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by Vaneeza, a Pakistani woman living and studying in Pakistan.


We in Pakistan are seeing real changes in America's way of dealing with our country. When Hilary Clinton came to Pakistan, although her visit was short, still she utilized it very well.  She did a number of debates with our top journalists on TV, who asked many difficult and critical questions. The way she answered them and took all the questions and criticism tactfully and gave replies to them was wonderful.  I myself watched many of her interviews on TV. She went to a number of mosques and shrines.  She showed her respect by covering her head going there.  These are the things that mean a lot to the common man here. For me, it was a refreshing change that she pronounced "Pakistan" correctly unlike other Americans.


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The Obama administration definitely understands the situation here better than the Republicans, and definitely better than Bush.  Obama's decision to increase troops in Afghanistan might help a little but you need to understand that Pakistan is at the center stage of this whole drama.  Some Taliban in Afghanistan are locals but most of them are foreigners and we all know that a huge number of them come from Pakistan who are trained here. Whenever America launches a full scale military offensive against them, they just come here to Pakistan, which they consider a safe haven and, as soon as things get better there, they go back.

Even if the Taliban are stopped from escaping to Pakistan by tighter border control and let's say all of the Taliban are killed in Afghanistan, more will be recruited from the same madrassahs and extremist training camps in Pakistan.  Although America's launching of drone attacks in our tribal areas has been effective to a degree, these have also caused a huge number of civilian casualties, which has inflamed the common man here more than any madrassah could do.  

What needs to be done is better intelligence services and attacking the militant safe havens and training grounds in Pakistan secretly in association with the Pakistani government.  This goal can be achieved with the help of American intelligence agencies.  It is true that the Pakistani government needs to do more in fighting these terrorists.  Unfortunately our politicians can be just as bad as the military dictators, even though it must be said that the country is better off -- as a whole -- with Musharraf out of power.  I believe that the government in some ways is trying to make things bad here to get more aid from America which obviously won't go to the people but to the pockets of the politicians themselves.

The government of Afghanistan, led by Hamid Karzai, is very corrupt. He is sometimes called the "the corruption king".  Some people here believe that some or even most of the bomb blasts in Pakistan are actually arranged by the government so they can show to the world and especially America "Look what the Taliban have done and what they are capable of and what they can do to you also, so give us more and more money in aid and funds that we can use to fight the Taliban."  Most of the aid money Pakistan has received over the years in fact goes to the pockets of corrupt politicians and little goes to do what it was given for.

It must be said that, for the first time, the aid that is coming from America is starting to go to NGOs instead of the pockets of our corrupt politicians.  They will of course get some part of it but the fact that any part of it will be going directly to NGOs too is amazing.  Although the common man will not be won over by just these measures -- as the history of mistrust goes back decades -- but these measures will still do at least some part to help ease the tension.  Until more schools and hospitals and factories and jobs are created in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the quality of life of Afghans and Pakistanis is improved, no real change can come.

People oftentimes become Taliban because that’s the only option they have.  There are a number of madrassahs still operating in Pakistan that turn regular people who just want to get knowledge about Islam into terrorists.  Even in a lot of mosques, the Friday sermon is focused on bashing America rather than anything related to Islam.  There are religious shows and channels on TV that preach extremist ideology and urge people to take up arms.  Nothing is being done about them by the Pakistani government.

All that is very important, because nobody can deny Pakistan’s role in the war that is going in Afghanistan.  There is a lot of social unrest here in Pakistan. The poverty, unemployment and inflation are out of control.  People are selling their children and committing suicide because they cannot provide for their families.  It is much easier to persuade a person like that to take up arms to go on a "road to heaven" than someone who actually has some part of his or her life under control.

Our mullahs come in all shapes and sizes, hair styles, beard styles and clothing to cater to the religious needs of all social strata.  It is more like a business.  The other day a more modern looking mullah on TV with a shorter beard and a pant suit with a few sentences of English sprinkled here and there in his speech was urging young people leave Pakistan and wage holy war against India, as it was the prophecy of prophet Muhammad. On TV!!  It is so frustrating to many like-minded Pakistanis that these types of psychos are allowed to spread their message of hate and war on TV with no restrictions.

The bottom line is that the war in Afghanistan is not one that can be "won".  America should turn its focus more to Pakistan and urge the Pakistani government to do something about the mullahs and madrassahs and TV channels that are misleading people, recruiting more Taliban and making things worse for America in Afghanistan.

This article was written by our new guest blogger, Vaneeza. Vaneeza is a Pakistani woman currently living and studying in Pakistan. I have come to know her through her comments and highly recommend that you read every word that she writes. This is the kind of perspective and analysis that I never hear in the mainstream media, and I think we are much worse off as a country for being deprived of it. I hope you will all welcome her to the Library Grape family and pay close attention to what she has to say. Shukriya, Vaneeza!

Originally posted to monitor on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 01:32 PM PST.

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