Tuesday 10 March 2009

Kayani goes after Zardari (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat 

MANIPAL, India, March 10 (UPI) -- Say this for Pakistan's army -- its aftershave works. It seems to reduce to blobs of helpless jelly the critical faculties of U.S. "experts" on Pakistan within the CIA, the State Department and the Department of Defense.
Since the jihadization of the military by Pakistan's former president Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in the 1970s, the officer corps has continued as a force multiplier for the numerous terror groups headquartered in urban and rural communities across the country.
Except for Jehangir Karamat, the former chief of army staff who accepted his 1998 dismissal by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, no chief of army staff since Zia-ul-Haq (1976-1988) has paid heed to the elected civilian government of Pakistan in matters considered by the military to be within its purview.
These include the portfolios of defense, interior, foreign affairs and now the prime minister's office, as well as subjects such as assistance to terror organizations and the nuclear deterrent. Such an arrangement has had the tacit acquiescence of every North Atlantic Treaty Organization country -- including those that specialize in delivering sermons on democracy and human rights.
Despite the armed forces' control over areas considered key to the functioning of government in any major country, both India and the United Kingdom are enthusiastic in insisting that Pakistan remain within "value-based" forums like the Commonwealth. They also back every loan application Pakistan makes to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, despite the kleptomania of its higher echelons. Admittedly, this trait of Pakistan is shared with many countries in the world, including India.

As for the United States, no country has lavished more treasure on Pakistan -- not even the two runners-up in the "Santa Claus" sweepstakes, Saudi Arabia and China.
The generals in Islamabad have found a new champion in U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who seems eager to funnel billions of U.S. taxpayers' dollars to a state whose key functions are controlled by accessories of Jihad International.
U.S. President Barack Obama has made a few comments about ensuring that the Pakistani military withdraws from jihad and from governance. However, Obama now seems to be following the lead of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, whose tenure saw a sharp rise in the influence of jihadists within the Pakistani military, helped along by complaisant U.S. envoys. It was during the Clinton presidency that Saudi Arabia and the United States helped the Pakistani army set up the Taliban.
Sometimes hindsight produces clarity of vision, but in the case of Pakistan, the United States has seemed almost blind throughout four decades of involvement in the country.
Since 2005, Pakistan's army has been using its multiple and credulous contacts within the U.S. policy and academic establishments to press its line of engagement with the "good Taliban." These are the people who believe women should neither study nor work, except in the house, and that minorities have the same "rights" as Jews did in Nazi Germany.
By surrendering the Swat Valley to the Taliban, the army in Pakistan has created a safe haven for al-Qaida to continue its mission of converting the entire country into a safe haven for terrorists, as Afghanistan was under the Taliban.
Expert at managing the media, Pakistan's military under Gen. Ashfaq Kayani -- an officer in the social and ideological mold of his hero Zia-ul-Haq -- has ensured a steady flow of reports in the Western media pointing out the obvious: that President Asif Ali Zardari is a playboy known to have made money through means other than saving a percentage of his official salary.
What such commentaries fail to consider is that Zardari is a Sufi, whose family has been bred in the syncretic and moderate traditions of that philosophy, and that he has sought to delink the Pakistani establishment from the terror networks that operate today in the country with near impunity.
With his prime minister, defense minister, interior minister and foreign minister taking orders from Kayani rather than from himself, Zardari has found his authority ebbing away. Despite Zardari's recent decision to endorse the army-sponsored deal with the so-called moderate Taliban in Swat, the embattled president is likely to be confronted by a slew of charges that Kayani hopes will force his resignation.
Instead, it is Kayani's head that should roll. Under his watch Pakistan has abandoned even the pretense of fighting the Taliban and other terror networks -- a charade that former President Pervez Musharraf maintained to the military's great advantage.
Pakistan's current president needs to appoint an army chief of his choice. He needs to ensure, through amendments to the law, that this appointee behaves not as an overlord but as a professional soldier, based on the U.S. model. Subsequently, jihadist elements should be ruthlessly winnowed out of the Pakistani army's officer corps, and the special privileges given to jihadists since the 1970s should be withdrawn in stages.
Such surgery may seem drastic, but unless it is carried out, Pakistan will continue its descent into Talibanization. The bold and the beautiful in the country's urban centers will be swallowed up the way their counterparts in Afghanistan were during the 1990s.
Kerry is wrong. Pakistan needs major surgery and not coddling. Unless the civilian government headed by Zardari is empowered by the international community to conduct such an operation, and unless Nawaz Sharif is warned away from his current flirtation with the military brass and their terrorist associates, within five years Kerry will need to convene a series of Senate hearings on "why Pakistan failed."
Although his ignorance of ground realities in Pakistan is appalling, Kerry is regrettably hardly alone. Practically all of the NATO "experts" on Pakistan are as blind to the looming future as they were in the previous decade about the real nature of the Taliban.
The civilized world is already in a war, and Pakistan is the major theater. Unless it gives battle now, the West will face a much more deadly battle within the next five years, just as the Allies did from 1939 to 1945, after they ignored the Nazi storm from 1936 to 1938.
-(Professor M.D. Nalapat is vice chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO peace chair and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University. Copyright M.D. Nalapat.)

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