Washington: The United States should move to a policy of containment for Pakistan, holding its Army and intelligence branches accountable, and taking appropriate action against any Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official found to be aiding terrorism, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer has said.
“America needs a new policy for dealing with Pakistan. First, we must recognise that the two countries’ strategic interests are in conflict, not harmony, and will remain that way as long as Pakistan’s Army controls Pakistan’s strategic policies. We must contain the Pakistani Army’s ambitions until real civilian rule returns and Pakistanis set a new direction for their foreign policy, Bruce O Riedel wrote in The New York Times.
The generals who run Pakistan have not abandoned their obsession with challenging India, Riedel said, adding that they tolerate terrorists at home, seek a Taliban victory in Afghanistan and are building the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal.
“They have sidelined and intimidated civilian leaders elected in 2008. They seem to think Pakistan is invulnerable, because they control NATO’s supply line from Karachi to Kabul and have nuclear weapons,” he added.
The generals also think time is on their side- that NATO is doomed to give up in Afghanistan, leaving them free to act as they wish there, therefore they have concluded that the sooner America leaves, the better it will be for Pakistan, said Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“They want Americans and Europeans to believe the war is hopeless, so they encourage the Taliban and other militant groups to speed the withdrawal with spectacular attacks,” he added.
Riedel said it is time to move to a policy of containment, which would mean a more hostile relationship, but stressed that it should be a focused hostility, aimed not at hurting Pakistan’s people but at holding its army and intelligence branches accountable.
“When we learn that an officer from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is aiding terrorism, whether in Afghanistan or India, we should put him on wanted lists, sanction him at the United Nations and, if he is dangerous enough, track him down,” he pointed.
“Putting sanctions on organisations in Pakistan has not worked in the past, but sanctioning individuals has — as the nuclear proliferator Abdul Qadeer Khan could attest,” he noted.
For far too long, the US has banked on the Pakistan Army to protect American interests, said the author of ‘Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad’.
“Now we need to contain that Army’s aggressive instincts, while helping those who want a progressive Pakistan and keeping up the fight against terrorism,” he concluded.