The Pakistani Sinkhole
by Charles Lemos, Wed May 06, 2009 at 11:18:43 PM EDT
You cannot buy an Afghan, but you can rent one at very high price. - British Colonial Aphorism
We can't buy the Pakistanis either and renting them has in the past proved useless for Pakistan insists on pursuing a drunken recklessness and a careless ambivalence to its own extistential threats. Yet we continue to pour money down a Pakistani sinkhole. Currently we are considering in the near term providing Pakistan with $400 million in military aid and $500 million in economic aid and in the longer term sending $7.5 billion, over five years, to Pakistan. That it is likely to be approved I do not doubt, but it should not be approved.
Pakistan is not just a failed state but a rogue state with visions of geo-political grandeur in both south and central Asia. The country has long been a sponsor of international terrorism. It was Pakistan that first destabilized Afghanistan in the 1960s. It was Pakistan that provided the support critical in the Sardar Daud Khan coup of 1973 in Afghanistan. Pakistan created, financed and nurtured both Afghani groups like the Hezbi-i-Islam and the Taliban as well as Kashmiri groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba to further its strategic interests in India and Afghanistan.
Geo-politically, Pakistan's strategic plan, formulated by the Pakistani military and its notorious ISI, has been to endow Pakistan with a 'strategic depth' in relation to India, through the installation of a pro-Pakistan and anti-India government in Kabul or failing this to play the internal divisions of Afghanistan off against themselves in an effort to prevent the emergence of an Afghan government that might demand the return of Pashtun lands split off by the British in 1893.
Furthermore, Pakistan has long sought to create an Emirate of the Stans stretching into Central Asia in an effort to create a Muslim bulwark against India. While governments have come and gone in Islamabad, these geo-political grand ambitions have remained a constant. It should be noted that it was Benazir Bhutto, ostensibly a pro-Western moderate who played a double game. It was Bhutto who sealed a political alliance with Neseerullah Babar, a former Interior Minister and a Pashtun from the North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP). And it was Babar who provided the critical assistance to the Taliban that first allowed them to take Kandahar then Herat and then Kabul. Without that assistance, it is unlikely that the Taliban could have become the predominant power in Afghanistan.
Another Bhutto trademark deal that tell Washington one thing and but do another was her sponsorship of Jamiat ul-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI), a Deoband-influence party based in Baluchistan, the FATA and the NWFP. Its leader was Fazl ul-Rahman whom Bhutto appointed as Chairman of the Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly. In October 1996, he told a public meeting in Peshawar that the JUI would create an "Afghanistan-like situation in Pakistan if anti-Islamic and nationalist elements in the government did not revise their opinion of the Taliban." He need not have worried for Pakistan has long protected the Taliban and they continue to do so. The problem in Pakistan remains that within its vast military and intelligence services there are a not insignificant number who view India as the only problem and the Taliban as minions in the struggle against India. I might add that Fazl ul-Rahman's hopeful plans have come to a nightmarish fruition.
Do officials in Washington really reminding of Pakistan's long and nefarious role in stirring up pots across the whole of the region? I might remind official Washington that in 1991 the State Department considered placing Pakistan on its list of "terrorist states" - a list that then included Libya, North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. Then as now, Pakistan used jihadi terrorists for waging a proxy war against India, allowing them to operate from sanctuaries in Pakistan and even in Bangladesh as well as from rear bases in other countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Have we forgotten the role of the ISI in the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar in 1999? Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group who hijack Flight 814, is another of those groups who receive funding and training from Pakistan. It should be recalled that it was ISI agents who greeted the plane on its arrival in Kandahar and who largely conducted the negotiations.
I might also remind official Washington that in the 1980s the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, a Karachi-based bank, was a a massive criminal enterprise with anti-Western bent and ties to a who's who of Pakistan. Among the stated goals of its Pakistani founder were to "fight the evil influence of the West," and finance Muslim terrorist organizations. It is bizarre to me that man who led the charge on the BCCI case was Senator John Kerry who is now one of the men leading this rescue for Pakistan that is nothing more than money down a sinkhole. Pakistan has not changed if even Senator Kerry needs to pretend otherwise.