Where is Pakistan going? Towards assured ruin I would suggest. Consider the events:
- A major terrorist attack happens on Indian soil – Mumbai in November 2008, perpetrated and organized by some senior Intelligence and Army officials – both retired and serving. The world watches in horror. Pakistan denies any link.
- David Headley is caught, who was probably a “double agent”, and out come details of involvement of the Army establishment. The information is spilled in US.
- 2011 Osama bin Laden, the supposed master mind of 9-11 and the enemy #1 of US is caught right in Islamabad, bang next to the Army and Intelligence premises. The raid conducted secretly by US without any information to Pakistan.
- Pakistan kept denying Osama bin Laden was even in Pakistan!
- Drone strikes in Pakistan continue to target the terrorists in the tribal regions, which anger the Pakistanis. Instead of decreasing, Obama and US step up the drone attacks.
- Pakistan Army personnel are killed and Pakistan stops the NATO supplies from going through Pakistan to Afghanistan.
- Obama calls Zardari to NATO talks in a bid to get a breakthrough, but gets nothing in return!
- Meanwhile the doctor who helped US catch Osama bin Laden is arrested and given 33 years jail sentence.
- US cuts $33 million from aid to Pakistan. $1 million for every year of sentence to the Doctor. A strong message from the US Congress.
- Pakistani analysts call this “interference”.
- US negotiators come for opening up of NATO supply routes. Leon Pannetta goes back shouting hoarse about “price gouging” by the Pakistanis.
- Last week, US deputy assistant secretary of defense Peter Lavoy goes to meet Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Kayani refuses to meet Lavoy. Why? Official response:
“There are several reasons for turning down (a meeting with) Lavoy. It is to tell the Americans that you cannot be bad-mouthing us day in and day out and then expect a meeting with Pakistan’s most powerful personality,” the official said.
“You cannot trash our sovereignty, threaten us, announce intensified drone attacks, kill our soldiers, refuse to apologise when you do the same in Kabul, hold back our money (from the Coalition Support Fund), threaten to cut off all aid and then pretend that it is business as usual,” the official added
With all this going on, US withdraws its negotiators completely from the talks.
First, a basic question on this topic – Has Pakistan overplayed its hand? Definitely Yes! Here’s why:
But Scaparrotti said the U.S. has built alternative supply routes and has been able to get what it needs for the war despite the border closing. NATO last week finalized agreements to move supplies through other countries. “It’s not really affected us,” Scaparrotti said via a video teleconference from Kabul.
So, if Pakistan thought no one can fill its place, it may sober them a bit to be told, they are passe. Albeit at a cost, but one that US is now willing to pay.
But why am I talking of ruin?
What is happening is unprecedented. And a lot of this could easily have been avoided given the history of US and Pakistan relationship. For example, we at Drishtikone argue that 9-11 was the handiwork of Pakistan and not Osama. So, if that could literally be obfuscated in plain public eye, anything could be managed.
But it wasn’t.
Instead the situation was allowed, indeed made to, escalate. One notch at a time. To a point where even the diplomacy has failed.
Usually in case of US, this is a signal for the coming demonizing of a state and people. More importantly, characterization of the ruler as a despot. On the side, that effort is also underway and being showcased spectacularly as exemplified by this CNN interview of Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani.
As we speak, a case is being made against Pakistan, and Pakistanis are helping the US cause jumping over each other. The more fanatic the response, the easier it gets. The more nationalistic the stance, the greater villains they seem.
And the attempt of Pakistanis to throw their lot in the Chinese court also is not helping their case much.
Is it that Pakistanis cannot think? They can. Aren’t there any wise people there who don’t want escalations to happen. Sure. Can’t politicians think through this or be making decisions that would help Pakistan’s case? Probably.
But, here is the catch. The politicians cannot make the decisions. Army can. And, its Islamicization is probably more than one would have thought before.
We have often said that within Pakistan, the fight is between Islamists and Nationalists. Unfortunately for Pakistan, Drishtikone has argued that Nationalists (by inherent inconsistency) will lose to Islamists. And they are.
When Kayani refused Lavoy, Islamists had won the day.
When negotiators called it a day and went back, it was the acknowledgement by US of the same reality. They say they will come back – but, when Pakistan is ready to sign the agreement.
Which means – do what we say or else.
What is “or else”? It will start with sanctions. Will involve blockade, more drone attacks at more and more targets – some strategic and high powered ones as well. Such that they may hurt Pakistani side terribly.
This will go through to a state where Pakistan is made pariah and Pakistanis as villains. But before that, attempts will be on way to pluck away the nukes or render them completely ineffective. It will happen sooner than we think.
I see Pakistan as the next Iraq. It doesn’t take much, and no amount of progress is a guarantee against that state. And that situation is faced by ordinary citizens of ordinary countries.
In the coming years, the world will see denuclearization of Pakistan, its break-up into smaller provinces and its ruin into Iraq like situation.
Unfortunate, but the way the situation is unfolding I can’t see anything else.