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US Pakistan Policy

16 April, 2010

By Afshain Afzal


By closing our eyes, the devil would not disappear. One seriously doubts if some one has really given any serious thought to US President Barack Hussain Obama‘s last years statements. While delivering speech regarding new US strategy in War on Terrorism US President Obama  said what should have opened the eyes of many “Al Qaida and its allies, the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attack, are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that Al Qaida is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan.  And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban, or allows Al Qaida to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” He said, “The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan.  In the nearly eight years since 9/11, Al Qaida and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. 

This almost certainly includes Al Qaida`s leadership:  Osama bin Laden and Ayman-al-Zawahiri.  They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe haven to hide, to train terrorists, to communicate with followers, to plot attacks, and to send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan. 

For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world.” Mr Obama further said that Terrorist attacks in London and Bali were tied to Al Qaida and its allies in Pakistan, as were attacks in North Africa and the Middle East, in Islamabad and in Kabul.  If there is a major attack on an Asian, European, or African city, it, too, is likely to have ties to Al Qaida`s leadership in Pakistan. The safety of people around the world is at stake.”

In fact what US President made Islamabad to realize was that the terrorists within Pakistan`s borders are not simply enemies of America or Afghanistan, they are a grave and urgent danger to the people of Pakistan.  US views that Al Qaida and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within.  President Obama has already announced the road map for the conditions to help Pakistan to over come economic crisis. Washington has declared that campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone so the bill co-sponsored by John Kerry and Richard Lugar that authorizes $1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years would be the turning point. This money would be spent on areas including building of schools, roads and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan`s democracy. 

Another bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the border regions to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued with violence cannot be ignored irrespective of its present status.  In addition, US has spelled out that Pakistan must continue to work with the IMF, the World Bank and other international partners.

As regard to the military part, US made it clear that it will focus its military assistance on the tools, training and support that Pakistan in order to root out the terrorists.  The US President made it ample clear that US will not and cannot provide a blank cheque on mixed results. US clarified that it will provide Pakistan with funds only on confirmation from its intelligence about high-level terrorist targets So Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out Al Qaida and the violent extremists within its borders. In fact, the US policy regarding Pakistan resolves around the speech of US President and some hidden objectives.  In the US new strategy the key persons, other than those invisible hands in Washington, are General David Petraeus, Bruce Reidel and Karl Eikenberry.

US claims that they framed the new strategy after consultation with US military commanders and diplomats in Afghanistan, Afghan and Pakistani governments, partners and NATO allies and the donors and international organizations. It is true that these stakeholders have been informed about the US intentions in the shape of so called ‘US new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.’ But there was no consultation. The new strategy has bee in fact imposed upon us by Washington. There is no doubt that US Washington gave Pakistan only two choices regarding its new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan: either to accept the strategy by choice or by coercion and blackmailing. 

Now when US President has authorized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to submit a regional strategy report on Pakistan to the Congress, many things would be quite embarrassing for the Washington to digest. As it is mandatory by the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, also known as Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill to submit this report, there seems no other option. Under Section 301 of this Act, which was passed on October 15, 2009, the US President is required to submit this report to the Congress before April 15, 2010 but one wonders if Washington can ever dare to reveal this report to American tax payers. 

As per the provisions of the Bill, the US President shall develop a comprehensive interagency regional security strategy to eliminate terrorist threats and close safe havens in Pakistan, including by working with the Government of Pakistan and other relevant governments and organizations in the region and elsewhere. Those who matters in White House were quoted to have been engaged in whispers that more effective counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts are needed in Pakistan in the NWFP, FATA, parts of Balochistan and parts of Punjab. One wonders that where are the development projects and reconstruction in war devastated areas in Pakistan, as there appears not even a fraction of 1.5 billion dollars “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009” visible on ground. Can Washington justify renovation of two odd schools and construction of some sewerage lines in streets sufficient progress in a period of over six months? Today, the NWFP, FATA and Balochistan are bleeding with a little or no purpose. Would anyone be able to justify additional attacks in the country just to make Hillary Clinton’s regional strategy report on Pakistan more real and enterprising?

 

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