In the autumn of 1947, a nation was born – Pakistan. The British before leaving India partitioned their long-held colony to carve out a separate Muslim state at the behest of some extremist political leaders. Lakhs perished on both sides of the border in the violence and riots that took place during the migration of large chunks of population from India to Pakistan and vice versa. To put it bluntly, Pakistan was born on the graves of lakhs of innocent humans.
Cut to 2009. It’s been over 62 years since Pakistan came into existence and India gained independence. But the stature of both the countries varies considerably in the eyes of the international community. While India is seen as a responsible democracy that has seen tremendous economic growth, Pakistan is considered to be a nation that supports extremist ideology and believes in creating troubles in its neighbourhood and beyond.
Pakistan is today burning in the same way as Iraq was after occupation by the American forces in 2003. Bomb blasts have become the norm, and if a day passes peacefully Pakistanis across the length and breadth of the country heave a sigh of relief.
Recently, a massive explosion ripped apart the Pakistani city of Peshawar killing more than 100 people, injuring over 500, and tearing apart tens of buildings and shops in a bustling market area. This is the kind of blast which the world can claim to have witnessed only in Iraq. Post the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the West Asian country has witnessed a wave of such bombings in which over 100 people perished in each attack. While Iraq became a victim of such attacks after Americans took over the country, what is it that has led to such a situation in Pakistan where terrorists regularly attack military, government and civilian targets, including universities and schools?
It is Pakistan’s own doing! Be it the moral and logistical support extended to militants to fight India in Jammu and Kashmir or the support to the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, the Pakistani establishment has always been on the wrong side. If I’m not wrong, the Pakistani leadership – whether civilian or military – over the decades would have never even imagined in their wildest dreams that one day, these same ‘holy rangers’ would come back to haunt and seek to destroy their nation, which has always been a breeding ground for terrorists aimed at ‘enemies’ like India.
Pakistan today is struggling… it’s struggling to survive. The ongoing ‘war’ against the Pakistan Taliban has become a fight for its survival.
Like Pakistan, India too is facing grave threats to its internal security from cross-border terrorists, militants in Kashmir, insurgents in the Northeast, and Maoists across a large part of the territory. The Mumbai attacks of November 2008, the recent wave of militant attacks in Kashmir, the bombings in Assam, and the day-to-day violence in Naxal-hit states is a stark reminder of that. However, unlike Pakistan India’s fight is not for the survival but of a precarious security situation. This is mainly because the government here and the people oppose terrorism in ‘one voice’.
In Pakistan, this ‘one voice’ has somehow got lost in the recurring military coups, political assassinations, the long-held and often-reinforced belief that ‘India is an enemy’, fanatics’ influence in the lives of a majority of Pakistanis, and the recent wave of terror attacks that have killed hundreds. Like in Iraq, people in Pakistan too have either become or started becoming cynical about their lives and future. When one has to think every time he/she steps out of his/her house as to whether he/she would be returning safely, the situation becomes definitely alarming and depressing.
Economically, Pakistan is bankrupt and has been saved from defaulting only because of the continuing American financial aid. The Obama administration’s Kerry-Lugar bill, which provides for USD 7.5 billion aid to Pakistan, also indicates that the South Asian country is losing its sovereignty because of desperate need for money.
The key to Pakistan’s survival lies nowhere else, but in the hands of its own people. It’s them alone who have to make a choice between aiding nefarious characters and their own security. The self-doubt and the belief that India is an enemy, and that the terrorists and Taliban are their friends have to go. The Pakistani government and its forces need to carry the ongoing war against the Taliban and the fanatics to its conclusion, and ensure they never fall in the trap of supporting such forces again. People who love to kill aren’t friends of anyone, not even those who gave them ‘birth’.
The present-day Pakistan can go two ways from here: disengage itself from terrorists, extremists and religious fundamentalists and become a tolerant, modern nation; or risk going the Iraq way and face foreign occupation in the name of destruction of terrorism.
The US is already a major part of the operations and most drone attacks are being launched by it to exterminate the Pakistan Taliban. If the Pakistani armed forces fail in their effort to see the Taliban eliminated, the day won’t be far away when the President of the United States would sign an order to expand its presence and influence in running the affairs of Pakistan. And when the US forces will finally withdraw after achieving their objectives, what will be left is a barren, destroyed nation similar to Iraq, which continues to burn more than six years after the ‘Gulf War II’.