Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
The state of U.S.-Pakistani relations is growing increasingly grim as a covert and overt diplomatic crisis develops between America and Pakistan, represented by heated rhetoric coming from both sides and the growing involvement of outside entities like China and the Saudis.
This is emerging in several ways including a meeting between Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter, meetings between senior Saudi intelligence authorities and the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), meetings between Chinese Vice Prime Minister Meng Jianzhu and senior Pakistani civilian and military leaders, and most notably the accusation coming from Pakistan’s Federal Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, that the Haqqani network is a CIA creation, not a Pakistani one.
Furthermore, a meeting between Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and British Defense Secretary Liam Fox has been “postponed indefinitely” due to “the current situation [in Pakisan]”.
A Pakistani news outlet, The Express Tribune, chalks this up to continued in-house talks about the American pressure on Pakistan regarding alleged ISI support for the Haqqani terrorist network.
The critiques coming from America have been harsh, including a statement at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace by Admiral Mike Mullen just days before he is to step down as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in which he said that the ISI has “been supporting proxies for an extended period of time. The Haqqani piece of this has got to be reversed.”
In no uncertain terms, Mullen accused the Pakistani version of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of directly supporting terrorists for an extended period of time.
He also stated before the Senate Armed Services Committee that, “The Haqqani network … acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack, as well as the attack on our embassy. We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28 attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul as well as a host of other smaller but effective operations.”
This type of language marks a significant new stage in the deteriorating diplomatic relationship between Islamabad and Washington.
In fact, a September 24th editorial published by the Pakistani news outlet, The Nation, said that “in the face of a virtual declaration of war by top U.S. officials, unity and solidarity among all segments of [Pakistani] society is the only thing that can avert the danger.”
Clearly the people of Pakistan, right or wrong, perceive these statements from Mullen and other U.S. officials as a direct threat against their sovereign nation.
Some are now saying that the Saudis are now being leveraged as an intermediary between Washington and Islamabad.
The Pakistani Express Tribune is reporting that Pakistani Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha met with Saudi intelligence officials at the Chaklala Airbase while mentioning that some media reports are claiming that the ISI chief traveled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for more consultations after a “crucial” meeting with Saudi intelligence officers.
A senior military official in Pakistan confirmed that there was a delegation of Saudi intelligence officials visiting Islamabad while claiming that it was unrelated to the rift in Pakistani-American relations.
The official also said that the ISI chief did not rush off to Saudi Arabia as some reports posited, saying simply that, “We [the Pakistanis] have counter-terrorism cooperation with the US and the visit was part of that cooperation”.
There is clearly some backpedaling going on after the clearly harsh statements regarding Pakistani ties to the Haqqani network.
In describing a meeting between the American Ambassador and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Bashir, the US Embassy spokesperson, Mark Stroh, said, “It was a regular meeting but also indicates the fact that Pakistan and the US have a broad-based relationship,” effectively downplaying the diplomatic crisis currently unfolding.
These moves are quite understandable given the fact that the United States is likely attempting to do whatever possible to keep Pakistan and China from getting even closer than they already are amidst fears that Pakistan will break ties with the US in favor of China.
The Pakistani Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, said that “China is always there for us,” something he might not be able to say about the United States.
The spokesman for the Pakistani President, Farhatullah Babar presented similar sentiments by saying, “The Chinese leader reaffirmed China’s continuing support for Pakistan in its fight against militancy and the promotion of regional peace and stability”.
Again, it is not likely that Babar would be able to say that same about the United States given the fact that whenever a possible terrorist attack occurs in the region fingers are quickly pointed at Pakistan.
Babar also stated, “The President said that Pakistan greatly appreciates China’s support for Pakistan on all issues of major concern. He said that the Chinese role was very important to usher in a new era of peace and stability in the region,” but is America playing an important role in ushering in a new era of peace or are we playing an important role in maintaining an era of war and violence?
Unfortunately for the United States, I believe that many Pakistanis see it as the latter and the statement from the Federal Interior Minister that the CIA actually created and trained the Haqqani network reflects this.