Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this week that U.S. forces would end their combat role in Afghanistan in 2013, ostensibly ending the 12-year war there. With financial and budget crises in Europe and the United States, war spending has become a major issue among the NATO allies.
In a recent analysis, the Communist Party of Pakistan says the Obama administration is interested in working out a political settlement in Afghanistan “in order to cut down its colossal expenditures there.”
A U.S.-friendly government in Kabul is one of the White House goals, the party says. But that would mean a big blow to Pakistan’s military-industrial complex, which is profiting mightily from “jihad dividends,” says the statement.
The statement, issued by the party’s international department, paints a picture of two power centers in Pakistan: the military and the civilian government.
This “tussle among its top institutions” has grievous consequences for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the region, the party says.
Despite withholding some $700 million from Pakistan last summer, the U.S. has over the past decades supported Pakistan with billions of dollars in military aid.
“Under U.S. imperialism’s patronage, for the last 40 years or so, almost all five-star generals and major generals have become billionaires,” says the Pakistan CP. “Down to the rank of major, they have become millionaires.”
The party calls the Pakistani military an “industrial and business corporation,” in direct competition with the civilian government, which the military seeks to control.
These financial interests have fueled the policy that supports Taliban extremists and other shady networks in Pakistan and the region, the party suggests.
The reason the military supports mayhem is also found in its attitude towards India, according to the statement. The civilian government wants to normalize relations with its neighbor, while the military wants to justify its budget by keeping alive security fears over Kashmir, and the perceived encirclement of Pakistan by India. (India is playing an enhanced role in Afghanistan and that means Pakistan would be surrounded by the military’s long-time enemy.)
However, there may be agreement between Pakistan’s elected government and the military in one area: U.S. war threats towards Iran.
The Pakistani party suggests that – as in Pakistan with its two power centers – the military (along with extremist religious forces) and the civilian government (that includes the presidency and Parliament), there are two power centers in the United States regarding Iran. One is the White House and the other is the Pentagon, they say.
In their view, the Pentagon is seeking logistical support and help from the Pakistan army in the wake of possible military action against Iran. On the other hand, the party says, Pakistan’s civilian government is trying to tactfully maneuver the White House to divert any impending U.S. military action against Iran.
While it’s not clear how the generals will respond to Pentagon pressure, there is significant possibility they will strongly object.
Much of Pakistan’s current crisis over Afghanistan is directly related to Cold War politics and the United States unrelenting drive for military and economic supremacy over any rival. U.S. and Pakistan formed an alliance during the 1980s to build up far-right forces cloaked in religion to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.