Pak bluffing US in war on terror
Washington: Pakistan was “double dealing” the US on the war on terror for years, says a former CIA analyst, who believes it will be difficult to break the Pakistani intelligence agencies' ties with Islamist groups.
Bruce Riedel, who retired from the Central Intelligence Agency, in 2006 after 29 years, speaks angrily about Pakistan under President Pervez Musharraf for extracting billions of dollars from Washington even while it allowed al-Qaeda to regroup in its tribal lands.
"We had a partner that was double-dealing us," the International Herald Tribune quoted Riedel as saying at his Washington home. "Anyone can be snookered and double dealt. But after six years you have to start to figure it out."
Riedel's views carry weight because he is a terrorism expert on President-elect Barack Obama's transition team. He is one of those who think that the terror network in Pakistan's tribal areas poses the biggest security threat to the US.
A West Asia expert who is now authoring a book on Israel's nuclear doctrine, Riedel feels the time has come for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to snap its links with Islamist militants on the border with Afghanistan.
These are ties, he says, the Bush administration never found a way to break.
These ties will not be broken until Pakistan's generals and spies acknowledge what President Asif Ali Zardari learned only after the assassination of his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto: that the struggle against Al Qaeda and its ilk is as much Islamabad's war as much it is America's.
Obama, according to Riedel, should approach Pakistan with a "subtle and deft touch" and strengthen the civilian government of Zardari to act as a counterweight to the military and intelligence apparatus.
Riedel advocates that the US must stop selling "big-ticket weapons" to Pakistan that have traditionally been used against India and instead provide helicopters and night vision goggles for the Pakistani military to battle the militants in tribal lands.
He says that America's too-cosy relationship with Musharraf undid the US, generating more hatred against Washington in Pakistan than against India or Al Qaeda.
"Anytime in Pakistan where more people blame you than India for the country's problems, you are in deep, deep trouble," he said.