Friday, May 13, 2011

Civil Breakdown, Conspiracy Fears Worry Pakistani Expats in Saudi Arabia

By Siraj Wahab

As the Pakistani Taleban took credit for the murder on Friday, May 13, of 80 Pakistanis in retaliation for the raid 10 days ago in which Osama Bil Laden was killed, the reaction from Pakistani nationals in Saudi Arabia ranged from disgust and disdain to conspiracy theories and blame for the United States.

“The United States is playing a very dangerous game in our country,” said a senior Alkhobar-based Pakistani executive who requested anonymity. “While the bombers may have been Pakistanis, the command and control is in the hands of those who are miles away from our country.”

Others put the blame a little closer to home.

“I condemn the blasts. There is no doubt they have been carried out the Pakistani Taleban,” said Jeddah-based engineer Syed Mutahir Rizvi. “They have claimed responsibility for the blasts. There is no reason for us to say that someone else is involved. I can understand the anger of some Pakistanis at what has happened, but this is no way of expressing their anger. Why should innocent people be made to suffer for something they have nothing to do with?”

Well-known writer and poet Habib Siddiqui presented a dismal appraisal of the breakdown of civil society in Pakistan after a recent visit.

“I see no hope,” Siddiqui told Arab News. “I have just come back from Karachi — there is not a single home that has not been burgled. There is total chaos and lawlessness. There is no rule of law; no one is safe. Those who have survived Friday’s attacks should count themselves lucky. Those who died leave behind widows and children. No one will take care of them. They are mere statistics in a long and dirty war,” he said. “The worst part about this war is that nobody knows who is on whose side and who is killing whom?”

Anjum Dar, the Alkhobar-based president of the Ideological Forum for Pakistan Studies, said innocent people have been caught in a crossfire between two equally entrenched adversaries. “Ordinary Pakistanis are confused and rattled by the developments that have turned their country upside down,” he said. “The reins of power are in the hands of a select group of nine or 10 people, who do not belong to any political party, who have pledged to do whatever is asked of them by foreign countries. They are dutifully following and carrying the foreign agenda,” he said rather ruefully.

Dar said the militants try to justify such acts because of the alliance between Pakistan and the United States.

“They are convinced that the political establishment and the army are not there to defend the people of Pakistan, that they are in league with the US and that the drone attacks are being carried out with active help from the army and the intelligence agencies,” he said. “That is what people think. When our government started taking the American line that is when things deteriorated and here we are today — in total chaos.”

Some Pakistanis are convinced that all of it is a sinister American plot.

“All this is very well scripted. More blasts will follow and we will have the same explanation: that Taleban carried them out,” said the anonymous executive. “I don't believe anything that is coming out in the press. Our current rulers have sold their souls to the United States. That is it.”

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