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memri
August 1, 2008 No.
1932

Pakistani Columnist: Islam is NATO's Big Adversary After The Cold War

In an April 16, 2008 op-ed in the mass-circulation Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang, prominent Pakistani columnist and industrialist Ishtiaq Beg wrote that Islam has emerged as NATO's big adversary in the post-Cold War era. Beg urged the new Pakistani government to formulate its foreign policies, especially vis-à-vis NATO's role in Afghanistan, without submitting to pressure from the U.S. and NATO.

The op-ed, "Islam is NATO's Big Adversary after Cold War," came against the backdrop of U.S. President George W. Bush's participation in last month's NATO summit in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. At the summit, Western nations committed more troops to NATO's role in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The following are excerpts from Beg's op-ed:[1]

Cold War-Era Adversaries Russia, NATO – United Against Muslims

''During the Bucharest summit, Canada, which had announced a plan to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, has now, due to the efforts of the U.S., agreed to keep its forces in Afghanistan until 2011. Similarly, France too has announced that it will move more of its troops to the battlefront in Afghanistan…

"The grounds for the existence of NATO ended after Russia's defeat in Afghanistan, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. But during the rule of President Bush, Muslims were blamed for 9/11, under a special conspiracy and a project planned in advance. And the U.S. and West created an excuse for NATO's existence by stirring up the specter of Islamic terrorism.

"[This was] because after the Soviet Union ended, the U.S. and the West wanted to conquer the Muslim countries' natural resources, by maintaining their domination over the world. And for this expansionism [to be achieved], a pretext of war against 'Muslim terrorism' was created.

"Before 9/11, NATO was a defensive organization whose objective was to defend the Western European nations, whose weapons had never been used against any [nation]… After 9/11, the U.S. adopted a belligerent approach, and NATO was given a new role – to take action against Islamic terrorism.

"The U.S. was successful in convincing the European members of NATO that Islam was their biggest enemy following the Cold War, and that therefore they must adopt an aggressive strategy, instead of defensive tactics, against Muslims in any part of the world.

"The U.S. managed to persuade the European nations that the war against terrorism and extremism is not only that of the U.S., but of all non-Muslims – and thus, by bringing in NATO in this way, a new cold war was launched against Muslims."

The New Cold War After 9/11 Is Against Islam And Muslims

"On the pretext of 9/11, first Afghanistan [was occupied], and, two years later, on the weapons of mass destruction pretext, Iraq was occupied, even though there was no Islamic extremism in Iraq. Rather, the purpose of attacking Iraq was the U.S.'s conquest of the large oil reserves there. In Iraq, the U.S. and its allies did not find WMDs – but they found oil.

"This cold war is against Islam and the Muslims. In this war… the Western and American media are carrying out extreme attacks on Muslim sentiments. For example, the publication of blasphemous cartoons, the [U.K's] awarding a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, and Geert Wilders's film [Fitna] are part of this media war. Also, the inhuman and sadistic violence against Muslim prisoners in Abu Ghuraib and Guantanamo Bay, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the freedom [given to] Israel to massacre and bomb Palestinian Muslims cannot be overlooked."

The Russia-NATO Logistics Agreement – A Cause of Concern For Pakistan

"The Cold War-era adversaries Russia and NATO have joined hands against the Muslims. At the NATO summit in Bucharest, Russia and NATO signed an agreement under which supplies for the NATO and U.S. forces deployed in Afghanistan will be transported across Russian territory. This agreement is a cause of concern for Pakistan.

"It should be clear that they [NATO and U.S.] are troubled by the new [Pakistani] government's announcement that we [Pakistan] will from now on make the decisions that are part of the war on terror. This [Russia-NATO] agreement is a tactic to address this situation. The Allies [in Afghanistan] fear that they need an alternative route in case the new [Pakistani] government declines to help in the war on terror due to public pressure [in that country]….

"[I was on a TV show in which] all the participants expressed deep concern over the NATO summit's decisions and their consequences for Pakistan. [The participants in the show] described it as a moment of concern for Pakistan. The participants agreed with my view that NATO and the U.S. had decided to extend the deployment, and [increase] the numbers, of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan as part of a new strategy, in response to the announcement by Pakistan's democratic government that decisions that are part of the war on terror would now be made in Pakistan's parliament, not by any single individual.

"[NATO and U.S.'s decision to extend their troops' deployment] indicates that in the future, intervention and attacks by these countries in Pakistan's northwest frontier areas will increase. Also, if logistical supplies to NATO and U.S. troops are affected by the resistance of the local populace in these areas, then the logistical support agreement with Russia provides an alternative strategy. President Bush's recent statement is of very great importance: [He said] that if an attack on the U.S. similar to 9/11 takes place, the planning for such an attack would not be carried out in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in the northern regions of Pakistan.

"Pakistan's new democratic government should not submit to pressure by the U.S. and NATO, and should continue its policies in the national interest. It must not ignore the NATO attacks in these areas, as has happened in the past – rather, it must harshly confront them, because the present government is not the government of someone like President Pervez Musharraf. Rather, the new government has 160 million people and their power [behind it].

"Similarly, we must be aware of the conspiracy by the external enemies – under which they seek to achieve their objectives by creating law and order problems in Karachi and [elsewhere in] the country [Pakistan].''

[1] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), April 16, 2008.