Choices for Pakistan

Daily: The Nation
Date: 27.07.04

In the so-called ‘war on terror’, a connotation of a war against the Islamic militants, there are
three countries (the US, the UK, and Pakistan) that are physically busy in the war. The US
was engaged because it was the victim. The UK got involved because it found an
opportunity to raise its status once again. However, Pakistan was dragged because it had
been pursuing a pro-Taliban policy to get solved the lingering political turmoil on its western
border. Hence, broadly speaking, each country has been assembled because of quite
different reason.

The trouble appeared since the war on terror has entered in Iraq in a pretext of finding the
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to save the Western world from the 45-minutes far
‘imminent’ threat. The intelligence agencies of both the US and UK failed, somehow, to find
existence and to track location of the WMD in Iraq. This episode might has brought
embarrassment to both the countries however has put Pakistan in dire straits. On one
hand, Pakistan is being asked from different corners to get involved in Iraq’s affairs under
the UN’s umbrella. On the other hand, Pakistan has been embroiled in a battle at its internal
front.

Regarding involvement of Pakistan in Iraq’s affairs, the first sign is an appointment of
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, as UN secretary-general's
special representative for Iraq, after obtaining no objection certificate (NOC) from the
government of Pakistan. The second sign is requests from the head of the Interim
administration of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, as well as from the UN secretary general, Mr. Kofi Anan,
to send troops to Iraq to provide security to the UN’s men and material, whereby the
security of Mr. Jehangir Qazi is also implied.

After the tragic fate of the former special representative to Iraq, Viera de Mello, in August
2003, the UN secretary-general decided to withdraw the UN presence in Iraq, as the
security of UN personnel was in jeopardy. Important was not only the loss of precious life of
de Mello but also the destruction of the office of the UN in Baghdad. Both the factors
indicated the hostile receptivity present in Iraq even for the benign institution like the UN,
not to speak of non-Iraqis.

In such a situation, when Mr. Jehangir Qazi gave consent, willingly or unwillingly, to go to
Iraq, it indicates under how much pressure Pakistan is from the outside world. Of course, Mr
Jehangir Qazi is not going for monetary remuneration or just to earn fame. There are many
other instances and opportunities that could provide him the both. Rather, it means a
bureaucrat has again decided to serve, indirectly, for the country namely Pakistan.

The intensity of the external pressure can be gauged by the kind of allegations, besides
their timing, being leveled from Pakistan’s flanks. That is, first, it is holding the terrorists
camps in Azad Kashmir (eastern border) that can disturb India. Secondly, it is harbouring
former Talibans in its western border areas who can frustrate the forthcoming elections
(October 08) in Afghanistan. Hence, the squeezing effect of the twin pressures is also
building up through the words of Richard Armitage and Zalmay Khalilzad respectively.   

When the information Minister of Pakistan says that Pakistan will not send its troops to Iraq
but it can think on sending the volunteers, it means Pakistan has to contribute somehow
and to some extent. Afterwards, when he says that there are three pre-conditions to be
met: a call from the Iraqi people; joining of troops from other Muslim countries; and consent
of the Parliament, he has not basically ruled out the possibility of, firstly, sending the
regular troops and, secondly, of dispatching some personnel under the guise of the
‘volunteers’ to contribute to the multinational peace keeping force.

The reason is the given choices for Pakistan. That is, either contribute men-wise in Iraq or
find a ‘high value target’ (who is allegedly believed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan or in
its western margin), or do the both — in lieu of provision of the economic sufficiency;
awarding of the status of non-NATO ally; for overlooking the nuclear proliferation scam; and
for future promises.

At the internal front, the situation is also getting volatile. It seems that the Jamaat-i-Islami
(JI) and its subsidiary organization Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT) have been subjected to’
target suppression’. The Amir of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Qazi Hussain Ahmed was stopped to
enter in Karachi to hold a peace rally. Now, he has been deprived to enter Bajaur Agency
as well. However, he managed to address thousands of people waiting in Khar by
telephone. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, on this occasion, demanded a separate province for the
tribesmen of all seven agencies and six Frontier Regions, where tribesmen could be given
a chance of getting an elected Council. It indicates that mercury is rising. Moreover, the
breaking of canal bridges in Lahore before making under passes was seemed more to give
a thrashing to the IJT than to facilitate traffic through the New Campus of the University of
Punjab.

As obvious, it is due to the behaviour of Opposition, including the JI, to the first session of
the National Security Council (NCS). It can also be due to anti-US stance of the JI, besides
its anti-Wazirastan operation posture. Further, few al-Qaeda associates have been found
with the JI members in the recent past. Hence, when the effort is underway to find the ‘high
value target’, the JI cannot be left untouched.

In a nutshell, it indicates that at least till November this year, Pakistan has to face some
tough time both at external and internal fronts in pursuit of the given compulsory choices. It
is still to be seen how does Pakistan pass through this difficult phase of time especially
when a new Prime Minister is in making?

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