In Pakistan, a weak government and a blind parliament are leading a nuclear-armed nation behind George W. Bush’s policy of self-destruction.
1. The U.S. wants Pakistan to lessen its focus on Kashmir, ignore how India is using Afghan soil to export terrorism to Pakistan, ignore the Indian water blockade of Pakistan, and focus instead on firmly toeing the U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Basically Washington wants us to protect their back while they refuse to commit to protecting the back of their Pakistani ally. [SEE PRESIDENT ZARDARI’S RECENT INTERACTIONS WITH U.S. OFFICIALS AND PM GILANI’S MEETINGS IN WASHINGTON IN EARLY AUG. 2008, and the U.S. media reports and leaks surrounding these two visits].
2. In order to sell Pakistanis Bush administration’s new policy line that Pakistan should ‘own’ America’s war on terror, the government of President Asif Zardari called a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad that lasted for almost a week in the hope that the politicians from all parties will endorse Washington’s desire to expand the war into Pakistan. The briefing took place in the week ending Oct. 17, 2008.
3. To rope in the Pakistani military, Mr. Zardari’s government invited the army to open the briefing. The military did send a senior officer to give a presentation that was limited to operational issues. But the briefing was not that of a military given to politicians. It was a briefing by a PPP-led government, reflecting PPP policies, which are very close to the U.S. position. Evidence:
3.1 Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the religious JUI-F party, a coalition partner of the PPP government, issued a statement 0n Oct. 15 saying that his party sees the briefing as PPP’s own and that it does not reflect the view of all the coalition parties.
3.2 President Zardari’s statement to a Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens saying India is not a threat to Pakistan and that Kashmiri freedom fighters are terrorists. He also failed to raise the question of India blocking Chenab water. [Times of India published a commentary titled Why Zardari said what America wanted to hear, Oct. 12, where the author says, “Is there any rational explanation for what Zardari definitely told the Wall Street Journal--that those who had picked up the gun and bomb in Kashmir were terrorists, and that India has never been a threat to Pakistan?
3.3 The sudden emergence of expensive newspaper and TV advertisement on Pakistani channels and newspapers with the message that America’s war in Afghanistan is ‘Pakistan’s own’. It is not clear who is paying for these ads and who they represent.
3.4 Another evidence that this was a partisan, one-sided briefing is how Indian-occupied Kashmir was shown as part of India in a map during Information Minister Sherry Rehman’s briefing on Oct. 14, 2008. The same day, the Pakistani military distanced itself from the briefing and DG ISPR told The News in a report that the military’s briefing was restricted to the first round and had nothing to do with the Minister’s briefing. The spokesman also said that the military followed the government policy.
4. There is no question that the military cannot take the lead in making public some harsh truths if the PPP government is not prepared to own the consequences, especially regarding the role of some of our allies in fostering secessionism and terrorism inside Pakistan.
5. In his briefing, DG ISI/ex-DGMO alluded to weapons and support to militants inside Pakistan coming from Afghanistan. This implicates a country whose President was invited as a guest of honor when President Zardari was sworn in. How is the PPP government dealing with this challenge? Has it taken up this matter with Kabul and Washington?
6. On 5 Aug., 2008, Geo journalist Kamran Khan reported the following both on his TV show and on the front page of The News: “Impeccable official sources have said that strong evidence and circumstantial evidence of American acquiescence to terrorism inside Pakistan was outlined by President Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj in their separate meetings with US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and CIA Deputy Director Stephen R Kappes on July 12 in Rawalpindi.” QUESTION: Did President Zardari or Prime Minister Gilani or the Defense Minister or the Foreign Minister raise this urgent question of our national security when all of them visited Washington in the period between August and September 2008?
7. How come the government’s briefing failed to address what Interior Advisor Rehman Malik told a private TV channel in an interview on July 24, 2008, reported by Pak Tribune news site and I quote: “The Prime Minister’s advisor to Interior Rehman Malik has said that India was supporting the terrorist elements like Bramdagh Bugti in Pakistan, and evidences in this connection will be soon presented.”?
8. How does Rehman Malik’s statement of July 24, 2008 match with President Zardari’s statement of Oct. 4 in the Wall Street Journal where he said “India is not and has never been a threat” to Pakistan?
9. U.S. military’s Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said in a TV interview on Oct. 11, 2008, that U.S. is considering changing its Afghanistan strategy to include India, possibly allowing Indian soldiers to jointly patrol the Pak-Afghan border. This is a serious issue. Why is it that the PPP government kept quiet on it and the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister have not responded to the U.S. official? What is the government policy on Adm. Mullen’s statement?
10. The PPP government wants Pakistanis to make America’s war on terror our own. QUESTION: Is eliminating the Afghan resistance part of our responsibility? Or is our responsibility limited to eliminating the militants who are fighting us on our own territory? What if the coalition fails in political reconciliation inside Afghanistan, leading Afghans to take up arms? Would fighting the entire Afghan population inside Afghanistan be our responsibility too?
11. Why did the PPP government not give the Parliament and the nation the bigger picture: How Washington is drastically changing the strategic outlook in the region in a way that is detrimental to Pakistani interest? There was no discussion about American plans to formalize an expanded Indian intelligence and military presence in Afghanistan, the effort to cut Pakistan’s ability to influence the future of Kashmir, the near-total Indian control over our waters, or the efforts to reduce Pakistan’s ability to protest Indian involvement in future joint patrols of Pak-Afghan border, which is also on the cards.
Eight years to 9/11, Pakistan’s parliament was expected to retake the initiative, declare that Pakistan will not help United States crush the Afghan resistance, which flourishes due to the blunders of U.S. military and the inept regime of Hamid Karzai, declare Baitullah Mehsud and others of his ilk ‘most wanted terrorists’, expose their links to foreign spy agencies so that all Pakistanis recognize their enemy. Instead, we have a government whose leader, President Asif Zardari, declares in Washington that President Bush has made the world a safer place, and then returns to Pakistan to tell Pakistanis that America’s lost war in Afghanistan ‘is our own.’