Translating Asif Ali Zardari

I can’t resist preceding our joint repose with a brief translation of this:

The Terrorists Want To Destroy Pakistan, Too

If you believe this, you’ll believe anything. (The “terrorists” would certainly love to control Pakistan. And they are well on their way, too.)

by Asif Ali Zardari

Or, at least, his people. The actual Mr. Ten Percent, Foggy Bottom’s man in Islamabad, who may also soon be named as Senate Candidate 6, has other strengths.

He probably did get to look over it, at least. But I wouldn’t be surprised if at least the outline came from Washington. This sort of material takes a long, strange bureaucratic trip on its way to the Web server—“Satan’s Invisible World Displayed,” as Carlyle liked to put it.

THE recent death and destruction in Mumbai, India, brought to my mind the death and destruction in Karachi on Oct. 18, 2007, when terrorists attacked a festive homecoming rally for my wife, Benazir Bhutto. Nearly 150 Pakistanis were killed and more than 450 were injured. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai may be a news story for most of the world. For me it is a painful reality of shared experience. Having seen my wife escape death by a hairbreadth on that day in Karachi, I lost her in a second, unfortunately successful, attempt two months later.

As befits all opening paragraphs of Times op-eds, I think I’ll let Harry Frankfurt speak for me on this one.

But if your faith remains strong, consider the case of Baitullah Messud. As derived from deeds, not words, there is simply no evidence that President Ten Percent is in any way disturbed that Benazir got whacked. He has certainly benefited from the event.

And nor is there any evidence that you or I or anyone else should be disturbed, either, at the fate of “Pinkie.” It was a hit. Should we cry? Boo-hoo. She knew the game she was playing.

The Mumbai attacks were directed not only at India but also at Pakistan’s new democratic government and the peace process with India that we have initiated. Supporters of authoritarianism in Pakistan and non-state actors with a vested interest in perpetuating conflict do not want change in Pakistan to take root.


To foil the designs of the terrorists, the two great nations of Pakistan and India, born together from the same revolution and mandate in 1947, must continue to move forward with the peace process. Pakistan is shocked at the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We can identify with India’s pain. I am especially empathetic. I feel this pain every time I look into the eyes of my children.

President Zardari is especially empathetic.

Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of anyone involved in these heinous attacks. But we caution against hasty judgments and inflammatory statements. As was demonstrated in Sunday’s raids, which resulted in the arrest of militants, Pakistan will take action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are their targets and we continue to be their victims.

“Dear India: fuck you. We didn’t have shit to do with this, and we won’t do shit for you. And if you were especially empathetic, too, you’d realize what a dick you are. P.S. I fucked your wife.”

(Note that Abdul Qadeer Khan was under “arrest,” as well.)

India is a mature nation and a stable democracy. Pakistanis appreciate India’s democratic contributions. But as rage fueled by the Mumbai attacks catches on, Indians must pause and take a breath. India and Pakistan—and the rest of the world—must work together to track down the terrorists who caused mayhem in Mumbai, attacked New York, London and Madrid in the past, and destroyed the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September. The terrorists who killed my wife are connected by ideology to these enemies of civilization.

“Dear World: ignore the man behind the curtain. And please twiddle your thumbs, while we find the real killer.”

These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic.

“Dear America: it’s all your fault, anyway.”

Pakistan continues to pay the price: the legacy of dictatorship, the fatigue of fanaticism, the dismemberment of civil society and the destruction of our democratic infrastructure. The resulting poverty continues to fuel the extremists and has created a culture of grievance and victimhood.

Duh-huh. He said “price.” Duh-huh.

The challenge of confronting terrorists who have a vast support network is huge; Pakistan’s fledgling democracy needs help from the rest of the world. We are on the frontlines of the war on terrorism. We have 150,000 soldiers fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their extremist allies along the border with Afghanistan—far more troops than NATO has in Afghanistan.

“And all this shit costs money. Lots of money. And we’re doing it just for y—oh, wait.”

Nearly 2,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives to terrorism in this year alone, including 1,400 civilians and 600 security personnel ranging in rank from ordinary soldier to three-star general. There have been more than 600 terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan this year. The terrorists have been set back by our aggressive war against them in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Pashtun-majority areas bordering Afghanistan. Six hundred militants have been killed in recent attacks, hundreds by Pakistani F-16 jet strikes in the last two months.

“Our people at the site are working their tails off. When you hire Vito Spadafore’s guys, they don’t just sit there!”

Terrorism is a regional as well as a global threat, and it needs to be battled collectively. We understand the domestic political considerations in India in the aftermath of Mumbai. Nevertheless, accusations of complicity on Pakistan’s part only complicate the already complex situation.

“Dear India: did I mention that you need to fuck off?”

For India, Pakistan and the United States, the best response to the Mumbai carnage is to coordinate in counteracting the scourge of terrorism. The world must act to strengthen Pakistan’s economy and democracy, help us build civil society and provide us with the law enforcement and counterterrorism capacities that will enable us to fight the terrorists effectively.

“Dear America and Europe: give us money. You already give us money, of course. It’s just that in these troubled times—you need to be giving us more. And if you don’t want to pay, expect more of this shit. Nothing personal, you understand. We’re just trying to run a business here.”

Benazir Bhutto once said that democracy is the best revenge against the abuses of dictatorship. In the current environment, reconciliation and rapprochement is the best revenge against the dark forces that are trying to provoke a confrontation between Pakistan and India, and ultimately a clash of civilizations.

And close, with more Harry Frankfurt.

In reality? There are no dark forces—just a bunch of poor assholes trying to make a living. This whole circus is produced for you, dear taxpayer. It may not be your most wasteful and frivolous enterprise, but it may be your nastiest and most dangerous.

Because this time I would not be surprised if Pakistan, like Serbia, finds it has bitten off more than it can chew. The key question is whether Indian politics compel a genuine response. I am not an expert in Indian politics. Nor, I suspect, are the people in Pakistan who are doing this shit. Is anyone?

The result is a textbook case in the fundamentally unsafe nature of the inevitable uncertainty in the behavior of any internally conflicted sovereign institution. The game will either be mildly profitable for Pakistan, or wildly devastating to it. Its expected value is blatantly negative.

If Pakistan as a whole was managed the way, say, Singapore is managed, Pakistan would never play. But of course there is no “Pakistan as a whole,” just a loose network of informal, constantly shifting power centers. Of course this can be said of any democracy, but it is worse in Pakistan, where the gun, the ballot and the dollar are permanently engaged in an intricate opaque dance.

(If only President Zardari’s predecessor had taken our advice. Pervez, Pervez! Now more than ever! Against the abuses of democracy, what but dictatorship is the best revenge? The heresy grows: India, Thailand… hop on the bandwagon, before the bandwagon hops on you!)

But perhaps the good President, by “dark forces,” means UR itself. (Or at least the War Nerd.) If so, I’m afraid I need to sign myself up—for the “confrontation” part as well.

Because I believe the interactions between sovereign states should be governed by classical international law. And Davis and Sherman are, as usual, clear as glass on the matter:

Marauding Expeditions. As a consequence of its sovereignty and independence, a state is entitled to an immunity from incursions by expeditions, or marauding parties, whose base of operations is in the territory of another state; when such incursions occur, the injured state will expect, and may demand, a prompt disavowal of the act, with reparation for its consequences, and the punishment of its perpetrators. When the sovereignty of a territory permits it to be made the base of hostilities, by outlaws and savages, against a country with which such sovereign is at peace, the government of the latter country is entitled, as a matter of necessity, to pursue the assailants wherever they may be, and to take such measures as are necessary to put an end to their aggressions.

Which means exactly what you think it means. Of course, Ambassador Davis and Professor Sherman are talking about sovereign states. Not informal protectorates of the lower Potomac:

Protectorates. The term “protectorate” is applied to the relation established between a stronger and a weaker state, by which the weaker is protected from foreign aggression and interference, but suffers in consequence some diminution of its rights of sovereignty and independence. This relation is established by treaty, by the terms of which the extent and character of the protectorate are determined. In most protectorates the foreign relations of the protected state, including the power to engage in war, are in great part regulated by the protector.

And thus the question reduces to Delhi’s testicles, or lack thereof. Can it grow a pair? If so, the show is on, and as usual Carlyle put it best:

“Tumble and rage along, ye rotten waifs and wrecks; clash and collide as seems fittest to you; and smite each other into annihilation at your own good pleasure. In that huge conflict, dismal but unavoidable, we, thanks to our heroic ancestors, having got so far ahead of you, have now no interest at all. Our decided notion is, the dead ought to bury their dead in such a case: and so we have the honor to be, with distinguished consideration, your entirely devoted,–FLIMNAP, SEC. FOREIGN DEPARTMENT.”