US Elusive Policy Continues
Although in the past few years, the United States has been following an elusive policy towards Pakistan, yet it has intensified after May 2, last year when US killed Osama Bin Laden in a covert operation. In these terms, clear-cut paradoxes could be noted in the statements of American high officials.
During her visit to India, while pampering New Delhi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allegedly said on May 7, this year that Pakistan had not taken enough action against Hafiz Saeed, the Chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) who was blamed for masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. She accused that top Al Qaeda commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri “is somewhere in Pakistan.” Repeating American old maxim, Ms. Clinton pressed Pakistan “to do more to ensure its territory is not used as launching pad by terror groups.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, while refuting all these false allegations, indicated, “it does not have any intelligence that al-Zawahiri was hiding in the country and urged the US “to share information if any, instead of issuing speculative statements.”
As regards Hfiz Saeed, Pakistan’s Lahore High Court had released him on bail, saying that there was no evidence agianst him in connetion with Mumbai carnage.
However, while reviving old blame game against Islamabad, last year, US Admiral Mike Mullen (R) alleged that the Haqqani network is waging a ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan with the assistance of ISI, and alleged the agency behind an assault on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13, 2011.
Confused in their objectives, US top military and civil officials have perennially been insisting upon Islamabad to take military action against the Haqqani network, based in North Waziristan. But during her visit to Islamabad in October, 2011, Hillary Clinton requested for Pakistan’s help to “encourage Taliban to enter negotiations in good faith” including the Haqqani militants. Replying to a question that ISI was involved in attack on the US embassy in Kabul, she categorically pointed out, “We have no evidence of that.” Ms. Clinton agreed with Pakistan’s stance, saying, “Now US is realising that launching new military operation in North Waziristan does not suit Pakistan’s situation.” Contrarily, on October 27, 2011, before Congress, Ms. Clinton disclosed that she delivered a frank message to Islamabad that it was urgent to act against the extremist Haqqani network, which she accused of anti-US attacks in Afghanistan.
In this respect, on October 6, 2011, US President Barack Obama blamed Pakistan in relation to Afghanistan, saying that there were “some connections” between Pakistan’s intelligence services and extremists. But at the same time, Obama admitted that recent successes against Al Qaeda-linked forces would not have been possible without Pakistani help.
While speaking optimistically, on September 30, last year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disclosed that the US wants to continue to work to put its relationship with Pakistan on a stronger footing, but at the same time, she blamed that, the Obama administration would like to have an end to safe heavens in Pakistan. And the US State Department spokesman Mark Toner on May 4, this year said that the US and Pakistan were committed to work together and had a shared struggle against the menace of terrorism, which had claimed lives of thousands of Pakistanis.
US elusive policy towards Islamabad could also be judged from the self-contradictory statements of the then CIA Chief Leon Panetta who pointed out on June 9, 2011, “Continuing cooperation with Pakistan is critical to keep a tremendous amount of pressure on Al Qaeda networks that provide it support and safe havens.” On September 14, 2011, after becoming the US Defense Secretary, Panetta warned that the US would retaliate against militants based in Pakistan, accusing of attack in the Afghan capital on September 13.” When the well-coordinated attacks in Afghanistan occurred on April 15, 2012, Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey did not blame Islamabad, disclosing that Haqqani militants involved in the attacks—exist on both sides of Pak-Afghan border. But on May 7, Panetta stated that the US would continue drone strikes against militant sanctuaries in Pakistan, even if Islamabad keeps opposing them.
On the other side, the Pentagon also issued a statement on April 16, accusing that the simultaneous assaults in Afghanistan were carried out by Haqqani terrorists who operate from Pakistan. On April 19, US ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker allegedly revealed that these high-profile attacks were planned in Pakistan by Haqqani group.
Besides, the US has been encouraging Qatar-based US talks with the Taliban militants; while it is secretary discouraging Pak peace dialogue with the militants. This shows American wavering policy.
Since 9/11, US has been playing double game with Pakistan, sometimes praising Pak Army for successful military operations, sometimes ISI for capturing renowned Al Qaeda commanders, sometimes cajoling Islamabad with economic and military aid, sometimes, admitting that stability cannot be achieved in Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014, sometimes, threatening Islamabad to abandon the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, and sometimes, realising that US wants to improve its relationship with Pakistan. While at the same time, in connivance with India and Israel, America has been continuing its anti-Pakistan activities by supporting militancy in Pakistan and especially separatism in its largest province of Balochistan in wake of drone attacks on Pak tribal areas.
While concealing their misadveture in Afghanistan and acting upon faulty policies towards Islamabad, US high officials have always blamed Pakistan regarding cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan, On the other side, American CIA, Indian secret agency RAW and Israeli Mossad are sending well-trained militants from Afghanistan, who not only commit various subversive acts in Pakistan on daily basis, but also target the check posts of army.
Notably, in the aftermath of the November 26 incident in Mohmand Agency, Pakistan’s bold steps such as vacation of the Shamsi Airbase, boycott of the second Bonn Conference and rejection of the US investigation report regarding the deliberate attack on Salala Army outposts accelerated tension between Islamabad and Washington. Now aims behind US blame game is to pressurise Islamabad for restoration of the NATO transit routes across Pakistan.
In this regard, on May 13, ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen and Afghan Gen. Muhammad Karimi attended a Tripartite Commission’s meeting in Rawalpindi for re-opening of the NATO transit routes across Pakistan. Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani reiterated that parliament furnished its recommendations and civil government would decide on the issue of NATO supply.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar indicated on May 14 that Pakistan needs to end the blockade on NATO supplies to attend a NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21. She elaborated that Pakistan needs to go ahead and try to improve relations with US in order to avoid isolation by the international community. On the same day, Prime Ministe Gilani pointed out that relations with NATO were significant as the organisation comprised 48 countries. He further said that the issue of NATO supply line and relations with the US would be resolved in light of parliamentary recommendations. In this context, the country’ top civilian and military leadership also met, and left it to the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, scheduled to meet on May 15 to take a decision regarding the restoration of NATO supply. Sources suggest that that Pakistan will re-open the NATO supply routes.
Nevertheless, if we observe the controversial statements of American military and civil officials, we can conclude that US elusive policy continues towards Pakistan.