Know your tormentor

For Pakistan, the challenge is the non-state actor, not America

Imran Khan leads the national consensus in Pakistan today that the army yielded too readily to the American threat after 9/11 — "after one phone-call saying, are you with us or against us?" Forgetting what the national consensus was in 2001-02, the media has accepted the new catechism: Pakistan should have resisted the American challenge and not moved against al-Qaeda and its affiliated elements, who attacked targets in America and Europe from their safe havens in Pakistan.

Today, almost all the parties believe that the country joined a war on terrorism that was not Pakistan's to fight. Pakistani Taliban terrorists are greatly encouraged by this new political consensus and are using it to isolate the army leadership that still residually believes that the war against terrorism is Pakistan's war. It is quite possible that the army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who changed tack last year in a speech saying it was indeed Pakistan's war, has suddenly decided not to take another extension but retire and go home because of this new all-party consensus.

Some generals who fought al-Qaeda agents after 9/11 and caught and handed over a large number of such elements to the United States for Guantanamo Bay and for trials in New York — including the likes of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Yousef — have gone through an abject inner transformation against America and in favour of "our brothers", the Taliban. General Shahid Aziz — a relative of General Musharraf — produced a heavy, badly-written tome on such a transformation after he retired earlier this year. Another Taliban-admiring officer, Major-General Sanaullah Niazi, was killed last month by the Taliban, which obviously didn't care for this spiritual opportunism.

General Pervez Musharraf, who joined the global consensus formed after a UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) was passed under Chapter VII of its charter, is accused today of having caved in to Washington to join a war that was not Pakistan's. Yet the evidence shows otherwise, and it is actually national memory which has caved in, in the face the Taliban.

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