Monday, June 6, 2011

Is Pakistan's Honeymoon Over With U.S.?

FROM all available indications, it appears that the honeymoon period between Pakistan and America is over in the wake of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, alleged mastermind of the attack on America on September 11 , 2001 , on the soil of Pakistan, without the knowledge of the Pakistan authorities. A number of American lawmakers have raised questions about investing billion of dollars of American taxpayers’ money in Pakistan, if Pakistan does not act sincerely to disrupt the operation network of al- Qaeda and the Taliban. From 2002 to 2007 , $20 billion were pumped out to Pakistan as military and economic aid. A huge amount of money went to Pakistan as a result of the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf jumping on the bandwagon of US president George W Bush’s war on terror campaign. I urge the readers of this article to note that there was no activity of al-Qaeda in Pakistan before the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 by America. The question of funding Pakistan has arisen following the finding of Laden in the army garrison city of Abbottabad in Pakistan, where he had reportedly been hiding for five years. Incidentally, General Ashfaq Kayani, army chief of Pakistan, was informed of the raid by Admiral Mark Mullen, not president Asif Zardari. That undermined the prestige of the democratic government in Pakistan. Laden had been associated with American, British and Israeli intelligence forces for the recruitment of volunteers from Muslim countries, particularly the Arab countries, to fight the invading forces of Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980 ’s. These volunteers, known as Mujahideen, played a crucial role in defeating Soviet Union. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Osama bin laden formed al-Qaeda, with the Mujahideen and the Afghan war veterans, in 1990. Without accomplishing the mission in Afghanistan, the Bush administration moved the American forces to Iraq, after invading the country in 2003 , on the pretext of al-Qaeda association of the Saddam Hussein regime and possession of weapons of mass destruction. Both allegations turned out to be downright false. Neither the American intelligence community nor the experts from UN International Atomic Energy Agency found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction or any connection between al-Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein. However, the assassination of Osama bin Laden by American Special Forces within the Pakistan territory without the knowledge of the Pakistan authorities and without resistance from the Pakistan military has put the defence forces of Pakistan and its intelligence network in a humiliating position and ordinary people are accusing them of incompetence in saving the integrity of Pakistan. On the other hand, they are being blamed of complicity with Osama bin Laden by the political leaders of America. Retired General James Jones, former advisor on national security to President Barack Obama, has suggested linking aid to Pakistan’s rejection of terrorism and definitive steps against it. Emphasis has been laid by Senate Armed Service Committee on disrupting the network of Haqqani, Afghan home- grown terrorist network, and Quetta Shura. Afghan Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar, should be arrested, they say. It is understood that a bill is underway in the House of Representatives to reduce foreign aid amounting to $1.1 billion for Pakistan. During the hearing in Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 17 , with chairman of the committee Senator John Kerry in chair, both Republican and Democrat senators voiced frustration because they considered billion dollars American aid at stake if Pakistan did not step up its efforts against terrorists. While briefing members of the committee on his visit to Pakistan, Senator Kerry underscored the importance of seizing this moment to firmly reject an anti-American narrative that exploits differences, instead of finding common ground and advancing mutual goals. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, similarly assured Pakistan that America was committed to the people and government of Pakistan as they defend their democracy against extremists. These two messages are indicative of the fact that America does not intend to divorce Pakistan so soon, because it needs Pakistan for its supply routes into Afghanistan and to help in talks with the Taliban. Pakistan’s democracy is in a shaky position. It needs help, both domestically and internationally. The government has to prove that Pakistan can look after itself properly and for the long term. On the international level, Pakistan is seen as being torn to bits and disdainfully ripped to slices by drone missiles, rockets and bombs from American planes that cross over its borders without seeking permission. Pakistan should project the fact that the country has become victims of suicide bombs by al-Qaeda or Taliban extremists since it joined America’s War on Terror campaign. Against this humiliation, the Pakistan authorities are now looking for a friend. The Pakistan prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani had undertaken a journey to China from May 17 to May 20 and was assured of cooperation in areas of training, information sharing and logistical support to fight terrorism. China is a long-time friend of Pakistan, but it does not extend any help beyond its national interests. Viewed from the point of financial strength of Pakistan, it would be disastrous to divorce America at this stage. Therefore, Pakistan may consider walking the tight rope between America and China, but the image of the country needs to be improved drastically. If necessary, the madrassah education should be reformed in line with modern scientific education. Pakistan needs to remove the curse of being a terrorism- infested, corrupt nation. It is not only the involvement of Soviet Union in Afghanistan that inspired America to get involved. Pakistan had played significant role in developing relations between America and China in 1971. Similarly, American relationship with Pakistan needs reshaping. America should help stabilise the security of Pakistan in view of its growing nuclear arsenal and should not allow Pakistan to get derailed from the path of democracy. Pakistan should never be considered as irrelevant in any geopolitical context.