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The last rites administered? Not yet!

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The jubilations, the triumphalism and the joy expressed by the US leaders and public was crass and vulgar. Yes, some had lost their loved ones but then what about nearly a million killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the invasions by western alliances?

The indecent haste with which Osama bin Laden was ‘administered the last rites’ does not mean that the ‘last rites’ for the ‘saga of terrorism’ have been administered too. Osama’s discovery and death drama has raised a lot more questions than it has answered and has also left Pakistan and the US with egg on their faces, though for different reasons.

The US has unsuccessfully tried to make amends for their ‘original sin’ of creating bin Laden in the first place. Oddly, they named the operation after Geronimo, who was a freedom fighter and venerated by Native Americans. They should have named it after Timothy James McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber. The indomitable Mullah Naseeruddin may help us understand why terrorism is not ending anytime soon. Mullah once got a recipe for making tasty succulent kebabs. He bought some meat and was hurrying home when unexpectedly a kite swooped and snatched it. Unflustered, waving the recipe, he taunted the kite by saying, “I still have the recipe.”

The ingredients are important but it is the recipe that really matters. The US might have killed an unarmed Osama in its dramatic May 2 Abbottabad swoop, but the recipe – the philosophy and the reasons for terrorism – is still in the hands of those to whom they had foolishly handed it when they, along with their western, Arab and Pakistani allies had supported fundamentalism and exploited religious hatred and bigotry to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, without a thought for the consequences.

Recounting recent history will put things in perspective. The Pakistani support for Afghan fundamentalists began way before the 1978 Saur Revolution. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ahmed Shah Masood and others took refuge in Pakistan after Mohammad Daud removed Zahir Shah in 1973. In them Pakistan, then under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, saw the answer to Afghanistan’s support for the Baloch struggle and Afghan rejection of the Durand Line. Their nurturing began as an attempt to counter-balance Afghan pressure, but ended up as a scourge for the world.

The Soviets naturally supported the April 1978 Saur Revolution but it was not until Hafeezullah Amin’s ouster on December 27, 1979, the fury of which I witnessed in Kabul that night, that the western and Islamic world led by the US openly jumped into the fray. The groundwork for helping the jihadists was already laid by the previous PPP government and just needed restructuring and reinvigorating, which the massive inflow of dollars from the west and Islamic countries easily achieved.It was during this 1979-1988 period that the CIA, ISI and others taught a whole generation of jihadists to make and improvise bombs and to wage a terror war. It was this folly that created the Osamas, al Qaeda and the Taliban, and it is because of this that the world has become increasingly polarised and insecure. They should not be crying foul because they made these rules and should now play according to them.

The US may kill a hundred Osamas but it is not going to help; a return to the ‘safer world’ utopia is now impossible. They created the malignancy of terrorism and will have to willy-nilly live with it. It is this that they sowed and it is this that they reap now and will do for the foreseeable future.

The jubilations, the triumphalism and the joy expressed by the US leaders and public was crass and vulgar. Yes, some had lost their loved ones but then what about nearly a million killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the invasions by western alliances? What about the displaced, maimed, injured and the psychologically traumatised millions in those two countries invaded and occupied by the west on flimsy pretexts?

Does not the life of those other than western people matter or seem worthy of respect to them? It is exactly because of the callousness and insensitivity displayed quite so often that the clash of civilisations has become a grim reality. Yet they complain only about the brutality of terrorism and there never is a word about their own deeds which have promoted and encouraged it.

Since long alarm bells have been ringing in the world about the dubious role that Pakistan has played and this must have confirmed their doubts. They realise that they are up against a state which is delusional about its importance and its possible goals. When Mullen had criticised the ISI, he knew what he was talking about.

With Osama, Pakistan has lost a bargaining chip and the establishment must not be ruing the supposed sovereignty violation – banana republics have no sovereignty – and the egg on face, but the fact that the western purse strings may be tightened. They were out-foxed by the US on this count but then they still hope to play the Haqqani card and continue to prosper.

There always has been much ado in the establishment here about the sanctity of sovereignty and their determination to defend it. This US operation has destroyed many a myth and claim about the preparedness and the determination, which are forever forced down the throats of the people. Anywhere else in the world, after embarrassment and humiliation on this scale and magnitude, there would have been mass resignations if not mass hara-kiri to remove the stigma, but here the positions seem to have been consolidated and instead of regret, the world is being blamed for an intelligence failure. Moreover, as they recover from embarrassment, warnings flow as if May 2 never happened.

It is also in the name of sovereignty and the writ of the state that the Baloch are regularly abducted and killed, but when it comes to a bigger bully, all are so very apologetic and contrite. Recently, three Sindhi nationalists were burnt to death in an attack in Sanghar, and a few days back nine Marris of the Sherani clan shifting from Hub to Karachi were picked up near the Northern Bypass and are unaccounted for. The Sindhi proverb, “Sher Shah’s hawk only kills the chickens at home” fits this state perfectly.

Here individuals and institutions that excel in bluff and bluster symbolise heroism because values and principles count for naught. In all quests to acquire power and pelf, conscience and compassion are always the first casualties and this makes the acquirers corrupt and cruel. Verily, corrupt and cruel people commit crimes without compunction and are beyond reform.

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at