2011 saw the U.S.-Pakistani relationship sink to new lows – a partnership forged during the heat of the cold war in the 1980s when the U.S. provided Pakistan with billions to train and arm mujahideen holy warriors to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
Photo Gallery: U.S.-Pakistan Trust Deficit in pictures
Since then, Pakistan has been accused of building a jihadist infrastructure with the funds and giving birth to the Taliban. Over the past year tensions escalated between the former allies over Pakistan’s alleged harboring of terrorists, evidenced by the discovery of Osama Bin Laden living in a safe house near Pakistan’s version of West Point.
The situation was exacerbated by CIA drone strikes that killed countless Pakistani civilians and the arrest of CIA operative Raymond Davis, who killed two Pakistanis in Lahore. The nail in the coffin might have been the November NATO strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Below is a recap of defining moments in 2011 that contributed to the widening mistrust between Washington and Islamabad:
Pakistan’s army chief rejects pleas to eliminate Taliban sanctuaries – Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani said Pakistan would not eliminate insurgent safe havens because he doesn’t trust U.S. motivations and is hedging his bets for when America’s strategy in Afghanistan fails. Kayani will not root-out the Haqqani network because he thinks he will need them as an anti-Indian asset when the U.S. leaves. One American official said that Kayani “is one of the most anti-India chiefs Pakistan has ever had.” A WikiLeaks cable quoted Kayani as saying the “real aim of U.S. strategy is to de-nuclearize Pakistan.”
The Raymond Davis Affair – The U.S.-Pakistani relationship took a turn for the worse when Pakistan arrested CIA operative Raymond Davis for shooting and killing two gunmen in Lahore on Jan 27. The incident underlined Pakistan’s fears that the U.S. was using intelligence assets like Davis to spy on Pakistan’s nuclear program. M K Bhadrakumar in the Asia Times Online suggested the CIA was fanning the flames of Islamic militarism and “instigating the so-called Pakistani Taliban to inflict such bloody wounds on the Pakistani military and weaken and incrementally destabilize the Pakistani state.”
CIA drone kills 40 civilians in Pakistan – A U.S. Predator drone missile strike killed up to 40 innocent civilians in Pakistan’s tribal area, outraging Pakistani government and military officials. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the “irrational” attack and said it will “only strengthen [the] hands of radical and extremist elements.”
WikiLeaks Guantanamo: Pakistan’s ISI listed as terrorist organization – The U.S. military categorized Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, as a terrorist organization according to files released by WikiLeaks obtained from Guantanamo Bay. Similar suspicions were raised by the U.S. in last summer’s WikiLeaks documents which suggested ISI agents devised strategies with the Taliban to attack NATO forces.
Osama bin Laden killed by his creators – Osama bin Laden, the byproduct of a Cold War Islamization program that came back to haunt the U.S. on 9/11, was killed in a CIA operation outside of Islamabad. Bin Laden was found in Abbottabad in a highly secured complex that sits virtually adjacent to the grounds of a military academy. According to The New York Times “the compound and its elaborate walls and security gates may have been built specifically for the Al Qaeda leader in 2005.”
Pakistan outs CIA station chief for bin Laden raid – U.S. intelligence officials believe Pakistan’s spy agency leaked the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad in retaliation for the raid by U.S. Navy SEAL operatives which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. U.S. officials indicated that Pakistan outted the agent because they were made to look foolish in the international media after the world’s most wanted terrorist was found just 35 miles outside the nation’s capital.
U.S. presents evidence Pakistan officials colluded with militants – CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted the head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, showing him satellite and other intelligence that exposed Pakistani security’s efforts to help Islamic militants based in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s covert lobbyist ring exposed – The FBI uncovered a Pakistani intelligence-controlled lobbying program that illegally spent over $4 million in the past two decades to influence U.S. policy on Kashmir. Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was accused of covertly funding the Washington-based Kashmir Center in an effort to persuade Congress to take a harsher stance against India.
US rejects Pakistani-brokered talks with Haqqani – Senior Pakistani military officials claimed they could bring the Haqqani network to the negotiating table to strike a power-sharing arrangement and end the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. rejected the offer because coalition leaders consider the network the most lethal militant faction in the entire region.
US suspects ISI involvement in Kabul Siege – U.S. officials suspected Pakistan’s powerful spy agency was in league with Taliban elements in executing a 20-hour siege of Kabul and attacks against the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters. Afghan intelligence claimed mobile phones found on the slain attackers indicate they were in contact with people from Pakistan.
Kayani says Pakistan doesn’t need U.S. aid, warns against unilateral action – General Kayani told a parliamentary defense committee that Pakistan was no longer in need of American military aid. The General also ruled out the possibility of unilateral U.S. military action on Pakistani soil, saying the Americans will have to “think 10 times before going for this.”
Republicans blast Pakistan at Spartanburg debate – Pakistan was roundly criticized during a GOP primary debate in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with some candidates suggesting the U.S. should completely cut-off all foreign aid to Pakistan – both military and civilian.
Pakistan media enraged by NATO excuses – Anti-American vitriol dominated headlines in Pakistan after a NATO attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers – with some demanding the severance of relations with the U.S. and others clamoring for more drastic measures. In the Pakistan Observer Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan said the U.S-led attack was tantamount to an act of terror.
Rohrabacher calls Pakistan a radical Islamic terrorist state – America must end its “irrational relationship” with Pakistan and strengthen ties with India according to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) in a letter published in the The New York Times. Rohrabacher, who is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee on Oversight and Investigations, wrote: “New Delhi is a friend and a potential ally. India is a democracy with security interests in line with ours against Pakistan, a radical Islamic terrorist state and an ally of a menacing China.”
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