United States diplomatic personnel in Pakistan have of late been subjected to harassment by ISI and other security agencies under the control of the Pakistan Army. In fact the ISI is directly under the command and control of Pakistan Army Chief, General Kayani and he was the earlier head of ISI for years. The Pakistani harassment has reached to such an extent that the American Ambassador to Pakistan had to publicly air this undue harassment of United States personnel and caution Pakistan. The Pakistan Army cannot be dismissive on the plea that it is due to some hard-line or rogue elements in the security forces. If this is the attitude of Pakistani security forces in the capital city in full glare of media publicity what would be the attitude of Pakistan Army and Para-military forces said to be engaged in aiding the United States military operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the Afghan border.
The question that goes abegging is as to what reasons have prompted the Pakistan Army indulge in this harassment of American diplomats? More so when the present juncture as it is a crucial crossroads in Pakistan-United States relations.
Pakistan has adopted a multi-pronged plan to harass United States diplomats and officials engaged in conduct of the American AF-PAK Strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan through military operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Pakistan has introduced stringent guidelines for approval of visa to such personnel and thereby hampering operations. United States diplomatic personnel on arrival at Pakistani airports are denied separate diplomatic channels at immigration counters and made to process through normal channels for foreigners.
In the capital city of Islamabad and elsewhere dotted with countless security checkpoints, United States diplomatic personnel are made to stop for time-consuming checks. They are first made to produce identification papers which are pondered over and then asked to open the luggage-boots of their cars for inspection. All this process making American diplomatic personnel sitting ducks for anti-US terrorists that flourish in Pakistan.
It is also reported that security agencies have leaked to the Urdu press widely read by terrorist’s rank and file handouts publishing photographs and details of United States diplomats jeopardizing their personal security while on move in the execution of their duties. Such media exposures are an open invitation to the Islamist terrorist outfits. Surely the Pakistan Army cannot deflect their culpability when all security agencies are under their stringent control.
The Pakistan Government has disfavored the expansion of the United States diplomatic establishment in Pakistan to cater for the increased scope of American involvement in Pakistan relative to its commitments in Afghanistan. This time conspiracy stories were planted in al of Pakistan media including the English language media to the effect that this expansion plan was a diabolical plot hatched by the United States in collusion with Israel and India for a military intervention to neutralize Pakistan Army’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Surprisingly, Retired generals and diplomats also seemed to have fallen prey to this disinformation campaign.
The question that goes abegging is as to what reasons have prompted the Pakistan Army indulge in this harassment of American diplomats? More so when the present juncture as it is a crucial crossroads in Pakistan-United States relations. More significantly, when the Pakistan Army should be conscious that it is being subsidized in its control of Pakistan by United States financial doles, military equipment and political support.
Many reasons come to the fore. The most common one being that the Pakistan Army by such tactics is blackmailing the United States for more substantial military aid. It could also be that by such tactics the Pakistan Army with a sagging image militarily wants to send a message to its domestic constituency that it is powerful enough to challenge the United States. More importantly The Pakistan Army could be employing such tactics to whip up widespread public hysteria and inflame the anti-US sentiments to deflect pressures on it to do substantially more by mounting military operations against the Afghan Taliban harbored by the Pak Army in Baluchistan and the Haqqani network in North Waziristan The Pakistan Army is unwilling to do so and resisting US pressures on this count
Pakistan Army can be expected to indulge in brinkmanship and wayward activities, as this conforms to its past patterns of demonstrated behavior. It is the United States Administration that has to arrive at a fateful decision whether it still as the globally predominant superpower can allow the Pakistan Army to get away with the harassment of its diplomats on specious grounds. After all, the US diplomats in Pakistan represent the majesty and sovereignty of the United States