Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported last Thursday, no doubt with some relief, that during his confirmation hearing for his nomination as secretary of State, Senator John Kerry declared that he opposed cutting American aid to Pakistan, which he saw as a “‘dramatic, draconian and sledge-hammer’ measure. Senator Kerry also said that Pakistan’s role in leading the United States to Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad had not been sufficiently appreciated.”
Who is Kerry kidding? The Pakistani government didn’t help the U.S. find bin Laden. In fact, they were enraged that they had not been filled in on the details of the hunt, which was a wise decision in light of the jihadist ties of the ISI, the Pakistani spy service.
How enraged were they? Let’s recall how events unfolded in May 2011, just after bin Laden was killed. The day his killing became known, May 2, 2011, 800 Pakistanis held a rally in Quetta, proclaiming:
Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed.
But that was only 800 people. The vast majority of Pakistanis rejected the views of this tiny minority of extremists, right? Wrong. By just over a week after bin Laden’s death, 100,000 Osama bin Laden posters had been sold in Pakistan. Two weeks after his death, 4,000 bin Laden supporters rallied in Lahore to protest the killing of bin Laden, chanting “America is the worst enemy of humanity!” A nationwide poll conducted at that time found 51 percent of Pakistanis saying that they felt grief over bin Laden’s death.
Of course, none of this means that the Pakistani government didn’t help the U.S. find bin Laden, even if its cooperation was unpopular with its own people. However, that wasn’t the case, either. The CIA confirmed just after the raid that Pakistani officials had not been informed about it for fear that they would “jeopardize the mission.” This fear appeared to be amply justified when Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir gave the U.S. a warning: “There shall not be any doubt that any repetition of such an act [i.e., the bin Laden raid] will have disastrous consequences.”
A Pakistani opposition leader, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, lamented: “This is the biggest tragedy in the history of Pakistan after the fall of East Pakistan in 1971.” He added: “Heads should roll.” There were prayers for bin Laden in Pakistan’s National Assembly. The nation’s parliament condemned the raid and even threatened the U.S. with sanctions.
Does John Kerry really not know any of this, or does he just hope that we don’t? His appointment represents a continuation of policies that have failed again and again, and seem to be immune to evaluation in light of how they have played out on the world stage. There is at this point no reason whatsoever for the U.S. to continue to send billions of taxpayer dollars to Pakistan.
One might reasonably have assumed that the Pakistani government — which has received well over a billion dollars a year from the United States since 9/11 in order to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban — would be embarrassed by the fact that bin Laden was discovered on its soil, clearly enjoying for years the protection of highly placed Pakistani officials. In response to that embarrassment, it would have been reasonable to expect the Pakistani government to start working hard to demonstrate its trustworthiness to the Americans, to show them that all the money that the U.S. has poured into Pakistan has not been wasted, and that as it continues to flow, it will not be wasted.
Instead, the Pakistanis reacted with all the rage and indignation that I have just outlined – to which the U.S. government’s response has been (characteristically) to try to “rebuild trust” with the Pakistanis, as if the difficulties in the relationship were all our fault. All this has been illustrative of where Pakistan stands in the fight against the global jihad, and where it has stood since September 11, 2001. The U.S. has paid billions to Pakistan since then in order to aid its government’s fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It has been revealed, however, that much of that money has gone to those same organizations, and that the ISI, Pakistan’s spy service, has significant ties with al-Qaeda.
In light of that, it’s clear that Kerry is wrong. It is time to cut off aid to Pakistan. It is long past time. If the aid is to continue, Obama and Kerry should at least require the Pakistani government to come clean. It strains credulity to the breaking point to imagine that Pakistani officials, including the nation’s president, didn’t know that bin Laden was in the country, and in a safe house near Pakistan’s military academy. The circumstances of bin Laden’s last years and death indicate that Pakistan has been an even more unreliable and two-faced ally than anyone has realized up to now — and that is saying a great deal. It has now been several years since a report from the London School of Economics documented how Pakistani military intelligence was aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan, and was actually represented in the Taliban’s governing apparatus. The situation has only gotten worse since then.
The fantasy-based policymaking that has counted Pakistan as a U.S. ally for so many years has been thoroughly discredited. Yet no one in the ever-feckless Obama administration is making any move to change our failed approach to affairs with this rogue state. It is the height of stupidity for the U.S. to continue to put itself in the position of being played for a fool and used as a cash cow by a Pakistani government that is more obviously than ever in league with our enemies.
And John Kerry should know that, and care.