Monday, September 26, 2011

Update: Pakistan Attempts to Gang Up on the US

Sadly, Pakistani officials now seem to be abandoning direct dialogue with the US over political differences and appear to be doing what the Palestinians have done--taking its case directly to a sympathetic United Nations, rather than engaging in dialogue directly with Israel.

Since yesterday, Pakistan has decided to attempt to make its case to a number of foreign governments and have them put pressure on the US so as to explain the Pakistani point of view. One of the central sticky points is Pakistan's apparent refusal to take action against the Haqqani militant group, which according to retiring Admiral Mike Mullen USN, is a "veritable arm" of the Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI. Mullen went further last week and accused Pakistan of providing support for the September 13 attack on the US Embassy in Kabul. Pakistan's government and army strongly rejected the allegations.

COMMENT: Although Pakistan did not name the countries it has approached to convey Pakistan's view on a number of issues to Washington, it is presumed that China is among the list. China's Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu arrived in Islamabad on Monday (September26) and was scheduled to meet senior officials.

The US has long pressed Pakistan to pursue the Haqqani network, one of the most lethal Taliban-allied Afghan groups fighting Western forces in Afghanistan. Mullen's accusation that Pakistan uses violent extremism as an instrument of policy was the strongest yet leveled at Pakistan since it joined the U.S.-led war on militancy. Two weeks ago, militants launched an assault against the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. U.S. officials blamed those attacks on the Haqqani network. U.S. officials have also publicly said there is documented intelligence, including intercepted phone calls, suggesting that those responsible for the attacks were connected to Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate.

Pakistani commanders have agreed to resist US demands for an army offensive in North Waziristan, where the US believes the Haqqani network is based. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is expected to present Pakistan's case when she addresses the United Nations General Assembly on tomorrow (September 27).

Unfortunately, the comments and decisions being made by Pakistani officials are influenced heavily by a large majority of the Pakistani public that dislikes and distrusts the US, its foreign policy and the magnitude of its presence in Pakistan. That being said, the US was not responsible for the events of 9/11, nor was it the US who harbored al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan for years.

It should also be noted that it is not only the US that was forced into war with al-Qaeda's deadly 18-year agenda; Turkey, the UK, Indonesia, Germany, Kenya, Jordan, Tanzania, Morocco, Spain, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many others have all had al-Qaeda strike on their sovereign ground, killing large numbers of their own nationals, not counting the foreign nationals from some 90 countries who died at the World Trade Center.

As I've said recently, I foresee relations between the US and Pakistan continuing to worsen and also see the personal risk of foreign diplomats, aid workers and journalists inside Pakistan rising. One would be severely naive to conclude that the recent anti-West rhetoric by Turkey's prime minister, Hamas' asking the UN to vote on Palestinian statehood and political turbulence in Egypt are all unrelated.

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