Pakistan’s Options

Pakistan’s Options

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali

Ever since 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan by USA, the world in Pakistan changed in many ways. Pakistan, USA’s ally in WOT , the biggest sufferer in this expedition was just slapped with Congress passing a bill imposing more conditions on aid to Pakistan, especially linking it to Islamabad’s cooperation in war on terror and its efforts in curbing terrorists, including Haqqani network.

Myra McDonald in her recent article states,” “Our society which is being shaped by the Afghan war in ways which neither Pakistan’s neighbors, nor western powers, would choose.  The airstrikes, coming soon after the forced resignation of Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani for allegedly seeking American help to curb the power of the military, have added fresh oxygen to a combustible mix of anti-Americanism and religious nationalism enveloping Pakistan”.

Where should Pakistan go from here?

For starters, Pakistan must strategize. Whereas interests of both Pakistan and USA converge on many points, especially in Afghanistan, on many deeper, vital points, they do not. USA, understandably, wants a greater involvement of India in Afghanistan. This of course, is diametrically opposed to Pakistani interest. The problem in Afghanistan is neither the Haqqanis, nor anyone else. The problem in Afghanistan is foreign involvement. The presence of foreign forces. Pakistan lies ravaged, her economy destroyed owing to the deep involvement in WOT. Until and unless NATO troops withdraw, there will be no peace. With no peace, Pakistan continues on the path of destabilization. However, their departure does not seem imminent in near future. According to Ben Farmer of the British Telegraph, the Obama administration is now negotiating a “pact” with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that could leave American military “trainers” — thousands of them — as well as special operations forces, and the U.S. Air Force settled into some of the enormous Afghan bases the Pentagon has built there until… 2024.

Pakistan should strategize to hasten the departure of NATO forces from her neighborhood. If Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in cooperation with Iran can outmaneuver Bush & US military leadership and convince USA to sign the US-Iraq Withdrawal Agreement, Pakistan too, can convince NATO that the presence of their forces in Afghanistan is self defeating in reconstruction and stabilization of post-conflict Afghanistan. Ahmed Rashid, in his article,” The Way Out of Afghanistan”, states,” None of the attempts at rebuilding the Afghan state over the past nine years have really worked. What assurance is there that they will work by 2014?”

Secondly, Pakistan must expand on her trade base on two levels; regional and international. On the first level, she must strengthen friendly relations with nations of South West Asia Region. Entering into trading contracts and other “soft” interaction with Turkey, Sri Lanka(According to Sri Lanka Customs statistics, value of total trade between both countries was $345 million in October, 2011 recording 4.5 percent average growth from $169 million in 2005), China, Iran. More especially with Nepal.

On the second level, Pakistan must press not for aid, but for market access to western countries. US has recently suspended some $800 million in aid to Pakistan. This may be set off by China, our largest trading partner, particularly in infra structure & mining, worth almost $9 billion last year! However, Pakistan must increase trade with other western countries. Removing eggs from the USA’s basket just to place it in Chinese one, can make for uncomfortable sleeping partners! The policy of restricting her major economic interactions has given USA immense leverage to call the shots where Pakistan is concerned. There are lessons to be learnt here. Political independence & sovereignty is the outcome of economic independence.

Is Pakistan ready to be finally politically independent?

(The writer is a lawyer & university professor based in Lahore,Pakistan.She can be reached at

Zardari could be back in Pak tonight

[SEE:Pakistan PM rules out military intervention ;  Is Pakistan’s Military Dictatorship Returning?]

Zardari could be back in Pak tonight: Report


ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari, who was treated for a heart condition in Dubai, could return to Pakistan late tonight, according to a media report.

Zardari had been declared “completely fit” by doctors and was told he could resume his normal duties, Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying.

The 56-year-old President may fly to the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in his special aircraft tonight, the report said. The President’s aircraft was on stand-by at the airport, the channel reported.

His personal staff was expected to return with him. Zardari’s abrupt departure for Dubai on December 6 to seek treatment for a heart condition triggered speculation that he might be facing pressure from the powerful military to resign following the emergence of a secret memo sent to the US military.

The memo had sought US help to prevent a coup in Pakistan in the wake of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

The government dismissed reports that Zardari had suffered a stroke and that he would step down.

However, it has not set a date for his return. Several leaders of the ruling Pakistan People’s Partyhave indicated that Zardari could be back home in time to attend events to be held on December 27 to mark the death anniversary of his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.

Is Pakistan’s Military Dictatorship Returning?

[SEE: Kayani calls Zardari, says country’s interests supreme ]

PM-army chief meet: Gilani, Kayani go three hours, one-on-one

General Kayani and Prime Minister Gilani met for three hours on Friday. PHOTO: FILE/NASEEM JAMES/ EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Amidst a rapidly-shifting and charged political scenario, the prime minister and the army chief held a meeting.

It was one-on-one, closed-door and over three hours long.

Little is known about what was discussed, except an official statement – but the language of the statement is telling. Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani appeared to be backtracking from the assertions he, himself, and his party men have been making over the past few days on the Memogate controversy.

The official statement issued by the media office of the prime minister termed murmurs of a civilian-military stand-off mere ‘rumors’.

“Taking serious note of the rumors regarding a confrontation over the Memo issue, the prime minister strongly rejected the notion,” the statement said.

As the Memogate controversy unfolded, the rhetoric of the PPP and some of its allies has been vehemently accusatory – alleging that a fledgling democratic phase was being conspired against.

A few hours before this meeting, Gilani, while jointly chairing a meeting of PPP parliamentary party along with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, told party members that the memo issue was created by ‘certain forces’ to pack up the democratically-elected government.

According to insiders he had also castigated the armed forces for approaching the Supreme Court directly with its replies in the memo case instead of coming through the ministry of defence.

“They (army and ISI) should have adopted the proper channel in filing their replies,” sources quoted PM as saying during the meeting.

But the statement following the Kayani-Gilani meeting had the contrary to say.

“The prime minister and the army chief also agreed that replies forwarded by the COAS and DG ISI were in response to the notice of the Honourable Court, through proper channel and in accordance with the rules of business and should not be misconstrued as a standoff between the Army and the government,” read the brief statement issued after the meeting.

“The prime minister reiterated that the Government of Pakistan and its institutions remained committed to their constitutional roles and obligations to a democratic and prosperous future for Pakistan,” it added.

Addressing a Senate session few days ago, Gilani is on the record expressing fears that a confrontation over the memo issue could be devastating for the entire system.

According to his spokesman, the prime minister told the army chief that the government’s stance regarding the jurisdiction of the court on the memo issue was still to be heard by the court.

Another backtrack

The federal government was not the only one backtracking.

Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman at the centre of the memogate scandal, has backtracked on his text message about ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha’s tour of some Arab states allegedly to muster support for a possible military coup.

A blog published in The Independent referred to a text message in which Ijaz reportedly said that a senior US official had informed him that Gen Pasha had approached senior Arab leaders in a bid to gather support for deposing President Zardari.

“I was just informed by senior US intel that GD-SII Mr P asked for, and received permission from senior Arab leaders a few days ago to sack Z. For what its worth,” read Ijaz’s message.

It is clearly written in the message that permission was asked for and given.

However Ijaz speaking on television on Friday said the following: “no one ever said to me that General Pasha received permission from somebody to conduct a coup, that’s not what they said.”

Ijaz goes on to say: “What they said was that he had toured Arab countries right after the bin Laden raid taken place, and that he had in fact made clear to those Arab leaders that he met with that there were a significant degree of stress, if you will, between the civilian sector and the establishment about laying blame on what. Again, these are intelligence sources talking to me; I don’t have a transcript that says that; I don’t have the notes of a meeting in which any of those things were said.”

(Read: Prime minister’s address)

Published in The Express Tribune

Obama’s Sneaky Byzantine Style in the ‘Greater Middle East’

Obama’s Byzantine Style in the ‘Greater Middle East’




For the last few years the incumbent US administration was getting adhered to a new, more sophisticated principle in foreign policy: to act overseas by means of its allies and to promote American initiatives as multilateral through the international organizations.

Thus, the war against Libya was unleashed by France, and the US was carrying out merely ‘supportive’ functions. The Modern Silk Road project is initiated by Turkey while the United States is a “neutral but enthusiastic supporter” [1]. The Arab League is churning out petitions to overthrow legitimate, but undesired leaders. In October 2011 the UN resolution against Syria was proposed by France, UK, Germany and Portugal, and the US was just ‘seconding’ it together with Colombia, Nigeria, Gabon and Bosnia. This is indeed a smarter and subtle tactics if compared with the cowboy pounces of the previous administration: now the wastes and risks lay on the others. A comprehensive theoretical backing for such approach was made by Joseph Parent from the University of Miami and Paul MacDonald from the Wellesley College in their latest article in the Foreign Affairs [2].

The United Nations Organization, the major mechanism for conflict management, is being turned into multilateral extension of the State Department aimed to legitimize its one-side initiatives internationally. Washington is also trying to get use of separate UN bodies in American interests. The IAEA for example serves to pressure Iran. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is an instrument to interfere into post-Soviet Central Asia. The Hague-based International Criminal Court, another UN institution created in 2002 to fight crimes against humanity, serves to prosecute the leaders of the states who have refused to enter global matrix designed by the US strategists. Ironically, the 1998 Rome Statute establishing the ICC was never ratified and was ‘unsigned’ by the US in 2002. Most recently UNESCO, another UN body located in Geneva, was financially ‘punished’ by the United States and several allies for admittance of Palestine into this organization.

Another favorite American maneuver is to facilitate ‘regional’ organizations thousands of miles away from its borders being joined by the US as a member or observer. The Washington curators used to repeat to local authorities: ‘It is your idea, your structure, we are just assisting you…’, but at the same time obtain efficient mechanisms and abundant opportunities to influence remote domains.

As a pretext to create such mechanisms the United States prefers raising the flag of ‘cooperation in the name of common interests’. Now, when the standard bugaboo of international terrorism turns politically unsuitable (since quite recently the global elites decided to use the blind Islamist underground as anagent of regression for the third world), they have returned to play off a card of ‘anti-narcotic cooperation’, this time in post-Soviet Central Asia. The paradox of argumentation applied to justify the deeper US penetration into this region still under strong Russian influence is that it should be done ‘to dispel Russian concerns over the consequences of withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan’. If the United States is so much concerned about the drug trafficking in Central Asia, why did they refuse to fight it inside Afghanistan where they had 140 thousand-strong contingent? They still maintain clandestine contacts with a number of ‘field commanders’ who are ‘securing’ US/NATO convoys and drug-trafficking routes at the same time. Nevertheless they prefer to wait until the stuff is spread throughout thousands of locations in Central Asia and then to establish operational, training and intelligence-sharing cooperation with the states subject to heroin attack. One of such mechanisms is the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC) launched in 2009 under the aegis of UNODC. The institution uniting several anti-narcotics agencies of post-Soviet Central Asian states, is funded by a number of NATO countries (US, UK, Italy, Canada, Turkey, France, Czech Republic), Finland and Luxemburg, all investing $15,4 million into the project. These states plus Afghanistan and Pakistan have acquired the status of observers and have access to all data bases of the Centre. According to the documents revealed by Wikileaks, CARICC mandate might be ‘broadened to encompass all transnational crime rather than just counter-narcotics’.

Interestingly, after the failure of US attempts to channel several CARICC training programs through NATO-Russia Council or OSCE (Washington tried not to publicize the fact that US CENTCOM was among the key sponsors of these programs), Assistant Secretary William Brownfield, the head of the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has announced a new Central Asian Counternarcotics Initiative, (CACI) in June 2011. This initiative would apparently lead to the creation ofelite special units similar to notorious CIA-backed death squads that committed a number of resonant extrajudicial killings in Latin America and other countries during the Cold war. Mr. Brownfield’s background and his Central Asian agenda were perfectly analyzed by Nil Nikandrov quite recently [3].

The Canadian political analyst Peter Dale Scott has concluded in his famous book ‘American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan’ that the increase of drug trafficking occurs because of, and not despite of, American efforts. He is seconded by another well-known researcher of the CIA involvement into drug trade, Alfred McCoy, who stated that where and when the United States conduct ‘a war against narcotics’, the production of stuff usually increases [4].

Those in Central Asia who are ready to play American game should be aware of their destiny. It is equal to one of several Central American countries in 1980s: the role of cannon-fodder on service of American interests, years of bloody civil wars, and backwardness for decades. Do their leaders understand the rules of the game they are being involved? Do they want the same future as it is the present in Afghanistan, where the nation is torn by both internal extremism and foreign occupation? The point of non-turn is still not crossed. The sequence of coup-d’états carried out by narco cartels supervised by the US intelligence agencies, widespread massacres and foreign occupation are a likely, but not imperative future for Central Asia.


1. Andrew Kuchins, Thomas Sanderson, David Gordon: The Northern Distribution Network and the Modern Silk Road – Planning for Afghanistan’s Future // Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). December 2009. P.3.

2. Joseph M. Parent, Paul K. MacDonald: The Wisdom of Retrenchment – America Must Cut Back to Move Forward // Foreign Affairs. November/December 2011.

3. Nil Nikandrov: US Drug War Against Russia Waged From the Asian Foothold, Strategic Culture Foundation, December 10, 2011.

4. Alfred W. McCoy The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. Lawrence Hill Books, Second revised edition. 2003. P. 449.

Russian Drilling Platform Sinks While Being Towed Near Sakhalin Island

In the Okhotsk Sea drilling platform sank Four people were killed

Photo: Michael Pochuev / Kommersant
Drilling platform “Kola” capsized and sank 200 miles off the coast of Sakhalin. The accident killed four, rescued 14 people. Rescue operations are continuing. The dangers of ecological catastrophe not.
“Now it is difficult to say how many will last a life-saving work. Similarly, they will go before dark, and if necessary will continue tomorrow,” – said the head of the local central board MES of Russia Teimuraz Kasaev. The fate of several dozen people remains unknown. Managed to rescue 14 people, aware of four deaths, but data on the number of people were on the platform apart. According to different information, “Kola” was from 57 to 76 people.

The rescue operation is carried out in a heavy storm. It involves naval forces: on-site works icebreaker “Magadan”, is expected to approach the ship, “SMITH, Sakhalin,” and courts “Atlas” and “Yuri Tarakurov.” Aircraft left the place of disaster due to the onset of darkness.

Platform “Kola” owned “Arcticmorneftegasrazvedka” and assigned to the port of Murmansk. The platform was built in 1985 in Finland. The total length of Setup 69.2 m, width – 80 m. Since early September, “Kola” conducted exploratory drilling on the continental shelf of western Kamchatka for “Gazflot”.Upon completion, was to go to Vietnam, stopping along the eastern coast of Sakhalin Island in the Bay Zyriansky, informs ITAR-TASS .
The distress signal was received from the platform on Sunday at 2.24 Moscow time, about 6 o’clock in the morning it sank. The main cause of the accident investigation considers towing without the stormy weather. In fact the incident a criminal case under Part 3. 263 of the Criminal Code (violation of safety rules and operation of maritime transport, resulting in the death of two or more persons). Also check the technical condition of the rig and ship captains.

Threat of environmental catastrophe in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, no, as supplies of fuel to the “Kola” were small and were in sealed containers.

Natalia Romashkova