South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Unreliable ally: Pakistan or America?
Mohammad Jamil

United States Vice President Joe Biden told Cable News Network (CNN) in an interview on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that Pakistan had been an unreliable ally of the US in the war against Al-Qaeda and other extremist organisations.

The price of Pakistan’s choices had been the “loss of life of American soldiers in Afghanistan”, the vice president said. He added that “Islamabad has been very helpful in other times, but it’s not sufficient. They have to get better. We need a relationship that is born out of mutual interest. And it’s in their interest that they be more cooperative with us.” In view of the deception, manipulation, betrayal and blackmailing Pakistan by American leadership, the crown of unreliability fits squarely America’s own head. For having failed to decimate Taliban in Afghanistan and establish the writ of Afghan government they are trying to make Pakistan a scapegoat by inventing a whole litany of charges of its collusion with Afghan Taliban. In a recent attack by the Taliban in Kabul, Leon Panetta and others say that militants of Haqqani network come from Pakistan. One should ask them what the hell they are doing on their side of the border. And why they do not stop them and kill them when trying to cross the border.

In fact, the CIA’s was responsible for all the mess in Afghanista when it cobbled together the conglomerate of Northern Alliance, primarily Tajiks, and imported Afghan expatriates, all animated with compulsive hostility against Pakistan. Former director of the CIA and present Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday warned Pakistan the US would do everything to defend US forces from Pakistan-based militants staging a dramatic attack in the Afghan capital. A day after a 19-hour assault staged near the US embassy and NATO headquarters, Panetta expressed frustration that the Pakistani government has so far failed to crack down on Haqqani network militants that Washington suspects carried out Tuesday’s attack. ”Time and again we’ve urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis and we’ve made very little progress in that area,” Panetta told reporters aboard his plane before landing in San Francisco. “I’m not going to talk about how we’re going to respond. I’ll just let you know that we’re not going to allow these kinds of attacks to go on,” he said.

The dilemma of releasing Abdullah Mehsud from the American Guantanamo prison and initially sending him to Afghanistan and not Pakistan despite being a Pakistani national still remains unresolved. And who tasked him to kidnap two Chinese engineers working on the Gomal Dam project in the tribal area immediately on his return home too remains unanswered. The question also is where had Swati thug Fazlullah disappeared for years in Afghanistan after the US-led invasion and who provided cash, weapons and munitions to him to confront the Pakistani state with a fierce insurrection immediately on his return home? That remains as mystifying as was the bonhomie of Abdolmalek Rigi, the now-hanged head of Iranian dissidents’ terrorist Jundullah outfit, with the tribal militants like Baitullah.

The Americans may have put this outfit on their terrorist list, but the fact remains that the Iranians had arrested Rigi midair as he emerged from US Bagram military base in Afghanistan and boarded a Gulf flight. His Jundullah terrorists have at times been cited for involvement in Karachi bloodletting. Many books have been written on the CIA but the recent article by Brian Cloughley, a renowned defence analyst is revealing. Brian Cloughley has laid bare some of the facts about the CIA in his article captioned ‘A killing machine called CIA’. In the very first para he writes: “The CIA’s drone attacks in Pakistan have killed a lot more innocent people than it does in more mundane day-to-day butchery; but the plain fact is that it has always been in the business of killing, and always will be. The double murder in Lahore by the CIA employee Raymond Davis was bizarre and outrageous but only a minor indication of its embrace of criminality”. Brian, former deputy head of UN Mission in Kashmir 1980-82 had served as Australian defence attaché in Pakistan from 1988-1994. In his article, he also referred to the US declassified documents including a memo that revealed the then CIA director Allen Dulles having personally approved a plot to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. Brian also mentioned about American support to the dictators in the Middle Eastern countries and elsewhere.

Anyhow, it has to be mentioned that after the Soviet Union was defeated in Afghan war and disintegrated, the US withdrew its support to Pakistan and left it to the CIA to ‘look after’ Afghanistan. When the Taliban taking advantage of the war between the mujahideen groups gained control of about 90 per cent of Afghanistan, the CIA strengthened the Northern Alliance to overthrow Taliban, but it was only after 9/11 that Pakistan was coerced into joining the war on terror, and the Taliban government was overthrown. Meanwhile, CIA-RAW-RAAM-Mossad-MI6 initiated a covert war against Pakistan. In this context, Karzai regime offered Afghan soil to anti-Pakistan intelligence agencies to indulge in cross-border terrorism inside Pakistan. The saboteurs, arms, ammunition, explosives and funds are being funneled into Pakistan from Afghanistan to aid anti-Pakistan forces in Balochistan and FATA. Armed attacks by foreign militants in Chitral from Kunar/ Nooristan provinces (Afghanistan) are the recent examples. Since former Director CIA, Leon Panata has taken over as us Secretary for Defence, relations between Pakistan and the US are likely to be strained, as it was during his tenure that 2nd May attack on Abbottabad compound was planned and executed. In fact, callous and indiscriminate use of drones by the CIA, Raymond Davis fiasco and US Navy Seals raid inside Pakistan’s territory have created an environment of suspicion and mistrust adversely impacting Pak – US relations. There is no denying that the US needs Pakistan, and the war on terror over time has become Pakistan’s war as well. Therefore both parties must realize the core requirement and remove mistrust by accommodating each others interests. Unfortunately US is giving too much space to India in Afghanistan which can impede the peace process in the region. It is not only Pakistan’s concern against Indian role in Afghanistan but the people of Afghanistan especially Pashtuns do not like to see India being given bigger role in Afghanistan.

We should not feel hesitate in saying that Pakistan has legitimate interest and stakes in Afghanistan and should be on board in shaping the outcome of Afghan conflict. The situation demands mutual trust and confidence among the stakeholders including US, Afghan Government, Taliban and Pakistan. British newspaper ‘Time’ has reported the other day that the US has endorsed plans for the Taliban to open political headquarters in the Gulf state of Qatar by the end of the year just to keep Pakistan out of the loop. The move is designed to allow foreign powers to begin formal peace talks with the Taliban. This would be the first internationally recognised representation for the Taliban since it was ousted from power by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The US and its allies hope that opening a Taliban office in Qatar would push forward the prospect of talks intended to reconcile insurgents with the Afghan government and bring an end to the decade-long war, but this hope could become reality with the help of Pakistan.