India Intelligence Report

   Rice on Facilitation Mission



  • Condoleezza Rice visits Pakistan to improve cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan

  • Praises Afghan leader Hamid Karzai asks Pervez Musharraf to keep promise on elections in 2007

  • Political parties want Musharraf to resign

US Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice visited Islamabad last week to urge, coerce, and pacify Pakistan and Afghanistan to stop their bickering and work together to fight Taliban and al Qaeda forces but created a lot of flutter over democracy in Pakistan. Rice said “There has to be, the world expects there to be, democratic, free and fair elections in Pakistan in 2007” reminding President Pervez Musharraf to fulfill his promise to hold democratic elections next year. A Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson reacted angrily and rejected “outside” advice to Pakistan on how to run the country.

As if in chorus, lawmakers and Cabinet Ministers from the North West Frontier Province and those belonging to Pakistan’s largest Islamic political party, the Jamat-e-Islami (JeI), demanded the resignation of Musharraf in a noisy protest for colluding with Washington to fight the Taliban and the al Qaeda. The coalition made unexpected gains in parliamentary elections in 2002 because of its opposition to Musharraf’s support for the US-led war in Afghanistan that ousted the Taliban. Musharraf’s reneging on his promise to step down as Army Chief by 2004 is another issue infusing anger, displeasure, and mistrust with coalition cadres.

There is increasing skepticism over Musharraf’s commitment to democracy, human rights, and fight against terror. There is also increasing doubts about Afghanistan’s capacity to fight terror. Fewer people are convinced of Pakistan’s participation as a reliable and credible participation to hunt down and kill Taliban and al Qaeda elements. This skepticism is reflected in Rice’s solid support to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a severe critic of Musharraf, in Islamabad as an “extraordinary leader and we’re going to back him, and back him fully.” In order to maintain balance, Rice praised both allies for their efforts in the war on terrorism but doubts can be seen in how Musharraf is handling the crisis.

Rice said that there needs to be better “cooperation” among the US, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the region and said she will talk to Pakistan “about what more we can do.” The statement, leaving Afghanistan out of the conversation but pointedly at Pakistan, is a clear indictment and _expression of displeasure on performance where Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders have evaded capture for nearly five years.

Violence in Afghanistan, particularly the south, has been at worst levels since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001. The resurgent violence has killed 1100 people since January. This coincides with increased trafficking of heroin into India  and there is fear that monies earned from drug trade are used for terrorist activities. Before its ouster, this was the preferred mode of financing for the Taliban and it is possible that it is back to its old ways again.

Depleting security in Afghanistan is also bringing anti-American and anti-Karzai feeling in Afghanistan. Last month, Kabul saw some of the worst riots targeting the post-Taliban regime and supporters after a genuine accident. It is not clear whether these riots were orchestrated and led by pro-Taliban forces.

Rice disclosed that one of the objectives of her mission is to assess and quantify help required for Afghanistan. In other words, she will find out progress of the fight against terror and if necessary go back to the US Congress for extra funds for Afghanistan.

Placating Pakistan for the public rebuke and veiled warning, the US Department of Defense has assured Congress that weapon systems requested by Pakistan for F-16 jets “would not significantly reduce India's quantitative or qualitative military advantage. Release of the weapons systems will neither affect the regional balance of power nor introduce a new technology as this level of capability or higher already exists in other countries in the region.” The Bush Administration approved the sale of 18 new F-16 fighter jets with an option of offering 18 more to Pakistan.

In addition to the F-16s, Pakistan is also seeking 500 AIM-120C slammer missiles, 5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), 12 AMRAAM training missiles, 200 AIM-9M-8/9 SIDEWINDER missiles, 500 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) Guidance Kits, GBU-31/38 Guided Bomb Unit (GBU) kits, and 1,600 Enhanced-GBU-12/24 GBUs.