By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
The US has earned the dubious reputation of pursuing double standards and making unsubstantiated allegations against a country which it wants to browbeat. These unholy tactics are applicable to friends and foes alike except for Israel, India and western world.
Ironic part of the story is that it doesn’t feel an iota of embarrassment in leveling accusations on aspects which are applicable to the US the most. Recently the US had the audacity of levelling a charge of extra judicial killings in Swat on Pakistan. Several US officials have expressed their deep concern.
They have based their observations on New York based Human Rights Watch, which claims it has mounting evidence of over 200 summary executions in Swat Valley. Its spokesman Malinowski said that pace of extra judicial killings in Pakistan was not slowing down. He added that the Army was targeting civilians voicing support for Taliban or providing food and shelter. He made a reference to US law which bans assistance to units involved in this practice.
The matter had been aired in September 2009 soon after the successful Rah-e-Rast operation in Malakand Division and Swat and further drummed by US spokeswomen Asma Jehangir, a known critic of Army, establishment and Islamists and supporter of American and Indian policies.
ICFI report of 16 September about mass graves in Swat, Times magazine report of one Akhtar Ali and a clip showing an army officer kicking a suspect in Swat aired by local and foreign media indicated a trend to undermine Army’s achievements. I am sure Asma must have seen the clips of torture meted to detainees in Gitmo, Abu Gharib and Baghram Base jails. Dogs were unleashed on naked prisoners.
But for Asma kicks are more gruesome, which even a father delivers to his naughty child. May be someday Asma is called upon to tell the nation who finance her.
The motivated propaganda died down when 2.3 million displaced persons returned and cheered the Army lustily. Army’s efforts were also lauded by the Pakistani public and the world.
Yapping tongues of the propagandists got silenced when the Army added another feather in its cap by overpowering the impregnable fortress of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan (SW) in a month’s time. The adversaries who till then were upbraiding Pak Army and accusing it of being hand-in-glove with Taliban were compelled to change their tunes from admonishment to extolment.
Now that the wind that had blown against Pakistan for over eight years became relatively steady, this kind of an allegation seems strange but is not without a definite purpose. Other than the frowns of Robert Gates, Geoff Morrell said that irrespective of close Pak-US partnership in combating terrorism, the US takes human rights abuses seriously.
Human right violation is one of the sticks the US has in its armoury which it brandishes to make the other obey its dictates. This stick has never been used on India or Israel, the two most horrible human rights violators
It is paradoxical that the US notorious for worst human rights violations and being the biggest violator of law today stands up as a pleader of human rights and upholder of law. Its past gory acts are too many to recount. It has turned Iraq and Afghanistan into killing grounds where over 1.6 million have been hacked to death; millions injured critically, tens of thousands rendered homeless, widowed and orphaned.
Thousands have suffered gruesome tortures in US run infamous jails, which have so far not been closed despite world protest and commitment given by Obama. George W. Bush and his team of neo-cons along with Tony Blair should have been tried as war criminals for the crimes committed against humanity and that too under false pretexts.
The latest Collateral Murder
WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack.
The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website www.collateralmurder.com.
If this is not enough to put the heads of the American war mongers, the self styled peace and human rights lovers like Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld to shame then what would? They may never feel ashamed but they have certainly put the American nation to shame in the whole world.
Till November 2009, ruthless killing of militants as well as civilians was justified under the comical label of collateral damage. Deaths of civilians in each cross fire or aerial attacks were taken as a natural phenomenon in war conditions. It was only when security situation in Afghanistan spun out of control that Gen McChrystal, notorious for brutal actions in Iraq suddenly transformed himself and is now trying to put up a soft face by instructing his under commands to keep collateral damage to bare minimum. Despite his commands, cases of excesses are happening and resentment against restrictions is mounting.
Pakistan Army had to all along fight war on terror imposed upon it with its one hand tied to the back because of the factor of collateral damage. In their effort to limit fatalities to the civilians, the army took huge risks by resorting to controlled and precision firing in the face of indiscriminate firing by militants camouflaged among civil population.
The soldiers always remained mindful of the fact that they were up against misled brethren and use of more carrot and little stick might bring them back on the right path. This policy didn’t work because the militants were paid huge salaries and other perks by foreign conspirators while Pakistan lacked resources to develop impoverished FATA. In order to avoid losses to civilians, Malakand Division, Swat, Bajaur and South Waziristan were got vacated prior to launching operations.
Army Jawans (soldiers) and officers have performed their duties with total dedication, grit and determination. They pray five times to seek Allah’s blessings. Fear of God together with enforcement of correct guidelines given by the top leadership and maintenance of strict discipline at unit levels helped in keeping the troops on the virtuous path.
In the last eight years, not a single case of moral turpitude has taken place nor any case of trauma despite having suffered over 30,000 killed and injured. Hats off to the dynamic commanders at all levels who have kept their troops committed and motivated all these years under such adverse conditions and achieved remarkable results.
People of Swat and Bajaur celebrated the ouster of militants and garlanded the soldiers as their saviours and benefactors. Never before the people of these regions had come so close to the Army. Pak Army has been sharing their rations with the affected persons, rendering medical services, distributing relief goods and its sappers are now engaged in reconstructing destroyed schools, mosques, small bridges and culverts etc. Affectionate response of the affected people belies false claims made by vested interests.
Pak Army has launched scores of operations in seven tribal agencies of FATA since 2002 but the US never made any complaint of human rights abuses. Rather, it always expressed its displeasure and was averse to peace deals and repeatedly pressed Pakistan to do more since it was not doing enough.
In other words, what it meant was to make use of stick only with full force in complete disregard to pro and anti-Pakistan militants and not to even spare the sympathizers providing food and shelter to militants. It wants complete cleansing of extremist forces in the two Waziristan and adjoining agencies and is not bothered about its catastrophic consequences on Pakistan’s social fabric.
Intriguingly, what it implies is that human rights laws are applicable in Swat and Balochistan only and not in FATA. But one never knows what new stories are being spun by spin doctors about South Waziristan once the IDPs start returning to their homes in May.
With the kind of track record the US has, it makes one laugh to hear US officials sermonizing about abuses in Swat and gloating over US laws and principles of counter insurgency and trying to show the right path to Pakistan.
In case the US is genuinely interested in washing away misgivings and mistrust built over a period of time because of its discriminatory attitude and build its image in Pakistan, suchlike allegations would run counter to the ongoing efforts put in to forge mutually respecting Pak-US relations.
Brigadier Asif Haroon Raja, a Member Board of Advisors, www.Opinion-Maker.org has done his Masters in War Studies, a former instructor at Command and Staff College Quetta has been Defence Attache to Egypt and Sudan.