Unbridgeable Trust Deficit between Pakistan and the US
By Sajjad Shaukat
Trust deficit has deepened between Pakistan and the US since May 21, 2016, when the CIA-operated drone strike killed the Chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour along with his poor taxi-driver Azam in Nushki, Balochistan.
On June 10, this year, a high-level delegation of the US, including Gen. John Nicholson, Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, and Ambassador Richard Olson, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan visited Islamabad and met Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Adviser separately.
According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), during the meeting, “regional Security Situation, with particular reference to border management and peace and stability in Afghanistan in the post-21 May US drone strike environment came under discussion. Expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the army chief highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Gen. Raheel Sharif said all efforts for durable peace in the region have to be synergized with shared commitment…all stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges with regard to porous border, inter-tribal linkages and decades-old presence of over three million refugees. Blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate. Raising the demand of targeting TTP and Mullah Fazlullah in their bases in Afghanistan, the army chief reiterated Pakistan’s resolve not to allow hostile intelligence agencies’ efforts, especially RAW and NDS, of fomenting terrorism…Pakistan is committed to work for a long term peace process for Afghanistan under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group framework.”
During talks, Sartaj Aziz also expressed almost similar by adding that the May 21 drone strike was not only a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter, but has also vitiated bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan.
Calling the US to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty, Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi also condemned the drone attack on June 9, 2016 by elaborating, “Pakistan has given innumerable sacrifices for war on terror. The world powers should acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices…rather than criticizing…Quadrilateral Committee on Afghanistan has been formed for process of reconciliation. Pakistan had always supported continuing Afghanistan reconciliation process and other parties should also play their due role in this process.”
However, America’s open double standards in relation to India and Pakistan and secret double game with the latter have created unbridgeable trust deficit between Pakistan and the US.
The US has always preferred New Delhi over Islamabad. In this context, recently, the US State Department official David Ranz stated that the deal of supplying F-16 aircraft to Pakistan was no longer possible, because the deal expired on May 24, 2016, as the U Congress did not approve it.
During the recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to America, he and President Obama met on June 7, 2016. Addressing the media jointly, Prime Modi said, “I am thankful for the help and support that my friend Barack Obama has extended with regard to India’s membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)…India and the US have been working shoulder to shoulder and are proud of this legacy and will continue working with each other.”
India and the US have agreed to build six nuclear reactors in India. In this context, during his first visit to New Delhi, on November 6, 2010 the US President Obama announced the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list”, and supported Indian demand for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council including membership of four key global nuclear nonproliferation regimes. The US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets including other modern aircraft and weapons.
Ignoring the solution of Kashmir dispute which resulted into three wars between India and Pakistan, America started backing Indian hegemony in Asia to counterbalance China. During President Obama’s second visit to India, on January 25, 2015, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008 in order to make India a great power of Asia. This duplicity has initiated a dangerous arms race between Pakistan and India, and between China and India.
Setting aside the Indian irresponsible record of non-proliferation, and safety of nuclear arms, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with India. It permitted New Delhi a broad atomic cooperation, while superseding the IAEA regarding transfer of nuclear equipments and technologies. These arrangements also entail enrichment and reprocessing items under the so-called cover of IAEA. America had already contacted the Nuclear Suppliers Group to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on larger scale, while the latter had been getting nuclear material and arms of all kinds from Israel, and other Western countries like UK, Germany and France.
Undoubtedly, unlike Indian past record which proves various kinds of unprotected incidents, security lapses in relation to various nuclear plants and the related-sensitive materials including events of nuclear theft and smuggling, Pakistan’s nuclear assets are in safe hands—well-protected and are under tight security arrangements, having the best command and control system. This fact has also been recognized by some top officials of the US and some western countries. However, taking cognizance of the US double standard, China and some responsible countries have decided that they would oppose in the meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to grant a waiver to India in this regard.
Nevertheless, after the latest incident of drone attack in Balochistan, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. Notably, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan. For the purpose, a number of the trilateral meetings were also held among Pakistan, Afghanistan and the America.
It is mentionable that on January 13, 2015, at least seven personnel of the Afghan security forces died during the suicide attack which targeted the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. The Islamic State group (ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the terror assault which coincided with efforts to restart the suspended peace process with Taliban insurgents. Pakistani sources suggested that Indian secret agency RAW was behind this terror attack to thwart these peace talks.
Indian desperation in Afghanistan is increased in the backdrop of growing engagements of Islamabad, Kabul, Beijing and Washington. Therefore, by arranging terror-assaults in Pakistan and Afghanistan, New Delhi is also sabotaging the peace process between the Afghan officials and representatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan, which started in Murree, Pakistan, on July 8, 2015 through a meeting, hosted by Islamabad, and in it, Chinese and American representatives, also participated.
While, the US, China and Pakistan are jointly working to facilitate the process so as to bring peace both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the whole region. But, America is playing double game with Pakistan, because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, which irritates America, India, Israel and some Western partners of the US. Hence, secret agents of American CIA, Israeli Mossad and Indian RAW which are well-penetrated in the ISIS, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are using the militants of these terrorist outfits to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan, Pakistan’s province of Balochistan and Central Asia (Russian interests) by arranging the subversive activities to promote acrimonious sense of dissent, sectarian violence and to arouse sentiments of separatism. In this connection, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target. Collectively or individually, these intelligence agencies are also assisting Jundullah (God’s soldiers)—the Sunni militant group which is active in Balochistan against Shias. Besides martyring several personnel of Pakistan’s security agencies in the province, these foreign-backed entities kidnapped and massacred many innocent people, including Chinese and Iranian nationals.
Based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, Maulvi Fazlullah, chief of the TTP is running a parallel government in Afghanistan. The militants of this outfit have their own legal system/legislation and own authority, exercising strict control in most parts of Afghanistan.
TTP terrorists may have had visited Pakistan under the garb of Afghan refugees for medical treatment, but remain operational in Afghanistan. Early return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, and better management—control of Pak-Afghan border is, therefore, essential.
In case of Afghanistan, there are several groups of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban. Some of them are being used by CIA, Mossad and RAW to obtain the collective and individual designs of their countries against Pakistan and the Middle East. India and Israel which want to prolong the stay of the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan which have become the center of covert activities, are exploiting their dual policy, especially of America against Pakistan, China and Iran. Particularly, terrorists of ISIS and TTP which are strategic assets of the CIA, RAW and Mossad have claimed responsibility for several terror attacks inside Pakistan, including the recent ones in Lahore (Children Park on Easter Sunday), Balochistan, Karachi and in Afghanistan. In some cases, Indian RAW which has well-established its network in Afghanistan, is also alone conducting subversive attacks in Pakistan. While in some cases, with the help of TTP and ISIS, Mossad and RAW are collectively arranging terror attacks in Afghanistan to create further lawlessness in that country because it suits their clandestine interests.
In the first week of May, 2016, credible online sources disclosed that Engineer Mohammad Khan, the 1st Advisor and a close friend of Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has been arrested by Afghan forces/agencies for alleged links with the ISIS. Information strongly suggests that the ISIS has penetrated even in high ranking Afghan government officials as well.
It is noteworthy that those Taliban groups which are fighting against the occupying foreign for the liberation of their country know that ISIS is backed by the US-led countries. Hence, a number of times, they have attacked on the ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan.
In the recent years, when the US-led NATO forces felt that they were failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the high officials and media of their countries started accusing Pakistan’s army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the Afghan Taliban in order to pacify their public for the protracted war in that country, which still continues. India avail the opportunity and also accused Islamabad of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. However, it was part of the US double game with Islamabad.
It is notable that when Pakistan’s Armed Forces broke the backbone of the militants through military operation Zarb-i-Azb which started on June 15, 2014 in North Waziristan Agency, and afterwards, extended to some other tribal agencies—killing thousands of insurgents including foreign terrorists, while, ISI and other law-enforcing agencies captured several terrorists in various regions of Pakistan, including suicide-jackets and weapons. What the US-led NATO countries could not do in Afghanistan in the last 14 years, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have done in one year. Taking note of the ground realities, the US and other Western countries have begun appreciating the capabilities of Pakistan Army and other security agencies, and are, now, recognizing the sacrifices of the country against terrorism. But, especially America is still playing double game with Pakistan by following an ambivalent strategy.
Nonetheless, the strikes by the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which have continued in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified during the Obama era, and are clear violation of international laws and open act of aggression damaging sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan. Collateral damage caused by these strikes is not only clear violation of international human rights, but also ignite violent and retaliatory sentiment among victims and perpetuate extremist wave.
American double standards are significant, as on one hand they demanded Pak support for dialogue and on the other hand, targeted Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour with drone, putting Pakistan in to a difficult position.
During war against terrorism, Pakistan which has rendered innumerable sacrifices in men and material and has always condemned such action which is a cause of regional instability.
We can conclude that the double standards and double game of the US-led entities have created unbridgeable trust deficit between Pakistan and the US.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations