- Vanity Fair
Hating the United States— which funds Islamabad’s army and nuclear program to the humiliating tune of $3 billion a year—Pakistan takes its twisted, cowardly revenge by harboring the likes of the late Osama bin Laden. But the hypocrisy is mutual, and the shame should be shared.
By Christopher Hitchens•Illustration by Barry Blitt
July 2011 Salman Rushdie’s upsettingly brilliant psycho-profile of Pakistan, in his 1983 novel, Shame, rightly laid emphasis on the crucial part played by sexual repression in the Islamic republic. And that was before the Talibanization of Afghanistan, and of much of Pakistan, too. Let me try to summarize and update the situation like this: Here is a society where rape is not a crime. It is a punishment. Women can be sentenced to be raped, by tribal and religious kangaroo courts, if even a rumor of their immodesty brings shame on their menfolk. In such an obscenely distorted context, the counterpart term to shame—which is the noble word “honor”—becomes most commonly associated with the word “killing.” Moral courage consists of the willingness to butcher your own daughter.
If the most elemental of human instincts becomes warped in this bizarre manner, other morbid symptoms will disclose themselves as well. Thus, President Asif Ali Zardari cringes daily in front of the forces who openly murdered his wife, Benazir Bhutto, and who then contemptuously ordered the crime scene cleansed with fire hoses, as if to spit even on the pretense of an investigation. A man so lacking in pride—indeed lacking in manliness—will seek desperately to compensate in other ways. Swelling his puny chest even more, he promises to resist the mighty United States, and to defend Pakistan’s holy “sovereignty.” This puffery and posing might perhaps possess a rag of credibility if he and his fellow middlemen were not avidly ingesting $3 billion worth of American subsidies every year.
There’s absolutely no mystery to the “Why do they hate us?” question, at least as it arises in Pakistan. They hate us because they owe us, and are dependent upon us. The two main symbols of Pakistan’s pride—its army and its nuclear program—are wholly parasitic on American indulgence and patronage. But, as I wrote for Vanity Fair in late 2001, in a long report from this degraded country, that army and those nukes are intended to be reserved for war against the neighboring democracy of India. Our bought-and-paid-for pretense that they have any other true purpose has led to a rancid, resentful official hypocrisy, and to a state policy of revenge, large and petty, on the big, rich, dumb Americans who foot the bill.
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The Dogs of War: Beloved Comrades in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON — Marines were on a foot patrol last fall in the Taliban stronghold of Marja, Afghanistan, when they shot and killed a lethal threat: a local dog that made the mistake of attacking the Marines’ Labrador retriever.
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Hasina abandons secularism by Sanchita Bhattacharya
Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League, which had swept the last parliamentary election in Bangladesh on the promise of restoring secularism and democracy, are now eager to pander to Islamists and fanatics. Despite the Supreme Court restoring the secular credentials of Bangladesh’s 1972 Constitution, Sheikh Hasina wants Islam as the ‘State Religion’.
In a dramatic volte face, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, has declared that she wished to keep Islam as the ‘State Religion’. The announcement is in complete contrast to the ruling Awami League’s declared pro-secular approach. Sheikh Hasina, who also leads the AL, appears to be targeting the support of some radical Muslim formations in a replay of her last tenure, 1996-2001. The present posture suggests that the AL Government may increasingly incline to the use of Islam for political manoeuvre. Meanwhile, the Dhaka High Court, on June 8, asked the Government to explain the legality of its standpoint on the status of Islam as the ‘State Religion’.
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