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Friday, October 28, 2011

What do the recent statements by US, Afghanistan & Pakistan mean ?

Slowly, the contours of the game are becoming clearer though seemingly contradictory statements are being made by all and sundry involved in this deceptive game. In fact, it is these contradictory statements that are paradoxically helping to clear the fog.

First the recent seemingly inexplicable statement emanating from the Afghan President Hamid Karzai aired on the popular Pakistani channel, Geo TV. "God forbid, if a war breaks between Pakistan and America, we will side (with) Pakistan", he said and added "If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you." This has given rise to serious analysis among the stakeholders in Afghanistan. This statement is akin to his reference to Pakistan as a 'twin' after signing the strategic agreement with India.

In my opinion, this announcement of support must be taken with a bucketful of salt, for several reasons. Just three weeks earlier, Karzai had signed a strategic friendship agreement with Pakistan's arch-enemy India, quite annoying the Pakistani military leadership. Immediately upon returning from India, in time for the 10th Anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan and the removal of Taliban, President Karzai accused Pakistan once again saying that without Pakistan’s sanctuary and help, the Taliban terrorists would not be ‘able to move a finger’. We must remember that President Karzai had himself escaped at least four attempts of assassination by the Taliban and by their association, the PA/ISI. He has just recently lost his step brother to assassination by the Taliban. He has also lost several key supporters of his to Taliban attacks, including Prof. Rabbani. Karzai knows perfectly well that it is the Pakistani Army (PA) that sustains the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the remnants of Al Qaeda against the Afghan civilian government. He knows very well too that it is the support, guidance and instigation from the PA that makes the Taliban intransigent towards negotiations for a peaceful post-2014 Afghanistan. He knows equally well that the PA/ISI would never favour a Durrani like him to come to power in Kabul and would always support the Ghilzais like Mullah Omar, Haqqani or Hekmatyar. Ever since he assumed office as Interim President on November 27, 2001, he has been complaining bitterly to the Americans about the Pakistani perfidy. However, the Americans, in their eagerness to go after Iraq's Saddam Hussein, took their eyes off Afghanistan and even listened to their long-standing friend, Pakistan, who took advantage of the situation to play its own double game. For such a person as Hamid Karzai, therefore, to suddenly announce his support for the PA is laughable. In fact, Pakistan itself has not commented about this unexpected support from Karzai, thus proving that they are themselves not taking it seriously.

Besides, Pakistan knows that the common folk Afghans never had great love for Pakistan because of Pakistan's continuous poking in the internal affairs of that country, its attempts not to settle the border dispute (Afghanistan does not officially recognize the Durand Line which was drawn as a result of a treaty between British India and the Afghan King Abd-ur-Rehman, founder of modern Afghanistan, in c. 1893) and generally its arrogance towards an impoverished neighbour since Independence. Afgahanistan was the only country to object to the entry of Pakistan into the United Nations in September, 1947, based on the issue of Pashtunistan. In c. 1949, the Loya Jirga of Afghanistan de-recognized the British-Afghan Treaty of 1893, thereby de-recognizing the Durand Line as well. The self-anointed Field Marshal Ayub Khan arrogantly dismissed Afghanistan as inconsequential claiming that just a brigade of PA would be enough to quell that country and enter Kabul in one day, when tension mounted between these two countries after Pakistan took aggressive posture following induction of large-scale American arms, against an unfriendly Afghanistan. That the same Pakistan today praises Afghans as slayers of two superpowers, namely the former Soviet Union and the USA, is quite another matter ! Pakistan has frequently resorted to shutting its borders and trade routes with a landlocked Afghanistan, thus putting the populace to misery. One such episode led to the dismissal of Prime Minister Daoud Khan by his cousin, King Zahir Shah in the 1960s when the blockade remained for two years. As early as the 50s, there were economic blockades by Pakistan (1950, 1951 & 1955). In c. 1973, Daoud Khan once again assumed power in a coup and deposed King Zahir Shah and continued with his earlier reforms process which included such things as keeping the ulema under check, building up the army, spreading education, ensuring more rights for women, implementing land redistribution through land-ceiling act, making Afghanistan a more robust Republic etc. Disliking his reformist agenda but fearing his tough actions, Islamists like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the recently assassinated Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani (a Mawdudi follower) fled to Pakistan where they received support from Z.A. Bhutto and the ISI. Since then, it has been Pakistan's endeavour to checkmate reforms in Afghanistan, arrest their modernization and keep them backward. In the latter half of the 90s, the creation of the Taliban and the complete backing that Pakistan gave to their most repressive measures in the name of Islam just so that Pakistan could have its Strategic Depth, once again proved Pakistan's long-standing malevolent intentions vis-a-vis Afghanistan. This Pakistani approach of hegemonic overlording of Afghanistan has always been resented by the Afghans at large. Pakistan and Afghanistan came close to war several times between 1947 and 1979. However, even the Pakistan-created Taliban refused to abandon their claim for greater Pashtunistan and refused to acknowledge the Durand line as the permanent international border between the two countries. Though Pakistan has been hosting the largest Afghan refugee concentration for decades now, there is not much love lost between the Afghans and the Pakistanis. Reciprocally, there is not much love lost for the Pakhtuns within many pockets of Pakistan itself, including for their own in the recently christened Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region (formerly, NWFP).

The reasonable question to ask therefore is then why did Karzai make the surprising statement that he did indeed make ? The spokesman for Karzai has explained that away by saying that the support that Karzai referred to was humanitarian and not military support. The implication was that a grateful Afghanistan owed it to the Pakistanis in return for the decades that the Pakistanis across the border have hosted (and continue to host) Afghan refugees since the Afghan jihad, followed by the civil war and the brutal Taliban regime. It would be reasonable to expect that in case a war broke out between the US/Afghan troops and the PA following further worsening of their relationship, it would be around the Af-Pak FATA badlands and therefore the refugee population into Afghanistan would be predominantly Pashtuns whom Afghanistan anyway claim as their very own. The US would not attack Balochistan and even if it did so in order to secure an alternate land route into Southern Afghanistan, the scarce population of Balochistan and the vast lands there would not lead to an exodus. In fact, Balochis may be expected to even collude with the Americans in their common cause against the PA. Any attack on the Sind or the Punjab (both almost improbable to be attacked), would only cause refugees to stream into neighbouring India. In effect, therefore, Karzai's support to Pakistan stops at welcoming the Pashtuns and Pashtuns alone in the event of a war, something that does not surprise anyone.

For their part, the Pakistanis who have both publicly and privately received a spanking from Ms. Hillary Clinton during her visit last week to Islamabad, are clutching at straws and claiming some sort of victory that they forced Ms. Clinton to acknowledge American contacts with the Haqqanis. This may surprise the lay public but anyone who has been closely following the situation would know that contacts have been going on with the Taliban for a long time. The sticking point is that they have made little progress while the Taliban have stepped up their attacks on the NATO/ISA forces. The major supplier of foot-soldiers to the attacks is the Haqqani network and sometimes the LeT, while the planning and coordination is done by the PA through the ISI. Expecting increased pressure from the Americans after the US Presidential election in c. 2008, the ISI planned ahead. While continuing to hold off the American pressure to act against the Haqqani shura, the PA/ISI urged Haqqani to enter into a peace treaty with the Shi'a of Kurram who had been besieged for the most part of the previous three years. By December, 2010, this allowed the Haqqani warlords and soldiers to cross easily between Afghanistan and Pakistan. So much so, that today Sirajuddin Haqqani claims that they are now back in Afghanistan and no longer are present in Pakistan, a claim that Pakistan also approves of in order to escape American action within Pakistani soil or American accusations of hosting these terrorists. It also puts the onus back on the ISAF, NATO and the ANA to take action on their side of the border. However, the continued killing of Haqqani commanders in North Waziristan by the CIA drones disproves the claim.

Just after the elimination of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, UK’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mark Sedwill, informed the media that the Taliban leadership was engaged in talks with various stakeholders with the full backing of the US with the sole aim of finding a solution to the Afghan problem from within. On June 18, 2011, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai admitted that the US had been in direct talk with the Taliban and the talks were going well. In order to facilitate these talks, the UN Security Council decided to split the Taliban from Al Qaeda within the sanctions regime. Ms. Clinton called on Pakistan to support nascent reconciliation talks with the Afghan Taliban launched several months ago by the United States and Afghanistan. The goal, she said, is “to split the Taliban from al-Qaeda,” a possibility the administration believes has become more likely with bin Laden’s demise, and Pakistan “has a responsibility to help us.” It is the continued refusal by Pakistan to help the US in bringing the Haqqanis around that is causing a breakdown in the relationship between the US and Pakistan.

On June 24, 2010, the New York Times reported that the Pakistanis were offering to mediate a power-sharing agreement with Sirajuddin Haqqani. A few days later, the Middle-Eastern Al Jazeera, which had broken many authentic news about Al Qaeda earlier, dramatically announced that Sirajuddin Haqqani, accompanied by the Pakistani COAS Gen. Kayani and the ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, had already met the Afghan President Karzai in his Kabul Palace. A few days later, the US President Barack Obama, at the G-20 meeting in Toronto in June 2010, praised the efforts of Pakistan to find a political settlement for the Afghan crisis. Refusing to directly comment on the meeting between Haqqani and Karzai, he said, “I think it’s too early to tell. I think we have to view these efforts with skepticism but also with openness”. However, in two years since then, the Americans are frustrated by the lack of any meaningful progress. Thus, Pakistan demonstrated its clout with the Haqqanis and demanded the US to leave it to the Pakistanis to forge a peace deal, something the Americans are no longer willing to countenance unlike in the 1980s. In fact, the Pakistanis have been caught red-handed, on the other hand, of helping and using the Haqqanis, a classic case of double-game that the Pakistanis are so notoriously known for. The game is quite similar to Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, DG of ISI, who egged on the Taliban when he was ostensibly sent by the Americans to ask them to surrender peacefully. Thus, the US contacts with the Haqqanis have been going on for a long time now.

And, when they help, the Pakistanis still play a game. On Oct. 10, 2010 Hamid Karzai also confirmed on a US Television channel that discussions were going on with the Taliban, an announcement that caused Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani to warn on October 12 that any direct talks with the Taliban without Pakistan would fail. A few days later, on October 14, 2010, the US Special Envoy for Af-Pak, Late Richard Holbrooke, confirmed the talks with the Taliban while Gen. Petraeus, Commander of ISAF in Afghanistan, said his troops facilitated a high-level Taliban leader to travel to Kabul to have talks with the Government. Later, it turned out that they were referring to Anwarul Haq Mujahed, a terrorist leader who is in custody in Peshawar along with the former Taliban governor of eastern Nangarhar province in Afghanistan, Maulvi Abdul Kabir, and his deputy governor Sedre Azam. These leaders were taken in a helicopter from Peshawar, obviously with Pakistani consent and knowledge. It is being seen as a ploy by Pakistan to create divisions among the Taliban.

But, the US continued to be frustrated by the Pakistani stubbornness in not going after the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network and its allies. In September, 2010, the US dramatically increased the frequency of its drone attacks, from a monthly average of ten strikes to twenty and killing many militants. Though it was later touted to be a pre-emptive strike to prevent a Mumbai-style urban terror attack in the UK, Germany and France, there is no denying that a frustrated US wanted to demonstrate to the Pakistanis its determination to go after the Haqqani group which Pakistan has been successfully defending. The helicopter attack on a Pakistani Army post in early October, 2010 within Pakistan by the American forces resulting in the killing of two Pakistani soldiers must also be seen in the light of frustration among the Americans on the reluctance of Pakistan to stem the flow of Taliban and their armaments especially as the ISAF was involved in securing Kandahar before their departure. The infuriated Pakistanis closed the border crossings at Torkham (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) and Chaman (Balochistan) for eleven days until the Americans issued an apology for the attack. On October 15, 2010, the Pakistani Foreign Office defiantly re-stated its long standing policy, “While we understand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) concerns, any question relating to when, how and what is to be done in North Waziristan is based on judgment, keeping in mind our capacities, priorities and overall national interest. This in no way should be interpreted as lack of Pakistani resolve”. It is over one year now and Pakistan has not yet decided that the time was ripe for any action in North Waziristan ! When the US Special Envoy to Af-Pak, Richard Holbrooke, passed away most unexpectedly on December 13, 2010, the general consensus was that even he could not “get Pakistan on board to deal with Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.” That simply explains the confusion in the American approach to Pakistan. They are neither able to treat Pakistan as snake and jump over it or as garbage and step on it.

In any case, Pakistan's mischievous attempt to twist Ms. Hillary Clinton's statement of admission regarding American 'contacts' with Haqqani as something sinister or hipocritical, is exactly the way Pakistan fabricates news and spreads falsehood. The 'contacts' between the PA/ISI and the Haqqanis are not exactly the same as those between the Americans and the Haqqanis. Pakistan's references to the American support for the Haqqanis during the 1979-1989 Afghan jihad is also a clever word-play and an attempt to fool the gullible.

Pakistan has played similar games with Taliban leaders. On Feb. 11, 2010, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a brother-in-law of Mullah Omar, the head of the Quetta Shura and the second in command after Mullah Omar, was arrested by the ISI in Karachi. {Out of the eight arreasted along with him, five of the Quetta Shura members were caught in Karachi alone thus confirming earlier reports that the ISI had relocated them to Karachi a long time back. In mid-January, 2011, news also emerged that the ISI had arranged for a heart operation for Mullah Omar in a Karachi hospital} The UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Kai Eide also echoed the same thoughts when he said that Pakistan was well aware of the on-going contacts with Baradar and yet decided to arrest him and keep him in Pakistan to abruptly thwart the dialogue. It later emerged that Baradar was planning to attend the May 2-3, 2010 Jirga of about 1200 to 1400 people that Karzai had called of the tribal leaders to give a shape to the reconciliation process. The jirga was also expected to set the terms and conditions for reintegrating the insurgents. Karzai’s attempts revolve around the US plan of weaning away those Taliban who are not ideologically committed to the Taliban cause but are in it for money, relocating hardcore and uncompromising Taliban leaders in another country and revoke the names of some of the amenable Taliban leaders from the UN blacklist so that the Government can freely negotiate with them. Pakistan’s calculation is to ensure the failure of the jirga and stake its claim to be the ‘sole conduit’ for peace in Afghanistan. (The jirga was postponed twice and later was fixed for June 2, 2010 but finally held in July. As an outcome of this, Karzai set up the High Council for Peace and Reconciliation.) On August 22, 2010, the New York Times reported that the ISI officials admitted that Baradar and his aides were by-passing the ISI and hence were arrested. ISI was quoted as having admitted, “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians.” The arrest and its location also proved the existence of the Quetta Shura, strenuously denied by the Pakistanis for years, and the fact that the Shura had relocated to Karachi, another fact also strenuously denied by the Pakistanis for quite some time.

One can easily deduce that the Pakistanis are protecting their twin primary assets, the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Shura, and are manipulating them carefully as to how they are exposed to the emerging developments, while at the same time frustrating the Americans in developing their individual contacts with the Taliban and the Haqqanis. At the same time, the PA/ISI are ensuring that attacks on the NATO/ISA Forces are continued by the Haqqanis, LeT and the Taliban so that they are kept under constant and probably escalating pressure. The Pakistani calculation is that either they frustrate the Americans into accepting Pakistani hegemony over Afghanistan or make them withdraw from the area in their larger interests after mounting losses of men and material force the Americans to sue for peace.

For their part, the Americans seem confused. They are unable or unwilling to use force against the PA because, as Gen. Kayani rightly said, Pakistan was not Iraq. Nobody today talks of the strategy of 'great awakening' that Gen. Petraeus was supposed to re-employ in Afghanistan as he successfully did in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus’ strategy was to control the 10% land area of Afghanistan from where he estimated 80% of attacks and terrorism originated. Similarly, there was a time in c. 2009 when Pres. Obama said that the Pakistani nuclear weapons were in safe hands thereby implying that the Americans knew their whereabouts. But, since then, the Pakistanis have been furiously expanding their Pu-based bombs over which the Americans may not have enough intelligence. It is another reason for the US hesitation to use any force against Pakistan. The PA may not use tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) against an advancing column of American forces into Waziristan or even nuke the Bagram base as retaliation for they know that Pakistan would be decimated in double quick time if that happens. But, they could pose other serious dirty-nuke challenge to mainland America. Besides, the Americans still depend upon Pakistan for nearly 30 ~ 40% of their supplies. Even after pilferage and disappearance of containers from the Karachi port, almost 25% of the supplies depend upon Pakistani routes. Unless the US finds an alternate route for these supplies, the US cannot squeeze Pakistan beyond a certain point.

In her latest testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ms. Hillary Clinton termed the US strategy towards Pakistan as "fight, talk and build". This strategy is similar to the way Imperial Britain handled the Afghan tribes. The Vidura Neethi of Indian Epic, The Mahabharat, advises rulers to conquer friends and foes alike using sama, dana, bheda and danda. The PA has abundantly made it clear to the Americans about their redlines and they revolve around India, Haqqani, Quetta Shura and the LeT. Almost all aspects of these redlines are huge concern for the US. For his part, President Obama made it clear on several occasions that the Pakistanis were barking a wrong tree by considering the Indians as the most major threat and that there was no need to station so many troops on the eastern borders with India. However, the Pakistanis have not moved an inch from their position of India being the mortal enemy whose capabilities, if not intentions, threaten their very existence for which Pakistan needs to take counter measures in the form of strategic depth, terrorist non-state actors, nukes and an enduring hostility with that country. General Kayani has said that Pakistan had handed over its position on Afghanistan to the Obama administration in writing in c. 2010 and claimed “We have long-term interests in Afghanistan, others might have short … For short-term gains, we cannot lose [sight of] our long-term interests,”. The US is increasingly being left with only one answer, danda. It has two forms of danda, soft and hard. The soft danda would be such measures as military and economic aid squeeze, making loans difficult for Pakistan from international financial agencies etc. while the hard danda would be a military option. At this point, while one can virtually rule out any hard danda option, soft danda is very much on cards. For all of Gen. Kayani's bravado that Pakistan does not need the US aid, stoppage or even suspension of spare parts to American supplied F-16s, P-3Cs, helicopters, frigates, various radars, howitzers, communication sets etc would bring them to their knees immediately. The US can also force its western allies to do the same for the Agosta submarines and other hardware. Even at a diplomatic level, the US can apply enormous pressure on Pakistan.

We have to wait to see whether the US abdicates or acts decisively.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The US-Pakistan Conundrum

A conundrum is a paradoxical, insoluble or a difficult problem, a dilemma. The relationship that the US has had with Pakistan for sixty years now fits that description perfectly like a T. When the arch-enemy, the Indian Government, paradoxically said on October 20 that the US and Pakistan must heal their rift, it spoke volumes of how much that relationship has deteriorated. That also reminded one that the wheel had come a full circle since the mid 1950s. Today, there is talk of the US sending its soldiers inside Pakistan to take the fight into the den of the terrorists. Ms. Clinton has openly said in Kabul that it would happen if needed. She has backed-up her threat by amassing troops across the border in Afghanistan. In Pakistan itself, she said, "you cannot keep snakes in your backyard and expect they will only bite the neighbours". She has also demanded that Pakistan take action “not [in] months and years, but days and weeks", thus setting a deadline which has hitherto not been the case. In turn, Gen. Kayani threatens the US with nuclear weapons and warns the US that it should think ten times before making any such decision. For his part, the Pakistani Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar warns the US of 'Pakistani patience with the US running out' ! Whether these are the usual Pakistani bluster to appear brave before the masses or not will be known shortly.

Leading think-tanks and strategic analysts in the US have asked their President to freeze aid to Pakistan and to recognize the fact that the obstacle to peace in the region is indeed Pakistan. The continuing and intensifying war of words between the two countries mean only one thing. A flurry of meetings in the last one year between military and political head honchos of both the countries has been unable to narrow, let alone seal, the rift. On the other hand, the rift has only widened further this year due to incidents such as Raymond Davis, Osama bin Laden, revelation of identities of CIA station chiefs in Pakistan, assassination of Rabbani, Kabul embassy attack, Wardak Chinook attack, proof of collusion between the ISI and Haqqani, tipping off the Taliban engaged in bomb-making activities after receiving intelligence from the US etc. Even a very indulgent US - indulgent towards Pakistan, that is - has been forced to take a serious note of these developments. Why should there be such a downturn in their relationship ? After all, the US military and economic aid to Pakistan since the 1950s is mind-boggling. Let us look at the quantum of this aid to realize what we are talking about.

Pakistan’s sole obsession from Aug. 14, 1947 has been India. With this in mind, Pakistan approached the US for arms support as early as October, 1947, but the Truman administration already weighed down by developments in Europe and Korea could not accede to the request. In May 1950 during the state visit by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to the US, the request was revived. In the late 40s and during the 50s, it was the expedience of preventing the scourge of communism from spreading that prompted the Baghdad Pact (later to become SEATO in c. 1954) and CENTO (signed in c. 1955)to be formulated. Pakistan was a member of both and also had a special "Mutual Defence Assistance Agreement" with the Eisenhower administration in the US in 1954. It was, inter alia, to "preserve and maintain the integrity of Pakistan" and agreed to take "appropriate action, including the use of armed forces, as may be mutually agreed upon . . . in order to assist the Government of Pakistan at its request.". While the US was led to believe that that clause was needed with Communism knocking at the doors of Pakistan from Sinkiang (Xinjiang) in the East and a weak and troubled Afghanistan in the West, Pakistan's calculus was to use this friendship in its fight against India. The US ambassador to Pakistan, James Langley, said in c. 1957, “The present military program is a hoax, the hoax being that it is related to the Soviet threat”. As India feared, the arms were indeed used against India and there was no single occassion to use them against the Communists. Similarly, Pakistan never helped the US in its anti-Communism drive. When Gen. McArthur demanded a brigade of Pakistani troops to be deployed in Korea under the US command after the Armistice was signed there, Pakistan cleverly avoided that.

India deeply resented this arrangement and the US spurned India’s justified concerns through subterfuge and diplomatese. Gen. Ayub Khan wanted to completely equip the existing five-and-a-half Divisions of the Pakistani Army with modern US weapons and looked up to a largesse from the US for the same. He also wanted to add more strength by recruiting an additional 56000 soldiers, comprising of an additional Infantry division, a new para Brigade, and conversion of the Independent Armoured Brigade into a Division. During the period between c. 1954 and 1965, the US completely equipped the five-and-a-half divisions of Pakistani Army besides gifting it with six squadrons of fighter aircraft, twelve ships to the Pakistani Navy, modernization of Karachi and Chittagong ports, and technical support and training for the Pakistani armed forces. In the 60s, the US gifted Pakistan with the then state-of-the-art M-47/M-48 Patton tanks, F-104 Starfighters, B-57 bombers, and F-86 Sabre fighters (about a hundred and later augmented by another 70 received through West Germany over a token US objection and flown in via Iran), long-distance radars, helicopters, frigates and the submarine Ghazi. Emboldened, Pakistan immediately attacked India in c. 1965. Thirty four years later, the same Pakistani-US scenario played all over again in Kargil, when arms that were supplied to Pakistan under the garb of fighting terror on Pakistan’s western front were used against India instead.

The same US-Pakistan supply-demand scenario re-appeared after 9/11 when the US entered into a new defence relationship with Pakistan by designating that country as a ‘Major Non-NATO Ally’ (MNNA) in c. 2004. Under this rubric, it then supplied arms to Pakistan ostensibly to fight the Taliban/Al Qaeda terrorists who were operating out of mud houses and caves in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. This was so even in circa 2008 by which time the US-Pakistan co-operation in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) steam had run out and the US was attacking inside Pakistan at will. Only this time, most of the kind of arms supplied were not usable against these terrorists. These were items like 250 Armour piercing TOW 2A Anti-tank missiles, Excalibur Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs), eight Aerostat radars, six AN-TPS77 surveillance radar, 5600 military radio sets, 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, 200 AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles, 36 F-16 Block 52s, mid-life upgrade to 34 existing F-16 A/Bs to C/D block 50/52, 8 P-3C maritime reconnaissance aircraft, mid-life upgrade to existing P-3 fleet, modernization of the Shahbaz Airbase (Jacobabad), 26 Bell 412 helicopters, 39 T-37 military trainer jets, 150 submarine/surface/air launched Harpoon Block II missiles, six Phalanx Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS) for the Navy, five refurbished SH-2I Super Seasprite maritime helicopters etc. The US is also to provide Pakistan with three additional P-3 aircraft that will be configured with the E-2C HAWKEYE airborne early warning electronics suite. Later, in c. 2009, the US complained that its P-3C and Harpoon missiles have been converted for attacking India. Since the start of Afghan operations in c. 2002, the US had supplied other arms like 115 155mm Self-propelled M109A5 howitzers, 20 AH-1 Cobra Attack helicopters, upgrades to existing older versions of AH-1 Cobras, 6 C-130Hs, transfer of 8 Perry-class guided missile Frigates upgraded with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, five fast patrol boats, 450 vehicles for Frontier Corps, hundreds of NVGs, thousands of protective vests, 12 Shadow drones, Harris high frequency communication sets, and undisclosed special weapons. In c. 2010, it gave Pakistan 18 new F-16 aircraft which the US Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffry Glenn said “would give the Pakistan Air Force greatly expanded capabilities in its fight against ‘radical elements’ in the border region.” The US also delivered 1,000 MK-82 500-pound bombs to Pakistan which were later outfitted with 700 GBU-12 and 300 GBU-10 Paveway laser-guided bomb kits built by Lockheed and Raytheon, allowing the country’s air force a better targeting of the weapons. In addition, the International Military Education and Training (IMET) programme had been revived after c. 2002, and significant number of officers from Pakistan Army have attended these programmes. “We must continue to reassure Pakistan that as it combats the terrorist threat, it is not exposing itself to increased risk along its eastern border,” said Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy while explaining why the United States needed to strengthen Islamabad’s conventional defence systems as well. “Although extremist attacks have led to the repositioning of substantial Pakistani forces, Pakistan’s strategic concerns about India remain pre-eminent”. The import of these statements was revealed by an exposed cable by the WikiLeaks wherein the US Ambassador in Pakistan, Ms. Anne W Patterson justified another USD 1.5 Billion to Pakistan to provide for its ‘national defense’ against the ‘threat from India’. In October 2010, the US decided to grant USD 2 Billion worth of arms to Pakistan, spread over a five year period.

The economic aid is equally mind-boggling. Even at the official level, the US-Pakistan relationship is contingent upon the massive aid that the Pakistanis have received ever since Eisenhower decided to establish a close relationship with that country. In the period between circa 1954 and 2002, the US had provided Pakistan with overt aid amounting to USD 12.6 Billion. In the period after 9/11, between circa 2002 and 2007, the US aid was over 9 Billion USD (USD 4.586 billion as reimbursement for assistance to Op Enduring Freedom (launched Oct. 7, 2001) and USD 4.422 Billion as economic and military assistance). The Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act (or PEACE Act, 2009 or Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act or also known as Enhanced Partnership Act 2009), assured USD 1.5 Billion of economic aid every year for five years. All these are in addition to the Direct Military Aid from the Pentagon which is on top of the equipment that Pakistan receives through normal foreign military sales (FMS) overseen by the State Department. Those sales vary year to year but generally total around $300 million annually. A special counterinsurgency fund approved by Congress earlier in c. 2009 gave the Pentagon the authorisation to speedily deliver military equipment to the Pakistan Army. In addition, Pakistan gets reimbursed annually USD 1.6 Billion for the logistical and military support it provides to the US (the Coalition Support Fund). The US also offers Pakistan annually another aid of USD 700 million to fight Al Qaeda and Taliban on its soil (the Counter Insurgency Capability Fund). It later emerged that all these funds were misused by the Government of Pakistan. Besides these two funding options, the US offers a series of other funds: Foreign Military Financing (FMF), International Military Education and Training (IMET), International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, Non-proliferation Anti-Terrorism, De-mining & Related. The US uses the FMF to maintain close contacts with the Pakistani military and as a ‘foundation for bilateral security relationship’. After 26/11, the US decided to increase its FMF assistance to Pakistan to USD 400 Million a year for five more years. This was expected to demonstrate the US commitment to Pakistan and affirm its reliability as a partner. This was also expected to address, among other security needs, its “growing conventional disadvantage vis-à-vis India,” in order to secure its cooperation in the “war on terror.” ‘ Pakistan also owes the various lending organizations directly controlled by the US such as IMF, IBRD, ADB etc. over 20 Billion US Dollars. Overall, by 2006, Pakistan’s foreign debts had declined from US$ 47.8 Billion to US$ 30.3 Billion, solely due to US waivers and other interventions. Only in c. 2009, did the Americans attach stringent conditionalities on how these funds were to be spent by Pakistan. One of the conditions was to make sure that the funds were not squandered or diverted to affect the “balance of power in the region”. In any case, the total US overt aid to Pakistan in c. 2010 amounted to well over USD 4.5 Billion.The quantum of the covert aid is unknown.

Apart from military and economic aid, the political and diplomatic support given by the US to Pakistan has been phenomenal. The US took a hostile stand against India in the J&K issue in the United Nations. Later, the US extended a similar support to Pakistan's policies with respect to Afghanistan after the 1989 Geneva Accord. The US also turned a blind eye to Pakistan's overt and covert support to jihadi terrorists against India. In fact, the US even helped Pakistani terrorism against India in the Punjab when its Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) helped these terrorists. The US has also baled out Pakistan from tight spots it brought upon itself in pursuit of its truculent and obstreperous hostility with India, such as in Kargil or Op. Parakram or the 1993 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, for example. Above all these, the US allowed Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapons and their delivery platforms through China and North Korea and allowed Pakistani scientists and engineers to shop for critical dual-use components all over Europe and the US, by turning a blind eye and even lying to its own Congress much against accumulated intelligence. This single act, more than anything else, has been a monumental folly of the US Administrations. Ms. Clinton's reference yesterday in Islamabad to 'snakes in the backyard', while true for Pakistan, is also therefore true for the US because the very same Pakistan that it nurtured with tactical brilliance and strategic stupidity is now threatening the US with nuclear attacks !

No other nation has given so much aid to Pakistan keeping its head bob over the swirling waters without drowning, for six decades now. Not even their extremely wealthy ummah brethren, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The 'taller-than-the-tallest mountain, sweeter-than-the-sweetest-honey and deeper-than-the-deepest-ocean all weather friend' China does not dispense with hard cash and helps Pakistan only on a project-by-project basis and when that would be beneficial to it also. And, yet, Pakistan has been singularly ungrateful to the US. It was petulant when the US decided to offer a moderate amount of military aid to India after the Chinese aggression in c. 1962. It abused the US when the US decided to cut-off military aid to Pakistan [and India too] in c. 1965 after war broke out between the two countries following Pakistani aggression. The mobs attacked the US consulates in Karachi and Lahore as a result of state orchestrated campaign against the perceived US betrayal. The US Embassy in Islamabad was burned down in November 1979 on a mere rumour of US forces occupying Makkah even as Gen. Zia-ul-Haq deliberately delayed rushing any assistance to the trapped Americans inside. He also accused the Americans themselves by saying, "according to some international radio transmissions, the Americans had inspired the attack" !

A discussion of Pakistan is utterly incomplete without talking about India because of the equation that Pakistan had unsuccessfully sought to make with its 'motherland' after the partition and the paranoia about India that the Pakistani establishment has successfully created in the minds of Pakistanis and until recently in Western minds as well. That obsession with India alone can explain the 'ungratefulness' of the whole nation of Pakistan to the US after receiving so much aid and support spread over six decades. The US, after its WW II success, has followed the 'with us or against us' policy ruthlessly. It has also always acted according to the inputs of the UK in matters pertaining to the Indian subcontinent assuming that the British knew the best about this region. A major reason for that was Sir Olaf Kirkpatrick Caroe who was the Governor of NWFP and later the last foreign secretary of the British Raj. He was very hostile to the Congress government in NWFP and reportedly organized the opposition to Nehru when he visited there and ensured NWFP’s joining with Pakistan. Olaf Caroe told the Americans in the 1950s that the operations in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in WW I and in Iran in WW II were made possible from bases in Imperial India and with the independence of India he suggested replacing Imperial India with Pakistan. The British really expected India to fragment and so needed a stable country to thwart the southward expansion of communism and protect the oilfields of the Middle East. Francis Tucker, the last General Officer-Commanding of the British Indian Eastern Command, believed that the creation “of a new Muslim power supported by the science of Britain” would “place Islam between Russian Communism and Hindustan.” Hinduism was thought too weak because of its “superstition and formalism” and therefore an easy prey to a "philosophy such as Communism”. It was therefore deemed necessary by the British to place “Islam between Russian Communism and Hindustan”. They also needed a fuelling/transit point for flights to Far East. The British also had little faith that Indian leaders will accept the British hegemony after Independence whereas a Pakistan created with the goodwill of the British, will remain grateful to them. They also wanted to protect the ‘wells of power’ as Sir Olaf Caroe called the discovery of oil in the Middle East. Pakistan was touted as the most geostrategically important nation for these purposes.

Thus, the Great Game was continued by the USA which promptly co-opted a more than willing Pakistan into various defence treaties by c. 1955. India, which refused to be drawn into superpower politics and wished to remain non-aligned with either power block, was alarmed by the axis of Pakistan and the USA and sought to restore the balance by seeking and getting help from the USSR even though it neither subscribed to Communism nor it joined the Soviet-bloc of countries. India's non-alignment was characterized as 'immoral' by Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles of the Eisenhower administration. This perception continued throughout the Cold War and was accentuated by India's counter moves to court the Soviet Union to balance the deep nexus between the US and Pakistan. Also, Nehru’s attempts at forging third world solidarity and his unmasked revulsion of the United States added fuel to the American (f)ire. Nehru declared in c. 1960, “The future destiny of the world cannot be decided by two or three great powers. We stand looking at the crest of tremendous changes in the world. We are not mere onlookers there. We are actors in this drama and we propose to be actors in it in our own way”. In addition to all these factors, two more important factors helped shape the US policies in the region: cultural and religious. The Indians were characterized as 'effeminate Hindus' while the Pakistanis were thought of as belonging to 'martial race' and fiercely passionate about their religion.

One can easily see therefore that the alliance between Pakistan and the US was flawed right from the beginning because there was never a convergence of fundamental strategic interest between the two nations; it was based on a faded Imperial power's spurious visions for itself; it was transactional because the exigencies of situations demanded that and when these exigencies disappeared the US-Pakistan relationship also quickly fell apart only to be revived all over again when the next situation arose; Pakistan always wanted the US-Pakistan relationship to be directed against India as a zero-sum game which a superpower could not accede to against a large democracy and a powerful country like India.

If only the US would do two things now, Pakistan would immediately put its relationship with the US back on the rail. They are, accord primacy to Pakistan in evolving a solution to the Afghanistan issue accepting it unquestioningly, and curtail Indian involvement in Afghanistan drastically, nil if possible.