America’s Pakistan Problem Rooted in US Policies

America’s problem in the AfPak region is its willingness to go along with Pakistan and to ignore Pakistan’s terrorism enterprise, says Policy Research Group (POREG), an independent think-tank in a new study.

The concerns Washington is voicing over Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) role in orchestrating terrorism in the region are not new, the study opines. “New Delhi has been highlighting these very concerns for over two decades. It has been telling that American military aid is diverted to target India. Now the American media is repeating the same charges and it’s, therefore, time for DejA vu in India”.

‘Every time India took its concerns to the US, the State Department, Pentagon and the CIA just cold shouldered the interlocutors and debunked the evidence as not actionable’, Poreg report titled ‘Course correction for AfPak policy’ recalls.

In a role reversal, today Pakistan is debunking Indian dossiers on suspects of Mumbai’s 11/26 terror mayhem. It is asking India to give evidence that stands judicial scrutiny to arrest Hafeez Saeed, the terrorist mastermind who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

Rehman Malik, the Pakistan Minister for the Interior, says India has provided leads and no hard evidence for court case”.

But P Chidambaram, the Harvard educated Indian Minister for the Interior, asserts that leads on Hafiz Saeed ‘amount to evidence’.

‘Hafiz Saeed did not come to India. The evidence is on Pakistan soil, he points out.

“In his confessions, Kasab (the lone terrorist captured on 11/26), said Hafiz Saeed asked a man to set up 10 targets and asked each one of them to hit the targets and he was given target No 4 and he hit target No 4 and Hafiz Saeed personally complimented him on his accurate firing; that is a lead bordering on evidence which has to be substantiated by locating the place where the target practice took place, by talking to the people involved, by investigation. If these are confirmed, it is hard evidence’.

Poreg study refers to a ‘glaring’ dichotomy in America hailing Pakistan as a frontline ally in the fight against terrorism.

‘On the one hand the US accuses Pakistan of diverting its military aid to target India and of treating the Taliban and Mullah Omar as valuable assets. On the other hand, US expects Islamabad to deliver on its post-9/11 pledge to smoke out the Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives. Unless Washington addresses these contradictions, AfPak policy will not deliver results’, according to Poreg.

‘Instead of a lament in the media, the US should take up the issue directly with Islamabad and deliver a blunt message’.

Significantly, the New York Times reported (September 24) that the Taliban leaders backed by the powerful ISI, are ‘using their bases in Pakistan to carry out a wave of attacks in the once relatively placid parts of Afghanistan’. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top military commander in Afghanistan, is also making the same charge.

Poreg experts brush aside US worries over the threat posed by the ‘Taliban Shura’ (leadership council) based in Quetta in Baluchistan. The ISI with the knowledge of CIA relocated the Shura in Quetta after the Taliban lost Kabul in 2001. US drones operate from the very same region.

“AfPak policy problems”, Poreg concludes, “are with Washington. It is lending an ear to Islamabad for a dialogue with ‘good Taliban’ with the hope that there could be some good apples in a basket of rotten apples. At least now, the Obama administration should face the question: does the Pakistan army actually need toys like Harpoon anti-ship missiles and the P-3C aircraft to fight the Taliban?”