this part of the world. The Pakistani military has borne the brunt of terrorist attacks across the country and is rolling back the scourge of terror with one of the largest military operations in its tribal areas. Since 2003, the US-led Nato’s lifeline of strategic logistics not only passed through Pakistan but was also protected by the same military that Gall has been brazenly targeting. US military presence in Afghanistan was – and is – possible because of this facility provided by Pakistan.

The writer is a Lahore-based defence analyst.

Email: [email protected]

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