While we’re waiting for Iowa to make up their minds as to a possible Obama opponent, it may behoove us to examine just what repercussions of Obama’s Pakistan foreign policy lie in store for the US and our national security. Yes yes… I’m well aware that foreign policy is triaged way down in the electorate’s mind in import. At least when it comes to specific day-to-day events. But there is no doubt that our national security does still remain an important campaign issue… even if not at the top of the voters’ radar. So this is a worthy debate, even if not as “sexy” a topic these days.
The summary? Zardari is on his way out – early – and there’s a three way frontal assault for new leadership of the nuke-armed nation. Pakistan has grown extremely anti-American with the average of a drone strike over Pakistani soil every four days – 291 total, and 236 of them under this POTUS alone, the invasion of sovereign territory – sans permission – to get UBL (as promised by candidate Obama), and the pièce de résistance, the NATO “oops” attack that killed 24 Pakistan soldiers. And as CJ, FA’s boots-on-the-ground in Afghanistan reports, they’ve already begun exacting their revenge by slashing US supply lines to our troops in Afghanistan.
So exactly who is Pakistan’s future potential leadership, and are they a potential enemy, or ally of the US? Sorry to report that the outlook isn’t good, with two out of the three declaring, in advance, that the US is no friend to that nation and promising no cooperation as part of their elective appeal. Considering the above referenced events, Obama’s ill-thought foreign policies have left the US extremely unpopular with Pakistanis who will not welcome any input… just as “new and improved” Egypt now states. In fact, it may be quite likely that any functional relationship with Pakistan will be coming to an end.
I’ll start this crash course in a current events perspective with an little noticed press release over the holidays that former Pakistan army chief, General Ziauddin Butt, has charged the Musharraf regime with deliberately harboring Usama Bin Laden, away from the US’s intelligence eyes, in the past holiday week.Musharraf is, of course, one of the favorite dumping grounds of the western press. I also know that so many don’t know, or care, where Pakistan fits in with the US national security overview. Fair enough. If anyone hasn’t figured out why Pakistan is a better ally than enemy in this climate, I daresay there’s not much I can do to influence you otherwise. But fact is… they are a nuclear nation. The citizens have demonstrated thru every election that they don’t want Shariah law as the ultimate rule of the land, and they are none too pleased with internal terrorist attacks themselves.
Needless to say, Pakistan has all the makings of a Middle East, Islamic psuedo-ally in intel, and offers absolutely no appeal as an enemy. Post Sept 11th, they became that ally under Musharraf…until they were provoked and abused beyond the pale under this POTUS, that is.
Judging by the Commander in Chief’s three years of policy choices, I’d say that Obama does not share my view of Pakistan as a more valuable ally than enemy. While I welcomed the death of UBL, I am on record (and taking much heat for…) my opinion that “…there would be a seriously hefty price for this nation to pay for Bin Laden’s head, if one weighs the cascading repercussions.”
Today, those repercussions are painfully obvious – at least to those paying attention.
Using my approach of Pakistan as more valuable as a friend than enemy, I happened to find this Musharraf accusation of particular interest for many reasons. First, because General Ziauddin – oft referred to as the “genius general” in Pakistan circles – has not been in power in the Pakistani Army since 1999…prior to when UBL would have been in Abbottabad.
So where is his inside scuttlebutt – post power and position – supposedly coming from?
And more importantly, why… now, today…is he deciding to confess this to the free world? If this hiding of UBL by Musharraf’s regime was so important to Ziauddin, what the heck took him so long to come forward?The answer to that is political expedience, which brings me to, the second reason for my skepticism. Historically, Ziauddin is no friend of Musharraf. On the other hand, Ziauddin’s career is undeniably beholding to Nawaz Sharif – the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N.
And when it comes to Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf, there is even less love lost between those two. I’ll skip that rich-in-detail history for now, but suffice it to say Sharif’s revenge for Musharraf springs eternal.
I will also add any sane American, who stays abreast of Pakistani politics and their repetitive players, knows very well that Nawaz Sharif was, is and remains, a clear and present danger to the US.
Sharif represents some of Pakistan’s most populous areas. Along with that is his alliance and representation of Pakistan’s most radical elements. When Bhutto’s co-architect of the Afghanistan Mullah Omar Talliban – Fazlur Rehman – needed to convey a “truce” offer for the Afghan Taliban, who did he take it to? Nawaz Sharif.
Who is it that cannot bear to criticize the Taliban in the Pakistani press? Nawaz Sharif.
Who supports and has overtly fought for Islam as the rule of the land for Pakistan, and has a “soft corner” for his terrorist/radical base? Nawaz Sharif.
And when Obama’s admin wanted a carrier pigeon/negotiator with the Afghanistan terrorists, who did they woo? Nawaz Sharif.
Fact is, if anyone would know where Osama Bin Laden was hiding out, it would be more likely to be Sharif and his crowd, as Sharif met with Bin Laden three times, requesting financial assistance to hold power in the late 90s.
In September 1999, government officials said, the director general of I.S.I., Lt. Gen. Ziauddin and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was summoned to Washington. American officials told them Pakistan should force the Taliban to moderate their positions and turn over Osama bin Laden. Nawaz Sharif sent General Ziauddin to Kandahar to deliver the American message to Mullah Omar, who refused and next month, on Oct. 12, 1999, Nawaz Sharif was overthrown in a military coup.
Adnkronos International (AKI) reported that former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif did meet al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at least three times in order to get financial help, according to Khalid Khawaja, the former official with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In an exclusive interview with AKI, Khawaja, once a close friend of Osama bin Laden, rejected the statements by a spokesperson for Sharif’s political party, denying that Sharif had sought political cooperation from bin Laden in the past.
“Nawaz Sharif met Osama Bin Laden on at least three occasions and was desperately seeking his financial assistance,” Khawaja told AKI in response to recent news reports regarding a possible meeting between the two.
In an interview with a national Urdu daily, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and of the six party religious alliance MMA, said that Nawaz Sharif had repeatedly met Osama bin Laden who offered him money to buy the loyalties of parliamentarians in the late 1980s in order to topple the government of then prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Qazi also said that bin Laden was a big supporter of Nawaz Sharif’s bid to be prime minister in 1990.
Khalid Khawaja’s name resurfaced when US reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted and subsequently killed. Pearl had come to Pakistan and met Khalid Khawaja in order to investigate the jihadi network of revered sufi, Syed Mubarak Ali Gailani.
“Now after Benazir Bhutto formed her government and the opposition parties moved for a vote of no-confidence, Osama Bin Laden comes in a picture,” Khawaja recalled.
“I still remember that Osama bin Laden provided me with funds, which I handed over to Nawaz Sharif, then the chief minister of Punjab [and later premier], to dislodge Benazir Bhutto. Nawaz Sharif insisted that I arrange a direct meeting with the “Sheikh”, which I did in Saudi Arabia. Nawaz met thrice with Osama in Saudi Arabia.
Tho Sharif, himself, doesn’t currently hold an office in Pakistan’s government today, he is President of the anti-US/pro Islamic fundamentalist party that, along with himself, have been rapidly gaining in popularity since the Zardari election – the Pakistan Muslim League-N. Nor has he shed the desire to again ascend to power, as one could easily derive from his Dec 21st, 2011 demand that Pakistan hold elections early. Considering he’s been pressuring the public for a revolution for months, this can’t come as a surprise.
Is it just mere coincidence that Sharif’s rising popularity, and his demand for early elections, pre’dates General Ziauddin’s accusation against Musharraf by only 2-3 days?
Whether because of health, scandals, or public displeasure with the current elected ones, Pakistan is on the precipice of selecting a new leader. Bhutto’s ex-hubby… President Asif Zardari, who catapulted to victory literally on the grave of his media-sainted wife post assassination… is out of favor, and on his way out prior to the ending of his term. Mourn not… never in the history of that nation has a democratically elected civilian government served out its full term and then been replaced by another one, as we do here in the US. Does that give you a clue as to how susceptible to influences – both internally and internationally – they are?
So why the resurgence of the “dump on Musharraf” mentality by fundamentalist Sharif – via Ziauddin – at a time when few Americans would take notice? That, I believe, is the question that takes precedence over the accusation itself.
And the answer is – Sharif fully intends to use historically stupid western media to influence Pakistan’s future, and imminent, new leader…himself. And it just so happens that two of the three potential leaders includes this unappetizing prospect of a Pakistan, headed up by Sharif. The second of the three is the return of Musharraf, enjoying a resurgence in his own popularity.
Piling on with the coincidence if this timely accusation is Musharraf’s announcement he was returning to Pakistan in January, made just two days before Sharif’s demand for early elections.
Of these two, Musharraf offered the only leader who, in the past, cooperated with the US in HUMINT, and tactitly approved Bush drone strikes. Considering the sheer volume of a US war, waged against Pakistan, by unmanned drones by Obama, I can’t see even Musharraf exercising the cooperation he extended to the Bush administration in the future.
Also worrisome for Sharif is the fact that he’s starting to lose ground in his own backyard, as the former splinter PML-Q, who left Sharif’s PML-N to back Musharraf, are starting to bond with Musharraf’s 2010 political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). Together, they are forging a relationship with another upcoming party, the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) to oppose not only Sharif’s, party, but Zardari’s PPP as well. While Zardari and his party may be history as a majority, this alliance is likely to give Sharif’s support serious trouble in Punjah, and most especially in Lahore.But there’s a third, newer, and less familiar face to westerners on Pakistan’s political landscape… former cricket player turned politician, Imran Khan Niazi. Khan is the founder of the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 1996, and was a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly from 2002 to 2007. Back then, the PTI was a supporter of the Musharraf policies, tho Khan remained personally critical to the corruption at all levels in Pakistan’s government. The chasm between Musharraf and Khan commenced when he opposed Musharraf’s run for relection without resigning first as army chief (when he did later).
In the much misreported ta doo that surrounded Musharraf’s declaration emergency rule, Khan was under house arrest, and called for Musharraf’s prosecution with the death penalty. Khan escaped, went into a short period of hiding, then showed up in Punjab for a protest rally, and was captured by students and turned over to the police. He was incarcerated for a few days before he was released, along with 3000 others, who had been detained but not yet charged as part of the emergency rule declaration. A few days following Khan’s release, with the others, Musharraf resigned as army chief.
Despite the rocky past of support and adversity, an October report that Khan and Musharraf have been forging this political alliance for the upcoming, and likely early elections. Since Khan has recently surpassed Nawaz Sharif as being the most popular politician in Pakistan (for the moment…), and Khan considers Sharif another politician not to be trusted, any alliance between the two creates yet another obstacle for Sharif.
This potential alliance also has credibility after a splinter group, the PML-Quaid (who had split from the PML-Q) have lent their support to Khan’s PTI this past October as well.
But what is Khan’s, and the PTI’s, ideology, and their views towards the US? For Christian, Sikhs, and Hndu Pakistanis, the PTI’s religious tolerance is appealing. Social, government and educational reform is also high on the party’s priorities. The rising numbers are evident in the huge rallies of 100s of thousands in the streets of Karachi recently, protesting the current Pakistan government.
For the US? Not so much to celebrate. Khan and the PTI promise to end all cooperation with the US in fighting extremists, put a halt to all drone bombings, and refuse all US foreign aid. In short, the intent is to cut all US ties, which, as Khan believes, contributes to the instability between Pakistanis themselves. He’s also promised to end all Pakistan military activity in the terrorist invested tribal regions… not so good for the US either.
Sir David Frost’s interview this month with Khan, who he calls the likely next PM of Pakistan, casts Khan as Pakistan’s knight in shining armor who can end the Pakistan and Afghanistan wars in just 30 days.
If you listen carefully, Imran Khan will tell American and, in particular, his British audience in this Al Jazeera special, exactly how to end the war in Afghanistan. On the “Pakistan side of the border,” in what is called “the tribal areas” Khan says the war can be ended, not in 2 years, not 11 years but 30 days.
To end the war, you end the Jihad. To end “Jihad,” you have to understand what a Jihad is. Go back and listen again, he will put it in plain language. It is amusing, watching the “paid press” try to picture Khan as anti-American and extremist. What is extreme is honesty, something rare.
Good luck with that “ending of jihad”, and finding peace and harmony amongst all men, bit. But perhaps it’s the season to believe in fairy tales and unicorns.
On the other hand, his extreme distaste for aiding the US in quelling terrorist has also earned him the nickname of Taliban Khan.. somewhat ironic since you’d think that Nawaz Sharif would have that position sewn up for himself.
As far as Pakistan turning into a country ruled by Shariah law, both Khan and the PTI support a Pakistan that is “truly Islamic” In February 2009, he held talks with the SWAT militants, and urged “… the government to allow for sharia law not just in the tribal areas and the northwest, but throughout the country.”
While it’s undeniable that Khan supports Islam as rule of the land, his western education background makes him superficially attractive to many in the western world – perhaps envisioning that he can be considered a “moderate”, walking that fine line between turning Pakistan into a stone agent mentality for women and other religions, yet still keeping the peace between radical religious fanatics. Or else the case can be made we haven’t got a clue what he’d do. But there are sites that dedicate themselves to exposing him as a radical himself.
This grey area Shariah supporter becomes even more ironic when Khan’s own 1995 marriage to English socialite, Jemima Goldsmith Khan – a Jewess who converted to Islam – produced two sons (who also converted), but ended up in divorce nine years later because Ms. Khan just could not adapt to a life in Pakistan as a female Muslim with western upbringing. She still holds dual citizenship, and goes by the name of Khan because of her two Islamic sons, approximate ages 12 and 15.
In another bizarre twist, Ms. Khan – who dated actor Hugh Grant (now there’s a switch in companions…) is now a journalist, who was just recently appointed associate editor of the New Statesman… a publication in the Guardian’s publishing family.
In the past, Khan had been woo’ed by both Musharraf and Sharif for high level political positions. But it seems that his vacillating relationship with both has resulted in an even more lucrative position as being the possible PM head of power himself.
Those are the players. Hard to say if any are an inviting new leadership since the Obama foreign policy has destroyed any good will between the US and Pakistan for the foreseeable future. The only use for the US and the western press now will be for each candidate to manipulate the message.
The expedient use of the gullible, emotional and history challenged puppet western media to influence Pakistan’s leadership isn’t new. The most obvious example of this would be the past demonstration of the world-wide canonization of Benezir Bhutto – creator of Mullah Omar’s Taliban – while not-so-subtly attempting to topple Perez Musharraf. The western press – being historically ignorant – proves that manipulation of the western press is not only easy, but highly effective when it comes to influencing the world view of Pakistani leaders, and thereby effecting election outcomes.
At that same time, a previously banished, sentenced and discredited Islamic law supporter with terrorist ties – Nawaz Sharif – also gained a second foothold in the Pakistan government with the Bhutto/Zardari PPP victory and is currently being painted as the candidate most willing to negotiate with the US.
Why do I find that defective product tough to purchase….
Pakistan was never a fan of being viewed a puppet state of the US. But they did like our cash, and they did share a distaste for the jihad elements in their midst. The majority of the population has shunned Shariah as the nation’s law, but is that changing along with Sharif and Khan’s rise to power?
We’ll simply have to wait and see. The Obama foreign policy has placed us in the untenable situation that we not only wield no influence, but has fueled anti–US public opinion to new and unacceptable heights.
Yesterday, Curt linked to a Most Wanted article, wondering if Obama was preparing to surrender Afghanistan. I’d say the question and area is much larger than just Afghanistan. Not only did his policies lead to the Muslim Brotherhood as a liaison, and woo Nawaz Sharif as a Taliban negotiator in Pakistan, all options in Pakistan lead to a failed diplomatic relationship between the US and a nuclear armed nation for the foreseeable future.
And none of that bodes well for the US and any HUMINT for the global Islamic jihad elements, bent on destroying us. The US stands in the orchard, ready to reap the fruits of Obama’s foreign policy. And it appears that the fruit is already inedible.