Pakistan myths dispelled


The Australian; New Statesman; No Internet Text

Fatima Bhutto dispels three of her favourite myths about her home country. Pakistan was not created so fundamentalist Muslims would have a country of their own to call home. The nation’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, insisted on complete freedom of religion. “Moral of the story? Religious extremists are made, not born. You can thank General Zia ul-Haq, our pro-Islamist president from 1977-88, and his financial backers Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan for that.”
Secondly, Pakistan is not a nation of madrassa-educated, bearded Taliban enthusiasts. But their growing influence is because military dictatorships and corrupt civilian rulers have ensured that most of the funds earmarked for education are siphoned off before they can be spent.
Lastly is the myth that Pakistan funds religious terrorists such as the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. “But so does the US, notably Sunni militias in Iraq and once even the Taliban in Afghanistan. Find me a country that doesn’t stash its cash in dirty bank accounts and then we’ll talk.”