It is indeed a strange country where the alien imperial power is on the verge of accepting the futility of continuing these gross violations of international law (acts of murder) but where its so-called ‘liberal elite’ is hell bent upon a continuation of these attacks
Imran Khan’s critics complain that he incorrectly lays the blame for the war on terror’s negative effects on Pakistan to its alliance with the US. Firstly, Imran Khan does not believe the US and Pakistan have any sort of an ‘alliance’. The more appropriate word to describe the relationship would be one of Pakistani ‘subservience’ to its imperial overlord. As George Kennan, the State Department’s Head of Policy Planning, wrote in a top secret memo (Policy Planning Study 23) back in 1948, “We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population…Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity…To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming. We should cease to talk about vague and…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratisation. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans (in reality) the better.” In keeping with the strategy suggested by Kennan, a major figure in shaping the post-war world, the US chose to make Pakistan its first client state in the region. Since its inception Pakistan has overwhelmingly been the recipient of military aid. As a direct consequence, efforts at democratisation were continuously stymied and whatever civilian leaders emerged did so due to military patronage. Not surprising then that, as in Chile, Venezuela, Panama, Vietnam, the Philippines, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia and a host of other countries the US has intervened in, widespread corruption has manifested itself amongst the nations’ past and present cadre of civilian and military leaders.
Across the border in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Reagan and Zia followed through on Kennan’s inspirational words and gave birth to a new breed of warriors, one that would not be too enamoured by concepts like democracy and human rights. Thirty years later, the Taliban are still in business, thanks to unlimited funding from the US and Saudi Arabia and the logistical support of ‘subservient’ Pakistan. It is important to note that while Saudi funding and Pakistani ‘deep state’ support remains in the spotlight, the news that even the Pentagon has acknowledged payoffs by their contractors to Taliban bureaucrats for protection of its convoys (everything from toothpaste to pizzas to assault rifles) to Forward Operating Bases in Kandahar in the hundreds of millions of dollars remains an unimportant fact to most observers. Not to Imran Khan though, who has consistently referred to this war as one ‘of terror’; a war that serves to increasingly radicalise the populations on whom it is being waged.
Imran Khan’s clarity on the war of terror was further illustrated when in 2011, the White House itself began to use words like ‘negotiations’ and phrases like ‘political integration’ with reference to the Taliban; something Khan had been suggesting since 2004.
He is also opposed to drone strikes. However, it is argued by Pakistan’s few supporters of drone strikes that casualties are being exaggerated and that the tribal folks wholeheartedly support the use of WMDs in their own villages. Clearly Colonel David Kilcullen, a leading expert and top US adviser on counterinsurgency, did not have all the facts when back in 2009, he testified before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, “…If we want to strengthen our friends and weaken our enemies in Pakistan, bombing Pakistani villages with unmanned drones is totally counter-productive.” Perhaps he had not consulted with the fellow who ran the drone strike campaign on behalf of the Americans for years, Dennis Blair. Oh, wait. After years of having run the programme he called them ‘counterproductive’ too. That is unless, as Noam Chomsky suggests, your purpose is to foment radicalism and ‘shock and awe’ terror for Wall Street profits. Putting it even more succinctly, using his superior intellect he arrived at the not so difficult conclusion that “you tend not to like people (US and its Pakistani sycophants) if they bomb your homes…no matter who lives next door”.
This truth, while unacceptable to Pakistan’s proponents of drone strikes, was perfectly clear to CIA Director Michael Hayden who, according to Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars, informed the incoming president that the Bush administration understood these drone strikes could never end the terrorist threat in Pakistan. Obama ignored the advice, only to be told later by his own Intelligence Director Dennis Blair that “hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan” because of the strikes. This is exactly the point Imran Khan was making when he argued in Davos at the World Economic Forum last year that the war on terror is not just a disaster for the US but an even bigger disaster for Pakistan, where “it is causing more radicalisation, more polarisation in society” then ever before. Pratap Chatterjee, of the London-based ‘Bureau of Investigative Reporting’, confirmed that he had personally met with over three dozen family members of drone victims and elders from Waziristan who reject the claim that civilians are not being killed in large numbers. It is indeed a strange country where the alien imperial power is on the verge of accepting the futility of continuing these gross violations of international law (acts of murder) but where its so-called ‘liberal elite’ is hell bent upon a continuation of these attacks that, for all their alleged pinpoint accuracy, resulted in the deaths of no less than 780 civilians of whom 175 were children.
While it is fair to be optimistic that the US will have no reason to extend these strikes into Pakistan’s major metropolitan areas, one cannot help but be curious about how the ‘local dog, foreign bark’ brigade will feel regarding ‘collateral damage’ at their own doorstep. Of course, as stated earlier, even the authentic ‘foreign bark’ is starting to sound local. In the face of unprecedented unpopularity and gross negligence, Khan’s view: that the drone strikes increase radicalisation and that Pakistan’s subservience to US interests is detrimental to its own, continue to be legitimised not just by those who always agreed but now by those who have conducted the war itself.
*This was originally published at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201221\story_1-2-2012_pg3_4 by @idkasuri