Defence analyst and a former CIA operative, Bob Baer termed the fractured relationship between Pakistan and USA as one of common mistrust. He added that the entire set up of American intelligence agencies and the handling of contractors by the US government as “stupid”.
He said this while on last night’s Express 24/7 show The Platform.
The show, hosted by Saba Owais Khan in Islamabad and Raza Naqvi in Washington, brings together views from the two leading allies in the War on Terror, Pakistan and America.
Baer, who was speaking via video linkup from California, called the circumstances leading to the now infamous Raymond Davis issue as unsurprising.
He sympathised with the ISI saying there were no less than 16 US intelligence agencies working in the region and none of them talked to each other, with even officials from the New York police department at one point in time conducting investigations within Pakistan. The impression from the Pakistan side was that it was done with the war, “you cannot buy a country” he said.
In the Islamabad studio, retired Air Marshal Shehzad Chaudhary, a defence analyst, said that the deterioration in relations between Pakistan and America has been due to lack of effort on both sides. He was of the opinion that the problem lay in the joint agenda which both countries are supposed to be following.
Marvi Memon, an MPA with the PML-Q stressed on the issue of drone strikes and civilian casualties causing great dissonance within the country.
She said that a cross-party resolution against the drone strikes had already been tabled in parliament. However the government has remained reluctant to act or even respond to questions regarding the drone attacks while civilians continued to die. She cited how relevant MPAs and officials almost always dodged questions about visas given to American contractors.
ISI, Pakistan’s chief intelligence agency has called on the US to scale back its operations and bring more visibility to their operatives. Chaudhary pointed out the constant deterioration had started when visas for 350 operatives were granted during the Kerry-Lugar bill. He said “the bill was not being implemented upon by the Americans till Pakistan gave those visas”.
Baer said that Washington’s answer to unrecoverable problems was to “throw numbers at them” hoping to achieve desired results by increasing operatives on the ground. However, as it was proving, all that the drone strikes were doing was giving Pakistan an ethnic problem. And with Afghanistan looking likely to plunge into another lengthy civil war, Pakistan was gearing up for a stormy future. He went on to say that if the US wished to defeat Al Qaeda, it could not do so without Pakistan’s help. If Pakistan wanted, it could make it known to US just how sour the relation had gotten, Baer warned.
Chaudhary summed it up by saying Pakistan could not afford a third front in Afghanistan which would either be hostile to Pakistan or allow become a pathway for hostile forces. He suggested that US cut back on the drone strikes and operatives in Pakistan, for if another Raymond Davis gets caught, he would be lynched and the atmosphere for any future American operations would be unrepentant.