In a quagmire


On Friday, the US told Pakistan peremptorily to either join it in fighting the Haqqani network or get out of the way to let it do the task of cleansing Waziristan. The same day the TTP gunned down pro-government tribesmen in the Mohmand and Bajaur agencies. Mullah Fazlullah vowed to return and start a new war in Pakistan and the army was forced to launch an operation in Bara after numerous troops were killed in Khyber Agency. Pakistan finds itself in a nutcracker situation.

Clinton not only delivered a tough message but also said the US expected the demands to be fulfilled within days and weeks. President Obama is in desperate need of improving his ratings ahead of elections due next year. He announced on Friday that the last American soldier would leave Iraq by the end of this year ignoring opposition from his military team. The next item on his agenda is to bring back a big chunk of the 90,000 American troops presently fighting in Afghanistan. The new war policy of no military foot prints, reliance on air attacks and the more technically advanced drones has succeeded in Libya where the war has been won and Qaddafi killed without the loss of a single American soldier. What US policy makers are mediating now is a similar strategy for Afghanistan once the militant havens have been cleared. The US is unmindful of the impact of the policy on stability in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

America abandoned the region after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan to deal with the consequences. It is meditating to leave the region again leaving behind even bigger problems. Bad decisions by Gen Zia-ul-Haq and his inner circle of military advisers got the country involved in the Afghan war. The later Afghan policy, leading to the creation of the Taliban under Mullah Omar was also made by the offstage players. The policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds devised by Musharraf and his military cum security team has again left Pakistan in the unenviable situation where neither the US nor the militants are willing to trust Islamabad. Those who crafted these ill-considered policies owe it to the nation to extricate it from the quagmire where they have landed it in.