Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Interview with Asma Jahangir

"Who dares?", Pakistan's Independence day wallpaper, Tribute to Pakistan's Armed Forces.  (Ĵǡƕǻǹžəβ/Flickr)

"Who dares?", Pakistan's Independence day wallpaper, Tribute to Pakistan's Armed Forces. (Ĵǡƕǻǹžəβ/Flickr)

What do you think the effects and likely consequences are and will be in Pakistan of the "war against terrorism" led by the US?

It is very difficult to say what the effects will be. One thing, however, is quite certain: as this war goes on, there will be a backlash. People already all over the world have very anti-US feelings, and more particularly, in those countries with unpopular leaders that the US is protecting and supporting and praising, the situation is much worse. There is going to be a big build up of anti-US resentment and there is going to be a backlash.

Would you say that Musharraf's government is unpopular in Pakistan?

I don't have to say it; it is quite obvious. If he were popular, then he would hold free and fair elections and it would be very simple for him to get elected and then he could turn around and tell everybody that they were wrong. But he isn't doing that. And I think there's a good reason for that. The other thing is that if the war against terror is going to be fought in the way that it is, the chances are that the actual militants and terrorists will only have more space, more freedom. They will soon realize that this is being done in such a clumsy fashion that they can get away, whereas innocent people will continue to suffer. The militants themselves will get even more support, social support for themselves. If so many people can be accused falsely, with no procedure, no evidence, how will anyone ever know who actually has anything to do with terrorism?

Why do you say it is clumsy?

In Waziristan, for example, many people have been killed. There is absolutely no accountability. There have been families with children and women that have been killed. Small fingers were found after bombardment. And no names have been given out. I mean there is no transparency at all. And many innocent people have been arrested, have been killed. How can such an operation have any legitimacy?

Interview conducted by Nermeen Shaikh of Asia Society