Yes, President Obama, Pakistan will remain in turmoil thanks to you guys

Published: January 30, 2016

Obama needs to be asked why his country keeps clandestinely supporting the terrorists it claims to be fighting. PHOTO: AFP

Most analysts explain politics through the chessboard analogy. Let’s delve into it for a basic understanding, even though the analogy is self-explanatory. The chessboard lays out 16 pieces, eight special and eight simple (read infantry/grunts/poor youth from rural backgrounds/cannon fodder – take your pick). The aim of the game is to save your king and kill the opponent’s king and the analogy is that all politics is akin to the moves played out on a chessboard.

I am, however, inclined to believe that this analogy no longer holds true, even though it still does give us a rudimentary idea of what we understand of political strategy. The most glaring omissions are of course alliances and drones (akin to a child stealing a piece from your opponent). However, there is one phenomenon in realistic politics which does not and perhaps cannot be played out on a chessboard and that is the creation of our own boogeymen.

No matter how good you are at it, one would never allow their opponent to spawn grey coloured knights or start off with 24 pieces.

The Boogeymen

After reading a news piece on Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address, I began to wonder why he was asking congress for authorisation to use military force against ISIS. Maybe he needs to kill his boogeymen, much like George Bush did after 9/11 and the senior Bush did in 1991. (It was Saddam Hussain who was shaking hands with Donald Rumsfeld in 1983 during the Iran-Iraq war. Just in case people don’t remember Rumsfeld said Saddam was ‘our kind of guy’). Obama also mentioned that Pakistan and Afghanistan would face decades of turmoil.

Thank you for telling that to a Karachiite Mr Obama, as if we bloody well didn’t know it already.

I thoroughly enjoy it when world leaders nonchalantly talk about Pakistan. How they feign understanding the dynamics of our country and the region when they really don’t know much about it. And of course when they ominously foretell our future, while being delusional about their own.

Obama needs to be asked why his country keeps clandestinely supporting the terrorists it claims to be fighting. The Soviet-Afghan war and the subsequent aftermath is an example and now Syria is the latest. The US has been covertly and overtly funding, training and arming terrorists around the world for decades (Hillary Clinton’s interview). When these mercenaries stopped receiving funds, they turned on their masters and of course the War on Terror (terror to stop all terror) narrative ensues.

Let’s face it, if you keep ‘Black Mambas’ as pets and then stop feeding them, you ought to own a fridge full of anti-venom.

Just a few days ago, The New York Times ran a long piece on the ‘special relationship’ between the CIA and Saudi Arabia, and how they created the world’s worst nemesis, the ISIS. The article also outlines how other countries including Qatar, Jordan and Turkey were also actively involved in this process, all in the name of removing Bashar al Assad from power. Fast forward a couple of years and now Obama is asking congress for troops and Saudi Arabia has formed a coalition to fight terrorism.

Well if these countries were so wary of terrorism and cared about the world so much, they should not have set up the largest factories of terrorism churning out pseudo-religious mercenaries by the hour.

The Soviet-Afghan War

Since we, as Pakistanis, are more concerned with our territory, let’s discuss our American jihadi history and its fallout.

The Soviet-Afghan war is a prime example of creating demons and trying to kill them once they have grown too big to handle. The war had started on a simple enough premise – the Soviets had entered Afghanistan to help Afghan communists in their struggle for power. I think everyone above the age of 25 knows what followed.

The world showered Afghan mujahideen with money, high-tech weaponry, training and logistical support only to create an elusive and dangerous enemy for themselves. Pakistan was at the forefront of this cooperation as it spearheaded the operations within Afghanistan by smuggling every item on the wish list through their lengthy and porous border. Pakistan not only supplied them every material support possible, but also provided highly motivated fighters for the cause.

These fighters were recruited through rigorous preaching and indoctrination and the most obvious targets were the students of various madrassas spread all over the country. With the influx of millions of dollars, the propaganda machine spewed a twisted version of political Islam to the youth geared towards motivating them to fight the Soviets.

The religious clique was the most mobilised and viewed the situation in Afghanistan as a holy war pitting the ill-equipped but brave mujahideen against the mighty Godless soviet superpower. Western interest, most predominantly American interest, was aroused due to the psychology and politics of the Cold War which was catalysed by their defeat at the hands of the communists in Vietnam and the capitulation of the Shah of Iran to the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini.

With funding from the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE along with the US, the religious parties propagandised the war not only for a heavenly motive but also for a substantial payday. CIA’s Operation Cyclone, aimed at funding and arming the mujahideen remains one of its most costly and lengthy operations to date where the funding began with $20-30 million per year in 1980 and rose to $630 million per year in 1987.

This figure doubled as the amount was being matched dollar for dollar by Saudi Arabia. The influence of extremist religious parties rose to an all-time high within Pakistan as they partnered with the Pakistani military establishment under the leadership of the zealous General Ziaul Haq.

To top it off, the Americans colluded with some of the most vicious and bloodthirsty groups they could find to fight the Soviets. There have been several analyses by journalists and academics alike, who have highlighted this simple but devastating fact.

I don’t think we really need to discuss ‘Tim Osman’ or Osama bin Laden and his relationship with the CIA. You can of course watch Charlie Wilson’s War for some insight and see Tom Hanks in action.

The problem of course was taking care of these motivated and battle hardened militants after the war was over (not to mention the three million refugees). We were dumped high and dry by the US as soon as the Soviets packed for home.

Hillary Clinton owned up to this,

According to some estimates, we were leftover with 100,000 fully armed and functional ‘jihadis’ at the end of the war. With nowhere left to go, the fight came home.

Our Kashmir experiments provided a brief engagement to the jihadis but they proved to be short lived as the world shunned us for the same reasons it loved us for, during the 80s. With drugs and Kalashnikovs in our streets, we were now stuck in our own hell.

Pakistan’s security future

Frankly speaking, Obama is right in one aspect. We are going to be stuck in this mess for years, no thanks to the American establishment and our very own Ziaul Haq. How long we choose to stay in this purgatory phase is up to us.

The Pakistani ‘establishment’ has finally realised two things and has decided to act upon them (thank God).

Firstly, we need to dump our pro-American policy and get with the New World Order where predominantly China and partly, a resurgent Russia are calling the shots at the world’s political stage. The Americans and the British have dirtied their hands so much in their own muck that certain countries are literally using hand sanitisers after shaking hands with them.

Europe is still bound by NATO but it will break free or run the risk of being engulfed in flames like Paris was a while back.

Pakistan has, with the signing of the CPEC agreements and not so secretly, handing over Gwadar to the Chinese (from pro-American hands), ushered in a new age of cooperation with China. A Chinese diplomat rightly said that Pakistan has become China’s Israel.

The army has renewed contacts with the Russians and a deal for four ‘Hind’ helicopters is underway. According to some sources, a visit by comrade Vladmir Putin is also on the cards. If he does visit, which is now only a matter of time, another nail will be driven in America’s political coffin.

Given all of this headway the second realisation is only natural. Pakistan needs to get rid of its pet ‘Black Mambas’. Zarb-e-Azb has made great inroads into the lands of the Taliban but it is not the martial front but the political front that needs to be realigned. The politicians who have harboured and used these terrorists are still trying, one way or another, to protect them from annihilation.

Sometimes it is talks, sometimes it is lack of evidence or just a miraculous change of heart, the excuses never cease.

When the political establishment cannot get rid of the Red Mosque cleric, who spews anti-state rhetoric inside the capital city nearly every day, what else do I need to say that we don’t already know or understand?

At the end of it all, Pakistan will have to make the hard choices and take the road never travelled. We will have to destroy these pseudo-religious mercenaries and get rid of all the factories that spawn them. We will have to cull their political representation in our assemblies and resist their religiously worded blackmail. Freedom of speech should not mean freedom to kill. Pakistan’s fight is the not only a country’s fight but is also in a way the fight for the roots of Islam. I guess it is the common people and not anyone else, who will decide what the outcome will be.



The author holds an MPhil in Public Administration and has taught Politics and Public Policy at the University of Karachi.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • rationalising argument.

    are we blaming others for our own fault ,arent we?Recommend

  • jay

    the logic is very simple when you become hired guns you are treated as one !Recommend

  • pk

    For too long Muslims are been used by imperialists as a weapon of mass destruction for their own geo-strategic aim. The solution is Muslims should identify themselves in the culture of respective countries in which they are living and find its way into the native spirituality . Because a rootless hey can easily succumb to the inferno in the middle east.Recommend

  • vinsin

    So was Kashmir Jihad also funded by USA? Is USA also responsble for sending Islamic Militant in 1947? USA made money by selling stringer missiles. There are no training camps in USA. Is USA also responsible for Islamic terrorism in Philiphines, Boko Haram, Chechens etc?

    Pakistan fighters were in Afghanistan even before Soviets entered Afghanistan. Why you left mentioning of China funding of Afghan Jihad? What USA should have done with Pakistan after Afghan war? Is Pakistan some child which is dumped?

    So now you want to be a communist country like China? Do you want to start by banning religion?

    Freedom of speech never meant Freedom to kill anyway. Second last line is contradictory to your joining New World Order with China which is Beijing Consensus.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Your angst is understandable but your anger should be directed towards our leaders and not towards others.Recommend

  • Manzoor Ahmad

    shall we stop blaming others, if we are part of the “fault”?Recommend

  • Manzoor Ahmad

    that’s very good analyze. it’s hard to find intellectual people now a days. very well said.Recommend

  • whatever

    for turmoil in Pakistan everyone is responsible except Pakistan and its people. why these foreigners never able to destabilize India? because India does not gave anyone to dictate itself for few dollars, it remained truly democratic. whosoever tried to destabilize India were shown doors by its public. Army of India feared public mandate and always remained faithful to its own country. .Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    This article is a mixture of self-righteousness, confusion and misstatements. Pakistan’s patronization of Jihadis started much before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Pakistan used Lashkers and Pakistani soldiers dressed as Lashkers in both 1948 and 1965 wars with India. Pakistan euphemistically calls organizations like Harkat-Ul-Ansar, Jaish-E-Mohammed and Laskher-ul-Toiba as freedom fighters because they fight the Indian state while TTP is called Jihadi because they fight the Pakistani state. The Americans only took advantage of Pakistani military policies that were already in place. The only difference between the Jihadis fighting India and those fighting Pakistan is that they have not turned on Pakistan yet. But this is only a matter of time.Recommend

  • yellow mellow

    Couldn’t have said better!Recommend

  • yellowmellow

    I thought the article started off strong but then in the end all it suggested was just turn the other way- become goffer for china and russia- not much of a change then; just changing political alliances but playing the same roleRecommend

  • numbersnumbers

    The author no doubt yearns for the all political and press freedoms that the Russians and Chinese now enjoy! He should remember that countries do not really have “friends” but instead are motivated by “Interests”! Recommend


    “New World Order where predominantly China and partly, a resurgent Russia are calling the shots at the world’s political stage. The Americans and the British have dirtied their hands so much in their own muck that certain countries are literally using hand sanitisers after shaking hands with them.”
    Impressive words but no truth. China Calling Shots? They do not know where are they going with massive economic collapse of economy. Gold diggers please look somewhere else. Secondly Americans and British have not dirtied their hands but have paid well to muck cleaners who dirtied their hands and soul for lust of money and power. Why cry now.Recommend

  • whatever

    for turmoil in Pakistan everyone is responsible except pakistan and its people. why these foreigners never able to destabilize India? because India does not gave anyone to dictate itself for few dollars, it remained truly democratic. whosoever tried to destabilize India were shown doors by its public. Army of India feared public mandate and always remained faithful to its own country. .Recommend

  • Ajay

    Pakistanis should stop playing the victim card all the time and do course correction. Since its birth Pakistan has pursued the policy of misusing religion as a binding force to run its politics, education system and social norms. It has also misused religion to try to destabilise State of J&K, a legally annexed state of India. It also tries to foment religion based division of society in other parts of India. Such blatant misuse of religion has made its own society backward and fundamentalist. All the time muslim nations pay for their own policies and religious dogmatic society they create but blame others for their problems.Recommend

  • deep

    So casually you said – Kashmir experiments – do you know how bloody Pakistan’s bloody experiments were for Kashmiris, the rest of India (especially Mumbai) and even you guys – when will you hold your military to account?Recommend

  • Nasser

    Then the HIRED GUNS have every rights and,reason to turn upon their employers… why such an ado? Mr.Jay the problem with you and your ilks is that you always,try to turn your faces to opposite Dr direction whenever a mirror is put before you. Recommend

  • siesmann

    Work towards proving him wrong ,rather than flouting the innocent card.Recommend

  • FactCheck

    Always blame someone else for all your troubles. If that is the case, why don’t Pakistan give up and accede to another country?

    Apparently, Pakistanis are not willing or able to solve your problems. As the old saying goes, for a democratic country to flourish, it needs an educated, well informed and vibrant citizenry. In Pakistanis case, successive governments have killed it.Recommend

  • Ajay

    Hello Editor Sir, why are you not posting my comments? Have I said any lie or untruth? Please let all views be published in the interest of society. ThanksRecommend

  • Bana Post

    stupid article written by a typical Pakistan mind set” BLAME OTHERS FOR OUR INABILITY AND SHORTCOMINGS”Recommend

  • Rohan

    Always blame the foreign hand and remain in denial.Plus you should blame zia for making militancy the norm,he also accepted 3b dollars to play cia’s games
    I’m sure zia had no microchip planted in his brain by the cia which made him pro USARecommend

  • HZR

    Always blame others for your plight.Pakistan is going to be 70 years old and still blame others for their shortcomings?? Do other nations indulge so!Recommend

  • PatelPara

    You are talking about Obama right? USA has always blamed others and suddenly invade and kill millionsRecommend

  • Jayman

    Yeah, yeah. The Land of the Pure is blameless as always. After taking the money to fight the Afghan “Jihad”, the clever pure-bloods thought they would wrest Kashmir with this ready-made terror infrastructure. Forget Kashmir, it would be a miracle if they can wrest Pakistan from the clutches of these fanatics. But as usual Uncle Sam is a convenient punching bag but for whom Pakistan would have not survived as a nation. Talk about ungratefulness !Recommend

  • Milind A

    “I began to wonder why he was asking congress for authorisation to use
    military force against ISIS. Maybe he needs to kill his boogeymen”

    I had thought that after this bloodshed by ISIS (of mostly Muslims), there was unanimity amongst the rational or peaceful Muslims (who we’re told are in majority), that ISIS needs to be crushed… However the above statement, confirms that Muslims are doomed to remain where they are (in the dumps)… due to lack of clarity in thought, speech & action… Whatever the reasons Obama may have, it needs to be understood that the ISIS are a real force (and evil one) and need to be crushed.. They’re no bogeymen. Had Obama not done anything, you would have blamed him for not doing anything and for propping up the ISIS..Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Stupid article with nothing much to offer. Everything is viewed from a narrow prism of “Pakistan”.
    USA is the sole world power and what it does or does not do is a matter that concerns every nation state, not just Pakistan.
    The bigger question is: what did Pakistan state do to further its interest.
    Pakistan, ruled most of its existence by Army, has sided with USA for parity with India.
    For Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Haq, decision to side with USA against Soviet invasion of Afghnistan was an easy one. The only stumbling block was the price. When he was ordered a few million dollars, he called it “chicken feed”. Later on, he was offered billions of dollars (read or see “Charlie wilson”s war”) AND he happily joined USA.
    Once the war was won with US weaponry, technology, logistics and Pakistani mujahideens, Pakistan should have been content.
    As the author says “According to some estimates, we were leftover with 100,000 fully armed and functional ‘jihadis’ at the end of the war. With nowhere left to go, the fight came home.”.
    What did Pakisani Army and ISI do?
    It got the brilliant idea of diverting these to India to liberate Kashmir.
    Thereby Pakistan started on this suicidal mission of proxy war by harboring terrorists. Many of these have now turned against Pakistan itself.
    This author has quoted Hillary Clinton as saying USA created Al-Qaida.
    She also said that if you (meaning Pakistan) harbor snakes in your backyard, those snakes would bite you sometime.
    For all the problems in Pakistan, including terrorism, inter-ethnic clashes, religious frenzies, atrocities against minorities, Pakistan alone is to blame.
    Do not blame USA for all your ills.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Author is also wrong about Pakistan’s foreign policy and security interests. Now, suddenly China is a great friend and CPEC is a great idea. Russians have also suddenly become strategic friends.
    Russia is showing negative GDP growth after its GDP crashed following crash in oil prices world wide. Its sale of defense equipment to Pakistan is the thing nations do to get foreign exchange.
    In case of China, few Pakistanis have really analyzed CPEC and what is in it for Pakistan. We know what is in it for China: access to Arabian sea via Pakistani landmass, dedicated Pakistani Army force to protect the corridor (at great expense considering there is a rebellion in Balochistan), etc etc.
    Pakistan may reap some benefit by infrastructure but I doubt this would amount to much.Recommend

  • abhi

    If wishes were horses beggars will ride them. Why so sour buddy, Pakistanis were enjoying in the glory of Afghan war isn’t it. Your corrupt leaders took all the money from America and now you guys are dealing with aftermath. Same will happen with ths new friendship with China and Russia.Recommend

  • SHAR

    Dear Colvinod,

    Please give my hypothesis some time. At least till the petrodollar bursts into flames and the oil sheikhs run to China or Russia. That depends on who will control the middle east after the current crisis.

    Do read up on the rise and fall of civilizations by Bertrand Russell. Its time for the east to rule.


  • SHAR

    Dear All,

    Thank you for the comments. Its great to hear other views. Let me start by saying that a lot of people either misunderstood a few things or didn’t read this piece carefully.

    Firstly, I do agree that we need to look inward before blaming others. Believe me, this is not an externalization argument. It is only a reply to Obama. In fact my last piece No Action Plan was about Pakistani politicians patronizing terrorists. Guess nobody bothered reading that.

    Secondly, Zia has been referred to as our very own. So again I am not saying we are blameless. I also mentioned Muslim countries creating and supporting ISIS. Please don’t do selective reading.

    Thirdly, I already mentioned Kashmir and said it needs a blog of its own. Why beat that drum for no reason.

    Lastly, please consider that this is a blog of 800 words. A limit which I unfortunately grossly crossed concluding my argument. I cannot possibly add every angle in this piece. So the scope has to be limited to Pakistan.


  • SHAR

    Dear Parvez,

    Please read my last piece No Action Plan. It was firstly at our leaders.


  • Parvez

    My comment to ‘ No Action Plan ‘ was…….That was forceful, truthful and poetic.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The author is another one of those who uses very often the term ‘ WE ‘ without explaning as to whom he means by’ WE’ ? I have news for the karachi wala,.
    he is not WE but a lonely voice making noise without having the abilty to gauge the stregnth of the forces which are opposing the Sharifs enterprise and their private army? Let the administration challenge the Red mosque cleric and see its consquences or better still the author should try to locate the one in the neighbourhood who did cause death and destruction.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    All good points! Now replace the term ‘religion’ with the normal wor d ‘army’ and you are spot on. No one can misuse the divine belief of others.

    Thank you.

    Rex minorRecommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Pakistan the world’s migraine was the creation of Anglos. Madeleine Albright said it right almost 20 years back that Pakistan is migraine. They wanted India only suffer by this virus they created in 1947 in the name of Islam. Anglos are not yet finished with using Islam as WMD. Until Pakistanis give up Islam there cannot be peace and stability in the region.Recommend


    Again very big words “At least till the petrodollar bursts into flames and the oil sheikhs run to China or Russia. ” like a soothsayer. By that time world may see total collapse of collapsing economy of China that is already on ventilators.Recommend

  • Ghulam Lone

    Pakistan is the worlds migraine? Are you serious? You think that the world is more fed up with Pakistan than it is with North Korea, Iran, Middle East, ISIS? Maybe you should look at the calendar and update your references, because its not 2010 anymore.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Do you know that even last year 5000+ Shias from Iran came to Pune, Maharashtra.Recommend

  • JagoBharatVasiyo

    5000+ Shias from Iran came to Pune?? For what?Recommend

  • JagoBharatVasiyo
  • Salim Alvi

    they are mostly harmless. Many come for education. Families come so that their kids will be Indian citizenship and if necessary have it easy to migrate to US & AustraliaRecommend

  • JagoBharatVasiyo

    Thanks Salimbhai. It’s interesting that someone specially from middle eastern countries want to come to Bharat, one of the poorest countries in the world, for economic reasons, I have traveled few middle eastern countries and nowhere have I seen grinding poverty like in Bharat.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    You have not seen poverty of brain, moral etc like ME or even America. India is blessed land in that respect. In another 30-40 years India will be the leading economy. Material poverty of India is artificially imposed on India. India had 26% of world’s GDP in 1834 when Marathas were defeated by Anglos. By the time Anglos left it dropped to 1.4% and ConAngrez who were imposed on India kept it to 1.6% till 1991.Recommend