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A WikiLeak earlier this week, advertised as a tidal wave of secret communication, later elicited little more than a collective yawn for many observers. What was so Earth shattering about the Taliban’s access to the latest in weaponry? Don’t most Americans know that we are at a stalemate at best, and at worst losing ground to the rebellious Pashtuns in southeastern Afghanistan? Is the collusion between Pakistan’s military and her Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), the shadowy spy agency, with the Taliban really news?
The Government of India has long complained–ineffectively–that the Pakistani military and ISI function in tandem with Islamist militants to foment terror in India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan for nearly that entire time, with incredible success, deflected global opprobrium maintaining that they only provided moral and diplomatic support to brave “freedom fighters.” Where the deaths of nearly 60,000 people and the religious cleansing of 350,000 Hindus from their homes in Kashmir by Islamist militants since as recently as 1990, failed to turn attention to this war-by-proxy Pakistani strategy, the American invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11 finally delivered that sordid collaboration to a wider audience.
The leaked documents spell out the strategic coordination of the likes of Hamid Gul, the former ISI chief, with the Taliban to such an extent, that he is now known as the “Father of the Taliban.” And while we continue to hope that leaving Pakistan awash in dollars– $7.5 billion more for the next decade or so–will buy our way out of this muddle–in a pathetic twist, we may become even more beholden to Pakistan precisely because its military and parts of the political class, in many ways, is in bed with the Taliban. We now hope that we can “use” this perverse endogamy to press Pakistan to control the Talibani Frankenstein that it created and now threatens to consume the country itself. Yes, Pakistanis are falling victim now to the same terrorist menace it nurtured and now cannot control.
The real question now is not whether the Taliban and the Pakistani establishment are linked. That is a given. The question is whether American rhetoric will stray from tired attestations to “partnership” and “common cause” that our secretary of state mouthed there last week, and speak plainly as British Prime Minister David Cameron did yesterday in Bangalore despite the diplomatic feathers he ruffled.
“We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country (Pakistan) is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world,” Cameron said. With nearly every would-be terrorist, from the American shoe-bomber to the Nigerian underwear bomber and now the Times Square bomber coming as exports from Pakistan, Cameron’s words have merit.
There is reason to be pessimistic, however. Even resolutions introduced in the House of Representatives, such as House Resolution 764, calling on Pakistan to restore religious freedom in the country where Hindus, Christians, Ahmadiyyas and Bahai’s are subjugated, or House Resolution 1463, restricting military assistance to Pakistan, seem to be going nowhere and are now held up in subcommittees. A lesson unlearned in fifty years is that feeding Pakistan cash will not alter a national psychosis of war and hatred for the U.S. The United States provides almost no humanitarian aid to India, yet according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project 2010, Indians have one of the most favorable views of America in the world, while Pakistanis lead the world in their hatred for our country.
Money can’t buy love, certainly, but it surely can feed and arm those who hate.
Views expressed here are the personal views of Dr. Aseem Shukla, and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Minnesota or Hindu American Foundation.