Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Pakistani Pantomime.

. . .Pakistan’s distemper is supposed to be about last weekend’s shootout between NATO helicopters and what turned out to be a Pakistani border post on the Kunar-Mohmand frontier. Afghan military sources say the Pakistanis shot first. Pakistani generals say it was an unprovoked American attack on Pakistan’s unblemished honour and integrity. In any event, 24 Pakistani soldiers ended up dead, and we’re supposed to believe that it’s because everyone’s so sensitive that Pakistan is shutting its border crossings to NATO supply convoys, banning the BBC from Pakistani airwaves, setting American flags on fire and snubbing the Bonn summit.

Don’t believe a word of it.

That's from my column in today's Ottawa Citizen.

What I find most astonishing about the coverage of this latest volcanic eruption of umbrage spewing out of the Pakistani elites and their legions of lumpen chauvinist effigy-burners is the nearly complete absence of context. You'd think that the New York Times and the Washington Post were being run by State Department advertising-agency contractors or something. The straight facts would be nice. And even the tiniest bit of background would expose Pakistan's shouted proclamations of wounded feeling for the play-acting that's really going on here.

An offence to Pakistani sovereignty? Please.

Let's set aside for the moment the crushing weight of unimpeachable evidence that the Pakistani military leadership is for all intents and purposes indistinguishable from the Quetta Shura, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e Taiba and the rest of those bloodthirsty terror networks. Set aside the fact that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) was only recently caught red-handed in its planning and communications role in the recent attacks on the US embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. Never mind for the moment the testimony of US Commander Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff: "The Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Internal Services Intelligence agency."

How soon we have forgotten - only two months ago the Pakistanis fired 340 rockets into villages in the Afghan province of Kunar, only a short hike from last weekend's ruckus. The barrage lasted several days, killed a child and forced hundreds of Afghan farmers to flee the area. Here's what Kunar governor Fazilullah Wahidy had to say at the time: “The shells were fired directly from Pakistani military posts and garrisons on that side of the border.” Got that? The shells were fired directly from Pakistani military posts and garrisons.

Only four months ago, after reports that dozens of Afghans had been killed by rockets fired from Pakistani border posts, there was a modest demonstration in the streets of Kabul to protest the incidents. The protesters carried banners with slogans such as: “We condemn the invasion on our soil” and slamming Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

Only seven months ago, at least 12 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed in a "border clash" involving Pakistani forces firing from the Waziristan side of the frontier. A couple of months before that, in Khost, an Afghan border police officer reported: “At around 11 am today, Pakistani troops in Waziristan started firing heavy and light weapons towards police posts in Gurbuz district. Our soldiers returned fire. Their attack was completely unprovoked and without reason."

After last weekend's incident, Americans are nevertheless being treated to the grotesquely humiliating spectacle of their own leaders sucking up to Pakistani generals and offering condolences and begging the best-dressed and most dedicated tormentors of Afghanistan to keep playing along. Are American voters really that stupid? Afghan sure aren't.

“Pakistan shows its two-face policy all the time. In the open they are saying that they want prosperity in Afghanistan, but they are also sending people to destroy Afghanistan,” says Younas Fakor, an independent political analyst in Kabul.

Here's Kabuli journalist and analyst Abbas Daiyar for the last word on the subject:

The ‘peace plan’ suggested by Pakistani military for the endgame in Afghanistan is simply not acceptable for Afghans and the international community. They want a big share in power for Haqqanis and Quetta Shura saying militants represent Pashtuns. Pakistan’s main objective is full withdrawal of US troops. They are against the US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership agreement that allows presence of US troops long beyond 2014. Pakistani military has its reasons. They fear US military intervention from Afghanistan against their nuclear capabilities. It’s time for both countries to stop lies and deceit and decide they are allies or not.


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