Pakistan, The Taliban And The Tamil Tigers
Sri Lanka’s now virtually complete victory over the Tamil Tigers has been all but ignored in the western media.
But it may very well have been a motivating factor in the March 3 shooting attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Lahore.
Links between islamic extremism and the Tamil Tigers have been ably explored by Melanie Phillips.
While there are victories against terrorism in the Philippines and in Sri Lanka, Pakistan is looking increasingly, and worryingly, insecure.
Pakistan armed forced have been pushing back Taliban fighters in the North-West Frontier Province, which includes Dir and the Swat Valley.
But there is deep distrust of the West amongst ordinary Pakistanis. In his column in yesterday’s UK Times, Anatol Lieven noted that there was such strong support for the Taliban in Northern Pakistan that to remove them entirely would require a level of repression of local people that would be politically impossible.
It is not that the majority of Pakistanis like the Taliban – how could they, given the brutality with which Sharia has been implemented in the North West? Nor is it that they accept the Taliban view of the nature of Islam, although radicalism is far more prevalent than we might like to believe.
It is rather that suspicion if not outright hatred of the West outweighs any fear of the Taliban, who, even if mistaken, are seen as belonging, as part of the Islamic fellowship.
This suspicion of the West manifests in (to us) outrightly irrational views about world events. For example, the following text appeared in Monday’s edition of the Pakistan Daily, in an article titled Israeli Terrorism=US Invasion of Pakistan:
Recent tragedies, both in India and Pakistan (Mumbai carnage, Islamabad Marriot bombing, attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team and Police training centre in Lahore) – bore all the hallmarks of Mossad ‘false flag’ operations being blamed on Pakistan and Islamist groups.
There is widespread belief that the 9/11 attacks were a joint US/Israeli operation to justify military actions in Muslim lands.
Today’s Pakistan Daily front page story is: Is the United States Preparing For War in Pakistan To Kill More Muslims, Central Asia, OIL?
Regular headlines like this: US Afghan Strikes Kill Dozens, Including Women and Children, add to the anger and suspicion.
In these circumstances, when ordinary Pakistanis believe the US, not the Taliban, is causing chaos in Pakistan, it is unwise in the extreme for the US to be issuing orders to the Pakistan government.
Doing so is harmful to the point of being dangerous, because it reduces the government’s credibility with its own people, and consequently its ability to deal with the Taliban insurgents without further enraging the populace.
The West needs to keep its collective mouth shut and let the largely sensible Pakistan government handle this crisis itself.
Until, and pray this does not happen, the Taliban gain so much ground and power that it is clear they will take control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.