Commentary: Cry for me Pakistan


The United States spent nine years (1980-89) working closely with Pakistan’s military against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; followed by 11 years (1990-2001) of punishing Pakistan with all manner of sanctions for its secret nuclear weapons development that it kept denying even existed; followed by nine years (2001-10) making up with Pakistan as “a major non-NATO ally” to enlist its support against al-Qaida and Taliban.

If trust between U.S. and Pakistani military was zero on a 1-to-10 trust-o-meter before 9/11, it painfully and haltingly made it back to 6 or 7 since 9/11. Until last week, that is.

Nine high-ranking Pakistani officers, flying in to attend a yearly meeting at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Fla., found themselves detained at Dulles and then ordered back to Pakistan by Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, to protest the way they were treated.

Bone-tired after the long flight from Pakistan via Dubai and London, one of them, not a fluent English speaker, was overheard to say, “Thank Allah, this is my last flight.” Next thing they knew, security guards hustled them off the plane. They missed their connecting flight and weren’t allowed to call their embassy in Washington or their hosts at CENTCOM in Tampa.

For 10 years in the 1990s, no Pakistani officers came to the United States to attend staff colleges as they had since independence. Many made it to one-, two- and three-star rank without benefit of any U.S. experience. During that period, Pakistan’s formidable Inter-Services Intelligence agency gave birth to Taliban with a view to putting an end to the civil war that followed the Soviet exit from Afghanistan. Sept. 11, 2001, and U.S. President George W. Bush’s summons to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (who had seized power in a military coup in 1999) to join forces against Taliban and al-Qaida, and the Pakistani army was yet again thoroughly confused about friend-or-foe America.

Pakistan is reeling under the most devastating national catastrophe since independence 63 years ago. The monthlong monsoon deluge flooded a densely populated area the size of Florida or England that suddenly became a gigantic lake, destroying one-fifth of the country’s irrigation infrastructure, livestock and crops.

A month of floods left countless millions without home, food, water — and livelihood. Civil administration collapsed under the scale of the disaster.

The army, Pakistan’s only solid, disciplined institution, had to move troops battling insurgents and terrorist groups in their Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the Afghan border to flood-relief missions. Helicopters flew over one tiny patch of dry land, a few feet higher than the brown sea around it, to the next, dropping one parcel of canned and cooked food per cluster of huddled survivors. They are without stove or cooking fuel and need clean water and dry milk; temporary shelter; basic medicines to save them from stomach diseases, fever and flu.

A month after disaster struck, many areas in the south remained flooded as monsoon waters cascaded down from the north to empty in the Arabian Sea. A country of 180 million lay discombobulated, 40 percent of them now below Pakistan’s poverty line, one of the world’s lowest; inflation hit 10 percent and is predicted to reach 15 to 20 percent. Economic growth, estimated to reach 4.5 percent before the disaster, now will probably flatline at zero.

On the brink of total economic collapse, rumors abounded of millions of desperate peasants with nothing more to lose now being organized by extremists to move against the cities. The army’s 11 corps commanders debated the advisability of a fifth coup since independence to restore law and order. And the specter of the world’s first failed nuclear state, coupled with the nightmare scenario of younger Islamist officers pushing the three stars aside and taking over in the name of Islam, was no longer idle cocktail chatter.

Massive job losses are expected to impact the entire country. Misery breeds violence; the only beneficiaries are extremist groups that back the Taliban insurgency, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Long-banned terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Toiba, or Army of the Pure, plunged into flood relief determined to show their army detractors that their aid was the most efficient. LeT was long focused on terrorist operations in Indian-held Kashmir. It also maintains a network beyond Pakistan’s borders, similar to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

LeT also relaunched its activities in southeastern and eastern Afghanistan provinces (Kunar, Nooristan, Nangarhar, Laghman, Paktika and Khost). These are provinces where the Afghan Taliban never had a strong following. Due to its Wahabist religious ideology, LeT has revived old links with local Wahabi followers that date to the late 1980s when the head of the movement, Hafiz Saeed, was based in Kunar whence he led the insurgency against the Soviet occupation.

Afghan Taliban are mostly Deobandis and have little influence in the Wahhabi-dominated provinces. LeT has filled the vacuum and declared allegiance to Taliban chief Mullah Omar.

In Pakistan, long-banned jihadi organizations have taken advantage of the current chaos to resurface and organize among the growing numbers of destitute refugees. Pakistan’s civilian government doesn’t appear to grasp the extent of ground lost to extremist organizations. Army officers are in the forefront of relief efforts — as are extremist organizations.

(The writer is Editor At Large of UPI )  

NOTE:This is a cross post

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  • Parveen  On September 4, 2010 at 5:22 am

    The west has a habit of over playing the card that Terrorists/Extremists will take over any time. This is a song piped again & again to justify their actions & presence in the region.The current govt plays along as it has failed on every front and it suits them to create this hype with the west.
    Go home Borchgrave.Rest your tired brains!

  • Rais  On September 4, 2010 at 5:33 am

    May I suggest US STOPS her bloody interfering in our country? You , seem to be on a verbal diarrhea. Please STOP. LEAVE US ALONE.
    Discuss Radars of the Lost Ark. Maybe you can say something sensible there.

  • Faisal  On September 4, 2010 at 5:35 am

    who started LeT? and who was its Sponsor?

  • Aquarias  On September 4, 2010 at 6:08 am

    What is the message ? can someone explain …the write up narrates a situation known to all , but leaves the reader with no substantive conclusion , or an answer ..what is he saying?

    • Akmal Khakwani  On September 4, 2010 at 8:04 am

      Dear Sir
      Indian lobby is working overtime to prove that it’s extremists, not India that is Pakistan’s enemy. Since USA and India are the NEW BEST friends, their machine is working overtime to put this message across.
      The reason it will not wash is,we are fully aware of the “PArtnership” IN THE REGION BETWEEN THE 2 COUNTRIES. They cannot pass on the buck to us, as it is AMERICA RESPONSIBLE FOR SPONSORING terrorism. Unless owing to cheap Indian whisky,Arnaud has forgotten the history!

  • naveed tajammal  On September 4, 2010 at 6:25 am


  • Asad Durrani  On September 4, 2010 at 6:55 am

    The fault is all ours. We read, circulate, put on blogs and ask for comments on this recycled stuff, day in and day out.

    • naveed tajammal  On September 4, 2010 at 7:20 am


    • pakpotpourri2  On September 4, 2010 at 8:01 am

      Dear Sir
      The purpose is to make OUR PEOPLE REALIZE the vested interests of those writing in this fashion!

  • SAMEEH  On September 4, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Dear Mr Borchgrave
    I completely agree with Khakwani. It suits US to continue interfering in our country/region on grounds that terrorism /extremists will take over . It suits the government to propagate this myth too.
    Majority of Pakistanis are moderate people. Whereas we do NOT support extremism, by the same token we do NOT support US machinations either.
    Who created Mujahideen? The bud from which sprouted the others?
    It is USA that has failed as a state & as a super power. The balance went out with the fall of Russia.USA has gone around biting the world like a mad dog!
    You are pro Jew & pro India.
    But do not forget,media has swept away geographical barriers.So do not try selling us this BULLSHIT!

  • Qamar Taseer  On September 4, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Reeks of vested interests!

  • Tarun  On September 4, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Piyara piyara Arnaud
    Speaking like a Good Indian.

  • Hamid Qazi  On September 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

    While US has spent 9 years working with Pakistan’s military, as Pakistan has been working for the last 63 years with the US. Let’s substract 9 years of US’s working, that leave Pakistan to 54 years of betrayal and bad experiences with the US. How could any man with over 60 years experience in journalism forget their past character.
    To put the record straight, when that Hulk US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in a humiliating manner told Gen Retired Mahmood Ahmed, who was then on a visit to US, to urgently pass on the message to Gen Retired Musharraf that, “US will bomb Pakistan back to stone age”. Then they stopped the freedom struggle for Kashmir, “they considered Pakistan a client state, an employee who is ordered about”, say Mr. Amir Bhutto of Jamaat e Islami.
    In the best interest of the people Pakistan, it was decided to be on the right side, in the war against terror. But how does this writer expect Pakistanis to trust US as friends. They wern’t in 48, 65 nor in 71. Mr. Borchgrave dementia has has caught up with you too. Armitage’s message has not been digested by Pakistanis and you should not expect any favorable conditions for the US in Pakistan.
    Weak government suits the US policing over Pakistan, but winning the hearts of Pakistanis don’t come with dominance of weak governments. The government will be set aside, when it comes to enough is enough. US needs a lot more to do.

  • Shehkar  On September 4, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Indeed, Borchgrave sounds like a GOOD Indian Friend.
    We are Proud of our New Friends America!

  • TANVEER HAYAT  On September 4, 2010 at 10:33 am

    This Arnaud must be thinking that he is one hell of a writer.

  • SHAHZADA YASIR  On September 4, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Americans need better writers who at-least should have a insight on which they write upon,well said Tanveer.

  • Sadia hameed  On September 4, 2010 at 10:36 am

    And ARnaud one always thought you had a insight,must be the age catching on.

  • Ayesha  On September 4, 2010 at 10:39 am

    indian bootleggers have indeed effected the THE MINDSETS, of this League of American Writers.

  • Hina khan  On September 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Dear Aquarias,
    You are not the only soul here confronted with the puzzle,Arnaud needs rest and also is in dire need of a study of the people on whom he has taken the task on to himself to write about.Cheap Indian whiskey does have its role here,the smell is overpowering.

  • Farida  On September 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Hai Allah! Uncle Sam is frightening me……yooooooooooooooooo!!!

  • Qaisar jalil  On September 4, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Actually these western writers have a chronic problem as they grow senile with age they rely heavily on shadow writers and never verify what they choose to write ,maybe he hired services of Tarun or maybe Shehkar or some pretty Indian female from Bombay out in the USA for a flick role.

  • Rameez Sultan  On September 4, 2010 at 10:57 am

    We see a large number of mails emanating from the West on this very tangent ie the looming coming of Taliban.
    This sudden thrust by so many writers from the west, on the SAME line makes one stop & think: It does not take a genuis to figure this a sustained effort to divert minds from what India is doing in increasing waters to create tje worst floods of our history. Being the new strategic partners this is nothing but a ploy!
    SHAME on writers like these.
    The levels to which they have fallen!

  • Tariq  On September 4, 2010 at 11:02 am

    This Arnaud fellow has flipped as they say he is going nuts.

  • ADNAN  On September 4, 2010 at 11:15 am

    The note next to the photo of this fellow at the tail end of this foul write up says it all he is a Editor at large-of likes like Tarun & Shehkar.

  • Naveed Tajammal  On September 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Well said Rameez,
    These western writers especially across the Atlantic Ocean,think they know it all,a fallacy indeed,they never keep abreast of the undercurrents or comprehend the internal dynamics of the Region,the indians have built these Dams on our Rivers,Chinab alone has more then it needs,the dams need the catchment valleys to hold the water,it is a fact that these waters were deliberately released by the indians on the indus as well through the chinab,when they saw the rains were coming the USA claims it has eyes in the skies,to pin point a pin head on the ground,how come they failed to track this massive hold up of the water, not only on the rivers mentioned on the indian side,but that on the back of sarobi dam on the Kabul river and that behind the Kama Dam on the meeting area of Kunar River and Kabul river.Both of the two Dams are under indian management.The floods in our areas beyond the Durand line,again were unleashed on a calculated timings.Surprisingly on the Afghan side there was no havoc.The eyes in the skies failed here too.

  • Hamid Hasan  On September 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    The best thing is to give a short logical rebuttal to such stories to pindown the rather on his misstatements rather than be outraged and overreact.

  • pakpotpourri2  On September 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I have been forwarded a mail with a request that it be added here. This is by one Mr Shaukat Hameed Khan, ID:
    He writes & I quote:
    Dear Mr Arnaud de Borchgrave I was quite impressed and saddened by your article : Cry for me Pakistan” . Pakistan needs to come out of low expectations trap in which it has trapped itself politically. I was Project Director of the Vision 2030 Project launched in 2007. This examined the range of possible futures for Pakistan, and as its principal author, I am still optimistic about the likelihood of Pakistan playing its natural role in world affairs. I will send you a copy of the document. This may give you a flavour as to what Pakistan is all about. Shaukat Hameed Khan D.Phil ( Oxford), Rhodes Scholar, Former Rector of GIKI, and retired Chief Scientist Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

    • Tarah Sarwar  On September 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      This mail states nothing barring running down the author:
      “I will send you a copy of the document. This may give you a flavour as to what Pakistan is all about.”
      What a slap on the writer’s face,HAHAHAHA!
      PS:Meaning writer is talking out of his hat & needs to know what Pakistan is about!Well said Shoky!

      • anwer sultan kadri  On September 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm

        Hey why are you guys after our pooy writer….obviously like anyone else he needs to eat, therefore its quite understandable. At his age he fall shorts of the expectations of those who look for Saturday night beer and fun so Indian is his obvious choice…GOOD LUCK….pal…..Arnaud de Borchgrave

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