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The military’s risky game – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Each time an-anti American spell is created, the religious right becomes stronger and bolder. It may not have fatally bitten the deep state directly but it has created havoc with Pakistan’s economy

It is likely that Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies have been involved in whipping up the Raymond Davis case and then getting him released on quasi-legal grounds. Now, the military has put its foot down to stop drone attacks after several years of silent acquiescence. The push-back against the Americans could be a smokescreen to attract the anti-American fervour of the nation’s public and eventually enter North Waziristan (NW), but the rhetoric may further empower the religious right and extremist groups.

Pakistan’s ‘deep state’ — that is what some people have started calling the sum total of the military and its agencies — has been playing the anti-American game through the religious right and wandering patriots like Imran Khan to pursue its policy objectives. Seemingly, the strategy has worked in the short-run but the monster of religious extremism and irrational nationalism has been growing and taking on a life of its own.

It is reasonable to assume the highest levels of US leadership would have contacted the Pakistan military’s top brass and ISI chief to have Raymond Davis released immediately after his arrest. Obviously, not only did the military refuse to intervene but it also prompted its media auxiliaries to hype up the matter. Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and other religious parties, keen to provide some kind of political cover to the Taliban and other jihadi groups, picked up the issue and created anti-American street hysteria in Pakistan. Arguably, the deep state may have done this to assert itself against its American partners, some cynics saying this was a ploy to get more money.

The sudden release of Raymond Davis has probably come after the outstanding issues were resolved. We know what amount of diyat (blood money) was paid to Fahim and Faizan’s families but we have no information on what the deep state got in return. We do not want to belabour this point too much because the Pakistan military may have very genuine issues that the US was not listening to, and using the Raymond Davis card meant protecting the state’s interests. But, immediately after the Davis deal, the US foolishly caused the death of citizens who were holding a jirga in Datta Khel. Pakistan’s military chief reacted sharply and, according to recent reports, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has begun patrolling the Pak-Afghan border to repulse future drone attacks.

Pakistan’s military may have been genuinely angered by US ungratefulness; the dust from the Raymond Davis case has not yet cleared and the US has bombed citizens in an area where anti-Americanism is already a serious threat to the establishment. However, it is hard to believe that Pakistan will begin shooting down US drones to stop the attacks that it has silently condoned and cooperated with for years. Due to economic and other needs, Pakistan is not in a position to alienate the US to the extent that it is perceived as a hostile force. …

Read more : Wichaar