Commentary: Afghanistan as an ally

By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large   |   July 13, 2012 at 6:56 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- Afghanistan is now promoted to the exalted status of "major non-NATO ally" by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on one of her stopovers in a diplomatic marathon. She goes to sleep in her Air Force Boeing 757 cabin in one continent, wakes up in another -- aloft for74 days and on the ground in 44 countries so far this year.

Clinton can be forgiven for not remembering what President George W. Bush did in 2004. That's when he anointed Pakistan, under President Pervez Musharraf, who has since gone into exile, with what subsequently became the dubious honor of "major non-NATO ally."

Today, 74 percent of Pakistanis asked say they view the United States as the enemy, the latest Pew Global Attitudes Project indicates, up from 69 percent two years ago.

In the interim, a U.S. Navy SEAL team found Osama bin Laden in his secret residence, near the Pakistani military academy -- and killed him.

The United States also inadvertently killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border last November and Pakistan promptly closed NATO's two principal resupply routes from the port of Karachi to east and west entry points into Afghanistan.

This cost the United States an additional $100 million a month to switch all traffic to the costlier northern route from the Baltic through Russia by rail, road and even by the Caspian Sea -- until the Pakistani demand for an abject U.S. apology was met.

A U.S. grovel is what Pakistan said would reopen Afghan supply routes. But while the United States conceded bombing coordinates were misread by U.S. fighter bombers and gunships, the Pakistani military supplied erroneous information on the location of Taliban forces.

Finally, the United States uttered a word short of the apology demanded -- "sorry" -- and the Pakistanis, in a phony burst of wounded pride salved, allowed truck convoys to inch forward as they were inspected for prohibited lethal weaponry and to collect a toll of $300-$500 depending on the size of the vehicle.

Some of the three out of four Pakistanis who say the United States is the enemy of Islam and consider reconciliation tantamount to treason, moved forward slowly in what they called "a long march" -- actually two days -- by truck, bus, car and bicycle -- from Lahore to the front of Parliament House in Islamabad.

Led by Sami ul-Haq, one of Pakistan's principal politico-religious leaders, and retired Gen. Hamid Gul, one-time head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, and other prominent "America Haters," the two-day march of tens of thousands of dissenters was designed to block NATO's now reopened supply routes through Pakistan.

Sami ul-Haq also runs a large madrassa university (2,800 students) devoted to the "Education of Truth" where the all-Koranic curriculum is interspersed with messages of hate for the United States, India and Israel. He was a close friend of bin Laden and is a long-time friend of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, long suspected of hiding near Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, under an ISI security blanket.

Both bin Laden and Mullah Omar gave commencement addresses at Sami ul-Haq's university in the spring of 2001, four months before Sept 11.

Addressing the marchers in Rawalpindi this week, Sami ul-Haq said the best interest of Pakistan and Ummah (community of Islamist states) is in ridding itself of "U.S. slavery and liberating Afghanistan from American control." Speaker after speaker said U.S. supply trucks for the war effort in Afghanistan "must be stopped."

All the familiar themes against U.S. drones, "secretly authorized by the Pakistani traitors now in power," were trotted out with banners and shouted slogans against American "terrorism," all organized by the newly minted "Defense of Pakistan Council."

Munawwar Hasan, head of Jamat-e-Islami told a UPI correspondent that the march wasn't only aimed "at salvaging Pakistan but also the whole Muslim Ummah because it was launched to end U.S. slavery in the Muslim world and the plunder of its resources."

"Death to America," shouted speaker after speaker, including several who are on Pakistan's most wanted list of terrorists but police made no move to arrest them. Gul called for the arrest of the CIA station chief in Islamabad.

Hafiz Saeed, chief of the banned Jamaat Ud Dawa, the most-wanted terrorist planner for the 2008 Mumbai massacre (209 killed and 700 injured), was the star attraction. He lived up to his billing with an outburst berating the government for "giving in to the American diktat" and pledged to take the fight against "U.S. hegemony to the finish."

The purpose of the Defense of Pakistan Council, explained Saeed, "is to free the homeland from U.S. slavery by all means at our disposal."

Hasan added that "those who want to befriend the U.S. and were happy with U.S. slavery should stay away." JI's Munawar Hassan accused the United States of sponsoring terrorism. And so it went as all of Pakistan's principal politico-religious leaders joined the march.

One speaker -- Hafiz Saeed -- said the alliance of the patriotic parties in the DPC was "a blessing of Allah as they joined hands and came out to protect national and Islamic interests." He recalled the uphill ordeal of the Muslim army in the Battle of Tabook, some 1,500 years ago, against the alliance of Christian Western nations, "but the help of Allah finally arrived because Muslims had showed unwavering trust in Him."

Leaders of the "Long March" said it will force the United States to seek in its ranks "the real apology from America and pay compensation to the martyrs of the Pakistani army."

The next attraction by the America-haters is scheduled next week. The long "marchers" plan to drive from Peshawar to Torkham, the border post in the Khyber Pass prior to entering Afghanistan.

Moving billions of dollars worth of U.S. equipment out of Afghanistan through 700 miles of Pakistan to Karachi will now be far too dangerous. The northern route through former Soviet republics and Russia to Baltic and German ports is safer -- and costlier.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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