Pakistan set to become even more dangerous with Army-Imran at helm: Former CIA analyst
(I read Riedel peace in the daily beast and I don’t trust him)
Chidanand Rajghatta | TNN
Jul 27, 2018, 20:21
WASHINGTON: The most dangerous country in the world just got considerably more dangerous, a veteran South Asia analyst has cautioned about the election outcome in Pakistan that has pitched former cricketer Imran Khan to power. On its part, the Trump administration said it looks forward to working with the new government of Pakistan and furthering the goals of security and stability in the region.
Warning about Pakistan’s road ahead came from Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and White House official, who took a dim view of the election of Khan, widely seen as a stooge of the Pakistani military, and a man he said blames Pakistan’s problems on America, and is the ”most anti-American politician in South Asia.”
”Khan is an outspoken defender of the army and is closely aligned with the Islamist movements patronized by the ISI. He is a frequent critic of the United States which he says treats Pakistan like a ‘doormat’”, Riedel wrote in a commentary, while maintaining that there is ”compelling evidence” that the army is supporting Khan, intimidating his opponents and suppressing the press to get him to power. Riedel, who was centerstage in Washington as a Clinton White House aide during the Kargil war that ended in disaster for Islamabad, said the Pakistan Army soured on Nawaz Sharif years ago and was especially alarmed when he blamed the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack on the ISI. The ISI was certainly responsible for the Mumbai operation, but to acknowledge that is verboten in Pakistan, he explained. However, Riedel suggested that the Army-Imran Khan dalliance could be shortlived. ”I have been impressed by Khan’s determination when I’ve met him, but also by his proclivity for conspiracy theories no matter how irresponsible. He has a reputation for independence and volatility. His political movement is almost a cult of personality. The generals may find him hard to control,” he wrote in the Daily Beast. Meanwhile, the state department offered a cautious welcome to the changing of the guards in Pakistan, a process that remains incomplete. “As Pakistan’s elected leaders form a new government, the United States will look for opportunities to work with them to advance our goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia,” a statement from the State Department said, after months of cold shouldering Pakistan because of its undermining of US policy in Afghanistan. Riedel pointed out that ”Imran Khan has said that it would be a ‘bitter pill’ to have to meet with Trump if he Khan is prime minister, but one he would swallow,” while snarkily noting that ”He probably doesn’t have to worry. South Asia is not a priority for the Trump administration.” ”The president has made clear he wants to bring Americans home from Afghanistan and wash his hands of the war there. His hard-line rhetoric on Pakistan is unlikely to persuade Khan and the army to press the Taliban to peace negotiations. So far Trump has been all talk and no action about Pakistan’s ties to terrorism,” the former CIA analyst wrote. Pakistan, he said, desperately needs good governance and a healthy civil-military relationship with the civilians in charge. It needs to abandon terrorism and slow down its nuclear weapons drive to devote attention and resources to development and infrastructure. It is becoming dangerously dependent on China. It has a self-interest in warming relations with India. Above all, it needs stable and experienced leadership.
”None of that seems likely. Get ready for an uncharted future,” Riedel concluded.