What Pakistanis should know about Chilcot Report?

On July 6, 2016, when most of the Muslims in the world were celebrating Eid ul Fitr, Sir John Chilcot, the head of Iraq inquiry commission, announced his findings in a report known as Chilcot Report. This inquiry was set up by Gordon Brown in 2009 due to the immense pressure from public and parliament. It mainly aimed at figuring out the main reasons behind Britain’s participation in Iraq war which proved to be a mistake allegedly committed by the Tony Blair’s administration, which is the cause of extreme level of restlessness in today’s Muslim world. Though the purpose of the inquiry had never been to nominate the people responsible for the war or any sort of legal action or punishments, the inquiry tries to fathom the motivation of Tony Blair’s administration for going to war and the benefits it wanted to extract. This report has proved to be devastating for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his decision of Iraq invasion alongside the United States, after sacking Saddam Hussein’s despotic regime.

In 2.6 million-word report, it has been concluded that Saddam Hussein was not an imminent threat for the Britain, not enough to engage 46,000 British troops in overthrowing his regime. It also states that the decision of waging war on Iraq in coalition with US, was done on the basis of frail intelligence evidences and that the Tony Blair’s administration had clearly failed to achieve its objectives in pursuit of which it had taken such a questionable decision. According to some, the role of Britain has been exaggerated in the report putting away the fact that it was mainly US’s war to get control of the state of Iraq and to liberate its people from the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein, which according to Bush administration had become a threat to global peace for keeping Weapons of Mass Destruction. It was further endorsed by Tony Blair by ensuring Bush in a private note that, “I will be with you [Bush] whatever.”

Though the Chilcot report has declared the Britain’s involvement in Iraq war as unnecessary and based upon hypothetical considerations, which in a way further invalidates the invasion of Iraq as a whole, nowhere does it justify Saddam’s dictatorship and the corrupt Iraqi status quo that supported him.

Pakistanis, being sheer enthusiasts of Muslim unity while having a goldfish memory, forget the brutality of Saddam Hussein that he imposed on his people including the displacement of Marsh Arabs and genocide of his own people. Also, the perturbation in the gulf region by fighting wars with its neighboring countries. The ‘stability’ that some people idealize today of the pre-2003 Iraq was maintained by chemical weapons resulting into mass graves within Iraq of the Iraqis. As Hayder al-Khoei writes in The Guardian, “The warped sense of reality in Saddam’s Iraq was partly due to the fact that we did not have the luxury of social media and hashtags to show the world what was happening to us.” Despite that, we find a number of Pakistani people named “Saddam Hussein” not having their father’s name as ‘Hussein’ or even knowing the meaning of the name “Saddam”, except relating it to the late dictator just because of him being powerful, or in other words, totalitarian.

Furthermore, the Chilcot report points out the already identified shortcoming of the Iraq invasion of not devising a proper plan for Iraq-minus-Saddam (with whole of the Ba’ath party) that brought all the expected troubles to Iraq including the annihilating sectarian violence. It made the Iraqi soil vulnerable for becoming the hub of all the possible extremism and the principal land of the biggest disease of the region; ISIS.

Lastly, we should also not forget the consent shown by former President Pervez Musharraf for sending the Pakistani troops for helping NATO in Iraq, in disguise of being UN troops. Had Pakistani troops taken part in Iraq invasion, our military would have been facing huge question marks on their credibility today.

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