"Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. " – President George W Bush, Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, September 20, 2001
While we foster chaos and death in Iraq, those who attacked us on September 11, 2001 and those who supported and harbored them, and continue to support and harbor them, still enjoy our patronage. The American people have been hoodwinked into a neo-conservative wet dream of a war while our real enemies enjoy freedom and state dinners at the White House.
I lived in the Pakistani city of Quetta when I was a little younger than Senator Barack Obama was when he attended school in Indonesia. My father was the only Bangladeshi civilian to attend Pakistan Army’s elite Command and Staff College in Quetta. For that privilege the Pakistan army tried repeatedly to kill him. Today Quetta is a hotbed of Taliban activity and is a major center for the shadowy activities of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Like Obama, I suppose I need the Taliban beaten out of me! But I digress…
It is an open secret that the ISI helped establish the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Pakistan army and intelligence services have long supported Islamists. Islamists have provided Pakistan with a proxy force to fight in Kashmir and have provided a source of intelligence and mischief inside its arch-rival India. In return, the army and the ISI have given the Islamists a comfortable home in Pakistan as well as political power. It was Pakistan’s American backed military ruler who enacted the Hudood Ordinance in 1979 that implemented Sharia law in Pakistan.
Today Pakistan and the ISI continue to support the Taliban, as Washington turns a blind eye. In a courageous article in the New York Times, Carlotta Gall asked the question that Mr. Bush needs to answer to the American people: "Have Pakistani intelligence agencies been promoting the Islamic insurgency?"
Ms. Gall reports from Quetta:
Western diplomats in both countries and Pakistani opposition figures say that Pakistani intelligence agencies — in particular the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — have been supporting a Taliban restoration, motivated not only by Islamic fervor but also by a longstanding view that the jihadist movement allows them to assert greater influence on Pakistan’s vulnerable western flank.
More than two weeks of reporting along this frontier, including dozens of interviews with residents on each side of the porous border, leaves little doubt that Quetta is an important base for the Taliban, and found many signs that Pakistani authorities are encouraging the insurgents, if not sponsoring them.
The Pakistani military and intelligence services have for decades used religious parties as a convenient instrument to keep domestic political opponents at bay and for foreign policy adventures, said Husain Haqqani, a former adviser to several of Pakistan’s prime ministers and the author of a book on the relationship between the Islamists and the Pakistani security forces.
The religious parties recruited for the jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan from the 1980s, when the Pakistani intelligence agencies ran the resistance by the mujahedeen and channeled money to them from the United States and Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Mr. Haqqani said.
In return for help in Kashmir and Afghanistan the intelligence services would rig votes for the religious parties and allow them freedom to operate, he said.
The Inter-Services Intelligence once had an entire wing dedicated to training jihadis, he said. Today the religious parties probably have enough of their own people to do the training, but, he added, the I.S.I. so thoroughly monitors phone calls and people’s movements that it would be almost impossible for any religious party to operate a training camp without its knowledge.
She concludes her reporting with a quote from a local father who has lost his son to the ISI and the Taliban: ‘“All Taliban are I.S.I. Taliban. It is not possible to go to Afghanistan without the help of the I.S.I. Everyone says this.”
I called her reporting courageous, and here is why in a first-hand report from Ms. Gall:
My photographer, Akhtar Soomro, and I were followed over several days of reporting in Quetta by plainclothes intelligence officials who were posted at our respective hotels. That is not unusual in Pakistan, where accredited journalists are free to travel and report, but their movements, phone calls and interviews are often monitored.
On our fifth and last day in Quetta, Dec. 19, four plainclothesmen detained Mr. Soomro at his hotel downtown and seized his computer and photo equipment.
They raided my hotel room that evening, using a key card to open the door and then breaking through the chain that I had locked from the inside. They seized a computer, notebooks and a cellphone.
One agent punched me twice in the face and head and knocked me to the floor. I was left with bruises on my arms, temple and cheekbone, swelling on my eye and a sprained knee.
One of the men told me that I was not permitted to visit Pashtunabad, a neighborhood in Quetta, and that it was forbidden to interview members of the Taliban.
The men did not reveal their identity but said we could apply to the Special Branch of the Interior Ministry for our belongings the next day.
Make no mistake about it, this is how the Pakistani military and the ISI operate. I called the Pakistani leader, and our "ally", General Pervez Musharraf a thug a few months ago, and with good reason.
Carlotta Gall reports from Quetta at great risk to her personal security. Her reporting should prompt every American to ask the following of our commander-in-chief: Why are American bombs falling on Baghdad instead of Islamabad?
I quoted the Bush Doctrine at the beginning of this post. According to Mr. Bush’s own doctrine, we should be at war with Pakistan. Pakistan is harboring and supporting the Taliban. It is widely acknowledged that Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are sheltering in Pakistan. There have been recent reports that the ISI itself is sheltering Mullah Omar in Quetta. Taliban are coming across the border from Pakistan and attacking American and NATO troops in Afghanistan. According to Mr. Bush, we should consider Pakistan a "hostile regime". Why don’t we?
The issue in Iraq is not between "surge" or no "surge". The issue is whether we should be there, even today, while our real enemies go unaddressed. I have to wonder if attacking the wrong country, while ignoring the real enemy, rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.