On September 16 this year, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met in the sidelines of NATO conference in Spain. Both the military leaders stressed the need to enhanced military relations between Pakistan and the United States, while expressing their deep satisfaction about the steps, taken to maintain conducive ties between the two countries.
In this context, regarding the talks, on one hand, on September 18, Admiral Mullen’s spokesman Captain John Kirby said, “They agreed that the relationship between two countries remained vital to the region and that both sides had taken positive steps to improve that relationship over the past few months,” while on the other hand, he stated that Mullen showed “deep concerns about the increasingly brazen…activities of the Haqqani network,” seeking Pakistan Army’s action against them” in North Waziristan.
Reliable sources have disclosed that during his meeting with Adm. Mullen, Gen. Kayani made it clear that Pak Army is engaged in other tribal areas in its fight against the insurgents, so at this stage, it cannot launch a military operation in North Waziristan. He also said that any such operation will not start under US dictate. In this regard, on June 9, this year, Gen. Kayani had already stated “a well thought out campaign is under no pressure to carry out operations at a particular time…future operations, as and when undertaken, will be with political consensus.”
However, it was the first meeting of the Pak-US military leadership since the May 2 nighttime when by violating Pakistan’s sovereignty; US commandos had killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad without any prior permission of Islamabad. After the Osama episode, strained relations worsened between Islamabad and Washington as America continued its coercive diplomacy in wake of drone attacks on Pak tribal areas, while setting aside parliament’s resolution in this connection. Taking congnisance of the situation, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership flatly refused to act upon American undue demands. And rejecting its pressure, Islamabad sent home 120 US military trainers. Besides, Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies have arrested a number of foreigners from various cities of Pakistan, and are keeping the movements of American diplomats and nationals under strict observation. On the other side, US cut some of the $2.7 billion in military aid to Pakistan.
Despite Kayani-Mullen talks to improve the relationship between the two countries and especially American desire to advance the military to military ties and to continue cooperation in relation to counter-insurgency, US high officials has left no stone unturned in sustaining its blame game against Pak Army, country’s intelligence agency, ISI—in contact with Haqqani Network.
In this respect, on September 17, US ambassador in Islamabad, Cameron Munter accused, “there is evidence linking the Haqqani insurgent network to the Pakistani government…directly links elements of Pakistan’s powerful spy agency to the attack on the US Embassy and coalition headquarters that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani Network.”
On September 14, 2011, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that the US would retaliate against militants based in Pakistan—accused of staging a dramatic attack in the Afghan capital. He alleged, “I am very concerned about the Haqqani attacks because, number one, they are killing our forces. But number two; they escape back into what is a safe haven in Pakistan.” On the same day, the US ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker also said that the “Pakistani-based Haqqani network is behind the coordinated attacks against the American Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul.”
It is of particular attention that on September 17, in a rare interview by telephone from an undisclosed location, Leader of the Haqqani militant network, Sirajuddin Haqqani revealed that the group has become so confident after battlefield gains in Afghanistan that “it no longer has sanctuaries in Pakistan, and instead, felt secure inside Afghanistan,” in what Sirajuddin described as a “further sign of strength,” and the Haqqanis are also consolidating their hold on eastern Afghanistan, forcing rival insurgent groups out of territory they have claimed. He further indicated, “There are sincere people in the Afghan government who are loyal to the Taliban as they know our goal is the liberation of our homeland from the clutches of occupying forces.”
As regards the blame game of the American high officials against Pakistan’s army and ISI, in fact, there is the US ploy behind Haqqani network by which Washington seeks to fulfill a number of anti-Pakistan aims.
First of all, US wants to attribute its defeatism in Afghanistan with Pakistan as American high officials and media have accelerated propaganda against Pakistan’s tribal areas— especially North Waziristan, calling it safehavens of terrorism. Secondly, America wants to show to its western allies that its mission in Afghanistan is over, and the US-led NATO troops could be withdrawn in accordance with the announced schedule. Thirdly, American cost of war against terrorism which has reached approximately 7 trillion dollars is increasing rapidly in wake of debt crisis, decline of dollar, and acute recession inside the country. In such a scenario, American public was particularly worried about the failed campaign in Afghanistan. So blaming Pakistan and Haqqani network for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan could also be used to distract the attention of American general masses from internal crises, and could also be used for re-election of Obama as president.
Fourthly, under the guise of Haqqani network, and with the help of Indo-Israeli lobbies, US will distort the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations, which it has already started. Fifthly, in the pretext of Haqqanni group, Talibanisation of Pakistan and unrest in the country, which has collevtively been created by the CIA, RAW and Mossad, US India and Israel are determined to destabilise Pakistan. For this purpose, the US has started shifting Afghan war to Pakistan as in the recent past, aerial and ground shelling by the US-supported NATO forces inside Pakistan’s border, and the US-backed intermittent attacks by the armed militants who crossed inside Pakistan from Afghanistan, have continued. Sixthly, after creating lawlessness, Washington is likely to ask Pakistan to rollback its nuclear programe and to hand over its all nuclear weapons to the US. In case of refusal, America can conduct full-fledged aerial strikes on Pakistan or can extend drone attacks which will also include Balochistan and other major cities of the country.
Nevertheless, we cannot see the US scheme of allegations against Pakistan in connection with the Hqqanni network in isolation. Besides the above mentioned designs, some other aims of the US also prove American secret intentions against Pakistan. In this context, America has ignored the sacrifices of Pakistan during war on terror, while, without bothering for any internal backlash inside Pakistan, Washington has always emphasised its old policy to ‘do more’ against the militants. The hidden aim behind was to produce more terrorism so as to weaken Pakistan. Notably, with the help of RAW and Mossad, Obama Administration has been implementing its agenda of “covert war” in Pakistan through various acts of sabotage, which keep on going unabated.
Regarding the US covert war, on April 28, 2011; Washington Post had already reported that the “coming CIA Chief Gen. David Petraeus has served as commander in two wars launched by the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks. If confirmed as the next director of CIA, Petraeus would effectively take command of a third in Pakistan.”
It is mentionable that on August 28, 2011, Sindh Senior Minister Zulfiqar Mirza of the ruling party, who resigned from all posts, while hinting the involvement of America in the perennial ethnic violence in Karachi and support of some political leaders in this context, disclosed by swearing on the holy Quran that “the United States wanted to disintegrate Pakistan.”
It is part of American double game that on the one hand, US desires to improve its military and counter-insurgency cooperation with Islamabad including elimination of trust deficit between the two countries, while on the other hand, it has accelerated its campaign against Pak Army and ISI regarding Haqqani Network which has become the scapegoat of US multiple aims.
Nonetheless, in light of the inter-related developments against Pakistan, without any doubt, we can note the US ploy behind Haqqani Network.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations