Anti-west in general and anti-America sentiment in particular is manifest in our psyche and it keeps finding expressions in variety of ways. Pakistani leadership’s decision to join the international coalition against terrorism, essentially targeting Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaida and Taliban’s regime in Afghanistan, came as almost a bolt from the blue for the fundamentalist lobby in Pakistan. Although the majority of the people did not share the views of the religious extremists with the intensity demonstrated by the lobby, yet the stark reality is that the general sentiment of the people does not conform to the line adopted by the government leadership. It is intriguing to note that the hostility to the American cause prevails in all segments of Pakistani society. Only a very small minority, only of few liberated people, backs the government. Practical manifestation of hatred against America in the form of street agitation has though not assumed any worthwhile proportions in the country but consensus surely points to a serious anti-American syndrome.
In the heart of their hearts everyone condemns the atrocities of September 11 against World Trade Centre and Pentagon in the US. Also everyone is convinced that these cruel acts that took over 5,000 innocent lives were un-Islamic and rather inhuman and, therefore, merit reprisal against the perpetrators. When the reprisal is initiated, it is termed as war against Islam and the people from all over the country throng on the Pak-Afghan border to participate in Jehad against America and its allies. The whole affair, therefore, becomes a very complex heterodox meriting exposure of its logical underpinnings.
Every government set up in the country is viewed as an American engineered dispensation. Most of these governments have been indulging in highly corrupt practices. One over the other governments have been stashing away tax payers money to the safe heavens of banks in Europe and America, drowning the country deeper and deeper into the morass of indebtedness. The touts of the political leaders in the government are given free hand to plunder national coffers to buttress the corrupt dispensations of sorts, now in democratic robes and then as ‘saviour’ dictators. Consequently, the rich have been becoming richer and the poor poorer. At the international scene more horrendous inequities in the third world and American highhandedness around the globe is discernible every now and then.
Arm twisting tactics of United States regarding the major oil producing countries to ensure guaranteed oil supply on the price tag fixed by them is a classic example of American practice in manipulating oil production, supply and price structure in the world. Despite being the biggest oil importer in the world the United States economy is enjoying almost the lowest prices of oil products in the world. Poor countries in the third world have to maintain more than double the prices prevalent in the US. The prevalent standards of US regarding democracy, freedom and human rights make a mockery of justice and fair play that mimic the less favoured countries in the third world. All the major countries supplying oil to the US, have autocratic dispensations. These dictatorships are some of the most favoured nations with America and their interests are safeguarded around the globe, without question. Economic sanctions are applied selectively against states like Pakistan. That too is done arbitrarily. Pakistan remained the blue eyed of America during Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and was left high and dry after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, getting tough economic sanctions in return. Once again Pakistan assumes the status of most important strategic partner of America, in the aftermath of September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. All economic sanctions evaporate in thin air, all possible trade facilities are granted and diverse financial aid packages are in the pipeline. The contours of this hide and seek are prominently embossed in the hearts and minds of the people of the third world countries in general and of Pakistan in particular. Working in the national interests is all right as long as you do not trample over the legitimate interests of the other side involved. The American administration needs comprehending the essence of this jargon and would be better advised to use it sparingly and with neat discretion.
The historical events of Killing Fields of Vietnam and the carpet bombing of Ho Chi Min Trail, ruthlessly killing thousands of innocent civilians also present a background of later American atrocities against the weak. Selective application of the provisions of UN Charter, characterize the UNO as the bully-boy of United States. UN resolution to free Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation is implemented through the use of American armed forces, mobilized from other side of the globe, not in aid of democracy and freedom but for the oil of Kuwait. Ignoring the implementation of UN resolutions in the case of Palestine, Kashmir and elsewhere is justified with the pretension of upholding the principle of laissez faire. All these matters relating to the well being of the people and approached callously are registered by humanity around the globe.
These blatant injustices and callousness have frustrated the people of weaker countries of the world. These phenomenal developments have created helplessness and despondency. In the recent past, after the end of the cold war, the focus of American highhandedness has mostly been in the Middle East, which is predominantly inhabited by Muslims, the reaction, quite naturally, had also to come from Muslims. Had the population of the Middle East been anything other than Muslims, the reactions of those people would also have been exactly the same. Accentuated feelings of helplessness promote the sentiment of revengefulness with no holds barred. Meaninglessness of life drives people to suicide attacks. The institution of suicide attacks and terrorism, otherwise, have nothing to do with the faith of Islam. In fact this is the religion whose teachings specifically condemn these phenomena.
Investigations in the aftermath of September 11 attacks in New York and Pentagon have established beyond doubt that the perpetrators of these atrocities were mostly Arabs. Owing to their petro dollars, most of these countries are economically affluent. That fact goes beyond poverty and points out another equally important aspect of human society. That is sovereignty and national dignity of a people. The ruling cliques of these countries, playing second fiddle to America, to perpetuate their rule, have over a protracted period, divested the people of these countries of self-respect and national independence.
The case in the poorer third world countries like Pakistan though technically different, ultimately results in creating the same frustration and despondency. Though the common man cannot articulate the causes of their revengefulness against America but their subconscious verily registers the accumulative causes of American highhandedness and injustices. Here in addition to the simple frustration of American influence over the economic and political schemes of the governments, the element of deprivation and jealousy, due to abject poverty, also gets added to make things worse. Anti-American activism derives vitality in the oil rich Muslim countries from the economic well being of the people. Here in Pakistan this activism is virtually imported from those countries. That is done in two ways. One is luxurious injection of financial aid from those countries to the religious seminaries, which act as the nurseries to bring up jehadis and accompanied fanaticism. The other element is the physical presence of fanatic elements from Arab countries in Pakistan, that act as a potent element of brain washing of the illiterate masses here. Thus the vicious circle is put into perpetual motion.
It is hoped that the crackdown on Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s Al Quaida outfit in Afghanistan, in collaboration with Pakistan, will pave the way for the government to put effective checks on the proliferation of religious seminaries and spread of fundamentalism in the country. As far as the Americans are concerned, they must read the writing on the wall that military invasions alone will not suffice to eliminate terrorism. They will have to grasp the essence of the philosophy of anti-American syndrome in the Middle East and elsewhere in the third world and undertake reforms with a fundamental change in their arbitrary outlook about international terrorism.