Wednesday, October 28, 2009

News Talk Online October 28, 2009: Friend Or Foe? A Look At The Complex Relationship Between The U.S. & Pakistan

Paltalk News Network

Before on can really address the above question, we must get an understanding of how the country arrived at it present situation.

Pakistan became radicalized under the rule of Zia Ul-Haq, an Army general who took power by coup in 1977, and ruled by Marshall Law most of the time until his death in an airplane crash in 1988. Zia was a fervent fanatical Sunni Islamist, who, with the aid of the Wahabbi sect of Saudi Arabia, over the years established over 40,000 Madrases, religious schools that inculcated its students, all young boys, with a visceral hatred of anything Christian, Jewish or Western. That hatred now is in full bloom throughout the country. It is not an exaggeration to say that close to 90 percent of all Pakistanis subscribe to it.

Pakistan is an impoverished country, has little natural resources, very little industry, and is, essentially, incapable of supporting itself.

The country profited immensely during the Afghan/Soviet war, skimming off substantial amounts of the $50 billion provided in cash by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UK to assist the insurgents fighting the Soviets after their invasion in 1978/79.

Zia was in power at that time. He agreed, and demanded, that Pakistan be the only and unaccountable source of that aid to the Mujahadeen and Northern Alliance, either through the BCCI bank for the cash, or though its Inter Service Agency or the military for weapons. It is now acknowledged that at least 50 percent of all money and material was retained by Pakistan. This huge windfall stabilized the economy, with enough left over to fund rogue atomic scientist, A. Q. Khan to, with the direct aid of China, develop their atomic bombs.

Since 2001, Pakistan has received over $15 billion from the United States in direct economic aid and several billion more in military aid.

NATO (read US/CIA) currently, and has for several years, been paying paid off the drug smugglers and local tribes to allow trucks to pass through the Kyber pass. The rumored amount is $2,000 per truck. More than 500 trucks a week travel that route.

With the above in mind, we come to the present.

Last week, President Obama signed a $7.5 billion aid package spread over five years to be given to Pakistan, but with some strings attached. Included are the normal “civil rights” mantra, but the most critical clause was that Pakistan must conduct real military operations against the Taliban and al Qaeda-secure enclaves within Pakistan itself. This condition is the cause of what is now a widening split between the established powers within the country and the U.S.

The base civilian sector, hugely anti-Western, is shrieking that this is an invasion of Pakistani sovereignty. Meanwhile the military, the real power in the country, is strongly resisting the concept that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari can tell it what it must do. The military also believe that they have been left out of this equation, and are not receiving either the attention nor the aid to which they feel they are entitled.

The military’s ISI is, as was stated by Benizer Bhutto several times when she was in power, a state within a state, not accountable to the civil government or the electorate. An example. In June 2008, Zardari made the decision to place the ISI under the control of the Department of the Interior. He was visited by several Army generals, and within hours rescinded the order.

When news of the current aid package was made public, before anything was signed, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, head of the military, made a special trip to talk with Zardari to remind him of the facts of life in Pakistan.

As a sop to the U.S. and to ensure the arrival of the promised aid, the military has embarked on a mission to enter the tribal areas of the Northwest, targeting the Meshud tribal area, which is believed to be the refuge of several thousand “foreign” fighters.

Let's look at that “mission”. The military claims to be sending 30,000 troops. That is not a real commitment when there is a standing army of over 750,000, an active reserve of 538,000 and militias numbering over a quarter million.

Also, this operation has a life span of only a few weeks. The end of November is the onset of the ferocious winter in that part of the world when everything comes to a halt.

Bottom line: Pakistan, both the civilian government and the military, will only act if it is to their benefit and profit.

As the old saying goes, "you pays your money and you takes your chances."

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