By Hamid Waheed
Pak U.S relations have always been a story of seasonal relationship with Pakistan accusing U.S of being a friend only at time of its need and leaving Pakistan high and dry afterwards. The U.S accuses Pakistan of partnering only for its economic interests . Resultantly the U.S policy has always focused on winning individuals which play important role in Pakistan. The international events after 9/11 brought a realization to both the nations .
The public statements by leadership of both countries focused on long lasting and strategic relations. U.S publically admitted leaving Pakistan after Russian withdrawal , F-16 issue and sanctions were counter productive. Pakistani leadership came out to reverse anti U.S sentiments by convincing public that partnership in war on terror (WOT) is in interest of both Nations. However this way forward could only move few paces when it was challenged by adverse international hands .
The U.S was targeted from within by creating a silent divide between Pentagon, the government and CIA. Media proved one of the major weapons , Writers like David Kilcullen persuaded the US administration that one cannot hope to solve the situation in Afghanistan without getting involved in Pakistan. . He wrote that there are sections of the military and the security apparatus which are a rogue state within a state. They have a history of supporting the Taliban. He also raised the fear of collapsing Pakistan and its Nuclear asset falling in hands of terrorist. Such perceptions led to an increased trust deficit which brought visible change in U.S policy towards Pakistan.
At times it was Pentagon and at other it was either U.S government or the CIA which became instrumental to incidents like handling of Raymond Davis issue and policy shifts like U.S-India nuclear deal and US Afghan policy directly hitting Pakistan’s national interests.
Where as it has remained a perceived issue of collapsing Pakistan in media and American officials have heaped scorn on Pakistan, accusing it of double dealing in the war against terrorism, on Afghanistan side there have been some mind boggling events which shows that Raymond Davis is not the issue but is just part of issues happening for quite some time now. 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, adding he did not know which nation dropped the supplies.
Pakistan army fighting WOT in Swat , Malakand observed foreign hand supporting terrorists by training and arms supply to fight Pakistan army. Indian conciliates in Afghanistan near to Pakistan borders were suspected but few noticed a 46-page report by the GAO the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress which warned in Feb , 2009 that thousands of US weapons, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, may be in Taliban or Al-Qaeda hands in Afghanistan because of lax controls.
The Pentagon has failed to track an estimated 87,000 weapons given to Afghan security forces, one-third of the 242,000 shipped by the US government between December 2004 and June 2008, the Government Accountability Office said.
Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman confirmed the Pentagon had already taken action on the report’s recommendations for tracking of serial numbers and physical inventories of weapons given by both the United States and allies.”Given the unstable security conditions in Afghanistan, the risk of loss and theft of these weapons is significant,” said the evaluation, which was submitted to a House of Representatives.
The 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?” the Democrat told the hearing
.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. The fighters said they had seized the arms cache from two military outposts in eastern Nuristan, abandoned by US forces last month.Angela Eggman, a Nato spokeswoman, said it was not clear from the video where or when the weapons were obtained.
But General Mohammad Qassim Jangulbagh, Nuristan’s provincial police chief, disagreed, saying: “The Americans left ammunition at the base.””Before departing the base, the units removed all sensitive items and accounted for them,” she said.
Farooq Khan, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police in Nuristan, concurred, saying US forces left arms and ammunition when they moved from the area, which he said was now in fighters’ hands.
The Pentagon said the closing of the outposts in Nuristan was part of plans by General Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, to shut down isolated units and focus on more heavily populated areas.
The CIA , ISI relationship for an average observer also remained a mystery with Pakistan hiding truth to save relationship and US finding some means to leak information and embarrass Pakistan and ISI after each drone attack and US contractors force actions which is widely believed to be an act of mutual understanding.The drone attack on the next day of Raymond’s release received a rare condemnation by the Pakistan army chief Kiyani. Washington’s lukewarm reaction to his concern and Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry’s statement that the fundamentals of our relations need to be revisited and Pakistan should not be taken for granted nor treated as a client state is a sign of how troubled the strategically vital relationship between the two countries has become.
The perception game does work but only till reality takes over. The growing anger over the perceived impertinence and rudeness of U.S towards Pakistan could cost Washington heavily in Afghanistan.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 yearsIt will have to abandon its heavy-handed approach in Pakistan if it wants to make the partnership work. 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. Leadership on both sides must understand the implications of Pak U.S relations for the regional and global peace.