Tuesday, July 15, 2008

With friends like Pakistan and other governments such as our own …

We continue to get news about the double dealing of the Pakistanis, but it seems to be matched, on the other hand, by the double dealing of western powers with Pakistan.

Take Pakistan’s double dealing, for instance. Musharraf has claimed for years to be on the front line of the “war against terror” but his government has allowed many ant-American, anti-Western Islamist groups to be comfortably ensconced in its borders. Today’s New York Times (Elaine Sciolino, “In ’06 Bomb Plot Trial, a Question of Imminence”) describes how the eight defendants in Britain accused of plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners had gained the information for their project through contacts with extreme elements in Pakistan. “British investigators are convinced that the size, scope, cost, secrecy and ingenuity of the plot bear the Qaeda signature; they say they believe that the cell learned to make the liquid explosive device from Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. … Mr. Sarwar admitted that during a trip to Pakistan between mid-June and early July 2006, a friend told him how to make the explosive HMTD.” This is but one more of many signs that Pakistan is the vortex of radical Islamist activities.

What that means to American troops is described in another article in today’s NYTimes: “Taliban Breached NATO Base in Deadly Clash.” In it Carlotta Gall and Eric Schmitt point out that the insurgents who attacked a remote outpost in north-eastern Afghanistan two days ago, killing nine Americans, “had benefited from new bases in neighboring Pakistan.” And indeed Pakistani militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, “have been present in the area for months.” Moreover, “insurgents had freedom of movement from the border with Pakistan through 60 miles of Nuristan to the base at Wanat. ‘They can bring men, weapons and cars’” said one source.

Pakistan is our friend while it is at the same time a caldron of radical Islamism feeding troops into Afghanistan to kill American and NATO soldiers.

But then there is the way our own country double-deals in their relations with Pakistan. We have already heard about the convenient way the Americans have worked with Pakistan’s intelligence agency to allow abuse of prisoners. Now it turns out that the British have made similar use of Pakistan. Today’s [July 15] Guardian says that they have been handing over their own citizens to be tortured by Pakistani agencies. A medical student, for instance, "said he was abducted at gunpoint in August 2005 and held for two months at the offices of Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau opposite the British Deputy High Commission in Karachi. [He] ... described how he was whipped, beaten, deprived of sleep, threatened with execution and witnessed other inmates being tortured." Nice way to treat your own people. [Thanks to my friend S. for bringing this to me.]

So we see again how governments carry on their business: While they parade their moral agendas they conceal what they do on “the dark side”. The ancient wisdom is still salient: “Men loved darkness because their deeds were evil; they would not come into the light lest their deeds be exposed.” The problem we have – Americans, British, Pakistanis – is that these are our governments acting in our name.

Addendum, thanks to my friend S:
*In the dark hole of a Pakistani prison by Tim Johnson,
McClatchy Newspapers, Feb 5, 2008

*'Briton' being held in Pakistan, by Syed Shoaib Hasan,
BBC News, 27 June 2007.

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