Guest contribution-The United States and Pakistan

May 13, 2010

orakzaiThe following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is a defence expert and author of two books on the Pakistan Army.

By Brian Cloughley

On 11 May several Frontier Corps soldiers were killed by insurgents in Pakistan’s Orakzai Tribal Agency. Concurrently there was a report that US Secretary of State Clinton had once again been indignantly critical of Pakistan’s supposed lack of effort to rid itself of murderous fanatics seeking to destroy Pakistan and create a so-called ‘Islamic caliphate’ in the region.

Clinton declared her belief that “somewhere in the government [of Pakistan] are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is [sic], where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is [sic], and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture or kill those who attacked us on 9/11.”

The psychotic Mullah Omar hates America, to be sure; but for the US Secretary of State to assert that Omar and his adherents were responsible for the atrocities of 9/11 is absurd.

Pakistan’s dead soldiers included Lieutenants Murad and Hakimullah, Hawaldar Imran and Sepoys Gohar, Rehman Gul, Amjad Ali, Arif, Zahid, Munir, Wasti Khan and Nauman, and they died while fighting America’s war. You can’t carry support much further.

But in spite of such sacrifices Mrs Clinton demands “more cooperation” from Pakistan.

Until the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States in 2001 there was no insurrection in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP; renamed last month as “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”). There were no foreign militants in the Province before America went to war in Afghanistan; there were no vicious loony Talibs in Swat, burning down girls’
schools and destroying the livelihood of shopkeepers who dared sell DVDs. Foreigners could walk the streets of Peshawar fearing only that they might overdose on tea offered by the merchants.

Pakistan wasn’t entirely a paradise before 2001 – but there weren’t the hundreds of bombings and killings it has experienced every year since then. The US invasion of Afghanistan drove the fanatics over the border into Pakistan and, preposterously, Clinton blames Pakistan, “somewhere in the government” for supposedly protecting the
bigoted terrorists who seek to wreck the country.

Her allegation followed her demand on 1 December 2009 that “The Pakistanis have to do more against all of the insurgent terrorist groups that are threatening them, that are threatening us in Afghanistan and the Afghan people, and are threatening other neighbours in the region.”

Do more?

Pakistan’s army chief, General Kayani, said in February this year that “we deployed around 147,000 troops on our western border. Compared to this, 43 NATO members have deployed 100,000 troops. We have 821 posts on our side of the border, while only 112 posts have been established on the other side. We have conducted 209 brigade-level operations while they have conducted only ten operations. We lost 2,273 soldiers including one lieutenant general, two major generals and five brigadiers, while they lost only 1,582.” You can practically hear the exhalation of exasperated breath as he gives the figures.

He could not have been more direct in making the point that the soldiers under his command have made enormous sacrifices following America’s war in Afghanistan.

Little wonder so many Pakistanis detest these foreigners who keep telling their country to “do more”, while their soldiers are dying.

Not only this, but in talking about the recent bomb scare in New York on the CBS ‘60 Minutes’ programme last Sunday Clinton delivered the threat that “We’ve made it very clear that if – heaven forbid – an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences.”

Just what “severe consequences” for Pakistan has she in mind?

What is the government of the United States of America proposing to do to punish the people of Pakistan if a “successful” attack in the US can be “traced back” to their country? And does this mean that if other terrorist plots in America are “traced back” to a another country (other than Pakistan, that is), then there would be some sort
of military or economic action taken against it by Washington?

The failed car-bomber of New York, the ludicrously amateur Faisal Shahzad, who couldn’t blow up a balloon, was certainly connected to Pakistan. No doubt about it. But what would have happened if the bomb had gone off? Cruise missiles on Islamabad?

Perhaps there would be even more CIA drones firing missiles in Pakistan killing lots of people who are automatically described as “terrorists” by the people who claimed to have killed an insurgent leader called Hakimullah Mehsud.

Mehsud is undoubtedly a fanatic whose barbarity is contemptible. And the CIA tried to kill him by drone and then, after a couple of strikes, used their usual patsies in the media to announce his death to the world.

But the trouble for the CIA – and America – is that Mehsud wasn’t killed by the supposedly precise drone targeting. He wasn’t at the place where the CIA thought he was.  Which casts doubt on the assurances that are given about all these drone strikes having killed “16 militants” (or whatever number happens to be dreamed up by the propaganda people), without killing any civilians.

While the US drone blitz continues, and Mrs Clinton rails at Pakistan and makes dramatic threats against it, and Pakistani soldiers continue to die as a result of America’s war in Afghanistan, it seems as if US policy in the region is unstructured, to put it mildly. As it is, the insurgents have been handed a valuable propaganda weapon, and are no doubt making full use of it. If Mrs Clinton is seeking to make an ally out of Pakistan, she’s going about it in a strange way.

(Photo: March file photo of the funeral of a Pakistani soldier killed in Orakzai tribal agency)

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