Tag Archives: leverage

Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

By Najam Sethi

The Pakistan army’s vaulting mission to remain the most powerful actor in Pakistani politics has received irreparable setbacks in the last few years.

On the one hand, this is due to the onset of several new factors in the body politic determining the direction of political change in the future.

On the other, it reflects poorly on the ability and willingness of the army’s leadership to understand the far-reaching nature of this change and adapt to it seamlessly.

Pakistan’s future as a viable nation-state now depends on how the generals read the writing on the wall and quickly come to terms with it. Here is a checklist of recent failures that have downgraded the Pak army’s rating with Pakistanis.

(1) The army’s policy of nurturing anti- Americanism in Pakistan for leveraging its strategic relationship with the US has backfired and left it stranded in no-man’s land. It can’t let go of the US privately for purposes of economic rent and military aid extraction but it can’t embrace it publicly because of the rampant ‘Ghairat’ brigade of extremist Islamic nationalists that it has brainwashed.

(2) The army’s policy of nurturing the Afghan Taliban in private while appeasing the Pakistan Taliban in public has also backfired.

The Afghan Taliban are now negotiating directly with America while the Pakistan Taliban are waging an ‘existential’ war against the Pak army and civil society. PAK army’s relationship with the government, opposition, and media is at an all-time low.

The government has meekly folded before the army on every issue; but the army’s arrogant, intrusive and relentlessly anti government propaganda and behaviour is deeply resented.

The media is also wiser and critical about its manipulation by the army and ISI viz its Drone policy, the Raymond Davis affair and Memogate.

Question marks remain over its incompetence or complicity in the OBL affair, especially following recent revelations by former DG-ISI Ziauddin Butt that General Pervez Musharraf ‘hid’ Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, followed by running threats to a clutch of independent journalists, is laid at the ISI’s door.

The ease with which terrorists have breached military security, as in the attacks on GHQ, ISI offices, military Messes, Mehran Naval Base, etc also rankle deeply.

Finally, the media is now speaking up and asking disturbing questions about the role of MI in the disappearances and torture of Baloch activists. Consequently, the media is loath to blindly follow the army’s ‘line’ on any issue any more. The PMLN, meanwhile, has gone the whole hog, openly demanding that the intrusion of the military in politics must be curtailed and the army’s overweening power cut to size.

If its ratings are falling, the army’s ability to manipulate politics to its ends is also diminishing. In the old days, the army chief was the most powerful member of the ruling troika that included the president and prime minister. Now the office of the president has lost its clout and there are two new and powerful contenders for say.

The first is the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry that has unprecedentedly pushed politicians into a corner for corrupt practices and the military on the defensive for being unaccountable (the Mehrangate affair of 1990, disappearances and murder of Baloch and Taliban extremists in captivity).

The second is the electronic media that is reaching tens of millions of Pakistanis and courageously raising their consciousness. Neither will countenance any direct or indirect military intervention in politics. Recently, in a bid to salvage some wounded pride, the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that defense expenditure is a mere 18 per cent of the budget and not over 50 per cent as alleged by critics like Maulana Fazlur Rahman. But the truth is that defense expenditure is about 25 per cent of the budget after hidden ‘defense’ items in government expenditures like the military’s salaries and pensions, special project allocations, etc are unveiled and supplementary grants in any budgetary year are accounted for.

More to the point, it is about 50 per cent of all tax revenues in any year, which puts a big burden on the fiscal deficit. Gen Kayani also insists that the army is not involved in quelling unrest in Balochistan. But the fact remains that the Rangers and Frontier Corps who are in charge of ‘law and order’ in the province are directly commanded by army officers who report to GHQ even though they are formally under the interior ministry.

Continue reading Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

Pakistan – A state determined to kill – itself

A state determined to kill – itself

By Khaled Ahmed

By creating just one point of view, Pakistan may entrench itself in dangerous isolation, and may find it difficult to do course-correction to save its already crippled economy from collapsing

A revisionist state called Pakistan is taking all measures possible to immolate itself. The Army finally ran is rival Husain Haqqani to the ground and was helped in this by internecine party politics with everyone mindlessly baying for each other’s blood as the only politics they know. The national economy is gradually crumbling, its infrastructure run down and people willing to attack and burn because the state is unable to run itself. On top of it all, the most fatal hubris of a weak state – ghairat or honour – rules the collective mind.

The Pakistan Army is the only popular institution in the country with processions now carrying portraits of General Kayani because he carries in him the promise of a war of honour, in other words, an honourable death, because living without honour is not living at all. On 26 November 2011, the NATO forces attacked a checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border and killed 24 Pak troops. No one knows what happened except Pakistan that says it was a pre-planned attack. Pakistan significantly got its TV cable operators to ban the BBC for showing its two-hour documentary Secret Pakistan whose facts cannot be denied or at least no one outside Pakistan will reject them. Pakistan should pause and reflect on these facts and then understand the November 26 attack in their light.

BBC said on its website: ‘Filmed largely in Pakistan and Afghanistan, this documentary explored how a supposed ally stands accused by top CIA officers and Western diplomats of causing the deaths of thousands of coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. It is a charge denied by Pakistan’s military establishment, but the documentary makers meet serving Taliban commanders who describe the support they get from Pakistan in terms of weapons, training and a place to hide’.

Pak Army is not willing to look at the non state actors despoiling the country from the inside. It defies the world asking that they be banned and brought to account and feels itself totally blameless for what happened in Mumbai in 2008 while it focuses on what has happened at Salala in 2011. If you kill others or get them killed by your non state actors, they are prone to make the kind of mistake that was made at Salala. But Pakistan welcomes war even though it has never won one and has been defeated again and again fighting India, the last one being the battle of Kargil. General Kayani has familiarly thrown the gauntlet to the US: do it again and see what happens. The world knows that nothing will happen, except that Pakistan, already in dire economic straits, will be crushed.

Nawaz Sharif has gone to the Supreme Court as the one forum where the PPP government can be pulled down as a corollary to defeating the United States. (Get the traitor for joining enemy America!) He wants to get at the root of the Memogate scandal and is sure that the PPP leader Zardari was trying to double-cross the Pak Army which Nawaz Sharif now wants to stand up for. He wants the PPP government gone in short order before its tenure is up.

It appears that the PMLN, with fresh warpaint on its face, the maximalist Supreme Court, intent on getting Zardari to commit hara-kiri in Switzerland, and a revengeful Army aspiring to defeat the US, are on the same page: Suspend efforts to free-trade with India, defeat the US as an obstacle to Pakistan getting its fair share of leverage in Afghanistan, and stop fighting the war against terrorists because it was never Pakistan’s war, slyly hoping that the Taliban will be on Pakistan’s side in the war against the US.

Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has pledged a crushing retaliation if the US-ISAF forces attacked inside Pakistani territory again, ‘regardless of consequences’ (sic!). He told his troops, ‘Be assured that we will not let the aggressor walk away easily; I have clearly directed that any act of aggression will be responded to with full force, regardless of the cost and consequences’. He wants the troops on the border with Afghanistan to take their own on-the-spot decision against any future NATO attacks without waiting for orders from the GHQ. Now they will fight the US-ISAF forces instead of the Taliban terrorists.

This is a very rash approach to the situation triggered by the November 26 incident, even if it is directed as a morale-booster at the troops and meant to be interpreted differently as strategy for civil society which is obviously not prepared for war on the western front. The Americans are offering regrets even before their formal inquiry into the Salala incident is completed on 21 December. President Obama too has expressed sorrow at the death of Pakistani troops while a formal apology pends till the inquiry reveals NATO’s guilt. There are however statements issuing from Washington saying the attack was unintended and that some fire had come from around the Salala checkpost.

The nation is of one mind, a kind of pre-war symptom that Pakistan experienced in 1965 and 1971 when the Army painted the country into a corner through the hubris of isolationism. It is not natural that the entire nation be of uniform thinking in favour of conflict, especially if this conflict is against an immeasurably stronger adversary. If after the anger felt in the GHQ subsides and more realistic decisions are required to be taken, the disappointment among the public will take the shape of an emotional boomerang of self-disgust. We have seen that happen in the Raymond Davis case after the CIA agent was let off on diyat instead of being publicly hanged. If the common man has succumbed to an attack of ‘ghairat’ and is spoiling for a fight with the US, the state cannot afford to indulge in the bravado of an unequal war.

If the pro-war mind is presuming that the Taliban will fight the NATO-US forces side by side with the Pak Army, putting an end to the problem of law and order in Pakistan, it is sadly deceived. It will in fact be a two-front war, one front being at the back of the Pakistani troops. The Taliban and their master al Qaeda have an agenda that will be fulfilled only by removing our brave Army Chief from his post and then using the Army to take over the country and its nuclear assets. Wisdom demands that we challenge the US realistically rather than rashly, compelling it to make amends for the Salala incident to the benefit of Pakistan.

A consensus of national self-damage can occur even in democracies and it has recently taken place in the US too but in Pakistan one institution of the state dominates all decision-making functions, and those who should be ruling and not allowing this domination are busy in a lethal war of self-diminution.

The fact is that there are two versions of the truth. Unfortunately the American version is what is credited at the international level while the Pakistani version can only hold if the news channels are prevented from puncturing it. Our asymmetric proxy war against India was rejected by the world while the Pakistanis were force-fed with justifiable jihad by non state actors. Its fallout was experienced by Pakistan’s neighbours whose fear of what Pakistan may do next has isolated Pakistan in the region too. ….

Read more » The Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20111209&page=2

If USA attacks Pakistan…

– by Harris Bin Munawar

When America’s top military official hinted at direct US action in the tribal region where it believes Pakistan shelters and works with the anti-American Haqqani Network, among the first to respond was the network’s top leader. “The US would suffer more losses in the North Waziristan Agency than they did in Afghanistan,” Sirajuddin Haqqani said, daring the US to send its troops into the tribal region that the Pakistani army itself has refused to enter.

This means: 1. His network is entrenched in North Waziristan 2. It is their responsibility to defend the agency 3. They would prefer to do so over several years in Afghanistan-style guerrilla warfare

Pakistan Army says it is not ready to take on the influential pro-Taliban leader, effectively giving up a claim on the territory he controls.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani says a raid on the Haqqani Network would be an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty, as if the defence of North Waziristan has been outsourced to the Haqqanis.

Prone to the drone:

If Pakistan Army indeed lacks capacity, or will, to reclaim North Waziristan where Afghan insurgents are believed to hide, regroup and plan new attacks, that means it has no effective control over the region.

Pakistan says that: 1. Its army does not have the means or resources to control that territory 2. The government will lose political credibility if it orders an operation in the North Waziristan 3. Taliban reaction to such an operation will destabilize the entire country

If that is correct, Pakistan has lost de facto control over the area and it cannot claim sovereignty. That gives the US a justification to go after its enemies itself. And that is what the US does with missile attacks by unmanned aircraft.

A government that has been holding tribes collectively responsible for violations committed by their individual members has no moral authority to suddenly invoke modern notions of justice or mourn the death of innocent civilians who shelter the Taliban.

So little leverage:

If Pakistan is collaborating with, or supporting, or merely avoiding confrontation with a group it has long-standing ties with, a group it believes or hopes will have a significant role in the post-US Afghanistan, there is no reason it will stop doing that for an ally that is about to leave the battlefield.

Washington wants to put its foot down. It wants Pakistan to stop supporting its enemies. But “the problem is”, security analyst Caroline told Reuters, “we have so little leverage”. Because:

1. America cannot engage in a long-term battle inside Pakistan with its economy worsening, troops thinning, and a complete withdrawal from the region already announced

2. It has no identifiable target in Pakistan. The Haqqani Network does not have too much of a stationary central command that it could attack

3. Now that they are expecting an attack, members of the group will disperse

4. If the IsI is supporting the Haqqani Network, killing one or two of its leaders will not significantly hurt the group’s capability to attack US interests

What can America do?

1. The US can make a May 2 style incursion into Pakistan and go after the top leader of the Haqqani Network. After his father Jalaluddin Haqqani’s retirement, Sirajuddin the most influential insurgent figure in that region. But the impact of his killing might not be more than that of the killing of Osama bin Laden

2. It can make a number of simultaneous raids under air cover on several key targets in North Waziristan – people or buildings that might include Pakistan Army’s check-posts. Like the May 2 raid, the legitimacy of the operation will depend on how successful it is

3. The US can carry out a series of individual strikes followed by periods of calm. That way it will continue to meet its goals and embarrass the Pakistan Army, while making sure the tipping point is never reached

4. Washington can impose an economic embargo on Pakistan, stop all aid, freeze its accounts and declare the ISI a terrorist organisation. It can also use its influence on international agencies to end all aid and loan programs to Pakistan. That will be deathblow to Pakistan’s ailing economy

5. It can increase drone strikes in the Tribal Areas and take out targets with virtual impunity

Neither of these steps is new or extraordinary, and neither of these steps will dramatically reverse the US predicament in Afghanistan.

What can Pakistan do?

Any US move against Pakistan does not have to be new or extraordinary to hurt Pakistan. Pakistan Army has influenced public opinion in the past to create an anti-America feeling that it can then cite to seek concessions from the US. In doing that, it has entrenched itself into a position where it will have no choice but to respond to a US strike.

As an immediate response, Pakistan can:

1. Retaliate and fire at intruding US aircraft or men. Claims have been made that Pakistan can shoot down predator drones, but it is less likely Pakistan can detect and attack US fighter aircraft. The Osama bin Laden raid has also raised doubts about Pakistan’s ability to detect and attack intruding helicopters

2. Carry out a delayed but full-fledged counter-attack on US bases in Afghanistan that it believes were used in attacks on its soil. That may lead to a US counter-counter-attack and an all out war. How long can Pakistan sustain that war is an important question

3. Increase attacks on US interests through any Taliban factions or other insurgent groups that are ready to support Pakistan. If Sirajuddin Haqqani has made an offer to defend North Waziristan, the Pakistani military might take them up on that. Sooner or later, the US will withdraw anyway. But is there a guarantee these groups will not go rogue like many in the past? Can a modern Pakistani republic reconcile with their version of the Muslim faith?

4. Step back and start an operation in North Waziristan. But with the US leaving, will Pakistan want to alienate its supporters in Afghanistan? One way to deal with the problem is to continue the policy Pakistan is accused of. The army can hide key figures of the network and then conduct a fake operation for several months until the US is pressured by its politics or economics to leave the region. But then, how will Pakistan deal with the network and reclaim its territory after the US leaves?

5. Not retaliate with a military move, and just end diplomatic ties with the US, losing a key source of aid. Closing down NATO supply routes will hurt the US immediately. But if the supplies are stopped for too long, the US will find new, although more expensive, ways to get supplies to Kabul. If that happens, Pakistan would have burned up a very important advantage.

6. Go to China for help. China’s key security officials came to Pakistan last week. Pakistani analysts saw that as a sign of support. But the Chinese delegation is on a scheduled visit to discuss terrorists hiding in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas that fight against China in its Xinjiang province. It is not likely China support Pakistan on some of the possible plans we have discussed. Nor is it in China’s interest to jump into a US-Pakistan conflict.

Can Pakistan sustain a war?

Opinion leaders in Pakistan believe the resource-rich republic can sustain confrontation with a defeated US empire. Such self-deception has cost Pakistan dearly in the past. Let us look at the key resources needed in a war:

Troops: Pakistan does not have enough troops to guard both the Indian and Afghan border. We have grouped India with the US as a matter of policy, and will have to pay for that by being sandwiched between two hostile neighbours

Weapons: The weapons and equipment used by Pakistan Army come from the US and its allies. That means we will soon run out of ammunition and cannot repair or service the equipment

Money: Pakistan’s economy cannot pay for a war, especially after an embargo by the US. Hit by floods two years in a row, suffering from an energy crisis, cash-strapped because of huge government spending, and dependent on foreign aid, how long will its money last?

Communications network: Pakistan’s communication system can not bear the burden of war with a dysfunctional railways. With engine shortages and trains stopped half way for up to 20 hours because there is no diesel, how will Pakistan fight a war?

Intelligence: If Pakistan’s intelligence agencies are to be believed, they had no clue about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in Pakistan, a planned US raid to kill him, or even about the activities of Raymond Davis and CIA contractors like him. On the contrary, it is accused of targeting journalists who there is a general consensus are not American agents. Pakistan’s intelligence network does not look like it is ready to fight a war

Diplomatic support: Every single country in this region was hurt when Pakistan had influence in Afghanistan the last time. Insurgents from China and Central Asia were sheltered and trained in Afghanistan, Iran was unhappy because tens of thousands of Shias were massacred, and India was among the victims of guerrilla warriors too. The International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia is asking for former ISI chief Gen Javed Nasir. Who in the region will support Pakistan in its battle to control Afghanistan?

Domestic politics: Hundreds of people have been killed in ethnic and political battles in the crime-infested economic hub Karachi, Punjab is suffering from a new epidemic, Sindh is submerged in floods, Balochistan is fighting an insurgency and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is dysfunctional because of terrorism. Pakistan’s domestic situation is less than ideal for a war.

Continue reading If USA attacks Pakistan…

Admiral Mike Mullen says Pakistan’s spy service is backing violence against U.S. targets in Afghanistan

U.S. TURNS UP THE HEAT ON PAKISTAN’S SPY AGENCY

by: Reuters

ISLAMABAD — Washington’s stunning charge that Pakistan’s spy service is backing violence against U.S. targets in Afghanistan has pushed Islamabad into a tight corner: either it cleans up the powerful agency or it faces the wrath of an angry superpower.

There has never been much doubt in Washington that the shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) plays a “double game,” supporting some militants to extend its influence in Afghanistan and counter India, while targeting others.

But the gloves came off on Thursday when U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen bluntly described the Haqqani militant network as a “veritable arm” of the ISI and accused Pakistan of providing support for the group’s September 13 brazen attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

It was the most serious allegation leveled by Washington against the nuclear-armed South Asian nation since they allied in the war on terror in 2001, and the first time it has held Islamabad responsible for an attack against the United States.

“Mullen has finally put Pakistan on the spot and I don’t think he has left any ambiguity about the feelings of the U.S. about the ISI,” said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, an Islamabad-based academic and political columnist. “Mullen has thrown the ball into Pakistan’s court.”

A STATE WITHIN A STATE

Pakistan’s equivalent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — with which it has a paradoxical relationship of cooperation and deep distrust — the ISI has tentacles so far-reaching that it is often seen as a state within a state. Widely feared by Pakistanis, it is widely believed to employ tens of thousands of agents, with informers in many spheres of life. ….

Read more → msnbc

Demanding Answers From Pakistan

By ZALMAY KHALILZAD

SINCE the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has behaved toward the United States as both friend and adversary — and gotten away with it. The latest evidence of its duplicity is the revelation that Osama bin Laden lived for years in a house near Pakistan’s national military academy and a local branch of its intelligence service without any evident interference.

Even before the American raid last week on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan had a huge credibility problem. It provides arms and safe haven for Afghan insurgent groups and pays their commanders to carry out attacks, but denies doing so.

Continue reading Demanding Answers From Pakistan

Pakistan’s Nuclear Folly

With the Middle East roiling, the alarming news about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons buildup has gotten far too little attention. The Times recently reported that American intelligence agencies believe Pakistan has between 95 and more than 110 deployed nuclear weapons, up from the mid-to-high 70s just two years ago.

Pakistan can’t feed its people, educate its children, or defeat insurgents without billions of dollars in foreign aid. Yet, with China’s help, it is now building a fourth nuclear reactor to produce more weapons fuel.

Even without that reactor, experts say, it has already manufactured enough fuel for 40 to 100 additional weapons. That means Pakistan — which claims to want a minimal credible deterrent — could soon possess the world’s fifth-largest arsenal, behind the United States, Russia, France and China but ahead of Britain and India. Washington and Moscow, with thousands of nuclear weapons each, still have the most weapons by far, but at least they are making serious reductions.

Washington could threaten to suspend billions of dollars of American aid if Islamabad does not restrain its nuclear appetites. But that would hugely complicate efforts in Afghanistan and could destabilize Pakistan.

The truth is there is no easy way to stop the buildup, or that of India and China. Slowing and reversing that arms race is essential for regional and global security. Washington must look for points of leverage and make this one of its strategic priorities.

The ultimate nightmare, of course, is that the extremists will topple Pakistan’s government and get their hands on the nuclear weapons. We also don’t rest easy contemplating the weakness of Pakistan’s civilian leadership, the power of its army and the bitterness of the country’s rivalry with nuclear-armed India.

The army claims to need more nuclear weapons to deter India’s superior conventional arsenal. It seems incapable of understanding that the real threat comes from the Taliban and other extremists. …

Read more : The New York Times