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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2734

Obama’s First Ball To Pak On Terror

By J N Raina - Syndicate Features

Now there will be no "free lunches" for Pakistan. This firm warning has been delivered to our petulant neighbour by the U S President Barack Hussein Obama, in his policy agenda, on the heels of his campaign speeches that US "must be willing to strike Al Qaida targets inside Pakistan, if Islamabad did not act against them".

The United States has deducted $ 55 million, under its reimbursement programme, for expenses incurred by Pakistan on the "war on terror". Ostensibly, it is a demonstration of the fact that Obama is keen to hold Pakistan 'accountable' for the security of the regions, bordering Afghanistan. As a follow up action, economic aid to Pakistan would be made ‘conditional’ on Pakistan’s 'satisfactory' performance in the war on terror. Rattled Pakistan has no alternative, but to either buzz off and dismantle its mushrooming terror mills or close its ‘shop’ as a banana republic.

Soon after he was installed as the 44th President of the United States of America, Obama fired his first salvo, swiftly but expectedly, putting Pakistan on ‘notice’, just after his prior announcement that his administration would undertake a full review of the situation in Afghanistan, and develop a "comprehensive policy for the entire region", including India. But will Pakistan deliver?

The White House in a foreign policy agenda document made it abundantly clear that although non-military aid to Pakistan would be tripled, it will be made ‘conditional’, rather attached with additional strings. Intriguingly enough, in a surprise move, Pakistan is not amused by the new gesture though beneficial, calling for enhanced economic package, but slashing of military aid simultaneously.

Without realizing the consequences, Pakistan indulged in mere polemics. In its knee-jerk reaction, Pakistan announced it would ‘review’ its options. The beleaguered government made pointless overtures: "If the Obama administration did not adopt a positive policy, Islamabad would review all options". Inter alia, it wanted to convey that Pakistan would pull out from the war on terror as American ally in the conflict zone. It has virtually threatened to snap ties and not to fight against Al Qaida and Talibans, nurtured by ISI.

The Pakistan army was more belligerent. General Tariq Majid, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committee has warned: "Such unhelpful statements (by Obama) must be stopped." If Pakistan meant business, it should have repulsed series of drone attacks in the North West.

To cap it all, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has raised the bogey of Kashmir, instead of taking strong action against militants and their handlers, responsible for Mumbai carnage. "Peace in our region can be secured only by addressing long-term and neglected problems--- the question of Kashmir must be addressed in some meaningful way to bring stability in this region". Instead of acting on the evidence provided by India, Zardari, tutored by his army, has raked up the Kashmir issue unwarranted.

Pakistan has received military and soft economic aid worth billions of dollars from the U S, but failed to deliver on the war front. It has not accomplished the assigned task of eliminating jihadis. If Islam does not permit killing of innocent civilians, what prevents the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from smashing terrorist infrastructure completely?

The U S warning was written on the wall long back, but Pakistan just blinked. One fails to understand why it is jaw-jaw for Pakistan if the new U S administration has tripled its economic aid. Does it presage a negative policy? If the Americans have not adopted a 'positive policy' vis-à-vis Pakistan since inception, what else Pakistan has in fact been rattled by the Obama Administration’s new plans, to 'rejig' the American policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the region as a whole.

Surprisingly, Pakistan has exhibited China card against India and the U S, saying "Whatever China says, Pakistan will endorse….That is the level of trust we have in China". Pakistan wants China to act as a mediator. A clear signal that Pakistan does not have trust in the US anymore. Not to speak of India, its natural enemy by 'birth'. Pakistan has started blackmailing the US.

If the Obama has plans to enhance non-military aid to Pakistan three-fold, but only to be ‘tied’ to better performance, what harm? As a consequence, the US wants a quid-pro-quo, not just empty promises and deceit. Now it is enough for enough for the Americans. Pakistan wants to perpetuate militancy and impose jihadism in South Asia and beyond. It wants to enlarge such a sphere of activity.

The US simply wants Pakistan to stop infiltration into Afghanistan and track down elusive Osama bin Laden. The US does not want Pakistan to become a haven for Al Qaida and Talibans. Is it unjustified? Allied forces and Afghan troops are constantly under attack by ISI trained militants in the region.

Several hundred trucks carrying essential supplies to NATO forces were recently blown up by the ISI-trained terrorists. Naturally, the US would not sit idle and watch. Hard decisions have to be taken in Washington. There seems to be a paradigm shift in the US policy. Before being installed as the US President, Obama had described Afghanistan as the central front in 'our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism'. The U S has decided to pump in 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan.

Talibans have regained a new footing, paralyzing normal life in Afghanistan and creating impediments in its speedy development. The Americans are paranoid whether nuclear weapons will remain safe, given the structure of the Pakistan army and ISI establishment linked to Al Qaida and Taliban. The picturesque Swat valley in Baluchistan has been destroyed by Talibans. They are now spreading ‘un-Islamic’ message of jihad through a network of radio sets. Those hesitant to listen are beheaded.

The US has since lost faith in Pakistan as an ally. It was amply proved by the overtures of the top brass of the army. It has now decided to take a new route to Afghanistan via Russia and Central Asia, to avoid attacks on its troops. The Bush administration had been resorting to drone attacks on Talibans to the chagrin of the Pakistan army. In the first instance, it is Pakistan that is to be blamed, for allowing the North West region to become a haven for Al Qaida, led by fugitive Osama bin Laden, who is still elusive. Pakistan has no inclination to stem the rot.

Truncated Pakistan (after bifurcation of Bangladesh) is the most dangerous region in the world. Its economy has shattered, because of huge expenditure on defence. It wants to plunge the entire South Asia into a conflict zone. Consciously or otherwise, Pakistan has allowed US to interfere in the subcontinent, which is not a good sign.

India’s relations with the US have generally been adversarial. Now there seems a tilt. Obama wants to re-configure ties with India, which will augur well for the entire region.

It is a million dollar question whether Obama will succeed in his grand mission to capture Osama; dead or alive, as a panacea for world peace.

- Asian Tribune -

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