Newspaper Articles

Up to our necks – By Kamran Shafi

Source: Dawn (October 12, 2010)


BUT do you think the fire-breathing, attitude striking, ghairat brigade (brigades actually, for many more have sprouted in the week that the Torkham border remained closed to Nato/ISAF supplies) will ever acknowledge, even try to understand that we are in it? Pushed there by an unmoving, unmoved security establishment that cannot see beyond its nose?

These brigades, handmaidens to the establishment, and now fortified by former senior officers of yesteryear and not very fond memory when ‘President’ Ghulam Ishaq Khan (aka Mr GIK) was busy trying to undermine Benazir Bhutto’s first government, are adamant that the border crossings into Afghanistan be closed for good; that the Americans be told to get off the bus and do what they want in Afghanistan without any help from us.

This lot goes back to the anti-Soviet jihad, and puts the onus of everything that happened as a consequence on the Americans, absolving Pakistan of any blame. Blithely, shamelessly indeed, absolving themselves too, for the blame mainly rests on their once heavily epauletted shoulders.

Their brand-new mantra is what to us Pakistanis should be a quite peculiar bird: sovereignty, pulled out of the ghairat brigades’ hat after the recent (and quite stupid, may I say) Nato/ISAF attack on one of our Frontier Corps outposts killing three of our Scouts.

I say pulled out of a hat because no such condemnation was made of any infringement of our ‘sovereignty’ during, and immediately after, the dictatorship of the Commando. Here is an account by Christina Lamb in the Sunday Times (London) of Sept 14, 2008, when foreign troops actually entered and shot innocent villagers.

“It was 4am on the third day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the villagers of Angoor Adda, a small Pakistani mountain town near the Afghan border, were lighting their stoves for breakfast before a long day of fasting. Two US helicopters supported by an AC130 Spectre gunship landed close to the shrine of a local saint. Out jumped about three dozen heavily armed marines and Navy Seals from a crack unit called Detachment One. As they emerged from the churning dust onto the rock-strewn hills, they made for a terrifying sight in their night-vision goggles.

“Within minutes the commandos had surrounded the mud-walled compound of Payo Jan Wazir, a 50-year-old woodcutter and cattle herd. They believed an Al Qaeda leader was hiding inside. According to villagers, the troops burst in, guns blazing, killing Payo Jan, six children, two women and a male relation. Among the dead were a three-year-old girl and a twoyear-old boy, they said.

“Both US and British special forces have been carrying out missions inside Pakistan since March this year following an agreement in January between Bush and Pervez Musharraf, then president of Pakistan. In return, Pakistan’s military received £227m to upgrade its F-16 fighters. The deal explains why the Bush administration — and Whitehall — were so keen to keep Musharraf in office after elections in February in which the party he backed was defeated.” There it is, then … where was Pakistani sovereignty then, when it was bartered away for toys for the boys by Musharraf? Indeed, where was our sovereignty when Damadola was targeted repeatedly, killing many innocent women and children? And when poor ‘bloody civilians’ were killed? Is our sovereignty only invoked when people in uniform are harmed?

Sovereignty they say? If it is at all true that Tehrik-iTaliban ‘militants’ blew up all those hundreds of tankers and containers carrying fuel and other supplies for our nonNato allies in Afghanistan during the past week, in places as far afield as Shikarpur in Sindh; Islamabad the Beautiful; Quetta (where there was no Quetta Shura till last week according to the security establishment, mark); Nowshera cantonment; and Peshawar cantonment, then where pray, is Pakistani sovereignty? For we know, do we not, that the TTP is made up of Chechens, Uzbeks, Arabs, North Africans, even Chinese dissidents from Xinjiang? These foreigners are not abusing Pakistani sovereignty? It is not an attack on our ‘sovereignty’ when these foreigners attack the Pakistan Army, even the ISI, let alone innocent Pakistani men women and children with far more devastating effect than the Americans/Isaf/Nato?

Let me say this to the ghairat brigades: stop these halfmeasures and go all the way. Close the border crossings with Afghanistan and impound all of the goods and equipment and vehicles and fuel meant for Isaf/ American forces in Afghanistan in transit/still on ships waiting to be unloaded.

Tell the Americans that enough is enough: that you neither want any arms and military equipment from them, nor spares, nor coalition support funds (CSF), no nothing. Tell them that the war in Afghanistan is theirs and theirs alone and they can fight it on their own for all we care.

Let us then arm the Haqqanis and our other favoured groups to the teeth, and sic them on Afghanistan and the ISAF/Nato forces and the devil take the hindmost. Go all the way, gentlemen, and show the world how ghairatmand you are.

Let me end by putting in a plug for my old friend, Asma Jehangir, née Jillani, who is standing for the post of president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. And to express my revulsion and disgust at the way in which the name of this courageous woman is being dragged through the mud. She is being accused of having affiliated herself with the PPP when it is a known fact that Asma has never been swayed by politics and has always called a spade a spade. As a matter of fact her opponent is a card-carrying member of the Tehrik-i-Insaf.

Why, when people like I and political parties such as the PPP were foolishly celebrating Musharraf’s takeover, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan came out with a strongly worded statement against the coup against an elected government. Indeed, as we all know she was in the forefront of the movement for a free judiciary, facing police batons and tear-gas on several occasions. I wish her success — there could not be a better candidate.

About the author

Ahmed Iqbalabadi

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  • Asma Jahangir is certainly a very responsible human rights activist and a lawyer. Her neutrality and calling a spade a spade has made her honorable in all arenas.