Pakistan-US: Partners Thinking Poles Apart


By Hamid Waheed

An unclassified white house report “Report on Afghanistan and Pakistan”’ published in March, 2011 surfaced on Whitehouse website which describes how differently the collation partners think on different subjects relating to War on Terror(WOT). It is equally important for the common Pakistani and American to know the common perception on both sides. The main quotes of the report and Pakistan’s media perceptions will give an insight to the problem. First extract from the report says

The quoted paragraph clearly talks of ‘holding ourselves accountable’ but when the reader has gone through 38 pages of the report it mostly criticizes the other two partners Pakistan and to some extent Afghanistan. The report speaks of gray areas but fails to fix responsibility and show a way forward.

Second extract says:

Pakistan perceives its national interests are neither understood nor given any importance.  At times it is Pentagon and at other  either U.S government or the CIA which became instrumental to incidents like handling of Raymond Davis issue , U.S. India nuclear deal, drone attacks  and  policy shifts like US Afghan policy directly hitting Pakistan’s national interests.  The conflicting US policies by Pentagon, CIA, and White House have failed to come up with any solution for the ongoing war in Afghanistan for last nine years. America has adopted a heavy-handed approach towards Pakistan which has weakened the partnership. Solution lies in looking inwards and not in blame games, more accommodation and understanding of others national interests. WOT in Afghanistan needs a systematic transition towards political solution mistrust amongst stakeholders at this crucial stage may lead the region to disaster. Whereas Pakistan has tried to lid on CIA-ISI type intelligence issues, drone attacks for the sake of partnership, the U.S. left no stone unturned to embarrass Pakistan through media blame-game.

The third Extract says:

For Pakistan the success of Swat operation and settlement of displaced people of Swat became role model for the society and the environment was shaped in favour of government and the army. The military pressure dislodged the (terror) groups from some of their training areas and kept them on the run. The violence fell by 60 per cent in the second half of 2009, compared with the first half. The overall increase in Pakistan violence was less than initially expected during the more turbulent first half of the year. The arrest and killing of hundreds of suspected TTP militants, improved policing in KP, stepped-up air strikes in North Waziristan and pressure on Taliban hideouts in Orakzai and South Waziristan helped drain militant strength, The neutralisation of suicide bombing ability of the militants gave the security forces an added edge to wipe out the remaining Taliban. Some police officials claim that change in the kind of crimes shows that the situation is moving back to normal. However the partner seem more interested in no attacks on American soil, reduction on Pakistan side is of a lesser interest.

On Afghanistan side there have been some mind boggling events. In April 2008 Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, told a parliament security committee that “coalition forces” intended to place weapons, ammunition and food at a police checkpoint in a remote section of the southern province of Zabul in late March,a coalition helicopter by mistake  dropped somewhere far from the checkpoint. Later the Taliban came and they picked it up,” Later Hamidullah Tukhi, a lawmaker from Zabul, told the security commission the weapons were placed 300 feet from the home of a Taliban commander named Mullah Mohammad Alam. He said the supply drop contained heavy machine guns, AK-47s, rockets and food. Lawmakers discussed the issue with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan. “I think Gen. McNeill himself said that it was a mistake, but I don’t believe it,” Tukhi said.

It was also reported in Oct 2009 that US has withdrawn its troops from its four key bases in Nuristan, on the border with Pak. This left northeastern province as a safe haven for the Taliban-led insurgency to orchestrate its regional battles. This withdrawal directly affected war led by Pak troops against Taliban as militants marched towards Mohmand and Bajaur agency to help their fellow Taliban. In November 2009 Al Jazeera  released footage  showing Taliban fighters brandishing what appeared to be US weapons.

Even the US chairman of the House subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs, John Tierney, asked “What if we had to tell families not only why we are in Afghanistan, but why their son or daughter died at the hands of an insurgent using a weapon purchased by US taxpayers?”

It was heartening to see recognition of sacrifices by Pakistan army  in the report but leaving the issue of hold and build only for Pakistan seem unrealistic  knowing economic conditions of Pakistan after natural disaster of floods. What to say of fulfillment of international promises even smooth transfer of  Collation Support Fund(CSF)is a huge problem area.  However it is hoped that such controversial issues must be getting  due attention behind the curtains and serious efforts are in hand for general good of the region and the partnership to fight  terror .

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