Published on Rupee News
Newsweek says that “Pakistan is playing hardball”. Bruce Riedel an influential White House staffer describes the difficulties in the US-Pakistani relationship. He is not alone. US Think Tanks are in overdrive trying to figure out a way out of Afghanistan without losing face. That has become an impossibility.
Jane Parlez has written a profound and important article in the New York Times, on U.S.-Pakistani Relations. She describes in great detail the intra-US rift and sheds light on the fallout with Pakistan on how to exit Pakistan. Jane also describes the substantial rift over US Drone Strikes on Pakistani soil. Both sides are trying to secure their national interests while jockeying with the different players in the region. General Kayani got an extension on the promise that Islamabad would be able to secure a position on the negotiating table–a commitment given to him by none other than Mrs. Hillary Clinton. The US needs a fall-guy for its defeat in the Hindu Kush. The graveyard of empires has defined the limits of a Superpower. Washington knows it needs Pakistan, no matter how frustrating and irritating the relationship is.
A couple of years after Islamabad announced that it had become a Nuclear power, it got embroiled in the Afghan quagmire. It didn’t get a chance to grow into the spot. It has now been a decade, and Pakistan has now become assertive.
The Pakistani Army has grown increasingly restive and angry with US intelligence network over the past couple of years. Now the fifth largest Nuclear power, a resurgent Islamabad is growing more and more resistant to outside pressure and intimidation. Delhi too has learned the simple truth that it can’t intimidate a nuclear rival. Delhi has been forced to resume discussions and dialogue with Pakistan. Today the US is facing some of the pugnacious Pakistani resilience. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya, the U.S. cannot even think about using blatant force to pressure Pakistan, a fact of which the Pakistanis are well aware of. All the US can do it send scores of mercenaries into Pakistan to try to intimidate it. However JSOC operations can go only so far–and the ISI is now wise to US tactics and is countering them in a potent manner. Islamabad has a knife on the NATO jugular–it controls the main US supply line from Karachi to Kabul in Afghanistan.
According to press reports President Obama has refused to halt the drone strikes and has refused to wind down the CIA operations in Pakistan. The WSJ demands a new ultimatum to Pakistan. Gen. Pasha after being turned down in Langley, went straight to Turkey to brief President Zardari who is on an official visit there about his talks. Analysts have reinforced the conjecture that the release of “Raymond Davis” was tied to a halt in the drones–however there have been two strikes since his release, one killed 45 innocent pro-Pakistani tribal leaders dealing with a domestic issue. Either the CIA reneged, or it defeated the State Department. Apparently the CIA won the argument and wants to continue the strikes. Either way, it has angered the civilian and military troika in Pakistan.
Sources in Pakistan confirm the that difference between the US and Pakistan can be encapsulated in the following few bullets:
- The Pakistanis want the CIA infrastructure dismantled in Pakistan and a halt to drone strikes.
- In a post-US Kabul, Islamabad wants a smaller Afghan National Army of about 100,000 instead of 400,000 that the US wants.
- The US wants a highly centralized Afghan government while Pakistan wants a lose confederation.
- Rawalpindi wants reconciliation with the “Good Taliban” while the US wants to hammer the “Bad Taliban”.
- The situation is complicated by the differences between the hawkish General Petraeus‘ political ambitions and Admiral Mullen’s pragmatic approach of including the Pakistanis in the final Afghan settlement.
The Pakistanis are working with the Afghans directly, diffusing the tension and helping them understand that a smaller ANR would be to their own benefit. Islamabad and Kabul seem to be working together to counter what Pakistan has described as a new “Great Game” in Afghanistan. Political analysts describe it as U.S. intentions to establish permanent bases on Afghan soil to be used for launching attacks against Iran and other countries.
There has been a lack of trust between Washington and Islamabad mainly because of the way the US forced Pakistan to participate in the war, and twisted its arm to act against its own interests. The US took advantage of the chaos that reigned during the power transition from Musharraf to Zardari. Langley grew the CIA network and dramatically increased drone bombings, fully knowing that this would destabilize the situation in Pakistan.
Bruce Riedel and gang are still trying to force an India-Pakistani rapprochement ostensibly to use it against China. No one in Islamabad is ready for that kind of suicide pact with Delhi. Kashmir has to be resolved to Pakistan’s satisfaction, and Delhi is not ready to play ball.
According to press reports this disastrous “War on Terror” has cost Pakistan more then $ 75 billion and US has merely compensated less then $ 10 billion over the past decade. The Pakistanis want to halt the US supply lines–and really don’t care about US aid anymore.
It is apparent that the ephemeral strategic alliance made by President George W. Bush and Gen. Pervez Musharraf is as dead as a door nail. The Pakistani official quoted by Ms. Parlez is a poignant reminder of the reality of US-Pakistani relationship “The feeling of being allies was never there,” … “I’ve said to the Americans: ‘You are going to fail in Afghanistan and you are going to make us the fall guy.’ I still think this is going to happen.”