CAN PAKISTAN REALLY TRUST AMERICA AS A TRUE FRIEND?
By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
Dr. Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State, has once rightly pointed out that; in the international politics, “there are neither permanent friends nor permanent foes of a state”. These are indeed, the convergences and divergences of national interests of states that make them friends or foes to each other. The national interests of states, however, are not constant, but continue changing depending upon the emerging realities from time to time. National strategies are made on the principals of national interests’ not on emotions or on personnel liking or disliking of leadership or a particular factor.
The history of Pak-US relationship, somehow confirms the theme of this great master of the realist’s school of thought. There have been more frequent convergences and divergences in the bumpy journey of Pak-US relationship. The convergences have mostly been on the operational and tactical level, whereas, the divergences existed at the strategic level. “This strategic divergence made relations perpetually vulnerable to accusations and counter-accusations”. One such case in point is the failed attempt of the Time Square attack in New York by a naturalized US citizen of Pakistani origin, Faisel Shahzad on May 1, 2010.
Following failed plotting of the bombing by this ill trained bomber, frequently called as the “idiot bomber” by US media, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened the Pakistan with the “severe consequences”; if a future attack on the U.S. homeland is traced back to Pakistani militant groups. This was not the end, later she said that some officials of Pakistan precisely know the whereabouts of the Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden and Taliban leader, Mullah Omer. Richard Holbrook later tried to compensate the inconsiderate warning by the Secretary Clinton, by saying that her statement was misinterpreted. But the reality remains that like past, the nature of Pak-US relationship is as implausible as it was in their previous history. This relationship has been and still governed by the will and wishes of the US, rather serving the bilateral interests of both countries.
The warning reminds me the more recent promises of the same Secretary of State, that, US has committed mistakes by abandoning Pakistan at critical moment of the history, especially after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Feeling sorry for what has been done in the past, she rather assured Pakistan that; “come what may, we will stick by you” in the future. Seeing a somewhat moderate and a balance approach of the Obama administration, it was assumed that, now US will be at least taking care of Pakistani interests too. But, it appears that, there would be no change in the status of our bilateral relationship. These would continue to remain US driven.
There is no doubt that the failed attempt of the Time Square Bombing by a US national of Pakistani origin is an act worth condemning. Pakistani Government and nation as a whole condemned it. However, the reality of the matter is that after all it was an individual act. This fact is even confirmed by US military and States official too. The idiot bomber might have visited his ancestral country; Pakistan, but did US find any proof of the involvement of Pakistani Government or the Civil Society of Pakistan. If at all he had some individual contacts with another person(s), TTP or any other terrorist network in Pakistan or abroad, should that act be sufficient for calling a wrath of the US Secretary of State, as it was previously done by then Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, immediately after the incident of 9/11. Is this the level of trust both countries enjoying?
In this highly globalized world, US too need to be realistic in its approach. Why US cannot see the Pakistani contributions and sacrifices since the start of the so called global war terror and throughout in the Pak-US history. Overall Pakistan has lost over 25,000 people in this so called global war on terror. In its unholy alliance with US, Pakistan has become economically ruined. Its security situation has become such that today every Pakistan feel unsecure. Bomb blasts, suicide attacks and other acts of terror are the order of the day. Indeed, these all are because of the Pakistani alliance with US during Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It was US spying agencies which congregated the Muslim Jihadists from all over the globe to fight against its ideological enemy, the former Communist Soviet Union. These Jihadists were left idle to become terrorists after the Soviet disintegration, perhaps to fulfil the next US strategic gains.
However, the analysts visualize this incident of failed bombing in the realistic paradigm. Since long US has been compelling Pakistan to launch a military operation in the North Waziristan. The demands become more pronounced after the successes of Pak Army operations against the militants in the Malakand-Swat and the South Waziristan Agency. US apprehend the Haqqani and Moulvi Nazir network are working against the US interests in Afghanistan, while being in the North Waziristan. Pakistan Army on the other hand feels too much stretched. Still it is mopping up its initial successes in the aforesaid areas and undertaking operations in the Orakzai Agency and some other areas of the FATA. It cannot stretch any more. However, Pakistan is not allowing the use of its soil by any network or against a foreign country. It does not deny operation against the militants in that agency too. But, let there be stability in its earlier gains of more serious nature.
Linking this incident of an individual nature with the militants in the Waziristan and forcing Pakistan to launch a military operation immediately would be asking for too much. Some analysts even see this failed bombing as a conspiracy theory for giving Pakistan a proof that still there exist training camps for the terrorist like Faisal Shahzad in the Waziristan. Thus not allowing Pakistan to swerve from the US demands of launching an operation against the terrorist in North Waziristan.
United States must realize that its relationship with Pakistan must not be hostage to the acts committed by the non-state actors. These terrorists may be of any origin or followers of any faith, but are the enemies of peace and stability in the world. Generally they are used by various spying networks. It is quite possible that some Jihadists who fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on US behalf are still maintaining their relationship with CIA; the master trainer at that time. This aspect must be kept in view if US is really interested to know the facts about the incident of the Time Square failed bombing attempt.
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan is Ph.D. in International Relations from Karachi University. Presently he is an Associate Professor with National Defence University, Islamabad. His area of study is South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Dr Khan is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.