Pakistani chutzpah will hardly help



Author : C.Uday Bhaskar


In the wake of the turbulence triggered after the Osama bin Laden fiasco that shamed the Pakistani military as an institution, May 13 will be remembered as a day when Pakistan's civilian elite, confronted by a historic opportunity, chose chutzpah and misplaced bravado over candour and sincere introspection.

For the first time since the enormity of the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, and the genocide that preceded it, the Pak military presented itself to the elected representatives in Pakistani parliament to be censured for various acts of collective omission and commission related to the Osama killing by US special forces on May 2. Howeverinstead of focusing on the fact that Osama was living in Pakistan for almost six years under the very nose of the Pakistan army , and seeking accountability for this gross act of ineptitude or turpitude, Pak parliamentarians closed ranks to support their military and gave vent to a virulent anti-American sentiment over the Osama incident.

The dominant issue was the fact that the US forces had entered Pakistan in violation of national sovereignty and that the military must introspect over the glaring operational lapse. According to the Pak media, "At the end of the marathon briefing, parliament passed a 12-point unanimous resolution calling upon the government to appoint an independent commission on the Abbottabad fiasco, fix responsibility and recommend necessary measures, including blocking of Nato supplies to ensure such incidents never happen again and the unilateral drone attacks are stopped."

It is a different matter that the US carried out a drone attack on May 13 in North Waziristan as part of the on-going war against terror. That the terrorist attacks in Pakistan have been renewed post-Osama was also reflected in the twin-suicide bomber attack that targeted cadets of the Frontier Corps, killing at least 90 people in Shabqadar in Northwest Pakistan.

Instead of using this historic opportunity wherein the all-powerful Pak military submitted itself to the parliament for post-Osama scrutiny, the colossal policy blunders of the Pak ' fauj' were papered over and the guardian who had progressively turned predator was deified. Liberal opinion and the more brave voices who had highlighted the abiding reality of Pakistan - that the emperor had no clothes - and that the military was mortgaging the future of the nation and its hapless people by living in a virtual reality have either been intimidated or marginalized.

And the charade continues, that Pakistan is the eternal victim of American, Jewish and Hindu perfidy. But is this bravado (of blocking Nato supplies) devoid of any basis in the real world, or is the Pak military astutely raising the stakes against the US, as more skeletons tumble out of the Osama cupboard, especially in the wake of the Chicago-Headley trial underway? The current US dependency is a stark reality for the White House with almost 100,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan, and the tension in the US-Pak relationship will be mediated along this dependency index.

Pakistan is also being supported by Beijing in the current Osama fall-out and it is instructive that on Tuesday Pak PM Gilani begins a visit to China. Regrettably the establishment in Pakistan has fallen back upon its anti-India fixation and pointed reference has been made to 'targets' in India and 'rehearsals' that have been conducted, if Pakistan's sovereignty is challenged.

The central truth that has been blowing in the wind for years is the grim choice made by the Pak 'fauj' to support and nurture terror groups selectively and it is this blow back that is eating into the shrinking internal sovereignty of the Pakistani state and taking its toll in thousands of innocent lives. The Pak establishment has created the myth that Pakistan has lost more lives to terrorism than any other country since it is part of the global war on terror.

But it does not reveal that many of these died in sectarian violence that pits Sunni radical elements against their more vulnerable Shia, Ahmediya and other sects/faiths. Unless this and other myths are not objectively questioned by Pak parliament, its vigilant media and the courageous civil society, this charade will continue in its endless cyclical violence that peaks ever so often with adverse domestic and regional repercussions. The Urdu word eludes me, but less chutzpah and more candour is the need of the hour.

FROM ECONOMIC TIMES | TUESDAY - 17 MAY, 2011
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