US, Pak playing double games
Saeed Minhas writes from Islamabad:
The report by Pakistan Policy Group titled "the Next Chapter: The United States and Pakistan" reviewed and endorsed by former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard L.Armitage and co-chair of 9/11 Commission, Lee H. Hamilton has covered the topic with the same tunnel vision and myopic understanding which has landed the United States and ultimately the whole world into a predicament since 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
The report was initially released in September 2008, just before the US presidential elections claiming to be a bipartisan effort to help the future president (now Barrack Obama) formulate a policy towards the United States' foremost foreign policy and national security challenge (also dubbed as a migraine of the world:Albright); i.e Pakistan. Understandably, Mumbai carnage, a November happening, was not part of this report but briefing a select group of journalists at a diplomat's residence in Islamabad on December 20, 2008, Lisa Curtis of Asian Studies Centre and Daniel S Markey of Council on Foreign Relations both chipped in with their view on this issue and highlights of the report during their 48-hour sojourn to Pakistan.
The report in essence reflects the trust deficit, which exist between US and Pakistan and is loaded with recommendations aimed at fixing the most troubled land on the face of this earth (Pakistan) by taking the direct and indirect control of the country. Expansion of the US embassy and USAID for a long term engagement by directing the country's developmental and infrastructure needs, political nurturing and developments, bilateral relations with its friends-in-need like Saudi Arabia, Gulf states, China and to some extent Iran and Japan form the corner stone of the recommendations.
The clear understanding of the past mistakes of Washington is very much reflected in the report but not accepted by the authors or the researchers and reviewers rather their focus is to move on and cover the lost ground by using the "hurt first and balm later" approach. Lisa and Daniel both see drone attacks on north west frontier areas as a right way to deal with the situation but consider it just a tactical and surgical short term measure for at-least foreseeable future, but fail to address the question that how come US $ 750 million package for the same area is going to earn US any goodwill in the same area or amongst the rest of the country.
At a time when people are fleeing the area because of the random (92 drone attacks in 2008 so far and still counting) drone attacks and cross border raids resulting in more collateral damage than capturing or killing the real known culprits. And when people are hijacked on the one hand by the radicals in the name of religion and bombed on the other hand by their so-called saviors, what will they do with the schools and hospitals built by US $ 750 million donation. The rationale seems missing altogether.
There are so many oversights in the report, which is likely to become the centre of Obama administration in 2009 and onwards, for either lack of expertise and knowledge of the current situation in Pakistan or for thinking that double-game is the best way forward.
Be it the issue of Kashmir, use of religion by Washington first to win the cold-war and by their once-declared-mujahedeen-turned-terrorists now, emphasis of Washington on democracy through demolition are few such items which have not even found a mention in this report. Kashmir, a bone of contention between Pakistan and India and in the region and just like Palestine is the major breeding ground of mujahedeen-turned-terrorists' since the soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 cannot be overlooked to sort the mess in this region.
Religion which was used as a foreign policy tool by the protestant-rich and evangelical-backed US administrations of the past has now become a headache for all those who (CIA and Neo-cons) orchestrated it and for those who became tool (Mujahedeen-turned-terrorists) in this. The amalgamation of state and religion has earned Washington dividends but as the history will recall, ills of this have outweighed all the advantages foreseen by the shortsighted or myopic strategists of Washington.
Given the technological superiority and the sophistication of the US marines, CIA and their international information sharing network, why Washington continue to blame Pakistan for not attacking the safe heavens of the terrorists in tribal areas?
Both Lisa and Daniel were at odds to respond to this when asked during the briefing that when all known terrorists like Baitullah Mehsud, Mullah Omer, Mangal Bagh are using the satellite phones to reach out to local and international media every now and then why not target them and drone-them-out?
Blaming Pakistani ISI for playing the double-game or raising the question that who actually is in-charge of the government in Pakistan is like belittling their own image of a super power and endangering the fragile democracy in Pakistan. Especially when all the visiting dignitaries of the US including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte,
Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher including the US ambassador in Pakistan Anne Patterson prefer to call on army top brass first and then the elected people, what message do they give for the fledgling democracy in Pakistan? The double-game is on and is the cause of growing trust-deficit. That's why Washington continues to be centre of hatred and fails to earn respect despite giving over US $ 10 US billion in military and related aid and over $ 750 in development aid to Pakistan, and that's the simple answer to Lisa and Daniel who were trying to find out that why US is so hated in this part by especially by Muslims.
People-centric funding alone will not be enough unless anti-people actions are not reversed and mindset is not changed from retaliation to reconciliation, from intellectual discourse to intellectual honesty, from using the religion as a tool in foreign policy to religion as only a personal faith.
The road is difficult and treacherous but not impossible, all Obama-led Washington will need is intent and sincerity to bring peace to the world.
The honorable list of working group members of this report which include heavyweights like Walter Anderson of John Hopkins University, Stephen Cohen of Brookings Institute, Xenia Dormandy of Harvard University, C. Christine Fair and John Gastright Jr. of DynCorp International, Robert Hathaway of Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, J Alexander Their of US Institute of Peace, and Marvin Weinbaum of Middle East Institute have consumed lots of resources to come up with a report which at best can be treated as a naive effort at hoodwinking all the stakeholders. If reality continues to be hijacked by these 'thinking people' than policies based on their world view will continue to bring even bigger and costlier catastrophes.
Author is a resident editor of daily aajkal based in Islamabad and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: US Pakistan Policy Group , Lisa , Hamilton
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