The hypocrisy is unspeakable. This morning (13th May), 80 Pakistani citizens are dead. These were not terrorists, nor warlords, but harmless civilians who, not for a second, posed a threat to society. The vile attacks in the northwest Pakistan district of Chardassa were perpetrated by suicide bombers belonging to the Pakistani Taliban. They called it the "first revenge" for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, who was shot dead by US forces just a fortnight ago. With 80 dead and a further 140 injured, these are being reported as the deadliest attacks on the nation for some time.
Those who believe this western propaganda are insulting the countless lives lost to the deadly drone strikes that have rained down on Pakistan over the last 7 years. In 2010 alone, 900 innocent civilians lost their lives at the hands of these unmanned aerial vehicles, sent by the US to eradicate al-Qaeda militants. According to the Brookings Institution, for every militant that is killed "10 or so civilians" can also consider themselves victims. It is a little known fact that President Obama has drastically increased these attacks since taking office.
How ironic then, that William Hague, the British foreign secretary who has relentlessly supported American policy, has come out and condemned today’s attacks as "cowardly and indiscriminate." He went on to state that these "extremist groups have no regard for the value of human life." Parallel denouncements have never been offered of America’s drone attacks. They are conveniently forgotten. Brushed under the carpet with the comforting knowledge that mainstream media would never give the game away.
For too long now, the West has been murdering innocent Pakistani civilians – 2,352 drone strike victims alone according to counterterrorism officials – whilst criticizing Taliban or al-Qaeda attacks that have killed analogous numbers – 9/11 saw approximately 3,000 deaths. That is not to say that al-Qaeda’s attacks are justified and US ones are not. However, those who advocate democracy ought to practice what they so ardently preach before looking disapprovingly on groups that do not follow the rulebook.
With the threat of "bigger attacks" to come, it is a short sharp reminder of the price paid by Pakistan authorities and security forces in their fight against terrorism. Despite recent suggestions that Pakistan was in some way inattentive for failing to realize Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad, their latest losses highlight the country’s staunch support for the US. Pakistan has continually been an active, vigorous participant in the ‘war against terror’, so the accusation that the Pakistanis were purposely concealing Bin Laden’s whereabouts is distasteful in the extreme.
After all, this is a country that has suffered one of the highest death tolls as a direct result of so-called terrorism. Since the 9/11 attacks, there has been a sharp rise in domestic terrorism, suicide bombings, extremism and sectarianism within Pakistan. It is estimated that Pakistan has lost more than 3,000 soldiers since 2001, all due to their devotion to the fight against al-Qaeda. Despite these fatalities, the US frequently questions Pakistan’s commitment to fighting extremists. How on earth, Pakistan’s critics have asked, could the country’s government and security services not know that the al-Qaeda leader was living within their borders?
Firstly, if Pakistan is guilty, then so are we here in Britain. We too failed to identify al-Qaeda members residing in our country. Let us not forget, the 7/7 bombings were carried out by individuals living in Buckinghamshire and Yorkshire. That aside, it was widely believed that Bin Laden was hiding out in either Afghanistan – that, after all, is supposedly why we invaded – or Yemen, seen by many as Al-Qaeda’s nucleus. Not only was this the belief of Pakistan, but the belief of America as well.
Secondly, straight after the announcement that Bin Laden had been killed, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told Reuters, "Pakistan’s rulers and army will be our first targets." Surely this statement alone suggests that the Pakistani authorities were not involved with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, else why would the Pakistani Taliban come after them specifically. On the contrary, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani, on hearing news of Bin Laden’s demise, responded, "I think it’s a great victory."
The problem with much of the western world is that it blindly accepts the words of governmental figures without challenge. Far too often we fall into the trap of dividing the world into damaging fractions – "them" and "us." Since Bin Laden’s death, Pakistan has unceremoniously fallen into the category, "them." But why? Why are we not showering them with praise and admiration as a result of their unremitting commitment and faithfulness in this on-going war against extremism? There is no easy answer to that, but a wild guess may be fear, paranoia and unjustified mistrust.
Has the West, and perhaps more specifically, America grown to mistrust the eastern world so much that they can no longer acknowledge when good is being done out there? Pakistan is as much a victim of extremism as any other nation. They are not deserving of the petty insults that have flown their way following Operation Neptune Spear. Nor were the 2,352 drone victims deserving of their atrocious demise. Moreover, the 80 victims of this latest terrorist attack are undeserving of the patronizing sorrow shown by western officials, who all the while accuse Pakistan of aiding and abetting such deplorable massacres.