U.S. relations with our 'ally' Pakistan took another ratchet downwards when Pakistan's foreign minister accused the U.S. of using Pakistan as a scapegoat after American head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testified before Congress and accused Pakistan's ISI agency of supporting the al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network in planning and executing last week’s 22-hour assault on the US Embassy in Kabul and a truck bombing that wounded 77 American soldiers a few days earlier:
The Haqqanis are "veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency [ISI]," he said in opening remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding that it had provided the Haqqanis with support to conduct the Kabul attacks:
"With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted the truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy," Mullen said of the recent attack on a base in Wardak that wounded 77 U.S. soldiers. "We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28 attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations."
Mullen said Pakistan's government has chosen to "use violent extremism as an instrument of policy," which jeopardizes its relationship with the United States and its role as a player in the region.
Speaking of its support for the Haqqani Network, Mullen said, "they may believe that by using these proxies they are hedging their bets, or redressing what they feel is an imbalance of regional power. But, in reality, they have already lost that bet."
He added that by "exporting violence, they have eroded their internal security and their position in the region. They have undermined their international credibility and threatened their economic well-being."
Panetta said that in recent high-profile meetings with Pakistani officials, U.S. officials have conveyed "a very clear message to them and to others that they must take steps to prevent the safe haven that the Haqqanis are using.
"We simply cannot allow these kinds of terrorists to be able to go into Afghanistan, attack our forces, and then return to Pakistan for safe haven and not face any kind of pressure from the Pakistanis for that to stop."
Panetta called the existence of safe havens "not tolerable" and "unacceptable," and said continued U.S. pressure on Pakistan's leaders was the only way they would get that message. "The only way to deal with the Pakistanis, " he said, "is to keep giving them a clear message of where the lines are. "
The Pakistanis, of course, had their own things to say about where the lines are.Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik baldly denied Mullen's accusations about ISI involvement with the Haqqani Network, and warned the U.S. that Pakistan would not allow a U.S. attack over the border aimed at the Haqqanis,who are apparently a protected species in Pock-kee-stawn.
“The Pakistan nation will not allow the boots on our ground, never,” Mr. Malik said in an interview with Reuters. “Our government is already cooperating with the U.S. — but they also must respect our sovereignty.”
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar likewise warned the U.S. not to cross what she called 'red lines' and not to use Pakistan as a scapegoat. ”If many of your goals are not achieved, you do not make someone a scapegoat,” she said, speaking to the American Government.
Khar spoke these lines with such conviction and inherent dishonesty that I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out she was related to Hillary Clinton somewhere along the line.
The Pakistanis have been nurturing, arming and training the Haqqani Network and other Islamist groups for years. In fact,things are so symbiotic that the Pakistani military and the Haqqani fighters both forces major bases practically next door to each other in Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan. The ISI has a similar relationship with Islamist terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and several others of that ilk.
Pakistan sees the Haqqanis in particular as an instrument of policy to attack India and protect their interests in Afghanistan, especially since they know that President Obama has a set-in-stone date for bugging out. He's going to want to campaign as the guy who killed bin-Laden and brought the troops home from those 'illegal' Bush wars.
The fact that Pakistan is a rogue basket case of a nation that actively supports terrorism (the Mumbai Attacks and the British 7/7 bombings are just two examples) and engages in a nice sideline of illegal nuclear proliferation to people like Iran and North Korea is also not exactly unknown to the United States. This isn't new information. That's exactly why we couldn't trust the Pakistanis with our knowledge that Osama bin-Laden had been hiding out in fancy digs with right to the Pakistani Military Academy in Abbotobad for six years, why Pakistan arrested five Pakistani informants who helped the CIA find out where Osama bin-Laden was hiding out and imprisoned them on charges of espionage and why almost every time we've let them know drone attacks are imminent the terrorists have safely moved away and we end up bombing an empty building.
We've essentially turned a blind eye towards Pakistan's treachery and enabled it because we need to bribe them. Around 75% of the supplies needed for our war in landlocked Afghanistan comes through the Pakistani port of Karachi and travels overland via the Torkhum Pass, which is why we've been paying Pakistan off to the tune of billions per year. And while we've finally begun the process of paying baksheesh to five countries instead of one to lessen the impact of our deteriorating relations withPakistan, it isn't nearly complete yet and will likely not have that much of an impact since our leaving Afghanistan is fairly imminent. So we'll do nothing now.
As for Pakistan, it's going to remain the same violent, corrupt Islamist hell hole it always was, with the added attraction of a civil war between various Islamist groups as the army splits apart into factions, with Pakistan's nuclear arsenal as the grand prize for the winner. You see, when Pakistan's powers-that-be got into in bed with various terrorist groups like the Haqqanis and Lashkar-e-Taiba, they thought they were going to be using them. Instead, they've made them strong enough that the Army isn't going to be either unified enough or powerful enough to take them on.
Our whole toxic relationship with Pakistan started because of our involvement in Afghanistan. Under the Bush Doctrine, we would have been more than justified in hitting Pakistan as well, and in terms of our war aims we likely would have been better off.
In the beginning it more or less worked because we had in Pervez Musharraf a dictator who at least stayed bought. Condi Rice, arguably one of the most inept Secretaries of State since William Jennings Bryan torched that arrangement by insisting that Musharraf allow the klepotocrat Bhuttos back in to the country as 'partners, to show more democracy', and the rest is history.
But as I've said before, it would be a nice touch if, as we left AfPak we took out Pakistan's nuclear facilities and perhaps kidnapped their rogue nuclear scientist AQ Kahn and took him to a nice, isolated interrogation room to find out exactly what he sold and to whom.
Of course, nothing remotely like that is going to happen under this president.