Crumbling US-Pakistan relations
“U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid”
“WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, canceling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.”
This headline may strike well at home in the US, but it reflects the arrogant, self-centered, group-think that has become the hallmark of the US. To be sure, there are many lobbies that will applaud this decision, lobbies such as, Right-wing Republicans, the Tea Party, right-wing Jewish and Christian groups and of course, there is always India. To these groups, any bashing of the “nucular, trrrrst” Pakistan is a welcome development.
Of course, Pakistan does deserve a swift kick in the behind and often, but this is not the time to do so. A sudden cutting off of aid reinforces the unreliability of the US as a friend and partner; the US has been complaining for long that the US-Pakistan relationship is a transactional one and by treating it so transactionally right now, the US is telling Pakistan…the civilians and the military… that the US cannot be trusted when Pakistan needs a friend and if Pakistan sacrifices its own long-term self interests in favor of US short-term goals, then the destruction of Pakistan will be complete.
Conventional thinking in the US is that Pakistan is not doing enough to fight “terrorism”. As if to throw the kitchen sink at Pakistan, the US (Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) is publicly accusing Pakistan of the brutal murder of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad.
Indeed, Saleem Shazad may have been murdered by military interests, but he could have been equally killed by any number of other authorities or groups. Adm. Mullen destroyed a lot of US capital by accusing “Pakistan” of the murder without substantiating his accusations in any way at all. Mullen also accused the ISI of the murder, but in a more coy manner “(I do not have strong evidence of ISI involvement”), does that mean he has some evidence? To parse his words a bit more, if he accuses Pakistan but not the ISI because he lacks “strong evidence”, does he have “strong evidence” of Pakistan’s involvement in the murder?
Slinging accusations and demanding “more”, to issue subliminal warnings greatly undermines US credibility, among the Pakistan establishment, civilian and military, who lose face in a face-driven society.
Is Pakistan doing “enough”?
To the Pakistanis this means that the US is demanding greater slaughters of Pakistanis by Pakistanis. The US does not appear to appreciate the huge numbers of Pakistani soldiers who have been sacrificed at the American alter of revenge. Nor does the US appear to care about the tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians killed by US forces and drones, in the quest to kill “terrorist suspects”.
The fact that the Pakistani soldiers are being forced to kill their own brethren and in some cases, their own relatives, is enough to alienate many soldiers and civilians who are thus, being driven into the arms of the extremists in droves. People are tired of watching their own be slaughtered simply because they were “suspects” in the eyes of distant evaluators who remain unaccountable; no law-abiding nation on Earth, is expected to thoughtlessly kill people simply on the basis that they are “suspects”; neither charged, nor tried, for their presumed “crimes”. People are tired of having innocent civilians be killed as “collateral losses”, without any concern…again, nowhere in the law-abiding world, are innocent civilians sacrificed, simply to kill some “suspects”. The picture below illustrates the depth of the pain felt among Pakistanis when people are arbitrarily killed by US forces. Notice the weeping men in the background? The picture was taken after a drone attack killed many civilians.
While Pakistan’s population is mostly literate, they are not stupid, they do understand that Pakistan is being used as a disposable razor; in a country where loyalty is everything, The US is losing more and more friends with its blind, biased arrogance. I feel confident in saying that never in history, has any nation made more enemies than the US has made, in the past ten years…and all because of the blind arrogance that comes with being the sole major power in the world.
Regardless of who is leading Pakistan or, whether the Pakistan military has power or not; regardless of American short-term needs, Pakistan has to think of its long-term interests. Pakistan’s long-term interests lie in the triangle of relationships between itself, Afghanistan and India…and to some extent, Iran.
As I wrote in my article on India-Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship years ago (https://penjihad.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/the-intertwining-of-afghanistan-pakistan-india/), Pakistan cannot allow India to gain control over Kashmir, Pakistan’s main source of water especially, since India has already proven its contempt disregard for the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_Waters_Treaty) and cut off more water from Pakistan.
While the Kashmir on-again, off-again war is being fought between India and Pakistan, Pakistan cannot permit any leadership in Afghanistan that supports India; for Pakistan, any Afghan government must be either for Pakistan or, neutral (a difficult objective). The US, on the other hand, wants a completely acquiescent Afghan government and supports Indian influence, over Afghanistan, rather than Pakistani influence. The US has also forgotten the fact that the extremists are a product of the first anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan and a creation of CIA-sponsored interests, but that is a different story.
The US is unwilling to recognize the fact of Pakistan’s needs that will remain long after Afghanistan is relegated to American history books. As such, the US continues to demand sacrifices of Pakistan, that Pakistanis can see, are detrimental to Pakistan and are in fact, responsible for tearing apart, the fabric of Pakistan.
Pakistan is also very worried that the US personnel inside Pakistan are doing more than just look for enemies; The concern is that the military and civilian, overt and covert US “assets” in Pakistan are actively seeking to locate sites of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal with the idea of perhaps a series of simultaneous raids like the one that killed Osama Bin Laden, to capture the nuclear assets of Pakistan. It would not be unimaginable that the US would do this in concert with India and perhaps, even will some degree of collaboration with Israel. US assets in Pakistan have gone beyond control, I doubt if anyone in Pakistan knows how many there are, where or who. In such a situation, especially when the US is openly making noises about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear bombs and in face of reports that the US is making contingency plans regarding Pakistan’s bombs, it would understandably panic the military and civilian leaderships in Pakistan and they would star opposing US assets being stationed in Pakistan…as they just did…which led to the American embargo on the aid commitments of about $800 million.
Where will this development take US-Pakistan relationship?
Pakistan might start restricting US drones or, US forces or, Pakistan might do a “go slow” on US supplies heading to Afghanistan. Any one of these options would cause more damage and greater downward spiraling of the relationship. The US should recall that the last time the US placed an embargo on Pakistan military aid and stopped assisting Pakistan even in training, it lost almost all influence with the emerging leadership of Pakistan’s military. This break in relationships is also responsible for a lack of mutual understanding and mutual cooperation between the US and Pakistan’s military.
There is no need for the US to take the hammer to Pakistan and while it may win temporary points with the American public, the US will damage its relationships with Pakistan so seriously, that re-building it might become a huge job.
Caution would be in order.