There is a feel good atmosphere in Pakistan right now. Well, among the PTI supporters & officials anyway. Imran Khan’s “Absolutely Not” has been making rounds all over the digital media. We’re celebrating the “straight as an arrow” shrewd mindedness of Prime Minister Imran Khan who is generally known for his u-turns and self conflicting views. But is it, really?
Lets take a brief dive into history. In “No-Win War”, Zahid Hussain writes: “George Tenet, Director CIA, waited anxiously for his Pakistani counterpart, Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, DG ISI. It was just two days after 11 September, 2001, when the US was shaken by the worst terrorist attacks on its soil. “
”’General, we need your support,’ said Tenet, clasping the General’s hands. ‘We completely depend on you’”
This, followed by a call-to-arms by President Bush “Either you’re with us, or you’re against us” straightened us out and we pledged our allegiance to the US. By “we”, I mean General Musharraf. Back then, there was no National Assembly to consult (not that General Musharraf would have if there were). So it was upto him to decide the fate of Pakistan. Despite pressure from his top Generals, Musharraf gave Bush what he wanted.
The point of this article is not to discuss the rights and wrongs of the decisions made by Pakistan but the top office involved in such decisions. The misplaced integrity & “feel good” factor of Imran Khan is here to fool no one but the fools for we know exactly where the foreign policy in Pakistan is made despite Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi claiming otherwise.
Back in the time of President (& General) Musharraf, it was easy for US to coordinate with us as the amalgamated and unconstitutional post occupied by General Musharraf made the coordination easier and smoother for US. Next came General Kayani & General Pasha to lead the army (read: Pakistan) and ISI respectively to go with the PPP Government. Despite of all the talks of a democratic government, there can be absolutely no doubt about who rules our country. This was so evident in the era of PPP when General Kayani wrote to US the papers known in the US as “Kayani 1.0, Kayani 2.0 & Kayani 3.0”. It was General Kayani who received the call from Admiral Mullen” about what had gone down few hundred meters away from Kakul Academy. It was General Kayani who then debriefed the then President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari who then followed it up with an article in Washington Post the same morning.
The article written by PM Imran Khan in Washington Post few days ago is reminiscent of the one President Zardari wrote. Despite of our current PM acting like he’s at the helm, we should know who’s pulling the strings. The thing is, with the annoucement of a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, our Army just cannot afford to pick sides. It cannot afford the wrath of the Taliban or the US. One can wreak havock over our regional stability, while the other over our frailing economic wellbeing. So our army is terrified. It cannot afford another 20 years of mayhem. The direction, it seems for now, is clear from the Top Office in Rawalpindi: absorb all the pressure from the Defence Secretary, the CIA, the Secretary of State until the President himself decides to choke us out through IMF or FATF or World Bank et al.
The question that remains is what would General Bajwa and General Faiz do once this happens? Will they continue to hide behind their selectees or will they come up with a clear roadmap for how Pakistan is supposed to act in the situation where it finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place?
This all remains to be seen. But to even consider the possibility of the PM Imran Khan & Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi deciding our fate seems laughable at best!