By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
American Defense Minister Robert Gates was found generous during his recent visit to Pakistan. He assured Pakistani leadership that America has decided to give Drones to Pakistan. The most important point of this visit was American intensions of establishing long-term relationship with Pakistan this time and not to leave Pakistan isolated in future. America also announced to give 1.7 Billion $ aid to Pakistan Army. US also offered civil and military training to Pakistani institutions.
Previously Kerry Lugar Bill had divided Pakistani leadership and caused lack of interest from Pakistani Military for NRO, which brought crises for civil government. However, this time no one objected this new wave of American generosity. Isn’t it strange again?
But this time what will be the cost of American generosity which the Pakistani nation will have to pay. Certainly, the government will declare this American generosity as a success of their foreign policy. Actually, it is the requirement of new American strategy. The question is that what are the necessities of American interests that forced America to be so generous again for Pakistan.
American expectations from the war on terror were not fulfilled in the past eight years. The way US called Pakistani President Musharaf after 9/11 was not diplomatic. It could irritate Pakistan Army but this American strategy was nicely handled and Pakistan became part of war on terror. US was of the opinion that Pakistani Army will not be able to control the terrorists inside Pakistan. Because religious circles and terrorist with American hidden support were powerful and public opinion was totally dominated by them that it looked impossible for Pakistani army to be successful against the Taliban. Pakistan army badly suffered in the beginning.
But Pakistan People’s Party, accompanied by unconditional support of Awami National Party, was successful in turning public opinion against terrorists. Tribal also support Pakistan army. This encouraged army to eradicate militancy. It gave a new message to the world that if a weaker country can curb terrorists so why America in Afghanistan is unsuccessful. This success of Pakistan army socked the American power circles. It was felt that Pakistan with the help of regional nations may successfully eliminate terrorists from the whole region. America which rebuked Pakistan for peace agreements with Taliban now all of a sudden gave a new shape to its war on terror. It was called Obama new policy.
This time American policy did not divide Pakistani leadership but People’s Party government will soon be its victim. In Afghanistan as soon as a new rubber stamp is found, acceptable to Taliban too, Hamid Karzai will no more be needed. American assets “Taliban” can only be saved if Pakistan Army again takes the responsibility. Up till now Pakistan army has not decided. Bannu dual suicide attacks are pressure tactics for it. America is fully concentrated on finding soft corners in Pakistani army. It can help America to save Taliban from the wrath of politicians and public. That’s why the dream of long term relationship is set to catch the attention of Pakistan Army.
But this policy is only for transitional period. To keep Pakistani leadership in control America will fully support judicial activism. At present NRO and loan defaulter issues are in use to harass political leadership. First victim will be Pakistan People’s party. Today’s President Zardari may be “Captive Zardari” in future. Some ‘uncles’ of Bilawal Bhutto are also ready to play their roles. Not only People’s party but rather every popular politician will be targeted. Previously Pakistani anchors were of the opinion that President Musharaf is unpopular that’s why America is hesitating to support him. Now what about Zardari? Is he popular in media? If anchors’ logic is used so it means Zardari is no more needed? And even government’s lawyer at one occasion said in the Supreme Court that ISI and CIA are threat to government.
If this government is overthrown, next a weak, dull and second rank political leadership will emerge in the disguise of strong political stature and American support. That will be a puppet in the hands of army and judiciary. On one side there will be miracles of Judicial Activism and on the other side Pakistan army, taking on both secular and fundamentalist forces inside army, will be able to save itself from the recent American tactics. In the absence of strong political leaders America will be shifting its weight from Judiciary to Army and vice versa, to keep both these powers in control. This scenario suits American interests in the region.
Now question is that how the regional players as well as Pakistani popular leadership should plan to tackle this new strategy of America. Pakistan army is hesitating to oppose American new strategy in Afghanistan. But army has also contributed in creating Anti Taliban sentiments. Side by side America is misleading Pakistan army by glamorizing Indian threat. India has understood this new American policy that’s why all of a sudden India opted for negotiations with Pakistan.
American reconciliation policy in Afghanistan will generate new problems for Afghanis and regional countries as poor Afghanis will now join Taliban, hoping it will lessen their burden by getting jobs and facilities. So reconciliation strategy may be more costly than previous policy.
Pakistan army must continue its internal policy of curbing Talibanization it will help Pakistan to handle India in future talks. India, once satisfied from this policy, will shift its weight to regional powers. Pakistan People’s Party instead of confrontation must continue its reconciliation policy. The other option for them is to sit in protest on opposition benches and face charges in courts. In this way they can keep the party united and active.
On regional level again the neighboring counties of Afghanistan should own this new policy of America. Pakistan army desperately searching for new role can be taken into confidence by regional powers. Afghan Taliban can only be neutralized through Pakistan Army. But this time powers like Russia and India must not doubt Pakistan army. Regional powers now have extra money and if they will use this money to neutralize Pakistan army in Afghanistan, it will create more havoc. Only regional support can bring Pakistan out of American influence. Other wise these powers will just pass resolutions of condemnation.
Regional powers must analyze their previous 30 years policies. Were they able to influence Mujahideen? Are they able to disclose the myth of Al-Qaeda? Were they able to stop America to creep into Middle East? Iraq and Afghan wars in their neighborhood are practical examples of their failure.