In The Afghanistan Strategy we discussed one problem with the administration plan, namely reliance on more money being a precursor to Pakistani operations against the Taliban. Some powerful people in Pakistan don’t really believe that the Taliban are a threat to Pakistan’s stability, and still believe in using them as a counterbalance to what they see as the real threat: India.
This obsession is so severe, so embedded, and so thoroughgoing that the U.S. policy makers do not understand it and have not yet adequately incorporated this characteristic of Pakistani culture and politics into the calculus for moving forward with stability in Asia.
Case in point. The PakTribune recently carried a stunning commentary on the relationships of the various intelligence forces involved in Pakistan. It is simply so breathtakingly incredible that it bears at least partial reproduction below.
It is now getting clear as to why FATA has been declared most dangerous place on earth. After making series of allegations that FATA is the main breeding ground where militants and suicide bombers are trained for launching into Afghanistan; where the entire senior leadership of Al-Qaeda and Taliban is housed; and from where possible attack on US homeland would take off, so far not a single training camp has been located in FATA, nor any high-profile militant leader nabbed or killed. This is in spite of continuous hovering of spy planes and next door US-NATO troops equipped with latest state-of-the-art surveillance and detection gadgets breathing over Pakistan’s neck, and RAW-CIA-Mossad agents having infiltrated into FATA in big numbers. If CIA controlled drones can hit suspected houses, madrassas and Hujras based on intelligence, why have they been unable to detect so-called training sites and the top wanted leaders? Why have the drones not taken a pot shot at Baitullah Mehsud or Maulana Fazlullah if the US considers Pakistani Taliban a threat?
The fact is that whatever has been said about FATA is pack of white lies uttered with sinister designs. All sorts of harrowing stories were cooked up to justify drone attacks as well as ground raids in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt. Blatant lies are similar to the WMD falsehood to justify invasion of Iraq. Why not Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan or for that matter India which has become the hub-centre of extremism and terrorism been added to the list of most dangerous places?
Stop here. In order to get the full force of the cultural obsession with India in this commentary, let’s rehearse a bit. The RAW (Research & Analysis Wing, India’s intelligence services), the CIA and the Mossad are said to be in cahoots with each other. Literally, the intelligence services of the U.S., India and Israel are claimed to be working together in Pakistan! Israel doesn’t have its hands full with Hamas and Hezbollah, and even has the time to involve their assets in Pakistan. Why would something like this come to pass? Keep reading.
Other than the militants, which the US is keen to eliminate, Pakistan army and the ISI also continue to remain in CIA’s firing line. CIA is deliberately leaking out stories in US leading newspapers while CNN, Fox News drum beats scandalous news on electronic media to malign the two institutions. The allegations made against the two institutions range from collaboration with the Taliban and playing a double game. The themes played are: One, the army is either incapable of dealing with militants or is soft towards them; Two, the army has surrendered FATA and Swat to the Taliban; Three, the army uses the Taliban as a weapon to regain strategic depth in Afghanistan; Four, the army is not under civil government control; Five, the ISI trains, equips and launches militants into Pakistan to hit Afghan-Nato targets.
Well, this is a fairly comprehensive and accurate list of the problems endemic to the Pakistani military. A hit dog always yelps, as the saying goes. Continuing:
The CIA and ISI have always enjoyed cordial relations. The Afghan war against the Soviets brought the two very close to each other. This closeness got reinvigorated when Pakistan volunteered to become the frontline state against war on terror. The two sailed along smoothly till as late as 2007 after which there was a sudden shift in CIA’s attitude. This change in attitude occurred after ISI learnt about CIA playing a double game in FATA and Baluchistan by providing all out assistance to RAW to destabilize the marked regions. When ISI became cautious and started to take protective measures, it irked CIA and started to distance itself. CIA’s relations with Pak army and the ISI became strained when the army-ISI outspread details of drug trade in Afghanistan in which CIA, RAW and Mossad were deeply involved … It transpired that CIA assisted by India was sponsoring multi-billon dollar Afghan drug trade. The duo banks on $3 trillion worth of drug money each year, generated through heroin production and its subsequent sale across the world. Drug money is used by CIA for carrying out covert operations in the world. RAW utilizes drug money for running tens of training camps, for recruiting and equipping agents and suicide bombers and funding dissident elements within Pakistan.
The scenario has now become rather twisted. The CIA-RAW-Mossad coalition is supposedly involved in the drug trade in order to raise money for international operations. That the very source of income would be in jeopardy if the destabilization occurred from CIA operations doesn’t matter. The fact that the CIA would be involved in something (i.e., funding the Taliban with drug money) that ran contrary to the objectives of the Army and Marines in Afghanistan doesn’t matter. Consistency, according to this author, must be the hobgoblin of little minds.
We needn’t go any further with this commentary. No doubt this author has his sources inside the Pakistan Army. And no doubt these sources also believe their fantasies, at least to some degree. The sad part is that Talibanization of the NWFP, FATA, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad continue unabated while the Army concocts elaborate schemes and fairly tales to convince themselves that they have an evil neighbor. In fact, they do. They just happen to fear the wrong one. Until we understand this aspect of Pakistani politics, we are operating from an impoverished perspective.