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Real cause of US anger

Published Jun 11, 2012 12:10am

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SAFE havens are back. For a while it seemed as if the Pakistan-US relationship was being defined by decidedly small-bore issues: apologies, transit fees and the release of monies. However, as the relationship between the nominal allies has gone from awkward to virtually dysfunctional, US officials have turned once again to that perennial thorn in the American side — safe havens along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan which allow the Afghan Taliban to regroup, avoid American fire and plan attacks inside Afghanistan. The North Waziristan Agency in particular is the source of much anger on the American side, there seemingly being a consensus that the Haqqani network is behind some of the most damaging attacks in Afghanistan. There appears, then, more than meets the eye in the latest stand-off between Pakistan and the US: are the interminable negotiations over the normalisation of ties really about the mechanics of an apology, transit fees and the like or is there a behind-the-scenes showdown over to what extent Pakistan should turn on the Afghan Taliban/ Haqqani network even as the international war effort in Afghanistan heads to a close?

Two points need to be made. One, American frustration with Pakistan on the issue of safe havens is more likely to be counterproductive than not. The more US officials go public with their anger and concerns, the more the security establishment here may have to dig in its heels. With anti-Americanism in the public and the army rank and file at a historic high, military action inside Pakistan at the behest of the US will be difficult to sell. The outgoing US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter had the right approach: don’t expect miracles; keep expectations and demands firmly in check; and work with Pakistan to find the spaces in which incremental progress can be made. Unfortunately, the Pakistan hawks in American policy circles appear to be winning the argument at the moment — though they too are unlikely to win the argument with Pakistan through their approach.

Two, Pakistan needs to take a hard look at North Waziristan Agency for its own sake. Left to their own devices — some in return for not attacking Pakistan proper; others because the state doesn’t have the capacity or will to take them on — the dozens of militant groups and offshoots gathered in North Waziristan are a long-term threat to Pakistan. A policy of zero tolerance towards militancy — something yet to become evident — is the only way to Pakistan’s long-term stabilisation and security. Moreover, tackling the North Waziristan threat would diminish the Americans’ case for the much-maligned drone strikes.


Comments (29) Closed



Suhail Ahmad Jun 11, 2012 03:47pm
Ever since the Raymond Davis' incident and removal of CIA / Xe / Blackwater operatives from Pakistani soil, suicide attacks and attacks on Pakistani military installations have decreased manifolds. My question is that have the militants realized that Pakistan is no longer aiding the USA in a flawed WOT and threfore, have relented their offensive on the country or is that American agencies were destabilizing the country? Increasing drone attacks are only reflective of Americans getting frustrated with their ability to destabilize Pakistan through their agencies.
Sam Jun 11, 2012 06:41pm
Did Pakistan Govt ever learned any thing from past experience? If 9/11 have not happened, Pakistan would have been defaulted. Value of Pakistani Rupee would have been sunk to very low and that would have caused major economic problem to Pakistan. Not even China wanted to give you 1-paise to Pakistan and friend like Saudi Arabia did not come to rescue. When there was an earthquake and flooding, western countries came to rescue and poured billions of $$ to help. Majority help came from US, but that money went to Swiss bank account (corruption account, I would say). There is a fact, Pakistan loves the US-$ but hates the US.
azmat khan Jun 11, 2012 06:35pm
spot on
S Shastri Jun 11, 2012 06:09pm
Doctor sahib, you forgot Viet Nam in your list of examples. But that does not take away anything from the rest of your argument.
Chuck Hastings Jun 12, 2012 01:56am
With allies like Pakistan, the United States does not need enemies.
s.khan Jun 11, 2012 04:02pm
It is highly doubtful that Haqqani group is really the big obstacle. Look at the numbers: Haqqani group 10,000 to 15,000. Nato 200,000, Afghan army 200,000, CIA operatives, Afghan secret service. By all accounts it is a formidable force against the rag tag Haqqani group. They should be able to defeat them. There is a question of geography. I don't know for sure but believe that there is considerable distance between Kabul and N. Waziristan. How can they move about freely to launch attacks on targets in Kabul with drones surveillance, CIA and special forces, Afghan secret service and army not being able to track and destroy them. If it is a failure of NATO, CIA and Afghan army then American statements are just the expression of frustrations. Don't get me wrong, I support action against the militants for peace and stability in that region. If America leaves 10,000 troops behind it doesn't have much significance.If 200,000 troops can't accomplish the objective, what a smaller force would do. It will be just symbolic basically advising Afghan army.
Naemm afridi Jun 11, 2012 04:00pm
what americans are incapable of doing they should not ask us to do that.they have failed everywhere to fight back the insugency-history speaks this.so how a small nation like pakistan can do what mighty us has repeatedly failed to do.and please to all paksitanis north waziristan is part of country ND ANY MILITRY OPERATION will only bring misiries to the poor locals.we must no forget them.
R C Desai Jun 11, 2012 09:52am
Pakistan should consider it 's long term interest and act in eliminating terrorists. For sake of the Nation politicians should overlook emotional responses to alleged hurts.
waheed Jahangir Jun 12, 2012 01:22am
Right on Malik, the day our leadership stopped begging for cash from U.S to fill their already overloaded Bank accounts, will be the day we can free ourselves from their Wrath and have them take us as a sovereign nation. But having said that fighting terrorism is no more U.S war rather a cancer that's killing Pakistan itself. We should fight this war not to get a few dollars but to save our nation . And during the process if we are offered help, we should take it up.
ss verma Jun 11, 2012 03:37am
Poor Mike Mullen...he made countless sorties to Pakistan and was led up the garden path ( we dont say no but will chose the timing) about the "cleansing" of North Wazirisatn by the Paki Mil. He will be waiting a long time!
M.S. Yousuf Jun 11, 2012 02:36pm
The non Pakistanis seem to have a field day on this comment section.
olloo Jun 12, 2012 01:13am
Its time the world is a dangerous place to live.People will be praying for it to end so they can relax in grave yard.Their is no value for a human life.One call the other the names Terrorists,Millitants,Infidels & many more.What goes around comes around.If you just look the other as a human it will be a very safe place.Unfortunately in the name of democracy people are destroying the nations & coming generations.Why force some one to be like you have some respect for other culture & believe.To me God has his own way to get even you just sit & watch.
cautious Jun 12, 2012 12:31am
I think the Editor has missed the point. The current criticisms are not designed to get action from Pakistan -- but directed at preparing the American public for a fundamental shift in policy towards Pakistan. The USA has concluded that your part of the problem and will never be part of the solution. They decided the "end game" with no input from Pakistan - they treated your President with indifference bordering distain in Chicago - they have negotiated a more expensive Northern route rather than cave in to the extortion tactics used by Pakistan - they have withdrawn there negotiating team from Pakistan - and the American Congress is busy putting proviso's on funding bills which all but insure that Pakistan won't receive much (if any) of the Billions you expect.
Amazed Jun 11, 2012 11:48pm
I'm always amazed to see so easily Pakistani newspaper moderators publish nasty comments left by Indians. Try posting comments critical of India on The Hindu website and see if they get approved.
Ravi Jun 11, 2012 09:24pm
Pakistan leadership (if there is such a thing) needs to really introspect and determine if continuing proxy wars while at the same time participating in the war against militants is a viable strategy going forward. It was never a good strategy to start with and looks increasingly misguided and the country has paid an enormous price for pursuing it. The country stands totally isolated in the community of nations with no one to lean on for support except may be China. None of the Pakistanis living in the USA I know say they are from Pakistan. It doesn't have to be this way at all. People are against America or India is a lame excuse. The Government has caused this over the years by misguided propaganda for selfish interests. Strong leadership is the need of the hour. Will the leaders rise up and show courage and change course or is the status quo, which is unsustainable, going to continue? Only time will tell.
Agha Ata Jun 11, 2012 01:28pm
That would be the day !!!
NASAH (USA) Jun 11, 2012 01:52pm
Instead of making a big deal of sovereignty over an area Pakistan has no sovereignty over -- and are resource-wise incapable of extending its writ over -- it may be a good idea to invite the USA and the NATO as friends to have their pick of the common enemy in the North Waziristan area.
Aftab Islam Jun 11, 2012 10:42am
From North Waziristan the distance to Kabul is over 150 kilometers. If NATO and American troops can't intercept Haqqani fighters it is absurd for them to ask Pakistan to prevent this. Afghans have been moving back and forth across the Durand line for centuries. The British could do nothing and its unlikely that Pakistan would succeed if it attempted to.
Mustafa Razavi Jun 11, 2012 04:38pm
Judging from the number of comments, this article seems to have generated more interest in India than in Pakistan.
V L Rao Jun 11, 2012 03:22pm
"Don’t expect miracles; keep expectations and demands firmly in check; and work with Pakistan to find the spaces in which incremental progress can be made". If indeed Ambassador Munter made this comment, it is no wonder he is packing up to leave. When Pakistani territory is being used flagrantly to attack Nato and Afghan troops in Afghanistan, you can prevent drone attacks in Pakistan and incursions by Nato and Afghan soldiers only if you make a serious attempt to prevent the use of your territory by the Taliban. This is not happening and this is what Nato and US leaders are demanding.
Sardar KHAN Jun 11, 2012 03:50pm
When terrorist americans realise and accept their failures in Afghanistan,then and then only,they will stop bullying and stop slogan of "Do,more"?
Jawwad Jun 11, 2012 03:10pm
So now we are all to just nod our heads in compliance whenever US decides who is a friend and who is a foe? I mean common, aren't you born as a free person specially you the Indian friends to make your minds about issues that are actually regional? US has other goals in region than yours.
Dr V. C. Bhutani Jun 11, 2012 02:28pm
But, no, as the editorial assures us, the effort of the Americans to speak publicly about safe havens in, say, North Waziristan, is bound to infuriate public opinion already incensed against the US. Pakistan lives in denial and has its being in denial. It refuses to face facts. Concluded. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 11 Jun 2012, 1955 IST
ss verma Jun 11, 2012 09:43am
Pakistani capacity to focus away from the key issue is great ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ With OBL the issue was not how did he live in Pakistan but how did the Americans find him ! With sanctuaries the issue is not why are they there but who is america to lose patience with the sanctuaries!
zafar Jun 11, 2012 06:27am
we must make sure our own in house is clean only then we can look into others eyes
malik62 Jun 11, 2012 09:32am
In my humble Opinion , its not safe heavens , its not terrorits , its not why talking and having agreements with Taliban , Its America's and nato's failure in Afghanistan which has embarrased and enraged Uncle SAM ( USSR did not learn the lessons from history so they paid a price for indulgence in Afghanistan , USA thought they were better equipped and learnt their lessons from Vietnam debacle and overlooked the fate of USSR in Afghanistan , ALAS they still did not learn or learnt the hardest possible way with triilions of $ spent on a loss cause which was right from the start ) and thus they USA & Nato wants to have a boggy to blame for and which country is better placed to get this honor than the paid Soldiers of 180 millions Pures who dared to say No as well as asked a public apology from the paying maters . Consider what you will do to your house servant if he or she refuses to clean-up your house from the dirt and rubbish you and your children have thrown around and on top of that on your firm order to do it , he or she askes you to tender an apology till he or she picks the first bin to collect your rubbish ! ( there are hundreds of stories in the reported news related to Pakistani households where dogs were let on those servants daring to even say no let alone asking for apology
ASHRAF JAFRANY Jun 11, 2012 07:03am
The so called war on terror is going on in spite of carrying out military actions against militants. Pakistan has so for suffered a lot from this menace of terrorism with comparison to any other country in the world in the shape of economy and precious lives of country men . We are still facing the threat of terrorism in the northern regions especially Warizistan . Pakistan has to protect the life of common citizen by taking strict measures on her own without seeking help from third country . This war has become our war and must be carried out with our resources so that no one can black mail and dictate . On the other hand we need to tell the world that the drone attacks are violation of sovereignty of our country and must be stopped so that anti american sentiments in general public could be diffused out.
Arun Jun 11, 2012 07:23am
The US has been complaining about safe havens for quite some time. "Do more" is the constant message. And little, if any has been done. So the US is frustrated. By claiming this frustration will be counterproductive, this editorial tries to shoot the messenger. Then the editors accept the message. If you want to accept the message, why criticize the messenger who started politely and got frustrated only when he was not heard?
(Dr.) B.N. Anand Jun 11, 2012 08:57am
Sir In my opinion , whatever the general perception may about the anticipated withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014, it is least likely to happen. After the 9/11, USA will never like Afghanistan to be ever used as a launching ground for any attack on USA. Moreover going by history, wherever US forces have gone, there has never been a complete withdrawal. Look what happened after WW2. US forces are still in Japan, Germany and other countries which were part of war theatre. With the current situation,, as you rightly pointed in your editorial, the real cause of anger is the use of tribal areas of Pakistan by Talibans for lauching attack both on the civilian govt. as well as on the allied troops. By remaining in Afghanistan, US will like to fight Talibans in their territory rather than be fighting them on US soil. So please keep fingers crossed. It will be very naive to go by the professed US declaration to be completely withdrawing in 2014. It is going to be very hard for Pakistan in the long run to be bearing the wrath of the superpower for one reason or other until the country yields on doing something to contain Haqani forces. Thanks BNA