Thursday, December 30, 2010

Disappearances in Pakistan: Lessons learned

Difficult to believe that the New York Times could publish today’s headline with a straight face. “Disappeared with reported ties to Pakistan worries U.S.”
“WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is expressing alarm over reports that thousands of political separatists and captured Taliban insurgents have disappeared into the hands of  Pakistan’s police and security forces, and that some may have been tortured or killed.”
According to the Times, many of those who have vanished have nothing to do with  the Taliban, but are Baluchis, a restive people in Pakistan long intent on forming an independent state. Equally alarming, the Pakistani authorities are refusing to admit any knowledge about most of the cases.
The matter has become so grave that U.S. military is now actually refusing to train Pakistani military units who have been involved in torturing and killing detainees.  

Of course, the U.S. will have nothing to do with such brutal tactics. Of course, the Obama administration is alarmed.

One can imagine the Pakistani officials shaking their heads wonder. One can also wonder how U.S. officials could make their protests without a sickening sense of cynicism and shame.  

I mean, c’mon guys---this, is the same U.S.—different President, but same country—that disappeared thousands of suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban militants—some only teenagers—into places like Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo or rendered others off to allies for brutal interrogation. And aren’t CIA drones currently blowing apart scores of supposed Taliban and others in Pakistan—and elsewhere—without the inconvenience of arrest, questioning and trial?    

We could go on and on about all this but we won’t. Surely, someone at the Times will bring it up in an editorial or Op Ed piece in the next one or two days.

[They might even point out another subtler irony: that the restive Baluchis also live in Iran. And that is where, according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, under the Bush administration, the CIA began aiding the Baluchis to carry out terrorist attacks in hopes of undermining the regime in Teheran.
Nor that different from the tactics the Pakistini Intelligence Organization, the ISI, are using in supporting some Taliban in Afghanistan—even as they arrest others in Pakistan.]

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