Tag Archives: Obama

Pakistan’s Slow-Motion Coup

Islamabad’s generals are out to destroy Pakistani democracy. Obama should try to stop them.

BY:  C. CHRISTINE FAIR

Pakistan’s civilian government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party, has long been an irritant to the country’s generals. ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

U.S. believes Zardari may resign: Report

President Zardari may resign: Report

Report in US magazi­ne claims Presid­ent Zardar­i may resign over “ill-health

An American magazine reported on Tuesday that President Asif Ali Zardari may step down due to his poor health condition.

In its report, The Cable quoted a former US government official saying that when US President Barack Obama spoke with Zardari recently regarding Nato’s killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers, Zardari was “incoherent.” …

Read more » The Express Tribune

NYT: President Obama won’t say sorry for Pakistan soldier deaths

Obama Refrains From a Formal ‘I’m Sorry’ to Pakistan

By HELENE COOPER and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — The White House has decided that President Obama will not offer formal condolences — at least for now — to Pakistan for the deaths of two dozen soldiers in NATO airstrikes last week, overruling State Department officials who argued for such a show of remorse to help salvage America’s relationship with Pakistan, administration officials said.

On Monday, Cameron Munter, the United States ambassador to Pakistan, told a group of White House officials that a formal video statement from Mr. Obama was needed to help prevent the rapidly deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington from cratering, administration officials said. The ambassador, speaking by videoconference from Islamabad, said that anger in Pakistan had reached a fever pitch, and that the United States needed to move to defuse it as quickly as possible, the officials recounted.

Defense Department officials balked. While they did not deny some American culpability in the episode, they said expressions of remorse offered by senior department officials and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were enough, at least until the completion of a United States military investigation establishing what went wrong.

Some administration aides also worried that if Mr. Obama were to overrule the military and apologize to Pakistan, such a step could become fodder for his Republican opponents in the presidential campaign, according to several officials who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

On Wednesday, White House officials said Mr. Obama was unlikely to say anything further on the matter in the coming days.

“The U.S. government has offered its deepest condolences for the loss of life, from the White House and from Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, referring to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, “and we are conducting an investigation into the incident. We cannot offer additional comment on the circumstances of the incident until we have the results.”

The American and Pakistani accounts of the NATO strikes vary widely. A former senior American official briefed on the exchange said Wednesday that the airstrikes came in the last 15 to 20 minutes of a running three-hour skirmish, presumably with Taliban fighters on one or both sides of the border. That is at odds with the Pakistani account that its troops were in a two-hour firefight with the Americans.

Pakistan, rejecting the American account, has blocked all NATO logistical supplies that cross the border into Afghanistan, given the Central Intelligence Agency 15 days to vacate the Shamsi air base from which it has run drone strikes into Pakistani tribal areas and announced that it will boycott an international conference on Afghanistan’s security and development next week in Bonn, Germany.

With everything at stake in the relationship with Pakistan, which the United States sees as vital as it plans to exit from Afghanistan, some former Obama administration officials said the president should make public remarks on the border episode, including a formal apology.

“Without some effective measures of defusing this issue, Pakistan will cooperate less rather than more with us, and we won’t be able to achieve our goals in Afghanistan,” said Vali Nasr, a former State Department official who specialized in Pakistan.

But David Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration official and the author of “Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power,” said Pakistani officials need to understand that in the next year, the Obama administration will be less accommodating to Pakistani sensibilities.

“I do think that it’s important for them to recognize that political dynamics in the United States will lead to a hardening of U.S. positions, and the president will have less and less flexibility to accept the kind of behavior that he has in the past,” Mr. Rothkopf said. “The prognosis for U.S.-Pakistani relations is bleak.” …

Read more » THE NEW YORK TIMES

Bruce Riedel : America’s Pakistan Mess Gets Worse With Alleged NATO Strike

Even before NATO allegedly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, this alliance was a wreck. Bruce Riedel on the decades of deceit that have put Obama in diplomatic hell—and why Pakistan holds all the cards.

America’s relationship with Pakistan is crashing. Decades of mistrust and duplicity on both sides are coming to the surface. The Pakistani Army has an agenda that is at odds with ours. At bottom, we are on opposite sides of the war in Afghanistan, and that poisons everything.

The death of two dozen Pakistani jawans, or soldiers, allegedly due to NATO airstrikes, is the latest crisis in a year of crises along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course, we need to let the two armies investigate what exactly happened and apportion blame. But the facts won’t change the downward slide in the relationship. In 2011 we have argued over drones, a CIA contractor named Raymond Davis, Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, the assassination of Afghan peace negotiator and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, and the Taliban attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in September, which the Pakistani Army orchestrated. In every case, the details were disputed, but the big takeaway is clear—we just don’t trust each other. Two of the six biggest countries in the world simply have no faith in each other’s word.

This trust gap is the result of decades of mutual deceit and lying. Pakistan proclaimed it was our ally against communism or Al Qaeda or whatever when what it really just wanted was arms and help to fight India. America promised to help democracy in Pakistan and instead backed four brutal military dictators. Ironically, the Army believes we have betrayed it over and over again. We have.

Now we are at war in Afghanistan. Since at least 2005, Pakistan’s Army has been assisting the Afghan Taliban in fighting the Afghan government we support and the world accepts as the legitimate government of the country. Pakistan’s Army backs a medieval monstrosity that would impose a reprise of the Taliban hell of the 1990s. It prefers this to what it dreads: a pro-India regime on its western border. It tries to hide its hand, but regularly its troops along the border shelter the Taliban and even provide artillery support. It harbors their leaders, including Mullah Mohammed Omar in Quetta. It gives training and advice to those who kill Americans. Former Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, who knows Pakistan well, said it clearly: it backs our enemy.

This is the fundamental problem that all the diplomatic niceties can’t ignore. NATO supports the Karzai government. Pakistan’s Army (not its civilian government) backs the Afghan Taliban. The Army has politically neutered the civilians elected to run Pakistan in 2008. Three years ago it used the Nov. 26 terror attack on Mumbai to neuter President Asif Ali Zardari; he wanted to cooperate with India’s investigation of the terrorists, and it didn’t. It won. Now it has engineered the ouster of Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, whom it has long despised because he literally wrote the book on their lying and deceit. It won again.

Now it is interfering with NATO’s supply line from Karachi. About half our supplies come through there. The Pakistani Army controls both our logistics and the Taliban’s. It’s a good place to be in war. The Army knows it. Now it also has threatened (again) to shut down a drone base.

America has to engage Pakistan. It is too important not to engage. It is on track to have the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world. But we also need to help Pakistan’s weak democracy and contain its generals. It is a tough balance. A year ago, President Obama promised he would visit Pakistan in 2011. The visit is not even on the agenda anymore. The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is in tatters. It is likely to get even worse now.

Courtesy » The Daily Beast

Husain Haqqani Shaheed, Nishan e Haider

by Hakim Hazik

To, President Asif Ali Zardari

President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

And,

Field Martial Avatar P Kayani, The Supreme Leader, In-charge S Wing

Father of the Nation

Through the Good Offices of,

Mr Mansoor Ijaz,

Interlocutor to Admiral Mullen, President Obama and God.

Dear Sirs,

Please find enclosed my resignation from the post of the ambassador in Washington. I have submitted it simultaneously to the FO, the YouTube and the Twitter.

Your Excellencies,

Much has been made of my alleged memorandum to Admiral Mullen regarding the S-Wing. I want to make it clear that I have no recollection of ever sending it and as the world media now knows, the respected Admiral has no memory of receiving it. However, I realize that there are times in the life of nations when hard decisions have to be made for the greater good of the gentle souls in hobnailed boots which are only occasionally applied on the presidential posteriors.

The least I can do to save the posterior that I hold dear, more than any other in the world (my own) is to tender my resignation. This, I hope, will clear the air and will allow both nations to get on wholeheartedly with the most important task at hand, which may otherwise have been neglected, that of slaughtering the Afghans.

We need to realize that the administration of both countries are swimming against national tides. I know that the average American wants to eviscerate the average Pakistani and the average Pakistani wants to behead the average American. The people who hold the levers of power should do their best to facilitate this mutual enactment of national ideals whilst never losing sight of the ultimate goal of pulverizing Afghanistan, the policy objective that the both strategic allies strongly support.

At this juncture, I must pay tribute to Mr Mansoor Ijaz whose selfless devotion to international statecraft is unsurpassed in the modern history and matched only by the likes of Metternich, Kissinger and Raymond Davis.

Armed with a clear sense of destiny and a BlackBerry Bold 9900TM, he has served both the great nations and changed the course of world history. When the future historian (Yours Truly) writes an account of these momentous events, in the fullness of time (next week), he will not fail to note the sagacity, perspicacity and strength of character, that drove this intrepid servant of soft strategic depth to undertake amazing acts of valour at great personal risk.

Dear Field Marshall,

I owe you a personal debt of gratitude that you have been gracious in sparing my gonads, the attention of your forthright and patriotic hobnailed boots. I will never forget this act of kindness and am very grateful for not having to join the misguided and foolish cohort of petty pen-pushers such as Hayat Ullah Khan and Syed Salim Shehzad. I will try and repay this benevolence as soon as I have sold the 1st millionth copy of my memoirs.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Husain Haqqani, Embassy of Pakistan,

Washington, DC 20008

Courtesy » ViewPoint

http://www.viewpointonline.net/husain-haqqani-shaheed-nishan-e-haider.html

Clinton to give Pakistan diplomacy one more big push before they go off the rails altogether.

– Clinton to give Pakistan diplomacy one more big push

By Josh Rogin

Excerpt;

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading a very high-level delegation to Pakistan later this week to try one more time to set U.S.-Pakistan relations back on track, before they go off the rails altogether. ….

….. Overall, the Obama administration wants Pakistan to know it can’t accept Americans being killed because of what’s happening inside Pakistan. But there aren’t expected to be any grand, new initiatives or new proposals to lift bilateral relations from what all sides agree is the lowest point in years.

“The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has been deteriorating all year, from the Raymond Davis case to the Osama bin Laden raid to the attack on the American Embassy in Kabul,” said Riedel. “And there’s really no evidence the bottom is in sight; it may be getting worse and worse.”

Read more » ForeignPolicy

Will the Washington Bomb Plot Force Obama into War with Iran?

by Tony Karon

“We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other,” outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month. “If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right — that there will be miscalculation, which could be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.”

Mullen’s warning of the perils arising from the two sides’ inability to communicate and understand each other’s intentions — “Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union”

Read more: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/10/12/will-the-washington-bomb-plot-force-obama-into-war-with-iran/#ixzz1ahp4QSYq

 

Taliban will not be able to move a finger without Pakistan support

10 years on: Karzai admits security failure, Obama touts progress

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in a candid mood ten years after the US launched ground and air strikes to oust the Taliban from his country. In his first interview with the foreign media for several months, Karzai admitted that his government and the US-led Nato mission have failed in Afghanistan to deliver the most basic duty of government: security for its citizens. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

via » mazdaki @ Twitter.

Asia Times Online – Pepe’s opinion

– THE ROVING EYE

Pentagon aims at target Pakistan

By Pepe Escobar

Syria will have to wait. The next stop in the Pentagon-coined “long war” is bound to be Pakistan. True, a war is already on in what the Barack Obama administration named AfPak. But crunch time in Pak itself looms closer and closer. Call it the “no bomb left behind” campaign.

Al-Qaeda is a thing of the past; after all, al-Qaeda assets such as Abdelhakim Belhaj are now running Tripoli. The new Washington-manufactured mega-bogeyman is now the Haqqani network.

A relentless, Haqqani-targeted manufacture of consensus industry is already on overdrive, via a constellation of the usual neo-conservative suspects, assorted Republican warmongers, “Pentagon officials” and industrial-military complex shills in corporate media.

The Haqqani network, a force of 15,000 to 20,000 Pashtun fighters led by former anti-Soviet mujahideen figure Jalalludin Haqqani, is a key component of the Afghan insurgency from its bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area.

For Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] agency”. It took Mullen no less than 10 years since Washington’s bombing of Afghanistan to figure this out. Somebody ought to give him a Nobel Peace Prize.

According to the US government narrative, it was the ISI that gave the go-ahead for the Haqqani network to attack the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13.

Pentagon head Leon Panetta has gone on record saying that in response, Washington might go unilateral. This means that the vast numbers of Pashtun farmers, including women and children, who have already been decimated for months by US drone attacks on the tribal areas should be considered as extras in a humanitarian operation. ….

Read more → ASIA TIMES ONLINE

You can’t stop marching, even when it looks like there is no way, find a way, through the mud, and the muck, and the driving rain, we don’t stop … because we know the rightness of our cause – President Obama

“… You can’t stop marching … Even when folks have hit you over the head, you can’t stop marching … Even when they turn the hoses on you, you can’t stop … Even when somebody fires you for speaking out, you can’t stop … Even when it looks like there is no way, you find a way, you can’t stop … through the mud, and the muck, and the driving rain, we don’t stop … because we know the rightness of our cause …” – President Obama Speaks At The Congressional Black Caucus – 9-24-2011.

YouTube

Americans are liars & president Obama is also a liar – says former ISI chief, Gen. Javed Ashraf Qazi

Americans are liars & president Obama is also a liar because he lied on the Raymond Davis issue – says former ISI chief, Gen. Javed Ashraf Qazi in Pakistani political talk show “Capital Talk with Hamid Mir” on September 25th, 2011). The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: → Geo Tv News (Capital Talk with Hamid Mir– 25th September 2011)

via → ZemTvSiasat.pkYouTube

Pakistan ‘backed Haqqani attack on Kabul’ – Mike Mullen

– Pakistan backed attacks on American targets, U.S. says

By Karen DeYoung

The Obama administration for the first time Thursday openly asserted that Pakistan was indirectly responsible for specific attacks against U.S. troops and installations in Afghanistan, calling a leading Afghan insurgent group “a veritable arm” of the Pakistani intelligence service.

Last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and a Sept. 10 truck bombing that killed five Afghans and wounded 77 NATO troops were “planned and conducted” by the Pakistan-based Haqqani network “with ISI support,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The ISI is the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. …

Read more → The Washington Post

 

Al-Qaeda terrorist operations planner Atiyah Abd al-Rahman will no longer be able to plan & execute attacks on civilization

Al-Qaida’s number two killed in Pakistan

A senior US official claims al-Qaida’s second in command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Waziristan

Associated Press: Al-Qaida‘s second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, delivering another major blow to a terrorist group that the US believes to be on the verge of defeat, a senior Barack Obama administration official has claimed.

The Libyan national who was the network’s former operational leader, rose up the chain of command after the US killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden during a raid on his Pakistan compound in May. ….

Read more → guardian.co.uk

The New York Times Editorial – Holding Pakistan to Account

The Obama administration’s decision to suspend $800 million of its $2 billion in annual security aid to Pakistan inevitably raises the question of why the United States should continue to give Pakistan any military aid at all.

The White House acted after Osama bin Laden was found living near Pakistan’s leading military academy and Pakistan then expelled American military trainers. Islamabad should see this as a serious warning that Washington has all but run out of patience with its double games. Both sides will pay a high price if this goes on too long. ….

Read more → THE NEW YORK TIMES

Pakistan Aid Withdrawl

After the US suspension of over $800 million in military aid to Pakistan, the Pakistani military has said that the action will not interfere with their ability to fight terrorism, but it still seems like a big move on the part of the Obama administration.

The Newsy video analyzes the story by comparing reports from different media outlets side-by-side. It’s a lot of information compacted into a brief video that gives viewers quick, diverse perspectives on global issues.

To watch video news analysis of the story → newsy.com

Who will blink first?

– U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid

By ERIC SCHMITT and JANE PERLEZ

Excerpt;

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, canceling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.  …
….

And some is assistance like the reimbursements for troop costs, which is being reviewed in light of questions about Pakistan’s commitment to carry out counterterrorism operations. For example, the United States recently provided Pakistan with information about suspected bomb-making factories, only to have the insurgents vanish before Pakistani security forces arrived a few days later.

“When it comes to our military aid,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee last month “we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken.” …

…. Comments last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also reflected a potentially more confrontational approach to Pakistan. Admiral Mullen, who is retiring in two months, became the first American official to publicly accuse Pakistan of ordering the kidnapping, torture and death of the journalist, Saleem Shahzad, whose mutilated body was found in early June. …

To read complete article → THE NEW YORK TIMES

Pasha should go – New York Times Editorial

– A Pakistani Journalist’s Murder

After the Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was murdered in May, suspicion fell on Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s powerful spy agency. Mr. Shahzad reported aggressively on the infiltration of militants into Pakistan’s military and had received repeated threats from ISI. Other journalists said they, too, have been threatened, even tortured, by security forces.

Now the Obama administration has evidence implicating the ISI in this brutal killing. According to The Times’s Jane Perlez and Eric Schmitt, American officials say new intelligence indicates that senior ISI officials ordered the attack on Mr. Shahzad to silence him. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed on Thursday that Pakistan’s government “sanctioned” the killing, but he did not tie it directly to ISI. The murder will make journalists and other critics of the regime even more reluctant to expose politically sensitive news. The ISI is also proving to be an increasingly dangerous counterterrorism partner for the United States.

After Mr. Shahzad’s killing, ISI insisted it had no role, contending the death would be “used to target and malign” its reputation. The ISI and the army, which oversees the intelligence agency, were once considered Pakistan’s most respected institutions. Now they are sharply criticized at home for malfeasance and incompetence.

There is evidence that they were complicit in hiding Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and that the ISI helped plan the Mumbai attack in 2008. They failed to prevent the recent attack on a naval base in Karachi. Mr. Shahzad disappeared two days after publishing an article suggesting the attack was retaliation for the navy’s attempt to crack down on Al Qaeda militants in the armed forces.

It’s not clear how high up the culpability for Mr. Shahzad’s murder goes — or whether there are any officials left in the ISI or the army who have the power and desire to reform the spy agency. President Asif Ali Zardari and his government, while not implicated in these heinous acts, have been a disappointment, largely letting the military go its own way. They need to find Mr. Shahzad’s murderers and hold them accountable. And they must find the courage to assert civilian control over security services that have too much power and are running amok.

Mr. Zardari needs to speak out firmly against abuses, insist on adherence to the rule of law and join his political rival, Nawaz Sharif, in pressing the security services to change. That can start by insisting on the retirement of Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, and the appointment of a more credible successor.

The United States needs to use its influence to hasten Mr. Pasha’s departure. It should tell Pakistan’s security leadership that if Washington identifies anyone in ISI or the army as abetting terrorists, those individuals will face sanctions like travel bans or other measures. The ISI has become inimical to Pakistani and American interests.

Courtesy: → The New York Times

Source → http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/opinion/08fri2.html?_r=1

– – – – – – – –

[For more details → DAWN.COM → NYT asks Pak Govt to remove ISI Chief. – U.S. conforms evidence of ISI ordering the killing of Saleem Shehzad.]

U.S. Admiral Ties Pakistan to Killing of Journalist

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

WASHINGTON — Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that he believed that the government of Pakistan had “sanctioned” the killing of a Pakistani journalist who had written scathing reports about the infiltration of Islamic militants into the country’s security services.

Admiral Mullen, who is due to retire at the end of September, is the first American official to publicly accuse Pakistan, an American ally, of the kidnapping, torture and death of the journalist, Saleem Shahzad, 40. His comments about a case that has intensified criticism of the government in Islamabad are certain to further aggravate the poisoned relationship between the United States and Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed in an American raid in May.

Admiral Mullen said he could not specifically tie Mr. Shahzad’s death to Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, known as the ISI, although Obama administration officials believe that the ISI ordered the killing. But Admiral Mullen made clear that he thought Pakistani officials were complicit in Mr. Shahzad’s death. ….

Read more → THE NEW YORK TIMES

– – – – – – –

More details → BBC urdu

Pakistan thinks a dangerous thought

Former Chief of Army Staff, General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg’s interview with Dr. Danish on ARY NEWS TV. The language of the interview is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: ARY NEWS TV (Program “Sawal Yeh Hai“, 26th June 2011-1), YouTube

Pakistan: The End of the Affair?

by Omar Ali

We have been here before, but it is being said that the unhappy marriage between the Pentagon and GHQ  has deteriorated further and once again, those watching this soap opera are wondering if this union can last? Writing in Al-Arabiya, GHQ’s own Brigadier Shaukat Qadir says that the US appears to be “gunning for Pakistan’s top generals”, who are said to be bravely resisting this latest perfidious American plot against General Kiyani.  And why is the US trying to undermine the good General? Because at a meeting with President Obama he made clear  “ that this soft-spoken, laid-back, easy-going general, far from being overawed by the privilege of meeting President Obama, would still give back better than he got.”

This interesting article (I highly recommend reading it twice to get the full flavor) can be read in a number of ways, all of which are worrisome. One is to assume that Brigadier sahib means exactly what he is saying. That there is some core Pakistani interest that General Kiyani bravely insisted on defending, and for that sin, he is now being systematically undermined. Note that Pakistan’s elected government did not decide what this core interest is supposed to be, nor was it consulted before General Kiyani decided to defend this core interest against US imperialism. In fact, Brigadier sahib hints that the elected regime may include “powerful individuals who have no loyalty to this country and its people”. No, this core interest, for which Kiyani sahib is supposedly willing to risk a clash with the United States (and by extension, NATO, Japan, etc) is defined by GHQ, as it has been for decades.

Strategic depth”, it seems, is alive and well and we can live with bombings, insurgencies, electricity shortages and all sorts of economic and social crises, but we cannot live without strategic depth.  For the sake of this strategic depth, we kept the Taliban alive and made sure the new American-installed regime in Afghanistan would not stabilize. And when the Americans leave (something that everyone in GHQ seems convinced is happening very soon), we will restart a civil war in Afghanistan, with “our side” led by the Haqqanis and Mullah Omar.

This war we expect to win in very short order, after which we will move on to our Central Asian Nirvana. Having antagonized all the hardore jihadis by siding at least partially with the US, we are now to antagonize the US and its allies by sticking by the Taliban. This is known as GHQ’s “Sau Gunndey tey Sau CHittar” strategy”. * The problems with this approach are manifold and include:

  1. “The imperialists” are unlikely to leave as soon as imagined. This alone puts the whole strategy in question because as in Kargil, there seems to be no plan for the possibility that the “enemy” may not do what we expect it to do.
  2. “Our side” is unlikely to win all of Afghanistan even if the Western imperialists leave according to our timetable.  Given the opposing interests of many regional powers, that struggle is likely to be even more prolonged and bloody than the last attempt to fill the Afghan vacuum.
  3. “Blowback” from this war will be worse than the blowback from the current confused operation. The Taliban refused to cooperate with us against anti-Shia terrorists even in the good old days of the nineties. This time around, they will be much more difficult to control. We cannot even control the current (relatively small) Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. To imagine that we will control the much larger and more fractious Islamic emirate of the future seems to be a pipe dream.
  4. Any exit of the imperialists and return of the Taliban will inevitably be followed by a house-cleaning of Western “fellow travellers” in Pakistan. That cleansing may not be on the army’s immediate agenda, but pressure to Islamize Pakistan will be hard to resist once the Islamists are winning. The establishment may then find it expedient to try and get rid of the ANP, Pakistani liberals and other riff-raff that the army has tolerated in the Sulah e Hudaybia phase. Naturally the Americans will respond with retaliatory measures of their own and a liberal efflux will have some modest but detectable negative impact on the economy and the state; the final outcome, in a weak and fractious state, may not even be up to North Korean standard.

But that is only one interpretation of Brigadier sahib’s views. There is another; it may well be that cooperation with the United States is set to continue, but the haze of lies that surrounds the relationship now needs to be raised to new heights.  Pakistan’s deep state is highly “Westernized” in very practical ways and has always been a willing and even eager partner of the CIA and the Pentagon in the region. But both the state and its American minders have been operating with  the view that those who matter will calculate profit and loss, and everyone else can be kept suitably entertained with our own peculiar version of Jihadi kool-aid (a uniquely Pakistani mix of Islam, militarism and the “two nation theory”).

In one of the more spectacular “own goals” in history, this convenient and previously useful propaganda has now created a large constituency within the rank and file of the armed forces and the semi-educated middle class. How now to tell them the truth, smack dab in the middle of a crisis? Better to just update the kool-aid, pray to Allah, and keep going while hoping for a miracle. In this version, no breach with America is intended or desired, but the natives are restless and the Jihadi/Paknationalist credentials of the supreme commander must be burnished to prevent any unpleantness, hence the article and others like it. The problem with this version is that it means the state will continue its policy of trying to appease both the Islamists and the Americans and this only postpones the day we fall between two stools, it does not alleviate that risk.

Yet another version holds that this is simply more of the “controlled burn” strategy, the aim being to get the Americans to cough up more money by raising the threat of a “rogue” nuclear state (a strategy with which we have long years of practice by now). The problem with this version is the one pointed out by Mr. Lincoln a long time ago; you cannot fool all the people all the time. What happens if someone decides to call our bluff?

It is hard to say which of these theories is correct. If I had to pick, I would pick the last one because I am a cynical person, but there is little objective evidence based on which an outside observer can decide between these theories. It is even possible that all three (and others I have failed to imagine) are ALL simultaneously true. Pakistan’s biggest curse and the army’s most treacherous gift to the nation is its culture of secrecy and double-dealing. Domestically, the army (and particularly its intelligence agencies) have thoroughly undermined the credibility and effectiveness of politicians, civil bureaucrats and the media by decades of behind the scenes manipulation. They have done the same thing abroad by keeping foreign policy under their opaque control. This is fertile ground for conspiracy theories of every stripe (including the three I have managed to outline above) and the truth is impossible to know for sure (“loose change” aficionados will no doubt feel it’s the same in the United States, but the murkiness in Pakistan is an order of magnitude above anything an American can imagine). And the same opacity and confusion may now extend to the supreme command; it is possible that not only are we unable to discern what is going on, the corps commanders who meet every month are equally clueless and confused. Not being the best and the brightest, and acutely conscious of their intellectual shortcomings but determined to stay in charge no matter what, they may be flying blind too….this final irony raises the disturbing possibility that the past may not be an adequate guide to the future and very nasty black swans may be swimming just beyond the next bend in the river. Perhaps India should prepare for an influx of Pakistanis seeking refuge from chaos that even the worst enemies of Pakistan may not have imagined. Being our cousins, and with a bureaucracy not known for its boldness and vision, one doubts that India will have a policy adequate to the needs of this mother of all black swans. The rest of the world may be equally unprepared. The Chinese, supposedly used to thinking one hundred years ahead, may be our only hope.

* “Sau Gunndey tey Sau CHittar strategy“: Literally, one hundred onions and one hundred lashes. A man was to be punished and was given the choice of eating a hundred onions or getting a hundred lashes. He opted for the onions but after 3-4 onions, he thought this is too hard and switched to lashes. But after 5 of those the pain was too much, so he switched again to onions..he ended up with a hundred of both. GHQ runs the risk of being punished by both sides to the full extent of the law. Picking one poison might have been a more rational choice.

Post Script: Sufi masters in upstate New York have sent a sufi teaching story that they claim has some relevance to why the hapless civilian regime is having so little success in Pakistan; It is not known if these are true sufis or impostors, so the story may or may not apply. Halva strategy: The Mongols were coming and the capital was in a state of panic. A holy man showed up and his followers claimed he had magical powers and could stop the Mongols. He was invited to take over and do his thing. He took over command and ordered the ministers to prepare the finest halva. They did so, he ate and let others eat as well. Next day, they said the Mongols are only 100 miles away, what now? He asked for more halva. It was done. This went on for days, every day the Mongols got closer and he asked for more of the best halva. Finally the Mongols arrived at the gate. He packed up his sleeping bag and said “I am off, do what you can to save yourself”. Everyone screamed “But what about the your magic”? He said “dudes, I came for the halva and I had lots of it and it was indeed good. The Mongols are your problem. Good bye.”

Read more: 3 Quarks Daily

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid

By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.
Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Read more: The New York Times

US House panel OKs defense bill, limits Pakistan aid

WASHINGTON: The House Appropriations Committee has approved a defense spending bill that imposes limits on US aid to Pakistan and creates a special bipartisan group to review the US role in Afghanistan.

The panel gave the go-ahead to the bill on a voice vote Tuesday. The legislation would provide $530 billion for the Defense Department and $119 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill is $9 billion less than President Barack Obama requested.

The bill would withhold 75 per cent of the $1.1 billion in US aid to Pakistan until the administration reports to Congress on how it would spend the money. Reflecting the frustration with Pakistan’s effort in battling terrorism, the committee adopted an amendment that gives Congress even more power to review the spending.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Another Osama-type action in Pak, if required: Obama

LONDON: US President Barack Obama would approve a new incursion into Pakistan if the United States found another leading militant there, he said in a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday.

US Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on US cities in 2001, in a raid on his fortified compound in Pakistan on May 2, ending a manhunt for the world’s most-wanted militant.

Asked if Obama would do the same again if the United States discovered another “high-value target” in Pakistan or another country, such as a senior al-Qaida member or Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he said he would “take the shot”.

“We are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan. But we cannot allow someone who is actively planning to kill our people or our allies’ people, we can’t allow those kind of active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action,” Obama told the BBC.

“I had made no secret. I had said this when I was running for the presidency, that if I had a clear shot at bin Laden, that we’d take it.”  ….

Read more : The Times of India

More details : BBC urdu

Pakistan looks towards China for building naval base in Gwadar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Saturday it wanted China to build it a naval base, in the latest sign of moves to strengthen ties with Beijing as relations with Washington falter.

The announcement from Pakistan’s defence minister came a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani returned from a four-day visit to China, Islamabad’s biggest arms supplier.

“We would be … grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is … constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan,” Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said in a statement, referring to the deep-water port in Pakistan’s southwest.

The statement did not say whether Pakistan had asked China to build the base at the port in Balochistan province.

Islamabad is trying to deepen ties with Beijing as relations with the United States have strained following the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.

Many in Washington have called for a review of billions of dollars of US aid to Pakistan after discovering bin Laden had been hiding for years in a Pakistani garrison town.

China invested $200 million in the first phase of the construction of the port, which was inaugurated in 2007.

The development, 70 km east of the Iranian border and on the doorstep of Gulf shipping lanes, was designed to handle transhipment traffic for the Gulf. ….

Read more: The Express Tribune

Obama administration is divided over future of U.S.-Pakistan relationship

By Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard

Two weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration remains uncertain and divided over the future of its relationship with Pakistan, according to senior U.S. officials.

The discovery of the al-Qaeda leader in a city near Pakistan’s capital has pushed many in the administration beyond any willingness to tolerate Pakistan’s ambiguous connections with extremist groups. After years of ineffective American warnings, many U.S. officials are concluding that a change in policy is long overdue.

Those warnings are detailed in a series of contemporaneous written accounts, obtained by The Washington Post, chronicling three years of often-contentious meetings involving top officials of both countries. Confirmed by U.S. and Pakistani participants, the exchanges portray a circular debate in which the United States repeatedly said it had irrefutable proof of ties between Pakistani military and intelligence officials and the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents, and warned that Pakistani refusal to act against them would exact a cost.

U.S. officials have said they have no evidence top Pakistani military or civilian leaders were aware of bin Laden’s location or authorized any official support, but his residence within shouting distance of Pakistani military installations has brought relations to a crisis point.

Some officials, particularly in the White House, have advocated strong reprisals, especially if Pakistan continues to refuse access to materials left behind by U.S. commandos who scooped up all the paper and computer drives they could carry during their deadly 40-minute raid on bin Laden’s compound.

“You can’t continue business as usual,” said one of several senior administration officials who discussed the sensitive issue only on the condition of anonymity. “You have to somehow convey to the Pakistanis that they’ve arrived at a big choice.”

“People who were prepared to listen to [Pakistan’s] story for a long time are no longer prepared to listen,” the official said.

But few officials are eager to contemplate the alternatives if Pakistan makes the wrong choice. No one inside the administration, the official said, “wants to make a fast, wrong decision.”

Every available option — from limiting U.S. aid and official contacts, to unleashing more unilateral ground attacks against terrorist targets — jeopardizes existing Pakistani help, however undependable, in keeping U.S. enemies at bay. Military success and an eventual negotiated settlement of the Afghanistan war are seen as virtually impossible without some level of Pakistani buy-in.

“The fact of the matter is that we’ve been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about anyplace else,” President Obama said last week on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation.”

For now, the administration is in limbo, awaiting Pakistan’s response to immediate questions about bin Laden and hoping it will engage in a more solid counterterrorism partnership in the future.

That outcome seems increasingly in doubt. In Pakistan, officials’ pledges following the bin Laden raid that Pakistan would never let its territory be used for terrorist strikes against another country have turned to heated accusations of betrayal by the United States. ….

Read more : Washington Post

Israeli hardliners have started a massive campaign to undermine Obama’s stand that peace can only come with a truly independent Palestinian state

Obama Sees ’67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal

By MARK LANDLER and STEVEN LEE MYERS

WASHINGTON — President Obama, seeking to capture a moment of epochal change in the Arab world, began a new effort on Thursday to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, setting out a new starting point for negotiations on the region’s most intractable problem.

A day before the arrival in Washington of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Obama declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — adjusted to some degree to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank — should be the basis of a deal. While the 1967 borders have long been viewed as the foundation for a peace agreement, Mr. Obama’s formula of land swaps to compensate for disputed territory created a new benchmark for a diplomatic solution.

Mr. Obama’s statement represented a subtle, but significant shift, in American policy. And it thrust him back into the region’s most nettlesome dispute at a time when conditions would seem to make reaching a deal especially difficult.

The Israeli government immediately protested, saying that for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders would leave it “indefensible.” Mr. Netanyahu held an angry phone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday before the speech, officials said, in which he demanded that the president’s reference to 1967 borders be cut.

Israeli officials continued to lobby the administration until right before Mr. Obama arrived at the State Department for the address. White House officials said he did not alter anything under Israeli pressure ….

Read more : The New York Times

With bin Laden gone, now’s the time to push Pakistan

By Fareed Zakaria

The killing of Osama bin Laden has produced new waves of commentary on the problem of Pakistan. We could all discuss again its selective policy toward terrorists, its complicated relationship with the United States and its mounting dysfunctions. But there is more to this opportunity than an opening for analysis. This is a time for action, to finally push the country toward moderation and genuine democracy.

So far, Pakistan’s military has approached this crisis as it has every one in the past, using its old tricks and hoping to ride out the storm. It is leaking stories to favored journalists, unleashing activists and politicians, all with the aim of stoking anti-Americanism. Having been caught in a situation that suggests either complicity with al-Qaeda or gross incompetence — and the reality is probably a bit of both — it is furiously trying to change the subject. Senior generals angrily denounce America for entering the country. “It’s like a person, caught in bed with another man’s wife, who is indignant that someone entered his house,” one Pakistani scholar, who preferred not to be named for fear of repercussions, told me.

This strategy has worked in the past. In 2009, the Obama administration joined forces with Sens. Richard Lugar and John Kerry to triple American aid to Pakistan’s civilian government and civil society — to $7.5 billion over five years — but with measures designed to strengthen democracy and civilian control over the military. The military reacted by unleashing an anti-American campaign, using its proxies in the media and parliament to denounce “violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty” — the same phrase that’s being hurled about now. The result was that the United States backed off and has conceded that, in practice, none of the strictures in the Lugar-Kerry bill will be implemented.

The military has also, once again, been able to cow the civilian government. According to Pakistani sources, the speech that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani gave at a recent news conference was drafted by the military. President Asif Ali Zardari continues to appease the military rather than confront the generals. Having come to power hoping to clip the military’s wings, Pakistan’s democratically elected government has been reduced to mouthing talking points written for it by the intelligence services.

There have been almost no marches to protest bin Laden’s death or the American operation, although one 500-person march in Lahore was replayed endlessly on television. The fundamental issue for Pakistan is surely not how America entered the country. The United States has been involved in counterterrorism operations in Pakistan for years, using drones and people. Rather, the fundamental question is, how was it that the world’s leading terrorist was living in Pakistan, with some kind of support network that must have included elements of the Pakistani government? How is it that every major al-Qaeda official who has been captured since 2002 has been comfortably ensconced in a Pakistani city? And how is it that any time these issues are raised, they get drowned out by an organized campaign of anti-Americanism or religious fanaticism?

Washington has given in to the Pakistani military time and again, on the theory that we need the generals badly and that they could go elsewhere for support — to the Chinese, for instance. In fact, the United States has considerable leverage with Islamabad. The Pakistanis need American aid, arms and training to sustain their army. If they are going to receive those benefits, they must become part of Pakistan’s solution and not its problem. With some urgency, Washington should:

l Demand a major national commission in Pakistan — headed by a Supreme Court justice, not an army apparatchik — to investigate whether bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders have been supported and sustained by elements of the Pakistani state.

l Demand that the provisions of the Lugar-Kerry bill on civilian control of the military be strictly followed or aid will be withheld.

l Develop a plan to go after the major untouched terror networks in Pakistan, such as the Haqqani faction, the Quetta Shura and Lashkar-i-Taiba.

In the longer run, as the United States scales back its military presence in Afghanistan, it will need the Pakistani military less and less to supply its troops in theater.

Pakistan’s civilian government, business class and intellectuals have an ever-larger role in this struggle. They should not get distracted by empty anti-American slogans or hypernationalism. This is Pakistan’s moment of truth, its chance to break with its dysfunctions and become a normal, modern country. The opportunity might not come again.

Courtesy: The Washington Post

Pakistan: Lies, lies and more lies

Lies, lies and more lies

By: Nazir Naji

We are gullible. We lap up any tosh that is fed to us. We were told in 1965 that India attacked us and we defeated it. The reality was that we were the ones who attacked and India attacked Lahore and Sialkot in retaliation. In 1971, we were told that Indian-trained Mukti Bahini is carrying out terrorist activities. The reality was that we launched an offensive on East Pakistan. We were also told that Mujeeb-ur-Rehman is a traitor and that he wanted to break the country with his 6 points. The reality was that he was ready to pass the constitution of joint Pakistan in collusion with Bhutto. He himself told me in a meeting, “Am I crazy? Why would I want to break the country and rule a province when I instead rule the whole of Pakistan?” We were also told that we were conducting guerrilla resistance or “jihad” against the Soviets because their expansionist plans extend to Karachi and Gwadar. In actuality, we were America’s proxy in a war between two superpowers. The Russians left but the motley crew assembled in the name of Jihad played, and is still playing, an unholy game of bloodshed unabated. We were also told that the mujahideen had conquered Kargil but the reality was that our jawans [army] were sent there in civilian garb for conquest but the Indian army apprehended them and our prime minister had to flatter the US to facilitate their return.

We weren’t really interested in Osama bin Laden. Many lunatics in our midst consider him a warrior of Islam but the world views him as a deadly terrorist. The deluded class of people doesn’t consider him the architect of 9/11 even though he himself praised the perpetrators initially and then eventually 4 years later accepted the responsibility for planning 9/11. But this particular group of people will not even be dissuaded by his own admission of guilt. They are mourning openly in newspapers. But the people who wrote obituaries in columns did not have the daring to attend his funeral prayers conducted in absentia in Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Anyhow, our military rulers milked the US and Britain for fighting terrorism and maintained that Osama Bin Laden (OBL) was not in Pakistan whereas America insisted the opposite was true according to its reports. But we kept denying it in the strongest terms. But we Pakistanis kept believing what our protectors were telling us. We always do, but what to do when the world refuses to believe them as easily as we do. The Americans kept searching on their own. And the day our protectors and guardians were slumbering, American helicopters in flagrant violation of Pakistan’s airspace flew to Abbottabad and smoked out OBL. They got their man and took him back to Afghanistan with ease.

President Obama addressed his nation to inform them of this victory. At 11 am PST, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, also conducted a press conference and clarified his stance and stated clearly that the world’s most wanted man had been found in Pakistan and our contestation that Pakistan is the hub of terrorism has been proved. But the keepers of our defence kept their lips sealed till 12 pm. Why? The only reason was that their lies had been indubitably exposed and there was no room left for denials or cover-ups.

Finally, the Foreign Office’s spokesman issued a loose and meaningless statement which stated that Americans have conducted an operation as they have stated against OBL. The horrifying fact that Pakistan had been aerially attacked was not even alluded to. Our borders and airspaces violated. An operation was carried out a mere kilometre away from the country’s biggest military academy but our defence systems remained dormant. We neither stopped the helis from entering our borders, nor condemned the aggression committed. The statement was drafted with such nonchalance as if informing of a routine matter. As if the occurrence had taken place elsewhere. As if it did not concern us in the least bit.

The Pakistanis who remember 1971 will relate that while a full-fledged war was raging in East Pakistan, we were being told some Bengali terrorist were merely disturbing law and order and the situation would soon be under control. On 16th December, a table was set up in the battle-grounds of Dhaka on which the commanders of our military sat down with the enemy commander-in-chief and signed the deal to surrender. But we were told by our Commander-in-Chief that it was a “temporary ceasefire.” His words did not belie at all that the ignominy of the world’s biggest military defeat had befallen us. That united Pakistan was no more. We learnt of the reality when the radios across the world were announcing that India had captured East Pakistan.

The events of 2nd May were no ordinary events. They exposed the hypocrisy of the people who are supposedly our guardians and exposed the discrepancies in their words and actions. Our lie had been called out. We denied for eight years that OBL was in Pakistan but he was caught here. We kept calling the world mendacious when we ourselves were liars. Because of this lie, our defence system was reduced to tatters but our government was pretending as if our sovereignty and defence remained unscathed.

On the evening of 2nd May, some people caught their wits and then it was thrown around that we had “aided” the US and our help is what led the US to bin Laden. But what the world really wanted to ask was that why did we repeatedly lie to them? The CIA Chief, Leon Panetta, told the representative of Congress that Pakistan had either willfully hid OBL or it was incompetent. The army’s own retired general, Talat Masood, said that the presence of Osama in Pakistan was due to the incompetence of our institutions and if they knew, that was an even graver mistake than incompetence. Whether it was collusion or incompetence, our defence system and the people responsible for it have failed unequivocally at their professional obligations and national duties. A failure in defence responsibilities is unpardonable. If court-martials had been conducted when necessary, we would never have seen this day. It’s the mistake of a few people; but the humiliation and disgrace is the lot of the entire nation. How much longer will we have to take this? How many times will we pay for the crimes of others?

The writer is one of Pakistan’s most widely read columnists.

Courtesy: PAKISTAN TODAY

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/05/lies-lies-and-more-lies/

Pakistan’s feeble denial

Excerpt:

…. And from Abbottabad the Star’s Rick Westhead reports that some locals believed the compound belonged to a relative of the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, or a drug dealer. Others reportedly thought Hizbul Mujahedeen, a Kashmiri militant group, was using it.

Given rumours that the site  housed Al Qaeda terrorists, Taliban bigwigs, Kashmiri militants and drug barons, why didn’t the ISI move in on bin Laden? How can he have lived there for years?

The world can debate whether U.S. forces were justified in killing bin Laden, and the extent to which the U.S. should air gruesome evidence of the raid. But one thing is clear: “It’s inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country,” as U.S. President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism official said. Who ran that support network? Who built the compound? Who brought bin Laden in? Who supplied him all these years? If not people with links to the security services, then who? Or were the security services playing a double game, as they have in the past?

This is a credibility issue for Zardari and his top military and intelligence chiefs. They have some explaining to do, and there’s a lot at stake. Since 9/11 Pakistan has received $20 billion in U.S. assistance, and relies on billions more each year from other countries. It owes the World Bank and other lenders $54 billion, and needs foreign help to service those loans and get new ones. If world opinion sours on Pakistan, the effects could be harsh.

For years, Pakistani officials denied bin Laden was hiding there. The U.S. raid exploded that untruth. Now they say they have no idea where Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and other insurgents may be. How credible is that? And how hard are they looking?

Courtesy: Toronto Star

The hornet is dead, near the nest – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Pakistani brass was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Doveryai, no proveryai! This Russian proverb, meaning ‘trust, but verify’, popularised by Vladimir Lenin and later by Ronald Reagan, has not rung truer than in the events surrounding the assassination of Osama bin Laden (OBL) earlier this week. And we may see it applied much more intensely in the months to come.

Phone calls from friends in Abbottabad about an ongoing military action there, were enough to suggest that something big was happening in what the locals had always believed to be an ISI-run facility, but the e-mail news alert from The Wall Street Journal announcing OBL’s death was still a major surprise. Against the norms of punditry, this time one hoped that we were wrong and this was not happening in Pakistan. But it was, and yes, we now stand vindicated: all of us who had been saying and writing for years that the US’s most wanted man was not under the protection of any major Pashtun tribe but was guarded by the clan that has anointed itself as the guardians of Pakistan’s ‘ideological’ and geographical frontiers. It is this same clan that had actually codified in its curriculum that “you are the selected lords; you are the cream of the nation”. Where else could this syllabus have been taught but at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul — less than a mile from OBL’s last lair?

There is no polite way of saying it but these masters of Pakistan’s fortunes got egg on their face and that too with the whole world watching. A Peshawarite calling in on a television show said it most aptly: “Koilay ki dallali mein haath to kalay hotay hein per moonh bhi kala hota hai” (Those, whose business is foul, not only get their hands dirty but a blackened face too). But they still have the nerve to say with a straight face that a million-dollar fortress under their nose had been “off their radar”!

Not only that but they also have the gall to mobilise the right-wing media to create the smokescreen of sovereignty yet again while simultaneously playing up their ‘role’ in support of the US action in Abbottabad. The world, however, is not buying that in a cantonment city, the army — which keeps track of every inch of land around its facilities — did not know what was going on in the high-walled compound next to its primary training academy. The paid spin masters will have to do better than this. No matter what President Asif Zardari or his ghostwriter is made to say in op-ed articles in US papers, it is the top brass that is under scrutiny. Using the civilian political leadership as the human shield is not going to work, as the calculus has changed dramatically.

Barack Obama’s token acknowledgment of Pakistan’s non-specific cooperation is being construed by the Pakistani establishment and its minions to imply that the US can be taken for a ride again. It is too early for the specifics to surface but conversations with several sources in Washington and Pakistan point only to the deep mistrust that the US has had vis-à-vis Pakistan. There was no deal initiated by General Shuja Pasha to ‘trade in’ OBL for a bigger Pakistani role in Afghanistan. On the contrary, in response to the chest thumping by the Pakistani security establishment and its ultra right-wing political acolytes, they were confronted with damning evidence about the Haqqani network and possibly the Quetta Shura, while the OBL lead was not shared. The no-fly zone over Pakistan was created through phone calls, minutes after the OBL operation got underway. While the Pakistani brass is clutching at straws like blaming the ‘two Pashtun guards’ for protecting OBL’s compound, it was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton’s nuanced diplomatic statements notwithstanding, the mood of the US leadership is almost reflective of the immediate post-9/11 days and was conveyed well by Senator Carl Levin in his remark: “(Pakistan has) a lot of explaining to do … I think the army and the intelligence of Pakistan have plenty of questions that they should be answering.” In a complete paradigm shift, any leverage that the Pakistani junta was hoping to gain from the bravado that started with the Raymond Davis affair has been lost completely. What will follow is a steady demand within the US to hold Pakistan’s feet to the fire. While maintaining a semblance of a working relationship, a very tough line will be adopted in private. The question bound to come up is not just why Pakistan was hanging on to OBL but also if there was any connection of its operatives to the 9/11 tragedy.

From a tactical standpoint, the OBL operation is likely to serve as a template for future action against the jihadist leadership hiding in Pakistan, especially with General David Petraeus assuming his new role in the near future. To get closer to the strategic objective of a certain level of stability within Afghanistan and potentially a political reconciliation there, it is imperative for the US to neutralise the next two key hurdles, i.e. the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Both these entities have so far been able to evade the US’s reach, thanks to the Pakistani security establishment’s patronage.

Members of the Haqqani clan have been roaming freely in the vicinity of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Khalil Haqqani has conducted several meetings in the previous few months to broker the ‘peace deal’ for the Kurram Agency. It is inconceivable that he could act without the knowledge of the Pakistani security agencies. Similarly, Quetta is home to the Pakistan Army’s XII Corps, ISI regional headquarters, the Balochistan Frontier Corps, an army recruitment centre, the Pakistan Air Force base Samungli and the Pakistan Army’s prestigious Command and Staff College. One wonders if the Pakistani brass would still be able to say that they do not know the whereabouts of Mullah Omar.

A window of opportunity perhaps still exists for Pakistan to make a clean break with the past but its incoherent blame-game and constantly changing story says otherwise. The Pakistani establishment has given the world very little reason to trust it without verifying — unless, of course, another hornet is to be missed hiding near a major nest.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201155\story_5-5-2011_pg3_2