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 Even if a majority of US troops are withdrawn, a small number will be kept in non-Pashtun territories in the west but more likely in the north, roughly in the region of the former Northern Alliance.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.
Here's some interesting info on the Pak budget...not much there for health, education, electricity....
"According to the budget presentation at the ministry of finance on Thursday, May 4, some 82 percent of the available national financial resources in the next fiscal year 2011-2012 will be allocated to three sectors: debt servicing, defence and running of the civil administration. Even though these figures are a conservative estimate, they reveal the pathetic state of the economy and the callous nature of our ruling classes towards social development and the plight of the masses."
Here's a short 10 point primer to Pak by "Shiv" a blogger.
Ten point Pakistan primer 1. Pakistan was created in 1947 by a group of politically savvy Indians who leveraged the tumultuous events in India after World War II to secede and carve out a country for themselves. Even though the majority of Muslims remained behind in India, the creators of Pakistan claimed that Pakistan was a "homeland for the Muslims of India" 2. Pakistan was created as two separate units a thousand miles apart in an act of voluntary but disastrous cutting of centuries of cultural, family and trade ties. This made Pakistan politically unstable from the beginning requiring military rule for unity. Despite that a part of Pakistan split in 1971 to form Bangladesh. 3. Pakistan's voluntary amputation from millennia of trade with mainland India made Pakistan's economy untenable, causing its military rulers to depend on foreign aid obtained from great powers and other wealthy nations in exchange for providing support and soldiers for the cold war and other military campaigns.This got them arms from the USA and eventually nuclear weapons from China. 4. Foreign aid was largely appropriated by Pakistan's military making them powerful and wealthy, while the people of Pakistan languished and lagged behind in development literacy, healthcare and women's rights. 5. For the Pakistan military to retain its privileged position in Pakistan it had to have an enemy and conduct external military campaigns. India became that designated enemy. 6. Since the people of Pakistan had been Indians for many centuries and looked like, spoke like and ate like Indians, some new differentiating factor had to be created for enmity. Islam, which had coexisted in India for a thousand years was suddenly declared to be in danger in Hindu India ignoring the fact that India was home to more followers of Islam than Pakistan, 7. As the Pakistan military fought and lost a series of wars with "enemy number one" India, its need to rely on irregular Islamic insurgents to fight India increased. These armed islamic zealots came in useful to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, The Taliban was created out of these groups. 8. When the cold war ended, the Islamic militias of Pakistan, safe in their new Afghan hideouts, turned their attention to other irredentist campaigns abroad, from India to the middle east, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines, western Europe and finally the USA on 9-11-2001. 9. 9-11 brought the US into Afghanistan and this drove the armed Islamic militias back to Pakistan where they had come from in the first place. 10. The Pakistan military needs the Islamic militias (like the Taliban and Lashkar e Toiba) to fight its wars while it retains its wealthy, pre eminent position in a decrepit, overpopulated country in a state of social and political failure. The people of Pakistan would benefit from peace and trade with India, but the nuclear armed Pakistan military stands to lose its main crutch for staying in power if that happens. The military,along with its Islamist allies will not allow that to happen.
http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271662 VIEW FROM PAKISTAN A Cat And Mouse Game Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. PERVEZ HOODBHOY
Osama bin Laden, the figurehead king of al Qaeda, is gone. His hosts are still rubbing their eyes and wondering how it all happened. Although scooped up from Pakistani soil, shot in the head and then buried at sea, the event was not announced by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani or by President Asif Ali Zardari. Instead, it was the president of the United States of America who told the world that bin Laden’s body was in the custody of US forces.
Suggestions that Pakistan played a significant role ring hollow. President Obama, in his televised speech on May 1, said “our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden”. But no sooner had he stopped speaking that his top national security aides declared that the United States had not told Pakistani leaders about the raid ahead of time. Significantly, Obama did not thank Pakistan. An American official pointedly declared that the information leading to bin Laden’s killing was shared “with no other country” and this top secret operation was such that “only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance”.
Today, Pakistan’s embarrassment is deep. On numerous occasions, our military and civilian leaders had emphatically stated that bin Laden was not in Pakistan. Some suggested that he might be in Sudan or Somalia. Others hinted that he might already have died from a kidney ailment, or perhaps that he was in some intractable area, protected by nature and terrain and thus outside the effective control of the Pakistani state.
But then it turned out bin Laden was not hiding in some dark mountain cave in Waziristan. Instead, probably for at least some years, he had lived comfortably smack inside the modern, peaceful, and extraordinarily secure city of Abbottabad. Using Google Earth, one sees that the deceased was within easy walking distance of the famed Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. It is here where General Kayani had declared on April 23 that “the terrorist’s backbone has been broken and inshallah we will soon prevail”. Kayani has released no statement after the killing.
Still more intriguing are pictures and descriptions of bin Laden’s fortress house. Custom-designed, it was constructed on a plot of land roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. Television images show that it has high walls, barbed wire and two security gates. Who approved the construction and paid for it? Why was it allowed to be away from the prying eyes of the secret agencies?
Even the famous and ferocious General Hamid Gul (retd) — a bin Laden sympathiser who advocates war with America — cannot buy into the claim that the military was unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. In a recorded interview, he remarked that bin Laden being in Abbottabad unknown to authorities “is a bit amazing”. Aside from the military, he said “there is the local police, the Intelligence Bureau, the Military Intelligence, the ISI — they all had a presence there”. Pakistanis familiar with the intrusive nature of the multiple intelligence agencies will surely agree; to sniff out foreigners is a pushover.
So why was bin Laden sheltered in the army’s backyard? General Pervez Musharraf, who was army chief when bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad was being constructed in 2005, unwittingly gives us the clearest and most cogent explanation. The back cover of his celebrated book, In The Line Of Fire, written in 2006, reads:
“Since shortly after 9/11 — when many al Qaeda leaders fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan — we have played multiple games of cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing but we have caught many, many others. We have captured 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Here, I will tell the story of just a few of the most significant manhunts”.
So, at the end of the day, it was precisely that: A cat and mouse game. Bin Laden was the ‘Golden Goose’ that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose. Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the Goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions. While bin Laden in virtual captivity had little operational value for al Qaeda, he still had enormous iconic value for the Americans. It was therefore expected that kudos would come just as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Kuwaiti-born senior al Qaeda leader who was arrested in Rawalpindi, or Mullah Baradar, the Taliban leader arrested from Karachi.
Events, however, have turned a potential asset into a serious liability. Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. To appear joyful would infuriate the Islamists who are already fighting the state. On the other hand, to deprecate the killing would suggest that Pakistan had knowingly hosted the king of terrorists.
Now, with bin Laden gone, the military has two remaining major strategic assets: America’s weakness in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. But moving these chess pieces around will not assure the peace and prosperity that we so desperately need. They will not solve our electricity or water crises, move us out of dire economic straits, or protect us from suicide bombers.
Bin Laden’s death should be regarded as a transformational moment by Pakistan and its military. It is time to dispense with the Musharraf-era cat and mouse games. We must repudiate the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism — and actually fighting it in some places — but secretly supporting it in other places. Until the establishment firmly resolves that it shall not support armed and violent non-state actors of any persuasion — including the Lashkar-e-Taiba — Pakistan will remain in interminable conflict both with itself and with the world.
Pervez Hoodbhoy is professor of physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. This article was first published in The Express Tribune, Pakistan
Next steps wrt to Pak... Historically the US has always supported Pak as a balance to India, especially since India was aligned with the ex-soviet union. Now however things have changed, the soviet union collapsed, India is non-aligned and an emerging power, China is moving towards super power status and has started to challenge the US. In these circumstances, US will have to partner and support India (that's a separate discussion).
Pak perfidy has cost us a lot of treasure as well as lives, since the last 10 years. Americans are unwelcome in the country, why the american tax payer should support nation building in a land where the common abdul hates americans is beyond me.
The key to controlling paki behaviour is through control of their nuclear weapons. If they are denuked, all their aggressiveness and support of terror will disappear because India would have no reason to with hold a punishing response to Pak every time there was a terrorist incident in India. The terror sanctuaries exist in pak, only because of state support. Currently the thinking in India is that pakis have nothing to lose in a nuclear exchange (except some goats and pakis) because there is very little industrialization, while Indian progress would receive a severe setback in the event of a nuclear exchange... and the jihadis are mad enough to lob a few towards India. The tactical brilliance of the pakis is seen in their recent missile test which was developed in response to India's Cold Start doctrine (a rapid response attack inside Pak). Apparently, they developed a nuclear tipped missile for use in their own country, to halt any rapid thrust by India in paki territory. The clowns forgot that use of a nuke in their own country on Indian troops would invite an additional larger nuclear response from india inside paki territory....but this is getting OT. http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/20/n-capable-ballistic-missile-tested.html
So the question is how to denuke the purelanders....and there are many ways to skin a cat.
KPS Gill, the Indian Police Officer, who brought the Khalistani movement in India (sponsered by pak) under control, wisely said wrt to Pak in 2008,
"The reality is, there is no such thing as Islamist terrorism. To understand the position correctly, we need to recognise that there is only ISI terror that has been dubbed as 'Islamist terror'. What we have, on the ground, is the proliferation of Pakistani terrorism, strategically compounded across new areas of disorder by networks loosely affiliated with their Pakistani sources. If Pakistani state support to so-called Islamist terrorism ended today, it would not be long before the various terrorist groups atrophied and withered away, lacking safe havens, institutional support and training infrastructure, and the vast ideological resources that have been brought to bear on the so-called global jihad".
This is a key lesson that Obama needs to take to heart, atleast when dealing with pak.
Its very clear that the ISI/Army was hiding OBL. It seems the house was built in Musharraf's time (very likely with US money!). Of note, current army chief (Kiyani), was the head of the ISI then. The house is in the army cantonment area, ie its completely under army control. One cannot build anything without approval from the army. It seems that OBL has been there for a few years, ie full blessings of the ISI.
So now that the US has expended over a trillion $ over 10 years + lives, the least that the US should do is to declare Pak a terrorist nation....but we wont. ISI needs to be disbanded and brought under civilian control. Paki duplicity cannot be tolerated....its time to call a spade a spade.
The article is certainly Bondesque ... Initially, the American thinking was that an India-Pak nuclear exchange while undesirable, was without risk to the US and so the US turned a blind eye to Chinese proliferation support to Pak. Today, the thinking on Indian defense sites is that the jihadis hate the US and Israel more than they hate India (infact polls show that). Anytime the pakis hate someone more than India, that's a major achievement....ie the nukes may come back and bite us in the US and not India. I for one dont doubt the plausibility of the scenario.
The paki army is highly jihadized, their motto is "Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah". Translated into English, it means "Faith, Piety and Fight in the path of God". They now claim to have more nukes or weapons grade material than the UK. Continuing the story...I forsee a jihadi general allocating a couple of rough nukes for shipment to the US. The general would know that the retaliation from the US would be painful, so I would expect that the general would move out of Pak to some mid east country until things settle.
It should come as little surprise, but U.S. headlines are again dominated by dour news out of Pakistan. The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is today under severe strain, rattled by heated disputes over CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas; clandestine U.S. intelligence operations inside Pakistan; and Islamabad's persistent refusal to crack down on the Taliban and their radical allies. Intelligence cooperation is at an all-time low.
This latest series of rifts may indeed prove more damaging and permanent than previous disruptions, but they fit all too neatly in the general narrative of U.S.-Pakistan relations. One day Islamabad is touted as an indispensable ally; the next it is a back-stabbing fountain of Islamist militancy. For the longest time, these competing tensions were encapsulated in the Washington debate over whether or not Pakistan was playing a "double game."
But we were debating the wrong question. Of course Pakistan is playing a double game. Of course its intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), supports Islamist militants. The relevant question is not if Pakistan is playing a double game, but why? The simplest answer is that Pakistan believes it needs a pliant, anti-Indian regime in Afghanistan and - as it has for decades - Pakistan is using Islamist militants as an extension of its foreign policy.
In short, Islamabad sees a Taliban-led government in Kabul as the best guarantor of its interests in neighboring Afghanistan. But this, too, begs the question: What are its interests? Why risk international condemnation and the ire of your superpower benefactor for influence in a desolate, landlocked country with few natural resources or infrastructure, and of questionable strategic value?
Two motivations are often cited: First, Islamabad is said to covet Afghanistan for "strategic depth." Pakistan is geographically narrow and its major cities, positioned as they are near its eastern border with India, are vulnerable to attack in the event of a war with its rival. Thus, Pakistan's military planners - for whom an Indian invasion is always imminent - yearn for the rugged Afghan terrain to the west, where a retreating army could regroup and coordinate a guerrilla war, if necessary.
Second, Pakistan is fearful of Indian influence in Afghanistan. Around every corner in Kabul, Pakistanis see Indian agents and behind every Afghan initiative, a nefarious Hindu plot. That India's presence in Afghanistan has been benign, civilian and economic in nature has not stopped the ISI from backing brazen jihadi attacks on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.
This suggests that Pakistan's perceived interests in Afghanistan are India-centric. However, the fear of ethnic (specifically Pashtun and Baluch) nationalism may play an even greater role in Pakistan's strategy, penetrating to the heart of what constitutes Pakistani identity and the integrity of the Pakistani state.
There are roughly 40 million Pashtuns straddling the Afghan-Pakistan border, the notoriously autonomous "martial race," with legendary fighting prowess (virtually all Taliban are Pashtun, but not all Pashtun are Taliban). The Af-Pak border that cuts this stateless nation in half was drawn by India's colonial British overlords in 1893. Incorporating a sliver of the Afghan frontier into northwestern India, the Durand Line, as the border is called, was designed to create a buffer zone between India and the lawless hinterland beyond. But after partition in 1947, the new (West) Pakistani state inherited these Pashtun tribal areas.
Like their countrymen in the east, the Pashtuns - and the even more disaffected Baluch minority in the south - are Muslim, but they share little else in common in terms of culture, language, allegiance or history. So it comes as no surprise that they have periodically agitated for greater autonomy, independence or even incorporation into Afghanistan. As the saying goes, the Afghans have a terribly weak state but a cohesive national identity. In Pakistan, the strong, military-run state is in part compensation for its fragile national identity.
Consequently, Islamabad is hypersensitive to ethnic nationalism and separatism. Pakistan already lost nearly half its territory - East Pakistan - to another disgruntled ethnic minority in the 1971 war that created Bangladesh. To complicate matters further, successive Afghan governments, including the Pakistani-backed Taliban regime of the 1990s, have refused to recognize the Durand Line. Pakistan fears that a strong and independent Afghanistan - let alone one allied to India - could challenge their artificial border and agitate Pashtun or Baluch nationalists, undermining Pakistan from within. A friendly, Taliban-led regime in Kabul is thus seen by Islamabad as the best defense against this possibility and against Indian "encirclement."
Of course, none of Pakistan's "interests" in Afghanistan justify its backing fanatical jihadists that slaughter the innocent, the majority of which are Muslim. But Washington must better understand the misguided logic behind Pakistan's double game if it insists on being a party to it until 2014. Pakistan, on the other hand, has been obsessing for so long over a phantom menace, it is blind to the real threat to its strategic interests: a fundamental split with the United States. Ten years of supporting America's Islamist enemies has poisoned its reputation in America. Its once-mighty defenders in Washington are isolated and shrinking in number, while a younger generation of policymakers knows nothing of Pakistan but militancy, corruption and deception. When the United States inevitably departs Afghanistan, so too, will Pakistan's "leverage" over America. Only then will Pakistan's leadership realize the true cost of their double game.
Jeff M. Smith is a fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.
The change in Drone Strike Ratio, and the respective composition of ISI-proxy-Taliban vs. TTP (Tehrik e Taliban Pak) in various agencies, gives a good indication as to the direction in which US-TSP relations have been headed for a while.
The figure also attempts to illustrate where PA (pak army) is active (blue regions), where PA has refused to deploy in spite of US demands (red/purple regions), where the US drones are active (also the red/purple regions), and where new fronts are being opened by TTP against TSPA at the present time (blue regions in central and eastern FATA.)
There is a clear distinction between theatres of interest that is beginning to show up. PA/ISI are using proxies mainly in the western part of FATA... Waziristan... to wage war against NATO and Kabul. TTP is stronger in central and eastern FATA, and directing its energies towards eastern NWFP in the direction of Punjab (to link up with Punjabi Tanzeems?) The US is hitting the PA/ISI proxies with 95% of its drone strikes, and largely leaving the TTP alone (at least on Pakistani soil.)
A slightly different picture than "US being taken for a ride" that some have advanced. At least three distinct wars are going on in different theatres: 1) Kabul/NATO vs. ISI-proxy-Taliban in North and South Waziristan and in Southwest Afghanistan 2) Kabul/NATO vs. TTP-leaning Taliban in Central/Eastern Afghanistan 3) ISI/TSPA vs. TTP-leaning Taliban in Central/Eastern FATA and in NWFP.
It seems interesting that the new fronts being opened by TTP do not seem directed towards expanding influence in the FATA but are going directly for the heart of Pak proper...NE part of NWFP, Dir and Swat.
Here is some history (from one of the blogs I frequent) about the Kunduz airlift, and the results of the strategic brilliance of the purelanders that you may be unaware of.
"The tragic events of 9/11 thrust Pakistan into limelight once again for all the wrong reasons. As is its wont, Pakistan saw an opportunity even amidst the gloom of being reduced to a rubble and being taken back to stone-age. It offered its unstinted services to the USA and hoped to resurrect its relationship with that country which was at its nadir then. More importantly, it also wished to stem the growing India-US engagement which was being interpreted as a threat for itself. Thus, it hoped to correct the perceived tilt in US policies favouring India. It also saw a window of opportunity to acquire American arms and ammunition apart from getting large funds just as in the decade of the 50s and 80s. It was also Pakistan’s calculation that with the US once again dependent on it due to its geographical advantages, it will get a free hand in pressurizing India on Kashmir and other issues through not only diplomacy but terrorism as well, just as it happened in the 80s when terrorism in the Indian Punjab was instigated. This is where it differed from a host of other countries which also demanded and got various favours from the US for their support for the US prosecution of war on Al Qaeda.
Pakistan therefore gave the US permission to use its airbases at Jacobabad, Dalbandin, Shamsi, Pasni, naval base at Ormara and several unmarked airstrips in Balochistan to operate drones. It allowed it unhindered airspace during the initial stages of the war on terror. It allowed logistics to support troops in Afghanistan through the Karachi Port and the Indus Highway to Khyber pass in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Agencies) and Chaman pass in Balochistan It allowed the CIA to operate freely within the country, setup electronic listening posts, capture Al Qaeda suspects including Pakistanis and deport them secretively elsewhere. These Pakistani policies were to result in a severe blowback later, but, for the moment Pakistan was benefitting from its surrender of sovereignty. Apart from the write-off of some debts and the postponement in repayments of most others by over two decades, Pakistan was getting sophisticated arms ostensibly to fight terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, like F-16s, AMRAAM, naval ships, Harpoon missiles etc !!
Pakistan also extracted other tangible benefits as well from such unstinted support. One such famous benefit was the Kunduz airlift which was authorized at the Presidential level within the US to allow Gen. Musharraf to save his face and possibly his skin by airlifting over a thousand Pakistanis including ISI officers, regular Pakistani soldiers of the Frontier Corps and possibly some members of Pakistani terrorist outfits, from Kunduz in north-east Afghanistan in mid November, 2001. For the location of Kunduz, see map below.
Map Courtesy: The United Nations
To send hundreds of Pakistani Army regulars and ISI officers as far away as Kunduz to fight the Northern Alliance of Ahmed Shah Masoud, demonstrates how much Pakistan values the 'Strategic Depth' of Afghanistan. When they were finally airlifted to the safety of Pakistan, they were simply let go. Several of those charged with many assassination attempts on Gen. Musharraf later in c. 2003 were former soldiers who were airlifted out of Kunduz. Many of them later also joined Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) set up by Maulana Masood Azhar (with the help of the ISI) who was released from an Indian prison in December, 1999 in exchange for the release of the hijacked IC-814 flight. It is these Punjabi Taliban (mostly from Punjab and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir,POK) who are wreaking extensive havoc within Pakistan today. Thus, the Kunduz airlift not only helped Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders to escape, but also deeply affected personally the man who requested that, Gen. Musharraf and far more importantly has brought Pakistan to its knees today by rehabilitating hundreds of battle-hardened and vengeful jihadists. Pakistan’s tactical decisions, while looking impressive at that moment, have thus brought that nation only strategic misery.
As the Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban groups escaped into Pakistan’s unruly FATA with the support of Pashtun tribal leaders on either side of the Durand Line and also the Pakistani Army at the border checkposts, they later re-grouped to take on the NATO and Afghan forces. One strategy employed by the Al Qaeda and Taliban was to bring under a common umbrella the various other jihadi outfits and warlords operating within Pakistan and in FATA. Thus, the Islamic International Front (IIF) of Osama bin Laden truly morphed into what is today known as AQAM with the merging of the various Pakistani terrorist tanzeems. Thus, Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) was formed (officially in c. 2007) to coordinate efforts within Pakistan given the fact that the Taliban needed to marshal the meagre and battered resources well against the mighty forces of the US, NATO and Pakistan arrayed against them. This was a tough task because of the oftentimes conflicting clannish loyalties, inter-tribal rivalries and independent warlords. The effort of unification took a long time and has not been a complete success either but it survived and has been fairly successful over the years. Though the AQAM leadership knew that Pakistan would not get too close to the Americans for AQAM’s comfort, they still needed to ensure that, by creating the TTP which maintained enough pressure on the Government and the Army of Pakistan. With Islamist-military leaders like Gen. Aslam Beg, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and Col. Imam guiding them, the AQAM knew only too well what perfidy Pakistan was capable of. Therefore, they needed to establish the Caliphate in FATA and TTP was the force to capture space, establish the rule there and maintain it. This is the first of the twin objectives of TTP.
Already the Pakistani terrorist tanzeem, Harkat-ul-Ansar (later renamed as Harkat-ul-Jihadi-al-Islami or HuJI and the original bearer of the tag, Punjabi Taliban) occupied an important place in the governing structure of Afghanistan during the heady days of the Taliban there. Later, Jaish-e-Mohammed also threw its weight behind Al Qaeda and Taliban. Others like the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the Ahl-e-Hadith Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Wahhabi Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) of Maulana Sufi Mohammed of Malakand, Brigade 313 of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Karachi-based Jandullah of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the Berelvi terrorist organization Sunni Tehrik and the mother of all Pakistani terrorist organizations Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) coalesced with them making the AQAM a formidable group at least within Af-Pak. Collectively these Pakistani terrorist organizations are referred to as the Punjabi Taliban.
The latter have carried their 'Hanud' component to the 'Yahud-Nasara' conspiracy theory of Al Qaeda. The collective wisdom now seems to be that Pakistan must also be turned into Taliban-style rule so that in future the Taliban regime of Afghanistan would be secure and a worldwide assault on the kafir can be sustained. The Afghan Taliban, while still needing the support of the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan, has therefore outsourced that effort to TTP. They give the appearance of keeping the TTP at an arm's distance. The Pakistani Taliban thus seek to overthrow the Pakistani government. This is the second of the twin objectives of TTP. The Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan have no option but to continue with their support for the Afghan Taliban as they blindly continue to chase the mirage of 'strategic depth'. Like a monkey whose hand is trapped in the honey jar, the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan are thus caught in a cleft, from which they can come out only if they let go of their Indian obsession, an impossibility. Thus the Afghan Taliban is the cleverest of them all as it gets support from Pakistan while at the same time bringing it under its sphere of influence (a reverse strategic depth).While the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan believe that by supporting the Haqqani Shura and the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another old friend of the ISI, they are preparing themselves for the day after the American departure, the AQAM also believes that it has also prepared well for the same day. Pakistan therefore could be in for a rude shock when the reinstated Taliban might fall foul of their creators and mentors, the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan, because it has grown an independent mind and strategy. The assassination of Khalid Khwaja and the mujahideen and Taliban creator Col. Imam are pointers in that direction.
My speculation is that the purelanders know that we are leaving, which is a fair assumption based on Obama's wishes. The pakis are now in the process of scoring points with the locals (jihadis), that the tough purelander army is going to throw out uncle sam. This will save their H&D (Honor & Dignity), after all the beating they took over the drone strikes. OTOH, if the US is actually wanting to stay in pakiland, then this misbehaviour on the part of the purelanders will result in more baksheesh. Its a win-win, as far as I can see.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=14021 ISI chief meets CIA head and leaves Washington WASHINGTON: Pakistan's ISI chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha held an important meeting with the CIA chief on Monday but apparently cut short his visit and was leaving the US capital on Monday night.
A Pakistan Embassy official confirmed that Gen Pasha was scheduled to leave Monday night although earlier reports had indicated he may be staying in Washington for three days and leave on April 13.
There was no official word from the Pakistani side but the New York Times quoted a CIA spokesman, George Little, saying that the two spy chiefs had held "productive" meetings and that the relationship between the two services "remains on solid footing."
Political analysts were, however, a little surprised that Gen Pasha, who had arrived on Sunday evening, was leaving the US capital in just about 24 hours. There was no word of his meetings, if any, with other senior US leaders, including the Defence Secretary.
"The United States and Pakistan share a wide range of mutual interests," the CIA spokesman said, "and today's exchange emphasized the need to continue to work closely together, including on our common fight against terrorist networks that threaten both countries."
The newspaper said the meetings were part of an effort to repair the already tentative and distrustful relations between the spy agencies that plunged to a new low as a result of the Davis episode, which further exposed where Pakistani and American interests diverge as the endgame in Afghanistan draws closer.
The NYT also reported that Pakistan has demanded that the US steeply reduce the number of CIA operatives and Special Operations forces working in Pakistan, and that it put on hold CIA drone strikes aimed at militants in northwest Pakistan, a sign of the near collapse of cooperation between the two testy allies.
The demand that the United States scale back its presence is the immediate fallout of the arrest in Pakistan of Raymond A. Davis, a CIA security officer who killed two men in broad daylight during a mugging in January, Pakistani and American officials said in interviews.
The NYT said the scale of the Pakistani demands emerged as Gen Pasha met the CIA Director. The paper said Pakistan Army firmly believes that Washington's real aim in Pakistan is to neutralize the nation's prized nuclear arsenal, which is now on a path to becoming the world's fifth largest, said the Pakistani official closely involved in the decision on reducing the American presence.
On the American side, frustration has built over the Pakistan Army's seeming inability to defeat a host of militant groups, including the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which have thrived in Pakistan's tribal areas despite more than $1 billion in American assistance a year to the Pakistani military.
American officials said last year that the Pakistanis had allowed a maximum of 120 Special Forces soldiers to operate in Pakistan. The Americans had reached that quota, the Pakistani official said.
In an illustration of the severity of the breach between the CIA and the ISI, two intelligence agencies that were supposed to have been cooperating since the Sept. 11 attack in the United States but that have rarely trusted each other, the Pakistani official said: "We're telling the Americans: 'You have to trust the ISI or you don't. There is nothing in between.'"
http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1708 US-Pakistan: Losing the plot Ramtanu Maitra 02 Apr 2011 With the handover of $2 million-plus in “blood money” to Pakistani relatives of his shootout victims, the controversial Raymond Davis is back in the United States. While Davis’ release has enraged vast numbers of Pakistanis, it has pleased others, including US state department officials and the Pakistan “experts” in Washington.
Think-tank based Pakistan experts are particularly relieved by the Davis settlement, because the unsavory event had put them in a dilemma about who to support and who to condemn. These pundits that are tied to one or another faction of the American political spectrum find it difficult to keep the party line going vis-à-vis the US-Pakistan relationship: namely, that it is mutually beneficial, substantive, vital, and deep-rooted.
As a result, they focus on extraneous matters, and contrive to insert Jammu and Kashmir into the debate, to somehow justify the rabid anti-Americanism within Pakistan. They would like to blame Islamabad for it but the Afghan crisis prevents them.
Meanwhile, the contradictions proliferate and play out. Droning the “bad guys” in Pakistan’s tribal areas warring against US and NATO forces finds complete acceptance in the US. But hitting the Pakistani “terrorists” attacking Jammu and Kashmir does not.
You could categorize this as “talking-heads’ license.” But more often than not, commentators on US-Pakistan relations mistake the wood for the trees, fixing on one or another aspect of the relationship as if it were the Rosetta Stone. For example, last November, prior to President Barack Obama’s visit to India and other Asian nations, Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser at the US Institute of Peace’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention advanced a disingenuous argument.
Yusuf argued that the Kashmir issue was not only central to improving India-Pakistan relations, but US resolution of the J & K dispute would grow America-Pakistan ties. “While the situation in Afghanistan and the threat emanating from Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has preoccupied the international community in recent years, long-term stability in South Asia cannot be achieved unless Indo-Pak normalization becomes reality. Kashmir remains the single most important outstanding issue,” Yusuf proclaimed.
“The objective reality in terms of Pakistan’s state policy vis-à-vis terrorism in India is difficult to decipher,” Yusuf went on in a paper on “US-Pakistan-India”. “Pakistan pledges incapacity to eliminate all anti-India groups completely in the short run. This is valid. However, whether incapacity is complemented by lack of will - as India contends - is not clear.”
“Regardless, what is clear is that Kashmir remains intrinsically linked to acts of terrorism - it is the outstanding nature of this dispute that allows militant groups in Pakistan to rally and continue operating with a certain amount of legitimacy,” Yusuf concluded. In other words, the US-Pakistan relationship also includes the deal that Washington must impose a resolution of the Kashmir issue on India.
Missing the wood...
In late January, the US Institute for Peace (USIP) held a one-day programme, “The Future of Pakistan,” that featured many of the most prominent experts. Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution warned that the US must not squander the symbolic value of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari’s expected visit to Washington, and be careful not to bad-mouth him ahead of the trip. Riedel suggested that Zardari ought to be asked to address a joint session of Congress to make the case for Pakistan. “He can fight for what Pakistan needs,” Riedel said. He also held that Obama’s pledge to visit Pakistan was rich with substantive and symbolic value. Riedel said Obama should get out of Islamabad to meet as many Pakistanis as he can. “This is an enormously important visit,” added Riedel. “He needs to connect with the Pakistani people.”
It is another matter that the Davis dispute and its prickly resolution have put Obama’s visit to Pakistan on long-term “hold”.
Another USIP academic, Andrew Wilder, pointed out that money may not be the all-encompassing solution. Since 2001, the US has given Pakistan some $15 billion in American aid, but the US-Pakistani relationship remains weak, at best.
Georgetown University’s Christine Fair (a former USIP senior research associate) noted that “It really is important that we think about a new “big idea” for Pakistan.” Fair said that the US and Pakistan actually don’t share strategic interests but can build a long-term alliance anyway.
For example, Islamabad does not believe that the US accepts Pakistan as a nuclear state. But if Washington conferred legitimacy on Pakistan’s nuclear programme, it could change the dynamic, she argued. “Putting that out on the table,” Fair argued, “creates an enormous space for us to talk about what you, Pakistan, can do to deal with these strategic issues over which we disagree so much.”
On the other hand, Brookings Institution’s Stephen Cohen focused on Kashmir. “The United States must have its own views on Kashmir. I think we should speak up and talk about this,” he said.
Another view is that the Kashmiris themselves must count for more. “For too long the Pakistanis and the Indians have been talking as if the Kashmiris don’t exist,” says the Atlantic Council’s Shuja Nawaz. “I see Kashmir as a great opportunity.”
Needed: Plain talking
One can begin to get an idea of what these experts are evading from an article by Arnold Zeitlin, “How Pakistan Is Seen by the Washington Think Tanks,” that appeared in the Pakistani daily, The News, in February. Zeitlin served as the first AP bureau chief in Islamabad in 1969 and was a close friend of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Zeitlin pungently wrote, “If Pakistan and the US were a married couple instead of being strategic players (if not partners), counselors would recommend at least a long, trial separation, if not total divorce.”
Though not part of the Washington punditocracy, Zeitlin attended the USIP’s discussion. He thought it “might have been more realistic to adopt the title used by the Heritage Foundation, which called a conference on Pakistan and the US “Deadly Embrace.” “Washington,” observed Zeitlin, “hosts what appears to be an endless fascination that borders on fantasy about the Pakistan-US relationship... Much of the DC hand-wringing about Pakistan often focuses on what the US must do to save its relationship with that benighted country.”
“I suspect the nervousness over saving Pakistan is rooted more than 60 years ago when the notorious China lobby of Henry Luce and others branded those Mao-influenced diplomats in the State Department as traitors for losing Chiang Kai-shek’s China to Mao Zedong. None now wants the distinction of losing Pakistan, even if Pakistanis are doing a good job of it themselves.”
Ramtanu Maitra is South Asia analyst for the Executive Intelligence Review in Washington DC.
Close on the heels of a spat over a CIA contractor who gunned down two men in Lahore, another diplomatic row is brewing between Pakistan and the US after Islamabad barred US military personnel from leaving the country.
The US personnel have been barred from leaving Pakistan because of expired visas and other documentary irregularities, the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying. There are varying claims about the number of US soldiers denied exit. Some sources claimed about 20 to 30 people had been affected while others put the figure at slightly less than 100.
The personnel were assigned to the US Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP), which oversees bilateral military relations, including training and equipment. Some of the personnel overstayed their visas while a majority of them had expired no-objection certificates (NOCs).