Growing uncertainties in Afghanistan-Pakistan
by Ramtanu Maitra on 19 Dec 2011 9 Comments

The gruesome killing by NATO helicopters of at least 24 Pakistani soldiers at their outposts close to the Afghan border and on Pakistani soil on Nov.26 has worsened not only US-Pakistan relations, but added further to the uncertainties in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This major incident of Nov.26 is an unique incident, but it is not the only incident that has brought these uncertainties to the fore.

Uncertainties in Pakistan – one may also call it the destabilization of Pakistan – became highly visible following the killing of the Yemeni-Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden in early May in Abbottabad, home of the Pakistani Military Academy (PMA), widely identified as the West Point of Pakistan.

Cloud around Osama killing

It is not clear how important Osama was at the time of his annihilation, but he was a high profile individual and an icon of the jihadis. He remained so because the Americans kept braying for his blood for almost two decades. Do not forget what the US President George W. Bush said in 2001 at the time he launched the invasion of Afghanistan – that he wanted Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, alive or dead.

Ten years later, another US president, who had campaigned against his predecessor’s Afghanistan policy, could not conceal his childlike joy killing the person President Bush wanted to kill. That indicates that Osama was a high ticket item. His killing was a symbol of success for the beleaguered Americans lost in the barren wilderness of Afghan reality.

But the killing of Osama involved a series of compromises between Washington, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. A recent article by a wheeler-dealer and the Wall Street investment banker, Mansoor Ijaz, who works closely with the CIA and MI6 under the protective shade of the City of London and Wall Street, told Newsweek magazine: “They (recently-fired Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, former “good friend” of Ijaz and a person with a long and shady past quite similar to that of Ijaz; and President Asif Ali Zardari: ed.) may have even given advance consent after CIA operations on the ground in Pakistan pinpointed the Saudi fugitive’s location. The unilateral US action, they might have surmised, would result in a nation blaming its armed forces and intelligence services for culpability in harboring bin Laden for so many years.”

According to Ijaz, following the Osama killing, Zardari and Haqqani planned to use the Pakistani public’s hue and cry to force the resignations of Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and intelligence chief Gen. Shuja Pasha and appoint pliable replacements. “If it all went wrong, the Pakistanis could unite in their hatred of America for violating their nation’s sovereignty, with Zardari leading the chorus aimed at Washington. If it went to plan, the long-sought aim of putting civilians (i.e., Zardari & co.) in charge of the army would be complete,” Ijaz wrote.

There is no reason to believe even for a second that Ijaz is committed to telling truth. Ijaz says what his controllers tell him to say. At this point in time, his controllers want to trash both Haqqani and Zardari. He did that assiduously. He did not trash the Pakistani Military and the ISI, not because he has any respect for them, but because his controllers wanted it that way.

Mansoor Ijaz sets the table on someone else’s behalf

No matter what Ijaz says, and Newsweek chooses to publish, the fact remains that the Osama killing operation was a planned joint operation between Washington, Islamabad and Rawalpindi and it compromised all three in the process. Washington, however, does not feel compromised, because it has long been established here in Washington by the “academics”, “experts” and “policymakers” that nothing that comes out of Pakistan has a shred of truth. No one in Pakistan ever tells the truth, they say. So, who cares what the Pakistanis claim?

But the reality is that it was a joint operation and the “secret” has been kept well hidden so far. Ijaz let out a bit of it. But his credibility is low. Presidents and generals do not pay any attention to what Ijaz says. They, however, know that Ijaz knows.

Let us consider for a moment that Washington, Islamabad and Rawalpindi are all telling nothing but the whole truth. That means, the Americans took four helicopters into the belly of the beast and killed Osama and came out with nobody knowing about it. That was the plan and everyone in the White House, and the hangers-on, believed that the operation was carried out with a kind of precision that only the Americans are capable of carrying out. They threw in the superhuman capabilities of Navy seal personnel to strengthen common people’s belief. They really do not care that the stated operation made the Pakistani military look dumb, inept and wholly inadequate.

But, consider this “story” in its fullness. What if the “story” had a different ending? Four unidentified helicopters travelling 120 miles or so from the Afghan borders, flying in at around midnight at a very low altitude to avoid Pakistan's radar detection, heading towards the Pakistan Military Academy ( PMA), which is widely considered Pakistan’s military training center of highest importance, were detected by the Pakistani military at any given point on the long route.

What could happen then? Remember, Pakistan faces serious security threats and has a large presence along the Afghan borders. Once detected, these helicopters would have been intercepted by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) with their Tomcats (F-14s) and F-16s. They would decimate them and kill a load of America’s prized fighters, the Navy seal personnel.

What would happen then? What explanation would the then-saddened President Obama offer to Americans?

Could he say that these helicopters were not heading to attack the PMA, but were sent to kill America's number one terrorist-enemy, Osama bin Laden, and, Pakistan, America’s allies for 60 odd years, not only harbored Osama all these years, it went to the length of killing the prized fighters to protect him? Could he say that? What else could he say?

Now, what would follow in a country which considers that 9/11 was the worst that could happen to any country? What would be the reaction on Capitol Hill? And on the streets of the megacities of the United States? What level of blood-thirsty braying would emanate from Washington’s well-padded neo-cons, neo-libs or neo-whoevers at that point in time?

Wouldn't US be forced to identify Pakistan no longer as an ally, but as an arch enemy? What would happen to the Afghan situation where the Americans and Europeans are trying to get the ducks on a row so they can shoot them down? In fact, a situation like that could spin out of control and end in declaring war against Pakistan. There was no indication whatsoever that the United States was preparing itself for such an eventuality.

Now, as a result of the compromised position of the Pakistani military on the Osama-killing episode, Washington has got the Pakistani military by the proverbial short hair. If Rawalpindi talks of retaliatory actions against the NATO killing of at least 24 Pakistani soldiers, Washington could let the cat out of the bag. Or, at least threaten the Pakistani military that the US may spill the beans in due course. What would happen to the Pakistani military, then?

They will have to look hard and long to find any friend inside Pakistan and to their chagrin would discover instead millions of enemies, many of whom armed to the teeth and ready to take “revenge”" Suicide belts with RDX stuffed in them could be found being sold in every street corner and bazaar of Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad. That is surely not a pleasant thought for the strongmen of Rawalpindi.

But Ijaz has been deployed to do something else. One chore was to “get Haqqani”. That was achieved when Ijaz, goaded likely by the MI6, got an article published in the London Financial Times exposing Haqqani’s role in the episode known as “memogate.” That not only removed Haqqani from Washington, but got him back in Pakistan where is awaiting a judicial enquiry and is now possibly without a passport. Haqqani was Pakistani military’s target because he was perhaps the only Pakistani Ambassador to Washington who was openly anti-military. Moreover, to the deep dismay of Rawalpindi, Haqqani issued hundreds of tourist visas to the CIA and JSOC personnel who now roam Pakistan gathering information, if not doing things which are even more damaging to Rawalpindi.

The emergence of a Pushtun in Pakistani politics

The Newsweek article was to get Zardari. Memogate could not quite nail President Zardari, but the “information” that he was in cahoots with the Americans on the Osama killing would get his goat. Sitting on the sidelines is the MI6-directed former Pakistani cricket captain, Imran Khan. After years of wandering around, using his name recognition, Imran, heading a notional political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), did not get anywhere during his decade-long political career. But in recent days, Rawalpindi has taken note of him. Pakistan military, aware of Washington’s allergic reaction to the Saudi-backed former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has lent its shoulder to support Imran Khan, a Pushtun who lives in Pakistan’s Pushtun-majority Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

Imran is now trotted around as prime minister-in-waiting. Pakistan Defence website reported on October 30 the “historic” rally of Imran Khan in Lahore, the power center of Nawaz Sharif and his henchmen. The website said: “Today Imran Khan showed his power in Lahore. According to experts, the website said, at least 500,000 people were needed to fill Minar-e-Pakistan Jalsa/procession and the ground was full with Imran Khan supporters.”

While without any member representing his party in Pakistan’s National Assembly, Imran Khan showed his power in Lahore and he was surely addressing 500,000-plus supporters in Minar-e-Pakistan. “One thing is sure, these people hate PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) and want change,” Pakistan Defence said.

Would ushering in Imran bring about a change? Surely, not. Imran Khan, a Cambridge graduate with properties in London, is a handmaiden of British intelligence. He married, and subsequently divorced, Jemima Goldsmith, youngest daughter of the now-deceased Sir James Goldsmith, a half-Jewish, half-catholic, Anglo-French banker and billionaire. James Goldsmith was a British empire-man for whom former British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher had unmixed praise. According to a BBC report, upon his death, Thatcher said: “Jimmy Goldsmith was one of the most powerful and dynamic personalities that this generation has seen. He was enormously generous, and fiercely loyal to the causes he espoused.”

Now that Imran is making the waves, Jemima is back, providing Imran with company, perhaps at the behest of MI6. Her presence has not gone unnoticed. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, widely recognized as one of the founders of the Afghan Taliban and who has served MI6 well for years, was unable to contain himself and lashed out at the un-Islamic ‘walking together’ by Imran with his divorced wife Jemima who joined Imran in Islamabad in his campaign against drone attacks in the Tribal Areas. Rehman said, “Islam forbids mixing with one's divorcee wife; and it seems as if Imran Khan's future is still linked to Jemima Khan” [Quoted in daily Jinnah, 29 Oct 2011].

In other words, Rawalpindi is opting for yet another political leader whose past shows clearly that he was never his own man. One may claim that its best ally, the United States, left Rawalpindi with little choice, and hence, it is opting once more for further uncertainties.

The author is South Asian Analyst at Executive Intelligence Review
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