Tuesday, June 29, 2010


God Bless General Petraeus

by Kamran Shafi



Gen. Petraeus faces daunting challenges when he assumes command in Afghanistan following what by all accounts will be quick approval by the Senate. –

But first to Gen Stanley McChrystal who was always quite a favourite with me if only because he understood that if innocent lives were lost in the struggle against terrorism some form of apology, if not outright recompense, were immediately in order.

So, there he was, this rough and ready general, standing on the doorstep of those who had been affected, saying sorry. He was there too, his lean and businesslike look for all to see, leading his men from the front.
But, to say what he said must have taken some brass, some idiocy! “Biden who?” about the vice president; likening Holbrooke to a wounded animal and the president’s national security advisor Gen James Jones to a joker or some such; and describing certain events in barrack language which does not bear repeating in this family newspaper.
As someone has already said, McChrystal’s shooting off at the mouth could be a direct result of his being exposed rather a lot to Pakistani generals who say what they want when they want with complete and utter abandon. And, as we say in the vernacular ‘take their eyes out’ (Jo aankhein nikaltay hain) at any ‘bloody civilian’ who dares question their pronouncements.
We must note here and now the shameful way in which, barring DawnNews, not one TV channel spoke about the message that President Obama’s firm and correct handling of McChrystal’s shooting off at the mouth should have immediately sent to the Pakistani civilian leadership and to Pakistani army generals: that this was the only correct and appropriate way of dealing with insubordination. Instead, all we saw were a few senior pundits tiptoeing around the issue as if they were ballerinas dancing on broken glass.
What makes this so much more important is the fact that the completely unmilitary and ill-disciplined way in which our prima donna brass hats, a most appropriate term used by President Truman for Gen Douglas MacArthur when MacArthur attempted to become emperor of all he surveyed and was sacked for his pains, behaved at the time of the announcement of the Kerry-Lugar Bill far surpassed anything McChrystal said or did.
In the KLB case, GHQ actually issued a press statement ‘furiously’ condemning an aid package agreed between the elected government of Pakistan and the US government! Which condemnation, let me repeat, did not prevent the ‘furious’ generals asking for US aid when, exactly nine days later, Gen Petraeus called on Gen Kayani. Just where the ‘fury’ vanished inside of nine days only our brass hats can tell us. If you ask me, a head or two should have rolled then and there, and the devil take the hindmost.
But back to the conflagration that threatens this country because of the mad march of the triumphalists: our prima donna brass hats who have convinced themselves that the Americans are impendingly leaving Afghanistan and it is once again Pakistan’s backyard to do with as it pleases. While the sheer foolishness of the premise that Afghanistan is putty to be moulded any which way the Pakistani security establishment wants to mold it astonishes one, what leaves one speechless is that nobody among the movers and shakers of our foreign policy seems to read anything anymore: or, in the immortal words of core FO (Foreign Office) professional after core FO professional, are ‘unaware’.
How is it, pray, that even the pointsman in this whole exercise of controlling Afghanistan, the dreaded Mother of All Agencies in whose fear tread all Pakistanis, does not know that the British prime minister David Cameron announced five days ago that he would like to see British troops home from Afghanistan by 2015. Hello! Is anyone listening? 2015 is four years after the 2011 pullback date given by President Obama may I remind you gentlemen.
This is not all. Gen Petraeus, in testimony before Congress — when will the day dawn when we see our Rommels and Guderians answer to our parliament? — two weeks ago said words to the effect that one had to be careful about deadlines and cut-off dates re: Afghanistan. Indeed Adm Mullen just said that America was not about to leave that country in a roiling mess: on the Tajik-Pakhtun divide: “It has the potential to tear this country apart. That is not what we are going to permit.” Is all of this not enough to convince our brass hats that (God be praised) the field is not theirs, yet?
Have they not seen the most recent reaction of the other ethnic nationalities of Afghanistan to the flurry of activity between the beleaguered President Karzai and his newfound friends in the Pakistani establishment? According to the NY Times: “Karzai has begun the ethnic war,” says Mohammad Mohaqeq, a Hazara leader and a former ally of Karzai’s, “the future is very dark.” Is it at all possible to think, even for a moment, that if Afghanistan is plunged into darkness that the sun will shine in Pakistan?
A reader has said that I get delirious when I point out the pitfalls of Pakistan boxing above its weight so to say, just as we are attempting to do in Afghanistan today. But, sir, have we not seen the fallout of our last betrothal with the Taliban? Have we not seen the kind of government they foisted on the poor Afghans when women (even doctors, nurses, midwives) were not allowed to work and women who needed medical care were not allowed to go to male practitioners? Were the women then supposed to lie down and die? Have we not seen the growth of their cousins in Pakistan and the attempted takeover of the Pakistani state too? And the extent of their brutality wherever they held/hold sway? ‘Delirious’ indeed.
Let us never think that the rest of the world will let us do what we will in that poor and unfortunate country. Let us instead put our own house in order. Let us listen to the plaintive cries of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government which is already warning that the Taliban terrorists are making a comeback in many of the areas from where they were said to have been expelled. Let’s get real, gents, and save our own country from the conflagration that is at hand. Empire-building another time.

The writer can be reached via his email ID kshafi1@yahoo.co.uk

Source: There are no sunglasses
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