" If Musharraf stepped down or was removed, he would be replaced by a colleague or peer who is unlikely to be enthusiastic about radical Islam. Musharraf’s successor would be replaced in turn by still another general with a similar semi-secular outlook. The army may use Islamic extremists and may not be able to reconstruct and build a normal Pakistani society, but for the foreseeable future, it is most capable of blocking anyone else from coming to power."
[Stephen Cohen, “The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan,” The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2003.]
The US troops had to physically fight and invade Afghanistan and Iraq to make occupation possible. Israel is still paying in blood for its occupation of Palestine. The Soviet Union had to leave Afghanistan with a bloody nose. Pakistan is the only country that is occupied by its own armed forces on behalf of the United States of America.
Literally defined, occupation means the act or process of holding or possessing a place. Most commonly, occupation is believed to be the result of invasion, conquest, and control of a nation or territory by foreign armed forces. In the real world, we witness that an effective occupation doesn’t need involvement of foreign armed forces. There is nothing very complicated or mysterious about understanding the difference between direct and indirect occupation. The aggressor always has some objectives behind occupation. It makes perfect sense that there is no need for military invasion and physical occupation if those objectives are achieved through indirect means.
As a matter of fact, most of the British Empire was not ruled by those from the British Isles, managing direct military occupations. There were regions left in the hands of older rulers or else manufactured rulers who did the bidding of their paymasters. In India, almost half the landmass remained in the hands of Native Princes. China and South America remained nominally independent, and the British foisted monarchs on Jordan and Iraq from the Arabian Hashemite family.
Just after the British secured Iraq in the 1920s, a Foreign Office memorandum put the case for indirect colonialism squarely:
" What we want is some administration with Arab institutions which we can safely leave while pulling the strings ourselves; something that won’t cost very much but under which our economic and political interests will be secure."
This is the task of sheikhs, kings and generals in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Pakistan, who have became de facto protectorates and virtual colonies (indirect occupation) while maintaining nominal sovereignty under American political, economic and military coercion (direct imperialism). Functionally, indirect occupations have become a symbiotic combination between direct imperialism and indirect colonialism.
Indirect occupation has been the most effective tool of the totalitarians. Effective occupation requires a form of governance with which the occupied people would comply willingly, rather than coercively. This imperative led to the indigenization of the colonial state through the adoption of the system of indirect rule, in places like Cameroon in the early 20th century.
With a few exceptions, almost all Muslim states in the Middle East and South Asia are either physically occupied or indirectly colonized by the US. These have become colonies and lost the status of countries because the concept of an occupied country is not applicable here. France, for example, was an occupied country during WW II, but Hitler did not aim at changing France’s religion, domestic and national structures, or partition it into cantons.
To the contrary, the US is restructuring the directly occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, and the indirectly occupied Pakistan and other Muslim states in all sectors in order to conquer them–”this is colonization, paraded as freedom and sovereignty.
Before discussing the occupation of Pakistan at length, we need to discuss as an example of how occupation (both direct and indirect) have been justified in the past and how Muslim "moderates" are now spreading falsehood in order to conceal the present state of affairs under the indirect US occupation in Pakistan and prepare a mindset for accepting such occupation.
In the history of mankind, there has never been a shortage of individuals like Brutus, Jagat Seth, Umichand, Rai Durlabh, Mir Jafar and Quisling to make occupations a success. The smell of money and power roused them to sell their country. Mir Jafar and others collaborated with Lord Clive to bring about the fall of Nawabi rule in Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. This opened the door for subsequent British to colonize all of India.
These facts are an open secret. However, the modern day "moderates" are trying to re-write history and prove that these collaborators-in-occupation were pragmatic individuals. The objective is to justify their assistance in continuation of the US occupation of their countries. Hussain Haqqani’s June 2, 2004 article in the Nation is an excellent example of the self-proclaimed moderates’ irrational exuberance coupled to unconscionable avarice for credit from the hands that rock their cradle.
Just like many others, who are justifying Musharraf’s surrender to Bush’s threats, Haqqani justifies the actions of Mir Jafar in these words:
" This historically incorrect account matches the version of events in Pakistani textbooks, which convince junior school students that the British defeat of Nawab SirajudDaula of Bengal in the battle of Plassey in 1757 was made possible only by the defection of another Muslim Nawab, Mir Jafar of Murshidabad. That the British might have had superior armaments and strategy, and that Jafar’s decision to support the British might have been the result of their military superiority rather than the other way round is not held out as an option."
What weight does repetition of "might have" carry in the above statement, when the British admits superiority of their weapons and buying out of Mir Jafar? A very simple search of the relevant facts shatters this theory for appeasement. Nikhil Dighe, an Indian web site, states:
" The battle was won even before it was fought. Robert Clive, the plucky representative of the East India Company employed persuasive diplomacy and offered Mir Jafar, a general of Bengal’s Nawab Siraj-ud-daullah, the Nawabship after the war, in return for staying away from combat. Clive also bought over the chief financier of the Nawab called Jagat Seth. Clive had 3,000 troops and Siraj-ud-daullah 50,000. But this seemingly disproportionate array of forces was neutralized by the fact that Mir Jafar’s forces of about 16,000 – which included cavalry and heavy guns – did not participate."
It seems if the British were so overwhelmingly "superior," there would be no need to "persuade" Mir Jafar to help them. This refutes Haqqani’s revisionist narrative. Even Jawaharlal Nehru, in The Discovery of India (1946), describes Clive as having won the battle "by promoting treason and forgery."
A Hindu Professor, Vinay Lal, at UCLA writes: "Mir Jafar was induced to throw in his lot with Clive, and by far the greater number of the Nawab’s soldiers were bribed to throw away their weapons, surrender prematurely, and even turn their arms against their own army." The impartial Hindu writers are more truthful than Muslim opportunists who think the masses hostility towards the US intervention in Pakistan’s affairs is just because of the nation’s brainwashing through incorrect historical accounts? References from the British and Indian sources show that history is not written by "Jihadists" or a religiously motivated Pakistani establishment. In fact, the secularists want to re-write history against the words of those who were actually part of these historical events. With regard to the "superior" weaponry of the British, Sir Robert Clive writes in one of his letters:
" We soon entered into engagements with Meer Jafar to put the crown on his head. All necessary preparations being completed with the utmost secrecy, the army, consisting of about one thousand Europeans and two thousand sepoys, with eight pieces of cannon, marched from Chandernagore on the 13th and arrived on the 18th at Cutwa Fort…. At daybreak we discovered the Nabob’s army moving towards us, consisting, as we since found, of about fifteen thousand horse and thirty-five thousand foot, with upwards of forty pieces of cannon."
Such pragmatic "moderates" of the past made the task of indirect occupiers easier. In the post-colonial period of neo-imperialism, their demand has not tapered down an iota. With modernity, the demand for raw materials from the former colonies and the push to sell surplus "modern" products has grown as much as the demand to assimilate in the Western civilization and diluting Islam to the extent that it has no influence in the collective life because it "incites" resistance against aggression and injustice. Initially, the former masters required new sell-outs to leverage the process of buying and selling. So, they created the likes of Batista, Reza Shah, Suharto, Noriega, Papa Doc and Mobutu in their former colonies. These individuals were supposed to license the perpetual bondage of their nations at the altar of the Capitalist West.
The times have changed. Now, the perpetual bondage is as much necessary for resources and pipelines as much it is for defeating an ideology. It has made the task of indirect occupation somewhat more complex and less translucent than the good, old days. It requires not only persons like Musharraf but also a group of native "intellectuals," trained in the American think-tanks to make the indirect occupations appear less transparent. The beauty of Musharraf is that he is not only commander-in-chief of a strong army but also far ahead from the native "intellectuals." Together they are to propagate the benevolent "civilizing," "modernizing" and "moderating" mission of the United States and its allies.
The more Musharraf tightens his grip to consolidate the occupation, the better it serves American purposes because the state has already started cracking in his grip, leaving many analysts to wonder if it will survive at all.
Despite General Zia’s serving the US interest in the region with an unprecedented devotion, no one realized that Pakistan was doing the US bidding because on the home front General Zia portrayed that he was promoting nothing but Islam. The war in Afghanistan for the US was also part of that Islamic portrayal. No one can guess how Zia would have played his mantra of Islamization if he happened to be ruling Pakistan after 9/11.
All we know is that Pakistan has been the strategic cat’s-paw for the United States ever since the days of CENTO and SEATO, but it was never occupied. The picture of Pak-US military-to-military and civilian-to-military relations in the post 9/11 period are different and stand out in stark contrast, inviting in depth analysis to look into the ways in which Musharraf surrendered Pakistan’s independence and its implications on the long term survival of Pakistan.
It is important to note that even at the height of the Pak-US strategic relationship, none of the previous dictators or civilian government provided access to US military personnel and the CIA to Pakistan’s military facilities, dumps and bases on the present scale. The US military presence in Pakistan today is in the thousands, located at strategic Pakistani military bases around the country. Most importantly, the American military presence is not the result of a general consensus in Pakistan after public debate and approval. It is the result of one man’s surrender at the top, obviously under dire American coercive pressures and threats, but also blatant political opportunism in the same fashion as Mir Jafar before him.
It is hyperbole to portray Musharraf’s decision to allow US bases in Pakistan as a courageous, de Gaulle–”like gesture. De Gaulle was a military person, and had led one side in a civil war, but he was never a dictator. He was a ‘Regent’, and highly popular. Instead, Musharraf can be compared to another military dictator: Hungary’s Adm. Nikolaus Horthy de Nagybanya, who attempted to defect from his alliance with Adolf Hitler and switch his support to the Allies. Initially, when the Red Army was well into Rumania, he negotiated a private peace with the Soviet Union. Horthy failed in his gamble, whereas Musharraf has been apparently successful (so far). But that success should not diminish the significance of the historical analogy. Horthy and Musharraf were simply switching to the winning side, well aware that the alternative would bring about their own political destruction.
There was no conversion of the masses to alien values or forces on native lands in either case. Like most of his predecessors, Musharraf knew that Islamabad’s ties with Washington were dictated by specific political-military interests and lacked any deep ideological roots. When US officials were hailing Pak-US cooperation in providing support to Afghan Mujahideen, Pakistani leaders seemed to have no illusions about their relationship with Washington. Unlike Musharraf, they knew that after a short marriage of convenience, the two would eventually have to deal with the reality of their diverging core national interests and values.
During a December 6, 1982 meeting in Washington, General Zia told the Secretary of State George Shultz in clear terms that the two countries were a "union of unequal" and "incompatible" in terms of culture, geography, and national power, even though they had strong common interests. The cautionary remarks Zia made probably apply more to the current Pak-US relationship, in which Musharraf is the more enthusiastic partner, surrendering everything for prolonging his stay, including promoting views and values of Islamophobes under the banner of "enlightened moderation" in an attempt to convert the public to alien values.
Of course, a client state can secure support and increase its leverage over the US by accentuating common strategic interests. However, in the case of Pakistan, the regime was not supposed to cross all limits in conceding Pakistan’s sovereignty. The erosion of Pakistan’s independence has led to continuing political uncertainty and instability, leading to the weakening of the fragile governing system. Existence of US bases in Pakistan and the continued use of Pakistan military on the direction from the Abizaid central command centre in the region have tarnished Pakistan’s image even in Washington and contributed to the volatility of the bilateral relationship. Presenting Pakistan as a dog in a Washington Times cartoon is a reflection of how Pakistan is being viewed by those for whom Musharraf has put the very existence of the country at stake.
Cold War rhetoric aside, Pakistan and the US not only lack common historical and cultural ties, they are not operating on the same strategic wavelength. After 9/11, the Bush administration decided not only to target Pakistan’s strategic and ideological ally in Kabul, but also to destroy the entire education system for the fear of resistance against its double standards, injustice, state terrorism and above all indirect occupation of Pakistan.
Musharraf has made Pakistan a big loser after September 11 with the misconception that it had no option except bending backwards to the US demands. His mantra: Pakistan had no option. It either had to join the US aggression or invite Bush’s wrath. Had Musharraf hesitated, the Americans would have clobbered Pakistan’s military and ‘strategic’ assets and allowed India to attack. By siding with Bush, Pakistan has been saved from American anger and its own extremists. It has also been able to break out of its isolation and rejoin the international mainstream.
No one cares to answer a simple question. What would Pakistan have lost if it had chosen to negotiate the fine print of our cooperation with the US? Even America’s European allies–”with the exception, of course, of Britain–”took some time to make up their minds before rushing in with offers of help. Would Pakistan have been declared international terrorists if the spineless Musharraf had negotiated with some toughness instead of being dazzled by the sudden attention he started getting? Now that the euphoria has gone, what do Musharraf and his minions have to show for his caving in? Musharraf got his exclusive dinners with Bush and Blair and accolades from Zionist groups and Islamophobes. Beyond that, what did he get?
From a systemic perspective, 9/11 helped Washington establish its military presence in Pakistan and also re-establish the "red lines" that had disappeared after the collapse of the Soviet superpower, impelling Washington to restrain its Pakistani client state. The key factor in all these developments is Musharraf. The situation could be totally different under a civilian government or a General who was not keen in self-promotion at the cost of the survival of Pakistan.
General Zia played a key role for the US for 11 years, starting with assassinating Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who tore up official letters from Washington in public rallies, and going all the way to waging a full scale Jihad movement against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The public still can hardly see if General Zia actually undermined Pakistan’s interest for the sake of the United States. A majority is under the impression that Pakistan grew strong during that period. The US got rid of him in August 1988 after the beginning of the Soviets Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in May 1988.
Whether Pakistan was occupied by the Pakistan army for the US during Zia’s regime might be a difficult question. What is clear without any doubt is the fact that it served the US to the utmost extent possible. The painful reality of Pakistan’s occupation by its own military forces for the US came to fore during the reign of Musharraf. Pakistanis were under the impression that the US couldn’t take away the soul of Pakistan’s army in the manner as discussed below.
One cannot imagine how meaningless all the displayed Qur’anic verses might look like in Pakistan’s military bases, when our forces leave for or return after killing their brothers in faith and destroying their homes in Israel-style raids. One cannot imagine the shallowness of their Takbeer (Slogan, saying Allah is Great) before pulling triggers on their brothers in faith and dynamiting the homes of fellow Pakistanis in Wanna and other places in Waziristan, for example. Of course, Israeli forces are using the same tactics in the occupied territories but they are facing a people which they consider as sub-human.
Many Pakistanis are under the misconception that the hounded people are terrorists. In this regard, we have to keep two things in mind. First: There is no "us": the hounds, and there is no "them": the hounded. The direct victims alone are not targets. We together are the target. Secondly, who are they–”Taliban, Arabs, Chechens, or the tribal "rebels"? At least, the Pakistan military did not consider the Taliban as terrorists until October 7, 2001. The ISI was feeding and training them all along and standing shoulder to shoulder with them until then.
Arabs were not terrorists as long as they were fighting to liberate Muslim lands from the occupation of the archenemy of the United States, the Soviet Union. As soon as the Arabs thought of liberating their own homelands from the US influence, they became the targeted terrorists.
When Musharraf declared in late September 2001 that the "Taliban’s days are numbered," the wise could read the writing on the wall. In fact, it was Pakistan’s years that are numbered. Since then the countdown is underway. The planning for undermining Pakistan is as old as the US government’s search for an appropriate excuse, such as the bloody drama of 9/11. Long before Musharraf’s coup, in March 1999 the then US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Karl Inderfurth, boldly declared that the US doesn’t want Pakistan army to become a "Taliban-like force." He proposed "Western style training" for the army to pave the way for its secularization. A quick look at the events and developments since then suggest that the mission Inderfurth started is right on target.
The US needed Pakistan armed forces to do the job of local occupation. The US started its campaign against Pakistan’s military as a result of the reports by its spying US military commanders, who could not swallow, for example, the 99 attributes of Allah written on every twist and turn towards the Special Service Group (SSG) Centre at Chirat. They couldn’t digest the motto of Pakistan armed forces: Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi-sabeelillah (Faith, fear of Allah and Jihad in the way of Allah) inscribed everywhere in the military facilities. Today, Taqwa has been effectively replaced by "the fear of Uncle Sam" and Jihad by "struggle in the way of the US."
As the news pours in about the death of Pakistani soldiers and civilians in their operation of raining down death and destruction on the voiceless people in the tribal belt, we cannot imagine how relieved the concerned quarters feel in the US, Israel and India who felt the Pakistan army as a thorn in their side for quite some time. Its operations since 9/11 have surely transformed it into a soothing balm for them.
Acting for the first time against one’s conscience is difficult. It then gradually becomes easier to the point to seem normal. Under the command of Musharraf, the Pakistani army has joined the first battle of a long "war on terrorism" without any serious consideration of the reality other than the position of Musharraf in the eyes of his masters. It could not see that it has fallen on the wrong side of the battlefield. Al-Qaeda was a no-name group of not more than a couple of hundred Arab dissidents living in exile, who have either been killed or captured since then. The US zeal to eliminate the Muslim’s will to resisting its domination and living by Islam has now transformed the so-labelled Al-Qaeda into a movement, which includes both Muslims and non-Muslims resisting the tyrannical world order envisaged by neo-cons and Christian-Zionists. In short, instead of crushing any kind of Islamic resistance movement, US actions have actually sent a wave of anger and resentment throughout the Muslim and non-Muslim world and, as a result, the world is much less safer place under Bush and the neo-cons who craft his policies.
The resistance grows as the lies and real motives behind the "war on terrorism" are exposed. Pakistan’s army, with the blood of its fellow Muslims on its hands and already acting against its motto, will never hesitate to repeat the carnage outside the tribal belt as anyone against the tyrannical global order is now an Al-Qaeda terrorist and any political dissent is labelled as "Islamic extremism."
Pakistan army, which the US, India and Israel feared as the only nuclear arms laced with an "Islamic fundamentalist-minded" army, is now ready to make fellow Muslims swim in their own blood. Joint efforts of these three states to dismantle Pakistan’s military might have remained fruitless until the arrival of Musharraf on the scene. However, he alone has done what all the three powers together could never do, i.e., gradually eroding justification for the very existence of Pakistan army and eliminating the sources of its inspiration: Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fee sabeelillah.
The story, however, is not limited to Musharraf. He materialized what others could only dream of. At home, the enemies within kept on trying to pave the way for the US to make Pakistan army yet another horrible example after rubbing the Iraqi nose in the Middle East sand in 1991. By declaring it the "new fascists" and "a threat to the world peace and security," Benazir Bhutto went too far in her campaign to malign the Pakistani army. She blamed the military for giving "a disproportionate voice to religious fanatics" and alleged that it is "dedicated to the export of religious extremism through Afghanistan to the shores of Europe." In her interview with the Guardian, Benazir Bhutto said the Pakistani army is "infected by extremism." The world does not see that "infection" anymore. Musharraf has done that job better than any candidate, offering his services to the US, could do.
Earlier the US Congressional sources told Dawn that the picture presented by the former ISI chief, Ziauddin, before the intelligence committee was so grim and scary that many members supported the public statement issued by the US warning against a military coup in Pakistan.
It shows the October 12, 1999 coup was on the cards long before, because a civilian government could not further the US and the IMF agenda as the military government could. It was only a matter of timing and the suitability of coup leadership. Some US sources were reported as saying the US was not worried about an army coup but "fundamentalist Islamic radicals in the Pakistan army."
Thus emerged a new consensus in Washington to weaken Pakistan’s military through promoting secular elements to power in Islamabad. The Observer proposed such a strategy of controlling the "specter of Islamic fundamentalism" in its report titled "Fundamentalism across Asia" (February 18, 1997). It proposed to utilize the might of local armies against the "blessings of the resident governments" to fundamentalists.
Preparing local armed forces as secular bulwarks became part of a coherent policy framework toward Islam, which according to the Director of James A. Baker III Institute at Rice University, Edward P. Djerejian, has "become a compelling need as foreign policy challenges erupt involving an ‘arc of crisis’ extending from the Balkans, the Caucasus, North Africa, Middle East, Central and South Asia,…. Afghanistan and Kashmir. Everywhere the rallying cry of Muslim fighters –” ‘Allhu Akbar’ –” is heard in a complex web of violent conflict."
Under the leadership of Musharraf, the Pakistani army played into the hands of forces determined to ruin it. Pakistan’s military might have an upper hand in promoting and imposing the US agenda in the region. However, sustaining this ephemeral success will have serious consequences in the long run. With the passage of time, the kind of operations which Pakistan’s military undertook in the tribal areas in the North West Frontier Province will become inevitable elsewhere in Pakistan as well and in the ensuing chaos Pakistan military, as we known it, may not remain intact in its present form.
The future of military occupation
Any Pakistani with an average knowledge of the history and politics know that what the Pakistani army has done to Pakistan is no less than what an outside power would have done. It is not only the matter of violence against civilians, it is also the usurpation of power and resources. The US army in Iraq has been fed and trained at the cost of American resources and it is rightly or wrongly fighting for America. In the case of Pakistan, the GDP grows at a rate around 3% against a target of more than 6%, reflecting low productivity in almost all sectors of the economy. Despite that, Pakistan’s defense spending remained one of the largest components of total government expenditures since independence. Although sizeable variation in defense expenditure to GDP ratio has been witnessed over the past five decades and the ratio declined significantly toward the end of the 20th century, the absolute size of defense expenditure is considered still very high and Pakistan’s development outlay remains stagnated.
What tips the scale is the same military’s turning around and serving the interests of the United States and its allies. The occupied nation is thus doomed thrice: It is the nation’s sons in the army; it is the nation’s resources invested in their training and logistics, and it’s the nation which becomes victim of its occupation for the US and its allies. All if these human and material resources could be used to making the country strong and working towards the purpose of its establishment. The opposite, however, is the case and the country is on a downward spiral. This cannot be blamed on external sources alone, and much of the blame must fall squarely on the Pakistan’s leaders and those who willingly follow them for the sake of personal gain.
The line between independence and occupation of Pakistan by its own armed forces is getting finer with each passing day. The cost of weakness on the part of the military leadership is now confirmed as an occupation without a military conquest. Pakistan has, unfortunately, become the first victim of this new kind of occupation–”a model of a "failed state" perfectly controlled from outside with curtailed sovereignty and limited freedoms.
Despite the regime’s wholehearted sacrifice of all the principles of justice and the norms of independent states, American analysts, such as Leon T. Hadar of the Cato Institute, consider Pakistan "with its dictatorship and failed economy" a "reluctant partner" and a "potential long term adversary." Therefore, instead of friendship or partnership on the pattern of India-US relations, occupation is a must and here the Pakistani nation is: fully occupied. Like any other occupied territory, dictatorship is in full swing in Pakistan. Hundreds of people, pointed out by the intelligence of occupation forces, are routinely rounded up in order to placate Washington.
Illegal detentions and extraditions are on the rise. Many non-government organizations with any link to Muslim countries, or Arabic words in their titles, have been closed down. FBI and CIA agents have declared open season on Pakistan. Pakistan cannot move its own troops without prior permission from Washington. And we witness desperate suicide attacks on occupation forces–”Pakistani armed forces–”like attacks on occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s military acting as an occupation force is not as simple as saying: If Pakistan is occupied, and the occupying power decides to remove Musharraf, will Pakistan army remove him? Or, if tomorrow General Musharraf orders the army to attack all US forces in the country, will he be obeyed? If the answers are ‘yes’ and ‘no’ respectively, then it is an occupation army. However, if the army stays loyal to its leader, then it is not occupying Pakistan.
The naivety of the above argument lies in the assumption that Pakistan’s occupation by Pak-army means that the army has surrendered to the US will en masse. The US has become a demi-god. If Musharraf submits to this demi-god, he gets the check to keep the army with its huge expenditure alive. If he refuses to submit, the life-line gets severed both from Washington and the IMF. Thus the army has not surrendered en masse. This is not possible. Pakistan’s occupation by it military took place according to the US well-known strategy of buying out the strongman at the top. Having the commander in chief in the pocket is good enough to make the gullible mass of the armed forces obey orders as per military discipline. If they could attack and kill their brothers in faith on the orders of their commander in chief, how would they spare the Americans on his orders? The beauty of this occupation lies in the use of a 5 million men strong army in the interest of Washington at the cost of protecting one strongman.
The extent of this strongman’s dependence on the demi-god lies in the fact that there are no signs of independence at all. Pakistan cannot prepare its budgets without an approval from international lending agencies. The same must be true for other third world countries, including those in Latin America, which are not Muslim. However, the difference lies in finding out if these impoverished countries have other options. Pakistan’s consuming every possible penny into its defense budget would have made sense if it were utilized for defending the country’s integrity, sovereignty and independence. Why impoverish a people and make them dependent on the capitalist lenders, when the same defense dollars are spent for the interests of the US against its people and against Pakistan’s independence?
One can guess the state of Pakistan’s independence from the fact that it cannot conduct any investigation without the assistance of the FBI and other external agencies. It is an open secret that Pakistani agencies cannot operate any longer, except in coordination with the FBI. Pakistan has to detain almost every person from the Middle East as a potential terrorist and it’s the US agencies to decide their fate. The morbid dread of Al-Qaeda is being used to crack down on religion and to further reduce our freedoms as citizens of an independent state. There is no open discussion on any aspect of the ever-intensifying occupation. Dependent states used to be called as client states. However, Pakistan has crossed that state by virtue of the military commander-in-chief’s fully committing lives and resources of his country to serving the interests of the United States. Hardly a single day passes by without Pakistani regime making a slavish act or comment. Things get really interesting when there is hardly any difference between the statements issued from Kabul by the Karzai’s municipality and from Islamabad by the Musharraf’s regime. Both are receiving almost equal Foreign Military Financing and both are serving their American masters well.
Thus, Pakistan will have accumulated a total of $821 million in FMF support between 2002 (when FMF was resumed) and 2005. Additionally, military training funds are on the rise- from zero in 2001 to a $2 million request for 2006.
President Bush took the relationship with Pakistan military one step further in June 2004, naming Pakistan a "Major Non-NATO Ally." This designation, accorded to only a handful of nations, makes Pakistan eligible for previously unavailable weapons like depleted uranium munitions, and new funding sources like U.S. government-backed loans to build up its military capabilities.
Even if all this aid is for defeating Al-Qaeda, one may ask: who needs F-16 to beat Al-Qaeda? At the end of March 2005, Bush, however, reversed 15 years of policy begun under his father by offering F-16 fighter planes to Islamabad. Initially, Pakistan planned on buying two dozen of the Lockheed Martin manufactured planes, but Bush administration officials note there would be no limits on how many could eventually be purchased. Pakistan’s economy is not strong enough to allow Musharraf to purchase the $35 million per copy fighter planes, and so the deal will be accompanied by about $3 billion in military aid.
The importance of a strong local military for occupation can be judged from the patterns of US assistance to Afghanistan. The Karzai regime asked for $27.5 billion in aid over seven years, keeping the develop aspect of the country in mind. So far, the war-torn nation has received just $4.5 billion and, according to the UK’s Independent, "much of the $2.2 billion earmarked for 2004 was diverted into military projects and emergency relief from long term development."
U.S. aid to Afghanistan in 2005 totals more than $929 million, more than 80% of which is earmarked for the military and police. This comes on top of a similarly skewed 2004 budget of $1.7 billion, where only 10% went to development assistance and child survival and health. Taken on top of a $589 million appropriation for 2003, U.S. assistance for Afghanistan tops out at $3.2 billion and counting, with the lion’s share going to the military.
One of the few differences between the direct Iraqi occupation and indirect Pakistani occupation is that in Iraq, the US is in the process of training an army that would replace its forces and in Pakistan it has got a pre-trained army, which can go to any length under a pro-US strong-command-in-chief to ensure American interests. As far the butchery in Iraq and the concentration camps, no need has arisen for that in Pakistan so far.
Pakistan is ensuring American "strategic interests" in everything it does, from implementation of American directions on religious institutions to spying on citizens and banning everything that may promote the spiritual message of Islam. The government officials work round the clock to ensure interpretation of Pakistan’s occupation as crisis management. It is rather becoming a cause of the future crisis.
Just like Palestinian authorities in occupied Palestine, the US can force our government to routinely violate basic standards of decency in human behavior as expressed in international human rights law without anyone raising an eyebrow. It can now arrest, indefinitely detain, torture and even kill anyone under the pretext of destroying the Al-Qaeda network.
Al-Qaeda’s threat has been blown out of proportion to intensify occupation of what senior British diplomat Robert Cooper calls failed states in the post-modern era. The main characteristics of such occupations described by Cooper are: the breaking down of the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs of the occupied states; "mutual" interference in domestic affairs and "mutual" surveillance (the word "mutual" is used to deceive the weak as Pakistan cannot even imagine interference in the domestic affairs of the US, let alone surveillance); and the growing irrelevance of borders when it comes to safeguarding the interest of the strong.
In 21st century occupations, there are no security threats in the traditional sense; that is to say, the powerful do not consider invading the weak. Going to war is rather a sign of policy failure. Mr. Cooper elaborates:
" The challenge to the post-modern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the post-modern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era of force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle."
So the laws of the jungle are being applied in occupied states like Pakistan and Afghanistan. To remove any leftover doubts about Pakistan being a failed state, news reports from the New York Times and the Washington Post are pouring in, alleging that Al-Qaeda is regrouping in Pakistan and that ISI supports the Taliban and Kashmiri "insurgents." As a "pre-modern" state, Pakistan is thus considered as weak enough "even to secure its home territory… but it can provide a base for non-state actors who may represent a danger to the post-modern world." An occupation of Pakistan is thus justified and Musharraf calls for further US assistance after each desperate attack on his life.
This new form of occupation is acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. In western eyes it is an occupation that "aims to bring order and organization but which rests today on the voluntary principle of people like Musharraf’s coming forward and offering the services.
Freedom comes with a heavy price tag, which Generals like Musharraf are hardly able to pay. Under British occupation, Benjamin Franklin observed in 1755 that those "who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Musharraf abandoned the rule of law, principles of justice and hard won independence simply because America was angry and Musharraf feared an attack on Pakistan.
The US could remove the Taliban from power, but it could not diminish their influence in Afghanistan. In total contrast, Pakistan’s strategic depth totally disappeared due to the most effective-ever occupation of the modern age. Pakistan’s sovereignty has not only been compromised but also totally diminished when it comes to acting under American influence. Now, American forces are stationed at various centers in Pakistan indefinitely.
One can argue that there are American bases in Australia too, by treaty, and there are Australians who strongly object. But as long as the government allows them, it is not an occupation. Of course, that is not. The US and Australia are allies against "common enemies," whereas Pakistan is one of the perceived enemies. The religion of its people is considered to be the source of terrorism. The country itself is considered to be harboring terrorists despite all the cooperation it has extended. One has to keep all these factors in mind before looking at the scope and implications of the US military bases in Pakistan. On December 13, 2004, the New York Times reported that the CIA has set up covert bases in the tribal areas in Pakistan, which the Pakistani regime instantly denied. Earlier, the Washington Post confirmed bases at three locations in Pakistan, whereas the US Central Command published a watered-down version of Pakistan’s assistance on its website, which shows how Musharraf’s regime put the interests of the US ahead of the interest of its own people and exposed millions of innocent Afghans to the US onslaught.
The geo-strategic position of Pakistan could not help ordinary Pakistanis as much as it helped the Pakistan army and other elites. It is this strategic position which made Pakistan prone to military dictatorships. Again, it is this position, which ultimately landed Pakistan as an Anglo-American client State with greatly diminished sovereignty.
From the American perspective, US military bases in Pakistan are necessary to keep an eye on "fundamentalist forces" taking control of sensitive locations, the ISI and some "cells" in the military that may get out of control and act like "rogue" institutions. Musharraf’s strategy of appeasement has miserably failed. From day one, Washington didn’t pay any attention to his calls, such as those for a halt to bombing in Ramadan, or not to let the Northern Alliance take full control in Kabul.
Instead, the Bush administration decided to continue pursuing the war on Afghanistan during Ramadan and gave a green light to Northern Alliance forces to occupy Kabul. Musharraf again tried to reduce losses by demanding that Kabul be "demilitarized" and the Northern Alliance forces "must not" hold it. Pakistan couldn’t play a role in the formation of a new government in Kabul and today Islamabad is totally sidelined from whatever good or bad is happening in Afghanistan. Instead, it gets regular condemnation from the Afghan and US authorities for supporting the Taliban from Pakistani territory.
Despite the Pakistani regime’s friendly gestures, the puppet regime in Afghanistan looks down upon Islamabad. Included in the virulent anti-Pakistan statements are those from the then-Afghan-American US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalizad, blaming Pakistan for protecting America’s enemies. Khalizad, a member of the inner circle that surrounded Bush in the early days of his presidency, vehemently said that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama were somewhere in Pakistan. His claim that the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants had infiltrated from Pakistan, in an organized manner, was termed as baseless and irresponsible by Pakistan.
Besides having no meaningful relations with Afghanistan, occupied Pakistan has become one of the strategic losers in the international system that has evolved since 9/11. Yet the US has continued to portray Islamabad as a "friend," and has provided economic and military assistance on the basis of promises to unconditionally support its "war on terrorism." US military bases are the strings attached to this humiliating assistance. In April 2005, the well known Israeli-based web site Debka revealed that Musharraf had agreed to US intelligence agencies’ need for a presence on Pakistani territory for gathering intelligence on Iran’s nuclear installations and in case of a decision to mount a military operation against Tehran. According to Debka-weekly-Net: "There are strong intimations that Musharraf has already agreed to assist America in this eventuality."
The Iran factor makes sense when looked from the perspective that the US bases in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait were there to defend these countries against Iraq. In the case of Pakistan, Afghanistan is fully occupied with a CIA man on the throne in Kabul and American forces dug in military bases throughout the country and central Asia. There is no justification for a continued US military presence in Pakistan because unlike the pre-Afghanistan-occupation, the Allied forces do not need any additional support from US bases in Pakistan. Musharraf’s regime has recently allowed Washington to set up four air bases inside Pakistan to help operations inside Afghanistan despite the fact that the presence of US troops in operations with Pakistani soldiers has raised the level of fierce resistance in tribal areas. This shows that the target is not Afghanistan (alone) and that the plan is to milk Musharraf to the last drop.
Most Pakistanis, who have turned a blind eye to the presence of US forces in Pakistan, must not ignore the reality that they are there to stay indefinitely. They are there to ensure that, unlike the 1980s, Pakistan does not get a blank check from the US to combat terrorism and spend it on building up forces that may threaten US adventures in the region.
The conflicting national interests of Washington and Islamabad became obvious during 2002. The US openly rejected Pakistan’s position vis-Ã -vis Kashmir. Pakistan’s nuclear program became the prime target of the US government. The US establishment-backed analysts declared Pakistan "the most dangerous place on earth." Permanent induction of armed forced in Pakistan’s governance mechanism was fully supported by the US and opportunist political leaders gladly helped the military to constitutionalize military’s role. Furthermore, the US has a clear interest in establishing strong ties with India. Pakistan, on the other hand, is increasingly considered as a "potential long-term adversary."
At a time when American policy makers were planning for a gradual disengagement from Pakistan, Musharraf hosted American bases on Pakistani soil. Even some of the US policy makers rejected the idea of continuing American military bases in the existing political environment of Pakistan, which could lead to an escalation of violence and a perfect ruse for imposing a war on Pakistan. Musharraf thought the reward for his cooperation would be growing diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties without any strings attached for domination, but he is not reaping rewards that he thought he would.
Why will military occupation continue?
Pakistan’s occupation by its own military will continue in one form or another until it breathes its last, for the simple reason that the nation itself is half dead. A substantial part of a nation dies the day its people start dying for others against their will. The soul of a nation is fatally wounded the day its armed forces start leading it in a battle against its raison d’Ãªtre. Eliminate a nation’s purpose, and you extinguish its spark of life. The country that acquiesces in evil can hardly hope to enjoy the benefits of goodness. No one draws freedom or life from a land of oppression and death.
The half-dead Pakistani nation is silently dragging the cross of Bush Junior’s crusade to its own Golgotha. On the military front, the nation helplessly watches PTV News which keeps calling army men, who die for America, as "martyrs." On the legal front, the nation didn’t say a word in protest when under the influence of the dictator its Supreme Court staged a successful coup de main on clear Qur’anic injunctions and claimed that the nation’s survival lies in going against the Qur’an for its banking system.
Pakistanis are helplessly reading reports about their army going on a rampage against its own people–”a clear evidence of dictatorship in the service of the United States. Stalin killed more Russians than Hitler. Hitler killed many Germans who were not Jews, merely anti-Nazi. Saddam killed many Iraqis. This is a pattern of dictators. An authoritarian regime cannot allow dissent. The infuriated army commanders in Pakistan herd people out and blast their houses by artillery and mortar fire to revenge the killings of their fellow aggressors. It seems the story of another West Bank or Gaza strip: another factory of desperate "suicide bombers" in the making. No one asks, what is this army fighting for, or what is the meaning of Pakistan’s existence?
The Statesman reports that in search of Al-Qaeda men "army and law enforcement agencies are capturing every bearded person who has some contact with religious people or mosques’ affairs." A tribal elder of Wanna, South Waziristan, told Baluchistan Post that it seems as if "the Army is not operating in its own country rather it is fighting a war in a hostile country." Just to please Bush and company, an occupied nation is at war with itself on military, intellectual, legal and social fronts. This is what Thomas Friedman of the New York Times calls a "war within Islam," and this is for what spokesman of the State Department very proudly thanks Musharraf. Interestingly, the victims have nothing to do with the regime. They are no opponents of the dictatorial regime, let alone potential opponents. Therefore, the violence cannot be explained on that basis either.
Like the absolutely absent definition of "terrorism" in the "war on terrorism," there is no definition of Al-Qaeda membership. Any alien who lived in Afghanistan during the Taliban era is a sure candidate to be considered as a member of the "Al-Qaeda network." Similarly, opposition members–”particularly those belonging to Islamic parties – who oppose policies of the US-supported regimes, such as Karzai, Mubarak and Musharraf, are now set to be labeled as supporters of the "Al-Qaeda network." Like communist enemies of the Cold War era, the "Al-Qaeda network" will never come to an end until Washington clearly declares victory in its 21st century crusade. Until then, every bearded Muslim, as the Statesman report says, is a potential Al-Qaeda member. Before the US declares a victory, it will have to bury many a half-dead nation along with their dictators.
A nation half-dead doesn’t mean that it will die. There is an equal opportunity for it to recover and resist. But, do we see any ray of hope for Pakistan? Are there any signs of recovery? There is no sign that American demands on the Pakistani regime will come to an end. Every time it is successful in extracting concessions from Musharraf and making him surrender Pakistan’s principles and freedoms, its appetite will grow for power along with his will to keep ruling. Both Musharraf and Bush began in a humble way because of the humiliation associated with the military coup and allegation of fraud respectively; but one ended by sweeping the world into his vision and the other is struggling to transform Pakistan in the image of Islamophobes in the US.
Bush’s associates now pronounce with confidence their judgment upon every subject from the choice of rulers in the Muslim world to the governmental limits within which the Mosque can function. Their impudence is the measure of the Pakistani nation’s futility. Their self-expression is purchased by the suppression of Pakistanis’ right to self-expression and self-rule. Like many other Muslim nations, Pakistanis too run to meet their chains because every individual Pakistani is too afraid to venture out of the little private corner in which he is buried. He does not seem to know that the power to insist upon his freedom lies in his own hands. He is powerless because he is unconscious of his power. This unconsciousness will help the military prolong its occupation until it leads the country into total chaos and ultimate tragedy.
Pakistanis are damned to live under perpetual dictatorship not only because they opted to submit to Musharraf, but also because they have forgotten that the government is the employee of the people, and that like any employee, the government is required to obey orders, not to give them.
Pakistanis are destined to live under military occupation until the end because they have forgotten that as the employers of the government, they have the right to decide what their employees can do and more importantly, what they cannot.
Pakistanis are damned because they have forgotten who is really supposed to be in charge. Everyone is begging Musharraf to remove his uniform to be acceptable, forgetting that Musharraf with or without uniform will remain the same: commander-in-chief of the 21st century Einsatzgruppen, which were mobile paramilitary units established to liquidate the perceived enemies to the Third Reich such as Jews, Romany, and political operatives of the Communist party. Pakistan’s military, under dictator Musharraf has taken over the same role for the US–”the Fourth Reich–”murdering, capturing, destroying homes and even taking hostage the families of people perceived as enemies.
The worst part of the story is that Nazi Einsatzgruppen were killing people they considered their enemies. Pakistan’s transformed army, the 21st century mercenary Einsatzgruppen, has turned on its own officers and its own people because the Fourth Reich considers them as evil.
Pakistanis forget that Musharraf alone is not the problem because he alone is not the nation, as was the case of any dictator of the past. Hitler alone could not kill millions of Jews or invade country after country for planting false evidence, overpowering their populations with a combination of vicious air strikes and then installing corrupt and cruel puppet leaders. It takes both the dictator and the nation to pave the way towards their demise. Gorbachev alone could not disintegrate the Soviet Union. It was done by all citizens of the former Soviet Union who were afraid to question the system and ideology they were subjected to from day one. That is the state of Pakistanis today.
Pakistanis seem to have become neutral and tamed. Same was the problem with Jews before the holocaust. Michael Berenbaum, editor of Witness to the Holocaust, points out: "Most often, they [Jews] remained neutral, neither helping the killer nor offering solace to the victim. Yet neutrality helped the killer, never his victim." Not only Pakistanis in general have adopted this attitude but also all the so-called elected leaders in the "elected" Houses seem to be in a contest of neutrality on the core issues facing the nation. Furthermore, Musharraf is trying to let Pakistanis believe that because of his surrender they are safe.
Pakistan is in the ambivalent position of having an army that can neither govern nor allow civilians to rule. Whether the army has the conceptual ability to plan a strategy of incremental change that would fundamentally reform Pakistan’s ailing institutions is also questionable. It is not in a position to end the invisible occupation it has brought upon Pakistan due to self-centered vision of the military leadership. All failing states have weak armies; Pakistan’s army is strong enough to prevent state failure for some time to come but not courageous enough to stand for the objective of Pakistan or imaginative enough to transform it into a model Islamic State, which are the only pragmatic ways for its sustainability and the main parameters for defense.
A truly independent, Islamic Republic of Pakistan is unlikely to emerge until the military and politicians set aside their personal interests and broker some kind of grand accord in the interest of Pakistan. In the invisible conflict of the army vs. Pakistan, if Pakistan does not get dissolved, it will definitely continue as a state that hovers on the edge of true independence and sovereignty for a long time to come. In the final analysis, we would come to know that Pakistan was not at war with India or someone else, but its own armed forces. And the forces that Pakistan nurtured at the cost of 80% of its limited resources proved to be the facilitators of occupation.
It is absolutely impossible that Pakistan’s army will end its occupation of Pakistan for the US, because the Army and their flunkies, the politicians, are totally corrupt. Pakistan’s politicians are selected, groomed and put into office by the army. They are later kicked out by the army once they have passed their usefulness, or become assertive. Benazir Bhutto was allowed to take office in 1988 only after she accepted the army’s demands that her government would have no say in the matters of national defense and foreign affairs. Nawaz Sharif was removed and exiled when he began asserting his authority vis-Ã -vis the Generals who made him prime minister in the first place.
The military will keep occupied Pakistan alive on handouts from Washington. There is no viable infrastructure to make the country economically strong and the mantra of "enlightened moderation" is not going to make miracles for Musharraf. Pakistani Generals are known to be very rich. It is impossible to document the extent of the wealth of the Generals. Once in a while a long list appears citing serving and retired military officers in the position of power through out the country to show the dominance of the armed forces on every aspect of Pakistani life, but it hardly reaches the general public and, even if it does, it is accepted as part of life in occupied Pakistan (See Annex at the end).
Pakistan’s defense budget has never been audited. Anyone who questions the Generals’ wealth and power faces all kinds of hardship. In 1999, weeks after the Army took over, some members of the suspended parliament made statements against the Army; they were then kidnapped and brutally beaten.
In 2003, a member of the Punjab Assembly, Sanaullah, taunted the generals over their fabulous wealth. He disappeared for several days. When he returned he had a shaven head, disfigured face and multiple fractures. The news of ISI involvement was all over the world. Sanaullah also tried to bring some Generals to justice, but no one would listen to him for fear of the army. Imagine the fear of the army in the heart of a common man. In the 1980s Time published an article giving a brief account of the wealth of Pakistan’s generals, but that issue was banned in Pakistan.
However, once in a while muted, almost negligible protest, is made about the richest generals in the world. For example The Friday Times of Lahore once quoted a former bureaucrat to that effect: …ex-Inspector General police Rao Rashid said that four Pakistani generals were counted among the world’s eight richest generals during the Zia era. He added that in those days the big generals and politicians were involved in heroin smuggling.
According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a report–”"A US-financed Military Dictatorship: Pakistan has Long, Bloody History as the US Terrorist Arm (June 2002)–” Pakistani generals "were deeply involved" in drug trade and three of them were counted amongst the twelve richest generals in the world. The report adds: "Washington’s instrument has been the Pakistan army, which U.S. officials have called ‘the greatest single stabilizing force in the country.’ Its major "military" campaigns have been launched against its own unarmed people."
The military occupation of Pakistan will continue as long as the US is the Pakistani’s Army’s main supporter. If the United States or the IMF stopped pouring money into Pakistan, the government there would not be able to pay its 500,000 troops and maintain the status quo of having an upper hand in every decision from local to the provincial, national and international level. Civilians are always looked down upon and military officers are specially trained to keep the contemptuous "civilians" at arms length. Military officers are specifically instructed during their initial period of training to even avoid public transport so as to keep a distance from the occupied, oppressed general public.
For the 53 references in the above text, please refer to Abid Ullah Jan’s book, The Musharraf Factor: Leading Pakistan to Inevitable Demise.