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بدھ، 9 مئی، 2012

Dr Ayman Zawahiri Another ghost

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has asserted that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is somewhere in Pakistan. Then why don`t they share the intelligence with Pakistan? Isn`t Pakistan their professed ally in their war on terror?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that Washington believes that Al-Qaeda chief Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri is based somewhere in Pakistan.

 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s charge that Osama bin Laden’s successor as al-Qaeda chief, Dr Ayman Zawahiri, is in Pakistan, was made during a visit to India, thus virtually ensuring that the charge would not be taken seriously. It would be ascribed to a desire to keep the hosts happy, by raising the prospect of another raid, such as the one on Abbottabad a year ago, by US Navy SEALs, which killed bin Laden. However, Pakistan’s response, expressed by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar while briefing the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, was appropriate. The charge is probably based on the fact that bin Laden was found near the Pakistan Military Academy, and on the frequent American media charge that Pakistani agencies are involved in protecting militants, but Pakistani authorities must tell the USA to put up or shut up. Either they should provide their Pakistani counterparts the information on which these claims are based, or they should hold their peace, leaving India, and pro-Indian elements within the Obama Administration, to find solace elsewhere. This should not merely be a pro forma demand, to be made once, and then conveniently forgotten, but used as a weapon to badger and bully with when suitable.

 There are many reasons why the USA has chosen to make this accusation, not least to counter the wave of demands for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan after President Barack Obama’s triumphalist crowings about having finished off al-Qaeda. It was meant also to enthuse India, to whom anything portraying Pakistan in a bad light is music to the ears. Secretary Clinton did say that it was also in Pakistan’s interest to pursue terrorists, but she did not explain how it serves Pakistan’s interests to have its citizens killed in drone attacks. However, she did say that the USA would continue to work for the arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, who is wanted over the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and the American reward for whom was announced only last month, in India. Though the only permanent solution lies in Pakistan abandoning the US alliance, and making sure that Pakistani citizens are not killed indiscriminately and anonymously from the sky by drone attacks, this particular accusation must not be lost sight of, and Secretary Clinton be held to it, and forced either to provide evidence, or admit that there is none. There has already been too much supine acceptance of US accusations against Pakistan. Pakistan should realize that this accusation is of a piece with those which have gone before, and reflects the American desire to keep India happy, which would explain both why the charge was made and where.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar
 Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar deserves credit for rejecting the allegation promptly and with the contempt it deserved. She told Clinton that Pakistan has no such information and if anybody has anything substantial in this regard then it should be shared with Islamabad. Foreign Office spokesman has also described these allegations as mere conjectures, asking Washington to share intelligence, if any. This is not for the first time that the United States is indulging in open blame game as on a number of occasions in the past as well it levelled similar allegations about presence of so-called Quetta Shoora and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar but has so far failed to provide any actionable intelligence. The timing of the assertion that Al-Zawahiri was in Pakistan is particularly significant as it comes in the backdrop of adoption of recommendations by the parliament of Pakistan defining terms of engagement with the United States and NATO. Instead of respecting the will of the people of Pakistan as reflected in these recommendations, the United States is resorting to pressure tactics to force Pakistan to toe its lines. And more important is the fact that the volley of allegations have been levelled on Indian soil and in a bid to please Indian Government and Indian audience, Clinton repeated the mantra of action against Hafiz Saeed despite the fact that the super power so far possesses nothing substantial to sue him anywhere in the world. The absurdity of allegations against Hafiz Saeed is that the US is asking ordinary people to help provide evidence and get hefty reward. Anyhow, the remarks of the US Secretary of State clearly indicate the mindset of Americans and this means possibility of another Abbottabad-like operation. Pakistan must take the issue with all seriousness with the United States and prepare for safeguarding its sovereignty in case Americans opt for any misadventure.

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