Pakistan: Trapped In The US Game

October 22, 2009


Shireen M Mazari

Musharraf proved excessively compliant from the beginning and this came as a shock even to the Bush Administration, but they realised his limitations in terms of compromises at the tactical level because of the military – which often put a spanner in the US agenda for Pakistan. Hence the constant critique of the Pakistan military and its intelligence outfits – especially once the CIA fell out with the ISI two years ago over whom to target in FATA.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There is a dangerous pattern connecting the events happening in and around Pakistan today. Unless we can see this larger picture, we will be overwhelmed by the fallout and our detractors like the US will have fulfilled their agenda for this nuclear capable country.

The roots of this US agenda go back to Musharraf’s hasty embrace of the US “war on terror”. What was not realised at the time was the psychological trauma the US had undergone as a result of 9/11, which had led to the bolstering of the already suspicion-tinted view the US had of the Muslim world. Of course, some pliant Muslim leaders were reluctantly embraced as “allies”, but always on a tight leash, but by and large nationalist Muslim leaders and their nations were something the Americans never felt comfortable with. If these nations were also militarily or economically strong, the US felt even more uncomfortable. In this context, Mahathir’s Malaysia, Revolutionary Iran and nuclear Pakistan certainly stood out as irritants in one way or another. So when 9/11 happened, even though it was Saudi citizens who were responsible for the actions, Pakistan was brought centre-stage and the US saw this as the opportunity to cut the country down to size and finally gain control of its nuclear assets.

That Musharraf proved excessively compliant from the beginning came as a shock even to the Bush Administration, but they realised his limitations in terms of compromises at the tactical level because of the military – which often put a spanner in the US agenda for Pakistan. Hence the constant critique of the Pakistan military and its intelligence outfits – especially once the CIA fell out with the ISI two years ago over whom to target in FATA!

So what is this US agenda that bodes ill for Pakistan? An article published in the US Army Journal entitled “Blood Borders” captured the broad outline a few years earlier. The main components that can now be identified are: One, to restructure Pakistan and its state institutions according to US wishes; two, to take control of its nuclear assets since they cannot really be “taken out”; and, three, to move it towards accepting Indian hegemony in the region and to distance it from its strategic partnership with China.
What has been the strategy for implementing this agenda? To create enough chaos and violence in Pakistan so as to be able to justify coming in and seizing control of the nuclear assets, restructuring a new state model for the country, which would include bringing it under Indian hegemony. How would this agenda be implemented?

First, through shifting the centre of gravity of the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan. This has finally been accomplished through a number of interesting tactics. The beginning was made by allowing the Al-Qaeda and Taliban to escape from Afghanistan during the Tora Bora bombings. Then the internal destabilisation of Pakistan began through drone attacks, which caused the traditionally highly patriotic tribal population of FATA to gradually turn against the state especially when the US pressured the army into moving into this area. Also, India was given a free run in Afghanistan so money and weapons for terrorists flowed in from Afghanistan into Balochistan and FATA as well as NWFP. In addition, a new entity emerged with its own violent agenda – the TTP with a huge stock of weapons that clearly had come from across the border since some of them were of US origin. Meanwhile, the US gradually increased its covert presence in Pakistan – beginning with Tarbela and the so-called “trainers” as well as the private US security concerns that have traditionally worked as mercenaries for the US government in places like Iraq. Balochistan also saw an increase in the US presence, especially as the US also sought to operationalise its covert operations against Iran through this province and the bases Musharraf had so generously handed over to the US. There was also the Bandari air base in an area 78 kilometres south of Kharan, near a place called Shimsi – not Shamsi base which is on the border with Iran near Dalbandin – from where the drones have been flying.

This is the only airport that is not listed as being under CAA control.

All along, the US at the diplomatic and political levels was continuing with its “do more” mantra and undermining the credibility of the military in terms of its intent vis-à-vis fighting extremism and terrorism. The ISI especially was singled out for attack while the nuclear assets kept coming in for periodic targeting by the US media. As the US became more bogged down in Afghanistan, it sought to shift its failures on to Pakistan so that in the end many assume that it is this reason that has forced the US to shift the war to Pakistan. However, that may only be an offshoot of the larger original game plan to destabilise Pakistan from within by taking the war to the heart of the country – which is where the situation stands poised right now. The Musharraf-US alliance would have continued, but for the people of Pakistan’s desire for justice and freedom which spurred the judicial movement when Musharraf overplayed his hand. But once again the nation was short-changed because the US cleverly managed a new partner linked through the NRO. In Zardari they found an even more cooperative leader – and with democratic credentials to boot! If Musharraf had begun the granting of unfettered access to the US, the Zardari regime has taken it beyond all limits.

The second phase of the US implementation strategy has now begun to be operat-ionalised – that is, to destabilise Pakistan from within by increasing acts of terror carried out in Pakistani cities through well-trained and well-equipped groups centring on TTP – which finds no mention in the Kerry-Lugar Act. Alongside, the military has been tied down in military operations, first in Swat and now in SWA – which has its own fallouts in terms of terrorism and displacement of the population. It has also become necessary to isolate Pakistan from its neighbours and hence the extensive terrorist attacks on Iran’s security forces in Sistan province bordering Pakistan’s Balochistan, so that Iran-Pakistan relations are destroyed – Iran being the only friendly neighbour apart from China. The US covert presence in Pakistan has also now been put in place like a web – beginning from Sindh and Balochistan in the south and southwest, to Punjab to the Capital to Peshawar. There are now US armed covert operatives along with overt marines surrounding the Pakistanis and their nuclear assets. The Kerry-Lugar Act merely gives formal recognition to what has already happened in practice – submission to US diktat.

Only one last phase of the US agenda has to be operat-ionalised, but that will be the toughest. This is to push the country into a civil war-like situation by threatening to target Quetta and southern Punjab as well as Muridke. First there was pressure on the army to move into Swat; now it is SWA and the new mantra of moving the army into southern Punjab has already begun! Overstretch the military and create civil-military fissures so as to totally destabilise the country. When there is a state of total chaos, the US can pressure the UNSC into allowing it to takeover Pakistan’s nuclear assets – what will euphemistically be termed “under international control”. But the big problem now is that too many in the corridors of power in Pakistan are beginning to see the light while the people have also woken up to the lethal American agenda for Pakistan. Unless we can see the whole US game plan, and connect all the dots we will continue to fall prey to this destructive design.



  1. the article is an eye opening and gives quite a well deserved picture of our disgracefull so called leaders but my question is when to act and how to act. if the sisnter game is on i wonder and im ashamed as a citizen of pakistan, that no one who walks in the corridors of power understand and can see the bigger picture….. what is and will happen is well seen by the ordinanry pakistani like me and many others and not by the people who are at the helm of affairs they have deliberately closed their eyes.. the politicians have always criticized the army, even at this hour of need when we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with our army…. one thing is for sure and im very sorry to say that high ups have lost the sense of patriotisum, diehard committment for pakistan they are now engaged in thier private persuits

    “But the big problem now is that too many in the corridors of power in Pakistan are beginning to see the light while the people have also woken up to the lethal American agenda for Pakistan”

    this is quite wishful and for this to happen we need to shake their beds as wakeup call. i wish we an change and realize now that enemy is at our gates and we have to fight them out ouf our land… PAKISTAN ZINDABAD

  2. gr8 article long live pti

  3. Great article and somewhat disturbing. Some questions are coming to my mind making me to re-evaluate my usual stance. This is such a complicated game, it is difficult to figure out which party is right.

    It is not news that US had the plan to destabilize Pakistan from within, engaging the Army and then having an all out attack from India and possibly from the western border.

    Then why is Army playing into “their” hands if this article is mentioning the truth. They are now talking about attacking southern Punjab. Isn’t the army aware that it will be overstretched? It is hard to believe that they are not. May be they have devised a way to counter this US strategy? I don’t know.

    Zaid Hamid had said before that military solution to Waziristan problem is not needed and is not advisable. There solution to this problem can be attained by talking to the militants. So, why this thinking is not followed? Or Is it being followed?

    There have been many occasions when Zardari government could have been toppled but no action was taken. I am confused. I hope the army knows what it is doing.

    Hasbunallaho Wa naimal Wakeel

  4. Article six has been so much orchestrated that Military is finding itself in a fix.

    But whatever course is left with the Army,they seem to be playing it very well,and will end up deciding our foreign policy
    I am cofident that SWA operation will end soon succesfully.They went in their to keep American mouth shut.

    The problem is that we don’t have any America Watchers(Though we have 170m as america seekers)waiting for green cards.We do not have any America chair in any of our Universities.

    The trouble had started much before 9/11.Rockets fell in Pakistan during Nawaz( which means he had quietly allowed over flights).Aimal Kansi deported.

    If we had analyst like Shireen in those days we would have read into all this.Leaders kept the nation in dark by strangulating the press.

    the maximum we have been doing was that analyse old declassified documents which is 25 years after.

    It is my conviction that if Mush had continued after election,thing would have been different.The devil you know is better than the devil you do not.But due to personal vidictiveness of Nawaz,country is suffering. Obama being new,it would have been easy for Mush to handle.See they retained Robert Gates who also was active during Jihad Afghanistan.It seems American policies were made in 1979,and now it is piecemeal applied,whether Democrats or Republicans.

  5. This in the kind of awarness needed. It logical and adds up our corrupt government is actuall trying to destabelize Pakistan. Its all because the Great Powers wants us to give us up our Nuclear umbrealla.

    But it wont happen InshaAllah

  6. Pakistan has only two choices :

    1. Follow the American dictat, re-think the old policies and follow a new path

    2. Get bombed by the Americans, back to stone age

  7. Its a very good article and I hope that our brave Gen. Kayani understands the US agenda and like our vigilant ISI pushed CIA back from FATA to Afghanistan earlier they will once again throw these merceneries out of our country alongwith their slaves i.e. Zardari, Nawaz, and Altaf as they are the most notorious and aliens to our country. The have all their wealth and pakistan looted assets in their overseas masters lands. So they have no interest for the people of pakistan and that is why they are claiming victory of pakistan by getting kill bill passed. They have been secretly allowing the US expand and there are many questions unanswered by Rehman Malik and Tasneem Qureshi responsible for our internal security that how the hell these merceneries were allowed and how they allowed them to smuggle the weapons to pakistan. As recent as yesterday there was a news that the yanks have a big fort in SIHALA Police Training Facility and they have large collection of ammunition and explosive material in that fort which is not far away from KAHUTA. When the incharge of SIHALA Camp informed the authorities this guy was told to hush up. WHAT’S GOING ON REHMAN MALIK. We heard that Rehman Malik would be sent to BRITAIN as he will have a suitable job as a CHAUKIDAR FOR TONY BLAIR what the hell is he still doing in PAKISTAN just appearing on TV with statments like taliban are on the run etc. etc. What about US merceneries and the explosives and your hush up on US agenda. You are the one who wanted to thank the US for the KILL BILL with all of you saying that this bill is good for us advising us to read it. Well we read it did you really read it. Why would you because you don’t care about pakistan you just want it in your pockets and will run away to your HOMELAND IN ENGLAND.

  8. Excellent Article Ms. Mazari..

    Pakistan ka Khudahafiz

  9. I am so glad see the article from Shireen Mazari. Atleast she has the guts to say what she see.
    Speaking truth has been pretty costly for her & we all know that. I really admire her bravery.

    I personally beleive in what she has mentioned in the article. But what she has missed is to highlight the Chinese activity in response to the American agression in their backyard.

    I beleive & I hope that I am right, is that this confidence of our army & ISI is only due to the backing of China.

    Chinese co-opeation is nothing new, but today being a super power China is more concerned about the changing senario in its immediate neighbour hood.

    I think it will be like looking at half the picture if we dont see the Chinese involvement any less than the Americans in our region.

    May god bless our country.

  10. It is remorseful we realised it after long time. It is an alarming call for the government now. This could be the last chance to save Pakistan’s sovergeinity and rights of territorial integrity. US wants our nuclear weapon, so in future US would not like to provide us money for the development work as well as to build convetional military.


  11. Neel123,

    A wife told her husband,there are two choices:
    I wash and you clean,or you wash I clean.
    The husband said,no there is third choice also.
    You wash and you clean.

    Joke apart,we have third option as well.

    Bomb and destroy India.,selectively leaving Muslim population unharmed.

  12. so finally all the anti-musharraf forces took over PKKH….WD

  13. […] […]

  14. Good putting together of dots……..but all this z futile until it becomes voice of people like in mater of CJP Iftikhar Chaudry….unitl it all comes from street with relentless force to Islamabad with dharna or what ever…it means nothing…jamat-i-islami, PTI are an insufficient voice ! People will remain naive to the siuation until political hugo stalwarts jump in ! If they keep hiding n waiting saving democracy, God save Pakistan then and Army is not to be blamed for ” mere aziz ham watano”

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