Our longtime friend and ally Pakistan last week showed yet again which side it is really on. The Pakistani government last week released Hafiz Saeed from house arrest – the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai jihad massacre, a man with a ten million dollar U.S. bounty on his head.
The Pakistanis didn’t release Saeed into U.S. custody, but to freedom and the adulation of his jihad-supporting countrymen, as well as in India. TNN reported Saturday that “police were on their toes in Lakhimpur city on Friday morning after members of a community allegedly celebrated the release of Mumbai terror attack mastermind and co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan.” (Lashkar-e-Taiba is a prominent Pakistani jihad group.) “Some residents of Begum Bagh colony in Shivpuri area allegedly decorated their houses with green flags and also raised slogans like ‘Hafiz Saeed zindabad’ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. The issue was immediately brought to district magistrate Akashdeep’s notice after which police force was rushed to the colony.”
Saeed is even more popular in Pakistan itself, which may be why the Islamic Republic has so far ignored U.S. calls to re-arrest Saeed. If they did arrest him again, they could be facing even more riots by Islamic hardliners, and Pakistani government officials are already dealing with riots in Islamabad that have killed six people and wounded 200 as Islamic supremacists demand the arrest of a government official on blasphemy charges.
Those riots are hardly the hallmark of a “moderate” or Western-oriented nation, and they are all the more reason why the sham alliance between the U.S. and Pakistan needs to be ended. Financial Times reported in September that “the Trump administration is considering dropping Pakistan as an ally as it examines tough measures to quell more than 20 terrorist groups it says are based in the country.” President Trump needs to follow through on this.
Trump has accused the Pakistani government of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. And it’s true, with the most notorious of these being Osama bin Laden himself. Journalist Carlotta Gall, who reported from Afghanistan for the New York Times for twelve years, reported in March 2014 that
soon after the Navy SEAL raid on Bin Laden’s house, a Pakistani official told me that the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The information came from a senior United States official, and I guessed that the Americans had intercepted a phone call of Pasha’s or one about him in the days after the raid. ‘He knew of Osama’s whereabouts, yes,’ the Pakistani official told me. The official was surprised to learn this and said the Americans were even more so.
He shouldn’t have been. It had been obvious for years at that point, and remains obvious, that the Pakistanis had been aiding the same jihadists that the U.S. government has been giving them billions of dollars to fight. The New York Times reported on that at length back in 2008. Not only did Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of the Pakistani government’s spy service, know the whereabouts of Osama, but so did many other top officials in the Pakistani government.
The Pakistani government, meanwhile, is getting U.S. money to fight terrorists. This is what they’re using it for: Sky News reported in January 2014 that “Pakistani officials have reportedly used a secret counter-terrorism fund to buy wedding gifts, luxury carpets and gold jewellery for relatives of ministers and visiting dignitaries.” This is better than funneling to the terrorists themselves the money that the Pakistani government received from the U.S. to fight terror, but it shows how seriously the Pakistani authorities have taken their role in the “war on terror”: not seriously at all. Three years have passed since these facts were revealed; the Obama administration, of course, did nothing. Trump needs to take action.
For far too many years now, the U.S. government has been suffering from a strange addiction: an addiction to shoveling huge amounts of money to old Cold War allies that aren’t really allies at all. The end of this farce with Pakistan should have come long ago; we can only hope that Trump will now act upon his remarkably clear-sighted view of this sham ally.