Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ayaz Amir

If the last five years of Ayaz Amir's columns prove anything, it's that you shouldn't treat the whole "my enemy's enemy is my friend" argument as your Holy Grail. Before 9/11, this poor fellow was a relatively reasonable analyst who had a number of cogent things to say. Since then, however, he's gone a little batty. Because he hates America so much, he sides with anyone and anything who oppose it. In yesterday's column, he had this to say:
Saddam Hussein of brave Tikrit did not think so when he went to the gallows, his many sins washed away by his calmness and courage in the face of death.

Two hundred years from now, Saddam’s cruelty and mistakes will be forgotten. The legend of his bravery will survive.

Just to be clear, Ayaz Amir is suggesting that because Saddam didn't cringe before being hanged, people will no longer recall his crimes. Really? I wonder how many Kurds he spoke to before writing that one. Or Iranians. Or Iraqi Shias. Or anyone else belonging to a group that was persecuted, attacked, jailed, beaten, tortured or killed by Saddam and his henchmen. If Ayaz Amir had been around to witness Hitler's death, and it had been "honourable", would he believe Jews and Gypsies would forget Nazi crimes? What about Pol Pot? If he had been hanged and didn't cringe, would Cambodians forget that he wiped out one-fourth of that country's population, including anyone who wore glasses because intellectuals were ostensibly dangerous? In fact, forget Hitler and Pol Pot, who were responsible for millions of deaths. Let's just take someone who's responsible for thousands, like Pinochet. If he had actually faced a trial for his crimes, and been hanged and didn't cringe, would Ayaz Amir believe that Chileans would forget everything he did?

I shouldn't be that surprised, I guess. This is the same guy who calls Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "dignified" and Osama bin Laden a "hero". He's not alone there, either. Countless numbers in the Muslim world have such a hatred for the U.S. that they support anyone who purports to stand against it. This is despite, at least in Saddam's and Osama's case, these actors' many, many crimes against Muslims all over the world.

Supporting people like Saddam and Osama for Ayaz Amir is easy enough because their crimes, by and large, weren't/aren't against Pakistanis or Pakistan, and so any possible cognitive dissonance is precluded. Ayaz Amir can simply ignore their "sins" and focus on their opposition to the U.S., which he obviously favours. Things get a little messier, however, when talk turns to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Here, Pakistan's interests suddenly assume a greater significance because what the Taliban do and don't do affects Pakistan a lot more than Osama's or Saddam's actions, and thus blindly supporting any enemy of the U.S. is a little dicier, intellectually speaking. For the longest time, Ayaz Amir has railed against Musharraf's support of the U.S. and our fighting "America's war". Yet at the same time, he recognizes that the Taliban are hardly role models. This is from a column a couple of months ago:
Encouraging or assisting the Taliban is not in our interest. We have enough bigotry and extremism of our own. We can do without any contribution that the Taliban can make in this regard. We should curb the cross-border movement of militant elements wherever we can. If there are training camps of any sort on our soil we should do what we can to uproot them.

Fancy footwork, eh? In essence, he doesn't want us to "encourage" or "assist" the Taliban but at the same time he doesn't want us to fight "America's war" against them. We shouldn't be doing America's "dirty work" for it but at the same time we should "curb the cross-border movement of militant elements" and "do what we can to uproot" terrorist training camps. How exactly would this balancing act work? I wish I could tell you. I wish Ayaz Amir could tell you. But he never does, because I suspect he knows the precariousness of his intellectual position. He loves it when people stand up to the U.S. but he knows that the Taliban and its allies are a collection of obscurantist, women-hating, land-cruiser driving, gun-toting, hateful bastards. So what does he do? He just complains about the course of action we (rightfully) took after 9/11 and devotes column after column to attacking Musharraf and his support of the U.S., even sometimes going to the extent of praising the heroic "resistance" in Afghanistan. How can the same group of people be "heroes" and extremists/bigots at the same time? I don't know, but emailing might provide answers.

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