By Yousuf Nazar
Hillary Clinton says country needs to understand that anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not end its problems. I agree. But what would help? Many things but to start with, but American disengagement most definitely will. A heavy handed approach has destabilized Pakistan and fuelled anti-Americanism and doubts about its “real intentions”.Americaneeds to follow a policy of constructive disengagement inPakistanandAfghanistan.
Its hands-on aggressive militaristic approach in Pakistan and Afghanistan has failed. It even tried to micro-manage not just the so-called ‘war of terror” but also domestic politics. Isn’t a decade long enough a time to learn this? The results are before us. The American policies have destabilized both the countries. And Secretary Clinton does not need to pay attention to what we emotional and irrational Pakistanis – in the government or outside of it – think or tell her.
Secretary Clinton just needs to read if she did not, or re-read, if she did, what her own country’s ambassador Anne Patterson wrote in a secret cable (dated September 29, 2009) to the State Department:
“Afghan instability by definition leads the Pakistani establishment to increase support for the Taliban and thereby, unintentionally, create space for al-Qaeda. No amount of money will sever that link. Rather, we must reassess our regional approach and find ways to reassure the Pakistanis that they can address their long-standing national security objectives most effectively — both to the east and to the west — by working closely with the U.S. Increased unilateral operations in these areas [FATA] risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan without finally achieving the goal.”
Ambassador Patterson made three critical points in this cable:
- It is the instability inAfghanistan(a consequence of the combined failure of NATO and Karzai government) that spilled over intoPakistan.
- It is theUnited Statesthat needs to review her policy.
- America’s military approach is destabilizing the Pakistani state.
Secretary Clinton may also wish to get the benefit of the views of Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles a former British ambassador inAfghanistanwho served for three years (2007-2010).
His recently published book, Cables From Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign, is an ironic testimony to the fact that policies made in Washington, without real consultations with even a close American ally like Britain, and in total disregard of the views of the western diplomats on ground, have been at the heart of the American failure in Afghanistan.
Sir Sherad told British newspaper Guardian May 25 that American policy is “profoundly wrong.” “No doubt Petraeus has hammered the Taliban extremely hard,” he said. “I am sure that some of them are more willing to parlay. But, equally, for every dead Pashtun warrior there will be 10 pledged to revenge. I’m afraid I don’t think the present increase in violence is right or proper and its nightly slaughter of the Taliban without a political strategy in place is tactics not strategy. It is profoundly wrong and it’s not conducive to a stable political settlement.”
And it is not just the Pakistani media that has been harsh in its criticism of the US policy. A usually cautious and elitist paper, the Financial Times (FT) has warned about the potentially catastrophic consequences of American policy in an op-ed “How American folly could destroy Pakistan” published May 24. The FT opinion piece says:
“Washington must not get carried away by killing bin Laden. Killing the Afghan Taliban leadership is madness, given that Washington must talk to them about a settlement. Instead, the USshould reassure a thoroughly rattled and hostile Pakistani population, in part by cutting back on drone strikes. The danger is that a future US raid leads to a US-Pakistani fight, or a Pakistani mutiny. Then Washington, grotesquely, might contribute to the destruction of the Pakistani state it is trying to save.”
Perhaps, Secretary Clinton may wish to step back, take a deep breath, and just play a devil’s advocate against her own government’s policy. She might reach the conclusion, as two – one US and one British – Ambassadors did, that it is the misguided and heavy handed militaristic US policy which is the core issue and the right approach might be a constructive disengagement of the troops with a full and renewed focus on a political settlement.
I don’t understand why our liberals are so confused? It is elementary!Pakistan’s number one enemy is its own Army Generals. Their biggest supporter throughout our history has been theUnited States. Without its money and arms, Army Generals would have no choice but to behave according to their real size. If it was Libya or Syria that would have been found to have a link with events like the Mumbai attacks or financing the 9/11 hijackers, theUSwould have declared war. Or if Saleem Shahzad was a Chinese or Russian dissident, the White House would have made it a big international issue. But the US depends on the Pakistani Generals for the implementation of its regional agenda. Hence, saat khoon bhi maaf hein. As long as the US continues to prop the Generals up, on one pretext or the other, little is likely to change. So the answer to who isPakistan’s Number One Enemy: Generals and the U.S.
The only other reason for the ‘liberal’ confusion would be they are compromised by affiliations with the US organizations as Jamaat Islami and other right-wing groups have been through their ties with the Army generals going back to the 1970s. The right-wing would never say it is the Army Generals and a particular brand of ‘liberals’ would never like to acknowledge the role of theUSin sustaining the power of the military in Pakistan. So the people are left with half-truths and left bewildered as what is the truth? The truth is “mullah militancy is a policy tool of Pakistani establishment in a double game in which theUSis complicit through its money and arms given to the Generals through the decades.” I would like to know who would disagree with that and on what grounds?