After a 60 year history marked by more than its share of coups, assassinations, military takeovers, executions of leaders and economic misery, Pakistan is not exactly an example of a successful nation.
So it is interesting to see the latest chapter unfold. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani Army general who engineered a bloodless coup to take over from the corrupt Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999, and then crowned himself President, has just resigned under pressure. This ended nine years of more-or-less dictatorship. This is normal in Pakistan's history, but what is exceptional is how Musharraf played both ends of the table. On one side, he ended Pakistan's support of the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan after the Twin Towers attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He pledged to help the United States, becoming one of Washington's chief allies in its campaign against Al Qaeda, at least on the surface.
What many people do not know is that Pakistan's powerful military-controlled intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), was the creator and main backer of the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as the brains and resources behind the insurrection against India in Kashmir. Musharraf, as the head of the military, was intimately associated with the ISI. They created havoc and bloodshed both in Afghanistan and in Kashmir for over a decade. They were also probably behind an attack on the Indian parliament in December, 2001, that almost led to a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. I was in India at the time (early 2002) and personally saw huge missles being transported on flatbed railroad cars to the front lines.
While Musharraf was assuring George W. Bush of his determination to fight Al Qaeda, he was simultaneously winking at his ISI buddies who never servered ties with the Taliban. Pakistan is enormously envious of India, and they used the Taliban as their surrogates in Afghanistan and within India's own borders, in Kashmir. The strategy was to freeze India out of Afghanistan and eventually to wrest control of disputed Kashmir away from India. But geopolitical events such as 9/11 disrupted Pakistan's plans. That did not stop Musharraf from playing both sides.
The U.S. gave Pakistan more than $10 billion since 9/11 in so-called "anti-terrorism funds." No one knows where that money went. The Taliban are resurgent and threatening not just targets in Afghanistan but inside Pakistan as well. Today a suicide bomber killed 25 people in a hospital emergency room in northwest Pakistan, a Taliban operation. And the CIA recently presented evidence to Pakistan's new prime minister that the ISI, Pakistani's intelligence service, organized the July 7 terror attack against the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.
Pakistan's leading nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan, a national hero for creating their atomic bomb, has been under house arrest since 2004. He confessed to directing a clandestine network for sharing nuclear weapons technology with Libya, Iran and North Korea. He recently explained in an interview with ABC News that the Pakistani government and President Pervez Musharraf forced him to sign the confession to be a "scapegoat for the national interest." In other words, according to him, it was Musharraf and the Pakistani army that was engaging Khan in selling nuclear weapons secrets on the market.
It's a remarkable story of double dealing by General Musharraf, placating the gullible Americans and collecting their billions, while quietly continuing to do business as usual with the Taliban and selling nuclear secrets to countries that are sworn enemies of the US. Some would say, successful diplomacy. Others would call it: duplicity at its worst.
What's the lesson here?
Look around at the institutions and the leaders in your life. The ideals of a nation or an institution are compromised by duplicity. Duplicity distorts even the greatest good by turning it into a lie. Even those who claim to represent the unalloyed Absolute Truth can be tainted by duplicity. Duplicity corrupts. It turns truth and trust into suspicion and cynicism.
So look around at what you are embracing. And if you see duplicity there, speak out. Don't be cowed into submission by false teachers who use their power or the power of scripture to silence you out of fear of making offense. Silence itself can be an offense if you see abuse and do not react.
A vaisnava should tolerate everything except duplicity. Honest dealings between devotees is the currency of spiritual association. And according to the Bhagavatam, truth is the only good quality left in this age. (The four legs of the dharma bull are Mercy, Cleanliness, Austerity and Truthfulness. Only the leg of Truth remains standing in Kali yuga.)
Don't deal with double dealers or you'll be dealt a losing hand. And lose the only leg you have left to stand on.