In the aftermath of Osama’s elimination, the statements emanating from US are referring to protecting democracy in Pakistan while also praising the sacrifices of its public, but are conspicuously missing the mention of its military. The proximity of Osama’s hide out to Pakistan military academy has obviously created great international concern. It is essential to keep the recent CIA-ISI tensions in mind while evaluating the operation that has led to the death of Osama Bin Laden. Osama’s death is also going to impact the reconciliation process underway in Afghanistan.
As recently as Saturday Gen. Kiyani had a made statement while commemorating Martyrs Day. He highlighted the difficult times the country was passing through and pointed out the nation should overcome these challenges with spirit and resolve.
According to a statement posted on ISPR’s (Inter Services Public Relation) website, Gen. Kiyani reiterated that Pakistan is a peaceful country and wants to maintain good and friendly relations with all other countries. He said only a prosperous Pakistan is a guarantee for a stronger Pakistan. Therefore, he pointed out that all efforts should be towards making Pakistan’s people prosperous and secure. Gen Kiyani made one key distinction that Pakistan cannot substitute its sacrifice, honor, and dignity for the sake of prosperity.
The statement publicly demonstrates that Pakistan’s military was contemplating moving away from the war of terror; in the face of its dire economic situation and as a result of the public backlash to the US drone attacks in FATA and the Raymond episode. Furthermore, the remarks suggest awareness of the tough circumstances the nation presently faces and conveys foreknowledge about the difficult choices the country would have to make in the near future.
The recent Pasha-Panetta and Kiyani-Mullen meeting were widely interpreted as meant to convince Pakistan to make a clear break with Afghan Taliban and other extremist groups. From the point of view of US, the future of Afghanistan cannot involve reconciliation with groups such as Haqqani network. It remains unclear what was Pakistan’s decision and so is its role in the operation that has eliminated Osama. As PoliTact has previously claimed, this uncertainty is enough for Taliban and other extremists to assume the worse and resume attacking Pakistan’s military.
The mere fact that Osama was found in a compound close to Pakistan’s key military institution in Abbotabad is a dangerous and hugely embarrassing affair for Pakistan. It has validated international discourse that ISI is colluding with extremists at some level, and the situation in Afghanistan cannot improve unless safe havens in Pakistan are eliminated. Even if the country was contemplating walking away from the war on terror, while shifting its focus on peace and reconciliation efforts, the presence of such high value targets in Pakistan creates a moral imperative for Islamabad. Pakistan cannot simply walk away from the war, or impede the conduct of it, through blocking the supply lines. The leader of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf Imran Khan had intended to do just that this month, if there were any more drone attacks in the country.
In short, Pakistan army faces the daunting prospect of making a conscious decision of selecting its sides or those choices would be made for it. In these circumstances, whereas the war on terror has become hugely unpopular in Pakistan, the likelihood of military take over has increased, and US has no choice but to side with the unpopular Pakistan Peoples Party led government. As news and information about Pakistan’s military involvement in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have grown, US would want Pakistan to focus on FATA and to prevent AQ and other affiliated groups from exploiting the situation in the Arab world.