I’m watching Capital Talk on Geo TV out of the corner of my eye as I research madly for news from Pakistani and foreign press sources about American troops on the ground in northwest Pakistan. I’m watching this show and I’m switching to other news shows, where it’s being reported that, where earlier we were told that President Bush ordered operations in July without informing Pakistan, now we’re being told, through the Pakistani Ambassador Hussein Haqqani that no such order was ever given.
We are meant to be satisfied with the news that it was just the one time and the US will not make any more incursions.
In one corner of the screen, as Capital Talk proceeds in heated debate over whether the Pakistanis fighting in the northwest are militants or terrorists and what will happen with the nukes, there is a surreal animated graphic: the Two Towers are falling as two tiny airplanes collide into them again and again. Under it says in Urdu: “Who’s responsible? Who’s paying the price?”
All evening it’s been like this. News story after news story about how American troops have attacked targets in northwest Pakistan and killed women and children. Women and children. And then responses from the Pakistani military and responses from US officials and responses from thoughtful intellectuals and retired military men on panel discussion after panel discussion. Ad nauseum ad infinitum.
On September 4, US troops landed in the village of Angoor Adda in South Waziristan and killed innocents, according the Pakistani daily Dawn and CNN. 8 days later, the Chief of Army Staff Gen. Parvez Kayani is saying that Pakistan will defend its territorial integrity at all cost. An unnamed US official said in the CNN story that Pakistan will be notified on or after action has been taken or set in motion.
Apparently, the only national sovereignty that matters is US national sovereignty. The only rules of engagement that are valid here are those that protect the US. Everything else can be made up as they go along.
There is no law governing a super power – there are only the imperial interests of its rulers and the collective conscience of its people. If these are at odds, then there is hope in a democracy that conscience will win. But if the people side with the governing powers in order to smoke the terrorists out of their hidey holes, then it’s “kill them wherever you find them” that wins the day on all sides.
It would be odd, to say the least, if it turned out that the United States and Osama bin Laden were using the same Qur’anic verse to justify mass murder.
There was a special news bulletin on Geo TV. They showed live footage of Obama and McCain visiting Ground Zero. Looking grave. Nodding to each other. I’m voting for Obama, who said he would conduct unilateral strikes Pakistan if that’s where the terrorists were. I don’t really know why anymore, just that it’s better than not voting.
It’s all very surreal. Innocent men and women, Americans, much like the innocent women and children of Angoor Adda, were killed on Ground Zero seven years ago.
Who’s responsible? Who’s paying the price? Crass sensationalism and tasteless animations aside, the corner of the TV screen asks a good question.