The United States needs to ask Pakistan to knock off its jihad-centric habits and stop the relentless witch hunt of liberals and reformers, whose only real crime is wanting to have a saner Pakistan, says Ms Christine Fair, Associate Professor at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program, in an article published in 'The National Interest'.
Washington has many tools at its disposal, ranging from sanctions, to declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terror, to significant military assistance curbs to rein Islamabad in. The U.S. needs to muster the intestinal fortitude to employ these tools, says Ms Fair, who also authored the popular book on Pakistan Army titled ' Fighting to the End - The Pakistan Army's Way of War'.
Washington has always believed that it needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs the United States and despite Islamabad's claims of having close and friendly ties with the former, the reality is that Pakistan is no friend of the U.S., adds Fair.
Fair further goes on to state in the article that aid provided by the United States for anti-terror operations has been used by Pakistan to prosecute liberals and reformers.
Fair also says that Pakistan's position on Osama bin Laden is also difficult to comprehend.
While officials have time and again claimed there has been no government effort to support him, early U.S. statements suggested that Washington could not have accomplished his elimination without cooperation of some in the establishment.
The Pakistani government had then made it clear that it had no part in the 2 May, 2011 raid. Soon thereafter, Pakistani civilian and military leaders decried the U.S. raid that killed Laden saying it was a breach of Pakistan's sovereignty. The civilian government convened the Abbottabad Commission Report, which ostensibly aimed to discern how bin Laden entered the country and who protected him.
Pakistan, however, seems keenly interested in pursuing one man who did much to help the United States - Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.
A recent article by Ambassador Haqqani in the Washington Post on how diplomats build contacts with incoming administration officials was described in Pakistan variously as a "confession" or "admission" of secretly helping the Americans to find bin Laden.
Fair, however, asserts in her article that Pakistan's politicians and media are busy condemning Ambassador Haqqani for inadvertently helping conclude the hunt for the world's most wanted terrorist by granting visas to American operatives who, along with Pakistani nationals, located bin Laden, instead of egging on the question of why and how bin Laden lived for years in their country.
Carlotta Gall, in her 2014 volume The Wrong Enemy, also asserted that Pakistan's notorious intelligence agency, the ISI, had a desk dedicated to overseeing his protection. As is well known, bin Laden was 'hiding' in plain sight a mere mile or so from the famed Pakistan Military Academy. His home was a spartan but fortified compound with high walls, limited communications and a small electrical profile. Security was surprisingly absent, suggesting that bin Laden felt reasonably secure.
It is well known that Pakistan harbours some elements of the Afghan Taliban, and that it provides every kind of imaginable amenity to the organisation, including political, military, diplomatic and financial, opines Fair.
It is also well known that Pakistan affords similar perquisites to other groups that the United States and the United Nations consider to be terrorist groups, such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Haqqani network, among others. However, the degree to which Pakistan's civilian and/or military leaders actively sought to protect bin Laden remains a serious question.
Apart from Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani state has launched a tenacious crackdown upon a wide array of activists who oppose the state project of jihad and Islamism that has led to grievous sectarian and communal carnages throughout the country. These activists include secular bloggers and other social media activists, civil rights lawyers, journalists, musicians, and other dissidents, such as Baloch and Sindhi ethnic activists.
These diverse activists generally oppose the army's instrumentalisation of so-called jihadis as principal tools of foreign policy and the government's tacit alignment with Islamism.
For these reasons, they are considered "enemies of the state" and have been relentlessly harassed and threatened with violence.
The events mentioned herewith surely reek of the fact that Pakistan has indeed played a double game. On the one hand, it has taken huge amounts from the United States in the name of partnering with it to fight Islamist militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and on the other, it used these funds to back proxies such as the Afghan Taliban, the Jalaluddin Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and others in their terror-related campaigns.
An overhaul change in Pakistan seems distant, but the United States needs to right this course, concludes Fair.