'US should do more to support anti-Islamist forces along Pak's Arabian Sea coast'

Posted By: Ani
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New Jersey, Feb 2(ANI): As the Islamist nightmare envelops Pakistan, the United States should do more to support anti-Islamist forces along Pakistan's southern Arabian Sea coast, director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, Selig S. Harrison, has said.

American officials point to Pakistan's arsenal of seventy to ninety nuclear weapons, arguing that a tight US embrace of the Pakistani military and intelligence elite is necessary to make sure that another nuclear-proliferation racket does not emerge like the one organized by nuclear czar A Q Khan, Harrison wrote in The National Interest.

This is an understandable concern because many of the same generals who colluded with Khan are still in high places, he said, adding that the larger danger to the United States, however, is that the nuclear arsenal will fall into the hands of the Islamist sympathizers inside the nuclear establishment, or that the Islamists will completely take over the armed forces, branding current military leaders as US stooges.

"While doing less elsewhere in Pakistan, the United States should do more to support anti-Islamist forces along the southern Arabian Sea coast," he said

"First, it should support anti-Islamist Sindhi leaders of the Sufi variant of Islam with their network of 124,000 shrines. Most important, it should aid the 6 million Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan in the face of growing ISI repression," he added.

Pointing out that Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory, he said that "an independent Baluchistan would serve U.S. strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces."

Harrison noted that while the Obama administration ponders what the US should do as Pakistan seems to be getting engulfed by 'Islamist nightmare', the bitter reality is that America is already doing too much in Pakistan.

"It is the American shadow everywhere, the Pakistani feeling of being smothered by the U.S. embrace, that gives the Islamists their principal rallying cry," he added.

To calm the situation down, Harrison said, the United States should start by phasing out drone attacks in the Pashtun border areas with their massive civilian casualties and should 'end the one-billion-dollar plus in annual subsidies to the armed forces that make them look like American puppets.'

At the same time, less visible education and development aid provided by the Kerry-Lugar bill should be continued, together with the International Monetary Fund credits that keep the Pakistani state afloat, and access to US markets for Pakistani textile exports should be increased, he added.

Harrison also said that instead of "publicly prodding the Punjabi-dominated armed forces to step up their offensive against Pashtun tribal militants in the Afghan border areas, the United States should recognize that Islamabad is afraid of stirring up Pashtun ethnic sentiment there that could break up the fragile multiethnic Pakistani federation." (ANI)

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