May 8, 2012
Ayman al Zawahiri is next if Hillary’s India formula works
If Hillary Clinton’s schedule is to be followed, Pakistan should pencil in May 2013 as a possible time next year when Ayman al Zawahiri, who inherited al Qaeda, will be ferreted out and killed by American forces - on Pakistani turf.
Jokes aside, Pakistanis watched the Secretary of State on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 make an all-too familiar pronouncement that was televised from India.
AFP reported that she called on Pakistan to do more to crack down on violent extremism - a day after she said Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was believed to be hiding there.
“Combating violent extremism is something we all agree on,” Clinton said during a press conference at the end of a trip to India, PTI reported. “We look to the government of Pakistan to do more. It needs to make sure its territory is not used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks, including inside Pakistan.”
In 2010, also in May, Clinton had said the same thing about Osama bin Laden, while she was on a trip to India. PTI reported that she said some people in the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was. Pakistan has long been accused of playing a double game on terror suspects.
A year later, on May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in an Abbottabad safehouse by elite American forces.
So it seems a trend has been established. Clinton makes a pronouncement in India about most-wanted men and a year later they are found and killed in Pakistan.
Naturally, the OBL killing was a huge embarrassment for Pakistan. The question now is, will the country learn from the past?
For its part, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Monday, May 7, that if America has any solid intelligence information on the presence of al Zawahiri in Pakistan, it should be shared so that the country can look into the matter accordingly.
These developments are taking place as the Pakistani parliament meets on drone strikes as part of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS). Lawmakers are struggling to come up with policy on ties with the US.
In November 2011, Pakistan ordered a review of all co-operation with the US and Nato after the alliance struck a Pakistani army checkpoint, killing at least 24 people. Nato supply routes were closed and protests erupted. Statements were made by the far-right wing groups who seized on the opportunity.
Last month, the Pakistani parliament unanimously adopted a resolution setting new terms and conditions for the reopening of Nato supply routes. It had linked the reopening of supply routes to an end to drone strikes.
America has said, however, that it will continue to carry out drone strikes against militants even if Pakistan opposes it.
India has repeatedly called on Pakistan to bring Saeed to justice, an issue that has stood in the way of rebuilding relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours since the carnage in India’s financial capital, where gunmen killed 166 people.
India is furious Pakistan has not detained Saeed, despite handing over evidence against him.
“We can’t give a figure of how many innocent people and terrorists were killed in drone strikes to the public. We need to decide where we stand in this war?” said the parliamentarian. This is perhaps an indication of the lack of transparency in the public sphere. People are not being taken along when it comes to the realities.
Most Pakistanis seem to have their head in the sand when it comes to terrorism, which is killing their very own people. Perhaps one step in the right direction has been the government’s creation of the National Counter Terrorism Authority.
Talat Hussain quipped, “The country is on auto-pilot.”
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