September 27, 2011

A reply: The Gloves Come Off

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
On Foreign Policy magazine's online website today, you will find a hard hitting article by Daniel Markey regarding the US pressure vis-a-vis Pakistan. In that unfortunate article, Daniel Markey has just talked the talk and labelled the Pakistani military as being a sponsor to terrorism in Afghanistan. Being a Pakistani, this hurts me deeply for obvious reasons. However, while some part of me may believe that the Pakistani military has not been entirely honest with the US (they've been much less honest to the Pakistani people) I do believe that the American people must know of the inadvertent failures of their own armed forces in a country that they shouldn't have attacked in the first place.

The US has taken the Pakistani case to the press and has played hard ball with it. Twisting the Pakistani military's arm in front of the camera must have been a massive adrenaline rush for Mike Mullen and Leon Panetta but the fact remains that there's hardly anything else they can do.

While the world looks with dazed eyes on the volley emanating from both sides, there is little doubt that they have both hit a stalemate. Frankly speaking though, the Pakistani government and military might just be about to enter the bad boy zone by unilaterally telling the US to piss off. Ramifications for such an action are far reaching and dangerous; already the IMF and World Bank heads have refused to meet with the delegation of Pakistanis headed by Hafeez Shaikh the finance minister and there is little doubt the US will squeeze every remaining drop of blood from the Pakistani veins.

If Mike Mullen and Leon Panetta feel confident in berating Pakistan publicly and delivering some not so veiled threats then it must mean that they have credible information regarding Pakistan's double game. Surprisingly however this time around the Pakistani's have hit back with a vengeance and have counter alleged that the CIA itself has links to many terrorist organizations and that the Haqqani network, which is the bone of contention, was a blue eyed boy of the CIA for many years.

So what can the US really do in such a situation? Well it can ill afford to wage a new war in Pakistan. Sure it can replace the drones with B-52 bombers which make a much higher impact but lets not forget that in these freezing times, the Pakistani military just might grow the balls to actually scramble the F-16s that it keeps touting about.

Most importantly though, and I cannot over emphasize this enough, the Americans have failed on the frontier that they should've won -- the Pakistani people. Like I said before the US has never really worked on winning the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan. It has always tried to push through its policies in the region via the corrupt, the weak and the dishonest governments of Pakistan whether they be civilian or military. When foreign minister Khar stated that "...the US cannot afford to alienate the people of Pakistan," she forgot that the US has already alienated the majority for the last 60 years. She also forgot (because she lives above the common man?) that her words ring hollow back home.

If the US wants to win the war in Afghanistan, it will have to win the people of Pakistan. The governments, the military and the agencies will always fight their two faced wars because they want to maintain a stronghold over this country and the mantra of "strategic depth" and "India is our no. 1 enemy" holds a large majority of the people hooked.