Capital suggestion Consider the following timeline, Dr Farrukh Saleem
Published in The News on Sunday, September 16, 2012
September 22, 2011 – Admiral Mike Mullen, America’s most senior military officer, says, “The Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of the country’s intelligence services.”
September 4, 2012 – It was reported that General Kayani will be visiting Moscow in September and President Putin will be visiting Pakistan in October.
September 6, 2012 – A Russian delegation arrives in Islamabad.
September 7, 2012 – Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, sends a report to Congress on the Haqqani network stating: “Today, I have sent a report to Congress saying that the Haqqani network meets the statutory criteria of the Immigration and Nationality Act for designation as Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).”
September 9, 2012 – A UN delegation arrives in Islamabad to “probe into the issue of missing persons in the country” (look up East Timor and Southern Sudan).
September 10, 2012 – Fox News, in an alleged interview with Dr Shakil Afridi, reports Afridi claiming “Pakistan’s powerful spy agency regards America as its ‘worst enemy’ and that the government’s claims that it is cooperating with the US are a sham to extract billions of dollars in American aid.” Afridi has denied giving any such interview.
September 10, 2012 – Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, requests the US Senate “to vote on a bill to freeze aid to Pakistan” because Pakistanis consider “American to be their worst enemies.” Senate leadership denied the request.
September 11, 2012 – Congressman Rohrabacher, chairman of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, claims that “Pakistan is a partner of terrorist who murdered fellow Americans.”
Conclusion 1: Exactly a year ago, the Americans shot off their warning for Pakistan to choose between the Haqqan network and the US. It took them a year to actually declare the Haqqani network a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. This FTO declaration may or may not lead to a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ label for Pakistan but if it does Pakistan will be much worse off than it presently is (Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria are currently on the list).
Conclusion 2: Washington feels that Islamabad is tilting towards the Haqqanis over the US and Islamabad, wanting to show off a potential ‘Russia card’, is making moves in that direction.
Conclusion 3: America is egocentric and selfish. We need to pick the path that is best for us. Not to forget that there will be a reaction to every action we take.
The bottom line – as it always is – has to be economics. Diplomacy without an economic leg to stand on is destined to fail. Here are just three of many such facts:
Fact 1: We need $24 billion in the following 24 months just to avoid an outright default.
Fact 2: Pakistan’s exports to Russia stand at $100 million a year. We really don’t produce what Russia needs, and vice versa. Plus, the freight from Karachi to St. Petersburg is a hefty $5,600 per 40 ft. container.
Fact 3: Pakistan-US bilateral trade is a wholesome $6 billion a year.
According to PoliTact, a think tank, “Russia and China are increasingly challenging US” and will use all tools available to them. To be certain, two regional strategic alliances are in the making. The American-led alliance includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, Turkey, Afghanistan and Nato. The Russo-Chinese led alliance has Iran, Syria and Hezbollah onboard. Pakistan must decide – what is in our best national interest. Is September a good month to bluff? Is bluffing in our national interest?
September, I have been told, “tries its best to have us forget summer.”
The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org