After President Trump’s pronouncements on America’s war in Afghanistan and his reference to India as a surrogate power in the region, the media in Pakistan has adopted an anti-American stance. Lengthy one-sided harangues retell America’s perfidy and the scale of sacrifices Pakistan has made in “America’s war” since 2001. General Musharraf has been excoriated for prostrating himself to America after 9/11. The arrest and subsequent release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis has been dug up for more self-flagellation and vows have been aired on TV of sidelining the U.S. in favor of “sincere friend” China, who the pundits opine, can help counter India.
What has been ignored is the “deniable” jihad against the Soviet Union in which America and Saudi Arabia paid for global recruitment of Muslim warriors who had a free run of Pakistan. At the time, Islamabad would often inform the Soviet Union at the United Nations that it had nothing to do with the war in Afghanistan. No mention is made today of how we coped with half-a-dozen Afghan mujahideen leaders camped in Peshawar and allowed Saudi Arabia to call the shots that set Pakistan squarely against the non-Pashtun warriors of northern Afghanistan, and indirectly resulted in us squaring off against Iran and triggering a new war that brought to power the Taliban with not a little midwifery by Pakistan now ready to be reverse-indoctrinated into a dangerous formation of many centers of jihadist power that finally deprived the state of its monopoly of violence.
When, in 2015, Pakistan tried to win back its writ of the state it had to fight a war with the Frankenstein’s Monsters it had created—a fight that is still not over. What the Taliban did to Afghanistan had Pakistan’s hand in it and this was realized more sharply when 9/11 happened in America under a terrorist plan that was reportedly hatched in Pakistan—likely without any knowledge of Islamabad. Even military rulers lost out to the indoctrination of this contact with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and General Musharraf knew he could be killed if he tried too hard to wrest control from the madrassa-based centers of power. He hated the Quetta Shura but was helpless to tell the world it didn’t exist. Like General Zia before him, he allowed the Shia to be massacred and had to go because even personnel of his indoctrinated Army didn’t want him around and tried to kill him at least three times.
The internal turmoil in Pakistan prevents it from making any promises to anyone, friend or foe, but self-damaging posturing is an option always open to be tried.