Friday, May 08, 2009

Vivid fears of an American invasion in Pakistan

From this side of the world the behavior of the Pakistanis seems bizarre. On the one hand they would never want to live under a regime like the Taliban while on the other hand they cultivate the Taliban. Graham Usher has explained that the military are still fighting a war with India and they see Afghanistan as in the pocket of India and therefore don’t mind if the Taliban attack Afghanistan. That’s one reason. Anatol Lieven has given us another [(London) Times, May 5, 09, "Mistrust of the West is stronger in Pakistan than fear of the Taleban"]: the Pakistanis believe the Americans want to dominate the Muslim world, indeed are so bent on taking over the Muslim world that they would murder thousands of their own people in order to have an excuse to blame Muslims and invade. Here is what Lievan tells us:
“to judge by my meetings with hundreds of Pakistanis from all walks of life over the past nine months, . . . the vast majority of people believe that the 9/11 attacks were not an act of terrorism by al-Qaeda, but a plot by the Bush Administration or Israel to provide an excuse to invade Afghanistan and dominate the Muslim world.”
And he adds: “most of the Pakistani population genuinely believe it, even here in Sindh where I have been travelling for the past week; and the people who believe it include the communities from which the army's soldiers, NCOs and junior officers are drawn.” [Click on the title above for a link to the source.]

Here are some other things worth noting about Pakistanis, according to Lievan:
• What will be tolerated is Taleban strength in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. As I discovered during a visit to the region last September, the level of support for them there is such that crushing them completely would take a huge campaign of repression.
• The jihad of the Afghan Taleban against the US “occupation” of Afghanistan enjoys overwhelming public approval in northern Pakistan,
• The Pakistani judicial system is such a corrupt, slow, impenetrable shambles that the Taleban's programme of Sharia enjoys a great deal of public support, at least in the Pashtun areas that I have visited.
• The security Establishment is determined to prevent Afghanistan becoming an ally of India, and continues to shelter parts of the Afghan Taleban as a long-term “strategic asset” against this threat.

Even so, he reassures us that
There is no possibility at present of the Taleban seizing Islamabad and bringing down the state. In Punjab . . . [there is] as yet, nothing like the insurgency occurring among the Pashtun tribes. In the interior of Sindh, support for the Taleban is virtually non-existent.

The whole situation underlines how vulnerable we all are to information flows around us. In an earlier post I quoted from a Pakistani blogger who seems to believe that the Taliban are a creation of the CIA in order to provide an excuse for Americans to invade Pakistan. It sounds so haywire from here that we are all likely to discount it as a single crank. But we are all caught up in currents of opinion larger than we are. It is just easier to see it in others.

We all live within fields of lies, piled upon one another, so that it becomes difficult to sort out the truth from the misunderstandings and even the deliberate lies -- like that promoted by the Pakistani military virtually on 9/11/01 that the Americans had done it to themselves in order to promote their imperial interests. Such a story works in Pakistan because the South Asians are vividly aware of how long they have been dominated by outside powers. From here it just sounds bizarre. But we have only to remember that the Bush administration persuaded the American people that Saddam Hussain had been involved in the attack on 9/11/01. We create the myths we live by -- sometimes very costly myths, as those that justified a 'preemptive' attack on Iraq. As far as I know, our only hope is to seek the most authentic and reliable sources available in order to understand as we best can what is going on around us.

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