Can Pakistan really trust USA? Take a quick Poll to find out.

Can Pakistan really trust America? (Cast your vote)

(polls)

Secretary of State, Ms Hillary Clinton’s three day visit to Pakistan opened up more questions than it answered this week. Ms Clinton once again failed to alley the fears of the general public who still are sceptical of US designs in Pakistan. She also hinted at USA’s mistrust over handling of the War on Terror without once acknowledging Pakistan’s army brave men fighting in the trenches an American (foreign) war. While she was quick to blame Pakistan army for not being able to capture Al Qaeda members, yet she never fully explained why America, with all its might, has failed miserably in Afghanistan and Iraq to do the same. Surely, if they expect an economically and militarily weak Pakistan to curtail Al-Qaeda then US, being the super power of the world, be able to produce better results in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The mistrust, sadly as it seems, is at its highest and is only getting worse. The disillusionment is not just among the general public in Pakistan, but is slowly creeping into the political and military leadership of the country as well.

Despite Pakistan successfully capturing more Al-Qaeda high value targets than any nation (including USA) it is never acknowledged nor really commended upon. Instead a sleuth of allegations are placed by the world leaders. At the same time, Pakistan army has lost more troops than any other army (including the USA) in this war on Terror since September 11, 2001. Yet, no US senior diplomat or military general has acknowledged their sacrifice or even placed a wreath on their memorial.

Worst still, millions of innocent Pakistanis have been uprooted by the War on Terror in many districts of Pakistan, but little or no US humanitarian support has reached them. Pakistan has seen thousands of civilian deaths that are directly attributed to US drone attacks are also acknowledged by American leadership as “acceptable civilian losses”. It seem that Pakistanis lives have no value as compared to the American citizen.

The mistrust between Pakistan and USA is not a recent story. In fact, it dates back to the 1960s and here is why:

1960s:
Pakistan was member of the alliance (SEATO and CENTO) similar to NATO in Europe. That meant that if any member was attacked the alliance would support them. The U2 spy planes would also fly from Pakistan over Russia as part of the agreement between US and Pakistan. This was a major source of anger for Russia with Pakistan and had threatened a war on Pakistan. Yet, Pakistan, stood fast in support of USA throughout the time the U2s flew.

In 1965, a war broke out between India and Pakistan that lasted 17 days. At the end of the War, the Lyndon B Johnson’s US administration, rather than supporting Pakistan, put them on a sanctions list and ended the military and economic support of the country. Pakistan’s economy had been growing tremendously between 1960-1965 period primarily due to the US economic support. With that gone, the economy suffered and went south. At the same time, our military which was reeling from the war with India suffered a major setback when it was left to fend for itself without any support from America.

As a contrast, India’s main supporter Russia, not only increased its support for India but gave it the latest machinery (fighter jets, tanks etc) to better equip them against Pakistan. They, Russia, also played a vital role in end of war treaty between India and Pakistan while US stayed away.

The economic downturn that followed the sanctions turned into a political turmoil and eventually culminated in the breakup of the country and creation of Bangladesh 1971. Pakistan military was weakened considerably during the past six years and crumbled easily against a well equipped Indian army during the short 1971 war with India. Once again, US played lip service and did nothing to assist its ally, Pakistan throughout this conflict.

Dejected and left to its own, Pakistan unilaterally walked out of CENTO and SEATO treaties as the allies failed to help them.

1970s
Pakistan played a pivotal role in bringing China and America together. If it were not for the efforts and role played by Pakistan, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon would not have had the opportunity to build a long term relationship with China. Yet, Pakistan’s role is never discussed or acknowledged by the US. It seems they did all the work while no one helped them.

1980s
To fight the Soviet Communist threat, Americans gave rebel Afghan forces not only sophisticated weapons, but trained them in the guerrilla warfare under direct supervision of trained CIA operatives. When the rebel Afghans were running short in number and did not have enough manpower to continue to take on the Soviet Union, CIA devised a clever plan to make it into a religious war, a jehad, and invited/recruited many young people from various parts of the Arab world as part of the mercenary army. Each one of them received complete weapons training and a healthy stipend among other perks. Money was no object. It was literally distributed in sacks to the recruits and their leaders by CIA.

Osama Bin Laden and his cronies were among the recruits during the mid 1980s who flew in from the Middle East to fight the war. The fighting force was renamed as Mujahideens (Army of God) and given full support from all Western powers. Today, these same fighters, some still have the same leadership, are all jumbled up by the US administration as Talibans and AlQaeda. Yesterday’s Mujahedeens and today’s Talibans have little difference and sometimes have the same leaders guiding them in their war with America.

The administration also fails to acknowledge that it created its own Frankenstein and continues to blame Pakistan for it. This strategy may work in USA, where an average Joe is not familiar with Afghan war, but in Pakistan in particular and in Middle East in general, where such recruitment and trainings were openly carried out, such American amnesia is not only baffling but considered an outright lie.

1990s
Pakistan was threatened in the 1980s by Soviets with a nuclear annihilation for its support of rebel Afghans. It was also told not to fight an american agenda in Afghanistan. Soviet jets would bombard various parts of Pakistan throughout that conflict yet, Pakistan stood steadfast with its ally, the US. By the time, 1990s began, US had won the war in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union had collapsed and Berlin War had come down. Once again, US had no use for Pakistan and instead of rewarding its old ally, it instead placed it on new economic and military sanctions under Pressler Amendment. This was not a just reward for a nation that stood by the US throughout the 1990s.

Once again the nation spiraled into economic depression. The military was left to fend for itself. And worse of all, Afghanistan was left to its own peril with no support from the US. Leaving it to Pakistan to sort out the matter.

In this chaos and gloom of 1990s, Mujahideens of the previous decade transformed themselves into autonomous bodies in the form of Al-Qaeda and Talibans. Trained and well equipped by the CIA, these operatives had not only working knowledge of how to take the fight to the enemy but had already played their role in bringing a super power down (Soviet Union).

In this chaos and vacuum, these organizations rose to take the fight back to the US culminating in the tragedy of 9/11.

This week, Hilary Clinton, was in Pakistan. Rather than acknowledging the mistakes of the past, she preferred that the Pakistan forgot the past and embraced the future. She also failed to thank the nation for its sacrifices and skirted the issue of the drone attacks that has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Pakistan. She never delved deep into the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) crisis, and also failed to explain the draconian clauses in Kerry-Lugar Bill similar to Pressler Amendment whereby America can pull its support at any instant if it deems necessary.

The question remains. Can Pakistan really trust America? I have created a simple poll asking this very question and see if our readers can answer this question in the light of the facts just mentioned.

So click on the link below to vote:

Can Pakistan really trust America?

(polls)

Buner & Swat Refugees Need Our Help

Buner Refguee Relief Camp

Buner Refguee Relief Camp

In 2005 at Stanford University, we started a Tele-health initiative for rural Pakistan. Today, By the Grace of God, we are successfully running our services on a regular basis in rural Mardan District of Pakistan (in the village of Zahidabad, NWFP 200KM North of Islamabad) at our medical facility. We have now treated close to 15,000 patients since September 2008 off which 50% are female patients.

You can see some media/videos of our efforts at : http://www.umtrust.org/media

Apparently, our hospital in Zahidabad is located at the border of Buner District and therefore, we have seen a huge influx of refugees in our area these past few weeks. In fact, we have estimated close to 100,000 refugees in a 10KM radius of our facility. The conflict has caused over 1.5 million refugees in the province of NWFP (North West Frontier Province) of Pakistan.

As a response to this crisis, UM Healthcare Trust, our non-profit, in collaboration with its stakeholders (NUST, APPNA among others) has launched a massive healthcare relief effort for the refugees streaming in from the Buner & Swat district.

A photo stream of our efforts can be seen here at

http://picasaweb.google.com/mumtaz.atif/BunerRefugees

The project is a joint collaboration between

is partially supported by grants from

In this hour of the need for refugees we need your support as we are running short on medical supplies. No international non-profit is operating in our area and thus our limited resources are under a lot of stress.

Please contribute generously at http://www.umtrust.org/donate

Mumbai, Media & Politics

India Pakistan Conflict

Pakistan India Conflict --- courtesy nicholson cartoon

You dont go to war with a country which is already at war!

India might not get this message, but engaging Pakistan in a war across the border, even a minor skirmish, will not bode well for the region. This past decade has proven one thing beyond any doubt, that forcing a war on a nation will not resolve any conflicts. Rather it will only exasperate any imploding matters. US incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan and its ill effects are quite evident to all of us. Israel’s disastrous short war against Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006 is another great example. Heck, even Kargil conflict between India & Pakistan in 1999 has shown us that hot wars cannot resolve long standing conflicts, it will only make matters worse.

This current Mumbai crisis has the hallmark of becoming a major flash point in South Asian politics. Already, India’s politicians have shown little leadership and more showmanship. Their anger and threats towards Pakistan have actually lost them more friends here than anytime in the past. This was a time to work together with newly elected Pakistani leadership in capturing the culprits. After all, Pakistan is suffering from terrorism within its borders on a daily basis.

What was surprising was the biasness of the Indian Media. When Mumbai crisis began, there was widespread sympathy for the victims. After all, Pakistan is going through a similar turmoil for the past few years. Therefore, there was an immediate connection and people felt sorry. However, Indian media, began implicating anything and everything that is Pakistan without any substantial proof, logic or common sense. As the hysteria was built up by the media, it was apparent, that Pakistanis were beginning to change their perceptions and were more dejected by the false reports being telecast from India. Today, Indian media are considered the “biggest liars on TV” here. They earned this respect in less than a week of irresponsible reporting.

Not many people realize that today, Pakistan has over 100,000 troops engaged in War Against Terror in North West of Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan army is the second largest military force after the US war machinery that is actively engaging Talibans and Al-Qaeda elements within its borders. This military force is not just out there to keep Pakistan safe, but is working closely with international partners to keep the world safe.  Therefore, it would have been prudent for Indian Politicians and media to have engaged Pakistani leadership rather than threatening them with dire consequences.

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown visited Pakistan and clearly indicated that it would be prudent for the world to work with Pakistan government in eliminating Talibans within its borders. Today, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is also sending out the same message to its enemies and engaging them in peace talks. India should follow suite and work closely with Pakistan. There should be more sharing of intelligence reports and facts.

The recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari  when asked about the Mumbai crisis clearly indicated that one cannot resolve such matters without resolving Kashmir conflict. This festering wound has already caused three major wars between India and Pakistan. The longer Indian leadership continues to ignore United Nations resolutions dating back to 1949 on this conflict, the longer the conflict will continue. It is time for all leaders to sit down and resolve old conflicts. Drumming up war with Pakistan will not resolve any crisis rather will act as a catalyst for terrorism to spread to other parts of the world.

Mumbai and War on Terror

Failing War on Terror

Failing War on Terror

What happened in Mumbai is an atrocious crime against humanity. There is no doubt about it. The hallmarks of this terror attack are no different from what Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Britain, and United States have experienced it during this past decade. This unfortunately is a direct consequence of failing war on terror rather than any stand alone event. It is not caused by any sinister government nor any religious cults of the world. It is precisely a direct consequence of the failed policies dating back decades by most of these countries.

It is our firm belief that the method of waging the war on terror by the coalition forces earlier in this decade has not only failed to curb violence, but has actually acted like a catalyst for terrorism to spread literally across the globe. Today, there is no safe place from the reach of terrorist who can strike anywhere with such force that it makes the previous attacks look child’s play. Terrorism is now a cult and a religion in its own right which answers to no one.

Pakistan is waging an undeclared war on its own citizens in the North West of Pakistan. Namely Wazirstan, Bajaur and Swat Valleys. So far, no productive results have emerged except for over quarter of a million people have been made homeless and made to live in deplorable conditions. Each day hundreds of innocent people die from US drones and Pakistan Military bombings but the world has forgotten them. With the result, Pakistan now faces bomb blasts almost on a daily basis all over the country. I too had my office destroyed during the powerful Marriott blast on September 20, 2008. Like me thousands of people have been affected and many thousands have lost their lives.

Iraq is no different. The Shock and Awe campaign has literally backfired with whole country of Iraq falling into the Al-Qaeda trap. A country which had never really exported terrorism to any part of the world, now harbors and trains Al-Qaeda operatives as a direct consequence of the War on Terror.

India, like the other nations, has on its own part not been a saint when it comes to Kashmir, Assam and other freedom seeking states especially towards minorities within its borders. This is not something new. The brutal massacre at Golden Temple in 1984 or Gujrat in 2002 are just a few of the many attacks the minorities have faced in India which have never been fully answered. Today, there are many innocent people behind bars without trial in the jails of India. Many innocent people have been gunned down by the security forces in Kashmir. A swift and brutal retaliation was not just expected, but actually was waiting to happen. Unfortunately, in 2008, it has happened on a much larger scale in India than anticipated.

It is very easy to blame or accuse someone of a crime, but very difficult to understand why  such heinous attacks are committed. To get to the bottom of these crimes, one has to have an open mind and must engage the other side into a meaningful dialog. President Hamid Karzai, with the help of his coalition partners, is beginning to do just that. He is offering an open dialog with Mullah Umar and Talibans in hope for a long term peace in Afghanistan. The other nations should follow suite. There is no need to bomb and blame others for the crimes. We must look inside ourselves to find solutions.

Peace will come from within. It will not come laden on bombs. This past decade has shown us this message quite clearly.

Marriott Blast & Failing War on Terror

Bomb Blast at Marriott

Bomb Blast at Marriott


Make no mistake, the war on terror is a humongous failure. Those who continue to deny it are living in a fools paradise. Those who still believe that they can “smoke the enemy out” and “bomb them to stone ages” are nothing but disconnected from ground reality. This Saturday, the 1000 tonne bomb blast at Marriott Hotel Islamabad has once again proven that we are no safer today than we were in 2001. In fact, today, we are in a much worse condition than we were eight years ago.

The enemy is still out there and is far more stronger than it was at the beginning of the millennium. The irony of the situation is that it is the direct result of our failed policies on “war on terror” that has led to the strengthening of Al-Qaeda and the spread of Talibanism the world over. No place in the world is safe today from their reach.

Atrocities committed in Bagram and Guantanamo base have further worsened the situation. We call Alqaeda the bad guys. But if we begin to act like the enemy and commit atrocities at our own makeshift jails, we are no different from them. This unfortunate message has reached the wider audience diminishing our credibility to police the world.

On September 11, 2001, over three thousand innocent lives were lost. Today, the war on terror has caused disruption in the innocent lives of millions spread over various countries. Over 1.5 million Iraqis have emigrated out of the country since 2003. Over 200,000 Pakistanis have been forced out of their homes and made refugees in their own country by incessant Allied bombing on civilians. These people never supported AlQaeda, yet they are bearing the brunt of the war with little or no support from the rest of the world. These forgotten victims of war on terror are beginning to see the Allies as yet another untrustworthy tyrannical partner.

If we want to win the war on terror, we need to build bridges and not blow them away with so called “smart bombs”. We need to take steps to engage them into meaningful dialog and not beat the crap out of them in secret prisons spread all over the world. We need to make extra effort to understand the root cause of the problems and not just try to carpet bomb the whole Middle East.

Remember, everyone out there wants peace. No one wants war. But if we thrust it upon them, then we must be ready to face the consequences. The retaliations will be swift and brutal. And with each passing day when we fail to win the hearts and minds of the impoverished people of the region, we create new enemies and recruits for our enemies. Each day, our failed policies are breeding new Al-Qaeda members. And each day, the world is becoming more unsafe for us to live in.