Finally, the season of “Eternal Wars” is over. The American planes are safely back in their hangars, probably still busy scraping the pulverized remains of desperate Afghans from their landing gear. The Taliban, far from storming Kabul with a prophesied gunpowder revenge, instead waltzed casually into the presidential palace. The Emirate is resurrected, and if the wind in its sails continues, it may be here for a long time to come.
As we ruminate on the consequences of America once again making a successful parody of very basic tenets of international law, it’s equally important to take a peek inward – like many, many others, our hands also had their part to play in the formation of this sordid saga. After all, where would the empire be without a little help from its frontline friends?
Who better to turn to for the most frank talk than our former chief dictator: the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. We kept thinking about how we would divert them towards a productive life after the victory of the jihad ”. It’s really a bit light.
We also didn’t think about what it really meant to allow the CIA to send a worldwide invitation to an underground military “jihad”, internationalizing the exercise, breaking its relatively established position in Islamic law as a activity undertaken by a legitimate state, and turn it into a free buffet for militant groups, all fueled specifically by an ideology that was never really meant to transcend beyond the barrel of their guns.
As we ruminate on the consequences of America scoffing at international law, it’s just as important to take a peek inside.
Then, worst of all, rather than trying to fix the mess we helped create, we instead pursued what the late Eqbal Ahmad foresightedly called the “quest for a mirage misnamed” strategic depth. ” , which, he lamented, had “wasted historic opportunities. and produced a new set of security problems for Pakistan ”. With the superficial wisdom that comes with hindsight, it’s safe to say he was absolutely right.
After September 11, when the United States knocked on our door intending to invade and occupy our neighbor, we became willing intermediaries in its self-proclaimed “war on terror”. A few years into the affair and Musharraf was already bragging about having “won bonuses totaling millions of dollars” – not that our civilian champions of democracy have been different. Zardari, for example, was much more direct. “Collateral damage worries you Americans,” he told them, “that doesn’t worry me.”
Imprisoned by geography and damned by history, our western border – especially the neighborhoods that once made up Fata – has become the focal point of the violence that ensued. Long treated as a semi-useful appendix and firmly handcuffed to the FCR, it served first as a laboratory for ideological experiments, then as a sanctuary for their bloodthirsty products, and finally as a place of their extermination.
This is where suicidal maniacs started all hell. It is here that millions of people were displaced by kinetic operations as we battled the miserable TTP. This is where our soldiers lost their limbs and their lives. And of course, this is where the Predator drones smashed the kids to pieces, while our ruling elite – whether in boots or dressed – shed big crocodile tears, clenched their fists in the sky and howled ” sovereignty ”and“ territorial integrity ”, during all this time, they had actually given the green light to the whole masquerade.
Fortunately, there may be an antidote to what afflicts us. In his autobiography, Imran Khan once suggested that “we must have a new relationship with our tribal areas, where the lives of six million proud and honorable people have been devastated” by what was, in essence, “funded jihad. by the United States ”. . This, he wrote, could be achieved through nothing less than a “South African-style ‘truth and reconciliation’ process.”
The radical nature of his proposal must not escape anyone. Truth and Reconciliation Forums are very strange creatures of law. Unlike ordinary courts, they are not punitive from their perspective. They seek not to punish, but to uncover the reality of what happened – to authenticate the victims’ stories, to right the wrongs they have suffered, and thus to heal and mend broken policies and relationships.
This implies abandoning our traditional logic of retribution and creating a body of restorative justice, endowed with such a broad mandate that it would be authorized to investigate in depth the human cost of our security policies, including legality, the necessity and proportionality of every action taken by the state in recent decades.
It will not be an easy task. Amnesty should be granted to people who have done unspeakable things, committed serious illegalities. Difficult questions will be raised and ugly realities will no doubt be exposed – but, if done seriously, it could perhaps be the elixir of our liberation, a balm with which to soothe our weary and war-weary souls.
Curiously, today, requests for truth and reconciliation are raised by other circles, some of whose names have mysteriously disappeared from all our daily newspapers. As for the Prime Minister, although having more than three fifths of his mandate comfortably in his belt, he has so far neglected to take concrete measures to establish such a forum. Why this hesitation, one has to wonder. What could compel our morally steadfast, indomitable, iron-fisted Prime Minister to walk down this path, having spoken of this speech earlier?
The war claims countless victims. The truth, they say, is the very first. It is high time for us to have a big reckoning with the sins of our past. Dealing with dollars in a slick with Saudi oil has been very expensive. The “truth,” or at least the broken pieces we can find of it, may simply provide us with some form of national catharsis. Then, and only then, can we move forward and finally close this dark and gloomy chapter in our history.
The writer is a lawyer.
Posted in Dawn, le September 17, 2021