Sunday, 15 May 2011

Pakistan's Friends & Foes?

Friday the 13th lived up to its reputation in Pakistan. It was a bleak day for the nation when, for the first time in history, the Director General ISI, Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha surrendered himself before the parliament, admitting failure in the Osama killing episode in Abbottabad and sought an apology from the nation.

“The failure was not intentional but I admit that it was a mistake,” he said adding that he would resign if the parliament demands so.

The opposition did not miss their chance to kick the man when he was down and chanted slogans of “shame…shame.” PML-N Leader Chaudhry Nisar said: “Since ISI has accepted the failure, now there is need to fix the responsibility.” He demanded that there has to be some kind of reparation for everything that went wrong.

Pakistan Air Chief, Rao Qamar Suleman, revealed that fully armed US aircraft were ready to react to any Pakistani reaction. He further disclosed that Pakistan’s Shamsi Air Base was under the control of the United Arab Emirates. “Our radar system was not jammed at the time of when US Navy Seals helicopters conducted a raid in a compound in Abbottabad. I do not know where from, the helicopters who participated in the Abbottabad operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, flew,” he added.

It was confirmed that currently contact between the ISI and the CIA is next to nothing. The Federal Minister for Information, Firdaus Ashiq Awan, reassured everyone that the country’s strategic assets are secure with “a highly sensitive and modern security system in place to guard Pakistan’s strategic assets that are spread across the country” and warned that “no one should even consider casting an evil eye”.

In response, terrorists began their killing spree to ‘avenge Osama’s death’ this Friday killing more than 80 and wounding 140 in a double suicide bombing on a paramilitary police training centre. This has been the deadliest attack since July 9, 2010 when bombers killed 105 people in Mohmand.

Then on Saturday, at least six people were killed and 10 others wounded when a bomb planted in a bus exploded in Kharian.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said, by telephone from an undisclosed location, “This was the first revenge for Osama's martyrdom. Wait for bigger attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan".

To top it off, with a war against terrorism on their hands, sinister CIA spies involved with terrorists in dubious activities continue to be caught all over the country mainly in sensitive areas starting with a CIA contractor identified as Raymond Davis who was apprehended in Lahore for killing 2 people. Succumbing to US pressure the Pakistani government set him free.

Then a Swiss Citizen “Merko” entered Balochistan from Iran and was taken into custody for not having an NOC from Balochistan’s Home Department which is a necessity for his own security. 

Another American national, Aaron Mark DeHaven, was arrested on Friday after he outstayed his Pakistani visa which expired in October. He stated that was aware that his visa had expired and has admitted that it was a mistake not to renew it. Funny enough, he claims to be working for security contractor ‘Catalyst Services’, providing ‘security and accommodation to foreigners working on development projects in the region’. 

Not that they didn’t have their hands already full, on the same day as the so called “in camera” briefing to the parliament by the Director General ISI, another man far away asked for some camera time too to announce his return to the country in just a few months. This was none other than the former President General Pervez Musharraf all keen to launch his election campaign for the year 2012.

Pakistan’s arch enemy, India, did not lose time and released a “Most-Wanted List” which includes the names of five serving majors in the Pakistan army amongst others.

Analysts in Islamabad are certain that since the tension between Pakistan and the US increases, “Pakistan will get closer to China and Russia” as China has increased its existence in Pakistan over the last decade, constructing the Gwadar port in Baluchistan to secure Chinese access to energy supplies via the Arabian Sea. It has also strengthened its civil nuclear support with Pakistan to counterbalance closer relations between the Unites States and India. 

Pakistan received kind words from Beijing. On May 6, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman advised the international community to show “more comprehension and support” to Pakistan, also reminding them that “national sovereignty should be respected”, showing disapproval of the American raid.

The PM of Pakistan, Mr. Gilani, praised China, describing it as “a source of inspiration for the Pakistani people”.

Though it is not my intention to defend Pakistani intelligence agencies for their negligence, but this is not the first time intelligence failures have occurred. Intelligence lapses have been a recurrent part of history around the world. Wasn’t 9/11 an intelligence failure by the CIA, or the Mumbai Attack by RAW or the London Bombings by the SIS or M15?

Some say that Obama’s actions can not be justified as this a case of the US indulging in blatant terrorism against Pakistan by invading their territory as is the case with the ongoing drone attacks where the killing of innocent civilians including women and young children is considered ‘collateral damage”.

Noam Chomsky stated in an article, “We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.”

Pakistan, as a nation, is going through tough times. It is time for the people of Pakistan to ask themselves what their country has gained from their alliance with the United States in all these years. Perhaps it is time to bring some changes in Pakistan’s diplomacy in order to free itself from America’s clutches and understand the difference between its friends and foes.

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