July 27, 2010

Caught in the Act

An international furor has coughed up in the media, both at home and trans-nationally. One thing is clear though; that the US is going to see to it that Pakistan realizes that the US is standing by its side. My reason for drawing this conclusion is based on the fact that despite repeated Afghan requests for the US to take action against the Pakistan military’s hot wing namely the ISI, the US has refused to acknowledge and concede that ISI is still harboring the same intentions that it was purportedly in 2004.

According to the Afghan government:
The United States has pursued a contradictory policy with regard to the Afghan war by ignoring Pakistan’s role in the insurgency.
This follows the testimonial by Admiral Mike Mullen who has candidly stated that these leaked documents were a part of the policy review last year, and as such were studied to the extent of defining the new active strategy role that is currently in progress to engage Pakistan in combating the militants. Such a clean chit by the US does not help persuade the questioning minds to back off.

What is more troubling though is the fact that Pakistan’s covert operations in Afghanistan have been thrown into sharp relief after the release of the classified papers. There is no more that hunky dory picture of the ISI sitting in its offices, minding its own business. Merely classifying these reports as coming from “raw intel” does not solve the problem at hand. Our top cadre needs to answer some serious allegations which have surfaced, and which if not addressed on time may lead to a dramatic situation. The US government has come under severe pressure at home because of its alleged stance of letting Pakistan of the hook despite having evidence, and this could spell trouble for Pakistan.

I have long maintained that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interests, and not a subservient one under the rule of the Taliban. Despite the notion that the Taliban are no one’s friends, we are unwilling to learn from history and are committed to repeating the same mistakes that have gotten us into this quagmire in the first place. It must be stressed here that the much hyped about strategic shift by the Army, where once again India-centric policies are being adopted, can be understood clearly after the release of these papers. It appears as if a situation is being created where the Taliban and the Haqqani group will be in a position to gain significant political power and consequently will ally with Pakistan to gang up on India.

The question that I ask though is, why? There is nothing that can be gained by playing a cat and mouse game with India. In fact, since India is the cat here, provoking it with a stick is tantamount to playing with fire. And let’s even leave politics aside for a moment. The common man in Pakistan is beyond caring who rules in Afghanistan, and what India does. Fact is he wakes up in the morning to find that the price of sugar has been raised by Rs. 10 per kg and the price of electricity by 0.64 paisas per unit. The common man is concerned with the never ending debauchery that has become the hallmark of our country. For once it would’ve been kinder on the people if these people sitting in the establishment would think about the people’s interests rather than their own twisted views of what is good for Pakistan and what isn’t.

Stashing Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda cronies will inevitably lead to the radicalization of Pakistan. We already suffer from an image problem and this intel leak hasn’t helped our cause. Any more foot pressing and arm twisting regarding Afghanistan will only further isolate us from the goodwill of the international community. The US might be standing right next to us now but we all need to remember that there is no greater chameleon on the international stage than the United States. It would be best then, to consider following a policy of conflict resolution, rather than conflict elevation where ever it is concerned; be it India or Afghanistan. Stable, friendly and peaceful neighbors are the need of the hour for Pakistan.