WASHINGTON, April 7: A former head of CIA’s Al Qaeda unit, and now a political analyst, has warned the Bush administration not to push Pakistan too much to do things that are against its national interests as it can lead to the collapse of a major US ally in South Asia.
In a hard-hitting opinion piece published in the Washington Times on Friday, Michael F. Scheuer, a 22-year CIA veteran, describes Pakistan as an ally that did far more and took more lethal risks to accomplish America’s ‘dirty work’ than any other of its allies, including all of Nato, in the war against al Qaedaism.
Mr Scheuer, who created and served as CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit head, says that while Pakistan’s internal political contradictions, economic problems and the Homeric venality of its politicians have (also) long caused a steady downward spiral, America’s shabby treatment of this close ally also had done a great harm. “US officials believe they can add untold pressures to the Pakistani leader’s burden and still find him eager to do America’s most important dirty work: Killing Osama bin Laden. Well, think again,” warns Mr Scheuer.
The CIA veteran says that since 9/11, Washington has often forced Pakistani leaders to take steps that run counter to Pakistan’s national interests.
“Pakistan, for example, had no enemies in the Taliban or al Qaeda until (Pakistani leaders) made them such at our behest. Likewise, there could have been no better Afghan government for Pakistan than the Taliban regime, and yet (Pakistani leaders) helped America destroy it and replace it with the Karzai regime, a government that has allowed an enormous increase in the Indian presence in Afghanistan.”
The author recalls that for the first time Pakistan has sent the regular army into the largely autonomous tribal areas to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
“To date, Pakistan has lost more soldiers killed and wounded than the US-led coalition in Afghanistan. More dangerously, the offensives … are stoking the fires of a potential civil war between Islamabad and the Pashtun tribes that dominate much of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.”
This situation, he says, is heaven-sent for Pakistan’s enemies, “the Karzai regime and India, to fuel Pashtun irredentism.” If successful, this people could lead to the creation of a country ungovernable without Western bayonets, reducing Islamabad’s domain to an indefensible sliver of territory, faced by angry warlike tribes to the west and a billion-plus, nuclear-armed Indians to the east. For New Delhi, this would be nirvana on earth.
“What have (Pakistan’s) US allies done to help lighten the load of an ally Washington describes as indispensable,” asks the author.
“President Bush visited India before Islamabad and there again declared New Delhi a strategic US partner. Then, as if to ensure Pakistanis did not miss the snub, the president signed a nuclear deal with India that however non-weapons-related its content will be seen by Mr Musharraf’s fellow generals, Islamist political parties, and most Pakistanis as giving their enemy a WMD leg-up over Pakistan.”
“On arriving for a hurried visit to Pakistan, the president spoke the usual boiler plate describing Pakistan as a major ally in the war on terrorism, and then asked Mr Musharraf what all US leaders ask their Pakistani counterparts: What have you done for me lately? Mr Musharraf, reeling from what he has done, was told he must do more to eliminate al Qaeda and the Taliban, help the anti-Pakistan Karzai regime, and to forget the idea of a US-Pakistan nuclear deal like that America signed with India.”
Such measures, he believes, would provoke the Pashtun tribes, endanger Pakistan’s western border and force it to do India’s bidding, Mr Scheuer said.