Vice President, a long time friend and well-wisher of Pakistan stopped in Islamabad for a brief but very important stop with profound implications for the region. Vice President Biden for the first time publicly accepted the Pakistani concern about India’s destructive role in Afghanistan and he acknowledged the fact that Afghanistan was being used by Delhi as a conduit for terror into Pakistan. This is a very significant development and a far cry from Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s flawed thinking that did not take Pakistan’s defense needs seriously and was oblivious to the threat perceptions in Pakistan.
VP Biden landed at the Chaklala Air Force base and then went to the sprawling US Embassy compound in the Diplomatic Enclave under heavy security. There was not public welcome. The roads along his motorcade route were completely empty, and businesses were shut down. This was a working visit.
There was the usual rhetoric, where US media reports saying that Biden pressured Pakistan about moving into Wazirisitan, and Pakistan assuring full support to America blah blah blah.
Mr. Biden denied that the US favors India by saying“That is dead wrong.” VP Biden said “There are those also who accuse the United States of violating your sovereignty,”. Biden disagreed with that view saying thathe “would respectfully suggest” that it is extremists who do that. “Our goal is to work with your leaders and restore and strengthen sovereignty in those areas of your country where extremists have violated it”. No Pakistanis, and no one in the audince bought that justification for the drone bombings that have killed thousands of innocent civilians.
VP Biden said “As Pakistanis have wondered whether or not we are part of the problem instead of the solution..My country’s aspirations for Pakistan largely mirror yours…”
VP Biden tried to smooth relations, frayed because of Drone Bombings, the rhetoric from US officials, and Obama’s statements in Delhi ”A close partnership with Pakistan and its people is in the vital self interest of the United States of America, and I would argue, although it’s for you to decide, is in the vital interest of the Pakistani people as well..”
“A close partnership between Pakistan and its people is in the vital self-interest of the United States of America and, I would argue… in the vital self-interest of Pakistan as well,” Biden said.
“My hope is, God willing, if I’m able to stand here next year with you, that we’re able to point to greater progress and greater resolve and greater prosperity for your people and mine,” Biden said, concluding his speech.
The press release issued after VP Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Gilani, Genaral Kayani and President Zardari (who had stayed back to see VP Biden) was unusually frank and said a lot about the end game being played out in the Hindu Kush.
Vice President Biden quashed rumors about US boots on the ground in Pakistan (as if this was ever a real option).
The bottom line is that the Obama Administration is eager to get out of Afghanistan and is seeding the US press about how “well” the war is going. Vice President Biden is part of the White House faction that wants the US to extricate itself from the quagmire as soon as possible. That is why he, and not Mrs. Clinton made the trip to Kabul and Islamabad. The meeting with the Pakistani leaders concentrated on how to proceed forward on matters related to Afghanistan. After a series of regional conferences, and meetings with the Haqqanis, Rabbanis, and Talibs, the US felt as if it was being left out. Hench the Biden dash to Kabul and Islamabad.
It was publicly acknowledged that the meeting was to secure alignment between the three players, Kabul, Washington and Islamabad. All are counting the days to the beginning of the end in Afghanistan. All are looking forward to July 2011.
President Obama has been given a 16 pager by General Kayani that clearly delineates Pakistan’s strategic objectives in Afghanistan. The General cleary has informed Washington that Pakistan wants a friendly Afghanistan which is not ruled from Delhi. VP Biden was exploring “Pakistan’s bottom line” and its “intentions” regarding Afghanistan.
In response the Pakistani leadership has informed VP Biden Pakistan would continue to pursue its policy of non-intervention and of respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. Pakistan wanted to ensure that the unity of its neighbors was not compromised. This was a clear reference to the Blackwell plan sponsored by Bharat which has suggested the division of Afghanistan into three Pakhtun and Non-Pakhtun countries.
Pakistan, in response to Biden has rejected the notion of Bharat’s influence in Afghanistan clearly stated that it hopes “there will be no new great game” pertaining to Afghanistan and stated that it does not expect any country to indulge in any proxy war or measures that have an impact on sovereignty of Pakistan or Afghanistan. This was a clear reference to Bharat.
Pakistan vociferously rejected the US assertion about the so called “safe havens” along the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan clearly informed Mr. Biden that weapons and financial support were coming into the country from Afghanistan impacting the security situation in Pakistan.
The frankness in the discussion was very refreshing. Pakistan urged the US to stop trading charges, and shifting blame.
Pakistan rejected Bharati proposals for Afghan segregation and division saying that “No formula from abroad can resolve the Afghan issue,”. Pakistan as usual was willing to facilitate the process of peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan once again asked the repatriation of the million of Afghan refugees that refuse to go back home.
Pakistan also reiterated the concept of Good Talibs, informing the Americans that peace was possible with many to the Talibs.Pakistan again offered its services to train Afghan police and security forces for better counter terrorism duties. As if it needed to be said, but PM Gilani did remind the Americans about the long relationship with the US. As if this mattered to the US!
The PPPs new found confidence stems from the Strategic gains made in Ankara, Tehran, and Beijing. Pakistan has secured its neighbors, and can thus talk frankly with the Americans. As the US plans to leave get momentum, the 3000 strong “CIA Army” will be reduced, and the Blackwater/Xe presence in Pakistan will diminish. As the US troop reductions happen, Bharat will lose its foothold and the attacks on Pakistan will diminish. Once the Americans are midway through their withdrawal, the Drone bombings will begin to taper off–at this point the 2014 the Talibs will over-run the ISAF positions, and take over Kabul.
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- Biden visits Pakistan for anti-terror talks with leaders (cnn.com)
- VP Joe Biden: ‘Take the training wheels off’ in Afghanistan (cnn.com)
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- Karzai rebuffs India – again (pakistanakhbar.com)
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