Author Ahmed Quraishi
Why I’m An Ungrateful Pakistani, Mr. Holbrooke
and why you don’t have a clue why the number of the ungrateful is increasing. The reason is that your media and policy formulators stop you from considering a viewpoint like mine by dismissing it as anti-Americanism.
My concern is the rabid anti-Pakistanism that has permeated Washington after we helped you occupy Afghanistan. ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan’s relationship with the United States remains rocky despite the recent assassination of Baitullah Mehsud. Let’s not mince words here. We want this relationship to improve and there are many in Washington who want nothing more than this. But there is a legacy of mistrust. Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates attributed this trust deficit to America abandoning Pakistan after the anti-Soviet war.
But that is not the whole truth. That is an old legacy. There is a newer legacy now weighing down on Pak-US ties. It has to do with the period between 2002 and 2009.
Like most US officials, either Mr. Gates did not want to mention it or he is simply not aware of it.
Mehsud was an anti-Pakistan terrorist and not an anti-US terrorist. There is no evidence that he posed any threat to the US occupation forces in Afghanistan. He introduced ruthless methods of terrorism in Pakistan that were unknown here and more common to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Interestingly, these methods of terror arrived in Pakistan shortly after the arrival of the American military-intelligence setup in Afghanistan.
We have reason to believe this was not just the function of American soldiers attracting Iraqi suicide bombers and trainers all the way to Afghanistan. That claim remains unverifiable at best, and is self-serving.
Mr. Holbrooke with federal minister Hina Rabbani in Islamabad on 22 July.
Considering Baitullah Mehsud’s base of operations, geographically and logistically the only source of money and weapons to sustain his anti-Pakistan war was American-controlled Afghanistan. His fighters fought Pakistan with American dollars and American weapons. The drug money in Afghanistan increased manifold under the US military. The people involved in this trade were and continue to be hardcore US allies in Afghanistan and part of the US puppet regime in Kabul.
Washington used Pakistan to help occupy Afghanistan. Once done, America turned its back to Pakistan and gradually turned Afghanistan into a hub for anti-Pakistan forces, from Northern Alliance warlords, Indian intelligence operatives to Pakistan-averse US military and intelligence officers.
There is little reason to believe that President Obama has weaned America off the policy of regional destabilization and adventurism that the Bush-Cheney combine pursued in Afghanistan.
Let me show you a quick list of the mess that we believe has its origins in US-occupied Afghanistan:
1. Systematic and cruel methods of targeting innocent civilians by shadowy terrorists meant to spread fear and instability: This manifested itself inside Pakistan in deliberate cutting of hands and feet and throat slitting, photographing the acts and then sending them to newspaper offices and posting them online. The victims were innocent Pakistanis. This terror achieved no specific goal except spreading fear and chaos, all the hallmarks of proxy wars.
2. Secret organizations backed by CIA that claim representation of Balochis: In Pakistan the separatist BLA, a proxy created by the Soviet Union, rose from the dead in 2005; while in Iran a different Baloch group was created with a Sunni composition to spark a Shia-Sunni conflict in Iran. Of course, the Balochis, whether in Iran or Pakistan, never had anything to do with both groups.
3. Attempts were made to spark region-wide Shia-Sunni conflict to parallel the sectarian killing fields in America’s Iraq. Shia-Sunni tensions went up from Lebanon to Yemen. This created a sectarian polarization favorable to an American war against Iran with the support of the Arab countries along with Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan. It is another story that this sectarian strife failed to catch up.
4. In Pakistan, Washington managed to install a government of its liking without a war or invasion by manipulating an insecure and shortsighted Pervez Musharraf. The result is probably the most inept and corrupt government in the modern history of the country. This pro-US government could also prove fatal for the nation’s long-term stability because of its inability to govern and because of its foreign [read: American-British] linked loyalties and interests.
For five long years, from 2004 to 2009, Pakistanis accepted the growing mess in the region as a byproduct of extremism, terrorism, Taliban, al Qaeda or whatever name America’s ‘terrorism industry’ chose to give to this mess. But as they emerged from the mess, Pakistanis put the individual pieces of evidence in their hands together to discover that someone in Afghanistan was actively shifting the war to Pakistan. This is when the entire Am-Brit media began demonizing Pakistan as the world’s next Iraq, spreading a fake global alarm over its well-developed nuclear and strategic arsenal using silly scenarios and releasing planted stories warning the world of the impending need for invading Pakistan.
Pakistanis also collected enough evidence that confirmed how a US-controlled Afghanistan was allowed by someone in Washington to be used to create and direct insurgencies and rebellions inside Pakistan. In other words, create and nurture terrorism and instability inside Pakistan.
Some lobbies within either Pentagon or the CIA, or both, were involved in this act of covert aggression against Pakistan, with the connivance of India and Kabul’s American puppet regime.
HOW THE AMERICAN DUPLICITY WAS CHECKED
Four factors changed the regional scene in the past few months:
1. Pakistan’s Military: The GHQ in Rawalpindi put its foot down on the question of Indian use of Afghan soil to export terror to Pakistan and the many signs that the CIA was protecting some of the anti-Pakistan terrorists inside Pakistan’s tribal belt. A clear message was conveyed from Rawalpindi to Tampa: Stop it or lose the Pakistan supply route for NATO and US military in Afghanistan.
2. The global economic meltdown.
3. The change of guard in Washington.
4. The growing failure of the American occupation of Afghanistan and the panic this created inside a new administration in Washington.
Over the past thirteen months, Baitullah Mehsud’s activities and his bottomless Afghan supply lines became a bone of contention between Pakistan and the United States, starting from a July 2008 meeting in Rawalpindi between Pakistani and American military and intelligence commanders. In this meeting, the CIA or elements within it were accused directly of supporting terrorism inside Pakistan and deviating from the stated US government policy. The incumbent Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was present in this meeting.
It is interesting how the mainstream American media refuses to cover this side of the story of terrorism inside Pakistan. In June, one of Baitullah’s former senior aides, Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, held a press conference attended by the Pakistani and international media where he accused Baitullah’s terror army of receiving support from Americans and Indians inside Afghanistan. He was killed while asleep within a week in a stealth attack by an assassin.
So, why did CIA drones attack Baitullah Mehsud this time?
After the July 2008 meeting, CIA dragged its feet over Baitullah Mehsud. The Pakistani government was too weak and too indebted to Washington to raise this issue and India’s terror outposts in Afghanistan. It was the military-to-military channel between Islamabad and Washington that helped break the deadlock. This is how William Burns was sent to New Delhi in June to ask India to stand down in Afghanistan. Around the same time, CIA began sending drones to Baitullah’s territory.
So should we in Pakistan be grateful to CIA, its drones, and to the United States for eliminating Baitullah Mehsud? Hardly.
Our problems will persist as long as the unjust and mismanaged Afghan occupation continues, with Washington ignoring Pakistan’s vital security and strategic interests in the region and focusing only on its own.
IMPERIAL US EMABSSY?
What is stunning is how the elected Pakistani government is sanctioning the construction of probably the largest US embassy in the world in Islamabad. Just in the past two weeks, there have been several incidents of US diplomats carrying loaded weapons in public inside the Pakistani capital. In one incident a US diplomat carrying a weapon manhandled a Pakistani police officer outside the US embassy compound. The diplomat reportedly cursed the country that is hosting him. After some unnamed government officials suggested the diplomat might be deported, the whole story died down. The expansion work underway at the fortified embassy suggests that a military base of some sort is under construction, with sleeping barracks for hundreds of people.
Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan under US occupation. So regardless of the silence of both President Asif Zardari and the supposed opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who both are looking to Washington to accumulate power, strong resentment is brewing against this imperial American construction in the heart of the Pakistani capital.
Pakistan’s core contention with the US persists: how the US turned Afghanistan into a hub for anti-Pakistan forces from within and outside the region. US-occupied Afghanistan is a source of destabilizing Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia.
Washington has become more sensitive to Islamabad recently because of the factors discussed above. But Pakistanis have little reason to believe that this American change of heart is little more than the result of the difficult circumstances.