Pakistan, America & the Haqqani network

Published: September 22, 2011
Mike Mullen has intensified the vocabulary of protest by asking the ISI directly to “stop sheltering its proxies as part of its strategy”.

Mike Mullen has intensified the vocabulary of protest by asking the ISI directly to “stop sheltering its proxies as part of its strategy”.

The crisis of Pakistan-American relations has come to a head with the US Senate Appropriations Committee passing a bill which makes all US financial assistance to Pakistan conditional to cooperation against “the Haqqani network and other terror groups associated with al Qaeda”. The money passed by the Senate will be disbursed on the discretion of the Obama administration, which means that there is a consensus in the US institutions on what to do with Pakistan if it doesn’t budge from its position or lack of it on the affiliates of al Qaeda located inside Pakistan.

There is a kind of consensus in Pakistan too in the shape of anti-Americanism among the masses, as nearly 80 per cent of them favour confrontation in place of what they describe as a ‘begging-bowl’ foreign policy. Parliament is unanimous on its stricture on the war on terrorism which is described in Pakistan as America’s war and not Pakistan’s. The pragmatist Pakistanis are put off by the quantum and mechanics of the American assistance under the Kerry-Lugar Act. In a state of collective anger, almost all Pakistanis think Pakistan should permanently sever ties with America and be ready to face the consequences which they think will not be dire because of America’s crisis at home and weakness abroad.

The Kerry-Lugar Act clearly spelled out conditionalities to which the Pakistani military had objected to while it was still a bill. It wanted Pakistan to act against the terrorist pockets within its boundaries and against non-state actors it had used in the past, some of whom had now turned against it and were killing innocent Pakistanis. When the money under the Act began to be disbursed, it was slow, perhaps signalling that the conditionalities were not being abided by.

From 2002 to 2010, $20.7 billion were allocated, out of which $14.2 billion went to the military. The civilian government actually got $6.5 billion. And instead of the much-publicised $1.5 billion that Pakistan is said to receive annually from the US, it actually got on average $480 million every year. This persuades a lot of people who would otherwise favour fighting ‘America’s war’ to say that Pakistan should rebuff the aid package and go its own way. Going one’s own way is not very clear since it is not certain how al Qaeda and its minions would react to this favourable-to-them development. Plus, with an economy in a near-moribund state and heavily-dependent on foreign aid inflows, it is very unclear what will happen if Pakistan does cut itself off from the US.

The fact of the matter is that America is of the firm opinion — regardless of whether this may be entirely true — that Pakistan took no action against its non-state actors, didn’t ban the outfits outlawed by the UN, and let the Haqqani Network stay in North Waziristan and operate across the Durand Line. So the situation now is that the Haqqani network has eclipsed other conditionalities in the Kerry-Lugar Act. The US seems to be blaming the Haqqanis for the September 13 attack on the US Embassy and NATO Headquarters in Kabul, as well as attacks on US soldiers in Wardak province on September 11. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has intensified the vocabulary of protest by asking the ISI directly to “stop sheltering its proxies as part of its strategy” and Reuters on September 22 has run a story quoting unnamed “US officials” as saying precisely this.

Pakistan is on shaky ground, not least because it has, at least till recently, provided shelter to the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, or done little to stop it from operating in that agency. The final calculations in Pakistan should be based on realism, not anger. Pakistan has certain experiences from the 1990s when the Taliban were ruling in Afghanistan, which it must re-examine carefully. What the Taliban government did after rejecting Pakistani advice ran counter to the Pakistani values of state and ideology. Being on the wrong side of the endgame in Afghanistan may prove to be fatal.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd,  2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Pundit
    Sep 22, 2011 - 10:10PM

    “it is very unclear what will happen if Pakistan does cut itself off from the US.”

    Worry Not

    The all weather friend China has a large purse.

    Startlearning Mandarin ! Nee Hao


  • antony
    Sep 22, 2011 - 10:35PM

    Aid will not deter pakistani people to lose touch with freedom fighters ..IMF ,World bank leverage also will not help america remove pakistan link with freedom fighters .The only effective solution is to bring china into afghanistan protection force and allow chinese contracts to some mines for their help..IF china steps in, Chinese will also play their card enticing pakistan for some share in the mineral contracts..Well the final puzzle is iran and india ,russia should be given fair share in afghanistan contracts .After a decade or two Afghanistan to take over all those contracts share from 30 :70 deal to 50 :50 deal benefitting more revenue and learning the skills to run those mines..Unless american elephant brings the chinese dragon to this quagmire america cannot pull itself with lazy NATO forces.Recommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 22, 2011 - 11:41PM

    “Being on the wrong side of the endgame in Afghanistan may prove to be fatal”

    That in my opinion is the crux of the matter. If our friendly Taliban had listened to our desperate pleas to disengage / disassosiate from AL-QAEDA, there would be no 9/11 and killings of thousands and thousands of Muslims and delegitimization of all muslim liberation movements.

    What makes our security establishment think they would act differently this time. People dont realize the strength of TALIBAN is absolute rigidity of their belief system. On a lighter note they could not but shave the heads of Pakistan Football Team for wearing shorts.



  • Cautious
    Sep 22, 2011 - 11:47PM

    Dawn reports that as of 2011 Pakistan has killed 21,680 militants/insurgents. If that number is correct then America’s $14.2 billion contribution cost them $655,000 per militant. Pretty clear that American didn’t get much of a return on it’s investment – combine that with the constant anti American rant fueled by the Pakistani govt and there is no wonder that American’s are re-thinking the relationship.


  • Mir Agha
    Sep 23, 2011 - 12:05AM

    Leftist Postulations.


  • Santosh
    Sep 23, 2011 - 6:02AM

    This issue is doomed to be unresolved. Pakistan Army is unable to stop use of “proxies” to compensate for its natural weakness, nor is it unable to stop coloring the country in anti-Americanism. At the same time, the security establishment knows all too well that they and Pak survive off the “begging bowl”. So in spite of the pseudo-bravado and posturing no one in Pak is going to rush into breaking ties or breaking the bowl. The US will continue its ambivalence towards Pak because it knows the alternative is far worse. The environment in Pak will continue to deteriorate until a cataclysmic event brings things to a head. Like Dr. Strangelove, Pakistanis should stop worrying and learn to love the (suicide) bomb.


  • Asim+Ali
    Sep 23, 2011 - 9:18AM

    The question is if bogus votes are being used to get the rot elected, why not use the same methodology and get the right leadership in place for the next 25 years. Then we will all fly highRecommend

  • Mirza
    Sep 23, 2011 - 9:35AM

    If Pakistan’s hands are clean, they can invite UN observers to check out the area and if they like, stay there. This way we can prove that the Americans are lying and we are right. However, I doubt that the army and ISI would not allow that. Pakistan should not have any objection over the UN’s presence, as they are already working for flood relief.


  • Anonymous
    Sep 23, 2011 - 9:59AM

    @Cautious…the US has spent over $400 billion in Afghanistan (the figure is rising rapidly) and yet they haven’t been able to destroy the menace, in fact they haven’t even killed or captured as many terrorists as Pakistan…hence, you have no right to argue with figures like $ spent per militant killed Recommend

  • Patriot
    Sep 23, 2011 - 1:00PM

    Why am I not surpirsed seeing the fingers pointed towards pakistan, when we clearly know who has failed…

    Haqqani’s 5000 men should be no match for 140,000 Nato soliders in Afghanistan… If these armed men are able to travel thousands of miles, without being intercepted, I have serious doubts on US’s capability, which has supposedly the most powerful military in the world, with satellites so strong, that they can see even little frogs on earth.

    This is a blame game, and Media (including Pakistani media bought for millions of dollars by US) is a part of US’s war… Why cann’t these Media personnell call in on Leon Panetta, and other defence officials, and ask these basic questions instead of denouncing our own Army!!


  • fahad ullah dar
    Sep 23, 2011 - 1:20PM

    in fighting to save Afghanistan, America succeeded only in loosing Pakistan…(Simon Tisdal)


  • Ehsan
    Sep 23, 2011 - 1:38PM

    US is only playing the blame game, ne thing happens good in Afghanistan is done by US & every thing bad is done by Pakistan. say good bye to US, as we have already suffered a lot.Right time make our decisions according to our county’s best interest not by US dictation. Recommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 23, 2011 - 2:48PM

    I generally agree with your posts and mindset but the analysis you have given does not help at all.
    Total Civil/Military Aid divided by militants killed is a pretty wierd statistic.Recommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 23, 2011 - 3:04PM

    How can we invite UN observers where we do not enjoy defacto soverienity ?

    I do not support Haqqani group but being sons of soil they have right to resist occupation. Yes we have an international obligation to prevent use of our soil for cross border attacks but then no Afghan Govt has ever recognized Durand Line. Besides the USA and Karzai govt have flatly refused fencing of border on our side. I am not a Taliban sympathiser by any stretch of imagination but one has to be realistic.Recommend

  • antony
    Sep 23, 2011 - 3:26PM

    @patriot, About little frogs hopping into afghanistan seen by US satellites ,All the frogs crossing has AK47,turbans,some trucks and most are civilians just going in and out of afghanistan .Drone operators cannot filter the chaff from the wheat and that is the problem.To have check post all over the place didnt help as the afghan border policemen were bribed or terrorised by the taliban.So talibans succeeded in selective bombing.

    America is simply now blaming the land owner who’s jungles were spotted with some terrorist frogs. America is helpless and pakistan also helpless ..As pakistanis you guys can suggest some innovative methods to solve this situation. NO !! .Dont ask give me Kashmir!!! Be sane!!!Recommend

  • harkol
    Sep 23, 2011 - 5:00PM

    I have seen many questions here that flames America and its attitude of blaming Pakistan, when pakistan has been such a good boy.

    The fundamental problem is these folks think Pakistan is blameless, and US has messed things up for it. The reality is a bit different. By crying wolf too many times (in terms of funding, training, pushing terrorists to other countries) for decades, Pakistan had lost all its credibility in the eyes of international community as a responsible player. So, when it claims it is fighting the terrorists, it is bound to be seen with some skepticism.

    But, to add to Pakistan’s woes, it has never learnt its lessons, and continues to have connections with rogues, with justification of ‘national interest’ and such. With such connections, it gets caught every now and then with its hand in cookie jar, which does no favor to Pakistan in improving its standing in international community.

    Add to this the fact that USA really has no stake in Afghanistan now. It has accomplished its goal of disrupting Al-Qaeda & Osama. So, it can withdraw without much of loss of face, but it still needs someone to blame for the mess of Afghanistan.

    Pakistan fits that bill. If Pakistan doesn’t improve its standing in International community, it’ll be the north korea of tomorrow, and US will do everything it can to punish Pakistan for its perfidious ways.Recommend

  • Sarah
    Sep 26, 2011 - 7:46PM

    Dear All,

    Firstly note that 9/11 was America’s inside job to grab the oil in Afghanistan and Iraq and also target Pak. Secondly, Osama episode was just a hoax & fabrication. Obama just wanted to show his achievement. Actually Osama is still alive. it was all a drama by the US. now this is yet another plan of theirs to find an excuse to target pakistan. They are actually failures. i feel pitty for them as they are still stuck in Afghan & have failed.we actually don’t need their aid. im so glad this is happening. america should just go away from here n look at dre own economy which is falling badly. by plotting against us they wont succeed as we all are united against the US.Goo bye to their aid ! so called aid actually. its basically a loan against the blood of our innocent men. There is nothing like Al-Qaeda or Talibans. It’s all US strategy to attack these countries for their resources and to stay in this region against their enemy, China.


  • mecnunk
    Sep 28, 2011 - 1:44AM

    It has just dawned on US that they will not be winning any wars in Afghanistan and as a consequence not be able to partake in the mineral wealth and gas reserves or build any supply lines from Caspian to supply Asia. They actually really thought they would take control and leave military bases there to Poke Russia , China and Pakistan plus make billions of $$’s in the process. A dose of reality has caused them to look for scpaegoats like Pakistan who are probably not innocent in the matter of double dealing but they learned from the best, the US of A. All the rhetoric about terror, terrorism and things ending with ism’s are all just bull crap, it is all about the control of dwindling resources and draw attention away from the black hole the USA economy is being devoured by. Prime example, leave Morroco but attack Libya even though teh unrest and subsequent reactions of the governments there was very similiar. You guessed it Morroco has market stalls aplenty but Libya has OIL!!Recommend

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