By overstating what he thinks are facts Admiral Mullen has all but destroyed the US-Pakistan relationship—a relationship that was already on the rocks after the Davis episode and the Osama attack deep into Pakistan. Mullen’s statement is being downplayed now as is evident from the article in the Washington Post September 27 but the damage has been done. The question everyone in Pakistan is asking is why did he do it and was it his solo effort or was it part of an ongoing orchestrated campaign against Pakistan to pressure it into attacking the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. Here is a sampling of what the street is saying—
“It is a manufactured crisis, intended to give justification for the evil that has been planned all along. They have created sufficient justification for the incursion into Waziristan they have been planning. If both sides do not pull back from the precipice, then a major clash is almost inevitable. Kayani and what passes for a civilian government there must find a way to resist what is coming and to separate from American and British institutions.”—
“The Americans dare not push into Waziristan without prior assurance that Pakistan will not resist and retaliate. Any misconceived adventurism could have unpredictable consequences. You don’t start wars not knowing what all these might entail. The US military planners must know as much. Their entire position in Afghanistan is dependent upon Pakistan’s goodwill and support. The stoppage of logistic support through Pakistan alone will have crippling consequences. Assuming that they are aware of all this we have to look elsewhere for a possible explanation. It could be:
1. Simply bluff and bluster to bully the Pakistanis into ‘doing more’. It has worked well in the past.
2. Looking for a scapegoat to divert public attention and scrutiny and blame someone for the failure to show any gain after ten years of unrelenting war and draining of resources.
3. A ploy by the hardliners in the US military and Intelligence communities to make sure Obama remains committed and does not have second thoughts that may look like accepting defeat.
4. Taking advantage of the opportunity to act against Pakistan, starting with creating political and economic turmoil.
Since it is the last prospect that poses the greatest threat, Pakistan needs to plan and prepare on this basis.”—-
“US, driven by Zionist fears is mortally afraid of Pakistan’s nuclear capability. This fear has been there ever since Mr. Bhutto started planning to acquire a capability to deter India’s ‘peaceful nuclear test’. One nuclear weapon, alone, is far more scary both for the US and Israel than the entire conventional armed force of Pakistan. One has heard enough of this fear expressed by the officials during various visits to Pentagon and State Department. Obama’s rating will rise drastically, if he could deprive Pakistan of its nuclear capability. Its Now or Never for him. Pentagon can sell this opportunity to him. US can try seeking a mandate from the pliable UN Security Council under Chapter. Then there is this typical Rambo mindset of Pentagon and CIA, which made Rumsfeld think that a 100,000 soldiers were good enough to tame Iraq. Unless Pakistan noisily rattles swords and is indeed, ready to contest aggression, at all cost, Rambo may not be deterred. Besides, the national power potential needs boosting by asking the friends, and UN Security Council, no matter how impotent, to help diplomatically”
While hoping that the situation deescalates through diplomacy Pakistan has to prepare for the worst scenario from its point of view—the internal destabilization of Pakistan, the end of all aid, an economic squeeze and an attack in North Waziristan by the US probably with drones and special forces or bombers as being advocated by senator Lindsay Graham. This is what Pakistan must prepare for by taking the following steps in tandem with actions taken by the US against Pakistan:
- Consolidate the civil-military-political cohesion that has emerged as a response to the statements by Mullen and others.
- Do the preparatory work to declare a cease fire in FATA and discuss options with all Taleban for resistance against what will be a common enemy.
- Ask for an end to all internal strife by talking to militant groups and those operating in Baluchistan and Karachi.
- Ensure neutral effective administration, an independent board of governors to manage all public enterprises, ban all unnecessary imports and put in place austerity measures for all. Ask the people to minimize use of cars and travel etc. Appeal to Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan.
- At an appropriate time when absolutely necessary ask the US to adopt an alternative route for NATO logistics.
- Reach out to China, India, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Russia and Central Asian States and Afghanistan to support Pakistan. Afghanistan should be asked not to allow its territory to be used for an attack into Pakistan in regional interest so that problems can be resolved bilaterally.
Pakistan has to take a very comprehensive view of the evolving situation before it acts, Forcing Pakistan to engage TTP / Haqqanis may be part of US plan to weaken Pakistan as a state. By doing so the US may be trying to remove any chance of support to Pakistan’s military from the tribals (including TTP & Haqqanis) which would be the first line of defense if the US uses Afghanistan as the launching pad for unilateral strikes on Pakistan.
Disarming and removing Pakistan’s nuclear assets can bring a failing Obama some relief by bolstering his plummeting ratings. The venture can also backfire if it fails. The scapegoat element also fits in well here—Mullen’s diatribe is an example.. But most importantly there is the possibility that the US is trying to create a situation which is going to be extremely beneficial and viable for all Anti-Pakistan elements (internal & external). Each of these elements can and will try to get the most out of this scenario.
- Israel would love to see Pakistan lose its nuclear weapons.
- India would like to see Pakistan as a weak non-nuclear neighbor posing little or no threat.
- US will be able to exit the region with some dignity. Also it will leave behind its new economic ally India in control.
- India will gain more influence in Northern Afghanistan.
- Karzai will be able to continue as president of Afghanistan with India’s support.
- Sardars of Balochistan will also try to get benefits from India. Separatist Movements here will become stronger.
- Morale of Pakistan Army may reach the lowest point. Breakup within Army may arise with a large number joining the “Jihadi” forces. Turning the entire country in to a battle ground.
- Finally the break-up of Pakistan may lead to unpredictable consequences in the region and beyond.
As far as US down playing the Mullen statement is concerned this is what Admiral Mullen stated after his testimony—-this should remove all doubts—
“US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen on Wednesday told the Wall Street Journal that attacks against US soldiers in Afghanistan will not be tolerated, Dawn News reported. He stated that the partnership approach between the US and Pakistan would be hard to revive now. Mullen told the WSJ that the US will be very firm in its approach with Pakistan and its battle against terrorism. He said that he believed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had supported the Haqqani network, which is the militant group the US blames for the Kabul attack. Mullen blamed the ISI for providing “logistic support” to the Haqqani network. .He said the US wanted a strong relationship with Pakistan, however, given the current situation, it will take time to restore those relations and trust.”