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U.S. amnesia on Pakistan

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posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 09:04 AM
Selfediting post to comply with forum rules regarding article posting. Only posting relevant material. Please visit the link for the article in full.

U.S. amnesia on Pakistan

Published 11/22/2004 6:05 PM

ATLANTA, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Even as Pakistan's leadership was expressing its unrestrained glee with President George W. Bush's thumping re-election, the new Bush administration wasted no time in making its first big move to reward Pakistan with advanced weaponry.

On Nov. 16, the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency sent notifications to Congress of a $1.3 billion arms package for Pakistan, a major non-NATO ally of America. The deal includes eight P-3C Orion naval reconnaissance planes possibly with anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles, 2,000 TOW-2A heavy anti-armor guided missiles and the deadly PHALANX Close-In Weapon Systems for ships. Ostensibly, these sales are to enable Pakistan to fight the war on terror. What's even better for Pakistan is that the money for this sale is likely to come from the $1.5 billion over five years that the U.S has promised Pakistan in military aid, making it a veritable freebie.

Not to forget that what is still on the table is the deal for the F-16 fighter jets that Pakistan has been dying to get. Even though there is no official word on the F-16s, there have been many reports that the deal is all but done and the Bush administration is waiting for an opportune time to announce it, perhaps when Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf next visits Washington.

Now, if one takes this new Orion/TOW/Phalanx giveaway deal at face value, it seems like a reasonable proposition. After all, if the United States expects Pakistan to fight terrorists, it behooves it to support its ally as much as possible, right? Not quite.

The problem is that these systems are unlikely to be used in Pakistan's much-vaunted operations in the tribal areas, which a senior U.S official recently described to Time magazine as "7,000 to 10,000 Pakistani troops courageously battling 200 al-Qaida guys to a standstill."

The Pakistan army, for instance, could theoretically use the TOW missile against militant hideouts in the tribal areas. But one needs to look at the specific version that Pakistan is seeking to see the fallacy of this claim.

The DSCA statement clearly states that the TOW variant that Pakistan wants is the "TOW-2A Anti-Armor Guided Missile." This missile's unique feature is the "tandem" warhead that is specifically designed to be used against tanks with Explosive Reactive Armor. It is hard to imagine the tribal militants in possession of ERA armored vehicles, but everyone knows who has such systems in Pakistan's neighborhood.

On the other side of Pakistan, the Indian army is busy inducting the Russian made T-90S tanks with the Kontakt-5 ERA, just the type of armor the TOW-2A is designed to penetrate. It is unlikely to see Pakistan wasting its supply of TOW-2As when its huge supply of cheap Chinese anti-tank missiles could do the trick against the mud structures of the tribal militants. As they say, it doesn't make sense to use a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

Similarly, the P-3C planes have only one likely purpose -- to fight against India's large fleet of submarines and battleships. Indeed there is very little that the Pakistan Navy could do in terms of tracking terrorist ships that the U.S. and NATO fleets in and around Pakistan cannot do. Besides, is the United States ever going to rely on the Pakistanis to track their coastline, when that area holds the biggest risk of a nuclear-weapon-laden container being sent to American ports? Even the DSCA's press release on the P-3C sale says that the P-3C "will enhance the capabilities of the Pakistani Navy and support its regional influence."

Similarly, the PHALANX system is meant to defend ships against fast incoming missiles and aircrafts, which terrorists are unlikely to have. Pakistan is likely to employ them on ships conducting operations against India.

And we are not even talking about the F-16s. If press reports from Washington are to be believed, Pakistan is likely to get 18 to 20 F-16 C/D variants, possibly with AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and precision-guided bombs. It is hard to see how AMRAAM long range air-to-air missiles help fight terrorists unless they are intended to bring down Osama Bin Laden's flying carpet.


In the 1980s, Pakistan was a frontline ally of the U.S in the effort to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. During that time, supporters of Pakistan in Capitol Hill and the Pentagon argued for giving that nation advanced arms, including the F-16 fighters as well as billions in military aid. The F-16s were justified with an argument that a conventionally strong Pakistan is unlikely to develop nuclear weapons.

As it turned out later, Pakistan actually accelerated its nuclear program during the same period with the American taxpayer funding its conventional defenses to the tune of $5 billion, thereby freeing up funds for its nuclear program. Former Senate official Leonard Weiss revealed in 2002 that Pakistan had in fact diverted two-thirds of the weaponry acquired from the United States ostensibly to protect against the Soviet threat to the Indian border.

Washington Post Managing Editor Steve Coll wrote in his recent book "Ghost Wars" that Pakistan's intelligence services transferred weapons obtained from the CIA, such as advanced sniper rifles, to the Islamist groups fighting against Indian troops in Kashmir. The Pakistan army even used the famous Stinger missiles in its 1999 aggression into the Indian-held Kargil heights in Kashmir.


Firstly, Pakistan is already close to max-out levels in its defense spending. Its current defense budget for 2004-2005 is officially 194 billion rupees. But that doesn't include grants, pensions and other expenses, which increase the actual number to 300 billion rupees or approximately $5 billion. If one adds to that the $600 million that Pakistan is getting in terms of free weaponry from the United States, it comes to $3.6 billion or a whopping 8 percent of its 2003 gross domestic product. India, on the other hand, spends between 2 percent and 3 percent of its GDP for defense.

The fact is that there is never going to be an equality between Pakistan and India in conventional arms, just like India can never equal China's numbers and China in turn can never match up to America's. Besides, aren't Pakistan's nuclear weapons supposed to obviate the need for Pakistan to match India weapon for weapon?


But what the Pakistani military establishment clearly wants is a license to try to change the status quo through the use of sub-state actors, such as the jihadi groups its uses in Kashmir supplemented by a U.S.-provided safety net when its ill thought-out military adventures backfire, like they usually do.

Now it is quite true that the military dominated Pakistani establishment has always viewed India as an aggressor and a mortal threat. But that does not mean that the world should buy into this theory. In fact, most experts in Washington and elsewhere point out that Pakistan's main threat is an internal one from homegrown Islamist groups and the radicalization of the Pakistani society in general and the army in particular. In fact, the unsaid fear factor is America's post 9/11 policy towards Pakistan has been the prospect of a radical Islamist regime taking control of Pakistan's already leaky nuclear weapons complex.

It is therefore in the American interest to focus aid to Pakistan toward efforts to thwart the internal dangers, rather than buttressing the Pakistani establishment's paranoia about the Indian "threat." Former State Department official and South Asia expert Teresita Schaffer pointed out in her July 14, 2004 testimony to the Senate that Pakistan has not abandoned its proclivity towards starting reckless military adventures and continues to support Islamist militants in Kashmir who could provoke a war with India with one big attack. She recommended against the sale of major weapons systems to Pakistan in that context.

The Musharraf regime is already in a state of euphoria over the Bush re-election. They see Bush's win as something that would guarantee the continuation of benefits that Pakistan enjoyed over the last four years -- lavish economic support, daily diplomatic encomiums, little pressure for democratic reforms, coddling of Pakistani jihadi groups and a free pass on the A.Q. Khan deal and more cover up of Pakistani state involvement in nuclear proliferation.

In this milieu, it is hard to see the latest American military largesse to Pakistan as having anything but a negative effect on the region's stability. This could only serve to embolden the hard-line elements in Pakistan's military to get aggressive with India again. If the Kashmir talks soon hit a dead end with Pakistan realizing that it cannot gain any territory from India on the negotiating table, we may possibly see another "tactically brilliant" but strategically harebrained military adventure by Pakistan within the next four-years.

Like Yogi Berra once said -- "It's dj vu all over again"

[edit on 26-11-2004 by rajkhalsa2004]

posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 10:54 AM
Well Pakistan sure have it all now, weapons, nuclear capabilities, terrorists, Al-Qaida and Bin-laden.

Yes, they are friends, and I wonder how long is going to take for the US to turn their backs on them and call them "axils of evil" and start sanctioning them just like US has done with other countries.

Financially Pakistan does not have any natural resources to become attractive so I guess US will never invaded them.

posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 12:11 PM
I am worried about Pakistan myself and I had a thread on just the subject, if you look into it it really makes you wonder.

Pakistan friend or foe?

posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 04:37 PM
I got to hand it to Musharaf , it's impressive how he keeps himselve standing on that slippery rope, muslim extremists, extreme nationalism (Kashmir) and dealing with America at the same time.

It's clearly a muslim country, but since the Kashmir issue trancends the internal squabling, it seems oppertunistic to choose America as ally against india.

Also Musharaf strikes me as a down-to-earth bussinesman that has more interest in money than to start a nationalistic motivated war against india or a holy war against the west. True he runs by dictatorship, but the world should be very concerned if he gets killed, who will inherit the nukes?

[edit on 26-11-2004 by Countermeasures]

posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 07:07 PM
We know that the Pakistan ISI supports terrorist groups, would it be totally implausible to think that the ISI is acting upon governmental orders and Musharaf is presenting a friendly front. After 9/11, it must have been obvious that the Taleban were doomed so supporting them publicly would serve no purpose. Musharaf would have figured this and realised that the US would exact severe retribution upon any country seen to be supporting terrorism. Thus, support for terrorism is continued but the word is put out that it is 'rogue' sections of the intelligence service funding and equipping them. This takes the heat off the Pakistani government and allows them to play both sides.


posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 07:16 PM
Let's not forget Pakistan has a dictatorship right now. USA sold weapons to a totalitatarian government! mr Musharaf is not elected by the people.

posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 07:37 PM
come on people im sure the people you lot have elected
know what they are doing

all i see in the news is how Pak is kissing the US's ass every sec ( so called majour offences against the taliban )

posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 08:43 PM
Well, it's true that Musharraf is not elected. It's also true that he's hugely popular in Pakistan. Also, it's in India's benefit if the US has some influence with Musharraf, because we will try to help to defuse the J&K crisis, and that helps India.

I don't think anyone can realistically say that Pakistan is a threat to India. When you look at all the new tech that the DRDO has been cranking out, it's pretty staggering. When you compare the two militaries, it's obvious that Pak can do little more than try to defend her borders.

But you can say that Pakistan feels threatened by India. Three wars in the past 50 years, huge Indian military buildups, while Pak's military has been steadily degrading over the last 10 or 15 years, primarily due to US sanctions over her nuke program.

But it doesn't matter what the US does, we will be criticized. This sale does nothing to effect the balance of power, look at all the new systems India is fielding with Russian help. Missiles, Flankers, subs, etc.

Pakistan has 70,000 troops on the Afghan border, they have arrested or killed hundreds of al Qaeda, gathered intelligence that has helped foil plots in the UK and Europe, they have been a primary ally in the US's war with al Qaeda. If the US doesn't reward Pakistan for her help, how will this look to the Muslim world? Will it help or hurt Musharraf? Do we want Musharraf's political position in Pakistan to be weakened? Do we need to alienate one of the few friends we have in the region? Pakistan was a strong US ally in the cold war, but today they do not trust the US. Shouldn't the US try to regain that trust?

If Pakistan feels more confident in her ability to defend herself against an ever more powerful India, does this not reduce the likelyhood that she would rely on her nukes, God forbid, especially in a first-strike scenario, if she feels that India is about to attack? Orion's and Phalanx's are defensive systems. True, TOW's can be either, but is 200 TOW's that big of a deal? Does anyone think Pakistan is going to attack India with 200 TOW missiles?

What about India's close ties to Iran, and the rumors of assistance in Iran's nuclear programs? Does (mostly) sunni Pak want a nuclear (mostly) shia Iran on her borders with close ties to India? How will KSA react? We've broken up the A.Q. Khan network, do we want to restart it with Chinese missiles and Pak nukes in KSA?

What about Pak's relationship to China? Doesn't it benefit the US to try to move Pak away a little bit?

If the US doesn't help Pakistan, we can expect several things. Another muslim country to hate the US. Hard liners in Pak will gain influence, which is bad for India. Increased Chinese influence in the ME, not just in Pakistan, but in KSA and probably Egypt also. The US wants a strong India as a counterweight to China in the region, but not at the expense of the entire ME.

It's not a black and white picture. One thing I know, as usual we are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 12:49 AM

Well, as I view it, the general sentiment among Indians, not at all unfounded, is that the US is unsympathetic to Indian security and terrorism concerns. For example, even after 9/11, America still wouldn't even declare known Pakistani-backed and al-Qaeda terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, etc. until those same groups 'magically' manifested themselves in Afghanistan and started attacking coalition forces there.

Despite having Musharraf in a vice grip to the balls, Pakistan still has not clamped down whatsoever on the anti-Indian (and anti-Afghan) terrorist infrastructure, camps, and groups which still operate freely and openly in Pakistan (and their statements, operations and goings-on are still widely reported and lauded by even the government-controlled Pakistani press.) Even the Afghan govnerment's daily cries for help against the Pakistan-backed cross-border terroism is spurned by America...

Though terrorism in Kashmir is down (hence the withdrawal of some COIN units), its not because of any Pakistani 'effort', but instead is because of the huge leaps in the capabilities of the Indian military and state police forces in the last year and a half, in terms of both perimeter surveillance and tactical reconnaissance (from the fencing of the entire Line of Control, to the deployment of advanced sensors and UAVs), to the sizable modernization and equipment of the troops themselves.

The terrorists are still operating at wanton in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and they are still attempting to cross the border -- and in fact in greater numbers than before 9/11 -- however, the only difference is they are now being exterminated by the Indian Soldiery at the border itself instead of after they have grenaded a bloody school bus full of schoolchildren in downtown Srinagar.

What Pakistan is doing, in the name of the 'War on Terror' is simply attacking a domestic control problem, i.e. attempting to extend their writ into the Tribal areas which has only nominally been controlled by the Pakistani government. In the name of the War on Terror, they are persecuting an operation that was inevitable and long due. Bombing random tribal guerillas in Wana and once in a while giving up a long-detached al-Qaeda middleman is doing jack squat to combat the source of terrorism.

Both India and Afghanistan are yelling hoarse that Pakistan continues to promote terrorism in their respective border regions, and all the bombed out mud huts in Waziristan account for diddly squat when the likes of the Sipah-e-Sahaba deobandis recruit openly for Kashmiri jehad on Pakistan military bases!

America can and does have the ability to force Pakistan to really halt all linkages to significant terror groups but it does not. What is worse is that America is using every leverage against India it has to prevent India from rightfully steamrolling over these wackjobs. America is narrowly focused on its own direct interests and not the wider, the global, war on terror.

That itself is bad enough, but when America publicly, even if its not materially, entertains the idea of rewarding Pakistan with conventional strategic weapons that will only be used against India (F-16s, TOW missiles, etc.) for Pakistan's own bull# 'War on Terror', well, then, what is India to take of this? Is this really the act of a friend who has a friends interest at heart?

Both America and India have so very much in common, with India probably being the only country of seperate culture from American/W European where the ideals of democracy, pluralism and secularism are not only put in practice, but internalized into the very core and identity of society.

It are the myopic geopolitical snafus like this, the undeserving praise and worse, arming of the terrorist entity, thats keeps India and America at arms length.

posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 03:25 AM
Raj, I will try to address some of what you speak of, but I am not a diplomat, nor am I an expert in Indo/Pak relations, so please bear with me.

I do not believe that the US is unsympathetic to India's security concerns. The animosity between India and Pakistan has deep roots, and it's not something that the US can just wave a magic wand over and make it disappear. The US has put a lot of pressure on Pakistan to clamp down on terrorism across the LoC. We've done this openly and behind the scenes, and we have made some progress on India's behalf, and on the behalf of the Kashmiris.

And we've not spurned Karzai's cries for help. The situation in Afghanistan is improving, but this is not something that will happen overnight. The simple fact that Musharraf has deployed 70,000 troops to the Afghan border should show that we are not ignoring the problem in the western provinces. These are areas where the Pak military has had little or no control, and it's at no small cost politically that Musharraf is taking action in these areas. Already he has dodged 2 assasination attempts, and the hard liners in Pakistan are not exactly happy with him for siding with the US against the Taliban (who were very popular in Pakistan).

I don't have the solution for Kashmir, but a plebiscite would go a long way to determining what the Kashmiris really want. India has 500,000 troops on her side of the LoC. Is this not an occupation also?

Yes, the US is exerting pressure on India not to "steamroll those wackjobs", as you put it. We don't want to see a nuclear blowup in the region. If India, which is many times more powerful militarily than Pakistan does this, what options will Pakistan have?

And I'm not sure I agree with you when you suggest that the US can force Pakistan to halt all linkages to the groups you refer to. In effect you are advocating that the US issue an ultimatum or threaten war with Pakistan, on India's behalf. This is not going to happen, and the US is not going to destabilize Musharraf. What the US will do is pressure both sides to the bargaining table, as best we can. This we have done, and will continue to do, as it's in the best interests of all involved, not the least of whom are the Kashmiris. But both sides have to want this, and India has been reluctant to accept the US as a peace broker.

As you mentioned, the US has rewarded Pakistan with some military aid. You also recognized that it is not materially enough to actually take offensive action against India. As I mentioned previously, Phalanx's and Orions are defensive systems. We have also provided Orions to India, we have offered India PAC-3 missile defense systems, and have lifted the embargo on peaceful nuclear technology. We did not block the Phalcon deal between Israel and India. We conduct DACT training with our respective air forces. So our position is not completely one-sided as you imply. Like I said, a strong India is in the US's best interests also.

It's true that today India and the US are closer politically and ideologically than perhaps the US and Pakistan. But keep in mind, India was a cold war ally of our enemy, and Pakistan was our ally against that same foe. And it's not like India doesn't get a lot of help from Russia militarily, far beyond what Pakistan gets from the US. And there is India's relationship with Iran to consider, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the US.

India is not the only country of "seperate culture from American/W European where the ideals of democracy, pluralism and secularism are not only put in practice, but internalized into the very core and identity of society." You overlook Japan, South Korea, and there are certain Latin American and South American countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, and to a large extent, Chile, that fit this description also. But those ideals are very strong in India, and that is the very basis of our friendship.

So the US and India are friends today, perhaps not "best friends", but hopefully that friendship will continue to grow. As you say, we have much in common. But the US has to maintain a balanced approach wrt India and Pakistan, or we risk a backlash in the ME that we just can't afford.

So in this respect, yes, the US will look out for her interests first. What country would not?

[edit on 27-11-2004 by engineer]

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