Should Pakistan Accuse Pentagon And CIA Of Murdering Rabbani?
Ironically, the assassination removed a friend of Pakistan and served the interests of Pentagon, CIA and their Afghan allies. While avoiding confrontation, Pakistan needs to speak up and not let disinformation dominate the air waves. Here are key points that weaken American propaganda.
AHMED QURAISHI | Monday | 26 September 2011
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There is a reason why the United States has ignored the cold-blooded murder of ex-Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani and focused all its energies instead on the attacks on US embassy and NATO offices in Kabul.
The assassination neatly fits in with the interests of three parties: US military, CIA and their Afghan warlord allies. It might well be the first planned murder of a senior Afghan government official opposed to US meddling in Afghan reconciliation.
This is the work of the same American lobbies opposed to President Barrack Obama’s Afghan pullout plan and his defense budget cuts.
There is no credible confirmation yet on who exactly eliminated the man who served as President Karzai’s key manager of reconciliation with Afghan Taliban and someone who recently converted into a friend of Pakistan.
After the assassination, the United States military and intelligence tried to create a wedge between Kabul and Islamabad by invoking an alleged Pakistani hand. But this was effectively countered by Pakistani officials, who have become accustomed to American games. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s quick dash to Kabul to offer condolences and support and later army chief’s cool and calm response to Leon Panetta and Mike Mullen’s anti-Pakistan outbursts helped counter the attempt to poison Karzai’s newfound understandings with Islamabad.
Rabbani’s murder removed an advocate of bringing Afghan Taliban into government, and blaming Pakistan for his murder built pressure on Karzai to sever ties with Islamabad. Such a move would have destroyed Pakistan’s strategy of working closely with Karzai – and Rabbani – to reach a deal with Afghan Taliban and re-empower the Pashtuns despite American opposition.
In short, it is Pakistan that should be raising questions about the mystery of who killed Mr. Rabbani and not vice versa.
The only party that was well prepared to make the most out of Rabbani’s murder was Pentagon and CIA. Both of them moved quickly on two fronts: domestic politics and Pakistan. Domestically, the Panetta-Mullen duo organized a joint anti-Pakistan briefing on 22 September and later Mullen appeared before US Senate armed services committee.
The domestic objectives of Pentagon and CIA from this anti-Pakistan campaign are:
1. Save the skin of US military and intelligence officials responsible for security lapses in Afghanistan
2. Dodge accountability
3. Send a message that major cuts in defense budget won’t be acceptable, and
4. Underline that Afghanistan continues to require foreign military and intelligence presence
Afghanistan today is CIA’s largest base of operations anywhere in the world. The agency is loath to abandon an outpost that gives it direct access to the backyards of several strategic nations at once: Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia. No sane strategist would let go of such an opportunity. Mr. Rabbani’s peace mission may not have shown initial signs of success but it had already upset the policy direction favored by US military, intelligence and their Afghan warlord allies. India was also skeptical about the Rabbani-Karzai plans. Ending the isolation and punishment of the Pakhtun and incorporating them into Afghan power structure has never appealed to these parties. Another common denominator among these parties is their expressed anti-Pakistanism.
In fact, whoever assassinated Mr. Rabbani was also aiming at ensuring that Afghanistan remains an anti-Pakistan outpost. Islamabad has advocated ending the policy of isolating the Pashtun and worked hard to convince Mr. Karzai that friendship and respect for the legitimate interests of both Afghanistan and Pakistan is in both nations’ interests and would benefit stability in the region. Mr. Rabbani had made several overtures to Pakistan in recent months. In January he used the platform of Geo television to address Pakistanis. He spoke in Urdu as a special gesture.
Pakistan is pursuing the right policy with regards to American provocations. What is lacking in this policy is the media edge. For example, several Pakistani officials have sent strong direct and indirect messages to Washington recently. The list includes the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister, Chief of Army Staff and ISI director. But Pakistan faces a sweeping campaign of demonizing the country. This American policy continues since 2004. Both political and military establishments have failed to counter the American narrative. The danger in the massive American campaign is that it paves the way for stronger future actions and limits global support for Pakistani positions. An example is the intense propagandist reporting on Iraq’s WMD in 2002 which helped Washington invade that country on fake evidence.
We need to become more overt in questioning US positions with regards to several key issues. This includes:
1. CIA support and safe havens for terrorists meddling in Balochistan
2. TTP’s easy access to US weapons
3. The freedom of movement granted to anti-Pakistan terrorists inside US-controlled Afghan territory
4. The intense demonization of Pakistan primarily and largely in mainstream US media as part of an unstated American policy
5. Transforming US-controlled Afghanistan into a hub for anti-Pakistan forces in the region
6. Meddling in Pakistani politics
7. Buying out Pakistani media and planting mouthpieces in print and TV.
We should also review the argument that we can’t abandon America’s war on terror to ensure US aid flow and to fight domestic extremism. Washington will keep Pakistan afloat but will continue to drag its feet on key strategic issues such as energy generation and access for Pakistani textiles to US market. The US won’t sign any written agreements on CIA’s illegal activities inside Pakistani territory and airspace. As for domestic extremism, apart from TTP terror group that is linked to the Afghan mess, all other forms of domestic extremism are an internal Pakistani issue and should be delinked from America’s Afghan war.
All of this strengthens the argument that we need to declare an end to our direct participation in America’s Afghan war, known as the war on terror. Bilateral Pak-US cooperation to find an end solution in Afghanistan can continue. The move will give us a chance to redesign our relations with Washington and get rid of the verbal commitments made earlier.
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