In its bitter rivalry with India, Pakistan is at a fatal disadvantage. Unlike its South Asian neighbour, Islamabad lacks an ally with considerable influence over American mainstream media.
The latest example of US media complicity with the Indo-Israeli alliance came in the aftermath of the much-hyped Times Square “car-bomb” incident. Typical of the media orgy of Pakistan-bashing that followed the discovery of an SUV packed with 250 pounds of non-explosive fertilizer was a piece written by Newsweek’s Indian-born editor, Fareed Zakaria, in which he brands Pakistan as “a terrorist hothouse.”
“For a wannabe terrorist shopping for help, Pakistan is a supermarket,” writes Zakaria. “There are dozens of jihadi organizations: Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Qaeda, Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani’s network, Tehrik-e-Taliban, and the list goes on. Some of the major ones, like the Kashmiri separatist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, operate openly via front groups throughout the country. But none seem to have any difficulty getting money and weapons.”
Zakaria is in no doubt about who’s to blame.
“From its founding, the Pakistani government has supported and encouraged jihadi groups, creating an atmosphere that has allowed them to flourish,” claims the CNN pundit.
To back up his assertions, Zakaria cites no less an authority that Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. In Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, which Zakaria considers a “brilliant history,” Husain Haqqani claims that support for jihad has been “a consistent policy of the state.”
Case closed for the prosecution? Perhaps not.
The Pakistani diplomat’s credibility as an objective critic of jihadism is undermined somewhat by his intimate ties to the Israel-centric neoconservative network. A former fellow at the Likudnik Hudson Institute, Haqqani co-chaired Hudson’s Project on Islam and Democracy. Its director, Hillel Fradkin, was a Project for a New American Century signatory to a 2002 letter to George W. Bush equating Yasser Arafat with Osama Bin Laden in an effort to convince the White House that “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight.”
Haqqani also collaborated with another neocon, Stephen Schwartz, on the Institute for Islamic Progress and Peace. A project of the notorious Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, it is widely suspected to be an attempt to “divide and conquer” the American Muslim community. In short, if Tel Aviv had handpicked Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, they could hardly have found a more suitable candidate than Haqqani.
Also advancing “the Pakistan Connection” to the Times Square plot is Haqqani’s onetime collaborator Stephen Schwartz. Writing in Rupert Murdoch’s staunchly pro-Israel Weekly Standard, Schwartz pushes “the Pakistani Taliban did it” storyline. Faisal Shahzad’s arrest, he writes, “lends credibility to the claim by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the branch of the Afghan terrorist movement operating there, that they planted the unsuccessful car-bomb.”
Like Zakaria, Schwartz holds Pakistani authorities responsible.
“Pakistani reality cannot be evaded,” he writes. “The jihadist domination seen in the Pakistani army and intelligence services (ISI) is visible everywhere South Asian Muslims congregate. It explains the reluctance of the Pakistani government to fulfill its commitment to fighting the Taliban. And it equally accounts for conspiracies like that foiled in Times Square.”
The one evading “Pakistani reality,” however, is Schwartz. If any government is to be held responsible for terrorism carried out by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), it is not in Islamabad but in Tel Aviv or New Delhi.
As Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today, revealed in a recent interview: “We have very little doubt that the Indians and the Israelis, that are all over Afghanistan with German passports pretending to be military contractors, are operating 17 camps along the Taliban regions training and arming terrorists.”
According to Duff, “The Pakistani Taliban is in close cooperation with, supplied, financed, armed and trained by Israel and India to attack Pakistan.”
Duff’s claims are based on a February 2010 fact-finding tour of Pakistan, where he was briefed by the highest levels of the country’s military and intelligence establishment, including Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Mirza Aslam Beg, former Chief of Army Staff.
Fearful of offending their Israel-conscious paymasters in Washington, the Pakistani military and intelligence services have been forced into the humiliating position of leaking their side of the story through the Veterans Today website.
According to the ISI leak, the Times Square terror plot was a “false flag operation to implicate the Pakistani Taliban and then threaten and force Pakistan to ‘do more’ in North Waziristan.” This was followed by “a massive media disinformation war” to induce the belief that “all global terrorism is emerging from the Pakistani tribal pocket of North Waziristan, and that the ISI/army is either hands and gloves with the Taliban or not willing to do more.”
Clearly, Israel and India share a common geostrategic interest in the destabilization of the nuclear-armed Muslim nation. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, “Our ties with India don’t have any limitation….”
Israel, however, has proven itself a rather dubious ally—as a growing number of Americans are beginning to realize. Perhaps one day policymakers in New Delhi will have a similar awakening. But for the time being, the media component of its alliance with Tel Aviv affords India a powerful weapon to wage surrogate warfare against Pakistan.
This article was first published in Opinion Maker.