President Obama has said that Al-Qaeda has strongholds in Tribal Areas of Pakistan and from there they are planning to attack US. He also mentioned that the US plans to expand its ‘war on terror’ inside Pakistan. This statement of Obama coincided with another statement and that, from terrorist number one. No it’s not Osama! Current terrorist number one is Baitullah Mehsud. Mehsud is based in Tribal areas of Pakistan. (For more info on Mehsud and related news read two of my older articles on Axis of Logic, Playing with Fire in Pakistan, and Now or Never. Pakistan must change its policy in war on terror).
Of course there was another US drone attack in Orakzai agency of the Tribal areas of Pakistan and some innocent people were killed but for some reasons unknown to anyone, the US drone handlers weren’t able to target Osama or Mehsud. It may have something to do with the fact that they really don’t even know where Osama is (or if he is even alive). All we know is that Al-Qaeda is able to send video/audio tapes to Aljazeera based in Qatar. Hold on one minute - isn’t Qatar the same place where CENTCOM is located with a billion dollar complex? Yes folks, it’s the same place but somehow Al-Qaeda is able to bypass their sophisticated electronics and get their video tapes broadcast on Aljazeera.
This is just too much for even the most naïve political reader and news follower to accept. All the truth requires in this case is good, old fashioned common sense. Any common soul can ponder on the fact that there is something fishy going on here - not just fishy but also sinister. And please don’t give place to the tired old words “conspiracy theory”. They no longer work. If it walks like duck and quacks like a duck … you know the rest. This is a matter of the US working to drive its old ally, Pakistan, into a corner. Pakistan was the country that allowed US to station its U-2 spy plane in Peshawar, Pakistan to spy on Soviet Russia. Pakistan was the country that started back channel diplomacy between China and US, something that Bill Clinton had to acknowledge in 2000 when he was in Pakistan for a lengthy five hour tour. (This shows the importance US gave to Pakistan between 1989 and September 10th 2001. Clinton spent 5 days in India, Pakistan’s arch nemesis). Pakistan was the country that the CIA turned to when they fought the Soviets, of course the U.S., themselves, didn’t fight. They asked ISI to train, equip and make battle plans for the ‘mujahedeen’, against Soviets. Once the Soviets got their Vietnam, US simply moved away, and slapped sanctions on Pakistan for continuing its nuclear program. As Hugo Chavez once said, “The U.S. disposes of its allies like used condoms.” It’s ok for US, UK, China, France, Russia, India and Israel to have nuclear weapons but it’s not ok for Pakistan or Iran to have nukes.
The point is that after using Pakistan conveniently for the last forty years or more, the time has now come for the US to ditch Pakistan completely. Hence the US has given Pakistan the option to tow its line completely or “the stick” – to accept responsiblity for what happens in future. Hint-hint, is another 9/11 in the making somewhere in West? The US is pressurizing the Pakistan Army and ISI to throw aside Pakistan’s national interests and blindly do its dirty work inside their own country and in the region. In addition, ignore for a moment the US expansion of war into Pakistan. It gets better. The US has advised the Pakistan Army to disclaim India as enemy number one, not to focus on India in the future and to change its defense policy. How can anyone in their right mind expect the Pakistan Army and ISI to accept US demands, when they have concrete evidence of Indian support from Afghanistan for terrorist groups inside Pakistan? India, in clear violation of 1962 Indus River Water Treaty, has stopped water flow from Kashmir (Chenab River), into Pakistan causing severe water crisis, which will increase sharply in the coming dry months. How can the US expect Pakistan Army and ISI to shove these issues aside?
Veteran journalist and Pakistan expert, Eric Margolis has penned some telling lines in his new article, Is Pakistan Really Double Dealing? -
“Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), has been secretly aiding Taliban and its allies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. So charged the ‘New York Times’ in a front-page story last week that was clearly planted by the Obama administration. In 2003, the ‘NY Times’ severely damaged its once stellar reputation by serving as a primary conduit for fake war propaganda put out by the Bush administration over Iraq. The ‘Times’ is now beating the war drums for more US military operations against Pakistan”.
“ISI is not playing a double game, as Washington charges, but simply assuring Pakistan’s strategic and political interests in the region. Anyway, who are the Americans, who supplied Taliban with millions in aid until four month before 9/11, to criticize Pakistan for its choice of friends.”
This Pakistani political analyst expects the new Obama plan to be worse than that of Bush, and predict more violence inside Pakistan.
“Pakistan would be reduced to a battlefield if our leadership accedes to Obama’s strategy,” commented Rustam Shah Mohmand, former interior secretary, former ambassador to Afghanistan and a top security expert.
Former Fata secretary Brig (retd) Mehmud Shah is of the view these are testing times for political as well as military leaders, who are expected to defend Pakistan against Western-Israeli aims to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan.
The US is dealing with Pakistan on three different levels.
- The first is their secret dealing with President Zardari and his special advisors. Just recently Zardari was in Dubai meeting with Richard Holbrooke, and Zalmay Khalilzad under a media blackout. Today, the meeting came to light on Gulf News.
- The second is their relationship with the central government of Pakistan.
- The third is the relationship with Pakistan army and the ISI.
It’s the third tier that is most important and that’s where the frustration is centered at the moment for the US. The Pakistan Army and ISI are simply not willing to go against Pakistan’s national interest as Zardari and his government are doing at the moment.
The US would like to expand its war into Pakistan’s largest province, Baluchistan. Baluchistan is strategically located East of Iran and to the South of Afghanistan. It has a port at Gwadar that was built by China. Gwadar lies at the opening of Strait of Hurmoz. Baluchistan has huge quantities of natural gas, and unexplored oil reserves. More importantly US want to control the port of Gwadar, and eventually start their dream oil pipeline from Central Asia, through Afghanistan into Baluchistan and Gwadar.
The area where Baluch reside in
Expanding the war into Pakistan will further inflame the public opinion against U.S. foreign policy. The weak Pakistan government will be under more pressure to change its policy towards the “war on terror”. Already there is a huge difference between public opinion on the war on terror and Zardari’s views. The U.S. media has painted a picture that extremist and conservative parties or groups in Pakistan are against US foreign policy and that they represent a small minority of Pakistanis. This is not the case. The vast majority of the Pakistani population is strongly opposed to the “war on terror”. President Obama says on television that the U.S. will continue drone attacks in Pakistan and continue to expand “our” war on terror” into Pakistan territory. He says, “but I want to the people of Pakistan to know we are not the enemy of the Pakistan nation”.
Perhaps the 1% elite class, dual passport holders (mostly US, UK, Canada) in Pakistan will cooperate with the Obama regime, but the 99% people of Pakistan will simply not accept this rhetoric. The 600,000 Pakistani troops and 500,000 reservists are from that 99% majority and not from the 1% elite. That is the point that the policy makers in the US think tanks can’t seem to understand. There are many experts and authors writing reports on Pakistan who have never visited troubled areas here and who have no interaction with the people. Last year, under pressure from the U.S. military chiefs and the Bush regime, the Pakistan government replaced the head of the ISI and gave its command to General Ahmed Pasha. Sadly for the U.S., Pasha has not delivered as the U.S. expected. I hope they didn’t select Pasha for the post just based on his name, because other than his name he shares nothing with obedient the Pashas of the dying Ottoman Empire. (Pasha is actually a title given by Ottoman Empire to people who were favorites of the ruling elite).
After the “who dunnit” terrorist attack at the Lahore police training center, Pakistan is under severe pressure from the US and its allies for ‘doing more’ against terrorism in Pakistan. Nawaz, on the other hand, is chumming up to the U.S. more than ever. He will visit the U.S. embassy in Islamabad next week to discuss future role that US might have for him. As I mentioned previously in my dispatches, Nawaz is close to Clinton family.
The million dollar question to think about is what happens when the U.S. corners Pakistan? Will Pakistan go down like Iraq, ravaged with civil wars, daily bombings, and extreme sectarian divide? Pakistan has at least 170 million people to begin with, and nuclear weapons. Will Pakistan just let go of its nuclear weapons? Will the Army sit in barracks and watch the country plunge into civil war? What will become of the people - 170 million strong? Another question remains about whether the U.S. will send in ground troops if Pakistan Army and ISI refuse to fight “terrorists” in tribal areas of Pakistan. Is Obama ready to spend billions more in fighting the “war on terror”? Will we see India sending its troops into Afghanistan to support US and NATO troops? The basic rule of nature is that there is an equal and opposite reaction to every action. The Pakistan Army and ISI have no doubt been a long ally of Pentagon and the CIA. But when the existence of ISI and Pakistan Army itself is under threat, they just might decide to change their alliances. Will Pakistan Army start supporting Taliban in Afghanistan again in order to divert the U.S. war expansion from Pakistan back into Afghanistan? Uncle Sam must remember that China too has a big stake in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army has the same level of strategic partnership with its Chinese counterpart as they have with the Americans. The only difference is that there are no secrets between China and Pakistan. According to Sun Tzu, the art of war is to defeat your enemy without fighting! This is surely something that the U.S. should remember and the fact that no invading army has ever returned victorious from Afghanistan. Hence this surge theory of Obama is rubbish to say the least. “Only fools rush in.”
© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com
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*Talha Mujaddidi is a writer/analyst and Axis of Logic's columnist in Pakistan.