Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1983 (Reagan Archives)
The author Christopher Hitchens, a former leftist turned US patriot, in an article in the July issue of the Vanity Fair, blasts Pakistan for the various ills bedeviling that country.
Another of his point is that Pakistan is extracting billions of dollars and yet Osama bin Laden was living not far from Islamabad. So he is mad: “We actually are the tail, and the dog is our goddam lapdog?”
And his final judgment on Pakistan: “Has any state ever been, in the strict sense of the term, more shameless?”
As far as the corruption, lawlessness, women’s rights, and other unpleasant things are concerned, one can dispute a point here or there in Hitchens’ article or can criticize him for generalizing certain aspects, but to defend the current atmosphere in Pakistan would be as hypocritical as the United States’ claim that it loves peace and justice.
Last month, one of the finest investigative journalist, Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan Bureau Chief of Italian news agency Adnkronos (AKI) and the Hong Kong based website Asia Times Online, was abducted and his dead body was found in a canal. He had been warned in the past by Pakistan’s ruthless ISI (Inter Services Intelligence). It is most probably ISI’s handiwork. Before his death, Human Rights Watch and the owner of Dawn newspaper had received his email stating where to look for culprits in case he is murdered. It’s a great loss.
This month, Shahnaz Bibi was stripped and paraded naked at a gun point because of her brother’s alleged affair with a neighbor’s wife. Bibi’s 11 year old son was with her witnessing her humiliation. The entire village was there at the scene.
Three weeks ago, an unarmed Sarfaraz Shah was shot at point blank range by a Pakistani ranger.
These are just three examples. When the victims are uncountable, then it becomes a mere statistical exercise–that is, the society has come to terms with the situation and these things become a normal part of everyday life.
Coming back to Hitchens’ second point: The “cowardly and duplicitous” Pakistani establishment was taking billions to fight Al Qaeda but then it was sheltering Osama. The cowardliness and duplicity are employed when not only the relations but also the capability to use violence are unequal–and especially, between Pakistan and the US it is absolutely unequal. The CIA agent Raymond Davis who killed two Pakistanis and was under police detention was released under US pressure and bribe. Would it have been possible for Pakistan to get its ISI agent released from a US jail if he were arrested for killing a US citizen? Even to think such a thought is laughable. Forget an ISI agent, not even Dr. Aafia Siddique (rotting in a US prison) was released in exchange for Davis.
(In 1984, a leak in the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, resulted in over 10,000 deaths. Its CEO, Warren Anderson (a US citizen who is residing in the US) is wanted in India. India can’t do anything because Anderson is under the protective arms of the messiah of justice.)
Hitchen’s “lapdog” analogy brings to mind Ayatollah Khomeini who in 1964 said:
“They have reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of an American dog. If someone runs over a dog belonging to an American, he will be prosecuted. Even if the Shah himself were to run over a dog belonging to an American, he would be prosecuted.”
The roots of the present mess goes back to 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The US wanted to give the Soviet Union its Vietnam war. Pakistan’s military dictator Zia-ul-Haq was offered $400 million to support the adventure. Zia termed it as “peanuts” and demanded more. The US could have refused and told Zia to fuck off. Instead, he was given much more. Osama was a part of this adventure too. The Soviets lost and the Union disintegrated. The US left the arena and infighting among various groups of Mujahideen further harmed that country. In the mid 1990s, Pakistan trained Taliban invaded and ruled over a big portion of Afghanistan. In 1996, Osama who had left Afghanistan was now back.
Five years later came 9/11. There was lot of sympathy for the US. It could have utilized that sympathy by cutting off aid to Pakistan and breaking off relations with Saudi Arabia–most of the 9/11 culprits were of Saudi origin. This would have forced the beggar-leaders of Pakistan to mend its ways.
No. The US went to war against Afghanistan and thus inflamed more the radicalized Pakistanis and the Afghanis.
After ten years, isn’t it shameful of the US that after killing thousands of Afghans and losing hundreds of its own soldiers, to announce that it wants to negotiate with the Taliban? It is a most shameless act.
Why didn’t the US negotiate with the Taliban in 2001 when they were not that strong a force which the US propaganda and the ten year war has turned them into?
Since Khomeini’s barbaric fatwa against Hitchens’ close friend, author Salman Rushdie, he has broken relations with reasoning. Of course, Khomeini was totally wrong and Rushdie needs to be defended. But Hitchens has gone to the other extreme and become a super US patriot. And from that position he simply refuses to observe reality.
Few years back, one of his old friends, Tariq Ali so correctly remarked:
“On 11th September 2001, a small group of terrorists crashed the planes they had hijacked into the Twin Towers of New York. Among the casualties, although unreported that week, was a middle-aged Nation columnist called Christopher Hitchens. He was never seen again.” “The vile replica currently on offer is a double.”
In the article, he is lamenting over the US sovereignty:
“But our blatant manipulation by Pakistan is the most diseased and rotten thing in which the United States has ever involved itself. And it is also, in the grossest way, a violation of our sovereignty.”
The CIA agents are at large in Pakistan, the US has bases over there, the drone attacks are carried out regularly with casualties, Osama is murdered (with inside help) and Hitchens feels the US sovereignty is violated!
B. R. GOWANI can be reached at email@example.com