15.10.2015 Author: Vladimir Platov

Pakistan and the Imperial Ambitions of the United States

79867843In the last two decades, the world has had a chance to see what tragedies and absurdities can be instigated by the imperial ambitions of Washington and the connivance of the international community. It was the White House’s desire to expand its political, economic and military domination that has brought chaos to many countries, resulted in the destruction of the sovereignty in countries that don’t bend to the will of the USA such as Iraq, Libya and Yemen and caused mass migration from the war-struck northern Africa and the Middle East.

However, community and political leaders of an ever growing number of countries are coming to understand that the policy of the White House is faulty and that there is a need to search for a way out from the unipolar world order imposed by Washington. The changes taking place in Pakistan in recent years can serve as a sound example of this “rethinking” process.

Just recall the sharp criticism the authorities and the public of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan expressed in relation to the illegitimate use of drones in the territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan by Washington in the fight against terrorism, which has caused the deaths of thousands of civilians throughout the years.

The activities of American diplomats in Pakistan have long been under the scrutiny of not only politicians and official authorities, but also community organizations and the mass media. Neglect of national, religious and cultural values of the foreign states displayed by the American representatives and their full disregard of local rules have long been instigating the resentment and growing anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and other countries. Suffice it to recall the sex scandal that broke out between the United States and Pakistan in July 2011, following a party hosted by the US Embassy for the local LGBT community. Then the representatives of the Pakistani political and religious circles as well as community organizations coined the event a “cultural terrorism” and tagged it the second most dangerous type of attack by the United States after the missiles and drones. “Homosexuals are a curse and the dregs of the society. They do not deserve to be called Muslims or Pakistanis, and the support and protection they were promised to receive from the US administration is the worst form of cultural terrorism against Pakistan,” read the official statement issued by the Pakistanis along with a demand of immediate withdrawal of the US ambassador.

However, scandals triggered by arrogant endeavors of the US embassy acting as the “Masters of the Universe” persist even today. The last in the series is associated with the claim filed by the local clerical party Qaumi Watan Party with the Supreme Court of Pakistan on account of the unauthorized seizure of 7.2 hectares of land (in addition to an already allocated 15.3 hectares) by the US embassy for the alleged construction of a new seven-story building. Right before that America had been accused of the unauthorized felling of about 100 trees while expanding the territory of their diplomatic mission in the Pakistan’s capital, which is considered a gross violation of local laws (and according to US legislation, it would be unlikely for the violators to get away with such an offence either).

At this point, readers should be provided an insight into the activities of the US embassy in Islamabad. Just a while ago and with a great fanfare, America opened a new embassy complex, which includes a multi-story building with an easily identifiable “technical floor” where, and nobody doubts that, they may house special equipment to conduct electronic espionage. However, this facility as well as its purpose pose a threat to Pakistan’s national security as this structure is located within the capital’s “high security zone,” where the country’s main governmental and state institutions and many diplomatic missions of foreign states are located. There are no doubts that the commissioning of the new building will entail not only an increase in the number of the embassy staff (according to the feedback provided by independent Pakistani media, the number of employees can be increased from the current 1,500 to as many as 5,000), but also a significant build-up of capacities that allow for the collection of intelligence information and increased monitoring of Pakistan’s information space, as it is the case in many countries where similar “revamps” of the US embassy buildings took place.

As for the energetic operations of American intelligence using the US embassy in Islamabad, they evoke a deep resentment in the IRP. Suffice it to say that the Pakistani community and human rights activists continue to closely monitor the claim, which is being considered in the Supreme Court of Islamabad, which was filed in respect to the activities of the former CIA station chief Jonathan Banks, who worked “undercover ” as a US embassy employee in Pakistan and was accused of giving personal orders in 2009 to engage US drones in the destruction of the “terrorist suspects” in North Waziristan. As a result of these air strikes, about one thousand civilians were killed. And Jonathan Banks, who was immediately recalled by the US government from the IRP in December 2010 after he had been charged with murder and terrorism in the Pakistani court, is the one to be blamed for it. Incidentally, this is not the only CIA station chief who was compelled to flee the country, as a similar incident occurred in 2011 after the events in Abbottabad, during which the leader of al-Qaeda was killed.

There are plenty of examples from around the world where American citizens and, in particular, employees of the US embassy, disregard foreign laws to pursue their own interests. Pakistani mass media, for example, covered the arrests of the US citizens (presumably FBI agents, who were temporary attached to the US embassy) in 2014-2015 on the premises of Karachi and Islamabad airports after local security services had found and seized weapons and ammunition from them. It is not surprising then that acting in the territory of an independent country in accordance with the “laws of the wild west,” one of those “employees of the US Embassy,” Raymond Davis, killed two Pakistanis in a crowded market in Lahore on January 27 2011, and the crew of a second car with Americans, who came to the Davis’ rescue, killed the witness without a trial.

Should it raise anybody’s eyebrows then that the Pakistani community and authorities show an ever increasing negativity toward the policies and actions of the US and its citizens, and that the IRP no longer perceives the United States as its “one and only” ally in the struggle against terrorism, and is not planning on turning a blind eye to the violations of the local laws by the American citizens? The results of past polls held there show that more than half of the respondents do not express amicable feelings toward the United States. An excellent illustration of this sentiment is the recent meeting of the Consul General of the US embassy Zachary Harkenrider with the leader of the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami Siraj ul Haq. According to the comments made by the local media, the Consul General had to withstand a storm of criticism targeting Washington and its policies in the region. The religious leader also said that the IRP “continues to pay too high a price for being an ally of the White House in the war on terrorism.”

Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” .