I've been watching Al Jazeera's coverage of Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf supposedly dropping his military uniform and sharing power with a woman, Pakistan's exiled opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto. She's a controversial figure, as she faced corruption charges both times that she served as the leader of Pakistan. She lost me when she recently said something along the lines of, "My people worship me, and I am humbled." Or something horrible like that. "The entire world just told me that I am the fairest in the land and I said aw shucks, looked down with a blush, and kicked my bejeweled toe in the sand." Blech.
But this article, Fighting Someone Else's War, by Ayaz Amir that I read this morning on TruthDig was extremely interesting from a Pakistani's point of view. All we hear about or think about is Pakistan through the lens of America's strategic war needs. We don't hear very much about what the citizens of Pakistan think. (Of course, why would anyone care about them?) Here's a sampler, but do read the whole article. It's fascinating.
This is a war for Pakistan’s soul, we are told, a war between the forces of moderation and extremism. This is self-serving nonsense served up as justification for performing mercenary duty in defence of American interests.
Mercenary? Yes, mercenary, the Musharraf regime receiving about 100 million dollars a month in return for its military services to the United States. (Where this money goes and how it is accounted for few people outside the defence ministry or General Headquarters know.)
This is in addition to the nearly 700 million dollars annual subsidy Pakistan receives as part of the five-year military-cum-economic package concluded after 9/11. Into the equation must also be put the Bush administration’s political backing for the Musharraf regime. Indeed, what keeps [Pervez] Musharraf in power is control of the army plus American largesse.
But there is a price to pay for this alliance and it comes in the form of fighting a war against one’s own people. Close to 80,000 fighting men are now deployed in the tribal areas pursuing the ghostly shadows of al-Qaida and the Taliban. In this undeclared war a thousand soldiers have already lost their lives. For what?
The ultimate sacrifice is, of course, part of a soldier’s covenant when he signs up for service. But the ultimate sacrifice is for defending the fatherland, not fighting alien wars.