Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Fiction of Pakistan-U.S. Anti-Terror Alliance

"However, the Taliban are now expanding in Pakistan much faster than anyone could have imagined. It has not been their successful strategy as much as the failed policies of the army and Musharraf that have created this crisis. The world's terrorist leaders were already living on the Pakistan side of the border, but with the creation of the Pakistani Taliban, they are now able toe expand their influence, base areas, and training camps at will across northern Pakistan. The 2008 election offers a panacea, but it will being relief only if the army, the politicians, and the international community come together to help the new Pakistan government tackle its myriad problems. Success depends on the army and the ISI being pressured or persuaded to give up their twisted logic of insecurity, national pride and expansion in the region, to help sort out the country's problems, and to be good friends to Pakistan's neighbours, instead of constantly trying to undermine them. The army's insecurity, which since 1947 has essentially bred a covert policy of undermining neighbours, has now come full circle, for Pakistan's very future is at stake as extremists threaten to undermine Pakistan itself.

"Between 1954 and 2002, the United States provided a total of $12.6-billion in economic and military aid to Pakistan, of which $9.19 billion was given during twenty-four years of military rule, while only $3.4-billion was provided to civilian governments over a 19-year period. Between 2001 and 2007, the United States gave more than $10.0 billion to the Musharraf regime.

"Today, seven years after 9/11, Mullah Omar and the original Afghan Taliban Shura still live in Balochistan province. Afghan and Pakistani Taliban leaders live on further north, in FATA, as do the militias of Jalaladin Haqqani and Gulbiddin Hikmetyar. Al Qaeda has a safe haven in FATA, and along with them reside a plethora of Asian and Arab terrorist groups who are now expanding their reach into Europe and the United States. The United States and NATO have failed to understand that the Taliban belong to neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan, but are a lumpen population, the product of refugee camps, militarized madrassas, and the lack of opportunities in the borderland of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They have neither been true citizens of either country nor experienced traditional Pashtun tribal society. The longer the war goes on, the more deeply rooted and widespread the Taliban and their transnational milieu will become." Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos
This was published in 2008. Three years later not all that much has changed. NATO is gradually pulling out of Afghanistan, Pakistan is still covertly planning attacks against India and Afghanistan, still supporting the Afghan Taliban. And feeling resentful against the United States for invading Pakistani airspace, using drones to dispatch Taliban leaders. The country is still smarting with outraged indignation that U.S. Navy SEALS were able to cross into Pakistan without detection and dispatch Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad, snatching vengeance under the noses of commanders of the military academy in spitting distance from the bin Laden compound.

No compunction, nor admissions of laxity or security impropriety that bin Laden and his family could be living comfortably in that compound adjacent the town and the military academy, obviously protected by the ISI and the military, but fury over the U.S.'s audacity in failing to consult with Pakistani authorities, the Army and the Secret Service. Of course, the U.S. had previous indication how insecure their plan would turn out should they advise the government of Pakistan. Pakistan's commitment to counterterrism was put to the test when insurgents disappeared before Pakistani security forces arrived after the U.S. provided information on bomb-making factories.

And now with the public declaration by Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joints chiefs of Staff that the government of Pakistan clearly approved the assassination of Saleem Shahzad, a newsman who has been severely critical of the government, Pakistan is sizzling with anger. "It was sanctioned by the government, yeah." Fairly unequivocal. Undiplomatic but hard to overlook as a reality. The anger and suspicion on both sides finally exacerbated to the point where Pakistan has refused to allow the entry of U.S. servicemen tasked to set up some of the military equipment the U.S. is providing to Pakistan.

In retaliation to which the United States is withholding roughly $800-million in military aid and equipment, representing a third of the $2-billion in annual assistance to the country. Which includes defraying the costs of Pakistan's border troops, along with funding for training assistance and military hardware. Because Pakistan has denied visas to some 100 U.S. personnel whose function is to operate military equipment, special radios, night-vision goggles, helicopter spare parts cannot be certified or used for training.

The country's information minister hints at what might ensue during this time of extremely strained relations. Pakistan is threatening to cut off land supply routes for NATO forces into Afghanistan, and not for the first time. Proving more than aptly how reliable it is as a partner in the struggle against terrorism. Concerning the United States and NATO increasingly, as Pakistan goes about increasing its nuclear arsenal, even while it struggles to contain the enterprising Pakistani Taliban who clearly have plans not amenable to the government, nor to the security of its nuclear installations.

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