I See You…The Face of the Enemy
Take a look at this picture, taken in a market in northern Pakistan, see anything interesting? Apparently the guys in black turbans are Taliban fighters openly wandering the streets. They are recognizable by their turbans, and from what I could find on the web, that is credible though not absolute. Even if the picture turns out to be an Afghan SWAT team and the main stream media has once again lied, it’s still accurate enough. The Taliban and Al Qaeda seem to have found refuge in the mountains of northern Pakistan. How the hell did this happen?
Turns out that Osama Bin Laden, the apparently invisible and uncatchable leader of Al Qaeda, has thrown his support behind the idea of Kashmir joining Pakistan. Since the Kashmir issue is very popular in this part of the world, it’s pretty much guaranteed him and his allies the Taliban a base of support. Plus the Taliban have always had a large amount of support there, Pakistan was the only country that recognized the legitimacy of the Taliban government one might recall. “Obviously” the Pakistan government should crack down, nu? Well, they tried that two years ago, lost seven hundred troops, and backed down when it became evident that the crackdown was making things worse.
And what’s the deal with Kashmir anyhow? Sadly it is one of the legacies of the colonial era. In 1948 when India was being given its independence and splitting up into Pakistan and India, the Kashmir was a predominantly Muslim state with a Hindu Maharajah. It was expected to join Pakistan since they shared a border and it was primarily Muslim. The Pakistani government got impatient and started causing trouble in the Kashmir, the Maharajah panicked and with the help of Great Britain’s Lord Mountbatten signed a last minute agreement with India that “legally” made the Kashmir part of India. India and Pakistan have been fighting over it since, quite literally in some cases. The only people who suffer are of course the Kashmiris, and who knows what they want since India has never allowed them a referendum on the issue.
In other words, another festering sore still oozing blood decades after it was spawned by the colonial era. Fortunately this leads to an easy solution to our problem with Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan. Just solve the Kashmir problem and their support will slowly evaporate. Sigh. Easier said than done obviously. I don’t have a solution except the obvious one, let the Kashmiris have a vote to decide the issue. It seem unlikely India will ever allow that, and the USA is not about to pressure a key ally over democracy and self determination. Sigh.
My point? Other than the usual one about the bloody legacy of colonialism and colonial thinking? Just the photograph above. Know your enemy. He’s just a guy in a crowd. No fangs, devil’s horns, or bloodstains. One wouldn’t even know he was Taliban unless they were told, at least typical westerners wouldn’t. He’s another human like all the rest, and if we are ever to neutralize the threat posed by the Taliban, we need to understand that and work from there. Hollywood has lied to us. We are not fighting cartoon images, fools, or madmen; we are fighting other people. I sometimes think a lot of Americans have forgotten that.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post. I can’t for the life of me remember where I got it, if anyone knows I will properly attribute it.)