With both Admiral Mullen and Secretary of Defense Panetta upbraiding Pakistan, particularly the ISI for its ‘’veritable arm’’ the Haqqani Network, the relations between the two countries have plunged into a state of decline.
While Americans suggest scourges for Pakistan’s perfidy with Congressman Ted Poe introducing the “Pakistan Accountability Act” and Senator Lindsey Graham calling for ‘all options’ to be considered for the ‘deceitful country’ (and clearly, what one extracts from his statements by reading between the lines is that he desires for an attack on Pakistan) – the Pakistani Government and Army have been unapologetic and dismissive of the accusations.
Reminding the world that Haqqani was once the blue-eyed boy of the US, as is the case with most of the fighters in Afghanistan of the Soviet War that the US had ’abandoned’ and left to and for the use of Pakistan’s Establishment.
(USA hasn’t placed the Haqqani Network under the list of terrorist organizations)
The entire situation seems precarious and what it holds and will evince at the end is left to speculations that can only be made on the basis of facts; the most significant of which is that both the United States and Pakistan are, as of yet, mutually dependent upon each other. Albeit, not equally.
Both have a set of choices to select from.
If Pakistan refuses to shun its links with the Haqqani Network as part of its Strategic Depth Policy (that seeks to ensure an Afghanistan with a Pro-Pakistan Government for various reasons that are part of an entirely new subject) or if US-Pak relations further degenerate in the future – America can:
1. Reduce or cut the aid it channels to it.
2. Increase drone attacks.
3. With the All-American raid in Abbottabad for Osama, the potentiality of other unilateral strikes and actions inside Pakistan can not be ruled out.
4. Economically assail; The United States has become Pakistan’s largest trading partner (To reward Pakistan for being an ally?) and can reduce this position by closing its markets for Pakistani goods.
5. Expand and apply other pressure tactics.
In case of Option.3 being carried out, one might predict that a decisive decision will be taken by Pakistan which may be a turning-point for the entire relation.
Why may that be, the reasons being that the Pakistani Army and Intelligence came under great censure after the May Raid, losing credibility in the eyes of many. A newspaper editor aptly remarked that what they hadn’t faced in the past 64 years (due to their ‘Holy Cow‘ status‘), the faced after that single raid.
Thus it is derived that they can not afford to come under that fire once again, it would be a great blow to their institution and all that it claims to stand for.
Secondly, the current climate of Anti-Americanism (that has bloated since the country joined the ‘War On Terror’ which many believe is solely ‘America’s war’ and blame for their country’s national, economic and political nosedive that occured after Pakistan’s engagement in the WoT) brimming with bellicosity in the wake of the charges hurled will force those in power in Pakistan to either retaliate or finish all connections with the ‘Great Satan’.
In face of which, USA might impose sanctions on Pakistan.
Coming back, Pakistan’s position presently and the factors that can determine its course of action lest the USA takes an unfavourable step, are excellently described and elucidated by Ex-CIA Officer Bruce Riedel in his new article :
‘Reality is less important than image in this war. The Army leadership also feels it can weather any blowback from Washington. The generals assume U.S. military aid will be cut or eliminated by Congress sooner rather than later, and they are confident that the Saudis and Chinese will fill the gap.
They also know NATO’s logistical supply line to Kabul runs through Karachi (more than half of everything NATO eats, drinks, and shoots arrives via Karachi despite intense efforts to find alternatives). They have leverage and they know it. And of course, they have the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world with a developing tactical nuclear capability. They feel they hold a lot of aces, maybe more than they should. Cocky poker players are dangerous.’
The importance of the NATO Supply Route that runs through Pakistan can be gauged from this:
“Shifting supply lines elsewhere would substantially increase the cost of the war and make the United States more dependent on authoritarian countries in Central Asia,” reports Craig Whitlock for the Washington Post.
“With landlocked Afghanistan lacking seaports, and hostile Iran blocking access from the west, Pentagon logisticians have limited alternatives.” While Pakistan has not threatened closure, the shift in routes reflects deteriorating US-Pakistani relations: In 2009, about 90 percent of surface cargo passed through Pakistan; about half that has since been diverted through other countries to the north including Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
Ammunition or weapons are prohibited; shipping by air costs 10 times more than using roads through Pakistan. For the US, the new routes through multiple nations present new complications in logistics, diplomacy and its human rights objectives.‘
The conclusion is, the relationship between both countries is uncomfortable at its best but hard to wriggle out from, particularly for America due to the necessity and indispensability it (the relation)commands today in view of the leverage Pakistan has that Riedel mentioned and as Admiral Mullen pointed out:
‘A flawed and difficult relationship [with Pakistan] is better than no relationship at all.’
Will USA grant Pakistan a seat at the negotiating table in Kabul so that it is given a share of its stake and influence in Post-war Afghanistan for the purpose of which its Establishment pursues dubious strategies? Will Pakistan go after the Haqqani Network?
Or will some other deal between the two be sought? Only time can tell as relations between the two are wrought taut.
- Hafsa Khawaja