Pak­istan’s long his­tory of du­plic­ity

Back­ing ter­ror­ists while pro­claim­ing U.S. friend­ship is not the act of an ally

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Ted Poe

The United States has many com­plex for­eign re­la­tion­ships. Be­ing the world’s only su­per­power re­quires deal­ing with the good, the bad and the ugly of na­tion-states. The good are ob­vi­ous. They are Amer­ica’s al­lies and part­ners who we share com­mon in­ter­ests and val­ues. The bad are Amer­ica’s ad­ver­saries, who of­ten spon­sor ter­ror­ism, un­der­mine our goals, and flaunt their dis­dain for the United States. Then there are the ugly. The Bene­dict Arnold of states that say they are our friends, take bil­lions in U.S. aid, then back the very ter­ror­ists that are killing Amer­i­cans. The ugli­est of the bunch is Pak­istan.

Pak­istan has a long du­plic­i­tous re­la­tion­ship with the U.S. Through­out most of the Cold War, Amer­ica and Pak­istan worked closely to con­tain Soviet ad­vances in South Asia. This work­ing re­la­tion­ship peaked in the 1980s when the CIA and Pak­istan’s In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence, or ISI, part­nered to bleed the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by pro­vid­ing covert as­sis­tance to the Afghan anti-com­mu­nist rebels. But even as the U.S. bol­stered Pak­istan’s own de­fenses, Islamabad was covertly de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear weapons pro­gram that it would later use to pro­lif­er­ate nu­clear tech­nol­ogy to Libya, North Ko­rea and Iran — the who’s who of bad ac­tors.

After the Soviet with­drawal from Afghanistan, Pak­istan con­tin­ued to back mil­i­tants in the coun­try, giv­ing rise to the Tal­iban. By 1996, after re­ceiv­ing ex­ten­sive sup­port from the ISI, the Tal­iban man­aged to seize much of the coun­try and in­sti­tute a strict and re­pres­sive form of Is­lamic law. In this ji­hadist par­adise cul­ti­vated by Pak­istan, al Qaeda was able to take shape and plan its war on the United States. Pak­istan didn’t just turn a blind eye to al Qaeda’s am­bi­tions — it as­sisted by pro­vid­ing ISI ad­vis­ers. Some of these ISI agents were killed in 1998 when Amer­i­can cruise mis­siles struck an al Qaeda train­ing camp in re­sponse to the ter­ror­ist at­tacks on U.S. em­bassies in Africa. Yet, Pak­istan con­demned the strikes and may have even tipped off Osama bin Laden be­fore­hand, al­low­ing his es­cape. If Pak­istan was a true ally, it would have as­sisted the U.S. to kill bin Laden after the em­bassy at­tacks and Septem­ber 11 may have never had hap­pened. In­stead, Islamabad sided with the ter­ror­ists.

After the Septem­ber 111 at­tacks, as the U.S. rained jus­tice on bin Laden, his al Qaeda thugs and the Tal­iban in Afghanistan, Pak­istan pro­vided the es­cape route. De­spite pledges of sup­port, Islamabad opened the door to thou­sands of ter­ror­ists flee­ing Amer­i­can forces, in­clud­ing bin Laden him­self. Ac­cord­ing to former CIA of­fi­cer Bruce Riedel, the ISI’s sup­port was crit­i­cal to the sur­vival and re­vival of the Tal­iban after 2001. Six­teen years later, the Tal­iban along with its al Qaeda al­lies are re­tak­ing parts of Afghanistan as the Pen­ta­gon pre­pares to send thou­sands of U.S. troops to beat them back. Pak­istan is at fault.

The U.S. has been re­luc­tant to cut ties or mean­ing­fully con­front Pak­istan over its treach­ery be­cause the sup­ply line that keeps the coali­tion fed and equipped in Afghanistan runs through Pak­istan. How­ever, this key link does not come free and has even been sev­ered by Pak­istan on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions after vi­o­lent in­ci­dents be­tween their forces and our own. The Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice found in 2008 that of the $2 bil­lion the U.S. had given Pak­istan to run that key sup­ply line, more than a third could not be ac­counted for, pos­si­bly be­cause of fraud. More­over, the Pen­ta­gon de­cided last Au­gust it would not pay Pak­istan $300 mil­lion in re­im­burse­ment be­cause it could not ver­ify Islamabad was tak­ing steps to com­bat the Haqqani Net­work — an­other ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion with on­go­ing ties to the ISI that is ac­tively tar­get­ing Amer­i­cans in Afghanistan.

When the U.S. fi­nally tracked Osama bin Laden to Ab­bot­tabad in May 2011, it was clear Pak­istan had been play­ing us for fools. For a decade, Pak­istani of­fi­cials de­nied his pres­ence in their coun­try, while the al Qaeda leader lived com­fort­ably di­rect­ing his net­work of ter­ror. By this point, how­ever, the U.S. mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity knew Pak­istan could not be trusted. To pre­vent bin Laden from be­ing tipped off by his hosts, the U.S. ex­cluded the Pak­ista­nis from the raid and or­dered the use of se­cret stealth he­li­copters to evade Pak­istani radars. It worked, and the world’s most wanted ter­ror­ist fi­nally met Amer­i­can jus­tice. When Pak­istan learned what was hap­pen­ing, it im­me­di­ately dis­patched F-16 fight­ers we had gen­er­ously given them to shoot down our Navy SEALs as they flew back to Afghanistan. For­tu­nately, they were too late.

In the af­ter­math of the raid, Pak­istan struck back. They in­vited their Chi­nese al­lies to col­lect sam­ples of our crashed stealth he­li­copter, poi­soned the CIA sta­tion chief in-coun­try, and jailed the Pak­istani doc­tor who as­sisted U.S. ef­forts to lo­cate bin Laden.

De­spite all these cases of bad be­hav­ior, we still give Pak­istan hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery year in aid. We don’t need to pay Pak­istan to be­tray us — they will do it for free. That is why I have in­tro­duced two bills that would put pres­sure on Pak­istan. H.R. 1499, the Pak­istan State Spon­sor of Ter­ror­ism Des­ig­na­tion Act, would re­quire the State Depart­ment to as­sess Islamabad’s long his­tory of co­op­er­at­ing with ter­ror­ists and de­ter­mine whether or not Pak­istan is a state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism. H.R. 3000 would re­voke Pak­istan’s Ma­jor Non-NATO Ally sta­tus, an ex­clu­sive and pref­er­en­tial des­ig­na­tion that Pak­istan defini­tively does not de­serve. We must hold Pak­istan ac­count­able for the Amer­i­can blood on its hands.

De­spite all these cases of bad be­hav­ior, we still give Pak­istan hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery year in aid. We don’t need to pay Pak­istan to be­tray us — they will do it for free.

Ted Poe, a Texas Repub­li­can, is a mem­ber of the For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee and serves as chair­man of the Sub­com­mit­tee on Ter­ror­ism, Non-pro­lif­er­a­tion and Trade.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY

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