Original Articles

Isolationistan

Pakistani Parliament’s recent sovereignty-obsessed-resolution clearly illustrates power of the establishment in an important arena of domestic and foreign policy making. The resolution also manifests the unwillingness of our real decision makers to permit change in our military dominated, flawed foreign policy.

The marathon session of the parliament also reminds us that we prefer to live in a state of denial and we are still not ready, even after Osama Bin Ladan’s debacle to accept our mistakes and recognize failure of our foreign policy. It’s sad fact that we are once again losing a transmogrificational occasion in the history of Pakistan in the wake of Osama debacle.

Strangely, no one is interested to know the fact that how OBL managed to hide in our country for so long? No one has bothered explaining who harbored him? Simultaneously no state institution is interested to give right answer to the real pay masters/citizens of this country. All are lying and joint session monitored and judged by COAS was a completely “lying” show.

However international scenario is different as well as disturbing for Pakistan, the irony is obvious now the whole world is not ready to accept our explanation and just like us, they are observing that there is no signs that Pakistan is going to abandon double game and correct past blunders.

With Osama bin Laden’s hideout less than 100 miles from Islamabad, already strained US-Pakistan relations are under immense scrutiny. Pakistani officials have denied compliance but US officials are pushing Pakistan to explain how Bin Laden lived for years in a town so close to the capital without the military and intelligence agencies knowing about it.

Instead of vowing to find out which officials were behind the scheme, Pakistan’s leaders — military and civilian — have tried to deflect all blame and stoke more anti-Americanism. Some members of Congress are asking why the United States should continue to provide billions of dollars in aid to such a faithless ally.

Rather than understanding and accepting realities, we are still busy in focusing negativity and spewing too much anti-American venom on media by declaring all bad things happen to Pakistan is because of CIA, Mossad and Raw. It is impossible for the world to believe that Pakistan’s most powerful institution, its Army and intelligence agencies had overlooked the high-security fortress in such a sensitive location. So, now they are questioning our sincerity to war on terror, they are not only pointing finger and viewing us with suspicions, but also telling us clearly that the US want Pakistan to be a real ally in combating militants inside its borders, but serious questions remain in relations between the countries after Osama’s killing. US obviously want a Pakistan that is prepared to respect the interests of Afghanistan, and to be a real ally in International efforts to combat terrorism.

CM Punjab and his ideological friends are leading us from 'Denialistan' to 'Isolationistan.'

Lamentably, things are not moving in the right direction in Pakistan, where right-wing zealots patronized and supported by establishment, are gaining more and more political space. Pakistan Muslim league chief Mian Nawaz Sharif’s recent political maneuvering is the prime example of an attempt to once again organize IJI style right wing alliance against liberal Pakistan Peoples Party. PML-N and other right wing parties continue to drive the establishment’s narrative of ghariat and qaumi waqar/ Sovereignty, CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif says, no to foreign aid to Punjab. (What An Idea Sir Ji! in the age of Globalization)

These conservative forces are not seeing that, we are living in ‘Global World’, which makes all countries interdependent on one another, where international/regional cooperation is a key to economic development, they are not recognizing that emotion based policies are leading us away from the internationalism.

All those veterans of the Afghan jihad and trainers of Mujahideen regularly appear on mainstream media outlets, they are now leading Op-Ed writers, their friends in journalist community presenting them as analysts, and they bombard Pakistanis with their outdated ideology and conspiracy theories. 24/7 Media made them regular guests in howling and yelling debates on prime-time talk shows. They are sowing confusion on purpose, misleading the public and profiting from debacle.

While media fails to tell the nation that war against terror and extremism is essential to our own survival and it’s our own War. We have observed and pointed out that our corporate media far from investigative reporting only offering biased and one sided opinions which constitute an individual’s judgment as well as establishment’s narrative. The right wing media and pseudo-intellectual are railing against American drone attacts, and terming it violation of our sovereignty and furious about the raid on our territory.

Our media and public opinion makers are not deliberating and completely ignoring UN resolutions that describe the state-sponsorhip of terrorism as amounting to indirect aggression against the targeted country. This indirect aggression gives one the right to exercise one’s self-defence in the territory of that country if left with no other option. Till now, Pakistan managed to get away without any negative consequences because no country was prepared to take the right of self-defence into its territory.

Our decision makers are still trying to make people fool by spreading conspiracy theories and not telling truth. The bitter truth is this: Pakistan is badly reliant on foreign assistance, particularly from the hated United States; since 2002, it has received more than $20 billion in overt US support. The US has heavily invested in training and equipping Pakistani security forces and police, in addition to reimbursing the Pakistan Armed Forces for their counter-terrorism efforts, provided principally through the Defense budget.

The predominately security-driven focus of US foreign aid shifted in 2009 when Congress authorized the Kerry-Lugar bill, providing $7.5 billion in non-military aid over the next five years. The multi-year commitment essentially tripled economic aid and was intended to demonstrate to the Pakistani people that US interests were “focused on democracy, pluralism, stability, and the fight against terrorism.”

Canada’s Globe & Mail refers to Pakistan as the “Republic of Fables” as conspiracy theories reach the highest levels. Gream Smith writes:

The profusion of theories about the Abbottabad operation has shifted debate away from the initial shock of discovering Osama bin Laden next door to a military camp. Media and politicians fixate instead on narrow technical issues – “How did U.S. helicopters evade our radar?” – or pontificate on a warped strain of geopolitical questions. They debate whether American masterminds selected this moment to unthaw the terrorist leader so they could choreograph an exit for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, or secure a win for President Barack Obama in the next election.

That diffusion of public curiosity, the dispersal of questions down a thousand blind alleys, makes it less likely that any official inquiry will have damning consequences for Pakistani authorities. The government announced that an investigation would be led by Lieutenant-General Javed Iqbal, a loyal assistant to the military chief, but did not release the terms of reference. It’s unclear whether Gen. Iqbal will be permitted to ask questions about who helped Mr. bin Laden evade authorities while he lived in his Pakistani redoubt for six years, much less publicize the results.

Conspiracy theories can also soften hard truths about domestic affairs, allowing the country to avoid moments of badly needed public reckoning. When the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by a member of his own security team this year, apparently because he wanted to repeal a harsh blasphemy law, the incident could have provided a moment for serious debate about religious extremism. Instead, President Asif Ali Zardari gave speeches suggesting that the attack was the result of a grand plot by his opponents.

The same thing happened after a cabinet minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated in March. A popular newspaper, Jang, ran a front-page headline calling the killing a “heinous conspiracy against Pakistan” and claiming that the incident was somehow a result of American counterterrorism efforts. By interpreting the slaying as an insult against the nation, commentators avoided discussing Pakistan’s chronic problem with radical groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for Mr. Bhatti’s death.

The conspiracy reflex kicked in hours after Osama bin Laden’s death. A security official visited The Globe and Mail’s hotel room in Quetta, Pakistan, and apologetically explained that the streets had become too dangerous for foreign journalists because of protests against the U.S. raid.

Some locals apparently believed the reports of Mr. bin Laden’s death, the official said, rolling his eyes with the genteel condescension that Pakistani authorities often reserve for the uneducated masses. “We will never really know what happened,” he said, sipping green tea.

A few commentators in the English-speaking press appeared so familiar with this routine that they poked fun at the ritual.

“Tell me lies. Sweet little lies,” Sana Bucha, an anchor for GEO News, wrote in an opinion column. “I want to be lied to. Again. Because the lies only infuriated me. This ‘truth’ – half-baked or completely raw – is scary.”

As Ms. Bucha foreshadowed, the local media soon filled with a kaleidoscope of rumour. Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, former chief of Pakistan’s military, was quoted on the front pages of Urdu-language newspapers speculating that Mr. bin Laden died a decade ago, of natural causes, and the Americans had instead killed someone who resembled him.

The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, a venerable and popular Urdu newspaper, devoted a colourful “special edition” to debunking the death. Its reporters examined the gas bills for the raided compound in Abbottabad and concluded that consumption levels were too low for the wealthy bin Laden family. The paper claimed that the body recovered from the house was too short – only 5-foot-6, they wrote – to qualify as his corpse. One article even speculated that the verdant fields around Abbottabad gave off too much pollen, making the place uninhabitable for an elderly man in frail health.

“It was an invented story,” the newspaper concluded. “There is a fear that this whole drama was staged to target Pakistan’s nuclear assets.”


The whole world is clearly sending us a message that we should walk with the contemporary world, and make policies according to the new emerging realities, suitable to the needs of common person. But on the contrary we are trying to make them fool and trying to make policy on the basis of emotionalism, populism and centuries old security narrative. Still the establishment propaganda machine churned out an entire anti-Americanism, which is now very much become loud anti-worldism. So, due to our anti-internationalism, now we are fastly entering into Isolationistan.

As David Ignatius writes in his article that Pakistan is missing the U.S. message on terrorism:

The day before he suffered a fatal tear in his heart last December, a frustrated Richard Holbrooke confided to a colleague: The Obama administration had tried everything to persuade Pakistan to crack down on terrorism, including threats and special-assistance packages, but none of it seemed to work. Why wasn’t Pakistan getting the message?

The question posed by Holbrooke in his final hours as U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan looms even larger now. Despite years of American requests that Pakistan dismantle al-Qaeda and its allies, it turns out that Osama bin Laden had been hiding for six years near a military training academy two hours north of Islamabad.

A catalogue of these U.S. pleas, assembled from interviews with knowledgeable officials, makes disturbing reading. Washington has been passing the same message, through two administrations: The Pakistani military promises action but hedges its bets; the United States pledges cooperation but acts unilaterally. As the problem festers, mutual mistrust increases.

The story moves inexorably toward the U.S. raid on bin Laden’s compound, which ripped the veneer of cooperation. Repairing relations in the aftermath would require a degree of honesty and partnership that neither side seems able to muster. One key policymaker grimly predicts: “This comes to a bad end.”

Let’s start with the final months of the Bush administration: A sharp warning was delivered July 12, 2008, in Islamabad by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Stephen R. Kappes, then deputy director of the CIA. The two warned that Sirajuddin Haqqani, a Taliban leader with links to Pakistani intelligence, knew about the activities of Arabs in al-Qaeda. They issued a similar warning about Maulvi Nazir, a warlord in the Pakistani tribal areas who the United States believed had connections to both al-Qaeda and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.

Pakistani officials assured the American visitors that the Haqqani network “will not be provided with any support by any agency of Pakistan,” a source recalls. But U.S. officials believe the Haqqani network’s contacts with ISI continued. It remains the deadliest insurgent group in eastern Afghanistan.

Another warning came on Dec. 2, 2008, from Gen. Mike Hayden, then CIA director, a week after the Nov. 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai. Hayden warned Pakistani officials that there was “no doubt” that the attack was the work of Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Kashmiri separatist group with a “close nexus” to the ISI. He demanded that Pakistan close Lashkar-i-Taiba training camps and dismantle its infrastructure. That never happened.

On Dec. 19, 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice bluntly admonished a visiting Pakistani official: “There are people in ISI who know everything about LeT. They have the information. . . . You have to make a strategic decision that association with terrorism has come to an end.”

The Obama administration proposed a broad alliance with Pakistan, in the hope that this would encourage better cooperation against terrorist groups. President Obama said in a Nov. 11, 2009, letter that the two nations should be “long-term strategic partners,” and that they should find “new and better ways to work together to disrupt” al-Qaeda and other terrorists.

Gen. Jim Jones, then national security adviser, hand-delivered Obama’s letter. He warned orally that “the U.S. expects Pakistan to make an unequivocal commitment against terrorism.” The subtext was that the United States would strike al-Qaeda with or without Pakistani support, including inside Pakistani territory.

Jones was back in Islamabad in May 2010 with another stern message. “If an attack against the U.S. or American interests takes place in Afghanistan, it would be because Pakistan turned a blind eye towards some of these networks, even if it did not cause or sponsor the attack,” Jones said, adding bluntly: “We still do not have clear commitments from Pakistan regarding some of these organizations. We are not certain if Pakistan rejects all forms of terrorism.”

So it has gone, month to month, administration to administration. America keeps warning, and Pakistan keeps promising cooperation, but the impasse continued up to the moment the stealth helicopters landed in the compound in Abbottabad.

How do you deal with a country that is caught in a lie? It’s tempting to say the United States should cut off aid to Pakistan and let the Pakistanis sort out their own problems. But we tried that once before in the 1980s, to protest their secret acquisition of nuclear weapons, and it didn’t work out very well. Truly, this is Pakistan’s problem, and the United States should work with its allies to send a common message: Pakistan cannot achieve its national ambitions until it gets its head straight about terrorism.

About the author

Junaid Qaiser

11 Comments

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  • well written Junaid. in light of the establishment’s behaviour in recent years it’s time to re-evaluate the idea that the military establishment is driven by pragmatism or can be influenced by ground realities. the establishment’s behaviour is no more pragmatic than al-qaeda’s or the taliban’s. Like the ideologies of other fascist states, it is purely driven by a xenophobia and exceptionalism and the ultimate end point is going to be the complete international isolation and eventually destruction of the Pakistani state. This ideology must be defeated, it cannot be compromised or reasoned with.

    Unfortunately it looks like the civilian politicians are unable to do this, which leaves our poor country in a very hopeless situation.

  • Khalid Ahmed is in book “‎Secterian War” tried to explain the shift in Al Qaeda ideology .

    The main emphasis of the book is the Al Qaeda has changed its ideology from enemy who is far away’ to enemy who is nearby’ and adopted Zarqawi anti shia thesis.

    Pakistani’s seriously need to asses the nexus of al-qaeda with local sectarian organization . I sometimes feel things have gone beyond Afghan centric position of our security establishment , it has far too many dimension now .

  • It is imperative that we do not isolate ourselves from the world. Confrontational attitude of our people for the West will have to change.

  • Unfortunately the way we are being run on the diktats of our establishment, we will be isolated sooner than later

  • US rejects over 40% ‘dubious’ Pakistani ‘war on terror’ bills: WSJ

    The United States and Pakistan are engaged in a billing dispute, with Washington rejecting over 40 per cent of the claims submitted by Islamabad as expenses to fight al Qaeda and other terrorists along the Afghanistan border, according to a report.

    According to internal Pentagon documents, the US- increasingly suspicious of what it sees as Islamabad’s mixed record against militants- has been quietly rejecting more than 40 per cent of the claims submitted by Pakistan as compensation for military gear, food, water, troop housing and other expenses, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    Those records detail 3.2 billion dollars in expense claims submitted to the US for operations from January 2009 through June 2010, the report said.

    According to the documents and interviews with officials, Pakistan has routinely submitted requests that were unsubstantiated, or were deemed by the US to be exaggerated or of little or no use in the war on terror-underscoring what officials and experts see as a deep undercurrent of mistrust between both nations, it added.

    “This is about how much money Pakistan can extract,” said Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser for the United States Institute of Peace, an independent research organization funded by Congress.

    Pakistani officials deny they are trying to bilk the US, and say that the increased American scrutiny has sent the message to the Pakistanis that Washington considers the army to be full of cheats, said the report.

    A senior Pakistani official called this “detrimental to bilateral trust,” adding that while Islamabad understands the need for some scrutiny, the US has gone too far.

    “People have to give a receipt for every cup of tea they drink or every kilometer they drive,” said the official.

    Meanwhile, US officials say that Pakistani claims have been rejected for a number of reasons, including failure to confirm that expenses were incurred in support of American operations in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism.

    Some US officials also fear that some of the aid is being diverted to the border with Pakistan’s traditional rival, India, the report said.

    Secret diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that US officials were taken aback by Pakistani claims as early as 2006, including a 26-million-dollar charge for barbed wire and pickets, and for almost 70 million dollars in radar maintenance, “although there is no enemy air threat related to the war on terror.”

    The documents show that denial rates have climbed from a low of 1.6 per cent in 2005, to 38 per cent in 2008 and 44 per cent in 2009. Claims are generally processed six months to a year after submission, said the report. (ANI)

  • Abbottabad like operation can not rollout: Grossman

    ISLAMABAD: US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman Thursday said that Washington respected Pakistan’s sovereignty but could assure US would not repeat Abbottabad-like operation.

    In an interview with private channel here, Grossman said the US recognized the sacrifices made by the military and people of Pakistan in the war on terror added that the Obama administration is taking a step-by-step approach with Pakistan over issues.

    Grossman said the war on terror will go on till Al-Qaeda no longer has the capacity to target people worldwide.

    On whether funding has a part to play in terrorism, Grossman said the terrorism in the region comes partly from the narcotics trade in Afghanistan.

    Grossman arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday as part of efforts to ease the tension between Washington and Islamabad after US unilateral operation to kill Al-Qaeda chief deep inside Pakistan.

    US special envoy Marc Grossman called on Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership as part of efforts to salvage bilateral relations following the covert American operation in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden. Grossman, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, met President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidency this afternoon.

    Earlier, he met army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

  • Grossman repairs some dents in US-Pak ties in meetings with Zardari, Kayani, Pasha
    From ANI

    Islamabad, May 20(ANI): The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, has been able to cement the progress made by US Senator John Kerry in his ice-breaking talks with the Pakistani leadership earlier this week.

    Grossman had discussions with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha.

    Although not much was said officially about the progress achieved in these discussions, there were indications that his talks were successful in paving the way for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad for finalising the ‘new terms of engagement’ between the ‘allies’ in the war against terrorism.

    “Grossman, after his daylong engagements, looked positive about the developments and thought things were moving in the right direction,” the Dawn quoted a journalist who had spoken to the US envoy, as saying.

    The meeting was “in the context of follow-up of Senator John Kerry’s meeting with the president on May 16, in which the two sides agreed to put the relations back on track, and that the relations should go forward on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interest,” a statement from the presidency said.

    And the Pakistan military said: “During the meeting (with General Kayani), the visiting dignitary discussed future of Pak-US engagement concerning reconciliation process in Afghanistan.”

    Grossman left Islamabad late Thursday evening with his seven-member delegation. However, it is significant to note that a 20-member CIA delegation, led by its deputy chief Mark Morrell, has stayed back and will be continuing its dialogue with ISI officials on differences over counter-terrorism strategies and Afghan reconciliation.

    According to a source, it was apparent from Thursday’s talks that both sides had moved forward from the initial raw emotions after the May 2 Abbottabad raid, and were eager to re-engage because they realise their interdependence.

  • Junaid

    Excellent article. The PPP and ANP have had their knees broken by the security establishment while FCS, the Judiciary, PML N, PTI,MQM, media are clearly with the Taliban!

  • @Mai Kolachi

    It is very unfortunate that the unrepresentative forces are much more powerful and their strategic partnership with right wing actors present in media, political parties, judiciary and civil society have been strengthening non-democratic culture in Pakistan and on the contrary eroding the fragile democratic system.

    Today, we are lagging behind the modern world where scientific and political advancements are nurturing the society; we are not able to educate our masses with the global perspective of threats we are facing. We have bled to death by terrorism, our social fabric is tartered and the barbarians took the future of our children in their hands but we cannot unify against extremism.

    In Pakistan media seems to be suffering from perceptual poverty, information corruption, manipulations of facts with a twisted approach to provoke chaos, confusion and democratic crisis. The federation of Pakistan that is dependent on peaceful co-existence, democracy and equality may be weakened by such unhealthy media approach.

    Specifically on the front of terrorism, Pakistani media has generally failed to draw a clear line of understanding. Almost all talk shows start with anchors questioning the justification of war on terror. They have corrupted the mind of people by confusing this issue with anti democratic propaganda. Besides media anchors always invite right wing people and give them time to support their hate filled ideology.

    Such a hypocritical approach of media and media policies have made our country suffer an unbearable damage where Taliban’s advancements to various cities and streets were ignored and masked under various conspiracy theories. Right-wingers in the media have always betrayed the people in giving them any kind of freedom and have only choked the information resources for their perverted interests in the name of religion.