Pakistan army’s Taliban strategy – by Kamran Shafi

Making sense of it all

WHEN Musharraf made his U-turn on the Taliban upon American `urging` after 9/11, some of us thought he meant it. And, being the boss of bosses of the establishment of the Land of the Pure, would influence the Pakistani Deep State to change its stance too, and help the rest of the world fight the scourge wholeheartedly. And that the Taliban could do little against the rest of the world if no foreign power helped them.

Consider: the Russians, the Central Asian Republics, China, Iran, all the countries surrounding Afghanistan except for some extremist elements in Central Asia and Pakistan were against the Taliban. They were isolated and could easily have been eliminated.

Little did we know, however, that Musharraf and his junta did not mean what they said; that they were being two-faced; that the Deep State, with his approval, wanted to keep the Afghan Taliban as their proxies in the ongoing Great Game in Afghanistan, and their cousins, the Pakistani version of the bloodthirsty lot, as its `strategic assets` against India.

Whilst we well remember Musharraf`s spin-doctors (aka `spin-quacks`) patting themselves on the back and exulting over the honorific bestowed on the dictatorship when it was anointed a `non-Nato ally` of the US, they never really meant it.

While his junta milked the Americans of billions of dollars it allowed the Afghan Taliban to maintain their safe houses and bases inside Pakistani territory where they repaired after effectively targeting our `allies` in Afghanistan and inflicting damage on coalition troops. This was two-facedness of a particularly vicious kind, but one that the Americans naively ignored, as it now turns out, to their cost.

Never mind too, that the Pakistani Taliban would be allowed, indeed helped, towards taking over large swathes of Pakistani territory, particularly Swat, through a mixture of acts of omission and commission of the Deep State to send a signal to the Americans that it was hard put to defend its own country, so what could it do to help in matters Afghan? And to inveigle more monies out of them, a reported $11bn in nine years, much of it unaccounted for to date.

American naiveté boggles the senses when we note that it swallowed hook line and sinker the absurd machinations of the Commando and his junta. Indeed, it was sad to see that whilst it paid out billions of dollars to the dictator, it turned a blind eye to what was being done to this poor country and the region by this ludicrous man and a Deep State that acts only in its own interest.

Indeed, the Americans went on mollycoddling the dictator even when — just one example will do — the dictatorship with none other than the chief of army staff sitting atop the heap called the government of Pakistan wouldn`t find Mullah Fazlullah (aka Mullah Radio)`s clandestine FM radio station for well on four years during which time it broadcast messages of death and destruction.

Its radio-show host Muslim Khan (who has vanished into thin air after being `captured` a full two years ago!) actually exhorted the terrorists to slaughter such and such a person (including women teachers) on a particular night at a particular location.

We have to note with disgust and revulsion that there were credible reports that the security forces, including the much-vaunted Pakistan Army, did not lift a finger to stop these most awful and cold-blooded killings which in some cases were reportedly carried out under their very noses. Which reminds me: whatever happened to the inquiry into the horrific killing of the four SSG officers and men who were mercilessly tortured and then killed and then mutilated by these barbarians and in which the commissioner Malakand was said to be involved in some way? What are the actual facts, can the ISPR please tell us? Where, for example, is the commissioner fellow? Was he guilty, innocent?While I am on the subject of inquiries, what happened to the inquiry ordered by COAS Kayani into the alleged firing squad murders as seen on YouTube? Another thing — there is a video on this same site showing what seem like army soldiers beating at least two people, one an old man well above 60, both lying on their backs and trying unsuccessfully to ward off the hard blows with their raised arms and legs.

From the curses used freely and very audibly one can tell that the laughing stick-wielders are Punjabi speakers. I urge the COAS to order an inquiry into this video too. It is possible of course that, this too is a Hindu/Jewish/Christian/Indian/Israeli/American conspiracy to destabilise our country. But can we please be told if it is?

It`s all been a game for our Deep State, which little realises what a very dangerous game it is: that it is being too clever-by-half. The end is near, however, both for the Americans and for us hapless Pakistanis.

For the present let us consider this region. While formulating its Taliban strategy, the Pakistan Deep State, in keeping with its penchant for making mistake after disastrous blunder, has given no consideration to the balance sheet of the Taliban when they were last in power in Afghanistan. While their rule in Afghanistan was noted for utter brutality, specially towards women, it was no better for us, their foremost supporters and providers.

The Taliban were bad for Afghanistan and its people; they were bad for Pakistan and its people; they were bad for Iran and its people, and for the region as a whole. Whilst we are told by their apologists that they have learnt their lessons and will be `kinder, gentler` this time around there is no evidence to suggest that they have changed in any way. Every piece of evidence suggests that they will be as backward as heretofore; as brutal.