Osama's Death: Affect on US Policy towards Pak & Afghan - I
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Issue Courtesy: Aakrosh | Date : 31 Aug , 2011

According to reports, Panetta shared with the Pakistani generals a 10-minute edited video showing the militants evacuating two bomb factories in Waziristan. One of the factories is based in Miranshah, North Waziristan; the other is in South Waziristan. According to reports, Panetta alleged that the militants were tipped off within 24 hours of the U.S. sharing information on the facilities with the Pakistanis. When Pakistani troops later arrived at the scene of the two facilities used for the manufacture of improvised explosive devices, the militants were gone. Time reported that the CIA believes elements within the Pakistani security apparatus had informed the militants that they would be targeted.

There is a deep-seated fear, expressed by many analysts in Washington, that worsening U.S.-Pakistan relations will lead to further U.S woes in Afghanistan.

In the article “From Abbottabad and Worse,” published in Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens said, “. . . Everybody knew that the Taliban was originally an instrument for Pakistani colonization of Afghanistan. Everybody knew that al-Qaeda forces were being sheltered in the Pakistani frontier town of Quetta, and that Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was found hiding in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of the Pakistani Army. Bernard-Henri Lévy once even produced a damning time line showing that every Pakistani ‘capture’ of a wanted jihadist had occurred the week immediately preceding a vote in Congress on subventions to the government in Islamabad. But not even I was cynical enough to believe that Osama bin Laden himself would be given a villa in a Pakistani garrison town on Islamabad’s periphery.”

“The roll call of bad organizations, dangerous organizations in Pakistan is very long,” Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute told a congressional committee on 3 May. “The bottom line is that Pakistan is home to probably the densest concentration of the most dangerous militant Islamist organizations in the world, and a number of those have been allowed to run fairly free within Pakistani territory for a variety of reasons.”

The double game must end, says Kagan—a key architect of the successful 2007 “surge” strategy in Iraq. And, in his view, it will require Islamabad to take three key steps. “Pakistan’s ruling elite will have to come to a consensus that supporting some militant Islamist groups as proxies, either in Afghanistan or in India, is a failing strategy,” Kagan says. “They will have to come to a consensus that all militant Islamists pose a threat to Pakistan and that none are, at the end of the day, able to be controlled by the state and used reliably and safely as proxies . . . And third, and this will probably be most difficult, they will have to come to a consensus about the need to conduct what will be long, very bloody, expensive, and difficult operations against a number of these organizations that are rather deeply rooted in Pakistani society and that go beyond the FATA into the Punjab, into Sindh, into the Pakistani heartland.”

“No matter what we learn about the events that preceded the killing of Osama bin Laden, we still have vital national security interests in this region, and we have worked hard to build a partnership with Pakistan, fragile and difficult and challenged as it may be at times,” Kerry said.

But not every U.S. analyst agrees with Kagan, or Hitchens, for that matter. There is a deep-seated fear, expressed by many analysts in Washington, that worsening U.S.-Pakistan relations will lead to further U.S woes in Afghanistan. For instance, Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says that the United States should remain engaged with Pakistan and that it should not cut off aid altogether, especially civilian assistance. She qualifies her statement by pointing out that, at the same time, military assistance should be conditioned on cooperation from Pakistan. “We simply cannot let the status quo prevail,” says Curtis, a former CIA and State Department expert on Pakistan who chaired the Heritage Foundation’s independent Pakistan Policy Working Group. “We have a situation where the world’s most wanted leader was found in an area swarming with security officials, and we simply need to know what the support network looked like.”

Similar “conciliatory” voices were also heard during the late-May panel discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace of the Institute’s Pakistan 2020 Study Group Report. Panelist Christopher Candland said, “I don’t think we will see a cutoff of U.S. aid to Pakistan. I think even the discussion of cutting off aid to Pakistan is having a devastating impact on the Pakistani economy.”

“I think we need to be very clear about what that [aid] is and what our goals are in giving that to Pakistan,” Taha Gaya, executive director of the Pakistani American Leadership Centre, said at the event. “In terms of the military assistance, I think we need to continue giving security assistance to Pakistan that will allow them to enhance their capabilities to fight against exactly the same groups that are a threat to the U.S.”

Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), want to add new restrictions on the military aid package to ensure that Pakistan uses the money and weapons in the fight against militants rather than to further its rivalry with India or its peacekeeping missions.

“We should use this opportunity to try to finally split the Taliban from al-Qaeda and convince the Taliban to join a political process in Afghanistan,” Curtis said. She also said that it’s going to be difficult for Pakistan to rebuild trust with Washington. “We need to see the actual steps that the Pakistanis are taking to break intelligence links with the terrorist groups; we need to see the Pakistani military to turn over a new leaf to begin to take action against those who have links to the terrorist groups.”

At the same time, there is no question that in the United States, the mood amongst lawmakers on Capitol Hill has turned almost unanimously bitter towards Pakistan. A growing number of congressional lawmakers have made clear that the way to deal with Pakistan’s obstinacy is by cutting aid or changing the way the U.S. aid money is being spent. As Representative Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “If the fundamental problem is indeed of one of political will in Islamabad, I am uncertain how the continued infusion of massive amounts of military assistance will change Pakistan’s tactical behavior.”

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Ramtanu Maitra

Ramtanu Maitra, writes for Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), a weekly magazine published from Washington, and Asia Times Online and Nueu Solidaritat, a German weekly published from Wiesbaden.

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