ikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, recently said that Pakistan has continued to shelter terrorists killing American soldiers, and Washington will not send Islamabad even one dollar before it tackles the problem. He also said that foreign assistance should not be offered automatically as a weapon, and then expect goodwill, adding, “You must ask for goodwill and then give it when you see positive things happen.”
US President Donald Trump said last January, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan in the last 15 years more than $33 billion in assistance, and they have given us nothing but lies and deception, thinking of our leaders as fools. With little support they offer safe haven to the terrorists we are fighting in Afghanistan. No more!
And indeed, the US cancelled $300 million in military assistance to Pakistan in September for not doing enough effectively on its soil against terror groups. Meanwhile, in a recent interview with foreign media, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan had benefited from fighting America’s war.
He denied there were terror sanctuaries in Pakistan but 2.7 million Afghan refugees. “If there are a few hundred, maybe 2,000 to 3,000 Taliban who move into Pakistan, they could easily move into these Afghan refugee camps.”
He said Pakistan would try to pressure the Taliban for reconciliation; al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan with no Pakistani involved, yet Pakistan participated in the US “war on terror” with 80,000 killed and a $150 billion economic loss. Pakistan doesn’t want the US to leave Afghanistan in a rush, as it did in 1989, but wants a good relationship with the US, like the trading relationship between Pakistan and China.
And over the past few years, successive US presidents, as well as US and NATO military leaders, have pointed to Pakistan’s double game. Haqqanis, who are part of al-Qaeda, have been running mafia-like networks for the past 30 years in Islamabad and elsewhere in Pakistan, and have also visited military establishments.
The claims of Imran Khan are a pack of lies that come as no surprise as he follows the line of the army. It is well known that, when the US invaded Afghanistan, at the request of then Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf, a small army division of Pakistani troops with some 9,000 Pakistani Taliban was permitted to be air-evacuated by the US from Kunduz and Khost in Afghanistan.
Likewise, there were 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan as of October, not 2.7 million as quoted by Khan.
Pakistan has been saying that it is trying to pressure the Taliban into reconciliation since formation of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group in 2015 but instead has been supporting and arming Taliban to expand its influence.
In the words of American author Robert Kaplan in his 2012 book The Revenge of Geography, “An Afghanistan that falls to Taliban sway threatens to create a succession of radicalized Islamic societies from the Indian-Pakistani border to Central Asia. This would be, in effect, a greater Pakistan, giving Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence the ability to create a clandestine empire composed of the likes of [Haqqanis] … and the Lashkar-e-Taiba.”
Nonetheless, the assertion by Imran Khan that “Pakistan doesn’t want the US to leave Afghanistan in a hurry” is doubtful, because both Pakistan and China want an early US withdrawal and Taliban takeover.
Conflict with Afghanistan and India makes the continued control of the military over Pakistan including power and resources. Indeed, conspiracy theorists claim that the attack on Peshawar Army School, which killed 141, including 132 children, was a false-flag mission that, if real, highlights the magnitude of the subterfuge of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against its own population.
Pakistan is aware that the US relies on moving logistics to maintain its troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan. The ISI has been using Taliban to attack US supply convoys. Yet the US keeps hoping Pakistan will help bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Trump’s latest letter to Imran Khan on the issue is despite stopping aid to Pakistan is indicative of this. At the other hand, China may not give Pakistan more loans but will give any other support, including investments, to safeguard its strategic and economic interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia and interactions led to Pakistan lifting the ban on terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Khan says Pakistan wants talks with India so far as relations with India are concerned but it has not stopped sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Violations against ceasefire continue.
History is witness to the fact that the narcotics-terrorism relationship runs deep and Punjab has been a victim of it. In the heat of approaching general elections, India did not give much thought to a visa-free corridor into Punjab but the dangers of the corridor being used by the ISI are enormous.
In Pakistan the military is calling for shots, not Imran Khan. His predecessor Nawaz Sharif wanted to proceed against Pakistani perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks which earned him the wrath of the military. But given the issues discussed above, why would Pakistan give up terrorism?