General Pervez Musharraf was the President in Pakistan at the time of the September 2001 attacks in America. He brought the country into an alliance with the USA to help in the fight against terrorism. Much to the opposition of nationalists and conservatives in Pakistan, Musharraf, after failing to negotiate with the Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden, prime suspect of the attacks, agreed to help the USA by lending military bases and supply routes for passage of logistical supplies though Pakistan into Afghanistan.
In an article authored by Bruce Wilson for the Courier Mail, the scenario is presented that US diplomats worked hard to enlist Pakistan’s support in the war on terror. They offered aid and the removal of economic sanctions which had been placed at the time of Pakistan’s nuclear tests. The author states, “Pakistan is made to face up to the difficulty of being a Muslim state in the frontline of a war in which the enemy is also Muslim.”
Due to this, there were many protests that took place in Pakistan and a few people died in the demonstrations in September 2001. It was said that “since then, the President, General Pervez Musharraf, has worked hard to convince his nation that the protests came from a minority.” The reason why the USA was so keen on enlisting the help of the Pakistani government was that since Pakistan bordered Afghanistan, they also were the closest in contact with the regime. The Pakistani intelligence services had close contacts with Taliban leaders and could provide the USA with vital intelligence.
Cooperation with the USA caused a lot of internal strife in the country as well. Opposition parties that were conservative and pro Taliban took part in massive demonstrations. Even more disturbing to the general law and order situation in the country were the random explosions that ripped through the streets in order to force the government to stop supporting the US led coalition.
Journalist Stewart Bell wrote an article documenting the various forms of political and militant dissent in the country. He mentions a failed assassination attempt on President General Musharraf followed by car bomb explosions and heightened attacks on minorities due to an atmosphere of lawlessness.
Much later in 2006 General Musharraf stated in an interview why under his leadership Pakistan broke its alliance with the Taliban in favor of supporting the US led coalition. The main reason he said was that right after the September 11 attacks, the US Assistant Secretary of State let the Pakistani Director of Intelligence know that if Pakistan did not cooperate, the US would “bomb Pakistan back into the stone age.” The General spoke of this in an interview with CBS’s 60 minutes.
Currently General Musharraf is no longer in power. The civilian government led by the infamous kleptocrat Asif Zardari, husband of Ex Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is also an ally of the USA. Zardari has pledged to actively take part in the war on terror. However he has set the entire burden on the Chief of Army, General Ashfaq Kayani.
In a news article published in The Guardian authored by Simon Tisdall, it comes to light that a conflict of interest is brewing between the Pakistani armed forces and the US led coalition. With Asif Zardari remaining aloof and the entire planning for the war against the Taliban rests with General Kayani. Kayani’s interest is to push the Taliban fighters out of Pakistani territory because George Bush approved the US armed forces to make incursions into Pakistani territory to attack militants. This was deeply offensive to the Pakistani people and signaled that their sovereignty was being compromised, while the President Asif Zardari was busy making international visits to other countries without a care in the world. The US forces conducting attacks on Pakistani territory caused the Pakistani Armed forces to issue statements and commands condemning the actions.
More recently, four major events took place that further infuriated the Pakistani people. The first incident was when CIA operative, Raymond Davis, killed two Pakistanis in broad daylight and was arrested. According to an article titled ‘Costly Exercise to Fix US Spy Shooting in Pakistan’ published in the Canberra Times, Raymond Davis killed two supposed Pakistani intelligence agents with an unregistered weapon.
Another factor that caused further outrage amongst the Pakistani public was when American Navy Seals entered Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden. A lot of skepticism surrounded the announcement of Bin Laden’s death. Since no pictures or videos were taken, and even the body was given a secretive burial at sea, conspiracy theories took flight.
Even more recently, in late 2011, a cross border incident killed 24 sleeping Pakistani soldiers at a border outpost. According to journalist Sebastian Abbot’s article ‘Pakistan aims its outrage at NATO’ published in The Daily Telegraph, “Pakistan has retaliated by closing its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies and giving the US 15 days to vacate an air base used by their drones.”
The most recent controversy was that of the panicked memo sent via diplomatic cables to British diplomats and the US by members of the civilian government. The ambassador to the USA had to resign his post over the memo controversy and just recently the Prime Minister made a “panicky phone call to top British diplomats” seeking support. The Supreme Court took over the issue and is independently investigating the scandal according to an article in The Telegraph.
It most certainly seems that sooner or later there will be a major change in power in Pakistan, either by frustrated revolution, electoral change or by military coup. It is uncertain how the future government will deal with the US/ NATO alliance in the war on terror.