Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Islamabad last week demonstrated how far the US government has slipped into senility and how desperately it’s seeking an easy—some might say miraculous—way out of the Afghan war by getting others to do its fighting.
Clinton carried a Santa’s bag of $500 million in US taxpayer funds for Pakistan’s leaders and pledged that Washington will be a long-term ally in Pakistan’s economic and democratic development. Her hosts were gracious and naturally accepted the funds, but they know the money is a bribe and the only thing Clinton, the Obama administration and US generals want is for Pakistan’s army to keep shedding blood against America’s Islamist foes.
And Pakistan’s leaders know two other things: (a) their ability to do more of Washington’s dirty work is marginal because the destabilizing civil war caused by being a US ally is entering the Punjab region; and (b) the Islamists can only be beaten if the US military does its own killing and bleeding.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
The Pakistanis also must have had quite a laugh when Clinton said she is aware that ‘some Pakistani official’ knows the location of Osama bin Laden and hoped that data would be given to Washington. Even if true, the Pakistanis must have wondered why they would give bin Laden to the Americans now, after Obama and NATO have said they’re leaving, and earn hatred from tens of millions of Muslims when they’re already faced with cleaning up the mess Western military failure will leave in Afghanistan.
How did Pakistan get into this state? Well the disaster is based on a mistaken judgment: former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf believed the US government was serious about destroying the Islamists who attacked it on 9/11. As a career military officer, Musharraf surely thought US political leaders and generals would react as he and his peers would have reacted; that is, by destroying the attackers. Based on this expectation and under intense US pressure, Musharraf provided more aid for the US war effort than any other US ally, NATO or otherwise.
After 9/11, Musharraf allowed US military and intelligence services to expand their presence in Pakistan, and provided much needed military airspace. His security services worked with US counterparts to seize multiple, senior al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan’s cities. He helped destroy the Taliban regime, even though Islamabad couldn’t have had an Afghan regime more compatible with Pakistan’s national interests. He also allowed part of Karachi harbor to become a naval and resupply base for US and NATO forces.
Most damagingly, though, Musharraf sent Pakistan’s conventional army into the Pashtun tribal lands along the border with Afghanistan for the first time since Pakistan was formed. Until Musharraf’s action, the tribes had tolerated the Islamabad regime only because the latter didn’t interfere in their affairs and provided various economic subsidies.