Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

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Same Old Pakistan, Part II

So now when Islamabad found itself under U.S. pressure to abandon Taliban and help in the demolition of their government in Afghanistan, it had to think real hard before agreeing to anything of the kind. Taliban were not strangers. They were Pakistanis – Pushtoon tribals, ISI operatives, retired and active military personnel and experts in guerrilla warfare. Abandoning Taliban was like abandoning an arm of its military at the mercy of outsiders. Pakistan could not do it. So it did what was most appropriate. Islamabad asked the Taliban to disappear in order to reappear when the danger has passed.
The history of Afghanistan shows that there is a possibility that the moment U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan, the country will be back in the hands of the Taliban. Local population fears this too. Pakistan also knows that without the Taliban its dream to ever aligning with the Central Asian Islamic Republic will never materialize.
There was another reason for Pakistan to keep the religious militia in tact: it remained suspicious of the direction Karzai government was going to take as it was mainly dependent on Northern Alliance who were historically been pro-India. Islamabad was determined to destroy it if it ever tried to go in the direction of Delhi. And now that there is evidence of Karzai moving more and more in Delhi’s direction, Islamabad feels the need to unleash its jihadis who not only hate the “crusaders” but also want to eliminate the idol worshippers – India.
There is evidence that Pakistan never abandoned Taliban. Its military and intelligence assistance remained at their disposal and enabled their leadership to continue helping Al-Qaeda leaders to avoid capture by the coalition forces. Strategists see a definite logic in Pakistan’s double game. A force like Taliban is not created everyday. It takes a lot of time, money and expertise to raise such a motivated and committed armed wing that remains loyal to the state without being a formal part of the state. Pakistan could not afford to undo this miraculous achievement.
The fact that has not been reported so far is the role of People’s Republic of China in all this. When Pakistan decided to side with the U.S. it did it with Beijing’s blessing. Beijing had a lot at stake. Everything that Beijing had been working on is now threatened. Its plan to reach the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf via Pakistan by investing in the construction of the Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world, through an impassable terrain of Karakoram mountain range and the development of the deep sea port at Gawadar in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan seems to be in jeopardy.  
Both Pakistan and China have their reasons not to trust Washington. In Pakistan’s case, the list is very long. The hurt, anger and a desire to settle account with the U.S. goes deep and wide in Pakistan. There is a wide spread belief that the U.S. has always used Pakistan. From the U2 incident, to the defense pacts of CENTO and SEATO to 1965 war with India and the breakup of the country in 1971, Pakistanis have found themselves betrayed by the U.S. in each and every case. They are not ready to allow themselves to be used again. 
Then there is this question of the national identity - Islam. Pakistan establishment believes that only Islam can keep the country united. Secularism, according to these quarters will only encourage the secessionist tendencies which are already very powerful in the country. Pakistan being an artificial nation and an unnatural country cannot remain intact on its own. It needs some kind of a coercive force like religion to keep its contradicting and conflicting elements together. Three of the four provinces of Pakistan have always complained of being treated like colonies by the largest and the most populated province of Punjab. The latest uprising in Baluchistan that resulted in the murder of a charismatic and popular tribal chief and the leader of a resistance movement has further underlined the artificiality of the state.  
Every Pakistan believes that being a Muslim nation, it is also a target of the U.S. war on Islamist terror. They are convinced that sooner than later they will have to face the “crusader” just like Iraq, Syria and Iran. The radical Islamic parties in the country who have a very significant influence within the armed forces insist that Pakistan must never disarm itself. That’s why President General Pervez Musharraf used his present visit to the U.S. to repeat his assertion that Pakistan was forced to join the coalition.  
Karzai’s government’s definite anti-Pakistan tone, Washington’s pro-India policies underlining the perception that the real alliance in the region is between the U.S. and India has also prompted Pakistan to assert its independence a little more aggressively. Continuing demands from the coalition that Pakistan has to do more in the war on terror and the other developments regarding the terrorist activities implicating Pakistan have re-enforced the impression in Pakistan that the U.S. is preparing the ground to attack Pakistan as soon as it feels that Pakistan is not needed. Pakistan wants to keep all its options open. General Musharraf wants to convince the Jihadi establishment that he in the final analysis remains loyal to his original passion – jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir. 
Being a non-state entity Taliban are performing great deeds for Islamabad. Certain of a pro-Indian tilt in Karzai government policies, Pakistan have given a tacit approval for the resumption of their terrorist operations against Kabul. Islamabad is certain that an Afghanistan that is under U.S. control will one day be used against it therefore it must never be allowed to feel stable enough to act independently. The policy makers in Islamabad are also sure that once free of Islamist pressure, the U.S. will use India to keep Pakistan in a permanent state of subservience.  
Pakistan needs the Taliban now more than ever. Taliban will make sure that Islamabad remains relevant for any one who wants to deal with either Afghanistan or Central Asian Islamic republics.


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