First and foremost this ongoing issue concerning Raymond Davis needs end. The Pakistani media is extrapolating the issue more than is necessary. If he is a CIA agent then there is no way he could keep that a secret from the government. Pakistan issued him a visa fully aware of what his activities would entail once he became active. He also has diplomatic immunity so Pakistan’s hands are essentially tied. However, it’s safe to assume that the government will allow the Judiciary to decide do as they please with Raymond Davis despite growing public pressure. This could have indirectly increased the Judiciary’s influence within the public sphere, however it seems that the government is just using them as an excuse to keep Raymond in Pakistan. There are also fresh rumours that Raymond is actually the second-in command to Jonathan Banks, the former station chief for the CIA in Islamabad. I highly doubt that is the case though.
The whole situation is stupid to say the least. Pakistan allowed him, knowing fully well who he was into the country, and now that the media exposed everything to the public, they seem to be backing off. It really is ridiculous. The situation does not get any better when the Pakistani elite is pushing for Raymond Davis to be tried. Like Arif Rafiq of Pakistan Policy said, the whole situation truly illustrates the government and the elite’s inability to critically assess the situation. And now that the CIA and ISI have increasing differences in overall goals concerning Afghanistan, it seems that the situation is only about to get worse.
According to the Wall street Journal, Pakistan is withholding a substantive amount of intelligence pertaining the Haqqani group who they believe will give them leverage against the growing Indian influence once the United States leaves. Meetings between ISI and CIA officials that previously would take place every ten days are growing further and further according to officials. It seems that the United States are slowly moving away from the ISI (who have been assisting the CIA) while keeping their options open in Afghanistan for quite some time now. But is this really the best step for them to take? And even if the CIA is finally fed up with the ISI, is it not just worse to allow them to simply walk away from the table, especially when they are directly assisting the militants that are causing trouble for American soldiers in Southern Afghanistan? The Washington Post has also noted that although the number of drone strikes have increased, there have been fewer high-value militants that have been killed.
So the drones are not only annoying Pakistani’s and increasing their dislike for American military methods, but they are also now targeting ‘pawns’. According to a former CIA official, pawns matter, because situations, such as the NY Times Square bombing and airline plots will surely decrease. Though, it is quite possible that this may take place, the other problem that the CIA needs to remember is that these drones are doing very little at the moment from preventing the TTP from continuously attacking Pakistani soldiers and cities. Alright CIA, if you want to spend $1 million per drone attack (118 drone attacks this year), that is up to you. I think its a little unnecessary and frankly better strategic methods must be implemented.
Regardless of what the conclusion of this escapade turns out to be, it is quite clear that Pakistan realizes their importance within the region and is using it to their advantage. Now if only they could fix their problems in Baluchistan they might be able to increase their dominance over the situation.
Meanwhile, the TTP released a new video in which they executed former ISI agent Salman Amir Tarar, also known as Col Imam. There has been conflicting information on his death though – it was previously stated that a lesser known militant group had murdered him after his family was unable to pay the Rs.50 million ransom. However, from the video we can see that the TTP were in hold of Col Imam, and Hakimullah Mahsud was also present at the execution.
What is more surprising is that Hakimullah blames Col Imam and a Orakzai tribal parliamentarian for capturing and selling Arab fighters seeking refuge in the Tribal areas. Another charge, and one that quite frankly makes little sense, involved Pakistan handing over its airbase in Jacobabad in the Sindh province to the United States after the war began in October, 2001.
The first charge may hold, but the second one certainly does not make much sense, especially considering Col Imam was a very important leader amongst the Afghan Taliban and was highly critical of Musharraf’s support for the US war against terror.
The situation in Pakistan itself is pretty weird. The ISI will no doubt be annoyed that one of their ‘own’ has been made a public spectacle of. However I think we should be more interested to see how the Afghan Taliban’s leadership will react to this news. Especially considering Amir al-muqimineen, Mullah Omar himself was very close to Col Imam, a relationship that was very public, could very much backfire for the TTP who have always remained steadfast in their propagation against the United States and Pakistan for assisting the former. The killing of Col Imam will surely anger the Afghan Taliban; the real question is whether they will do anything about it.
The positive for Pakistan however is that the TTP’s pursuit of government officials will only push more Pakistani’s away. Those who are sympathetic to the TTP are also sympathetic to the military and the ISI, and these executions will surely work against them. Will this actually happen? Not really sure as the people have very contrasting identities, but that really is the hope.