Pakistan, half a year after closing a supply route for NATO’s Afghan mission, in petulance over the accidental killing of 24 soldiers, may now be willing to reopen it. But for a fee, estimated to reach $1 million per day.
Pakistan is a nation with a major birth defect: hived off from India at independence in 1948 as a “Muslim homeland,” like separating conjoined twins; much blood was spilled. Making matters worse, Kashmir was left in limbo between the two, an ever festering sore of conflict.
And as if one bloody separation wasn’t enough, Pakistan suffered another in 1971 when its eastern part broke away to become Bangladesh, again amid great carnage. Only India’s military intervention saved Bangladesh. Pakistan was displeased.
So this is a traumatized country, in the grip of an over-mighty army together with the secretive and sinister ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), whose whole raison d’etre is enmity with India. To sustain that, Pakistan has repeatedly sponsored provocations, including the horrific 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. Given that India is hugely bigger, with nuclear weapons, this deliberate Pakistani policy of twisting that tiger’s tail is completely deranged. Thank goodness India is more sane.**
Pakistan has been an on-and-off democracy, governed more by generals than elected governments. Just as well, perhaps; the political parties are mere feudalistic patronage machines, maximally feckless and corrupt.
It gets worse. One military ruler, Zia Ul-Haq (1977-88), was (or posed as) a Muslim zealot and infected the country with a bad case of the religious extremism virus. How bad? Non-Muslims are routinely massacred. Apostasy and blasphemy get the death penalty. One academic, Dr. Younus Sheikh, was sentenced to death for “blaspheming” that before his vision Mohammed was not a Muslim. We managed to save Sheikh’s life. But not that of state governor Salmaan Taseer, gunned down by one of his own bodyguards in 2011 because Taseer advocated moderating the blasphemy law. The killer was hailed as a hero and showered with flower petals.
In Pakistan, rape also carries the death penalty – for the victim. A thirteen year old was stoned to death. And when a man was convicted of adultery, the sentence was gang rape for his sister.
This is a f**ked-up country.
It did produce one politician who may have had the vision and courage to change things. Benazir Bhutto too was murdered by Islamic extremists, whom the government made a point of not trying to catch.
Pakistan is plagued by such armed fanatics and their bloody mayhem. This is Pakistan’s real enemy – not India (which is actually no threat at all). But the army is schizophrenically divided between fighting the insurgents and playing footsie with them. And as to the similar baddies we’re fighting in Afghanistan, it’s mainly footsie. Pakistan sees Afghanistan’s Karzai government as aligned with India, while a putative friendly Taliban regime would provide “strategic depth” against India. (Again Pakistan’s myopic craziness vis-à-vis India.) So our supposed ally Pakistan is really trying to make us fail in Afghanistan. (And the Obama administration acts like it’s trying to oblige.)
There is no smoking gun that Pakistan connived to protect bin Laden. But Pakistani officialdom certainly didn’t help us get him; and all those Pakistani individuals who did help have been jailed. (One, a doctor who helped with DNA identification, has just been sentenced to 33 years, for treason.)***
This is the nation we try to keep sweet with billions in aid (more than any other country bar Afghanistan itself). Yet nevertheless, polls show Pakistanis to be among the world’s most rabid America-haters.
We should tell Pakistan: F**k you. I say this in absolute seriousness. If Pakistan is our enemy – which it certainly is – at least let’s have moral clarity, so we can deal squarely with their perfidy. Bribery may make sense when you get what you pay for, but not when you keep getting the finger. What little we actually get from our relationship with Pakistan is not worth soiling ourselves, pandering to these %&!#s. If Pakistanis hate America so much, let them try life without our support and our billions. Maybe they’d come to their senses.
Though I wouldn’t bet on it.
* You might think it would be simple to google the exact number. It is not. But we have given Pakistan a total of about $30 billion in all.
** India distrusts Pakistan too, obviously with more justification. But when Pakistan suffered devastating floods, I thought India missed a golden opportunity to change the dynamic by mounting a big relief operation. However, Pakistan probably would have refused the help.
*** UPDATE (JUNE 3) — When criticism erupted, Pakistan changed its story, now saying Dr. Afridi was actually convicted for involvement with a terrorist group. But no details are offered; these Pakistani courts are secretive. And if Dr. Afridi was pro-terrorist, why would he have helped the U.S.? It isn’t credible. (Meantime Pakistan, also in murky trials, has acquitted four men charged with complicity in New York’s Times Square bombing attempt.) We should deploy Seal Team 6 to rescue Dr. Afridi. Seriously. It would send an important message that America takes care of its brave collaborators.