Defending the Terrorist
State of Pakistan: Christina Rocca on US Capitol Hill
The second panel consisted
of four members, including Indian counter-terrorism expert B. Raman, ex-US envoy
to Pakistan Robert Oakley, and an academic expert on terrorism, Timothy Hoyt.
Most of the fireworks during questioning of this panel were provided by sharp
The highlight of the hearing, if one wanted to understand the twists and turns in the "war on terror" in the past year, though was the questioning of the State Department's panel. Rocca stood out by her stubbornness as the prime defender of the terrorist nation of Pakistan. There is no easy logic to define the classification of a nation as a "key ally in the war on terror" when many of its high officials are linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and some of their potential links to 9/11 remain uninvestigated.
Rocca managed to keep a
poker face while helping define Pakistan as an excellent supporter of the US war
on terror, in the process clubbing India and Pakistan together in terms of
terrorism and proliferation. A couple of her exchanges with Rohrabacher helped
clarify that the ground she was standing on was less than solid. The congressman
asked her if the ISI supported the drug trade. When Rocca replied that it did
not, Rohrabacher pointed out that she had the same response during the previous
hearing of the committee, soon after which several ISI operatives were arrested
for links to drug smuggling. Rohrabacher's clincher was when he wondered if the
US policy in South Asia was defined by Pakistan's interests, not US
Rocca's performance at the hearing doesn't necessarily represent her own convictions on fidelity of Pakistan as an ally. It is likely that she was simply implementing policy set at a level well above her position. This policy has stood its ground through 9/11, reports of Pakistan's links to Al Qaeda, involvement in Daniel Pearl's killing, the resurrection of the Taliban, and rampant nuclear proliferation to North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia. One can only wonder what drives such an apparently suicidal policy, where we demand regime change in the pipsqueak Cuba for a few human rights violations, attack and occupy Iraq for having **plans** to build nuclear weapons, but ignore the one nation where the worst of Islamic fundamentalism, Talibanization, Al Qaeda, and nuclear weapons cross paths.
As America continues to sink into the jihadi morass in Iraq, it is now a moot question whether the Bush administration underestimated the power and appeal of Islamist terror before plunging into what Senator John McCain has frankly dubbed ‘Vietnam II.’ The will to resist oppression and occupation is present in every society and nation, but the tactics and methods of resistance vary. The Dalai Lama never waged a sustained guerrilla war against China for Tibetan freedom and Mahatma Gandhi did not call for bloody insurrection to drive out the British. However, with the notable exception of Badshah Khan in Pashtunistan, no Islamic leader in history has led peaceful and democratic movements for change.
The reason for the Islamist exception lies in the fact that Islam’s Prophet Muhammad was a warrior himself and slew enemies without compunction. Forgiving and reconciling have not been particular virtues with which Islamic polities and war machines were endowed. The specious argument that Islam spread from Arabia eastwards through Sufis and voluntary adoptions has already been punctured. It is through the power of the sword and violence alone that Islam has managed to swell in ranks from a few thousand followers to a global faith of millions. And it is only the language of Jihad that Islam knows to defend or cover up its own faults. Saddam Hussein kept radical Islam under a tight leash in his Iraq, but the American occupation forces are finding to their own shock that they have now unleashed the very cobra that had been bottled up under the former dictator.
In neighbouring Syria too, the US is finding a new radical upsurge in militant Islam and the call to jihad. From around the world, mujahideen are pouring into Iraq to tie down America into a quagmire just as in Afghanistan. The rising tide of jihad has received a fillip like never before due to the misguided warmongering and shortsighted policies of George W Bush. We can safely assume that Iraq is Bush’s second defeat since September 11, because Afghanistan is equally lawless and even more threatened by Pakistan today than under the Taliban. The frequency of bomb blasts and terrorist strikes against American interests around the world has also gone up, not down, since September 11. What is more, countries like Russia and India that were pursuing their own wars against Islamist terrorism are now unfortunate recipients of the global jihadist upsurge that America helped launch. Holy warriors are global tourists and quickly shift from one ‘resort’, say Algiers or Peshawar or Fallujah, to another ‘resort’, say Srinagar or Bali or Mindanao.
The need of the hour is for the US to rethink its strategy in the war on terror and to acknowledge that no amount of ‘revolution in warfare’ (Donald Rumsfeld) can achieve objectives if it underestimates or goes soft on the jihad juggernaut. Colin Powell has admitted openly that he did not expect the level of resistance the US is facing in Iraq. Gone are the days the US government would blame terror on a “few Saddam Hussein diehards.” It is now an obvious case of classic guerrilla style jihad. The day might not be far when Powell comes on air confessing, “I did not expect another September 11.”