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What also has to be understood here is the Pakistani army’s depraved and predatory attitude towards making money. Like armies in other Third World countries, the Pakistani army is first and foremost a business rather than a fighting machine. According to Ayesha Siddiqa, author of the book Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, “Pakistan’s army today runs a huge commercial empire,” whose estimated value “runs into the billions of dollars.”
The military’s true worth, Siddiqa maintains, cannot be exactly ascertained due to the lack of transparency. But two of the Pakistani military’s business groups are “the largest business conglomerates in the country.” They acquire “opportunities to monopolize national resources,” and the military’s “economic predatoriness increases in a totalitarian system” like Pakistan’s. The military economy’s “defining feature,” Siddiqa writes, is “concealment.”
In a nutshell, one of the main reasons for the existence of Pakistan’s security forces is the making of money, primarily for Pakistan’s officer corps. Fighting the War on Terror, let alone being a true or loyal friend to an “ally,” is not a top priority for Pakistani security forces — if it is any kind of “priority” at all. So when bin Laden dropped into the Pakistanis’ lap after 9/11, he represented a great opportunity, to many Pakistanis, to advance the agenda of worldwide jihad. To others, he was a tremendous business opportunity.
Thus, the Pakistani security forces, recognizing America’s burning desire to settle accounts with the al-Qaeda leader, took advantage of this situation for years to milk the infidel Americans for billions of dollars and the latest in American weaponry for possible later use against arch-enemy India. The Pakistanis pretended to be doing something for the money, while in reality, they did very little and, in the end, ended up being the hosts and protectors of bin Laden.
Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, a former army officer, served as a good example of the Pakistani approach. He launched a couple of lackadaisical offensives into Waziristan that produced almost no casualties, hoping to justify, in American eyes, the largesse he was receiving. He also would allow only a very limited number of drone strikes against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Only when he was removed in 2008, seven years after 9/11, did the situation improve somewhat. The number of drone attacks increased dramatically and the Pakistani army launched a long-awaited offensive into the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s South Waziristan stronghold. However, the army is refusing to finish the job and attack North Waziristan.
America was also paying $100 million a month principally for 80,000 Pakistani troops to guard their side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to prevent Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from crossing into Afghanistan to launch attacks. But American troops often reported that not only would the terrorists walk across the border within sight of Pakistani army outposts, but Pakistani soldiers would sometimes support the enemy with gunfire and rockets when American forces attacked.
Even the one area where the Pakistanis did well, the capturing and handing over of more than four hundred al-Qaeda operatives to American intelligence, was a costly venture for the United States. In each case, the Pakistanis received payment for the captured terrorists as part of a bounty program, which likely accounts for the program’s success. For one al-Qaeda terrorist, and not even a prominent one, the United States paid $500,000.
Ironically, while Muslim extremists are threatening the Pakistani state from the tribal areas within Pakistan’s borders, the Pakistani military, through one of its businesses, is busy recruiting mercenaries to go to Bahrain on behalf of Saudi Arabia. It is also reported the Pakistani army is ready to send two divisions to Saudi Arabia to help the Saudi military against Iran in the Middle East’s looming Sunni-Shiite showdown. And one can be sure Pakistan’s Military Inc. is not doing this for free.
The Obama administration has announced it will investigate whether anyone in Pakistan had anything to do with protecting bin Laden, but don’t expect too much to change. The money supply may slow, or even be cut for a while, but the United States still needs Pakistan because of the terrorist organizations still located on its soil and its strategic location. Few will honestly inquire what kind of “ally” Pakistan really is and what responsibility it bears for the victims of terrorist plots that bin Laden has undoubtedly been assisting during the past ten years.
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