Pak Interests Differ from US on Substantive Issues

By Dr. Shireen M Mazari

The Americans cannot understand mainstream Pakistan because they never get beyond the selected few amongst even the elite, the rulers and the civil and military bureaucracies. Ms Clinton never got the real picture on her earlier visit and surely she will not understand the depth of the anti-American sentiment that prevails in Pakistan today, despite (or perhaps because of) the massive inflows of intrusive aid into this country.

We are told she has come with a $500 million aid package and apparently the aid will go into power, agriculture, health and dams also – but as we all know for the Americans there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – and already our country is bleeding because of the alliance with the US so we are going to be bled some more with this aid package which is believed to be part of the old $ 7.5 billion Congressional aid package.

So why is one seeing this as a “bribe”? Simply because it is intended to soften the blow that the US is trying to deal Pakistan in terms of altering what remains of our indigenous foreign policy. So much has also been admitted by the self-styled expert on Pakistan, like many others on Holbrooke’s team, Vali Nasr. In a talk with CNN while he admitted that there was a wide trust gap between Pakistan and the US, besides stating that changing the relationship would take time. But his assessment was that “We are not going to be able to change their foreign policy on a dime.” If he had been a proper expert on Pakistan and actually knew the country well, he would have realised that it is not money that will alter Pakistan’s thinking (leaving aside the fifth columnists) on the US, but actually policy changes in US strategic policy especially in this region.

What are the primary changes the US will need to make to allow Pakistanis to rethink their perceptions of the US?

One, a stop in drone attacks, which can in definitional terms be regarded as state terrorism against the Pakistani people. Let Pakistan talk to its militants – many of whom are Pakistani citizens – rather than demanding our military simply kill the people of FATA indiscriminately.

Two, a new approach to the Pakistan-India relationship and a more even-handed policy towards both states. As long as the Indo-US nuclear agreement remains and the US pressurises Pakistan on its civil nuclear agreements with China, the US will be suspect. Also, the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapon systems to India with no restrictions on their use, and the highly conditional sale of F-16s to Pakistan also add to the suspicions about the US agenda for Pakistan. And let us not forget the missile defence system for India, which will compel Pakistan to increase the number of its warheads and missiles. On Kashmir also, the recent statement by the US State Department, echoing the Indian position and ignoring the disputed status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir within the UNSC, hardly creates confidence in Pakistan. Many are asking why this is so and what the secret clauses are to this Agreement since the US is desperately seeking access for India through the land route across Pakistan into Afghanistan?

Three, the US has to rid itself of its approach to the Muslim World, especially towards Muslim states that refuse to toe the US line. Its killings of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; its harassment of Muslims in the US itself all add to the anti-US sentiment. The US analysts are ignorant about the fact that Pakistan has since 1947 been in the frontline of assisting Muslim causes – be it our pilots flying Syrian planes against Israel or the Tunisian and Algerian leadership using Pakistani passports and our embassy in Paris as they struggled for independence from France – to cite a few examples only. Read more of this post

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AS the US gets more desperate, it begins to increase the pressure on Pakistan, and with over 1000 Americans now dead in Afghanistan and no clear exit in sight, desperation is writ large over the US administration. So they are pushing Pakistan towards the edge through more destabilisation by insisting the Pakistan military commence a full-scale operation in North Waziristan Agency. According to officially placed reports in the US media, the Obama administration has now threatened Pakistan that unless it obeys their command relating to NWA, the Americans may themselves unilaterally conduct raids on the ground into Pakistan. Presumably, the US is counting on the fact that if the Pakistan’s civil and military leadership accepted the drone attacks despite domestic opposition, they will also concede to the invasion of Pakistan’s territory on the ground by US forces. But this would lead to a direct people-government confrontation and more terrorism if the Pakistan military did not respond to such a US move.

However, the anti-Pakistan agenda of the US is far more expansive than just the operation in NWA. The US-Indo connivance against Pakistan has now become overt with US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, clearing stating that in the context of the Pakistan-India relationship, the Kashmir issue should be pushed aside until “vital” issues like terrorism and trade have been addressed. Too bad Mr Blake does not understand Pakistan well enough to know that Kashmir is the most vital issue for Pakistan, not trade with India. But it does reflect the US administration’s mindset vis-a-vis Pakistan. It is unfortunate that our leadership and even our Foreign Ministry have remained silent on this very contentious US statement.

Nor is this all. The US has, to build a case against Pakistan on the terrorism issue, been deliberately planting evidence on young Pakistanis in the US and creating fake cases against them of helping the Taliban. The most recent is the case of Adnan Mirza who was lured by an FBI agent faking to be a Muslim with an interest in jehad and then planting hunting weapons on him so that he could be arrested on charges of “conspiring to help the Taliban fight US troops!” Given the way the whole case of Dr Aafia has been unfolding and the strange instance of Faisal Shahzad, Adnan Mirza’s conviction on 28 May is hardly convincing. Luckily for Adnan, his community work in Houston may help expose the US government’s targeting of Pakistanis. Let us not forget what the UK’s Labour government tried to do with the Pakistani students in Britain before the courts exposed the whole episode for the lie that it was.

As Pakistanis what we should be asking is why our state is deliberately allowing its citizens to become collateral damage, in one way or another, to a US war which is now being directed at Pakistan itself.

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Incessant targeting of Pakistan

Dr. Shireen M Mazari:

The US duplicity in its dealings with Pakistan continues unabated and I have always maintained that the scale of their enterprise in destabilising Pakistan can only be understood by finding linkages in seemingly unconnected events and publications. Just when the Pakistan military has taken a strong position on its military operations in FATA and the pull towards dialogue with the tribals is becoming evident, the US subversive activities against Pakistan are becoming more overt, and old CIA connections are taking centre stage again including so-called “experts” on Pakistan! Let us look at some recent developments and see the linkages.

First, after incessant cries from ignorant US officials and even more ignorant but imperialist minded media, of Pakistan not doing enough against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, when the Pakistanis captured a leading Taliban commander, suddenly the Americans – and their media and officialdom do have close connections – through their media led forth a new chant of why Pakistan had arrested this man! There were conspiracy theories that immediately began floating that somehow Pakistan arrested this Taliban commander to disrupt the dialogue that Karzai is seeking with the Taliban because Pakistan wants to remain in control of any such dialogue. Talk about bizarre assumptions! So, as some of us have always maintained, in the eyes of the US, Pakistanis will always find themselves in a position of “damned if we do and damned if we don’t.” It is time therefore to wash our hands off this whole US-led misguided “war on terror” and evolve our own strategies to deal with our own problem of violence and extremism which is multidimensional and cannot be straitjacketed into merely a Taliban framework.

Nor is this all. A new campaign has begun in the US, published first in the Wall Street Journal where two American lawyers, David Rivkin and Lee Casey – both of whom served in the Justice Department during the Reagan and George Bush administrations – have accused Pakistan’s Chief Justice Chaudhry of being “the leading culprit in an unfolding constitutional drama.” Supporting Zardari, the lawyers make all manner of unsubstantiated accusations against Pakistan’s chief justice. What seems to have upset these Americans is the CJ’s popularity being far greater than Zardari’s in the eyes of the Pakistani people – by their own admission! But then the American anger at the CJ is understandable because he has fought the cause of the Pakistani people especially through the Missing Persons issue – many sold to the US – while President Zardari and his loyalists have continued to plead the US cause. But it should be unacceptable to any self-respecting Pakistani to have their CJ referred to in such a derogatory fashion. Look how Holbrooke reacted when Pakistanis protested at the miscarriage of justice in New York in the Dr Aafia case, despite the fact that the US has a record of such miscarriages of justice against African Americans and minorities, especially Muslims post 9/11.

A third line of attack is the revival of the Baloch separatist issue with that old Pakistan basher Selig Harrison reviving his fortunes again and taking the lead in targeting the Pakistani state. He first took up this passion when the Soviets went into Afghanistan and led the chorus of how Pakistan was not doing enough of the US bidding in Afghanistan. He was an “Afghan” expert at the time but once Afghanistan receded into the background he became a “Balochistan” expert and now he is deeply involved in aiding Baloch separatists in Iran and Pakistan. Various platforms have been used by him and the latest is the ongoing conference in Bangkok, Thailand, supposedly sponsored by an unknown group calling themselves the Baloch Voice Foundation (BVF) and supported by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) based in The Hague and, of course, Selig Harrison! The BVF interestingly is funded by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation which, according to information available on the internet, is controlled by Freedom House which in turn is linked to the CIA.
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