Cornering the Nuclear-Pawed Cat

[…] The US is dealing with Pakistan on three different levels.

  • The first is their secret dealing with President Zardari and his special advisors. Just recently Zardari was in Dubai meeting with Richard Holbrooke, and Zalmay Khalilzad under a media blackout. Today, the meeting came to light onGulf News.

  • The second is their relationship with the central government of Pakistan.

  • The third is the relationship with Pakistan army and the ISI.

It’s the third tier that is most important and that’s where the frustration is centered at the moment for the US. The Pakistan Army and ISI are simply not willing to go against Pakistan’s national interest as Zardari and his government are doing at the moment.

The US would like to expand its war into Pakistan’s largest province, Baluchistan. Baluchistan is strategically located East of Iran and to the South of Afghanistan. It has a port at Gwadar that was built by China. Gwadar lies at the opening of Strait of Hurmoz. Baluchistan has huge quantities of natural gas, and unexplored oil reserves. More importantly US want to control the port of Gwadar, and eventually start their dream oil pipeline from Central Asia, through Afghanistan into Baluchistan and Gwadar.

The area where Baluch reside in
Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

Expanding the war into Pakistan will further inflame the public opinion against U.S. foreign policy. The weak Pakistan government will be under more pressure to change its policy towards the “war on terror”.  Already there is a huge difference between public opinion on the war on terror and Zardari’s views. The U.S. media has painted a picture that extremist and conservative parties or groups in Pakistan are against US foreign policy and that they represent a small minority of Pakistanis. This is not the case. The vast majority of the Pakistani population is strongly opposed to the “war on terror”.  President Obama says on television that the U.S. will continue drone attacks in Pakistan and continue to expand “our” war on terror” into Pakistan territory. He says, “but I want to the people of Pakistan to know we are not the enemy of the Pakistan nation”.

Perhaps the 1% elite class, dual passport holders (mostly US, UK, Canada) in Pakistan will cooperate with the Obama regime, but the 99% people of Pakistan will simply not accept this rhetoric. The 600,000 Pakistani troops and 500,000 reservists are from that 99% majority and not from the 1% elite. That is the point that the policy makers in the US think tanks can’t seem to understand. There are many experts and authors writing reports on Pakistan who have never visited troubled areas here and who have no interaction with the people. Last year, under pressure from the U.S. military chiefs and the Bush regime, the Pakistan government replaced the head of the ISI and gave its command to General Ahmed Pasha. Sadly for the U.S., Pasha has not delivered as the U.S. expected. I hope they didn’t select Pasha for the post just based on his name, because other than his name he shares nothing with obedient the Pashas of the dying Ottoman Empire. (Pasha is actually a title given by Ottoman Empire to people who were favorites of the ruling elite).

After the “who dunnit” terrorist attack at the Lahore police training center, Pakistan is under severe pressure from the US and its allies for ‘doing more’ against terrorism in Pakistan. Nawaz, on the other hand, is chumming up to the U.S. more than ever.  He will visit the U.S. embassy in Islamabad next week to discuss future role that US might have for him. As I mentioned previously in my dispatches, Nawaz is close to Clinton family.

The million dollar question to think about is what happens when the U.S. corners Pakistan? Will Pakistan go down like Iraq, ravaged with civil wars, daily bombings, and extreme sectarian divide? Pakistan has at least 170 million people to begin with, and nuclear weapons. Will Pakistan just let go of its nuclear weapons? Will the Army sit in barracks and watch the country plunge into civil war? What will become of the people – 170 million strong? Another question remains about whether the U.S. will send in ground troops if Pakistan Army and ISI refuse to fight “terrorists” in tribal areas of Pakistan. Is Obama ready to spend billions more in fighting the “war on terror”? Will we see India sending its troops into Afghanistan to support US and NATO troops?  read report


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