UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 18, 2009

CIVIL WAR: OBAMA'S GIFT TO PAKISTAN

Liaguat Ali Khan, Countepunch - A civil war is brewing in Pakistan. Thanks to President Barack Obama, who is shifting the American war from Iraq to "the real enemies" operating from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Cash-strapped Pakistan could not defy Obama persuasion and decided to wage a war against its own people, the Pashtuns inhabiting the Northern Province and the tribal areas of Waziristan. Decades ago, Pakistan waged a similar war against its own people, the Bengalis in East Pakistan. In 1971, the Pakistani military charged to wipe out Mukti Bahini, a Bengali resistance force, paved the way for the nation's dismemberment. In 2009, the military is charged to eliminate the Taliban, a Pashtun resistance force. History is repeating itself in Pakistan-as it frequently does for nations that do not learn from past mistakes.

With a willful caricature of the Pashtuns, who are successfully resisting the occupation of Afghanistan, Obama advisers are forcing Pakistan, a subservient ally, to help win the war in Afghanistan. This help is suicidal for Pakistan. The civil war will unleash intractable sectarian, ethnic, and secessionist forces. As the warfare intensifies in coming months, Pakistan will face economic meltdown. If the civil war spins out of control, Pakistan's nuclear assets would pose a security threat to the world, in which case Pakistan might forcibly be denuclearized.

A failing war in Afghanistan has persuaded American policymakers to generate a make-believe caricature of the Pashtuns, the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan. For all practical purposes, the Pashtuns are now subsumed under the title of the Taliban. The caricature is simple and compelling: It highlights the Taliban as the paramount enemy without ever mentioning the Pashtun resistance to the eight-year old occupation of Afghanistan. The Taliban fighters are presented as religious brutes addicted to oppression and violence, who wish to impose a barbaric version of Islam under which there is no concept of individual freedom, particularly for Muslim women.

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