Reading America’s mind-Dr Farrukh Saleem

America‘s Pakistan-policy, or more appropriately Musharraf-policy, was fabricated by Vice President Dick Cheney, at the Old Executive Office Building, with input from the US Department of State at the Harry S Truman Building. Then came July 2008 and it all changed.

In July, the Indian embassy in Kabul was bombed. In July, the United States Senate confirmed US Army General Petraeus as commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM). In July, the prime minister of Pakistan, under Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Business of 1973, placed the ISI under the administrative, financial and operation control of the Interior Division (and withdrew the order the following morning). In July, the New York Times, quoting CIA sources, alleged “links between members of the spy service, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or the ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani (a major reshuffle in the army had become inevitable after all this).”

In July, the turf battle between the Department of State and the Department of Defence over Pakistan was won by Defence. Dick Cheney lost out to Robert Gates, the 22nd US secretary of defence, and (General) Michael Hayden, the 20th director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). From that point onwards, it was the CIA flying MQ-9 and RQ-9 predator unmanned aerial vehicles into Pakistani air space and General Petraeus had become the chief architect of America’s war strategy in this region.

Pakistani decision makers have failed to read America’s changing policy dynamics. They went begging to Saudi Arabia for the Saudi Oil Facility when the facility had to be negotiated in Washington. We went begging to President Bush when Bush had become a lame duck and Pakistan policy was being run out of the Department of Defence. We went begging to China when China did not dare become an obstacle to American national interests in Pakistan.

Clearly, America wants something from Pakistan that Pakistan is either not willing or incapable of delivering. In the meanwhile, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) claims that its net reserves amount to $4.3 billion which — after accounting for gold and dollar repo agreements — may in effect be a mere billion dollars or so. In essence, the SBP may not have enough money to pay for the following month’s oil imports. Then there’s interest payment on Pakistan bond falling due for payment in December and a $500 million principal repayment due in another three months. While all this goes on in Pakistan, America has to take care of her own worst recession since the Great Depression.

On October 14, parts of the new National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) were leaked to McClatchy (32 daily newspapers and a total circulation of 3.3 million). Apparently, the NIE’s conclusion on the state of Pakistan is: “no money, no energy, no government.” Now, that is scary: “no government” in a nuclear-armed state.

On the other side of the border, all that General Petraeus has is one combat brigade. Petraeus cannot do much but buy time till he has at least three additional combat brigades. On September 23, Robert Gates said that Pakistan was facing an “existential threat.” On October 31, Petraeus shall be taking over CENTCOM’s command and get an additional combat brigade by December and two more by the summer of 2009. Petraeus will then be in a position to negotiate and that too from a position of strength.

November 4 is election day in America. In December, the SBP must pay interest due on its dollar bonds. On January 20, a new president of the United States will take office and whether it’s Obama or McCain South Asia’s war theatre is going to expand. In February, the SBP must pay back $500 million on a maturing dollar bond.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist

Source: The News, 26/10/2008


1 thought on “Reading America’s mind-Dr Farrukh Saleem”

  1. Wow better get whatever rupees I have exchanged into Euros or dollars. Looks like the rupee might be worthless if things continue the way they are.

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