Osama is dead and the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan remains bleak. The United States may have acquired a psychological boost, however it comes at a price, as all things in this world do. I am pretty sure that you are all aware by now of the deep level of paranoia that runs in Pakistan, and can obviously put two and two together to realize that this raid inside the sovereign territory has not relieved any of it. That is also why General Pasha and Kayani were summoned to explain the debacle to the National Assembly, and for the first time since 1971, the military has been put under excruciating pressure. It seems that the civilian government will finally flex its muscles and regain authority from the men in khakis. Such steps are also necessary to build more civilian institutions, especially since the economy is steadily on the decline as well. This would all be fine and dandy however, it seems that the United States is in need of the military much more than the civilian government.
There is no doubt that it would be nice for the country to remain a democracy forever, and work to accomplish the wishes of the people, however the United States needs the strongest institution in Pakistan to continue its fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in FATA. This ironically comes at a price to the civilian government. Capitol Hill would like nothing more than to see more aid be given to the creation and sustainability of many civilian institutions. But there are checks and balances in place that must be met first, that the Pakistani government has not been meeting. A civilian government led by Asif Ali Zardari is much more sympathetic towards the United States than the military has ever been, and as such it would be ridiculous to cut any of this aid. However, it is the Pakistani military that NATO is dependent on at the moment. According to Carl Levin (D-MI), it is the Kerry-Lugar –Berman Aid package’s economic plan for civilians that seems to be of no use.
It’s not a matter of which part of the government to support, it’s the mission or activities that are in our interest. And the military pieces that we’re supporting, which is reimbursement of their costs for supporting our effort in Afghanistan plus training their military on the border, that’s clearly in our interest…
He goes on to state that it is the United State’s interest that Pakistan remain a stable democracy, yet by cutting such an aid package, it is almost impossible to ensure a balance of power between the military and the civilian administration. Furthermore, Pakistan’s military has already been stretched greatly in FATA and Swat at the moment, to pressure the military will do no good for either nations.
The battle with the TTP is also continuing. The United States may be relieved in getting bin Laden, however the situation is much more different in Pakistan, where there has already been retaliation for the killing. This will continue it seems until the TTP are not defeated completely. The problem is much more complicated sadly, the ISI has had a history of funding militants and to completely sever such ties will be no easy task. It also seems that the average Pakistani is also much more wary of the military’s actions, some may have agreed that the militants could be used as a counter balance with India, however these militants are targeting areas within Pakistan. News coverage and talk shows in Pakistan are finally beginning to discuss the relationship between the military and these militants, and there has been a greater voice criticizing the military.
All in all, there is two issues that most concern average Pakistanis: The first is the issue of cross border raids. As mentioned previously, paranoia is at an all time high at the moment. Many people believe that if Navy Seals can take such actions so effortlessly and dispose of Osama a few blocks away from a military institution, then India could also take such actions as well. This was brought up in the National Assembly, and according to Pasha, the military has already drawn up contingency plans if India does attempt such actions. Now this in itself is a serious issue since the military will do whatever it can to regain some prestige, and hopefully India is not their attempt of gaining what little they had. The second issue that is of most concern is the militants themselves and their fanatical actions against innocent Pakistanis who majorities of the time are Muslim. The longer the TTP continue their bombing campaign the longer the integrity of the military will continue to take blows. The problem still remains, is that this country is very paranoid and any sort of outside assistance has always been looked at suspiciously.
Even with Kerry’s visit to Islamabad and his ‘apology’ for the recent drone attacks, it is unlikely that Pakistan’s relationship with the United States is going to get better so quickly. This is also why Kayani has been secretly supportive of the drone project, since it is assisting in the military in FATA and maintaining some leverage over the tribal leaders.
The United States has left Pakistan out to dry after the raid, since all the retaliation is towards the military and civilian institutions. First two buses full of soldiers in Karachi was bombed close to Karsaz, than another in Charsadda district and now at PNS Mehran. These ‘revenge’ attacks will continue, and it will be Pakistan that will be facing the brunt of bloodshed.
Show me the money
The biggest problem that I have with the media most recently has been its obsession with United States aid to Pakistan in the form of the ‘Coalition Support Funds’ that has reimbursed the Pakistani military for its assistance in the War on Terror. As well as economic support that will assist the government’s budget as a form of revenue and pay off debt. As earlier stated just giving more money to the military is not going to create a difference in the relationship between both the countries, nor is it going to make Pakistan a safer nation, since terrorism is only a byproduct of much more serious issues such as, a growing illiterate population, corruption in the establishment, crippling power shortages and a lack of tax revenue (which could be used to create social programs to assist the people).
At the moment, Pakistan has many problems, and since the raid it looked to China for its security. As mentioned in an earlier post, China is very interested in setting up a base in Pakistan, especially in Gawadar (built by China as well). Pakistan has requested that China set up a naval base in Gawadar where they will be allowed to maintain a regular presence. This invitation is alarming for both India, and for the United States, and it seems that Pakistan is trying to use its strategic alliance with China as a wager against the United States.
Pakistan will also want to push forward the importance of Gawadar so that the port becomes a greater trading hub, and security via the PLA navy could certainly build the ports presence within the Indian Ocean and could eventually rival Bandar Abbas and Dubai.
‘It wasn’t a security lapse’
I cannot believe that the armed forces will not admit that there was a security lapse at PNS Mehran which lead to the TTP lead attack on the base. The whole siege lasted 18 hours and two of the attackers were able to flee the scene. Rehman Malik the Interior Minister states that the attackers were wearing all black and resembled ‘Star Wars characters’ and entered from sewage in a nearby residential area. I resided very close to the residential area when my family lived in Karachi and the sewage is long and open, so anyone can very easily access it. This was a security lapse of epic proportions since anyone could have taken such a similar action and just entered the naval base without any sort of detection. Military officials, who are stating that this is not a security lapse, would first have to admit that the only instance, in which it is not, is in one where there was no security in the first place. That certainly could be the case since sadly it seems that it is easier to get into a military base than it is to get into a nightclub.
The military’s image is taking a beating day by day, and it has created a paradox in which they should declare war, but will not. This is simply because it will ensure that they will quickly erase militants from Pakistan and also lead to less American aid for the military. And that is the problem; the military is addicted to the financial aid it is receiving from the United States, just like the Kashmir issue will take forever to be resolved since it is the only reason the military is still given any importance in Pakistan.
So what do we do now?
Pakistan’s economy was once stable and in one, foreign investors wanted to invest in. It is necessary that by any means necessary Pakistan figure out a way to cut back its crippling power shortages and fix its economy as well. This fight with India, the game of tic tac toe with militants and kerfuffle over whose fault these terrorist attacks are going on will not fix the situation. With our without US assistance, the TTP will continue its battle with the military; it is time the elite realize what the common man already knows.