By Hamid Waheed – Opinion Maker
The event of 9/11 proved a major shift in Pak US relationship which had gone from bad to worse after US left Pakistan in aftermath of Russian defeat in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton Publically told American audience that Jehadi organizations were US creations for defeating Russia.
It was though easy for US sitting thousands of miles away to walk away and let Pakistan face the music and turn back in 2011 with a report “Country Reports on Terrorism 2010”’ published by United States Department of State .The report illustrates that coop b/w ALQ, Afghan and Pak-based militants was critical. The report discussed the danger posed by LeT and increased resource-sharing b/w ALQ & its Pak-based allies and associates i-e TTP and the Haqqani Network as a source of threat in South Asia. But it fails to speak the complete truth that LeT was created in 1984 at Kunar in Afghanistan by CIA and the fact that Pakistan has played its role in arrest of Lakhvi head of the hardliner faction in LeT after 26/11 at Mumbai. The report also does not mention the role played by JuD a welfare organization in Pakistan out of moderate group thus visibly reducing LeT’s potency.
The converging interests after 9/11 this time more in favor of US, Pakistan once again decided to help a friend. Pakistani leadership came out to reverse anti U.S sentiments and defeat terrorism by convincing public that partnership in war on terror (WOT) is in interest of both Nations. However this way forward could only move few paces when it was challenged by adverse international hands .The U.S was targeted from within by creating a silent divide between Pentagon, the government and CIA.
Media proved one of the major weapons, Western media and a group of American officials became part of a perception war on Pakistan, accusing it of double dealing in the war against terrorism, where as in reality on Afghanistan side there have been some mind boggling events which shows that Raymond Davis was not the start of a problem but was part of issues happening for quite some time. In April 2008 Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, told a parliament security committee that “coalition forces” intended to place weapons, ammunition and food at a police checkpoint in a remote section of the southern province of Zabul in late March, a coalition helicopter by mistake dropped somewhere far from the checkpoint.
Later the Taliban came and they picked it up,” Later Hamidullah Tukhi, a lawmaker from Zabul, told the security commission the weapons were placed 300 feet from the home of a Taliban commander named Mullah Mohammad Alam. He said the supply drop contained heavy machine guns, AK-47s, rockets and food. Lawmakers discussed the issue with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan. “I think Gen. McNeill himself said that it was a mistake, but I don’t believe it”.
Pakistan army fighting WOT in Swat, Malakand observed foreign hand supporting terrorists by training and arms supply to fight Pakistan army. Indian conciliates in Afghanistan near to Pakistan borders were suspected but few noticed a 46-page report by the GAO the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress which warned in Feb , 2009 that thousands of US weapons, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, may be in Taliban or Al-Qaeda hands in Afghanistan because of lax controls. The chairman of the House subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs, John Tierney, asked “What if we had to tell families not only why we are in Afghanistan, but why their son or daughter died at the hands of an insurgent using a weapon purchased by US taxpayers?” the Democrat told the hearing. Pakistan was thus confronted with CIA operating through outsourcing which knew no rules, ethics and principles. With time the initial statements of collation supporters in US state department and Pentagon started becoming hostage to perception war of CIA through media.
US journal terms 2010 a year of big success when over 18 senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders were confirmed killed through drone strikes. The drone strikes have increased anti-Americanism in Pakistan society and the region. The terrorists have used the collateral damage to maximize the environment and society to their benefit. Families of people killed in collateral damage become ideal nursery for suicide bombers. Pakistan Army fighting WOT under General Kayani had come a long way from low popularity level due to its political role to its present strength amongst the people of Pakistan. An international survey conducted to understand the FATA situation revealed that Pak military operation in tribal areas is now considered a step in the right direction.
The percentage of the people favoring military operation has been increasing from 16.7% in 2009 to 66.8% in 2010. However, despite public and official requests to US by political as well as military leadership of Pakistan to stop drone or provide them the technology the drone attacks continued. These attacks converged with western media campaign to malign Pakistan armed forces and its intelligence agency leading to increase in distrust. Despite such odds the professional media keeps showing true picture to the American audience. The Report of Aug 2011 by “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism” claims that after every four days there is one US drone strike. US drone attacks killed 775 civilians including 168 children.
Over all Bureau reports says some 2029 people have died in drone attacks since 2004. The report also declines a recent claim by President Obama saying that no civilians are being killed by drone attacks. (The host shows a clip of Obama’s administration’s top counter-terrorism official (John Burner) , claiming that “we don’t take action where children and women are present even if we know that terrorists are present in that area.) The Obama administration have labeled this report based on allegations and blame that one of its sources is Pakistani spy Mirza Shahzad Akbar. Chris Wood Bureau of Investigative Journalism explained all allegations during his interview. I quote
AMY GOODMAN: The criticism that’s been launched against your research is that one of the lawyers you’re working with, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, works for the ISI, as well, the Pakistani intelligence. Chris Woods, your response? CHRIS WOODS: I do find that an extraordinary attack. I have met Shahzad Akbar on a few occasions. He seems a very straight-down-the-line man. He’s, I think, the only lawyer in Pakistan trying to bring cases on behalf of civilians killed in CIA drone strikes. And, you know, even the CIA now say they’ve killed 50 civilians in Pakistan. Not a single compensation settlement has ever been made in relation to these drone strikes. And we suspect far more civilians have died. Mr. Akbar is being smeared as a possible agent of Pakistani intelligence. I think that’s unfortunate.
A retired Admiral Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama’s former director of national intelligence, declared that America’s drone campaign “is eroding our influence and damaging our ability to work with Pakistan.” The drone strikes in Pakistan are affecting U.S. popularity on the ground, according to the Pew Global Attitudes survey, the U.S. favorability rating—long battered by conspiracy theories and an anti-American media—hovers at about 12%. The perception war blurs and suppresses the voices of intelligentsia which believes in rule of law, Human rights and values. The super power which should be winning hearts and minds of world to maximize its peak life cycle is trapped into shortsighted unethical aims and tactical objectives.
The drone is a tactical weapon and has certainly given good results tactically to support coalition forces operation on their sides of the border. Historically, the drone strategies used by US are similar to French aerial bombardment in rural Algeria in the 1950s, and to the “air control” methods employed by the British in the Pakistani tribal areas in the 1920s. The resemblance is more with the recent 2005-2006 Somalian crisis against the forces of Islamic courts. The strikes though killed the militant targets but the public anger over US’s power usage solidified the power of extremists. This eventually led to Ethiopian military intervention giving rise to regional insurgency and offshore piracy. The security dynamics of the area remain complex having far future implications.
Society and environment remain the main area of concern both for LEA and Terrorists to shape up their future strategy. The solutions lie in looking for joint benefit and strategy for the coalition partners and pursue them under umbrella of confidence. This is a war of hearts and minds for peace around the globe. Are we looking to defeat the terrorist or terrorism remains a trillion dollar question.