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US-Pak alliance - "Set a thief to catch a thief"

Ever since India and Pakistan came into being in the 1940s, successive US administrations since John Foster Dulles onwards have followed a patronizing policy towards Pakistan. The credit for this policy should go not to Pakistan, but to India, or rather to its first Prime Minister Nehru who took India into the Soviet shadow under the name of non-alignment.

The US in fact has a classified document that was drafted before India became independent and Pakistan emerged as a separate state, according to which the overwhelmingly Hindu India would be suitable as a natural ally of the US. But the events after Indian independence belied American hopes with India joining the Soviet camp and so Pakistan going to the American camp. So America built bridges with Pakistan perforce not out of volition. Due to this alliance the Pakistani army has been supplied with military hardware since the 1950s and 60s. Pakistan, apart from Israel, was one of the few non-European countries to get Patton Tanks. The Pakistani Air Force and its Navy too are the result of American hardware and technology. The Chinese played a marginal role till the 1990s. For its part Pakistan played an anti-communist role quite well, especially in dislodging the Soviets from Afghanistan.

Pakistan's record of Gratitude towards the US

But since the fall of Communism and the emergence of the Islamist threat to the West, what has been Pakistan"s role. Ever since the beginning of the 1990s there has been a hardly noticeable change in Pakistan from friend to foe. Pak-US has been plagued with mutual suspicions and not without reason. The first reason was the Pakistani connections of Ramzi Yousef, the bomber accused in the first WTC bombing plot.

Yousef's nationality is a matter of some dispute, but it's believed he was a native of the Baluchistan area of Pakistan, a wild lawless border region with deep and broad ties to terrorism and al Qaeda. Yousef's uncle and partner-in-crime, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is also believed to hail from Baluchistan.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in turn was the No. 3 man in al Qaeda, Khalid Mohammed is the one man most directly responsible for the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The common media parlance for his role is "mastermind," which more or less means he thought it up. He sent shoe bomber Richard Reid on a foiled mission to the U.S.. While Khalid Sheikh was turned in by the Pakistanis to the US, the big guns Osama and Zawahiri remain untraced. Pakistan has refused to hand over to the US the British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who is alleged to have killed Daniel Pearl, the WSJ journalist. The reason for this is Omar"s ISI connections, which Khalid did not have, and so he was dispensable. But Pakistan can never dream of turning to the US, a person having connections with the ISI, although he may have indulged in terrorism against the US. The US is painfully aware of this Pakistani duplicity, but is biding its time, till it gets Iran out of the Way. Once Iran is dealt with, then Pakistan goes to the finals, in facing American action.

Pakistan and the 9/11 connection

Pakistan and the 9/11 connection remain under a cloud. It was Colin Powell"s phone call to Musharraf after 9/11 asking "Are you with us or with the Terrorists" closed the options for Musharraf to ditch the Taliban, in the interests of saving Pakistani nukes and in fact Pakistan itself. For had he not done so and continued patronizing the Taliban, it is quite possible that the US air blitz would have targeted Pakistan along with Afghanistan and Pakistani nukes would certainly have been taken off in the first strikes. This could have been accompanied with a land invasion, in which India could play a part. This was what clinched the Musharraf-Colin deal, to ditch the Taliban. The US knows that the 9-11 Terrorists did not act in a vacuum. They were instruments in a carefully planned intelligence operation supported by Pakistan's ISI, which owes its allegiance and existence to the CIA.

The purported 9-11 ringleader - Mohammed Atta - according to ABC news, was financed by "unnamed sources in Pakistan." According to Agence France Presse, an intelligence report informs us that the 9-11 attacks were funded by money wired to Mohammed Atta from Pakistan, by Ahmad Umar Sheikh, under orders from Pakistani intelligence chief General Mahmoud Ahmad. The report said: "The evidence we have supplied to the U.S. is of a much wider range and depth than just one piece of paper linking a rogue general to some misplaced act of terrorism. And this General Mahmoud Ahmad was in the U.S. on September 11. What a coincidence!

The US is well aware of this role of Pakistan"s intelligence agency in financing the 9/11 attacks, but has so far held back its guns, to seek Pakistani support, initially for the attack against the Taliban and now for the proposed attack on Iran.

And what has Pakistan done with its ace the operator of the Pakistani nuclear Walmart, AQ Khan. It has refused even to allow the US to question him directly, forget about deporting him to the US. The US can carry out its military operations against Iran from Afghanistan and Iraq, as it did in fact do so against the Taliban, without moving troops through Pakistan. But the reason why the Bush administration is treating Pakistan with kid gloves is to not open too many fronts at the same time, and not lead to a panic reaction from Pakistan in proliferating its nuclear technology, more brazenly as against the furtive manner in which it is now doing. Folks at the Pentagon and the Oval Office know quite well that Pakistan"s role has been a dubious one so far. The US alliance with Pakistan to beat the Taliban and now the Mullahs of Iran is at best like "Setting a thief to catch a thief" But in the final analysis all thieves have to be brought before the law. Pakistan's turn will also come. The point is till that time, how do we prevent Pakistan from becoming an effective Trojan Horse in the War on Terror against the West?

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