Pakistan _ US Relations (Daily Times) May 06 , 2011

Terrorism – sadly the worst is still to come

All those who matter have spoken –The Army, the Foreign Office the President and the Prime Minister — as they recovered from the shock that Osama bin Laden was killed by the US, Rambo style operation last week. When their official statements are read together, one can easily say that this case study will be presented by communications gurus as one of the world’s worst communication management case.

In spite of the fact that the foreign office and army statements have conceded the country’s failure on two counts – intelligence failure because they didn’t know Osama was the military academy’s neighbour and security failure because the US helicopters carried out an operation of well over an hour, 150 kilometers from the Afghan border, in the primarily cantonment town and defenders of our borders didn’t know – there are no takers of these confessions, domestically and internationally.

Whether the doubters, which in this case are almost the entire world, are right or wrong is now the job of investigative reporters in Pakistan and the US. For the time being such is the omnipotent image of our intelligence agencies and the military that the official statements are like a bikini hiding the essentials.

The fear in the Pakistani establishment that if they accept that they knew where Osama was and they led the US to the “compound’” as stated by President Obama would result in the backlash from the militant supporters of Osama is ridiculous. Already the Islamic and nationalist militants are targeting the security personnel and installations.

In the week before Osama was taken out by the US forces, three Navy buses have been attacked in Karachi in which several people lost their lives and many were injured. This is a clear signal that the various terrorist groups whether they are Islamic Jihadists or the nationalist militants want to expand their area of war against the Pakistani establishment.

Now let’s take the issue of violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Strong reaction of the media and some political leaders reflects their subjective analysis of the predicament in which Pakistan is.

Almost every week one US general or admiral lands in Pakistan to consult; lobby; and do some straight talking with their counter-part in Rawalpindi. When they don’t fly in to Pakistan, our generals visit the US military top brass at their bases in the Middle East or all the way in the US.

Pakistan military has a blow hot, blow cold relation with the US administration for the last six decades. Reason: Pakistan’s objective is to get US arms and support to secure itself against the perceived Indian threat; the US objective on the other hand was to use Pakistan against the socialist bloc during the cold war and now against the permanent global Islamic threat.

After the cold war India quietly moved away from its non-aligned socialist leanings to a US-aligned capitalist country. This is the major shift in the regional and global politics which Pakistani officially analysts have failed to fathom, although the reality is hitting them in the shin.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff did not mince his words during his recent visit when he blamed Pakistani intelligence for nurturing the Haqqani Jihadi group and protecting Lashkar-e-Taiba. The fact that Osama was living in a garrison town of Pakistan has further strengthened the case of the US and India that we are abetting with the terrorists outfits. Official denials cannot change this perception unless we stop believing that these terrorist organizations are our first line of defence.

A large section of the media and some political parties are out-raged over the US government’s pressure on Pakistan. Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani reacted to Mullen’s remarks without naming him and debunked the notion that ‘Pakistan is not doing enough.’ Imran Khan has launched a movement against Drone attacks which supports the Pakistani establishments demand. The establishment has to show it to the American administration that public opinion is against the drone attacks.

But the question is will the US government which is looking for an exit from Afghanistan listen to the Pakistani establishment and inconsequential leaders like Imran Khan. Realistically speaking they’ll continue the drone attacks, as in spite of the collateral damage the attacks have also managed to take out some of the notorious terrorists, who have been dangerous for Pakistan.

I have maintained for the last many years in my columns that if we will not stop Afghan Taliban and their local supporters from operating from Pakistani sanctuaries, the US will not just sit back and keep on pleading. They are rightly or wrongly in Afghanistan with UN approval and have the right of ‘hot pursuit’ under the international law. The choices of playing a double game for Pakistan is no more. The more our establishment sides with the Afghan Taliban and India specific terrorist organizations, the harder we would be squeezed.  If the beneficiaries of the war economy think we can fool the world they insulting everybody’s intelligence.

We are in a nut-cracker. Only way out is the major shift in the national security policy that dreams about strategic depth in Afghanistan and pressurizing India by supporting the Jihadi organisations. It seems that the Pakistani establishment has finally made a break-through and has convinced the US that it has a role to play in the peace process in Afghanistan. The recent visit of the Prime Minister, Yusuf Gilani flanked by his military and ISI chief was significant. It was also a success because President Karzai agreed to the joint mechanism for furthering the peace process in Afghanistan. All through the last decade Pakistan has been saying that it has a stake in the future of Afghanistan. It is this foolish desire that has embroiled the country with the terrorists.

The real problem will start when the US will pull out of Afghanistan in a couple of years and their honeymoon with us would be over. Already the couple is bickering with each other publically.

Over the last 15 years India has not only become important for the US strategically, it has also become a major economic partner of the West. Today India sits not only on the G-20 table but on other such world elitist forums also. It has a global say. Even our erstwhile friend China has deeper economic interests with India and has an aversion for the religiously indoctrinated militant groups.

Intense pressure on Pakistan to wind up LeT and other such organisations will be hard to resist. Our establishment will have to change its policies and work to ‘eliminate” these groups. It would not be easy as we are likely to see strong violent resistance from the Jihadi organisations all over the country.

Painfully the future is bloody. I wish my forecast is proven wrong. But that’s what my heart says; Alas! the realistic mind gives me no luxury. (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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