ISLAMABAD: Steps by the United States to vastly expand its aid to Pakistan, as well as the footprint of its embassy and private security contractors here, are aggravating an already volatile anti-American mood as Washington pushes for greater action by the government against the Taliban.
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An aid package of $1.5 billion a year for the next five years passed by Congress last week asks Pakistan to cease supporting terrorist groups on its soil and to ensure that the military does not interfere with civilian politics. President Asif Ali Zardari, whose association with the United States has added to his unpopularity, agreed to the stipulations in the aid package, says a report published in the New York Times.
But many here, especially in the powerful army, object to the conditions as interference in Pakistan‘s internal affairs, and they are interpreting the larger American footprint in more sinister ways.
In a public statement, the American ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, suggested last week that Pakistan should eliminate the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, a onetime ally of the Pakistanis who Washington says is now based in Baluchistan, a province on the Afghanistan border. If Pakistan did not get rid of Mullah Omar, the United States would, she suggested.
Reinforcing the ambassador, the national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, said Sunday that the United States regarded tackling Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan as “the next step” in the conflict in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in an unusually stern reaction last week, said that missile attacks by American drones in Baluchistan, as implied by the Americans, “would not be allowed.” Read the whole thing, here>>
The misplaced faith in Pakistan exhibited by many in Washington is not new; it has been going on for fifty years, ever since the first early infatuation, by various Dulles brothers and American generals, with fly-whisking ramrod-straight terry-thomas-moustachioed generals who kept assuring the Americans that “Islam is a barrier to Communism” and allowed themselves to be compared — favorably — with bandung-conferencing, new-left-book-club-subscribing, Krishna Menon (India’s foreign minister) and supercilious Jawaharlal Nehru.
It started with Pakistan as part of that farcical military alliance,Â CENTO, with Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan as the stout defenders of the West against atheistic Communism. That West, represented by Great Britain and the United States, supplied all the arms and all the money. The thing collapsed in 1958, having hardly existed, with Qassem’s coup in Iraq, and “strongman” Nuri es-Said’s body being dragged through the streets of Baghdad for further mutilation.
But the love affair, entirely unrequited, with Pakistan continued. The Americans sold weapons and even advanced planes. But Pakistan took those weapons and used them to threaten, or even to make war on India in repeated campaigns, and Pakistan military’s support for terrorism in Kashmir did not begin yesterday, or the day before.
The misuse of American aid, and the dawning understanding, among some in the Senate, led to the Pressler Amendment. But unfortunately, those who had over slow time begun to really understand Pakistan’s treachery, such as Senator Glenn, did not have a way to pass on that understanding to their successors. The Senate had no institutional memory, and lessons learned by some in Congress were forgotten when they left the scene.