The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink
So, he surrendered to parliament. Or did he? The Pakistani government’s minister for information would have one believe that he did. But General Ahmed Shuja Pasha may actually be recalling Julius Caesar’s words: veni, vidi, vici! The only difference is that when Caesar claimed ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’, he was reporting to the Roman Senate about his swift military victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus. However, for all practical purposes, General Pasha and the security establishment’s triumph is on the domestic front. For now, they seem to have vanquished parliament quite successfully. Like Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses, the PPP, PML-Q and the MQM threw themselves into the military’s arms with a fervent “…and yes I said yes I will Yes”. The PML-N’s chiding notwithstanding, Generals Pasha and Ashfaq Kayani had their cake and got to eat it too.
The well-choreographed Pasha tamasha in parliament and the events preceding and after it has left the Pakistani parliament weaker than ever before. Many of us never had any illusions about the security establishment’s tall tale that the civilians should take charge of foreign and security affairs. But anyone who still had a doubt about the ones calling the shots need not look any further than the US Senator John Kerry’s very first stop on his visit to Pakistan this week. Despite his recent tame requests for the prime minister to convene parliament to discuss the Osama bin Laden fiasco, General Kayani did not find anything wrong with Senator Kerry seeing him before meeting the civilian leadership. A simple change in the visiting senator’s itinerary could have been requested — and very likely accepted by the guest — but it was not. Well, so much for the military’s newfound love for parliament’s supremacy. But one must give credit where it is due. A bakery-running enterprise may not be a fighting force but it could be pretty deft at politics. ….
…. No matter how Pakistan spins it, the tailspin in its relationship with the US and the world at large cannot be reversed by returning the stealth H-60 Blackhawk’s tail. The Pakistani brass is way too familiar with the words “peanuts” when describing a disproportionately minuscule response to tectonic shifts in geopolitics. Osama bin Laden’s lair, less than a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, is not a pinprick that the world, let alone the US, would forget so easily. The Pakistani parliament may have been duped with it, but there is every indication that the US Congress and the White House consider the ‘intelligence failure’ excuse an insult to their intelligence.
Senator Kerry’s soft but measured tone indicates that the Pakistani brass still has some time, perhaps through July, to make serious amends but all options, including moving the UN, remain on the table. The senator also seems to have spelt out some of the bare-minimum metrics for any rapprochement. Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis Mullah Omar and his Quetta Shura on the one hand and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and its various incarnations on the other, will certainly determine the future relationship between Pakistan and the world at large. But if the senator’s visit to Khost — across from North Waziristan — is any indication, the dismantling of the Haqqani network is at the top of the confidence-building agenda. The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink. Unlike the Pakistani parliament, the UN Security Council may actually be difficult to conquer.
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