The struggle for control of Pakistan – soon to be the fifth most populous country in the world with the fifth largest nuclear arsenal – intensifies every day. The outcome is far from certain. The key player, Pakistan’s army, seems dangerously ambivalent about which side should prevail: the jihadist Frankenstein it created or the democratically elected civilian government it despises.
The American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2nd accelerated the struggle underway inside Pakistan to determine the country’s future. Contrary to some assessments, Pakistan is neither a failed state nor a failing state. It functions as effectively today as in decades past. Rather it is a state under siege from a radical syndicate of terror groups loosely aligned together with the goal of creating an extremist jihadist state in South Asia. They want to hijack Pakistan and its weapons.
Less than a hundred hours after the Abbottabad raid, al Qaeda’s shura council, its command center, announced the group was declaring war on Pakistan and the “traitors and thieves” in the government who had betrayed the “martyr shaykh” Bin Laden to the Americans. It was ironic since many Americans suspect the Pakistani army was actually complicit in abetting bin Laden’s successful evasion of the largest manhunt in human history for 10 years. That both al Qaeda and America distrust the Pakistani army speaks volumes.
The question with this administration is, what will Trump see as an acceptable return for this waiver [granted to India for its trade with Russia and Iran]? Will he demand a transaction in return, some give on the trade side or a big defence deal for the US as well? Russia and Iran are sticking points, but the fact that the Trump administration is dealing with these privately is a sign of how much the relationship has changed. [Mr Trump] usually doesn’t give out freebies.