Afpakwar | Arshad Zaman | 25 June 2011
Although denied by an Army spokesman, according to the New York Times (June 15, 2011), General Kayani is said to have observed in a recent talk to his officers that “We are helpless,” and to have asked rhetorically, “Can we fight America?” Whether true or false, as explained in a recent article (“The Solution,” The News, June 3, 2011), this is the wrong question. No one wants to fight America. The right question is: “Can we defend Pakistan, better?”
The idea that to defend Pakistan is to fight America is derived from an acceptance of the false dichotomy posed by George Bush in his address to the US Congress on September 20, 2001: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Ever the Christian fundamentalist, Bush was merely quoting Matthew’s hadith attributing these words to Jesus Christ: “He that is not with me is against me” (KJV, Matt. 12:30).
Interestingly, these words have inspired other Christian/Modern fascists before Bush. In a November 3, 1920 speech, Lenin had informed the assembled delegates that “[In] this struggle of the proletariat, each man must choose between joining our side or the other side.” Similarly, Mussolini’s speeches gave rise to the famous fascist slogan: O con noi o contro di noi (You are either with us or against us). In each case, the strategy of offering two extreme choices seeks to weaken the will to resist, by obscuring the existence of moderate, more effective, responses.
In the wake of 9/11 there was an unprecedented wave of sympathy across the world for the American people. At the same time, however, eyebrows were raised even in Western countries at the American government’s turn to religious bigotry and lawless vengeance. Famously, on September 16, 2001, Bush called for a Christian jihad (“This crusade, this war on terrorism…”). Four days later, he resorted to the language of racist lynch mobs from an era of American history best forgotten, when he threatened to “bring justice to our enemies.”
Sensible opinion across the world recoiled at this readiness of American neo-fascists in government (who call themselves neo-conservatives) to betray the principles on which America was founded and embrace mediaeval Christian values that had led to centuries of European wars. In the Muslim world, Iran was the first to reject this absurd ultimatum and proclaim its commitment instead to universal human values of the rule of law, and justice for all. Iran’s position, echoed throughout the Muslim world, was to support lawful actions and reject lawless ones.
Lawless regimes, however, welcomed America’s crossover to the dark side. In Pakistan, the generals had deposed an elected prime minister, suspended the constitution, and conquered Pakistan, three years earlier. The coup d’état was justified not by denying the authority of the prime minister to dismiss the army chief, but by the charge that the government had failed to fulfil the ceremonies to which he was entitled! On taking over, the judiciary was browbeaten to endorse the position that the orders of the army chief, acting as Chief Executive, had the force of law. Pakistan, in effect, had become a lawless personal fiefdom of the army chief.
It was in this context that the false doctrine was born that to defend Pakistan is to fight America. It would be wrong to judge Musharraf, seemingly a man of fine personal qualities, too harshly. Yet we now know that the Americans purposely asked for too much expecting him to negotiate and were surprised when he accepted everything and offered more, eagerly.
While he justified his surrender by repeating the two-choice scenario to the nation, Musharraf could not have been blind to the secondary gains of accepting American slavery. While Lt. Gen. Niazi was taken prisoner when he surrendered his 93,000 men, after a fight, Gen. Musharraf is living well on American largesse under American protection, having surrendered our entire armed forces to them, and Pakistan to boot, without firing a single shot.
The past is behind us. While new challenges have emerged, so have new opportunities. The military must change the mindset that because “We can’t fight America” we must give them a free hand to occupy our land and airspace, kill our citizens in broad daylight and walk out free, and conduct covert operations through a network of spies, mercenaries, and terrorists within Pakistan, to attack military facilities and foment domestic strife.
The sky will not fall if we push back quite a bit more against these unlawful American activities in the country. The example of the Turks, who successfully resisted American demands to assist in the invasion of Iraq, merits study and emulation. The people of Pakistan do not expect the military to invade America, but they do expect them to defend Pakistan not just against India but against all invaders.
A drastically edited version of this article appeared in The News, of 25 June 2011.
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