Connecting Regions of Asia.

USA Wise After Horses Have Bolted


US top diplomat Anthony Blinken finally got it right on Pakistan’s Afghan game, reminding me of a Bengali proverb “chor palale budhi bareh” ( wise after theft).
In the first public hearing in Congress about Afghanistan since last month’s collapse of the US-backed Afghan government, Blinken told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests , some that are in conflict with ours.”
“It is one that is involved hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan, it’s one that’s involved harboring members of the Taliban… It is one that’s also involved in different points cooperation with us on counterterrorism,” Blinken said.
Why did it take twenty years for the world’s sole Superpower to figure out what many of us in India knew , from experience, intelligence and evaluation, all the while.
In 2013, participating in a ” War on Terror’ conference at Wilton Park, the think-tank of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I had challenged 3 American and British generals who strongly argued Pakistan’s army was an useful ally in the War Against Terror .
I raised 3 issues .
One, how could an army which had surrendered half its own country with 93000 soldiers intact be considered a worthy fighting machine ? It might vie for global records in rapes and killing of innocents but not exactly in defending a difficult military situation .  
To further back my contention, i referred to a 2007 incident when 100 Pakistani soldiers led by a Colonel had surrendered to the Tehreek–e-Taliban fighters in South Waziristan in August 2007.
The Dawn had actually The Taliban captured “over 100 security forces personnel after intercepting a military convoy in the Mehsud-dominated tribal area,” . The Taliban have claimed over 300 Pakistani soldiers were captured by a large Taliban force near Luddah, which is about 25 miles north of Wana, but the highest estimate given by Pakistani sources is 130. “The Taliban had also impounded 17 trucks which were carrying troops,” Pakistani sources told Dawn. “Nine of the hostages were reported to be officers including a colonel.”
As one former Pakistan general at the conference , one Jamshed if I remember correctly , jumped up to challenge me, I asked him to show a single instance where Indian soldiers had ever surrendered to a non-state actor in such a humilating manner. He could not. 
Even in its worst hour in 1962 , the rout at Namka Chu, the 6th Rajputs lost 582 of the 613 soldiers facing a horde of 4000 plus Chinese — not to talk of the death of an entire company of 120 at Rezang La against similar odds . The Pakistan military may have ruled the country for decades, but they failed to produce heroes like Shaitan Singh, Jaswant Singh, Vikram Batra, Abdul Hamid and Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon.
My second contention was more on lines of what Blinken said recently. That Pakistani generals were hunting with the hound and swimming with the crocodile — propping up the Taliban and also helping the US . So how could it be a reliable ally against the Taliban, whose big leaders were all sheltered in Pakistan. I found it unbelievable that the US and British generals continued to buy the Pakistani take even after ‘Operation Geronimo’ against Osama Bin Laden.
It is possible Pakistan military betrayed Laden after being confronted with concrete evidence of his stay in Abbottabad , but it was clear he would not have stayed in a house within stone’s throw of a military academy without long connivance of Rawalpindi Hqs. 
My third argument was how could the West count Pakistan as a serious ally when it was already very close to China and when it had such a vested interest in undermining a West and India backed Afghan government to seek its own strategic depth which could only be guaranteed by a Taliban type Islamist regime . 
The West closed its eyes to lessons of recent history — how Pakistan had founded, nurtured and put in power the Taliban in 1996 and sustained it until the global calculus changed after 9/11.
My arguments silenced both the American and British generals and also the Pakistanis accompanying their former general . But I was not sure if they were convinced. 
Eight years later, after the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan and crushed the resistance in Panjshir with active support from Pakistan’s SSG commandos backed by precision drone strikes, Blinken has finally faced his nation’s moment of truth. Too late because the horses have bolted. Too little to do now since Pakistan is strongly backed in Afghanistan by China, financially and , if necessary, militarily.

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