Where the US’ national interest is at variance with ours



The drone-attack killing of TTP chief Hakimullah by the US forces highlights in a dramatic fashion the divergence of US and Pakistan interests in that forsaken region of the world.

Concomitantly Pakistan's hyper reaction to this targeting of a blood-thirsty terrorist by the US also brings into sharp focus our monumental ignorance of what actually are the US security interests are in its fight against Al Qaeda/Jihadi threat.

Let's first take the national interests of both the nations in this matter of TTP terrorism.

Pakistan's national interest, as reflected in our governments' efforts to hold peace talks, is to seek peace with Hakimullah and the Taliban at any cost, short of total surrender of the state and its constitution.

But America's national security interest lay in prioritizing the accountability and elimination of those Taliban terrorists, especially Hakimullah, who are responsible for murders of Americans and attacks against the US and Afghanistan forces and who have vowed to continue attacking the Americans after any peace deal with Pakistan was sealed.

So Pakistan government in making 'brick-by brick' efforts to conduct talks with the Taliban and sending a delegation, was following its own national interests. And the US in taking down Hakimullah with an armed drone when a rare opportunity presented itself was diligently following its own national interests.

This whole episode seen under the hard glare of realpolitik seems nothing but a dramatic clash of two divergent national interests, America's and Pakistan's, coming to a violent head. Nothing more, nothing less.

As usual allegations of a US conspiracy, or malicious intent to scuttle the peace process – charges hyper ventilated by our interior minister and others – immediately mushroomed and gained some credence because of the delicate timing of the drone attack.

But ever since 2010, when Hakimullah masterminded the suicide attack that killed seven Americans in Afghanistan, the US forces had been hectically searching for him, and in fact had made two unsuccessful bids to kill him. He was a very elusive and cunning enemy and the moment they saw an opening to get him they went for it.

We were also then similarly 'shocked' and 'outraged', with conspiracy theories spouting from every mouth, in the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US Seals team, when in fact, like here in this Hakimullah case, the US government was inevitably trying to implement and enforce its own national security interests.

It is difficult to understand why successive Pakistani governments are so ignorant or misinformed about the utter imperative of US presidents or administrations to take actions to defend the country and keep it safe. In other words, to promote the country's national interests, especially its security interests, is a president's sworn duty and topmost priority.

After 9/11 the US enacted a law, ‘Authorization to Use Military Force’ that gives the president to fight AQ or AQ affiliate terrorists with drones and other lethal weapons. Under such laws as these the US president and US government are duty bound to hunt the terrorist down, particularly, those with the blood of Americans on their hand, no matter how long it takes to track them.

Hakimullah was involved in numerous attacks against US forces and civilians, including masterminding and sending Pakistani Faisal Shehzad to NY in the Times Square attempted bombing and a Jordanian suicide bomber to Khost that killed seven Americans. The TTP released the videos showing Hakimullah posing with these perpetrators just before carrying them out.

I am not saying that Pakistan has to follow the US laws and the US national interests. But in view of the foregoing Pakistan government should have known and should have expected the US determination to enforce its own national interests highlighted above and its duty to target and eliminate its most wanted terrorists like Hakimullah.

And hopefully our government now clearly understands that the US will relentlessly continue to pursue to eliminate other top notch AQ/Taliban leaders at the first convenient opportunity they get. Their future killings if and when they materialize should come as no surprise to us and the government and the people should be prepared to face them.

The problem is that we live in a world different than countries where rule of law and the writ of the state reigns supreme, unafraid and unbowed to any domestic groups, where perpetrators of crime are ultimately brought to justice.

Just because we are willing to forgive and forget the blood thirsty murderers of our 50,000 citizens it would be reckless and damaging to presume that others too would follow suit in forgiving and letting go of their enemies as well.

On a final note, the hysterical manner in which some of our politicians like Imran Khan, Fazlur Rehman and Ch Nisar, have reacted to the justified elimination of Hakimullah indicates that they have been subjected to virulent threats to their lives from Taliban/Jihadi terrorists. They owe it to the nation to come clean and tell the nation as to the exact details of these threats and the identity of those who are making them.

When a large segment of our population celebrate and cheer those who sing and dance in joy with the severed heads of their fellow human beings held aloft, when they blow into pieces the bodies and limbs of men, women and children, then you know the red line of morality has been crossed. Fortunately, we have another equally large segment of our population who respect human dignity, who still believe in the inviolability of human life, who still purveys tolerance and decency.

But the day the merchants of death and violence and religious barbarism in our country transforms into an overwhelming majority, only evil will be the sole and real "stakeholder" of Pakistan.