By Brig Samson S Sharaf
The third US-Pakistan Strategic dialogue has met its predicted conclusions. USA is satisfied that its carrot and stick policy towards Pakistan will serve its short term purpose to make Pakistan more pliable and willing to work for its long term objectives.
Specific incidents were chosen to coerce, intimidate and embarrass Pakistan to achieve these gains. US media picked up on the stories of atrocities by Pakistan Army in Swat, hidden hands behind NATO tankers burning, assassinations and arrest of Afghans willing to talk peace with USA, NATO and Hamid Karzai.
These deliberate leaks also gave the impression that peace talks in Afghanistan were far ahead than expected and NATO Forces were actually escorting key Taliban Leaders of fear that ISI with its so called mighty presence in Afghanistan will have them assassinated. At the same time there are feelers that key personalities like Mullah Omar, Gul Badin Hikmatyar and Haqqani are being deliberately isolated and subsequently made irrelevant to the peace negotiations.
Coincidently, during this entire boil, target killings in Karachi assumed new proportions and a Pakistani in USA (Adnan Beg) being sentenced to Jail for fraternization with the Taliban. So like all US Pakistan dialogues, this too was endemic to the familiar leaks, spins and orchestrated events. Like an iceberg, much was below the surface than above it.
The results of this dialogue were predictable. What USA wanted was amply summed up by Richard Holbrooke and his aides regarding Pakistan’s growing nuclear relations with China, military operations in North Waziristan and peace with India. Pakistan’s high profile delegation had to suffer the indignity of travelling all the way to the State Department to take impromptu lessons on statecraft from President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton. President Obama was quick in his lecture to assert that the biggest threat to Pakistan’s security was from within and not India, but stopped short in admitting that this unrest within Pakistan was directly linked to the disapproval of US policies in the region.
US concessions to Pakistan are inconsistent to the aspirations of the people of Pakistan elucidated in the survey carried out by NAF-TFT-CAMP SURVEY ON A CREEPING WOT. There is hardly any economic assistance. Removal of trade barriers for Pakistani exports to USA is far away from materializing. Even the much needed disaster assistance badly needed for rehabilitation of flood victims is a trickle. There is a total absence of awareness to the fact that poverty breeds crime and radicalism. It appears that USA is waiting for just this to happen.
Pakistan-US relations are consistent with a truncated past. Regime changes, political intrigues, tied aid and trade, sanctions, military cooperation and political coercions are all part of this history. Every time that Pakistan was needed, USA derived all its objectives and left Pakistan to plummet to the instability created by a thoughtless and spineless political economy. This time round, it would be no different.
Pakistan’s policy makers also need to rethink the national narrative.
The old and conveniently updated scripts in the foreign office and GHQ have not worked. Defence of East Pakistan did not lie in West Pakistan. Kargil rather than elevating the Kashmir issue to international canvas tied it to militancy; that itself was caused by the US mock Afghan Jihad and anti Iran policies to contain the Shiite Revolution. Nuclear explosions did not lead to the settlement of the Kashmir issue nor promote peace, because Pakistan itself set the triggers of a limited conventional conflict under a nuclear shadow.
US and NATO carryout routine incursions into Pakistan with no resistance by a state armed with nuclear weapon systems. Not that we wish that these be used, but that the political credibility to handle a deterrence regime appears to be totally missing in Pakistan. So how are we sure that there are indeed good Taliban who would work for Pakistan’s interest rather than their own? After all, the majority of Pakistani Taliban were once allies of the West and Pakistan. They have now turned on their own.
Next few years are Pakistan’s time of tribulations. As the US presence in Afghanistan morphs into a Long War for geostrategic objectives, Pakistan will remain in the US crosshairs dealt with a crafty mix of placation, coercion and military intimidation. Pakistan’s attrition will continue for as long as the hare does not stop hunting with the hounds.
Though Pakistan may feel comfort in the illusion that it controls the major logistic routes to Afghanistan, the facts may be different.
Massive convoys of NATO logistics other than arms and ammunition pour into Afghanistan from Iran. The highways are teeming with traffic.
NATO and American contractors in Afghanistan opine that more than 80% of fuel is now coming to Afghanistan though Turkmenistan. Added to the smuggled and traded fuel from Iran, it leaves a very small percentage that actually travels through Pakistan. Already arrangements are in place to get uninterrupted supplies to Baghram from CARS.
Garrisons in Khowst and Sharmal opposite Waziristan are now well stocked and heavily fortified. They offer ideal forward bases for Cold Start type operations into North and South Waziristan followed by a quick disengagement and rapid withdrawal. The same can also be assessed of Spin Baldak, the garrison opposite Pakistan’s cities of Chaman and Gulistan.
Inasmuch as the establishment needs to formulate a new narrative, the people of Pakistan also need a new social contract. Pakistan has to shed its expediently imposed yoke and become a self respecting independent nation friendly with all its neighbours; or else lie back and relax to the branding of discredited, unstable and failing country.
Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired infantry officer of Pakistan Army and honorary Colonel of the First Sindh Regiment. He has the distinct honour of serving in the Military Operations Branch GHQ during the most interesting and eventful years of Pakistan’s history. Did his Post Graduation from Quaid e Azam University with distinction. His specialization is International Political Economy with sharp focus on Nuclear Policy Making and Security.
He is a frequent speaker in national and international seminars and writes through the framework of established theoretical paradigms. His hundreds of articles though futuristic have invariably been vindicated. He has also been a High Altitude mountaineer, trekked the entire perimeter of Pakistan and explored the harsh and difficult NARA Desert in the severest summer heat. He is Rector of St. Mary’s College, the first Catholic Higher education Institution in Pakistan and CEO of both Ecotech Iternational Inc. USA and WaterTech Private Limited, Pakistan. He is a pioneer of relief water in disaster areas.
Brig Sharaf is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.