The Government of Balochistan in Exile

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pakistan, a Paradox for the U.S.: How Can 'Ally' Harbor OBL, Threaten Afghans?

REPUBLISHED:


SANTA MONICA, California, USA -- The Taliban's attacks on southern Afghanistan grow more brazen by the day. Their former stronghold of Kandahar is now convulsing with violence. More than 500 deaths have been reported in the past two weeks alone, marking the deadliest violence since the regime's 2001 ouster.

U.S. officials acknowledge the Taliban has grown in "strength and influence" in recent weeks. What they don't acknowledge, at least not publicly, is that our "ally" Pakistan is feeding the insurgency.

It's now an open secret that Pakistan is trying to destabilize the pro-U.S. government we helped set up in Afghanistan after 9-11. Pakistan's military, which views Kabul's warmer relations with India as a threat, is supporting Taliban attacks on Afghan and coalition forces.

The attacks are being staged from the northern Pakistani city of Quetta — the Taliban's new "headquarters" — where Pakistani officials are accused of recruiting, training and arming Taliban fighters.

There is evidence that Pakistan has supplied them with detonators for the improvised explosive devices used to blow up convoys, and batteries for shoulder-fired Stinger missiles used to shoot down aircraft.

Islamabad denies helping or even harboring the Taliban. But Afghanistan's president has provided Islamabad with a list of high-value Taliban targets — including the addresses of their villas in Quetta. Meanwhile, the U.S. military has linked enemy supply lines back to Quetta. And a British commander on the ground in Afghanistan has publicly complained about Pakistan.

The White House and State Department know this. But they're trying to keep the mess behind closed doors. Privately, they've expressed anger with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for not delivering on his end of the bargain. After 9-11, he agreed to cut all ties with the Taliban in exchange for billions in aid.

That's why President Bush flew to Pakistan recently. He jawboned Musharraf about not cracking down on Taliban strongholds and about not doing more to hunt down Osama bin Laden and his deputy, who have been able to deliver tape-recorded threats unmolested to Pakistan-based journalists.


Five Years Of Nothing

After Bush's trip, U.S. Central Command Gen. John Abizaid paid a visit to Musharraf to complain about Taliban incursions in Afghanistan.

Then it was the State Department's turn. Henry Crumpton, the U.S. ambassador in charge of counterterrorism, told Islamabad that it was not doing enough to flush out Taliban and al-Qaida leaders from its territory.

We're running out of officials to send to hold Musharraf's hand. But the White House insists on sticking to a policy of "public support and private pressure" so as not to destabilize Musharraf's regime. It assumes Musharraf wants to help us, but cannot look too eager in the eyes of his Muslim masses.

So we'll just have to be patient — shhh! he is helping us quietly. In fact, he's barely helping at all.

Since we partnered with Pakistan almost five years ago, it hasn't turned over a single high-ranking Taliban commander; Mullah Omar himself is believed to be living in the Quetta area. Nor has it turned over a single member of bin Laden's inner circle, known to be hiding in the northern tribal area above Peshawar. And of the midranking al-Qaida lieutenants it's captured, all were driven by leads from U.S. intelligence, not Pakistani intelligence. In other words, we forced their hand in each case. And Musharraf still refuses to turn over some of them to us for interrogation.

It's widely suspected in the U.S. intelligence community that Musharraf is playing us, using the prospect of capturing our high-value terrorist targets as leverage to milk us for more aid and permanently lifted sanctions. He has little intention of actively hunting down bin Laden and our other enemies.

Listen to his own words: "If we get intelligence (on them), we will do it ourselves."

If we get intelligence? That's hardly the attitude of an active war partner, or one who shares our sense of urgency.

And asked whether Pakistan would turn bin Laden over to the U.S. if he were found in Pakistan, Musharraf said he would "have to see what happens." Huh? "We hope he's found in Afghanistan by the Americans," he said, adding, "I would prefer that somebody else handled him."

How reassuring. Yet Musharraf won't even authorize U.S. troops to enter his country to "handle" the situation he prefers not to handle. And we've agreed to the ban, because he's convinced us that if he does let our troops cross the border, all hell will break loose among the really crazy Muslims he supposedly can't control in his population. Which means we could lose the only friend we have in Pakistan — Musharraf.

Only, there were no mass revolts after we recently fired missiles at al-Qaida targets in a Pakistani village, which ended up also killing civilians. There were no attempts on Musharraf's life. Nor did the Islamic masses rise up in 2001 when we flew sorties from Pakistani air bases to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

The notion of the Musharraf regime teetering on the brink of anarchy just doesn't fit with reality.

No candidate in recent Parliamentary elections — including Islamic extremists — got more than 11% of the vote. That's hardly a threat to a military strongman like Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup and, if threatened, would not hesitate to put down a countercoup.

Even if he fails, the Pentagon has plans on the books to secure Pakistan's relatively small stockpile of nuclear bombs in the event of such a coup. And Musharraf himself has not exactly been a good custodian of that nuclear capability. Pakistan under his regime has been the world's worst proliferator of nukes. His nuclear scientists — who are under Musharraf's military control — have shared nuclear technology with other Muslim nations like Iran and Libya (and possibly Saudi), as well as North Korea. They also met with bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders in Kandahar before 9-11.

So what should we do about Pakistan?

The White House is no doubt in a political bind, because it's publicly praised the unholy alliance with Pakistan. So it'll have to continue to pressure Musharraf behind the scenes.

No F-16s

But now, with the threat of losing Afghanistan, it must finally play hardball by delivering him an ultimatum: Either get control of your military and stop its support of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, or we'll have no choice but to defend our forces and interests by striking back against their strongholds in Quetta and other tribal regions.

We could agree to describe such military action (for the benefit of the Pakistani press) as "joint operations" with Pakistani forces, and not unilateral operations. Entering the tribal region would at the same time give us the opening to also put boots on the ground in the area around Peshawar to smoke out bin Laden and his deputies.

If Musharraf balks, the White House can simply threaten to yank back carrots, one by one, until he gives in to our demands. No delivery of the promised F-16s and other military gear. Suspension of direct economic aid. Reinstatement of sanctions. Cancellation of loans from the Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corp.

Yes, visible cracks in the Pakistan alliance would be a political setback for Bush, who has sung its praises. But a worse setback would be having to refight the Afghan war, thanks to the Pakistani military attacking our troops by proxy. Imagine daily casualties reported on the nightly news alongside those in Iraq. Even now, the secure area of Kabul has shrunk to a tiny island in the middle of the capital, not much larger than the Green Zone in Baghdad.

On the other hand, imagine the political victory of finally capturing bin Laden and his deputies, in addition to Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders. Bush's poll numbers — and GOP fortunes — would rebound overnight.


Ron Sperry
Former Washington bureau chief of Investor's Business Daily, is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington."
http://www.investors.com/editorial/IBDArticles.asp?artsec=20&artnum=4&issue=20060530

6 Comments:

  • Brother Baloch,

    Simply put, Muharraf is milkiing the US. He'd also use OBL as a ruse to stay-on in power in 2007 for another 5 years.

    The US is stupid to give him millions in aid for fighting terrorism and let the money be actually going to Taliban who in turn are fighting the US army in Afghanistan. Good faith in Pakistan is a bad faith.

    It's the turn of the Congressmen to turn the heat on US administration to stop money supply (weapons supply to Taliban in effect) to Pakistan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, June 15, 2006  

  • Dear Friend of the Baloch,

    I totally agree with your assessment that the U.S. must end all aid to Pakistan immediately.

    Please read my response to an American blogger who thinks that supporting the military dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf is a good idea:

    The Next Hurrah


    Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
    General Secretary
    The Government of Balochistan in Exile

    By Blogger Govt. of Balochistan, at Thursday, June 15, 2006  

  • Brother Baloch,

    Your reply (Next Hurrah) should not languish in the oscure coreners of the NET. Some paras of the response is mind-blowing.

    Pl publish that in this site and/or send the details of the post as a letter to the Congressmen and Senartors in th US.

    You're right AQ Khan is an employee under MOD, not an independent person.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, June 15, 2006  

  • QUOTE OF THE DAY : GOI should discuss with BALOCH REPS
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    It has been reported that the Baloch freedom-fighters are disappointed that after its initial expression of concern over the military operations against the freedom-fighters, the Government of India has not come out with any other statement on the continuing suppression of the Balochs by the Pakistani military establishment. The freedom-fighters have been closely following the reports of the discussions involving India, Pakistan and Iran on the construction of an Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. They are determined not to allow this pipeline or any pipeline from Turkmenistan to pass through their territory unless they are also involved in the talks on the subject and part of the transit fee is paid to them. Similarly, they are determined to oppose any pipeline to Xinjiang. The Government of India should at least have discussions with the overseas representatives of the Baloch freedom-fighters on this subject in order to find out their thinking. -- B RAMAN

    http://saag.org/papers19/paper1849.html

    By Blogger Naxal Watch, at Saturday, June 17, 2006  

  • Dear friend of the Baloch,

    Thank you for your conviction in GOB (Exile) for its response to the post on Next Hurrah. Your idea to send details of the post to the policy makers in the US is sound and we may do so in the near future.

    Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
    General Secretary
    The Government of Balochistan in Exile

    By Blogger Govt. of Balochistan, at Saturday, June 17, 2006  

  • Dear B. Raman,

    Thank you for your comment. I read your very informative article, Fresh Air Strikes in Balochistan published on the website of South Asia Analysis Group. On behalf of the Baloch nation, I would like to thank you for your continued coverage of the Baloch cause.

    We do wish for more support for the Baloch freedom-fighters and GOB (Exile) from Afghanistan, India, Israel, and the United States. But, to date, besides the informal meetings with policy makers of these countries, we have yet to enter into official discussions about the crisis in Balochistan.

    GOB (Exile) is focused on exploring ways and means to liberate Balochistan from the occupying forces of Iran and Pakistan. The ethnic Baloch are an oppressed people, and we are determined to struggle for our freedom from being enslaved by the Iranians and Pakistanis.


    Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
    General Secretary
    The Government of Balochistan in Exile

    By Blogger Govt. of Balochistan, at Saturday, June 17, 2006  

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