From Yahya to Musharraf
Written Spring 2002
Recently declassified White House documents from the Nixon administration reveal an appalling nonchalance to the depraved genocide practiced by Pakistan in 1971, a willful blindness by a Republican President to craven dictators that is being repeated by the current administration.
General Yahya Khan, the military dictator of Pakistan in 1971, refused to seat the winning East Pakistan party in parliamentary elections, triggering protests which he met with the most intense genocide of Muslims in history, killing 800,000 Bangladeshis in 8 months (by comparison, even the Taliban were only able to kill 1.5 million Muslims in 5 years, while Israel in 8 years of 2 intifadas has killed fewer than 3,000 Palestinians) and triggering a refugee wave of 10 million into India (the largest refugee crisis in history). Consul General Archer Blood of the US in then East Pakistan cabled home, “Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities…, while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pakistan government... Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy”. Blood documented the selective genocide of East Pakistanis by the Pakistani military, writing “Full horror of Pak military atrocities will come to light sooner or later. I, therefore, question continued advisability of present US posture of pretending to believe Pakistan's false assertions...” US Ambassador to India Keating telegrammed, “"Am deeply shocked at massacre by Pakistani military in East Pakistan, appalled at possibility these atrocities are being committed with American equipment, and greatly concerned at United States vulnerability to damaging allegations of association with reign of military terror. I believe US should
(a) promptly, publicly and prominently deplore this brutality;
(b) should privately lay it on the line with Pakistan and so advise India; and,
(c) should announce unilateral abrogation of one time exception military supply agreement, and suspension of all military deliveries under the 1967 restrictive policy.
It is most important these actions be taken now, prior to inevitable and imminent emergence of horrible truths and prior to Communist initiatives to exploit situation. This is time when principles make best politics."
Even machiavellian Henry Kissinger recommended that the US lean on Pakistan to end killing and pave the way for East Pakistani autonomy. Nixon’s curt reply: “To all hands, don’t squeeze Yahya”, underlining “don’t” thrice. Further, the US military continued giving weapons to Pakistan despite a Congressional ban, and Nixon stated that “If there is a war, I will go on national television and ask Congress to cut off all aid to India.” Further, the Nixon administration encouraged China to intervene on Pakistan’s behalf and sent a naval task force to intimidate India. Fortunately, India was able to stop the genocide.
What is the point of this? Over the next thirty years, Republican Presidents have armed and financed Pakistan, which has been a military dictatorship for most of its history, despite its brutal violence towards its own people (besides the Bangladeshi genocide, use of chemical weapons against its Baluchi citizens in 1974), fostering of Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan (which came back to haunt the US on 9/11), and export of terrorism to India (where 10 times as many people have died to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists as on 9/11). The latest Pakistani dictator, General Musharraf, continues his sponsorship of terrorists, and is a man of treachery: India’s 2 summit initiatives in recent years were rewarded by an invasion and attempts to destroy India’s Parliament and Kashmir Assembly, while Musharraf makes a travesty of democracy with sham referenda and rigged elections.
Musharraf’s defenders say he is important in fighting terrorism and the alternatives are worse. This is unadulterated nonsense; Musharraf is an Arafat in suit-and-tie who speaks English. Pakistan created the Taliban, Pakistani intelligence links to al Qaeda are well-documented, and Pakistan is very likely Osama bin Laden’s landlord. Just as important, Pakistan has exported nuclear technology to North Korea not only for years but this past July, after 9/11, using C-130s provided by the US to boot. If God forbid North Korea drops nukes on the 37,000 US troops in South Korea, it will be courtesy of US-provided planes and money to Pakistan.
President Bush’s arms-open, eyes-closed embrace of Gen. Musharraf and the Saudi royals is appalling. It continues a tradition of hypocrisy bereft of foresight by Republican administrations (e.g., support for Saddam Hussain, Afghan mujahadeen) that have led to a careening cascade of colossal catastrophe. Will present US support for Pakistan cost us dearly in 10 or 20 years; will we rue this day of fellowship with fiends with events making 9/11 look like a spring picnic? It is unfathomable why President Bush has bartered his moral clarity for situational ethics, expediency for principle, reason for incoherence. Mr. Bush’s most memorable statements included “We will make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them…Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” By supporting Pakistan’s military dictator and the Saudis, the real axis of evil, President Bush has cost his lot (and ours) with kingpins of terror.