Saturday, September 20, 2008

Death of a Policy

History did not start on September'11th 2001. There was a world before that and roots of an evil were planted decades ago. In 1947 a country named Pakistan was born. No the country itself was not evil but the path it followed and policies it implemented resulted in a nation that its legendary creators would not have ever imagined. India pre-independence was a nation of multiple cultures. Mainly two - Hindu and Islamic traditions. For centuries a mixed culture took roots with an influence of Sufism that brought two religions together. But it was not always rosy. Uncertainties of early 1930's and some political opportunism ended up making some Muslim leaders insecure in the nation they were born in. While India continued its multi-culture secular way, Pakistan took refuge in religion. The partition which was mostly based on differences of political views was turned religious. While the leaders of North west frontiers (the region close to Afghanistan) whose cultures and traditions were very different from the main stream Pakistan never wanted a partition but they ended up abstaining from voting and hence a nation named Pakistan was born. Pakistan as it means a "Pure place" very soon got tainted and bloodied after thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were massacred in the worst ever riots of the last century. Elements in India responded with the same evil reaction and a country was split into two nations. Pakistan as its creator M.L. Jinnah thought of making - A free and progressive country rooted in Islam was soon caught in disillusions. Their suspicion and hatred for India grew and instead of strengthening the people they strengthened the Anti-India institutions of its military. With Soviet Union moving into Afghanistan Pakistan became the hot bed for US to make its presence felt in that region. While Pakistan continued to be used, Long story cut short - Taliban was formed and no one had any clue how to deactivate this Machine if it ever gets out of hand.
It was not like if the thought process followed by Taliban was any new. It was at the heart of the kings like Babar who invaded centuries ago and brought Islam to India and followed by Aurangzeb the last Mogul king of India. The soul of secular kings or leaders like Akbar and M.L. Jinnah died and replaced by a policy that was too dangerous to control. While Pakistan continued to be ruled by Military Generals that world cozied up to, it was the democratic institution of Pakistan that remained the victim. Then came Kargil misadventure, solely orchestrated by then Pakistani Military chief Musharraf. The same elements that never liked any peace initiatives by elected leaders of that country with India. Once again Pakistan came under a Military rule that only ended after 9 years. Then 9-11 happened and not the world but only West's perspective towards this long lasting evil changed. Common Americans who cared about a very small World realized that it was bigger and filled with more hatred towards US than they had earlier thought. It was a new reality beyond the cold war. Musharraf knowing exactly what he was up against chose to side with US or at least officially. He took a gamble that elements his institutions and his predecessors created and helped would be easy to deal with over a span of number of years. We all got used to the situation. Okay.. US will stay in Afghanistan. Musharraf will not allow situation to get out of hands. Iraq will get solved by itself. One day Osama Bin Laden and its kingpins will either be captured or killed. The world felt more peaceful. Then something unprecedented happened. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Musharraf was ousted and new elected leaders took oath in Pakistan. The most important nation in the fight against terror was back on track. Or so it seemed. A series of US strikes inside Pakistan and its Military's attempt to cross its border snowballed into an issue that has swung most of the undecided common Pakistanis towards Taliban. Marriott's bombing in one of the most protected areas is not an isolated act but a sign of changing ground realities inside Pakistan. Its a challenge that a new nascent government is ill prepared to deal with. Its a sign of failed policy and is screaming to get a new look. This problem is bigger than Iraq. People in hiding not only had their eyes set but now have a reach to not only to the deadly nuclear weapons but its delivery systems. Hope it is not a beginning of the fall of a nation we called Pakistan.

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