President Trump Is Not Right About Pakistan

By Khan Zia

Trump-Pakistan FlagThis is basically in response to the article, ‘Trump is Right About Pakistan’ in The Daily Caller (https://dailycaller.com/2018/11/19/trump-right-about-pakistan/):

As with many other issues, President Trump is wrong when he claims Pakistan has done nothing for the U.S. She played a key role at considerable expense to herself in expelling the Soviet Union at the behest of the U.S. from Afghanistan. When U.S. decided to invade the latter after 9/11, she virtually laid down the country for them. The details of what she provided to the U.S.are listed at the CENTCOM site: http://www.centcom.mil/operations/coalition/coalition-pages/pakistan.html. Its opening para is reproduced below:

‘Immediately after 9/11, Pakistan was prompt in declaring unequivocal support to US in its war against terrorism. It expressed its complete solidarity with US in combatting terrorism in all forms and was willing to provide not only moral but also logistical support and its military bases. Details of the efforts and participation of Pakistan and the adverse effects of following this policy are given in the ensuing paragraphs:’. These included:

1.      Making available five air bases as well as services that included 0.4 million litres of aviation fuel per day and an air corridor that covered two-thirds of the country.

2.      Facilities at Pasni on the coast for landing 8,000 U.S marines and their equipment.

3.      Carrying out 99 raids to capture and hand over 420 foreign suspects to the U.S in the first year alone. The practice was continued afterwards. U.S intelligence agencies were given a virtually free run of the country according to the Institute of Strategic Studies, Pakistan.

4.      Established 665 military check posts along the Afghan border each comprising 40 men.

5.      In CENTCOM’s words, ‘In spite of ominous threat on Eastern Border, Pakistan is maintaining a sizeable portion of her strategic forces (75,000 troops) on Western Border.’ She has mounted major operations in the region that caused nearly 8,000 battlefield casualties, more than three times what the U.S has suffered.

6.      In addition, according to CENTCOM in 2002 alone, ‘Pakistan’s economy suffered a loss of over US$ 10 billion. Major losses were caused to the civil aviation, tourism, investment and shipping due to rise in the rates of insurance. Besides this, Pakistani exports also suffered adversely and foreign investments experienced a visible decline’ The haemorrhaging has continued since then. The war has caused Pakistan’s economy to lose upwards of $347 billion dollars.

7.      There was hardly any terrorism in Pakistan to speak of until she joined the U.S’ war. Since then she has been subjected to more than 500 suicide bombings alone killing or injuring more than 70,000 innocent people.

Regardless the U.S carried out an unrelenting campaign of drone attacks inside Pakistan that targeted among other things tribal meetings, wedding parties and funerals, indiscriminately killing men, women and children (https://law.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/default/files/publication/313671/doc/slspublic/Stanford_NYU_LIVING_UNDER_DRONES.pdf).

Pakistan still plays host to three million of the original five million Afghan refugees displaced by the wars waged first by the Soviet Union and then the United States. They are a considerable drain on her precious resources. With the U.S now tightening screws on Pakistan, it is an open question as to how long she can continue to bear this burden.

No other country has done more for the U.S than Pakistan. Even a CIA analyst Michael F. Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris has conceded that Musharraf was doing ‘the US’s dirty work against his country’s national interest’ (Washington Times, April 7, 2006) while President Bush was telling British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he ‘wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan’ (see Douglas Jehl in The New York Times of 14th October 2005).

No matter what Pakistan did for the U.S she was always exhorted to do more regardless of how it impacted her own national interest, including present and future relations with other countries in the region. Failing this, she was threatened with cutting off aid which was an enigma. It is for consideration if a country whose economy could withstand a loss of more than ten billion dollars in one year really needed a few hundred million dollars worth of aid to survive?

President Trump also made India her strategic partner knowing that she has been using Afghanistan as a base for supporting terrorism inside Pakistan as confirmed by Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel (http://freebeacon.com/politics/chuck-hagels-indian-problem/). It seems incredible he did not know it would make it next to impossible for Pakistan to remain a partner. It raises all kinds of doubts and questions.

For instance, what is the real U.S aim in Afghanistan? Is it really about fighting terrorism or something entirely different? Newt Gingrich had this to say: ‘The fact is, if you slow down the casualty rate and you’re not losing young Americans, the American people will support gradually growing allies for a long time’ that will make long-term troop presence in Afghanistan acceptable to the American people as happened in the case of Germany, Japan and Korea (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/trump-embraces-the-moral-ambiguity-of-a-halfway-war).

Why the U.S need these military bases in Afghanistan is open to conjecture. What interest can Pakistan possibly have in making it possible for the U.S knowing that the bases could be used against her and how can she be a party to this knowing that it will negatively impact her relations with neighbouring countries?

There are persistent reports of increasing numbers of ISIS fighters appearing in Afghanistan. We don’t know how they make their way with their weapons through hostile countries that surround Afghanistan nor who arranges for their upkeep and military support. All we know for certain is that they are hostile to Taliban. Russia has pointed the finger at the U.S for bringing them so has President Hamid Karzai. Whoever it might be, these people will need substantial support inside Afghanistan to survive and it will not be coming from the people of Afghanistan. Other countries in the region also look at this development with considerable alarm which is not helpful to finding a solution in Afghanistan.

What Colonel Sellin has curiously not mentioned is that all the alleged terrorists he has mentioned had been originally brought to Afghanistan by the CIA to evict the Soviets. According to the late British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook’s diary, the CIA file that contained their particulars was titled, ‘Al-Quaeda’! All of them, including theTaliban are the successors to Reagan era Mujahideen or ‘freedom fighters’ as he called them. (https://www.salon.com/2015/11/17/we_created_islamic_extremism_those_blaming_islam_for_isis_would_have_supported_osama_bin_laden_in_the_80s/).

Pakistan has a vital interest in Afghanistan and the reverse is just as true. Karachi has the largest concentration of Pashtoons as compared with any other city in the world, including Kabul. There are more Pashtoons living in Pakistan than there are in Afghanistan where they are the largest and dominant ethnic group. Whatever happens to them affects Pakistan directly.

It is inconceivable for Pakistan to now sacrifice her vital national interest in addition to all that she has already done to please the U.S. Forgetting all the aforesaid, for President Trump to heap baseless accusations on Pakistan in a hopeless effort to find a scapegoat for the failure in Afghanistan has seriously damaged future U.S prospects in the region as a whole. As far as Pakistan is concerned her prime minister has publicly affirmed that after the experience the country will never again become involved with the U.S. It is for the American people to decide if this has been a worthwhile outcome for them for all the lives that have been lost and trillions of dollars that have been spent?

The writer is a retired Pakistan naval officer and author of ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and ‘Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’