A reminder to the subjects that they are colonized

March 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dawn reports today that the United States is preparing a “Quick Reaction Force” for use in Pakistan, in case US assets in the country are directly threatened. These assets ostensibly refer to diplomats and other personnel that are attached to the US embassy (in Islamabad) and consulate (in Karachi) – but, of course, who knows exactly which personnel are being referred to? We already know that there are US troops inside Pakistan, both special forces but possibly other forces as well. And we also know that the US has been launching its CIA-run drone attacks in FATA from bases in Baluchistan. So although this force as announced will be tiny, one wonders if this force is ultimately envisioned as force protection (for soldiers) as well as protection for diplomats. In any case, this latest announcement, that the US is readying a quick reaction force, is unsurprising to say the least. One wonders if the US is imagining a kind of “Fall of Saigon” scenario which will require a quick exit for US personnel, and presumably this new force will facilitate such an exit.

The announcement is a good reminder, though, of the colonized state that Pakistan finds itself in. Those of us who are opposed to US presence in the region already know this, but it bears repeating that such a foreign imperial presence will always protect its own interests first and foremost. And it will distort local institutions and processes so that they are beholden to imperial interests above all. We are also regularly reminded that corrupt elites in Pakistan will also put US interests above domestic needs – and certainly above the needs of the Pakistani masses. After all, in response to the hue and cry about the CIA drone program in FATA, local leaders from Zardari and Gillani to the generals have all cried out in unison: “give us the drones, WE’LL drop them ourselves on our people!” Let us ignore for the moment the fundamental truth that a military-led policy to deal with the Taliban insurgency is doomed to failure. Let us even ignore the fact that what the Pakistani people desperately need are basic amenities such as clean water, food, shelter, jobs, and the like. Let us remember that the biggest victims of militancy and of the Army’s military operations are ordinary Pakistanis, who after all deserve protection too, do they not? But their lives are worthless, as is true of colonial subjects in general. They are simply props for the colonial adventurers, ready to be displayed or forgotten as the need of the hour may be.

And talk about distorting local priorities: the “quick reaction force” itself will be composed of Pakistani security personnel, trained by the US.

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