During the past month or so Pakistan has been on a roller coaster of high profile visits. The VIP guest list has included the Indian Foreign Minister, followed by Richard Holbrooke and the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both US officials arrived carrying some carrots with them, while India and Pakistan were still busy with delivering the post dialogue lethal blows to each other.
Soon afterwards came the NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who brought with him the promise of a long-term strategic partnership but also short-term alarm about the situation in North Waziristan. None other than the US Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen delivered the sticks when he first visited India, and then highlighted the growing regional and global aspirations of Lashkare Toiba (LeT) in Pakistan. Mullen also made his countries feelings known about the Haqqani Network. To add to this, over the weekend, Wiki leaked the not so surreptitious secrets.
These high-status visitors took turns, rotating in and out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, sequencing the delivery of the intended messages for each audience. Countering Mullen’s path, on his way back Holbrooke visited India and met with the country’s National Security Chief. Later he commented that the US has no objections to the direct Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral talks but the interests of the US and India should be protected.
The above examples illustrate the quintessential elements of how to persuade and convince the counterpart’s decision makers, using political and military means, that their goals are either unattainable or too expensive for their perceived benefit. In case of Pakistan, the message for the the country’s power brokers is being presented as a glimpse of what the future would likely entail, if it fails to act against LeT and militants in North Waziristan. The Wiki leaks, coordinated with DerSpiegel, Guardian, and The New York Times, is meant to develop a discourse in the West that highlights the duplicitous role of Pakistan in the war against terror. The Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry, has already made a statement in this regard:
“However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”
PoliTact has previously noted the main US-Pakistan irritants and increasing hostility of US based think-tanks towards the role of Pakistan’s military. From Pakistan’s perspective, US is attempting to make it the fall guy for the failure in Afghanistan. At an elementary level, however, the trouble remains the divergence of threat perceptions. As the Afghan war enters a decisive stage, a number of tectonic shifts are taking place, represented recently by the departure of General McChrystal. The main tension boils down to whether the Afghan conflict will require a predominately military or a political solution, and Pakistan’s role in it. The strategy of troops surge, meant to bring Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table from a position of weakness is not working, and thus the frustrations. Pakistan’s support remains pivotal whether it be the military or political approach to the Afghan quagmire.
At the same time, the media in the US and UK particularly, are fighting the war of credibility for its role in the Iraq and Afghanistan war. The media has indeed played an indispensable part in the information and psychological warfare being conducted, often at the cost of authenticity and objectivity. Their audiences are increasingly finding it hard to distinguish between what is being reported to create a certain perception about the reality, and what is closer to truth.
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