By Sajjad Shaukat
During his trip to Islamabad on April 20 this year, while praising Pakistan’s military operations against the militants, US Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen blamed in an interview with a private TV channel that “Pakistan’s perceived foot-dragging in tackling strongholds in North Waziristan belonging to the Haqqani network and its continuing relationship with it was the most difficult part of the US-Pakistani relationship. He further revealed, “The ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network. That doesn’t mean everyone in the ISI, but it’s there…Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners” in Afghanistan.
In this context, on the one hand Admiral Mullen has admired the efforts of Pakistan’s Army in relation to war on terror, while on the other has shown his stereotype-thinking and blame game against Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. His interview indicates US previous self-contradiction and duplicity regarding Pakistan.
It is notable that despite Pakistan’s successful military operations against the Taliban militants and scarifies of country’s security forces including losses in political, economic and social terms in connection with war against terrorism, Washington wants Islamabad to do more, and to take military action against the Haqqani group in North Waziristan. While Islamabad has already made it clear that army is engaged in other tribal areas, so it cannot attack the militants of North Waziristan.
In the recent past, rejecting US duress, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has remarked that a decision about military action in North Waziristan will not be made on external dictation.
It is mentionable that in the past, while talking about the failed attempt of the Times Square bombing, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned that Pakistan would face “severe consequences” if a future terrorist attack on US soil was traced back to Pakistan. She had further accused, “Some Pak officials know where Bin Laden, al Qaeda, Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban leadership are.” While at the same time, sheadmitted regarding the suspect Faisal Shahzad that investigation is being carried out by both US and Pakistani investigative bodies which are “working well together” and “Pakistan is reciprocating US concerns over the threat of terrorism.”
Notably, in 2009, when the heavy-armed Taliban entered Dir, Buner and other adjoining areas, US high officials and their media had left no stone unturned in exaggerating the Talibinisation of whole Pakistan and underestimating the capabilities of Pakistan’s armed forces in coping with the rising threat. Quite opposite to the ground realities as witnessed by the successful military operations which flushed out the Taliban out of Dir, Buner and other adjoining areas, US paradoxical approach could be judged from the statements of its high officials who had indicated that Taliban’s advancement in other regions beyond Swat, would result in total control of Pakistan by these extremists who would also captured the nuclear weapons, endangering the security of the West.
On April 22, 2009, Hillary Clinton stated that Taliban “advances pose “an existential threat” to Pakistan. On April 23, she warned that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. Adm. Mike Mullen and General David Petraeus, Commander of US Central Command had also expressed similar thoughts.
Surprisingly, when Pakistan’s armed forces ejected the Taliban insurgents out of Swat, Dir and Buner by breaking their backbone including command and control system—capturing many militants, then same American high officials started admiring the Pak Army.
These self-contradictory statements of the US high officials which still continue in one or the other way, show American duplicity with Pakistan—sometimes cajoling the latter with economic and military aid and sometimes pressurizing Islamabad to ‘do more’ against the Taliban militants.
It is of particular attention that despite the successful military operations by Pakistan’s armed forces and the arrest of renowned Taliban commanders including other militants and masterminds of Al-Qaeda, namely Khalid Sheikh and Abu Faraj, which became possible due to our country’s intelligence agencies—especially ISI, the US continues blame game against this superior agency.
On May 24, 2010, The Long War Journal, while quoting US military intelligence officials wrote, “The Pakistan-based Haqqani Network carried out suicide attack in Kabul on May 18 that killed a Canadian colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two US soldiers, and twelve Afghan civilians.” The Journal elaborated, “The US officials disclosed the information after a briefing by the spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s top intelligence service, Saeed Ansari who claimed that the attack was organized in Pakistan with the help of ISI.” On the same date, The New York Times also reported same allegation.
These are not new accusations against ISI, but are part of a perennial campaign against the agency which is the first defence line in thwarting the foreign plot against Pakistan. In 2009, The New York Times and Washington Post had disclosed in a series of allegations regarding presumed ties between ISI and militants of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—aiding Afghan Taliban and in bombing of Indian embassy in Kabul.
It is mentionable that BBC, on October 7, 2009 displayed a documentary movie regarding the eighth anniversary of the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan. It stated that now this war is being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and “it will soon spread in Pakistan.”
This actually happened so as the US increased drone strikes on Pakistan’s tribal areas, particularly Waziristan. Although drone attacks have continued intermittently on the FATA, which have killed many innocent people, yet in one of the most lethal strikes, more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed when on March 18 this year, an unmanned US aircraft fired four missiles into a building in Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. On April 22, the American-CIA operated drone attacks killed 25 innocent people in the North Waziristan Agency.
Notably, from time to time, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has protested against the attacks by the pilotless spy planes by pointing out that these are likely to affect war against terrorism in the country, but American policy makers do not bother for any internal backlash as they are playing a double game with Pakistan.
In the recent months, controversy existed between Pakistan and the US on the question of American national Raymond Davis who shot dead two Pakistani youths in Lahore on January 27, 2011. In this respect, on the one hand, US high officials said that on the issue of Davis, America would not break relations with Pakistan; while on the other, they continued pressure on Islamabad for his immediate release.
Sources had confirmed that David Raymond and his companions were agents of the American CIA and were on an anti-Pakistan mission. In fact, he was part of the illegal activities of the Blackwater whose employees entered Pakistan in the guise of diplomats. With the help of Indian secret agency RAW and Israeli Mossad, Blackwater has rapidly established its network in Pakistan. It has recruited Pakistani nationals who are vulnerable and can work on payroll, giving them high financial incentives to work for them. Further, some reports suggest that this notorious firm has been recruiting smugglers, employees of the security companies, experts of the psychological warfare, scholars and journalists in order to fulfill anti-Pakistan designs of America, India and Israel. The agents of these agencies are behind suicide attacks, sectarian violence and targeted killings in Pakistan.
Question arises as to why the US has been showing duplicity with Pakistan. As a matter of fact, Pakistan is the only Islamic country that possesses nuclear weapons which irked the eyes of ‘nuclearized’ America, India and Israel which want to destabilize this country.
Nonetheless, the Washington which had granted the status of non-NATO ally to Pakistan in the aftermath of 9/11 tragedy has been playing a double game with the latter. Besides, frustrated in coping with Al Qaeda-related militants on global and regional level, and to justify its failures in Afghanistan, the US has been displaying duplicity with Pakistan.