The Pentagon has confirmed one of South Asia’s worst kept secrets – that Pakistan has used billions of dollars of US aid to buy a mind-boggling array of conventional American weaponary to use against India.
The aid was meant for Pakistan to fight the war on terror. India has repeatedly pointed out that much of the military hardware on Pakistan’s shopping list was not suited to anti-terror operations. Now, Pentagon reports have revealed that even the money poured into Islamabad’s coffers by the Bush administration fter 9/11 specifically to fight al Qaida and the Taliban, was used to develop offensive capabilities against India.
The Pentagon reports detail the brazen diversion of funds given to Pakistan between 2002 and 2009 and the Pervez Musharraf government — often described by George W Bush as America’s “strong” ally in the “war against terror” – to acquire arms ranging from anti-tank missiles to F 16s. The arsenal was meant to blunt India’s edge in conventional weaponry
So let me get this straight. Pakistan busily supports the Taliban for several years, winks at Al-Qaeda presence in its northwest frontier provinces, and sponsors terrorism in Kashmir and Bombay. In return for this, we let them spend counterrorism funds to prepare for war against democratic India, which we are trying to develop better relations with. Who are these morons?
And then I thought about it a little more.
Pakistan isn’t going to fight a conventional war against India. It lost horribly the last time it tried, and if anything, the correlation of forces has tilted toward India since then. Islamabad has a nuclear deterrent, and in any event, it can bleed New Delhi much more effectively and cheaply by sponsoring terrorists.
“Counterrorism” im Pakistan is a predominantly a political effort, not a military one. That means we need allies within Pakistan. One potential ally is the military: the generals might become a countervailing force against Pakistani intelligence, which has tight links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and operates outside the military chain of command.
So, the thinking might go, this military hardware is a way of buying allies in Pakistan: that weaponry thus is counter-terrorism hardware. Let the generals and admirals have their toys; they’ll realize that it makes sense to work with the US, and they can try to undermine the ISI within Pakistan.
That might work. That might not work. But nothing else has. And it’s not crazy or unreasonable. It’s just really, really ugly. Get me some Pepto-Bismol.