Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pakistan-US Relations: An open letter to the US Congress


The US - Pakistan relations have never been easy and have remained tense most of the time since the creation of Pakistan. The changing geo-political situation around Pakistan has been the major contributing factor. But despite Pakistan's efforts to side with the US and try its best to continue to be its best ally, the US has always views its relations with Pakistan with uneasiness.

While Pakistan sided with US and was the major US partner to defeat the Russians when the invaded Afghanistan in the 1980, Pakistan was abandoned soon after the Russians left.  The Americans again returned to Pakistan for help when they invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, but soon suspicion returned and as of today, the US Congress is mouthful of mistrust and showing visible signs of breaking away from Pakistan yet again.

Recently the US congress was seen spewing venom against Pakistan and asking to declare Pakistan as an enemy state. The comments seem to portray the bitterness in US about Pakistan's closing in to China and opening a corridor of friendship from deep seaport of Gwader on the Arabian Sea to China, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Lieutenant General Tariq Khan, a well read and respected Pakistan army retired officer, who has been awarded the coveted Legion of Merit by the US for his services to bridge gap between US and Pakistan, has written an open letter to the US Congress, airing his very candid and bold views about the US policies and stance against Pakistan in his Facebook page. The letter is herein shared for general reading and showing his perspective:

To the US Congress:

I was amazed to hear your one sided debate where your Congressmen were foaming at the mouth to declare Pakistan an enemy state. They sounded so committed that one could be forgiven for believing that they meant it and knew what they were talking about. Most of the speakers, heavily sponsored by India would not be able to find Pakistan on a map let alone make an intelligent comment on the regional environment. I shall not stoop to respond to the meaningless charge-sheet bandied about by this anti Pakistani lobby, a bunch of stooges who not only do a great disservice to democracy and the US image but are responsible for the very foreign policy blunders the US is suffering the consequences of today. So here are some points that need to be understood, considered and explained:

1. The US and it's Coalition partners have lost the war in Afghanistan. It will be recognised as one of the greatest military defeats in history when all the dust and debris settles down.

2. This loss has affected Pakistan the most. Barring the political rhetoric we hear about the situation and viewing it more from a State's perspective, only a fool would see a benefit for Pakistan in this US defeat.

3. It is natural for those responsible for this disaster to invent reasons for their failing and look for an appropriate whipping boy. That the narrative that needs to be manufactured for both is a product of this military defeat.



4. That India is exploiting the situation and working herself into a position where She can promote the US agenda and defame Pakistan is a no-brainer.

5. That Pakistan has made mistakes and bad choices is not contested but to define these decisions as State Policy intended to come in the way of a US victory is not only childish but ludicrous.

6. That the US has a bad precedence of letting down its allies is very well recorded and documented in history. Some US-PAK experiences illustrating this are: The Somalia case where after entering with all the pomp and panoply the US ran unilaterally and returned home. The US left Pakistan on the beaches and withdrew under its protection. That Hollywood was encouraged to screen, 'Black Hawk Down', depicting Pakistani soldiers as cowards whereas it was a Pakistani squadron of 19 lancers that fought it's way in and rescued the besieged Americans. This small truth was conveniently forgotten in making up of the narrative. Also, how after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan the US abandoned Pakistan with 3 million refugees, drugs and heavily armed Mujahidin Camps. One of the major causes of militancy all along the border today and one that apparently plagues the US security spectrum.

7. If there is an iota of truth where some of your Congressmen bravely shoot their mouth off in a one-sided harangue, they should look forward to a public debate on the matter also. I am sure we can produce someone to give them a run for their money if they are up to it. Is the US willing to hold a public enquiry to determine the causes of the American failure in Afghanistan? It will probably be a better road to take than to conveniently blame every tactical and operational defeat on Pakistan.

8. Can anyone amongst the US Congress explain the following:
- The US Strategy in Afghanistan? 
- The desired End State?
- The political and military objectives?
- The causes of a military defeat?
- The reasons for a political failure? 
- Was Pakistan your undoing?
9. I have personally been involved in US-Pak operations for years along this border and I know we could have resolved this conflict easily. However, we were played and influenced by factors, people and institutions that did not want such a resolution. Pakistan was not one of these but do the US and it's people even want to hear Pakistan's story? Do they have the stomach to grapple with reality? Can truth be given a chance?

10. For Pakistan: we have had enough. Let's move on. Being a US ally over the years has been a painful experience. We have now been declared an enemy state. 
Let our future relations with the US be governed by this fact first and foremost. 
In other words when we speak to the US again on any and every occasion, remember you are speaking to the enemy.

Answering to the questions on his post, the general elaborates his view point as under:

1. We must revisit our policies but for now sanctions or otherwise let's just breakaway. The fallout will effect every Pakistani and I would like to hear what these people have to say then? It may bring reality to the political rhetoric which would be a good thing. On the other hand, we need to confront these sell-out Congressmen on their own turf. This challenge must be widely publicized and repeated everywhere.

2. The USA is like a large river where the people on the banks benefit as long as the river stays the course. The moment the river changes course it leaves those people in the middle of a desert. Rivers do change course just as national interests and such changes are natural, normal and predictable. It's only us who think relationships are governed by moral values, honour, commitment and trust. Today, the US is a stranger in the region having lost the war in Afghanistan and has aligned itself with India, Afghanistan and Iran in a very overt manouevre which cannot escape anyone's attention. It is an attempt to reassert Herself and establish relevance. It is not working for them so far. 

3. Those who wish to remain in the US camp today must understand that it would involve compromising on CPEC, developing a friendly relationship with India as a product of Indian demands, assisting the US in containing the Chinese and giving up on the strategic deterrence, i.e. nukes. Today, without these compromises there is no question of bettering relations with the US even if we bend over backwards, hire a the best PR team and lobby on every hill outside the White House. The alternative is, get aggressive with Afghanistan, put India under moral and physical pressure, ignore Iran and expand the nuclear capacity in terms of range and second strike. Announce these as policy measures and hope that the world in general and the US in particular try and wean us away from possible confrontation and conflict. This may lead to a better relationship or even total annihilation, however, in my unqualified opinion, it is a calculated risk that will lead to a better relationship. Beggars cannot be choosers but destiny can be shaped so that a beggar does not remain a beggar. We feel that our foreign policy must be about pleasing everyone and disagreeing with no one. We also feel that dialogue and diplomatic initiatives can take off from a position of weakness. We think we can talk ourselves out of a difficult situation. 

We are always in search of something for nothing. We are never ready to show our strength and resolve.


Read more about Lieutenant General Tariq Khan at Wikipedia
Pak-US flags: Photo Credit
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