Review of Brookings Institute Event on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan
By Rana Fawad, Samundar Par, August 6, 2008
WASHINGTON: History of South Asia makes it hard to dismiss accusations of the security services of Afghanistan as well as India that Pakistan did attack the Indian embassy in Kabul.
This comment was made by Bruce Riedel of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy (Brookings Institution) during a discussion 'Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan: US Foreign Policy Challenges this Fall and Beyond" organized by the Brookings Institution on Wednesday at its Falk Auditorium.
He was responding to a question by Pakistani journalist Khalid Hasan about his (Bruce's) accusation that Pakistan attacked the Indian embassy in Kabul.
He acknowledged that the information available in the unclassified arena was not conclusive to say that but the accusations of the Afghan and Indian security agencies supported by the US intelligence report mentioned in The New York Times pointed finger at the ISI.
Bruce Riedel is also the author of The Search for al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future, to be released by Brookings Institution Press later this year.
Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution Michael O'Hanlon conducted the proceedings. Other two speakers included Kenneth Pollack (Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East, Brookings Institution) and Jeremy Shapiro (Fellow and Director of Research, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution).
Earlier he started his talk by declaring Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world and said if the US was attacked one more time on a scale of 9/11 , the attack would come from Pakistan.
Illustrating his views, Bruce Riedel informed the audience that Pakistan was the sixth largest (population-wise) country in the world and second largest in the Muslim countries.
Bruce added though poppy was being produced in Afghanistan, Pakistan was the main conduit of its supply to the rest of the world through the Karachi port.
He revealed that Pakistan had between 50 to 200 nuclear weapons and was responsible for their proliferation to many countries like North Korea, Libya, Iran, etc.
Bruce also told the gathering that a small area in Pakistan along Afghanistan's border called FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) was a safe haven for the Al Qaeda and Mullah Omar of Taliban.
Referring to Pakistan's domestic problems, he commented that the country was stuck between dictatorships and attempts of democracy.
He said that Pakistan's spy agency ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) reports to the army and also accused that it was responsible for the recent bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Bruce was of the view that the ISI was not in civilian control and probably Pakistan's prime minister was not aware of the Kabul embassy attack.
In his analysis of the situation, he commented that currently the country was focused on the issues of judiciary and the future of Musharraf. He suggested it is time for Musharraf to leave the stage.
He also said that every US President supported dictatorships in Pakistan and the US had a huge catch up job to do as far as the promotion of democracy in Pakistan was concerned.
In his view, Pakistan's army does not trust the US any more.
Referring to Pakistan's strategic importance for the US, he said 85 percent of the logistic support in this war on terror was coming through Karachi and Pakistan was aware of this leverage. He warned any pressure on Pakistan would slow this war on terrorism in that region.
He also warned against any loose talk about large scale military operation in Pakistan but supported the idea of strikes against high value targets in Pakistan.
Bruce also opposed any attempt to secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons saying we don't know the exact number and location of those weapons. He said it would not be a good idea.
He recommended that instead of military aid the US should increase Pakistan's civilian assistance. Moreover, he suggested the regional situation on both sides of Pakistan (India and Afghanistan) needs to be fixed.