By Dr. Raja Muhammad
In connection with, ‘Petraeus’s Next Campaign’ the renowned writer Mr. Robert Haddick writes in the Foreign Policy magazine dated July 15, 2011, that, “The new CIA chief will take on the covert war in Pakistan.” The magazine disclosed that, the new CIA Chief General David Petraeus, would launch a covert US campaign against Pakistan unilaterally to implement the US quasi-military operations. Since CIA already has its covert presence in Pakistan, the only need would be to evolve again, or at least intensify in its present form. “As a marker of what may be to come, the May 11, 2011, witnessed one of the heaviest drone bombardments of Pakistan, with four separate strikes killing over 50 people.” It is worth mentioning that despite removing uniform, as CIA Director, General Petraeus “will be a battlefield commander, in charge of a robotic air force and a small army of U.S. and Afghan paramilitaries, many of whom are former special operations soldiers.” Furthermore, “under U.S. law, Petraeus's campaign in Pakistan will be a civilian-led covert action, authorized under Title 50 of the United State Code. To Pakistan, it will look a lot like war.”
Earlier, Obama administration decided to withhold $800 million military assistance to Pakistan on the plea that, Pakistani forces failed to take action against an explosive factory. According to US authorities, the factory was being used for making improvised explosive devices (IED), used against US forces. US says Pakistan was provided the information, but failed to act in time and once Pakistani reached there for military operations, the terrorist working in the factory had already left the site. U.S authorities have quoted this single incident as the sole cause of the stoppage of military assistance of Pakistan. Indeed, this is ironic that, U.S has made such a small incident a plea to withhold the military aid, which should be a matter of discredit for it. Indeed, this is a childish act from a super power against an all out partner.
This act of US proves two things: first; Pakistani security forces were not serious to take action against the militants running the explosive factory. Secondly; as there has been the US feeling that, Pakistan informs the militants about any likely attack plan, once it is from US side. Such a misperception was even shown by former CIA director, Panetta after the OBL raid. Nevertheless, for the information of neutral analysts, it is submitted should Pakistan linger on in attacking such a facility whose products; the IEDs are being used against its own forces.
It is worth mentioning that over 60% casualties of Pakistani security forces are due to the IEDs, rather direct attacks or bomb blasts. It holds true for civilian casualties in various agencies of the FATA. If at all these terrorists are able to use these IEDs against US and NATO forces, they have used them against Pakistani troops more than these were used in Afghanistan. Therefore, for its own benefit, Pakistan cannot forgo such an actionable intelligence. This is therefore, a total US misperception or misgiving, and provides no logic to stop the military assistance. US should rather develop the trust with Pakistan, which has done everything for it through out in its history, rather putting a stop over the military aid.
Prior to this, US secretary of Defence Mr. Leon Panetta on his very first visit to Afghanistan as Secretary of Defence issued a statement that, Dr Aiman-al-Zawahiri, who succeeded OBL is hiding in the tribal areas of Pakistan. He promised the ISAF commanders including CIA Director designate, General David Patreaus that, Pakistan will be pressurized to kill Zawahiri and many bothers. Besides, the Secretary of Defence said that, “20 top commanders of al-Qaeda, might be living in Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen and North Africa will be killed or arrested after Osama.” Although, the Secretary did make a mention of the sacrifices of the Pakistan during this long-drawn war on terror, yet his revelations regarding presence of new Al-Qaeda chief means a lot.
While issuing the statement, Mr. Panetta did not quote any evidence. Pakistan later asked US for sharing of information about the presence of Dr Aiman-al-Zawahiri in Pakistan, which is still awaited from US. Pakistan feels that, all this is the part of the pressure tactics US is using since last many years to launch a military operation in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and other areas as per its desires. United States feels that pressurizing Pakistan indeed aims at compelling “Pakistani military to make a difficult choice between backing the country that finances much of its operations and equipment, or continuing to provide secret support for the Taliban and other militants fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan.” This indeed is a very provocative statement by US authorities. The statement gives a feeling as if, Pakistanis are being fed through US finances, contrary to the reality. However, this is neither the first nor the last claim made about Pakistan by a top US official. The change is that there is enhancement in the frequency of the accusations by US, after the Raymond Davis case and later following the OBL episode.
Although the explosive factory which US intelligence apparatus and satellite could see in June this year for the first time in last one decade, acted a pretext, to stop the military assistance, the real reasons are other than this. The fact of the matter is that, United States did so only after Pakistani Military ordered return of its Military trainers and demanded for the vacation Shamsi Air Base, currently in use of its troops. Even with this logic, it is the height of narcissism by a super power to stop the military aid of Pakistan, a partner who selflessly contributed for its cause. After all, national interest and sovereignty of Pakistan should mean something to Pakistanis and US too. Was not it sufficient for US forces to use the airbase for ten years? Moreover, Pakistani Military does not need British and US Military trainers anymore; we feel better trained. US should its gain in Afghanistan and Pakistani gains during its CT campaign, indeed there are no parallel between the achievements of both.
Besides, US and NATO forces have been and are still using many logistic facilities of Pakistan to support troops in Afghanistan. According the Ministry of Communication, damages worth billion of USD have been caused by the heavy US and NATO trailers to the roads under National Highway Authority (NHA). There would be a requirement of $7 billion over next few years for the repair of the roads and US and NATO has not paid its initial damage cost of $1.5 billion earlier demanded by NHA. As per a statement of NHA, "We have written numerous letters to the Prime Minister's Secretariat and the Foreign Office since 2009 ——–but neither the Pakistani government nor the US or NATO have provided any monetary help to repair the damaged highways infrastructure by NATO trucks until today.” By promising $1.5 billion annual assistance under KLL, which Pakistan is waiting to get in lump sum even today, US feels that it has bought all Pakistani facilities?
This indeed is a wrong perception of United States about Pakistan. The super power has to be reminded of over $70 billion economic losses; Pakistan has suffered in last ten years, for its partnership with the US against the war on terror. The cost of social deterioration and insecurity caused to every Pakistani in these long years is beyond any estimate. Can US pay for that, being responsible for all these breakdowns? US carrot and stick policy can be imagined from a recent statement of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Senate Committee. She said that, “When it comes to our military aid, we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken.” The Secretary of Defence Leon E. Panetta, while substantiating Ms. Clinton said, “We have to continue to emphasize with the Pakistanis that in the end it’s in their interest to be able to go after these targets as well.”
While making such accusations, US should have wisdom to visualize that, does Pakistan train militants to attack its own innocent people and security forces or destroying its own installations. Can US compare the sacrifices of Pakistan and rest of the world including its own during these ten years of war on terror? Pakistan has lost over 35,000 people since the start of this war on terror. Out of these casualties, 5000 combat soldiers have embraced martyrdom during the anti-terror campaign, as against 3000 deaths of ISAF forces of over 48 countries. Therefore, before stopping the Pakistani assistance US should think ten times. Whatever, little success US had in Afghanistan, it was because of Pakistan. U.S and NATO cannot stay in that hostile country for few weeks without the active support of Pakistan. Besides, the US military assistance to Pakistan is mostly in the form of reimbursement, rather offering a free lunch, which is not a norm in US. Even today, U.S has to reimburse billion of USD to Pakistan on various accounts.
US pressure tactic indeed is designed to relegate Pakistani contributions during the war on terror. By doing so, US desires that Pakistan should have no role in the future setup of Afghanistan and interests of new US allies, should be accommodated in that country. Indeed, Pakistan does not desire a role for itself in that war ridden country. However, it would continue its support against the terrorism and would like that, any future setup in Afghanistan should accommodate the interests of Afghan people who have suffered in this over thirty year’s war, rather serving the interests of regional hegemonic power, whom US sees as its successor state.
As far as Afghanistan is concerned, Pakistan will continue looking after the interests of its Afghan brethrens and even today looking after over 2.5 million Afghan refugees without any foreign assistance. It strongly feels that all afghan factions and group should be partner and made stake holders in any future setup of that country. Let, there be end of Afghan miseries and war of interests of great powers. Pakistan can live without US assistance, rather dependence on US assistance has parlayed Pakistani nation. It would indeed be a blessing in disguise, if U.S stops its assistance to Pakistan, whose effects have never reached over to the people of Pakistan. This US act would enable us to stand on our feet and think for our future, rather being betrayed as witnessed since so many years. However, US must weigh between the stoppage of its military aid and possible withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Pak-Afghan border, manning over 1100 check-posts.