by Asif Haroon Raja
Pak-US relations have seen many ups and downs starting early 1950s when Pakistan decided to join western pacts and became a US ally. Despite that the US embraced Pakistan on need basis only and dumped it when its regional objectives were served, Pakistan has remained attached to USA. Anomalous relationship has survived on account of choice of the ruling coterie and not that of the people. The latest romance between the two countries grew up in the aftermath of 9/11 after a decade old estrangement. Gen Musharraf suffering from legitimacy bug forgot about America’s repeated betrayals and willingly pushed Pakistan into the deceptive lap of USA. He gullibly accepted false assurances of US leadership that this time the friendship will not be self serving but all encompassing.
The ten-year alliance has proceeded on a bumpy road. By about 2005 the US started showing its real self by treating Pakistan both as an ally as well as a target suiting its whims. Overall, it has treated Pakistan unfairly and has caused more harm than good. While on one hand the US officials never tire saying that they desire to build lasting and enduring strategic partnership with Pakistan, secretly it has been assiduously working to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan. For the accomplishment of its objectives, it has co-opted the services of Israel, India, Britain, Germany and Afghanistan. Intelligence agencies of the six countries are engaged in extensive covert war against Pakistan since 2002. CIA acts as the mother hen and coordinates covert operations using Afghan soil. Since India was assigned the lead role, Indian Embassy and consulates in Afghanistan got filled up with RAW officials and tens of training camps were established to train and launch saboteurs into Pakistan.
Taking advantage of the secret understandings with Musharraf, the US managed to establish a vast network of CIA agents and Blackwater elements initially in FATA region, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and later all over Pakistan. Trained operatives of US Special Forces were inducted in big numbers after July 2010 under different disguises as a consequence to relaxation of visa policy to foment terrorism in cities. CIA outposts helped infiltration of agents of RAW and RAAM in restive regions of Pakistan and in establishing contacts with terrorist groups and disgruntled elements. Foreign agencies provided financial and material support to them to carryout acts of terror and assassination of anti-US notables. Use of drones was part of the gory scheme to fuel terrorism.
By forcing Pak Army to fight US war on terror, the US not only pitched Muslims against Muslims of common nationality but also embroiled the Army in an insurrectional war in the tribal belt along western border. Ignoring huge sacrifices of the Army and successes achieved, the US kept singing ‘do more’ mantra unabatedly. The mantra suffered a setback in 2009 when the world woke up to the hard reality that while Pak Army with inadequate resources and suffering from several handicaps had single-handed performed brilliantly against the militants, the performance of armies of 48 countries led by super power laced with plentiful resources was dismal. Ill-equipped rag-tag Taliban and al-Qaeda numbering not more than 10,000 has wrested the initiative from 152,000 strong allied force assisted by over 100,000 Afghan Army enjoying all the strategic and tactical advantages.
Not knowing how to hide its embarrassment, the US considered it morally expedient to resort to lies and deception to distract the attention of American public and the world by making Pakistan a scapegoat. The US officials as well as US media and think tanks targeted Pakistan by making it responsible for all the failings of USA in Afghanistan. They got so involved in Pakistan bashing that they almost forgot about Afghanistan. Series of bizarre stories were published by western media to malign the image of Pakistan and its premier institutions.
The ISI which was extending wholehearted support to CIA came in its bad books towards end of 2007/early 2008 when the ISI to its horror learnt that CIA pretending to be friend and well wisher was playing a double game. The ISI had remained in the dark because it was made to remain in the background. No sooner the ISI started regaining ground in trouble spots and took preventive measures to protect national interests, it irked CIA immeasurably. From July 2008 onwards the attitude of US leaders became aggressive. ISI was blamed for suicide attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul.
It was also held responsible for disturbances in Indian Held Kashmir as well as several acts of terror taking place in India between 2006 and 2008. It was alleged that the Army and ISI were aligned with Taliban and al-Qaeda. The US tried to deliver a knockout blow to ISI by placing it under its man Rahman Malik who had been assigned the prized ministry of interior. Coercive tactics together with character assassination techniques were applied to force ISI not to create impediments in the way of CIA. Mumbai attacks were engineered to get ISI declared a rogue outfit.
Whilst the two premier institutions deftly warded off all pressures and held their ground, the anti-Pakistan gang planned to bog down Pak Army in the militants strongholds of Swat and Bajaur. As soon as the Army came out of the two hotspots successfully and also managed to resettle 1.7 millions displaced persons, it was pushed into the strongest fort of Tehrik-e-Taliban in South Waziristan. When the Army dismantled the main base of militants in quick time and its image and respect shot up in the eyes of the people, it disappointed the schemers immensely.
Having run out of plots to rundown the Army, the US then played its trump card and started pressing Pakistan to mount a major offensive in North Waziristan (NW). This demand is being made constantly since start of 2010. The plea taken is that unless the alleged sanctuaries of al-Qaeda and Haqqani network in NW are dismantled, no worthwhile progress could be achieved against Taliban in Afghanistan. Much trumpeted Kandahar operation planned in the beginning of 2010 has been postponed indefinitely on this very pretext. Failure to convince hard line Taliban to hold talks for a political settlement has also been attributed to Pakistan.
Washington became so arrogant and vindictive that on one hand it haughtily brushed aside Pakistan’s compulsions and security concerns, stopped supply of urgently needed counter terror equipment and helicopters and delayed payment of close support fund, on the other hand it kept pressing Pakistan to expedite launching an operation in NW. Another tactic used to make Pakistan submit to its unreasonable demand was the liberal use of drones in NW. 2010 was the worst year in which 225 strikes took place killing over 1000 people. The underlying motive is to fuel terrorism and provoke the friendly tribes in NW to scrap the peace deal and pick up arms against the Army.
It was under such tense environment that CIA operative Raymond Davis was arrested on 27 January after he murdered two persons. His arrest plummeted Pak-US relations to lowest ebb. The US applied all sorts of pressure tactics to get him released since he knew too many details about US network in Pakistan and the objectives assigned. The US did not rest till he was released on 16 March under a shady deal and allowed to fly away. The incident gave some idea about the extent of US involvement in Pakistan for the first time. Revelation of news that 2-3000 Davis type undercover agents were secretly operating in Pakistan under different guises shocked all and sundry. The ISI has tightened the noose and is busy hunting them. The DGISI has asked his counter part Panetta to furnish details of all covert operators and to call them back.
It was widely speculated that release of Davis despite public pressure would soften up the US leadership and would take steps to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries and bring a healthy change in inter-state relations. However, optimism crashed on the following day of his release when a deadly drone attack was launched in NW killing 48 innocent people. The US is not prepared to fulfill its promises it made prior to release of Davis and same old haughtiness has resurfaced. It seems Panetta has no intention to withdraw his secret agents from Pakistan nor does he intend to wrap up Pakistan specific covert war or to stop drone attacks. He has made an excuse that CIA agents are trying to trace out Osama and other senior leaders of Al-Qaeda. He also considers drone a useful weapon to fight terrorism and to save the lives of Americans and allies.
Taking into account the well-known practice of CIA, it first establishes its network in the target country and then instigates lawlessness, or insurgency to effect a regime change. The network also assists the main assault group by way of providing intelligence and guidance towards selected objectives. Considering the nearness of such a large military force across our western border and hostile India on our eastern border, the situation has become extremely grave particularly when seen in context with explosive internal security situation, crumbling economy and unstable political front.
It is high time our sleepy leaders enmeshed in self-enrichment game should wake up and take stock of fast building two-directional hurricane and put up a united front to defeat foreign conspiracies before it is too late. As a first step, all unwanted foreign elements must be traced and deported expeditiously. Second; all secret written or unwritten agreements should be scraped. Third; principled stance over drones should be taken to stop US from this madness, or the case be referred to the UN. Fourth; Pakistan must detach itself from counter productive war on terror. Last but not least; Pak-US relations should be nurtured on basis of trust and mutual respect rather than on master-client basis.
About the writer: Asif Haroon is a retired Brig and a defence and security analyst. Email: [email protected]