Tuesday, 17 Feb, 2009 | 11:53 AM PST |
I HAVE changed the title of this piece from ‘We whirling dervishes ought to be ashamed’ to the present one because I have many times exhorted this state of Pakistan, this Land of the Pure, this Citadel of Islam, etcetera, that whenever it indulges in shenanigans that are deplorable and monstrous and odious, I, as a citizen want no part of them. Not in my name, gentlemen.
I must also beg the dervishes’ pardon for using their good and kind name to describe our mendacious establishment, but its U-turns are so fast and so mind-numbing that they can only be compared with the whirling of the dervishes!
But first, let all of us Pakistanis hang our collective head in sorrow and in shame at the dreadful and downright evil and cold-blooded murder of Piotr Stanczek, the Polish geologist who was prospecting for oil in Attock district and who was kidnapped by the so-called Taliban four months ago and cruelly beheaded last week. More especially the establishment should be ashamed of itself, for it is now being said out loud that poor Stanczek was killed because Pakistani state institutions are not on the same page.
Indeed, in this particular case, Poland has officially said that ‘internal divisions within Pakistan’s government apparatus hampered efforts to save the life of’ the hostage. Be that as it may, do the beasts that actually carried out the execution not have hearts? Do they not have children? Or wives? Or mothers and sisters and brothers? How possibly could they break bread with another human being one day and then slaughter him the next? What sort of bestial behaviour is this? And all in the name of Islam?
What has gone wrong with us, I ask? Is this the country I was born in? Is this cruel and ugly place the Pakistan I knew whilst growing up, and going to college in Lahore where boys and girls would cycle to their schools and colleges as a matter of course? Is this tortured land that same land I called mine?
Now to our whirling dervishes: from the stoutest of denials to loud criticism of the Indians for providing only ‘information’ and not ‘evidence’ to our spokesmen of the FO sticking their tongues out at the Indians and faulting them on pedantic semantics; the whole shoot has fallen flat on its egg-smeared face. It has once more made the Mother of All U-turns, this time on the Mumbai attacks, admit that they were, indeed, planned in Pakistan. Why they even have the ‘mastermind’ (Senator-elect — God save us — Rehman Malik’s words, not mine) under actual arrest!
It would do us well to go over the sequence of events to establish once and for all that whilst there is a great divide within the establishment, it takes but a short visit by pro-consuls such as Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Holbrooke to grease the wheels AND the tongues of the powers that be.
Consider: on Nov 27, 2008, this newspaper reported that Shah Mehmood Qureshi ‘was adamant at a news conference hosted by Delhi’s women journalists that there were no longer training camps for terrorists in Pakistan…’.
On Nov 28, ‘the country’s top political and military leaders met on Saturday to discuss the tricky situation resulting from the Indian government’s move to blame ‘elements within Pakistan’ for the Mumbai carnage, but some of the actions and statements in response to Delhi’s tirade were indicative of a growing gulf between the government and the security establishment on ways and means to handle the affair…official and unofficial statements emanating from different quarters of the establishment suggested clear differences in perception, if not on the response to India’s blame game.’
Enter Ms Rice on Dec 4. She said she had asked the Pakistan civilian government for a ‘robust’ response against the terrorists who attacked Mumbai. In statements in Islamabad, she said that enough information was available for acting against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and forestalling such incidents. ‘There is a lot of information and it needs to be used to get to the perpetrators and prevent them from doing it again,’ she said at a news conference during her brief visit to Islamabad.
‘There is urgency in getting to the bottom of it; there is urgency in bringing the perpetrators to justice; and there is urgency for using the information to disrupt and prevent further attacks,’ she said, adding that the message was ‘well received’ in Islamabad.
Enter Ambassador Holbrooke, Feb 9, 2009, when according to another report in this paper, Pakistan was still describing the ‘information provided by India on the Mumbai attacks as ‘insufficient’ to reach a logical conclusion and bring the alleged perpetrators to justice…’. India ‘had rejected Pakistan’s claim that the information contained in its dossier was ‘insufficient’ and announced that it would not provide any further information to Pakistan.’
On Feb 12, 2009, immediately after Holbrooke’s two-day visit, and without getting any further ‘information’ from India, Pakistan admitted everything as described above. Why, several private channels have even gone to the fishing village where the terrorists hid for a few days and from whence they embarked on their murderous journey to Mumbai. The government, for its part, has already identified the shop that sold them the rubber dinghy, the outboard motor and other such equipment.
Would that Ambassador Holbrooke had come visiting earlier!
And now, my friends, to Swat. Who saw the heartrending film on that unfortunate place on television in which yours truly also featured? There was this young and extremely courageous young journalist, Ehsan Haqqani, who was moved to tears describing what is happening to his beloved motherland. Many thousands of us wept with you, my friend, may God keep you.
One has often said that if you give the government(s) of Pakistan two distinctly different ways of doing something, one appropriate and correct and beneficial; the other most inappropriate, wholly wrong and to the country’s total detriment, they will invariably choose the latter. There is going to be Sharia in Malakand/Swat! Whose Sharia? Which sects’ Sharia, please? You are giving another inch to the mullah, sirs, especially one who has tasted blood. He will want ten hundred miles the next time, mark my words.
Stop Press: News has just come in that the extremists in Swat have offered a ceasefire because they are running out of food and other supplies due to heavy snowfall. Which offer has been accepted by the government with the most shameless alacrity. There you go, sirs, on your self-seeking progress.