FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pakistan Objects

The Pakistani military’s recent demands on the United States to curb drone strikes and reduce the number of U.S. spies operating in Pakistan, which have raised tensions between the two countries to a new high, were a response to U.S. military and intelligence programmes that had gone well beyond what the Pakistanis had agreed to in past years.

The military leadership had reached private agreements in the past on both the drone strikes and on U.S. intelligence activities in Pakistan, but both had changed dramatically in ways that threatened the interests of Pakistan.

The Pakistani military, which holds real power over matters of national security in Pakistan, is now insisting for the first time that Washington must observe strict limits on both the use of drone strikes and on the number of U.S. military and intelligence personnel and contractors in the country.

And they have backed up that demand with a suspension of joint intelligence operations with the United States – a programme that had been strongly sought after by the Barack Obama administration.

The new Pakistani demands for restrictions on U.S. operations are being taken seriously by the United States, because it was Pakistan’s Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who communicated them to U.S. officials, as reported by the New York Times Monday.

The detention of U.S. contract spy Raymond Davis for killing three Pakistani citizens in January was a turning point in U.S.-Pakistani relations. But it was only the occasion for the Pakistani military leadership and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to take a much stronger position on larger issues that concerned them, according to Kamran Bokhari, a specialist on Pakistan for the consulting firm STRATFOR.

“What we’re seeing is ISI and the Pakistani state take advantage of the Davis affair to renegotiate the rules of the game with the United States,” Bokhari told IPS in an interview.

The first move by the Pakistani military and ISI after Davis was detained was to suspend joint intelligence operations between ISI and the CIA, which had been successful in capturing a number of high-ranking Taliban leaders in early 2010.

That suspension was kept quiet for months by both sides until it was leaked by a ranking ISI official to Reuters last weekend. It was understood by U.S. officials as a bid by the Pakistanis to force serious changes in U.S. covert activities on Pakistani soil.

But Pakistan’s tough line on Davis and on the joint intelligence operations clearly got the attention of the Obama administration. U.S. drone strikes were suspended in January and February while U.S. officials sought to resolve both issues.

During the Musharraf administration, the Pakistani military had reached a private understanding with the George W. Bush administration on the use of drones against al Qaeda and its Pakistani allies.

But military and intelligence officials had watched with growing concern as the drone programme shifted from targeting high level al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban officials to the rank and file members and supporters of either Afghan or Pakistani Taliban organisations.

Pakistani officials had privately sought to convince the Obama administration to narrow its targeting. Senior Pakistani officials had complained that the CIA was increasingly killing “mere foot soldiers”, as reported in a Feb. 21 story by The Washington Post’s Greg Miller.

Within hours after Davis was released, however, the drone strikes resumed, as if to make the point that the U.S. had no intention of altering its strategy of reliance on the drones.

Then on Mar. 17, a drone strike on a gathering in North Waziristan killed more than 40 people, including some Taliban members but mostly tribal elders and members of the local government militia force. The tribesmen and elders were meeting in a jirga to discuss the issue of payment for the sale of a chromite mine by the Madda Khel tribe, according to local officials.

One tribal elder who lost four relatives in the bombing said 44 people were killed, including 13 children.

The Pakistani military could hardly be insensitive to the fact that tribal leaders across the North Waziristan region were calling for revenge against the United States after the Mar. 17 bloodbath. “We are a people who wait 100 years to exact revenge. We never forgive our enemy,” the elders said in a statement issued immediately after the bombing.

It also outraged public opinion all across Pakistan, where the drone war has created growing anger at the United States.

Kayani himself issued a strong statement condemning that strike as “intolerable” and said it made it more difficult for the military to fight terrorism. Pakistani officials had long been saying both publicly and privately that the programme had become “counterproductive”, but it was the first time Kayani himself had weighed in.

In the past, Pakistani military and government complaints about drone strikes were “hypocritical”, said Anatol Lieven, a specialist at Kings College, Cambridge, and the author of a new book on Pakistan.

But Lieven told IPS the Pakistani military leadership appears to have been “seriously annoyed” by that March drone strike and its large number of civilian casualties, because “it was such a public insult”.

“The Pakistanis are in a deeply humiliating position” in regard to the drone strikes, said Lieven. He said the military leadership no longer trusts the Americans’ judgment on the programme, in part because the strikes are killing people in North Waziristan who are willing to make a deal to end their fight against the Pakistani military and government.

The Pakistani military’s demand beginning after the Davis arrest that the United States reduce the number of CIA and Special Operations Forces personnel in Pakistan by 25 to 40 percent, as reported by the New York Times Monday, was a response to a dramatic increase in the number of such personnel entering the country without explicit agreement from the Pakistani military, according to Lieven.

“What the Pakistanis are demanding is a rollback of a huge influx that has occurred in recent months,” Lieven told IPS. “They are for a return to the status quo of last year.” They are specifically complaining about more U.S. personnel who had come into the country without explicit permission, said Lieven.

The United States had increased the number of “unilateral” intelligence personnel in Pakistan – those who were not specifically involved in joint intelligence efforts – by at least a few hundred in late 2010 and early 2011.

Lieven said some U.S. officials had privately agreed that the U.S. spying in Pakistan “has gotten seriously out of hand”.

The Kings College scholar said he has been assured by Pakistani intelligence officials that they are committed to helping prevent any attack against the United States from Pakistani territory, because “the consequences would be disastrous for Pakistan if there were ever an attack.”

But that does not apply to the Afghan Taliban presence in Pakistan. “The Pakistanis have been giving very little help on Afghanistan,” he said. And that is one reason the U.S. had increased the number of intelligence agents in Pakistan.

GARETH PORTER is an investigative historian and journalist with Inter-Press Service specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam“, was published in 2006.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail