The Penny Drops

In the wake of new evidence of ISI support for Haqqani attacks in Kabul earlier this month, our official relationship with Pakistan has become very tense indeed. Here’s John Mcreary’s summary, from the September 22nd NightWatch:

Pakistan-US: US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen said on 22 September that Pakistan is exporting violent extremism to Afghanistan by allowing the Haqqani network to act as an “arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Mullen told a US Senate panel that Haqqani operatives executed attacks with ISI support, including the 28 June Kabul hotel attack; an 11 September truck bombing; and the 13 September attack on the US Embassy in Kabul. Mullen said using violent extremism as a policy tool jeopardizes US-Pakistani relations and Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence.

Special Comment: Mullen’s testimony is important because it signifies the US Defense Department, not just intelligence agencies, now accepts what Mullen has denied in public before. It is unusual because this kind of disclosure should have been made by the head of DIA of the US Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, not the Chairman, JCS.

For six years or longer Intelligence agencies and NightWatch open source analyses have reported that Pakistan is a state sponsor and active supporter of terrorism in South Asia -Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh– as an arm of national security policy.

For four years Mullen, on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has advanced the notion that a person-to-person relationship with Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff General Kayani could change Pakistani hostility to the Karzai government, promote peace on the sub-continent and end Pakistani support for terrorism and for nuclear proliferation.

Today’s testimony indicates that such a misguided, well intentioned peculiarly American approach has failed in every category, once again, and is now no longer US policy. Mullen was the architect of this policy and so he is the spokesman for its failure. It has taken four years for this epiphany to take place.

Some might argue that the personal approach helped secure US supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan. The counter argument is that in building a logistics system that relied on Pakistan the US taxpayers financed and supported both sides of the insurgency for ten years plus Pakistani trucking concerns.

The hard lesson for some American seniors is the realization that Kayani and his cohorts have never been free agents in the Pakistan system. They are superb representatives and defenders of a system of strategic precepts that India is the enemy; Islamic fundamentalists are Pakistani patriots; the US is an inconstant ally that should never be trusted and that Afghanistan is the battlefield for proxy war to protect Pakistan’s western flank from a two-front war by India. That summarizes Pakistani strategic doctrine, minus the Pakistani nuclear doctrine of shooting India before India shoots Pakistan.

Kayani was Musharraf’s hand-picked successor and Musharraf despised the US. Kayani has never said anything officially nor made any significant changes to Pakistan security policy that the US wanted during the past four years.

A policy of personal relationship crafted to change the security policy of a so-called ally is manipulative, transparent and never works. Everybody knows this and this was not an intelligence failure. It was a policy choice. Today’s testimony indicates the US Defense Department might finally understand that policy towards Pakistan must be based on national interests, not personal relationships. That is how the Pakistanis have manipulated the US for years.

Pakistan is not a US ally, partner, or friend, despite $ billions in arms aid. The US is Pakistan’s customer. The US has paid top dollar for what little begrudging assistance it received from Pakistan. Pakistan spent every US dollar to enable it to fight India.

With luck, a new, more pragmatic, clear sighted US policy towards Pakistan should start to emerge under Secretary Panetta.

DEBKA also reports that the strain of maintaining this incoherent and duplicitous relationship is becoming intolerable, both for the US and Pakistan. Here.

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