Pakistan needs treatment for its psychosis
Instead of conjuring up bizarre conspiracy theories and nurturing a victim complex, Pakistanis need to see the reality.
The satisfaction of seeing an enemy country like Pakistan being forced into the grey-list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) aside, it was the issue on which Pakistan was grey-listed (and could possibly be blacklisted if it doesn’t put its most potent export industry — terrorism — out of business) that should have been celebrated in India.
Strangely, India virtually ignored the fact that Pakistan was grey-listed because of lack of action against its most lethal terror proxy — Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) /Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)/Falah-iInsaniyat Foundation (FIF). Even so, while India is gleeful over Pakistan’s latest predicament, there is a sense of gloom in Pakistan over the diplomatic, financial and economic implications of grey-listing.
Despite Pakistani officials putting up a brave face and making light of the greylisting, there is a discernible sense of hurt over being painted as a country which is seen to be deficient, even reluctant, in cracking down on terrorist organisations and their financial networks.
There is also a sense of betrayal, what with their closest allies — China and Saudi Arabia — not standing by them. But most of all, Pakistani officials with injured innocence lament being singled out in spite of all the "sacrifices" Pakistan has made in the war on terror.
The problem with Pakistan, however, is that the entire country has become schizophrenic. As a people, Pakistanis are increasingly becoming a victim of a distorted reality and a fantasy world which has been constructed and very successfully injected in their minds by the "deep state".
That there is little in common in how most Pakistanis perceive themselves and rest of the world, and how the rest of the world sees them, is a natural outcome of this psychosis. The manifestly fake narrative built over the years by the "deep state" and peddled by the embedded media was gulped down by the people, who were not only convinced it was the truth but were bewildered why the world didn’t buy into the rubbish that they had so readily lapped up.
Because they are convinced of the lies they have been fed, most Pakistanis feel that the problem is not so much their deceit, dissemble and double-dealing, as it is their ineffective ‘propaganda’ and weak lobbying in the US and other Western countries. That the rest of the world is quite aware of the trickery and treachery of the Pakistani state is something that just doesn’t figure in the Pakistani mindspace.
Both before and after the grey-listing, top Pakistani officials have taken pains to recount the numerous measures they have taken to comply with the UNSC resolutions against the LeT/JuD/FIF. Newspapers went into an overdrive to report on how the authorities were taking over the assets and facilities of the proscribed organisations.
A week before the FATF meeting, the Dawn newspaper reported that the Punjab government had taken over the infamous JuD/LeT facility in Muridke. On the face of it, this sounded like a revolutionary move. The only problem was that the very same facility had already been taken over by the Punjab government 10 years earlier after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai! In fact, the government of Punjab allocated millions of rupees from its budget to the Muridke centre after "taking control" of it in 2008.
How can the Pakistani authorities take over the very same place again after a decade? Or is it that the facility was only shown to have been taken over on paper but continued to operate under the control of JuD activists, fully funded by the Punjab government? If a Reuters report is anything to go by, then the action in 2018 is as farcical as it was in 2008.
According to this report, “At JuD’s Muridke headquarters… the day-to-day management of the charity running largely as before. Only an administrator, two school principals and a doctor had been added by the government to the facility… Five policemen had been added to the squad of 100 JuD security guards, while the rest of the staff were still working”. As a write-up in The News on Sunday asked: How much impact the administrator and his two sidekicks will have is anyone’s guess.
This is precisely the sort of double games dripping with low cunning and insincerity that the Pakistanis play. The de facto finance minister of Pakistan, Miftah Ismail, has been insisting that Pakistan has done much of what it was expected to do and only a few minor deficiencies remain to be addressed. But while on paper the Pakistanis might have done a lot, on ground they have done zilch, zero, zip to put the JuD out of business. Not one of the three obligations — asset freeze, weapons embargo and travel restrictions — has been observed by Pakistan.
The huge empire that JuD controls — over 300 ambulances, eight hospitals, 250 dispensaries, 150 schools and colleges, over 50,000 employees, hundreds of mosques and madrassas, vehicles, and what have you — stands as testimony to the Pakistani state’s deception on the issue of terrorism. Far from freezing assets, the JuD was allowed to become a jihadist behemoth which was openly flouting UN sanctions with the total complicity of the Pakistani authorities.
Pakistani officials and spin doctors either conveniently shut out these facts from the public discourse, or else give disingenuous justifications — JuD is a welfare organisation, there is no evidence against it, they are justified in waging jihad in Kashmir for liberating Muslims, etc. But these facts are clearly no longer acceptable to the international community.
Therefore, instead of conjuring up bizarre conspiracy theories and nurturing a victim complex, the Pakistanis need to see the reality. The problem is that while a patient of psychosis can be treated in a psychiatric ward, how do you treat an entire country that has become schizophrenic?
This commentary originally appeared in DailyO.
9 March 2018