A retired general on Pakistani TV ranted thus: The Americans denied us spares in the 1965 war against India. This was when their then-president Ayub Khan declared Pakistan to be America’s most allied ally.
In 1971, the general continued, the Americans didn’t support us the way the Soviets supported India.
Really, who sent the seventh fleet of the US Navy to the Bay of Bengal during the 1971 war and to scare whom?
In 1979, the Pakistanis became the hired gun of the Americans and ate up their billions of dollars to evict the Soviets from Afghanistan. Lots of Pakistani generals and colonels got rich in the process. The general waile that the US discarded Pakistan as a used condom after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989.
Then there was Kargil in 1999. The general cribbed that the Americans made them leave India but who invaded India in the first place? Then after 9/11, the Pakistanis supported the Americans’ war in Afghanistan. Once again, they became a hired gun for the money.
This time they played a masterful double game. They sheltered most of the Al Qaeda leaders, including Bin Laden, and Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar. They supported the Taliban with arms and training in its fight with the Americans. An offshoot of the Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, fed up with Pakistan’s support of the Americans, emerged to terrorize the Pakistanis themselves.
Now the Pakistanis have watched with glee the Americans’ humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan. They have formed a terrorist-ridden government in Afghanistan. They felt that China and Russia would rush in to recognize the Taliban, but nothing of the sort happened. In the world’s eyes, Afghanistan and Pakistan are one and the same thing. They have become completely conflated with each other.
The general continued to blame the Americans for their utter perfidy in emasculating Afghanistan and even Pakistan. What does he expect the Americans to do? They lost to the Taliban and now he wants them to resurrect the Taliban? The Pakistanis stabbed them in the back for twenty years, and he wants the Americans to be grateful to Pakistan?
Joe Biden hasn’t called Imran Khan since he became president. Biden is seasoned in foreign policy, unlike Trump. He knows that Imran Khan is a puppet; real power in Pakistan vests in the army chief, General Bajwa. Biden’s secretary of defence, Lloyd Austin, talks directly to Bajwa.
The other reason Biden doesn’t call Imran is that he wants to humiliate him just as Pakistan betrayed America in Afghanistan for so many years. Once again the Pakistani general cribbed: We helped the Americans so much in Afghanistan. We lost over 80,000 lives and $150 billion because of the American war on terror. Both these numbers are completely plucked out of the air. The Pakistani economy in total is only about $300 billion. What the general refused to mention are the tens of billions of dollars that the Pakistanis received from the Americans during the Afghan campaign.
US deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, visited South Asia recently. She is an important person. She is number two in the state department and her position was confirmed by the US senate. She was in Switzerland before visiting Asia. There she led the US-Russia strategic dialogue. Then she went to Tajikistan. Tajikistan has given refuge to Tajiks fighting the Taliban.
Tajiks constitute about thirty per cent of Afghanistan’s population. The Taliban had promised an inclusive government but 31 of their 33 interim government members are Pashtuns. No doubt Sherman discussed the fate of Tajiks in Afghanistan while she was in Tajikistan.
Then Sherman came to India, where she received a warm welcome. India has put all its foreign policy eggs in the American basket. In India, Sherman said that the US had de-hyphenated India from Pakistan and that the only interest the US had with Pakistan was in counterterrorism.
Her comments were met with fire and fury in Pakistan, especially since they were made in enemy land and on the heels of her visit to Islamabad. Imran Khan refused to meet her. The army chief, Bajwa did because he is more pragmatic than Imran. He realizes that the Americans are still the sole superpower in the world and can greatly harm the Pakistanis if they wish.
Imran’s favourite, the former director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Faiz Hameed, built the Taliban government in Afghanistan laden with the Haqqanis, who led some of the most vicious attacks against the Americans. Some of them are UN-designated terrorists; one even has a bounty of $10 million on his head. Sure, the US can get anyone designated as a terrorist and place a bounty on his head, but the Pakistanis were not supposed to prop up the Taliban government with such vicious anti-Americans.
Faiz Hameed had to be removed from the ISI before Sherman visited Pakistan and he was by Bajwa. But Imran didn’t like that at all. He refused to notify Hameed’s transfer and the appointment of a new ISI chief. Bajwa didn’t care a fig. He went ahead anyway. Imran is still moaning and groaning.
A peculiar aspect of the Pakistani media is that they never criticize their military. They go hammer and tongs at the civilians, who actually wield little power. The oddball journalist who has dared to take on the military has been put to pasture or actually been reduced to rubble, quite literally. These incidents have served as lessons to other journalists.
The Pakistani military holds all the aces in Pakistan. They did not just control the country’s foreign policy or national security but all aspects of its civilian life, including the economy. They have no check and balance against them. Unless the Pakistani military is reined in, people like the retired general will keep getting peeved off and there will be no call from Joe Biden.