When you are removed from the game you have been fighting to win, you sit down and cross your fingers or say a prayer. Regardless, you keep an eye on the opponent. Usually when a player or a team loses, the defeat is accepted and the focus shifts on correcting the mistakes. America has lost the battle in Afghanistan. However, it is not focusing on correcting its mistakes, which would be to avoid angering people by being in their backyard against their will. The Americans are rather scrambling to find other places to stay in the same backyard.
Forensic scientists and investigators know that serial killers always return to the site where they had committed the gruesome murder just to feel good. Recently, I came across a true crime show on MSNBC where a man had killed the girl he was in love with. Weeks after killing her and dumping her body in a remote part of California, he developed a habit of visiting a public library where he would look at the dump site using Google on library computers.
In a nutshell, that is the game plan of the CIA for Afghanistan by watching it using technology while sitting across the border in Pakistan. The CIA chief, Willian J Burns, was in Islamabad recently. America is flirting with the idea of having an American presence inside Pakistan to keep an eye on the Taliban.
The undeniable truth that I mentioned above is that America would gain a lot of security by not invading and occupying foreign lands. The US presence here makes it a magnet for threats. Pakistan has reportedly put the condition that it must sign off on the kill list before it is being executed. Out of the dumbest things I have ever heard, this one qualifies to be at the top of the list. Pakistan wants to put its fingerprints on the murder weapon. The innocent or even the not-so-innocent, which would be killed in those US drone strikes would help generate enormous anger for Pakistan. The terrorism of a decade ago would return to the streets and markets of Pakistan, numbing life’s normalcy as we know it.
Giving bases to the US to execute its kill or capture operations would help it achieve what the two decades of war could not: shifting the blame to Pakistan. Pakistan would be the bad guy aiding and abetting in the slaughter of people by the advanced killing machines of Uncle Sam. Why should this even be considered, let alone done?
We have seen this pendulum swing before. During the 1980s, the Pressler Amendment was legislated but not enforced until the early 1990s after Pakistan’s utility was no longer needed after the end of the Cold War. Then came 9/11, following the Pakistan-bashing of the Clintonian years. Bush forced Pakistan into friendship or else it was to be bombed back to stone age. The politically significant year of 2011 had started with the Raymond Davis affair who killed innocent civilians on a busy Lahore road in broad daylight. In May, Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Abbottabad, leaving Pakistanis as well as Americans seething with anger.
Then came the Memo Scandal where a despicable Pakistani diplomat, one Husain Haqqani had asked Admiral Mike Mullen to enlist American help in taming the Pakistani military, a dream that has eluded India and many others. Following that was the killing of Pakistani soldiers in what is known as the Salala incident. Later, Trump came and bashed Pakistan by cutting aid, saying that in return for US aid, Pakistan had reciprocated with “nothing but lies and deceit”.
Now bases are needed to watch and kill. Pakistan should watch and bill. Pakistan would need America’s quid pro quo in making the FATF go away. The terror financing nightmare will go but terror might return. Pakistan must cautiously tread or else the society would badly shred.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10h, 2021.