It is not possible for two factions of people to be stationed on the same mission, with the same aims (and aims with an ideological basis) not to affect each other. Nobody grasped the enormity of the fallout of the plan charted out by the US in the name of religion to meddle in Afghanistan’s affairs – the one latched onto by Zia in return for some dollars. Did the US and Zia-ul-Haq know that the proxy war of two superpowers that the US had leapt into – and that for which words such as “Islamic” and “jihad” were being employed – would have such dangerous far-reaching implications?
Unfortunately, the Pakistan army that was a national and professional army under Ayub changed its charcter to exclusively “Islamic” under Zia and that harmed its nationalistic cred. Simpleton Afghan commandos and warriors who were carrying out jihad for a few dollars fancied themselves “soldiers of Islam”. The Pakistani jawans that fought side-by-side with these soldiers obviously must have exchanged ideas. Our soldiers and Afghan warriors must have mutually affected each other. This meeting of minds turned into close relations and the rise of Taliban to power in Afghanistan could not have been possible without our sacrifices and practical help. The responsibility for forming the Taliban government rests squarely on our shoulder. This continued till 9/11.
When the military leadership of Pakistan took a U-turn after 9/11 and joined the American war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, many in the army couldn’t digest this about turn in policy. Some hotheaded ones joined the Taliban in rebellion. Some remained sympathetic in secret. But these elements were bolstered when they realised that some terrorist groups have patronage from Pakistani rulers This notion of the Pakistani leadership sheltering the Al-Qaeda leadership is gaining currency with passing time. The military leadership of then (i.e. around 9/11) labelled these terrorists as strategic assets and the cohorts of General Musharraf mused that the Americans would be forced to dish out the dough to us till the terrorists kept fighting them.
This duplicity is now creating hell for us. The Americans now openly state that Pakistanis take our cash and kill our soldiers. This is causing much consternation in American policymaking circles and this is heightening day by day. It doesn’t matter whether Osama came to Abbottabad four days or four years ago, or if he was brought from Jalalabad to Abbottabad to be killed here or if he was nabbed in Abbottabad itself. One thing is now clear to the world. This incident has proved to the world that we are liars. We can hem and haw all that we want but the world is not ready to exonerate us from the crime of giving sanctuary to Osama. America’s top leadership drops hints about absolving our leadership from this charge but they are also adamant about apprehending those responsible for aiding OBL.
Whether we find the real perpetrators or find some scapegoats to sing (as the police in Pakistan is wont to do), the investigation shall happen and it shall happen till the tracks leading up to Abbottabad compound are uncovered; and when those who lead to that particular compound are found, they will be grilled till they reveal who the one issuing the orders was. I can’t say anymore than that.
The fact that Osama was found in Abbottabad was very damaging to our reputation but the PNS Mehran was much more so. The fact that some elements in our institution are in contacts with terrorist couldn’t have stayed hidden from the US. One of the biggest proofs of it came out when the GHQ was attacked. The second one came forth with OBL’s particular co-ordinates and the third one was the incredible attack on PNS Mehran. We will obviously be inclined to believe official statements but our enemies particularly India are openly opining that there were nuclear devices on the base. It is Pakistan and humanity’s fortuity that the terrorists didn’t run away with a nuclear device.
I have no doubt that the terrorist had inside help in the Mehran base. It is a few weeks ago that about ten or eleven navy personnel were arrested for alleged links with Al-Qaeda. They were kept in a prosperous and populated neighbourhood in Karachi. The investigators started receiving threats and they were warned that the terrorists even knew of the place where the arrestees were being held. There location was changed but those making the threats surfaced again and revealed that they knew of the new hideout as well. The secret agency conducting the investigation then decided to meet with these people. A place and time in North Waziristan were agreed upon. There were negotiations and the navy promised that those arrested would only be fired and not punished in any other ways. But the terrorists demanded that they not be punished and allowed to continue with their jobs. This led to a breakdown in negotiations and the Mehran base incident took place. This story was released by an online agency but the events of May 22 leave little room to doubt it.
Terrorist do have contacts within the defence forces. This can’t be denied now. What is the nature and extent of these still remains to be ascertained. This fact is also now apparent that the Abbottabad incident led to much disquiet in the army’s units and General Kayani himself had to go to several place and make addresses to dispel it. Such a situation in a nuclear-capable army is enough to give sleepless nights to the entire world.
I don’t know why our politicians are pretending that Pakistan’s circumstances are totally normal. We are now being viewed as a child with a bomb in hand and a devil-may-care attitude, totally unaware of the consequences of the bomb going off. All the security agencies of the world are in a tremulous state. The GHQ and Mehran incidents have scared them witless.
Whoever gave Osama protection was powerful and gutsy enough to shield the most wanted man on the planet by NATO and Ameican forces and fool their agencies for about five years. How long are the arms of such elements? This thought scares the world. If we don’t unite political, military, administrative, religious and state forces to galvanise and take concrete steps to restore the confidence of the world, then the imaginations of those now scared of our nuclear assets can go to places much worse…
The writer is one of Pakistan’s most widely read columnists.