Six years after the world’s public enemy No 1 Osama bin Laden was killed in a Navy Seals raid on the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, there is enough evidence in the eyes of world that Pakistan continues to pursue the same policy of hunting with the hounds and running with the hares. The world, especially Washington, believes that the military in Islamabad is still aiding and abetting the terrorists and that makes Pakistan “a state sponsor of terrorism.”
Quietly, but surely, a bill introduced by House Sub-committee chairman Ted Poe is moving towards voting which would require presidential waiver to release the Coalition Support Fund, the major lifeline for the military in Pakistan. The bill also asks the question why has Pakistan so far not been declared a state sponsoring terrorism.
Standing on the sidelines and waiting for the outcome of this legislation, the Pakistani establishment is wondering aloud that why no matter what they say and how forcefully they put is the world in general and the US and India in particularly refuse to believe Pakistan. All those black-suit and tie visits to DoD and State Department by the Pakistani generals with civilian diplomats in tow, come to nothing when they painfully present Pakistan as a country at the forefront of war against terrorism.
It leaves the generals baffled and bewildered. They have seen General Musharraf masterfully doing it for seven long years ,but the old trick now is becoming boring. The world watches. The Haqqani network continues to be a problem. The Taliban who are overwhelmingly Pashtuns keep the pot of insurgency boiling while their Pakistani friends look the other way. On top of that the most recent media reports, though unconfirmed, speak about Al Qaeda’s No 2 Ayman Al Zawahiri’s alleged presence on Pakistani soil and that too in its largest city of Karachi. Pakistan is not an information black-hole like Syria or Afghanistan where one is never sure till the last minute about the presence of a HVT.
The former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, after all, was killed by a DoD drone strike in Balochistan far from the lawless lands of tribal areas. He was returning from Iran and was carrying Pakistani passport. The US is looking for a faster but certain way out of Afghanistan under the Trump administration.
Washington has clearly signaled that the only bilateral interest it has left for Pakistan is to seek Islamabad’s cooperation in pinpointing the HVTs.
The imminent departure of the US and ISAF forces, barring special operation units, would leave Pakistan desperate and isolated. The military is accustomed to its annual budget running into billions of dollars. Though China has made its intentions clear that it would come to the help of military by pumping in more than 55 billion dollars in the name of a road which already exists.
Moreover, China’s record of early engagement and earlier withdrawal also shows that China may not invest what it said it would. Its record in Sri Lanka and south America tells the story of abandoned projects and hollowed promises. Pakistan has already announced that its strategic port of Gwadar right at the mouth of oil lines would be given to China. And if Chinese military or navy decided to lay anchor in Gwadar that would attract all sorts of regional and global enemies to Pakistan and Pakistan would find itself devastated amidst a plethora of proxy wars.
Meanwhile inside Pakistan, military-sponsored media, which includes almost all the TV channels and newspapers, continues to play victim. The US bashing has touched its peak and now everything associated with the US and the West is bad. — much on the lines of ISIS propaganda. There is no space left for civil society and independent media. The military is continuously drumming the narrative that India and US are out to get Pakistan, while China and Saudi Arabia are the saviors. In a country where more than 65 percent of population is illiterate, the propaganda gets currency, but sooner or later it will expire its shelf date.
*Mohammed Rizwan is a professional journalist for the last 23 years 1990-2014 covering politics and terrorism from Pakistan and Dubai.