Pakistani chutzpah

Pakistan, like Israel, was created as a result of the disintegration of British colonialism, is, unlike Israel, turning out to be a failure.

Man holds poster of Osama bin Laden at rally in Pakistan 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed)
Man holds poster of Osama bin Laden at rally in Pakistan 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed)
Pakistan was created in 1947 as an Islamic state for the Muslims of India. But it is the Yiddish word chutzpah that best describes what seems to the country’s scandalous behavior.
For those with a grasp of Pakistan’s history – in particular the self-defeating penchant by Pakistanis for blaming the country’s many failures on its perceived deviance from the most extreme, reactionary version of Islamic faith – it came as no surprise to hear allegations that al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden had received help from Pakistan. If so, the sheer blatancy of the duplicity boggles the mind. Here is a country that has had no qualms about consuming billions of dollars in US aid annually while harboring the US’s arch-enemy in one of the comfortable, walled, hilltop compounds once frequented by colonialist British army commanders and now reserved for Pakistani officers.
Incredibly, it is Pakistan, not the US, that has expressed outrage. Furiously denying any suggestion of complicity in bin Laden’s capacity to live undisturbed less than a mile from a military academy, Pakistanis are up in arms because the US military incursion that eliminated him was conducted without their foreknowledge.
How far will Pakistan push American credulousness and patience? Pretty far, it seems.
Pakistani officials have been slow to respond to a request by US National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon to interrogate bin Laden’s three widows, presently in Pakistani custody. Donilon’s repeated references to a huge trove of al-Qaida documents found by US Navy SEALs during the operation seem to imply that the Americans found evidence there implicating senior Pakistani figures, either inside the government or not, who aided bin Laden in his protracted attempt to escape justice. And bin Laden’s widows’ testimonies, together with the documents, could be needed to make a conclusive conviction.
Nor is this the first time Pakistan has obdurately rejected America’s requests for cooperation while continuing to pocket American currency. Eight years ago, for example, the Bush administration demanded interviews with Abdul Qadeer Khan, the chief of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons laboratory. Washington sought to understand who in the Pakistani military or intelligence apparatus had helped sell nuclear weapons technology and designs to such rogue states as Libya, North Korea and Iran. Pakistan refused, most likely because Khan, while seeking freedom from house arrest, briefly threatened to tell all.
And for more than two years, Pakistan, which has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, has slow-walked investigations into the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, carried out by Lashkar e-Taiba, an organization believed to have strong links to portions of the Pakistani intelligence apparatus. The group is bent on establishing in India’s Kashmir region yet another Islamic fundamentalist regime as a first step before conquering all of India.
The siege by 10 terrorists, which resulted in the deaths of 164 people, included an attack on the city’s Chabad House and the murder of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivkah and four other Jews.
IN THE FACE of Pakistan’s supreme chutzpah, Donilon and President Barack Obama have adopted a generally gentle approach, carefully refraining from directly accusing Pakistan of complicity in hiding bin Laden, apparently in an attempt to calm its anger at the violation of its sovereignty.
“We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan,” Obama said in an interview on 60 Minutes. “But we don’t know who or what that support network was. We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.”
What is becoming abundantly clear is that Pakistan, a state that like Israel was created in the late 1940s as a result of the disintegration of British colonialism, is, unlike Israel, turning out to be a failure and a danger.
There might be some logic in the US policy of staying close enough to Islamabad to keep tabs on its 100 or so nuclear warheads and its attempts to proliferate. But if Pakistani complicity in keeping bin Laden free for almost a decade after 9/11 is proven, the time will have come to put an end to Pakistani chutzpah – and American folly – by cutting the line that feeds the hand that, in turn, feeds al-Qaida and its offshoots.