Syed Zishan Hyder
Who is to blame?
By: Syed Zeeshan Haider
When comes the harvest, who will history point to?
Two metrics may be used to encompass the influence a country has across the world: economic standing, and military prowess. For example, when a dignitary from the US is invited to Pakistan, the degree of protocol provided may very easily provide a stark contrast with the protocol provided to embassies/dignitaries from countries with a weaker economy than Pakistan’s. Diplomats are mere reflections of their countries of origin, and are bound by the cultural norms of their respective countries.
Instead of engaging in the debate of ‘did Hussain Haqqani issue visas to US intelligence services personnel on the demands of Mr. Gillani, and was it justified per the Code of Conduct Ambassadors are subject to?’, let’s focus instead on the implications the arrival of these personnel had on the socio-political and security scenario of Pakistan. For better understanding, we need to make the analysis in the correct historical context.
In 2009, the Taliban were expanding their influence through Waziristan and Swat. Former President and Army Chief General Musharraf had recently completed 9 years of his authoritarian rule, which was especially conducive to the expansion of America’s influence in the region. The helpless government of the time also signed several pacts and treaties with the Taliban, who cemented their position in the region and captured Swat under Mullah Fazlullah. In 2009, Operations Raah-e-Nijaat and Raah-e-Rast were initiated to tackle the threat from these extremist forces which succeeded in restricting their malicious activities under circumstances where some political analysts were predicting a Taliban capture of the capital, Islamabad.
Why did the US send intelligence services personnel to Pakistan?
It may be conjectured that perhaps the US wanted to achieve the goal of reaching and getting rid of Osama Bin Laden. However, was it justified for the US to send intelligence services personnel for the purpose? For any country to send intelligence personnel into another country and carry out operations is indeed objectionable, but what we are trying to analyse, at the moment, are the implications of their operations in Pakistan.
To reach an all-inclusive conclusion, the situation for the past couple decades leading up to this time must also be critically evaluated. Osama Bin Laden, by carrying out the 9/11 attacks in the US, made Afghanistan a warzone for the US, and became a threatening figure for the entire world. He also played a critical role in the expansion and establishment of the Taliban and their ideology in Afghanistan and the bordering areas of Pakistan, and the fruit of what he sowed is still being reaped by Afghanistan.
Post-US operations in Afghanistan, isn’t Bin Laden’s settlement in, of all countries in the world, Pakistan, evidence that his ties with anti-state actors in Pakistan were as strong as his ties with the Afghan Taliban? Isn’t Pakistan still dealing with the Taliban and their affiliates in the shape of other religious extremists? How is it possible that Osama survived in Pakistan without the assistance of certain non-state actors and their “mighty” backers? This leads us to the inference that Bin Laden indeed had a role to play in the chaos and anarchy created by religious extremists in Pakistan. This has sullied the country’s reputation in the global community and wreaked havoc upon the country’s economy.
Questioning the validity of it all
In the War against Terror, Pakistan has lost nearly 60,000 soldiers and innocent civilians. Therefore, stability and survival of the state, to an extent, was contingent on Bin Laden’s elimination. However, was it justified, for the operation that led to the eradication of the threat of Bin Laden, to be carried out by US instead of Pakistani forces? Was the operation within the bounds of what the law permits?
We can doubtlessly say that the US ha