Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pakistan – American Failure in Nurturing Long Term Strategy

It is quite clear that Pakistani society is hanging off a cliff so far as turning into a ‘theocratic’ society. There are broader constituents which are secular and quite grounded in Western way of life. Benazir and her PPP represent many of those elements. However, the real deal is the ‘poison’ of Jihadism which is slowly percolating in the entire society in various forms.

Apart from the British, who allowed Pakistan to get founded on the misguide principle of ‘the sole guardian nation of Muslims in the sub-continent’ (conveniently ignoring the fact that there are equal number of Muslim living in India with better freedom and security except some occasional lapses); the original sin was committed by Soviets in invading and occupying Afghanistan. For smart heads in West, what better way than to push forward religious people to fight Communism? No one fights Communism as vehemently as religious people. So what if in that process this religion based political ideology gives rise to Jihadism, Al Qaeda style? So far as it was serving the purpose of driving Soviets out (which they did), CIAs of the world and American Administration ignored the spreading poison of Jihadism. Further, Saudi encouragement to fanatic Wahabism in these countries was ignored. All these petro dollars which have been, till today, financing religious schools in Pakistan are still ignored by America.

Then came 9/11 and only when American blood was shed, Americans woke up for the real dangers of Jihadism. But in the wake of Bush’s epiphany that God spoke him to remove Saddam Husain; bright lights of American establishment poured all active military assets in Iraq. That left Bush with nothing to fight the simmering Jihadism in Pakistan.

Humiliation of Tora Bora, as brought by General Tommy Franks in ‘outsourcing’ the job of capturing Osama, did not teach any lessons to Bush and Americans. No wonder Bush is beholden to Musharraf. The theory of Cheney, Powell and Rice is that let us keep on ‘talking democracy’ only; but in reality let us bet on a dictator to get the defeat of Jihadis on ‘cheap’.

That is no more working. Musharraf is not working for America and he is not serving any American purposes. Sadly he is not serving any purpose for Pakistan too and is unable to stop spreading poison of Islamic Fundamentalism ideology. But by continuing to bet on him, American credibility in the eyes of Pakistani public is getting shattered. How different this situation is when Carter Administration was drinking cool aid from Iran’s Shah while revolution was baking in Iran?

Granted, Musharraf or any other ruler (may be Benazir would have been to a lesser extent only) would put ‘political survival’ at higher priority than uprooting Islamic Fundamentalism. If a ruler is elected, he or she would be more prone to make back room deals with Jihadi elements for the political survival. By now Americans should know that Lincoln comes only once in a century and when elections happen in Middle East, Hamas or Hezbollah do get elected emphatically.

But the right solution for this dilemma is to be patient and invest in the Pakistani society on larger scale so that legitimate political forces participating in democracy and election are reasonably independent of Jihadism. Otherwise, what else in the end the darling of Neocons – General Petreous – has landed up doing in Iraq? Nation building, plain and simple. So then why this disastrous tendency of American Political Establishment in trying to get victory over Jihadism at cheap in Pakistan?

Nukes in Pakistan limit the option of any active military adventure for America. Besides, Paki Army is a standing Army of over a million and it is no push over like Saddam’s Republican Guard. Which means that the real strategy for America and West has to be keep on engaging Gen. Kayanis of the world on one hand and keep on investing long term, unabashedly, in Pakistani Society and Democracy. The reason one supports Democracy in Pakistan is as more participation in political process by common public happens, the political cost of tolerating Islamic Fundamentalism keeps on increasing for these elected representatives. That should be the goal for America and not simply blindly backing Musharraf.

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