Is Pak Foreign Office run from Rawalpindi?
I really wonder on whose advice ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha would have cancelled his trip to the United Kingdom? His reporting line is to the Army Chief, Gen Asfaq Pervez Kayani, not the civilian set-up headed by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.Pakistan’s democratically elected regime had tamely let the arrangement be when the Army blocked its July 2008 move to place the agency under the Ministry of Interior.
Pasha’s trip to the UK was to discuss cooperation in fighting terror. The fact that the head of the dreaded spy outfit will stay home rather than keep his appointments with British counterparts is conclusive evidence of the Army’s decisive role in key foreign policy issues.
Cameron has stood his ground in the face of the Pakistani reaction that had its High Commissioner to UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan terming his comments as “immature reaction from an immature politician.” The Pak envoy’s brazenly personal attack on the British Premier reminds one of the adage that war’s too serious a business to be left to the generals.
But can Rawalpindi (seat of Pakistan Army) sustain the coercive diplomacy it has foisted on Islamabad? The last word on the prickly face-off is yet to be heard as Asif Ali Zardari’s scheduled visit to the UK is still on. It will be interesting to see whether the Pak President will use the kind of language his country’s envoy employed against Cameron?
Shamshul Hasan’s idiom was reminiscent of Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s broadsides against S M Krishna. Scriptwriters who penned their pieces seemed more adapt at intimidating (which is a fauji’s forte) than at communicating (which is a diplomat’s trait). Both instances were proof, if there was a need for one, of civilian leaders playing second fiddle to army bosses.
The Pak Army’s strident reaction to Cameron’s perfectly legitimate concerns cannot but have its genesis in the Wikileaks’ expose of its two-timing tactics in the Afghan war. Rather than being on the defensive, it has chosen to brazen out international outrage over thousands of war documents now in pubic domain. In that limited sense, Gen. Kayani has drawn a leaf out of the Chinese book that often saw Beijing lock horns with Washington.
Like the Chinese market eyed by US multinationals, Rawalpindi is leveraging its frontline status in the war on terror to pursue its agenda of turning Afghanistan into a client state. Wikileaks’ Afghan diary is a wake up call for the Americans, the Brits and other NATO allies. If ISI could be that pernicious under their very nose, what’ll happen when they turn their backs on Afghanistan?
Cameron read the writing on the wall rather aloud to the world. The ISI may want to run away from the truth. But the questions it’s ducking will have to be faced— sooner than later.