Carlotta Gall, New York Times reporter, has recently written a book entitled "The Wrong Enemy" in which she points to the U.S. war against Afghanistan as misguided, since the real enemy is Pakistan. Speaking on PBS she said this:
(W)e have been fighting a war for 10 years, more that I covered it, against — in the Afghan villages, against the Afghan people and against the Taliban, obviously.
And I came to realize that the Taliban is supported by the neighboring country, Pakistan, and really more than just supported, run strategically, pushed in to get leverage over Afghanistan, to have control and have a proxy army there for Pakistan’s benefit.
And I saw so much over the years. I just felt I had to write it and lay it out and show that all the effort of the West and America was concentrated on fighting in the villages in Afghanistan, when, really, the source of the problem was over the border in Pakistan.
So you had President Musharraf in Pakistan saying it — he was an ally in the war on terror, but, in fact, I uncovered things that he was doing aiding and abetting the Taliban at first, organizing a meeting right after — in 2001, right after the fall of the Taliban, to how to regroup them and get them back on their feet, and to divide up areas of responsibility to go back in and run an insurgency against American troops.
And the idea was to trip America up. And that — that sounded strange to — when he was being an ally of the West in the war on terror, and he was handing over some al-Qaida people that were caught in Pakistan. But the real idea was to keep the Taliban going as a proxy force, which is, you know, aimed to then, in the end, have influence in Afghanistan for Pakistan, so they could control them or have them as a client state.
And that’s always been the aim of Pakistan, in fact, since right the beginning of the Taliban, and you could argue even before, when they supported the mujahideen against Russia, that they wanted a stake in what they regard as their backyard.
Speaking to the same thesis we find the former Canadian Ambassador to Kabul saying this on CBC:
Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has whipped up a diplomatic storm with his unambiguous statement Pakistan is a state sponsor of international terrorism.
Speaking on CBC TV’s Power and Politics about Canada’s legacy in Afghanistan, the minister who was once Canada’s ambassador in Kabul, said the world has only recently caught up with Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.
“This is state sponsorship of terrorism. It’s covert. It’s been denied. Not even Western analysts agree that it’s happening on the scale we know it to be happening,” he told host Evan Solomon.
Predictably, the Pakistan government lashed back, accusing Alexander of pursuing a “personal and prejudiced agenda.” In a statement, the High Commission for Pakistan said Alexander’s remarks reflect “a lack of any objective appreciation of the ground realities in our region.” The Pakistan-Canada diplomatic spat came in the wake of a deadly shooting attack on a Kabul hotel in which four Taliban gunmen killed nine civilians, including AFP reporter Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of their three children. (By Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, April 8, 2014)
What is especially galling, from a western perspective, is that the U.S. specifically, but other western countries also, has poured billions into Pakistan, in an attempt to stabilize what is both a state verging on outright failure, and a member of the nuclear group of nations. You may recall that Dr. Khan, a Pakistani, is currently under 'house arrest' for having given nuclear secrets to the Iranians. However, that single act of deception is only one in a long line of deceptions perpetrated by the Pakistanis over decades.
Finally, are we seeing the diplomatic "gloves" starting to come off, in the public statements about the role of Pakistan, after nearly a two-decades-long struggle against Islamic terrorism, including the Taliban who still threaten to take control of some regions of Afghanistan when the American and NATO forces draw down (given that the recent presidential election foreshadowed a signing of the agreement with the U.S. to keep some forces in that country, the three leading candidates favouring such a position)?
Finally, will the world take Pakistan's threat seriously, that, as a member of the world's nuclear "club", and a highly unstable country out of which there are reports of bomb blasts on an almost daily basis, and that they have been playing a dangerous game with the world's security (and that includes each and every person living on the planet) and that the costs both in dollars and in human lives, not to mention the instability Pakistan continues to generate among the world's leading nations, the world has had enough of this behaviour. Sacrificing international security, for the purposes of maintaining some influence "in their own backyard" as Carlotta Gall puts it, is not a premise for a healthy relationship with the rest of the world.
Putting strict conditions on any support for Pakistan, from any quarter, and then enforcing those conditions, however, will be most difficult, even for an international agency like the IMF, or the United Nations. Without any military component to its arsenal, the United Nations is almost powerless to impose any agreed-upon treaty that might be passed in the Security Council to bring Pakistan to heal. And, of course, given their behaviour and the history of their duplicity, as one of the world's leading "rogue states" Pakistan gives cover to other "bad actors" like North Korea, and potentially Iran, and then there are the terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And it is the wider picture, the instability that can and does ensue from the actions, statements and duplicity of a state like Pakistan, which purports to want and to earn respect on the world stage, that is most unsettling, and also most intractable in terms of bringing Pakistan to "heel".
As we are witnessing in the negotiations over Syria and over Iran's nuclear ambitions, whenever and wherever there is a slight opening of a door for conflict, state actors like Putin's Russia, sometimes linked to China, sometimes not, will attempt to drive a wedge into that opening, in the hope of fomenting disagreement among the world's leading powers.
In the long run, of course, Putin and his own inflated ambitions for a renewed Russian Federation, as well as the people of both Afghanistan and Iran, not to mention the people of Pakistan itself, would be far better served by a regime in Pakistan that speaks the truth, that comes out of the shadows, that is not hiding behind the unscrupulous rogue nations who provide both assistance and cover for the kind of deceptive and duplicitous foreign policy (if one can even call Pakistan's a legitimate foreign policy) and that is perhaps even pressured to surrender control of its nuclear weapons unless and until it starts to play more transparently by the conventions of a new world order that requires openness, candor, collaboration and the rejection of their opposites.
However, books, and political talking points, and even academic debates alone will not generate a transformation in the ways of Pakistan's interactions with other world nations. It will take a consistent barrage of negative, confrontative and even sanctioned moves by a concerted and determined group of international players, the world's leading powers, to bring about the needed change in the future of Pakistan on the world stage.
And Canada has to restore its embassy in Teheran, if it is to play any role in the gordion knot that entangles Iran with Pakistan, North Korea and the Taliban, not to mention the continuing scourge of Islamic terrorism.