Bird’s Eye: Alt.Muslim offers a fascinating perspective on the shared victim mentalities of these two countries. Juan Cole (whom the New York Times reported this week was illegally targeted by the CIA for reaching conclusions out of sync with the US government!) looks at the Pakistani Government’s arrest of the spies who told the US where Osama was hiding. Gee, why is Pakistan angry with the US? Meanwhile the Karzai Government (the one NATO is fighting to save), cuts off free media and is rated the worst place to live for women in the world. As Kenny Rogers sang, “You gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them….”
* Afghanistan & Pakistan: Going Beyond Victim Narratives altmuslim –
More interesting than the rights and wrongs of my colleagues’ viewpoints was the fact that the Afghan narrative about Pakistan was uncannily similar to the Pakistani account of US foreign policy. Much in the same way that Afghans see a Pakistan hand in all their problems, Pakistanis have wholeheartedly subscribed to a fraught fantasy of American omnipresence and omnipotence.
…The point is not to reiterate the complicated dynamics of Pakistan-Afghanistan and Pakistan-US bilateral ties; it is to show that both Pakistan and Afghanistan seem to have subscribed to narratives of victimhood. When faced with their country’s myriad, growing security, political and economic challenges, they simply place the blame elsewhere. This was not a problem of our own making, the logic seems to imply, and therefore we can’t possibly be asked to fix it.
Such narratives of victimhood are dangerous for a variety of reasons. They allow governments to defer responsibility for contemporary problems, and dwell in the past, rather than plan for the future. And they are devastating when it comes to strategic planning: for a nation to define strategic, social, economic and political goals, it must articulate a vision of the future and single-handedly pursue it. However, if the nation is suffering from a victim complex, its strategic planning becomes reactive rather than active. Instead of setting targets for achievement, it dithers about, waiting for the professed villain (whether Islamabad or Washington) to make a move. Only then does it respond, and that too in a defensive manner.
* Pakistan Arrests CIA Informants in Bin Laden Case Juan Cole Informed Comment
The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence has arrested five Pakistani informants who gave the CIA information leading to the raid on Usamah Bin Laden’s compound at Abbotabad, according to the NYT. …From an American point of view, that Pakistan arrested the informants rather than giving them medals suggests perfidy. But from a Pakistani point of view, they can’t be having nationals working for a foreign intelligence agency and enabling foreign special operations raids into the country from outside.
…US bad relations with Pakistan at the moment derive from using the CIA in paramilitary ways in a no-man’s land of covert action that lacks any framework of international or bilateral law. If Washington goes on like this, it will push Pakistan altogether into the arms of the Chinese and it will set up a negative situation for its likely withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which Islamabad has powerful perceived interests that the US has not respected. The US-Pakistan relationship is important and can be repaired, but it must be by the two countries acting like democracies, not cartoon spies.
* Gained By Blood, Threatened By A Declaration Al Jazeera (thanks, Gabe)
On June 1, Afghanistan’s Council of Religious Scholars known as the Ulema Shura met with President Karzai and unequivocally demanded the shutting down of two of the country’s most prominent media outlets.
Their crime? “Publishing material that is against religion, against national unity, and against the high interest of the nation,’’ declared the Council. Karzai’s office not only announced that the president listened to these demands carefully and praised the role of the Ulema, but also sent out their declaration to the media through its own channels.
Over the past two weeks, the two outlets - Tolo TV and Hasht-e-Subh Daily - have been locked in a battle for survival. While this is not the first time the closure of these outlets – and many others – has been demanded, the clear-cut nature of the demand by a social organisation extending its mandate speaks to the vulnerabilities of the press in Afghanistan.
* Afghanistan Worst Place In The World For Women The Guardian
Targeted violence against female public officials, dismal healthcare and desperate poverty make Afghanistan the world’s most dangerous country in which to be born a woman, according to a global survey released on Wednesday.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan, India and Somalia feature in descending order after Afghanistan in the list of the five worst states, the poll among gender experts shows.
The appearance of India, a country rapidly developing into an economic super-power, was unexpected. It is ranked as extremely hazardous because of the subcontinent’s high level of female infanticide and sex trafficking.
Others were less surprised to be on the list. Informed about her country’s inclusion, Somalia’s women’s minister, Maryan Qasim, responded: “I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth.”