South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

American hawks and doves
Mohammad Jamil

From the conflicting statements of members of Obama administration and American Generals on the issue of Pak-America relations, one can observe that they are not on the same page.

US Vice President Joe Biden and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and retired Mike Mullen represent hawks -– warmongers -– want to stay the course in Afghanistan, whereas President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are doves who do not wish to escalate the war. The defence secretary Leon Panetta conceded that the relationship with Pakistan was difficult adding that while Pakistan had cooperated in efforts against al Qaeda and continued to work with the United States, “we have great differences, especially with regard to the relationship they maintain with some militant groups.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday signaled the United States remains open to exploring a peace deal including the Haqqani network, the militant group that US officials blame for a campaign of high-profile violence that could jeopardise Washington’s plans for withdrawing smoothly from Afghanistan. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in recent statement conceded that the relationship with Pakistan was difficult and said that while Pakistan had cooperated in efforts against al Qaeda and continued to work with the United States, “we have great differences, especially with regard to the relationship they maintain with some militant groups.” As President Obama is eying another term, and given the fact that American economy in dire straits, another war front could prove a disaster for the Democrats. In the words of President Obama, Mike Mullen had leveled allegations of ISI’s hand in attack on Kabul’s high security zone, it was out of frustration of the Admiral, but other commanders are also wary of upsurge in Afghanistan despite the much-touted surge of American troops. Leon Panetta sometimes blows hot and at others blows cold. After Pakistan-bashing for quite some time, Leon Panetta says that he does not have any knowledge about ISI’s links with Haqqani network and has refused to characterize Mike Mullen’s assertion that Haqqanis serve as veritable arm of the ISI. “What we’ve got to do is build a trusting relationship where we both understand that our major effort has to be to end terrorism”, he said. Hillary Clinton has confessed publicly that the US government, through the CIA, had funded jihadis like the Haqqanis “to cross the border or to, within Afghanistan, be part of the fight to drive the Soviets out and bring down the Soviet Union”. Jalaluddin Haqqani was the Americans’ much favourite and admired Afghan mujahideen commander during their proxy war against the Soviet invaders of Afghanistan and their principal handler of Arab zealots they had herded up from all around the world to fight that war. Pakistan had also made enormous contribution in Afghan war, and had to accommodate more than three million Afghan refugees. In the war on terror, Pakistan has suffered in men and treasury, but India is being rewarded in the form of role in Afghanistan. India and Afghanistan on Tuesday signed a strategic partnership agreement, which would cover security cooperation, trade and economic ties, as well as social and cultural exchanges. This seems to be building up pressure on Pakistan to do more.Already, Indian RAW has been using Afghan soil to fan ethnic hatred and turmoil in Balochistan, and the CIA has reportedly made inroads in some of Pakistan’s militant organizations, political parties and media groups. Former Afghan spymaster Amrullah Saleh recently bragged publicly of having infested our sensitive tribal areas vulnerably; and the CIA too stated having laid out its own spy network in the region. Yet our government has refrained from telling the world whose men actually were the militants who challenged the writ of the state in the tribal areas and nearby settled regions over these past few years and in whose protection are they living now in Afghanistan after escaping the Pakistani military’s powerful response. In what appears to be an orchestrated action, the US, NATO and Kabul regime have stiffened up their expectations from Pakistan in fighting out insurgency in Afghanistan, which in reality is indigenous to that land but they all are loath to accept this fact. NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen at an international security conference in Brussels called upon Pakistan to step up fight against terrorists who he said were enjoying safe havens in its border region with Afghanistan. In fact, American civil and military leadership had miscalculated Afghans’ will and determination to fight back, and had relied on air-power. On ground, America had then deployed about 6,500 in Bagram and ISAF around 12,000 troops in Kabul. At that time they knew where Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership were holed in. They used heavy bombardment and pulverized even mountains using daisy-cutter bombs; but since they did not put enough boots on the ground they could not chase, arrest or kill Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders who went underground. For three years, American troops stayed put in Bagram, and did not do much of soldiering. Up to 2006 ISAF remained in Kabul and did not like to go to other parts of Afghanistan for the fear of casualties with the result that the Taliban got enough time to reorganize and come back with greater ferocity. Italians and Dutch had been bribing local warlords and even Taliban to get their convoys of food and other items pass through their strongholds. Nevertheless, US security concerns in Afghanistan are understandable, as upsurge in Taliban activities is troubling the US-led coalition forces. Last year, America had appointed David Patraeus (hero of Iraq) as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and commander of US force in Afghanistan. It was hoped that he would maneuver and manipulate in Afghanistan and meet success, as he did in Iraq. Though he claims to have pacified southern Afghanistan but the facts are contrary to what he says. The pragmatic analysis of performance by US and NATO forces operating in Afghanistan would reveal that world’s strongest military forces, equipped with the most modern arsenals and early warning system, have miserably failed in the face of threat posed by Taliban. Mike Mullen, David Patraeus and others had found an easy way to shift the blame of their tactical failures in Afghanistan to Pakistan stating that Haqqani network inside FATA was the sole factor hindering military success in Afghanistan. America is playing a dangerous game by sidelining Pakistan from future reconciliation process, as India would not like to see an arrangement whereby Pakhtuns would have an upper hand in the corridors of power.