Much gets lost in cultural translation along the border separating Canada from the wild hill tribes of New Hampshire. Our "most immediate interest " in Pakistan, says pundit Mark Steyn, who monitors the restive natives of Lyme, "is in preventing the country’s tribal lands from becoming this decade’s Afghanistan– a huge Camp Osama...That ship, if it hasn’t already sailed, has certainly cast off ...Something called “the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan”...is formally recognized by the Pakistan government." Where has the Greatest Living Neocan been since Kipling wrote Kim?
Sir Aurel Stein found Waziristan full of
hostile "Talibs" fired up by Wahabi preachers back when Teddy Roosevelt was running on the Bull Moose ticket. On maps in both explorer's portfolios, it was a
part of a million square mile expanse of poison green demarcated " The
Independent Khanates Of Chinese Turkestan." Czar Alexander bit off the
first before the Fenians invaded New Brunswick in 1865, and the Evil Empire choked to
death on the same grisly dish six generations later.
Stein is not to Steyn's taste in fireside reading- he prefers Winston Churchill's account of his Durand Line days, and would feel better if only Pakistan were better Raj-ified:
"It’s worth noting that Muslims next door in India are antipathetic to jihad. Yet they are ethnically and religiously indistinguishable from the fellows in Islamabad wiring up... suicide bombers...The only reason...is because of where some British cartographer decided to draw the line in 1947."
If only it were so, Dudley Doright could bring in Osama Bin Laden with a lasso and a snowmobile. The Waziri's drove the British Army out of the capital, Wana, in 1919. The Empire came back, of course, but in 1936, when the Sultan Of Swat mostly meant Babe Ruth Esq. , the Faqir of Ipi the Sufi mini-Mahdi still locally regarded as OBL's role model, drove them out again, inflicting over a thousand casualties in the process.
It took two years of RAF bombing to put the British Political Agent back in his bungalow Every word sometime Vermont resident Kipling penned about the Pashtuns late in Victoria's reign remains a fireside joy to read, but here in the 21st century, it is hazardous to forget the unsubtle distinction between where India's 18th century Afghan conquerers ended up, and whence they came.
They remain in business to this day on the far side of the Indus, their Western border shared not with Europe, or Russia , but Persia. Times have changed since The Shah was our principle bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism, and Pinky Bhutto's Radclife chaperone was our former Ambassador to India .