|Image source: theday.co.uk|
It’s the end of the Second World War, and the United States is deciding what to do about two immense, poor, densely populated countries in Asia. America chooses one of the countries, becoming its benefactor. Over the decades, it pours billions of dollars into that country’s economy, training and equipping its military and its intelligence services. The stated goal is to create a reliable ally with strong institutions and a modern, vigorous democracy. The other country, meanwhile, is spurned because it forges alliances with America’s enemies.
The country not chosen was India, which “tilted” toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Pakistan became America’s protégé, firmly supporting its fight to contain Communism. The benefits that Pakistan accrued from this relationship were quickly apparent: in the nineteen-sixties, its economy was an exemplar. India, by contrast, was a byword for basket case. Fifty years then went by. What was the result of this social experiment?
American money began flowing into Pakistan in 1954, when a mutual defense agreement was signed. During the next decade, nearly two and a half billion dollars in economic assistance, and seven hundred million in military aid, went to Pakistan. After the 1965 Pakistan-India war began, the U.S. essentially withdrew aid to both countries. Gradually, U.S. economic aid was restored, but the Pakistani military was kept on probation.
When, in 1979, U.S. intelligence discovered that Pakistan was secretly building a uranium-enrichment facility in response to India’s nuclear-weapons program. That April, the military dictator of Pakistan, General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, hanged the civilian President he had expelled from office, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; he then cancelled elections. U.S. aid came to a halt. At the same time, Zia began giving support to an Islamist organization, Jamaat-e-Islami, the forerunner of many more radical groups to come. In November, a mob of Jamaat followers, inflamed by a rumor that the U.S. and Israel were behind an attack on the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, burned the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to the ground, killing two Americans and two Pakistani employees. The American romance with Pakistan was over, but the marriage was just about to begin.
The very next month, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. President Jimmy Carter, in a panic, offered Zia four hundred million dollars in economic and military aid. Zia rejected the offer, calling it “peanuts”-the term often arises in Pakistani critiques of American aid, but it must have rankled the peanut farmer in the White House. Zia was smart to hold out. Under Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, U.S. aid nearly quintupled: about three billion dollars in economic assistance and two billion in military aid. The Reagan Administration also provided three billion dollars to Afghan jihadis. These funds went through the sticky hands of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, the spy branch of the Pakistani Army. Starting in 1987, the I.S.I. was headed by General Hamid Gul, a cunning and bitterly anti-American figure. The I.S.I. became so glutted with power and money that it formed a “state within a state,” in the words of Benazir Bhutto, who became Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 1988. She eventually fired Gul, fearing that he was engineering a coup.
Milton Bearden, a former C.I.A. station chief in Pakistan, once described Gul to me as having a “rococo” personality. In 2004, I visited Gul – a short man with a rigid, military posture and raptor-like features – at his villa in Rawalpindi. He proudly asked his servant to bring me an orange from his private grove. I asked Gul why, during the Afghan jihad, he had favored Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the seven warlords who had been designated to receive American assistance in the fight against the Soviets. Hekmatyar was the most brutal member of the group, but, crucially, he was a Pashtun, like Gul. As I ate the orange, Gul offered a more principled rationale for his choice: “I went to each of the seven, you see, and I asked them, ‘I know you are the strongest, but who is No. 2?’ ” He formed a tight, smug smile. “They all said Hekmatyar.”
Later, Gul helped oversee the creation of the Taliban, reportedly using mainly Saudi money. The I.S.I. openly supported the Taliban until September 11, 2001. Since then, the Pakistani government has disavowed the group, but it is widely believed that it still provides Taliban leaders with safe harbor in Quetta, where they stage jihad against Western forces in Afghanistan.
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush cut off military aid to Pakistan. Ostensibly, this was in response to Pakistan’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, but it’s also true that, after the Soviets were pushed out of Afghanistan, in the late eighties, the U.S. lost interest in Pakistan. U.S. assistance, directed almost entirely toward food and counter-narcotics efforts, fell to forty-five million dollars a year, and declined further after 1998, when Pakistan began testing nuclear weapons.
After the September 11th attacks, Pakistan abruptly became America’s key ally in the “war on terror.” Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. gave billions of dollars to Pakistan, most of it in unrestricted funds, to combat terrorism. Pervez Musharraf, who served as President between 1999 and 2008, now admits that during his tenure he diverted many of those billions to arm Pakistan against its hobgoblin enemy, India. “Whoever wishes to be angry, let them be angry, why should we bother?” Musharraf said in an interview on the Pakistani television channel Express News. “We have to maintain our security.” Since Musharraf left office, there has been little indication that U.S. aid $4.5 billion in 2010, one of the largest amounts ever given to a foreign country is being more properly spent.
The main beneficiary of U.S. money, the Pakistani military, has never won a war, but, according to “Military Inc.,” by Ayesha Siddiqa, it has done very well in its investments: hotels, real estate, shopping malls. Such entrepreneurship, however corrupt, fills a gap, as Pakistan’s economy is now almost entirely dependent on American taxpayers. In a country of a hundred and eighty million people, fewer than two million citizens pay taxes, and Pakistan’s leaders are doing little to change the situation. In Karachi, the financial capital, the government recently inaugurated a program to appoint eunuchs as tax collectors. Eunuchs are considered relentless scolds in South Asia, and the threat of being hounded by one is somehow supposed to take the place of audits.
In 2008, Pakistan’s government made the dramatic announcement that it was placing the I.S.I. under the control of its Interior Ministry a restructuring that was revoked within hours by inflamed military leaders, who effectively vetoed the government. That November, Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organization that has reportedly received backing from the I.S.I. to wage jihad in Kashmir, carried out attacks on tourists in Mumbai. According to American indictments, an I.S.I. officer directed the surveillance of suitable targets. Those sites included the Taj and Oberoi hotels, the train station, the Leopold Café, and the Chabad House, a Lubavitch outpost run by an American rabbi and his pregnant wife. According to Sebastian Rotella, who has written extensively for ProPublica about the attack, “They were going out of their way to kill Americans.” At the hotels, the attackers sorted through passports, looking for American and British citizens. In the end, a hundred and sixty-six people were killed, but only six were Americans. The Pakistani government denied any involvement, although it eventually conceded that the attacks had been planned in Pakistan.
Ali Soufan, a former F.B.I. special agent who interrogated many of the Al Qaeda members captured in Pakistan, told me that “the majority of them said that Lashkar-e-Taiba had given them shelter.” After the battle of Tora Bora, he added, the Al Qaeda members who fled to Pakistan including top leaders were greeted by Lashkar operatives and taken to safe houses. Some Pakistanis worry that Lashkar may become the new Al-Qaeda.
A number of investigative reports have suggested that the I.S.I. diverted American money designated for fighting terrorism to the Taliban. According to a 2007 document released by WikiLeaks, U.S. military interrogators at Guantánamo implicitly acknowledged this problem when they placed the I.S.I. on an internal list of “terrorist and terrorist-support entities.”
As much as half of the money the U.S. gave to the I.S.I. to fight the Soviets was diverted to build nuclear weapons. The father of Pakistan’s bomb, A. Q. Khan, later sold plans and nuclear equipment to Libya, North Korea, and Iran. A month before 9/11, Pakistani nuclear scientists even opened a secret dialogue with Al Qaeda. The government of Pakistan has denied knowledge of what Khan and his associates were doing.
In February, 2009, the Pakistani government announced that it had “dismantled the nuclear black market network.” There is no way of knowing if this is true. Neither the U.S. nor the International Atomic Energy Agency has been allowed to interview Khan. According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, the “current status of Pakistan’s nuclear export network is unclear.” Meanwhile, American policymakers have been paralyzed by Pakistan’s nuclear capability. They have repeatedly expressed the worry that, if Pakistan is alienated, its nuclear secrets and materials might get into the wrong hands. But that has already happened.
Not only has American military aid been wasted, misused, and turned against us; it may well have undermined the Pakistani military, which has feasted on huge donations but is far weaker than its nemesis, the Indian military. If the measure of our aid is the gratitude of the Pakistani people and the loyalty of their government, then it has clearly been a failure. Last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that half of Pakistanis believe that the U.S. gives little or no assistance at all. Even the Finance Minister, Hafiz Shaikh, said last month that it was “largely a myth” that the U.S. had given tens of billions of dollars to Pakistan. And if the measure of our aid is Pakistan’s internal security, the program has fallen short in that respect as well. Pakistan is endangered not by India, as the government believes, but by the very radical movements that the military helped create to act as terrorist proxies.
Within the I.S.I., there is a secret organization known as the S Wing, which is largely composed of supposedly retired military and I.S.I. officers. “It doesn’t exist on paper,” a source close to the I.S.I. told. The S Wing handles relations with radical elements. “If something happens, then they have deniability,” the source explained. If any group within the Pakistani military helped hide bin Laden, it was likely S Wing
The American Funding & Covert support for Afghan Jihad training Mujahideen by importing Saudi Brand of Wahabi Islam created the monster called Al-Qaida as we know today, Bin Laden & the Mujahideen were then hailed as liberators against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Post 9/11 Al Qaida has not been banished as was proclaimed in ‘War On Terror’ launched by America post 9/11; rather it has mutated in various forms like a Hydra across continents from Af-Pak to Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria-Iraq, Nigeria, Mali etc. Groups like ISIS, Ansar Al Shariya, Jabhat Ul Nusra, Boko Haram, Taliban, AQ are all manifestation of the same radical Ideology of Islam. Irony is that those who created these monsters & used them as a tool to strategic policy are themselves preaching human rights while claiming to fight these very groups.
War on Terror as launched by USA is an endless war where there is a start like 9/11 but there is no end. Groups after Groups spring up across Middle east to North Africa; enemies are created, nurtured before they are used to justify the means to a war. The Equation is simple – Create a Problem, Generate a Reaction from Public using Servile Media & offer the solution which you wanted to impose any way. The use of Media to Justify War on Terror, the Drone Campaign & Private Mercenary armies are the means to an end in this never ending war on terror.