Today’s Pakistan is a nation with various sources of power but the intelligence services, ISI, are who truly controls the place.
Dilip Hiro writes in TomDispatch about who has been largely funding this degradation since 9/11:
It is common knowledge that Pakistani judges, fearing for their lives, generally refrain from convicting high-profile jihadists with political connections. When, in the face of compelling evidence, a judge has no option but to order the sentence enjoined by the law, he must either live under guard afterwards or leave the country. Such was the case with Judge Pervez Ali Shah who tried Mumtaz Qadri, the jihadist bodyguard who murdered Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer for backing an amendment to the indiscriminately applied blasphemy law. Soon after sentencing Qadri to capital punishment last October, Shah received several death threats and was forced into self-exile.
Aware of the failures of the Pakistani authorities to convict Saeed, U.S. agencies seemed to have checked and cross-checked the authenticity of the evidence they had collected on him before the State Department announced, on April 2nd, its reward for his arrest. This was nothing less than an implied declaration of Washington’s lack of confidence in the executive and judicial organs of Pakistan.
Little wonder that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani took umbrage, describing the U.S. bounty as blatant interference in his country’s domestic affairs. Actually, this is nothing new. It is an open secret that, in the ongoing tussle between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his bête noire, army chief of staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Obama administration has always backed the civilian head of state. That, in turn, has been a significant factor in Gilani’s stay in office since March 2008, longer than any other prime minister in Pakistan’s history.
There is, in fact, nothing new in the way Islamabad has been squeezing Washington lately. It has a long record of getting the better of U.S. officials by identifying areas of American weakness and exploiting them successfully to further its agenda.
When the Soviet bloc posed a serious challenge to the U.S., the Pakistanis obtained what they wanted from Washington by being even more anti-Soviet than America. Afghanistan in the 1980s is the classic example. Following the Soviet military intervention there in December 1979, the Pakistani dictator General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq volunteered to join Washington’s Cold War against the Kremlin — but strictly on his terms. He wanted sole control over the billions of dollars in cash and arms to be supplied by the U.S. and its ally Saudi Arabia to the Afghan Mujahedin (holy warriors) to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan. He got it.
That enabled his commanders to channel a third of the new weapons to their own arsenals for future battle against their archenemy, India. Another third were sold to private arms dealers on profitable terms. When pilfered U.S. weapons began appearing in arms bazaars of the Afghan-Pakistan border towns (as has happened again in recent years), the Pentagon decided to dispatch an audit team to Pakistan. On the eve of its arrival in April 1988, the Ojhiri arms depot complex, containing 10,000 tons of munitions, mysteriously went up in flames, with rockets, missiles, and artillery shells raining down on Islamabad, killing more than 100 people.
By playing on Ronald Reagan’s view of the Soviet Union as “the Evil Empire,” Zia ul-Haq also ensured that the American president would turn a blind eye on Pakistan’s frantic, clandestine efforts to build an atom bomb. Even when the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the State Department determined that a nuclear weapon assembled by Pakistan had been tested at Lop Nor in China in early 1984, Reagan continued to certify to Congress that Islamabad was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program in order to abide by a law which prohibited U.S. aid to a country doing so.
Today, there are an estimated 120 nuclear bombs in the arsenal of a nation that has more Islamist jihadists per million people than any other country in the world. From October 2007 to October 2009, there were at least four attacks by extremists on Pakistani army bases known to be storing nuclear weapons.
In the post-9/11 years, Pakistan’s ruler General Pervez Musharraf managed to repeat the process in the context of a new Afghan war. He promptly joined President George W. Bush in his Global War on Terror, and then went on to distinguish between “bad terrorists” with a global agenda (al-Qaeda), and “good terrorists” with a pro-Pakistani agenda (the Afghan Taliban). Musharraf’s ISI then proceeded to protect and foster the Afghan Taliban, while periodically handing over al-Qaeda militants to Washington. In this way, Musharraf played on Bush’s soft spot — his intense loathing of al-Qaeda — and exploited it to further Pakistan’s regional agenda.
Emulating the policies of Zia ul-Haq and Musharraf, the post-Musharraf civilian government has found ways of diverting U.S. funds and equipment meant for fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban to bolster their defenses against India. By inflating the costs of fuel, ammunition, and transport used by Pakistan’s 100,000 troops posted in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, Islamabad received more money from the Pentagon’s Coalition Support Fund (CSF) than it spent. It then used the excess to buy weapons suitable for fighting India.
When the New York Times revealed this in December 2007, the Musharraf government dismissed its report as “nonsense.” But after resigning as president and moving to London, Musharraf told Pakistan’s Express News television channel in September 2009 that the funds had indeed been spent on weapons for use against India.
Now, the widely expected release of the latest round of funds from the Pentagon’s CSF will raise total U.S. military aid to Islamabad since 9/11 to $14.2 billion, two-and-a-half times the Pakistani military’s annual budget.