A famous politician is quoted as having claimed, “Being America’s enemy may be dangerous but being its friend is certainly fatal.” Pakistan is one such friend of America. Wikileaks add substance to what has been known to political observers for long (see A Cowasjee, Dawn, Dec 19, 2010 and Huma Yousef also at Dawn, same issue).
The politicians of South Asia nations periodically should remember it judging from commentaries on visits of many international leaders to South Asia. All five permanent UN Security Council members have now made trade-focused visits to India in recent months. China’s PM visited Pakistan in the same period to sign economic deals worth $16 billion and advised Pakistan leaders to resolve its international disputes with India bilaterally. All visits were focused on economic issues and played down terrorism from the Afpak region, which is the center of and a top concern for regional and global peace.
America’s Afghanistan strategy review drew attention to Pakistan army hindering progress in the Afpak conflicts with its continued defiance to eliminate safe heavens for terrorist – the Haqqani group dominated TTP in NWFP and LET/JUD and JEM in Punjab province co-linked to al Qaeda ideology. An economically weakened America of 2010s is likely not to have same cloud as that of 2001 to force the BACWAS (bureaucrats, army, clerics, warlords and scholars) establishment of Pakistani to neutralize from within its borders potential terrorism threats to US, UK, Europe, Afghanistan and India.
If America is economically weak, so is Pakistan as the two nations have developed co-dependency over last several decades. Pakistan’s economic woes are connected to its madrassah based educational system. It has graduated millions of youth (ages 35 and lower) with madrassah brand education in last four decades. Millions of madrassah graduated Pakistanis are essentially reactionary fundamentalist Muslims (RFM).
Creativity, innovation and originality are not strong points of madrassah education. The youth make a living as service providers to farmer-landlords, work for nations vast agricultural commodities based industries, operate small businesses, practice conservative Islam co-linked to Wahabi-Salafi-Maududi philosophies and many join private armies of warlord-clerics as Taliban recruits if they don’t make it as enlisted members of police force and the army.
The ISI and al Qaeda co-linked Taliban operates a global jihad network, partly to further al Qaeda interests against US, UK, Europe and India, and partly to further Pakistan’s foreign policy interests in South Asia. Al Qaeda operatives successfully carried out spectacular terrorist attacks of the 9/11 on America and also in UK, Europe, Afghanistan and India in last 9 years.
Generically Taliban represents a number of terrorist organizations established with the ISI consent in each of five provinces of Pakistan. There are an estimated 150 terrorist training camps all across Pakistan operated by various Taliban factions and private armies of various cleric warlords co-linked to ISI. The investigations of the Mumbai massacre of 2008 exposed that active and retired ISI and army officers guide training of jihadis in the terrorist training camps.
The well known Taliban groups include: warlord cleric Mullah Omar of Afghan Taliban based in Quetta (Baluchistan), Hafiz Syed from Multan (southern Punjab) heads Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and Jama’t-ud-Da’wah (JUD), and the Haqqani and Mehsud clans based in NWFP dominates Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP).
The U.S. Treasury Department on Dec 2, 2010 designated three more groups that are a part of Taliban network. (http://counterterrorismblog.org/2010/12/us_treasury_designates_pakista.php). They are anti-Shia and pro-taliban/AQ affiliates with Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ)’s senior leader Amanullah Afridi and chief operational commander Mati ur-Rehman and Abdul Rauf Azhar of Jaish-e Mohammed (JeM).
All Taliban factions are associated with one or more of Wahabi-Salafi-Maududi Islam philosophy dominated 29,000 madrassahs set up in 1970s with funds from Saudi Arabia and Arabian Gulf states to promote the Islamization policy instituted by the Dictator Ziaul Haq (1973-89). In four decades (1970 – 2010) an estimated 40+ million of 180 million (2010 data) population have become reactionary fundamentalist Muslims (RFM) of Pakistan. With ISI consent the warlord-clerics recruit RFM to operate hundreds of private armies of Taliban.
Pakistan’s military buildup in 20th century was at the expense of economic reforms. Dictator Musharraf in 1999 declared Pakistan was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Most of the direct aid of $11 billion distributed in 2001-08 and billions more received in 1979-89 period were spent on acquiring military hardware and on tens of thousands of needless internal security organizations (Taliban) and government jobs. Notorious Afghan Taliban established Emirate of Afghanistan and ruled it for five years (1996-2001). Utility of Taliban for Pakistani army to continue with its strategic depth doctrine ended in 2001 as Dictator Musharraf agreed to be a member of allied American forces to destroy al Qaeda and Taliban.
In last 10 years starting with Dictator Musharraf (2001-08) and now with General Kayani Pakistan has received distributions and pledges for an estimated $34 billion in military and economic aid packages. Funds come directly from the US, European governments, and US and Europeans controlled international aid agencies. The US and Europe contribute several billions of dollars a year to the UN, WB, IMF, USAID, and to hundreds of other humanitarian groups that finance Pakistan’s private consumption.
Dr Farrukh Saleem regularly laments that 70+% America’s economic aids helps the Washington beltway boys – experts in civilian project management – more than Pakistan. He does not mention that corruption ridden Pakistan lacks experts and management skills offered by the beltway boys for civilian projects. Pakistan is not unique in this respect; all international aid recipients have same complaints.
For example, of the $3 billion handed over by the US annually, only $690 million are transferred to Israel in practice. The rest – 75% of the aid – remains in the US and constitutes an indirect government subsidy to US arms manufacturers’ thereby enhancing US employment.
The rentier state mentality of the BACWAS establishment in 60+ years of governance has reduced Pakistan to what it is – a client state of America. The retired vice air marshal Shahzad Chaudhry observed that Pakistan is “virtually dependent on the US for its political, economic and (somewhat) security survival.”
Lacking expertise for developing a sustainable self-reliant industrial economy Pakistan as a rentier state is a beneficiary of American, Europeans, Gulf of Arabia and Red Sea Arab nations’ money. Where do Arabs get their money? It comes from oil sold to sustain economic might of US, West, and emerging powers. Directly and indirectly Pakistan’s belligerency and economic stability is heavily dependent on West and emerging powers, not just Arabs.
Will there be peace in South Asia? There will be no peace in South Asia until Pakistan develops a normal economy interconnected with global economies. Pakistan has a textile industry that is not as competitive as that of China and other nations in Far East, Southeast Asia and South Asia. It has potential to mine trillions of dollars worth mineral deposits in the Afpak region including its provinces (Baluchistan and lands along the Silk route to China) once it curtails Taliban influences to allow the region to be stabilized for industrial development. The BACWAS establishment should reorient government policies from the “rent” collections to mining exportable minerals and may be developing associated refined metals industry.
With mining and metal refining industries as a start Pakistan has a potential to develop a sustainable self reliant industrial economy. To exploit its mineral deposits potential it needs skilled manpower trained in mining and refining, not the madrassah graduates recruited in the warlord-clerics operated private armies generically known as Taliban’s jihad brigades.
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