By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan

Secy Defence Robert Gates and Gen Ashfaq Kayiani

In a recent article entitled as the “Pakistan Seen Restricting Data from Mullah” published in “The Washington Times”, dated May 18, 2010, Mr Eli Lake highlighted the U.S concern that Pakistan perhaps is not fully sharing the information data gained from the Taliban’s number two man, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrested somewhere in the beginning of February, 2010. Mullah Baradar is the co-founder of Taliban Movement in Afghanistan and considered to be the military deputy to Mullah Omar, the former head of Afghan Government under Taliban from 1996 to 2001. He has been an active fighter against the former Soviet Union throughout in 1980s.

Ever since the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad in 2003, the custody of Mullah Baradar by Pakistan is considered to be a great success. According to this Washington Times report, “Recent interrogation sessions with Mullah Baradar yielded very little actionable intelligence. Instead the sessions provided ‘atmospheric intelligence’ that is of limited value, such as the history of the Pashtun tribal regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” Whereas as a key operational commander, Mullah Baradar is believed to know “a wide range of information on the insurgency, from the Afghan Taliban’s funding network to the identities of sleeper cells, agents and financiers in Europe and the west.”

More than anything, the US intelligence officials were interested to know from this arrested Taliban number two about the linkages between Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the Afghan Taliban. And that who in fact control them on behalf of ISI. This Washington Times report came after the statement of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that some of the officials in Pakistan know whereabouts of Osma bin Laden, al-Qaeda and Taliban. In her interview with CBS television on May 9, 2010, the Secretary of State had very elaborately said, that, “I’m not saying that they’re at the highest levels but I believe that somewhere in this government are people who know where Osma bin Laden and al-Qaeda is, where Mullah Omer and leadership of Afghan Taliban is and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture or kill, those who attacked us on 9/11”.

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In an earlier statement, Hillary Clinton has threatened Pakistan with the dire consequences, after the failed attempt of an attack on the Times Square by Faisal Shezad, a naturalized US citizen of Pakistani origin.  The madam Secretary said in the same gasp during the interview that, “We’ve made it very clear that, if heaven forbid, that an attack like this, if we can trace back to Pakistan, were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences.”   There were few sentences of pacification too in the said interview of the Hillary Clinton. But each word of contentment even was followed by the do more mantra of Bush regime, “We want more; we expect more”.

These two recent instances and US response has exposed the reality and the true basis of Pak-US strategic alliance and US intent in the long run. Although, we are absolutely clear that global politics is essentially a politics of interests, yet, this is again a reality that by virtue of its geopolitical location, Pakistan has been and still serving the US interests. Therefore, before issuing such like public assertions, US officials could have deliberated upon their impulsive response on such like sporadic incidents. Even at the cost of its own national interests, Pakistan has supported the US in particular and world in general during the ongoing so-called global war on terror.  People like Faisal Shezad, who have been brought up in United States; owes much allegiance to it, rather the country of their ancestors, for the ills, they have committed in their individual capacities.

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Did US authorities find any evidence; where Pakistani Government has trained, harboured or abetted people like Faisal Shezad for terrorism inside US or anywhere else in the world? If there is no proof, then, why there is a defaming of Pakistan through a propaganda campaign launched against it by the Western media. More often, the premier Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, is being reproached for the ills, it has never committed. How could ISI stop acquisition of intelligence information about the Taliban to the country (US), occupying Afghanistan since last nine years? This is really a juvenile allegation by US intelligence officials and Secretary of State that Pakistan or its intelligence agency is denying requisite information from Mullah Baradar, like; “the locations of senior Taliban officials, bank accounts; their donor support base; their capabilities”

Since the start of the global war on terror, Pakistan has arrested and handed over 700 al-Qaeda and Taliban people to US. In the process it has suffered over 26000 casualties including 3700 personnel of security forces since 2001. Is it not the sufficient evidence of Pakistan’s sincerity and countless sacrifices? How much casualties U.S and NATO suffered during the same period, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Surely, there are no parallels with the Pakistani sufferance. Owing to its alliance with the US, Pakistan has suffered the worst economic and internal security crises, during this global war on terror.  Its economic losses have crossed over 54 billion USD. Security wise, today, no part of Pakistan is safe from the terrorists, earlier served the US cause against former Soviet Union as the Mujahedeen.

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As an analyst, I strongly feel that Mujahedeen of yesterday, renamed as the terrorists of today would be named afresh by tomorrow to play yet another role for the US and its new allies like India in the coming days. Otherwise, within Pakistan, they are playing havoc through the barbaric acts in the form of suicide attacks; bomb blasts terrorist attacks and spreading terrorism and extremism. These militants are indeed acting as the strategic instruments of U.S. How can a Muslim kill other Muslims once they are offering prayers in the mosques?  Surely, these attackers are neither Muslims nor loyal to Pakistan. They are serving the strategic objectives of the powers other than Pakistan.

United States and world should realize that people like Faisal Shahzad or the TTP militants having linkages with such like people, are not serving Pakistani interests. They indeed become raison d’être, of letting Pakistan down. If Mullah Baradar has not provided information as desired by US intelligence agencies, ISI cannot be blamed for that. Why cannot, they understand that he was apprehended from Pakistan soil (Karachi) while hiding himself, and was away from the hard core Afghan Taliban leadership, since many years.  After all what US could do with the information, it gained from over 700 al-Qaeda and Taliban captives, Pakistan handed over to it since September 11, 2001. Most of these captives along with others are still languishing in the Guantanamo Bay Jail, Obama announced to do away with on his very first address, upon becoming US President in January 2009.

The writer is a South Asian analyst.