The RSS feed seems to be acting strangely so in case you missed it, please check out the first article in our Pakistani Perspective series:
The Obama administration definitely understands the situation here better than the Republicans, and definitely better than Bush. Obama’s decision to increase troops in Afghanistan might help a little but you need to understand that Pakistan is at the center stage of this whole drama. Some Taliban in Afghanistan are locals but most of them are foreigners and we all know that a huge number of them come from Pakistan who are trained here. Whenever America launches a full scale military offensive against them, they just come here to Pakistan, which they consider a safe haven and, as soon as things get better there, they go back.
Even if the Taliban are stopped from escaping to Pakistan by tighter border control and let’s say all of the Taliban are killed in Afghanistan, more will be recruited from the same madrassahs and extremist training camps in Pakistan. Although America’s launching of drone attacks in our tribal areas has been effective to a degree, these have also caused a huge number of civilian casualties, which has inflamed the common man here more than any madrassah could do.
What needs to be done is better intelligence services and attacking the militant safe havens and training grounds in Pakistan secretly in association with the Pakistani government. This goal can be achieved with the help of American intelligence agencies. It is true that the Pakistani government needs to do more in fighting these terrorists. Unfortunately our politicians can be just as bad as the military dictators, even though it must be said that the country is better off — as a whole — with Musharraf out of power. I believe that the government in some ways is trying to make things bad here to get more aid from America which obviously won’t go to the people but to the pockets of the politicians themselves.
The government of Afghanistan, led by Hamid Karzai, is very corrupt. He is sometimes called the “the corruption king”. Some people here believe that some or even most of the bomb blasts in Pakistan are actually arranged by the government so they can show to the world and especially America “Look what the Taliban have done and what they are capable of and what they can do to you also, so give us more and more money in aid and funds that we can use to fight the Taliban.” Most of the aid money Pakistan has received over the years in fact goes to the pockets of corrupt politicians and little goes to do what it was given for.
It must be said that, for the first time, the aid that is coming from America is starting to go to NGOs instead of the pockets of our corrupt politicians. They will of course get some part of it but the fact that any part of it will be going directly to NGOs too is amazing. Although the common man will not be won over by just these measures — as the history of mistrust goes back decades — but these measures will still do at least some part to help ease the tension. Until more schools and hospitals and factories and jobs are created in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the quality of life of Afghans and Pakistanis is improved, no real change can come.
People oftentimes become Taliban because that’s the only option they have. There are a number of madrassahs still operating in Pakistan that turn regular people who just want to get knowledge about Islam into terrorists. Even in a lot of mosques, the Friday sermon is focused on bashing America rather than anything related to Islam. There are religious shows and channels on TV that preach extremist ideology and urge people to take up arms. Nothing is being done about them by the Pakistani government.
All that is very important, because nobody can deny Pakistan’s role in the war that is going in Afghanistan. There is a lot of social unrest here in Pakistan. The poverty, unemployment and inflation are out of control. People are selling their children and committing suicide because they cannot provide for their families. It is much easier to persuade a person like that to take up arms to go on a “road to heaven” than someone who actually has some part of his or her life under control.
Our mullahs come in all shapes and sizes, hair styles, beard styles and clothing to cater to the religious needs of all social strata. It is more like a business. The other day a more modern looking mullah on TV with a shorter beard and a pant suit with a few sentences of English sprinkled here and there in his speech was urging young people leave Pakistan and wage holy war against India, as it was the prophecy of prophet Muhammad. On TV!! It is so frustrating to many like-minded Pakistanis that these types of psychos are allowed to spread their message of hate and war on TV with no restrictions.
The bottom line is that the war in Afghanistan is not one that can be “won”. America should turn its focus more to Pakistan and urge the Pakistani government to do something about the mullahs and madrassahs and TV channels that are misleading people, recruiting more Taliban and making things worse for America in Afghanistan.
This article was by our new guest blogger, Vaneeza. Vaneeza is a Pakistani woman currently living and studying in Pakistan. I have come to know her through her comments and highly recommend that you read every word that she writes. This is the kind of perspective and analysis that I never hear in the mainstream media, and I think we are much worse off as a country for being deprived of it. I hope you will all welcome her to the Library Grape family and pay close attention to what she has to say. Shukriya, Vaneeza!
Wow. I just finished watching Food, Inc. I know I’m predisposed to let stuff like this make me depressed, but it really does.
I’m trying to find the words to describe what’s going on in my mind right now, and what angle to look at this from.
I think one of the key things that is swirling around for me ties in to a debate that’s been going on lately about people who have fallen out of love with the conservative/Republican/Randian/whatever viewpoint.
One of the biggest reasons I have fallen out of love with the whole Ayn Rand/laissez faire capitalism point of view in recent years is my exposure to all of the truly horrible stuff that unbridled capitalism, tied to exccessive corporate entanglement with government, has done to us as a people over the last 50+ years.
The mind is just reeling right now and I don’t have much of a cogent argument to lay down just yet but I really just feel so small and disempowered in the face of multi-billion-dollar conglomerates that are doing what they are designed to do, i.e., do everything in their power to maximize profit and spend billions to bribe politicians to change the legal and regulatory structure to broaden the boundaries of what is considered safe, legal and acceptable.
I mean, we used to have a food safety and regulatory regime that conducted over 50,000 safety and contamination inspections per year. Over the years, and especially under Bush, this number dwindled to less than 9,000. And who knew that the main reason for the explosion in E. Coli deaths over the last 20 years had to do with changing the diet of factory farmed cows from grass to heavily subsidized corn products?
Sigh. Maybe I’ll go watch Polyanna now or something. :-(
Remember the last time a superpower was stuck in an intractable conflict in South Asia with no viable success strategy?
Don’t ye worry, that will never happen again. We got our best people on it…
KABUL, Afghanistan – This unclassified document from the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shows the U.S. military’s plan for “Afghanistan Stability/COIN Dynamics – Security.”Check out the whole frickin PDF in all its psychedelic glory. That’s America, man!
I shall rest easy now, secure in my knowledge that all the world’s extremist mullahs are quaking in their sandals—demoralized by their impending doom at the hand of the world’s most powerful flowcharts.
Just ponder for a moment what our economy would look like right now if President McCain were running the country and the mad Republican stumblebums were running Congress:
Steve Benen sums up the never-ending stream of FAIL:
The GOP said the stimulus package would fail to create jobs. We now know the Republicans were wrong.
The GOP said the recovery efforts would fail to generate economic growth. We now know the Republicans were wrong.
The GOP said the stimulus “failed.” We now know the Republicans were wrong.
The GOP said the government should cancel unspent recovery funds. We now know the Republicans were wrong.
The GOP said tax cuts are more effective at stimulating the economy than government spending. We now know the Republicans were wrong.
Every step of the way, facing an economic catastrophe, Republicans claimed to know the best way forward. And every step of the way, they were pointed in the wrong direction. The strength of the recovery remains to be seen, but the only reason we’re even able to talk about the possibility of a recovery is that Republicans had no control over the levers of power when decisions were made at the height of the crisis. America has been through a lot this decade, but the country can take some solace in the fact that when the economy was on the brink of wholesale collapse, Republicans were in the minority.
And let’s not forget that the track record of uninterrupted failure goes back quite a while. The GOP said Bush/Cheney economic policies would work wonders for the country, create millions of jobs, prevent a recession, and keep the budget balanced. The GOP also said Clinton/Gore economic policies would be a disaster.
This is pretty much the best example of calling an idiot’s bluff I can remember:
Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and David Vitter (R-La.) no doubt thought they were being clever. They crafted an amendment that would force members of Congress to get their coverage through a public insurance plan, if the public option were included as part of health care reform. If it’s good enough for American consumers, it should be good enough for their elected representatives, right?Do you ever find yourself wondering if Republicans in Congress right now are more stupid than crazy or more crazy than stupid?
They had no idea how much Democrats agreed with the sentiment.
As we talked about this morning, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) not only loved the idea, he wanted to join the right-wing senators as a co-sponsor on their amendment. When they refused — this was supposed to be a conservative stunt, not a real idea — Brown used procedural tactics to make himself a co-sponsor of the Coburn/Vitter measure, whether they like it or not.
The smart money seems to be on stupid.
We have come to know Vaneeza as a commenter here, who has always offered us a unique and compelling perspective on an important region of the world that many of us in America don’t take the time to truly understand.
Vaneeza is a Pakistani student who lives in Pakistan and has written an amazing first article on the realities of life in Pakistan and a first-hand view of the impact of our war in Afghanistan and our dealings with the Pakistani government.
I hope you will all join me in welcoming Vaneeza and thank her for offering us a window into a world that our mainstream media is either unwilling or unable to provide. Be sure to check out her article on Monday!
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