The thing is that the taliban are against vaccination any way, and Pak is one of the few countries in the world with a high polio rate. One can safely assume that vaccinations will reduce markedly in Pak...
CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden's family DNA Senior Pakistani doctor who organised vaccine programme in Abbottabad arrested by ISI for working with US agents
Saeed Shah in Abbottabad guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 July 2011 19.59 BST
CIA organised fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad to try and find Osama bin Laden. Photograph: Md Nadeem/EPA The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader's family, a Guardian investigation has found.
As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the "project" in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.
The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.
Relations between Washington and Islamabad, already severely strained by the Bin Laden operation, have deteriorated considerably since then. The doctor's arrest has exacerbated these tensions. The US is understood to be concerned for the doctor's safety, and is thought to have intervened on his behalf.
The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier, known as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, to what turned out to be Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound last summer. The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country.
DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.
So agents approached Afridi, the health official in charge of Khyber, part of the tribal area that runs along the Afghan border.
The doctor went to Abbottabad in March, saying he had procured funds to give free vaccinations for hepatitis B. Bypassing the management of the Abbottabad health services, he paid generous sums to low-ranking local government health workers, who took part in the operation without knowing about the connection to Bin Laden. Health visitors in the area were among the few people who had gained access to the Bin Laden compound in the past, administering polio drops to some of the children.
Afridi had posters for the vaccination programme put up around Abbottabad, featuring a vaccine made by Amson, a medicine manufacturer based on the outskirts of Islamabad.
In March health workers administered the vaccine in a poor neighbourhood on the edge of Abbottabad called Nawa Sher. The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given in three doses, the second a month after the first. But in April, instead of administering the second dose in Nawa Sher, the doctor returned to Abbottabad and moved the nurses on to Bilal Town, the suburb where Bin Laden lived.
It is not known exactly how the doctor hoped to get DNA from the vaccinations, although nurses could have been trained to withdraw some blood in the needle after administrating the drug.
"The whole thing was totally irregular," said one Pakistani official. "Bilal Town is a well-to-do area. Why would you choose that place to give free vaccines? And what is the official surgeon of Khyber doing working in Abbottabad?"
A nurse known as Bakhto, whose full name is Mukhtar Bibi, managed to gain entry to the Bin Laden compound to administer the vaccines. According to several sources, the doctor, who waited outside, told her to take in a handbag that was fitted with an electronic device. It is not clear what the device was, or whether she left it behind. It is also not known whether the CIA managed to obtain any Bin Laden DNA, although one source suggested the operation did not succeed.
Mukhtar Bibi, who was unaware of the real purpose of the vaccination campaign, would not comment on the programme.
Pakistani intelligence became aware of the doctor's activities during the investigation into the US raid in which Bin Laden was killed on the top floor of the Abbottabad house. Islamabad refused to comment officially on Afridi's arrest, but one senior official said: "Wouldn't any country detain people for working for a foreign spy service?"
The doctor is one of several people suspected of helping the CIA to have been arrested by the ISI, but he is thought to be the only one still in custody.
Pakistan is furious over being kept in the dark about the raid, and the US is angry that the Pakistani investigation appears more focused on finding out how the CIA was able to track down the al-Qaida leader than on how Bin Laden was able to live in Abbottabad for five years.
Over the weekend, relations were pummelled further when the US announced that it would cut $800m (£500m) worth of military aid as punishment for Pakistan's perceived lack of co-operation in the anti-terror fight. William Daley, the White House chief of staff, went on US television on Sunday to say: "Obviously, there's still a lot of pain that the political system in Pakistan is feeling by virtue of the raid that we did to get Osama bin Laden, something the president felt strongly about and we have no regrets over."
The CIA refused to comment on the vaccination plot.
Yes there will be consequences to a US withdrawl, but unless the US is willing to tackle Pak and focus on Pak....its not worthwhile to stay in Afghanistan, IMHO. The paki contribution to US body bags needs to be stopped, or we should come back. The other important development that is only briefly alluded to are the voices suggesting division of Afghanistan. The handling of the Pashtoon "problem", ie the artificial demarcation by the Durrand line, is key to controlling Pak. Its not Kashmir which many westerners and Pak keeps alluding to. Even the Kashmiris in Pak occupied Kashmir dont want to merge with Pak, leave alone those from India. I anticipate, in the coming year(s), this issue will gain more interest and comment in the media. Pakistan is scared $hit, as to what will happen if the pashtoons unite on both side of the Durrand line.
As the Americans flounder for an exit from the Afghan mess, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal.
The multiple suicide attack last week against Hotel Intercontinental perched on a hillock on the western edge of Kabul when Provincial Governors were meeting to chart out Afghanisation’s security reflects holes in capability of the Afghan National Security Forces. Not a single battalion of the Army can operate independently.
I stayed at the Intercontinental last year for a conference and wondered how the Taliban might storm the hotel. Of the three security checks along the road two were lightly held with armed guards. The third with X-ray machines was virtually in the hotel. But the rest of the area seemed uncovered, especially the slopes to the hill top. That’s where they came from and not along the road. The Taliban are both great improvisers and innovators, routinely springing new tricks and not afraid to die.
This setback will not derail the phased withdrawal beginning this month of the 33,000 US surge troops who will be out in 15 months. The remaining 70,000 troops are to deinduct by 2014. The politically choreographed drawdown is premised on preservation of gains of the surge. America’s Nato partners, except the UK, have earlier exit schedules which are to be finalised at the Chicago Nato summit next year.
US President Barack Obama’s 13-minute speech outlining the withdrawal marks the end of phase one of the war, a shift from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism and from combat to combat support of the ANSF. The new US counter-terrorism strategy document released last week lays emphasis on raids and drone strikes.
The illusion of success has been buoyed by the dramatic elimination of Osama bin Laden and the annihilation of the Al Qaeda leadership, whereas opposition to foreign forces is from Al Qaeda’s affiliates, the Taliban. They too, have been degraded, some 2000 killed (700 middle-level commanders) and 4,000 captured, but nearly 80 per cent were civilians. Mr Obama characterised these ephemeral gains as “tide of war receding and drawdown from a position of strength”.
The core of Mr Obama’s assessment was embedded in two stark admissions: “We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place” and “nation-building has to be done at home facing rising debt and hard economic times”. The war cost of $12 billion annually and 30 to 40 body bags (in June there were 44) with nearly twice that number wounded monthly is politically unsustainable.
So how does Mr Obama hope to reduce American footprint, withdraw responsibly and leave behind a minimally stable Afghanistan? The key to transition — two small provinces and five urban centres, including Kabul, are to be handed over starting this month — is a capable and motivated ANSF. By October 2011, the Army will be 170,000-strong, to reach 240,000 by next year, optimally equipped with Nato class of weapons. Currently 70,000, the police force will increase to 130,000 but is terribly under-resourced. Too many countries are involved in their training and confusion obtains on whether it is to be CIS or policing. Interestingly, Pakistan’s hopes of a weak and sterile ANSF may turn out to be real.
A political settlement entailing power-sharing with the Taliban requires reintegration and reconciliation. Reintegration has proved more successful than reconciliation with nearly 2,000 rank and file Taliban reportedly brought overground. Response to reconciliation has been tardy despite claims of conversations with Mullah Omar’s aides, including some Taliban imposters. Here, too, many countries are involved: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and Germany which is coordinating the talks.
Mullah Omar has posted in mosques in southern Afghanistan warnings of death to anyone who talks to the Government. And why will Pakistan, which wants to be part of the solution and not the problem, be left out of reconciliation, as it has been so far? In February 2010, Quetta Shura’s number two, Mullah Biradar, was arrested in Karachi by the ISI and Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha has ensured Mullah Omar’s relocation after the Osama bin Laden plucking. Both former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said the Taliban will not engage in serious and fruitful talks. The Afghans feel that for serious reconciliation the surge has to continue — otherwise even if an agreement is reached its implementation is unlikely.
Against this background the recently established Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Commission on Reconciliation and Joint Task Force on Infiltration are as good as the India-Pakistan Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism: Good only for the joint statement. Similarly, at the counter-terrorism summit in Tehran last week, the Presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan resolved to collectively fight militancy and oppose foreign interference — both aspirational goals.
The third element of the US exit strategy is turning the focus of operations from Afghanistan to Pakistan, reversing AfPak to PakAf, to neutralise Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan. In 2001, Pakistan was the base for the American war in Afghanistan; now it could be the opposite.
Cajoling and coercing Pakistan to act against its strategic assets will be the trickiest bit. Already the reverse is happening. Pakistan has asked the US to withdraw its trainers, close down drone bases, recall CIA operatives and the whole works. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is very angry the Army’s nose has been rubbed on the ground after the Osama bin Laden episode. He’s under extreme pressure from the conclave of Corps Commanders, political opposition and the public to punish the Americans.
As Pakistan is unlikely to cooperate easily, the frequency of drone attacks from Afghanistan will increase, prompting Islamabad to take up the legality of cross-border aerial attacks with Kabul and, who knows, the UN too. With US-Pakistan relations plummeting, training and capability of the ANSF under a cloud and good governance and a political settlement out of sight, Mr Obama’s exit strategy is as unworkable as Mr Henry Kissinger’s latest prescription in The International Herald Tribune: A ceasefire, withdrawal, coalition Government and an enforcing mechanism.
Already voices in the US suggest accelerated transition and division of Afghanistan if necessary. While the Americans are barking up the wrong tree, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal. Afghans want India to punch up to its weight without being inhibited by American and Pakistani sensitivities to a more proactive role. India must engage the Taliban and offer to equip and train the ANSF. But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said last week in Washington, DC that India will not get involved in a security role. A rethink is required as was done on reintegration and reconciliation.
Why My Father Hated India Aatish Taseer, the son of an assassinated Pakistani leader, explains the history and hysteria behind a deadly relationship By AATISH TASEER
Ten days before he was assassinated in January, my father, Salman Taseer, sent out a tweet about an Indian rocket that had come down over the Bay of Bengal: "Why does India make fools of themselves messing in space technology? Stick 2 bollywood my advice."
My father was the governor of Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, and his tweet, with its taunt at India's misfortune, would have delighted his many thousands of followers. It fed straight into Pakistan's unhealthy obsession with India, the country from which it was carved in 1947.
Though my father's attitude went down well in Pakistan, it had caused considerable tension between us. I am half-Indian, raised in Delhi by my Indian mother: India is a country that I consider my own. When my father was killed by one of his own bodyguards for defending a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, we had not spoken for three years.
To understand the Pakistani obsession with India, to get a sense of its special edge—its hysteria—it is necessary to understand the rejection of India, its culture and past, that lies at the heart of the idea of Pakistan. This is not merely an academic question. Pakistan's animus toward India is the cause of both its unwillingness to fight Islamic extremism and its active complicity in undermining the aims of its ostensible ally, the United States.
The idea of Pakistan was first seriously formulated by neither a cleric nor a politician but by a poet. In 1930, Muhammad Iqbal, addressing the All-India Muslim league, made the case for a state in which India's Muslims would realize their "political and ethical essence." Though he was always vague about what the new state would be, he was quite clear about what it would not be: the old pluralistic society of India, with its composite culture.
Iqbal's vision took concrete shape in August 1947. Despite the partition of British India, it had seemed at first that there would be no transfer of populations. But violence erupted, and it quickly became clear that in the new homeland for India's Muslims, there would be no place for its non-Muslim communities. Pakistan and India came into being at the cost of a million lives and the largest migration in history.
This shared experience of carnage and loss is the foundation of the modern relationship between the two countries. In human terms, it meant that each of my parents, my father in Pakistan and my mother in India, grew up around symmetrically violent stories of uprooting and homelessness.
Rex USA Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, in May 2009. He was assassinated in January 2011.
But in Pakistan, the partition had another, deeper meaning. It raised big questions, in cultural and civilizational terms, about what its separation from India would mean.
In the absence of a true national identity, Pakistan defined itself by its opposition to India. It turned its back on all that had been common between Muslims and non-Muslims in the era before partition. Everything came under suspicion, from dress to customs to festivals, marriage rituals and literature. The new country set itself the task of erasing its association with the subcontinent, an association that many came to view as a contamination.
Had this assertion of national identity meant the casting out of something alien or foreign in favor of an organic or homegrown identity, it might have had an empowering effect. What made it self-wounding, even nihilistic, was that Pakistan, by asserting a new Arabized Islamic identity, rejected its own local and regional culture. In trying to turn its back on its shared past with India, Pakistan turned its back on itself.
But there was one problem: India was just across the border, and it was still its composite, pluralistic self, a place where nearly as many Muslims lived as in Pakistan. It was a daily reminder of the past that Pakistan had tried to erase.
Pakistan's existential confusion made itself apparent in the political turmoil of the decades after partition. The state failed to perform a single legal transfer of power; coups were commonplace. And yet, in 1980, my father would still have felt that the partition had not been a mistake, for one critical reason: India, for all its democracy and pluralism, was an economic disaster.
Pakistan had better roads, better cars; Pakistani businesses were thriving; its citizens could take foreign currency abroad. Compared with starving, socialist India, they were on much surer ground. So what if India had democracy? It had brought nothing but drought and famine.
But in the early 1990s, a reversal began to occur in the fortunes of the two countries. The advantage that Pakistan had seemed to enjoy in the years after independence evaporated, as it became clear that the quest to rid itself of its Indian identity had come at a price: the emergence of a new and dangerous brand of Islam.
As India rose, thanks to economic liberalization, Pakistan withered. The country that had begun as a poet's utopia was reduced to ruin and insolvency.
The primary agent of this decline has been the Pakistani army. The beneficiary of vast amounts of American assistance and money—$11 billion since 9/11—the military has diverted a significant amount of these resources to arming itself against India. In Afghanistan, it has sought neither security nor stability but rather a backyard, which—once the Americans leave—might provide Pakistan with "strategic depth" against India.
In order to realize these objectives, the Pakistani army has led the U.S. in a dance, in which it had to be seen to be fighting the war on terror, but never so much as to actually win it, for its extension meant the continuing flow of American money. All this time the army kept alive a double game, in which some terror was fought and some—such as Laskhar-e-Tayyba's 2008 attack on Mumbai—actively supported.
The army's duplicity was exposed decisively this May, with the killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. It was only the last and most incriminating charge against an institution whose activities over the years have included the creation of the Taliban, the financing of international terrorism and the running of a lucrative trade in nuclear secrets.
This army, whose might has always been justified by the imaginary threat from India, has been more harmful to Pakistan than to anybody else. It has consumed annually a quarter of the country's wealth, undermined one civilian government after another and enriched itself through a range of economic interests, from bakeries and shopping malls to huge property holdings.
The reversal in the fortunes of the two countries—India's sudden prosperity and cultural power, seen next to the calamity of Muhammad Iqbal's unrealized utopia—is what explains the bitterness of my father's tweet just days before he died. It captures the rage of being forced to reject a culture of which you feel effortlessly a part—a culture that Pakistanis, via Bollywood, experience daily in their homes.
This rage is what makes it impossible to reduce Pakistan's obsession with India to matters of security or a land dispute in Kashmir. It can heal only when the wounds of 1947 are healed. And it should provoke no triumphalism in India, for behind the bluster and the bravado, there is arid pain and sadness.
As predicted a few posts back, "In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$...so predictable."
Posted 07/12/2011 06:35 PM ET War On Terror: Washington finally has done what it should have done years ago: deny aid to Islamabad unless it can show its cooperation is more than just a facade to milk the U.S. for more cash.
After Pakistan ordered U.S. military trainers out of the country — in retaliation for the clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden's compound — the administration held back $800 million in aid to the Pakistani military.
The cut amounts to only a third of promised aid this year. And it was measured. The lack of trainers means that planned U.S. equipment can't be put into service, reducing some of the needed aid.
The reaction from Islamabad was predictable. Its defense minister threatened to pull back troops from border areas where Islamist militants are active.
But Pakistan already has failed to deploy troops to the region as the U.S. has requested, which is another reason aid was withheld.
About $300 million from the trimmed aid was intended to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of deploying troops along the Afghan border.
Pakistan wasn't through huffing and bluffing. It said the financial snub would only push it into the arms of its "all-weather friend," China.
But it's already there. In fact, there is evidence U.S. aid has been fueling a dangerous nuclear pact between Pakistan and China.
At a cost of $2.4 billion, Islamabad is buying two 635-megawatt reactors from Beijing for its plutonium production complex at Chasma.
These are military reactors with the capability of adding 24 nuclear weapons a year to Pakistan's existing arsenal of some 90.
There's no explanation for how impoverished Pakistan is paying for these weapons-grade reactors except for the $20 billion in aid the U.S. has blank-checked Islamabad since 9/11. So it's fairly clear we are subsidizing the deal — against U.S. interests in the region, as well as the world.
Pakistan has led one of the most dangerous nuclear smuggling rings ever disclosed, stretching from North Korea to Iran and possibly to Saudi Arabia.
There is also evidence the Pakistani military is diverting U.S. aid to supply the Taliban with weapons and direct cash payments.
According to one report, Pakistani intelligence pays Taliban insurgents $2,000 for every IED bomb they plant, $2,000 for every Afghan army soldier they kill, $10,000 for every American soldier they kill, and $20,000 to the family of suicide bombers.
Still, a former Pakistani ambassador claims suspending aid will end up hurting Washington more than Islamabad.
"It will strengthen those elements in the armed forces that have always had grave misgivings of the relationship with the United States," Tariq Fatemi warned.
Sorry, that bluff is equally weak. Their armed forces are already seriously compromised.
A noted Pakistani journalist recently detailed a "sizable al-Qaida infiltration" within the Pakistani military.
"No one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," Syed Shahzad quoted a senior Pakistani military official saying in his investigative story for the Asia Times.
Days after he published his report in May, Shahzad's tortured body was discovered. Last week, U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pakistani government "sanctioned" the killing of the reporter.
More than 180 recently leaked intelligence files detail allegations that Pakistani intelligence has been aiding the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Support includes plots to train suicide bombers, smuggle surface-to-air missiles across the border, bomb the Indian Embassy in Kabul, and assassinate President Hamid Karzai and members of his administration.
U.S. officials say Pakistan provides direct support to two major groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan: the Taliban based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the Haqqani group operating out of Pakistan's tribal region.
It's plain that Islamabad is playing both sides of the war on terror. Hold back the other two-thirds in aid.
This (Mumbai bombing) was completely expected. So the game goes like this... Uncle Sam is tightening the screws on the purelanders to do more with respect to AQ, as well as to mount an operation in N.Wazoostan. Pakis wont do it, because its against their national interests vis a vis India. So Uncle sam decided to withold funds (800 mill$), in response pakis threaten to withdraw troops from their border with Afghanistan/FATA. Infact pakis have absolutely zero interest in doing uncle sam's bidding, because of the many jihadis who are members of the pak army. The problem is that the US does not want pakis to withdraw from the NWFP/FATA area, and if they withdraw, uncle sam will get even more pi$$ed off. So the only approach left for pak is to foment trouble in India via its proxies. They hope India will respond, or threaten to respond, which will allow pakis to withdraw from the afghan border to the border with India.
In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$...so predictable.
This comes under the "`Commando` bodyguards against governors" category pf jihad.
All over the region, the bodyguards are becoming suspect. The elites are sweating...there has been talk of hiring foreign body guards, since the locals cant be trusted. Soon the elites may start to leave the country (Pak)...once that happens the jihadis have won.
If you are trying to understand the situation in Pak and having difficulty...and wondering why the US govt does not have a coherent policy..
Quotable from the web.. "The list of all who have declared Jihad in Pakistan against who all. Its not complete. Muslims against Jews, Christians and Hindus. Sunnis against Shias, Ahmedis and Sufis. Shias against Sunnis. Pashtoons against Mohajirs. Mohajirs against Pashtoons. `Commando` bodyguards against governors. Taliban against Pakistan Army. Pakistan Army against Taliban. Pakistan Army against Balochi insurgents. Pakistan army against terrorists. Pakistan against USA, India and Israel. Taliban against USA and India. LeT/Al/Qaeda/JeM against the rest of the world. Lashkar e Jhangvi against Shias........ ....Pakistan is the first muslim country to have achieved such a comprehensive list of Jihaad declarations ."
Obama puts the heat on Pakistan By Karamatullah K Ghori
When the head of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) directorate of the Pakistan military makes a clean breast, as he did on June 21, that a serving brigadier of the army at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi is in detention on charges of having links with an extremist religious organization, one has to believe that something very serious must be wrong in the military.
Another announcement from the ISPR, a day later, added four majors of the army to the brigadier's column. These four, however, are merely being questioned and not detained, at least not yet.
The Pakistan military is an exclusive club that doesn't let out much information about itself unless there's an overwhelming reason for it. And the current period in time is, no doubt, one such phase when a lot has happened that the denizens of this elitist club may never have wished to see.
The series of humiliations kicked off in early May with the embarrassment of Abbottabad and the macabre siege of the naval base Mehran, in Karachi, and shows little sign of abating.
As the sweltering heat in the plains of Pakistan is getting closer to making room for the annual monsoons - with the likelihood of another visitation of floods engulfing the country - dark clouds ominously dot the horizon for the army.
The open season that opposition politicians, led by two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, have declared on the military's bloated but unwelcome role in governance is enough to test its resilience. And now United States President Barack Obama, too, has waded in to make the challenge even more onerous for the generals at GHQ.
Obama's June 22 speech from the White House - in which he announced the commencement of his promised drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan in July this year and phased over the next three years - contains a list of veiled demands and warnings for Pakistan, particularly its military.
To Obama, the thinning of the American combat presence in Afghanistan doesn't mean any dilution of his firm resolve to keep up the pressure on al-Qaeda and its militant comrades. He complimented Pakistan's efforts that, together with the American punch, have led to more than half of al-Qaeda's top brass being eliminated. However, he left no room for doubt that as long as he was in command, there would be no sanctuary for terrorists, anywhere.
That's where Pakistan and the role of its military take on a pivotal position in Obama's estimation. He was quite categorical that there would be no "safe havens for al-Qaeda". That was a loud and clear message for Pakistan to ensure there are no hide-outs for al-Qaeda and its fellow-travellers in the "no man's land" of Pakistan's tribal belt straddling Afghanistan.
It's an old but persistent demand of the Americans for the Pakistan army to do in its North Waziristan tribal area what it did in South Waziristan. The Pakistan army - for a variety of reasons - has been stalling on that demand. But Obama sounded more insistent and resolute than ever before. Indeed, his confidence has climbed since US special forces killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in his hideout not far from a military compound in Abbottabad. So he hardly minced his words in articulating that "we will insist" that Pakistan keeps its commitments.
It's easy for Obama to pile pressure on Pakistan, coupled with barely disguised warnings that if Pakistan didn't, then he would go about it on his own, which in simple words means another Abbottabad-like solo operation.
However, the relentless demands from Obama for the Pakistan army to do still more - with himself holding a gun to its head, is a catch-22 dilemma for the generals. The price Obama could exact from them and the country is enormous.
The latest survey by the Washington-based Pew research in Pakistan in the wake of Bin Laden's demise finds that 67% of Pakistanis questioned, a solid majority, don't think the "war on terror" is Pakistan's war. A fresh incursion by the army into North Waziristan to oblige the Americans could only trigger wider public uproar, which would be hard to stomach for an army leadership already forced onto the back foot.
The Pakistan army's operation in South Waziristan has already brought a massive spike in acts of terrorism that has taken a heavy toll of public life. Another Quixotic venture would inevitably add fuel to a burning fire and push the country to the brink of anarchy.
In a nutshell, Pakistan could slide into civil war, given an already super-charged tension in its political culture, where tolerance of any kind is at a heavy premium.
On top of that, Pakistan is wary of the talks that Washington has been carrying on for some time with the Afghan Taliban behind its back. Keeping Pakistan out of the loop has only one meaning for Islamabad: the Obama administration doesn't trust it enough to make it a party to the parleys, which could have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan, more than any other neighbor of Afghanistan.
Islamabad is also feeling increasingly leery of the traction that the so-called Blackwill formula - to divide Afghanistan along ethnic lines into a Pashtun south and a non-Pashtun north - is apparently receiving in top echelons of the Obama administration.
There's near-consensus in Pakistan's intellectual community, and policymakers, that the author of this prescription, Robert Blackwill, has absorbed a lot of Indian input into his brain wave. Blackwill was George W Bush's ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003.
Pakistan's intellectual community also fears Obama's drawdown of forces, spread over three years, is calibrated to allow the Blackwill plan ample opportunity to take root in Afghanistan.
A divided Afghanistan would not only denude Pakistan of its strategic depth, vis-a-vis India, but may also become a cause for the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line, the poorly marked border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, to unite. Such unity could only mean further dismemberment of Pakistan and open up a Pandora's box. Pakistan simply can't countenance such an outcome and will pull no punches to thwart it.
Karamatullah K Ghori is a former career ambassador of Pakistan whose diplomatic assignments took him to the United States, Argentina, Japan, China, The Philippines, Algeria, Kuwait, Iraq, Macedonia and Turkey.
NightWatch has continued to track data in detail for all 400 districts of Afghanistan every other month and spot checked fighting reports in between. Preliminary analysis of the data for May 2011 was completed today. The table below shows the data from three tracking measures since last November.
What do these data signify?
First the "media expert" thesis that the Taliban have a fighting season that ends in winter is a fantasy. During each of the past three winters Taliban and other anti-government fighters increased their level of activity, reducing their operations only briefing for weather, as in January 2009. Winter weather imposes no lasting impediment to anti-government operations in the core provinces of the insurgency.
The Taliban did begin an offensive in May 2011, as announced. The number of security incidents in May reached an all-time high despite a brief dip in activity in late May apparently because of rumors that Mullah Omar was missing or deceased.
The number of districts experiencing security incidents was at an all-time high, despite the increase in US forces. The mix of districts has changed, indicating the anti-government fighters moved, rather than confront overwhelming US force. This explains the multiple reports of successfully cleared districts that have returned to normality while the overall number of security incidents increased.
About 200 of the 400 Afghan districts have Pashtun majorities or significant Pashtun minority populations. Any monthly total number of districts experiencing security incidents that exceeds 200 means the Taliban have acquired support or tolerance from non-Pashtun populations.
The May 2011 number of districts experiencing security incidents represents two-thirds of all districts, and is the highest number since the Taliban resurgence began in 2006. Much of this increase in reach is in districts north of Kabul.
The number of incidents is partly a function of increased US operations during the surge, but the Taliban are almost always present to shoot back. There also has been a noticeable spike in the use of improvised explosive devices, the most effective Taliban weapons.
The anti-government fighters waste lots of ammunition and explosives, but never seem to lack for supplies for long. Afghanistan makes no ammunition and no explosives. Almost all come from Pakistan or from leakage from US and Afghan supplies. The increase in security incidents always is matched by an increase in logistics for NATO and anti-government fighters.
The analysis continues, but the reports since November show no significant Afghan army involvement in combat operations. The May reports contained a single operation that clearly was Afghan army initiated. Afghan soldiers accompany NATO forces on operations, but seldom take casualties except from careless driving.
The Afghan police continue to sustain more casualties than any other armed entity. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates Afghanistan has more than 30,700 villages. NightWatch security incident data indicates up to two-thirds harbor or tolerate anti-government fighters in them.
The data show the Afghan government cannot survive without NATO support, especially logistics and tactical air support. More on casualties, later.
In the last few days, atleast two commentators have started talking about the balkanization of Af-Pak region, specifically southern afghanistan/northern afghanistan.
Here's from the Broadsword blog on the 25th of June "Critical to the American vision for Afghanistan is the reconciliation process with the Taliban. A long-term US presence is anathema to the Taliban; a US drawdown, alongside the failure of reconciliation, could well result in the effective Balkanisation of Afghanistan, with the Taliban controlling southern Afghanistan and the remaining US forces militarily propping up Karzai’s (or a successor’s) government in northern Afghanistan. At least one prominent American thinker, former US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, has foreseen the de facto division of Afghanistan, with US drone and Special Forces strikes being conducted from northern Afghanistan into the south and into Pakistan.
For Pakistan, the US drawdown is ominous since Washington’s reduced dependence on Pakistan will allow more effective arm-twisting of Islamabad. As senior US officials have briefed New Delhi, the dependence on Pakistan for logistical routes has already come down thanks to Russia’s cooperation in expanding the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). This involves landing US supplies in Baltic Sea ports and then transporting them to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian countries over a 3,200-mile railway. Even though the NDN is four times as expensive as the comparatively straightforward route through Pakistan, it already accounts for half of America’s logistical requirements in Afghanistan. Any reduction in the American presence will further decrease Pakistan’s leverage."
Here's Major Amin, a Pak army commentator on June 22 "The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it.".
A different take from the previous post from Stratfor-- any comments contrasting the two? ================ Obama's Announcement and the Future of the Afghan War
If military reality and military objectives are defined in terms of the Taliban insurgency, then Afghanistan is every bit as lost now as it was two years ago – if not more so. But if they are defined in terms of al Qaeda, then the United States has good cause to claim victory and reorient its posture in Afghanistan.
If Baraq implements his withdrawl, I think US policy in Af-Pak will result in Talib controlled south Afghanistan, and Northern alliance controlled N.Afghanistan. If the US can force Pak army to take action on the Haqqani group, then the fun begins, as pak unravels. Pak will unravel, only question is the pace. A stable Pak is not in anyone's interest..the US govt is coming around to this view. A weaker Pak is a manageable pak.
- The Pakistanis/ISI are not the masters of Afghanistan's destiny, although one may state that the Taliban in Afghanistan south of line Wardak-Shindand are Pakistan dependent as are near-Pakistani proxies. - Kunnar, Laghman, Nuristan is a different game. It is Al Qaeda plus a combination of anti Pakistan Taliban groups with a heavy mixture of Swat. Dir, Bajaur, and Mohmand Talibans. - The north is to a large extent pro Russian groups controlled with exception of pockets of Taliban in Baghlan and Kunduz. The Northern Alliance, Dostum and some other commanders will definitely look towards Russia, India and Iran rather than Pakistan. - A new Northern Alliance is already being created with possible aerial fire support at Kulyab, Dehdadi, Kunduz and Herat Airfields. Russia will not allow the Taliban to have a clean run north of Hindu Kush; neither would Iran and India In all probability the Taliban will have a clean run till line Kabul-Shindand but no further north. - US has already abandoned large parts of Kunnar, Laghman, and Nuristan where the anti Pakistan Taliban are based. - Note that 80 % of Taliban out of which 90 % are from Afghanistan regard Pakistan as a friend. There is no Pakistani regular army all along the 1500 Km stretch of Afghan border from Zhob to Taftan which is freely used for logistics by the 90 % of Taliban who are against USA and already pro Pakistan. - The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it. That Pakistan has been using Pashtuns as its pawns in its wars is now even very clear to the Pashtuns. The greatest beneficiary of money from Afghan wars has been the North Punjab.
- My fear is that Taliban backlash against Pakistan will be some kind of subconscious Pashtun backlash against Pakistan where Pashtuns will use religion to justify rebellion and even taking over Pakistan or some kind of secession. Here they would be aided by a simultaneous Baloch war of secession and a Punjab and Sindh paralyzed by inflation and unemployment. - Pakistan is a suicide bombers factory. India may not be ideal but at least a young man can hope something in India but not in Pakistan which is a bastion of corruption, nepotism and red tapism. Inflation, poverty and despondency makes Pakistanis kill themselves or aspiring to kill some one, if not physically then spiritually and morally. - A military coup in Pakistan can also not be ruled out. It has not succeeded before but it may next time. - A serious strategic imbalance of Pakistan is that all institutions have lost their coercive value. This includes the military, the ISI and everybody who once mattered. - The majority in Pakistan may be moderate but the extremists are the best organized and most ready to die. So Pakistan may be the worst nightmare of this world in next five to ten years. - The Pakistani military and intelligence and its security apparatus is just not capable of containing extremism. What can the omnipotent USA do about it if they cannot manage to make an Frontier Corps training centre worth 31 Million USD at Tank which was long planned, or bring 1000-MW electricity to Pakistan because of the closing down of the CASA 1000 project. - An Indo Pak showdown with nuclear weapons may become a reality within next five years. With water resources decreasing and population rising an Indo-Pak conflict is a matter of few years unless Pakistan breaks down from within, not into Balkanization, but into a constant civil war bordering near breakdown. - The militarization of the Indo-Pak has to see a showdown unless one party breaks down without a war. Pakistan seems more likely and the last resort may be a nuclear exchange or a cold start war with India which further weakens Pakistan. - The US would not be able to make a dent with India over Pakistan as Pakistan is a solid Chinese concubine although its US relationship is a more temporary and fluctuating Mutaah or Sigheh (Temporary Marriage).
I have been harping on the paki need for maintaining H&D (honor and dignity) for a while now. Unfortunately, H&D has been taking a beating as of late.. , what with the OBL raid, PNS Mehran attack etc..
Managing Afghanistan Backing Northern Alliance II is the only viable option for India when US troops withdraw, says N.V.Subramanian.
27 May 2011: Through back channels, the US is telling India that it is leaving Afghanistan. After the discovery of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, the United States no longer trusts Pakistan to "hand over" Afghanistan to it and its Taliban allies. America wants regional ownership of Afghanistan, meaning that India, Iran, Russia, the Central Asian republics, China and Pakistan must sit together to decide the best course for bringing peace and stability to the benighted country. The US has promised to remain involved. And it will not let its anti-Iran biases obstruct a regional peace solution for Afghanistan. So what should India do? Retired senior US CIA and military officials are keen to let India know that America is absolutely serious about withdrawing from Afghanistan. The withdrawal will by no means be sudden. But since president Barack Obama has decided to stand for re-election, the White House wants some troops' withdrawal. One estimate of that is sixty thousand troops and another thirty thousand. There is also the compulsion to cut defence spending, and so it is imperative to keep a manageable size of troops in Afghanistan. Even if a majority of US troops are withdrawn, a small number will be kept in non-Pashtun territories in the west but more likely in the north, roughly in the region of the former Northern Alliance. The trust with Pakistan is broken. The US national security establishment has evidence that Pakistan's ISI facilitated the Pakistani Taliban attack on a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan in December 2009 that killed eight American agents. The US is also convinced of an ISI hand in 26/11. Indeed, Pakistan hoped the US government would prevent the presentation of documentary evidence of the ISI role in 26/11 in the Tahawwur Rao trial in Chicago. And previous to the Abbottabad raid that killed Bin Laden, strains in Pak-US relations came on the Raymond Davis affair. Davis who was a contract CIA operative in Pakistan killed two threatening ISI gunmen. While blood money was paid to return him to the US, the Obama administration made two other pledges to Pakistan for Davis' release. One was that about four dozen CIA undercover officers deployed in FATA and elsewhere against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban would be removed. The second was that the US would hand over the drone campaign to the Pakistanis. Once Raymond Davis was back in the US, America signaled that the two deals were off. The CIA agents would not be pulled out. And the US would continue to manage drone warfare. Drone attacks significantly increased after Davis' return. And CIA undercover agents scored a big hit in tracing Osama Bin Laden to a secure compound in Abbottabad. When the ISI chief, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, came to the US to press for the honouring of the Davis deal, he got a tongue-lashing from the CIA director, Leon Panetta, and left the meeting in a huff. The point the US wants to convey is that it no longer trusts Pakistan on Afghanistan. While it is leaving, it wants India, Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan to confabulate to return peace and stability to Afghanistan. What should India do? While the US position on Iran that it will not discourage its participation for an Afghan solution is welcome, trouble comes from China and Pakistan, and possibly, more from Pakistan than China. Following the Pakistan prime minister, Yousaf Reza Geelani's visit to China, it appears that China does not want to step into US shoes as a military aider of Pakistan. Nor it would seem is China keen to insert itself into Afghanistan in the present mess. Above all, it wants no damage in relations with the US. But even assuming China and Pakistan come together on Afghanistan, they will not accept an India role in deciding that country's future. While Russia would have no obvious issues with Pakistan and China on Afghanistan, Iran would be deterred from their camp by the Shia-Sunni angle. But in the natural course, Russia and Iran would prefer India because of their past common Northern Alliance dealings. And if Pakistan ascertains it will have a major role in Afghanistan if a regional solution involving India fails, it will work towards its destruction. What's the solution for Afghanistan in which India can play a role? There is no "solution" in sight and it is going to be messy. India's best bet is to remain engaged with Afghanistan's peaceful development till conditions worsen. Then, cutting its losses, India has to return to the pre-9/11 position of backing a previously created Northern Alliance II. This is familiar territory for our readers. In time, Pakistan will face the blowback of encouraging terrorism in Afghanistan (and India), and it would sink the Pakistan state. The only worry is Pakistani nukes. Opinion is already building worldwide for denuclearizing Pakistan. Once Pakistan disintegrates by itself, its state policy of terrorism will crumble, and consequently the region will gradually stabilize, including Afghanistan. N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: email@example.com.
Comments by sanman in the Economist...explaining the history of the region.
In 1839, the British Empire sought to expand the borders of its colony of British India, by launching a war of conquest against the neighboring Pashtuns. The Pashtuns, as a fiercely independent tribal warrior people, resisted ferociously, so that the British conquest of them was not successful. The British were only able to conquer part of the Pashtun territory, and even that remained in constant rebellion against them. Meanwhile, the remaining unconquered portion of Pashtun territory became the nucleus for the formation of Afghanistan. In 1893, the British imposed a ceasefire line on the Afghans called the Durand Line, which separated British-controlled territory from Afghan territory. The local people on the ground however never recognized this line, which merely existed on a map, and not on the ground.
In 1947, when the colony of British India achieved independence and was simultaneously partitioned into Pakistan and India, the Pakistanis wanted the conquered Pashtun territory to go to them, since the Pashtuns were Muslims. Given that the Pashtuns never recognized British authority over them to begin with, the Pakistanis had tenuous relations with the Pashtuns and were consumed by fears of Pashtun secession.
When Pakistan applied to join the UN in 1947, there was only one country which voted against it. No, it wasn't India - it was Pashtun-ruled Afghanistan which voted against Pakistan's admission, on the grounds that Pakistan was in illegal occupation of Pashtun lands stolen by the British. Their vote was cast on September 30, 1947 and is a fact.
In 1948, in the nearby state of Kashmir, its Hindu princely ruler and Muslim political leader joined hands in deciding to make Kashmir an independent country rather than joining either Pakistan or India. Pakistan's leadership were immediately terrified of this precedent, fearing that the Pashtuns would soon follow suit and also declare their own ethnically independent state. In order to pre-empt that and prevent it from happening, Pakistan's founder and leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah quickly decided to raise the cry of "Hindu treachery against the Muslims" and despatched hordes of armed Pashtun tribesmen to attack Kashmir. This was his way of distracting the Pashtuns from their own ethnic nationalism by diverting them into war against Kashmir "to save Islam". These are the same Pashtun tribesman whose descendants are today's Taliban. Fleeing the unprovoked invasion of their homeland, Kashmir's Hindu prince and Muslim political leader went to India, pledging to merge with it if India would help repel the invasion. India agreed, and sent its army to repel the Pashtun invasion. Pakistan then sent its army to clash with Indian forces, and the result was Indo-Pakistani conflict, which has lasted for decades.
Pakistan's fear of Pashtun nationalism and separatism, which it fears can break up Pakistan, is thus the root of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir and also the root of Pak conflict with Afghanistan, not any alleged Indian takeover of Kabul. This is all due to the legacy of 1839, which happened long before Pakistan was even created.
When a communist revolution happened in Kabul in the late 70s, Pakistan's fear of potential spillover effects on Pashtun nationalism caused Pakistan to embark on fomenting a guerrilla war against Kabul that led to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Aligned with with the USA, Pakistan then proceeded to arm the Pashtuns while indoctrinating them with Islamic fanaticism. The USA was not allowed any ground role, and was told it could only supply arms and funds to Pakistan, which would take care of the rest. Pakistan then simultaneously embarked on destabilization of India by fomenting insurgency there.
After the Soviets withdrew, Pakistan again feared that the well-armed Pashtuns would turn on it and pursue secession. So Pakistan then created the Taliban as a new umbrella movement for the fractious factional guerrilla groups under an ultra-fundamentalist ideology. Bin Laden's AlQaeda then became cosy with Taliban, and the result was 9-11.
When the 9-11 attacks occurred, the cornered Pakistanis then did a 180 and promised to help the US defeat the Taliban and bring the terrorists to justice. Meanwhile they were racking their brains hoping to come up with a way to undermine the War on Terror from within. Now that they have succeeded in doing that, and in bleeding US/NATO forces, they hope to jump horses by kicking the US out and aligning with China.
Because of Pakistan's attempts to illegitimately hang onto Pashtun land, it has brought itself into conflicts with so many countries - first against its neighbors and then against more distant larger powers. This is the reason why Pakistan is an irredentist state and can never be an ally against Islamic extremism, because Pakistan depends on this very Islamism as a national glue to hold itself together, and keep nationalistic ethnic groups like the Pashtuns from breaking Pakistan apart.
At the same time, Pakistanis don't dare own upto the Pashtun national question at any level, nor its effect on their national policies, because any attempt to do so would open up the legitimacy of their claim to Pashtun land.
Sovereignty is a 2-way street, entailing not just rights but obligations. Pakistan only wishes to assert rights owing to it from sovereignty, and wishes to completely duck the issue of any sovereign obligations to apprehend terrorists on what it claims as its own territory. This is because the fundamental reality is that the Pashtun territory is not really theirs, is not really under their control, and the Pashtuns don't really recognize Pakistani central authority over them.
Pakistan uses Islamic fundamentalism to submerge traditional Pashtun ethnic identity in a desperate attempt to suppress Pashtun ethnic nationalism, and to stave off the disintegration of Pakistan. The Pashtuns are a numerically large enough ethnic group possessing the strength of arms to be able to secede from Pakistan at any moment, should they decide upon it.
The answer is to let the separatists have their way and achieve their independent ethnic states, breaking up Pakistan. It's better to allow Pakistan to naturally break up into 3 or 4 benign ethnic states, than for it to keep promoting Islamic fundamentalist extremism in a doomed attempt to hold itself together. Pakistan is a failing state, and it's better to let it fail and fall apart. This will help to end all conflict in the region and the trans-national terrorist problem. An independent ethnic Pashtun state will be dominated by Pashtun ethnic identity instead of fundamentalist Islam, and thus AlQaeda will no longer be able to find sanctuary there. Conventional ethnic identity is far more natural and benign than trans-nationalist Islamism with its inherent collectivist political bent. Supporting the re-emergence of 4 natural ethnic states - Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab - would be far better than continuing to support a dangerous and dysfunctional failed state like Pakistan which continues to spew toxic Islamist extremist ideology in a doomed attempt to hold itself together.
Following the failure of the Vietnam War, many Americans later recognized that war was really a war of ethnic reunification by the Vietnamese people. It wasn't a case of one foreign country attempting to conquer another foreign country - indeed, the north and south Vietnamese were not strangers or aliens to one another - they were 2 halves of a common whole. The question was whether they would reunify under communist socialism or under free democracy, but because a blinkered American leadership refused to recognize the Vietnamese grassroots affinity for one another and their desire to reunify, it pretty much ensured that Vietnamese reunification would take place under communist socialism.
Likewise, the Pashtun people live on both sides of an artificial Durand Line (Afghan-Pak "border") which they themselves have never accepted or recognized. It's a question of whether they will politically reunify under close-minded theocratic Islamism or under a more secular and tolerant society. Because today's blinkered American leadership is again blindly defending another artificial line on a map, and refusing to recognize the oneness of the people living on both sides of that artificial line, America is again shutting itself out of the reunification process, guaranteeing that Pashtun reunification will occur under fanatical fundamentalist Islamism as prescribed by Pakistan (much as Hanoi's Soviet backers prescribed reunification under communist socialism.) It's only later on, much after America's defeat, that some Americans will realize too late that they should have seen that the Pashtuns on both sides of the artificial line were actually one people. Pakistan knows it all too well, because they've been living with the guilt and fear of it ever since Pakistan's creation - but that's why they're hell-bent on herding the Pashtuns down the path of Islamist fanaticism, using Islamist glue to keep the Pashtuns as a whole hugged to Pakistan's bosom.
If only the preachers at the Economist could shed their blinkers and really understand what's going on, then they might have a chance to shape events more effectively, and to their favor. Pakistan is rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, as it moves to surpass Britain to become the world's 5th-largest nuclear state.The Pakistanis are racing to build up as much hard-power as possible to back up the soft-power they feel Islamist hate-ideology gives them. The world needs to compel the Pakistanis to let the Pashtuns go, and allow them to have their own independent national existence, along with the Baluchis and Sindhis. Humoring Pakistan and allowing it to continue using Islamist hatred to rally the people towards unity to counter slow disintegration is not the way to achieve stability in the region, or security for the world.
Pakistan Poverty increased to an astonishing 43 Percent June 03, 2011
ISLAMABAD: For the third year in a row, the government of Pakistan refused to state how many people in the country live below the poverty line, although estimates based on data provided by the finance ministry in its economic survey suggest that the poverty rate may have increased to an astonishing 43%.
During much of the press conference, both Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and the finance secretary refused to answer the question on poverty and unemployment rates, despite the fact that nearly every journalist present started off by asking about those two key metrics of the nation’s economic health.
Process of Compiling: The question was usually summarily ignored by both the minister and other officials present before the finance secretary finally gave a non-answer, saying that he had no new information on the matter. Since the last poverty survey in 2006, there are no new figures on poverty, said Finance Secretary Waqar Masood, during a press conference that marked the release of the 2011 Economic Survey. The government is in the process of compiling the results of its new poverty survey and will be able to release the data next year. In 2006, the government had determined that 22.3%, a figure that hid the fact that there was an increasingly wide gap between the poverty rates in urban and rural areas. Poverty rates in urban areas are lower by as much as 20% compared to rural areas. The government uses the World Bank’s definition of poverty, which is any person earning less than $1.25 per day. In Pakistan, that figure comes to any person living on less than Rs3,243 per month. The government has not given any reason as to why it does not produce even estimates of the poverty rates, even though this year’s economic survey seems to include suggestions on how much it might have increased by. By the ADB’s estimates, as cited by the ministry of finance, every 10% increase in food prices pushes 2.2% of Pakistan’s population below the poverty line.
Pakistan Officials Colluding With Militants? US Presents Evidence
By NICK SCHIFRIN (@nickschifrin) and MATTHEW COLE June 10, 2011 The United States' attempts to regain trust in Pakistan's intelligence service suffered a blow in the last few weeks when the CIA gathered evidence that U.S. officials believe shows collusion between militants and Pakistani security officials.
During a visit to Islamabad on Friday, CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted the head of Pakistan's intelligence service, showing him satellite and other intelligence that the CIA believes is evidence of Pakistani security's efforts to help Islamic militants based in Pakistan, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
According to the officials, Panetta revealed overhead imagery that showed two facilities where militants manufactured improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, which are commonly used by militants fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The "IED factories" were located in North and South Waziristan, where many militants are based.
The CIA passed intelligence in the past several weeks to their Pakistani counterparts, alerting them to the two facilities, but when Pakistani forces raided the facilities, the militants had disappeared.
In his meetings Friday, Panetta conveyed the CIA's belief that the militants had been warned by Pakistani security officials prior to the raids.
Panetta traveled to Islamabad just hours after his Congressional hearing to become secretary of defense, an unannounced trip that U.S. officials publicly described as a way to "discuss ways to improve cooperation." But behind the scenes, Panetta's visit -- expected to be his last as CIA chief -- underscored the lack of trust that U.S. officials continue to have in their Pakistani counterparts.
Since Osama bin Laden's death, senior U.S. officials have demanded that Pakistan prove that it intends to help crack down on terror networks within its own borders with concrete, specific steps.
Today, U.S. and Pakistani officials both admitted that the escape of militants making bombs for use against Americans in Afghanistan was a setback.
Pakistani officials made a rare admission that some kind of collusion was possible.
I would be very surprised if Kayani and Pasha can keep their jobs....the common abdul is most displeased with the duo...the rank and file of the army is not too impressed either. Infact, by sending troops into N.Waziristan, Kayani will lose all respect amongst the population and lower ranks of the army. If he does not, his american masters will be most displeased.
I also find it ironic that Pak talks about strategic depth in Afghanistan, but its actually the Taliban who enjoy strategic depth in Pakistan against the US forces in Afghanistan.
The woes of an ostrich republic
Ayaz Amir Friday, June 03, 2011
When the cover was blown from Osama bin Laden’s last gift to Pakistan – his choice of residence in Abbottabad, a favour we could have done without – it was only to be expected that the guardians of national ideology would be rendered speechless. There are some situations too embarrassing for words and this was one of them.
A frank admission of failure might have been more sensible. But this being no part of the Pakistani tradition, our guardians did the next best thing: climb the ramparts and blow the trumpets of national dignity and honour. For about 10-12 days it seemed as if Pakistan was trembling on the edge of a new declaration of independence. Politicians of all hues went wild with demands for an end to foreign aid.
It took only two brief visits – the first by Senator John Kerry, the second by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with Admiral Mike Mullen in tow – to puncture this euphoric post-Osama myth of born-again national sovereignty.
Pakistan’s leadership – president, prime minister and the chief guardian himself, Gen Ashfaq Kayani – dutifully lined up before Kerry (who, it bears noting, holds no official position in the US administration) to hear him say that Pakistan’s conduct henceforth would be judged not by words but deeds.
Any doubts persisting about whether the mood of the Pakistani leadership had sobered up were laid to rest by the second visit. Hillary Clinton offered a sop to her interlocutors, something they would have been keen to hear: “...I want to stress again that we have absolutely no reason to believe anyone at the highest level of the government knew (about Osama).” But this came with a sting: “...we have reached a turning point....we look to Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead.”
What those steps were was made clear a few days later by Admiral Mullen who told American TV channels that an operation by the Pakistan army in North Waziristan was on the cards. “It’s a very important fight,” he said, “and a very important operation.”
One doesn’t have to be much of a war genius to figure out what’s going on. The Americans give the army leadership a sort of clean chit about Bin Laden but get the army to agree on a new, and potentially dangerous, operation, something Kayani and company were resisting for some time. So much for national honour and sovereignty.
And look at the ISI’s predicament. Since the Raymond Davis affair its leadership was getting hot under the collar wanting to reduce the American footprint in Pakistan. Now the same leadership has to go along with the opening of a new front in North Waziristan. In other words, taking a strong stand on a relatively small issue but helpless in the face of a larger decision.
The Peshawar corps commander has of course said that an operation in North Waziristan is not imminent and that it will be undertaken “...when we want to do it, when it is militarily and otherwise in the national interest.” While he should be applauded for his outspokenness, he forgets that we often leave it to our foreign friends to define our national interest.
The fight against terrorism should be taken forward but we should think long and hard before going into North Waziristan. This already looks like a compromised operation not because we are talking about it but because, given the present state of army morale, it is hard to imagine any unit of the Pakistan army having its heart in it when the fighting begins.
Swat and South Waziristan were different. There was hope in the air that we were about to turn a corner in our fight against extremism. There was also the feeling that military success would be complemented by something equally daring on the political front. But with no end in sight to what increasingly looks like an intractable struggle, and with the political leadership largely uninvolved (neither the president nor the prime minister having visited the troops even once) that mood has vanished, giving way to a feeling of resignation and despondency.
The effects of the Osama raid and the attack on the Mehran base should also be taken into account. With military morale not at its highest it will take a minor miracle of leadership to inject a gung-ho spirit into the units going into North Waziristan. If at all undertaken, this has to be our own operation, with our hearts and souls in it. If carried out under American pressure, there is a risk it will be a half-cocked affair.
We have to get one thing straight. That we are amenable to American pressure is not so much because of our economic vulnerability, although that too is a problem, but because of our strategic double games: fighting some militants while nurturing and supporting others because of their presumed usefulness against India. Or as future insurance policy for Afghanistan.
The foremost condition for the reclamation of sovereignty is an end to these games, a final farewell to the use of militancy as a tool of foreign policy. Support for such organisations as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and a sovereign Pakistan are mutually contradictory aims. If we want to be masters in our own house we have to rid ourselves of the bitter legacy of ‘jihad’. It has caused Pakistan nothing but unmitigated harm and given a handle to others to use against us.
And can the godfathers of national security kindly get Afghanistan out of their system? Can’t we leave it to geography and cultural proximity to work their influences? Earlier on we propped up Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Then it was the Taliban. Now it is the Haqqanis. Can’t we get over this obsession of wanting to control things in Afghanistan? We never succeeded in the past, we won’t in the future. Afghan history has not been kind to would-be controllers.
The other half of our double games flows from our perceptions about India. The lashkar-this and the jaish-that have been pawns on our Indian chessboard. Without going into the details of our Indian obsession, suffice it to say that the world has changed, the sub-continent has changed, the dragons threatening us are no longer the same.
No one is saying bend the knee before India. Why should that even be a consideration? Larger neighbours can be a problem but we must learn to live with them. There’s no other choice. We have cultivated hostility towards India and all this has done is to drag us down, warping our thoughts and making them morbid, and crippling our ability to behave and function like a normal nation.
Pakistan has two problems – just two and no other: under-development and the curse of religious fundamentalism gone wild. Both are internal problems aggravated not by any international conspiracy – Zionist, Indian or American – but by our external obsessions. Unless the army, and here the key responsibility is the army’s, breaks free from its Indian bondage – and this is a bondage – there can be no peace for Pakistan.
Just think of it, clenching our mailed fist towards India but sucking up to the United States, acting upon American demands about necessary steps, what kind of sovereignty is this?
Islam is not the state religion of Pakistan, denial is. And our national emblem should be the ostrich, given our proclivity to bury our heads in the sand and not see the landscape around us as it is.
We need a drastic change of course, that’s for sure. The kind of civilian leaders we have, their quality we know. No hope for any miracles from that quarter. As for the military side, Kayani has begun to look too much like a dated product, a rep of the old order. He has outlived his usefulness. His extension may have been a Zardari political masterstroke, serving to protect his flanks, but otherwise it wasn’t a bright idea.
We need a change of guard, both political and military, the coming of some rebels to the fore. This is Pakistan’s foremost challenge...dependent, however, on divine grace because the political spectrum, from one end to the other, presents the aspect of a desert, the level and lonely sands (echoes of Shelley) stretching far away.
Re: the first article: I think we should stay in Afghanistan only if we plan to take on the jihadi sanctuaries in Pak ourselves, or have a means to get the pak army to do the work for us. Otherwise, the talibs will play hide and seek with American forces by running back to Pak. We have now started to apply pressure on Pak to take action in N.Waziristan, this is good (10 years late), but likely to be ineffective since the paki army has no interest in that proposition. So it is time to come back from Afghanistan...since we are unwilling to take the hard decision of expanding the war (boots on the ground) into Pak.
Re: the second...its part of the "great game" in central asia. Dont know what the US objectives and interests are. My instinct is to think that the US should support its interests through proxies and friendly countries and not have a permanent physical presence there. The US is seen as a foreign occupying power, that will not be acceptable to anyone longterm (Russians, Chinese, Purelanders, Afghanis, Iranians). Only India benefits from a US presence in Afghanistan, since the US is doing some of the work for the Indians and there is atleast partial convergence of interests.
"Again to quote myself from 2001, if Pakistan were a person, he (and it would have to be a he) would have to be completely humorless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offense, and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. That last triptych of vices is intimately connected. The self-righteousness comes from the claim to represent a religion: the very name “Pakistan” is an acronym of Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and so forth, the resulting word in the Urdu language meaning “Land of the Pure.” The self-pity derives from the sad fact that the country has almost nothing else to be proud of: virtually barren of achievements and historically based on the amputation and mutilation of India in 1947 and its own self-mutilation in Bangladesh. The self-hatred is the consequence of being pathetically, permanently mendicant: an abject begging-bowl country that is nonetheless run by a super-rich and hyper-corrupt Punjabi elite. As for paranoia: This not so hypothetical Pakistani would also be a hardened anti-Semite, moaning with pleasure at the butchery of Daniel Pearl and addicted to blaming his self-inflicted woes on the all-powerful Jews."
China cannot replace USA. India would object to Chinese presence/role in Pak. To curry favor with the Chinese, Pak donated a large portion of Pak Occupied Kashmir to the chinese. Furthermore, even the Chinese dont want to get too close to purelander issues, they have enough problems with their muslim minorities. They are happy selling their junk weapons, so the Chinese are a pain in the posterior, but nothing more.
If I was Kiyani, I would be thinking of the one thing that can take pressure off the military/ISI. A war with India will unite Pak, so it is very much on the general's interests to start one. Alternatively, a large terror attack in India will force a response from India.
Saleem SS the journalist who was tortured/killed after his coverage on the attack on PNS mehran had indicated that Ilyas kashmiri (ex-special forces of Pak) was involved. Within days, SSS and now Ilyas Kashmiri are dead. The ISI turned him in. IK a noted terrorist, his death is most appreciated in India where he has carried out many operations.
IK was high up in Al-Qaeda, I would expect more revenge attacks in Pak. Reading their blogs, looks like the country is ready to fall apart. I am surprised that both Kiyani and Pasha have managed to stay on to their positions. Only a war with India can save paki H &D (honor and dignity).
Pakistan Civil War Now ON! David Caploe | Jun. 1, 2011, 6:13 AM | 445 | A A A
On May 11, we predicted the US assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad would herald the start of a civil war in Pakistan. Not too many people took it seriously, but in the past two days that grim prophecy has been brutally confirmed. The headline event in the New York Times is the killing this past weekend of the courageous Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shehzad by members of the organization we identified as the key player in the Islamic country's politics, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, usually known as the ISI. But the real story isn't simply the death of another journalist in Pakistan, a grim category in which it is a world leader. Rather, it was the story Shehzad was working on -- the internal divisions within the ISI, which, again, we said would be the fault line out of which would erupt the Pakistan earthquake. Shehzad had been receiving threats from the ISI for about three years because of his reporting that often relied on sources inside the intelligence agencies and inside the Taliban and other militant groups. Which, of course, was exactly our point: That every major player in Pakistani politics -- including the Taliban -- is riven with significant internal conflicts, some about power and personalities, but most significantly about policy: namely, does Pakistan's future lie with the militants of Sunni political Islam -- or with the slavishly pro-Western lackeys -- or, even more potentially de-stabilizing, with genuinely democratic elements that reject both political Islam AND being the local agents of the US ? The key event about which Shehzad was writing, and which was the direct cause of his death after three years of direct threats by Islamist elements within the ISI ? A 16-hour battle that ensued at the navy's main base in Karachi when six -- please note, SIX -- attackers climbed over a wall and blew up two American-made naval surveillance planes. Now, do you think SIX attackers of the navy's main base could have set off a 16-hour battle WITHOUT the help of at least SOME people inside ? Not very likely, is it ? Coming soon after the American raid on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden, which caught the Pakistani Army and Air Force flat-footed, the attack on the naval base has shocked the entire country. The armed forces chiefs have been deeply angered by the humiliation they have suffered from both episodes, and in particular the many questions raised about their competence by Pakistan’s increasingly rambunctious media. Like we said in the immediate aftermath of Osama's killing, Pakistan's civil war is now going to become THE main event in the Arab / Muslim / Indian world.
A few posts back, I posted an article by SSS, re: the recent attack on PNS Mehran. For his troubles the ISI took care of him.
Missing journalist Shahzad found dead Missing journalist Shahzad found dead By Munawer Azeem and Waseem Ashraf Butt | From the Newspaper (1 hour ago) Today
Saleem Shahzad, who was the bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times, an online publication, and the Italian news agency Adnkronos (AKI) and had worked for the Dawn Media Group’s evening newspaper Star for over a decade, was known for his investigative reporting on militancy and Al Qaeda. He had moved to Islamabad after Star closed down in 2007. – File Photo by AP
ISLAMABAD / GUJRAT: Tuesday added another chapter to the bloody history of Pakistan’s press freedom record when the body of missing journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was found.
It was confirmed by the capital police as well as its counterparts in Mandi Bahauddin that a body buried in a local graveyard at Mandi Bahauddin was suspected to be that of Shahzad, an Islamabad-based journalist who had gone missing from the capital on Sunday evening. He had disappeared en route to a news channel’s office in Sector F-6 from his house in F-8/4.
Shahzad, who was the bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times, an online publication, and the Italian news agency Adnkronos (AKI) and had worked for the Dawn Media Group’s evening newspaper Star for over a decade, was known for his investigative reporting on militancy and Al Qaeda. He had moved to Islamabad after Star closed down in 2007.
His book, “Inside Al-Qaeda & the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11”, had recently been published.
After his disappearance, the Human Rights Watch alleged that Shahzad had been picked up by the ISI and that the intelligence agency had threatened him last year as well when he had reported on the quiet release of Mullah Baradar, an aide to Mullah Omar, who had been captured by Pakistan earlier.
Ali Dayan, Pakistan researcher for HRW, also made public an email that Shahzad had sent then with the instructions to make it public in case something happened to him. The email provided Shahzad’s account of a meeting he held with two ISI officials on October 17, 2010.
After he disappeared on Sunday, there were allegations that he had been picked up by the ISI because of his recent story on the PNS Mehran base attack. Shahzad had reported that the attack took place after the Navy identified and interrogated a few of its lower-level officers for their ties with Al Qaeda.
Reporters without Borders also released a statement after Shahzad’s death was confirmed which said: “Experienced journalists in Islamabad said they suspected that Shahzad was kidnapped and executed by the military intelligence agency known as the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)…
“Sources close to Shahzad said he had reported getting several warnings from the security agencies in the past… This would tend to support the theory that he was kidnapped and killed in connection with his coverage of the attack on the naval base.”
On Tuesday it came to light that the body found at Head Rasul a day earlier was of the missing journalist. He was identified from the photos taken of the corpse on Tuesday during the postmortem at District Headquarters Hospital Mandi Bahauddin.
The police force’s efficiency knew no bounds on Tuesday. First the police force of Sara-i-Alamgir found an abandoned Toyota Corolla, which belonged to Shahzad, near the Upper Jhelum Canal. The vehicle, which had gone missing along with the journalist, had a broken window and a damaged ignition switch, hinting at car theft.
The police also found two CNICs and press cards, as well as other documents pertaining to Shahzad. They then contacted the Margalla police in Islamabad.
Once the police from Islamabad examined the car and determined its owner’s identity, they were informed by their counterparts that the Mandi Bahauddin police had found a body a day earlier.
According to the details collected by Dawn, some passersby spotted a corpse in the water on Monday. The Head Rasul police shifted the body to the DHQ.
Unusually quickly for Pakistani police, all legal formalities were completed, the autopsy was conducted on the unidentified body and it was handed over to Edhi Centre for burial. It was interred at the local graveyard temporarily.
According to the police, the postmortem report said that Shahzad had been subjected to severe torture. The report said he had 15 major injuries including fractured ribs and deep wounds on the abdomen.
It was also evident that the journalist’s hands and feet had been tied as there were marks on his wrists and ankles. However, his hands and feet were not tied when he was found.
The police said that the victim had been killed in the early hours of Monday.
The Mandi Bahauddin police told the capital police that there was no mortuary at the DHQ and Edhi Centre to keep the body; hence the pace at which it was buried.
The family, which was contacted by the capital police, identified him from the photographs, clothes and cards. Shahzad leaves behind a widow and three children.
Since the reports were first aired about the car and the body, condemnations had been pouring in from far and wide.
Human rights organisations, journalists and government officials were quick to condemn the incident. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also ordered an immediate inquiry into the kidnapping and murder.
The recently reported assassination was a propaganda ploy aimed at targeting Pakistan. To understand this, it is necessary to examine how America has, in recent years, altered its strategy in Pakistan in the direction of destabilization. In short, Pakistan is an American target. The reason: Pakistan’s growing military and strategic ties to China, America’s primary global strategic rival. In the ‘Great Game’ for global hegemony, any country that impedes America’s world primacy – even one as historically significant to America as Pakistan – may be sacrificed upon the altar of war.
Part 1 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’ examines the changing views of the American strategic community – particularly the military and intelligence circles – towards Pakistan. In particular, there is a general acknowledgement that Pakistan will very likely continue to be destabilized and ultimately collapse. What is not mentioned in these assessments, however, is the role of the military and intelligence communities in making this a reality; a veritable self-fulfilling prophecy. This part also examines the active on the ground changes in American strategy in Pakistan, with increasing military incursions into the country.
Imperial Eye on Pakistan
In December of 2000, the CIA released a report of global trends to the year 2015, which stated that by 2015, “Pakistan will be more fractious, isolated, and dependent on international financial assistance.” Further, it was predicted, Pakistan:
Will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive politics, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction. Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties. Further domestic decline would benefit Islamic political activists, who may significantly increase their role in national politics and alter the makeup and cohesion of the military – once Pakistan’s most capable institution. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the central government’s control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi.
The report further analyzed the trends developing in relation to the Pakistan-India standoff in the region:
The threat of major conflict between India and Pakistan will overshadow all other regional issues during the next 15 years. Continued turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan will spill over into Kashmir and other areas of the subcontinent, prompting Indian leaders to take more aggressive preemptive and retaliatory actions. India’s conventional military advantage over Pakistan will widen as a result of New Delhi’s superior economic position.
In 2005, the Times of India reported on a US National Intelligence Council report, written in conjunction with the CIA, which predicted a “Yugoslavia-like fate” for Pakistan, saying that, “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation.”
In November of 2008, the US National Intelligence Council released a report, “Global Trends 2025,” in which they outlined major trends in the world by the year 2025. When it came to Pakistan, the report stated that, “Ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and Pakistan continue to raise the specter that such events could escalate to a broader conflict between those nuclear powers.” It stated that Pakistan “will be at risk of state failure.” In examining potential failed states, the report stated that:
[Y]outh bulges, deeply rooted conflicts, and limited economic prospects are likely to keep Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and others in the high-risk category. Spillover from turmoil in these states and potentially others increases the chance that moves elsewhere in the region toward greater prosperity and political stability will be rocky.
The report referred to Pakistan as a “wildcard” and stated that if it is “unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line [separating Pakistan from Afghanistan], maximizing Pashtun space at the expense of Punjabis in Pakistan and Tajiks and others in Afghanistan.”
In January of 2009, a Pentagon report analyzing geopolitical trends of significance to the US military over the next 25 years, reported that Pakistan could face a “rapid and sudden” collapse. It stated that, “Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons,” and as such, “that ‘perfect storm' of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger.”
A top adviser to former President George Bush and current President Obama warned in April of 2009, that Pakistan could collapse within months, and that, “We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now.” The adviser and consultant, David Kilcullen, explained that this would be unlike the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which each had a population of over 30 million, whereas “Pakistan has  million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control.”
Going back to the later years of the Bush administration, it is apparent that the US strategy in Pakistan was already changing in seeing it increasingly as a target for military operations as opposed to simply a conduit. In August of 2007, newly uncovered documents revealed that the US military “gave elite units broad authority” in 2004, “to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.”
In November of 2007, an op-ed in the New York Times stated categorically that, “the United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss,” and that, “we need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.” The authors, Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon are both well-known strategists and scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution, two of the most prominent and influential think tanks in the United States. While stating that Pakistan’s leaders are still primarily moderate and friendly to the US, “Americans felt similarly about the shah’s regime in Iran until it was too late,” referring to the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. They warn:
The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.
They state that the military solutions are “daunting” as Pakistan is a nation of 187 million people, roughly five times the size of Iraq. They wrote that, “estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size,” which led them to conclude, “Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.” They suggested one plan would be to deploy Special Forces “with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hand.” However, they admit that, “even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate.” Another option, they contend:
would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership. This would require a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.
The authors concluded, saying that any state decline in Pakistan would likely be gradual, therefore allowing the US to have time to respond, and placed an emphasis on securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and combating militants. They finished the article with the warning: “Pakistan may be the next big test.”
In December of 2007, the Asia Times Online ran a story about the US plan to rid Pakistan of President Musharraf, and that the US and the West, more broadly, had begun a strategy aimed at toppling Pakistan’s military. As part of this, the US launched a media campaign aimed at demonizing Pakistan’s military establishment. At this time, Benazir Bhutto was criticizing the ISI, suggesting they needed a dramatic restructuring, and at the same time, reports were appearing in the US media blaming the ISI for funding and providing assistance to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. While much of this is documented, the fact that it suddenly emerged as talking points with several western officials and in the media does suggest a turn-around against a long-time ally.
Both Democratic and Republican politicians were making statements that Pakistan represented a greater threat than Iran, and then-Senator (now Vice President) Joseph Biden suggested that the United States needed to put soldiers on the ground in Pakistan in cooperation with the “international community.” Biden said that, “We should be in there,” and “we should be supplying tens of millions of dollars to build new schools to compete with the madrassas. We should be in there building democratic institutions. We should be in there, and get the rest of the world in there, giving some structure to the emergence of, hopefully, the reemergence of a democratic process.”
In American policy-strategy circles, officials openly began discussing the possibility of Pakistan breaking up into smaller states, and increasing discussion that Musharraf was going to be “removed,” which obviously happened. As the Asia Times stated:
Another worrying thing is how US officials are publicly signaling to the Pakistanis that Bhutto has their backing as the next leader of the country. Such signals from Washington are not only a kiss of death for any public leader in Pakistan, but the Americans also know that their actions are inviting potential assassins to target Bhutto.
If she is killed in this way, there won't be enough time to find the real culprit, but what's certain is that unprecedented international pressure will be placed on Islamabad while everyone will use their local assets to create maximum internal chaos in the country.
Of course, this subsequently happened in Pakistan. As the author of the article pointed out with startlingly accurate foresight, “Getting Bhutto killed can generate the kind of pressure that could result in permanently putting the Pakistani military on a back foot, giving Washington enough room to push for installing a new pliant leadership in Islamabad.” He observed that, “the US is very serious this time. They cannot let Pakistan get out of their hands.”
Thus, it would appear that the new US strategic aim in Pakistan was focused on removing the Pakistani military from power, implying the need to replace Musharraf, and replace him with a new, compliant civilian leadership. This would have the effect of fracturing the Pakistani elite, threatening the Army’s influence within Pakistani politics, and undertaking more direct control of Pakistan’s government.
As if on cue, in late December it was reported that, “US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.”
The New York Times ran an article in early January 2008, which reported that, “President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.” The article stated that the new strategy was purportedly in response to increased reports of Al-Qaeda and Taliban activity within Pakistan, which “are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government.” Bush’s National Security team supposedly organized this effort in response to Bhutto’s assassination 10 days previously.
Officials involved in the strategy discussions said that some “options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with the military’s Special Operations forces,” and one official said, “After years of focusing on Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize — creating chaos in Pakistan itself.” Of pivotal importance to the strategy, as the Times reported: “Critics said more direct American military action would be ineffective, anger the Pakistani Army and increase support for the militants.” Perhaps this is not simply a “side-effect” of the proposed strategy, but in fact, part of the strategy.
As one prominent Pakistani political and military analyst pointed out, raids into Pakistan would expand anger and “prompt a powerful popular backlash” against the Pakistani government, losing popular support. However, as I previously stated, this might be the intention, as this would ultimately make the government more dependent upon the United States, and thus, more subservient.
On September 3, 2008, it was reported that a commando raid by US Special Forces was launched in Pakistan, which killed between 15 and 20 people, including women and children. The Special Forces were accompanied by five U.S. helicopters for the duration of the operation.
In February of 2009, it was reported that, “More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas.” So not only are U.S. Special Forces invading Pakistani territory; but now US military advisers are secretly advising the Pakistani Army on its own operations, and the advisers are themselves primary made up of Special Forces soldiers. They provide the Pakistani Army “with intelligence and advising on combat tactics,” and make up a secret command run by US Central Command and Special Operations Command (presumably JSOC – Joint Special Operations Command).
In May of 2009, it was reported that, “the U.S. is sending Special Forces teams into one of Pakistan's most violent regions as part of a push to accelerate the training of the Pakistani military and make it a more effective ally in the fight against insurgents there.” The Special Forces were deploying to two training camps in the province of Baluchistan, and “will focus on training Pakistan's Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force responsible for battling the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.” Further, the project “is a joint effort with the U.K.,” which helps “fund the training, although it is unclear if British military personnel would take part in the initiative. British officials have been pushing for such an effort for several years.”
In December of 2009 it was revealed that, “American special forces have conducted multiple clandestine raids into Pakistan's tribal areas as part of a secret war in the border region where Washington is pressing to expand its drone assassination programme,” which was revealed by a former NATO officer. He said these incursions had occurred between 2003 and 2008, indicating they go even further back than US military documents stipulate. The source further revealed that, “the Pakistanis were kept entirely in the dark about it. It was one of those things we wouldn't confirm officially with them.” Further, as the source noted, British “SAS soldiers have been active in the province” of Bolochistan in 2002 and 2003 and “possibly beyond.”
The “Balkanization” of Pakistan: Blaming the Pakistanis
Selig S. Harrison is a director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former journalist and correspondent. “His reputation for giving ‘early warning’ of foreign policy crises was well established during his career as a foreign correspondent. In his study of foreign reporting, Between Two Worlds, John Hohenberg, former secretary of the Pulitzer Prize Board, cited Harrison’s prediction of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war eighteen months before it happened.” Further, “More than a year before the Russians invaded Afghanistan, Harrison warned of this possibility in one of his frequent contributions to the influential journal Foreign Policy.”
On February 1, 2008, Selig Harrison threw his renowned “predictive” abilities on Pakistan in an op-ed for the New York Times in the run-up to the Pakistani elections. He started by stating that, “Whatever the outcome of the Pakistani elections, now scheduled for Feb. 18, the existing multiethnic Pakistani state is not likely to survive for long unless it is radically restructured.” Harrison then went on to explain that Pakistan would likely break up along ethnic lines; with the Pashtuns, concentrated in the northwestern tribal areas, the Sindhis in the southeast uniting with the Baluch tribesmen in the southwest, with the Punjab “rump state” of Pakistan.
The Pashtuns in the north, “would join with their ethnic brethren across the Afghan border (some 40 million of them combined) to form an independent ‘Pashtunistan’,” and the Sindhis “numbering 23 million, would unite with the six million Baluch tribesmen in the southwest to establish a federation along the Arabian Sea from India to Iran,” presumably named Baluchistan; while the rump state of Pakistan would remain Punjabi dominated and in control of the nuclear weapons. Selig Harrison explained that prior to partition from India, which led to the creation of the Pakistani state in 1947, Pashtun, Sindhi and Baluch ethnicities had “resist[ed] Punjabi domination for centuries,” and suddenly:
they found themselves subjected to Punjabi-dominated military regimes that have appropriated many of the natural resources in the minority provinces — particularly the natural gas deposits in the Baluch areas — and siphoned off much of the Indus River’s waters as they flow through the Punjab.
The resulting Punjabi-Pashtun animosity helps explain why the United States is failing to get effective Pakistani cooperation in fighting terrorists. The Pashtuns living along the Afghan border are happy to give sanctuary from Punjabi forces to the Taliban, which is composed primarily of fellow Pashtuns, and to its Qaeda friends.
Pashtun civilian casualties resulting from Pakistani and American air strikes on both sides of the border are breeding a potent underground Pashtun nationalist movement. Its initial objective is to unite all Pashtuns in Pakistan, now divided among political jurisdictions, into a unified province. In time, however, its leaders envisage full nationhood.
... The Baluch people, for their part, have been waging intermittent insurgencies since their forced incorporation into Pakistan in 1947. In the current warfare Pakistani forces are widely reported to be deploying American-supplied aircraft and intelligence equipment that was intended for use in Afghan border areas. Their victims are forging military links with Sindhi nationalist groups that have been galvanized into action by the death of Benazir Bhutto, a Sindhi hero as was her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
This passage is very revealing of the processes and perceptions surrounding “Balkanization” and “destabilization.” What I mean by this, is that historically and presently, imperial powers would often use ethnic groups against each other in a strategy of divide and conquer, in order “to keep the barbarians from coming together” and dominate the region.
Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard,” that, “Geopolitics has moved from the regional to the global dimension, with preponderance over the entire Eurasian continent serving as the central basis for global primacy.” Brzezinski then gave a masterful explanation of the American global strategy, which placed it into a firm imperialistic context:
To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
While imperial powers manipulate, and historically, even create the ethnic groups within regions and nations, the West portrays conflict in such regions as being the product of these “ethnic” or “tribal” rivalries. This perception of the East (Asia and the Middle East) as well as Africa is referred to as Orientalism or Eurocentrism: meaning it generally portrays the East (and/or Africa) as “the Other”: inherently different and often barbaric. This prejudiced perspective is prevalent in Western academic, media, and policy circles. This perspective serves a major purpose: dehumanizing a people in a region that an imperial power seeks to dominate, which allows the hegemon to manipulate the people and divide them against each other, while framing them as “backwards” and “barbaric,” which in turn, justifies the Western imperial power exerting hegemony and control over the region; to “protect” the people from themselves.
Historically and presently, Western empires have divided people against each other, blamed the resulting conflict on the people themselves, and thus justified their control over both the people, and the region they occupy. This was the strategy employed in major recent geopolitical conflicts such as the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide. In both cases, Western imperial ambitions were met through exacerbating ethnic rivalries, providing financial, technical, and military aid and training to various factions; thus, spreading violent conflict, war, and genocide. In both cases, Western, and primarily American strategic interests were met through an increased presence militarily, pushing out other major imperial and powerful rivals, as well as increasing Western access to key economics resources.
This is the lens through which we must view the unfolding situation in Pakistan. However, the situation in Pakistan presents a far greater potential for conflict and devastation than either Yugoslavia or Rwanda. In short, the potential strategy of “Balkanization” and destabilization of Pakistan could dwarf any major global conflict in the past few decades. It’s sheer population of 187 million people, proximity to two major regional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its strategic location as neighbor to India, China, and Iran with access to the Indian Ocean, and its nuclear arsenal, combine to make Pakistan the potential trigger for a much wider regional and possibly global war. The destabilization of Pakistan has the potential to be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe since World War II.
Thus, Selig Harrison’s op-ed in the New York Times in which he describes the “likely” breakup of Pakistan along ethnic lines as a result of “ethnic differences” must be viewed in the wider context of geopolitical ambitions. His article lays the foundation both for the explanation of a potential breakup, and thus the “justification” for Western intervention in the conflict. His “predictive” capacities as a seasoned journalist can be alternatively viewed as pre-emptive imperial propaganda.
The war in Afghanistan is inherently related to the situation in Pakistan. From the days of the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s, arms and money were flowing through Pakistan to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. During the civil war that followed, Pakistan armed and financed the Taliban, which eventually took power. When the U.S. and NATO initially attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, this was primarily achieved through cooperation with Pakistan. When the war theatre was re-named “AfPak,” the role of Pakistan, however, was formally altered. While the previous few years had seen the implementation of a strategy of destabilizing Pakistan, once the “AfPak” war theatre was established, Pakistan ceased to be as much of a conduit or proxy state and became a target.
In September of 2008, the editor of Indian Defence Review wrote an article explaining that a stable Pakistan is not in India’s interests: “With Pakistan on the brink of collapse due to massive internal as well as international contradictions, it is matter of time before it ceases to exist.” He explained that Pakistan’s collapse would bring “multiple benefits” to India, including preventing China from gaining a major port in the Indian Ocean, which is in the mutual interest of the United States. The author explained that this would be a “severe jolt” to China’s expansionist aims, and further, “India’s access to Central Asian energy routes will open up.”
In August of 2009, Foreign Policy Journal published a report of an exclusive interview they held with former Pakistani ISI chief Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who was Director General of the powerful intelligence services (ISI) between 1987 and 1989, at a time in which it was working closely with the CIA to fund and arm the Mujahideen. Once a close ally of the US, he is now considered extremely controversial and the US even recommended the UN to put him on the international terrorist list. Gul explained that he felt that the American people have not been told the truth about 9/11, and that the 9/11 Commission was a “cover up,” pointing out that, “They [the American government] haven’t even proved the case that 9/11 was done by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.” He said that the real reasons for the war on Afghanistan were that:
the U.S. wanted to “reach out to the Central Asian oilfields” and “open the door there”, which “was a requirement of corporate America, because the Taliban had not complied with their desire to allow an oil and gas pipeline to pass through Afghanistan. UNOCAL is a case in point. They wanted to keep the Chinese out. They wanted to give a wider security shield to the state of Israel, and they wanted to include this region into that shield. And that’s why they were talking at that time very hotly about ‘greater Middle East’. They were redrawing the map.”
He also stated that part of the reason for going into Afghanistan was “to go for Pakistan’s nuclear capability,” as the U.S. “signed this strategic deal with India, and this was brokered by Israel. So there is a nexus now between Washington, Tel Aviv, and New Delhi.” When he was asked about the Pakistani Taliban, which the Pakistani government was being pressured to fight, and where the financing for that group came from; Gul stated:
Yeah, of course they are getting it from across the Durand line, from Afghanistan. And the Mossad is sitting there, RAW is sitting there — the Indian intelligence agency — they have the umbrella of the U.S. And now they have created another organization which is called RAMA. It may be news to you that very soon this intelligence agency — of course, they have decided to keep it covert — but it is Research and Analysis Milli Afghanistan. That’s the name. The Indians have helped create this organization, and its job is mainly to destabilize Pakistan.
He explained that the Chief of Staff of the Afghan Army had told him that he had gone to India to offer the Indians five bases in Afghanistan, three of which are along the Pakistani border. Gul was asked a question as to why, if the West was supporting the TTP (Pakistani Taliban), would a CIA drone have killed the leader of the TTP. Gul explained that while Pakistan was fighting directly against the TTP leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani government would provide the Americans where Mehsud was, “three times the Pakistan intelligence tipped off America, but they did not attack him.” So why all of a sudden did they attack?
Because there were some secret talks going on between Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani military establishment. They wanted to reach a peace agreement, and if you recall there is a long history of our tribal areas, whenever a tribal militant has reached a peace agreement with the government of Pakistan, Americans have without any hesitation struck that target.
... there was some kind of a deal which was about to be arrived at — they may have already cut a deal. I don’t know. I don’t have enough information on that. But this is my hunch, that Baitullah was killed because now he was trying to reach an agreement with the Pakistan army. And that’s why there were no suicide attacks inside Pakistan for the past six or seven months.
An article in one of Canada’s national magazines, Macleans, reported on an interview with a Pakistani ISI spy, who claimed that India’s intelligence services, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), have “tens of thousands of RAW agents in Pakistan.” Many officials inside Pakistan were convinced that, “India’s endgame is nothing less than the breakup of Pakistan. And the RAW is no novice in that area. In the 1960s, it was actively involved in supporting separatists in Bangladesh, at the time East Pakistan. The eventual victory of Bangladeshi nationalism in 1971 was in large part credited to the support the RAW gave the secessionists.”
Further, there were Indian consulates set up in Kandahar, the area of Afghanistan where Canadian troops are located, and which is strategically located next to the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which is home to a virulent separatist movement, of which Pakistan claims is being supported by India. Macleans reported on the conclusions by Michel Chossudovsky, economics professor at University of Ottawa, that, “the region’s massive gas and oil reserves are of strategic interest to the U.S. and India. A gas pipeline slated to be built from Iran to India, two countries that already enjoy close ties, would run through Baluchistan. The Baluch separatist movement, which is also active in Iran, offers an ideal proxy for both the U.S. and India to ensure their interests are met.”
Even an Afghan government adviser told the media that India was using Afghan territory to destabilize Pakistan. In September of 2009, the Pakistan Daily reported that captured members and leaders of the Pakistani Taliban have admitted to being trained and armed by India through RAW or RAMA in Afghanistan in order to fight the Pakistani Army.
Foreign Policy magazine in February of 2009 quoted a former intelligence official as saying, “The Indians are up to their necks in supporting the Taliban against the Pakistani government in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and that, “the same anti-Pakistani forces in Afghanistan also shooting at American soldiers are getting support from India. India should close its diplomatic establishments in Afghanistan and get the Christ out of there.”
The Council on Foreign Relations published a backgrounder report on RAW, India’s intelligence agency, founded in 1968 “primarily to counter China's influence, [however] over time it has shifted its focus to India's other traditional rival, Pakistan.” For over three decades both Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies have been involved in covert operations against one another. One of RAW’s main successes was its covert operations in East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, which “aimed at fomenting independence sentiment” and ultimately led to the separation of Bangladesh by directly funding, arming and training the Pakistani separatists. Further, as the Council on Foreign Relations noted, “From the early days, RAW had a secret liaison relationship with the Mossad, Israel's external intelligence agency.”
Since RAW was founded in 1968, it had developed close ties with the Afghan intelligence agency, KHAD, primarily to do with intelligence sharing on Pakistan. In the 1980s, while Pakistan was funding, arming and training the Afghan Mujahideen with the support of Saudi Arabia and the CIA, India was funding two covert groups which orchestrated terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, which included a “low-grade but steady campaign of bombings in major Pakistani cities, notably Karachi and Lahore.” RAW has also had a close relationship with the CIA, as even six years before RAW was created, in 1962, the CIA created a covert organization made up of Tibetan refugees, which aimed to “execute deep-penetration terror operations in China.” The CIA subsequently played a part in the creation of RAW. In the 1980s, while the CIA was working closely with the ISI in Pakistan, RAW, while wary of their relationship, continued to get counterterrorism training from the CIA.
In October of 2009, the New York Times reported that the US strategy “to vastly expand its aid to Pakistan, as well as the footprint of its embassy and private security contractors here, are aggravating an already volatile anti-American mood as Washington pushes for greater action by the government against the Taliban.” The U.S. gave Pakistan an aid deal of $1.5 billion per year for the next five years, under the stipulation of “Pakistan to cease supporting terrorist groups on its soil and to ensure that the military does not interfere with civilian politics.” President Zaradari accepted the proposal, making him even more unpopular in Pakistan, and further angering Pakistan’s powerful military, which sees the deal as interfering in the internal affairs of the country.
America is thus expanding its embassy and security presence within the country, as the Embassy “has publicized plans for a vast new building in Islamabad for about 1,000 people, with security for some diplomats provided through a Washington-based private contracting company, DynCorp.” The NYT article referred to how relations were becoming increasingly strained between Pakistan and the US, and tensions were growing within the country exponentially, as “the American presence was fueling a sense of occupation among Pakistani politicians and security officials,” and several Pakistani officials stated that, “the United States was now seen as behaving in Pakistan much as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Futher:
In particular, the Pakistani military and the intelligence agencies are concerned that DynCorp is being used by Washington to develop a parallel network of security and intelligence personnel within Pakistan, officials and politicians close to the army said.
The concerns are serious enough that last month a local company hired by DynCorp to provide Pakistani men to be trained as security guards for American diplomats was raided by the Islamabad police. The owner of the company, the Inter-Risk Security Company, Capt. Syed Ali Ja Zaidi, was later arrested.
The action against Inter-Risk, apparently intended to cripple the DynCorp program, was taken on orders from the senior levels of the Pakistani government, said an official familiar with the raid, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
The entire workings of DynCorp within Pakistan are now under review by the Pakistani government.
As revealed in the Wikileaks diplomatic cables, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson wrote in September of 2009 that the U.S. strategy of unilateral strikes inside Pakistan “risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan without finally achieving the goal.”
In an interview with Press TV, Hamid Gul, former Inter-Services Intelligence chief revealed more of what he sees as the US strategy in Pakistan. He explained that with the massive expansion of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and alongside that, the increased security staff, the Chinese are becoming increasingly concerned with the sovereignty and security of Pakistan. He claimed that the money that the US government offered (with heavy conditions) to Pakistan, $1.5 billion every year for five years, will be spent under the direction of the Americans, and that “they are going to set up a large intelligence network inside Pakistan,” and ultimately “they really want to go for Pakistan's nuclear assets.” He further claimed that the Indians are trying to destabilize Pakistan; however, he explained, this does not necessarily mean disintegrate, but rather:
they are trying to destabilize Pakistan at the moment so that it feels weak and economically has to go begging on its knees to Americans and ask for succor and help. And in that process they will want to expect certain concessions with regards to nuclear power and also with regards to setting up their facilities here in Pakistan.
When he was asked what America’s long-term goal was in regards to Pakistan, Gul responded that the goal:
for America is that they want to keep Pakistan destabilized; perhaps create a way for Baluchistan as a separate state and then create problems for Iran so that this new state will talk about greater Baluchistan... So it appears that the long-term objectives are really to fragment all these countries to an extent that they can establish a strip that would be pro-America, pro-India, pro-Israel. So this seems to be their long-term objective apart from denuclearizing Pakistan and blocking Iran's progress in the nuclear field.
In Part 2 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’, I will examine the specific ways in which the American strategy of destabilization is being undertaken in Pakistan, including the waging of a secret war and the expansion of the Afghan war into Pakistani territory. In short, the military and intelligence projections for Pakistan over the next several years (discussed in the beginning of Part 1 above) are a self-fulfilling prophecy, as those very same military and intelligence agencies that predict a destabilized Pakistan and potential collapse are now undertaking strategies aimed at achieving those outcomes.
"4. Dissect Pakistan into three smaller states -- Baluchistan for the Baluchi separatists including the city of Quetta, Pashtunistan for the Pashtun separatists covering the Pashtun tribal areas including Peshawar and the border areas, and Pakistan proper including Lahore and the Karachi areas. The ongoing domestic dissent in the Pashtun and Baluchi areas are rooted in the exploitative and discriminatory practices of the ruling class of Pakistan -- the Lahore elite -- who have alienated those groups. 5. Create a strong civilian government in Pakistan by dismantling the ISI, reducing Pakistan's military prowess and supporting the educated and secular population. Pakistan has a strong judiciary and press at this time. A strong civilian government is needed to implement democratic institutions and processes."
"The list also includes Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani network, the most violent group in the Afghan Taliban and believed to be run out of the Pakistani tribal areas; Ilyas Kashmiri, a senior member of al Qaeda once dubbed “the next Osama bin Laden”; and Atiya Abdel Rahman, the Libyan operations chief of al Qaeda who had emerged as a key intermediary between bin Laden and al Qaeda’s affiliate networks across the world.
The list was discussed during three separate meetings between senior Pakistani and US officials in the past two weeks, including today in Islamabad with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a US official, a Pakistani government official and a Pakistani intelligence official.
The United States views the list as a test of whether Pakistan is serious about fighting terrorists who have long enjoyed safe havens within its borders. But the list does not only include militants the United States wants Pakistan to target. In the case of Omar, the United States is interested in determining whether he can be part of political reconciliation in Afghanistan, and is pushing the Pakistanis to facilitate such an outcome, according to two US officials. The United States has already opened a dialogue with a man believed to be an emissary of Omar, according to two senior Afghan officials, but is proceeding cautiously.
Clinton and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, who flew into Islamabad ahead of Clinton, today urged Pakistan to support that process and do nothing to scuttle it, according to senior administration officials. Pakistani intelligence officials have in the past admitted they detained Afghan Taliban leaders who expressed a willingness to reconcile.
Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Clinton declined to address specific names but said the United States expects Pakistan to authorize “joint action against al Qaeda and its affiliates,” adding, “there is still much more work required, and it is urgent.”
As a matter of retribution, the United Sates has several options when duplicity is firmly ascertained via bin Laden tapes and computer files.
1. Take out Pakistan's atomic facilities, thereby neutralizing its ability to detonate atomic weapons in any future conflicts. 2. Dismantle the ISI apparatus and arrest its leadership for crimes against humanity, including judicial criminal prosecutions that have caused the death and dismemberment of thousands of American soldiers and Afghan soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan. But for Pakistan's duplicity, the United States and Afghanistan would not have suffered sustained casualties inside Afghanistan. ISI of Pakistan was the ring leader of a criminal conspiracy whose members included bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Jalaluddin Huqqani group, the Mullah Mohammad Omar and the Afghani Taliban, and the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar group. 3. Impose war reparation upon Pakistan equal to the present and future value of the following: Work-life earnings loss and the value of life of every American and Afghan soldier and civilian killed since 2001, and the present value and future value of every American and Afghan soldier and civilian who sustained partial or total disabilities for the remainder of their life, plus the military and civilian expenditures of the U.S. war in Afghanistan since 2001 (had Pakistan turned over bin Laden to the U.S. in 2001, there would have been no U.S. war involvement in Afghanistan. Plus $20 billion -- the amount of assistance that Pakistan has received from the United Sates since 2001, plus punitive damages for bad faith. 4. Dissect Pakistan into three smaller states -- Baluchistan for the Baluchi separatists including the city of Quetta, Pashtunistan for the Pashtun separatists covering the Pashtun tribal areas including Peshawar and the border areas, and Pakistan proper including Lahore and the Karachi areas. The ongoing domestic dissent in the Pashtun and Baluchi areas are rooted in the exploitative and discriminatory practices of the ruling class of Pakistan -- the Lahore elite -- who have alienated those groups. 5. Create a strong civilian government in Pakistan by dismantling the ISI, reducing Pakistan's military prowess and supporting the educated and secular population. Pakistan has a strong judiciary and press at this time. A strong civilian government is needed to implement democratic institutions and processes. 6. At a minimum, Pakistan must turn over to the United States Gulbuddin Hekmatyar from the Peshawar area, Jalaluddin Haqqani from the northern Waziristan area and Mullah Mohammad Omar from Quetta, Baluchistan area. These insurgents are shooting at American and Afghan soldiers inside Afghanistan and enjoy safe havens that are provided by ISI and are being sheltered in Pakistan.
It is extraordinary that Pakistan's former president, Mr. Musharraf, still denies that he knew where bin Laden was residing in Pakistan while the current prime minister, Mr. Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the Pakistani parliament are trying to shift the debate from Pakistan's duplicity to the American violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. They believe that the rubric of sovereignty will save the day for them. Not so. The Navy SEALs' possession and custody of bin Laden's computer files and tapes will end that debate, which may identify Pakistan as the most dangerous nation on earth.
Nake M. Kamrany is professor of economics and director of program in law and economics at the University of Southern California and a member of California Bar.
25 May 2011: Three complex and inter-related narratives drive terrorism in Pakistan. And the Pakistani Taliban attack on the Karachi naval base that killed a dozen commandoes and destroyed two US-supplied Orions could mark the beginning of the end of Pakistan and its replacement by an Islamist caliphate with nuclear weapons. The reasoning for this goes thus:
The so-called "mujahideen" war against the Soviet Union beginning in the late-Seventies marked a phase of the most unity between the terrorists and its state backers, the US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and (quietly) China. Once the Soviets left Afghanistan, the Americans turned their back, the Saudis patronized the Taliban if only to keep terrorism away from home, and Pakistan hoped to replicate the "mujahideen" experiment in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan army and ISI have wanted strategic depth in Afghanistan against India, even though this makes little sense after Pakistan became a declared nuclear power in 1998. Control of Afghanistan for Pakistan also means muting opposition of the Pashtuns to the Durand Line which they correctly believe divides a greater Pakhtunistan between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan and the United States created and financed the Taliban to take over Afghanistan from the "mujahideen" who fell out with one another once in power. The US needed a stable Afghanistan to pipe out hydrocarbons from Central Asia for final evacuation from a Pakistani warm-water port. Pakistan had strategic interests in Afghanistan in relation to India and the Pashtun question as explained before. The only opposition to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan came from the Northern Alliance backed by Russia, Iran, Central Asian republics and India. Nine-eleven changed Pakistan's cozy equations in Afghanistan. The US war in Afghanistan deprived the Taliban/ Al-Qaeda of state power. With the assistance of the Pakistan army and ISI, their leaders were settled in FATA and later in Quetta. Pakistan was forced to ally in the US war because otherwise it had been warned of being "bombed back to the Stone Age". FATA has always been a lawless area. Its fiercely Islamist tribes are very independent. As a launch pad for the Afghan "mujahideen" war, it became a melting pot for jihadis of several nations. In the thirty-two years since the start of the "mujahideen" war, a new generation of jihadis has grown on the ideologies, teachings and experiences of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban is a product of that generation. Like the Afghan Taliban/ Al-Qaeda want a Sharia state of Afghanistan, so the Pakistani Taliban dream and demand the same of Pakistan. After the Lal Masjid attack in which their young adherents were killed by the Pakistan army, the Pakistani Taliban views it inimically. Pakistan's collaboration with US drone attacks in FATA and the death of Osama Bin Laden in an American raid have furthered the enmity. While a US drone attack killed the Pakistan Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistan army made him a prized target.
Pakistan's second terrorism narrative is directed against Jammu and Kashmir. The late Pakistani military dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, set in motion plans for that. When J and K's own insurgency sputtered out, Pakistan backed Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorism, which was independent of whatever else was going on in FATA and Afghanistan, apart from the shared terror-training infrastructure.
Pakistan's third terror narrative related to Indian interests in Afghanistan. Obsessed about Indian action on two fronts, Pakistan launched suicide attacks on India's embassy and mission personnel in Kabul and targeted its development projects. The ISI has instigated these attacks using the terrorist forces of the Haqqani Taliban.
The thing to understand is that Pakistan wants control of all these disparate terrorism narratives to suit its ends in Afghanistan and against India. The Lashkar-e-Toiba could be amenable for the moment to work under the overall guidance of Pakistan's state terror institutions like the army and ISI. But the FATA/ Quetta Shura Islamists have their own plans. The Afghan Taliban wants Afghanistan preferably without the involvement of the ISI, which it hates. The Al-Qaeda will return to Afghanistan as guests of the Taliban if the US leaves, which does not appear immediately imminent. The Pakistani Taliban wants a Pakistani caliphate eventually joined to Afghanistan. The Pakistan army and ISI believe they can continue to calibrate terrorism to win their aims. But the US is tired of Pakistani terrorism/ perfidy in Afghanistan. The American killing of Bin Laden has been a game-changer. Pakistan can no longer calibrate terrorism to extract aid, concessions and support from all parties simultaneously, including the US and the terrorists.
It is in this background that the Pakistani Taliban attack on the naval base must be seen. Caliphate forces are attacking Pakistan. Their aim is to weaken the Pakistan army and destroy its confidence about protecting Pakistan state interests. The destruction of two Orions in a heavily guarded base is no small matter. The caliphate forces are pushing for the tide to turn, when more in the Pakistan military/ ISI and atomic establishments will switch sides to them. But of course the Pakistan army and ISI with their endless obsession about India do not read the writing on the wall. One more successful attack such as on the Mehran base will cripple the Pakistan military. India must be ready and prepared to face any eventuality, including a nuclear incident within Pakistan triggered by terrorists. N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistan strike By Syed Saleem Shahzad
This is the first article in a two-part report.
ISLAMABAD - Al-Qaeda carried out the brazen attack on PNS Mehran naval air station in Karachi on May 22 after talks failed between the navy and al-Qaeda over the release of naval officials arrested on suspicion of al-Qaeda links, an Asia Times Online investigation reveals.
Pakistani security forces battled for 15 hours to clear the naval base after it had been stormed by a handful of well-armed militants.
At least 10 people were killed and two United States-made P3-C
Orion surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft worth US$36 million each were destroyed before some of the attackers escaped through a cordon of thousands of armed forces.
An official statement placed the number of militants at six, with four killed and two escaping. Unofficial sources, though, claim there were 10 militants with six getting free. Asia Times Online contacts confirm that the attackers were from Ilyas Kashmiri's 313 Brigade, the operational arm of al-Qaeda.
Three attacks on navy buses in which at least nine people were killed last month were warning shots for navy officials to accept al-Qaeda's demands over the detained suspects.
The May 2 killing in Pakistan of Osama bin Laden spurred al-Qaeda groups into developing a consensus for the attack in Karachi, in part as revenge for the death of their leader and also to deal a blow to Pakistan's surveillance capacity against the Indian navy.
The deeper underlying motive, though, was a reaction to massive internal crackdowns on al-Qaeda affiliates within the navy.
Volcano of militancy Several weeks ago, naval intelligence traced an al-Qaeda cell operating inside several navy bases in Karachi, the country's largest city and key port.
"Islamic sentiments are common in the armed forces," a senior navy official told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
"We never felt threatened by that. All armed forces around the world, whether American, British or Indian, take some inspiration from religion to motivate their cadre against the enemy. Pakistan came into existence on the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations and therefore no one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," the official said.
"Nonetheless, we observed an uneasy grouping on different naval bases in Karachi. While nobody can obstruct armed forces personnel for rendering religious rituals or studying Islam, the grouping [we observed] was against the discipline of the armed forces. That was the beginning of an intelligence operation in the navy to check for unscrupulous activities."
The official explained the grouping was against the leadership of the armed forces and opposed to its nexus with the United States against Islamic militancy. When some messages were intercepted hinting at attacks on visiting American officials, intelligence had good reason to take action and after careful evaluation at least 10 people - mostly from the lower cadre - were arrested in a series of operations.
"That was the beginning of huge trouble," the official said.
Those arrested were held in a naval intelligence office behind the chief minister's residence in Karachi, but before proper interrogation could begin, the in-charge of the investigation received direct threats from militants who made it clear they knew where the men were being detained.
The detainees were promptly moved to a safer location, but the threats continued. Officials involved in the case believe the militants feared interrogation would lead to the arrest of more of their loyalists in the navy. The militants therefore made it clear that if those detained were not released, naval installations would be attacked.
It was clear the militants were receiving good inside information as they always knew where the suspects were being detained, indicating sizeable al-Qaeda infiltration within the navy's ranks. A senior-level naval conference was called at which an intelligence official insisted that the matter be handled with great care, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous. Everybody present agreed, and it was decided to open a line of communication with al-Qaeda.
Abdul Samad Mansoori, a former student union activist and now part of 313 brigade, who originally hailed from Karachi but now lives in the North Waziristan tribal area was approached and talks begun. Al-Qaeda demanded the immediate release of the officials without further interrogation. This was rejected.
The detainees were allowed to speak to their families and were well treated, but officials were desperate to interrogate them fully to get an idea of the strength of al-Qaeda's penetration. The militants were told that once interrogation was completed, the men would be discharged from the service and freed.
Al-Qaeda rejected these terms and expressed its displeasure with the attacks on the navy buses in April.
These incidents pointed to more than the one al-Qaeda cell intelligence had tracked in the navy. The fear now was that if the problem was not addressed, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply lines could face a new threat. NATO convoys are routinely attacked once they begin the journey from Karachi to Afghanistan; now they could be at risk in Karachi port. Americans who often visit naval facilities in the city would also be in danger.
Therefore, another crackdown was conducted and more people were arrested. Those seized had different ethnic backgrounds. One naval commando came from South Waziristan's Mehsud tribe and was believed to have received direct instructions from Hakeemullah Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban). Others were from Punjab province and Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.
After Bin Laden was killed by American Navy Seals in Abbottabad, 60 kilometers north of Islamabad, militants decided the time was ripe for major action.
Within a week, insiders at PNS Mehran provided maps, pictures of different exit and entry routes taken in daylight and at night, the location of hangers and details of likely reaction from external security forces.
As a result, the militants were able to enter the heavily guarded facility where one group targeted the aircraft, a second group took on the first strike force and a third finally escaped with the others providing covering fire. Those who stayed behind were killed.
This is big news....so soon after the SSS interview. Interesting, that western media is mostly ignoring it. Looks like beard on beard type attack. Loss of two P3C Orions is a big loss for the pakis, apart from the idea that its likely that the terrorists had inside help...First, the US caused a lot of H&D (honor & dignity) loss with the OBL raid, now the military has been caught napping. I would be very surprised if Kayani and Pasha can keep their jobs...ofcourse they can always mount an attack on India to relieve the loss of H&D.
KARACHI: Militants stormed one of Pakistan’s main military bases in the country’s largest city late Sunday, triggering explosions and gunbattles three weeks after the US killing of Osama bin Laden. According to DawnNews there could be 10 to 12 attackers still inside the base as at least six reported to be dead amid terrorist’s attack.
DawnNews at 03:30 am reported that according to the Pakistan Navy’s spokesman, Commodore Irfan ul Haq, four Pakistan Navy officials and a Rangers soldier were martyred in the attack, while at least seven Navy officials were injured as well.
Two P3C aircrafts were also destroyed during the attack, he added.
Here's an interesting interview with SSS of atimes, who is well connected with AQ and Taliban...he makes a few interesting points, in the wake of OBL's killing 1. Parts of the paki army may mutiny, as they are mad at the generals. Hopefully, it wont be the section dealing with nukes. 2. The taliban will be supportive of AQ, in the post OBL world, because they are a "courteous people"...referring to pashtoonwali, code of conduct.
If the ISI/Army generals, keeper of the crown jewels lose power..Pak is in essence one step away from being denuked. The civilian govt in Pak is not enamoured with nuclear weapons, as they see that it has cost them their development.
The Paki nukes are the elephant in the room. Why would it be difficult to denuke pak. Yes a direct military strike on pak will be messy to say the least and not feasible politically. But there are other non-military ways to achieve the same goals. I think its worth thinking along those lines. The broad principle should be to weaken Pak territorially and increase the cost of keeping the nukes.
eg What is the impact of stopping US aid to pak and simultaneously getting rid of the Durrand line. At first glance, it would appear that China will replace the US as the big money donor, but with the Durrand line gone, China could no longer fund Pak without pissing off the pashtoons. Even the Haqqani group would prefer an enlarged Afghanistan. As Pak loses territory and aid dries up, it will no longer be feasible for them to maintain their nukes. With NWFP/FATA gone, other provinces namely Balochistan, followed by Sindh will want to be free. Having lost territory a weakened pak army will be forced to give up nukes.
I realize that some of the consequences might be unpredictable...but these need to be gamed.
I wish I had the answers to the hard questions you pose. The simple answer is to not continue doing what we have been doing, since that is not working. So what have we been doing: We have been paying Pak for not sending terrorists over to the US. We have been killing of some terrorists (eg TTP) who are against the Pak state and the US, but not doing much to the haqqani group and others who support pak, but kill Americans. This approach has not yielded any significant benefits, because Pak will not kill the golden goose. If they kill all the terrorists that the US wants, then the moolah will stop coming, and it would weaken Pak vis a vis their state policy of terror against India. The new approach should therefore rely on imploding pakistan. As multiple other authors have correctly noted, Pak is not about to give up its "non-state actors".
I have a simple proposal, of which only one step (#2) is difficult, but not impossible. I am sure there are some in the US govt, who have a better understanding of those issues. If for some reason, step 2 is impractical, all of the other steps can still be accomplished quite easily, even without denuking Pak....what puzzles me is why is the US govt not doing it and getting some brownie points, while extricating itself from a messy situation.
1. Kashmir: Recognize that Kashmir belongs to India, or at the very least that the US will not support Pak's quest to get it. This can be done quite simply by a speech by the POTUS and change of official US policy. This will demoralize the purelanders army, to start fixing their internal affairs. The immediate benefit would be that India will be drawn closer to the US sphere of influence and against China.
2. Another important aspect is control of Pak's nukes. Pak is in many instances like N.Korea, punches above its weight, because of its nukes. Take away the nukes and the problem goes away. If the US wanted to, that could be done. The nukes were not previously considered important, because they only threatened India, but now with the jihadis pushing towards europe and the usa, they are raising concerns in the west. Another reason to take them away, that is less well recognized is that the nukes are not solely for the use of purelanders, but they belong to the ummah. It is not inconceivable that some hard line paki general decides to punish the great satan, or little satan for that matter. Infact, on balance the risk of a rogue nuclear attack on India is now less, because the hatred against the US is more than that against India. I think its in American interests to denuke them. With the nukes gone, Pak will behave, otherwise India will finish them off and partition them (Pashtoonistan/Afghanistan, as well as free balochistan)
3. Derecognize the Durrand line: Instead to recognize Pashtoon and afghan aspirations. This may be the best way to make peace with the taliban and gain their support long term. Remember, the Durrand line was arbitrarily created by the british, it never existed for centuries before that. Were the US to support this, the entire Afghan nation would support the US. AQ cannot survive, if the locals dont support them. With NWFP/FATA under pashtoon hands, the sanctuaries in pak go away.
4. With the nukes and NWFP/FATA gone, next would be Balochistan. Balochistan was a princely state which was annexed after they had declared independence. As pak unravels, Balochistan will gain independence. Helping the baloch gain independence will also send a message to Iran. Sindh is not a "pure" state, it will likely join the Baloch or India, since its made up of "immigrants" from India. Only the much weakened Pakistani Punjab (pakjab) will remain as the core.
Its important to complete the above steps, in a controlled manner, because Pak is moving towards that fate in an uncontrolled manner.
What I have not discussed is how to denuke Pakistan...since I dont know enough about their nukes.
Dont agree with everything below, but the highlighted part is quite insightful.
How to Reduce Pakistan's Leverage
Updated May 10, 2011, 07:47 PM George Perkovich is the director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Aid is not the only independent variable that affects Pakistan. Other things the U.S. says and does are important, too.
If the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, it would greatly reduce our reliance on the Pakistani security establishment. For example, the United States’ effort to help India become a global power, including by building up its nuclear and advanced conventional armories, makes the Pakistani establishment ever more angry and distrustful of the United States. The deployment of unaccountable mercenaries like Raymond Davis turns average Pakistanis against the U.S. These and other U.S. policies, including drone attacks in the tribal areas, may be tactically necessary because Pakistan’s own security establishment will not do its best to counter terrorists acting against India and Afghanistan. India’s growing power and importance inevitably will make the U.S. and others seek favorable terms of cooperation with it.
But aid combined with these other U.S. policies clearly has not changed the Pakistani military’s obsession with contesting India. There is nothing India or the United States can realistically do that will change this self-destructive obsession because the problem is India’s existence itself.
The pattern in U.S.-Pakistan relations merely repeats mutual frustrations and failings since the early 1950s. The U.S. always treats Pakistan as a means to achieve a larger end -- preventing the export of terrorism from Afghanistan now -- and Pakistan uses the U.S. to build capabilities to fight India. In fact, Pakistan is more important than Afghanistan, and too important to instrumentalize.
The U.S. would do less harm, and perhaps more good, by seeking the most friendly possible end of the symbiotic relationship with the Pakistani Army and intelligence services. By moving decisively to negotiate conditions for the withdrawal of most U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, the U.S. would greatly reduce its reliance on the Pakistani security establishment and that establishment’s leverage on Washington. The U.S. could then concentrate on Pakistan’s civilian political-economic development, offering assistance only in and as the Pakistani state itself is clearly committed to combating terrorism and promoting internal development.
Meanwhile, Pak runs into the waiting arms of China.
And India into US arms....so its a delicate dance. If China gets too close to Pak, India gets closer to US, which pisses of China. The main thing holding back India from America is the american propensity to support Pak. I think the Indo-US alliance will get stronger as China strengthens. The Osama affair has irreversibly damaged relations between US-Pak...its like infidelity in marriage, very hard to overcome.
The US govt needs to think about the root cause of Pak-India conflict, its Kashmir. Attempts to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan, support of terror groups to wage war in India (who are now expanding to the western countries), waging jihad, development of nukes, all of these things relate to their quest to wrest Kashmir from India.
The legal situation wrt to Kashmir is quite clear, at Indian independence the ruler of Jammu (hindu dominated), Kashmir (muslim dominated), and Leh (Tibetan dominated) areas of "Kashmir", joined the Indian Union, along with tens of other princely states (who are part of the Indian Union). Pakistan which was formed as a muslim state, did not like this, and quite soon sent in irregulars and occupied parts of Kashmir (Pak occupied Kashmir). The point is that inspite of the formation of East (Bangladesh) and west pak (current Pak), a large population of muslims still choose to remain in India, so Pak has no right per se on Kashmir, just because its a muslim majority state.
After losing 4 wars (India has never started any), losing half their country (Bangladesh), suffering severe economic hardship, lack in development, rise of terrorism due to failed policies of supporting terror, most pakistanis know that they can never win back Kashmir. No Indian govt can give up Kashmir, the population would go ballistic. Yet the pakistani army living in la la land, believes it can, (a few years back Musharraf tried the Kargil misadventure). Paki army generals are delusional, because the US has always supported them, always asked India to bend over backwards to accomodate the purelanders. If the US and the world starts to understand the facts, and what can be changed and what is not even negotiable, Pakis will get the message.
Once the purelanders recognize that Kashmir is not even on the table, Pak has no reason to waste money on nukes, building a large army, or supporting terrors groups who have now graduated to threatening the US and Europe. India is no longer the economic basket case it was in the 60's and 70's. The current generation of senior Indian leaders, eg prime minister Man Mohan Singh was born in Pak (so he has a soft corner for Pak) will pass away soon, the new generation of Indian leaders dont have any sympathies or birth ties to pak, so one can be sure of a more aggressive Indian response. Interestingly, Musharraf (was born in India!) and ruled Pak.!.
"The Islamists outside the PA (pak army) and the Islamists within the PA are increasingly becoming indistinguishable in their worldview. Certainly, the most influential section of the ulema (and therefore the society) is militant Deobandi, not the more circumspect Berelvi though the latter may still exist in absolutely larger numbers. I include Wahhabis and Ahl-e-Hadiths under the Deobandi classification. Not that the Berelvis are less jihadist or less fundamentalist (as Taseer's case demonstrated) in nature. In such a milieu, it is difficult to judge with any certainty when the PA would lose the nuclear weapons. The 'cradle-to-grave' vetting mechanism which the Strategic Planning Directorate (SPD) proudly claims to its American interlocutors or the multiple layers of security it claims to have in place for guarding the crown jewels, is as hollow as the claim by GoPak that PA is fighting against global terror. In a society that is overwhelmingly believing that 'Islam is in great danger' and conspiracies are being hatched against the Muslims, who can implement a comprehensive vetting process more common in civilized societies and guarantee its success ? How can the SPD even find men who do not subscribe to these falsehoods or jihadi ideologies ? Why should we even assume that the SPD itself is above board in these Islamist matters ? There has been a long list of jihadi Islamist Generals as DG of ISI or as Corps Commanders of the PA. The top leadership of PA may present a different face to the American interlocutors but the distrust of and anger against the infidel among the rest of PA is complete and cannot be reset. Why should we expect that the nukes may not fall into more adverse hands in Pakistan ? It is prudent to proceed on the assumption that it is indeed the case."
“I don’t care if someone is giving us money; we are not a purchasable commodity. We cannot be bought. We can live in hunger, but we won’t compromise our national interests.”
– Bashir Bilour, a Pakistani senior minister, in angry response following an al-Qaeda reprisal for the American killing of Osama bin Laden
That quotation sums up in a nutshell our current impasse with Pakistan and why it is time to redefine our relationship. If one were to follow the counterfactual logic of Mr. Bilour, it was not in the national interests of Pakistan to arrest the mass murderer of 3,000 Americans living in sanctuary in the suburbs of its capital city. It was not in Pakistan’s interests because a vast segment of the Pakistani population favors the agenda of radical Islam, either condones or is indifferent to its jihadism, and feels that only American cash prevents the government from overtly supporting a preferable Islamist agenda. So Bilour is quite right: Pakistan should not be a “purchasable commodity,” and instead should feel free both to reject American aid and not to compromise its “national interests” by opposing radical Islam.
For years, we have heard ad nauseam both Pakistan’s excuses for why it acts so duplicitously and our own diplomatic community’s reasons why we, in response, cannot cut off aid.
The two narratives often run something like this:
The Pakistani Plea
(a) We suffer more from radical Islamic terrorism than do you, and in fact have experienced an upswing in violence because of our decade-long, post–9/11 alliance with you.
(b) The United States does not respect our sovereignty and violates both our land borders and our air space at will.
(c) There is no hope for Afghanistan without us; cut us off and we will cut you off from all logistics coming in and out of Afghanistan.
(d) Your aid — $3 to $4 billion a year — is not all that much.
(e) We are the only Islamic nuclear nation, and we deserve a respect commensurate with our strategic importance, especially given your use and abuse of us during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
(f) You already favor India, and you must show some modicum of diplomatic, political, and strategic balance.
American diplomatic, academic, and military experts tend to agree, and they usually offer us somewhat similar apologies.
The American Argument
(a) Yes, elements of the Pakistani government support terrorists — both al-Qaeda and the Taliban — who kill Americans and disrupt Afghanistan, but other, “good” elements of the military and government oppose these “rogue” actors and help us. So we are in a partnership with good Pakistanis against rogue Pakistanis.
(b) In truth, Pakistan is more duplicitous and untrustworthy in its alliances with Islamists than it is with the United States.
(c) A poor Pakistan has vast regions of wild borderlands and frontier that it simply cannot control; how can it be faulted for failing at what it cannot possibly do?
(d) Pakistan has the bomb; our aid, humiliating to us as it sometimes is portrayed, actually serves as valuable bribe money, ensuring that Pakistan does not “lend” a nuke or two to another illegitimate Islamic dictatorship or “lose” three or four bombs to assorted terrorists.
(e) The American public does not grasp, and cannot be fully told, of the myriad ways, informal and stealthy, that Pakistan helps us in the region.
All of these narratives have some merit but are ultimately unconvincing reasons to subsidize Pakistan.
First, we regret that Pakistan is a victim of domestic terrorism; but it antedated and will postdate our alliance, and is the wages of Pakistan’s own endemic corruption, religious intolerance, and government illegitimacy.
We can hardly respect a theoretical sovereignty that the Pakistani government itself admits it does not exercise. Are we to assume that Pakistan cannot enter its own borderlands, and so America cannot either, when those areas harbor killers of our citizens?
Americans do not like duplicitous allies, but they especially do not like subsidizing the duplicity. Almost every major Islamic terrorist with American blood on his hands whom our forces have captured or killed, from Khalid Sheik Mohammed to Osama bin Laden, was finally tracked down in Pakistan — often in upscale urban areas. As far as Afghanistan goes, Pakistan might do its worst, and we will try to do our best, and that is just the way it is, in this eternally bad/worse-case scenario.
There are all sorts of important nuclear powers that we do not subsidize. Russian Communism in Afghanistan was a greater threat to Pakistan than it was to the United States. Should we have given no aid then, or given aid and then stayed on? Either policy would have incurred Pakistani animosity. Again, as for nukes, it is not in Pakistan’s own interest to give nukes to anyone, unless it wishes current terrorism against it to include a nuclear component or prefers to lose its Islamic nuclear exclusivity. The United States would assume that any use of a nuclear device against America by an Islamic terrorist would ultimately be traced to Pakistan — and, of course, we would take the necessary countermeasures and retaliation. We would hope that deterrent message was by now well known.
India is democratic and pro-American; Pakistan is not. India is also huge, successful, and an ally in the war against jihadism. The question is not balance, but why we do not tilt farther toward India, a free-market economy that shares many of our own goals and aspirations. India is a natural and strategic ally; Pakistan is increasingly a natural and strategic belligerent.
As for our own rationales, consider the following rebuttals:
The good and bad elements of the Pakistani military and government are now so intertwined that even they cannot sort them out. What counts is not factions within Pakistan, but how they are expressed and play out. Among the worst setbacks in American foreign policy in the last twenty years were Pakistan’s acquisition of the bomb, and Pakistan’s hand in ensuring that bin Laden was largely safe for a decade. We care about those facts, not about Pakistan’s internal politics.
If Pakistan renounces American aid, it will nevertheless still incur terrorist attacks. Again, terrorism is endemic to Pakistan for reasons that transcend America.
Pakistan’s wild lands are useful to Pakistan, both providing deniability (e.g., “We can’t go there either”), and as an ongoing excuse for American aid. Terrorists get their own play yard, and their eternal presence justifies eternal billions in aid to Pakistani elites.
When we used to give aid to Pakistan it nevertheless still started work on the bomb; has resumption of that aid done much of anything to curtail its nuclear posturing?
The inability to explain the Pakistan alliance in any convincing fashion to the American public is not a reason to maintain the aid, but one to end it outright.
In conclusion, over the last two decades we have had all sorts of relationships with a nuclear and non-nuclear Pakistan: estrangement; an anti-Soviet, anti-Indian alliance; restored diplomatic relations; massive foreign aid; etc. We often change our approach; Pakistan stays the same.
What is the problem? The majority in Pakistan, so far as we can tell, is religiously intolerant, anti-American, and tribal. A plebiscite, fairly conducted, would result in a far more illiberal government than the Westernized megaphones that the often rigged and corrupt elections produce. Because elite Pakistani military and political leaders do not have real legitimacy, they must alternately disguise and lament, and then indulge and appease, the illiberal natures of their constituents.
What is the solution? Praise Pakistan. Avoid provocative statements. But by all means gradually and without fanfare prune back aid — say, at the rate of about $100 million a month. And then accept that in reaction Pakistan will more shamelessly hide terrorists, threaten nuclear proliferation, and destabilize the Karzai government, as it is freed to express its natural proclivities and “national interests” as a de facto enemy of the United States. Develop much closer relations with India. All of this will not make the situation in the region any better, but it will bring clarity, send a message that America is tired of treacherous allies — and save money. And in this ungodly mess, that at least counts for something.
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.http://
Osama bin Laden’s death in a mansion in exclusive club house territory of retired Pakistani officers has exposed the terrible paradox at the heart of our war in Afghanistan—Pakistan’s hypocrisy and our acquiescence. Bin Laden’s Pakistani hosts, two rich businessmen called Arshad and Tariq Khan who owned the house and were killed with him, hail from Charsadda, 15 miles north of Peshawar. Their uncle was a retired Brigadier. (Arshad was apparently the courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who led intelligence officials to the compound.) This is not a lawless land. This is highly controlled territory.
We give billions in aid to Pakistan’s military and civilian government. Yet Pakistan is harboring our enemies and even the enemies, one could argue, of its own healthy survival. Portions of our money are being funneled into the variety of insurgent networks whose fighters are killing American soldiers, Afghan soldiers, American civilians, Afghan civilians, European civilians, Pakistani civilians—mothers, fathers, children on multiple continents. Why, asks a US army major, did all his friends die in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when the real problem is on the other side of the border? Why, asks a twelve-year-old Afghan girl in Kandahar whose family has been wiped out by US air strikes, are you bombing us? How has this come to pass?
In 2006, I traveled through Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, meeting with many Taliban fighters. I described it at the time as a kind of Taliban spa that offered them rest and rehab between battles in Afghanistan to which they would be returning. But it was more than that. I met Afghan Taliban who’d tried to make a deal with the Afghan government to get back to a life without fighting. One told me he was then arrested by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI, and blackmailed—they would release him if he would resume fighting and dispense with notions of reconciliation. He rose up the ranks of the Taliban command, traveling freely between Quetta in Pakistan and Zabul, a province in Afghanistan, where he was an intelligence commander for Afghan Taliban fighting coalition forces.
Another young Afghan Taliban I met in Peshawar was involved in the production and distribution of propaganda and recruiting DVDs—beheadings, inspirational music videos, and killings of American soldiers, all set to Pashtun war songs. But after spending hours and hours with him, I noticed his anti-infidel rhetoric beginning to subside, and when the subject of the ISI’s operatives came up, his whole demeanor changed. “Snakes,” he called them. Their first offense, he said, was trying to oust Mullah Omar and create a more obedient Taliban leader—like Jalaluddin Haqqani, an old jihadi we once financed to fight the Soviets but who has now set up shop in Waziristan under ISI protection. (Along with his son Sirajuddin, Haqqani stages the big-media-grabbing attacks in Afghanistan but seems to abide by the rules of his hosts—no attacks against Pakistan. He also runs a virtual kidnapping factory in Waziristan and the Pakistanis have done nothing to stop it.)
Then he said:
I told you that we burn schools because they’re teaching Christianity, but actually, most of the Taliban don’t like this burning of schools or destroying of roads and bridges, because the Taliban, too, could use them. Those acts were being done under ISI orders. They don’t want progress in Afghanistan.
He told me about ISI orders to behead an Indian engineer who was captured (and these orders were later corroborated). “People are not telling the story, because no one can trust anyone,” he told me. “And if the ISI knew I told you, I’d be fucked.”
That was 2006. Since then, just about everyone has learned the rules of the game: The ISI will continue to support the various jihadi groups (like Lashkar-e-Taiba) in order to attack and intimidate India, and get what it wants in Afghanistan—more or less a semi-independent extension of Pakistan. In 2008, American intelligence even proved definitively what Afghans and Indians on the ground already knew: that the deadly attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul was planned with the help of the ISI.
And it isn’t just the ISI that is supporting the Taliban. During my travels through Pakistan, I had a long discussion about the Pakistan Army’s conflicted loyalties with Najam Sethi, the longtime editor of Lahore’s Friday Times. What does it want? Where does it stand? The Pakistani military retains a secular strain, but religion is central to its ideology. Since its inception in 1947, its raison d’etre has been to defend the Muslim world. This mission, however, is constantly undermined by the fact that, while Pakistan was founded as a refuge for South Asia’s Muslims, more Muslims live in India, and most of the attacks by the militant groups it supports have ended up killing fellow Muslims. There is a contradiction at the heart of the Pakistani Army and it’s expressed in what everyone has come to call Pakistan’s “double game.”
The military officers I met—many of them retired, living better than bin Laden, in lavish Latin-American style mansions with pure-bred dogs, English-style cooks, and manicured lawns—spoke to me as if they envied the jihadists’ clarity of purpose, their moral vision. In Sethi’s view, the military also harbors “a degree of self-disgust for selling themselves” to the Americans. They are still angry with the US for abandoning them after the Afghan jihad, and for sanctioning them over the nuclear program. The standard army phrase about their treatment by the Americans was, Sethi said, “They used us like a condom.”
Despite these widely held sentiments and the evidence against a strong alliance, US diplomats and generals have tried to sustain the image of close cooperation.
In 2010, I had the chance to ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about the US relationship with Pakistan. He’d just been to the country to urge its generals to go after the jihadists, the Taliban, and the Haqqani network. I asked Gates how he could possibly consider Afshaq Kayani, the chief of the Pakistani army, an ally. “It’s frustrating,” Gates told me. I waited for more, but nothing came. Your silence says a lot, I said. “Well, I was very specific in a couple of my meetings in looking at them point-blank and saying, ‘Haqqani and his people are killing my troops. I’ve got a problem with that,’” Gates responded. And what did they say, I asked. Gates is all control, but he cracked a small smile as he said: “They listened.”
Admiral Mike Mullen has spent the better part of the first two years of the Obama administration—hours and hours of flight time, face time, and phone time—cultivating a strong relationship with Kayani. Up until recently, Kayani’s Wikipedia entry said that he counted Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a close friend and ally. That line has now been removed. US officials maintain they don’t think that Kayani or ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha had direct knowledge themselves about bin Laden. But even before Sunday’s assassination of bin Laden, a friend of mine told me that when he recently saw Mullen the admiral seemed puzzled by the breakdown of the relationship. “What relationship?” my friend asked. “[Kayani] was never on your side.”
Or as an advisor to Ambassador Holbrooke told me not long before Holbrooke died: “We see Pakistan as a flawed ally and the Afghan Taliban as our enemy. The truth is the reverse.” It is the Taliban, the advisor suggested, who can be worked with; they who distrust—and in many cases despise—the ISI overlords they depend on for safe havens and support. All along they’ve let it be known through different channels that they want to talk directly to the Americans. The question is how?
Will the revelation that bin Laden and family were dwelling in a newly built Pakistani Army mansion not far from the capital finally change the nature of the strange dance between the US and Pakistan? One wonders how good and smart men and women are taken in by diplomatic friendships, how they allow themselves to believe lies they know to be lies, or worse, settle for the lie because it seems there’s no way out, no creative solution to change the trusted old forms of diplomacy or the definitions of enemy and ally.
Of course at the heart of the problem lies Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. We’d rather our Pakistani army enemy controls it than our Pakistani Taliban enemy. But will we ever know who is who, and can we tell them apart? And so our policy in Pakistan has collided with the Lot equation: How many righteous men must there be for God to save Sodom and Gomorrah, asks Abraham. And when God says fifty, Abraham keeps lowering the number. What if there is just one? How many American, Afghan, Pakistani, European casualties are worth keeping this Catch-22 policy alive?
Washington (CNN) -- The killing of Osama bin Laden raises many haunting questions. Here's the most important: Has our mission in Afghanistan become obsolete? To think through that question, start with a prior question: Why did we remain in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban? The usual answer to that question is: To prevent Afghanistan from re-emerging as a terrorist safe haven. There have always been a lot of problems with that answer. (For example: Does it really take 100,000 U.S. troops, plus allies, to prevent a country from becoming a terrorist safe haven? We're doing a pretty good job in Yemen with a radically smaller presence.) But this week, we have exposed to sight two huge problems with the usual answer. 1. The world's most important terrorist safe haven is visibly not Afghanistan, but instead next-door Pakistan. New videos of Osama bin Laden State Dept: Awaiting Pakistan's answers al Qaeda vows revenge U.S. wants answers from Pakistan
2. Because the U.S. presence in Afghanistan requires cooperation from Pakistan, the Afghanistan mission perversely inhibits the United States from taking more decisive action against Pakistan's harboring of terrorism. Here's a very concrete example. Through the 2008 presidential campaign, candidates John McCain and Barack Obama tussled over the issue of direct anti-terrorist action inside Pakistan. On February 20, 2008, McCain called Obama "naive" for suggesting that he might act inside Pakistan without Pakistani permission. In retrospect, McCain's answer looks wrong. But think about why McCain said what he did. He knew that acting in a way that offended Pakistan would complicate the mission in Afghanistan. The United States looks to Pakistan to police the Pashtun country on the other side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Guerrilla wars become much harder to win if the guerrillas are allowed sanctuary across an international border. So if the mission in Afghanistan is the supreme priority, then acting in ways that offend Pakistan must be avoided. But this thinking leads to an upside-down result: In order to prevent Afghanistan from ever again harboring a potential future bin Laden, we have to indulge Pakistan as it harbors the actual bin Laden! Some Democrats have retrospectively seized on McCain's upside-down logic as proof that candidate Obama was "right" in 2008. I was a guest on the Bill Maher program on HBO on Friday night where he insisted on this point. But, of course, President Obama has made decisions that have aggravated the upside-down problem. By inserting so many additional U.S. forces into Afghanistan, he has made the United States more dependent than ever on Pakistan -- with the result that even after finding and killing Osama bin Laden in the heart of Pakistan's national security establishment, the Obama administration is reluctant to challenge Pakistan publicly or even privately. Think now: What would our policy in South Asia look like if we had a much smaller mission in Afghanistan? Perhaps 20,000 U.S. and allied troops on a security assistance mission rather than 100,000-plus on a combat mission? By emancipating itself from dependence on Pakistan, the United States would gain scope to focus on the most vital questions in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, such as: • How confident do we feel that the people who sheltered bin Laden do not also control Pakistan's nuclear force? • If we do not have confidence in the people who control Pakistan's nuclear force, what plans do we have to disable that nuclear force? • Why wasn't Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear proliferation, delivered to U.S. custody? • Pakistan has a long history of not only harboring anti-U.S. terrorism, but actively promoting and supporting terrorism against India. Why is Pakistan not listed alongside Iran as a state sponsor of terror? • Why is Pakistan receiving U.S. military aid? • Why does Pakistan have the benefit of a trade and investment agreement with the United States? Instead, even now -- even now! -- we're told that Pakistan is just too important to permit the U.S. to act on its stated doctrine--articulated by George W. Bush's administration and not repudiated by Obama's: "Those who harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists themselves." So long as we remain in Afghanistan, that statement remains true. The question is, shouldn't we be taking now the steps to render the statement less true? The less committed we are to Afghanistan, the more independent we are of Pakistan. The more independent we are of Pakistan, the more leverage we have over Pakistan. The more leverage we have over Pakistan, the more clout we have to shut down Pakistan's long, vicious, and now not credibly deniable state support for terrorism. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.
High Noon in Pakistan WALTER RUSSELL MEAD The taking of Osama was a defeat for Al Qaeda. It was a disaster for Pakistan.
The Assassination in Abbottabad was a strategic catastrophe for the military rulers of this slowly and painfully failing state. On the one hand, it leaves the reputation of Pakistan as an effective partner against fanatical terror groups in ruins. The debate in Washington and around the world now is whether the Pakistani state is in league with Al Qaeda or whether it is so weak, divided and incompetent that rogue factions within the state have escaped all control. The rich intelligence haul the US gathered in Osama’s lair will help the US learn more about Osama’s protectors in Pakistan; in the meantime it is transparently clear that whether incompetence or malfeasance is more to blame, the government of Pakistan cannot safely be trusted — by anyone, on anything.
The argument for a continued US-Pakistani alliance took a body blow. If Pakistan can’t or won’t help us with the capture of Osama bin Laden, what possible justification does the alliance have? Arguably, the two people who have done the greatest damage to American interests in the last twenty years have been A. Q. Khan, ringmaster of the nuclear proliferation circus that helped countries like North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran advance their nuclear ambitions, and Osama bin Laden. What country produced one and sheltered both?
From the ISI/military point of view, trust is not just a problem when it comes to relations with the US. The Pakistani military has to have foreign patrons; without foreign aid it cannot pretend even to itself to be a serious competitor to India. India is too big, and Pakistan is too small, too unstable, too divided by bitter internal fault lines, too poorly developed and too incompetently governed to hold its own without outside help.
As US-Pakistan tensions rise, the Pakistanis have looked to China as an alternative great power backer. The Pakistani argument to China is that Pakistan offers an offset to India that makes it harder for India to challenge Chinese influence in southeast Asia and elsewhere. Pakistan can also offer China friendly ports close to the vital oilfields of the Middle East and also a useful land route for trade and power projection.
This is not an unattractive proposition, and China is already in business with Pakistan, providing foreign aid and promoting growth in bilateral trade. The value of China’s aid to Pakistan is hard to estimate, but trade between the two countries is worth about $8.7 billion. (US military and economic aid to Pakistan last year totaled almost $4.5 billion and US-Pakistani trade was worth $1.6 billion.) Additionally, China provides material and financial assistance for Pakistan’s nuclear program; during a visit to Pakistan in December 2010, Wen Jiabao and Pakistani officials finalized plans for the construction of a one gigawatt nuclear reactor in Chashma, making it the third and largest reactor in Pakistan. China’s agreement to provide nuclear materials to Pakistan despite Pakistan’s nuclear program and poor record on proliferation was seen in Pakistan and elsewhere as a counter to the US-India agreement.
But for the Chinese, who have so far flirted with Pakistan but never come close to giving the Pakistanis the support they desperately crave, there are three very big catches.First, Pakistan looks as bent on self-destruction to China as it does to everyone else in the world; why put your money on a such a weak horse?
Second, if China becomes the partner of Pakistan’s dreams, it wrecks its relationship with India and drives India into America’s arms. A closer relationship with Pakistan might be necessary for China in the event that the US and India developed a tight alliance aimed against China, but China’s best strategy now is to prevent the US-India relationship from turning into an anti-China alliance. Flirting with Pakistan makes sense as a way to keep both Washington and Delhi on their toes, but anything more would be a costly mistake.
And third, there are the same questions of competence and trust that give Washington pause. Can Pakistan really be trusted on the subject of ‘Islamic’ terror? The Pakistani defense establishment is totally fixated on maintaining links with terror groups and radical groups to advance its interests in both Afghanistan and India. China doesn’t like this very much; none of the great powers with interests in Central Asia have much sympathy for Pakistan’s desire to strengthen radical Sunni groups. But if Pakistan showed that it was willing and able to use this weapon selectively — to tolerate and even promote terror groups aimed at India while cracking down ruthlessly and effectively on any Muslims crazy enough to dream of fighting for their co-religionists in western China — then maybe, just maybe, Pakistan and China could cut a deal.
But the Abbottabad imbroglio calls Pakistan’s good faith and its ability into question. Will Islamabad really suppress, murder and betray Uighur Muslims who want to bring jihad to their homeland, or will Pakistani weakness, incompetence, religious fanaticism and/or corruption mean that Pakistan will provide sanctuary and perhaps more to China’s deadly enemies even as it takes China’s cash? On the evidence of Abbottabad, few Chinese foreign policy analysts will propose trusting Pakistan. Nice words, candy and flowers on its birthday, but little else.
The attack on Abbottabad was not just a blow to Al Qaeda; it was a direct blow to the heart of Pakistani self confidence. Pakistan puts a lot of faith in its nuclear bombs. ISI types in Pakistan believe that US mistrust of Pakistan is so deep that the US is looking for an opportunity to take control of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
The strong likelihood that somebody powerful in Pakistan was helping Osama makes the (far fetched) scenario of an American nuclear snatch more frightening to Pakistan. If the US concludes that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terror with close links to Al Qaeda with nuclear weapons and a long record of bad behavior on proliferation issues, the desire to separate those weapons from unworthy hands could become very strong.
The Abbottabad raid demonstrates two things that have shocked the Pakistani security establishment to the core: that the US in pursuit of supreme national interests is willing to send military forces into the heart of Pakistan’s territory and security zone — and that we have the capacity to do so at will. A. Q. Khan may be sleeping a little less soundly and may well have moved all his thumb drives to a more secure location.
India, of course watched the raid closely. India, a victim in the past of Pakistan-supported terrorist violence, has the same concerns about Pakistani nukes and terror groups that Washington does. After observing the mysteriously powerful Stuxnet computer worm in neighboring Iran, and now shocked by American ability to move forces at will, the Pakistani security establishment is now coming to terms with some profoundly unsettling realities. Already, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has warned India off an Abbottabad-style raid aimed at the accused perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The US is tightening the screws on this unsatisfactory ally. So far as it goes, that is good. Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin have been calling for the US to go farther — to stop aid to Pakistan.
But even that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. The US and Pakistan have had a long relationship, but the love has long since gone out of this bromance. Our interests are likely to diverge much more radically than at present as the US exit from Afghanistan draws closer.
Many of the most important details of the US-Pakistani relationship are only known by a handful of officials. That is inevitable when sensitive matters like counter-terrorism and nuclear weapons come into play. This means that outsiders are not going to get many of the vital nuances of one of the most delicate and difficult dances in the diplomatic world. But it does seem clear that the US now needs to muster all of its energy, resources and will for a strategic battle to determine the future parameters of our relations with Pakistan.
We are going to have to get tough. The Pakistani security establishment lives to a very large degree in what, to American eyes, looks like a dangerous and delusional imaginary world. As I’ve written before, Americans (and virtually everyone else in the world who looks at this question) sees Pakistan locked into a profoundly dysfunctional combination of misguided security ideas and comprehensive domestic failure. Pakistani strategists embrace these seemingly destructive policies out of some very deeply-held beliefs and in response to what they see as existential questions of national identity and cohesion. They will not be lightly diverted from this long-established and cherished course, however suicidal, and as is often the case with people whose goals are unrealistic, they are accustomed to very high risk strategies and brinkmanship. Defeat after defeat by India, progressive deterioration of the domestic security climate and the utter collapse of political morality in what passes for the governing class in Pakistan have not forced a reevaluation. Charm and appeals to sweet reason by American officials and emissaries won’t do it either. Neither will humanitarian aid: the suffering of ordinary Pakistanis has little impact on the elite, and in the short to medium term public opinion in Pakistan is so anti-American and so politically marginal that we could die of old age waiting for spending however generous to change our image in Pakistan enough to change the politics of the relationship.
I favor generous and long term assistance to Pakistan as part of a long term relationship — assuming that the country is willing to stop running toward the abyss and to start moving, however slowly, in a more promising direction. But we should not deceive ourselves that civilian aid buys much goodwill with what is, under a thin and increasingly unconvincing veneer of civilian rule, a military government on all security matters.
When it comes to changing Pakistani policy, aid however generous for schools and hospitals Pakistan’s rulers don’t care much about matters less than a credible threat that Pakistan could face an active US-led alliance from which it is excluded and which might even actively seek to frustrate its interests on key issues.
To get our relationship with Pakistan on the right track, the Obama administration is going to have to assemble and develop some serious threats. Sending the Seals to Abbottabad is a nice shot across the bow, but more will be needed. The administration is going to have to look at a broad range of options that stretch from adding some new dimensions to US-India relations and engaging more directly with more neighbors about the future of Afghanistan to additional operations like the Abbottabad raid where intelligence suggests appropriately important targets can be found. On the other hand, the administration needs to develop a crystal clear and specific vision for what we want from Pakistan and what we will do if and only if we can secure it.
This matters. The administration’s ability to put its relationship with Pakistan on a clear path will go far to determine both the speed at which we are able to leave Afghanistan and the nature of the post-US situation there. More, what is at stake in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is still America’s security at home. President Obama clearly understands that defending Americans from 9/11 style attacks remains the most important item on his job description. Getting Pakistan right is a must.
In this negotiation the Americans will do better if we have coordinated our approach with the Saudis — they, next to China, represent Pakistan’s best hope of a replacement partner should the US alliance cool even further. The Saudis are widely believed to have helped support Pakistan’s quest for what some call the ‘Sunni bomb’; Pakistanis are ready and, if suitably paid, willing to support embattled Sunni Arab sheikhs against restive Shi’a subjects. From the Saudi point of view, Pakistan’s 169 million people and nuclear arsenal look like reliable allies against Iran if US support should prove unreliable and one suspects that Pakistani contingency planning for a crisis with the US includes some assumptions about Saudi help.
The US needs to address this. The Obama administration can’t make geography go away; the Saudis can and should have a relationship with Pakistan based on mutual interests and strategic need. But the Pakistan card goes up in value as the US card falls: the Obama administration needs to improve its relationship with the Saudis and clear up any misunderstandings about where we stand on the question of Saudi security. The Saudis may be religiously radical by some standards, but as long as they believe in the strength of the US umbrella they are conservative geopolitically. There are all kinds of reasons (including the restraining influence that Saudi money can have on radical clerics) to make sure the Saudis understand the depth of the American commitment to their survival.
We have another card to play, I suspect. Some of the information the Seals acquired in Abbottabad is likely to show that under Pakistani protection Bin Laden continued to plot and scheme against the Saudis. Pakistan has betrayed everyone, including the Saudis. Nobody likes this kind of behavior; Pakistan has burned more than one bridge.
The much feared and long delayed moment of truth in US-Pakistan relations is almost upon us. Nobody outside the government can really know all the important factors here, but the Obama administration is unlikely to develop a satisfactory relationship with Pakistan unless it is ready, willing and able to face a complete rupture. As long as Pakistan perceives that Washington is desperate to keep the relationship alive, it will play games.
Perhaps we truly have no choice; in that case the US must continue mushing on as best we may. But Pakistan is a weak and vulnerable state, wracked by internal dissension, ethnic rivalries and the guerrilla secessionist movement in Baluchistan. It is high time that the US began looking carefully at the alternatives to its alliance with Pakistan and taking some of the initial steps to ease what may be a necessary and inevitable transition to a new alignment in the region.
One hopes those steps would bring some badly needed sobriety to the strategic culture of Islamabad. This may well be our only hope now of changing Pakistan’s behavior. In any case, basing our policy on comforting lies that we tell ourselves because we are too afraid to face bitter truths is not a good move.
The promise to focus on Pakistan was one of the hallmarks of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. The raid on Abbottabad shows he is still on the case. Every American should wish him and his team well as they prepare for even tougher choices ahead.