Thursday, December 3

The view from Pakistan

Regarding the Af-Pak situation, here's commenter Vaneeza at Library Grape, lightly edited:
The situation is much more complicated than it seems and definitely too complicated for Sarah Palin to understand. The war in Afghanistan is not one that can be "won". I think the Obama administration still understands the situation better than the Republicans. We are seeing changes in their way of dealing with us. When Hillary Clinton came to Pakistan, although her visit was short still she utilized it pretty well. She did a number of debates with our top journalists on tv who asked many difficult and critical questions. The way she answered them and took all the questios and criticism tactfully and gave replies to them was wonderful. I myself watched many of her interviews on TV. She went to a number of mosques and shrines. She showed her respect by covering her head going there. These are the things that mean a lot to the common man here. For me, it was a refreshing change that she pronounced “Pakistan” correctly unlike other Americans.

The aid that is coming from America, for the first time is going to non-governmental organizations instead of the pockets of our corrupt politicians. They will get some part of it but the fact that any part of it will be going directly to NGOs too is amazing. Although the common man can still not be won by just these measures as the history of mistrust goes back to decades but these measures still do at least some pat in easing the tension. Increasing troops in Afghanistan might help a little but you need to understand that Pakistan is at the center-stage of this whole drama. Some Taliban in Afghanistan are locals but most of them are foreigners and we all know that a huge number of them come from Pakistan who are trained at here. Whenever the America launches a full scale military offensive against them, they just come here to Pakistan which they consider a safe haven and as soon as things get better there they go back.

Even if they are stopped from escaping to Pakistan by tighter border control and lets say all of the Taliban are killed in Afghanistan, more will be recruited from these same madrassahs and extremist training camps from Pakistan. America keeps launching drone attacks from time to time in our tribal areas which have been effective but have caused a large number of civilian casualties as well. What needs to be done is better intelligence services and attacking the militant safe havens and training grounds in Pakistan secretly in association with Pakistani government. This goal can be achieved with the help of American intelligence agencies. It is true that Pakistani government needs to do more in fighting these terrorists. Unfortunately our politicians are just as bad as the military dictators. I do believe that the government in some ways is trying to make things bad here to get more aid from America which obviously wont go to the people but to the pockets of the politicians themselves.

Some people do believe that some or even most of the bomb blasts in Pakistan are actually arranged by the government so they can show to the world and especially America that “look what Taliban have done and what they are capable of and what they can do to you also, so give us more and more money in aid and funds that we can use to fight Taliban”. Most of the money in fact goes to their own pocket and little goes to do what it was given for. The government of Afghanistan lead by Hamid Karzai is also very corrupt. He is sometimes called the “the corruption king”. Until more schools and hospitals and factories and jobs are created in Afghanistan and the quality of life of afghans is improved , no real change can come. Sometimes they become Taliban because that’s the only option they have. Also there are a number of madrassahs still operating in Pakistan who turn regular people who just want to get knowledge about Islam into terrorists. Even in a lot of mosques, the Friday sermon is more America bashing speeches than anything related to Islam. There are religious shows and channels on TV that preach extremist ideology and urge people to take up arms.

Nothing is being done about them by the Pakistani government . All that is very important, because nobody can deny Pakistan’s role in the war that is going in Afghanistan. There is a lot of social unrest here in Pakistan. The poverty, unemployment and inflation are out of control. People are selling their children and committing suicide because they cannot provide for their families. It is much easier to persuade a person like that to take up arms to go on a “road to heaven” than someone who actually has some part of his/her life in control. Our mullahs come in all shapes and sizes, hair styles, beard styles and clothing to cater to the religious needs of all social strata. It is more like a business. The other day a more modern looking mullah on TV with a shorter beard and a pant suit with few sentences of English sprinkled here and there in his speech was urging young people to India as it was the prophecy of prophet Muhammad. This is so frustrating that these type of psychos are allowed to spread their message of hate and war on TV with no restrictions.

So America should urge Pakistani government to do something about these mullahs and madrasshas and TV channels also who are misleading people, recruiting more Taliban and making things worse for America in Afghanistan.

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