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Monday, August 2

Quit monkeying around, Mr Miliband


With the entire foreign policy establishment of the United States now residing in the trees it was left to the United Kingdom's new Prime Minister, David Cameron, to stand upright on two legs in the manner of humans and deliver a promise to the Indian people -- one they should have been given more than a quarter century ago:
"We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that [Pakistan] is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world."
The editorialist at DNA was unmoved; he spoke for the vast majority of Indians when he grimly observed We need action, not words, Mr David Cameron:
The fact of the matter is that Pakistan would not have been able to export terror anywhere had it not been for the support — tacit or otherwise — it has received from the UK and the US.
That is exactly the case; perhaps mindful of this, the Prime Minister put a little more than hot air behind his words. The next day, July 31, DNA reported:
British prime minister David Cameron has swung into action in his fight against terror. He has ordered a freeze on the assets of key terror groups and terrorists associated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. ...
Yet even these small twitches of civilizational certainty proved too much for Labor's shadow foreign secretary David Miliband, who took it upon himself to robustly defend the monkey busines school of foreign relations currently the rage in Washington. Following up on his earlier remark that the Prime Minister was a "loudmouth," Miliband wrote for today's Independent:
The Pakistan issue is the most important. It is the region's tinderbox. We have 10,000 young men and women at risk in Afghanistan. Only a political settlement can bring an end to the war. For that we need Pakistan; and they need our economic and military support. ...
While allowing that the PM was right that "terrorist groups have launched attacks from Pakistan, and links into parts of the Pakistani state have been an open secret over the past 20 years," Miliband directed the PM's attention to the great suffering of Pakistan's people:
Pakistan has also been the victim of terror. ... Bombs and attacks blamed by the Pakistani government on Taliban and al-Qa'ida-linked militants have killed more than 3,500 people in the past three years. Benazir Bhutto was killed by terrorism in her own country.

But the Prime Minister, in attacking Pakistan for "looking both ways", did not tell this side of the story. In highlighting attacks originating from areas like Peshawar, he ignored the murder of people from Peshawar struggling to prevent them. And he showed no understanding of Pakistan's path back to democratic rule in the past two years.

It would have been better for the Prime Minister to talk about ways we can support Pakistan. The level of EU funding in Pakistan is just half a euro per person compared to five to 10 times as much in other parts of the world not only more developed, but less crucial to global security. ...
I'm sure British troops now serving in Afghanistan and relatives of British soldiers killed and maimed in the country will be interested to learn it was an open secret for 20 years that Pakistan's military backed the Taliban.

Moving right along, the deaths of 3,500 Pakistanis at the hands of Pakistani terrorists is what's known as blowback. Benazir Bhutto was drenched in the blood of Kashmiri Muslim and Hindu civilians. And that Pakistan's adults are learning what it feels like to be under constant fire from terrorists -- it couldn't happen to a more deserving people, virtually all of whom accept the idea that provided one first labels another country an enemy it's okay to launch terrorist attacks against its civilians.

As to Pakistan's "path back to democratic rule," is Miliband making a little joke? In the past two years Pakistan's military has consolidated its grip on the civilian government to such extent that the country no longer even qualifies as a Potemkin Village democracy.

Miliband's solution -- to bribe Pakistanis into civilized behavior -- receives a strong argument from history, which saw Pakistanis write the book on fleecing international charitable and development loan organizations. As to where all the aid money and low-cost loans went, B. Raman neatly summarizes:
Pakistan has become a land of serious shortages -- shortage of water for agricultural and drinking purposes, shortage of electricity and gas for private and industrial consumers, shortage of money for development. However, there is no shortage of US dollars. The misuse of the enhanced economic assistance from the US under the Kerry-Lugar Act is resulting in a situation where much of the money is misutilised for non-development purposes or for feeding corruption.
As to providing more assistance to Pakistan's military -- where is evidence that current assistance has done anything more than help the military kill its domestic enemies, oppress the country's poor, and bedevil India?

In providing training, intelligence reports and weapons to Pakistan's military my government has repeated the mistake it made when it supported Batista -- a mistake President John F. Kennedy publicly apologized for in 1963:
"I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime. ..."
The policies of the United States -- and, more recently, the European Union -- have, at every step of the way, aided and abetted Pakistani regimes in oppressing their nation's poor. The upshot is that many of the so-called 'Taliban' in Pakistan have more in common with Che Guevara's politics than Islam.

Is Miliband seriously suggesting that the European Union help Pakistanis find their Fidel Castro? That will be the upshot unless NATO sticks to the narrowest of aims in Pakistan -- paying to transship ISAF supplies -- and reduces all cooperation with Pakistan's military to sympathetic clucks of the tongue.

Or is Miliband's idea that the Western powers must take it upon themselves to quash any possibility that Pakistan's poor will catch a break?

Melanie Phillips has already raked the PM over the coals for his incorrect statement about Gaza, somewhat obtuse reasoning about Turkey, and the remark that Britain was the junior partner to the USA in fighting Nazis in 1940:

"In 1940, of course, America had not yet even entered the war and Britain alone held fascism at bay. So how could Cameron have said something so unbelievably ignorant? Can he really be that stupid?"

But to conflate those remarks with what was in effect a public apology to India, and which was decades overdue from the British government, is wrong. It also sends the message to the Pakistani regime, and to Taliban and al Qaeda, that there are divisions in British politics about the stand against terrorism that can be exploited.

What Pakistan needs most at this time is neither more aid nor sympathy; it needs to understand that behaviors the U.K. and other Western powers long condoned are no longer acceptable.

As to how British Pakistanis and Pakistani expats in the U.K. will take such an unequivocal stand, did they flee their homeland in order to live in Pakistan Lite? I believe the majority would say no. Yet no matter how many might say yes, it is up to the British regime to muster a united front on the matter of civilizational certainty; that is, unless it wants to take to the trees.

For readers who are not clear on the concept of civilizational certainty, I'll quote from my January 16, 2008 post titled, Don't rile the natives, or what do Canada and Chechnya have in common?
You cannot confuse tolerance with respect for human life. Even the British at the height of their colonialist enterprise understood that. There were times when they knew they had to draw the line:

'... the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” -- the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

'General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.” '

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