Saturday, March 21, 2009

How America has helped jihad's onward march

The Pioneer | 18, 2009 | Coffee Break

Nurturing terror with US dollars
Kanchan Gupta

Commenting on America’s response to the multiple terrorist strikes of 9/11, the most spectacular of which was Mohammed Atta and his fellow jihadis flying two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and reducing the glittering chrome-and-glass symbol of American power to twisted steel and rubble, Gen Pervez Musharraf writes in his memoir, In the Line of Fire, “I was chairing an important meeting... when my military secretary told me that the US Secretary of State, Gen Colin Powell, was on the phone. I said I would call back later, but he insisted that I come out of the meeting and take the call. Powell was quite candid: ‘You are either with us or against us.’ I took this as a blatant ultimatum... I told him we were with the United States against terrorism, having suffered from it for years, and would fight along with his country against it.” Gen Powell’s pronounced pro-Pakistan bias was no secret in the first Bush Administration. It is possible that his colleagues were not too sure whether he had been blunt enough while delivering what Gen Musharraf was to later correctly describe as a “blatant ultimatum” to Pakistan. So a follow-up message was sent, this time through a person who had little time and lesser patience for niceties. “When I was back in Islamabad the next day, our director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence, who happened to be in Washington, told me on the phone about his meeting with the US Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage. In what was to be the most undiplomatic statement ever made, Armitage added to what Colin Powell had said to me and told the director-general not only that we had to decide whether we were with America or with the terrorists, but that if we chose the terrorists, then we would be bombed back to the Stone Age.”

It is anybody’s guess as to whether the Americans would have carried out their threat had Gen Musharraf cast Pakistan’s lot with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But being the crafty man that he is, Gen Musharraf decided to play along with the Bush Administration by pretending to be a ‘staunch’ and ‘steadfast’ ally in the war on terror, and thus get the West to acknowledge Pakistan as the ‘frontline state’ deserving of military and civilian aid, which has since run into billions of dollars, most of it contributed by the US. Seven years after Gen Powell asked Gen Musharraf to choose between America and the terrorists, and Mr Armitage made sure Pakistan chose to support the US, there is little or nothing to show for the military and non-military aid. Oversight audits have revealed that much of the money meant to modernise the Pakistani Army to fight terrorism in that country’s badlands has been pocketed by its top brass through the rampant use of bogus vouchers and fake bills.

As for non-military aid, it is obvious that generous cash transfers from Western capitals to Islamabad have not helped prevent Pakistani society’s descent into Islamic fanaticism and jihadi bloodletting. Gen Musharraf had promised to reform the education system by cleansing school curriculum of the regressive elements introduced during the Islamisation drive of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, shutting down non-registered madarsas run by rabid mullahs, and modernising those seminaries which are recognised by the Government. For all his talk about “enlightened moderation”, Gen Musharraf did nothing on this front; by the time he ordered his troops to storm Lal Masjid and its two madarsas, including Jamia Hafza, in the heart of Islamabad on July 8, 2007, thousands of clones of this Deoband-inspired seminary of hate had sprung up across Pakistan. Many more have mushroomed in the last two years and each one of them preaches a simple, one-sentence message: “Jihad is your salvation.”

Distinguished Pakistani scholar and columnist Pervez Hoodbhoy, in an article, “The Saudi-isation of Pakistan”, published in the latest issue of Newsline, laments how radical Islamism and mullah-driven Arabisation are furiously gnawing at the innards of a tottering Pakistani state. He says although the Government admits to the existence of only 13,000 madarsas with 1.5 million taliban, the real number is likely between 18,000 and 22,000. That would mean millions of taliban being indoctrinated by hate-mongers for whom Islam means being in a state of constant war with those who refuse to submit to oppressive Islamism that militates against human liberty, equality and dignity.

The preaching of hate and the teaching of ‘virtues’ of jihad are not limited to Deobandi madarsas alone. Such has been the all-pervasive influence of state-sponsored Islamisation since the days of Gen Zia’s dictatorship — contrary to popular belief Benazir Bhutto did nothing to reverse the trend after the dictator met a justly deserved fiery death (those with an evil mind insist the CIA did him in), nor did Mr Nawaz Sharif bother to halt the onward march of radical Islam while Gen Musharraf tricked the Americans into believing he was working on education reforms but it would require a few more million dollars, please — that private schools have now begun adopting offensive textbooks. Rezaul Laskar of PTI has filed a report from Islamabad which is worth quoting verbatim: “Thousands of Pakistani schoolgoing children are growing up learning that the Urdu equivalent of the letter ‘A’ stands for Allah, ‘B’ for bandook (gun) and ‘J’ for jihad. Though not officially prescribed for pre-schoolers, books printed by Iqra Publishers are being used in several regular schools and madarsas across Pakistan. The three examples of Allah, bandook and jihad are not the only ones which sound like a ‘blueprint for a religious fascist state’. The Urdu letter for the ‘T’ stands for takrao (collision), ‘K’ for khanjar (dagger), H for hijab (veil) and ‘Z’ for zunoob (sins) which include watching television, playing musical instruments and flying kites.

Which takes us back to Hoodbhoy’s lament: “Left unchallenged, this education will produce a generation incapable of co-existing with anyone except strictly their own kind. The mindset it creates may eventually lead to Pakistan’s demise as a nation state.” Not given to grand pronouncements, Hoodbhoy has been cautious with his words. For, Pakistan has not only set itself on a self-destructive course, it is also headed for a catastrophe whose victims shall not be Pakistanis alone. Tragically, the Americans refuse to read the writing on the wall. If the Bush Administration erred in trusting Pakistan, the incoming Obama Administration has compounded that error by promising to treble aid to a criminal state whose ruling elite, both military and civilian, is a complicit partner in promoting a particularly virulent form of radical Islamism. Little does the Pakistani elite realise that it too shall be devoured by the beast it is nurturing with American dollars.


Bullet Nothing changed for India
By sg on 1/23/2009 12:56:47 PM

With Obama in office I don't see a tactical shif in the American policy towards Pak. As they may need more than ever in Afganistan, for that tripling non military aid is the carrot. Everyone knows tat Pak will send the US fase vouchers for these and divert / pocket most of these funds. And the US will turn a blind eye as far as they can show some result, even if it means the troubles for India. Many see Obama as being a bonus for India, but I am cautioned and will wait for more to pass judgement.

Bullet Pak befooling USA
By Dinesh on 1/21/2009 9:12:29 PM

Pakistan has been befooling USA for over 5 decades and enjoying free weapons and dollars in millions by making false promises.Kashmir has also been promised to uncle Sam.How stupid US leaders could be. Now Obama is tripling the aid.

Bullet nurtue terror.
By cvkrishna, on 1/21/2009 12:50:20 PM

Mr.Kanchan Gupta gives a detailed narrative of the situation But the lessons we have to learn and the solution to the threat facing us are left in the mid-air. The V.H.P. gives its prescription.

Bullet Illegitimate child
By Gopal on 1/19/2009 1:15:40 AM

Jihad is a illegitimate child of Pakistan and America. Together they have created a monster. Let them have fun but leave India alone.

Bullet Insightful as usual
By Aftab Alam on 1/19/2009 1:12:46 AM

Kanchan Gupta has provided readers with deep insight. But in India most middle class want to be pro American. So they are blind to Americas mistakes and dangerous policy. This is what Congress is doing. But BJP is no diffrerent. Secretly we want to be like Pakistan and become mistress of USA.

Bullet Stupid Americans
By Kunal Chatterjee on 1/19/2009 1:07:53 AM

US government thinks it is very clever. But actually it is too clever by half. Which makes Americans stupid. For six decades US has been giving aid and arms to Pakistan. Till now 'A' in Pakistan was for Allah, America and Army. Now it is 'A' for Allah, 'B' for bandook and 'J' for jihad. America has met its comeuppance. India is paying the price.

Bullet Don't critizise America
By A Non-Resident Indian on 1/19/2009 12:19:35 AM

I dont understand why Pioneer columnist Kanchan Gupta is criticizing America and American foreign policy. We NRIs in the US are doing so much for India and you are sitting in India and attacking America. BJP should learn from Congress and become pro-America, then only can India become developed. Please remember America is biggest power in world. India is only a developing country and many Indians want to come to America. So dont spoil relations with America.

Bullet From Jihad to Jahannum
By Jitendra Desai on 1/18/2009 8:50:51 PM

We should leave Pakistanis to stew in their own soup and put our own house in order to stop those 1.5 millions Jihadis from crossing the border.We don't have to provide " evidences" to anyone for this.We stop issuing visas to Pakis and order shoot at sight on all our borders.

Bullet Nurturing terror with US dollars by Kanchan Gupta
By suresh sheth on 1/18/2009 7:49:22 PM

This article by Kanchan Gupta is missing the implications of 150 million jihadi Pakistanis for India. The speed with which common Pakistanis reacted to India’s factual accusation of Mumbai terror attacks originating in Pakistan should tell every Indian that threat of return of Mogul Islamic rule in India after hiatus of four centuries is very real.

Bullet Pak's credulity question
By A.Sathyamurthy on 1/18/2009 8:41:02 AM

Does it need the US post 9/11 reaction to know about the unreliability of Pakistan with regard to anything? I think it is wrong to say that the US is not aware of what Pakistan is doing. Clever as it is, it is merely pretending to believe that Pak is a partner in its 'war on terror' and turns a blind eye on the Saudi funding of terrorist elements.

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