Forget Davis - Ahmed Quraishi - Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Source :

American military officials are telling their Pakistani counterparts they want to save the Pakistani-American relationship. The way to do this, they say, is to ‘forgive and forget’ the Raymond Davis debacle, one of the worst scandals to hit the Central Intelligence Agency in years. The notion of saving Pak-US ties is good. But the Pakistani government and military would do a disservice to the nation by sweeping a number of urgent issues under the carpet in the name of salvaging our ties with the United States. Instead of putting Pakistani military under pressure, our American friends need to help save these ties by correcting dangerous imbalances in the bilateral relationship. A fair and full trial for Mr Davis would be a good place to start.

It is also time for the Washington establishment to understand it can’t secure its interests in Pakistan by simply relying on proxies inside Pakistani government or by invoking the Pakistani military. Their actions and policies should also pass the test of Pakistani public opinion.

The Pakistani and American military leaderships met at a resort in Oman last week, which is a couple of hours by plane from Karachi. Credible sources in Islamabad confirm that US military commanders who met General Kayani tried to push him to come down hard on ISI and portray the Davis terror scandal as an ISI attempt to harm Pak-US ties. Some of the American commanders tried to portray the public outrage in Pakistan over Davis and other CIA assets in the country as ISI-engineered. Others are trying to allege that this outrage is limited to religious parties. All of this indicates a dangerous American disregard for Pakistani opinion.

It is also hilarious. If the American assessment is correct, the Pakistani popular outrage is all ISI’s fault. CIA’s advocates have the audacity to accuse ISI of exploiting the media. Someone should draw our American friends’ attention to five years of intense anti-Pakistan campaign in the US media, meant to destabilise Pakistan in every possible way.

A second mischaracterisation the Americans are peddling now is that Mr Davis was simply monitoring dangerous groups. The initial debriefings of the American prove he was not just a spy but a military intelligence operative whose assignment included mounting operations and not just collecting information. His contacts with anti-Pakistan terrorists strengthen earlier information about CIA elements helping terrorists targeting Chinese engineers and Pakistani interests in Balochistan. Information and piles of circumstantial evidence also show CIA elements abetting a range of anti-Pakistan insurgencies across western Pakistan, all of which emerged after our American friends firmly landed in Afghanistan in 2002.

CIA needs to be held accountable for all this. It must explain why its hired gun was in contact with the same terrorists who recently killed two retired ISI officers and who have mounted spectacular attacks in Lahore and Peshawar killing a maximum number of ordinary Pakistanis.

A third issue is the role of President Zardari, his interior minister and his Washington envoy in facilitating the entry of hundreds of US operatives into Pakistan over the past months. It is clear that the US government and CIA rely on proxies to further its agenda in Pakistan. This must come to an end. The personal interests of individuals in the Pakistani government must never trump national interest. The Oman meeting indicates the goal now is to sweep all these urgent issues under the carpet in the name of saving Pak-US relationship.

Contrary to the eloquent pronouncements of senior US officials, Washington is not interested in any long-term relations with Pakistan. The American focus is temporary and limited to its regional interests in Afghanistan, India and China. Only a few days ago the US mainstream media was awash with US official leaks threatening Pakistan of termination of relations. We should not kid ourselves about US intentions, the noise of the small pro-US lobby inside Pakistan notwithstanding.

Mr Davis must be tried and we must strike at the heart of the entire anti-Pakistan enterprise in the region which has been active for nine years. The opening provided by Mr Davis must not go to waste.

The writer works for Geo television. Email:

No comments:

Post a Comment