Hillary Clinton has for the first time spoke the truth when she stated that the United States has played a role in creation of terrorism in Pakistan. Her confession before Congress committee is a clear indication that now the US wants to clear the mess in Pakistan. Though the US has played a role in creation of terrorists, but now she does not how to clear the mess in Pakistan. Some 4000 people have been killed only in Bajaur Agency during last seven months and the fighting is still going in the areas. Thousands of people mostly women and children have been killed since the beginning of this mad war on terrorism.
According to a newspaper comment, an apocryphal story has it that Winston Churchill once remarked that America does the right thing after exhausting every other option. That may be the case with Hillary Clinton’s remarks before Congress this week.
On Thursday, Ms Clinton caused a diplomatic furore by asking Pakistanis to speak out forcefully against what she suggested was the state’s abdication of its responsibilities in the face of the Taliban threat. But on Friday, Ms Clinton struck a more reflective, bigger-picture note. She did not back off from her original demand (‘it’s merited because we are wondering why [government officials] don’t go out there and deal with [the militants’]), but did acknowledge that the US is to blame for its bad past policies.
‘The problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for, having contributed to it,’ Secretary Clinton conceded, and went on to state that the militants the US is fighting in the region today were funded by the US 20 years ago.
The secretary’s remarks are important not because ascertaining blame will fix the problem of militancy today, but because they are a sine qua non for understanding the fears of the Pakistani security establishment when it comes to the Americans. The scars still run deep from what happened after the Soviet empire was defeated in Afghanistan. As Ms Clinton stated: ‘So we then left Pakistan … we don’t want to have anything to do with you … in fact we’re sanctioning you.’
In essence, Secretary Clinton identified the disastrous ‘transactional’ attitude of the Americans towards Pakistan, an attitude the present administration had vowed to abandon but has not appeared to have done so as yet. It is no surprise then that the increasingly exasperated, alarmist and demanding tones of American officials in recent weeks have caused a deterioration in ties with Pakistan. The reality is, there exists a trust deficit built on decades of bitterness and suspicion and it will take the softest of hands to coax more cooperation from the security establishment here. But Ms Clinton’s history lesson is not of relevance to the Americans alone.
According to conventional wisdom in Pakistan, we won a great victory for Islam by backing the victorious jihadis in the 1980s. But as Ms Clinton remarked, the first Afghan war was essentially a fight between two superpowers: ‘[The Soviets] invaded Afghanistan and we did not want to see them control Central Asia and we went to work’.
By getting involved in that fight the Pakistan state exposed its own society to a pernicious jihadi culture. Looking back, should we have got ourselves involved in the first place? Were the disastrous consequences really that hard to imagine? More than the Americans, it is us who need to revisit our own history and acknowledge our own mistake.