Time for some hard decisions

Published: September 23, 2011

We need to ask ourselves whether providing sanctuary to the Haqqanis is worth all of this. PHOTO: FILE

America’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told the US Senate on September 22 that the Haqqani network “is a veritable arm of Pakistan’s intelligence service which is exporting violent extremism to Afghanistan”. He added that “with ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted a September 11 truck bomb attack, as well as the assault” on America’s embassy in Kabul. The US military leader also said that the American government had “credible intelligence” that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. This was followed by a more menacing definition of Pakistan as a state:”In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan — and most especially the Pakistani Army and the ISI — jeopardises not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but also Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence. By exporting violence, they have eroded their internal security and their position in the region. They have undermined their international credibility and threatened their economic well-being.”

A spate of reports has appeared of late in the western press, which, from the point of view of the Americans, would seem to buttress the case against Pakistan. Most allege that the Haqqanis are behind most of the attacks on US targets in Afghanistan. In the face of these clear signs from the US, Pakistan has been cautious, which is the correct posture. This however doesn’t stop the jingoists among the media and the retired bureaucratic community from advising Pakistan to stand up on its hind legs and pay the US back in kind. References are being made in Pakistan to America as an imperial hegemon which has been despoiling other states, starting with Vietnam and ending with Iraq and Afghanistan. This kind of rhetoric is misplaced because the question everyone has to answer next is: knowing all this, why did Pakistan become a strategic partner of the hegemon? Since this question can’t be answered — condemnation of past rulers of Pakistan will not do — let us focus on our internal weaknesses and approach the crisis realistically.

Also, quite crucially, we need to realise that regardless of what the reality on the ground may be, whether the Haqqanis are acting independently or what have you, the fact of the matter is that what Pakistan says in its defence is no longer being believed in foreign capitals. It doesn’t matter if the Foreign Office comes out with statements, as it did on September 20, the point is that no one abroad is ready to believe much of what we are saying. So instead of trying to beat our chests and act hyper-nationalistic we need to assess the situation calmly and do what’s best for the nation. We need to ask ourselves whether providing sanctuary to the Haqqanis is worth all of this. Is it worth jeopardising civilian aid, or in fact all aid, from a country that also happens to be our largest trading partner? And let’s be clear, the military has as much, if not more, to lose compared to civilian institutions if the aid pipeline dries up completely. At the same time, we can try and tell the Americans that they cannot, and should not, blame Pakistan for all their failures in Afghanistan.

As a backgrounder to these very serious allegations, this all started last year in June when a field research paper presented at the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government contained the following: “Directly or indirectly the ISI appears to exert significant influence on the strategic decision-making and field operations of the Taliban; and has even greater sway over Haqqani insurgents. According to both Taliban and Haqqani commanders, it controls the most violent insurgent units, some of which appear to be based in Pakistan. Insurgent commanders confirmed that the ISI are even represented, as participants or observers, on the Taliban supreme leadership council, known as the Quetta Shura, and the Haqqani command council.”

This is the time to act without passion, and delay as far as possible the unpredictable and possibly dire consequences of starting a new phase with America and its western allies. This is also the time to take decisions that benefit the people of Pakistan and not a particular vested interest or group.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Chengez K
    Sep 23, 2011 - 11:00PM

    Americans want Pakistan ‘s sons die fighting Haqqanis so that their negotiating situation with Haqqani s becomes better.

    What a sick deal!!!Recommend

  • mf hussain
    Sep 23, 2011 - 11:02PM

    The Americans need to understand that unless they bomb the barbarians they will not listen.
    Laton kay bhoot…Recommend

  • omg!
    Sep 23, 2011 - 11:15PM

    USA hav got nothing since 60 years, and they are teaching “legitimate” respect.. sad :|Recommend

  • fahad ullah dar
    Sep 23, 2011 - 11:31PM

    Stop making fun of this Nation we already have been made look like a Joke with our pants down infront of the world community. With ten years in this so called war on terror we are left with 35000 dead bodies,60 billion loss in revenue and in return what are we getting Humilation to our honerable state insitution and their heads.This is the time to act with passion,with courage and wisdom,with faith.This is a time to act like a Soverign Nation.This is a Time to act with dignity,This is a time to act with an attitude like Yes We Can Yes We Can make our own decesions based on our own intrests .This is a time to act with a proud Nationalistic approach

    Long Live Pakistan Recommend

  • Nate Gupta
    Sep 24, 2011 - 12:00AM

    Part of your last paragraph: This is the time to act without passion
    That would be the sensible thing to do now, wouldn’t it. But we all know what your so-called Deep State is going to choose, going by their history of creating chaos.

    Sad… very sad!

    Recommend

  • buttjee
    Sep 24, 2011 - 12:03AM

    The Editorial deals with only one aspect of the puzzle, “what will happen to Pakistan if it does not comply with the US demand”. I suggest we should concentrate more on “What will happen to Pakistan if it accepts the US demand”. An in depth analysis will reveal that going after the Taliban in North Waziristan will have very serious short term and long term consequences and Pakistan may not have the ability to cope up with the fall out. We must bear in mind that Pakistan does not want Afghanistan to be a client state. At the same time things are not that simple as they appear to be. One has to try to understand Americas goals in the region. As a result of operation in North Waziristan if Pakistan gets destabilized then what will be the US stance about our nuclear assets, what will be the American position on the separatist movement in Baluchistan, strategic balance in South Asia and on the Indo-Pak disputes. Above all what is the guarantee that this will be the last US demand and there will not be the repetition of Do More Mantra after the North Waziristan operation. There are many other important reasons due to which Pakistan feels constrained to under take this operation. Irrespective of the fact that the Westarn nations are not going to believe our word, we as the Pakistani nation should appreciate the Govt of Pakistan’s response to American threats and stand right behind the Govt. to give them the real feel of popular support for the national cause.

    Recommend

  • HAMMER
    Sep 24, 2011 - 1:10AM

    I believe the Americans are trying to discredit the ISI, Their failure to contain and defeat the Taliban is forcing them to pressure Pakistan Army do their job. They realize that they cannot afford to lose more American lives in this lost war as the election nears so anything and everything is being done to put Pakistan in the Ring. Their desperation is becomming obvious, Put enough pressure on Pakistan so they are forced to fight the war for them, If they havent succeded in 10 years then I dont think they ever will.

    Recommend

  • Arindom
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:26AM

    Who are these Haqqanis? Are they really so precious to 180 million Pakistanis?

    Recommend

  • Yasser
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:26AM

    Shame on United States
    As per US’s horses mouth, ISI is supporting Haqqani Taliban. But what about a gone case where Ramond Allen Davis, the serving brigadier of US signals, chief of drones operations in Pakistan, who had clear links with Pakistan’s enemy of the state i.e. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan which was revealed from the calls he made from his mobile phone. He was also carrying maps of stretgic locations in Pakistan.
    So who had links with terrorists and behind all unrest and destability in the land of pure, Pakistan or United States. Believe me, the truth is exactly the same as Iraq had WMDs. I wish our leaders could have the courage to give US a ver well deserved shutup call.

    Recommend

  • N
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:34AM

    Time indeed for hard decisions.
    Quit the charade of straddling both camps – Pak/Taliban/Let/haqqani and USA/ISAF.

    USA/ISAF camp: not in line with establishment and people generally. One seeks strategic depth, the other hates the USA. No peace internally or externally

    LET/Taliban camp: more on line with our conservative views. Establishment and people aligned. Leads to Iran type theocracy. But we have peace, perhaps. Perhaps that is internally. We continue meddling in Afghanistan and IOK. The dream of a caliphate keeps burning.

    So while I would want a liberal tolerant country, we are not going to get that. Peace at home may be best outcome under the boot of the Talib types.

    Recommend

  • John B
    Sep 24, 2011 - 4:16AM

    Interior minister categorically said “Haqqani’s are sons of the (PAK) soil.”

    Can the PAK establishment say to the world and to her people why protecting Haqqani and Omar network is Pakistan’s national interest and it is worth alienating the US?

    Recommend

  • vasan
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:27AM

    Whether to go against Haqqanis or not is a decision Pakistanis should take. But the reasons mentioned by many people show only fear and despondency against the expected violent reaction of the terrorists inside Pakistan if Pak army takes on these monsters. That is precisely the terrorists want the Pak people to feel. If like the swat mullahs, the haqqanis insist on a sharia implementation in Pakistan either directly or thru some of their proxies like the TTP, What will Pakistan do. Implement the same fearing the violent reaction of the mobs again. Pak is in a vice. Doomed if u support the haqqanis, doomed if u dont. (that means supporting US). Recommend

  • rebel
    Sep 24, 2011 - 10:48AM

    American’s are in day-dreaming if they think they really can dictate Pakistan and its Nation (who is close to wake-up soon inshALLAH) ….. its never gona happen till the end of this world

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Sep 24, 2011 - 10:52AM

    Please hold a single point referendum and empower the people allowing them to decide – “should Pakistan eliminate all UN designated terror groups whoever they may be targeting from Pakistani soil”.
    Let the people not arm chair analysts decide what is in their interests. Has the policy contributed to making the life of its people more secure and safe ?
    Clarity in thought is essential as is integrity in execution of planned policy. Recommend

  • A miscalculation
    Sep 24, 2011 - 1:26PM

    I don’t agree to the author’s conclusion. US was never and would never be our friend even if we kill ourselves (Why forget Raymond Davis and OBL killing during fair weathers?). It is better not to tap and add Haqqani- representing nearly 2 crore Pashtuns- to the list of our enemies that already consists of the Tajik Talibans, The CIA and Mossad nexus and the last but not the least the RAW. We need to take a stand-which should have been taken ten years back- that we are not a party to this war and US should seek alliance with the country whom she trusts. Begging before the Pentagon and killing our own people will only add insult to the injury.

    Recommend

  • nasarminallah
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:07PM

    @ John B

    Instead of listening to false accusations and a constant mantra of Do More for the last ten years from the so called ally, it is better to alienate such an ally. All the US moles and CIA operatives should be sent back to US, if we really want to control terrorism in Pakistan. Since long, US intelligence has been patronizing anti Pakistan Taliban and politicians living in exile. Those who are creating a scare of the fall out due to alienation of US should realize that after all US is not Allah Almighty ( may Allah Taalaa forgive me). We must have complete faith in Allah Taala’s support and the strength of 180 million people of Pakistan. We must tell the world that we condemn terrorism in all its forms but we will not tolerate false accusations particularly when we have ourselves suffered hugely due the US initiated terrorism in this region. PAKISTAN ZINDA BAD

    Recommend

  • ahmed saeed
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:20PM

    Its a sad moment for Pakistan. Even being the friends we lost everything including precious people like Mohtarma Benazir. I think its the right time to end this end game and face the wrath of US, this way either with live with glory or doomed for ever. Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:31PM

    Its a catch twenty two situation for Pakistan, damned you do and damned you wont. The decision to undertake operations should be undertaken on a long term perspective since no terror organisation can be treated as a friend as wrongly percieved by the state since they have their fixed agenda to rule the country. Therefore, it will be in the interest of Pakistan to weaken both Talebans and give a clear message to other outfits that sovereignity of the country will not be compromised. By supporting terror outfits, Pakistan is getting increasingly isolated from the Western and rest of the world and China is unlikely to provide any aid in dollars but it is only interested in investing in projects which benefits them. Americans will most likely dry up all aid given by them and same goes with IMF as well which may lead to economic crisis. Foreign policy should not be in the domain of a single establishment but other eminent people should be consulted now for a long term perspective to save Pakistan from a possible collapse.

    Recommend

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