The Haqqani network

Congressman Michael McCaulPresident Zardari is supposed to have committed to an American delegation that his government would work to ‘eradicate’ the Haqqani network.

He met the Homeland Security delegation in Karachi on Wednesday, and his commitment was disclosed by the head of the delegation to a US news agency. However, he also downplayed the significance of these remarks, saying that it was not clear how much influence the President had over the military and the ISI. Congressman Michael McCaul managed thus to perpetuate the canard that the military and the ISI were not under the control of the elected government. The impression created was of the President agreeing with the delegation that the Haqqani network was a threat to the US homeland.

This in turn assumed that the network was not only linked to Al-Qaeda, but that the President was also agreeable to an army operation in North Waziristan. This is despite Prime Minister Gilani and COAS General Kayani having denied repeatedly that there was going to be an operation there. It bears repeating that an armed action in that area would place enormous stresses on the army, as not only would it have to operate against its own people, but owing to the treacherous terrain as well.

The President should not have made this commitment, and the excuse that this was necessary to maintain the relationship with the USA does not hold water, as the relationship is supposed to serve Pakistan’s national interest, and that is not to be made subordinate to any favours which go contrary to its interest. Obviously, when the President makes a commitment of that sort, it is to be taken seriously, but it is one he should have avoided. However, he should keep in mind the wishes of the people of Pakistan, who are already inclined to ending the alliance with the USA, especially since the war on terror means a war on Muslim countries, complete with occupation of their lands through military force.

The President should not mince words even with US administration officials, let alone congressional delegations, and should make crystal clear that Pakistan has no intention of launching a military operation which will only serve US interests, and not Pakistani. If he equivocates about this, he will not only send incorrect signals to the USA, but also to the Pakistani people. The assumption that they do not understand the compulsions of foreign policy may be correct, but in the case of the USA, and participation in its war on terror, they know what they want, and they are right. – Nation