Some unconscionable elements
The international media has been accusing Pakistan and its military of providing sanctuaries to the Taliban, especially what they call Haqqani Network. They reckon it as a fragile State, which is on the verge of being a failed State.
In Pakistan also, there is no dearth of biased and grossly irresponsible media men, NGOs and some politicians, who have the tendency to criticise Pakistan’s government and the armed forces one way or another. In the past, when the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban leaders and militants were burning schools, attacking shrines and killing their opponents in the name of Islam, they did not oppose them, and in a way glorified their actions. On the other hand, these elements tried to denigrate the military, especially after the May 2 episode and terrorists’ attack on the Mehran naval base. Some anchor persons on private TV channels and columnists in print media, especially English, tried to lower the prestige of the armed forces in the eyes of public raising doubts about their capabilities of defending the integrity and sovereignty of the country. Thus, they demoralise and confuse the nation by dancing to the tunes of the superpower and its allies.
A few Pakistani journalists subscribe to the views and conjectures carried in the New York Times, Washington Post and other American journals. Ahmed Rashid, who has recently suggested to the US administration to ask Pakistan to give the Taliban - Quetta Shura and Haqqani group - a deadline to either join the peace talks in Afghanistan or leave Pakistan. However, on the martyrdom of 24 soldiers and officers, he neither expressed sympathy nor condolences; he rather chose to dub the Pak army as an impediment to peace in Afghanistan. In his columns or interviews, he did not say a word about the strategic partnership between Afghanistan and India, because it was arranged by the US. Ahmed Rashid has authored several books about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. He was correspondent of Daily Telegraph and Far Eastern Economic Review, and writes for the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy magazine, New York Times and Washington Post, and regularly appears at CNN and BBC World. He was also advisor to David Patraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).
In his article, captioned Madam Secretary, only ‘talk’ can save Afghanistan, carried by the Financial Times of December 4, 2011, he wrote: “The anti-American uproar in Pakistan, which follows a year of incidents undermining trust between the two countries, partly reflects genuine anger. But it has also been stoked by the all-powerful military. They want a role in talks with the Taliban, which the Americans are unwilling to concede.” In another article, he writes: “Pakistan, which hosts the bulk of the Taliban leadership, is critical to any settlement. Unless the Pakistan military cooperates with the Afghans and the international community, and unless the ever-worsening US-Pakistan relations improve, progress on reconciliation will be deadlocked because Pakistan has far more leverage than any other State”. In BBC’s Viewpoint in November 2011, he had remarked: “The Taliban leaders have lived in Pakistan for 11 years, so there is no reason to doubt that the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, cannot deliver them for talks when it wants to.”
Anyhow, a few anchor persons and media men, wittingly or unwittingly, endorse the views and ideas floated by the US and their mouthpieces - Washington Post and New York Times - while others are either running the NGOs funded by the US and Western countries, or have acquired consultancies from UN organisations. One can observe the ‘pearls of wisdom’ scattered by them. There are a couple of media groups, who publish news, stories and articles to promote America’s interest in the region. In their editorials, they write what the Americans want to read. Articles written by authors, who accuse Pakistan of duplicity, and blame it for protecting and ensconcing the Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders, are carried by some, especially English. They use the very arguments advanced by members of the US administration to denigrate Pakistan, often repeating that the government does not want to act against the Haqqani network and others in North Waziristan because it considers them its ‘assets’ to be used after the Americans have left Afghanistan.
Some analysts accuse Pakistan of its duplicitous role, conveying the impression that the leadership is not sincere with America. Though it is the other way round, and Pakistan is not getting a fair deal from the US, yet they also raise the question whether its armed forces have the capacity and ability to respond if the Americans conduct a May 2-like operation to take out Ayman Al-Zawahari? They, in fact, are trying to create a wedge between the people and the armed forces. But they will not succeed, as the people of Pakistan have full confidence in the armed forces, and will continue to support the military in its fight against the enemies of Pakistan.
Today, the nation is confronted with gigantic challenges, both external as well as internal. Externally, a heady superpower is sending ominous signals. Internally, the nation is hopelessly entangled in a vicious terrorism involving a multiplicity of terrorist forces, including foreign proxies, homegrown militants, sectarian fanatics, ethnic firebrands and criminal thugs. At this point in time, the ruling and opposition parties and their leaders should work in unison to meet those challenges and make Pakistan a self-reliant country and not dependent on any foreign power.