It’s pretty clear that the word “ally” will need to be redefined if it is applied to Pakistan. The AP reports that Pakistan has tipped off militants again:
U.S. officials say Pakistan has apparently tipped off militants at two more bomb-building factories in its tribal areas, giving the terror suspects time to flee, after U.S. intelligence shared the locations with the Pakistani government.
Those officials believe Pakistan’s insistence on seeking local tribal elders’ permission before raiding the areas may have most directly contributed to the militants’ flight, though they also suspect low-level security officials may have tipped the militants off.
U.S. officials have pushed for Pakistan to keep the location of such targets secret prior to the operations, but the Pakistanis say their troops cannot enter the lawless regions without giving the locals notice.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.
The latest incidents bring to a total of four bomb-making sites that the U.S. has shared with Pakistan only to have the terrorist suspects flee before the Pakistani military arrived much later. The report does not bode well for attempts by both sides to mend relations and rebuild trust after the U.S. raid on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a Pakistani army town only 35 miles from the capital Islamabad.
Go to the link to read the AP report in its entirety.
I noted here from the day Osama bin Laden was killed right near Pakistan’s West Post and it was clear that there was either enormous Pakistan complicity or stupidity involved that the net result was going to be balking in Congress when it comes to giving Pakistan mega bucks in aid.
The United States needs Pakistan which is a vital peg for achieving its foreign policy and anti-terrorism goals. But it’s going to be harder to sell it to Congress when Pakistan seems to be siding with the other side — which is indeed the growing perception.
And Congress seems to be losing patience with giving Pakistan the benefit of the doubt:
House appropriators have proposed slapping new restrictions on the aid that Washington will send to Pakistan next year amid a chill in relations following the killing of Osama bin Laden.
A provision in the 2012 Pentagon appropriations bill that the panel unanimously approved Tuesday would keep all but 25 percent of $1.1 billion in aid intended for Islamabad in the bank until the White House provides clear details on how it would spend the cash.
A kind of blank check was fine if the U.S. could trust the recipient. Clearly, the trust is closely gone:
The “Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund” would be subject to the Obama administration providing lawmakers a report detailing its “strategy to utilize the fund and the metrics used to determine progress with respect to the fund,” according to a report accompanying the committee’s bill.
The move comes as more and more U.S. lawmakers and voters express support for ending the Afghanistan war in the wake of bin Laden’s death in Pakistan at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs.
The report also would have to specify the administration’s strategic goals in Pakistan, and state which terrorist and anti-U.S. groups are operating from there.
The House panel also wants details on the “gaps” in the capabilities of Pakistan’s indigenous security forces, and an explanation of how aid funds would address such shortcomings.
The proposed report would have to describe the administration’s metrics for measuring progress toward its objectives in Pakistan, as well as how it would determine whether Islamabad is having success going after terrorist and anti-U.S. groups operating on its soil.
Pakistan would be kept under the microscope in the future:
Additionally, the panel approved an amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that would create a new reporting period for Pakistani aid.
If included in the final version of 2011 DoD appropriations legislation, the Flake amendment would allow Congress 30 days to review how the Pakistan dollars would be spent — and potentially block such expenditures.
Flake said some lawmakers want to go even further and “cut off” aid to Pakistan.
Dr Claude Rakisits, writing in The Australian, argues that the U.S. needs to embrace Pakistan not punish it. The senior lecturer in strategic studies at the School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University writes:
Despite reassurances from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stating categorically
after her visit to Islamabad two weeks ago that there was no evidence anyone in the Pakistan hierarchy was aware of bin Laden’s presence, bilateral relations have gone from bad to worse since then.
One cannot sufficiently stress how humiliating the unilateral US operation was for the Pakistan army, the only truly national institution. Accordingly, it has badly hurt its standing in the eyes of the Pakistani public.
As a reaction to the bin Laden operation and to reclaim the initiative in US-Pakistan relations, the Pakistani government and army have taken several steps. Unfortunately, many of these have complicated matters.
As a warning to future potential collaborators, the Pakistani authorities arrested last week five Pakistanis who allegedly had worked with the CIA before the raid on bin Laden’s compound.
In addition, the Pakistanis have unilaterally terminated an ambitious Pentagon program to train Pakistani paramilitary troops to fight al-Qa’ida and Taliban groups in the tribal areas. Accordingly, well over 100 American military advisers have had to leave the country. Bilateral intelligence co-operation has been reduced to a minimum.
As a result of the deteriorating bilateral relationship and the nagging doubt in the minds of many opinion leaders in Washington about how much the Pakistani military knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts and whether Pakistan is fully behind the West in fighting the terrorists, there are increasing demands for a halt to military and economic aid to Pakistan.
This would be the worst decision Washington could make at this critical time in the lead-up to the withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan by 2014.
He contends Pakistanis always feared Washington would leave them hight and dry and now this seemingly is coming true. What should the U.S. do?
If the US is really serious about having Pakistan on its side, the Obama administration must embrace Pakistan rather than punish it. Washington can do this by taking action in five areas.
First, the US congress should ease restrictions on Pakistani exports to America. That would help Pakistan improve its long-tern economic prospects and be of much greater help financially than the $US12 billion ($11.3bn) in economic and military aid the US administration has promised over the next five years.
Second, the US administration must either stop the unmanned drone strikes or at least use them only against high-value al-Qa’ida and Taliban targets. While these drone attacks have been highly successful in eliminating high-level terrorists, it is estimated that about 20 per cent of the casualties have been civilians.
…..Third, Washington should stop asking the Pakistan army to go into North Waziristan to hunt down the Haqqani network of insurgents, the highly effective Afghan Taliban group.
……Fourth, Pakistan must be brought into the Afghanistan negotiation process as a full participant. Unless Pakistan has a stake in the eventual peace accord, it will have no incentive to make it work.
Fifth, before bin Laden’s assassination, President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit Pakistan this year. It is critical that this visit still go ahead. The damage a cancellation would do to the relationship would be immense, particularly given that Obama visited India last year.
These are indeed precise steps but when Pakistan is perceived as having tipped of militants it becomes almost politically impossible for members of either political party to argue that Pakistan is a completely trustworthy ally who deserves billions in aid without any kind of Congressional oversight. The sad truth is: Pakistan has played into the hands of those who were never enthusiastic about it in Washington and to its longtime foes in New Delhi.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.