Tonight, blood is on everyone’s mind in Pakistan.
One week ago, the Pakistan army—aided by U.S. drone technology, no less—launched its offensive against the South Waziristan region, the new home of our fabled local Taliban. The Taliban moved there after last summer’s Swat offensive, which was declared a resounding success. So successful, apparently, that the militants were able to pack up and shuffle right into a new region of the country.
Maybe Hillary Clinton can explain this to us. She’s here today, ostensibly to show that America’s foreign policy toward Pakistan is focused on more than just security and terrorism. But fate loves irony: Upon the Secretary’s arrival today, Peepal Mandi Bazaar—a busy shopping center that caters mainly to women picking up fabric and children rummaging through the book and toy stalls—was hit by a monstrous blast. So far, ninety people are dead. More than two hundred are injured. Lady Reading hospital in the city is sending out urgent requests for blood donations—there’s just not enough available for the wounded.
There is too much blood, there is not enough blood.
Clinton promised today to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Pakistan. Hillary, I think we’re standing close enough as it is.
Clinton, who has fondly reminisced about her decades-long friendship with President Zardari, dating back to the time when they were both first spouses, promised when she landed in Islamabad today to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.
• Tina Brown: Hillary Finally Doffs Her BurqaHillary, I think we’re standing close enough as it is. This government, feted by Clinton as a much ballyhooed ally, doesn’t have a very solid handle on what’s what. President Zardari’s party, the PPP, is run more like a corporation, negotiating billion-dollar aid packages for Pakistan from anyone who’s willing to foot the bill. Zardari bragged to England’s Daily Telegraph this July that he “has resisted extremists from Aung San Suu Kyi to the Taliban,” mistakenly (one hopes?) coupling the Burmese pro-democracy leader with the nefarious bearded militants.
During its one year in office, the Zardari government has passed two measly but scurrilous bills. The first, called the National Reconciliation Ordinance (nicknamed the National Robbers Ordinance by clever newsmen), legitimizes twenty years of the ruling party’s corruption, and includes a stipulation that makes it virtually impossible to file charges against sitting politicians. The Zardari government then passed a bill democratizing censorship, expanding restrictions on text messages and emails that spoof, satirize, or assassinate the president’s character. If Secretary Clinton wants to expand her government’s relationship with Pakistan, she cannot claim to be supporting democracy or the rule of law.
• Michael Smerconish: Musharraf on Fixing Pakistan and the Afghan SurgePakistan’s government, already seen as a generously greased U.S. stooge by its citizens and neighbors, is receiving billions of dollars from Clinton’s employer. The Kerry Lugar bill promises $1.5 billion a year (for “development”) but the fine print is a gift that keeps on taking. While Pakistan will be flush with development dollars, we will have to send the U.S. government detailed reports regarding our armed forces, including assessments of the civilian control of our very independent army, updates on our prevention of nuclear proliferation, and expertise and analysis of how much we have expanded or diminished our nuclear programs.
Pakistan’s sovereignty was signed over to Hillary and Barack some time ago. With a government willing to use U.S. drone technology against its own people, bomb various parts of its country when directed to, and allow a revolving-door policy for American officials, it’s no wonder Washington is hell bent on supporting the disastrous Zardari government.
Tonight, as Pakistan buries its many dead, Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration are seen as defenders of a state that can not protect its people. It’s time for her to go home.
Fatima Bhutto is a graduate of Columbia University and the School of Oriental and African Studies. She is working on a book to be published by Jonathan Cape in 2010. Fatima lives and works in Karachi, Pakistan.