Fiction versus non-fiction
Narrative journalism, also referred to as literary journalism, is defined as creative non-fiction, which contains accurate, well-researched information. It is a form of non-fiction that combines factual reporting with some of the narrative techniques and stylistic strategies traditionally associated with fiction. While a writer based on his imagination creates fiction, non-fiction journalism is based on facts. Carlotta Gall, in her recent article captioned ‘Pakistan’s hand in the rise of international jihad’, carried by The New York Times, accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban and ensconcing terrorist organisations. She wrote: “But experts have found a lot of evidence that Pakistan facilitated the Taliban offensive. Its intelligence service has long acted as the manager of international mujahideen forces, many of them Sunni extremists, and there is even ‘speculation’ that it may have been involved in the rise of Islamic State.”
The author accused Pakistan of creating jihadi organizations but forgot the US’s pivotal role in using Afghan sentiments against communism. The late Ziaul Haq had indeed used the opportunity to prolong his rule and also to continue Pakistan’s nuclear programme. In 2012, Gall claimed to have met madrassa (seminary) students who had come back from Afghanistan. She wrote: “Ahead of Pakistan’s 2014 operation in North Waziristan, scores, even hundreds, of foreign fighters left the tribal areas to fight against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Tribesmen and Taliban members from the area say fighters travelled to Quetta, and then flew to Qatar. There they received new passports and passage to Turkey, from where they could cross into Syria.”
There are of course responsible journalists and writers who criticise the US for its role in destabilizing governments and intervention in other countries. William Blum, in his book Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, wrote: “The CIA became the grand coordinator: purchasing or arranging the manufacture of Soviet-style weapons from Egypt, China, Poland, Israel and elsewhere, or supplying their own, arranging for military training by Americans, Egyptians, Chinese and Iranians, hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia, which gave many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year, totalling probably more than a billion, pressuring and bribing Pakistan to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary.” He also gave a detailed account of the US’s interventions and adventures.
Immediately after Pakistan’s joining the war on terror, American policymakers and their advisers started doubting Pakistan’s intentions and accusing it of double-dealing. During the last 12 years a host of policy reviews and study group reports were published, and Congressional hearings were held. Many books had been written and published before the 2014 drawdown to end major combat operations by the US in Afghanistan. Much of this literature sees Pakistan as a problem and not the solution to the problem. Debate was also raging as to how to get Pakistan to do what the US wanted it to do. The US government and media have been painting Pakistan in the most ignoble colours and its military in the most humiliating shades.
However, it was not just their hubristic arrogance that set blood boiling; it was their outpourings’ imperialistic tone that hurt the soul and mind. They talk as if we are their vassal state, where they are the masters and we are the slaves. But what else can one expect when the nation’s elites have over the years been genuflecting before US adventurists? The perception had gained currency that the US and the west wished to denuclearise Pakistan because a nuclear Muslim state that could pose a palpable threat to Israel and the US’s strategic partner India was simply not acceptable to them. The ‘sinister plan’ seemed to be to declare Pakistan a state that sponsors terrorism and also a failed state, which could fall into the hands of militants. The US Navy Seals’ attack on Abbottabad compound and NATO’s attack on Salala check post were planned to lower the prestige of Pakistan’s military.
The fact of the matter is that in the 1980s, the Soviet army had to face stiff resistance by the Afghans as the US, on finding an opportunity to make Afghanistan the Soviet Union’s ‘Vietnam’, tried to channelise the Afghans’ energies and their passion for jihad to ensure the ouster of Soviet troops. The US and its allies also failed to subdue the Taliban during 13 years of occupation. Having realised that the military and police they raised and trained were not able to rein in the Taliban, they are in favour of talks with the Taliban. But no progress can be made unless Afghanistan’s Pashtun population, from whom the Taliban draw the bulk of their fighters and supporters, are given sterling guarantees of their rightful share in power. And there is reason to do so because 12 years’ resistance shows that the Pashtuns are not likely to shift their loyalties from the Taliban in any case.
There has been a rethinking on the part of some Taliban commanders who maintain that it was only after non-Afghans, especially Arabs, began to exert control over the movement in the late 1990s that the Taliban became more adamant and brutal. The majority appears to be in favour of talks with the Afghan government. There was realisation on the part of the Taliban even before 9/11 to end the civil war in Afghanistan. In October 2000, the Taliban’s leader, late Mullah Muhammad Omar, had agreed to open indirect negotiations with the opposition Northern Alliance through the UN in an effort to halt the civil war. It is true that the Taliban tried to export their ‘revolution’, which was not acceptable to neighbouring countries and, according to stories based on the interviews of Taliban commanders, some of them were unhappy over the way al Qaeda operated.