By Qaisar Sultan
There is this pathetic duet, sung by the American administration and the Pakistani establishment, the male voice reverts over and over to “Do More” and the female crying out for “Give us more”. Both America and Pakistan are not comfortable with each other; and deduce some possible harm from the very basis of the state policies in dealing with the strategic guidelines adopted by both countries. The governments of both countries do not trust each other; people of both countries have contempt and immeasurable aversion for each other. While Americans insist upon the Pakistani government to do more, Pakistan turns around and asks for more money. Americans know it well that no matter how they insisted, Pakistan would not unconditionally comply with their wishes; but they tried anyway to get some cooperation. Pakistanis know the limits of American aid; but asking for more never hurts. The Americans need Pakistan for war against Taliban; and Pakistan needs money. While the Americans cannot figure out how to defeat Taliban; Pakistan cannot manage its economy. The Americans lay emphasis on approximately seven billion dollars given to Pakistan after September 11; and Pakistan draws attention to sixty billion cost of fighting the extremism and loss of thirty thousand lives- sixty billions seems to be exaggerated number. Exaggerated or not, Pakistan feels cheated that America spends almost seven billion a year in Afghanistan, and the Pakistani cut is not near that amount. The American objective to permanently defeat Taliban requires unconditional help from Pakistan that does not like Taliban to be defeated in the first place. The Americans have been complaining about ISI covertly helping Haqani group that has been fighting American forces from Pakistani side. America cannot control Taliban as long as they have sanctuary in Pakistan; Taliban attack American forces and run back into Pakistan. The fact is that Taliban cannot be defeated by simply declaring and going to war against them; they can always lay dormant in the weak position and come back more violent when opportunities allow them. Pakistan has the money problems that could not be solved by any amount of aid- More money Pakistan receives, more money goes to war against India and some is looted; people have to wait for their turn till Pakistan conquers Kashmir. With so much distrust, conflicting interests and antagonism, how two countries can expect long lasting relations?
The American-Pakistani relationship hinges upon gratuitous, brittle and short-range needs and demands. One of the most complex foreign relationships in foreign diplomacy has been put on test after September 11th. Hillary Clinton put American relations with Pakistan simply, “very challenging and difficult”. The beginning of the new era of purportedly long lasting relations began with an unforgiving threat from the American side to seek support in fight against terrorism, “bombed to the stone age”; the promised longevity of relations between two countries were doomed with those merciless comments. The distrust on both sides for the policies adapted by both countries against and for each other is mind-boggling. One day they need each other and next day they consider each other as a threat to their security and strategic interests. There is clarity in the objectives of their approach; both countries understand very clearly what they actually wanted from each other. The problem is that both countries cannot simply satisfy the objectives that are based on the perception and indispensability of their interests. In order to achieve the objectives, both sides have to rely on their spy agencies that play dirty tricks and double game that eclipses the transparency.
First of all, Pakistani polity and its existence are based on the enmity with India. To Pakistani establishment, Taliban may be a threat to America, they are their best friends. There is a growing evidence of Indian political clout in Afghanistan through democratically elected government of Karzai. Pakistan can only maintain its influence in Afghanistan through Taliban. The religious elements are very important to Pakistani strategy to give India hard time in Kashmir. Taliban were the product of ISI helping Mullah Omar to have the control in Afghanistan. If USA win the war in Afghanistan and bring to an end of Taliban movement, then Pakistan would not have any influence there. Pakistan has been supporting various religious extremist organizations to fight the proxy war against India in Kashmir before USA had to get involved in Afghanistan. The Americans thought after Soviet war in Afghanistan that they were done with that country forever. After Russian left Afghanistan, USA did not care who took over the country. Since Pakistan and Taliban was their staunch ally in that conflict, USA did not oppose the rule of Taliban. After September 11th, things changed so drastically that USA had to fight those who supported them.
The Pakistani military establishment has persuaded Pakistani people that one day they would be able to conquer Kashmir; or at least Kashmiri issue is worthwhile to die for. In this process, we have lost half the country; if it was not India’s involvement, East Pakistan could have been saved. Pakistan had to go out on limb to spend most of its money to defend the country’s aggressive approach to match Indian expenditure for the defense. This national policy made the military so strong that they got involved in Pakistani politics, ruled the country most of the time in Pakistani history; and became a commercial, political and profitable enterprise. There is no doubt that Kashmiri Muslims consider the Indian rule on the territory as occupation; they have been fighting for their freedom since the partition of the sub-continent. In order to suppress rebellion in the territory, India has always used police and military to control the area; the heavy handed tactics caused lives. In order to bring the international attention, groups go to international community for the compassion and sympathies. The Kashmiri issue has been about territory and not one of pure and simple human rights issue. The world, including America, sees the issue as a territorial dispute among two nations. America does not wish to support Pakistan on this issue. India has emerged as one of the world growing economy; and has lot to offer. India can also be used as the frontline country to contain China and that is very important to American interests in the region. Lastly, the Americans are leery about the nuclear development in Pakistan that has made American intent of aid and support questionable in the Pakistani minds. After the Q. Khan Episode and the danger of proliferation of nuclear technology sold to non-nuclear states, the Americans and West wish to pull the plug on Pakistani nuclear program. There is no way that Pakistan would compromise on such an issue that has become the most important deterrence against Indian ill-will.
To fight the Taliban menace, the Americans have invested large sum of money and lot of American soldiers were killed. There is a threat looming on American way of life due to the possibility of future terror attack on America and West. After September 11th, the American foreign policy has been dominated and influenced by that event. America calls a county a friendly country that wholeheartedly supports war against Taliban and the Muslim extremist groups; Pakistan is not one of them after so much American aid and Pakistan’s sacrifice of lives and displacement of Pathans in Swat and Waziristan. The air attacks within Pakistan by drones have strained the relations between two countries; Pakistan consider that as an attack on their sovereignty; and America finds it absolutely necessary in the absence of confidence in Pakistan sincere intentions to get rid of Taliban by attacking unsuspecting Taliban terrorists hiding in the tribal areas. The latest episode on Raymond Davis has also tested the American patience to deal with a country that the Americans do not feel comfortable with; but have to live with them till Taliban issue goes away- That is not possible in near future. And we will hear for a long time to come the duet, “Do More/”Give Us More”.